A number of people who no longer used their names spoke to one another.
"How many so far?"
"Four. One D-class, two agents, one junior researcher. The phenomenon must be contained."
"You argued previously that—"
"I know what I said. We need more intelligence about the phenomenon before we can act, yet nobody entering its effect radius returns to report about it. Nevertheless, we must act as soon as possible."
"There is one alternative. The damaged researcher seems to retain some memories."
"His memory has been wiped."
"The RAISA operative carrying out his rehabilitation has reported that his memories continue to surface. We can exploit this."
"I suggest the Council order Dr. Skinner to carry out reconnaissance for us. I have drafted a message: 'New intelligence required. Focus on following keywords: omicron class, apollyon, reverser, holzman, hollis, numberless, 555. Presence of any words indicate operation failure and will require additional amnesiac treatment.'"
"What are those words?"
"All of the research we've recovered to date. Maybe something will turn up."
"Why is he to be mind-wiped if he's our only lead?"
"First, amnesiac treatments hardly qualify as 'mind-wiping'. Second, amnesiacs seem to reset his memories, make him more cooperative. We may elect not to go forward with the amnesiac treatments, depending on what he knows. But I think the threat of amnesiacs will speed the process somewhat. If it fails, we can try something different. But time is of the essence."
"Is it wise to reveal this much and hope for the best?"
"None of our other efforts have been effective. I see no choice. The matter is on the table; seven votes are required."
Ten for, three against. The message was sent.
Some time later:
"Site 19 is almost abandoned now. Much of the building is unsafe, and most of the personnel are dead. Have we learned enough to act?"
"Certain files were recovered, thanks to the information we gathered. The SD cards we spread around the Site allowed us to gather even more intelligence, especially from people who believed they were speaking in confidence."
"The recording from the last death was…unusually disturbing."
"Agreed. But the question remains: have we determined the nature of the phenomenon?"
"Approximately. We do not know how or why it is in Site 19, or even in this universe. But a plan was devised for this scenario."
"Who composed it?"
"That information is unavailable. Nevertheless, it is all we have to work with. I propose the plan be executed."
"What is the plan?"
"It is an Omicron class event. Nobody has authorization to know the details."
The rest of the individuals looked uncomfortable. "Do you have any alternative?" the speaker said. Silence throughout the room. "The motion is on the floor. All in favor? All opposed? The motion carries."
"What must be done?"
"I have composed the necessary orders. Brace yourselves. Executing…now."
A gas flooded the room from numerous vents. The people inside reacted with surprise initially, then relaxed, accepting what was happening. They were fully aware that the gas was a nonlethal anesthetic combined with an amnesiac; this part of the scenario was familiar to them. Contingent Omicron, it was called. For when there were things even the O5 Council didn't need to know.
"See you on…the oth…er s…the other side," a voice was heard to say.
The top floor of Site 19 was deserted as Jaime MacGilligan woke from a nightmare. It was hardly an unusual occurrence, of late. It was the same nightmare. It was always the same. The basement. The rubber balls, bouncing across the room without stopping or slowing. The conversation behind her. The bodies.
So many bodies. Many of them friends of hers. Every night, while Holzman and Hollis argued about decommissioning SCP-Numberless, someone new entered the room in front of them. Neither of the men saw their new companion, or heard the gunshot directly to the head moments later. The next night, another will walk in, see the previous night's sacrifice, and chuckle while they shoot themselves in the head. Jaime knew (in the way one knows things in dreams, things that are impossible to know) that the two men were talking long ago. This conversation happened in another universe, infinitely far away and right here. An eternity ago, four years ago. An event that never happened, that keeps happening. That will always happen.
The clown made it happen. Jaime knew this, in the way one knows things in dreams. Things that are impossible to know. A clown in a television set opened a door and let the breeze from the death of a world drift in to Site 19. It has never happened. It will always happen.
There is a message on her Grayberry. One of her last ties to a Foundation that barely exists, in a world that won't exist for much longer. The message says:
Check your laptop. New orders. O5
The Foundation-issued computer was state-of-the-art, but the battery had barely another hour of power on it. She had been running up, up, away from the basement and…whatever sort of death was there. She never had the heart to leave the Site, though. She was a Researcher, even if a low-level one, and that was that. If the Foundation went down, she would go down with the ship.
A message was waiting for her, in a sense. Her computer had been remotely wiped clean and replaced with a single program. A background covered in the Greek letter omicron, with a message in front:
If you are reading this, Overwatch Command has detected no other life signs within Site 19, indicating a crisis situation of unparalleled magnitude. However, a solution has been devised, and it has been determined that you are both capable of executing the solution and that nobody else is capable of assisting. Details from O5 are included below:
That message was followed by an SCP file, fairly complete except for the item number, which was listed as "Numberless." Jaime had no idea there was an SCP that didn't have a number, until she read the note below the file:
Intelligence suggests that this object belonged to an analog of the SCP Foundation, a much smaller organization, in an alternate universe. Due to the poorly-understood nature of the object (originally believed to be nothing more than a device capable of stopping and reversing entropy within a particular range), an attempt to decommission SCP-Numberless failed, leading to an XK-class end-of-the-world scenario. By means currently unknown, this scenario was averted; a side effect of this was the creation of a new universe, which we presently inhabit. SCP-Numberless survived the transition, but remained locked in a heretofore unknown chamber at the very bottom of Site 19. This containment chamber was evidently capable of suppressing SCP-Numberless's effect; while locked, the artifact remained harmless.
Current intelligence suggests that during the most recent Tempest Night containment breach, an unknown entity (suspected to be SCP-993, though the means by which this could have been accomplished are unknown) managed (through similarly unknown means) to unlock and open the containment chamber for SCP-Numberless. The opening of this chamber led to the reactivation of the device, which now displayed a predatory ability to lure personnel within a particular (consistently growing) effect radius into its chamber for unknown purposes via telepathic means.
We have attempted to send support personnel from other sites to provide assistance, but the device has been preventing outside entry to Site 19 through unknown means for some time. We are sorry, but there is no one else but you.
Telepathic countermeasures can be found at the following location. Please
This was followed by a series of instructions that were as shockingly simple as they were horrifying. Jaime knew there was nobody else, and no alternative. A map appended to the message showed the projected increases in the effect radius; the last bit of Site 19, the area she was in, would be lost within three hours. The surrounding countryside would be lost within two days. The effect would be planetwide within three months, and there was nobody left but Jaime. Jaime knew this in the way one knows things in real life, things that are impossible to forget. She looked at her orders once again:
You must close the containment chamber. To ensure success, you must remain inside the chamber when it closes. The Foundation will honor your sacrifice and its meaning for the continued existence of the human race, but there is no chance of survival. We are sorry.
The "telepathic countermeasure" was a headset with earbuds and slightly blue-tinted glasses. A small band running over the top of the head was the only indication that the brain had anything to do with the entire affair. If she didn't believe that O5 wouldn't bother sending her to her death for no reason, she wouldn't believe the stupid-looking thing was even real. But orders were orders.
The elevator the laptop directed her to opened as she approached. A new message popped up as she entered.
The laptop will now direct the elevator. We apologize for the music.
A screeching noise came from the little laptop. The lights in the elevator turned red, and a voice popped up from the speakers. "Omicron-level priority order acknowledged. Please relax before your impending engagement on…" The computerized voice was replaced with a different automated one: "FLOOR…UNAVAILABLE."
A sound came out like an old radio scanning, followed by the words "Morning, today's forecast calls for…blue skies!" and a piano riff.
"Sun is shining in the sky
There ain't a cloud in sight…"
Jaime hadn't seen the sun in weeks. She cried to the Electric Light Orchestra the whole ride down.
The door opened just as the song ended. Jaime walked out holding the laptop, glancing at it for any last instructions.
There is nothing left to tell you. Good luck. You may leave the laptop behind.
She put the laptop back in the elevator and walked away. She noticed that the elevator door did not close. Checking to make sure her headset was on properly, she walked down the hall. She could already see a single chair sitting empty in front of her, facing down another hallway.
She reached the chair and turned to see what it was facing. In her dreams, it was toy balls bouncing back and forth. The file she read said many people dreamed of ice that never melted or perpetual motion machines. People dreamed of impossible things, things that can't happen in real life. She looked down the hallway.
There was a room, and a table. The table was bare, the room was empty. Sometimes dreams are just dreams.
Jaime turned to look down the other way. There was a door, a huge steel door. Similar to Keter containment chambers. This one was cracked open, slightly. She walked towards the door and laid her hand on it, wondering if opening the door further would do more harm than good.
Don't worry, Jaime. There's nothing you can really do here. The voice was in her head, telepathically. She didn't know how the headset had fail—
They didn't design it to be this close to something this powerful, the voice said. Opening the door will have no effect on me. And you know you want to see me.
She didn't know if the machine was making her do it or if she was doing it herself, but she pushed the door open and walked inside.
The machine was so much smaller than she had expected, shaped vaguely like a car engine. Except this engine was white all over, and the exhaust pipes coming from the top kept moving, squirming on their own in a way that was somehow fascinating and disgusting. Jaime couldn't stand to look at it for long enough to discern any other features. And besides, the rest of the room was much more interesting.
The bodies were real. Dozens, hundreds of people sprawled across each other on the floor. Just as many Foundation service pistols lying around from where the dead had dropped them. Well, not quite dead. Jaime saw not a single drop of blood, and knew why.
"You're keeping them alive."
That's right, the voice said. They are waiting for a better world. A world only I can create. They came to offer their services when I showed them that world, but I'm letting them sleep for now. They will never die with me here. None of us will die. Nor will you.
"Then why am I awake? Why aren't you making me shoot myself too? There are plenty of guns here."
I did not make them shoot themselves. They did not want to live in their old lives while waiting for their new ones to begin. But to be honest, the headset is just strong enough to keep that part of me out of your head. You cannot see the beautiful world I intend to create, the ones these people intend to populate. I have no need to lie to you.
"They told me how to end this. The O5 Council gave me orders."
Yes, I see that. All you have to do is close the door behind you. The memetic lock will render this floor invisible again, my effect will deactivate, I will be trapped down here for another eternity, and everything will go back to normal. Oh, these people will be trapped here with me, of course. And without my effect, they will all die. Painlessly, but suddenly. Their blood on your hands. And you with us, though I imagine you knew that already. Again, I have no need to lie to you.
Jaime had not expected that sort of forthrightness. "So…what do you expect me to do?"
I am not human. Life and death are as meaningless to me as the laws of thermodynamics. I have intelligence, sentience, almost godhood. But I feel no urge to prolong it. You have envisioned me as some sort of villain or demon. Do so if you wish. Nevertheless, you have the option of either closing the door, or not.
Leave the door open, and I rebuild the universe to be a world without death. Close the door, and I don't. I would point out the obvious fact that you would have the blood of these individuals on your hands, but I would not presume to insult your intelligence by acting as though you were unaware of this. Make your choice.
Jaime stood silently, looking at the room around her. "This…this isn't what I expected."
The machine waved its appendages in silence.
Jaime couldn't think, could barely breathe. The pressure of this decision on her head was unbearable. She walked across the room, stepping over bodies, looking at the device as she spoke. "Let me ask you something. Can you show me the original conversation? During the original decommissioning? What did Holzman and Hollis say about you? I could hear them talking, but I couldn't make out the words. What did they think?"
The machine sat placidly. I cannot do so. I have no record of that conversation. Your mind may have created that image from some information I cannot access, but I am not responsible for it.
The thought that now entered Jaime's head was enormous, world-shakingly huge. Jaime thanked a deity she didn't believe in for bringing that realization into her. A realization she spoke aloud to the machine in two words:
Jaime lunged across the room at the giant metal door. A telepathic screech filled the room, one which might have killed her had the headset not been present. Some of the bodies on the ground lurched, swinging limbs in her path, trying to knock her down. She reached the door and began to swing it shut.
HOW DID YOU KNOW HOW DID YOU KNOW HOW DID YOU
"I just did," she said, the door swinging towards the frame. She didn't have time to say, The way I know things in dreams.
Things that are impossible to know.
The door closed.
The top floor of Site 19 was crowded as Jaime MacGilligan woke from a nightmare. A man stopped and helped her up. "What…where am I?"
"I'm not sure how you got here, but you're on the top floor of Site 19. You look familiar, though." He walked her towards the nearest medical station. "Maclaren, isn't it?"
"MacGilligan. I'm one of the researchers on Floor 13. I didn't catch your name."
"Jim," the (rather cute, she thought to herself) agent said. "Jim Freeman."
"What was this dream, David?"
The researcher paused a moment. "You know, I actually can't remember." He shrugged. "Huh. Must n-n-not have been that important.
Dr. Skinner nodded, jotting a note onto her clipboard. Much improvement.
A number of people who no longer used their names woke to find themselves napping on the table where they carried out their work. Their computer screens were all white, filled with the Greek letter Omicron. A speaker grille in the center of the table spoke: Omicron event complete.
The individuals looked around the room at each other, knowing the implications. Something had happened that nobody else knew about, something that they could never remember or allow themselves to know.
The speaker grille spoke again: Researcher Level 2 Jaime MacGilligan is to be promoted to Level 3 as per instructions of O5 Command.
The members of that group gathered their composure and sat in silence. O5-2 spoke first. "The motion is on the table. All in favor?"
The vote was unanimous.