Conviction
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“Sit down and shut up, Everett,” the man slurred. His eyes were glossed over, somewhere between that hazy state of complete inebriation and ultimate truth that came with the perfect balance of alcohol and guilt. “I know they’ve been talking to you… That you’ve been asking questions. You’re like the god damned Father Confessor for the Foundation right now, and…given exactly what you are—yes, I know, I always know—and what we’ve done… Well, it seems appropriate, doesn’t it? Maniacs telling a sociopath everything they’ve done?”

“You know we’ll kill you for it one day, don’t you?” he asked. Then he nodded. “Of course you know…”

“Then let me start by telling you that Six is a god damned liar. The Factory is not the first SCP. And Three? Completely full of shit about that path. We ‘make’ them…” He barked out a scornful laugh, short and harsh. “Everyone wants to know what the first one was… I could tell you, but…” He laughed again. “I’ll leave that to Nine… She’d probably do it justice…”

“No… No, I’m going to tell you some truth. Some awful, terrible truth, Everett, and when I’m done, you’ll know exactly why we tolerate you here. Exactly why you fit in so well, you manipulative, little bastard. You see, we rather like you, Everett.”

“Yes, you should be worried.”


In July of 1931, I shook Hitler’s hand. The Hitler. Adolf. Satan. The Great Butcher of Europe. Back then, he was a burgeoning politician, full of good ideas and ways to get Germany on its feet again. Mein Kampf was probably the best bit of revised history we ever produced. I shook his hand, smiled at him, and congratulated him on his efforts.

And two days later, I put a syringe of morphine between his third and fourth vertebrae, tied his neck to a piece of rope we found in a Tibetan Monastery, and an hour later, I knew everything that he knew. After that, I snapped his neck, played around a bit with some clever prestidigitation, and no one knew the difference.

It really is that easy, Everett. It’s nothing to look like someone, only slightly more to actually be that someone. Did you never wonder why General Bowe bowed out so casually? Why Osama Bin Laden was buried at sea? It’s not that hard, Everett. Some of us even enjoy it… Why, the stories Eight could tell you… But… Neither here, nor there, my boy. He’ll come by to talk to you eventually. He’ll be the last one of us to talk to you, of course.

But back to the point. Yes. I became Adolf Hitler. Does that surprise you? You’ve seen the files. You know some of what I’ve done. Does this strike you as terribly odd? We’re doing worse to that little girl with the whole of hell in her womb. Oh, that? That was all Twelve’s idea… Good job of it, too.

And now, I suppose you’re wondering why? Why I became an artist? Why I turned into a madman? It’s not that farfetched, Everett. Why does the Foundation do anything?

Containment, my dear boy. Containment.

It wasn’t easy, but Europe has always hated the Jews. The Spanish drove them out of their country, the Italians persecuted them… Even the English! Why, Chaucer once wrote a story about a little boy that a Jew chopped to pieces and threw down a well. A festering, black blister of hate, Everett, just below the surface of placid gentility… So easy to tear it open and let it bleed…

You see, this was before we were as well off as we are today. We’d not found a third of the objects we have now, and the ones we had found… Well, the price of protecting humanity was measured in lives and coin, back then. Whenever possible, we had to be discreet, clandestine. Amnesiacs weren’t developed until the late 40’s, so… Well, it wasn’t easy, to say the least.

But, yes… The Jewish Menace. The Semite Plot. All of it was ours. Or at least, the worst of it. There was, you must understand, a problem, Everett. A very worrisome problem.

It was a virus. The first one we’d really encountered. We’d found them before, mind you. Just never one… quite like this one. You see, it only affected Hebrews. Jews. Specifically, those who observed their faith more dutifully. Those little, curling ringlets of piety might as well have been the sores of a leper.

It was terrible, in all truth. It turned the marrow of the body to a slurry to propagate itself, then leaked into the blood stream. It consumed organs, muscle, tissues… Turned them to fat. The more they ate, the worse it got. Fatter and fatter, until… they immolated.

Imagine that, Everett. Imagine, sitting down to dinner, with your pleasantly plump little girl, just turning sixteen, her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. And then, you notice it. A burning scent, just barely touching your nose. You look at the meal, wondering what your wife has cooked, and you realize that the sweet, pleasant food is baked fish or maybe just a stew. Then, as you look for it, your eyes catch sight of your daughter, her eyes wide, skin peeling back slightly, like slowly burning paper. The smell turns in your stomach, and then… She bursts into flames, screaming out her last, desperate breaths from her body, the lips blackening to reveal teeth, then bone, then…

I’m sorry. I shouldn’t carry on so much. It’s really… quite terrible, I assure you.

But only Jews. And without apparent cause.

I started isolating them. The Ghettos were the first thing I tried. I had them isolated, tried to keep as many of them safe as I could, but…

There was, of course, resentment.

They attempted to escape, to hide, to flee. But the characteristics of the disease… They were unmistakable. We started culling them from the group, attempting to keep the uninfected safe… It didn’t work, Everett. Of course it didn’t. We didn’t know how it was spreading then. We didn’t fully understand what we were dealing with, but…

I recruited some of the more brilliant minds I could find. Some of the more sympathetic. Some of the insane. I needed them all, you see.

And so, the Ghettos didn’t work. And that… That was when I came up with the camps, Everett. We split them up, split up their families, when we could. That was a kindness, you see… Waking up in the middle of the night to see your wife, laying next to you, burst into flames…

Do you understand, Everett? We burned already burned bodies. We… we cut open people, looking for the source, looking for anything we could do to stop it. We starved them… We starved them until they were so emaciated that they looked like skeletons… And they still swelled with fat, somehow… Still burned…

We… were at least lucky that it was limited to the Jews, at first… But then, it happened. Gypsies. One of them was dancing on a stage, and they burst into flames. People clapped, you know… They thought it was part of the show. But there was an officer in the crowd. And he knew better.

Then, the homosexuals. They were next. We don’t know why. Then, it started affecting civilians, some with nothing in common with anyone. Sons, wives… Daughters… Golden haired, little girls…

What? The mongoloids? That was for the good of mankind, Everett. I should think you would approve, dear boy.

But we got rid of most of it. We still have some samples in containment, and occasionally, someone will contract it. We still don’t really know why, of course. But we rush to the scene, hide the evidence, and sweep the ashes under the rug…

The survivors made sure we were crucified, of course. They do that. Oh, Everett, don’t look at me like that… Just a little joke. Of course, no one who was important was allowed to die. Mengele escaped, of course, and I killed myself…

Poor, poor Mengele. How that disease haunted him… He thought twins were the answer, you see. He’d vivisect two of them, not that unlike you, Everett. He looked for differences. Even set up breeding programs down in South America, trying to get more subjects… He died alone, hunched over a table, still looking for the cure.

We tried to make it up to them, of course. Made sure they got their own country, got the weapons they needed to defend themselves. And now, they’re stronger than they’ve ever been! A true power in the world, surrounded by their enemies, but not allowing themselves to be defeated.

You know… Maybe those Germans were right, Everett. Maybe Darwin was on to something. Isn’t that charming? Doesn’t that make those cold, steady hands of your shiver with just an ounce of delight? You remind me of him, you know. Mengele. Maybe it’s the passion in those sweet, angel’s eyes you both have… You’re a good man, Everett… A good man to listen to an old fool ramble…

Mm? The war? Of course, just another element of the containment… There were too many Jews in Austria, Poland… The infection was spreading. We were smarter in Russia, of course. The Pogroms were so much more efficient… But by then, we were better organized, the country was already a police state, and we were lucky enough to have a friend in charge of the country already. And we got everything back to the status quo eventually…

Though really, we just needed the bombs, and we didn’t have the resources to manage it ourselves at the time. After all, seven-six was getting out of control, and we needed a way to destroy the worst ones… Some things are worse than fallout, you know. Of course you do…

Even the Cold War, eventually… Just in case all hell broke loose. And it did, once or twice. But we put it back. Always put it back…

But yes, my dear boy. You see, you’re no worse than me. You’re certainly no worse than Five. Definitely a better man than Two…

Hah! I see that smile, Everett. That barely curling smile. You almost feel just right now, don’t you? The justness of the less guilty is almost as good as that of the innocent, wouldn’t you say? That’s what I keep telling myself at least. What terrible things we’ve done, my boy. What terrible, terrible things…


The man fell silent then, staring at the ground, having not even heard the other man walk in behind him. The hand that descended to his shoulder made him jump for a moment, before he turned and looked at the red haired man standing there. The friendly, concerned look on the other man’s face looked more forced, more out of place than it should have, but its presence seemed to reassure the drunken man, sitting in his chair.

“Such terrible, terrible things we’ve done…” he murmured again, then smiled. “But always for the greater good, aren’t they? Usually, at least…” He laughed then, standing up and leaning on the red haired man. For a moment, he touched his bare upper lip, running his fingers across it. “Terrible…”

He turned then, looking at the cold faced doctor sitting at the desk. “Terrible and wonderful, Everett. So terrible… and so wonderful.”

When he laughed, it didn’t sound forced, or drunken, or even amused. It sounded relieved. He staggered out, the red-haired man staring after him, his reassuring expression fading to a blank one.

He turned and looked at the younger man for a moment. “Have anything to drink, Everett? We need to talk…”

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