Note: This is part twelve in a multi-part story based around the events leading up to the containment of SCP-2982. It is recommended that you read the previous entry Deliverance first, or start from the beginning At the Library. You can take a look at Golan too, for a tale based on one of the tests of the SCP object.
Official SCP-2982 documentation. Level 4 access required.
- Date: 2015-02-17
- From: Site Director David Runeberg
- To: Subsite 23-Delta-K6 Chief Security Officer Frank Onegra
- CC: Site 23 Affiliated Field Operations Controller Sandra Chaperone
- Subject: Alexander Lazarus
Some bad news. Chief Global Suppression Manager Alexander Lazarus will be joining us on 2015-02-19 for two days. Be careful. He is both absolutely loyal to the Foundation and entirely dispassionate towards the humanity it protects.
He is to be given unhindered, solo access to both SCP-2982 and SCP-2982-02 (the former Agent Paris). Yes I know. I'll send you the full approval documentation tomorrow. Orders come from the O5 council. They're very very skittish about what she knows and what might get out. [REDACTED]
SD David Runeberg
On 2015-02-19, at the insistence of CGSM Lazarus, all testing on SCP-2982 was discontinued, and further testing, research or evaluation was prohibited.
On 2015-02-23, Site Director Runeberg committed suicide. An encrypted email sent from his personal account to the Foundation SCO work email account read,
Thank you for the breach report. It's not proven but I think we both know Lazarus has the phone now - he interviewed Carol for six hours. He had sole access to both. I am truly sorry, Frank. You're blameless, at least. Just following orders. Under the circumstances I won't bother with an official response.
Current Situation: Current location of SCP-2982 and Alexander Lazarus is unknown. Locating same is of paramount importance and Operation Blank Cheque is in place to facilitate this.
- On 2015-03-03, O5 council member 07 received a 43-second anomalous video message which showed her sleeping in bed, with Lazarus standing naked over her. This is proof positive that Lazarus is now actively using SCP-2982, reasons unknown.
- SCP-2982 was misappropriated with only 37% of Core 1/contact tests completed, and 0% of Core 2/Structure tests complete. Conclusions: The Foundation cannot confirm the full extent of the anomalous properties of SCP-2982.
Alexander Lazarus picked his way through the gravestones and found his way at last to the crying tramp. The last few days, though productive in their own way, had been somewhat lacking in closure. Today would help. Today, all wrongs would be righted, all previous injustices would be cleansed from the sleeping, oblivious world.
"Excuse me," he said. "I need a moment of your time."
The tramp looked up from his graveside vigil and blinked into the sunlight. He tried to look into the man's face but it was silhouetted and impenetrable. He turned his gaze downwards instead; a business suit, very new and probably expensive. Tailored, maybe. Trousers with a razor sharp crease. Unscuffed, virgin shoes. No traces of dirt or mud or water stains. The body the clothes adorned worked out; the man was lean and tall, mid-fifties with a military bearing. Precise, efficient.
Lazarus nodded towards the gravestone. "Who was it?"
"Robert Francis Catterson," the tramp replied. "A good man."
"You knew him?"
"He was a good man," the man repeated. "Died of a stroke. Did lots of work for local folks. Fought against the KKK in his time. Died of a stroke. His funeral - still hurts to remember it. Seventy nine years old. Grand children were distraught."
"You knew him? You were at the funeral?"
The man nodded at last. "He was a good friend."
Lazarus squatted down on his haunches and studied the gravestone. "Your good friend died 30th March, 1913. He died one hundred and two years ago."
"I know what you're thinking," replied the tramp. "And I don't care. I know everyone who's died. How and when, too."
"True," said Lazarus. He massaged his chin, stroking it with forefinger and thumb. "Hope you don't mind me saying, but you look hungry." He opened up a wallet - it was uncreased and smelt new, as if it had not been opened before - and brought out two crisp ten dollar bills. He held them out; the tramp accepted them quietly. "What's your name?"
"I don't know," said the tramp.
"I know," confided Lazarus. The tramp raised his eyebrows. "I know who did this to you - this whole "I know how everyone died" thing - and why. You're part of a bigger picture." He looked down, noticed a speck of dirt on his shoe, and wiped it off with his handkerchief. "How about we help each other out? You walk away with your name, and the name of the man who did this to you."
"You can do that?"
"I have contacts," said Lazarus. "Although if you want revenge, you'll be too late. The lowlife responsible is no more."
Lazarus nodded. "Yes," he said. "Died earlier this month. Help me and I'll give you his name and you can go piss on his grave or something." He shrugged and pulled a packet of cigarettes from his jacket. "Smoke?"
"I don't," the tramp said.
"Me neither," said Lazarus, putting the box away. "Handy to have though, just in case. Listen; I know the name of a dead man isn't much closure for you, but it's something."
"Okay," the tramp said. "What help do you want? You want to find someone who's dead? I need their names - and dates of birth or death if possible."
"Small price to pay," Lazarus noted. There was a pause, and then he stood up again, his shadow casting a long thin shadow against the grave. "Angela Knowledge Gwandoya. Can't be too many of them. Lived in Beacon Hill."
The tramp immediately started to sob.
"She was so little," said the tramp. "She was such a beautiful little thing," he said. "Why is there such evil in the world?"
"To balance out the good, otherwise it's all grey." Lazarus handed the tramp a tissue. "Come on, don't cry. You have the chance to make everything all right. Do you know where she's buried?"
The tramp nodded through tears and wiped his nose on his hand. "Small place on the outskirts of town," he said. "Quiet place."
"Here." Lazarus offered his hand to the tramp and helped him up. "I'll drive. Show me."
They stood, perspiring in the sullen March sunshine, over the relatively fresh grave of Angela Knowledge Gwandoya. "Bigger than I expected," said the tramp.
"I believe there's a reason for that," said Lazarus. "Still, she's in heaven now."
The two reflected in silence. Lazarus glanced around. They had not been followed, and the cemetery was empty. The tramp turned to him suddenly. "Why are we here?" he asked.
"Long story. I'm not really here for the girl. I'm here for her mother. Final respects, so to speak."
"So why not just ask me for her mother?"
"Good question. Wouldn't work," said Lazarus. "Her final resting place is unmarked. My organisation has the location, but I can't access it - can't even Google it - without all kinds of flags and alerts getting raised. I'm pushing the envelope of good fortune just being here talking to you, truth be told. I'm currently undergoing a transitional period of strategic realignment and allegiance re-prioritisation, you might say."
"Doesn't make sense," said the tramp. "And how'd you know it wouldn't work?"
"Trust me," said Lazarus. "I've done my homework. There's a file on you. You can remember the death of everyone who ever lived. You even know where they're buried, but only if their final resting place is known to the authorities." He handed the tramp another tissue; he had started crying again. "Before you were like this, someone you loved disappeared. You obsessed about it. Pissed a certain man off with your constant depression, so he did this to you as punishment. Thought it would be amusing if you knew every single death except the one that mattered to you the most. Thought it would be funny if you couldn't remember a single thing about your own life, but knew everything about the dead. The fact that you informed on his somewhat shady business ventures certainly didn't help."
Lazarus looked at the tramp. "I apologise if that hurts," he offered. "Thought you at least deserved some insight into your condition. Guy that did this, did the same thing to a lot of innocent folk. Enjoyed hurting them. People think I'm dispassionate, but I've come to realise there's no point sugar-coating shit."
The tramp didn't answer. Lazarus continued. "The organisation I work - worked - for, face unimaginable horrors every day. Have to do horrible things in the name of humanity. So when they can, they perform tiny acts of kindness." He paused to wipe the sweat from his brow. "This little girl buried here, she was raped and murdered by a freak by the name of Aidan Brown. Broke the mother's heart, she never really recovered. So when the mother died, they broke from procedure a little. Took her for tests, yes, then disposed of her, yes, even made an empty grave for her with her name so everything was squared with the authorities. But I think they secretly buried her with her daughter here, so they would be together again at last."
"Jesus," said the tramp.
Lazarus continued. "Mother died in a car accident on the third of this month." He caught the tramp's quizzical expression. "They were fleeing the police," he explained. "Driver - man by the name of Geoff Mansani - lost control and drove off a bridge straight into the San Antonio river. Drowned. Her and Mansani both. Think Aidan Brown was in the car too, but he's never been found… Listen. I promised you the name of the man who made you the way you are. But I need one more bit of information from you. I need to know exactly how Helen Gwandoya died. Was it an accident or did that paedophile bastard Aidan Brown kill her too?"
"It wasn't an accident," said the tramp. "It was murder."
"Murder?" Lazarus turned back to the other man. "Do you know what happened?"
"It's… confused. But it was murder. Premeditated, definitely… Like you say - car crash. Helen Gwandoya in the front with Mancini - Mansani? Halfway over the bridge, something in the back seat. Like a lobster but man sized - pulls a taser on the driver. He loses control. They go into the river. Helen Gwandoya drowns - she can't open the doors." Then, by way of explanation: "She had poorly hands."
"Post-natal phocomelia," Lazarus said. He saw the tramp's blank expression. "Thalidomide-impaired is the PC term - like those babies in the sixties and seventies. I've read a lot of medical dictionaries since this business started."
"Mansani died too," the tramp said. "The locks had been tampered with, even if he hadn't been zapped. Sorry, no offence."
"And the lobster man?"
The tramp shrugged. "Got out. Didn't drown."
"Goddamn bastard could breathe underwater," said Lazarus. "So Aidan Brown just swam away like the fucking freak he is and left them to die. He must have planned it like that from day one."
The tramp chewed his upper lip in thought. Lazarus turned away from him and scanned the cemetery for mourners or ground workers. There were none. He said, "Wish I could find that evil son of a bitch."
The tramp rolled his eyes, then nodded. "Guy was a fucking paedophile? Shit. Good riddance. Anyhow you're too late… Looks like neither of us get closure today."
"What do you mean?"
"He's dead. Drowned."
Lazarus wheeled around. "In the car crash? You don't think he got out?"
The tramp sucked the corner of his top lip into his mouth. "No. Aidan Brown drowned in a toilet," he said. "Jammed face down in a toilet."
"You're getting confused," said Lazarus. He looked around again.
"I ain't confused," said the tramp. "And he died before the car crash. He drowned in a toilet."
"In an apartment. Beacon Hill."
"Guy called Harold Augustus Maine."
"Harold Maine's dead. He's the one who drowned in the toilet."
The tramp shook his head. "No," he said. "He isn't dead."
Lazarus looked long into the other man's eyes. "You're very informative."
"No," said Lazarus. "That isn't a good thing. You can't help but tell people things, can you?"
"A man has to eat," said the tramp.
Lazarus nodded silently in agreement. "A man has to eat," he sighed. He brought out a small black and white photograph, folded over. He unfurled it and held it up to the tramp. "You've been a great help to me today," he said. "But I think we're done here."
He tapped the photograph with his free hand. "What do you see?"
The tramp scanned the picture briefly. "It's just a coupla kittens in a basket," he said. "Why'm I looking at this?"
"Why do you think?"
"Because.. " the tramp looked confused. "The kittens are me. They're me… I… never knew. They're in the shadows. Crusting over." The tramp shook his head. "Eyes like buttons."
Lazarus grunted. "What's the photo of now?"
"A… burning wish." The tramp was struggling to come up with the words. "Given another cloud."
"Sit down," Lazarus ordered, putting the photograph away, careful not to look at it. The tramp obeyed sluggishly, as if even this was a task that was rapidly overtaking his ability to perform it. Lazarus guided the man downwards until he was almost prone. "They'll come for you. They've already done it once, but you don't remember. Don't believe me?" He brushed off the tramp's finger marks from his suit with a silk handkerchief. "Orange black black yellow titanium blue yellow yellow vilifier seventy eight Ferdinand."
The tramp's eyes widened with lucidity. "Jesus," he gasped. "Charcoal school… grown-up."
"See? You remember. The Foundation will come for you and they'll ask you the self same questions I just did and you'll fucking tell them everything. Can't have that, Carl."
"Your name. Can't have you informing on me twice in one fucking lifetime."
"Futile shop," the tramp slurred. "Maria."
Lazarus took something else from his pocket; a small, black cellphone. He swiped the touchscreen and typed for maybe five minutes, no longer concerned about the tramp slouched against a gravestone behind him. He turned his head back and said, "Even if I didn't know where she was buried, if I knew where her kid was buried, that would be enough. Knew you'd come through like the blabber mouth you are."
"Trains," whispered the tramp. A trickle of blood emerged from his nostrils. It smelt of fish and bleach. "Trains under water, breathing with music… Customer facing."
Lazarus squatted down and touched the grass covering the grave tenderly. "I was wrong to give you a choice," he mused. "I know where I went wrong. Won't make that mistake this time. Willing slave. We have such a future ahead of us."
Behind him, the tramp tried to get up but failed, his arms and legs no longer submissive to his will. "Tape measure," he said. He was aware that his mouth was filling up with spit; he had forgotten he needed to swallow. "Bottle lift. Bottle entry. Timeout."
"Hush now," said Lazarus. "Show some respect."
The tramp gurgled through the phlegm but became quiet almost immediately. His hands clutched lumps of soil.
Lazarus dismissed him with a wave. "It's been a long road," he said. "Come a long way. Still, we're here now. Nearly at the end, nearly at the end… " He put the phone back in his pocket. "People always said I was dumb," he said. "Lacked ambition, lacked imagination. Well where the fuck are they?"
The tramp was twitching, his skin mottling and darkening, his limbs twisting in on themselves.
"You know, I hope this works," Lazarus said. "Otherwise I get to look real stupid." He turned to the tramp again. "You just lie there and don't try to fight it. You were going to die anyway. Now you get a chance to live on. In a way."
The tramp was losing consciousness, his exposed flesh bruising like overripe fruit. "I'm sorry for the deceit," said Lazarus. "But you need to be close to each other. Otherwise believe me, I would never risk this." He straightened the tramp's arms and legs and tipped his head back so that he could breathe more easily. "There might be better ways of doing this but I'll stick with what I know. Anyhow I don't have all day to dig."
"Please…" the tramp said. Lazarus mopped the man's brow with his handkerchief and started to loosen his clothes. "Apologies," he said. "But you stink. Not your fault. But you stink. I can't have you smelling or looking like this."
Having unbuttoned the other man's trousers and shirt, he started the long task of undressing him completely.
Lazarus waited nervously. The tramp had expired unceremoniously half an hour previously in a glut of vomit and formaldehyde, his skin darkened to the point of brownish purple. But even now, as he worried whether he had done the right thing, and looked around again for witnesses, he saw the love of his life take shape in the corpse's ruined features and knew that all was well.
He took his suit jacket off and wrapped it silently and tenderly around the elongating, blossoming form of Helen Gwandoya as her body subsumed that of the tramp, the purple darkening into ebony and the limbs unfurling into graceful, balletic elegance. The eyes were open but glassy, dull, unseeing; her chest still, her breathing nonexistent. She was here, at last, but she was dead.
Really, most sincerely dead, he thought.
Lazarus took the phone from his pocket and swiped the screen. "Nearly fucking forgot," he said, and, having navigated to the contacts, typed a single word into Helen Gwandoya's details.
He sat back against the gravestone and waited, like a child on Christmas Eve, for her first faltering breath.