Deliverance
rating: +10+x

Note: This is part eleven 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 Endings 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.

Geoff Mansani almost ran past her, such was his desire to get away. Helen called his name and he stopped abruptly. "Come on," he hissed. "We have to get out of here."

He helped her to her feet. He looked ashen.

Helen saw the cold sweat seeping through his clothes. "What's happening? Where's Aidan?"

Mansani gestured back towards the stairs. "He's coming." He saw the next question forming on Helen's lips. "Maine's dead," he said.

"How - ?"

"You don't want to know. Christ." He pulled her towards the main entrance. She was about to protest, when she saw Aidan's bulk appear at the bottom of the stairs. He shambled towards them on his walking sticks, his folded lung palpitating in its ruined housing.

"You two… fucking idiots… still here?"

"Maine's dead?" Helen asked. She needed to hear it from Aidan, otherwise it wouldn't be real. Aidan nodded as he caught his breath. "Yes," he said. "Bastard fought, I'll give him that… We need to get out of here. Jesus, I think I'm hurt."

He pulled his coat aside; a blue and red patch was spreading outwards through his shirt. "Fuck knows what that is," he said. "Heart? Brain? Balls? No idea what part of me that is. Like I said, the bastard fought." He grimaced and mopped his brow with his sleeve. Mansani walked out the main door and half ran to his car, parked just outside the entrance. He fumbled with the keys.

"Like I always said," Aidan wheezed, "the guy's a fucking idiot."

Mansani triumphantly unlocked and opened the car door and got in. " Okay - fucking go," said Aidan, and he started to herd Helen out - but she stopped suddenly and shook him off.

"I have to see for myself," she said. "I have to see him dead."

Aidan squared up to her. "We don't have time," he said. "And it would upset you. We have to go."

'You go," she countered. "I have to see. I have to know it isn't some trick." Aidan began to remonstrate, but she took no notice. She strode back up towards the stairs determined to be sure.

"Fuck," said Aidan.

Helen made her way back up to the fifth floor. The grille and door were shut but not locked. She opened them both, the metal grate swinging out resentfully, and the wooden door heaving inwards on its creaking hinges. The apartment was dark. She stepped inside and switched on the light. Eveything looked normal, more or less. No blood, no upturned furniture.

She walked through the living area. No sign of Harold Maine, living or dead. She felt fear rising up inside her. What if this was some trick? What if he had feigned death, and was even now contemplating his revenge?

Just as she turned to leave, her curiosity overwhelmed by dread, she caught sight of a shoe poking out from the bathroom. She drew nearer, morbid fascination holding its own against her terror, and pushed open the door.

The shoe was attached to a leg, which was itself attached to the motionless, slumped body of Harold Maine, his head stuck fast face downwards in the toilet. The room still stank of Aidan, who even now was huffing and puffing into the apartment. "Very dead," he offered. "Really, most sincerely dead."

"I had to see it with my own eyes," Helen said.

"Yeah well, here isn't the place to be right now," Aidan said. The woman didn't respond. "Helen. It's no good being here. We have to go. It's over."

"What about my hands?" Tears welled up in her eyes. "Am I like this forever? I thought we'd change back once he was dead."

"We might do," said Aidan. "It might take time. I don't know."

"How did he do it?"

"Oh Christ, Helen. We have to go now. Now." Aidan wheezed back to the doorway. "Let's just get the fuck out of here. Whatever happens, happens." He extended a claw out to Helen. "We'll still have each other," he said. And then, with a snort: "Christ, that's so so depressing."

Helen sighed and followed him out of the room, down the stairs, out of the lobby and into Geoff Mansani's waiting car.

+

"Is it him?"

Dimitri pushed the bathroom door open. He stepped past the prone body and tried to lift the head up to see the face. "Jammed tight," he said. "Body matches the description though. What a way to go… I'm gonna run some DNA checks. Maybe see if I can't pull his head out. Wonder where F1/M2 are?"

"Long gone, if they were ever here," said Paris. She turned away and waved Agent Fielding over. "Okay, what do we have so far?"

"Two hundred and seventy three thousand, six hundred and sixty six dollars in cash in various bags and drawers scattered around the apartment. One diary with two hundred or more entries detailing interactions with various associates and colleagues. Nothing else yet but we'll get everything catalogued."

"TEMPLAR readings?"

"Temperature within expected ranges. Uniform. Humidity is 23% higher than expected. Magnetics are normal. Pressure is 18% higher than expected range tolerances. Light levels down…"

Paris nodded silently, her eyes settling on a TV dinner table, white metal fold - up legs and stained scuffed surface. Next to the remote control sat a small, black object the size of a packet of cigarettes. It held her attention somehow; mundane yet mesmerising. She checked to see if Dimitri was watching, and then she picked it up.

There was a sucking noise from the bathroom as Dimitri finally lifted the jammed head out of the toilet."Positive ID," he said. "It's Maine."

Paris allowed herself the slightest feeling of relief. The worst was over. She would ring her father that night and give him the good news. As she imagined the conversation, she swiped the phone screen. Televono Telefex Secrecy-8. Not a make or model she'd ever heard of. Her fingers once again skipped over the smooth glossy surface; it asked her for a PIN, and she made one up.

Amazingly, it worked. She glanced up quickly to make sure Dimitri was still busy, and navigated to contacts.

She gasped as the most recently used contacts came up: Paris, Sarah. Paris, Ellen. Her daughters.

Agent Fielding looked up from his tagging. "Everything okay?"

She slipped the phone quickly into her pocket, her heart racing. Why did Harold Maine have her daughters' contact details? Fielding repeated his question. "I think so," she flustered. "I don't know. I need some fresh air."

"Could be a symptom of the TEMPLAR figures," Fielding suggested. He turned to the bathroom. "You feel okay, Delta?"

"Fine," came the response. "Apart from my hands are covered in you know what."

Paris shook her head. "I've been feeling off all day," she lied. "Can you guys handle this on your own? Text me on the usual if you find anything." More than anything else, she knew she had to be away from this mundane, malevolent place.

"Wait," said Fielding. "Just like that? You're going? You know we're not to operate just the two of us."

Paris headed for the apartment door. The phone was a solid presence against her thigh. Harold Maine had her daughters' details. She had to know why. She was starting to get a tension headache. "I'll send Kimura up," she said as she left.

Fielding looked at Dimitri and shrugged. "Pleasure's all mine," he said.

+

Exactly one week later, on Tuesday 10th February, Agent Carol Paris would hand in the cellphone from Harold Maine's apartment to her superiors. The phone would be given the designation SCP-2982. She would be suspended from her post and then be given her own SCP designation.

On Thursday 12th, her father Calvin Paris would undergo a medical examination by his own employers. He would pass with the highest possible fitness rating - A1. On Sunday 15th, he would die in his sleep, cause of death: advanced bronchioloalveolar carcinoma.

Commencing Thursday 19th February, Chief Global Suppression Manager Alexander Lazarus would spend two days at Site-23 trying to assess the implications of the phone's behaviour.

On Friday 20th, Lazarus would disappear, as would SCP-2982.

On Monday 23rd February, Agent Carol Paris would die of stress cardiomyopathy.

Neither Lazarus nor the phone would ever be recovered.

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