Dimensions 2, 3, and Onward
rating: +48+x

The alarms had been going on for so long that his ears rang in between each beat of the klaxons' harsh, rising pitched wail. Every time he scanned a new hallway, his eyes picked out lurking shapes in the dim half-light, dispelled every time when his jittering hand pointed the flashlight at it, its rubber grip slick with sweat in his grip. In his time in this place, Site-17 had only experienced two alarms like this one. One was a fire, quickly extinguished. The other was something the guards and the researchers would refuse to discuss with him. Also quickly extinguished.

If the clocks in the various hallways were to be believed, this alarm had been going for at least four hours, or at least four hours after the door to his cell had been opened. Why it had been opened, when he knew there were at least three redundant failsafe systems supposed to prevent that outcome, he could not say.

The halls were dim, the site's power systems rerouted to what a planner somewhere must have deemed to be more important functions than brightly illuminating the sterile white walls and tile floors. To his eyes, the walls seemed to glow in the dim light, the spotlessly clean tiles each a twilight reflection on the ground. It made him feel as though he were walking through a dream, an entirely unwelcome reminder of some of his more distressing travels.

There had been screams, early on. He had heard them, even before his cell door was open. But yet there were no bodies. No blood, no scattered belongings, no damage to any equipment or any of the facilities. Somehow that was worse. The only noise now as he crept through the abandoned middle levels was the klaxons, and the faint echo of earlier screaming just behind the ringing in his ears. His heart pounded, so much that there were times he thought he was going to faint. The only thing keeping him moving was the thought of being found by whatever had caused this, and having nowhere to run inside of his standard humanoid containment cell.

His overriding instinct was to somehow get outside and as far away from Site-17 as possible. There was no telling the next time he would be snatched up by whatever force determined these things and sent god knows where; he had no intention of being randomly put back into a breached facility, back into the middle of whatever was going on here. He crept as quickly as he could around the next corner, hoping that a bank of elevators or a stairwell was at the end of the next turn.

Down the hallway, more empty rooms. More noise, more half-darkness. Utility closets, power stations, a janitorial supply room, all open and unattended. The hum of a still-glowing panel of instruments pulsed behind him as he continued. A red tile square on the ground in front of him caught his attention, the first he'd seen since the one directly in front of the entry to his cell. Another skip. The sign at the door indicated "SCP-085." He had heard about Cassy from the researchers. Curiosity welled up in the midst of his terror, and he carefully made his way through the open door.

In front of him was a stainless steel lectern, angled as though he were approaching it in order to give a speech to the blank white wall directly in front of him. The usual coterie of chairs and recording instruments lined the walls to the sides. A white drawing pad sat on top of the lectern, a cheap black ballpoint pen resting next to it. He approached.

In the dim emergency lighting, he saw her. A slim, long-haired young woman, drawn with clean, black strokes on the white paper, pacing frantically across the page. She was drawn in body armor, looking like the security personnel that he would see sometimes rushing through the site. At his approach, she stopped suddenly, a mixture of relief and fear playing across her elegantly drawn face. Despite the situation, he noted that her movements flowed elegantly as the lines that composed her shifted and uncoiled, nothing at all like the living animation that he had envisioned. She pointed desperately at the pen next to the pad, mouthing silently frantic words.

He picked up the pen and started to scribble in the corner of the sheet, his hurried handwriting a tangled mess compared to her precisely delineated form.

What the hell is going on?

Cassy looked up at the corner of the page, then pulled a notepad of her own out of one of the pockets of her BDUs. She hastily wrote, then held out the pad towards him. He squinted and adjusted his glasses, struggling to make out the tiny lettering.

You tell me.

Of course. They didn't tell the skips anything. Why should she be any different? He scrawled again in the corner of the page.

Look, I'm SCP-507. He paused a moment. Of course she knew that. It was printed several times across the front of his orange jumpsuit. I have no idea what's happening, but I'm getting out of here. Something is wrong. Do you want to come with me?

She looked back up at the corner, then immediately nodded her head affirmatively. She wrote a quick note on her pad.

Find Service Elevator B54!

He nodded, then gingerly picked up the drawing pad and the pen. As he looked back up, a figure was before him. A person, impossibly pitch black, hovered in the air before him, thrown into stark relief against the white wall, as though he were a man-shaped hole. At first he appeared to be trembling, but in the next second he could tell that the man wasn't moving; everything around him was instead flickering and jumping. Terror shot up his spine, and without thought he ran back into the hallway, clutching the drawing pad to his chest.

SCP-507 tore down the hallway, no regard now for his surroundings or what may be around the next corner. He looked desperately for the telltale hazard stripes denoting a service elevator, heaving for breath as he sprinted for all his worth. A set of double doors loomed at the end of the hall. He ran for them and hoped they weren't locked, lowering his shoulder and preparing to-

A grassy field. Sunlight blinded him and the sudden feeling of the wind on his face made him stop in his tracks. He fumbled for the drawing pad, and his stomach dropped as he realized he wasn't holding it any more. Had he dropped it? Half-blind, he dropped to the ground, combing his fingers through cool grass, the appearance of an endless meadow slowly coming into view as his eyes adjusted. He spun in circles, manically pawing the ground to find what he had dropped. His hand touched a leg, and he froze.

He looked up at Cassy, living and breathing in the flesh, just as he was. She was an incredible likeness of the drawing, still attired in security gear, her face a mask of shock, still processing their surroundings. She clapped her hands to his shoulders, helping him to his feet. She started to haltingly mouth words, tentative sounds of uncertainty coming forth as she tested her new environment. Her voice cracked as she spoke.

"C-can…can you hear me?"

SCP-507 stood dumbstruck, barely nodding his understanding.

She looked around at the seemingly endless meadow expanse surrounding them, the grass rippling in the wind.

"I can…hear my own voice. But I don't think anyone has ever heard me speak."

Despite the mortal terror that had gripped him just moments before, SCP-507 smiled. "Lucky me."

"What is this place? How is this possible?"

He frowned, looking out at the distant skyline. "I have this thing where I randomly teleport to other dimensions and back. Scientific, I know. If I'm touching someone, they come with me. Something about being transported into, wherever this is, must have changed you somehow. Maybe you were just in a cross-dimensional, er, something the whole time."

Cassy looked now to SCP-507. She studied his face, her hand reaching up to her own face, seemingly tracing her own features as her eyes took him in. "How long do you usually stay in these places?"

"It changes. Hours sometimes. Days. There's no way to tell. They're usually a lot weirder than this place, though."

"Can we…can we just stay here, for a few minutes? I want to just…be like this, here, for a moment."

SCP-507 looked out over the unchanging landscape. "Yeah, yeah I think that's all right. We should get moving soon, though. I want to be way the hell out of Site-17 by the time we come back to reality. Whenever that is."

Cassy nodded, and closed her eyes as she held her hands out to feel the wind breeze past them. She slowly turned in place, testing the strictures of this new, three dimensional existence. SCP-507 tried not to stare, studiously looking out around his new travelling companion. But his eyes occasionally snapped to this incredible person, a sketch on a pad of paper not minutes beforehand, suddenly transformed. Or freed.

She looked over her shoulder, back at him, catching his gaze. SCP-507 quickly averted his eyes, his cheeks suddenly flushing. "We, um, we should, uh, be getting-"

A hint of a smile crossed her lips. "What's your name? I don't want to call you SCP-507."

"It's, um, uh, well. It's, uh…"

"You don't know your own name?"

He cleared his throat, fidgeting awkwardly with his hands. "Well, yeah, but it's, um. It's kind of embarrassing."

Cassy's smile broadened now. "I promise I won't laugh. Honest."

He pushed up his glasses. "It's uh, John."

Her hands flew up to her mouth, trying to cover the involuntary giggle that escaped her lips.

"Hey, you promised," John said, laughing as well.

"I'm sorry, I just…what's so embarrassing about 'John'?"

"It's just so boring, you know? Like there's a thousand other people named 'John' within a hundred feet of you, wherever you go." He put his hands in the pockets of his jumpsuit. "And I've just, never really liked the idea of being boring."

Cassy laughed again. "I don't think being boring is a problem either of us needs to worry about."

John smiled. "I guess not. We should probably get moving."

"Right." Cassy began walking toward the setting sun, in what was presumably the easterly direction in this plane. John followed behind quickly. He tentatively touched her arm.

"Oh, uh, there's one other thing. I have to be touching the person I'm with, or they, uh, don't come back when I do." John cleared his throat. "There was, uh. An accident, one time."

Cassy stopped momentarily, and with a smile, took John's hand. His face went crimson.

They walked ahead in a companionable silence, the fear momentarily pushed back, this place a respite from whatever was happening in Site-17. The sun touched the horizon, and shadows began to dance among the blades of grass, the wind starting to bite as it brushed their faces, just a little. The unchanging nature of the landscape seemed to make time flow differently, as though each step covered the same ground while twilight gradually spread over all of it. Their focus became covering distance, as much as possible, enough to hopefully place them anywhere but within the confines of Site-17 when they returned.

When the sun had almost sank entirely, Cassy paused, still hand-in-hand with John. She turned to him.

"I'll be like I always was when I return, won't I?"

John mulled the question. His heart sank. "I'm not really sure. But it's always the same reality when I return. I'm guessing so."

It was too dark for him to see her expression. A silence descended on them. Both of them remained still.

"I'm…I'm going to really miss this. It's almost cruel, to get a taste of what it must be like to be normal, and then to have it taken away."

John thought the situation over. He suddenly squeezed Cassy's hand. "What if I kept you with me? You know, maybe it's like this every time. I mean you being, um…you, I guess. It wouldn't be the same as being a full-time, um…human, but at least we could visit occasionally. If, you'd um, like that, I mean."

Even in the encroaching darkness, he could see the flash of a smile.

"You would do that for me?"

"Well, yeah, of course! But, um, I have to warn you, it gets kind of uh, scary at times. Also really, really weird, too."

Cassy embraced him, holding him close as though she'd been welcoming back a friend who had been gone for years.

"So what else is new," she said, genuine warmth suffusing her voice. "Now, let's see if we can't put another few miles between us and it, hm?"

With renewed energy, the two walked on, hand in hand.

Night fell.

In the deepening darkness, they walked more slowly, carefully picking their steps, avoiding unseen ruts in the ground or small mounds to trip them up. The wind had intensified, and now they walked more closely together, holding their arms close to themselves for warmth, suppressing the occasional shiver.

As John picked his next step, he felt his foot bump into a hard barrier. A wall? He looked up. Only darkness, nothing resembling a structure. He felt out in front of his face, and his hand brushed the same invisible barrier. Except now it felt like it was pushing back. And in a few moments, he and Cassy felt themselves being pressed backward by an implacable, unseen force. And then he saw it.

A clear, sharp outline of a man, so black that it was easily distinguished against the faint light of the rising moon. Panic gripped him, and taking Cassy's hand he spun around and started to run. In five steps, he slammed into another barrier, pushing back against him. The black figure was there, bits of grass and dirt floating away from it, as though they were underwater. Ripples pulsed through the detritus accumulating around the man-shaped hole in the night.

"I had to search you out. You are outliers, passing between worlds. You were hazy in my sight. But not now." The figure's voice was deep, scratchy. Echoing unnaturally in the short space between it and them. It floated closer, the barrier in front of it pushing them back. "Your existence invites infinite suffering. Any pain you may feel now is nothing compared to what you bring with you."

They spun back around to run in the other direction, only to be met by the same figure. Two of them now. The same voice spoke from their left, indicating a third.

"You must atone. You will atone."

The barrier was a circle now, pushing them in from all directions, more and more of the figures appearing around them, surrounding them.

"Get us of out of here!" screamed Cassy.

"I can't! I c-c-can't control it!" John yelled.

The barrier pressed inexorably inward. It was beginning to crush them.

"I know you can, John! I know it!" Cassy held tight to him, her eyes wide in terror at the force that was about to kill them.

"Shit, shit, I'm trying!" John tried desperately to push away the paralyzing fear and concentrate. He had tried to will himself on his travels, both away from reality and back to it. All he had to show for his efforts in the past was a headache. He tried to clear his mind and focus.

Home. Home. Home.

He struggled to breathe as air was forced from his lungs.

Home. Home. Home.

Cassy struggled in vain to move her arms, and was pressed further into him. He started to feel his joints creaking.

Home. Home. Home.

He was pressed so tightly he could no longer draw breath. He felt the veins start to bulge out in his neck. This was it, this was how it was going to-

He was suddenly elsewhere. He fell to his knees and gasped for air, rolling to his side and looking for Cassy. She was nowhere to be seen. He reached to the pockets of his jumpsuit, and to his incredible relief felt the pad of drawing paper. He quickly pulled it out.

Blank.

His guts turned to ice, and he frantically looked about his new surroundings. He was in an old warehouse, from the looks of it. The dusty wooden floorboards creaked as he paced about quickly, taking the measure of the place and trying to work out where he should start looking. The building was dimly lit, the air still and close. In contrast to the cool breeze of the endless meadow, this place felt oppressively warm and stuffy. The air smelled of wood shavings and ink.

Suddenly, a bare light bulb flickered on in front of him, illuminating a patch of wall. The walls appeared to be circular. Beneath the light bulb was a large canvas. Cassy's face looked back at him, the same clean, precise strokes of the unknown artist's hand, this time conveying frozen, mortal terror.

The voice sounded from above him, unseen as he looked skyward.

"SCP-085 was the result of an experiment conducted between SCP-067 and SCP-914. Both objects have been decommissioned."

More light bulbs flickered on, one in sequence after another, traveling quickly around the circular room. Each one illuminated another canvas, each one the same frozen, terrified face. John was surrounded with the fear of his closest friend.

"SCP-085 preferred to be called 'Cassy.' She was completely sentient."

The walls lurched into motion, spinning around John as he stood rooted to the spot, helpless. Each canvas flashed by him, faster and faster, until his eyes could only make out one face, one Cassy. Her face started to move, and she mouthed something, words he could not understand, her speech rendered once more to silence.

"SCP-085 demonstrated the ability to transfer from one sheet or image to another."

The viewpoint of the canvas expanded, affording John a full view of Cassy, her arms and legs splayed out. Her fingers looked like they were starting to extend and stretch out.

"SCP-085 can only exist in a degraded universal narrative."

John gasped as Cassy's hands and arms distended unnaturally, her face now contorted in a scream. Her fingers seemed to unravel now, the clean black lines fraying and twitching, coming apart and flowing messily in the white spaces of the canvas. Her arms continued to unravel, as her legs started to distend as well. She was being taken apart.

"Prior to today, SCP-085 was unaware of its status as a threat to any chance of survival of life in this universe. SCP-085 was made aware, and then unmade."

John turned away from the horrifying sight before him, only to see the same sight reflected a dozen times all around him. Cassy's body was now a mad tangle of twisted, writhing lines slashed across each canvas, the only recognizable feature being her agonized face in a sea of abstract, haphazard strokes of a pen. The lines started to flicker as her face faded into decoherence, breaking apart into segments and dashes, hand drawn static splashing all over each canvas, engulfing the last identifiable representation to John's eyes. A mouth, wide open with untold and unknowable suffering.

The walls came to a sudden stop. The lines kept moving on each of the now separately viewable canvasses. Every little mark, every slash of what had formerly been Cassy, flowed like blood to the center of each canvas, coalescing into a single point. Each point pulled into itself, smaller and smaller, until each became imperceptibly tiny to his eyes. With that, Cassy was gone.

John collapsed, tears streaming from his eyes, his mouth agape, clutching his arms around himself. The full magnitude of what he had just witnessed was still washing over him. The black figure appeared above him, floating, seemingly looking down at him. His muscles refused to respond as he continued to lay on his back, staring up at the decrepit wooden ceiling.

"Please don't kill me," John managed weakly, somewhere between a whisper and squeak.

The black figure began to fade out of sight.

"It will not be me who kills you. It will not be anything that kills you."

The figure faded out of his view. Each light bulb went out in succession, the room darkening as the dousing traveled around the walls, in the opposite direction of their initial lighting. John was left lying on the floor, in darkness.

He heard a voice directly next to his left ear.

"Back so soon?"

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