An old man stands alone in a dusty room. The man, who is older than the room and a great deal dustier, walks slowly along a row of shelves. It is dark and the man cannot see what is on the shelves, cannot see the plaques and plates that he knows are there. To the man this does not matter, the plaques and their words and titles and dates and shiny edges. He knows what they say, the myriad that lines the rows and rows of the dark room. He read them as they were first lain down, each one polished lovingly with the soft cloth he still carries. The old man stops and sighs, looking down at the space behind an especially small plate, where lays an aged photograph of a cluster of men standing in front of some great brass contraption. The plaque, had he been able to read it, would have read:
S.C.P. 2374-L: Eisenburgh’s ‘Time Machine’ - Displaced following test 2374-L-1, 1937. Crew assumed deceased, no remains recovered.
The old man remembers. He remembers the day that Doctor Henrickson had brought him the photo and the two-line obituary for the men that it displayed. He remembers when the others, the other researchers and the other doctors, came to visit and see the little shrine to their lost friends. He remembers when they stopped coming. He turns and looks with eyes that cannot see at another small plaque a few yards away, near-entirely obscuring the tiny sliver of colored glass that lay fixed behind it. It should read:
S.C.P. 3298-L: The Rainbow’s Mirror - Destroyed following exploration attempt 3298-L-2, 1922. Exploration team confirmed deceased 1924.
He remembers the day when he had to hastily inscribe the confirmation of the poor men’s deaths, as limbs started launching themselves from the glass, plastering an especially persistent widow with salt water and sending the cleaning crews barging through his aisles. He remembers the disgusted look on the director’s face, as he showed him the revised plaque, the floor still wet with salt water, blood, and lye.
S.C.P. 2167-L: The Cat’s Cradle - Deactivated following investigatory test 2167-L, 1932. All personnel involved deceased.
The old man stares, his eyes just barely making out the shape of a twisted splintered of burnt wood that stands behind the dark shape of the plaque. He cannot see the tiny bits of fur or hair or the stains of blood that marked the wood, but he knows all too well that they are there. The old man remembers them all, each and every last one. One hundred and twenty three paces to his right lies a larger-than-most inscribed circlet of metal, one of the last that he ever carved out.
S.C.P. 2902-L: Litelli’s Last Suit - Destroyed following military-applications test 2902-L-1, 1941. Item properties confirmed. All personnel involved deceased from direct exposure/ related illness 194 .
The old man still doesn’t understand why they had him put the blank bit at the end of that plaque, what they were so sure would happen. He remembers the way they carried in the little bit of burnt fabric, the strange box they held it in and the strange suits they wore. He had asked them why they wore such strange clothes, what they were protecting themselves from. He remembers their answer, how he needn’t worry and that it was merely a precaution. He looks, or pretends to look, and imagines he can just barely make out the tiny crack in the box that showed up one day after a woman had been there, watching it for hours. He remembers her tears. He remembers the tears of the director, when they had closed the big vault door at the end of the room for the very last time.
Outside the dark room stands the dark beams of a hastily plastered wall and in front of it the bright light of a hallway. People walk past, lit by bright fluorescent lighting that makes the shadows under their eyes jump and wander. A few of them, but not many, turn and look at the small plaque that hangs on the wall.
Frank Digliani Memorial SCP Archival Wing
May He Rest In Peace
The old man in the dark room remembers it all, alone, as the rest of the world slowly forgets.