Proposal for SCP-XXX, The Hanged King's TragedyObject Class: Euclid
Special Containment Procedures: All materials relating to SCP-XXX are to be kept in a triple-locked archive at Storage Site-██. These items currently consist of: the two (2) currently extant copies of the 1640 quarto; twenty-seven (27) copies of the 1965 trade paperback edition; ten (10) copies of a 1971 hardcover printing; twenty-one (21) floppy diskettes, consisting of data seized from raids on [EXPUNGED]; one (1) S-VHS video cassette tape (designated SCP-XXX-19██-A); and one (1) steel knife of unknown origin (designated SCP-XXX-19██-B). At no time are any of these items to be removed from the room. The storage area is to be kept at a constant temperature of 7°C (44°F) at all times. Access to the area is to be heavily monitored; absolutely no personnel whatsoever is to be granted access to the archive without the express, in-person permission of Drs. L████, R█████ and J██████. Under no circumstances whatsoever are any 05-class personnel to read or view first-hand any materials directly related to SCP-XXX, including the full text or the recordings of a performance.
Description: SCP-XXX, The Hanged King's Tragedy, is a Caroline-era revenge tragedy in five acts. Performances of the play are associated with sudden psychotic and suicidal behavior among both observers and participants, as well as the manifestation of a mysterious figure, classified as SCP-XXX-1. Historical estimates place the number of lives claimed by the play at between █████ and █████ over the past three hundred years.
Performances of The Hanged King's Tragedy do not always end with a manifestation. Of the ██ recorded performances, only ██ (36.781%) have ended in SCP-XXX events. According to historical records and investigations, these outbreaks generally follow the same pattern:
- 1 to 2 weeks (7 to 14 days) prior to Event: During the dress rehearsal period, cast members will begin to spontaneously deviate from the published text of the play. Rather than improvisation or gaffs associated with going 'off script,' said deviations will be both orderly and consistent, as if the actors were working off a new version of the script. The cast and production crew will seem unaware of any change, and - if it is brought to their attention - will state that the play has run that way from the beginning.
- 2 to 3 hours prior to Event: The outbreak generally occurs during Opening Night, or else at the production with the greatest planned attendance (generally falling within the first week after the play's opening). The production will begin as planned with no abnormal events.
- 1 to 2 hours before Event: SCP-XXX-1 begins to appear on stage in the final scene of Act I, generally in the background or to the side of the main action. It may seem to enter or exit the stage area, but does not appear to ever enter the backstage or off-stage area; it simply disappears when not on stage. The cast does not appear to notice the figure at all. The audience begins to manifest signs of disquiet.
- The Event: SCP-XXX-1 appears fully on stage during the banquet scene in Act V. Here, it will be incorporated into the action of the play as 'the Hanged King.' The cast will either murder each other or commit suicide, sometimes using items that seem to appear spontaneously on stage. Rioting breaks out in the audience, with viewers randomly attacking anyone in front of them, regardless of prior relationship.
- Following the Event: If any of the audience members survive the initial outbreak, they may exit the performance space, in which case they will continue to engage in random or opportunistic violence. Victims will generally require sedation or restraint in this scenario; normal personality will begin to return roughly 24 hours after the event. Surviving victims will generally exhibit signs consistent with a traumatic experience; some will have no recollection of the event. Others may be rendered permanently comatose or psychotic.
For a typical case study of an outbreak, see Incident Report SCP-XXX-19██-1, an analysis of the events leading up to the last uncontained SCP-XXX event in 19██, during a performance at a high school in █████████████, ████. For more information on the play’s published text, see Summary SCP-XXX-1640-A-1.
In short, SCP-XXX is a self-evolving memetic virus, transmitted through unknown means through the text of the play. Dr. L████ has theorized that SCP-XXX events may involve [EXPUNGED]. This hypothesis is consistent with a spike in ████ ██████ levels detected via satellite in the vicinity of the 19██ incident, indicating [EXPUNGED].
Foundation agents are under standing orders to suppress any performance or publication of SCP-XXX whenever found or detected. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, however, the play remains freely available online, sometimes under different titles. All attempts to detect or isolate the origin of these copies have failed. Publication of the play has generally been successful, with most copies of a 1971 scholarly edition destroyed before distribution. Nonetheless, copies of the 1965 trade paperback turn up with some regularity in both college and high school libraries. Agents are to obtain or otherwise destroy these items whenever possible.
History: The first known publication of The Hanged King’s Tragedy was as a quarto dated 1640. The play’s author is not listed. The publisher, one William Cooke, disappeared from the historical record soon thereafter. The text strangely does not appear in the Stationers’ Register, the official document which recorded every officially-licensed publication in England.
The first known SCP-XXX event on record occurred in 18██ during a performance of the play in ██████, ██, USA. Other significant incidents include the 19██ performance at a small theater in ██████, ███, ██; the 1964 performance at the University of ███████████, ███████████, ███████; the 19██ performance at ██████ University, the first SCP-XXX event successfully suppressed by the Foundation; the 19██ performance by a student group in ███████, CA; the 19██ television adaptation by the ██████████ Broadcasting Corporation (production successfully shut down by the Foundation before broadcast); and the 19██ incident in ██████████████, Ohio, USA detailed in SCP-XXX-19██-1.
- Original 1640 quarto (all known copies in Foundation custody)
- 1733 folio edition (republished 1790)
- 1813 Cambridge University Press edition
- 1965 trade paperback edition
- 1971 hardcover edition
Agents should note that copies of the play have often been misfiled under different titles or spellings of the title. Furthermore, photocopies of the 1965 text have been found in circulation throughout college theater departments in the continental United States and in the United Kingdom.
- Given the high probability of [EXPUNGED] in my mind, I again recommend that SCP-XXX be upgraded to Keter-class. The SCP-XXX memetic virus may very well be the forefront of an invasion scenario. Furthermore, [EXPUNGED]. - Dr. L████, 1237116060.
- Denied. None of the current information we have on SCP-XXX indicates a XK-class scenario. Until we have additional data, classification will remain at Euclid. — Face facts, Doctor. The cat's been out of the bag on this one for three centuries. And in this line of business, we consider ourselves lucky if we only lose a hundred people ever ten years. - O5-█, 1237197060.
INCIDENT REPORT SCP-XXX-19██-1
The following is a report prepared by Drs. R█████ and J██████ on the content of SCP-XXX-19██-A. SCP-XXX-19██-A is a 187mm x 103mm x 25mm S-VHS video cassette tape recovered by investigators from the scene of the incident. Tape was found in a destroyed consumer-grade camcorder, which was apparently recording the performance from a vantage point within the audience. It is the only surviving record of the event. Please see the SCP-XXX archives for the full transcript of the recording.
- 0:00:00 – Tape begins.
- 0:03:10 – House lights go down.
- 0:05:12 – Curtain raises. The play begins as published with Gonzalo’s coronation speech.
- 0:10:21 – A possible sighting of SCP-XXX-1 during Isabella’s ravings – an anomalous shadow not belonging to one of the cast members shows up along the back wall of the set. (Note: may possibly belong to one of the stagehands.)
- 0:10:24 – Shadow disappears.
- 0:23:15 – First deviation from the text. Rather than the dialogue between Francisco and the courtesan, the curtain drops and comes back up on a bare stage. Antonio enters from stage right.
- 0:23:24 – First indirect sighting of SCP-XXX-1. The shadow of a figure seems to appear on the back wall, from stage right. Antonio stops; his jaw drops. The shadow disappears. Antonio begins a long soliloquy, confirming that he now believes Isabella’s story. Dr. Johnson notes that while this soliloquy is in the style of the rest of the play and seems to be accurate Caroline-era dialogue, Antonio’s speech in this scene *does not* exist in the original text.
- 0:24:12 – Curtain drops.
- 0:24:51 – Curtain raises on Francisco and the courtesan. Antonio returns; the play continues as scripted.
- 0:31:14 – First direct sighting of SCP-XXX-1. It enters and stands at the edge of stage left towards the end of Act II, Scene 1.
- 0:32:17 – Gonzalo’s dialogue concludes (as scripted) with the mention of an appointment with the ambassador from Alagadda. He exits, stage left; SCP-XXX-1 seems to turn and follow him as the lights go down.
- 0:38:13 – Second sighting of SCP-XXX-1 during Act III, Scene 1. It appears on the edge of stage right as Gonzalo and Petruccio murder Sortino. The scene concludes with Gonzalo ordering his cooks to prepare the corpse as a stew; scripts recovered from the scene indicate that this section had been cut in rehearsal.
- 0:51:11 – Third sighting of SCP-XXX-1; appears close to stage left as Antonio kills Isabella.
- 1:09:12 – Fourth sighting: SCP-XXX-1 enters with Gonzalo at the beginning of Act IV, Scene 1, and follows him throughout the scene. The scene also contains two key moments: first, Gonzalo seems to nod to SCP-XXX-1 when he mentions the ambassador of Alagadda. This is the first time a cast member has seemed to indicate SCP-XXX-1’s presence. Second, the scene ends with a deviation from the text: whereas the scripted speech at the end of Act IV, Scene 1 ends with Gonzalo considering his own moral inequity, Gonzalo here seems to be more concerned that his ‘tribute’ will be sufficient for the ambassador. The lights go down.
- 1:21:15 – Fifth sighting: SCP-XXX-1 enters stage left at the end of Act IV, Scene 2 as Antonio leaves to secure a blade for his coup. Rather than exiting, Antonio stops in front of SCP-XXX-1, who hands him a long dagger. (This is believed to be the first appearance of the item classified SCP-XXX-19██-B; note that there is no mention of the item in the prop list or the other records maintained by the production). SCP-XXX-1 and Antonio depart the stage together.
- 1:32:41 – Sixth sighting: SCP-XXX-1 appears on stage left as Cornari and Lodovico exit.
- 1:35:10 – The lights come up. Act V, Scene 1 – the Banquet scene – begins as scripted.
- 1:40:52 – Antonio enters, bearing a piece of parchment. Here the textual deviations begin in earnest: rather than the parchment being Petrucchio’s confession as scripted, Antonio instead describes it as an invoice from the ambassador of Alagadda, proving that Gonzalo owes more tribute than he intends to pay.
- 1:41:42 — SCP-XXX-1 enters at this point from stage right. The entire cast seems to perceive it. Gonzalo stands up, curses as an aside to the audience, and runs for stage left. The rest of the cast – including Alinda and Francisco, who enter from stage left – physically restrain Gonzalo and drag him back onto the stage. SCP-XXX-1 meanwhile moves to the center of the stage, where it stands in front of Gonzalo’s throne.
- 1:43:08 – A noose is dropped onto the stage from above. The cast force Gonzalo into the noose, as he begins to curse in Italian (and possibly Latin, at one point?). The noose is drawn taunt, and the cast drops Gonzalo; he begins to suffocate.
- 1:43:32 – Antonio speaks: “With this, the tribute, in full it is paid.” The actor takes SCP-XXX-19██-2 (the dagger) and draws it across Gonzalo’s stomach, spilling his intestines across the stage.
- 1:44:04 – Alinda takes the dagger from Antonio. She speaks: “With this, fool’s blood, it is the Hanged King’s.” She cuts Antonio’s throat.
- 1:45:31 – Ropes drop from the roof of the stage, a noose for each cast member. The cast assembles underneath them, each standing on a support (chairs, tables, et cetera). Alinda takes position next to SCP-XXX-1.
- 1:46:12 – Alinda: “With this, our blood, it is the Hanged King’s.” The cast kicks out their supports. They hang themselves.
- 1:47:33 – SCP-XXX-1 moves through the hanging corpses and to front-center stage.
- 1:47:41 – The lights drop.
- 1:47:46 – Sounds of screaming and of violence (most likely from the audience).
- 1:48:22 – Loud sound. (Probably from the camera being knocked over).
- 1:49:01 – The camera is destroyed. Tape ends.