When I retire, I want to live a quiet life.
Here. If I retire, I want to live a quiet life.
It’s not an easy task. In my line of work, life expectancy is short.
I might get killed during our next containment breach, when the various monsters we keep locked up get bored and decide to have a snack. I might meet my end on a field mission, by getting eaten, vaporized, or crazied to death by some hitherto undiscovered scip that defies all laws of science as we know it and has decided to use these powers to kill me in a spectacularly gruesome fashion. Or I might simply die in a good old-fashioned shootout with the Insurgency or GOC while I’m on a mission. Agents that work for the SCP Foundation don’t live very long, as you might have guessed. The bad ones, at least.
Me? I like to think that I’m a good agent. If nothing else, I’m a lucky agent. I keep my head down on the job; I submit my reports on time, and, if necessary, I go out and kill a few people in pursuit of a scip. Do I sleep well at night? Sometimes.
Well, no, that’s a lie, not really. Spending your life surrounded by murderous reptiles, killer statues, and with God knows how many other nameless horrors lurking out there does not for a good night’s rest make.
I have nightmares a lot. Sometimes, God help me, I even enjoy my night-time terrors; the one where 173 chases me down a hallway, or that time where 682 decides to turn me into meat puree. They remind me that, beneath the detached demeanour I put on at work, there’s some small part of me that’s still human, still a fearful little man in a universe of unimaginable horror.
Of course, there are times when I don’t want to be human at all.
Sometimes… I want to be a lemur.
Go ahead. Laugh. Chuckle at the weirdo who entertains a hopeless dream. I don’t know where this dream came from either. At my age, I should be fantasizing about fast cars and attractive lingerie-clad women. But I don’t. When I imagine my ideal life, I find myself drifting off to the rainforests of Madagascar, where I can spend a quiet day eating fruit and swinging through the trees with my brothers and sisters.
And only there, in the trees, with sites and agents and scips so far away, do I feel truly safe. In any other profession, this dream might seem foolish, unattainable, but when your co-workers include a talking dog, immortal monkey-man, and whatever Clef is, you’ll quickly find out that “impossible” is far from constant.
The most vivid memory of my mother that I have is my five-year old self and her visiting the zoo. We watched the tigers, the elephants, the lions; but it was the lemurs, the little hyperactive prosimians jumping up the chain-link fence, little hands reaching out for our peanuts, that made my mother laugh hardest. We watched them for hours, until finally the zoo closed and we were shooed out.
She was hit by a car three days afterwards.
Working for the Foundation really does change a way a man thinks. Even when you’re off the job, you begin eyeing every thing suspiciously. That coffee mug, that table, the newspaper- is it a potentially undiscovered scip? What’s lurking behind that dark corner? Could that weird television show be a potential memetic threat? No matter how much the others deny it, I’m sure I’m not the only Foundation worker who eyes the shadows of my night-time bedroom with a mixture of suspicion and fear, before the nightmares take me.
But then, on those few nights where the nightmares slip away, I can feel the rough bark of the tree beneath my prehensile toes. I hear the familiar calls of a troop scampering along the ground, and I leap down and join them. In the hot afternoon sun of Madagascar, there are no unexpected horrors, no nightmares, and no fear. I remember my mother, and our laughter.
And, then, and only then, do I feel safe.