rating: -7+x

Ramsay opened his eyes. He stood up on to his feet, lightheaded and disorientated. Brushing dirt off his MTF armor, he checked his communicator. 9:26 p.m. He looked around as he clicked on his flashlight.

“This is Agent Ramsay of MTF Xi-3 checking in. Control, are you there? I’ve been separated from my team while in pursuit of SCP-“

He stopped. He couldn’t remember the anomaly’s name, or what it did, or what it looked like, or anything specific about it.

“I’ve been separated from my team while in pursuit of an uncontained anomaly. It’s dangerous, but that’s all I can remember. I’ll try to reconnect with my team and reestablish contact with control. Over.”

Agent Ramsay absorbed his surroundings. Dark, damp, silent, solitary. Like a forest devoid of any life. He followed a flurry of footprints that ran off to his right.

9:42. The more Ramsay thought, the harder it became to remember. The barren plain was completely silent, save for Ramsay’s anxious breathing and rapid footsteps. He was lacking a gun, which meant his team must have had some way to deal with the anomaly. His team, MTF ξ-3, three agents tasked with neutralizing a dangerous anomaly. Neutralizing, not containing. He remembered that, but not why they weren’t attempting containment. His breathing got faster.

“Control, this is Agent Ramsay. Do you copy? I’ve been following these footsteps for almost thirty minutes now. I assume they originate from the other members of Xi-3, as they match the ones left by me. This area appears to consist of a flat plain of dry mud, void of any life. No light can be seen, apart from my personal flashlight. Wind appears to be absent, too. I’ll update if anything occurs. Over.”

Almost immediately after clicking off his microphone, Ramsay tripped. Uninjured, he stood up and grabbed what he tripped over. An MTF helmet. MTF ξ-3-2, Agent Johnson. He ran.

A blood-curdling scream filled the air. Ramsay held his breath, but forced himself in the direction of the scream. 10:17. He found Agent Johnson on the ground, having reduced his screaming to heavy breathing. His head had a gash spanning his entire neck, too deep to be survivable.

“Johnson? Can you hear me? Control, I’ve found Agent Johnson, but he’s unresponsive. I’ll attempt to talk to him, but the gash around his neck looks doesn’t look to be surv-“

“Ram- Ramsay?”

Ramsay looked at Johnson’s eyes. He was awake, competent even, but his face was white with fear.

“Johnson, you’re alive. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“But you’re dead. I- we watched you die. Almost as soon we entered this place, it got you.”

“Johnson, I’m here. I’m alive. What the hell happened? I can’t contact control, and I’ve spent almost an hour tracing your steps and I just found you.”

“I- oh, right. Fuck this place. We can’t stay dead here.”

“What do you mean?”

“When did you wake up? 9:20? 9:25? Because that’s when you died. We entered this place at 9:15 am, and you died no more than five minutes later.”

“Oh, fuck, I’m remembering now. That means we failed, doesn’t it.”

“It means we get another try. Help me up, we need to find it before it wakes up.”

Ramsay helped Johnson to his feet and handed him his helmet. They ran off, following the footsteps left by the final member of their team.

10:37. Johnson didn’t talk much as they searched. Out of everything he could remember, his death stood out to him. Ramsay got it easy, a spike through the brain and he was out. But Johnson got to watch his body fall down as it licked its scythe clean of his blood. It stabbed his head like a kebob and threw his head off into the darkness. He died before he hit the ground.

It wasn’t helping that neither of them remembered what they were hunting. Johnson and Ramsay pieced together what this place was, but that was all they got. Some sort of sub-dimension, unrelated to the anomaly but contained by the Foundation. As long as nothing was still alive, anyone who died in the past twelve hours would come back to life.

“Control, this is Agent Johnson. Agent Ramsay and I have continued searching for MTF Xi-3-1, Agent Crews. No luck yet, and it’s already coming up on eleven p.m. The anomaly has not been located yet but is presumed to still be dead. Crews was carrying Plan B so we don’t know if it activated or not. We’ll continue to make updates every fifteen minutes. Over.”

They figured that communication was one-way, if there was any communication at all. It wasn’t likely that Agent Crews neutralized the anomaly, so they were betting on Plan B working. It had been an experimental weapon designed specifically for this neutralization mission. Halted all electrochemical reactions in the immediate area, killing anything biological. It was set to trigger at noon, so unless Crews turned it off or the anomaly escaped, they had until midnight to find it.

Agent Johnson and Agent Ramsay continued their search. They had nothing but their eyes to go off of, and even that didn’t help much. The sub-dimension made it impossible to see more than five meters away. 11:38. The footprints halted and made a sudden turn. The two surviving members of MTF ξ-3 ran ahead, but stopped once they came upon a body. Face down in a pool of dried blood, dressed in the same MTF uniform they were in.

“Control, this is Agent Ramsay. We found Agent Crews’ body. He has yet to wake up, but it won’t be much longer. Plan B was found several meters away from his body, detonated. If we got lucky, the anomaly shouldn’t be far away. We’ll continue our search for the anomaly, in hopes that we can terminate it before it wa-“

“Ramsay? Is that you?”

The voice came from behind them. Agent Ramsay and Agent Johnson turned around and stared at the face of Agent Crews. A scar ran across his face, dry blood caking it shut.

“Crews? But we just found your body. How can you be here?”

“My… body? Shit, we’ve been duped.”


“You idiots, can’t you remember we’re hunting a-“

He stopped. Crews walked past them over to the body. He rolled it over with his foot and lifted the crushed helmet off the body’s face. A bloody mess stared back at him. None of them could identify the body.

“We’re hunting a shapeshifter.”

The three of them stared at each other over the dead corpse. 11:55. None of them brought any weapons for exactly this purpose. A deadlock was better than a gunfight.

“Control, this is Agent Crews. We have a situation currently. Classic impasse, but the whole resurrection thing left us a bit foggy. In a few minutes, whoever this body is will wake up. Whether it’s the anomaly or one of us, it’s definitely going to be a shit show. We’re trying to remember what to do in this situation, but it’s taking too long. If you don’t hear us in five minutes, consider us lost. Actually, scratch that, it can mimic voices. I’m sure we have some sort of system in place, so just follow that. Over.”

Something began to click inside Ramsay. That wasn’t his name. He couldn’t remember if he had a name. He had died, but this place didn’t bring himself back to life. He had grown himself back from a clump of flesh, clinging to the last body he knew, Agent Ramsay. That was the only way he could survive the bomb. He mutilated Agent Ramsay’s body before fleeing, while still allowing the bomb to finish him off. Ramsay was already brain-dead from his spike, but his body still had enough life in it to give him a skin to wear. He felt his body start to shift, morph, form new limbs underneath his skin.

11:58. The pressure of imminent death wasn’t helping Agent Johnson and Agent Crews find a solution. Their memory, or lack thereof, left them grasping at straws. Agent Ramsay began to form three spikes on his back, one for each of the three MTF members. As soon as the real Agent Ramsay woke up, he would eliminate all of them simultaneously. He just needed a bit more time to grow the tendrils.

“Come on, we can get through this. We’re MTF Xi-3, we’ve been in countless situations like this. We have to remember something.”

“Wait, Crews, what did you say? What was our name?”

“MTF- oh”

“Shit. Do you remember?”

“I remember. Ramsay? Do you?”

Ramsay had to draw his attention back to the conversation. He took a second consider what would look more suspicious.

"Of course."

“Then let’s settle this.”

Midnight. The mutilated corpse’s face began to reform. The damage to Agent Ramsay’s face began to reverse. The spiked appendages, almost fully formed, started to pierce through his skin.

“Control, if you're listening, cover your ears. On three. One. Two.”

The spikes flew out of his body, uncoiling and tensing in the direction the three agents.

“Mobile Task Force Xi-3 'Shape Grifters.'”

He stopped. His brain kept repeating those words over and over and over. Mobile Task Force Xi-3 "Shape Grifters". Mobile Task Force Xi-3 "Shape Grifters". Mobile Task Force Xi-3 "Shape Grifters". First his spikes, then his body fell to the ground. Mobile Task Force Xi-3. Mobile Task Force Xi-3. Mobile Task Force Xi-3. He couldn’t stop. His vision faded, his hearing quieted, his nerves fried. He was alone. Xi-3. Xi-3. Xi-3.

Agent Johnson and Agent Crews helped Agent Ramsay to his feet. They looked worse for wear, but they were alive.

“What’s going on?”

“Long story, Ramsay. But right now we have to get out of here.”

“That’s- that’s the anomaly we were hunting?”

“Yep, but it’s dead for now.”

“It- it looks like me.”

“Yep, had us fooled too. But we remembered our kill agent just in time.”

“Our kill agent? Oh, right.”

“Come on, let’s get out of here. Help me pick it up, we can’t leave it here if we want it to stay dead.”

“Glad to have you back, Ramsay.”

“Man Johnson, what the hell happened here?”

“Control? This is Agent Crews. Target neutralized. We’re heading home.”

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