Performance Anxiety
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“He stood his ground when facing an entity forty times his size. I can respect that.”

“He died.”

“Yes.” James nodded. “That’s why I respect his decision.”

Said entity had devoured Oates without pause, but it had lasted about eight seconds when it encountered James. It had swallowed the man in a mass of slithering sinew and fanged orifices… and then began to expel high-speed projectile organs as it collapsed in on itself. It was as if someone had activated a gigantic blender from inside it- chunks of squid-creature had rained down for quite some time afterwards.

Corporal McSteward glanced at her traveling companion. “You’re a lot mellower than your reports suggest.”

“These are very different circumstances when compared to my usual excursions,” James said flatly, still painted with cephalopod innards.

“You’re telling me,” Corporal McSteward muttered. “I don’t even have a gun.”

“We can compensate for that.” James sheathed his sword.

“I must have lost it during the evacuation.”


The nearest town was several miles away, but at least that limited the project’s exposure. A forced march through the scrubland was fatiguing at best and torturous at worst, but the weather and terrain didn’t bother James. She got the feeling nothing did.

The things had crawled out of the base camp’s walls, coming from shadow, coming from the areas where peripheral vision failed even trained soldiers. Bullets did nothing, and flesh and Kevlar offered little resistance to their grasping tentacles and rending teeth. And neither did bravery, as Oates found out to his cost.

She suppressed a shudder. James had already killed seven- that was reassuring- but it meant there’d likely be far more out there. Freakish beings of all shapes and sizes, exploring the wilderness and heading towards civilian areas.

“Are there any potential survivors unaccounted for?” That same disinterested tone, as if exchanging small talk and not discussing the potential of an apocalyptic surge of otherworldly things.

“I saw Hill reach the Jeep but I don’t know where he got to,” McSteward sighed. “I think they got to him first. Him, Oates, the whole goddamned regiment. I think it’s just you and me now James.”

The base camp’s armoured division had proved just as fragile as the infantry; metal panels and engine parts were twisted and torn as easily as the bodies had been. Hill had reached a car in time, but as the corporal arrived he’d been racing towards the horizon as the other vehicles burned.

“I still do not understand why you call me James. That is not my name.”

“Just a pun.” She smiled slightly. “The whole oh-seven thing, you know?”

“I do not.”

“It just sounds like something Fleming cooked up…” she trailed off. There was little point in trying to explain.

076-2 was definitely part of the project, she just didn’t understand how he fit in exactly, or how he’d even got there. It wasn’t like the military could’ve just picked him up on lease. But if he hadn’t been there…

“McSteward! Corporal! Corporal!

She looked up towards the voice. In the distance was a crumpled Jeep, crushed between two jutting stones. A figure was stumbling over the tufts of grass and uneven rocks- but making good time regardless, eagerly closing the distance.


“I figured it out! I figured it out,” he repeated, finally reaching her and panting.

“You’re alive?” The corporal beamed, flooded with relief. “And you managed to crash the Jeep,” she added, slightly reproachfully.

“Forget about the damn car! I’ve worked it all out…. uh… Corporal.”

She grabbed him by the shoulders. “What are you talking about, Private?”

“I’m saying this isn’t actually happening.”

She paused, but only for a moment. “What?”

“It’s a large-scale psychological affecter-”

“I know what you mean, dammit, but that doesn’t make any sense! If this is memetic, or neurological, or any kind of psychosomatic threat… how did it completely beat our conditioning? We’ve been facing that kind of thing for years!”

“It’s because you were expe-”

076-2 cleaved the man in twain. It was a very clean cut.

“What the fuck are you doing?” she screamed.

“He was one of them. Look.”

McSteward stared at the body. It wasn’t Hill, it was another of the tentacled creatures. How could she have been so naïve-

No. Think for a second.

It wasn’t a clean cut. Hill was on the floor but he was unmarked. The sword hadn’t actually hit, no matter what her mind was telling her. She’d automatically expected a clean cut because it was 076-2 doing the cutting, but from that angle? With an overarm, vertical sweep? Impossible, whether Hill was a freakish abomination or not. The sheer forces required would’ve practically made the target explode.

Hill was right, this wasn’t happening. She’d corrected herself, and the illusion had failed to compensate for her realisation.

076-2 was shifting in and out of focus, shivering like static on an old television. One moment the sword was slick with Hill’s bodily fluids, the next it was spotless. A katana, a broadsword, a saif, distorting between forms. One moment 076-2 was there, the next… nothing but a warped silhouette.

But the leer always remained, an unmoving smirk in the chaotic facade.

“You’re not 076-2.” The corporal took a step back.

He grinned. “What, aren’t you desperate to bring us home and show us off to your superiors? We were so looking forward to meeting them.”

“How about you come clean.”


The grin expanded and carried on expanding. His eyes retreated back into his skull until they were pinpricks of puckered flesh glaring from out of a mass of wrinkles. The clothes unravelled into translucent spines, wetly pulsing and vibrating. The face degenerated into razor-edged bone and twitching viscera, the body became a conglomerate of engorged tentacles and jagged teeth.

“We are not the ohseven. We would all love to know what you’re GOING TO DO ABOUT IT

She shot it. It shrieked in a pitch no human could hear.

“Ever wonder,” she said quietly, “why a soldier would have the slightest knowledge of 076-2 in the first place?”

The thing writhed around in agony, spitting blood and threats in a dead language.

“And ‘lost’ my gun? You bought that?”

She shot it again. And again.

When the magazine finally ran dry the “corporal” produced her combat knife and hacked away at the spasmodic heap of gore until both her hands were numb.

Incident ██ Report Summary:

Corporal McSteward of the Adjutant General’s Corps (Royal Military Police) of the ██████ Base, cover identity of Agent ████, brought in the body of SCP-███ for study.

Further investigation into the British military’s acquirement of subject required. Suggest further development of existing cover story in order for Agent ████ to maintain her position within their internal security division.

Private Hill, cover identity of Agent █████, shall remain in observation until further notice. Projected recovery time estimated to be six months due to severe mental trauma. ██ of the base’s support staff were killed and ██ wounded. No visible damage to the bodies.

Suggest extreme force from outset if further evidence of weaponisation attempts are uncovered. Covert operations successful in this instance, not likely to succeed in future. Recommend neutralisation of ██████ Base to imply a catastrophic accident in their munitions dump.

Addendum ███-1.0: SCP-███’s file requires amendment. Confirmed that SCP-███ capable of psychological projection and sensory overwrite via manipulation of existing neuron connections in the brain. Attempts to exploit the memories and expectations of potential victims.

Not capable of perpetual regeneration. Not impervious to harm. Decomposes rapidly.

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