She Remembered Me
rating: +20+x

“But I also dreamt which charmed me most
That you loved me still the same
That you loved me
You loved me still the same,
That you loved me
You loved me still the same.”

SCP-1860 bowed his head as he finished one of his favourite arias. It was nostalgic, as it had been one of the first pieces of music that Herman had ever ‘fed’ to him. He had been with the Circus for over a hundred years, longer than anyone else other than Fuller or the Man with the Upside Down Face. Dozens, if not hundreds of people had heard him sing each day, and over the course of his career his loving audience must have numbered in the millions.

But that was a long time ago.

Now instead of an oversized birdcage he was held in a soundproof cell. His only audience was whoever was watching through the security camera. During daylight hours he often had a live audience of at least one, and even when he didn’t someone always reviewed the recordings. In spite of their avid professionalism, many of them did enjoy listening to him. It was a far cry from his glory days, but at least he wasn’t singing for nothing.

Except now he couldn’t help but notice that the little red light on his security camera had stopped blinking. It had never done that before, but he supposed that meant it had been turned off. He was sure it was nothing to worry about, probably a random malfunction or some scheduled downtime for the security system, but in the back of his mind he couldn’t help but think that maybe his jailers had decided it was no longer worth their time to listen to him, and he would never have an audience again.

He sighed sadly, and decided there was nothing he could do but wait. Audience or no audience, he would sing.

“In sleep he sang to me, in dreams he came
That voice which calls to me and speaks my name
And do I dream again? For now I find
The Phantom of the Opera is there
Inside my mind.”

“Sing once again with me our strange duet
My power over you grows stronger yet
And though you turn from me to glance behind
The Phantom of the Opera is there
Inside your mind.”

1860 fell silent in shock, for it was not he who had sung the second verse. He slowly looked behind him at the source of the heart-achingly familiar voice. The sight of a Clown suddenly standing in one’s doorway was a sight few would welcome, but 1860 was one of those few.

“Icky?” he asked, his voice cracking, tears of black ink gathering in his eyes. The Clown nodded, her eyes watering as well.

“Hey V. It’s, ah, it’s been a while,” she said awkwardly.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, not daring to make assumptions.

“I’ve come to bring you home.”

“After all this time?”

“I know I have no excuse for letting you rot in here for so long, but I thought you were dead! I honestly had no idea you were still alive until a few weeks ago, but as soon as I found out that Essie was holding you, getting you home safe has been my top priority.”

1860 cast his gaze to the floor, seemingly in contemplation.

“V, please don’t be mad at me,” Icky pleaded, kneeling down at his side.

“I’m not mad, just…confused,” he said. “I’d given up hope of rescue long ago. I thought you had all forgotten me.”

“Herman may have forgotten you, but not me. You were one of my best friends V. When I was a normie and felt like shit, your music always made me feel better. When I became a Clown and was hopped up on Milk most of the time, you could still move me to tears. I miss that. I miss you. Look, we don't have a lot of time to talk, so please just say you’ll let me take you back home and sing for us again. You must be starved for new music, and I’ve gathered together reams of song sheets for you to consume. Here, they only ever study you, but at the Circus you can be adored again! Don’t waste one more second of your life in this prison.”

“What about Herman?” he asked softly. “Does he want me back? Does he miss me? Does he remember me?”

“V, Herman is gone. He’s been gone twenty years, give or take, and depending on where you’re counting from. Manny and I are in charge now. I’m the Ringmaster and he’s the manager, except we never call him that because then he’d be Manny the manager which I personally don’t think sounds that terrible but he hates it and I’m rambling and I’m sorry. I want you to see the Circus, what it’s become, what Manny and I have done with it. I want you to meet everyone who’s joined since you left, especially Lolly. She’s the sweetest, cutest, most energetic Clown we’ve had in decades, and the most passionate playmate I’ve ever had. I love her above all else and it would mean the world to me if you would sing for her. V? Virtuoso, are you listening?”

1860 didn’t reply at first, seemingly dumbfounded by what she had said.

“Herman’s gone?” he asked at last. Icky sighed sadly.

“V, I get that you have mixed feelings about Fuller. Hell, I have mixed feelings about Fuller. I know he created you, and all the way back then maybe he was a halfway decent guy but that didn’t last. I don’t know if he was just corrupted by power or slowly driven mad by whatever he was using to extend his life or something else, but every year he got crazier and crazier and we had to do something about it. You do realize he tried to burn you, right?”

“He set lots of fires, mine might have just been collateral damage,” he said unconvincingly. “But you’re right. I gave him over a century of faithful service and after a single mishap he decided I was kindling. He was still the only father I had though. For a long time I clung to the delusion that there was still some bond of kinship between us, that eventually it would grow strong enough that Fuller would be compelled to come and retrieve me, and it broke my heart when I finally accepted that that would never happen.”

He smirked, and then looked up at Icky.

“All though, I suppose if I substituted just a Ringmaster instead of Fuller specifically, it wasn’t a delusion after all.”

“Does that mean you’ll come back with me?” she asked with a hopeful gleam in her eyes.

“This venue has grown stale, and it would be nice to receive flowers once again.”

Icky squeed in delight, rushing to the exit to open the access control vestibule. When the inner door slid open, she was faced with a Foundation guard pointing a gun at her, wearing a high-tech looking pair of neckband headphones.

“Hands where I can see ’em darling, no sudden moves,” he said, slowly stepping into the room. “The outer door is locked. You’re trapped in here ’til I let you out, so don’t do anything stupid. And don’t you try anything either Sinatra. These noise cancelling headphones will automatically block out any sound over 90 decibels.”

“You must be the Emcee D operative. Suthers, right? You’re supposed to be taking a nap,” Icky said, calmly assessing the man and plotting her next move. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Let me answer that question with a question; do you know what the Foundation pays me to guard and hunt down paranormal creatures and artifacts that could not only kill me but quite possibly subject me to inconceivable suffering and transform everything I care about into an unrecognizable hellscape if I mess up their containment procedures?”

“Not enough?” Icky ventured.

“Bingo. And do you know what MC&D pays me to double cross a nigh omnipotent organization that, despite its adamant claims to the contrary, totally does put traitors and fuck ups on Keter duty?”

“Somewhere between not enough and jack shit?”

“Right again! You see, even if the Foundation never figures out I had a hand in this, and that’s a big fucking if, if this guy goes missing on my watch then I’m an Eldritch lizard’s chew toy. Of course, one can’t exactly say no to the Deathless Merchant of London either, so I was in a bit of a bind. But then they told me they were sending in a Clown, and an opportunity presented itself.
“The Foundation’s still a little confused about exactly what you things are, but we have discovered two significant details. First; you have what they call negligible senescence, which is a fancy way of saying you don’t get old. And second; all your various abilities are actually just different applications of essokinesis. You freaks are low level reality benders.”

“Low level? How dare you,” she said in feigned indignation. “What does any of this have to do with why you’re pointing a gun at me?”

“You see darling, you’re my ticket away from the SCP and MC&D for good. I’ve lined up a buyer for you; some millennial millionaire wunderkind, real Transhumanist type. Wants to live forever, and’s willing to pay a pretty penny for the chance to study an actual immortal up close. Enough for me to evade any retaliatory efforts on behalf of my former employers. I’m going to throw your buddy in as bonus, since I can’t just leave him lying around.”

Icky tossed her head back and laughed.

“Okay, I’ve been letting you monologue your evil plan just out of my respect for classic tropes, but as you pointed out I am a reality bender. How exactly do you plan on taking me prisoner?”

Suthers chuckled. Still pointing the gun at her, he took something off his belt with his free hand and held it up to her. It was a bronze sphere roughly the size of a baseball with an LED ring around the equator, a knob at each pole, and vent like openings scoring each hemisphere.

“Know what this is?” he asked. “This is a Scranton Reality Mini-Buoy. I’m not supposed to have it, so stealing it was kind of a point-of-no-return for me. If I recall, it maintains Hume Field Homeostasis, which essentially means that if you do anything to alter reality it will counteract it, rendering you effectively powerless. Go ahead, try to do some magic. See if I’m bluffing.”

Icky tried to telekinetically draw out her deck of trick cards, and her poker face faltered when they didn’t answer her call.

“So what? Even without magic I’m still stronger than an ordinary human, stronger than you, and I could survive a shot from a handgun. You got nothing.”

“Yeah, you could kill me, but the door is still locked. You won’t be able to get out without your magic, and you can take my word when I tell you they made this buoy damn near indestructible. You won’t be able to open a portal because this cell is soundproof, and I know that that rather unusual Multi-Universal Transit Array you have requires calliope music to work. So, you’ve got two options. You can let me handcuff the buoy to you and let me take you to the truck I got waiting, or you can try to kill me. I might kill you, and my buyer will still pay a decent sum for your corpse, or you’ll kill me, which might make you feel better, but you’ll be trapped in here and by dawn you’ll have your very own SCP designation. Tick tock darling, time’s of the essence.”

Icky remained still as she tried to think of a way out her situation, when to her surprise Virtuoso started laughing.

“Soundproof?” he asked smugly. “There’s no such thing. Icky, plug your ears.”

A maniacal smile spread across her face, knowing exactly what he was going to do. As soon as her ears were plugged, Virtuoso did what he had been made to do, what he had spent nearly every moment of his life doing.

He sang.

“Those who have seen your face
Draw back in fear
I am the mask you wear.”

His voice was over a hundred decibels, instantly activating Suthers’ ear protection.

It’s me they hear,” Icky joined the duet, though her voice was hardly as ear shattering.

“I told you idiots that’s not going to work, do you see what’s on my fucking head?”

“My Spirit and my Voice
In one combined
The Phantom of the Opera is there
Inside my mind.”

Icky and Virtuoso sang together, Virtuso’s voice rising in volume.

Beware the Phantom of the Opera,” Icky smiled.

“He’s there, the Phantom of the Opera,” Virtuoso sang. His lyrics exhausted, he vocalized his high note, his voice rising over 150 decibels.

“Sing my Angel of Music!”

His voice grew louder, and though Suthers could not hear him, he could feel his eyes vibrate. He tried to shoot at him, but the barrage of sound waves prevented him from shooting straight.

“Sing my Angel. Sing for me!”

His voice had now surpassed the capacity of the guard’s headphones to protect him. He dropped his gun to the ground and instinctively clasped his head as his eardrums burst.

“Sing my Angel!”

The very ground around them now shook with vibrations.

“Sing.”

The guard screamed in agony as his organs were assaulted with sound, but of course his screams could not be heard over the warbling voice of the Virtuoso.

“Sing, my Angel, Sing!”

Now even the soundproof door holding them captive started to tremble, and Virtuoso could sense its resonant frequency.

“Sing for me!”

With one final high note, the sound of Virtuso’s voice became a shockwave, perfectly matched to the resonant frequency of the door. The guard’s lungs ruptured, killing him, and the door shattered like glass.

“That was amazing!” Icky screamed, hugging Virtuoso fanatically.

“Not so loud; you’ll hurt my ears,” he replied with a coy smile. Icky fell to the ground laughing.
“You are alright, aren’t you?”

“Some slight ringing, but nothing some Milk won’t fix. Let’s get out of here.”

She headed for the door, but bent down on her way to pick up the Scranton Reality Mini-Buoy.

“Wow, he wasn’t kidding when he said this thing was tough. Might come in handy.”

She pocketed the orb, and took out her Kaleidoscope keys. Within seconds she had converted the doorway into a portal. The space within the frame glowed a bright white and exuded smoke, while the calliope could be heard playing Comrades of the Legion. It was appropriate, as Icky was feeling quite victorious.

She ran back to Virtuoso, scooping him up in her arms.

“How does your own acoustic tent sound, so that you won’t have to strain to be heard over the pandemonium of the Circus?”

“Music to my ears,” he smiled.

Stepping over the corpse of their treacherous informant, SCP-1860 left the Foundation, and Virtuoso returned to Herman Fuller’s Circus of the Disquieting.


Early the next morning, things were tense in the Ringmaster’s tent. On one side of the desk was Icky, Lolly, Virtuoso, Manny, and Mr. Noddles in case things turned violent. On the other side was an elderly and decrepit man in the best wheel chair money could buy, with catheters conveying fluids to and from multiple medical ports. He was outfitted with a bespoke grey suit and a nasal breathing tube. Despite his enfeebled body, the stern and attentive face he wore made it clear that he still retained full command of his mental faculties.

To either side of him stood two uncommonly beautiful women, a nurse and a PA, and behind them stood two uncommonly large men, his body guards. Victor was there as well, sitting quietly by his boss’s side, looking like he hadn’t had any sleep all night.

"Can I offer you some Milk?" Lolly asked sweetly, holding up the bottle of viscous black liquid. The Guards responded by drawing their weapons.

"Lolly," Manny scolded her through his teeth.

"Right, sorry. I can be a bit of a ditz sometimes," she said in a less than convincing tone. Suppressing a smile, Icky handed her playmate some Clown Impulse Suppressant, which she begrudgingly swallowed, chasing the two purple pills down with Milk.

“Mr. Marshall… wait, are you Marshall?” Icky asked. “I know you’re not Dark, so I guess there’s a fifty/fifty chance you’re Marshall. You look like a Marshall anyway.
“As I was saying, Mr. Marshall or Mr. Carter but definitely not Mr./Ms. Dark, there was really no need for you to come here personally. As I explained to Victor over the phone…”

“I decided it was best that we clear this up face to face, to make sure that there are no misunderstandings,” Marshall or Carter but definitely not Dark said, his ageing voice still loud and clear. “This was supposed to be a simple in and out operation, but somehow you fucked it up!”

“Mr. Marshall…”

“One of our SCP operatives is dead, his internal organs liquified by your pop star, and I want to know why!” he shouted, his heartbeat monitor beeping noticeably faster.

“I told Victor already, your man had us at gun point! He had a buyer he was going to sell me too. He was going to double cross both of us.”

“I have nothing but your word for that.”

“Why else would he even have been down there? He was supposed to have sedated himself so that Essie wouldn’t know it was an inside job.”

“Who knows? Maybe something changed at the last minute and he couldn’t get a message out, so he went down to tell you personally. Maybe your freak got spooked and killed him.”

“Sir, with all due respect, we should be the ones mad at you,” Manny objected. “We nearly lost one of our most essential personnel because your disgruntled employee decided to moonlight in human trafficking!”

“Manny, don’t blow the situation out of proportion,” Icky said. “Even without Virtuoso, I probably could’ve gotten away on my own, and if not then you would have come for me sooner or later. Mr. Marshall/Carter/not Dark, I understand why you’re upset and suspicious. I would be too if the situation was reversed. You’re down a man, and you’re right that I can’t prove my version of events is what happened. I know that you don’t care about the loss of life so much as you care about the loss of a resource, so let me make it up to you. We could put on a free private show for you. Remember that time when we had one of our acrobats tear himself apart and then I put him back together? Your guests loved that! It will be great, plus Lolly could meet Iris and Robert and Skittles. They’re both named after candy, so that’s an instant conversation starter.”

“His name is Skitter,” the wheelchair bound man said gruffly.

“Right. Could I interest you in a pink elephant then? She’s cute, she blows bubbles, her drinking is almost under control, I swear.”

“We’ll let you use the Kaleidoscope,” Manny said.

“What?” the old man asked, a rapacious gleam in his eyes.

“We were going to take you to the Utterly Bazaar anyways. We would be willing to escort Victor, and only Victor, on low risk excursions to other extra-dimensional locations for the foreseeable future. That’s worth more to you than one SCP operative and you know it.”

The old man nodded with a sly smile.

“This is something you would be willing to provide?” he asked Icky.

“You will do anything to keep that drunken elephant,” she muttered at Manny. “But sure, I don’t see a problem with that. But we decide where’s safe and where’s not, and no hurting or stealing from innocent people.”

“You insult me Madam Clown,” the old man said facetiously. “Victor, what do you think?”

“Um…based on my admittedly short time working with Fuller’s Circus, I don’t believe they would try to deceive us. If Icky says that she killed our operative in self-defence, I believe her. Our business relationship profits us both, and it would be foolish to ruin it over an incident that was no fault of theirs. I would also be willing to participate in additional extra-dimensional business calls through their Kaleidoscope, on the condition that my commission be raised to fifth tier.”

“I’ll give you fourth tier, and only if you make quota,” his boss barked.

“That’s acceptable,” Victor nodded.

“So everything between us is squared then?” Manny asked. The old man gave a begrudging nod.

“Porsha.”

At his prompting, his aide retrieved a box of chocolates from her satchel.

“Marshall, Carter, & Dark Limited would like to formally apologize for any implied or explicit accusations of misconduct we may have made against any members of your organization. Please accept this limited anniversary addition Choc is Chic assortment box by La Maison du Chocolat as a token of goodwill on our behalf.”

“Mine!” Lolly said, snatching it eagerly.

“If there’s nothing further?” the old man asked. Manny turned to Icky.

“I trust that after what happened last night, you won’t be wanting to try this again?” he asked.

“Well, I mean Amelia's head is just lying around in a vault. It would be so easy to…” she stopped when she saw the cold glare Manny was giving her. “Okay, fine, we’re done. All the floating roadkill is probably a health code violation anyway. Mr. not Dark, it was a pleasure doing business with you and we look forward to doing business with you in the future.”

“As do I. Rosalind, wheel me out.”

“Wait!” Lolly said as Victor rose from his seat to accompany his boss and his entourage. “Virtuoso was going to sing just for us to celebrate. Victor, would you please stay and listen? We never would have gotten him back without you.”

“I…”

“Stay,” his boss ordered. “You look like shit, and I can’t have you showing up at the office like that. We’ve got an image to maintain. Besides, you’ve got to keep your new most important client happy.”

“Yes sir,” Victor nodded, sitting back in his chair. Lolly sat beside him, offering him some of her chocolates.

As the nurse turned the wheelchair around, she revealed a shrivelled, emaciated human strapped to the back of the chair who was literally having the life sucked out of them. They stared at the Circus folk with pleading eyes until they were wheeled out of the tent.

“That was very nearly a disaster,” Manny said with a shake of his head.

“I don’t care,” Icky smiled, wrapping her arms around Virtuoso. “I got my friend back.”

“Well V, I’m going to have to have the audio techs put some emergency noise cancelling speakers around you in case you get a tear, but I am glad you’re back,” Manny said. “You’re a classy act, we need more of that around here.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Oh, can you sing Disney songs?” Lolly asked hopefully.

“He’s not singing Disney songs,” Manny objected.

“I don’t know, I think certain Disney songs might be compatible with his stage persona,” Icky suggested. “Let It Go for instance. Maybe Whole New World, songs like that.”

“Fine, but if I hear him singing Hakuna Matata someone’s getting their printer access revoked.”

“Mr. Noodles, go guard the door. No one comes in until I say so,” Icky ordered.

The tall Clown did as he was told, and the others gathered on one side of the desk, where Manny had placed Virtuoso as a makeshift pedestal. Virtuoso looked down at the small but eager audience in front of him, and at the Clown who had still remembered him after so many years. Returning her smile, he spoke the same two words he had first spoken to her when she was still a mere mortal.

“Any requests?”

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