Solace
rating: +13+x

I restlessly tapped my desk as I watched the clock in my office. It slowly, agonizingly marched forward with a constant rhythm that only served to accentuate the emptiness of the room. Save the ticking, there was no sound. There was no furniture in the room save for a desk, an essentially empty filing cabinet in the corner, and a little potted plant resting on top. One of the other researchers, Brandt, I think, gave it to me when I joined up. I could never remember what it was…he said something like succubus? Succulent? Whatever. The wall still bore marks from when it had held a calendar and a picture of my parents. I couldn’t be bothered to get a new calendar this year, and the picture of my parents now rested on my desk next to my terminal, leaving the wall with only my clock to keep it company.

I knew it was just me. I knew that there was nothing making me uncomfortable. It was just me. Or rather, the box. This is where suspending the testing had gotten me. One year of daily exposure to a cognitohazard can do weird things to your head.

I sighed, and started to get up. There wasn’t really any resisting it, anymore. I never felt at ease unless I was in the observation room, surrounded by its music. I switched off the lights in my office, and started off towards the Light Containment Zone. Wincing, I clutched my head. Just thinking about that damn box was enough to give me a splitting headache.

The lift dinged that familiar ding as the polished metal doors slid open. I stepped inside and absentmindedly flashed my ID up to the sensor before pushing the button for the LCZ. This was a daily process now at minimum, the walk over becoming something akin to second nature.

The lift slid to a stop with yet another ding, and freed me. On my way out, I almost stumbled into a fellow researcher, Jordan Anais, Level 3.

He paused and let his arm fall to his side, clasping his ever-present clipboard. “Hey, how’s it goin’, Caleb?” he asked, leaning on his left leg. It was always his left.

“Oh, well, I’ve been fine. Yourself?” I replied, hardly pausing to give my words any thought.

He didn’t seem convinced. “Are you sure? You’ve been acting kinda weird lately? Spending too much time with the box, maybe?” He had to adjust himself to remain facing me as I walked, before eventually giving up and following me.

“Oh, no, I’m perfectly alright, Jordan. If I really wanted to, I could always get amnesticized and forget all about the box. Probably could get reassigned, too.”

“Dr. Solys, I’m not sure that’s how that works. You meant if you need to, not if you want to, right?” He stopped me by placing a hand on my shoulder.

I looked over my shoulder at him, flashing a weak but truthful smile. “Yes, you’re correct, Jordan.”

He sighed. “Alright, whatever you say, Caleb. Just…get some help if you need it, okay?”

I nodded. “Yes, yes, of course.”

Jordan released my shoulder and turned away to return to whatever duties he’d forsaken. Paying the interaction no mind, I continued down the hall.

Soon, I reached a set of two doors branded with that 4-digit number. I swiped my card across rightmost door’s sensor and stepped inside. Instantly, I was overtaken by the music and felt the pressure in my shoulders drop. I let out the breath I hadn’t noticed I was holding and eased into the office chair resting in front of the controls.

Moonlight Sonata. Interesting. After around my 20th time being exposed, it seemed to have run out of ideas and began playing any random song. Yesterday it was an upbeat Led Zeppelin song that I couldn’t remember the name of. Today, classical. It almost seemed to match my mood, but it was too loose of a correlation to make any sort of note on it. Besides, who knew if Site Command was going to count that as more “testing”, and who’d want that?

I quickly glanced between the metal case in the next room, and my terminal. It was stronger today. It wanted to draw me closer. But, I knew that. So I wasn’t going to give in to my daily temptation.

Or…was I?

Before I could stop myself, the passphrase was keyed in.

The office chair pushed aside, and the door slid open.

A wave of my ID and the heavy containment door bulkily crawled open.

Before I could stop myself, I was staring directly at that pink music box, albeit from a rather safe distance. I might hear things, but it's nothing I can’t handle.

“Caleb?”

I glanced around briefly before remembering what the box did. She wasn’t real. She died years ago. Before I joined.

But still…

“Claire?” I asked out into the void.

“Caleb? Come to me, love. Come.”

“It…it is you. Of all the apparitions that thing could throw at me, why you?”

“Come to me, my love. Come forward.”

I knew how this box operated. It wanted me to get close, at which point I’d think Claire-

No. The voice. I’d think the voice was trapped inside, and that I had to free her.

So, I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to approach it.

“Darling, come on! Everything will be okay again. We…we can see each other again. Please…”

I shook my head. “You know that I can’t.”

“You have to! We can be together again, Caleb! After all this time!”

“Claire…”

I don’t know how much time passed. I wasn’t keeping track. I sat in a stalemate with the voice until a jolt snapped me out of it. A shock, as if I’d just touched a live wire.

“Caleb. Come.”

Claire had changed tone so abruptly that it honestly had shocked me more than the jolt. It took me far too long to understand what was happening, especially given my experience. I soon did, however, and took a step back from the box.

“N-no, my dear. You know I can’t.”

“Caleb, just come closer.”

A shock flitted through my left arm but I almost didn’t even feel it. I took a step forward, spurred by impulse and the jolts trying to hijack my nerves.

Another step.

Another.

Soon, I was in range of the box. The feeling that had been described to me so often, that the voices were trapped and needed liberation, developed at the back of my mind but I shrugged it off. I knew she wasn’t trapped. She died before I came to the Foundation. She died years before we found this thing. There wasn’t a chance.

I stood there for around a minute, staring at the music box. I watched its gears turn in silence, Beethoven’s composition now grown into a violent crescendo.
I thought of my time at the Foundation. I thought of the box. I thought of the test subjects. I thought of Site Command. I thought of my frustration with their leadership. Clearly there was something we didn’t know about the box. I wouldn’t have been standing here otherwise.

I thought of Claire.

…was there a chance?

Not thinking clearly, I lunged forward and grabbed the box in one swift motion before turning on my heels. Clutching the box, my box, under my arm, I quickly strode out of the containment room. I closed and locked the door behind me, being careful not to trigger any alarms. It shouldn’t cause too much of a fuss, anyway. What’s wrong with a project lead visiting his project?

What’s wrong with that?

They’d catch me on the cameras, though. Any second now, the lights would switch and that alarm would ring, alerting everyone to my crim-

And there it was.

The hall was suddenly engulfed in darkness before the darkness was in turn cast out by a deep red. Alarms blared. A voice, Site Director Peterson, resounded throughout the halls on the PA system. “All personnel, be advised that there is a Euclid level containment breach in progress. Security teams, Dr. Caleb Solys is designated for kill on sight.”

I didn’t alter my gait. I made my way cautiously yet purposely to the elevator. This was fine. I could take them. They didn’t know how this thing worked. I did. I could use it against them. I could win.

Before I could reach the end of the hall, multiple security officers, including ones I’d worked with, filed in. They took formation and fired without hesitation.

I used the box to protect my chest, the thing was damn near invulnerable. To cover the rest of me, I just sidestepped. One of the things I’d noticed in the incident was that the D-Class had been given increased dexterity well beyond what should be reasonable.

At least, that was what I thought. I was able to dodge the first few, mostly by predicting who would shoot first, but soon the volume became too much. My leg was hit first. My waist. My shoulder.

My hea-


I struggled to catch my breath. What had just happened? I couldn’t remember.

Wait, yes I could. Why was I here? I was shot, but…

I glanced around. I was in my office. My calendar said the right date, but the weeks seemed slightly off.

Why is it…? I checked my computer. Yeah, today’s date: April 29th, 2017.

Yeah, that’s right. I had gone back to my office after lunch with Jordan to fix up the box’s document. It was due for a revision. The incident last week only showed us that there was more to that thing than meets the eye.

I opened my browser and was greeted with a notification. A message, from Site Command.

“Dr. Solys, the containment breach on 04/23/2017 was far too costly. In light of the new dangers that SCP-3704 presents, testing will be suspended until further notice. See Document Incident Report: 3704-A for more details. Thank you for your compliance.

- Robert Peterson, Site Director”

No. Something felt wrong. This can’t be right, we need to keep testing. We don’t know anything about it yet! Following my strange compulsion, I quickly drafted a request to Site Command asking for reinstatement of testing on SCP-3704.

This had to be wrong.

My reply came two days later, in the form of a short, to the point email.

“Request denied.”

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