Tales From The Bright Side
Chapter 1: Waiting on God… oh!
"I wish to again formally register my objections to this line of experimentation." I said, addressing my comment to the turned back of one Dr. Samet, an up-and-coming new researcher here at the Foundation. He seemed to think that the appropriate methods for advancement within our ranks was to insinuate himself with the Overseers. No one likes an ass-kisser.
"And, again, your objections are noted, 963; however, I have the full support of O5-1 on this matter. SCP-682 is simply too dangerous, we must try all possible outcomes." I bristled when he called me by a number. Why do they always make the same mistake?
"Mister Samet, my name is Dr. Bright. This," and I held out the amulet currently glued to my palm, "is SCP-963. Please refrain from mixing the two up, or I will have Grangan there shoot you in the foot. No hard feelings, but I'm sure you understand." A small smile crept across my features as I spoke, gesturing to one of my small crew of assistants. Unlike certain other members of the Senior Staff, I had never actually named the Junior Staff who had fallen under my wing, but the other staff had taken to calling them the Lucky Bunch, and it seems to have stuck. The name seems to reference the fact that researchers under my care tend to live longer, my own obsession with games of chance, and, quite possibly, a dig at my sometimes simian nature. Amusing, I'm sure.
Samet glanced uncomfortably at my underling, before turning his attention back to me. "Nevertheless, Ni-" I cleared my throat, noting from the corner of my eye as Grangan slipped his hand into his inside coat pocket. "- Bright, We must-" Again, I interrupted his speech, in an effort to correct the fellow.
"Dr. Bright. Only those who work with me on a regular basis are allowed to drop the title. And you will not be here long enough to work with me on a regular basis." Samet paled visibly at my words.
"Is that a threat?" He questioned, anger in his voice.
"No, merely good odds. You see, this ridiculous undertaking of yours has little to no chance of succeeding. The odds are-" I glanced sideways where my primary assistant already had the book out and waiting. English had been working for me long enough to anticipate my needs. A quick glance at the numbers was all I needed to refresh my memory. "Five hundred and twelve to one against this first plan of yours working. In fact, the only one who seems to have put any money on this working is-" I paused to recheck the numbers. "- A dead man. Ha, ha, very funny. It doesn't matter. 343 will not-"
"DR. BRIGHT! I do not need your negative attitude, or your predictions of doom. What I need YOU to do is go in THERE, and ask your fellow SCP to assist us in this manner. Will you or won't you do your assigned job?" The cracks had begun to show in Samet's armor. Not someone who would last long. I had money on him leaving within the week. But, for this situation, he technically, barely, outranked me. So, I would do it.
"Of course." I nodded my head, steeled myself, and walked through the door into 343's domicile. Just being in his presence, set my teeth on edge. The feelings of calm and contentment attempted to flow into me, but I resisted. It's hard to be gloomy when the world is trying to make you happy, but I've had longs years of practice. Especially with… him.
I think the bit that most disturbs me about 343 is how, no matter what I try, no matter how much I tell myself it's a trick, he ALWAYS looks just like George Burns to me, cigar in one hand, martini in another. He says it's to put me at ease, but nothing about this creature puts me at ease. He's too much, tries too hard.
"Jack," He said to me, sad eyes watching as I entered the room. "I'm glad to see you back. Are you ready to talk some more?"
"SCP-343. You have been held by the Foundation for several years now, and have yet to prove yourself worth the effort." I ignored his question. "Therefore, it has been determined that you be used to attempt the decommissioning of a more dangerous SCP. Do you understand?"
"You know Jack, I had such high hopes for you. You were created so bright, ha ha, so gifted. There were plans, still are plans, for you to do great things. But you need to get out of here. They're destroying you, Jack. You used to be such a good boy." He had the mannerisms down perfect, even the gruff George Burns voice. The voice, the smoke, even the current look of his room, all designed to make me receptive to him. But I wouldn't have any of it. He was an SCP, a creature, a monster, and by God, he would not take me so easily.
"You may refer to me as Dr. Bright. No one calls me… that any more." Not for decades. "Will you assist in this endeavor, or will I have to impose sanctions upon you?" I stared into his eyes, refusing to look away. The longer I held eye contact, the smaller his smile became, until there was no trace of it left. He took a deep drag on his cigar, almost but not quite frowning.
"You have become an abomination Jack. More monster than human, bound to that thing." He gestured at 963, and I could have sworn I felt it tingle. "I should remove you from it, return you to your proper thread. Make you human again." For a moment, my thoughts lifted, hope at the thought that I might be rid of the curse, that I might finally die. But no. I clamped down on my emotions, refusing to break eye contact. He would or he wouldn't, but I doubted he could. "No. You'll do so much more with it. Very well, Jack, I will help you with whatever this is. If you say please."
I could tell he thought I wouldn't. That it was beneath me. But I wouldn't have Samet claiming I undermined his efforts. "343, please assist us."
His eyebrows raise, a fraction of an inch, but I saw it. I had surprised him. Good. He needed it. Needed to be shook up a little bit. "Very well."
Later, I stood in the observation booth, watching 343 in the containment room below. He had not asked what he was to do, and gave every indication that whatever it was, he would deal with it. So, I had chosen not to tell him what he was dealing with. Let God do what he will.
Dr. Samet stood smugly at my side, gloating without saying a word. He believed he had won the argument, and I felt no need to disabuse him of that notion. This would still be a failure. 343 did not have what it took to take care of 682.
"Are you prepared, 343?" Samet spoke into the microphone. Below us, 343 gave a thumbs up. Without any further to do, Dr. Samet pressed the button on the console, and the airlock cycled open, releasing 682.
The reptile roared into the room, charged straight through the center to throw itself against the doors opposite. It had escaped often enough to know the drill, and the most likely chance of escape. The only surprising event would be the fact that in so doing, it charged straight through 343, without seeming to touch him at all. 343, for his part, continued to stare at the open airlock door, expectantly. He glanced from the door, up to us, and then back at the door, before speaking out. "Well? Are you going to send this thing out, or should I head in?"
I smiled to myself, watching as 682 continued its assault upon the second airlock. With a smirk of my own, I took the microphone from the slack hands of Dr. Samet. "Close your mouth, you'll get flies," I advised my fellow researcher, before addressing 343. "343, am I correct to understand that you see nothing in the room with you?"
343 turned in a circle, eying the room, before looking up towards me once more. "There is nothing in the room with me, Jack. Are you feeling all right?"
With a grin firmly planted on my face, I turn to Samet. "682 not neutralized. As predicted."
"682?" 343 called out, a brief flash of anger in his eyes. Between one moment and the next he is standing in front of me, somehow taller than me without changing his size, glaring down at me. "You brought me to 682?" I motioned behind his back at English, who quickly began the 682 containment procedures, flooding the room with acid.
"Sure did, 343. Got a problem with that?" Anger, from God. With luck, he'd off me, and I wouldn't have to go through with the second part of this test.
Instead, 343 simply turned his back on me. "He's not one of mine. Deal with him yourself." And stalked off through the wall.
Dr. Samet, having regained his composure, turned to me with a snarl. "Fine. It didn't work. Doesn't matter. Get yourself ready 963, you're going in."
I nodded to Grangan as I turned away to change bodies. The last thing I heard as the door slid shut behind me was the pleasant sound of a handgun going off in closed quarters.
Next Time, on Tales From the Bright Side:
We're Off To Be The Lizard!