The Journal of K. M. Sandoval
"All right, if you could please step up towards the object," says the stone-faced researcher. The lone man in the room takes two tentative steps towards the box on the pedestal, wary of what is to come. A sharp click
sounds through the room, echoing off the cold walls.
"Open the safe, if you will."
Inside is a pile of papers, neatly organized, and a large box of pens. The paper calls to him like nothing before. Without any hesitation, the man pulls the paper from its confines, spreading it on the floor so that he may continue this masterpiece.
The righteous ones emerge from beneath the stone, crying out for justice.
The visions are overwhelming, taking over all his senses. The man is not aware of the notes he is writing on the page, their meaning lost but their divine purpose resonating with each beat.
The sun blackens and the moon becomes red as blood, before they fall out completely, as the sky peels back like an old scroll, and stars fall while pure souls ascend.
The notes are coming from his hand much easier now, while the visions continue to dance around him.
Old mountains crumble while whole continents sink into the depths of the sea. From their ashes rise new land forms, as perfect and untainted as Eden. The strongest of the faithful retreat to the new caves, and call upon the rocks to seal them in.
"D-1875, stop writing."
But he can't, not even if he wanted to. The visions are too overwhelming. Even after the tranquilizer dart has hit him in the neck, he fights as hard and as long as he can to keep writing, to perfect this masterpiece, until he finally collapses from exhaustion.
"They're getting harder to stop," mutters a researcher, watching the unconscious D-Class be taken from the room.
"So what does that tell you?" asks Dr. Pherson, her supervisor.
"Something’s changed. They haven't added a new sheet in over a year, though seven tests have been run in that time. And they're fighting the tranquilizers for much longer," she says, looking through her notes.
"Then what are they doing?"
"Refining the piece? Adding new notes? Some frilly extra stuff? I don't know, I was never good at music. Bottom line is they haven't added new pages, but they're still working just as hard as they would if they had been adding new pages."
"So what would you do if you were in my position?"
"I'd stop testing. I believe the piece may be close to completion."
"What would make you say that?" he asks.
"I… I don't know, sir."
"Think about it for a while," he says before leaving the researcher alone in the room.
The young researcher logs into the database from her Foundation-issued laptop with a plan. Her fingers fly over the keys while her eyes dart around the screen, looking for where she left off in her research. Most of the videos are uneventful aside from the grotesque test run back in 1973, which ran until the subject passed out from blood loss. This resulted in all testing with SCP-012 being suspended until three years ago, when Dr. Pherson's request to resume testing was approved on the grounds of seeing if an object's compulsive effect could be exhausted. Looking back two years, the average number of pages added during tests was around 15, with two D-Class managing to pull together a whopping 45 in an hour and a half long test run barely over a year ago. Then all of a sudden it just… stopped. No new pages have been added since, but the tests did become more frenzied, with more blood loss noted.
"This doesn't make any sense," she mutters, while traveling farther back into SCP-012's history at the Foundation. She tries everything she can think of to track what could have possibly changed. But nothing comes to her. She sighs in defeat, looking at her laptop screen one more time.
"Having trouble, Emma?" asks her supervisor.
"Yeah," she says.
"I take it all this mess is your notes on 012?"
"Impressive. So what do you know about it?"
"Well these papers graph the the average number of pages added over three tests, and the ones you're holding are transcripts of the last four tests run where new pages were added, and I think I have…" she begins rambling.
"We already had all of these done. In the viewing chamber, you said you think the piece is nearing completion. Why?" He asks, while dropping pages in the recycling bin.
"I still don't know," she says, looking at the nearly full recycling bin and the piles of paper still littering the room.
"So what have you done?"
"I've looked at everything. The statistics, the transcripts… everything we've written about it since it came to the Foundation."
"Why did you cut off there?" He asks.
"Does anything before even matter?"
"It does if you want to know about the nature of the object," he says, looking around the room before walking out without saying another word.
She sighs and looks back at her laptop, clearly not done with her research yet. The documents leave her more confused than before, and she's ready to give up.
"Just one more. One more then you're done," she says to herself, taking a sip of her coffee.
One last document. The journal of K.M Sandoval, the man who found SCP-012 way back in 1966.
The Basilica of Santa Croce after the flood
It is difficult to describe the devastation here. The Birthplace of the Renaissance, the Athens of the Middle Ages, all in utter ruin from the overflowing banks of the Arno River on 4 November. If the walls of water and mud that coursed through the city, fouling all in its path weren't enough, heating oil from a thousand underground tanks ruptured under the onslaught and spilled their contents into the deluge. It is this slurry that broke into museums, libraries, and churches like an army of barbarians, destroying countless artifacts, masterpieces, and manuscripts. Power remains cut off for most of the city, and even hospital generators have failed.
It is our duty to save the heritage for mankind that rests here. Mud, water, oil, mold, the threats are great, and the treasures remain scattered throughout the city. The National Central Library, on the banks of the Arno, suffered terribly—I cannot imagine how many thousands of medieval works have been destroyed by the calamity. I, for one, will seek whatever can be salvaged from the Basilica of Santa Croce. Not only does it contain many treasures, but underneath lie the tombs of so many of Italy's great men. Who knows what kind of devastation the flood has wrought upon these giants' eternal repose?
They are calling us the Mud Angels.
We are trickling in, from around the world, trying to save the masterpieces throughout Florence. It is still mostly Italians that are here, but Frenchmen, Germans, British, even a few fellow Americans have arrived, and more arrive each day. We are staying with locals, and despite the stress we must be to our hosts, they house us graciously. Power has yet to be restored. The street lights are unlit. City officials assure us that the phones will work again in a week.
Staying with me in my room are two other Americans, Anderson and Spitzer. They arrived together, and work together back in the States. They say that they're going to clear out the National Library, see what texts can be salvaged. They've already offered to help me clear out Santa Croce if and when they have the chance.
The streets are so dark. The moon wanes rapidly, and the stars are so faint. A great person could die on a night like this, and no one would notice. More popular than Jesus? Could someone really think that? Music will always serve the Creator.
The Crucifix of Santa Croce
The water reached four and a half meters inside the Basilica of Santa Croce. That's 16 feet. A full story and a half of oily water rushed into the church. The altar was shattered. Michelangelo's sarcophagus was submerged. Donatello's tomb took significant damage. The waters have receded, but mud and debris still cover the floor, and the water loosened and shifted the stones beneath our feet. Even the grand crucifix was defaced by the flood.
I helped other workers pull out the crucifix, take it outside to dry out. While in the back, by the altar, I noticed a disk of marble that had been dislodged. It looked like the mud descended into a hole. Tombs are littered throughout old European churches like this. More than anyone ever remembers. I have to see whether there's anything left down there. I keep feeling tempted to go back at night. When no one's looking. But Florence is so dark at night. No electricity, no streetlights. And the mud is so black.
11 November 1966
Inside the Basilica of Santa Croce
I did it.
I could no longer wait.
Anderson and Spitzer were complaining about some quarto that was exceptionally fouled by the mud and discussing new methods of drying out and removing mud from texts. It was quite heated and I stepped outside to clear my head. Walking the abandoned streets, my wanderings took me back to Santa Croce.
The night could not be more dark. It was the night of the new moon, and the only source of light was from the stars far away. Even if anyone else had bothered to roam these sodden streets, I would never be seen, enshrouded in night's shadows. Nevertheless, I crept into the Basilica, felt for the marble disk, and moved it aside.
Beneath, a waterlogged wooden staircase descended into a crypt. It was tight, long forgotten, and choked with mud. I slid down into the slick, inky depths, turned on my flashlight, and looked around.
The force of the flood had shattered the sole weak sandstone sarcophagus inside. Its occupant lay wedged inceremoniously against the wall, his long-decayed remains desecrated by the overflowing Arno River. Who this poor fellow was seems to have been lost to time and the flood, but he was apparently a musician of some kind. A violin, smashed and fouled beyond repair, was sunk in the mire, but he clutched two sheaves of paper—apparently buried with it. They are covered in the ubiquitous mud, but they may still contain something of historical value. I rescued them from their impartial reburial.
The stars must know what I am doing, and know that it is right, for they lit the way back to my room without issue.
12 November 1966
Anderson and Spitzer's handiwork
Sometimes, the task set before us seems impossible. And yet, we endure. Each morning's sun chases away the shadows in our minds and hearts, and we toil anew.
Having discovered our late composer's works, I knew I had to find a way to clean and restore these papers. I speak to my roommates and they show me what they are doing in the Library. In a spare storeroom on the upper floor of the Library, they have laid out tome upon tome of soiled works, all there to dry, slowly. There, they let the water evaporate from each book and then carefully brush away any dirt they can, then return it to the triage to dry further. It is slow, painstaking work.
The two sets of papers, I place to join the rows. The first is in abysmal condition, and I would never think it possible to read again. However, after hanging the first few pages on a line, I was able to make out one line towards the very bottom. I'm not sure what it means, but the author said that Il Mascherato — The Masked One — would pay him once his commission is finished.
The second papers aren't paper after all, but vellum — calfskin. Spitzer tells me they'll need special care, since parchment and vellum quickly warp in damp conditions. He takes them into a dry, darkened room, and stacks them between wood panels. Hopefully, they will be in condition to be viewed tomorrow. The mud covered the vellum so completely that I could barely make out a title…
Artifice lies broken everywhere
Italian. On Mount Golgotha. Although I cannot be certain, it looked like it was sheets of music. On vellum. A hymn to our Lord as he suffered on the cross. That crucifix is fouled, paint flaking off from the caustic action of mute, thoughtless nature. It will be returned to its rightful place of worship, but it will never be whole again.
I am spending the day resting. Santa Croce is being cleaned, but now that the artifacts have been removed, it is the purview of the shovelers. We, the Mud Angels, work elsewhere.
This mud is everywhere, and we can't even wash it off, really.
I'm going to check in the drying room. The symphony… something feels incomplete.
It's not ready yet. Still too moist.
Our Lord was not the only one crucified that day. Two thieves were executed with Him. Dismas, the Penitent One, felt honor in dying with his God. Gestas, the Impenitent One, demanded the Lord free them from their just punishment. Both died on their crosses. What happened to their souls, it is not for the mortal likes of me to know.
It must be music. Life and death codified in sound where words cannot.
Close to sundown. Dusk has become my most active time. Everyone else is using the last bit of light the sun provides, and I start using the light of the wandering stars in the sky. They know what I've discovered. They proclaim the blossoming of orchestras.
I'm going to check in the drying room.
14 November 1966
Seven trumpets. Twelve apostles. 7/12 meter. That is the core of the awakening. One creature, seven heads, ten horns. That is eighteen. Thrice six.
There was a fire last night in Spitzer's vellum room. He used some of his cleaning solution, tried to make a torch, said he had to finish it. The stars' light does not penetrate into Spitzer's glorified closet. The electricity is still not back. He could not see that page anymore by night.
He promised me that On Mount Golgotha is unharmed. He knows the value of that piece. He knows how important it is to complete. He says he knows just how. I do not think he is up to the task. I told him I should go there with him, we should finish it together. He stopped, looked over to Anderson, and refused. Muttered something about containment.
All for the best. We still do not have adequate water. The supplies that are brought in are for drinking, not bathing, and so I still feel the stain of all the foul earth upon me. All this black mud. Black stains are not appropriate for the hymns to our Lord.
I must prepare. If I cannot commit it to vellum, I will commit the score to my mind. I can complete this. I will be ready.
Anderson doesn't trust Spitzer. He's leaving to check on him now.
I don't trust Anderson.
15 November 1966
Our Lord and all the saints are in pieces. The stain of nature impregnates and warps.
Anderson paces back and forth. He keeps speaking into his recorder, keeping the microphone close while the box sits and whirs. Mentions how Spitzer is descending into madness. He has locked the door to the vellum drying room, the sacristy to our Lord. He keeps talking about how Spitzer must have been heavily exposed to the quarto… I correct him. There is no quarto. A vellum quarto, whoever heard of such a thing?
Spitzer is handcuffed to the bed. A huge, bloody gauze bandage is wrapped around his left arm. Anderson gives him pills to swallow, but Spitzer expectorates them when given half the chance. When he's not flailing against his bonds, he hums to himself and gesticulates into the air. He —
He has seen the fullness of the page. He hears the blessed symphony. He knows the stars call to him. Oh, the very thought that he sees the beyond, hears the clashing symphony, he knows what music we all must bow before in service to Him! Does he hold the insight into the Hymn of Hymns?
Anderson just rushed outside, frightful, shouting demands to know when the phones will return. His keys… Anderson fears Spitzer's enlightenment so much he has not seen it rise in me. I'm taking them. Bringing Spitzer with me.
And again Spitzer ejected me from his vellum room. How does he know that much karate? Judo? Kung Fu? Whatever it's called, he knows enough of it to block me and knock me back while bleeding from a gash in his arm. No matter. I am still too unclean from my expeditions.
Can they not see our Lord is dismembered? Tossed to the four corners of this Earth? Only two are left, and they are thieves!
S U L G O L G O T A
S L G O L O G O T A
S L G O L A G O T A
S L G A L A G O T A
S T G A L A G O T A
S T G A L A G O D A
S T G A L A G A D A
S T A L A G A D D A
The stars fall for the fragments of our Lord!
Spitzer is dead. He could not finish it.
Anderson records the event in the next room. He paces like a caged beast, speaking at a fevered pitch. He keeps popping his pills, rambles about "memetic hazards" and amnesiacs. "This is not 701, the hazard is visual." Spouting numbers and word salad! How he descended to madness this quickly, I dare not fathom.
But no matter. Even those stars that have lit my path these last few nights, my guides through the shadows, they fall with a reddish flare before the might of our Lord. They turned the water back on. I can finally clean myself of this black filth that cakes me. No more mud. No more ink. Now, I am free to complete this sacred task with the purity of my being.
Our Lord bled for us. Take, drink. It is only fitting that we give ourselves, our body, our blood to Him for the sake of symphony. I now finish what I have uncovered.
I am unworthy. I cannot finish it.