Life had always been without magic. That's why he wrote — because the real world, while it could be interesting, didn't have any magic. He wasn't quite a man of science, but instead a man of rationality. And so, he wrote: to add a little magic, a little horror, a little interest to a dull, humdrum world.
It wasn't until he fell through a hole in his world — from the real world to a world filled with the things he'd written — that he started believing. It all began so simply. He had been walking through the stock room at Wal-Mart, headed for break; when he turned the corner, he didn't see what he expected to see: bleak grey shelving filled with boxes of product were replaced with sterile, white walls. He stopped walking, trying to take it in. Turning in place, he was shocked to discover nothing behind him but the same white walls.
A psychotic break? Maybe. But you have to work within the laws of whatever universe you find yourself in, and so he began to walk, an eerie feeling shivering down his spine. The first door he came to was marked with a familiar symbol — and that feeling just got worse. He was here, in the Foundation. Not as a doctor, researcher, or agent, but as just…himself.
He was screwed.
He wouldn't blend in. He couldn't, not in blue jeans and a blue shirt. And despite being a writer, the man who would come to be known by the three-letter acronym of TDM was not as clever as those he wrote about. He had one chance, he thought. If he could get out, get away from this Site, he might be able to lose himself in the world. Might.
A passing researcher gave him a curious look as he continued to stroll down the hall. An agent gave him the same look, but closer, as if scrutinizing his face. A glance, risked over his shoulder, saw them both pointing him out to a security guard. He cursed under his breath as the guard called out for him to stop. So much for chances. Time to see if his writing had ever been any good.
He turned to the nearest locked door, addressing the panel beside it. "Open. Authorization O5-6. Alpha-Omega-13." And, amazingly, it worked. The door slid open, and he dashed through, closing and locking it behind him with the same authorization codes. It might not hold long, but would it be long enough?
Down another hall. Left at a doorway. Push past the old man with the beard. Locking every cross portal he came across, sealing every blast door. When he came to a computer, he logged in, using passcodes he'd once typed out just for the heck of it. Now, it felt so much more dangerous. He was at… Site 19. Damn it. Used to contain humanoids…no easy exits like 23 had. No… wait. There, down low, an O5 meeting room. If he could get there, he could get out. The O5s always had special escapes built in.
He wasn't a hacker — he wasn't even particularly computer savvy. Which was why he was glad he'd always written the Foundation as using touch screens. Level Five status allowed you to pull off a lot of fun tricks. Including initiating a Keter level breach alert, on the opposite side of the site. Hopefully, that would distract the guards. Hopefully.
It didn't matter. He'd locked the nearest stairway, and it was damn near a straight shot down to that room.
Eleven floors later, he was cursing the fact he'd never had enough money to get a gym membership. Being an internet writer wasn't exactly the type of work that gave you fantastic muscles. Or, you know, any muscles whatsoever.
Thirteen floors after that, he was gasping for breath, and wishing he'd quit smoking cigars when his girlfriend had asked him to. But, finally, he'd made it where he was going. Down another hall, and open this door…
TDM slumped against the wall, defeated. Sitting in the room, almost as if they had been waiting for him, was an old man and his two bodyguards. Of course he'd have to show up on a day an O5 was actually here. "Well, fuck."
The old man stared at the intruder, then shook his head just slightly at the man in the gas mask beside him. He considered the look in the man's eyes, the tone of his voice, and came to a startling — to him — conclusion. "You know who I am." There should only have been a handful of people who could recognize him on sight. "Interesting. Sadly, I do not know who you are. Which is intriguing, considering you have been using my security codes to throw this site into an uproar. You appear to have not been expecting me, and so are unlikely to be an assassin." A slight pause. "And your condition certainly helps prove that. My people tell me you appeared in the middle of a hallway, which could make you a teleporter, but I think an out of shape teleporter would not have walked down all those stairs. Which means someone sent you here. Against your will, maybe? You were coming to this room… to escape, yes? That doesn't tell me how you know there IS an escape route here. Well, do you have anything to say?"
Through labored breathing, TDM muttered something. "You'll have to speak up," the old man replied. "I am getting up there in years."
TDM sat back, and spoke again, louder this time. "Jack. TJ. Sarah. Claire. Mich-"
For an old man, the fellow known as Cowboy could still move amazingly quickly. In the twinkling of an eye, he had moved forward. TDM's pale throat stood in contrast to the glittering silver blade pressed against it, seemingly drawn from Cowboy's cane. "Those are words that guarantee you a swift death."
"But I can save them!" the bearded man gasped out, eyes locked on the blade. He gulped reflexively, and the razor sharp tip nicked his throat, a single drop of blood welling up.
"You're not helping your case. Many have claimed as much over the years. But, if you know anything about the Foundation, you should know, there are-"
"-no happy endings," the bearded man finished in unison with the O5. His thoughts raced, looking for anything that might save him. His eyes fixed on the bodyguard with the gasmask, and a spark fired somewhere in his brain. It would ruin his favorite story, but save his life. He cleared his throat, hoping to get the accent right. "H'lyiah, Cho'tp'k?"
The man known as Thompson's eyes widened behind the gas mask he always wore. His gaze shifted slightly, and his head tilted slightly before returning to its perfect orientation. O5-6 frowned. "What did you just say? Are you trying to work some memetic agent? I'll have you know, my men are well-shielded against such things. I do believe I shall simply kill you."
Taking a deep breath, he tried his best to get it all out at the same time. "BlackhasbeenbrainwashedbyMannandhe'sgoingtokillyouifyoudon't-"
Not quite quick enough. Even as he spoke, the unmasked bodyguard's eyes glazed over, and he began to raise his gun. Not towards the unknown man, but towards the O5. Unfortunately for Agent Black, Thompson was prepared, having been prewarned. His brass knuckles struck twice in as many seconds, and the brainwashed minion was sent to the floor, unconscious.
"Like that," TDM finished lamely.
"Interesting." Six stared at his once-trusted protector, a deep frown creasing his lips. "And you knew this…how?"
"I wrote it."
Time passed, as it does. The newcomer was tagged as a Black Box SCP, known by a descriptor, not a number. The Duck Man, or "TDM" for short. He was very busy for the first, oh, hour or twelve, telling Six everything he knew about Mann's plans. He was then placed in a Humanoid Containment Chamber, and ignored for a couple of weeks, as Six routed out all of the mad doctor's plans and puppets.
But after all that, it came time to decide what to do with him. Jack Bright and O5-6 stood in the observation lounge, watching as TDM stared upwards, trying desperately to entertain himself in between feedings.
"What did he just say?" Six leaned forward, turning up the volume.
"I think it was something along the lines of 'Wow. 12 meters high. I didn't think they actually did that.'" Jack fiddled with his amulet, staring at the man before them. "Do you think this guy is on the level?"
"He's not a Bixby, if that's what you're asking. I've had people testing him, covertly. If he could alter reality, he'd have done something by now. Tests show him to be completely human, identical on a quantum level to a man currently living in the United States. All the ID he had on him when we put him in here is identical to the real one. Well, with one difference. The him on the outside is a millionaire. Won a lottery or something. This one worked at Wal-Mart."
"Thought you said he wasn't a Bixby? Sounds like some major wish fulfillment to me."
"Enh. Might have been something like that. But this guy? He can't do anything now. Except make use of the things he's 'written' in before."
"So you think he really created us?"
"No. I'm not that pessimistic. I think in his universe, he had some, we'll call it a connection. It lets him know way too much about us, but he's not a god, or a creator of any kind." Six pauses to pull out a cigar and light it up. The smoke alarm begins to go off, but a quick glare from Six and the alarm is rapidly silenced.
"Do you really have to do that?"
"What's the point of having power, if you can't abuse it?"
"And you think he can fix me? And TJ? And…" Bright swallows. "Sarah?"
"I think he can. He knows the shortcuts, he said."
"What does he want?
"Protection. He doesn't want anyone to know he's here. He says he gets nightmares thinking about what MC&D, or the CI would do to him. He also seems to think if he does too much, people from his world will notice him, and …get rid of him. He calls it deletion. He's scared to death of Kondraki and Clef, thinks they'll 'decommission' him. He's willing to help us with whatever we want, as long as we keep him fed… and entertained."
"He knows he can't have access to the outside world." Six blows a smoke ring. "So he wants games. Computer, video, all that sort. And books. Something to keep him healthy." His mouth curls in a half-smile. "And SCP-1004."
Jack can't help but double take. "One thousand four? Does he know what it does?"
"He seems to think he can handle it." Six found himself smirking. "And if he can't, well… We'll have found out all he knows by the time it makes him incapable of proceeding."
"You're an asshole. I love it."
Now. At this point, we could go on about the things The Duck Man did. The SCPs he fixed. The plots he stopped with his information, or the other things he told people that they shouldn't have known. Instead? I think it best to end this tale with a small view of what the guards watching him see.
Agent Klein sat down beside Senior Agent Hanks, sliding his card into the station to clock into his assignment. "All right, sir. I'm here to take over observation duties from you. Anything I need to know?"
"This guy masturbates more than anyone. Ever. Seriously, it's disgusting. I don't even want to know what he's looking up on that thing. The sounds are bad enough." Hanks shakes his head. "Look, this is an easy job. The skip isn't dangerous. He just sits there, playing video games, and watching porn. Your main duty is to poke him every now and then, make him get active. That's what the treadmill and weights are for. The Overseers want him to stay healthy."
"Is he talking to himself in there?"
"Same thing he always says. I don't get it, but here, listen." Hanks leaned forward, turning up the volume so the two could hear the words The Duck Man would be repeating for the rest of his long life.
"Please don't downvote me. Please don't downvote me. Please don't downvote me."