θullsh't
rating: +28+x

"It doesn't make sense," Ray said once more. "I call bullshit."

"Really?" Vivian said, raising an eyebrow. "Out of all the things we've learned about today, a list that includes a lizard that we literally can't destroy, a depressed sentient drawing, and actual honest-to-god bigfoot, the thing you're claiming doesn't exist is an anomalous number?"

"I believe it exists. I just don't buy that it's missing, or that it fucks with non anomalous things the way they claim it does."

"You see, dear Vivian," Ahmed said, cutting into the conversation, "It's hard to be sure any of this exists. I get Ray's thought process. You see, he's just–"

"They're just," Ray corrected, rolling their eyes. Ahmed didn't seem to hear, continuing to talk over them.

"–a skeptic at heart. He can't–"

"They can't."

"–help it. Kindred souls, Ray and I."

"Ooh," Ray winced. "Is that really a judgement to make on the first day?"

Vivian suppressed a chuckle. "All I'm saying is that's not the weirdest thing we've heard about,” she continued.

"But it is,” Ray insisted. “Because there's nothing weird about a hard to define number. Look, when we get a result that's divided by zero, we just call it undefined. Some branches of math even use numbers divided by zero as a way to get infinity or some other arbitrarily large number. And the fact that we can use infinity at all shows just how weird math is. Infinity isn't even a number, really, but we treat it like a number, and therefore it is."

"Interesting point," Ahmed said. "Counterpoint: anomaly. This whole… insane Foundation. All of it defies logic."

Ray frowned. "Some things more-so than others."

"Something tells me you're gonna be one to keep an eye on Ray," Vivian said.

Ray smiled back nervously. "I'm a junior researcher just like the rest of you."

"Somehow I doubt that. I have a feeling you're not just like the rest of us," Vivian replied, a smile on her face.


"Bullshit!" Ray yelled, a show of disapproval for Ahmed's canned speech. The others made similar remarks.

"What?" Ahmed protested. "The whole point was to share our craziest conspiracies. You think the theory that the world has already ended and we're all clones is so crazy that it's bullshit?"

"No, what's bullshit is that you expect us to think that's a crazy conspiracy," Lily said. Vivian laughed at her girlfriend's remark, subtly challenging Ahmed.

"I mean, I figured that out on like my first day," Colin said.

"Well you're the new guy, so you don't get a vote," Ahmed said, grasping for any victory.

"New to us," Vivian reminded Ahmed. "Don't forget he has more experience than any of us, it's not his fault he's late to the site thirty-seven party."

"In any case, it's not like any of you can come up with a crazier theory. Or do you wanna tell us about oh-three-three again, Ray?"

"Wait, have I heard about this?" Lily asked.

"God he's been on this–"

"They," Colin corrected Ahmed. "They've been on this." Colin and Ray shared a smile, a kind of solidarity formed.

"Right," Ahmed continued, unswayed, "they've been on this since literally day one, about how SCP oh-three-three doesn't make any sense."

"Oh-three-three," Colin murmured. "That's the missing number, right?"

Ray nodded. "Exactly."

"Wait, I have heard this," Lily said, finally realizing.

"Tell Colin," Vivian said to Ray. She turned to the new transfer. "You gotta hear this, they make a really compelling argument."

"So the entire deal with Theta Prime is that it's a missing integer, right? Single digit, positive. And for some reason, we missed it. And now when it interacts with anything, it completely fucks with it."

"We know this scip, Ray-Ray, just get to the underwhelming theory," Ahmed said, losing patience.

"So long as you promise to never call me Ray-Ray again. Point is, that's not how mathematics works. Take i, for example."

"The i argument," Vivian said, laughing a little.

"To be fair, that's what convinced me," Lily said.

"The square root of negative one doesn't exist. It just doesn't work with the building blocks of numbers. But if we say it does exist, then suddenly, a lot of mathematics starts to make sense. We inventiscovered the complex plane and suddenly we could do a lot more math and science and physics."

"The fuck kind of word is 'inventiscovered'?" Ahmed asked.

"I believe they're referring to how it's kind of hard to tell whether humans invented math or simply discovered concepts that always existed," Colin explained. Ray smiled at him.

"Exactly."

"Okay, wait, remind me where the conspiracy comes in," Lily said, enthralled in the narrative Ray was building.

"Well that's just it. I'm not entirely sure where the theory goes. But I have a few ideas. For starters, it could be that oh-three-three doesn't exist. Like at all. It's just something they tell us about to get us used to the idea. Or else, they're hiding the true anomalous properties of it from us, it's not just that it's missing, it's that there's an additionally attached anomaly." They let that sink in for a while. Then a smirk formed at the corner of their mouth. "Or. It's all an elaborate cover-up. Theta-prime is used to cover up the real thirty-three. It's covering up something deep that would shock us all to our core."

"Or," Ahmed said, "you're thinking about this too much. It's not that hard, Ray. It's like…" Ahmed snapped in realization. "It's like missingno. That's all it is."

"In that case, the burden of proof is on you to prove that the universe functions like a computer, and then to prove that it's glitched to such an extent to create something like theta prime."

"Wouldn’t the anomalies be the bugs in the code?"

"Hey, Ahmed finally came up with a crazy conspiracy theory!" Colin said. The others mockingly congratulated him. Ahmed tried to protest, but when he saw it wasn’t going to stop, he rolled his eyes, changing tactics. He accepted the praise, giving a slight flourish of the hands, an implication or a bow as the group of researchers continued to talk through the night.


"It's bullshit, Vivian!" They ranted, running a hand through their hair.

"I know, Ray, it completely sucks," Vivian responded sympathetically. It was nearing three in the morning and they were still in Ray's office.

"There's nothing they can do? No funding? What the fuck does that mean, since when does funding stop the fucking Foundation?"

"You're right, it's terrible," she agreed. "I'm just worried this ranting isn't productive."

"I am trying to contain a dangerous anomaly here, and they expect me to just put it in a fucking box and be done with it? I'm at my wits end. We lost five people trying to contain this goddamn thing. And you know the only reason this is happening is because I'm not one of their star researchers, no I'm Mx. Ray Nox. It's because I'm not cis, Vivian, it's because they can't put me in a fucking box."

"I agree that there is probably some gender bias there."

"Christ, Viv, you just… you just don't understand the extent of this discrimination bullshit."

"You’re talking to a whole black lesbian here, buddy."

"And Ahmed's always breathing down my neck, god forbid I do my job for ten minutes without him telling me how much better he would do it. Ethics committee, what does he know about ethics? He keeps misgendering me, the motherfucker. You know we’ve been working together, what, coming up on two decades? And he still defaults to 'he/him' pronouns."

"Look, Ahmed is just doing his job, and it sucks. And he can be an asshole with pronouns, but you know he considers you one of his closest friends."

"I'm done with all of this. All of the anomalies, the scips, losing people, I'm done."

"I hear your frustration. But I know you don't mean it."

"And-and then there's, fuckin… FUCKING theta prime!" They said, trying to keep their voice steady.

"Not this again," Vivian sighed.

"We invented a number that's the square root of one. But it's not one, Vivian. It's fucking j! What kinda of a bullshit number is j? It's not even on the complex plane, but it doesn't break mathematics!"

"Ray," their friend responded concerned.

"And fucking combinatorial game theory! You heard of star, Viv? You fucking heard of star? Well, let me tell you about it. It's less than all positive numbers, but it's greater than all negative numbers. But it's not zero. No, zero has its own separate value in game theory! You're telling me we have a value that by definition has to be zero but isn't equivalent to zero but a fucking missing integer breaks the world?"

"Ray!" she yelled. They stopped talking at the sudden scolding, truly looking at Vivian for the first time that evening. The manic look in their eyes quickly replaced by one of shame and exhaustion. Vivian looked sadly at her friend. "When was the last time you got some sleep?"

"I… I have so much to do, I don’t have time–"

"You have to sleep, Ray. Or your work is gonna suffer and then we’re all in deep shit." They weren’t sure how to respond to that. "Have you talked to Colin about any of this?"

"You know I can’t do that. Different security clearances and shit."

"That’s an excuse and you know it. You can vent about your frustration and not mention the specifics. Like you’ve been doing with me."

They put their head in their hand, looking away. "I don't know. We don't talk about work. I don't… I don't wanna bother him with this stuff."

"He's your husband. You have to rely on him sometimes, and trust that you’re not burdening him. You're both working at the same place. I'm sure he has a lot of bullshit stuff going on in his neck of the woods too. But that's why you talk to each other."

They sighed, on the verge of tears. "You're right, Viv. You're always right. I'm… I'm so sorry. You shouldn't have to deal with my bullshit."

She shrugged. "It's what friends are for."

"I'm just so tired," they admitted. "Sometimes I just wanna… I dunno. Amnesticize myself and walk away from the Foundation. For good."

"You think you're the only one who has those thoughts?" she asked, eyebrow raised. Ray looked at her, confused.

"But Viv, you love this stuff!"

"Doesn't make it any less exhausting." She sighed, leaning back on the desk next to them. "Go home. Get some sleep tonight. And when you wake up, talk to Colin. I'm sure he wants to talk to you as well."

Ray chuckled. "Yeah. You’re probably right."

"I’m always right," Vivian replied matter-of-factly.

"Say hi to Lily for me,” Ray said as they moved towards the door, grabbing their coat.

"And Ray," she said. Ray turned around in the doorway. "Stop thinking about oh-three-three. It’s not healthy," she said, half joking.

Ray grinned back at her. "Never."


"No, that’s… that’s gotta be bullshit,” Ray said.

"I have it from a reliable source," Lily said, earnest. "They need a new Overseer. Somebody's about to be whisked away to Site Oh-One and replace Oh-Five-Eleven."

"And how do they decide that?" Ray asked.

"Your guess is as good as mine." At that moment, the site director came walking up to them.

"Ms. Cruz, Mx. Nox," she said.

"Site Director," Ray said turning to her.

"Viv, babe, you've known Ray for decades. We're married. Why the formality?" Lily asked. Ray chuckled at Lily's observation. Vivian took a deep breath, and there was a sense of solemnity in her pause.

"I've been asked to escort Mx. Nox to the helipad." The two researchers took in what Vivian had said to them. Suddenly, Ray burst into laughter.

"Helipad? Are you joking me? Are you guys playing some joke on me?" Ray laughed as they said this, but Vivian's expression didn't change.

"You're to report to Site Oh-One," Vivian continued. "Immediately."

Ray laughed again, looking at Lily. But Lily did not laugh with them. She just stared at them, a look of awe crossing her face. It was at this point that they turned back to Vivian. She gave Ray a nod. Ray turned back to Lily.

"Oh my god," Lily said.

"Oh my god…" they echoed. "I… Do I need to pack up my office?"

"I've been instructed to send you all the necessary materials at earliest convenience," Vivian explained.

"Okay, okay, um…" Ray was uncertain how to respond. Vivian started walking away, a silent instruction for them to follow. They turned back to Lily. "Tell Colin."

"Okay," Lily promised.

"Tell him I love him." Ray had no clue what was about to happen. They had to be prepared for anything. Even never seeing him again. They got the nod from Lily, then quickly walked to keep up with Vivian.

The two hurriedly made their way down the hallways of Site-37, towards the staircase. As they passed, Ray could hear the chitterlings of coworkers, wondering what they were hurrying for. Ray wasn't sure what to make of it. They weren't sure what to make of anything. They just kept following Vivian through the corridors. Through a doorway, they saw Ahmed tilt his head, silently mouthing a question they couldn't make out. Ray could only shrug in response.

They wondered if this would be the last time the two would interact.

As the two ascended the stairs, Ray felt their stomach flip.

"I'm not ready," they mused aloud.

"You are," Vivian replied, confident as ever. This did nothing to quell Ray's fears as they reached the top of the staircase. The roof of Site-37. The two could hear the helicopter had already arrived. But before Vivian could open the door, Ray spoke up.

"Viv, wait." Vivian turned around, a stoic but not unfriendly look on her face. "I'm… I'm scared," Ray admitted.

"Well, I'd be surprised if you weren't," Vivian said. "But that's why you make such a great researcher, Ray." Vivian sighed. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit scared for you. But whatever it is, you can handle it. I know you can."

"Vivian, you're the reason I'm the person I am today. You've helped me out of so many tight spots, you've held me to a higher standard, you've been there when everything went wrong…"

"And I could say the same about you for me. But why bring this all up now?"

"What if… what if they amnesticize me? Make me forget all about you, and you all about me. And they make me forget Lily, and Ahmed, and…"

"And Colin," Vivian finished. "That's why you told Lily…" Vivian took a deep breath, scared at the possibility she hadn't fully considered until they said it. "If that's the case… then just take what comfort you can right now in the knowledge that you have meant so much to all of us. And I'll make sure they know how much they mean to you." Ray nodded, still feeling uncertain.

"Okay." Vivian hugged her friend, both uncertain of what the future had in store for them. She moved back to the door.

"Ready?"

"No. Not at all." They took a deep breath. "Open the door."

"You got this." With that, Vivian opened the door. With no time to second guess themself, Ray stepped across the threshold with all the courage they could muster.

They led the two of them to the helicopter. With a nod, Ray said goodbye to Vivian as they were escorted onto the vehicle. As the pilot took off, they saw Vivian give one last wave. They waved back, somewhat sadly, in response. As Vivian walked back to the door and faded from view, Ray sat up again, facing forward.

This was it. They were heading to Site-01, the headquarters of the O5 council. Surely some mistake was made. Or they had misunderstood the whole situation. Or this was a huge practical joke set up by Lily, Vivian, and… Colin? Ahmed? They couldn't discount anything at the moment, but that seemed to be a bit of a stretch.

They closed their eyes, trying to imagine every scenario possible. The odds of any of this happening were incredibly unlikely. And the odds of this happening to them… impossible. It was all impossible. They were just… Ray. A senior researcher. And a damn good one at that, sure. But that was it. Surely, they were jumping the gun, missing some crucial piece of context that would explain all of this and make much more sense than the narrative they were constructing in their head.

"Mr. Nox?" Ray opened their eyes and turned their head to look at the man next to them.

"It's Mx. Nox, actually."

The man nodded, understanding. "We're here, Mx. Nox." Ray looked out and saw they were descending towards a site not entirely unlike the one they had just come from. Waiting at the helipad was an older woman, with an expression on her face that was not unkind. Though it seemed impossible at this distance, Ray would swear she was staring right at them. As the helicopter descended, her gaze never strayed, following them even as the helicopter landed and they got out. Ray quickly found themself escorted to meet with her.

"You must be Ray Nox," the woman said smiling. "I've heard so much about you and the projects you've worked on. It's a pleasure to meet you, Mx. Nox." She held out a hand, which Ray quickly shook.

"The pleasure is all mine, Ms….?" They realized they had no clue who the person standing in front of them was.

"Please, call me Eve." Ray wondered if any of the implications their mind was coming up with made any sense. "Walk with me. I'm sure you have plenty of questions." She turned toward the building and began walking toward the door, making sure Ray was keeping up.

"Yeah, you could say that."

"Go ahead. I'll answer what I can."

"…Why am I here?"

Eve laughed. "Surely I thought you would've deduced that by now."

"Well, I might've. But I'm not sure."

"Ray, you know why you're here."

"I need to hear you say it," Ray said, determined. Eve sighed. Ray could tell it wasn't out of annoyance, but what was it? Sadness, perhaps?

"Mx. Nox. We of the O5 council find ourselves in need of a replacement for our colleague, O5-11. You have been called upon to take up that mantle. Eleven had his eye on you for a while. All of us did."

"But why me?" Ray blurted out. When met with a concerning look from Eve, they continued. "I just mean, surely there are more qualified people than me to take up this esteemed position. What about my superior, Site Director Vivian Gold?"

"Ms. Gold is a fine researcher, and I dare say an amazing Site Director. She asks the questions necessary of a Site Director, and she handles the problems presented to her with tact and grace. But you ask the kind of questions that make an Overseer. And the rest of us believe you have what it takes to be one." Ray walked with her in silence, wondering what that could mean. She looked at them with a knowing smile before continuing. "Tell me, Mx. Nox, are there any anomalies that you've been wondering about for some time?"

Ray shrugged. "I mean, that's what we do here. We contain anomalies and try to understand them, and I've worked on plenty that we can't yet explain in detail, and–"

"Ray," Eve interrupted, an expectant grin on her face. Ray sighed.

"Oh thirty-three makes no sense, that's not how math works. If we found a missing integer, we would just act like it still existed and we'd be able to unlock deeper, crazier areas of math. And it certainly wouldn't affect things the way it supposedly does, that's bullshit–" They quickly stopped themself, mortified. "I am so sorry. I don't know what came over me."

"It's fine," the woman said, trying not to chuckle. "We won't punish you for having passion. In fact, it's encouraged in some cases. And what you just said proves my point. How many people would think that way?"

"Lots, I'm sure."

"But few would continue to research it, learning more math in the process to try and explain one anomaly instead of just accepting that it's anomalous and that's how the world works now. And you did." Ray nodded, beginning to understand. "We'll get back to that in a moment, I'm sure you have more questions." There were plenty of questions running through Ray's mind. But only one that mattered.

"Will I be able to maintain my relationships with my former coworkers from Site Thirty-Seven?"

"I presume you're referring to your husband." Ray gave a solemn nod. "Yes. Of course you can still be in a relationship with him." Ray exhaled a breath they didn't know they were holding in.

"And my other former colleagues? Vivian, Lily, Ahmed?" Eve looked surprised at this question, pondering it as if the thought hadn't occurred to her.

"Well, there's no rule preventing Overseers from having friends. But I would advise you to be cautious. It's hard to maintain friendships at this security clearance, for a number of reasons." She faced forward again, continuing down the hall with purpose. "Of course, we'll have to amnesticize your former site director. Her wife, too, by the looks of it. And of course, all of your former colleagues will be given a cover story about your transfer. The Zero-Thirty-Three project, perhaps?"

Ray winced. "A bit on the nose, don't you think?"

She grinned back at him. "I prefer to think of it as hiding in plain sight." They arrived at a pair of heavily reinforced doors. Something told Ray this area was only accessible to those with Level-5 clearance. Eve moved to a terminal at the edge of the door and performed a brief but complex ritual, and a second later the doors opened. "Combination of personal identification, biometric scans, and–well, all will be explained soon."

Ray followed Eve, noticing there was much less activity in this portion of the building. Eve stopped outside of a door. On the outside, the placard read O5-11. Ray stared at it, awestruck.

"This will be your new office," Eve said. Ray looked at her, slightly concerned.

"But I haven't accepted your– your generous offer," Ray said, trying not to seem ungrateful.

"Oh," Eve said simply. "Were you planning on rejecting it?"

Ray thought for a second. "No, no. I… I accept, I just…"

"Then this will be your new office," Eve continued, cheerful as ever. "Not as though you had a choice," she murmured. She opened the door and waited for Ray to step through. Ray hadn't known what to expect, but the office seemed surprisingly average. It was a bit spacious, but it contained a desk with a terminal on it, not unlike their office back at Site-37.

"You'll be doing much of your work from this terminal. The previous Eleven has left several documents to get you caught up to speed on your duties and responsibilities, but I've pulled up two documents you're going to want to read." Ray nodded, sitting behind the desk as Eve watched them. They tapped on the keyboard to wake up the monitor, and found one of the documents the woman had mentioned. Their eyes widened.

"Oh Three Three," they said, looking up at Eve. She nodded in response.

"Level-five access. Declassified. Take a read. There's not much you don't know, but there are a few details that are sure to surprise you." Ray nodded, reading the document.

She was right. Most of this, Ray had learned in their early days. The designation of theta prime, the idea that it tried to integrate itself into standard mathematics, the infuriating properties that didn't inherently dictate anomalous means. But then one line caught their eye.

The "sum" of the symbols is equal to a previously unknown integer (designated Theta Prime by Prof. Hutchinson) of intermediate value between 0 and 1.

"Wait… between zero and one… but that would mean–"

"Yes," Eve interrupted. "A singularity. The singularity as a matter of fact. I recognize that raises more questions than it answers, hence the second document I've pulled up. It's one of several proposals for the same number, this one proposed by myself." Ray nodded as they opened the other document.

Item #: SCP-001

Object Class: Archon

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-001 is contained by the belief that SCP-001 exists. As such, no containment procedures are necessary, as even those aware of the anomalous nature of SCP-001 inherently operate to ensure its existence.

Description: SCP-001 is the concept that with enough research and study, the universe can in some capacity be explained, and that all things can be categorized and their behavior predicted to a certain extent. The corollary belief that anything outside what can be explained and categorized is anomalous is the only true anomaly. SCP-001 was proposed by O5-1 after extensive study of SCP-033.

"Systems tend toward entropy, the thought that we can have any sort of order is the craziest idea there is. But it works because we say it does. SCP-033 is the singularity, the only true number. But that wasn't useful to us. So we created new quantities to better categorize and explain our world, but the second we gave it a name, the singularity split from what it was supposed to be. Theta Prime split from one." Ray couldn't help but feel the wonder in Eve's voice, and felt it reflected on their face. "You're right, Ray. Theta Prime is bullshit. All of this is bullshit! But we thought if we observed and recorded we could understand that bullshit. And through sheer willpower alone, by observing and recording, we did seem to make sense of it. Most of the matter and energy in this universe is prefaced with the word 'dark,' inherently anomalous matter and energy, and we still try to understand what causes it. And the thought that we can make sense of it… well, that's the only thing that truly doesn't make sense."

Ray nodded. It all made so much sense. It was all so confusing. They understood it, and they couldn't begin to understand it. It was then Ray knew why they had been chosen.

Eve looked at her watch. "We have to get to the Council Room now, introduce you to the others and begin to get you settled in. When that's done I'll let you read the documents left by the old Eleven." Eve looked sadly around the office. Ray wondered if she was going to miss him. She looked back to Ray, a look of certainty on her face.

"I think you're going to make a great Overseer, O5-11."

"Thank you for bringing me on board, O5-1."


That very same evening, Ray was able to call their husband and check in.

"Ray!" Colin's excited voice came from the other end. "Thank god! When Lily told me what happened, what you said… I started getting really worried."

Ray chuckled. "Yeah, I might have overreacted a little bit in the whirlwind of getting whisked away."

"So… you're an overseer now?"

"Yeah, I guess. It's kind of a long story, and one I'm guessing I won't be allowed to tell."

"What does that mean for us?" Colin asked, worried.

"It means I'm going to be stationed here at Site-01. It means you should expect a transfer here soon. But other than that, not much. There's stuff I still won't be allowed to tell you about, and stuff you probably shouldn't tell me." Colin sighed at the other end, and Ray nodded, knowing the feeling.

"So, is there anything you can tell me about your first day?"

Ray thought about this. Colin's question was a fair one, but a difficult one to answer.

"The universe… it's so vast and incredible. There is so much we can't know. And I've known for a while that the more we try to know, the more we realize we don't know. And that's beautiful, and a little sad, and hard to deal with. After all, if the more we know, the more we know we don't know, then how can we truly know anything of value." Ray expected Colin to laugh at the other end. What they were saying sounded completely fake deep, and a younger Ray might have called themself out on it. But Colin seemed to understand and just nodded. Ray thought for a second more before their lips curled up in a smirk. "But you know, there is one thing I've always known."

"And what's that?"

"I'm pretty good at calling out bullshit."

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