Time
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Time was slowly trickling down into the deep subterranean complex of Site 17, flooding its corridors, conquering containment chambers, drowning cells and labs, seeping through meter-thick blast doors and laughing in the faces of armed guards. Time knew no hindrances. Even an almighty Foundation that stood above governments, defeated gods and overcame demons, even it did not possess a cure for Time. No special containment procedures could ever stop this keterest of all Keters. Humanity accepted its power and presence so much that it didn't even try to find a way to stand against time, let alone fight it. Only the digits on watches and timers were clicking away, grimly confirming Time's presence. And all the while Time flooded every room to the ceiling, dissolving things and events - some momentarily, like sugar, others remained longer. Yet all of them were dissolved eventually - dissolved and carried away with Time's inexorable flow.

The keterest of all Keters was roaming among the containment cells, touching everyone and everything. The horns on a goddess-daughter's head grew by a hair's width yet again. Her screams thirty years ago when she had realized they were piercing out were quite loud. Alas, genetics is incompliant, and if one's mother was horned, one would be doomed to be horned as well. Now she was praying humbly upon a rather dog-eared Bible. Horns suited her well and her aging was quite slow, so she probably would have looked no day older than 25 - but Time scorned her skin as if in retaliation. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, as they say.

Her petite neighbor didn't grow an inch, although the changes in her were considerable. The only thing left of her original self was a small part of her brain an a right eye. Somewhere in her twenties her body came to think that mechanical organs suited it more than "natural" ones and began to reject whatever human parts were still left. That was when pieces of some long-scrapped gadgeteer came in handy, especially his artificial skin. Some ten years later the only thing betraying a human presence in the petite cyborgess was this very eye which was prone to drying out and inflammations. She clung to it for a long time, like a child to her favored toy, but Nature took its own eventually. Request for a replacement eye was pending approval, and a more practical implant was soon to be installed. That was a logical and practical decision, worthy of a perfect mind.

Time was consuming objects and entities, events and experiments, leaving behind only ashes of burned logs and reports. Reading those still made some people's hair stand on end, but who could imagine the events described therein at least half as vividly? Maybe those who experienced them firsthand would, but their numbers were dwindling… some chose not to remember things. Memory was gone with the smoke, and documents were but ash compared to it. Another object decommissioned by Dr. Time due to old age, its last shadow imprinted on a bed sheet in its containment cell. And then its decrepit body became visible again.

Some pretty resilient and pleasant memories were slowly dissolving in Site 17 director's office. A bunch of birthday cards with the number 55 were lying on the table, thrown by a careless hand. How many times was she 55, again? Her colleagues feared she might get angry, and did so for a reason. Still, a good specialist is entitled to her quirks. Funny thing is, these congratulations only made the pain worse, reminding her of her true age. So did the photos on the walls. Among those depicted, only the office's tenant remained alive - cats, dogs and even ornithosaurians have shorter lifespans. All dogs. Even a Foundation professor.

Time was knocking at the doors of those who sought refuge from it, like lumps of earth. A woman lying dormant in a containment cell suddenly screamed and jumped awake, pitifully gasping for air. "What did you dream of?" - asked Time, a stony tenderness in its voice. "Boiled children, maybe?" Time snorted and ran a cold finger across the woman's face, leaving another wrinkle behind. "You will cease, you will die" - hushed the whispers in the old hag's head, and it seemed to her that it was sand dropping on a coffin lid. For now, the only thing to cease in this "home" was a light bulb. Time chuckled as the old hag screamed and darted away from the lamp that cracked and went dark. "Dark in here. Grave darkness, eh, old hag?" - the darkness queried as the old woman's heart skipped a beat, seemingly thinking about stopping once and for all. But her heart went on, and so did Time. Not today, old woman. Time was not interested in her conscience. This time it came here for the light.

A man in a cell with soft, padded walls raised his eyes, red and maddened, as if sensing some intangible presence. "You managed to escape death," - Time said to him. - "Me, you will not escape" An antediluvian doctor, always a bother to the O5, was able to swap bodies as he saw fit, but his mind grew ever older, more senile, eventually going completely blank. New Council members - did you think you'd become one of them some day? - did not put up with the shenanigans of a doctor slowly lapsing into madness. His usefulness grew lesser and lesser… at first he got an SCP designation and a comfy cell. Later on, when people had enough of his suicidal inventiveness, he received a strait-jacket and a daily diet of sedatives.

"You won't get a new body until you wear this one out, Jackie," - said Time in an annoying voice through a nurse who was tinkering with medical probes. - "Oh, and by the way - another namesake of yours was caught yesterday. This time it's a she. Only the Spades left. His time will come too…"

Next to the insectarium, Time caught up with another Foundation hero of days past. He started frequenting this place lately. His beard became completely white, his glasses - disgustingly thick. Now he was moving a finger along the insectarium cage, looking at a man standing inside. It was himself, but young, brash and armed with a sword. None of the booooterflies that put this show on for him remembered him young, not even their great-great-great-grandmothers witnessed the times when he was still able to keep a firm grasp on such metalware. Time's brief laugh made the butterflies' wings flutter, and for a second the illusionary sword became rusted, and the young doppelganger's eyes became lifeless, empty sockets. The old man gave a jump, then wiped his eyes, sighed and resumed building his living card-castle. Time went on.

Time's breath touched everyone and everything, making no exceptions, caring not for age and authority. A seemingly young man who sat there with a stiffed gaze, blinked and touched his forehead. It seemed like Time did not dare touch him - no one could ever harm him. His body did not grow old, his hands were ever strong, but he had long forgotten the taste of bread. Time, as if taking revenge for an invincibility so egregious, sped up thousandfold against all plants the brazen immortal dared approach. This too was, as it turned out, possible to get used to, so Time generously gave him much knowledge, in which, as it is known, is much grief. Time did not care what he was thinking, be it Procedure 110-Montauk or Protocol 10-Israfil-B - neither knowledge would let him sleep in peace.

Time even had a means against the Creator himself. For all eternity, every moment Time was whispering an ancient curse in the Lord's ear - a curse called Boredom. This curse has led Him into these walls one day, like a puppeteer's string. This very curse made Him leave by his inscrutable ways. At least that was what he told his hospitable jailers in his farewell letter. Was he really the Maker of Time itself, or was it just a manifestation of lunacy inflicted by boredom - only Time could tell. Anyway, one day God just left his temporary abode deep in Site 17, quickly and without trace, leaving behind only a note and impotent panic.

Time slid into a tunnel, as quickly and deftly as only Time could manage, and went into an Existential Isolation Facility several kilometers away. Its only inhabitant sat in front of his screens, gazing at the stream of world news, remembering things he lived through with every passing moment. This abnormal old man was Time's favorite, for he, unwillingly and bravely, challenged this invincible force of nature. He was living the inside out. It wasn't a big difference for Time, though - some people live from birth till death, this one lives in reverse, but it all began with an appearance, and it will end with a disappearance, although a very unusual one. Maybe Time perceived this man as some quirky diversity, touching his hair and taking pieces of silver away instead of giving more.

Hands on the clock completed their turn. Calendars moved a tick forward. Some people died, some were born. For the majority, it was just a day - good or bad, Time did not care or even understand. Time, if you're inclined to personify it, saw in its boundlessness how the purest enterprises grow into blackest villainy, and how absolute atrocities become the greater good. Colors were changing too fast in its wake, and black and white were blending into gray, the moments' circle never meant to end.

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