I would like to here again state that 106 is not, as is commonly believed, a basic predator, on par with an advanced shark. SCP-106 is a sentient being, albeit a totally alien one. SCP-106 appears to be aware of several things beyond the scope of pure instinct and genetic memory. SCP-106 consistently breaches at moments where recovery and containment are most difficult. A fox may see his way out of a trap, but only a man will wait for his captors to look away to escape.
“On Sentience In Contained Humanoids”
“For fuck's sake, where the hell is it?”
Agent Weng sighed, rubbing his face though his mask. The night was chill, but all three men were sweating badly. All around them surged horrors, monsters, demons, fantasy beasts and animate objects, giggling and roaring as they wandered. The three men in gas masks and armored suits looked under-dressed, if anything. As they stood, one man suddenly reached out, a gloved fist grabbing a mildly drunk zombie and tugging it close for a few seconds, before releasing him back to the surge of humanity, the undead beast cursing and stumbling away.
“Fucking Halloween bullshit. We need to seal this whole area.”
Agent Drak shook his head, gesturing to the traveling packs of costumed revelers. “The railcar popped too close to the city. It wasn't even supposed to be on this track, they think MC&D might have buggered up something. Can't clamp the whole town without major fallout.”
“And what the hell do they think will happen now? The old bastard is out there, and we can't even fucking FIND him!” Weng kicked a discarded wrapper, glaring through tinted lenses at everyone who didn't have to chase hell for a living.
Drak patted the fuming man on the back. “Easy, big fella. Command figures the old man takes a couple people, then does his lazy crocodile thing. That's easier to cover than why a major city had to be quarantined on Halloween.”
Parks, until now little more then a statue, crackled in with his broken, rusty voice. “How hard is it to find a rotten old man that kills everything it touches?”
Weng shook his head, still scanning the crowd. “He just looks like an old man most of the time. He can look however he wants. Normally we tell people to just follow the screaming. Fat fucking lot of good that does now. Where the hell is our expert?”
A brittle, creaking chuckle rolled over the radio. “Harken says he's as much an expert on SCP-106 as a plane crash survivor is an expert on aviation. They won't field lab techs until our initial eval. We're on our own for now.”
The three men stood, awash in horrors, looking for one that would put all the rest to shame.
The drunk angel wandered on the edge of the fire. Demons, zombies, and pop-culture icons swirled around her, moving like a single mass, before scattering into small clusters and pairs, only to surge back together again. The bonfire seemed to roar in time with the pounding music, the field chosen for the sudden teen invasion just far enough to avoid noise complaints, but not far enough to attract unwanted adult oversight. Alcohol flowed, people giggled, and the sharp snap of lowered inhibitions and teen angst was thick in the chill air.
The night was still young, yet already several pairs had drifted from the comfort of the fire, to seek other comforts in the dark, private woods ringing the field. The angel glared at the silent trees, taking another pull on an almost empty beer. She drained it, then tossed it down, to meet a holocaust of its brothers being slowly kicked and stamped in to the soft dirt. She should be there, being held in warm arms, kissing a warm mouth…but no, she decided to run with the one boy who seemed to think the moment before a party was the best time to bring up his “worries about our relationship”. Bastard.
The angel, now with lopsided wings, started to wander to those cool, dark trees. Fuck him…if he wanted to toss her aside, fine…but that didn't mean she wouldn't get to have fun still. She giggled a bit, smiling for the first time in a while. Why not have a little fun…play a trick, and get her treat. She laughed, the flush of wicked amusement and booze high in her cheeks. She'd seen one of the boys from her study hall wander back here…maybe she could find him, get a little…better acquainted.
She walked in to the cooler darkness, the occasional giggle, snip of whisper, or a flash of glow stick the only indication of life. She stumbled over a root, staggering forward and bracing her hand on a slimy tree trunk. She yanked her hand away almost instantly, the gritty, oozing texture making her palm burn, the loss of support almost sending the angel sprawling. She squinted at her hand, making out a smear of gritty, fibrous jelly coating it, the burning getting worse as she noticed the odd pits eaten in to the trunk of the tree.
The angel shivered, suddenly sober, and very aware of the fact that nobody knew where she was. That she knew of nobody close enough to even call for. She tried to rub her palm against her poofy skirts, not noticing the red and black smear she made on it, eyes wide and staring, some deep, dim part of her primordial brain ringing an alarm. She started to walk, quickly, focusing on the waving beacon of the bonfire, trying to make herself feel silly, to ignore the swelling, unreasoning panic.
A twig broke behind her.
She froze, a white shade, one hand dripping blood from a corrosive injury she would have been horrified about, had she looked. The angel didn't dare look back, but she was terrified to run, to hear something following, reaching, grabbing. Moments passed, filled with nothing, the angel finally resolving to run right at the moment when a thin, bony hand reached through her costume and into the muscles of her back like a nasty child squishing his hands in to a cake.
She screamed, or tried to, the sound squelched to little more then a harsh bark by the sheer volume of pain, limbs suddenly boneless and leaden, nerves dead except for agony. She felt fingers touching her ribs from the inside, even as they were slowly eaten away and corroded, her body shifting slowly to face the hand's owner. The flicker of the distant fire showed something withered, dark, slimy and pulpy-soft, but wiry and strong. Two milky-black eyes glistened at her in a too-large head, hovering over a frozen corpse grin, teeth thin and chipped.
The pinned angel gasped and blubbered, feeling an oily, burning corruption seeping in to her body, trying to ignore a slow falling feeling, trying not to feel the ground below her turning mushy and soft, swallowing both figures inch by inch. It leaned closer, and despite the searing horror of that face, some still sane part of her welcomed what was surely an approaching end to her pain. It lingered, however, the other twisted claw of a hand rising as the ground started to swallow their hips.
The new touch made the angel lucid with a new fear, her face locking on those rotten eyes. She recognized the shine behind them, and started to scream with a new, repulsed horror, even as it started to pull both her dress and skin away in sodden ribbons.
Jason ran, lungs burning, trying to yell for help between sharp gasps of air. His Batman costume felt like such a joke now, running between streetlights, feeling that warm spot of pee on his pants. Where WAS everyone? It had been so stupid, trying to be the big brave kids and go out alone…now he really was alone, and his friends had probably been eaten.
He didn't know this for sure, but when the boogeyman dropped out of a tree and started shoving kids in to a wall that was suddenly like quicksand, it was probably a safe bet. He hadn't even been able to do anything, just watch as those long, bony fingers grabbed his two best friends and just…yanked them away, like dolls, barely screaming before the squishy black wall gulped them up. The boogeyman, it hooked his fingers in to David's eyes like dad had taught him to hold a bowling ball, and…
Jason was abruptly sick down the front of his costume, the half-digested mass of chocolate looking unsettlingly like the goo that had splattered everywhere while the tall, lanky, naked old man had landed out of the tree. He stopped, stumbling to his knees, coughing and gagging, wailing out a weak scream for help to the dim night. It drifted off, unheeded, the boy unable to even sob, too numb with exhaustion and horror. He barely noticed the footsteps until they were nearly on top of him.
He looked up, ready to beg whatever adult he saw for help. Then he saw the legs. Thin, black, the feet looking pulpy and flat with age, the concrete under them turning cracked and gooey. Jason looked up more, shaking more and more violently. The withered hips, the sticky, soft chest that didn't rise or fall…and finally that nightmare head, looking like some kind of rotten pumpkin, but black and oily as a bucket of tar. The eyes locked on the boy's, as shiny and blank as a flashlight in a basement. The teeth parted, some kind of rolling, slimy blackness shifting inside.
Jason stumbled back, gasping, trying to scream but unable to even breathe correctly. He stared at the boogeyman as he rolled something in the palm of that thin, beaten hand, pulling it between two bony fingers and lifting it to his mouth. The boy thought it was a candy or something, but then he saw the glint of metal.
It was his best friend Anthony's front tooth. It still had the bracket from his braces on it.
The boogeyman placed it between his teeth, gently, the tooth still white and clean in that filthy, dripping mouth. He seemed to hold it there a moment…then his jaw bunched, and the tooth shivered…then burst like a jawbreaker under a car tire. He chewed it twice, then just stopped, still staring at the boy. It seemed to go on and on, Jason unsure if he was even breathing anymore, knowing this was the end, this was what happened when you didn't listen, when you went off alone, the boogeyman came and took you, forever and always…
But he didn't. He turned, seeming to get ready to take a step…then fell forward, slowly, like a old man tripping over a shoe. The black monster almost hit the ground…but just fell through it, like it was made of air, nothing but a black smear left behind on the concrete…and the tiny, corroded bracket from the tooth.
When they found him, hours later, he'd gripped it hard enough to embed it in his palm.
The boy sat, comforted and miserable. His mother had been nice enough to let him at least wear his Mario costume, but even he had to admit he was probably too sick to walk around the house, let alone outside for hours, in the cold. He'd woken up vomiting, and it had just continued, his parents hoping for the best, but finally forced to cancel the trick-or-treating. As sad as he was, they did try their best to make it up to him. There was a small bowl of candy for him, with the promise any leftovers would be given to him, and he could watch all the scary movies he liked.
“Trick or treat!”
“Aww, such a cute turtle! And what are you, honey?”
“Well, here you go, princess!”
He hadn't even wanted to help pass things out. It was better to just try and ignore things, just pretend everyone else was inside too, that made it better. He tugged the floppy hat down a bit, trying to convince himself that his tummy wasn't feeling like a hedgehog was rolling around inside. He watched the zombies lurch across the screen, half-wishing that the screaming people running for the house were kids from school.
“Trick or treat!”
“Oh, what a nice vampire!”
“I'm draculaura! Rawr!”
“So fearsome! Here you go…”
He turned up the movie, the slow groans of the walking dead drowning out the happy shouts of the living. The worst was going to be tomorrow, being forced to listen to everyone, watch them eating candy and talking about different houses and adventures. He sighed and swallowed thickly, his stomach doing another slow, oily roll. The boy pushed away the candy he'd been nibbling, suddenly sickened by even the smell.
“Uh, are you withOHGOD!”
The sudden, rising shriek of his mother made the boy suddenly bolt upright, his stomach clenching even worse, but now totally forgotten. He couldn't see her from the couch, but he could hear noises, thumping and muffled shouts…and some kind of slimy-sounding rustle, like sewage over dry leaves. He stood, and started to peer around the short wall blocking the entryway, calling with a hesitant voice, scared of not getting a response, but almost equally so of getting one. He was only a few feet away when the hand whipped around the wall, gripping it tight.
It was black-gray and thin, as bony and thin-skinned as his grandmother's, with wide, flat nails gripping the paint hard. Where it touched, a black stain was spreading, like grease on a paper bag, the knuckles looking puffy and thick as they flexed. The boy stared, backing up slowly, calling again for his mother, his voice starting to plead. The hand flexed, actually sinking into the wall as that stain spread, and a nightmare peeped around the corner.
The head was thick, misshapen and lumpy, like a poorly made scarecrow, the skin thin and jelly-like. Two hard, glistening eyes the color of maggots stared from above the thin, wide slash of a mouth. Their eyes locked, and the boy felt fear wash from his head down to his feet, his stomach boiling like a forgotten kettle. His nerves screamed to run, to run away, but he couldn't make himself stop watching those eyes, feet moving slowly backwards like a sleepwalker. The hand and face shifted a bit, and there was a wet, heavy dragging noise as his mother was pulled in to view.
She was dead, or close to it, moved forward by the hand in her chest like a sock puppet, bits of her black and pulpy, smears of that black stain eating in to her face, her neck, her arms. Her chest was a black, jelly-coated hole, the thing's other hand buried in it up to the wrist, the bloodless, ruined remains of his mother hanging from it like a rag doll. He screamed, then threw up, little more then a mass of bile and half-digested snacks, then ran, shrieking up the stairs, begging for his mother, his father, anyone, someone.
He slammed into the bathroom, shutting and locking the door, shaking and crying. His dad had gone down the street to visit, he'd be home any second, and he'd fix this, somehow. He'd call the cops, or something, get them out of the house, leave that black thing far behind. Maybe mom was just hurt, people could get really hurt and still be fine, he'd only seen her a few seconds. That thing was just some psycho in some costume, he'd probably run off as soon as he heard someone coming, and it'd be ok then, it'd be fine. He kept whispering this to himself, feet braced on the sink, back against the door.
He was still repeating it when the face pushed through the wood above him.
He heard the crackle, and looked up, to see that hell face looking down, inches above his head. The floor under his feet suddenly felt sludgy and soft as he stared, the mouth splitting open, to let a tongue as rotten and bloated as a dead fish roll free…and down…and down, sliding down onto that horrified face like a syrup, burning even as he felt his legs sinking down and down, unable to even move really as that soft, slimy flesh burned like an acid in to his face, feeling his nose cook down like a over-used eraser, screaming just long enough to catch a few feet of that endless tongue in his mouth, gagging hard before the nerves died, starting to pass out as he felt the nightmare tasting his eyes.
Drak awoke feeling like he'd been sleeping on a pile of rusty car parts. He sat up, twisting and trying to locate the source of the throbbing pain in his leg, that…memory started to flood back, hitting like a freight train. Running across town. Slamming through a crowd, seeing the withered, crumbling arm laying on the ground. Screams. People running. That horrible black face sliding from the ground, eyes locked on his. Parks firing. More screams. A withered hand reaching, gripping, pulling…
Oh god no.
He looked around in welling horror, pleading with his own brain to lie to him. The room was dark, dirty, and low-ceilinged, tufts of dirt and debris in the corners, the grayish paint peeling in ragged streamers, the stained ceiling and floor warped and lumpy. A doorway opened in to darkness, a vague, insistent noise sounding from far off. The light was dim, but didn't seem to come from anywhere, seeming just a weak, omnipresent glow with a slightly green cast, like deep ocean water.
Drak knew this room, even though he'd never been here. At least, ones very much like it. The old man liked to dump his new catches here before he…found them. Drak rose quickly, hunching down to avoid a sagging bulge of ceiling. He barely wanted his shoes touching this place, let alone anything else. He winced, feeling a dull, empty ache in his leg, high in the calf. Probably where it grabbed him…and damned if he was going to check it. He limped a few steps, making sure it could bear weight, eyes sweeping over every surface.
He breathed slow, deeply, remembering the file, the brief. Time was subjective, he could have been out for seconds or weeks. It liked to play cat and mouse, tracking through its…home, or playroom, or whatever the fuck it was. Space was endless, but sometimes people got out, or were released. Keep moving, don't hide, because it was god here and would know. He felt panic slithering around the edges of his brain, and pushed it down, hard, face set and grim as he stepped out in to the darkness beyond the doorway.
The hall was long, and broken, like a hospital hallway after an earthquake. No big holes, just twisted and tilted oddly. He creeped down, as close to a wall as he could get without touching it, feeling gritty plaster crunch under his feet. The noise was louder, the sound of high-pitched, monotonous crying. It set the teeth on edge, but they'd said it would be like this. The key was to keep moving, keep looking. Yes, it was endless, but if you kept on the move, it seemed like 106 got confused, or lost track of things, and you could accidentally wander back in to the world. He kept repeating the steps, the briefing in his head like a prayer, ignoring the part where 106 would typically hunt escapees forever.
He took a right at the end of the hall, passing down another, then a left, starting to move faster, ignoring the odd, corroded twists of pipe and wire in some of the rooms he'd passed, or the suggestive, soggy mounds of…something. The crying kept getting louder, the high-pitched, gurgling wail of a baby. Ignore it, keep moving. It called the shots, it could make the whole place sound like a dentist's drill if it wanted. Drak pounded down a hall, nearly at a dead run, trying not to see the growing dampness of the walls, the changing texture of things. Broken plaster over old, greenish bricks, floor going from broken vinyl, to concrete, to dirt.
He turned a corner, too fast, a gooey patch of black causing his foot to skitter, nearly dropping him to his knees as he clutched the bare, wet brick wall. He looked out in the the dim, mossy room, the sound of helpless, angry crying very, very loud now. He froze, staring, half-crouched and clutching the wall. It was standing in the middle of the room, a thick, ankle deep puddle of black jelly at its feet. The old man was turning, slowly, rocking in slow, side-to side motions. The crying was coming from the thing in his arms.
It was a torso, wrapped in masses of what looked like barbed wire. The wire threaded in and out of flesh, some places looking like the bleeding skin had flowed like warm taffy over it. The ragged remains of the limbs twisted and stretched, every movement making the wires dig and tear more. It was hairless, the skin of its bare head and neck looking peeled and rotten, the face a mask of pain. The throat had been…opened, carefully, twisted and held with wires. The baby crying was in fact this grown, mute torso, mutilated to make that pitiful, helpless wail.
The old man was watching him. Face turned, eyes locked to the man as he slowly tried to stand upright, ignoring the hissing of his boots, trying not to think of what would have to be done to a throat, to make it sound like a baby in agony…or where that pitiful torso's limbs had gone. It watched him, cracked teeth slightly parted, and slowly stopped its rocking. It dropped the wire-bound bundle, arms going limp at its sides as the mass of flesh and pain bounced off the ground, then rested face-down in the mossy grime, sending up a new wave of protest between bubbly, sucking breaths. It turned to face him, arms dangling, body wrapped in what looked like some kind of shredded cloth of oozing black fabric.
Drak ran, bolting like a scared deer, throwing training and conditioning to the wind in the mad, blind, animal panic of escape. He screamed, panted, talked, laughed, anything to drown out the sound of the slow, stuttering steps lurking behind him. He ran, and ran, and ran, falling and hitting the ground like he'd been hit by a car, gasping and waiting for the end, muscles throbbing…then they would start again, those soft, rustling footsteps, driving him on, and on, and on.
He didn't know it, but he'd run for four days before the old man started taking chunks out of him.
Recovery was in the pre-dawn hours with no sun or moon, and went shockingly smooth, all things considered. SCP-106 was found in the middle of a field, making pumpkins sag and burst by squeezing or stepping on them. The team, a man short, was finally reinforced an hour before they caught it, pushing it back to the recovery chamber with the big halogen “sun guns”, nearly blinding two of the recovery crew in their zeal to have the old man back under lock and key.
It sat in the cell, without a moment's attempt to try and escape. It sat, and did nothing, head tilted, arms and legs limp. One MTF member stated that it looked sated, and was told to shut up in a official capacity. Disappearances were glossed over, murders quieted and made un-newsworthy, urban legends seeded and caressed. Over all, it went well, once the hell was over.
Weeks later, an observation tech made a note in the day's log. SCP-106 was observed to suddenly produce a large handful of small white objects, later identified as teeth and finger bones, and set the pile on the floor. It then sorted these objects in to what seemed random piles, later identified as separated by age of victim. It then stared at these items for several hours, then re-collected them.
The significance of this was considered unworthy of contemplation.