More recent reports on brain activity suggest that SCP-239 is developing a complete resistance to the rotation of drugs we’ve used to keep her comatose. This could easily result in her reawakening. Since Dr. Clef’s nearly successful attempt in 2008, all attempts at termination have failed. SCP-239 has resisted all practical methods of attack subconsciously, and all other methods of destroying reality shifters suggested by the G.O.C. envoy have proved fruitless. I am now forced to request the O5 for the immediate release of Dr. Alto Clef from his current confinement and his immediate assignment to this case.
Dr. Jack Bright
Clef’s eyes opened slowly, and then shut immediately as the bleary light blinded him. He felt cold and naked, his flesh crawling with barely remembered frostbite and a decade of immobility. Was he awake, now? Was this another of the cold dreams?
He felt a hand on his wrist—warm, soft, female flesh. His eyes opened again, and he blinked hard, staring directly at the large, perky breasts.
Clef’s eyes never left her chest. “You have me at a disadvantage, Miss…?”
The woman adjusted her top. “It’s doctor. Doctor Lore.”
He watched her fumbling modestly. She was lying, he knew. That was not her name. Chances are, he’d never know what it really was.
“What happened?” asked Clef.
“You’ve been released from cryogenic incarceration,” said Lore, handing the naked doctor a towel. “We need your help.”
“Old problem or new?” asked Clef.
“239 or 343?”
“About time they killed the little brat.”
“She’s not so little anymore,” Lore said, passing the file to Clef.
“You just keep reality benders around, Dr. Gears? That seems a little foolish, even by the Foundation’s standards.”
“I can assure you, she is completely under our control, Commandant Schmetterling,” replied the shorter, bald man.
Schmetterling appeared unconvinced by Gears' assurances. Gears knew that the Coalition officer was not the happiest envoy the Foundation had ever received, especially not since he was informed of 239’s continued existence.
“We thought your operatives had subdued her,” said Schmetterling, irritably. “We knew you killed the other one. We saw it from one of our observatories. I was under the impression that this one was also eliminated.”
“I’m afraid not,” said Gears, evenly.
“Well,” said Schmetterling, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to let my superiors know that the Foundation has still yet to come to its senses.”
Clef tied the robe around his midsection, not bothering to attempt to hide the erection he’d sported since he woke up and saw Lore.
“Where to now, Sugartits?”
“I’m to take you to be briefed, Dr. Clef. You’ll be meeting with the current head of 239’s project.”
“Dr. Karrington was killed by 239-X in the 2017 attempt. It’s all in the report.”
Clef shrugged and looked around him. For five stories up, elongated tubes of glass and cryogenics held the Foundation’s prisoners. When he’d been imprisoned, the facility had been a third this size, newly implemented for cost purposes. When the O5’s found out it was cheaper to freeze them than feed them, dozens of prisoners were transported here.
Clef stopped short, suddenly looking at the familiar faces behind the glassy ice. There was Imants, a slight smirk passing over his pale face, as if he'd just heard a joke that only he had understood. Next to him was Glass, sporting a look of shocked surprise.
Clef turned to Lore. “What sort of look did I have on while I was frozen?”
“You looked horny,” said Lore impassively. Clef smiled and turned back to the tubes.
The next one was no surprise. Clef was shocked that he himself had been 'contained' before Kondraki, one of the earliest results of the Foundation's changing ambitions. The face of his sometimes friend was twisted with rage, open in a still silent scream, eyes narrowed with anger and disbelief. Next to him, frozen alongside his static form in the clear, perfect ice, a few butterflies remained, still shimmering. Clef raised his hand and placed it on the unit.
A few seconds later, he removed it and smiled. “You always were a son of a bitch, Kondraki.”
He turned back to Lore. “You bastards have anyone else I know in here?”
“Not really,” said Lore. “Mostly a few witnesses who were immune to Class-A’s. One or two trespassers, some of Dr. Bright’s other selves.”
“Jack’s still around?”
“No,” said Lore. She was lying again, Clef knew. He always knew.
Clef sat across the table from the short, dowdy woman in the white lab coat. She had been scowling at him since he walked into the room. Clef, for his part, wasn’t paying attention. He’d sat with the robe at its most revealing, reading the file he’d been given as slowly as he possibly could. Once or twice, he looked up at the woman, smiled, and returned his attention to the file.
After a while, he stopped, laid the file down and looked at her.
“Are you all complete fucking morons?” he asked.
“Excuse me?” said the woman, whose name Clef hadn’t even bothered to learn.
“Psychological tricks? Crushing force? Stabbing her with a knife? Shooting her with a gun? Where the hell are the backup plans?”
“Each test was approved by a majority of the O5 command and I don’t see—”
“Do you know how to read?” asked Clef suddenly, dangerously.
The woman didn’t reply.
“I’ll take that as a no. I’ve completed, either alone or with some aid, the disposal of more than fourteen reality shifters for the Foundation alone. More than fourteen confirmed kills. I can’t say more than that, because no one will tell me what’s still classified, but I’m sure that even with what I must assume is your piteously low security clearance, you were allowed to read at least some of my exploits?”
“Yes,” she replied. “I’ve read the termination reports for several of the SCP’s you were inv—”
“Did you pay attention?” interrupted Clef again.
“Did you pay attention to a single, goddamned thing I wrote in them?”
“Of course. The methods you used have been tested and found lacking for our purposes.”
“Those ‘methods,’ as you call them, are merely scaffolding. You have to build on the scaffolding for it to hold up anything. Did you all just freeze everyone who was worth a damn around here?”
The woman shifted uncomfortable in her seat, not looking at Clef. “Then what do you propose, Doctor?”
“Simple,” smiled Clef grimly. “Since her subconscious defenses have been refined so far… I’m going to wake her up.”
“You’re waking her up?” yelled Schmetterling, turning suddenly and looking through the ten inches of transparent steel, as if the figure on the other side might have heard him. He dropped his voice, but his anger remained. “Are you all insane?”
“No,” replied Gears. “We have our best operative on the case.”
“Who?” snapped Schmetterling. “Who the hell do you think is capable of removing a Type Green that you’ve allowed to progress this far?”
“Dr. Clef,” replied Gears. “We’ve released him from confinement for this task.”
“Clef?” asked Schmetterling. “Alto Clef?”
“Do you know any other Clefs, Commandant?”
“Well, yes,” the representative replied, looking back through the steel at the sleeping form. Gears made a mental note to check in Schmetterling's claim, and then moved to stand next to him.
“You’ve nothing to fear, Commandant,” replied Gears. “The situation is well in hand.”
Schmetterling’s jowls quivered as he turned back to Gears. “So you say, Doctor. Tell me. Aren’t you worried about this?”
“Oh, yes,” said Gears, his expression unchanging, his voice perfectly, almost supernaturally level.
Dr. Clef is to be given access to any materials he currently requires. All personnel are to assist Dr. Clef by any and all non-carnal means. However, Dr. Clef is not to be informed of the continued existence of any personnel involved in his capture. Dr. Lore is designated as go-between for Clef and any wishing to contact him.
Clef walked into the Victorian styled study and smiled at the fragrance of pipe smoke and old books. The old man was seated in high-backed chair with a hardbound copy of Don Quixote open in his lap. The old man looked up and started with surprise before smiling.
“Doctor Clef!” he exclaimed, his grin widening until the wrinkles of his face became subsumed by it.
“Oh please,” said the old man, waving away the designation. “No numbers between friends. Sit. Please.”
Clef knew the chair would be there before he even bent his knees. He settled into a comfortable, overstuffed chair and looked at the elderly gentleman.
“We both know what you are,” said Clef, as seriously as he could. “I’ve never said anything about you, not to anyone, nor recommended your termination, mainly because you stayed at Level 3 and never posed a significant threat.”
The old man continued to smile happily.
“You remember me from the G.O.C., then? Geneva? 1989?”
The old man nodded, not quite as happily as before.
“And you remember that you owe me a favor?”
The aged gentleman’s smile faded slightly. “Yes, Doctor. I remember.”
“I’ve come to collect. There’s another Type Green. This one has progressed to Level 4.”
“I’m very old now, Doctor. I’m not sure how useful I can be. Sometimes, I look for books, but I can’t remember their names. And they’re just not there anymore. Just the other day, a young man came in here to ask me about… about something. And I forgot he was here. And then he wasn’t. Just gone, and I can’t remember him. No one wants to say anything…”
Tears formed at the corners of 343’s crinkled eyes. Clef almost felt sorry for him. Almost. Until he remembered Geneva.
“Your aid will be necessary.”
“I am a man of honor, Doctor. I will do whatever you need.”
Clef stood to leave. The hard part was over.
Clef sat at the table, going over his plans once again. SCP-343 would be located in the middle of the fallout zone. Clef himself would be the bait. 239 should remember him, and once awake, her subconscious defenses would be significantly weaker. That should allow him to—
Clef heard the door open and looked up as Schmetterling entered.
“I didn’t think you would ever be released, Doctor Clef,” said Schmetterling.
“Do I know you?”
“I’m not surprised you don’t recognize me,” replied Schmetterling. “It’s been a long time.”
Clef merely shrugged. “What do you want?”
“Only to give you something. A reward, for your service to the G.O.C.”
Schmetterling reached toward his pocket, but stopped as the shotgun suddenly became leveled cleanly at his face.
“The outline of your pocket looks like a gun,” replied Clef.
“It is a gun,” said Schmetterling. He reached into his pocket, and slowly pulled out the purple revolver. He turned it slightly―handle first―and passed it to the other man.
Clef smiled. “This used to be one of ours, didn’t it?”
“The Atomic Revolver. Reported lost by your Foundation several years ago. We found it.”
“And you had nothing to do with the original disappearance?”
“The G.O.C.? Of course not,” said Schmetterling.
"I wasn't asking about the G.O.C.," replied Clef.
Schmetterling merely shrugged.
"It was good to see you again, Doctor Clef. I wish you the best of luck."
Clef nodded, watching the other man’s back as he left the room. He quickly picked up the purple revolver and slid it into his pocket.
Lore walked in carrying two drinks and set them down between Clef and herself. “What’d the Commandant want?”
“To talk about old times,” replied Clef.
“Funny,” she said. “He never mentioned that he’d worked with you.”
“He didn’t,” said Clef.
Clef shut the safe, taking the small box carefully in his hands. He smiled. His trump card was ready, and everyone would soon be in place. He still had no idea what exactly he was going to be walking into, but he owed the Foundation this one.
He shivered, remembering the coldness of his preemptive coffin, and cracked his knuckles.
“Do you really think this will work?” asked Lore.
“It should. She shouldn’t be able to do anything about it from the other side.”
The mirror was slowly raised into place by the workmen as Clef palmed the jasper colored disk back and forth in his hand.
“And if it doesn’t?”
“Then break the mirror before I get back.”
Clef looked at Gears, examining the shorter man briefly.
“Dr. Clef. You are looking well.”
“Gears. You look old as shit.”
Gears merely handed the keycard to Clef.
“This will get you all the way through the designated path. You’ll find the telekill body armor in the observation room, as well at the equipment you requested. Good luck, Dr. Clef.”
“Is that all, Gears?”
“Pardon, Dr. Clef?”
“You locked me in a frozen hell for eleven years, and I don’t even get an apology?”
“You were trying to kill our colleague, Dr. Clef. I was ordered to assist in your capture.”
Clef grimaced at Gears and turned to walk into the Observation Room.
Clef stopped. “What, Gears?”
“It was… a regrettable set of circumstances.”
The chamber was quiet, except for the quiet hum of a dozen computers. This was the core of the facility, where everything was stored. Dozens of firewalls, hundreds of security protocols. All of them bypassed.
The man at the control panel typed for a few moments, laughed, and typed again. He walked over to the nearest set of panels, pulled out two of them, and slid the archival system into place.
Clef watched Gears walk away, heading to the last of the evacuation choppers. Site 19 was now abandoned, mostly. Those handful remaining were either vital to Clef’s plans or wouldn’t interfere with it.
He waited for perhaps fifteen minutes, looking through the steel at 239’s sleeping form. She was a young woman now, mature. And thanks to years of wrongfully committed attempts, particularly hard to kill. He watched her, watched the fading phantasms of her id flicker about the room, scratching at the telekill walls.
He turned and picked up the thin helmet, strapping it to his head. The body armor was a little bulkier than he’d anticipated, but it fit well enough. He pulled on the gloves, fingered the purple gun underneath his jacket, and felt through his pockets until he found the tiny box containing his emergency backup.
He grinned and picked up the keycard Gears had given him. Sliding it into a control panel in front of the glass, he flipped the switches all down into their off position and pulled out the revolver, bringing it up to point at the slowly rousing reality shifter.
The hammer fell, and a loud crack echoed through the room as the steel bent and shattered inward.
Clef was running very quickly. He could feel her back there, floating somewhere. He risked a glance backward, watching the floors buckle into water and piss, dirt and air. He hoped she would be off-balance enough from the medications that she would be less capable, less able to affect the environmental changes on the universe.
He was pretty sure it was a pointless hope, now.
He rounded the corner as the walls slid into chunks of burning babies, the smell of human flesh turning his stomach slightly, then making it growl uncomfortably. One more turn, and he’d be at ground zero.
Another ten feet, nine, eight, seven…
He burst through the doors, looking expectantly for 343 to be standing in position.
Lore was waiting next to the large mirror as Clef pounded through the double doors panting. He looked at her, incredulous.
“The fuck are you still doing here?”
“You guys never work alone, right? I’m here to help.”
“I’m not alone!” screamed Clef, as the doors behind him became a series of kittens with Barbie Doll arms sticking out of their eyes. “Where’s 343?!”
The doors opened slowly.
The being floating through them didn’t look like it was now or had ever been a little girl. Years of atrophy had turned her limbs into spindly wires of flesh wrapped around bone. She wasn’t able to lift them, or even to turn her head. The tubes that had hung out of her arms were now crawling over her body like centipedes. The wall of kittens began to mewl, plaintively.
She opened her mouth, trying to say something, but only a gurgle came out. She looked at Clef and gurgled again, louder, angrily. Her bowels began to empty black, blood smelling feces onto the floor, which in turn morphed into coals, and began to spread out slowly, burningly. Clef was preparing to make a mad dash when the floor’s progression slowed and stopped. He blinked twice and looked around the room.
343 was standing just behind Lore, his face knit in concentration. The old man’s nose had a drop of blood forming from the left nostril, slowly running down over the crest of his lip, and dropping to his shirt.
343 flinched. “If you’re going to do something, Doctor…”
Clef raised the gun again, and clicking the hammer back, let it fall.
The gun popped slightly, bars of energetic power running over its metal surface.
“FUCK!” screamed Clef. “A goddamned recharge rate?!”
The girl screamed in rage, and 343 cried out, staggered by the changes she was forcing into the world. The drugs in her system were quickly dissipating, her control over the world around her returning.
Clef grabbed Lore and pushed her hard, leaving her tottering toward the far wall of the wide room as he madly dashed for the opposite side.
The floating woman turned the air into chlorine for a moment, just a moment, before 343 could stop her. A child in an adult body, broken and beaten over the course of a decade, lashing out with her shattered mind. The older SCP was kneeling on the floor, ears bleeding. His knotted hands were clenched, as his foe turned for the moment from Clef to float toward him.
It was almost beautiful to watch, Clef thought, stopping for an instant to observe what he hoped was a rare circumstance. The distance between them crackled as the hovering female changed things, reversing the laws of physics and existence as 343 set them back into place. It was like watching a petulant child throwing her toys to the floor and her patient grandfather picking them up and setting them right.
Clef edged around near the now dead kitten door, raising the revolver again. He fired, the painful report running up his arm as chunks of the hovering menace were ripped from her body and thrown behind her to the mirror. She screamed as the cancers started to form almost instantly under her flesh.
“Don’t care much for that, do you little girl?” shouted Clef, as 343 suddenly locked the universal order back into place.
Clef dropped the gun and bull rushed her before she could recover, hitting her tiny midsection sharply and pushing her toward the mirror, grasping the red disk and shoving.
They fell into a strange field, with rolling wheat and smells of emptiness. The girl was rolling on the ground, willing herself up off the ground pitifully. Clef stood nearby, knocking the bits of wheat and grass off his armor. He walked over and forced her body over, straddling her small, heaving chest.
“Sorry, dearie,” he said, smirking. “Different world, different rules.”
He placed both his hands around her neck and brought his thumbs up to her trachea. Tears ran down her face, her quivering lips pleading wordlessly with him to reconsider. As the brittle, malnourished bones snapped, her eyes thankfully glossed in the pleasant emptiness of oblivion.
Clef stood and walked back toward the mirror. "Should have done that years ago…"
Clef stepped back through the mirror, unlocking the telekill body gear he was wearing and dropping it to the floor. 343 leaned against the wall nearby, being tended to by Lore. Clef watched as she dabbed the blood away from the old man’s eyes before he cleared his throat.
Lore looked up, smiled, and ran to the edge of the mirror.
“Eliminated,” said Clef.
“Good,” said Lore. She brought the gun only as far as Clef’s midsection before she fired.
Clef felt parts of him tear out of his back and staggered backward to the frame of the mirror. He looked up at Lore, the smiling face holding the violet pistol, feeling a tugging sense of recognition.
Lore smiled, eyes twinkling with mischief. “Well, of course, Alto. Who else?”
Clef was sagging now, his legs giving out as the internal and external bleeding set in.
Dr. Bright jiggled happily as she sneered down at the bleeding, middle-aged man laying on the floor. “I don’t take kindly to people who try to kill me, Clef, regardless of the circumstances.”
"Really, Jack? But they were very good circumstances. Not even friends?" asked Clef. "What's a little murder between friends?"
"Especially not friends."
“That’s too bad, Jack,” said Clef, throwing up parts of his stomach. “You look good enough to fuck.”
Clef rolled over, struggling to stand up. Bright let him, if for no other reason than it made the blood pour out of his gaping body that much faster.
“You forgot one thing though, Jack,” said Clef, feeling his muscles twitching around the cancers forming in his midsection.
“What’s that, Alto?”
Clef stood in front of the mirror, smiling bloodily as he held SCP-963 at arm’s length in his gloved hand.
As Clef lurched back through the mirror, Bright brought the pistol up a second time, pulling the trigger. The gun popped, electrical arcs running up and down its length. Bright screamed and rushed toward the mirror, but as she did, a loud shot―gunpowder and copper―echoed through the room, striking the disk hovering in the center of the glass. As Bright reached the mirror, she saw the disk chip, ever so slightly, and cease glowing.
She whirled around, looking for the source of the shot, raising the pistol over her head in rage. She found no one.
The room was cold as Schmetterling walked down the hall, shouldering the sniper rifle. It had been a while since he’d done any shooting, and he was proud that he still had the touch. He walked methodically toward the frozen tube, entered the old password they hadn’t thought to delete, and smiled boldly as Imants fell bodily to the floor.
He leaned down and slapped his face a few time. “Imants. IMANTS!”
Schmetterling sighed and picked up the larger man, resting him on his shoulder. He left the rifle behind and picked up the data backup, stashing it in his pocket. As he passed Dr. Kondraki’s tube, he stopped, looking at the frozen visage.
“C’mon,” he said. “I’m going to need all of you to help cover our escape.”
The tube shimmered as the butterflies flapped away from the empty containment chamber, floating around Schmetterling and his rescued friend for a moment before both of them vanished.
Jack Bright sat in the director’s office, tapping her polished nails on the desk. This would be a set back. The amount of time needed to repair SCP-093 was unknown, if it could be repaired at all, and the disappearance of Kondraki from containment was highly unsettling.
Bright stood and walked to the far wall, entering the long and complex code that was required for someone without stable voice recognition or handprint.
The door slid open, revealing a carefully crafted box. She opened it, revealing the almost circle with the three, inward pointing arrows.
‘Only a set back, Alto,’ thought Jack. ‘Only a set back.’
Alto Clef sat breathing heavily in a field of wheat and emptiness. He could feel the effects of having a Higgs boson thrown through his midsection, knew he didn’t have too much longer to live, and that what time he did have would be unpleasant. If he’d still had a gun, he might have shot himself, but since he didn’t…
Clef looked at the amulet. Tilting his head back, he positioned it perfectly over his mouth, and dropped it down his throat, thinking in his last moments how much nicer oblivion would be than the perpetual, eternally cold dreams.
And somewhere, somewhere on the other side of our world's mirrors, a cancer ridden, bleeding body shuts down―and reawakens screaming.