Malice Proposal: Nightmare Fuel
rating: +1+x

A memetioneiric gestalt, they called it. Even saying the words feels wrong — it rolls around your tongue in a peculiar way, smooth and oozing. If phrases were things, it would be a sticky black fluid, dripping and warm. You shudder at the imagery, no longer able to tell whether it's even yours.

Time to get back to work. Stepping over the bodies that litter the foyer, you stroll towards the desk. A hunch, a feeling, half intuition and half foresight — you know that's where you need to look. And, sure enough, the paper lies there, stained with blood and patched with tape, but no less readable for it. A description. Or, more accurately, a Description.

SCP-4XXX is a memetioneiric-

Wait.

That's wrong.

Idiot.

Number first. Then class, then containment procedures, then— and only then — description. You crumple the paper into a ball and hurl it at the wall; it impacts it with a sickening thud, and you wince as you see a deep purple bruise begin to form. Clear head, clear head. Take deep breaths, ignore the red haze that seems to be pressed up against your frontal lobe. You take a step back and turn around, surveying the room — a scene of carnage lays in front of you, piles and piles of corpses, all coated with layers and layers of the same dark black webbing.

It's strange, you think, gritting your teeth.

You were never afraid of spiders.


***


As a bullet whistles past her head, splattering on the hospital door like a Rorschach test, Junior Researcher Lucy White begins to cry. It wasn't fair. She never asked for this.

A moment of pause. Okay, maybe she did, technically ask for this, but she never expected it. And that's a world of difference. A shriek from the creature standing at the end of the corridor makes her jump, and she fumbles desperately in her pocket for her keys. As expected, they're missing — with an alien sort of clarity, she can picture them lying on her bedside table in her quarters. Except that wasn't here, was it. Or…

Or…

No. She clasps her eyes shut. Not going down that rabbit hole again. Better to take things as they come, horrifying and obscene. With a hacking sob, Lucy reaches for her keys, forcing her arm to swing out to her side. She never normally sleeps on her front, but they were powerful drugs. The clink of metal is satisfying and comforting, and she grips it tight, even when the metal digs into her hand and she feels the hot trickle of blood down her pyjama sleeve. She slumps against the door and (trying to avoid the gaze of the wretched half-thing that twitches in front of her) looks at the Object in her hand.

Fuck.

She doesn't even try to resist as the thing with a broken face approaches her, all the grace and Class: of a particularly deranged puppet. Of fucking course that's what this whole charade was. Nothing, just like everything else. The creature reloads the pistol that juts from its wrist, and levels it at her head. She bursts out crying once more, and huddles into the fetal position as the glass of the door behind her shatters.

If the nightmare was going to get the soporifics to wear off, it was going to have to do Keter than that.


***


I stare at the bodies frozen in front of me, and remember (just for a moment) how strange this "world" really is. Time never seems to flow normally, and apparently I was no exception to this. Edging around my three duplicates, floating supine in the air like sticks on water, I make my way through the door to the Containment Complex.

The first cell I see is large, and made of a thin, shimmering metal. Wholly impractical, but intensely impressive. I make a mental note of the plaque on the door.

Containment Cell ███:
SCP-███ is currently uncontained, but can be accessed via a series of oneirogens (dream-inducing drugs) produced as the result of a combined effort by the Foundation's memetic and metaphysical divisions. Due to

Curious, to say the least. I walk onward — the second cell I see is larger than the first, stretching five metres in each direction and constructed from the same improbable metal. It hangs above a pit by a single wire, spinning slowly. A stairway leads down to it, and at the top is a warning sign, bright white letters on a dark red background.

Warning: Sapient, Malevolent, ▒▓▒▓▓
the risk inherent in taking these chemicals, their use is currently being limited to personnel with level █/███ clearance. Such personnel are to do so forever and always and forever and always and forever and alw-

Whew. Headrush. I move on to the third, but something feels wrong as I do so. I'm missing something, I know it. Something about the second, there's an element I'm not quite seeing.

A security camera turns to observe me, blue light blinking in the darkness. It flickers red, just for a moment, and I peer at the warning sign, suspended above the void.

Oh yes, of course. Silly me.

Sapient. Malevolent.

And awake.


***


First thing you realised when you entered the Dreamscapes was that you were immortal. The second, of course, was that this doesn't prevent you from dying. You'd passed away countless times so far, and a couple of those had almost gotten you out of REM. The wall of the foyer is covered in numbers now, counting down from some figure plucked from nowhere. You rub your eyes, cross out the latest, and scratch the next beneath it. Hefting a weapon that's all kinds of wrong onto your shoulder, you launch a blast across the room at the main doors — rain lashes the glass, and as they swing to and fro horrible, twisted creatures drag their way through. It's cathartic, and you almost feel happy as you atomise a statuesquehumanoid with a bloated head and original, digitless hands. It explodes into a cloud of dust and sludge, showering the half-avian doctor thing that twitches and mutters behind it.

This goes on for lord-knows how long, reloading your energy weapon and loosing plasma at the intruders in great torrents. Over and over again. Their screams and moans blend together into a single howling noise, which is…

…ever so slowly…

…overshadowed by scuttling. Scuttling of thousands of legs, tapping the inside of your skull.

You raise an eyebrow. The spiders are back, and sooner than usual.


***


##


***


You tried, but they got you in the end. The not-really-spiders. They always keep coming back from inside. One of the times you got angry you tried shoot the wall, but the sound of splintering bone was much too loud. You scratch the bites on your neck as you step over your own still-warm body (wrapped, as always, in a shroud of black webbing) and search the wall for the lowest number. The countdown's so FUCKING important.

No, quiet. Clear head, keep a clear head. Anger can wait. It can always wait.

Biting your tongue, you scratch another mark on the wall. There's something special about this number, but you can't work out why. That's not your information to have, you suppose. It's never your information. You shrug it off, and search for any paper that's lying around.

Description, AGAIN. It's like they've never even heard of the format. Number first, then class, then procedures, then description. And anything else, you guess. That's how it's always been, and always should be. You shake your head, breathing heavily. Gotta keep it together. You ready your weapon, and stare deep into the darkness through the big glass doors.

On the wall behind you, the number Zero Zero One stares back.


***


Lucy is tired. She's been running for what feels like days (insofar as the term has any meaning), up staircases that bulge and trip her up, down corridors that grow teeth and spines and scream at her. Her eyes are red from crying, and her hands are rubbed raw from clambering over office furniture and hospital beds. Today, her nightmare is a thing with more legs than bones, wrapped in fur and fangs. It bleeds wherever its excess skin catches, and the blood is black and noxious.

She skids around a corner, throwing a door shut behind her. It only serves to alert the creature to her presence, and she can hear its ramblings as it sniffs the air.

"New site recorded, logged and partially 'consumed'. A further 10 m ( 33 ft ) of reinforced concrete walls extend to testing situations. Needles in hand, children from lamb: Keter discontinued."

Its voice practically drips into Lucy's ear, smooth and deep, with a subtle quavering right at the back of its throat that makes it seem almost pained. It begins to thump its head against the door, rhythmically wrenching its hinges from the surrounding concrete, millimetre by millimetre.

"Staff evacuation at all times. Cycle between expressing extreme pain and requesting laugh. Ignore pain. Danger of him."

The door creaks loudly, and Lucy scrambles away, backing into… a closet. A storeroom, with mops and buckets and dust. It shouldn't be here. The whole place is wrong. She turns around slowly, ready to make a break for it when the door bursts inwards, but is greeted by another wall of cleaning products. She sinks to the floor, swollen tear ducts bursting to life once more. She almost punches the wall, but loses her resolve and ends up flailing uselessly at the air. Around her, the closet seems to get smaller, oppressing her slowly into a space no more than about half a metre square.

She leans against the wall, clamping her eyes shut and trying not to inhale the damp, dusty air, only to fall backwards. The wall is gone, and in its place a broken doorframe.

Lying there, Lucy stares upwards, at the wretched thing clasping the ceiling like a limpet.

"Does the black moon howl?"

The floor falls away, and everything fails to go black.


***


##


***


"Hello", I say. My face is twisted by the presence of several hundred security cameras, but I'm still recognisable beneath the black fluid that pours from the gaps.

You grin, eye twitching. "So, this is the Description: then? We- we finally got there? We've made it. The format, I mean. We completed it."

Behind you, Lucy sits with her head in her hands. "Screw the format", she says. "It's not like it matters. N- none of this matters. It just-" and here her speech is broken by a gasping sob, her hands plunged deep into her matted hair "-just keeps going."

You lunge at her, mind on fire. The format, all that had kept you sane, and she I you dared to disrespect it like that? To throw it aside?

"Please, keep calm."

"CALM?", you scream, turning away from her to beat me with your fists. "PLEASE" thump "KEEP" thump "CALM?"

Lucy tries to pull herself to her feet and restrain you, but it's no use, and you continue smashing my lenses until only one blinks back. A lump of human ocular tissue, bulging from a squat metal box. It disgusts you, and you say so. "I got us here", I retort, and you turn and scream at the wall, kicking Lucy hard in her poor, shattered mind with your steel-capped boot.

Cerebrospinal fluid leaks out, clear and colourless. Where there should have been blood, the edges of Lucy's skull are dark and powdery.

We stand there, silent, listening to the slow thud-thud-thud of rain outside. I reach over and, not looking you in the eye, slip my hand into her pocket. A ring of shiny silver keys in my hand, I stroll over to the wall, leaving a trail of ink and glass shards in my wake.

"What are you going to use them for?"

"To unlock it, silly. She was the part that held your my our clearance, after all"

I wave the encrypted keys through the air and they fade from view, irrelevant in the face of this new information. Around the hundreds thousands of numbers, paint peels, revealing wall-to-wall text in a friendly, inoffensive font.

"It… It was here? The whole time?"

"No", I say. "It wasn't." I turn to look at you, my eyebrow raised. "Well, go on then. You've been waiting for this, I gather."

You clear your throat, and begin to read.

SCP-001 is a memetioneiric gestalt manifesting as a metaphysical cluster of tropes, themes, and ideals, intersecting with our reality through the organisation known to ourselves and others as the SCP Foundation, as well as the core tenets, truths, and preferences held by its component staff. SCP-001 is sapient, malevolent, and highly adaptive, capable of manipulating the metaphysical nature of an unknown quantity of constructs, abstract and real.

The information floods into your collective brain, a torrent of meaning filling all the cracks. You and I lock eyes, and then hands, and then tongues, and then minds, and then everything. On the floor of the foyer behind you, a cold, bloodstained corpse rises to join your trio.

Information about SCP-001 is amemetic, and transferable only via the subconsciouses of those it puppets, within which it remains concealed and dominant, preventing the subject from comprehending its existence. As SCP-001 currently permeates all elements of the SCP Foundation, all other information transfer about the anomaly by its staff would require somehow overpowering the entity itself.

Research suggests-

And here you (the new you, the whole you, the exclusive you) pause to chuckle. "Research". Guesstimates and half-facts, the lot of it.

that SCP-001 is entirely responsible for the current state of affairs within the Foundation, and the general aesthetic tone of the majority of our operations. "Overpowering" SCP-001 would inevitably result in a shift of reality's 'imagery', and the resulting tonal void would be filled by more realistic, varied, or volatile concepts. A resurgence of SCP-001 at a later date is possible, if not likely, and so it is reasonable to assume it would need to occur repeatedly, indefinitely, in order to prevent a return to the original. A willing volunteer to undergo the process outlined in the Special Containment Procedures has not

You pause, and think back to the dark hallways of the Containment Complex. All those black boxes, stamped on the front of black boxes. Cold, but never cruel.

yet

You press yourself up to the window, and see, in the distance, a light. A tiny flicker, and another a little way to the side of it. Another a little way from that, as well. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of other lights, all with their own figures pressed up against the glass, peering out.

been

Some are empty, of course, their windows dark or broken, but that's to be expected.

located.

All those little people, like you, dreaming the same fights, the same battles, the same triumph.

You turn to look around the foyer. It's… clean. The bodies are gone, the blood is gone, and the flaking, peeling paint is… gone. A sense of melancholy falls over you, of bittersweet victory. Scientia potentia est in the most literal sense.

Ah well.

What can the dreamer do when the nightmare ends?

Besides, of course

wake up.


***



SCP-001

rating: +1+x

Item #: SCP-001

Object Class: Neutralised

Special Containment Procedures: Every night, it's

Description: neutralised.

You scratch your head, and swing yourself out of bed, memory of your dream fading fast. On the table next to you, a bottle of pills lies open. To help you sleep of course. Standard issue. Everybody got given them, to keep the nightmares at bay. "SCP-001", you ponder, what a curious message. You'd have to ask someone in the memetics department about it, they're always so nice and friendly.

Not worth worrying about now, anyway. Just another quirk, another thing to be cheerfully filed away. Now, it was time to get to work.

Freshly washed and dressed, you step out from your quarters and into the world of the SCP Foundation.

Behind your eyes, the darkness dies in the light.




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