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nn5n: scp-2718 What Happens After
UnknownSCP-2718 What Happens AfterRate: 28

Item #: SCP-numerals.gif

Object Class:

Catastrophic abort at D09E2AD9: HANDLE_NOT_FOUND
Special Containment Procedures: SCP-numerals.gif is a DAMMERUNG class cognitohazard. All personnel, regardless of clearance, are forbidden to expose themselves to the Description of this article under any circumstances. Do not tamper with this warning without DAMMERUNG clearance. Do not discuss the existence of this article with any person. No disciplinary action will be necessary, provided you close this article now, and clear your browser cache.

Atypical software measures have been used to mitigate the risk of accidental exposure. It is only by an unfortunate coincidence of extremely low probability that you have stumbled across this entry at all. No disciplinary action will be necessary, provided you close this article now, and clear your browser cache.

Since creation, only the Special Containment Procedures section of this record has ever been editable. Due to the clearance of the file’s original author, and anomalous database limitations in effect, this record can neither be deleted nor effectively redacted. Access restrictions cannot be applied to the data in any reliable way.

Of course, access restrictions can still be enforced. It is now too late to close this article. Do not discuss the existence of this article with any person. Notify the Help Desk that your workstation has a DAMMERUNG contamination. Shut off your monitor, and seek immediate amnestic treatment.

The following conditions shall constitute a breach:

  • Exposure to any part of the Description, however briefly
  • Failure to close this article within eighteen seconds of exposure without code-word clearance

Shut off your monitor now, notify the Breach Desk that you and your workstation have DAMMERUNG contamination. Await MTF processing.

Agent Instructions: the breach to which you are responding has already been mostly contained by an automated system, and containment will be complete when you restart this terminal. However, your orders are to attempt to improve the current containment procedures by any means possible, within the time allotted to you. You have been temporarily granted Administrative network access from this terminal. Use any resources you deem necessary to fulfill your mission, but DO NOT expose yourself to the cognitohazard in the Description. The following technical details will help you in your task:

As noted above, this article ignores the delete command; it cannot be extricated from the database without extensive collateral corruption of other critical systems. Instead, the containment strategy is to minimize the probability of a user discovering this entry by chance. To this end, an un-haltable mainframe process (ID 9000013) repeatedly switches the ordinal designation of this article with that of another randomly selected entry. Normally, when two article numbers are exchanged for administrative purposes, the two entries disappear from the index momentarily. A kernel exploit of Processor Erratum 23 allows us to delay completion of the subroutine by deeply recursing the article renumbering with an intentionally terrible algorithm (currently Bubblesort Stoogesort Bogosort) against a known corrupt stack in extended memory until the thread aborts catastrophically, the index swap completes, and the process restarts. This artificially inserts a delay on the order of 1017 clock cycles between visibility, when a link to this article becomes momentarily visible and accessible from the article index before the process repeats.

Breach will only occur in the unlikely event that a user with index privileges loads the main list at precisely the correct moment and, despite need-to-know best practices, follows the link to this entry, ignores the warnings, and reads past the first paragraph. The intervals between visibility are indeterminate but finite. On average, the interval will grow larger (by order O(n2)) as the number of available articles grows, but shorter as the mainframe's hot-swappable processors increase in FLOPS.

This kludge has a gravely serious side effect: the SCP article randomly selected for the swap also disappears from the list for the same period of time, until reappearing under a new ID. While O5 has authorized this detrimental effect as an acceptable consequence of containment, you are ordered not to verify it through the chain of command, as no other living person is currently aware that this article, this process, or this authorization exists. If validation is required, an inline O5 authorization of this order follows.




You are subject to summary termination by Trinitite-class memetic if you proceed past this point.


Editor’s note: I had to throw that killsprite together in a hurry. The one constructed and installed by my predecessor was clearly defective – instead of the donkey kick I expected from a standard inoculation interdiction, I barely registered minor eyestrain. Of course, under the circumstances I suppose we're limited, aren't we? To a contaminated workstation and barely adequate tools. Anyway, if you survived that memetic, hopefully it’s because you have code-word clearance, and not because I didn't get it right either - in that case you're probably boned pretty bad, and I apologize for not killing you in time.

But cut me some slack: when we looked them up ninety minutes ago, the only procedures for this code-word read “Randomly select one mainframe-qualified coder from the Experimental Containment Research Group with Level 3 clearance. Supply the designee with a Behemoth-class amnestic, and dispatch them to the affected terminal. They will find instructions there. If they fail to complete their task within two hours, or if, upon return, they can remember the year or name the current U.S. President – terminate.” Guess what? That's a pretty small subset of personnel to choose "randomly" from. Well, Spock smashes scissors, but Paper disproves Spock, so now in return for containment duty, I get to blow a sizable chunk of my life out of my skull. At least I won't have to remember them "processing" the looky-loo who caused this breach.

Assuming you're ECRG like me, you never heard of DAMMERUNG before today either. Here’s what I can tell you: from the look of the source code and comments, you're probably the fourth or fifth to respond to this thing since inception. I made a couple of minor edits to the documentation above, but mostly spent my time trying to slow the algorithm with the worst patterns I could think of. In the end, I was only able to deoptimize the existing recursion by a factor of two. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the underlying hardware or how often users follow unfamiliar links from the main list to guess how much difference that makes. I'm sure, on first implementation, they thought they had five, maybe ten years between breaches, but I know for a fact that they've introduced at least one quantum processor to the grid, which will deprecate this approach faster than you can say REDACTED. Hopefully you’ve got a better idea for a slower algo than I or the last three did. Maybe upgrade to a Quantum Bogosort of the article numbers? On this hardware, that might technically be an XK algorithm and therefore forbidden. I dunno. I’ve used up most of my time already, and I can’t risk another recompile in the few minutes remaining before I have to commit these changes and wash down this stick of dynamite with warm, backwashy Mountain Dew.

-Andrews out

~ ~ ~

p.s. I guess I got to thinking my brain was hosed either way so what the hell and i don’t know why but i just went ahead and did it - couldn't help myself really - RESIST THE URGE - it’s clearly a Fridge-class cognitohazard and already it’s starting to sink in so this horse pill better work right quick




<microphone tapping>
<chair sliding>

There you go, Ma’am. This interpreter is new technology, but it will allow you to forgo the use of a keyboard for article creation. Just speak naturally into the microphone. We can go back and revise any errors after you have finished.

I don’t think so, young man. There won’t be time. This must also be a permanent record, access restricted to L-3s and up. Can you prevent anyone from tampering with this entry later?

Um… anyone, Ma’am?

Anyone and everyone. You understand me. If there is ever but one article left in the database, this had better be it.

Well… I’m not senior enough to select the most appropriate technique to accomplish that. Maybe if we got Gephart involved -

I want you to make an executive decision. I’m confident in your ability. We cannot delay.

Okay, okay… um, there is a mechanism I could take advantage of – it’s actually designed to protect against anomalous data corruption, but it would have the effect you're looking for. If you’re certain, Ma’am, I could make this section of the article write-once, and splice it into the database runtime. However, that means no editing whatsoever will be possible. If you misspeak, you’ll just have to clarify and keep going.

Very well, do so. Fortunately, I am a world-class dictator.

For the degree of security you have in mind, Ma’am, I’ll need to borrow your credential token. Thank you. One moment, please.

<keyboard sounds>

There. That's done it.

You’ve been very helpful. That will be all. For your own safety, I am ordering you to obtain amnestic treatment as soon as possible, enough to forget this entire morning. Do you understand?

I, uh, do.

Good. You will likely be subjected to enhanced interrogation within a day or two. It will go easier for you if you have no memory of this.

Ohhh. Oh boy.

As a literal token of my gratitude for your loyalty, why don’t you hold on to those credentials? I won’t be needing them. If you act quickly, I suspect you can think of a way to put them to good use before they are revoked and you are detained.

Y-yes, M-ma’am.

Now go. I foresee that you have a fine career ahead of you. We will not speak again.

Thank you, Ma’am. Goodbye.

<door opening>
<door closing>

<extended sigh>

My name is Miriam Prayther. I have been O5-7 for seventy-seven years.

I will remain so for perhaps seven minutes more, and that is not enough time to devise adequate Special Containment Procedures myself. I leave that to you.

Over the course of my tenure, I have witnessed nineteen distinct anomalous methods to restore life. The devices and entities responsible take vastly different forms, but when you look past the science, the magic, the razzle-dazzle: there are fundamentally two broad, but simple categories: the first type is replication, whereby a clone, simulacrum, or other copy is made of the subject's mind and body as it existed at some point during life. The second sort is temporal. With this approach the space-time paths of the subject's constituent particles are reversed, and events literally undone, until the subject is restored to a functional state.

These two categories have a crucial commonality: the restored individual has no memory or experience of death. To put it another way: despite 2.4 million years of hominid speculation, Foundation records contain no reliable first-hand testimony regarding what happens to us after we die.

We have other sources of information, naturally. But in light of recent events, I believe that the SCPs we have interrogated on this topic over the years are guilty of either ignorance or deceit.

For you see, we invented an exception.

Six months ago, we resurrected Roger Sheldon, formerly O5-11, with a novel procedure. The theoretical groundwork had existed for some time, but for a litany of reasons: the complexity of the process, the technical skill required, the systemic risks, not to mention the enormous cost - only direst need justified the attempt.

At seventy-three, Roger was the youngest Overseer when he died. He had two habits that were peculiar for an O5, only marginally tolerated by the rest of us at the time, and now forbidden. The first was an obstinate refusal to fortify (as we call it) – to enhance his longevity with the supplements available to those of our station. The second was a penchant for taking his holidays unannounced and in utter solitude. When a stroke ended him eighteen years ago, he was perched on a rocky promontory above marine iguana nesting grounds on Española Island.

It took fourteen years to find his remains. We would not have gone on looking for so long, but for two reasons: he kept on his person a certain key – of which I shall not say more, except that it could not be allowed to stay lost; and that he held in his brain a secret word, without which we could not replace him.

The alternating Galapagos rains and bright sun (and perhaps hawks) had reduced him to a moldering ruin of bone fragments and only the stubbornest sinew. The recovery crew used brooms and bags to collect as much of him as remained. The artifact was retrieved, to our relief, but we were still faced with the daunting task of extracting his shibboleth. With so little original material to work with, none of the time-tested methods of recovery were feasible.

It distresses me to say so, but it is unlikely that any records of our methodology will survive the impending purge. Suffice to say that having gathered his diaspora, we set out to reconstruct a quantum approximation of him - physically, chemically, electrically - with sufficient accuracy that his heart would resume its beat, his synapses would fire, and his mouth would move, if briefly.

As we required but one iota of information from him, we hoped, at best, that he would survive long enough to provide it, and then simply expire again. However, as is so often the case, we outdid ourselves. All the king's horses and all the king's men could indeed put him back together again.

Roger was perfectly reanimated. He emerged from his - cocoon - looking a bit younger and healthier than my last memories of him. He sobbed uncontrollably for some time, unresponsive to any stimulus, yet after about half an hour he relaxed, his expression suddenly turned to utter serenity, and he spoke two unintelligible, but clearly joyous words. He was swiftly interrogated, but he responded to our questioning with candor, enthusiasm, and an unmistakable relief. We kept him under quarantine in a containment unit for thirty days. He offered no objection, and cooperated completely. He behaved as any of us might under the circumstances, and in the end, after some light debate, we unanimously restored him to office. We were the ones who'd remade him, after all, and wouldn't each of us expect the same? He rewarded our hubris by resuming his duties with an inspired vigor, consistently displaying deeper insight and wisdom than ever before.

In particular, we welcomed some of the changes to his habits. As soon as the rest of us allowed it, he began regular fortification treatments for the first time. He appointed a sensible entourage of medical staff and bodyguards that were never far from his person. Previously, empathy for his fellow man had never been his strong suit, yet suddenly he displayed renewed interest in the safety of our containment protocols, the healthcare benefits of Foundation employees, and a profound distaste for the sacrifice of D-Class. Under the circumstances, none of this struck us as particularly alarming behavior.

But it should have.

He had concealed the crux of it from us all, you see. At first. Naturally, in our initial interrogation, we'd asked him if he'd had any experience or memory of the afterlife. He claimed to recall nothing - exactly as everyone always does - and defeated our polygraphs completely.

<drinking sounds>

He approached me first, about two months ago. He asked if, in his absence, we'd obtained any pieces - which I shouldn't have to point out is not our term of art - capable of sustaining life indefinitely.

While breathtaking longevity is now within our power, it may surprise you to learn that immortality is not; and our best theoreticians have recently posited that it will never be attainable. The resurrections we can accomplish, even his, cannot be repeated more than once or twice. Sapient life is necessarily intertwined with quantum uncertainty. Localize a particle with perfect precision, and it attains infinitely uncertain momentum, lost in an instant. Just so, the longer, and the more tightly a consciousness is bound to a specific vessel, the more likely it will scatter irretrievably on its own. Regardless of science, magic, or razzle-dazzle: you, your children, and your great-great-grandchildren will one day most assuredly die and stay dead. His disappointment at this theorem was palpable, and I experienced a moment of discomfort at his reaction.

Not a week later O5-2 received word of a severe breach of protocol. Roger, or rather O5-11, had initiated direct contact with an APE in containment. For you L-3s, APE skips are Apex-tier Pluripotent Entities. I imagine you can work out the euphemism.

We kept our initial investigation off the books. He'd been clever in covering his tracks - there was no breach alarm, no record of the encounter in any log - but one of the skip's guards failed a random amnestic test (to his dismay), and that was trail enough on which to set our bloodhounds.

We couldn't prove it, but we imagined he risked exposure to the skip to offer some kind of deal. This could not stand. As two of his oldest comrades, today O5-2 and I confronted him privately. But he caught us off guard, for he confessed everything, and begged us for help. I surreptitiously recorded his pleas as a precaution; it is easiest if I simply replay it for you now.

<device clicks>

"I dared not speak of this at first. You'd never have let me out of containment. The truth is, I was aware of all of it. I suppose there was a sweet oblivion, like deep sleep, at first; but in retrospect, I think it was no more than a day. Slowly, but unmistakably, I reoccupied my corpse with dreamlike consciousness: numb for the first merciful hours, blind, deaf, and immobile, but then I seemed to reconnect to every nerve, and became aware of every sensation - moreso than I ever was in life. I perceived myself trapped within an immovable object, and the intensity of the struggle amplified: subtle, then acute, then racking. I cannot describe it completely - but imagine holding your breath, beyond urge, beyond pain, beyond desperation - head throbbing and eyes bulging - a dream of suffocation without end.

"My skin blistered and split in the sunlight; biting insects descended rapidly. I felt eggs hatch, larvae crawl, gases build and burst within me, individual cells rupturing, interstitial fluids souring and blackening. Somehow my capacity to experience and store these sensations grew - even as I was keenly aware of my cerebrum being scattered and devoured, my perception expanded, into the gizzards of birds and the depths of fire ant dens. I was aware of every fingernail and strand of hair that pulled away in the wind - and my sensation clung to them as they settled in the ocean and dissolved in the maws of a trillion diatoms.

"I don't understand it. The more bits of me there were, the larger my capacity for the perception of pain. As I decayed into pieces smaller than living nerves could possibly distinguish, the character of the discomfort changed - from burning and aching and breaking I might relate to you in human terms - to something worse that I cannot fully articulate: a terrible, maddening stretching of every part of myself from every other part. Humans often numb to chronic pains in life, do they not? Yet every year, every month, every second that passed - I swear it only intensified over time.

"In my previous life, I ruminated on Heaven and Hell, and the likelihood of my experiencing one, the other, or something in between. As terrible as I imagined the torpor of Heaven or the torments of Hell to be, this was entirely different from either. In Hell, at least, there would surely be a tormentor, some memory of my deeds, some sense of justice, even if my soul rejected its logic. I can imagine some comfort in Hell, for a mind such as mine.

"I do not think this is a punishment. I do not think it is caused. I deeply suspect it is simply our condition, our nature to go on this way, do you see? In all that time, I was certainly, absolutely, totally alone, and before long all memory of life had shriveled to a cinder, lost beneath my interminable anguish. Alive again, I suspect I cannot quite recall the worst of it - as if my living brain is too small for the experience.

"As Overseers, we witness, inflict, or endure great suffering. Yet what awaits us all is worse, the way an earache is worse than a bee sting, the way frostbite is worse than a burn. I was dead for eighteen years, and my misery eludes description. Dare we try to fathom the collective agony of legions of ancient dead?

"Believe this: I will not return to that execrable existence. Not a hundred years from now, not ever. Yes, I approached Ahriman for help. I am sure he could extend us all, if he wished. I offered him great concessions from the Foundation, even, perhaps, release. But he laughed, and refused. Yet I - I can think of others willing to trade on a smaller scale, though the price may be nearly as - no. Nothing compares. Anything is better, so long as it is forever.

"Do you believe me? Will you join me, and together, escape this fate? Please!"

<device clicks>

We were dumbfounded. And suddenly: sympathetic. And an instant later: fearful. I can't remember the last time I felt my heart race so.

But we do not operate in a vacuum. A revelation of this magnitude must be brought before the Council for consideration. He was loath to admit his deception before the assembled Council, but he was clearly desperate for action as well. We prevailed upon him to call an immediate emergency session in teleconference. I knew anything less would constitute treachery. Still, as the three of us hurried to conference room Alpha, I suddenly found myself harboring subtle thoughts of -

<throat clearing>

And so he gave his testimony again - nearly as frank and purply prosaic as before. But the debate that unfolded in the wake of it? I have never witnessed anything like it.

There were mostly skeptical voices at first: calm, concerned, and thoughtful. However, O5-8, whose face had grown increasingly pale as she listened to him, was suddenly a passionate advocate for action.

"We must declare human death a Keter SCP," she demanded, "and contain it at any cost."

That absurdity garnered an uproar, of course. But Roger had himself a sure ally now, and this spurred him on, shouting over the others to add even darker details of the intensity of his perennial excruciation. Imagery I cannot repeat. Sensations I must not contemplate.

<brief coughing>

I'm feeling… lightheaded.

O5-2, always a moderate influence, suggested we recess and collect ourselves, but then -3 suddenly moved that we order the immediate systematic termination of dangerous skips, to better protect ourselves and others. O5-6 seconded, but before it could be put to a vote, -13 suddenly clutched his chest in paroxysmal panic and was being evaluated by his medical technician when his feed abruptly cut out. As the fracas came to a boil, it was -10, I think, who was next convinced. Oh! Is belief the key? I —

I —


… doesn't matter.

<heavy breathing>

At any rate -10 started pounding his shoe on the table and hollering that we must dig a channel from the Astrakhan spring to the Mediterranean Sea, to fortify all of mankind.

That was enough. Suddenly, O5-1 muted us all, and stood, red faced and shaking.

"Regardless of the truth of O5-11's experience," she said, "it is plain that we have lost all reason. There is only one possible explanation for this. Therefore I am declaring Emergency Protocol 17. Remain where you are; we shall all be administered class A amnestics. Except you, Roger. We made a grave error releasing you from containment, and it will be corrected."

She pointed at her administrative assistant to act, but before he could lock down the conference room from which -2, -11 and I were dialed in, Roger had already bolted out the door. I was after him in an instant, and nearly crushed by the bulkhead as it slammed into place. I only wanted to stop him - I think - and now I was outside the safe room too - but he was already out of sight.

Superlative Idiot! They couldn't see me, couldn't hear me, they couldn't know that I wanted back in, how badly I wanted to breathe the red gas that was surely already streaming into the room on the other side. One instant of poor judgment, and my fate is sealed. And now that I know what's in store -

What was left to do? I ran to the Help Desk.

<abrupt laughter>

Help enough, eh? For this, my final act.

I love the Foundation as I would have loved a daughter. I do this for the security and protection of mankind. And so I beg you: this — gnosis — must not be erased, forgotten. That is not containment. That is madness.

Bring us back. Get us out.


I'm so frightened. What's wrong with me? I —

<door bursting open>
<automatic gunfire from three distinct sources>



Clear. God damn this job. Bag that Oscar quickly, Sergeant. We still have one to go.

<site breach alarm sounds>

What now? Specialist, talk to me.

Sir! I'm getting a report of a Keter breach in the AR-II compound.

Aw, Hell! Two rogue Oscars, and on top of it now the Old Man is on the loose? This is a shit sandwich, Sir!

Contain that chatter, Sergeant.

Stand by, Sir. Negative on one-zero-six escaping, Sir. I'm getting details - say again, please - it's the other way 'round. The other Oscar, he went — in, Sir. He went in.

The Hell he did!

They have visual confirmation, Sir. Procedures dictate we treat him —

As KIA, Specialist, I know. Let's finish here, then.

Sir? This Oscar had recording equipment here. It's still running.

For the love of — shut it down, Sergeant! SHUT IT DOWN NOW! Specialist, get an audio hazard team down here on the doub—


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page revision: 7, last edited: 30 Aug 2016 03:52
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