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nn5n: scp-3471 Paint Under the Bridge
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SCP-3471
TrecynonIronBridge.jpg

SCP-3471

Item #: SCP-3471

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: Due to its close proximity to civilian populations, a covert perimeter around SCP-3471 is to be upheld at all times by a minimum of three security personnel under the guise of historical landmark restoration efforts. Individuals attempting to enter the site without authorization from personnel with Level 2 or higher clearance are to be apprehended. Paintings received from SCP-3471-1 manifestations are to be kept in Object Storage Lockers 4352 through 4355.

Description: SCP-3471 is a cast iron tramway bridge across the River Cynon between Trecynon and Robertstown, Wales. The bridge, constructed in 1811, supports a 11.2 meter long deck composed of several iron plates, each measuring approximately 3 meters wide. Alongside the absence of wear and tear expected from its age, SCP-3471's iron brackets and trussed support beams display no signs of excessive rust or external damage, appearing to be well maintained despite its limited civilian presence before containment. It is unclear exactly when SCP-3471 began to showcase anomalous properties, though the earliest reports of manifestation date back to 195█, 5█ years following the closure of the tramway.

Should any individual attempt to cross SCP-34711, SCP-3471-1 will manifest near the center of the deck, generally peering over the bridge railing. SCP-3471-1 appears to be an elderly Caucasian man, standing approximately 1.8 meters in height and wearing tattered articles of clothing. SCP-3471-1 also displays mannerisms and attributes akin to those affected by significant hearing loss, speaking only through sign language and being unaware of sounds made in its vicinity. In each manifestation, SCP-3471-1 is accompanied by a standard painting easel, a canvas, and a duffel bag2, all of which materialize near SCP-3471-1's person. Though displaying distinguishable facial and bodily features, attempts to connect SCP-3471-1 to any known individual through facial recognition techniques or similar methods have proven unsuccessful. Notably, SCP-3471-1 only manifests completely when its materialization position is out of the field of view of any individuals present. However, viewing the position through indirect means does not prevent SCP-3471-1's manifestation.

Due to SCP-3471-1's apparent hearing loss, subjects crossing SCP-3471 are capable of passing SCP-3471-1 without incident, leading to SCP-3471-1's dematerialization once the individual reaches the end of the deck. Should the crossing individual attempt interaction, SCP-3471-1 initially responds variably, most commonly acknowledging the subject's presence with a greeting and/or handshake. This interaction can continue comparatively to a typical conversation depending on the subject's sign language comprehension. Otherwise, SCP-3471-1 will attempt to relay information nonverbally through gestures and expressions.

Throughout the interaction, SCP-3471-1 will attempt to coax the subject into standing in its point of manifestation, making sure to keep the individual from moving from that position. If the subject complies with these coercions, SCP-3471-1 will step back to the easel and canvas, proceeding to withdraw acrylic paints, paintbrushes, and similar implements from within the accompanying duffel bag. Following this, SCP-3471-1 will begin to paint the subject through differing depictions with each individual. This painting process continues for varying amounts of time3, and paintings produced by SCP-3471-1 showcase characteristics akin to the Impressionism art movement. Once the artwork is presumably completed, SCP-3471-1 will write a message on the back of the painted canvas with a charcoal pencil. The individual receiving the painting tends to interpret the message as relating to impactful events they've experienced4. SCP-3471-1 will then proceed to secure the canvas with wax paper and string, and will attempt to give the completed painting to the subject. Individuals are capable of accepting or rejecting the painting, the latter of which resulting in little to no consequence with SCP-3471-1 typically expressing disappointment or understanding. In both cases, once the subject completely crosses SCP-3471, SCP-3471-1 will dematerialize.

Addendum 3471-01: SCP-3471 was discovered on 12/27/195█ following rumors circulating throughout Trecynon regarding the "benevolent spirit of a painter" haunting a nearby bridge. Town locals provided several possible identities of SCP-3471-1; examples of such include the impressionist painter Pierrot ████████, the deceased town local Dewey ████, and a Celtic water spirit. These possible identities are still under investigation. Upon further questioning, town locals referred to a Hywell ███████, who presumably had interacted with SCP-3471-1 the most frequently compared to other residents. Prior to SCP-3471's discovery, Hywell ███████ had succumbed to congestive heart failure, dying in his home on 11/09/195█.

Testing Log 3471-231


Test 3471-231-01
Date: ██/██/████
Subject: D-5681
Brief Background: Shot in the lower abdomen during arrest
Results: D-5681 was unable to effectively converse with SCP-3471-1, leading to minimal interaction. The painting received depicts D-5681 on SCP-3471, leaning on the railing with his left hand pressed against his abdomen; message reads: "The world has a funny way of putting things into balance through unpredictable means. Just remember that every action will bring forth a formidable reaction, no matter how small or significant that action may be."

Test 3471-231-02
Date: ██/██/████
Subject: D-4903
Brief Background: Escaped from a sinking cruise ship; equipped with a pen and notepad
Results: D-4903 was able to more effectively communicate with SCP-3471-1. Despite this, SCP-3471-1 seemingly limited interaction, quickly gesturing D-4903 towards its manifestation position. Notably, SCP-3471-1 appeared tense, displaying nervous mannerisms. The painting received depicts D-4903 on the riverbank with her feet submerged and SCP-3471 displayed in the background; message reads: "Upon the water's edge is a fine place to teeter for even though you are safely planted with your hands in the dirt, you are ever reminded how easy it is to fall in. Simply remember to stand back when the water rises."

Test 3471-231-03
Date: ██/██/████
Subject: D-5172
Brief Background: Daughter born during his life-sentence; equipped with a pen, notepad, and interview questions
Results: With the notepad and pen, D-5172 was able to communicate with SCP-3471-1. No relevant information regarding the interview questions was ascertained from SCP-3471-1 with it once again attempting to limit interaction and appearing tense. The painting received depicts D-5172 on SCP-3471 with a child resting on his shoulders; message reads: "Children are a precious thing of pure innocence and truth, but one cannot always be there for them. Do not be saddened, for more importantly a wonderous soul has been brought into this world, given the chance to live."
Notes: Perhaps SCP-3471-1 is purposefully avoiding answering the questions posed by the D-Class due to their more "antagonistic" backgrounds. I wouldn't blame it. In any case, I'm calling for a few volunteers from the research staff to participate in the coming tests. From what we've gathered so far, I doubt any of you will be in harm's way, so I better start seeing names on the list. -Dr. Kovtun

Test 3471-231-04
Date: ██/██/████
Subject: Researcher Eleonora Masone
Brief Background: Father killed in a double homicide; equipped with a pen, notepad, and interview questions
Results: Upon awareness of Researcher Masone's presence, SCP-3471-1 noticeably displayed more relaxed mannerisms wherein it attempted to elongate the interaction compared to previous tests. Limited information was garnered regarding the interview questions, however, with SCP-3471-1 attempting to divert the line of conversation towards stories concerning other individuals that have crossed SCP-3471. The painting received depicts Researcher Masone on SCP-3471 peering into the water with an older man standing next to her in the reflections; messages reads: "Death is a part of life, coming in many forms and leaving tragedy in its wake, but it is not an end. Though the departed may be gone, their memory still lives on, making them immortal beyond measure."
Notes: We're getting it to "talk," that's for sure. But it doesn't seem to be entirely comfortable yet. Horstman, since you know sign language, I suggest you participate in the next test. Perhaps through more direct communication, it will be more compelled to share information. -Dr. Kovtun

Test 3471-231-05
Date: ██/██/████
Subject: Researcher Piers Horstman
Brief Background: Survived SCP-████'s breach from containment; is able to communicate through sign language and was provided interview questions
Results: As Researcher Horstman approached SCP-3471, SCP-3471-1 did not manifest. Instead, a duffel bag, presumably the same bag associated with SCP-3471-1, materialized. Upon further inspection, the bag was found containing painting implements and a leather-bound journal. Researcher Horstman attempted to recover this bag from SCP-3471, but upon reaching the end of the deck, the bag and its contents, excluding the journal, dematerialized.
Afterword: SCP-3471-1 failed to manifest during following tests for a three week period, after which it continued to materialize as expected. Attempts to garner information from SCP-3471-1 regarding the absence or the journal have thus far resulted in failure.

Addendum 3471-02: Following Test 3471-231-05, a leather-bound journal was recovered on SCP-3471; irrelevant entries have been excluded.

17 September, 195█


It's strange to be back here again. To be honest, I never thought I'd see this house again. Of course, my sister had to bring this place up with the doctor. Quiet and peaceful, and full of memories I want to forget. She is right, though, whether I agree with her or not. She's supposed to be coming here later in the week. To keep an eye on me and make sure I don't die in the middle of the night. The things a heart problem will bring upon you. Still, I have a few days before she gets her motherly hands all over me. She's always been that kind of person, for better or worse. But enough on the future. Something unexpected did happen today. Otherwise, this entry would be rather pointless. I decided to take a walk, breathing in the air and getting all the memories to flow in now instead of later. On this walk, I came up to that old bridge where the trams used to run when this place had some impact on the rest of the world. There was this old man out on the bridge, looking over the railings. He seemed like one of the wistful types, taking in nature and being at peace with the world and all that. I'm not quite sure what came over me, but I felt like striking up a conversation with this complete stranger. And I must say I wasn't very successful. I think the man's deaf or extremely hard of hearing. The fool only realized that I was there when I tapped his shoulder. He does seem nice enough, however. Gave a smile, shook my hand firmly, and got a good uncomfortable look at my face. He tried talking to me in signs, but I don't know any of it and I'm sure he realized that rather quickly. Still, though it wasn't much of a conversation, it was interesting. Next time I take a walk, I should probably bring a notepad and a pen just in case.

18 September, 195█


It hasn't even been an entire day and I'm already having nightmares. I knew eventually they would start, but I did not expect them to occur the night of my arrival. They were quite terrible, as well. Visceral even. Waking up, I could hardly breathe. If they persist, Mari won't ever take her eyes off me and this place will truly become a living hell. If only none of it ever happened. Perhaps then I'd be able to bear myself. I did do more than wallow in self-pity, however. Surprisingly, most of the food left in the pantry is still decent, if not partly stale. I was able to make myself some breakfast that was fine enough to eat. I'm sure my sister will be bringing some groceries when she arrives. Hand-picked commodities that won't have me gripping at my chest the moment I swallow. I know that she'll make sure of that. Finishing breakfast, I decided to take a morning walk like I did yesterday. Made sure to bring a notepad like I suggested, and it proved to be a smart investment.

That old fool was out on the bridge again. This time he brought himself an easel and a whole bag's worth of whatever painting supplies you could think of. To be honest, I'm surprised someone of his age was able to carry it all. He was just silently painting the riverbank, and I would assume he's had practice since what he had done so far was fairly decent. At the very least, you could tell what he was painting. This time he noticed me coming up and again he greeted me much the same way he did before. Shaking hands and uncomfortable looks and what not. What deviated from before, however, was that we were actually able to communicate. I would write down a few words onto the notepad and he would write some more and lines of thought were conveyed. He didn't give me a name, despite my asking, but he delved into other things. Apparently he has travelled the world searching for simple spots to paint. The fool told me, however, that it's not the landscape he comes for. And no, he didn't relinquish that information either. But I mustn't complain really. I don't know the man, yet he has that sort of charm. The type that keeps you invested even through written conversations. He's old, so he's bound to have a few stories to tell. Something to keep me entertained, at least.

21 September, 195█


Mari arrived today. The first thing she does when she walks through the front door was asking whether or not I've been taking my medication. I swear, the woman does not trust me to take care of myself. Still, she means well. I'll give her that much. She was hounding onto me, though, when I had mentioned my daily walks. Apparently, walking, or any continuous physical activity whatsoever, is not exactly the best thing for me. Especially if I'm doing it alone. She went on about how my heart won't be able to pump enough blood to keep me standing or how my legs would start to swell, binding me to a wheelchair. That is also something she brought by the way. Plan for the future as much as you want, but it doesn't make me feel any better that you're expecting me to need a wheelchair. Might as well have smashed my dignity with a hammer and have thrown the pieces out the window to be pecked at by the birds.

In other news, I also saw that old fool out on the bridge. Actually, I don't think I've written down anything he's told me so far. I've had him convey a few stories of his globetrotting adventure through the notepad. I won't write them all here in this entry, but might as well transcribe at least one. Actually, I'll just attach page he wrote it all on. Here it is:

I remember a few years back when I was in Moscow. There was this point where the pavement bridged over a lower road and you could barely see St. Basil's over the rooftops. In the evenings, the sun would just peer over the Orthodox spires, letting down slivers of light through the clouds that would dance with the snow as it fell. A perfect place to paint, and I met a lot of people too. All of them with their stories to tell. There was this older woman, dressed up in furs, that had left a former lover when she was younger, and she regretted everyday since. You see, in a strange way that she, herself, did not fully understand, she had truly loved the man. The sorrow plagued her eyes, giving it so easily away. She had stopped to look at myself painting the rooftops, and as she did, the man she left walked on the road underneath. To her dismay, however, his arms were wrapped around another. He had moved on while she had not. I gave up on the rooftops and started painting her then, and I feel, in some sense, that seeing that man again gave her the chance to put the regret behind her. It was a wonderous spot indeed, and I'll never forget it.

Honestly, I don't believe all of it. How the hell would the fool have known what any of the people he met were about if he couldn't hear a thing they said? But perhaps he wasn't deaf then. I don't know. Still, it's a nice anecdote, or more of a reminiscence I suppose, even if it isn't all true.

31 September, 195█


The nightmares are still running rampant. You have to wonder why your brain will make you face terrible situations during a time when you're supposed to be resting and tranquil. It only seems counterproductive, or maybe the mind is just too good at making things up. And no, I'm not going to write out all the regret that's burning within me for what happened here. It won't do anything anyway, so no point in trying.

Also, probably a more pressing matter, my legs have started to swell. Mari had a talk with the doctor before she came here and said the swelling was expected. Apparently, that's why she brought the wheelchair. It could get worse before it gets better. I don't need it yet, and that's not the pride talking. Though, I must admit, getting up is steadily becoming more difficult. Either way, I was able to slip out. My sister went into town to get a few things, giving me ample time to have a walk. Of course, I went out to the bridge and, once again, the old fool was there painting his heart out. He wanted to paint me, though. Out of all things. I declined, of course, but I must admit that the gesture was flattering, to say the least. I was able to get another story out of him, but not much else. I suppose he's just very private on certain matters, and it's not my place to pry.

I've been to France before, but it was a long time ago. In fact, I used to have a residence in Paris, but it was more of a summer home on the outskirts of the city. In any case, I remember I once went to Normandy. In particular, I was in Bayeux. There was this spot in its medieval centre on the corner of an intersection where half-timbered houses funneled down towards a cobblestone plaza. It was positioned just perfectly to where, on certain nights, the moon would rise aligned with the plaza. There was this younger man with curling brown hair and a longer face. He would ride past me every morning and every evening on his bicycle, except on Sundays. You see, he had a passion or something of that sort. He would go to the cathedral cemetery and etch tombstones and plaques onto paper, looking for the more offset graves that stood alone when he could. Then, with etchings in tow, he go to the town hall or library and search records of the person whose tombstone he copied. He'd find out who they were, what they did, what they were like, what they accomplished, and what they left behind. I wouldn't say he had a reason for participating in this hobby of his nor would I say he needed one. He was dedicated and through it he found fulfillment, so it wasn't necessarily a pointless task. That, I found, made his actions that much more enthralling.

6 October, 195█


I'll admit it's getting much harder to walk now. It's not just the swollen legs, though they play a great part in it. I'm becoming short of breath and I can feel my heart racing as I move about. It's just becoming far too tiring, and as much as I don't care to say it, the wheelchair is slowly becoming a more appealing option. Still, I don't think I'm there quite yet, but anything can happen, I suppose.

My sister, on the other hand, has not been able to take her eyes off me lately. It's not that I don't appreciate what she's doing, but I think she's starting to take it a little too far. She's controlling my diet to a tee, making sure not a single speck of salt happens to find its way sprinkled onto my soup. In fact, its only soup that she's been forcing me to eat along with a few sandwiches here and there. If she weren't my sister, I'd tell her to bugger off, but I can't. Obviously.

I was able to sneak out again, however, to participate in the walks that I for some reason desperately crave. To be honest, I simply find it a soothing activity. In nature, I find it easier to lose myself in thought, and lost in thought is a very pleasant state of being. Besides, I've got to enjoy my legs while I still can. And yes, I did happen to find my way back to that tramway bridge. It's not that I intend to go there every time I take a stroll, but it's just become part of the route, I suppose. Anyway, the old man was there painting again. I'm not sure whether he's been painting the same thing and simply has started over who knows how many times or if he's a perfectionist. He wanted to paint me again. Like last time, I declined, though I felt bad about it. He seems rather sincere if I'm reading his expressions correctly, but he's far too polite to state that fact. Either way, we still conversed, or really I vented and he "listened," but I could tell he was taking it in. Really listening, or reading in this case. He's the type who cares no matter who you are. At least, that's what I'm taking from him. Actually, I find it rather ironic. He's one of the few people who truly listen, being there as that person you can simply talk to, but the fool can't hear a thing.

17 October, 195█


It's official. I can no longer walk. When I was younger, I dreaded old age, especially when we'd visit my great-grandfather out near Monmouth. He couldn't walk two steps unless he was gripping onto this crooked cane of his. When he was tired of walking, he would have my great-grandmother push him around on his wheelchair. I can still hear the wheels squeaking over the floor boards. He wasn't a bad man, my grandfather, but I had no intention of reaching the age when walking become a chore more than anything. I'll admit I wasn't expecting that age to be thirty-four. Charming, isn't it?

At any rate, I think I'm finally confined to this prison of mine. Unless my sister has the desire to push me around the garden everyday, I think I'll have to make do with the porch. You know, now that I'm stuck, my thoughts have been racing. Everything that I could ever think of has just been popping into my mind and leaving just as quickly as if it's the roundabout 'round the Arc de Triomphe. I swear I've solved more world problems in my mind in a single day compared to centuries humanity has had to do that for itself. However, it's the strangest thing. No matter what tangent I seem to go off on, I keep coming back to that fool on the bridge. I do not know why, and before you get any ideas, the thoughts are nowhere near the questionable natures. I gave up on those tendencies when you know what happened. But that's the thing. Every time I think of the fool painting same scene over and over, doing nothing else with his day, I start to think about him. I suppose they're both similar. Private, like to make themselves as mysterious as possible, polite, sincere, all those things. The only real differences I'd say are age and looks. Yet, thinking on him just brings in regret. Regret and a lot of guilt. Actually, now that I'm writing this down, perhaps my condition is punishment. The universe balancing out the many mistakes I've made. Getting back at me, as it were. Who knows? But if that is the case, I'd say it's a fulfilling consequence and I deserve no better.

26 October, 195█


I haven't got much to say in this entry, really. Being bound to a wheelchair hardly brings about any intrigue to make the day more interesting. The only interest that I can get is what I can think up. That and a few books that have been lying around. Found one that I'm quite enjoying. Well, enjoying to laugh at. Starts out with a church on fire with but a sole survivor as expected, an arsonist on the loose who has a backward way of looking at religion, and a deputy that's in too far over his head. Apparently it's based off of real events, but I hardly find that believable. In any case, I realize that I have neglected to convey one of the anecdotes that the old fool wrote out for me during one of our "conversations." It's hardly important, but I really don't have anywhere else to put the paper where he wrote it all out on. Either way, it's something. Otherwise, this entry would be all about how incompetently written that book is, and that alone is far too much to write down in a single entry.

Many years ago, I found myself wandering the brooks trickling down the Rocky Mountains near Montana. Of course, I am referring to the United States. I've always been fond of nature, and hiking was a hobby mine when I was a younger man. You must give the States where credit is due. Their wilderness, where it still stands, is a sight to behold. While I was there, I came across a peculiar but very interesting spot. It was a clearing amidst pine trees a bit farther off the beaten path that I tend to go, but I knew I made the right choice. If I stayed very still, an deer or an elk would creep out from the trees, coming to bask in the sun as the pine canopy hardly let but a sliver of light through. They made excellent subjects for my paintings. But they weren't the reason why I picked that spot. Nearby, a group people were huddled up in nothing bigger than a shipping container. You see, they were researchers of sorts, studying a peculiar natural phenomena that I, myself, didn't ever get a look at. They had been sent there and they were no closer to figuring it out than they were when they started. Then, one night, one of them had disappeared. Vanished without a trace. It was a younger man, and they searched for him to no avail. They only found his cracked pocket watch under an overturned stone. Perhaps something terrible happened to that man. That's always a possibility, though I've come to think that perhaps he didn't want to be found. After all, the institute he researched for was far too cold and systematic for his liking.

To think the fool may have gotten caught up in some secret government research operation and didn't even realize it. Write that into a book. It would sell a lot better than the one I'm reading.

8 November, 195█ (final entry)


I was going to have that old fool paint me today. Well, I did, in a way. Got Mari to push me out to the bridge and everything. Thing is, he wasn't there. I don't know what I was expecting, really. The man can't be there every day, surely. To be honest, though, I was more looking forward to the distraction. However, like I mentioned, I didn't leave empty handed. On the ground where he usually has his easel set, there was a canvas wrapped up in this wax paper and tied off with some cheap-looking string. A little note written in the man's handwriting bearing my name was attached. Now that I think about it, I don't recall giving him my name since he never gave me his. Strange. In any case, I would have torn through the paper then and there, but Mari insisted on doing it back at the house. I don't know why, but I didn't have the energy to argue.

Back to the house we went and my sister left me to my own devices out in the garden as she went to fix some sandwiches and tea. As I was alone, it seemed the perfect time to get a look at whatever I got from the bridge. Turns out it was a painting like I expected. Thing is, it was a painting of me riding a bike out on the tramway. It was enough to get me to chuckle, but not in a bad way. Far from it. But, while I was putting it down, I noticed something written on the back of the canvas written in what appeared to be charcoal:

"It does not matter if others forgive you if you can't forgive yourself. It will be painful at first and the scars will show, but then you can start living again."

I don't know. It's probably some advice he ripped out of a self-help novel or something, but it's almost as if he knows. And I genuinely believe that. I've regretted that day for so long. But, you know what? I think I'm ready to move on. That's right. I said it. I'm ready to put it behind me, or attempt to at least. With these words, the regret and the guilt are to never again plague my thoughts, and I will be able to live on my numbered days feeling at peace with what I will be leaving behind.

But if only it were that simple.

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