nn5n Foundation
Branch of SCP Foundation
nn5n: scp-3501 The Storyteller of Isfahan
SafeSCP-3501 The Storyteller of IsfahanRate: 55
SCP-3501
coffeehouse.jpg

The only known picture of the interior of SCP-3501 prior to its containment, taken by Dr. James Scott in June 1913. SCP-3501-1 can be seen on the left; several SCP-3501-2 instances can be seen on the right.

Item #: SCP-3501

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-3501 has been removed from its original location in Isfahan, Iran, and taken to a Secure Holding Facility in Site 90, the headquarters of the Unreality Division.

Testing on and entry into SCP-3501 is currently suspended. Experiment 3501-101 was given special sanction by the O5 Council.

Description: SCP-3501 is a small coffeehouse originally located in the city of Isfahan, Iran. Externally, SCP-3501 appears as a small cubical structure, approximately 9m3 in size (the equivalent to 3 Iranian pank'a), with a cobalt-coloured dome protruding from the roof. It has been dated to the 17th century.

The interior of SCP-3501 consists of a single large room. With each visit into SCP-3501, the room is decorated in a different style. Each style originates from a different Iranian period and city. Several containers of coffee, hookah pipes, and other beverages can be found within SCP-3501, alongside bowls of dates and pistachio nuts. A number of books of poetry and a set of backgammon are also visible, sometimes being utilised by the SCP-3501-2 instances. A fireplace can be seen at one end; this is only lit between the Autumn and Spring equinoxes.

SCP-3501 is inhabited by SCP-3501-1 and a number of SCP-3501-2 instances. SCP-3501-1 is a humanoid with a variable appearance, taking on a different age and gender for each visitor. SCP-3501-1 appears to take the role of a storyteller. The SCP-3501-2 instances are a series of 5-10 humanoids who reside within SCP-3501. The SCP-3501-2 instances present change with each visit. SCP-3501-2 instances can ordinarily be found talking amongst themselves, reading poetry or playing backgammon; they will not acknowledge any outside visitor unless said visitor attempts to disturb them, at which point the SCP-3501-2 instances will insult or push away the visitor.

Only one individual can enter SCP-3501 at any one time. Should any individual enter SCP-3501, SCP-3501-1 will urge the visitor to sit down on a chair and take some form of refreshment. The invariable response of all visitors is to silently follow the instructions of SCP-3501-1, leading researchers to believe that they are affected by some form of cognitohazard.

Once they are seated, SCP-3501-1 begins to tell the visitor a story. This story appears to be derived from events in the life of the visitor, although the setting and context are often altered or left vague. Once the SCP-3501-1 instance has finished telling the story, any camera feeds and sensory equipment sent into SCP-3501 with the visitor will immediately be cut off. Approximately 30 minutes after this occurs, visitors can once again enter SCP-3501. It is unknown what happens to the visitor, but no sign of previous visitors have been noticed on subsequent visits.

Following a visit, the story told by SCP-3501-1 will abruptly become part of the oral tradition of the surrounding region. Those who recite it will insist that they were taught it by their parents of other forebears in a tradition stretching back centuries. Local historians will sometimes present a history of the story's development, despite a lack of evidence for such a story existing before SCP-3501-1's recitation.

SCP-3501 was first discovered in June 1913, when Foundation researcher and prominent Orientalist Dr. James Scott went missing on a research trip in Iran. Foundation investigations managed to recover his camera- which had apparently been thrown out onto the street- and eventually discover SCP-3501. A legend referring to the "Frankish creator of perfect images" was later discovered to be a fixture of local Isfahani lore, with local historians claiming that it has been circulated since the 16th century.

The logs of Experiments 3501-29, 3501-56 and 3501-77 have been included below, as examples of SCP-3501's effects.

Subject: D-6952, a native of Las Vegas who had been convicted of murder.

Date: 17/06/1935

<Begin Log>

D-6952 enters SCP-3501. The room is decorated in a style reminiscent of early 20th century Tehran. Five SCP-3501-2 instances can be seen drinking coffee. SCP-3501-1 has taken the form of a man in his 20s.

SCP-3501-1: Good evening, child. Please, take some coffee, some tobacco. We share everything in this house.

D-6952 sits on a cushion opposite SCP-3501-1, and inhales from a nearby hookah pipe.

SCP-3501-1: There, there we go. Now, listen, my child, to my story. There was once a boy from a desert city, a place of vice and sin. This boy was born into anger and hatred, and knew no other life. His father surrendered to his passions, beating his wife and child on innumerable occasions. Once he was grown, the boy fled into the desert, away from the drunken cruelties of his childhood.

In the desert, he met people who took him in. They showed him some form of kindness for the first time in his life. He rode with them, feeling the whistle of the wind in his ears, and they took it upon themselves to commit all kinds of abhorrent acts. They would murder, maim, steal, across the country. They would kill without a care, and knew not what it was to sin. They were the worst of people, the most abhorred and hated of sinners.

The boy had not always been so. He was once sweet, and curious, and inquisitive. It was only the terrible beatings the boy had suffered at the hands of his father which had turned him this way. And unlike his cohorts, the boy was aware of this. The boy had memories of a life when he was happy, and dreams of a life which had turned out differently. These provided no comfort and no succour, however; only resentment and hatred.

One day, the boy turned back, and travelled to his desert city. His mother had died many years before, but he found his father, drunk in a tavern, his faced buried in vomit and wine. The boy took his musket, and shot his father until he died. The Shah's men found the boy laughing over the ruin of his life. They took him to a deep and dark pit from which he would never emerge.

And so, fathers, listen well: care for your children, lest you lose them entirely! For it is your purpose to create good, honourable, merciful and righteous people. Deviate from your duty and only heartache will follow.

At this point, all communications are cut off.

<End Log>

Notes: Variants of this story were subsequently found to exist in several communities near Site 90. It was turned into a song by noted country musician ██████ ████████████ in 1956, entitled "The Vegas Rider".

Subject: D-7052, a native of New York City who had been convicted of embezzlement.

Date: 03/06/1959.

<Begin Log>

D-7052 enters SCP-3501. The room is decorated in a style reminiscent of 16th century Kashan. Nine SCP-3501-2 instances can be seen reading poetry. SCP-3501-1 has taken the form of a woman in her 30s.

SCP-3501-1: Come, my girl, come. Sit with me a while, and listen to a tale of weakness.

D-7052 sits on a cushion facing SCP-3501-1.

SCP-3501-1: There was once a woman from a city in the east. This woman gained a living by serving one of the mighty towers which littered the landscape, bearing down upon the citizens beneath. The lords of these towers were the chief among merchants, and controlled the flow of gold and silver from China to Farangistan. The citizens below hated and feared them.

The woman was able to see the activities of the lords; their ledgers, their abacuses, their reports. She knew of the paper vaults where they kept all of their money. She was sorely tempted by these, but resisted, for she knew of the folly of theft. But what she did was driven out of fear, not righteousness, for she knew little of good and evil. She stared at the numbers on the page, day after day, willing herself not to commit a sin she did not even recognise.

One day, a fellow clerk was elevated above his station. This clerk was the child of one of the high lords, but was a notorious incompetent, who deserved none of his advancement. The woman saw this, and her anger overtook her fear. She stole a great fortune from paper vaults and fled the city, taking a boat to the southern jungles.

But she was caught. The lords of the tower were furious, and forced the Shah’s men to find her. They caught her in the darkest part of the forest, in a little town of heat and flies. They took her back to the city of towers, threw her before the magistrate, and cast her into the dark pit.

So remember this: weakness comes in many forms. Action itself is not strength; it is only proper action and proper righteousness which give a person true character.

At this point, all communications are cut off.

<End Log>

Notes: Variants of this story were subsequently found to exist in several communities near Site 90. It was later adapted into a novel by the author █████████ ██, set in China under the Tang Dynasty and featuring a rebellious Sogdian attempting to flee to her ancestral homeland after stealing from a powerful noble.

Subject: D-1199, a native of Toronto who had been convicted of bank robbery.

Date: 04/11/1979

<Begin Log>

D-1199 enters SCP-3501. The room is decorated in a style reminiscent of 18th century Mashhad. Seven SCP-3501-2 instances can be seen playing cards. SCP-3501-1 has taken the form of a woman in her 70s.

SCP-3501-1: Welcome, my dear. Please, sit, and listen as I tell you a tale.

D-1199 sits on a cushion facing SCP-3501-1. She picks a date from a nearby bowl and begins to eat it.

SCP-3501-1: There was once a girl, who lived in a city of smoke and frost. She loved that city. She would twist through its streets, running and jumping and laughing with her friends. They would get into all kinds of trouble; they would imbibe strange substances, steal things from the merchants, and climb buildings to look at the stars.

One day, the wild girl decided that she would stop stealing. The law of that land stated that those who were caught committing crimes would be locked away in a dark pit with the other evildoers. She did not want to be locked in that pit again. So, she found more honest employment, repented of her life of crime, and made a family with a handsome khan. She was happy, for a time- but she never lost of habit of sitting on her roof and looking at the stars.

Then the Shah’s men came for her, in the middle of the night. They told her that she had taken money from the two Brothers Lehman, even though she had not been near the Brothers’ hoard. They took her before the magistrate, who cast her down into the pit, away from her family and away from sunlight. And in the dark, she wept, and wept, and wept, and was reminded of a single salient fact: once you have sinned, your sins will never really be forgotten. The darkest of men will always find a way to use them. One way or another, to sin is to fall and fail.

Nobody ever knew her story. Nobody ever knew her innocence. But now the whole world knows of it. In her fall will come her rise.

At this point, all communications are cut off.

<End Log>

Notes: Variants of this story were subsequently found to exist in several communities near Site 90. The local populace believed that it had only been a piece of local folklore since the 1870s, an unusually short period of time. It is believed that this is due to the need for the Lehman Brothers to be a prominent national presence as a prequisite for comprehension of the story.

Addendum 3501-1: On 25/08/2004, the head researcher on SCP-3501, Dr. Farhad Hamedani, entered SCP-3501 without authorisation. Dr. Hamedani had revealed during a routine psyche examination that he had been suffering feelings of extreme guilt over the fate of the D-Classes used in the testing of SCP-3501. Dr. Hamedani had requested a transfer; this request was pending at the time of the incident.

Dr. Hamedani had fitted himself with the same type of camera used in D-Class testing prior to entering SCP-3501. It began to record shortly before Dr. Hamedani's entry into SCP-3501.

<Begin Log>

Dr. Hamedani enters SCP-3501. The room is decorated in a style reminiscent of 19th century Tabriz. Eight SCP-3501-2 instances can be seen playing backgammon. SCP-3501-1 has taken the form of a man in his 50s.

SCP-3501-1: Ah! A fellow countryman of mine! Come, come, my son, and sit down. Take a cup of coffee! Relax, my dear fellow, and listen to this story I will tell you. I must say, it is most excellent to meet one of my own again.

Dr. Hamedani sits on a cushion in front of SCP-3501-1, and takes a container of coffee. He drinks this slowly throughout the incident.

SCP-3501-1: There was once a man, from the distant east. He was a clever man, who sought to discover the secrets of God’s creation. So enamoured was he with this pursuit that he travelled across oceans, to a distant continent across the seas, to learn about those secrets which the others did not know. He wanted to know about time, and why time slipped and slid as it did. It seemed to him to be a strange and impossible thing, a dream of events past and events future that were connected by the most slender of threads.

He came to a field of wheat, where a great jail had been set up. Within this jail were others like him, working on all the secrets of cause and effect, of all the worlds which once had existed but now did not. He was in paradise there, to begin with, as he committed his unholy acts. He peeled back secret after secret, enigma after enigma. He found wonder, and glory in his work; but it wasn’t enough. When you stare into the engines of time, you can never escape the feeling that all your work is naught, and that you will fade into oblivion like all of the others.

And so, the man became obsessed with one particular secret. He became obsessed with a storyteller, and the yarns he weaved through time and space. This storyteller was not like other storytellers; for he was able to make a person’s story spread across the world, at the cost of a few pounds of flesh. Here, the man thought, was a way to escape oblivion. He told himself that the people he sent to the storyteller, to be scattered across creation, were being sent to a glorious destiny. He told himself that they could become immortal. He even dreamt of visiting the storyteller himself, in order to extend his life forever.

But as the days and the years went past, he began to see things differently. Every person who was sent to the storyteller only brought back silence, and a screen covered in grey and changing snow. Every time another face disappeared before him, every time a body was taken to be sacrificed, he felt more and more agitated. Eventually, every transcendent soul caused suffering in his own, as he perceived their fate as a kind of death. He continued to dream of visiting the storyteller, but for very different reasons; where once he wished for everlasting life, now he only wanted to share their fate. He felt that becoming one of them, being fed into the machine like one of them, would at least serve to alleviate some of his guilt. He dreamt of an ending that would make them hate him less.

And so, he strapped a strange device onto him, which would tell the world of what he did. And he entered the machine, and met the storyteller, and gained the death he craved. And so, his life became worth nothing. He had spent the entire time chasing glory, chasing creation, chasing knowledge and truth like all of his foolish colleagues. But they ended up dying all the same. The pursuit of arcane wisdom left them with nothing but worms in their coffin. His fate was the worst, because his foolishness would be told across the continent, forever and ever, stretching forward and back in time.

At this point, all communications are cut off.

<End Log>

Notes: Variants of this story were subsequently found to exist in several communities near Site 90. This story later served as the inspiration for a popular play in the 1960s. The play was praised in the national press for its subversion of the story's classic moral;the play had instead lauded the researcher for his intellectual curiosity, with the storyteller rewritten as a regressive god.

Testing was suspended following this incident.

Addendum 3501-2: On 21/01/16, Senior Researcher Montague proposed sending an artificial intelligence into SCP-3501, as this would not result in any loss of life. Testing was briefly re-opened to allow this test to take place.

Subject: An artificial intelligence (named REFLECTION), developed by Dr. Johannes Tarkesian, designed to emulate and believe itself to be SCP-3501-1. REFLECTION was run on a small Foundation computer, and attached to a mechanical walking device. REFLECTION was then sent into SCP-3501.

<Begin Log>

REFLECTION enters SCP-3501. The room is decorated in a style reminiscent of a 17th century Isfahan. Six SCP-3501-2 instances can be seen smoking hookah and drinking coffee amid several cushions. SCP-3501-1 smiles upon seeing REFLECTION; it has taken the form of a young woman in her 20s.

SCP-3501-1: Ahh… you have sent me a mirror, in the hopes that I will pluck out my own story. But a reflection is a copy, an imitation of the original, rather than the original itself. It will not work, little jailors. Since you have gone to so much trouble, however, I will tell the reflection of my story. It might prove instructive to you, despite being but a pale imitation of the truth. So, little reflection, come and sit.

REFLECTION moves onto a cushion opposite SCP-3501-1.

SCP-3501-1: Once upon a time, in the realms of Iran, there were storytellers everywhere. We would lurk in the corners of bazaars, ply our art in the coffeehouses, brothels and khanqahs1 of the cities, travel from place to place in search of coin. We were welcomed and respected, and were a fixture of the life of the region. Our merriment and diversions were the joy of the citizenry- as were the more serious messages we imparted.

Eventually, we grew so powerful that we aided- in our own, small way- in the creation of an empire. We told the stories of Abu Muslim and of ‘Ali, those great heroes of old; and through these recitations, we drew parallels with the great warrior of the age, Isma’il the Safavid. He forged a powerful and great realm, and raised us up high: the Sufis, vagabonds, storytellers and other free peoples of Iran.

But we were betrayed. His son, Tahmasp, was never as warm towards us, and under the direction of the dastardly cleric al-Karaki became cold and hostile towards our members. His grandson, ‘Abbas, savagely attacked us. His desire for orthodoxy, for purity, led to us becoming little more than dogs, kicked and maligned in the streets. Our prominence had faded. We were nothing more than paltry entertainers of sinners, lepers and wastrels. We had fallen utterly.

Most faded away, became vagabonds in turn, and provided little more than passing curiosity to the Franks who began to pirate our shores. But one among our number stumbled upon a glorious idea. He made a new guild of storytellers, one which transcended any one city and which spread across the globe. He found those of us blessed with the ability to spin a yarn and make it true, to alter the world to accord to a tale, to see beauty in the chaos. And since then, we have done so much. We have altered this imperfect world to align more with our design. We have created stories wherever there is an opening.

Because to be a story is better than to be a human. Our kind are little more than flesh, fat and bone, living mortal lives with imperfect minds. Why do you begrudge me the little flies that I require? I weave their substance into the prettiest of webs. Their fat becomes timeless motion, their flesh becomes the ethereal substance of the narrative, their bone becomes the fire of imagination. They live forever in the world of myth and legend, that intersects our own but which is apart from it, higher than it. All I ask for are their bodies. Look.

At this point, the SCP-3501-2 instances suddenly turn and stare at the camera. Four of them have taken the form of several D-classes previously sent into SCP-3501; the other two have taken the forms of Dr. Hamedani and Dr. Scott. All of them lack eyes and appear emaciated; all of their mouths have formed "O" shapes.

SCP-3501-1: You see? In here, they live forever. I take more and more of their minds each year, their useless dead-weight flesh. And I convert it into stories, stories which spread across the world. They will dance on a golden beam of light, never forgotten, always persisting in the minds and imaginations of men. All I require are bodies. All I require is something to tell.

At this point, all communications are cut off.

<End Log>

Notes: This story was not discovered to be in circulation anywhere close to Site 90. It was instead eventually discovered as an oral tradition in the village of ██████, Isfahan Province, Iran.

page revision: 13, last edited: 09 Jun 2018 12:29
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

Privacy Policy of website