"Please report your current status."
"I've got company. A breach, or subversives."
"And you know the procedure for the subversives."
"I do. Smith will be able to direct rest of the teams here before-"
I did not have the chance to hear rest of his sentence. I groaned as my head was buzzing and my ears were ringing. I was covered in debris. The blast obliterated the wall next to me, but at least my body was intact.
"Director Threads!" a familiar voice emerged from the smoke. I looked up.
"Threads. Threads. Do you hear me? What has happened?" the phone buzzed faintly behind me.
"Doctor Rengstorff," I choked out.
"What do you have to say before you pay for your heinous crimes?" Rengstorff barked as he marched towards me, eyes blazing with fury. He raised his foot and pressed down hard upon my upper back. I stumbled back down, as I felt my cheeks slam against the cold ground.
I smelled blood. "Rengstorff, you know what you are attempting now is of the highest violation in-"
I doubled over from the strike of the butt of his rifle. I opened my eye, seeing all the locals surrounding me, chanting furiously. Rengstorff held a golden khopesh in his hands.
"Do what you want to me, I don't care. The O5 council will know. But the item must be in containment for the safety of the public," I uttered.
Rengstorff knelt down next to me. He lifted my head by my hair suddenly and stared intently into my eyes.
"Safety of the general public," he repeated, "What a joke." He placed the khopesh beneath my throat.
"Rengstorff, stop!" another voice shouted behind us. His voice was drowned out by the chanting crowd, now louder than before. The crowd of orange condemned me, those disgusting people. The devil's eyes lurked among them, paving the road for me to hell.
"May whatever deity this serves have mercy on your soul".
Three weeks earlier
I awoke from my bed this morning by a strike to my head. Two guards knocked me awake this morning, taunting and yelling at me in words I do not understand. The beating continued as they pushed me out of my cell and down the dim and cold hallway.
I was almost beaten back to sleep when I arrived at my destination. There were five other blood-stained men in orange jumpsuits. They all look like walking skeletons. It was as if their bloody skin coated their bones, and their eye sockets were dark and hollow. God. Do I also look like that now?
We faced an open vault. There was nothing to be seen in the dark vault but a strange piece of flesh suspended by a web of wires hanging in the middle of the room glistening from five spotlights. We stood there, and stared at the peculiar object. For twenty minutes, nothing occurred.
I started to look around. There was a window to the left of us that was dark. A locked metal door was beside it. I started to shift from my position and walk towards the window and the door.
"D-621, please return to your designated position." a voice boomed loudly from the intercom above us. I hurried back to my original spot.
"Please move towards the object in the vault." We did.
Upon approaching the morbid chunk of flesh, I was struck by a rancid smell. It smelled like dead bodies. Piles of them, first rotting and decaying, then burnt with gasoline. We shielded our noses with our palms as we inched towards the pink slab of flesh in the middle of the room. What is this thing? Is it dangerous? Please let me out of this place. I looked around the dim corners of room and its walls. The wires attached to the flesh came from all ceiling and the ground. Is there any ventilation here? God it smells. There were vents on the ceiling, but they were closed. I then caught sight of a hatch on the left wall. It led to a tunnel of sorts that a man could crawl through.
"Stop." We stopped in our tracks. The time dragged on. I stood there and resisted from collapsing from the nauseating smell. I felt light-headed. I could not tell if it was due to the smell or the meager food they provided.
Then the flesh growled. It growled. A strange deep voice vibrated within it as its surface contorted. One of the men stumbled back and fell, immediately getting back into his position again.
Then nothing followed. The flesh went back into being a stationary piece of foul-smelling meat. We stood their in its displeasing aroma for half an hour more. When it seemed to become no longer bearable, a loud cranking noise shuddered behind us.
The vault door was closing. We turned, and gave each other blank and idle looks. The vault door then closed shut. Then again silence came.
A scraping sound came from the ceiling. We looked up, and the vents were open.
The men raced for the vault door and pounded. There was no response. We screamed and yelled, kicking the door uselessly. The gas hissed from above.
I felt my throat burning. The other men all collapsed, one by one. I felt my vision blurry and my limbs weak. Oh God. Oh God. Please let me live. I need to get out of here. I prayed and fell to the ground, feeling the life draining out of me. My vision was unclear, and I heard faintly the groans and struggling of the other fellow men. I crawled forward, and felt my hand reach something.
I pulled it down, and lifted myself into an enclosed space. I managed my strength and crawled forward. The hatch slammed shut behind me. I closed my eyes and fell into blackness.
I awakened myself a short moment later, and started to crawl forward. It was a metal tunnel. I placed my hand on the floor. It was wet. It smelled like blood. There was a glimmer of light at the end. I can't take this anymore. I pushed my way forward. Then the ground suddenly drooped down, and I found myself plunging downwards. My back was scraped by the metal wall as I slid down.
I emerged into full light.
It was my turn to supervise maintenance today. A lousy day.
I inserted my keys into the door as the janitors followed me. I turned and unlocked it, pulling the metal door open. An unbearable smell pervaded the room. I held my nose as the janitors walked in.
I stepped in looked down. The pit was overflowing today. Contorted bodies in orange scattered around. The majority of them were disfigured, mutilated, and decaying. I closed my eyes and prayed for their souls. The janitors pressed start. Gasoline was poured on the mountain of orange. Bodies slid off upon contact and rolled down the hill.
The flames caught on immediately. A fwoom and then cackling. The rotting smell was soon overshadowed by the smell of smoke.
I coughed. Why did this task need supervision? It was just waste disposal. Incineration of bodies of victims slaughtered by the Foundation over the course of a week. Out of all the hazardous things that can happen at this site, what could possibly go wrong with this?
I peered down from the railing at the lifeless orange forms as the jubilant orange flames subsumed them. I tried to imagine what each person would be doing with their lives had they not stepped into this site. What did they do to condescend into such a state of living hell? Why would so many, who are fine as being merchants, miners, shopkeepers, students, teachers, and doctors, ostensibly turn to a life of committing indefensible sins? At what point of their lives did they chose to volunteer as expendable guinea pigs of an alien institution? I looked away and reached for the lighter in my pocket.
All of sudden, screaming emerged from the pit of flame. I looked down from the railing. A pair of arms suddenly hitched on my shoulders and pulled up. A flaming man came upon me and screamed at my face. I tried to push him off, but his arms held tight on me. Soon the flames came upon his arms at extended to me. I felt the heat rushing to my shoulders.
"Help!" I yelled for the janitorial staff. One came wielding a fire extinguisher, and sprayed us until the flames dissipated. The man's grip on my shoulders loosened an I jumped back.
"What the hell!" I yelled. The man crouched on the ground and looked up. His skin was covered with burns. His limbs were so tenuous that it seemed a small injury could snap them. He looked up at me with a blank look and started to speak in a coarse soft voice, but rapidly.
My knowledge in Egyptian Arabic was not quite sufficient to understand him. "What is he saying?"
"He says he wants to get out of here," one of the janitors responded. The man kept sputtering the phrase on and on, kneeling in front of me. The desperate tone of his coarse voice increased tenfold the longer I waited.
"Okay, I am sure this is a way for you to get out of here, but will you please calm down," I assured him. The man did not stop but kept begging me to let him out. He looked at me deep in the eyes as he raised his head, and I saw the coal-black darkness embedded within.
Bang. I jumped. The man collapsed. Blood spurted from his head. His voice died out into a transient hiss, and dissipated.
"This is why we have people supervise waste disposal," Officer Smith said by the doorway, lowering the pistol in his hand.
"Yes, sir," I responded quickly.
"You know he could not leave this site," the officer added.
"I know," I answered, "I just wanted to calm him down as he was in an obvious state of-"
"I get it," Smith interrupted. "Just a security reminder." He lifted the corners of his lips and walked out of the room.
I stood there beside the man's body as the fire flickered in the pit. The blood slowly oozed out of his lifeless head. I saw his lifeless eyes and averted my gaze.
"What are you waiting for? Take him away," I ordered the janitors. They rushed forward and they scooped up the corpse. He head dangled back between the arms of the janitor.
"Wait," I added before they leave the room. I reached into my pockets and took a few coins, handing them to the janitors.
"Just for this occasion…don't incinerate him. Give him a proper burial or something," I said. They nodded and walked out. I sighed, looking back at the flaming pit behind me. I could not get the image of the man's lifeless eyes out of my mind.
I leaned on the railing and watched the pit of fire. What does it feel like to join those souls?
"What did he say to you?" Winston asked me as we walked towards the cafeteria.
"Nothing much. He urged us to speed up our progress on figuring how to consistently trigger the skip's anomalous behavior. That thing is like a sophisticated animal. It has people it likes to show off to and people it has no interest in."
"Make more progress," he repeated, "We have been working on it for months now. Speaking of which, why is he always so insistent on specifically triggering its behavior?"
"I don't know," I replied. "O5 order, probably. Also, remind me to update the layout of the containment chamber. Put locks on the waste disposal tunnels. Threads just told me that you ran into a rogue D-class personnel in the waste disposal sector. It's best for something like that to not happen again."
Winston was silent. We entered the staff lounge. "Peter, have you heard the things about the D-class housing sector of the site?"
"The D-class sector?" I answered, surprised at his question. "Yeah, a couple horror stories or two."
"I think we should be focusing on updating their facility," Winston said.
"Why is that? They are working fine."
"Dr. Rengstorff!" a voice called behind me. I turned. It was Pearson. He carried his disarming smile on his face to us as I faced him.
"Hello Pearson," I replied and looked at his new attire. "Field agent now, huh?"
"Temporary reassignment," he shrugged and said. "I've been always interested in field works anyway. Plus this facility is always so damned understaffed. And Redfield!"
"Hey Pearson," Winston answered, "Or should I say, Agent Pearson." We laughed and walked on. We entered the small cafeteria, near-filled. We sat down at a relatively empty table.
"So," Pearson spoke as he bit into his sandwich, "still no progress on that project?"
"Not really," I replied. "Three-one-two-one is a tricky one. No reliable pattern was detected in today's batch of tests. What about your mission yesterday?"
"Sorry, can't say that," he replied.
"Insufficient clearance level?" I asked.
"Not for you. Him." Pearson pointed at Winston. "Sorry Dr. Redfield."
"Yeah I understand," Winston responded, "Still assistant researcher for Dr. Peter Rengstorff on project Three-one-two-one."
"Well it is an honor to work with him on a project," said Pearson. "I did, four years ago."
"It's obviously not about him. Just wondering how long assistant researcher would stick to my name."
Pearson laughed and held up his left hand. "Until you lose three fingers. Or an arm, which in that case promotion to senior researcher."
"Please," I said. "All my colleagues and I have intact body parts."
"Because usually you don't live without body parts," Pearson responded. He sipped from his milk carton. "Anyways, the project I'm having right now is pretty big. I actually know nothing of the skip aside from that where I have to go to retrieve it and deliver it here."
A faint explosion was heard behind me. Everybody turned and looked.
"I think we might be under attack," Pearson remarked.
"We managed to reduce the number of assailants by half prior to their retreat," Smith reported. "Two tactical teams were dispatched additionally to all the security teams. We suffer seventeen casualties."
"Anything else?" I asked.
"Twelve D-class personnel managed to flee the site with the remainder of the assailants," Smith said.
"A large portion of them went on to participate in the assault, resulting in such heavy losses."
"Were any captives taken?"
"Yes. Three were taken. One is still alive," he answered.
"Was there any significant information gained from him?"
"No. We made little progress with her."
"I authorize the usage of SCP-3121 on the captive."
"Also, make sure the mobile task force team is ready to depart with Agent Pearson's group."
"Yes sir." Smith started to step out of the room.
"Wait," I said. "All personnel within the D-class sector are to be administered with amnestics."
"Sir," Smith responded, "The last batch of amnestics arrived to our site five months ago. We don't have much left in storage."
I took off my glasses and gave a deep sigh. "What date is it today?"
"The twenty fifth."
"We are nearing the end of the month anyways. No need for the usage of amnestics."
"Understood." Smith quickly left the room.
"Guard, please call Dr. Peter Rengstorff to my office."
I looked out the glass as I waited for Peter in the control room. Three-one-two-one suspended in the room as always, with the spotlights glistening on the piece of flesh.
"Winston it's a piece of flesh," Maya suddenly said. "There's nothing to look at."
"A very, very infuriating piece of flesh," I answered. "Why is Peter taking so long?"
"I dunno. Probably still tangling with Threads," Maya replied.
"That's not funny," I answered.
"Come on," she responded and walked towards me. "Something must be bothering you. Winston, what's wrong?"
"Nothing," I said. "It's really about time for Peter to come and send in the next pack of D-class personnel."
The door creaked open. Peter walked in, with a visible scowling expression.
"Finally Peter," I said. "Let's get started with our tests."
"There has been a change in the agenda," Peter said. He leaned over the table and spoke to the microphone. "Guard, please bring in the captive."
The metal door of the vault creaked open and light spilled in. The guard pushed a wheelchair into the room and parked it a few meters away from the flesh.
"Who is that?" Maya asked.