Sons of the Damned, Chapter 20: How Firm a Foundation

[Feeling lonely? The previous chapter has sent you a friend request on Facebook.]

This is the Foundation. This is the place where nightmares live. This is the prison that binds the worlds’ greatest darkness.

Down in subbasement C we’ve got the old standbys. Like the concrete statue that’s only a statue when you look at it, and when you’re not looking at it, it snaps your neck.

Down the row from him you’ll find 682. The undead, unkillable lizard that hates all life. Hear that thumping sound? Think it’s getting louder? Yeah, he’ll get out eventually, hopefully not before we’ve finished his new digs. Right now they’re building a new containment for him down the bottom of a mine-shaft. The walls are going to be solid carbon steel ten feet thick. Once he’s down there they’re filling in the shaft with concrete. We figure that should hold him for a couple of months at least.

On this level we’ve got some of our more “normal” subjects. In this cell is a surgeon who steals the internal organs from living subjects and implants them into himself to perpetuate eternal life. Yes, without anesthetic. No we don’t know how he does it yet. We’re not even sure if he’s human. We’re studying him to see if we can find a better method to prevent transplant rejection.

This is the room where we keep the canvas where Cassy lives.

What? Oh, she’s a sketch of a girl that happens to be alive. No, she’s not dangerous. Not everything we’ve got here wants to kill us.

Down that hallway we’ve got our low security lockers, places where we store the less-complicated items in our little…collection. My personal favorite is the Recorded Man. His DVDs stay there when they’re not out for testing.

What’s that? No, we don’t store supernatural or memetic SCPs at Site 14. I mean technically the illustrated girl might be supernatural, but…well really that’s a difficult line to draw when you’re in this business. Line to draw? Get it?

Speaking of drawing, if you went down that flight of stairs you’d find a room with nothing in it but a leaking fountain pen. Oh, believe me, I know it sounds silly. You’ve got an undead hell-lizard on your hands, what difference does a leaky pen make? Only this pen, it never stops leaking. And the ink…well as far as we can tell it can perpetuate itself through any liquid indefinitely. You let 682 loose, and he maybe goes on a killing spree, wipes out a town, but in the end he’s just the one lizard. But you get one drop of that ink into the earth’s water supply? Imagine the rivers running ink. The ocean black as pitch out to the far horizon. The end of the world doesn’t look like you think it does.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, really it’s because I like to talk. I like to see people’s faces when they find out about all this stuff.

What about security? Well, there’s not much to worry about on that score. The last eighteen D Class personnel they brought down here ended up skinning themselves with this ritual knife we found in some mine down in Brazil, screaming about the need to appease the Flayed Lord. You’d be surprised how long you can survive without your skin. One of them lasted almost fifteen minutes.

So not much chance for you to go off blabbing what you’ve seen here to anyone else. Then again, you never know. The guys testing this think they’ve made a breakthrough. It’s possible you’ll survive. Think happy thoughts yes? And whatever happens know that we here at the Foundation are eternally grateful for your contribution. No, don’t struggle. This is your atonement. This is something beautiful. You’re helping to make the world a safer place.

Now please, stop screaming, and come along quietly.

 

“How did this happen?” the Director asks, and there is a tone of darkness in his voice, of judgment, and impending wrath.

Jenkins swallows hard. “He just…guessed it sir.”

“You revealed too much of yourself.”

“You’ve seen the tapes. You’ve seen all the tapes. You know that isn’t true.”

The Director leans over the desk and looks Jenkins in the eye. “You’re right. I have seen the tapes. And I have just one question. How did you pass it to him?”

“I didn’t pass anything sir. Really. You have to believe me.” And there are tears in her eyes. “Please,” she whispers. “I didn’t do it. I know you think I did but…” A sob swallows up the rest of the phrase.

“What then? What am I supposed to think?”

“Maybe…maybe we missed something. Maybe he’s not completely human. Maybe…”

“Doctor we deal with things that aren’t completely human every day. We’re even accustomed to things that aren’t even a little human. But him? This no name, nobody, from a hick town where NASCAR is the biggest sport, and hunting the biggest pastime?”

“It’s possible.”

“You’re right. Half the things we find come from places where no one would ever notice them. They seek that stuff out. But Hyde is right. There’s something going on here that we’re not seeing. How can I be sure you’re not part of it?”

“Because…because it wouldn’t make sense. You think I’m working with him? You think I fed him information?” Jenkins is struggling now, her words coming stronger, a tone of a woman who knows her continued existence could very well hinge on this argument. “You vetted me very thoroughly,” she says. “Your people dug into the deepest corners of my mind and pulled out every possible point of leverage our enemies might have. You dealt with that leverage. I drank from the cup of truth-”

“Is that what they’re calling it now?”

“-I bared my soul to you, to all of the men up at OS-5. All of you signed off on me. And now you’re trying to throw me under the bus because you’ve got a breach you don’t understand?”

“You make a compelling argument, Dr. Jenkins,” the Director says.

“…thank you sir?”

“I have only one further question.”

“Which is?”

When did you change your password?”

“You know when.”

“Yes. But I want to hear it from you.”

“Two months ago sir.”

“Two months ago. And what else happened two months ago Jenkins?”

“That’s when they brought him in,” Jenkins answers.

“Interesting coincidence don’t you think?”

“I would say terrifying.”

“Tomato, tomahto.”

“You…are you going to..?”

“Your employment will continue. For now.”

“Thank you sir. I won’t let you down.”

“Good. Because I’ve got a special assignment for you.”

“And that is?”

“You’re going to debrief Mr. Price on what he saw.”

“Sir?”

“Explain it to him. Give him everything he wants to know. Answer all his questions.”

“Are…are you sure that’s wise sir?”

“No. I’m playing a hunch, taking a risk, making a leap of faith.” He sits down in his chair and rests his arms on the desk his hands folded in front of him, looking Jenkins straight in the eye. “Do you believe me?” he asks.

She looks at him, the remnants of her tears still gleaming in the corners of her eyes and shakes her head. “No sir. I think you know exactly what you’re doing.”

“Good. Then off you go.”

“Thank you sir.”

But after she’s gone a strange look crosses the old man’s face. “Such faith,” he mutters under his breath. “I wish I shared it.”

 

Vinny: So…what happens now?

Jenkins: What do you want to happen?

Vinny: I want to go home. Go back to normal. Turn back the clock.

Jenkins: That’s not how it works. You should be able to figure that out on your own.

Vinny: You people…how can you live with it?

Jenkins: With what?

Vinny: With knowing. With what you do. All the things…the things I saw-”

Jenkins: We’ve got it under control, Vinny. Well, most of it anyway.

Vinny: Last night I heard the klaxons sound down the hall. It’s quiet at night and you can hear better and all I could think was, “Containment Breach.”

Jenkins: Vinny-

Vinny: How many people died?

Jenkins: Is that what you want to know? Really?

Vinny: No. I guess not.

Jenkins: What were you looking for? You guessed my password. I’m still trying to figure that one out. But I’m smart enough to know that was more than idle curiosity at work. What where you looking for?

Vinny: You were at Frog’s trailer.

Jenkins: Not me personally, but the Foundation did send a team there, yes.

Vinny: You cataloged everything right? Like a crime scene? Took it all away for testing or whatever?

Jenkins: Yes.

Vinny: Where are the pictures?

Jenkins: Of the trailer?

Vinny: Yeah. Your guys did take pictures before they started carting everything away right?

Jenkins: I guess. They’re probably still waiting to be properly logged though. There’s a lot of channels that stuff has to go through. Even after two months it might not be up on the mainframe.

Vinny: I want to see. The pictures. I want to see them.

 

Vinny clicks through the pictures, one after another. “No, no, no,” he mutters to himself. “Where is it?”

“If I knew what you were looking for I could help you find it,” Dr. Jenkins says.

“The bookshelf. The one in the living room. I need that picture. I need to know what it looked like when your guys stormed in.”

“You think your friend left you a message? Some book that was out of place?”

All the books were out of place,” Vinny says, his voice edged with irritation. “Weren’t you listening? When I told you Angie looked at them and said that were out of order? Frog was a big believer in alphabetization. Organization. Reason. That was kind of his thing. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it sooner. The books on the shelf, they weren’t out of order, just not in the order Angie was expecting.”

“Here you go,” Jenkins says, passing the laptop back over to Vinny. “Have at it.”

Vinny takes the laptop and then grabs for a sheet of paper lying on the table and begins writing down letters. “It’s a code, see?” he says. “Frog was all about codes. Little codes, big codes, codes that went twenty layers deep. This one’s pretty simple. Take the first letter of the author’s last name in each of the books on the shelf and you’ve got your message. Devon: D. Owen: O. Nabokov: N. Taylor: T. Et cetera.”

He scribbles for a while longer and then looks up.

“What is it?”

Vincent flips the paper around so that Jenkins can read it. The words on the page spell out. “Don’t follow. Church of the Broken God. Safe. The game is afoot.”

“What,” Vincent asks, “is the Church of the Broken God?”

***

Author’s Note: Most of the entities mentioned in the opening scene of this chapter have been borrowed from the files of the SCP Foundation. Special Containment Procedures and other information about these entities can be found in the following files:

SCP 505: Ink Stain

SCP 315: The Recorded Man

SCP 085: “Cassy”

SCP 542: The Surgeon

SCP 682: Undead Reptile

Also, I couldn’t figure out a way to work it into the story, but you should also totally check out SCP 426: I Am a Toaster. It is the best.

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