Betrayal
rating: +3+x

Note: This is part thirteen in a multi-part story based around the events leading up to the containment of SCP-2982. It takes place between the Endings and Deliverance tales. Or you could start from the very beginning At the Library. You can take a look at Golan too, for a tale based on one of the tests of the SCP object.

"You!" Harold cried, and his face was white with fear. Aidan Brown pushed past both Helen and Geoff and grabbed Maine by the throat. He turned back to Helen and panted, "Get out. Go!" She looked at Mansani briefly; he was readying the taser, waiting for Aidan to bring Maine down. Although Maine struggled, he was undone by Aidan's extra bulk, his vestigial legs and carapace weighing down the man even as he cried out in alarm. He sank to the floor with a shriek.

Aidan looked back at her again. "Go!" He shouted, and this time she obeyed, but not before one last glance; Geoff Mansani was standing over the two entangled on the floor, taser in hand, ready to deliver the incapacitating blow. Each of the three looked more terrified than the others.

She fled the apartment in tears. Suffering was suffering, no matter how well deserved. The door slammed shut behind her and she half ran, half stumbled down the corridor and down the stairs until she reached the bottom; she sank down sobbing onto the floor, gasping for breath, and waited for damnation or deliverance.

+

Aidan toppled forwards, his good knee landing squarely on Maine’s chest; his mandibles clacked and his spittle sprayed the other man's face as they grappled. He turned back to Mansani as best he could.

“Do it, fucking do it!”

Mansani hesitated, the taser impotent at his side. “I can’t get know CV, CV positron. Intro positron.”

Aidan’s claw found purchase and began to close around Maine’s face. The demand came again, urgent and final. “Now!”

Mansani shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. Flashes of Helen, of Angela, of his own wife. But the time for hesitation was over; there could be no coming back from this. The shouts came again and this time he acted. He touched the prongs briefly against the wall to see them spark and then tried to judge exactly where amidst the chaos Aidan Brown ended and Harold Maine began. He saw a scratch appear on the latter's neck and guestimated where the lobster-thing would be. He closed his eyes and swung the taser in earnest.

Mansani could not see it, but his attack connected directly with Aidan Brown's head, who spasmed and slumped, pinning Maine between the floor and the wall. His vestigial legs skittered and spasmed. His good eye rolled up and fixed on Mansani as his assailant blindly jabbed the taser - this time into his exposed lung. The lucky strike turned out to be decisive; Brown groaned - or maybe the noise was air was escaping its ruined housing - and lay still. Mansani stepped back. An invisible antenna or leg or fuck knows what glanced against his leg. He slapped it aside in disgust.

Maine’s muffled voice came up from beneath Aidan’s unseen bulk. “Get it off me, get it off me,” he said. “Can’t fucking breathe. Get it off me.”

Mansani froze again. Having taken the first unsteady step down a dark road, he was fully and absolutely committed to follow wherever it may lead. He threw the taser down the hall before reaching down and blindly hauling the lobster thing off of Maine’s slumped form, untangling their unholy communion of arms and legs as he went. He wiped his hands on his shirt and grimaced.

“Get it the fuck away from me,” said Maine, his eyes firmly on his defeated enemy. “Fucking piece of shit. Fucking bastard piece of shit.” He braced himself awkwardly against the wall and pushed Aidan Brown's misshapen head away with his feet. “Fucking bastard freak,” he said, then looking up at Mansani: “Come here,” he said. “Give me a fucking hand. I’m covered in fucking shit or something here. Don’t let it get on the floor. Everywhere’s gotta be clean.”

Mansani proffered his hand to Maine and lifted him up. “What nextdoor?”

Maine rubbed his jaw where Aidan Brown had held him. The skin was broken and red. “Fucking freak tried to kill me,” he said, almost in wonder. “Fucking piece of shit.” He nudged Brown’s carapace with his foot. “Just be glad you'll never actually see this freak up close. Holy fuck. Holy, holy fuck.”

Mansani asked again. “What necks? We need so hurry.”

Maine nodded in acknowledgment; with the immediate danger over his legs suddenly felt weak and heavy. Exhilaration was creeping in. “Help me drag this fuck into the bathroom,” he said. “Fucking piece of shit getting fucking shit everywhere. Grab under his shell. Not his fucking legs; looks like they’d just come right off.” He saw the hesitation in the other’s face and snapped his fingers. “Wake up, Mansani. Just reach down and grab whatever you find,” he said. “And make sure that fucking door’s locked. And what else?”

“Keep everywhere clean.”

“Fucking right,” said Maine. “Keep everywhere clean. I don’t want to see sushi juice everywhere.”

+

Geoff Mansani learnt many things; that half-human, half-lobster monsters weigh a great deal; that moving a large, unresponsive, invisible body in a confined space is difficult and time consuming; that a taser drains its charge fairly quickly, but baseball bats (administered by Harold Maine – Geoff Mansani could not bring himself to further violence) lasted indefinitely; but most of all, he learnt that he was entirely, irredeemably cowardly and selfish. Maybe everybody else was too. Maybe there was not a moral compass in the world that did not point solely and squarely back to the user. Was it a comfort? He didn’t know. He half-remembered a phrase, maybe Shakespeare, maybe not: there is no evil, but thinking makes it so. Hopefully that was the case. It had to be the case.

He leant against the cold blue-grey tiles of the bathroom wall as Harold Maine washed his hands in the sink. “Fucking bastard weighs a ton,” Maine said. With a satisfied grunt he lifted Aidan Brown’s head over the toilet bowl and balanced it on the porcelain rim. “Should have put rubber gloves on first,” he said, half to himself. “Never get the stench of this freak out of my skin now. Guess it won’t matter soon.” A glance back to Mansani. “How long so far?”

Mansani checked his watch. “Fine.. gave mandates. CV VB fine. Fine.”

Anger clouded Maine’s face and he grabbed the other’s wrist in exasperation. He turned Mansani’s wrist upwards. “Five minutes… Okay, follow the plan. You undress him. Should have done that first. Still, what's done is done." He gestured towards the bathtub. "Some bags in there. Put his stuff in one of them. Pass me one too.” He chewed the skin on the back of his forefinger as he mulled over his next actions. Mansani stood motionless. Maine stared at him for a moment, then said, “Did I fucking stutter? Move.”

Maine watched as Mansani began the unenviable task of removing Aidan Brown’s clothes, and then he went to his favourite chair. He positioned it so that he could see Mansani stripping Brown – he had no expectation of loyalty from the other out of anything other than raw fear, and besides, he didn’t know how long the lobster-man's concussion would last – and then took out his cellphone. He typed for a few seconds, pulled his cheap white fold-up TV dinner table closer, and then lay the phone neatly atop it next to a decades-old notepad. He had left this task until now, and not earlier, as he had not wanted to lay his secrets bare for his enemies to find and use against him; his nightmares had taught him that much, and they had almost just come true. But now he felt time pressing in like a vast suffocating darkness around him, and he hurriedly took the notepad and a battered pen, frantically writing his instructions even as Mansani struggled with Aidan Brown's unconscious unseen mass.

+

Mansani wiped his forehead. “It’s done,” he said, putting the last of Aidan Brown’s clothes into a black plastic bag. He had been working studiously for the better part of ten minutes, his back to the doorway as he huddled and struggled over the former’s unconscious body. He stood up, his legs suddenly cramping as he did so, and turned to face the man who held such power over him.

Maine was naked. Even though Mansani expected it, it was a shock.

“Just pass me the bag of clothes,” Maine said. “You never seen a dick before? Come on, pass me the fucking bag. Good." He pointed towards the fold up table. "Remember the plan. See that notepad on there? Read what it says. Make sure it makes sense. Just read, don't do. Hurry the fuck up. Don't touch the phone.”

Mansani took the notepad. In shaky, poorly formed letters Harold Maine had written a lengthy list of maybe twenty or thirty or more instructions.
Preparation Pick up the phone using your dominant hand.
1 Enter pin number >2982< when prompted.
2 Navigate to Contacts via green icon in bottom right of screen.
3 Tap "search" field in Contacts screen.
4 Using onscreen keyboard enter >Carol Paris< in "search" field.

His attention quickly waned as he watched Maine pulling on Aidan Brown’s clothes. They were at least three sizes too big, and they were ripped and torn from where Brown’s appendages had either thrust through in the fight or fretted against the fabric over the last few weeks as his strange new physiognomy strained hem and seam. They were made for men, not monsters, and Mansani was only now beginning to understand the extent of Brown's condition. Maine noticed him watching. “Don’t worry about me, fucking Voiceover Man," he said. "Read the instructions. Out loud. I want to make sure you understand them.”

Mansani cleared his throat. “Production: Pack up the VB CD phoned.. Poco the CD phone using your don’t coming ant. In your dominant hand… Pick up the phone you and your dominant lend… Peterson: Pick up the phone abusing your dominant hand."

Harold Maine stared at him for a few moments. “Again,” he said.

Mansani gathered his thoughts and counted to three. “Preparation: Pick up the phone using your dominant hand."

“Good," said Maine. "Kept my word, see?"

Mansani looked puzzled, and then delayed but instant understanding leapt across his face. Harold Maine had promised him his speech back, if he betrayed his friends, but he'd only half-expected the man to keep his word. He started to say – shout – cry – something, but Harold Maine put his hand to his mouth to stop him. “Keep your joy to yourself," he said. "I need you talking properly so I know you know what you’re doing,” he said. "So don't make me change my mind. Here.”

He held out a smooth, flat, glassy black object. Geoff Mansani hardly saw it; he could talk again. He could go home after all this and speak to his wife. He could -

“Concentrate," Harold Maine snapped. "No daydreaming, understand? Before I let you have this, let me make something very clear. This ain't the time for celebrating. If you screw up, you're fucked. And if somehow I screw up, you're fucked. You understand? We're in this together. No going back. We have to get it right."

Mansani nodded. "No going back," he repeated, as much for the simple joy of forming meaningful words and sentences again as to demonstrate his loyalty. His heart was racing, but he fought hard to control it. Tears came to his eyes. Maine grunted and continued. "Other hand, if this works out you’ll be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. You’re crying because you can talk again but that’s nothing. You do this for me and tomorrow you wake up and you got a fucking twelve inch dick and your own fucking radio station and the Geoff Mansani show is a global fucking sensation. A-listers fighting each other to get on your show. A-listers fighting each other to get on your twelve inch dick. And your blind wife in the next room with headphones on listening to Carl Denver and wondering why your twelve inch dick tastes like Kim Kardashian." Maine's eyes narrowed, and then softened suddenly.

"But no," he continued, and his tone also mellowed. "You love her with a singular, total passion. She's your life. So maybe you go home and she isn't blind anymore. Maybe you tell her for the first time in months that you love her, and that breaks the spell and suddenly she can see again. And maybe she's expecting." He let the words sink in. Mansani had closed his eyes. He was trembling. "But for now… Preparation: pick up the phone using your dominant hand.”

In all their dealings Harold Maine had shown neither empathy nor imagination; his torments and his punishments were those of a petty, vindictive child. But that was changing, Mansani realised. He was growing into his role; a slimy caterpillar transcending whatever it had been and becoming - what? Even though the handwriting on the notepad was crude, and the words miss-spelt - the product of an education that had been allowed to die in its infancy, and a sudden deadly urgency that had no place for neatness - the instructions they informed were clear and precise; almost official in their tone. The words of a bureaucrat or politician, not of a petty, grubby, malevolent little man.

He checked himself; his mind was racing and yes, he was crying. His wife would cry too. But Maine could take his speech away again just as quickly. He picked up the phone from the table.

Immediately the screen came to life: Televono Telefex Secrecy 8

Maine exhaled slowly. “Get any ideas about betraying me and you're fucked. The relevant contingencies are in place. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” said Mansani, and he listened to himself as the words came out fully formed and perfect. “I understand.”

“Okay then,” said Harold Maine. “Step one.”

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