SCP-3262
rating: +28+x

Item #: SCP-3262

Object Class: Keter

Special Containment Procedures: Two protocols for the handling of subjects exposed to SCP-3262 are permissible:

  1. Artificial fortification of the subject's memories of SCP-3262, followed by the provision of incentives or conditioning such that they do not disclose this information.
  2. Termination.

The selection between these protocols should be performed in short order and on a case-by-case basis. Individuals who have been exposed to SCP-3262 should not be assigned an amnestic regimen that could potentially remove their memories of SCP-3262, except for testing purposes.

Any reports matching SCP-3262's description, as well as any reports of contagious unusual behavior without an obvious cause, should be investigated immediately. If SCP-3262 involvement is indicated, the surrounding area should be quarantined pending an assessment of the extent of its spread and the destruction of all SCP-3262 instances. SCP-3262 disposal is best achieved by the liberal application of a strong caustic solution such as lye, and should generally be performed on-location if at all possible.

Description: SCP-3262 is a bright red species of parasitic plant consisting of radially-arranged vines coated in luminescent seedpods about 2.0cm in diameter. SCP-3262 diverges dramatically from typical plant biology — rather than engage in photosynthesis, SCP-3262 is adapted to use thermal energy to process the consumption of living animal tissues. Presumably as a result of this adaptation, SCP-3262 does not possess roots, leaves, or other structures that typically aid plants in photosynthesis. SCP-3262 is capable of enduring temperatures of 900°C on a consistent basis in all life stages; the source of this heat resistance is unclear.

SCP-3262's life cycle is dominated by the Seed Stage, wherein SCP-3262 seeds (which average 0.3mm in diameter) are inhaled by a human en masse, traversing into the bloodstream through the lungs and mechanically penetrating the blood-brain barrier. The seeds will extend microscopic filaments up to 9cm in any direction, then fall dormant. SCP-3262's seeds can remain dormant in the human brain indefinitely; apart from mild headaches shortly after infection, SCP-3262 infection is asymptomatic.

The Seed Stage is only known to end when the host forgets about their initial encounter with SCP-3262; past this point, the host's death will not impede the progression of SCP-3262's life cycle. Due to the sudden and violent nature of the events that follow, the mechanisms dictating the Explosive Stage is unclear, but it is known to involve the rapid conversion of brain tissue into combustible hydrocarbons and oxygen gas, causing convulsions and mental degradation, followed by unconsciousness, within ten seconds. An internal source of uncertain nature then ignites the hydrocarbon mixture, resulting in the violent detonation of the host's head and the growth of SCP-3262.

The Reproductive Stage immediately follows the Explosive Stage. About 40% of the mass of the host's head is consumed by SCP-3262 during the explosion and is quickly digested and converted into plant matter, resulting in a cluster of plants up to 2.3 kilograms in total mass that extends up to 1.2 meters in any direction. SCP-3262's seedpods will slowly fill with a mixture of volatile hydrocarbons presumably similar to the ones responsible for the Explosive Stage.

During this stage, it is believed that SCP-3262 relies on several cues — notably, physical disturbance, increased atmospheric moisture and carbon dioxide levels, and changes in ambient heat — to detect the presence of humans nearby; if a human comes within ~0.6 meters of SCP-3262 without proper protection, several of SCP-3262's seedpods will explode. While this is generally insufficient to cause serious injury, it results in the dispersal of SCP-3262's seeds over a wide area, with the exact dispersion patterns relying largely on local air currents. The heat from these explosions is also used to enable the further consumption of the original host's corpse.

Due to SCP-3262's reliance on high temperatures to gather sustenance, it will starve and begin to rot within 2-5 days if not regularly exposed to fire, or if its seedpods are not induced to explode.

History: The earliest historical records consistent with SCP-3262 originate in 660 CE in Constantinople, which describe it as being recovered from an outbreak in Athens; however, no other records of this outbreak have been found. SCP-3262's time and place of origin are, consequently, unknown.

A method of cultivating SCP-3262 was apparently developed by the Byzantine military, which harvested its seedpods for use in the creation of the incendiary weapon known as "Greek fire".1 It is believed that by ~900 CE, an alternative method of creating Greek fire was devised and SCP-3262's use in the process was forgotten, as SCP-3262 is described in documentation from this time period in unfamiliar terms.

Documentation of SCP-3262 is scarce; while this can be attributed in part to its potentially decades-long incubation periods, the exact reason for its limited presence in the historical record is unknown, particularly given its dramatic behavior in the Explosive and Reproductive stages. It is known that SCP-3262 has existed in most regions of Europe at one point or another, with its presence at a minimum during the Early Middle Ages and at a maximum during the Renaissance, though its exact extent is highly uncertain. Most records describe SCP-3262's appearance as unprecedented and unexplained; only in rare cases was its contagious nature identified.

Notably, SCP-3262 outbreaks consistently track with the "dancing mania"2 that occurred between the 7th and 17th centuries in Europe, usually (but not exclusively) afflicting direct participants and observers of these events. Participants would generally either attempt to destroy SCP-3262 or ignore it entirely. In several cases, SCP-3262 and the host's corpse were retrieved by participants not known to the local population and carried away for unknown reasons. Between 100 and 1,000 deaths during dancing mania outbreaks are attributable to SCP-3262.

Of note is that controlled experiments have failed to detect any mind-affecting properties in SCP-3262, or any other mechanism that could account for its coincidence with dancing mania. A causal relationship between SCP-3262 and dancing mania is presumed to exist, but its nature is unknown.

The requirement that the host forget their encounter with SCP-3262 was discovered during early experiments with Class-A amnestics by an unnamed Foundation precursor organization based in Munich in 1780, when administration resulted in the immediate progression of SCP-3262 to its Explosive Stage in two test subjects. SCP-3262 was recognized as a distinct phenomenon several years thereafter upon consultation with historical records, and initial containment procedures were devised shortly thereafter.

The extent to which SCP-3262 is properly contained is unclear, though it is believed to be significantly less prominent than it was in 1780, and likely constitutes less than 3,000 yearly cases. The relevant analysis of records detailing SCP-3262 containment operations is currently postponed.

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