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Item #: SCP-XXXX

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-XXXX and its surroundings are to be fenced off and constantly monitored. Any civilians or non-Foundation personnel found to be within the vicinity of SCP-XXXX are to be questioned before being administered class A amnestics. Due to the isolated nature of SCP-XXXX, no other containment procedures are necessary.

Description: SCP-XXXX is

Jeremy blinked heavily, a barely restrained yawn pushing against his chest as the monotonous words on his laptop slowly deteriorated into incomprehensible babble. Shifting forward in his seat, he reached back to push a knuckle into the base of his spine, straightening his posture with a painfully satisfying pop. Next to him, a middle-aged man, stout and dressed in a generic suit and lab coat of drab white, shot him a cursory glance. A small, sudden twinge of embarrassed, irrational anger sparked briefly; he's running on fumes here, with exactly zero minutes of sleep in the tank and about a liter of coffee that he poured into himself for that bit of an extra boost.

What right did anyone here have to judge him? To look upon him with slight? None, he thought. They didn't know anything about him except for his name (Jeremy Smith) and his position (Senior Researcher). Of course, there were exceptions, such as Researcher Day who sat three seats to his left, who occasionally helped him with certain assignments. And of course, the all-mighty, all-seeing O5 council, the omnipotent beings they were.

He blinked once more. A sluggish, leaden blink that brought with it a dull throb that took its place at the back of his skull. With a shaking hand, he dipped his spoon into the bowl of soup next to his laptop and lifted it to his mouth. He didn't know what it tasted like, or what it even was, only that it was warm. It was as if his mind had gone numb enough to be rendered incapable of even grasping the concept of taste.

Looking up from the table, he managed to find himself staring at the coffee machine, which was situated at the back of the room, tucked away along with the microwave and refrigerator. He was in one of the older breakrooms, a moderately sized room that offered only the slightest of reprieves from the constant reports, papers, busywork, and experiments that he and the other staff had to work through. As an added bonus, the Junior Researchers almost never went here; they would rather take their breaks at the cafeteria, or one of the newer, shinier breakrooms with their sleek designs and vending machines.

Not that that was an issue at the moment. No, they were all probably still in bed, resting with their blankets tucked to their chins within their Foundation-issued dormitories. It was four in the morning after all, and it was only due to sheer incompetence that he was still awake. Incompetency, of course, from his brain, for not giving him the rest that he wanted. It wasn't exactly an enthralling experience, laying on his bed with his eyes closed and waiting for sleep to come. For about six hours he waited, but he just couldn't do it. There were a few times when he started to drift off, but those moments were quickly rectified by the inexplicable bursts of pain that flared in his head, stealing him away from even a minute of sleep.

Eventually he figured that if he couldn't bring himself to sleep, then he might as well try to get a good start with a recent SCP that had appeared. One new enough that it didn't even have a designation, yet.

"You doing alright there, buddy?" The person next to him from before gave him a small tap on the shoulder. Jeremy recoiled from the touch, instinctively flinching at the sudden physical contact. "Woah, sorry to startle. It's just that you've had four mugs of coffee in the past ten minutes, and I see that you're considering another. And Foundation coffee at that. Sure, it's free, but I'd say that's still too costly."

Someone behind him snickered at that. "Fine. I'm fine. Just… can't sleep. Want to, but can't."

"Hm. Need to catch up on some stuff?" He asked. "Or just plain old insomnia? Oh, I'm Ben, by the way. Site Technician. Pulled out of bed to fix a ventilation issue for the D-Class lodgings. Took like twenty minutes to fix, and now I'm too awake to bother with going back to sleep."

"Jeremy Smith. Insomnia, I guess. Just laid there for six hours, couldn't get a single wink of sleep. Got some weird headache that flares every time I'm about to nod off."

Ben frowned. "Huh. Should probably get that checked out. Why don't you give the infirmary a visit? They're always open."

Jeremy looked down at his bowl of half-eaten lukewarm soup glumly in silent contemplation. It wasn't as if he were getting anywhere with the SCP report anyway, his addled brain failing to produce the words necessary to properly describe the anomaly. Most likely, he would have to completely revise anything he typed up anyway, lest he should submit a report riddled with typos and inaccuracies. Murmuring a few words of assent, he folded his laptop and secured it safely in his briefcase, placing it between several mind-numbingly lengthy articles and papers before dumping his foam bowl and plastic utensils into the trash.

"They'll probably just give me aspirin, or some sort of sleeping pill." He thought as he gave a small wave of goodbye to technician. He found that a slight sense of unease had settled on him though, a creeping absence of weight that made him feel somewhat light-headed. "Or, or maybe it's something more serious. Signs of a hemorrhage. A brain tumor."

"Oh, shut up." He muttered under his breath. He closed the door to the break room behind him and began walking down the hall, expansive and with a vague emptiness that would have been odd, were it not for the fact that it could barely even be considered morning. As he could recall, the infirmary would be on the opposite side of the site, just adjacent to the Euclid containment chambers. He groaned internally at that; perfect that he worked at a site small enough to not warrant monorails, but large enough that traversing the area would be time consuming.

That had been the worst part of his transfer here. Even ten years later, he missed the small confinement of Site-39, where he had easily memorized the entire layout, where the on-site security force had been small enough that the anomalies there were relatively harmless, where he knew the names of all of the personnel. Perhaps it was nostalgia talking, the sense of good old days and familiar comfort blinding him with their grey lens, but…

He stopped walking.

Where was he?

He looked around and realized that he had been walking in a straight line for the past several minutes, deeply entranced in his thoughts. In that time, he had not encountered a single branching path, doorway, person, or window of any kind. Indeed, he had been walking through an infinite hallway, barren of literally anything of note. He resumed walking forward, though with an air of caution as he began to consider the possibility of some sort of containment breach. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cellphone; unsurprisingly, there was no signal.

"Well, shit." Jeremy muttered to himself. He only hoped that he was caught in some sort of projected hallucination rather than having wandered unwittingly into an alternate reality or dimension. Better to be making a fool of himself than to be caught in a self-perpetrating cycle of mind-numbing infinity. For a moment, he considered trying to walk back from where he came from, only to dismiss the idea; that was how you got disoriented, wasn't it? At least, in these situations.

He continued walking, occasionally tossing glances behind him for no other reason than a sense of justified paranoia. All the while, the hallway remained exactly the same. Two white walls, about three meters apart and perfectly smooth, free from imperfections in both colour and texture, a black vinyl composite flooring, tiled with thin lines in a checkerboard pattern that was nonetheless uniform in appearance, a flat white ceiling with repeating lines of white LED lights. The details of it practically burned themselves into his mind, especially as there was quite literally nothing else to look at.

"At least I'll be able to write up a decent description after this, when I get out…" He paused to kick his legs, knee joints popping loudly from within the slight veil of silence that had settled, previously interrupted only by his own breaths and the metronomic click-clacks of his footsteps on the unnaturally clean floor. "Though that's assuming this is an undocumented anomaly."

Looking forward, all he could see was the endless stretch of the hallway extending, a daunting sight that taunted him with its blandly consistent appearance and apparent infinite length. The unflattering curse of middle-age, the decrepit and corrupt thing it was, clung to him like a foul odour; already, complaints of fatigue had begun to rise from his body.

Again, the possibility of turning back arose in his mind. It wasn't too late, was it? At most, he would lose… what, twenty minutes of progress? Has it been twenty minutes? Has it been an hour? No, that couldn't be. At most, thirty minutes, at the very most surely. Better to try it now and get it over with. He would be fine, perfectly fine.

He checked his phone again. There was no signal, and the time had not changed. Because of course it hadn't.

He turned around and began to walk again, though only reluctantly. There was no shift in perspective, no shifting details, no change in atmosphere, just the quickly tiring sight of an endless hallway that provided with it a small pith of doubt as to whether or not he turned around at all. The briefcase he was carrying around felt cumbersome, serving as nothing more than three and a half kilograms or so of extra baggage, as if his legs weren't hauling enough weigh as it is.

Not for the first time in his career, he considered the possibility of leaving the Foundation. It was a generally straight forward procedure; he would be administered amnestics and given the tried and true faux backstory of working in government facilities. Some retiree's got to get away without having their memory reshaped; that was one benefit of having a low security clearance, at least. But someone like him, who's been with the Foundation for well over a decade and with access to some of the more classified files? There was no chance that he would escape with his memories fully intact.

That didn't bother him so much though. No, he was sure he'd survive without the various horrors of the Foundation plaguing his mind for the rest of his life. He was compensated well for his work, enough so that he nearly had enough in savings to retire from working altogether, though he wasn't there quite yet. That was the main driving force behind his continued career here.

Encounters like this, however, always made him second-guess himself. The stitch building up at the side of his stomach, the slight burning spreading through his knees and calves, the possibility that all of this was for nothing, it all gnawed at him with their intoned whisperings of doubt and anxiety.

He had to sit down. He had to sit down.

He sat, cross-legged and with his briefcase on his lap, the cool surface of the floor seeping through his clothes to provide some measure of relief. Without thinking too much about it, he opened his briefcase and found with mild surprise that the multitude of papers he had been keeping in there were all completely blank, empty sheets of pure white that matched perfectly with the wall he was propped up against. Perfectly empty, perfectly immaculate. Hands shaking, he placed the papers aside and pulled out his laptop. He opened it and tried to turn it on.

It was dead.

He brought out his phone and tried to turn it on.

It was dead.

"Okay. Sure. Fuck me, right?" He groaned, running his fingers through his hair. For a few moments, he sat there in quite contemplation before standing up again, worn joints creaking as he straightened himself up. He continued walking again, sans briefcase and laptop, which were left by the wall where he sat. He didn't feel any lighter.

He shoved his hands into his pockets and dug around. There was his wallet, which contained various denominations of bills, some identification, and his clearance card. His phone, of course, which was dead. A black pen, nearly out of ink. A balled up napkin. In his breast pocket, a photograph with an aerial view of the anomaly he had been working on. A red pen, barely used.

He looked down. One after another, they went. Plop plop plop. Should he be walking faster? With heavier footfalls maybe? Or quieter? He didn’t like how his footsteps sounded. They were obnoxiously loud, at least within the dead silence surrounding him. What if his footsteps were to be broadcasted into a library? They would be annoyed too, he thought.

Quieter then. With his heel absorbing each footfall before smoothly passing the load over to the rest of his foot. It worked, kind of. Better anyway. Maybe all of the non-existent folk in the library listening to his every move would be less annoyed now. Not that he cared.

Step after step after step after step. It was an endless loop. Well no, not endless. He slapped his own wrist. Not endless, not at all. There had to be an end, there had to be a way out. If not, someone would come. He would be pulled away. Someone would notice his absence and a low-level search would be conducted, before they find that he was missing entirely. Then, they would start to search harder and then, he would be rescued. Or maybe an entity occupying this anomaly would appear, some bizarre humanoid speaking in cryptics would introduce themselves and he would find the chance to perform an on-site interview.

Or, or, he was going crazy. Mad with hallucinations about an endless hallway, and he would be submitted to the psychiatric ward and undergo a study and therapy. They would fix whatever the hell was wrong with his brain and he would go back to his work. Everything would be fine, there was a re solution no matter where you looked. Perfect.

Had it been hours now? The gradual buildup of dull aching in his legs began to tip-toe the breaking point, ravenous in their incessant shouting. There was no doubt that enough time had passed where he had traveled further backwards and forwards, though in this 2D-esque plane of existence, did that really matter?

Or, had he? It was entirely possible that he hadn't traveled very far at all, of course. He recognized that the dull task of walking in a straight line in this bare-bones hallway would stretch time into taffy.

It was decided that he would start counting.

Not out loud of course, that would get tiresome. No, he would count in his mind, one by one and keep going until he reached infinity. Or until he got out. He would count as fast as he could, and if he happened to lose his thoughts, then he’d just pick up where he thought he was. It was a great way to keep time, at least he thought so. Each step was about three counts. Sometimes it was four, sometimes it was two. That didn’t matter though. Three was good, three was enough. If nothing else, an average.

At six hundred and eighty-two, he noticed that his throat had begun to dry.

- - -

At two thousand, four hundred and ninety-seven, he was walking in contemplative silence.

At two thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine, he fell. In the blink of an eye, he was on the floor and grabbing his right leg with both of his hands, mouth open in a sudden silent scream. He quickly lifted up the pant leg to reveal a bundle of skin and muscle and hair and color. Giant, agonizing pain crawled and shivered all over, nixed flesh caught alight in a violent seizure. Muscles were visibly clenching and unclenching, knotting his skin and nerves.

"Damn it." He whispered through clenched teeth, hands working quickly to massage the cramped muscles. He coughed a few times and drew a large, gasping breath that did nothing except dry his mouth further. Squeezing his eyes shut, he did his best to ignore the overlay of static that had become all-too present.

The pain subsided somewhat, though he kept his grasp firmly on his legs, massaging it as his mind raced to recall what number he had left on. Was it two thousand five hundred and eighty? That sounded right. And even if it wasn't, who's to correct him on it? He was all alone. All alone and with no one to care.

- - -

At nine thousand, one hundred and one, he did his business against the wall opposite to the one he was walking next to. The coffee wanted out.

- - -

At thirty-one thousand, nine hundred and eleven, the sense of collapse in his lungs began to heighten, a shortness of breath combined with the electric shocks running through his esophagus through the sensation of falling. Maybe he was going the wrong way. Maybe he should have never turned back in the first place. But was it too late? Now was it too late? At thirty-two thousand and thirty-six? He could turn around again, but what if the exit was just there? Just beyond his reach, only a few thousand steps forward.

And again, the possibility that this was the wrong way. It tore at him, the two options. He hated that feeling, the feeling that his life depended on a coinflip, with the chance that neither option would lead to salvation. What else could he do though? What else could his mind, the very same that had written up countless reports and containment procedures, focus on besides counting? Counting and nurturing that growing resentment festering in his gut, directed towards the Foundation and all of its anomalies? There was a brief moment of understanding, kinship even, with the GOC, though that moment quickly left him.

God, he was just so damn thirsty. He hadn't had a single drink of water, only subsisting on half a bowl of soup and several cups of coffee, which had already left his system. Already, a persistent itch had formed in his throat, refusing to leave him be no matter how many times he cleared his throat.

"I'll die here, won't I?"

- - -

At forty thousand, five hundred and eleven, his eyelids regained their weight. The complete and utter boredom that had overtaken him, boredom only alleviated somewhat by the agitation in his lungs as well as the constant worries of a slow and painful death, was dragging behind him, a ball and chain.

At forty-three thousand, six hundred, he sat down with his back against the wall and closed his eyes. Despite everything, sleep came easily. There was no pain.

- - -

When he woke up, he found himself in an endless hallway that looked identical to the one he was in just before his nap.

Which way had he been walking in? To his left, or to his right? He couldn't quite recall.

What number was he at? Well, he'll just round to a nice and even fifty thousand. It won't make much of a difference anyhow.

He began walking again. He brought a hand up to his neck and began scratching with ragged fingernails, uneven and with a thin layer of grime underneath. His nails dug around his Adam's apple with a serene sort of urgency, something that desperately needed to be done but without much care or worry as there would be no consequence either way. It would just be such a relief, such a relief, if… if only, the dryness went away.

- - -

At ninety-seven thousand, one hundred and twenty-two, Jeremy sat down in the middle of the hallway and started to cry. Precious, precious water. Gone without a purpose.

He hadn't shed a single tear in years.

The counting was involuntary at this point, a monotone voice that droned on and on as unimportant background noise.

At ninety-nine thousand, eight hundred and sixty-two, he got up and began walking again. His legs felt terribly weak, and he had suffered three more cramps since the first one. He held an irrational belief that at any moment, they would simply disintegrate into ash, grey ash that would scatter everywhere and dirty this perfectly clean hallway. The walls would be dotted with his mess.

He stopped to check his phone. It was dead.

He threw it at the wall and watched numbly as it bounced off with a dull thud and landed at his feet.

He picked it up and began walking again.

- - -

At one hundred and forty-four thousand, seventy-two, he sat down and took another nap. When he woke up, it took another count of two hundred before he could stand up again. He made it for about one hundred more counts before he had to stop again. Why did these numbers have to be so long? It made for a ratio of two steps per count. He hated it. It felt like was making less progress. Like everything was becoming slower.

When he looked up, he saw that there were vast, sprawling shapes making up a hexagonal grid, dotted with that familiar static and ugly splotches of bruised purple.

The lights were blinding him. The lights were burning him.

At one hundred and eighty-eight thousand, five hundred and fifty-four, the counting stopped.

Thank god for small miracles. He thought. He would have said it aloud, if he were able.

He couldn't stand. He couldn't walk.

The itchiness in his throat had vanished. It was hollow, it was dust, it was breaking.

He laid down and closed his eyes.

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