12 Hours in Sloth's Pit, Wisconsin

rating: +61+x

October 26th
12:00 PM

To: jobs@s-c..cplastic
From: LauraAshrbooke@Witchshut..com
Subject: I'm Sorry

I'm sorry.

I made the Pit Sloth. Or it made me make it. It took my boyfriend, and thought I wouldn't notice. If you find him, please, help him.

If you're reading this, it's probably caught me already. I wrote in a weakness for it, into one of my stories— it's not much, but the Pit Sloth, and anything made by it, can't hurt people reciting prayers. Ed suggested it.

If you find Ed, tell him I'm sorry.

Laura Ashbrooke

Those assembled in the auction barn in Zone-SCP-097 looked at the message that was on their tablets. Montgomery Reynolds scratched his head as Sinclair leaned against him. "So, now what?"

"Well, Mr. Reynolds, we have an avenue of attack." Tofflemire was at the stage in the front, next to Alison. "…it is Mr., right? Like, you're just a consultant?"

"They don't give out doctorates in alchemy." Montgomery wrapped his arm around Sinclair.

"We have a way to protect ourselves." Agent Carol stood next to Robert. "The Pit Sloth's being kept alive by its works. In one of them entitled 'The Demon in the Pit'… well, the weakness is spelled out there. It can't hurt anyone reciting prayers."

"And we figure that, if we take down every work but 'Demon in the Pit', it's going to get a lot weaker. The story has to exist for it to get powerful." Robert gestured in the air. "Imagine if someone destroyed your social security number, you ceased to exist."

"Of course, we've still got a few secondary objectives." Alison nodded at Melbourne as he came up onto the stage. "For one, there might be Contradictions hiding out in the town population."

Ryan came up onto the stage, and blasted Project MacReady over the speakers. Everyone assembled covered their ears and winced, someone shouting "A little warning next time?!"

"Sorry." Melbourne composed himself as the sound stopped. "We're planning on broadcasting this throughout the town once every two or three hours. Individuals who don't react to it are to be rounded up by Sigma-10 agents, and the… original individuals located."

"They weren't at the bottom of the Pit." Christopher Hastings spoke up. "Where do you think they might be held?"

"Best case scenario?" Alice chewed her lip. "Somewhere in their homes. But if they weren't in the pit, then… we don't know."

"Which is why we have Squads 25 and 10 combing the city." Robert was slightly saddened that Alice had shot down his idea of them carrying around actual combs.

In the back, Dr. Keith Partridge raised his hand. "And what if this plan d—"

"Don't say it!" Was the reply from every individual present. Partridge shrank in his seat.

"To answer the unspoken question, we do have a plan B." Alice put her hands together. "But we're not going to say what it is. Robert came up with it, and it's insane."

"Insane enough to work." Tofflemire pointed out. "But yes, we're keeping it a secret in case—" He stopped himself from uttering the words "in case it doesn't work". "At any rate, Director Weiss has allowed us to give you your marching orders."

"So, yeah." Carol opened her hands. "Dismissed. Get to it, we got a town to save!"

As the staff of S & C Plastics dispersed, Alison looked at Robert. "Not one quip out of you. Impressive."

"There's a time for snark, and there's a time for action." Robert huffed. "I'm still a bit miffed you didn't let me name it 'Operation Lampshade'."

"You lost the coin toss fair and square." Alison hopped off the stage. "Come on, we're mission control. Let's see what's happening."

At exactly 1:00, the Mayor of Sloth's Pit opened the door to his office. Outside was his trusted friend, Nina Weiss, director of the S & C Plastics building. "Nina!" He beamed. "You don't come by very often anymore."

"Yes, well, things have been busy, Glenn." Weiss entered the room. "We've been trying to work out how to deal with the spatial loop."

"Any luck?" Glenn Foster sat down behind his desk. "Can I get you anything to drink?"

"No, thank you." Weiss put up her hand. "And… we actually have had some luck."

"Really?" Glenn's eyebrow raised, and he put is hands together. "What's happened?"

"Arbor Street. There's a patch of it that doesn't loop around. It's big enough for a person to get through, a motorcycle at a pinch, but anything bigger intercepts the loop."

"I see." Glenn squeezed his hands. "Well, it'd take a while, but if you can contact people outside of the loop, I'm sure we could start an evacuation."

"Hmm." Weiss nodded. "We've already got a transport in place, just outside of the loop. We've started evacuating several citizens that—"

"What?" Glenn stood up. "Director, I've been briefed on the… crisis. These citizens could have those… dimensional wedgie monkeys on their back. Do you think it's wise to evacuate them?"

"We have a method of checking whether or not people are human." Nina Weiss rummaged in her handbag. "A method which has been piping through the speaker systems in the building since I entered the room."

Glenn stared, and tilted his head. A pair of furred, clawed hands emerged from his back, and his voice turned guttural. "How did you know?"

"I didn't." Nina Weiss drew a revolver from her purse. "And I was lying about the sound. Thank you for playing."

Four minutes later, Nina Weiss exited the building, rubbing her shoulder and replacing the spent bullet. She nodded to a containment team waiting outside to enter and secure the cadaver.

On the way in, Agent Alexander Carracos said to his superior, "Weiss is a bit of a badass."

Commander March nodded and made his way up the stairs to the mayor's office. "Someone tried throwing Weiss down the Pit once. A few days later, Director Westphalen mysteriously died drinking his coffee. Weiss was trained as a parapharmacologist."

The commander opened the doors to the mayor's office. The mayor's brains were sprayed on the window behind him, and a pair of furred limbs hung from his back, limp.

"I'll let you connect the dots."

At exactly 2:30, as the class at Jackson Sloth Memorial High was starting to empty their lockers, a two-second piercing note rang out in the halls. It sent most of the students to the floor— except for Maisie Carlyle. Maisie had been replaced a week ago, and not even her parents noticed; acting oddly was in the nature of a teenaged girl, they thought.

The Contradiction that was Maisie Carlyle realized what was happening as the other students recovered. She dropped her backpack, and sprinted for the window in the second floor chemistry lab. A pair of clawed, furred hands with truncated fingers burst from her back, eviscerating the American Eagle shirt she was wearing. The hands shielded her head as she bashed through the window. The hands caught the grass as she landed, and rolled her to a stop. She rose, and started to sprint towards the school bus, the hands retracting into the hole in her back.

She ran onto the school bus, and the doors shut behind her. It was at this point that she realized the bus was unoccupied, except for her, a goat-headed being, and a woman wearing a long veil, with one bleeding eye socket.

"So, this is how it's going to work." Singing Jessie stood, taking off her veil. "You're going to tell us where you've been taking the townies, or we're going to take off your fingers one by one."

The Contradiction looked towards the front of the bus— she saw the the driver was a man with one hand ending in a hook. There was an impressive collection of knives upon his person.

"I can't feel pain." The Contradiction shrugged.

"Really now?" The Goatman stood, and grabbed the Contradiction's hand, biting off one of her fingers. It let out an inhuman scream that made the bus swerve as the driver winced in pain.

"Liar, liar, pants on fire." The Goatman smirked. "Where are the townies?"

At exactly 4:00, Raymond February posed a question to Joseph Grey: "So, why here?"

"Probably because it didn't think we'd look here." Agent Grey adjusted his goggles and brought up a sledgehammer against a wall. Behind this wall was where Room 13 on the 3rd floor of the Pyramid Inn should be. The Pyramid had no Room 13s. "After what happened here last year, between Pike's leg getting shattered and Squad 9 disappearing, I guess it thought we'd be too afraid to look?"

A door began to show itself behind the drywall, with a large "13" on it. The paint was fresh, in contrast to the faded doors around it. Beside them, Seren Pryce adjusted her grip on her revolver. "Okay, we ready to breach?"

"Ready," Blake Williams confirmed, turning off his rifle's safety.

"Okay. Ruby, breach when ready."

Once the door was exposed, Ruby Williams readied her shotgun, and shot at the door's lock. The solid round destroyed the mechanism, leaving the door to swing inwards.

She pushed on the door, her flashlight illuminating the interior of Room 13. It was a double room, and on the ground between the beds, there was a large, brown stain that looked distinctly like blood. But there was also a distinct lack of any bodies within.

She turned on the light on her helmet and scanned the ceiling, and the walls. She realized that she could only see three of the walls. The far wall, where the window should have been, bled over into darkness that her flashlight could barely penetrate. "Move in."

The rest of Squad 25 poured into the room, turning on their own lights. As they approached the far wall, the shff-shff of carpet gave way to the tff-tff of dirt beneath their feet. Ruby bent to inspect the dirt. She rubbed it between her fingers, and it fell away, sideways, as if she was standing on the side of a bottomless pit.

"No way." February stared at this phenomenon, and walked further on, following the trail of dirt. It was then that he stumbled over something.

"Woah!" Grey helped him to his feet. "You okay?"

"I'm fine." The Agent stood, and aimed his light down at the stumbling block. "Sweet Christmas."

All lights were trained on the obstruction; Raymond had tripped over the body of a young woman, bound in roots, like the majority of Site-87 had been just days ago. "Can we cut them out?" Blake asked.

"If gravity works different for them too, then I'm not sure that'd be a good idea." Ruby took out her knife and cut loose one of their arms. It sank against the floor, as opposed to sagging towards where the wall should be. "Okay. Get a line around them. If need be, we'll drag them out."

Grey nodded, placing his pack on the floor to retrieve rope. As he did, he looked upwards, and around. His light illuminated at least two dozen bodies.

"Well then." Grey swallowed. "We have our work cut out for us."

At exactly 7:00, The Monster Mash came on over the speakers at the Black Garden pub.

The musical selection went unnoticed by many. A good part of the regulars were busy in the so-called "pit", a section down a small flight of stairs where the majority of the seating was, eating and drinking to their heart's content. At the bar sat two people and an empty seat between them.

Alison Carol looked at the empty seat as she waited for Cecil to mix her drink. "This is where I met her."

"Laura?" Robert asked, looking up from the list of beers.

"Yeah. She's a good kid— just didn't have her head on all the way. Got in a fight with her boyfriend, and… I guess she just came here to get away?" She shook her head. "The girl didn'— doesn't even like booze."

"What was the fight about?"

"Something to do with college— mainly Ed being unable to go to it." She looked down at the bar top. "I thought about her, in the pit. That's why the Sloth went after her."

Tofflemire sighed. "Were you two close?"

"I mean, we basically drank together every Friday. I…" She looked at Robert. "I may have told her that you were one of the most annoying people I've ever met. Complete jackass."

Robert stayed silent. After a moment, he put down the beer list and addressed Cecil. "Can I have some of your mead? People at work can't stop raving about it."

"Bottle of mead comin' up." Cecil poured out the drink from the cocktail mixer into a hurricane glass, and garnished it with a chunk of pineapple and a cherry on a toothpick, before handing it over. "Here you go, Alice."

"Alison." The two agents corrected Cecil simultaneously.

Robert looked at the drink. "I didn't know you liked pina coladas."

Before taking a sip, Alison threatened, "If you start singing Rupert Holmes, you're dressing up as Lady Gaga for Halloween."

"That's fair." Robert rested his elbow on the bar top. "Alison?"


"Do you really think I'm a jackass?"

She paused in her drinking and sighed. "After what you told me… I don't know. Like, I get why you act like you do, but you do it so much. Feels a bit… I dunno."

"Like I'm trying too hard?"

"Exactly." Alison stirred her drink. "Are you trying to impress someone?"

Robert didn't answer, instead taking the bottle of mead handed to him, and taking a long, long drink of it. "My friend."

Alison looked to make sure Cecil wasn't paying attention. "The one taken by the Old Man?"

"Yeah." Robert rubbed his face. "I read an account by someone who got stuck in his dimension. Apparently one of his favorite forms of torture is… showing you how the people in the real world are doing. Friends, family. How they're grieving, and how they're moving on. I figure, if that's what's happening to him, then… maybe I can make him laugh once in a while." He sighed.

"What was his name?"

"Kirk. Kirk Wright."

Alison raised her glass. "To Kirk."

"To Kirk." Robert clinked glass with Alison, and then turned to the window, eyes wide. "What the hell?"

"What?" Alison turned to see snow falling. It wasn't unheard of, nowadays, but the sky had been completely clear when they had entered the bar. "How in the hell…"

At exactly 9:00, Laura Ashbrooke woke up. She felt snow falling on her face, and as she looked upwards, she found starlight pouring down on her face. Below, only empty darkness. And next to her was Edward.

"Ed?" She pleaded. "Ed, c'mon, wake up."

Edward Valentine was breathing, but he wasn't awake.

"Ed?" She whimpered. She looked at what was keeping her bound to the wall— a set of vines. She was no more than twenty feet from the surface. She could climb out, but one missed step…

"Ed, c'mon, we gotta get out of here." Laura brushed snow from her hair and started to tug at the roots holding her to the side of the pit. One came loose, sending her tumbling five feet before she regained her grip. "Oh god…"

She dug her feet into the dirt wall, and looked at Ed. He wasn't waking up, and she was losing her grip.

On her other side, there was a slight cough. She looked over to see a man in a tattered suit, holding a shovel, standing on the side of the pit casually. "Hello, you."

"H-Hi." Laura swallowed. "C-can you help me? H-he's not waking up. I… is he going to die?"

"The Pit Sloth got to him harder than it got to you." The man paced over to Edward. "But if you cut him down, he should be fine."

"Cut him down?" Laura's eyes widened. "We could fall to our deaths! This is a bottomless pit!"

"And making your way out of it is going to be one hell of a tale." The man with the shovel beamed down at her. "But tell me, how are you going to get out?"

"I—" Laura frowned. Something was forming in her head. "I don't suppose you've ever heard of Dungeons and Dragons?"

"The name seems familiar."

"Well…" Laura started clawing at the wall. "At one point, during the early days, there was a campaign called Tomb of Horrors. There was at least one group who managed to dig their way into the tomb with mining equipment, bypassing all the traps and looting the treasure." She made a hole in the dirt big enough to stick her arms through. "It got errata later so that the walls of the tomb were indestructible or something. But before then…"

The wall fell away to a point where she could crawl into it. "You could dig your way into and out of one of the most dangerous places in the game."

"Excellent." The man nodded. From somewhere, he offered Laura a shovel. "This should make things a little easier."

Laura nodded in thanks, and crawled into the hole, starting to dig it larger. The man threw in a second shovel after her. "For Edward." He explained.

Laura Ashbrooke set to digging her way out of a bottomless pit.

At exactly 11:00, Laura Ashbrooke and Edward Valentine limped back into town. They were dirty, shivering, and Edward was walking with a limp. They were both carrying shovels, and grunting as they made their way through the foot of snow that had fallen in the last four hours.

"Hello?" Laura called as she made her way down Main Street. "Anyone? We're injured!"

From out of several buildings, people in black uniforms emerged, guns raised at them. Laura put up her hands. "Holy shit."

One of them spoke into their wrist. Above her, a tornado siren blared the most painful noise Laura and Edward had ever heard. They collapsed into the snow, covering their ears. "Fuck!" Edward yelled.

"They're real." Someone confirmed, coming forward to collect them. Laura recognized the man— it was the person who had shot someone in her store.

"You?" Laura asked.

"Long story." Robert Tofflemire hefted her to her feet. "C'mon. Rudy's is open late tonight, and you both look like you could use some hot chocolate."

Alison Carol helped Edward Valentine to his feet, looking him up and down. "Did you… dig your way out of the Bottomless Pit?"

"Y-yeah." Edward groaned. "It was Laura's idea."

"It… there was a guy. He was walking on the wall, gave me a shovel…"

"Sloth." Alice and Bob spoke in unison.

Robert carried Laura into the light of Rudy's cafe, and sat her at a table. Caitlin Dyer came out from behind the counter and put a warm blanket around her.

"The snow woke me up." Laura swallowed.

"It's a freak storm." Alison frowned. "Could just be normal stuff, but given this is Sloth's Pit…"

"You think the town made it to wake us up?" Edward had to raise his voice slightly over the sound of Caitlin spraying whipped cream over a pair of hot chocolates.

"Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if Sloth himself somehow made it." Robert looked outside. "Snow on Halloween. It… honestly kind of looks pretty, with all of the decorations."

"Like Christmas in October. Except better." Alison leaned against him.

The room was soon filled with the scent of hot chocolate, and the sound of conversations. Comforting words were exchanged, people were brought up to speed, and shoulders were cried on. A street away, a man brushed snow off of his Jack-o-Lantern and brought it on his porch.

At exactly 12:00 AM on October 27th, a shadow loomed over Sloth's Pit, Wisconsin.

Imogen was dead. Jackson had resisted their influence, and had even given the Plastics People aid— calling them an abomination. Jasper hated it. And it… it hated the fact that it couldn't talk in anything but rhymes. It was tired of having others do its work and failing.

It needed something. It couldn't create anything original, so it had to steal. For that purpose, the Pit Sloth's shadow fell over the Grave Bog, where the corpses of hundreds of Wisconsinites rested, struck dead by a hundred-year-old flu.

The shadow loomed over the grave marker for Caroline Sloth and her son Quinn. A grin formed on its face, wider than any grin should be.

The shadow faded, and all the lights in town came back on at once. The Grave Bog contained one less corpse, and footsteps of what had left were covered by the fresh snow.

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