Black Ice

rating: +24+x

“Ten minutes, D-1246,” the man sitting in front of him said, “and then you’re done.”

“That’s it?” he asked, staring in mild disbelief. The man, a researcher that he wasn’t allowed to know the name of, was rather unpleasant to look at, with darting, bloodshot eyes and unkempt hair. His lab coat, while clean and free of wrinkles, felt bizarrely out of place with its dreadful grey color. A layer of dead skin, brittle after being robbed of its connection to life, yet remaining unshed among the muteness of white that was so commonplace.

“Yes.” The man shifted around in his seat uncomfortably before tapping on the watch on his desk. And what an ugly watch it was! Large and clunky with a skinny wrist strap that looked as if it would snap at any pressure of weight. Its screen, nothing more than a block of black plastic with red digits beneath it. “Well, nine minutes and fifty-two seconds now.”

“Why?” D-1246 asked. “That’s not a lot of time. Not a lot of time at all.”

“Oh, it’s not too bad. I’ve seen a couple poor saps end up with as few as two minutes before. Really, it’s to the whims of the higher ups, know what I mean?” the researcher smiled, unconvincingly. He picked up the watch and held it out for him. “Here. Your clock, just to remind you of the time. You’re lucky, you know. If they let you have too much time, then you wouldn’t even be getting the clock at all.”

D-1246 glanced at the watch in the man’s hands. On its flimsy looking screen, the numbers "09:33" stared up at him. He looked up at the researcher, who kept his gaze down on his desk. A large bead of sweat had formed on his forehead. He could only look as it began rolling down his face, leaving behind a trail of wet residue.

Finally, he grabbed it from his hands, stuffing it into the pocket of his jumpsuit without a second thought. The researcher exhaled and quickly stood up from his desk.

“Now then, shall I escort you to the containment chamber?”

“Do I have a choice?”

The researcher looked at him incredulously. “Why, of course! You always have a choice. Did anyone tell you otherwise? I mean, do you not want to go to the containment chamber? If not, you may return to your quarters.”

“No, I want to go there,” D-1246 said. “Please take me there. Quickly.”

The researcher nodded and walked past him, exiting the office without looking back. D-1246 grimaced and quickly rose from his chair, following him. He stared at the back of the man’s head as he shoved a hand into his pocket, scalp prickling as he felt the rigid stares of the security officers digging into him with deeply regarded suspicion. Figures. They probably weren’t even allowed to know where he was going. Not here.

The watch… The device called out to him. It told him that he should look. Just a peek, just a glance. Don’t you want to know how much time is left?

No. I don’t, D-1246 thought firmly. He willed his hand to leave his pocket, resisting the urge to just crush it in his hands. With how cheaply made it was, he was sure that it would crumple under any form of pressure. But he knew that if it were to be destroyed, then he would just receive a new one.

Yes, and if he were to destroy that one, he would get yet another one. He was sure of the fact that they had trillions of these things in reserve. Why wouldn’t they? People probably took out their anger on the watches all the time. D-Class were a violent lot, sad silhouettes of men left to rot in their indentured servitude to the Foundation until either they died, or were transferred.

Oh, who was he kidding? No one survives.

The researcher suddenly stopped and turned to look at him, a trembling smile dancing on his lips. A pitch-black door with no windows and a silver doorknob stood behind him. He took out a card, laminated but with absolutely no distinguishing features, a blank piece of hard paper. He tapped it against the door and nothing happened. “Here we are, D-1246. The containment chamber. Its been… outfitted to suit the needs of this experiment. You’re in good hands.”

D-1246 wordlessly stepped forward and gripped the doorknob. It was cold, almost painfully so. Experimentally, he turned the knob a few times without opening the door. It turned smoothly, of course. Finally, he opened the door and stepped inside, making a point to stare at the floor as he did.

“Farewell, and good luck,” the researcher said. Before he could elicit a response, the door shut behind him.

Finally, he looked up.

The walls were coated in a disgusting amalgamation of dark, neon colors that physically hurt to look at. They seemed to shift and fold onto themselves, moving to create new messes of melded mass at every second. Bright, blaring lights shone from the ceiling, applying a white, almost waxy coating on every inch of the room. Assortments of boxes and bins sat at the back of the room along with one other person, who stared at him in near awe.

Tentatively, D-1246 approached him. The stranger stared directly at him, visibly trembling and with several pencils clutched in one fist. In his other hand, he held a crumpled ball of parchment that complemented the over-sized brown jumper he wore, which clung loosely to his skinny frame.

“Hey there.” The person broke into a wide smile, revealing perfectly white teeth. “D-8538, six minutes and fifty seconds. But you can just call me John. Nice to meet you.”

“Um, same,” D-1246 responded awkwardly. “You have a name?”

John tilted his head. “What’s your time?”

He shoved his hand into the pocket and felt that the watch was still there. A shame; he was hoping that it would have vanished on its own accord. “I don’t know. I don’t want to check. Is that your real name?”

“Oh, really? Alright then.” John looked down at his wrist, which had a large, clunky device that was identical to his own in every way. Red digits counted down on its screen at a rate that was faster than he was comfortable with. “Ah, down to six minutes and thirty-five seconds now. I’ve been counting down in my head, but it's reassuring to see it happen with my own eyes, you know?”

“No. I don’t know,” D-1246 said. “Why is your name John?”

“It’s anxious knowing that I have so little time left,” John continued, staring down at his wrist with glazed eyes. “Anxious in a good way. I’m also lucky. Luckier than most. I was given fifty-nine minutes and twenty-two seconds at first. Did you know that they only let people who have under an hour in here? I just barely made it. I’m so lucky. You’re lucky too. We both are.”

“I don’t feel lucky,” D-1246 muttered, feeling the watch in his pocket. He turned it around and around, rubbing his fingers on the screen. It felt incredibly smooth, free from any sort of blemish. He wondered if it was sanitized before they gave it to him. Would they go that far for such a cheaply made device?

“Oh, but you are!” John dropped his pencils and parchment to grab him by the shoulders. “Look around you! We’re the only ones here. In fact, we’ll probably be left alone until our clocks run down. Of course by then, we’ll just be escorted out by those awful guards, but still! Even a second in this marvelous room… Such an experience is incredible.”

For the second time since entering the room, he looked around. Blistering spots of various colors glared at him from the walls, practically boiling from their cast. It was a great room, there was no doubt about that. He just wished that it didn’t hurt so much to be in it. He was afraid that at any moment, his mind would simply fail and his body would crumple from the overwhelming pressure exerted by the chamber.

“Ah, sorry about that.” John released his grip on him and picked up his materials from the floor. He then gestured to the various cardboard boxes and tin trash bins around him. “Why don’t you enjoy yourself? Look in the boxes, the bins. You won’t be disappointed.”

Mutely following his advice, D-1246 timidly moved to open a small box near him. Inside of it, a large stack of blank parchment sat. Next to it, what must have been hundreds of various pencils were piled together. They were each wrapped in plastics of varying colors in a way that resembled the walls. Without really thinking, he picked a pencil up from the box. It was decorated in bright vivid colors akin to plasma. It glowed and grinned at him. Invited him. Spoke to him.

“Use me,” they said. “Why not? It’ll be fun. You don’t have much time left. You’re lucky. You’re so lucky. Use me.”

D-1246 grimaced and dropped the pencil back into the box, ignoring the quiet voice of complaint that spoke in his head. With a stomach full of dull dread, he peered into a trash bin.

Inside of it were several pieces of crumpled parchment. Succumbing to curiosity, he dug one out and read its contents, which were written in a faded scrawl that was barely legible.

I wish someone would let me out. I tried yelling at them but they just ignored me. I don’t have much time left. It’s evil. Everyone praises them for this, says they’re doing what’s best for humanity, but it’s evil. I just wish I weren’t alone, stuck writing here. I hate this. I hate everyone here.

It’s so boring here.

Is this even an SCP? There’s nothing to do. Is this how I spend the rest of my time? My head hurts. The walls are killing me.

00:31 00:27 00:21 00:15 00:10 9 8 7 6 5 4321

Repressing the urge to vomit, he dropped the parchment. His feet, moving of their own accord, began pacing around his room. His body was no longer his own, rather a shifting array of nerves and wires being jostled around and tangled in a constant state of pandemonium. His chest heaved and caved onto itself, writhing in fear as all of the sudden, everything became too large for its liking.

“Is that how I’ll end up?” he asked, seeking an answer from no one in particular. He stopped pacing and sat simply on the floor. “I need to get out of here. I need to escape.”

“Hey, calm down,” a voice said from behind him. A heavy hand brought itself down on his shoulder. “Everything’s alright. Don’t worry one bit.”

He couldn’t calm down. It was impossible. No matter what he did, the walls would appear. They would remind him that no, no he couldn’t escape, connecting to form one singular cube that was hollowed out to keep him. To contain him. To tie a leash to him and warn him that if he were to ever pull too hard, the walls would close. The maddening neon cesspools of color would become a void to swallow him whole.

Well, how long had he been here anyway? An age old question, one without an answer as clearly evident by the lack of a watch on his wrist. Again, he brought his hand to his pocket and allowed himself to feel the temptation of looking. Slowly, he turned around, eyes trailing upwards to see John, sporting eyes that were red and swollen. Or were they? It was hard to tell when they were both bathed in the excessively bright lights that filled the room.

He felt something cold fall over his hand in his pocket.

“What are you-”

John lunged backwards, letting loose a laugh as he did so. D-1246 turned around and saw that he held a second watch in his hands, one that was identical to the one on his wrist. It took a second longer for him to realize that his pockets were now empty.

“Give that back,” D-1246 said shakily. “That’s mine.”

“O-Out of time. I’m running out of time. I need more time!” John spat. With trembling hands, he quickly replaced the watch on his wrist. “You don’t mind, do you? I-It’s only fair. Ah, let me out. Let me out. Let me out. I don’t want to be here. Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Let me out. Can you hear me? Let me out. I’ll do whatever you want. Let me out! COME FOR ME!”

Pupils dilating, John groaned and began scratching at his scalp. D-1246 could only stare at him wordlessly as his body violently shook.

“No! I can’t keep counting, stop! This isn’t mine!” D-8538 screamed, throwing his wristwatch at D-1246. “I have time. Just look! Plenty! More time than anyone! It’s not true!”

He picked up D-8538’s watch from the floor. “00:04”, it read.

John started rambling incoherently. “00:03”

D-8538 started crying. “00:02”

██████ fell silent. “00:01”


He didn’t want to look.

He looked.

██████ was gone. In his place, sat his own wristwatch along with several pencils and a piece of crumpled parchment. As he approached it, he realized that he no longer held the stranger’s watch.
What was his name?

“What was who’s name?” D-1246 asked, out loud. “He wanted this anyway. Was enjoying it, the masochist.”

No one answered.

He picked up his watch from the ground and, without really meaning to, glanced at the display.

Grimacing, he attached it to his wrist before kicking away the various pencils scattered around it. He then picked up the piece of parchment left behind by someone.

Spinning, turning, bleeding.
Down the wall, a clock is ticking, a steady spin, turn, bleed.
Dash the clock, the keys, spinning, turning, bleeding.

The keys, twisting, locking, never stops the crushing.
Locks on locks, walls upon walls, the steady dripping.
Loud lights, bright screams, the many outweigh us.

Scorn the ones who hate, water holds shape, only those you need.
Counting, clicking, never stopping, pouring down a wall.
The clock boils, gleaming golden keys within the throats of dogs.

“Disgusting. What garbage is this?” He said to himself. Unable to resist the urge, he tore the parchment up, letting the pieces scatter beneath him. It felt wrong. All of it felt so, so wrong. Two minutes and twenty-eight seconds. Much less, by now. Should he write something? Do something? Try to leave? He wanted to leave a message. To tell the people exactly what he thought of them. To leave something behind.

But what? But what?

He could feel it. The walls breathing down his necks, molding into a dome to crush and suffocate him. Laughter, dancing, invitations. They wanted him. They wanted him so badly. He tried to reject it, but their insistence continued. He could feel his mind fill with static, his body yearning to merge with them.

“No. Come on. Just let me have this one,” D-1246 whispered, afraid that the walls would respond. He picked up a pencil from the ground, wincing as it squirmed and burned in his grip. His body trembled from an imaginary earthquake, turning his vision into a shaky mess of colors and lights. Despite this, the parasite clinging to his arm told him a clear message.


Red lights, evil lights, bleeding splatters on a screen. Dark, dark screen, all-encompassing forever here. Which is it? Assimilation or oblivion? The color beckoned. They swirled, these plastics and colors and paints and walls and floor and pencils, they yearned for him, called to him.

And oblivion, and void, it stared up at him, a part of him sleeping. An iron mantle, with he, the willing chained, counting down the minutes (01:21) until he crosses the finish line. No need to do anything, D-1246. Just sit back and relax. The clock, the time, it will do the rest.

"The walls! The color! It wants me, it calls me!” he moaned. Tall, skinny shadows with dangling limbs danced around him. The shadows, along with the lights of the room kept growing until they both enveloped the entire chamber. The colors thrashed and screamed savagely from within its confines, begging to be let free, begging for him to join them. Voices shattered his eardrums. He felt darkness envelop him as its shadow draped (00:48) over his body. The walls bent backwards, burning in a radiant dark glow. His body basked in it, trembling and shaking in the cold.

But the plasma! But the searing, sunny plasma! It flowed, counting, clicking, never stopping down the walls of his throat, coating him in it, searing his flesh and searing his lungs and pulling at his soul and breathe D-1246, just breathe. Your mission is simple. Confront the anomalous object as if it were sentient and then ask it the questions we’ve written down for you. No, it won’t answer. Yes, you should write that down.

Void eternal, a soulless plague, it sapped the blood in him. Redness, dooming digits, looming over him, (00:26) terrible, even if it's just plastic, because it is just plastic, it’s just cheap copper wires, cheap plastic, cheap production, they don’t care. Can’t you see? Just write it down.

He lifted his (arms? appendages? limbs?) and wrote. But the pencils were no more, the room was no more. Nothing (00:19) made sense, suspended in twilight and bleeding soul.

“████!” he screamed at the researcher, “His name was ████! He wanted time! He wanted (00:14) time!”

“D-8538? I’m afraid I don’t recognize the designation,” the researcher replied. Only, he was never a researcher, was he? Probably had nothing to do with their kind. He offered a horrible, fake grin and tapped on his rotting-grey lab coat. “Please, do try to calm down. Don’t you want your (00:08) time? I’m afraid I cannot give it to you in your current state, D-1246.”

He blinked and at once, the not-researcher was crushed under billions of particles of oblivion. Color (00:07) spread, trying ever so desperately to reach, to grow, to hold ██████. It was ██████ within a pool of black, within empty space, within (00:05) smoke. Bad idea. Did it have a (00:04) choice?


Because he never had a choice. Oh, John. Ten minutes? That was (00:03) plenty.

Can’t leave anything. Can’t leave imprints. He was stuck now, stuck within a vortex, along (00:02) with John and all of his past mistakes. Who would remember you? Who would talk about you? Take the gift D-1246, take it and decide. Smother the color, smother the melting pot of memories, of words, (00:01) of life. Smother it and never look back.

Smother it and forget (00:00).

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