Inverted Swiss Cheese
rating: +28+x

by Ethagon

Every organization has holes. Not even something as wrong as the Department of Surrealistics was exempt from this. It is imperative to fill these holes as much as possible to not let something unpleasant slip through the cracks.

Department Head Marcel Sequitur was currently out somewhere in the-world-that-made-sense to fix one of these holes. Apparently, someone had managed to kill the Starfish. Now the Higher-Ups were curious why Surrealistics had barely done anything about it despite being so uniquely suited for engaging with Fifthism.

They were of course right and wrong. Naturally, the Department hadn't been spared by SCP-Five Five Five Five Five. Their solution to a thought bigger than your brain had been to shove that thought into a space inside a tiny part of your brain and promptly ignore it. And somehow that willful ignorance was what everyone was angry about.

Anyway, that was why the real Marcel Sequitur was currently on his way to feed the angry pigeons that were his superiors. It wouldn't do to have the Department without a head, however. This left acting Department Head Marcel Sequitur as the only choice to do the job. Now he had to worry about holes as a Department Head Actor was supposed to do. Although the specific problem Site-⌘ faced was more accurately described as holes leaking out.

Thankfully they had countermeasures against that.

According to the Reverse Peter Principle, everyone can be demoted to their maximum competence. Today they would demote the whole department through a coup. He couldn't wait to get started. (They had also used this principle to create an Apex Tier Pluripotent Employee with absolute no authority over anything, but that was beside the point.)

His phone rang punctually to the end of his train of thought.

"Told Mathematics someone broke in and they refused to answer. You know anything about that?"

Ah, that meant the assassination had started. Great.

Just as he hung up, another call came through. "0.5 jaywalking taken from the boolean vaults via. fuzzy gloves. Jaywalking numbers true, The Antropomorphised Approximation of the Axiom of Reason numbers true, Amnestics of Class ⌘-"

He cut the speaker off, just in time for the next call.

"Are properties the personal of eye authority? Invisible Mornings."

He thought about the right framework for a moment. Ah, Site Director Morrison had already locked himself up for the coup. This was working out great.

And the next call.

"Some just vomited out a spider leg. Help."

"From their left or their right eye?"

"Left for now."

"Well, then everything seems five."

Hung up again.

Hmm, they hadn't planned for spider legs at the generic welcoming party. This might influence whether or not the surprise challenger would defeat the undefeated champion in the pinata boxing ring, but they were harder than that, so it was probably fine.

A spider leg. Were they going to poison or stab him with it? He was so excited to find out.

Oh, another call!

"My immediate superior already had a headache and now the room is drifting off."

That was a bit early during the coup and the caller was obviously lying about the headache.

The drifting might cause a genuine problem, however. After the Fourfold Destroyer had obliterated the Site, it wouldn't do to drift off towards the central chamber, lest he finds himself within the shards. Yeah, maybe he should check in on the general welcoming party after all.

The acting Department Head opened the door of his acting office and stepped outside.

He walked down the infinite corridor and thought about what the welcoming party might think. Theirs was a framework of happiness and naivety, a simple good time. Around them thoughts of future connections and opportunities to rise in social status. And all of it lying on the foundation of the stress that managed to make the party work. No, that was too close. He thought of grass instead.

He arrived at the minigolf parkour a half room leftwards of the welcoming party. It was obvious from the moving grass how everyone was still a bit delirious from the spider leg venom. He nudged the first ball a bit so the black 8 and four other golf balls came closer to the hole. The second ball got nudged into the kitchen to bring everyone water.

That should get the balls rolling enough of their own. It wouldn't do to see the Department Head, even if they were just an Actor, interfering with the party during a coup.

The balls cycled ever closer to the pinata boxing ring in typical party motions.

He was just about to leave again when all balls looked at each other. Something was trying to press itself out of every right eye in the party room. It was a shrill prolonged start of a single heartbeat.

Nonononono. He took out the emergency phone of the golf course. "This is a message from the Department Head. All personal, non-personal and everything in-between will go immediately into your designated self-built quarantine tents. Singular." He couldn't allow even remnants of thoughts of a corpse to combine back into even a single heartbeat of a god for even a single moment.

His next step was to take a map out of his golf club that showed the position of everyone that went into singular confinement. The problem was that the coup was already underway and he couldn't just stop it, it was a coup, after all, otherwise, the problem would be solved by just isolating.

And just like he had feared, some just ignored his instructions. Those who did were lost now, trying to understand the five-dimensional geometry currently expanding in and out of their head. If he looked at the five main gathering points of these geometries it was clear what would happen. Their reality-warping was used to slowly turn Site-⌘ into a gate to the fifth dimension. The resulting unleashing of a horde of half-dead angels onto the world through every ⌘ would be just as terrible as the resurrection of a one-heartbeat god.

More importantly, this would go seriously counter to all the other greater anomalies the Site needed to contain with its whole structure. Site-⌘ was like a cardhouse made of holes when it came to containing very destructive anomalies.

The golf course trembled. Right, he should act like a Department Head. But he wasn't really Marcel Sequitur. Could he act like he thought the thoughts a person with a lower dose of agnostics thought would be normal thoughts? At least he could try.

  • He should make a list. These always help.
  • Define the chicken that comes before the egg? No, the last egg would not be of help here.
  • Remember the ABCs of Security: A, B and C- No, that's not it, damn it!
  • Blow stuff up. The only problem being, that Site-⌘ didn't have On-Site-Nukes (did other Sites really use nuclear weapons? That seemed wrong.)

The Sequitur Actor was just weighing up the consequences of starting another list when he had a realization. He was holding the map at an angle of exactly 5 degrees. He might not be able to solve the problem, but he could maybe mitigate it. That way Foundation Anchors of Surrealistics like that thing with mathematics could prevent this problem from further leaking out.

He went out into the corridor again (He took the golf club with him) with his mind pointed in the direction of the middle of the Site. And of course, there just had to be some Five-dimensional geometries in his way. This was really starting to annoy him. There was nothing special about your average surreal five compared to all the other wrong things out there to discover and explore. It's like somebody opened your eyes for the first time and you go "oh, a cat!" and never focus on anything else the world of sight has to offer you. That made it all the more irritating for his fellow and unfellow co-workers to fall for a trick that might as well not exist at this p- Whoops.

Seems like he had accidentally ranted himself to the barely existent portion of the Site. Directly before him hovered the nearly unreal eyes of Rank(-∞), the Apex Tier Pluripotent Employee of Surrealistics at the very bottom of the latter, entirely focused on the only job it was allowed to do: Barely existing. Even non-existence would be like a promotion to the Unreality Department, so it was strictly forbidden to stop existing.

He shouldn't be here. Rank(-∞) would take any chance it would get to be promoted and enact its god-like competence on the Department, unknowing of the fact that this very promotion would keep them from changing anything.

He took a step back only to realize a geometry, a spider and a full hand standing behind him, ready to attack. He was able to duck, right in time to see the attack gliding over him and towards Rank(-∞). Before they reached Rank(-∞) the whole Site folded, redirecting the three attacks into the correct sorting apartments for each.

The Site unfolded again and only left behind the outline of the eyes of Rank(-∞), filled with hate. Outraged about the fact of having to do a job several infinities above their pay grade, an unending barrage of complaints started to conjure itself out of the walls.

The trick with handling Rank(-∞) was normally to have a bureaucracy geared towards making its infinity of complaints specifically grind to a halt unable to be fully processed. The complaints were always perfect, so even processing these fully through any system would leave the department no choice but to promote it. He couldn't be bothered with that, so he gripped onto the list of complaints and rode them up to the middle of the Site.

The middle of Site-⌘ was built like a webpage. Thankfully the fifth mindset, or what was left of it, didn't understand having both a middle and a central chamber and so found neither.

Come to think of it, why hadn't he been affected by that thing? He thought about it and immediately regretted it.

He had opened the gate to that tiny closed part in his brain and the party of the thing lurking within could finally breathe again at the same moment it realized it was dead.

Still, it tried to collapse outwards pressing at his head from within. What was he doing again? Right, the header. Every step took an eternity as his thoughts spun on about these most beautiful of fives, how could they have ever dared to kill it? At least a single heartbeat should-

He reached the header. He couldn't trust his thoughts anymore so he let his body run on autopilot. Still, there was a magnetism to it. The other corpse parts closed in on him so that the five great communities could thrive again for at least a single moment. They would neat that hope after weeks of despair-

He levelled the header and with a burning head, he turned the lever to exactly 717 degrees while-

-there was no lever at all. He checked his watch just to be sure, but no the lever had really just been made up. Damn it.

There were other things to do, so he left the middle of the Site and bumped into another researcher as he walked in front of the next door. He assessed the newcomer from the floor. Yeah, this wasn't the face of a traitor.

"How is the evacuation going?"

"That was actually what I wanted to ask you about, sir. How can we make people leave Site-⌘ through the image of a cognitohazardous ⌘ if that image is still in Site-⌘?"

He stared into the newcomer's eyes. "You're low on Agnostics."

He got wide eyes as a response.

"You're working here as a charlatan, right?" A nod. Crap, no wonder why nobody had thought ahead about this exact scenario occurring. If one of the responsible lie tellers forgot their doses of the drug, that made these lies worthless to consider and left them wide open for unconsidered lies.

He tossed one of his doses, which the charlatan eagerly swallowed up. He should also take one- No he was acting as Marcel Sequitur who had enough self-control to take Agnostics like you take a good wine: After a long day of work, but before you start work.

He spun around three times to get some orientation. "Alright, here's what we'll do next. You go and reinforce the re-entry-evacuation, I don't think any Insurgents will be among those that actually leave, so you will plan a counter-coup inside the coup to stop them and you will go with me to get some outside perspective. Make a one-use exit free for the last part, please."

And with these new orders, the four split up.

Leaving the Site with another person always made him curious, because you could never be quite sure if the person you were leaving with was real or just made up to increase the workforce on the Site. (And even then nobody could stop you from just hallucinating the person.)

Okay, they had entered the Mathematics Department and the charlatan was still there. For now. He looked around the deserted room and yup, that was a real dead body, punched right in the pineal gland. Evidently, failing the assassination attempt like it was supposed to happen had failed.

The charlatan also took a look at the body. "This doesn't look like a punch to me."

It didn't really matter how he had died. They should focus more on what it meant.

"If it was a punch then not from our department."

Hmm, he highly doubted that the CI got any double agents in mathematics, but it was always a possibility.

"It just means everything went according to plan."

Ah, now he got it. The Chaos Insurgency knew exactly what they had to do in order to gain whatever they wanted out of this situation: Nothing. He shivered in horror. Worlds could be at his feet if he could come up with master plans like that.

"Yes! That's it!"

"Wait, what did I say?"

"Not exactly what you said, but the failed assassination of a foundation mathematician is supposed to be a metaphor for the surrealistics department as a whole and those supposed to anchor us during the coup. Now with an actual assassination, it's clear that part of our people drift off during the coup and lose themselves in the best GOI suited for their coup-kayfabe: The Chaos-Insurgency."

The Department Head Actor groaned. It was so obvious in hindsight. "In that case, it's clear what to do. Give our dead friend here Agnostics and start annoying him. As soon as he starts getting angry at you, you immediately administer him these Gnostics as well." Hopefully, they were still close enough to the Site for this to work.

The charlatan nodded but looked a bit concerned while he took the Gnostics and rightfully so. It was definitely not allowed to mix Agnostics and Gnostics, but he wasn't sure anymore whether or not it was the bad kind of not allowed or the good.

It had consequences, but he wasn't sure which of the fifteen sets he remembered were the things that would actually happen. Most of these would still be better than a dead person, so it didn't matter in the end.

Back on Site-⌘ he immediately looked at the map in his golf club. The counter-coup was working. Everywhere the coup gained ground, which was everywhere, the counter-coup started to work its way through the ranks of the coup and broke it apart into the kind of coup that resembled more what should actually be happening. It wasn't exactly what was supposed to happen, but this department was good at improvising.

That was when the speaker system turned on.

"2.Step Abandon your posts and seek what is important."

They were even acting out a Step Compilation. This was worse than he thought. He saw the fake Insurgents bolting in random directions and some of interest like the boolean vaults. One of them was even running in the direction of the central chamber.

This was the one he had to focus on. He couldn't allow any disruption in the nap of Site Director Fourfold Destroyer. Although he suspected that the Agent was more interested in the thing surrounding the central chamber.

He took just a sip of Agnostics to go a single step leftwards and started running in direction of the central chamber. Due to his fast lane permissions, it didn't take long for him to catch up with his enemy.

Said enemy started talking into a microphone again…

"-Step w-? --??"

… while running into the border of the Quartering Path, a purgatorial space they had purchased from the Department of Purgatorial Spaces and likely the thing the fake agent was after.

The just as fake Department Head followed suit soon after and became four.

He was Irving Gat meeting his friend Ernest in a restaurant before he joined surrealistics.

He was an employee in an endless box office and on his computer was a message that offered an escape.

He was an apple trapped in a howling storm, that reached for the sun.

He was a Site Director standing in front of a city. There was a header in this beautiful city until it was levelled by a hand, that wasn't red and not a hand, but it thought it was right. It crumbled into crumbling cycling cities made from ash. From what was left, an Agent emerged.

Irving sat down his drink. "So how did it go?" Ernest followed suit. "The test run worked great. I think we might actually finish the project before the deadline." Irving chuckled. "Now wouldn't that be something?" "You should have been there. It's your project as well." Irving sighed. "You know I can't. Transfers take up a lot of time, especially for this Department." He adjusted his chair and caught a glimpse of the gun Ernest had gripped under the table. He ignored it.

The instructions the person on the other end send him were very easy to follow. He just needed to move this one file full of sensitive data from Place A to B and he would never have to work again in his life. He declined. The next message contained a threat.

The apple was hurled around by the roaring all-consuming storm. It got hotter the closer the storm came to the sun. The eye of the storm gazed at the apple, wary about what it might do. It did nothing. It was an apple.

The Site Director tasered the approaching agent, waving his personnel to contain him with the others. He looked towards the fulcrum that was a once-and-future city and saw another horde of insurgents sprint towards him. They were all copies of the first agent.

"You shouldn't go." Irving looked up. "What do you mean?" "I can't let you join Surrealistics. It would be a waste of your potential. I have a better proposal for you." He raised an eyebrow. "It's nice to know how much you want me here, but I'm afraid this is out of your hand." "Don't be stupid, I know you saw the gun." Irving chuckled. "A gun? You should hear yourself talking. Maybe you should be joining Surrealistics instead of me." He only got a frustrated glare as a response. "Either way, I think I should be going. I know it's hard Ernest, but I know you can find a replacement for me." Irving turned to leave and got shot in the back.

It was blackmail. Countless tiny infractions he had collected over the years. Still, they would let up to something that would get him fired. But right now he was an employee and he would do his duty till the end of his employment. He reported the messages to his superior, indifferent to the price. The security hole got patched, but his life under the company ended.

The apple melted away as the storm consumed the sun.

His men wanted the Site Director to pull back. There was no way to go up against this horde, but everything that came from the nexus before him had to be contained. The horde of clones became insurmountable and as they climbed out of the not-city it cracked. The cracks spread and everything within them unravelled. Before they reached him all clones looked at him and spoke in one voice: "⌘.Step Profit." They were washed away by the cracks.

Four of him had died in a way, but all of him had fulfilled his role until the end and so he emerged full again from the quartering path.

"So they're still trapped in there?"

"Yes, you don't really get out of that space until it carved the common core out of you throughout all iterations. I was lucky to know how it worked beforehand." He was sitting in front of the person that he was 50% sure of to be the real Marcel Sequitur.

"So what were they after?"

"It's always plans within plans with the Chaos Insurgency. I think they never wanted to usurp Site-⌘. They were after the purgatorial space and the Class-⌘ Amnestics from the start."

"What would the Chaos Insurgency want a purgatorial space for?"

"I have no idea." the Actor said, but he thought about the visions he saw in the quartering path.

The (maybe) real Marcel took out a sheet of paper. "So how many Class-⌘ Amnestics did they steal."

"True, sir. They didn't use fuzzy gloves, so they had to take all of it."

"So we have false of them left?" Marcel sighed. "Seems we have to find out again how to actually make these then. You know we have additional procedures to protect the boolean vaults, right?"

"Sorry, sir. There are others in the department that are better suited than I am to be at two places at once."

"No, that's not what I- Whatever. Why didn't you level the header?"

"There was no lever when I got there."

"That's something at least. It seems it's time to update our security protocols."

"That's where you're wrong, Sir!" he countered with enthusiasm.


"See, as long as we put the new Class-⌘ Amnestics into the boolean vaults again, we can make this exact scenario repeat, resulting in the exact same outcome at the same outside-time. But the Chaos Insurgency doesn't have a boolean vault so they will only ever have true whole amnestics."

Marcel smiled. "Right. This is Surrealistics where we build our security out of holes."

"And regardless. They only have an amnestic which they can use exactly once to remove memories from a place. And it's still the Chaos Insurgency we're speaking about, they can't do anything of actual significance with it."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License