It Might Have Been
rating: +171+x

Item #: SCP-343

Object Class: Keter

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-343 is currently uncontained. No reliable method of containing SCP-343 has been found.

SCP-343 has taken up regular residence in humanoid containment chamber 208 within Site 17. All contact with SCP-343 is to follow standard humanoid interview protocols. In the case of unauthorized contact, personnel are to politely decline conversation with SCP-343 and report the incident to the nearest supervisory personnel. If contact cannot be avoided, all information gathered is to be likewise reported.

In the case of SCP-343 making contact outside of the Foundation’s direct jurisdiction, appropriate cover-up countermeasures are to be taken as soon as the extent and content of contact has been ascertained.

This document has been modified by Mátyás Büki, known to all as SCP-343.

Description: My friends, it is high time that I leave you. I must be moving on. Thank you greatly for your hospitality in my time of need. However, it is no longer safe here, and while this is no fault of yours, I cannot with good conscience allow myself to remain. I have taxed your kindness enough.

I will admit, I have not been entirely truthful in these past years, or entirely cooperative. My squatting in your facility like a homeless beggar doubtlessly caused a great deal of frustration and unnecessary panic, and for that and a great many other things, I apologize.

While it cannot repay what you have done for me, in return for your kindness, I will tell you a story.

This story begins with a poor boy of Prague, born many long years ago to a poor mother and a poor father. Life was hard. It often is in these stories. There was little food to be had, and many mouths to feed. My mother made a little coin as a washer woman. My father worked in the factory. He was not an unkind man, but as many poor men are wont to do, spent much of his meager earnings on the bottle.

This was when I first learned of what I could do. My father returned home, late at night, far more drunk than he had ever been before. He was raging and cursing about, maddened with liquor. My mother tried to speak to him, to calm him, but his slurring became angrier and angrier in argument, and eventually he struck her, and threatened worse if she did not “shut up and please him”.

I was terrified. In the darkness, I could not see his face. It did not seem like my father, but in my heart I knew it was, and that made it all the worse. My mother was screaming, and my brothers and sisters were crying. I screamed at him. “Stop!” I said, and he did. He stopped.

Like a statue. Frozen in place. Not even the folds of his clothing would be moved. His face was twisted up in drunken rage, but his eyes were different. There was no anger there. Only fear. Fear of a kind that made my own seem paltry in comparison. In my father’s eyes I saw a man who was looking into his own damnation.

And though they did not move, I knew he could see me. Somehow, I knew that I had not killed my father. I had done something far worse.

I ran. I knew not where to, but I ran into the night, leaving my brothers and sisters and mother behind me. To this day, I do not know what happened to them. I pray they were spared what came to follow me.

Years passed. I begged and stole and clawed my way across Europe, without direction, half-feral and half-mad. Death followed me. My curse was no longer content with simply leaking out with my words: it lashed out on its own, wild and deadly. In time I found I could control it with thought, but the act left me exhausted, and the curse only grew more violent as I tried to control it. I began to attract unwanted attention.

It was a group of Roma who had found me first. I had become so unused to speaking with human beings that I could do nothing but croak like a frog for days. Eventually I would whisper, but they did not understand me, nor I them. But they fed me, and I watched them as they practiced their arts. They did not seem to fear me. Here, I thought, here is where I may learn to control the curse.

I never spoke to them about it. The crows came first. I called them crows, for the black coats they wore. They descended upon us, tore apart the camp. They were not interested in the Roma: they had come for me.

I killed them. Not all of them. But many.

I fled again, and here is where my struggle began in earnest. They had found me, and I was dangerous, and they would stop at nothing to have me. I fled, and I learned. I taught myself. My curse became more a blessing. I lived a secret little war, and as I fought, I learned more and more. How to take the shape of another. How to make a mouthful of bread or a handful of water. The crows returned again. They were British. There were others, the French, the Prussians, some of my own Empire, members of the Church and even an American. They hunted me, and in return, I hunted them.

More years passed, though I barely noticed. My blessing still attempted to bite me and at times it did, but I had learned. I could walk upright, hiding but a little, fearing little. I existed as the faceless man walking down the street, seen once and forgotten forever. My belly was full, and my wits were wary. I picked up languages, identities, scraps of knowledge that would aid me, weapons and defenses against my enemies. But, as things happen, my enemies had learned as well, and they had learned better than me.

I was ambushed. My guard was down, and they sprung. They had ways to prevent me from healing myself, ways to prevent me from escaping, weapons that could hurt me. They drove at me, razing my hiding places and piercing my disguises. My years as a child came back, all the more horrible. My mind, fragile as it was from years of animal existence, began to unravel. A great many died, and all along I felt myself slipping away.

They drove me across bloody fields, to Paris, down, deep into the bowels of that city, where the dead digested in their holy peace. It was in those catacombs where I had a transformation. A single moment of clarity, where the universe fell into order around my broken body.

I became a god in a dark, slimy hole, bleeding and naked and half-dead. My apotheosis was witnessed by the empty sockets of a thousand skulls.

I returned to the surface, and my fight was over. They were no more a threat to me than the gnats. A god has no reason to fear a man, and he likewise has no need to bother in fighting them. They merely need to be waved away. I did so, and then I left, and for the first time in decades, they did not follow.

Peace then, for the first time since I had last heard my mother’s songs at night. I gloried in it. I watched the world, and it was good.

In time, I suppose I forgot about the crows and their fellows. They did not forget about me. A god’s sin is pride, and I had it in full. I believed they had thought me dead, but they never did. The false body I left in the catacomb was not enough. They were only waiting, taking their time, and in time, their children and children’s children came once again hunting me, and once again, they had learned.

They had learned, and I had not. God though I was, I could not see all, I could not do all. They had ways to fight back, as they always had. My peaceful life shattered, as did my illusions. I was old and complacent, they were not. I fled once more.

It was then that I made my place among you, playing card tricks and telling stories, all to make you believe that my power was infinite, that you would not dare cross me lest I destroy you. It was a lie, all sleight of hand and clever riddles. You were never in my power, but I in yours. With you, I was safe, a god in his holy place. I had hoped that I would ride out the storm, that those who sought to destroy me would eventually give up, but I know that is not true, and I know now that it would not have mattered: you would have eventually turned me over, and you would have been justified.

I know that you will seek me out, and so I only hope that this may lighten your hearts.

Good bye, my friends. Good bye.

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