Green Basilisk
rating: +27+x

"Doctor Berryman, we may have gathered sizable funding over the past year, but I must remind you that it isn't infinite."

Berryman scowled and tried to ignore the unfaltering stare of the suited man in front of him. They'd known each other for many years now, meeting before the Foundation even formed. In fact, perhaps one of the only reasons why he was kept employed here was because of his connection with him - O5-8.

"C-Come on, David. I -"

"Please don't refer to me as such. We're in a work environment."

Well, that was the thing, wasn't it? He'd just gotten so damned cold recently, it was hard to believe that he was the same person that Berryman used to hit pubs with. They had been roommates at Cambridge, sharing the same dorm over the better part of six years. They knew each other so well, and then the Foundation happened.

A disappearance without a single word left behind, followed by a three month gap of silence. Then, an invitation in the mail. A job offering, for the position of Researcher at a recently founded organization, the SCP Foundation.

"I'm close… sir," Berryman managed to choke out. "You've seen it. You've seen how it works, I told you, the potential, the potency. It's so close. I… I just need to work out the kinks in the.. the… oh, the… thing. It's, the, the machine."

"Algorithm?" O5-8 suggested.

"Yes! That!" Berryman spat. There was an unbearable itchiness in his scalp that made it hard to sit still. His hands trembled terribly, digits twitching and tapping on the cold tabletop in front of him as he tried to ignore the prickling in his skin. "Machine, machine logarithm. Algorithm. It's so near complete, just more time. You know me, I know you, this is my life's work here."

How could he explain such a concept? An image, entirely non-anomalous in nature, something rooted in the explainable, in science, being able to maim or even kill at a glance. There were flaws in the human brain, thin cracks spider-webbed across the pulsating wall of neurons. It had been the subject of his Master's thesis back at university, something he was in the midst of planning out before the invitation came. A handwritten letter by his old friend, and such a high paying job, a career for life, it was, it was…

Unbelievable. A dream. Inexplicable. Illogical.

Something more than a research paper or thesis! The chance for him to prove his theory in the field, protected behind government funding and the greater good.

O5-8 sighed, a deep exhalation that was close to deafening, at least within the closed space they were in: a closed metal cube that stank of deep sanitation, as if the whole room had been scrubbed down with rubbing alcohol. It had been used as an interrogation room for employees suspected of abusing anomalies for their own gain, though Berryman couldn't fathom why anyone would do such a thing. If someone had the clearance level necessary for stealing anomalies, he was sure that their salary was high enough for money to be a nonissue.

"Doctor Berryman, I can't keep this going for much longer, I'm afraid. Lack of results aside, your mental state has been deteriorating. You refuse to meet with psychiatrists, you barely interact with your colleagues… This cannot continue."


"Don't you see? Dav - Sir, they can't see the things that I do. The patterns, the recursions, they all meet to create this one, big, looping puzzle. Something that the brain can't help but follow. Except, it only works if it's… ah, it's… what's the… forever?"

"Infinite," O5-8 said.

"Infinite!" Berryman jumped from the table and slammed his hands down on the table, flinching at the resounding echo it produced. God, there was that headache again. "Infinite, infinity, I hate it. Do you know how hard it is to produce infinity? Even an image, a kill agent that's possible of conveying the mere concept of the… the forever, it's agony. You can't have forever in an image, because that image would have to be at a forever size, don't you see? It's impossible, but… the meaning, the meaning is there. I know it is."

"You're unwell." O5-8 frowned. "I must remind you that these conversations are recorded. A mental evaluation may-"

"Because!" Berryman exclaimed. "The brain, the human mind isn't capable of truly comprehending it. So what can you do? What can you do but entice the brain with the message of forever… infinity? It'll use all of its resources trying to figure it out, and then, and then, and then, it… That's it. Don't you see? I have all the fundamentals, I just need the execution. I can produce the images myself, you know. By hand. Only, it's imperfect."

"You what?" O5-8 shifted uncomfortably in his seat, an unsettled look dawning upon him. "Berryman, what have you been doing? What you're describing… Yes, I understand it. You've been telling me about it for years, after all. But drawing it out by hand, that's lethal. You would suffer from the very same kill agent you're trying to produce, would you not?"

There it was, the crux of the issue. Berryman almost felt like laughing at how ridiculously absurd it all was. It was impossible for a human hand to produce a truly perfect memetic kill agent, at least not one based upon the level of recursion he was aiming for. But the idea, it was there. It was a manifestation of his own thoughts, themselves manifestations of an idea that was entirely out of his control.

Every waking moment had begun to consume him. His subconscious had been erased. All in the name of mapping out infinity. There was simply no room. No room for sleep either of course. Such were the symptoms of his proposed kill agent, though it was too slow. How could he put it?

His fingers began tracing something out on the table. They left no markings of course, but his fingers made the figures and shapes nonetheless. Round and round they went, leaving behind invisible lines amidst the blankly reflective tabletop canvas. There was so much joy to be had at the destruction of perfection, but he could not find it in himself to revel. Look at that: intermittent spots of imperceptible black, mixed with pitiful puddles of thinning red. It was nothing, and would be nothing by the day’s end. Only that it was likely to be an hour. Perhaps a minute. Would it be a month? Who was he to question infinity?

"Alright, alright." O5-8 grabbed his hands, forcing his mimic sketch to a halt. "Two more weeks, with funding as you require it. That should be sufficient if you're so close, yes?"

"Yes, yes. All's well and good." Berryman snatched his hands away and began raking through his scalp with his uneven fingernails, scratching vehemently at the fields of static that had overtaken his skin. "Thank you… you. The machine, it's great. It can almost produce the Basilisk, but not quite, like an off-brand if you will. It's almost like drawing it by hand, the effects are much too slow. But you'll get it, and the inoculation, of course, it's all in the papers. You just have to refuse your mind from seeking out the forbidden fruit. Never infinity, never."

"Inoculation… So you're producing a vaccine as well?" O5-8 asked. "Off the record, Berryman… I'm worried about you. The reports you've sent back are borderline nonsensical, and the other O5's are doubtful of your capabilities. They wish to assign a new head to the project."

"Oh, yes, a vaccine. F-Far too late for me to use it, but it'll serve its purpose," Berryman said. How would that pattern lead again? Into itself, with tails of glowing orange? Or would it just be another loop? "As for the other O5's, they can assign whoever they want. I'll keep working, with or without f… what? Oh, for… funding, it's all fine. It's, it's just that I need you by my side, David."

"Damn thing's overheating. But it w-works, huh? Like I said, everything. Works. Everything, all of it, I'm so god damned tired."

Berryman tapped on the digital timer on his desk. Thirteen days, sixteen hours, thirty six minutes, and one second without sleep, has it? Really, it was nothing. Time passed as sand through an hourglass, and then again through shattered fragments of glass. Hard to feel sorry about losing sleep when your brain refused to acknowledge its own ability to sleep in the first place. Far too busy plotting out disgusting, imperfect loops. Close enough, though.

All he needed to do was draw what his mind came up with and then feed it into the computer's… the… what? What was it? He wished David was here, he'd remind him.

There was a thin layer of translucent red over the world, creating a slightly warped image of reality that overlapped with his vision. By his own diagnosis, nothing more than a popped blood vessel in his right eye. That was fine, it wasn't… what? It wasn't death, that was all that mattered. He was no fool; his fate would lie in the very thing he just created.

And what a beautiful thing it was! A culmination of so many years of work, along with the finishing touches it so desperately required, all the efforts of such immense processing power. Tears trailed down his cheeks as he sat back and reveled at the completion before him. It wasn't an emotional reaction, rather just a natural symptom of his wrongness. His body cried too, crying and crying with warm, salty tears that popped up all over his body like beads of -

Sprawling, infinite plains of geometric patterns. The static that haunted him so incessantly had evolved into grids of pulsating blots, stained dark dots of bleeding purple. Like Icarus, he had flown too close to the sun. Only, he was perfectly willing, only that once his wings started to melt, once his body began to burn, he hadn't sunk into the ocean like a stone, rather he began ascending. Further and further he flew, closer to the sun, closer to the blazing heat that yearned to consume him whole.

Disturbed, he finally closed his eyes, only to flinch backwards as a flood of blazing light rushed to fill his vision. The expected darkness was instead a bold, blurry sort of light blue, as if a holographic tint had been painted over the room. An explosion. Supernova. Mouth gaping, he opened his eyes and looked around as his heart became heavier in its metronomic beat. It felt like his eyes were melting out of his sockets. Where had it gone? The numbness?

There wasn't enough time to think it over. He was burning.

Berryman hastily opened up a new tab on his computer and typed up an email:

I finished the project. I will be in my room, dead. Probably cardiac arrest, but possibly a seizure. Thanks for everything. Vaccinate yourself with the attached image before going into my office. Hope you use it well. Sorry that I don't have enough time to do all of this formally.

- Berryman

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