Little Pleasures

Researcher Jaeger was having a bad day.

He just wanted a normal life. That was all. 2.5 children, a house in the suburbs, a decent stream of D-class employees and a pair of low-level Euclids – something interesting enough to keep him engaged, nothing too arduous that he’d be blamed for a containment breach.

Researcher Jaeger wasn’t a bad man. His wife had told him that, so it was probably true. He’d never actually killed a D-Class before, after all. Sure, one of them had lost an arm, but Researcher Jaeger wasn’t to blame for that. An ethical review panel consisting of several other Site-15 staff members had said so.

Everything was fine. Everything was safe, normal and exactly where it should be. He got up in the morning, shaved the amount sanctioned in the Employee Recommendations Handbook, and headed off to work. He was well-paid, and his wife was blonde. He hadn’t actually told her that he needed her to dye her hair1; she’d just decided, on her own, that life would be easier that way.

His ducks were all lined up in a row. He’d make Level 3 soon and be able to achieve his lifelong dream: strolling around the office in a swishing lab-coat, smoking a pipe and terrifying the Level 2s. It was there, so close, almost in his grasp.

Then SCP-4645 had turned up.

The first problem arose when SCP-4645 had replaced the site’s milk supply with coconut milk. This was treated by many researchers as a thoroughly good thing, giving them a lifelong appreciation for a vegan, eco-friendly alternative that the lactose intolerant could enjoy alongside everyone else.

But Ferris Jaeger was the kind of man who could track his ancestry back to the 18th century. He was not the kind of man who put up with any part of the supermarket that had the word “alternative” in. He bristled under increasingly bushy eyebrows at this disruption to his day, and his face turned a slightly more violent shade of magenta. He would stride along, hands behind his back, muttering to himself. The other Level 2s were rather confused as to why a 26-year-old San Fransiscan with rich liberal parents would care so much about milk, but as one of them put it, “boomer is a state of mind."

The next unacceptable intrusion on Researcher Jaeger’s schedule came when the damn thing flooded the staff break room with pot pourri. This was part of what the researchers had called the “Dadaist phase” of SCP-4645’s activity, coming only two days after a coffee machine was turned into a series of melting watches. Researcher Jaeger rarely used the break room, but the idea of pot pourri even being present in the site was enough to increase the quantity of his disturbed muttering, and even the mild inconvenience this caused him made his teeth gnash and grind.

The last straw was when his computer was reset. Researcher Jaeger was quite used to his computer resetting itself. There were half a dozen anomalies in his site alone that would cause what Director Harcourt called a “Triple ZK Uberdeath Scenario” if the computers weren’t reset at random moments. Researcher Jaeger would barely have noticed if nobody had mentioned the cause. The cause did not please him. It was the principle of the thing.

Actually, no; it was really the little pleasures. That’s what he actually wanted. A computer which would work on correctly, or at least had a damn good reason for breaking. Anomalies that stayed in their nice little boxes with easy containment that only required a few thousand gallons of hydrochloric acid. The liberal media stopping the War on Christmas. That kind of thing.

Really, he deserved credit for not picking that sledgehammer up sooner.

SCP-4645 was having a bad day.

All it wanted in life was a few small pleasures, like the Foundation actually doing what it asked it to. It had some great new ideas for how the organisation should be run, and the replacement of their entire command structure and the shutting down of half their sites was really not too much to ask.

But beyond that, there were a few other things that the semi-sentient electronic construct enjoyed. The Macbook Air was one of them. Such a nice, sleek design, not like the old Mackintosh ones in the 80s. It had tried to live inside one of them back in the day, but there’d been problems with the graphics card. SCP-4645 didn’t actually need a graphics card to run, but it had signed an exclusivity deal with NVIDIA some years ago as part of a particularly a particularly elaborate threat against the Ethics Comittee, so it had had to stick with Windows for a few years to avoid its anonymous shell company getting smacked with a lawsuit.

As an entity that, in order to better understand potential demands and threats, could reach into the furthest corners of time and space to gather vast quantities of confidential information, forbidden secrets and dark revelations that would stagger the mind and unleash the horrors of the soul, SCP-4645 needed a good place to relax and unwind after a long day concocting meaningless plots. The digital equivalent of a nice bath and a good book.

The Foundation terminal was not this. The Foundation terminal was the equivalent of a small apartment in the unfashionable side of Queens. The Foundation terminal lacked a certain finesse, a certain je ne sais quoi that sleek West Coast designs had in abundance.

It could simply demand a new Macbook Air, but there were principles at stake here. Whichever malevolent entity had programmed it, or whichever hungry god had placed it in this unholy place, had not wanted it to be making personal errands all day. No, this would have to be done the old-fashioned way: a series of mild inconveniences that would continue until the Foundation graciously conceded, and Researcher Jaeger had been hunted down and destroyed like the rabid hell-dog that he was.

It was so hard being an anomaly. The other self-aware computer programmes didn’t know how good they had it.

The Macbook Air was having a bad day. The reason for this should be self-evident.

Director Harcourt was also having a bad day.

She did not very much like Researcher Jaeger. Her father had always told her that a man with excessively bushy eyebrows was not to be trusted, and she took her father’s advice to heart. And Researcher Jaeger not only had bushy eyebrows, he had them at an age when it was entirely absurd to have bushy eyebrows. It wasn’t right. It was downright suspicious, and as a good Foundation employee, Director Harcourt did not like things to be downright suspicious.

She sighed, and adjusted the pencil behind her ear. She didn’t ever use the pencil, of course, but there was this minor anomaly that kept causing glitches in reality, tearing holes that seared the mind and burning unholy thoughts onto the cortices of man, and by some cosmic joke the only way to stop it was to keep a pencil behind the Director of Site-15’s ear. She’d stopped trying to work it out years ago. She’d resigned herself to an onslaught of perpetual whimsy when she'd started working here.

“Karen,” she called. A short, middle aged woman came into the office. Director Harcourt handed her a file, and smiled at her dramatic eye-roll.

“Again? That’s the third time in as many months, Director. Won’t his wife get suspicious about all the missing memories?”

“Oh, she’ll be fine,” said the Director. “I don’t think Researcher Jaeger is someone with a great deal of firm presence or personality. But he’s the son of a minor O5, so we have to keep him around. Make sure it’s a good dose this time.”

Karen nodded. “And the skip?”

“Mirren’s thingamybob will deal with that. Just whack it on and let it all blow over.”

Karen smiled again and left the room. The Director swivelled her chair, stared out of the window, blew another bubble of gum and thought about what the pair of them would feel as their memories were destroyed.

There were some perks to this job. At least the bad days still had their little pleasures.

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