Moose on the Loose
rating: +48+x

Tibon looked around, as if he had just been disturbed by something. General Bowe took notice of this.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I found Moose again." He gestured towards the spot in the carpet where, about an hour earlier, Moose had opened a trapdoor. They had both known this office was probably loaded with enough secrets to classify it as an escape room. Somehow, they had missed the secret escape tunnel. "She's close to the Site."

"Let's take care of her, then. A division of infantrymen should be enough to subdue her."

"No, no. Allow me. We have a personal score to settle."

The entire incident played through Director Tilda Moose's head like a VCR stuck on replay. What could she have done to stop it? Her reality bending was still too weak to have any effect on a hostile. The classified entries in the database made her out to be much stronger than she actually was. If she had noticed the army earlier, that could have given the Foundation the time to mobilize troops and get to Site-19. Or maybe if she hadn't been so damn persistent on reducing the use of teleportation anomalies, High Command could have just teleported Hammer Down into the Site and made the incident non-trivial.

Tilda Moose took a deep breath. Now wasn't the time for her to get mad at herself.

She sat atop a cliff that was about a fifteen minute hike from her office. This was a special spot for her; it was one of the few places that gave a nice vantage point of the entire Site. The entire Site that was now in Bowe's greasy hands. You know, if she had actually gone to the trouble of vetting the technicians, maybe no one would have sabotaged—

No, Moose instructed herself, you're not blaming yourself for this.

She closed her eyes and tried to focus. Being a reality bender made Moose very much in tune with reality. She could identify people, objects, and on rare occasions, emotion, for a good distance. She'd never really tested her limits with that.

She stared into Site-19, right at her old office. She saw General Bowe pacing around the room; he'd now properly identified the trapdoor that she'd used to escape. Next to him was the one who had somehow disabled her mind. What was its number again? After six thousand objects, it became hard to keep track… SCP-140-A. Right.

She moved her gaze downwards. The building was filled with soldiers rifling through every corner, looking for secret cabinets or gotchas or what-have-yous. The soulless Gearrenders accompanied them. Even lower, she could see the Foundation employees that had been left behind. They were boarding buses like they were coming home from summer camp.

Moose knew that the ones who hadn't defected to Bowe would probably be transferred to some other Foundation site. She also knew that Bowe wouldn't be so kind to her; at best, she would be turned into a hostage.

Suddenly, Moose noticed something at the edge of her gaze; it was behind her. Turning around, she saw two people… fighting? They were not really fighting. It was as if they were locked in some kind of drunken brawl.

Moose turned around and proceeded down the trail in their direction.

Why couldn't you sense the army from miles away? It's not like they're some sneaky assassins; it's an entire army! Are you seriously so bad at your job that—

Moose's inner monologue had strayed too far in that direction again. She imagined using a thin knife to cut that line of thought off. It worked.

She came to the site of the brawl she had noticed earlier. One of the men was wearing a Foundation researcher uniform. The other was an unshaven, wearing a bathrobe, and had his hair trimmed in a mullet. He was muttering something under his breath.

"What's going on?" asked Moose. She tried to deepen her voice.

The researcher looked in Moose's direction. This gave the bum the opportunity to yank the bag clean out of his hands, sending both of them to the ground. The bum started rooting around in the bag, and eventually pulled out a slab of lasagna contained within a Tubberware.

"Jesus Christ, what a day," said the researcher, dusting himself off, "first the Site gets taken over, and now I'm harassed by a bum!"

"I'm not a bum!" said the bum, "I'm a time traveler."

"Bullshit. You're obviously drunk."

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," interrupted Moose, "but what's your name?"

"I'm Dr. Dan," said the researcher, "I guess you managed to flee the Site, too?"

Moose nodded. "Unfortunately."

"What do you mean, unfortunately? The Site's taken over by a lunatic. We need to get as far away as possible so we can do something about it!"

"Wait, Bowe already took over the Site?" asked the bum. "Shit. That's what I came back here to stop!"

"Really?" replied Dr. Dan. "You came back to stop this?"

"Yeah. I was supposed to come back a week earlier. Shit. Kind of throws a wrench in my whole plan."

"If you're some kind of time traveler from the future," asks Dr. Dan, "why are you dressed like that?"

"This is just how people dress in the future."

"Sorry to interrupt," asked Moose, "where are you planning on going?"

"There's a town about fifty miles north of here. I've got camping supplies in this bag. Once I get there, I'll figure out a way to an airport, and then… go home, I guess?"

"There's a reason why we built Site-19 in Alaska," replied Moose. She tried to keep her voice steady, in spite of the millions of thoughts racing through her mind. "Unless you're a trained survivalist, it's impossible to cross that mountain range. If the fauna don't kill you, the cold will."

Dr. Dan looked up towards the mountain. "I was a Boy Scout, and the alternative is handing myself over to Bowe. I think I'll chance it."

"Yes, you can chance it. Alternatively, you could take the hidden tunnel that bores right through the mountain."

"Wait, there's a tunnel through there? Why didn't I know about this?"

"It's supposed to be limited to Level-4 personnel only." Moose smiled. "I'm Site Director Tilda Moose. Actually, given the circumstances, Former Site Director Tilda Moose."

Dr. Dan recoiled in shock. "Wait, you're Moose? Hot damn." He paused for a second. "Did you ever get my proposals?"

"Dr. Dan, right? Yes, I got your proposals. Let's go."

"So, how do you pronounce it?" Dr. Dan asked. "Kee-ter or Kett-er?"

"I say Kee-ter," replied Moose, "and most of the higher ups I talk to say Kee-ter as well."

"Huh. I swear on my life, my boss yelled at me for not saying 'Kett-er'."

The questions were a welcome distraction from thinking about Site-19. What would Bowe do now that he had the Site? Would he just let all of the anomalies loose? Would he use them for some other nefarious purpose. Goddamn it, if only Moose had switched to using memetic verification instead of biological, none of this would have happened!

There it was again. As Moose shut it out of her mind, the bum was starting to rant again.

"Does it really matter?" replied the bum. That had also been his reply when Moose had asked for his name. He kept following them around; Moose had already determined that he was not a threat. "How often are you saying Keter out loud?"

Moose ignored him. Dr. Dan changed the subject. "What're you gonna do once you get to town? I've got a guy who owes me an airline ticket."

"You don't know about the pickup hotline?"

"What pickup hotline?"

"There's a number you can call. If you tell them you need to pick up steak and potatoes to go, the Foundation sends a covert retrieval agent. We can get back to safety in under fourty-eight hours."

"This tunnel, the hotline, why didn't I know about this before?"

"Hey!" yelled a voice from further down the tunnel.

"Ah, fuck," the bum whispered, "it's the fuzz!"

"They must've found the tunnel," said Moose. "Stand still and be quiet. I can cover this."

The soldier ran down from the other end of the tunnel, rifle in tow. He looked around for the source of the voices, but couldn't find anything. Figuring that they'd snuck back down the tunnel, the soldier continued onwards.

Moose demanifested the perception filer after the soldier was gone. Recognizing the close call, the trio moved on.

After nodding, Moose put down the phone. "They should be here in twenty-four hours."

"Great," replied Dr. Dan. He sat down on the motel bed and fiddled with a pen. "So what do we do until then?"

"I guess we could figure out what to do next."

"Watch a movie?" replied Dr. Dan, "Is there even a theater in this town?"

"I mean in the grander scheme of things."

"Oh. Hey, where's that bum that followed us through the tunnel?"

"He was digging through the trash can outside. We should bring him in; he might bring too much attention to us."

Moose opened the door to look outside. The first thing she saw was a pile of guts where the bum used to be. The second was SCP-140-A playing with those entrails like a child toying with a plate of spaghetti. Before Moose shut the door, SCP-140-A definitely saw her.

Dr. Dan recognized the panic on Moose's face. "What is it?" he asked in a hushed tone.

"Item Number: SCP-140-A," said Moose in a shaky voice. "Object Class: Keter." As she took her pistol out of her jacket, she was desperately trying to remember anything she could about the entity standing right outside the door. After reading six thousand documents worth of things that go bump in the night, she needed a technique to remember all of them.

"Hypnotist, carnekinetic, potential reality bender." Moose was visualizing the file in her head and trying to read the keywords off of it. She wiped some sweat from her brow and tried to focus. If she could just see past the motel door, she could maybe get a hint of what SCP-140-A was trying next.

"I'm gonna put on some music!" replied Dr. Dan, "That way, he can't get in our heads!"

"Not how it works!" Moose's gun held twelve bullets; that meant twelve chances to put lead into the book publisher. It was unfortunate that she was a poor shot. She'd been offered gun practice in the past, but she turned it down because she had research to do. It wasn't like that research was going to help her now.

Maybe if she'd actually had a trigger finger she could've taken out Bowe and his little stooge back when they'd ambushed her. Then she might've actually been able to rout the army. Then she wouldn't be sitting in a motel room panicking about a hypnotist, and maybe Site-19 wouldn't be in enemy hands! All because you thought you were too good to hold a weapon.

G_d, you were the worst choice for Site Director! In Bright's fifteen year tenure, he barely had as much as a containment breach; yet, the minute you take over, Site-19 gets flattened like a poorly-built house of cards! You were trusted to protect the world, and you let everyone down! Just because the Foundation thought you were the best for the job.

These weren't her words.

Your PhD might as well be made out of stale hardtack, you know how much you struggled. Anything of value that came out of your research came from other people first. The only reason you were promoted from Junior Researcher is because you were around the longest. Your career is muddled with enough failures to fill a bookshelf, and the blood you've cost is enough to fill a swimming pool. So why did you even think you could be Site Director in the first place?

The world in front of Moose had stopped. It was like she was viewing an old VCR that someone had put in the microwave. In front of her, she could make out the vague silhouette of a threatening figure. How did it get inside?

You're holding a gun. You want to redeem yourself? You want to prove to the world that you have even an ounce of the worthiness required to direct Site-19? Then take the shot and kill me, General Bowe's right hand man. Lift the gun up and fill my brain with lead. I bet you can't even do that, you degenerate.

Moose lifted up the gun. Before she could send the signal to her finger, she stopped. She needed to think.

She closed her eyes and pushed against the thoughts. Uncharacteristically, the thoughts pushed back. Her fists clenched as she put all of her mental effort into barricading the intrusion from her mind. Then, she focused. Almost immediately, she could see reality around her. It was true that there was a figure in front of her. However, it wasn't SCP-140-A.

She turned to her right and fired four shots out the window.

The vertigo sent Moose to the ground. By the time she got up, she saw Dr. Dan standing outside the window. He was making sure there was a liberal amount of bullets inside of SCP-140-A's corpse. Moose noticed he was bleeding from the shoulder.

"You shot me, Moose!" Dr. Dan said. "Thankfully, you're a pretty poor shot."

She remembered when she had the impulse to squeeze the trigger of the gun. Maybe she had actually fired the gun. Moose was still stunned.

"Mind helping me drag this body inside? Having a dead guy out here might attract the wrong kind of attention."

After snapping out of her trance, Moose walked outside and took the well-dressed dead body the legs. Somehow, she felt a little better about Site-19. She really was the kind of person who could actually run a Site.

"I'm thinking of giving this bastard a Viking funeral in the bathtub. Got a better way to get rid of him?"

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