• rating: +433+x

The day we buried my sister, it was sunny. It was scorching. It was a little cemetery in the city, a scrap of dried-out grass, yellow and burnt. When I think back on it, it doesn't feel like home, but I suppose it must have, then. I'd never known anything else.

I didn't cry. I don't remember much, but I remember that. The shock was too deep. I couldn't understand what had happened to her. I stood there, between my parents, my mother veiled and my father wracked and sobbing. I was only eight. She'd just been smiling up at me.

The day wasn't anything. It meant nothing. It didn't feel like any funerals I'd seen on TV, those sealed markers of endings. It was just a day, while the grasshoppers hummed and the wind blew through the stalks. She wasn't gone. She was right there, in that box. There was no story to be told except that of the gravediggers' earth, rhythmically drumming on the coffin.

When we left, to our new house in the country, we took the train. My parents tried to talk all afternoon, but I didn't need them to. The wheels slipped across the tracks, embedded in the grass and wire, with the greenery outside flowering further and further. And I felt happy. Now I could see it - the escape, the re-creation. The play of the clouds, the wind in the air. The apples of the autumn.

I write this on the last line back to normalcy, only to find that the O5 council has gone insane. They are burning the Foundation from the inside out. Kells is probably drunk on the floor, cursing himself and everyone around him. And the Neon God preys at my periphery, almost seen, almost there, but always towering above all else.

Nobody will read these words I write. But, oh, my dearest friends, you don't have to. The words will stand regardless.

~ Dr Rosie Hartlepool



The following file is Level 5/7005 classified. Unauthorized access is forbidden.


Item #: SCP-7005 Level 5/7005
Object Class: Thaumiel Classified


A train from SCP-7005 passing between Universe A001 "Prime" to Universe A051 "Infinite Mongol Empire".

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-7005 has been placed under the purview of the newly founded Department of Interdimensional Logistics, which currently operates out of Site 565 and is provisionally headed by Dr Rosie Hartlepool and Dr Simon Kells. Current operational guidelines, rather than focusing on containment, have been designed to continue to facilitate communication and travel across the multiverse. For this reason, an unusual degree of latitude has been afforded for the hiring of personnel and the access of non-Foundation personnel to SCP-7005.

Some containment measures in Universe A001 "Prime" have been deemed necessary, however. Specifically, Foundation personnel have secured all known entrances to SCP-7005, preserving the public nature of the buildings where appropriate and otherwise creating temporary research sites to allow Foundation members to easily travel between universes.

The use of insights gained from SCP-7005, especially the observation of different anomalies in different universes, has been greenlit for the purposes of improving the containment of anomalies in Universe A001.

Description: SCP-7005 is a multidimensional transport network, commonly known as Lampeter. SCP-7005 consists of a number of conventional forms of transport - including, for example, trains, automobiles, planes, hot-air balloons and the Mongol yam system - which have been anomalously altered to move between different timelines, universes and realities. SCP-7005 also contains a number of pocket universes, specially designed to serve as intersections and transport hubs.

SCP-7005 plays a critical role in interdimensional communication and transport for both the Foundation and the anomalous underground at large. Its full extent, both in this universe (A001 "Prime") and others, comprises over 4000 known universes, with many more suspected to exist. 12 departure points are known to exist in A001 "Prime", but many more are known from anecdotal evidence.

The following are some examples of departure points in A001 "Prime":

  • A small wooden door in the back of the church of San Paolino, Lucca, which leads to an underground tram station that takes the traveller to a larger tram hub in Universe B723 "Hospice".
  • An abandoned and cordoned-off jetty in northern Ishikari, Hokkaido; stepping onto it takes the traveller to a large seaport in Timeline Q944 "Mintuci".
  • A lost-and-found office in a train station in Lima, Peru, which connects to a large train station in Universe H020 "Great Inca State".
  • The back entrance of an Ilkhanid-era caravanserai in Kerman, Iran, which takes one to a nesting series of caravanserais, which are all located in ten separate timelines simultaneously.
  • A patch of sky above northern Mongolia; aircraft passing through this area will be taken to an intra-universal airport (SCP-7005-77a), which services at least 350 universes in what the network's stationmasters commonly call the "Far Southwestern Corridor".

SCP-7005 was founded in the 13th century in a presently undiscovered universe (Universe Z999 "Halogen") by members of the Lampeter family for an unknown purpose. It was run by the Lampeter Non-Euclidean Shipping Company (L-NESC) from the early 17th century until 2021, when the L-NESC went bankrupt. Since then, the Foundation has stepped in to administrate the network, in order to prevent a complete collapse in the trans-dimensional communications networks and the numerous Z-Class scenarios this would precipitate.

Foundation control currently extends only to 832 distinct stations; however, it appears important routes on the broader network continue to be maintained by groups of volunteers, small-scale private enterprises and agreements between multidimensional warlords. Full Foundation control is expected to be complete in 2035 2050 2070.

The sheer scale of SCP-7005 is difficult to describe. Every time we find another gateway, another door in a train station or portal hidden in a marsh, I keep thinking about those first Lampeters, and what they must have achieved.

The amount of power it takes just to send messages from one universe is immense. It requires an anomalous power source capable of routing staggering outputs into extra-physical realms. We've all read the Scranton account of the place between realities - now imagine trying to find the parameters of that nothing-place, that limbo. Trying to define the undefinable.

As far as we can tell, no new universes have been added to this network in some time. The technology seems to have been lost decades, maybe centuries ago. We haven't got the slightest idea how it was done - the Lampeter records were lost in the final years of the L-NESC's existence. Some stationmasters have spoken of great images and murals detailing the technique, but we've found no trace of them.

Maybe, one day, we'll find the fabled Z-999. Maybe there'll be an answer to this question - who was mad enough, daring enough, to punch that first hole between universes? What kind of brain is able to work through these endless, anomalous problems of physics and reality? We have no idea what kind of twist in the head is necessary to see the world in the right way.

The physical space Lampeter holds is immense, yet negligible. It's a network known only to those in the know, its stations hidden in the most remote places, or the most unassuming. Its very existence is an enormous technical feat. I like to picture it, a network of stations and resting-posts stitching together different lines and threads, existing on an entirely separate axis of being to the ones we know - but that's not it, at all, when you look at it. It's just sheds and warehouses, a cascade of backrooms. A lot of very, very tired employees.

And an interminable decay.

~ Dr Simon Kells

The following is an interview between Dr Hartlepool and M. Rameau, an employee on SCP-7005 in Universe G299 "Fayre Tombs". This was conducted as part of Dr Hartlepool's attempts to gain a greater understanding of the history and nature of SCP-7005, due to the loss of the vast bulk of the L-NESC's archival records.

<Begin Log>

The camera opens onto a mountainside. Dr Hartlepool is heading towards a small wooden cabin some 70 or 80 metres away. It is heavily snowing, and the sky is a solid grey.

After a minute, Dr Hartlepool reaches the door to the cabin, and opens it. Inside, a figure - Rameau - can be seen on the right of the cabin, sitting at a table with a headset on. A bed can be seen at the far side. Several prints, mostly paintings of cherry blossom, are plastered on the cabin's walls. A small table is sitting in the centre, and a kitchen area with a kettle and hob is visible at the far left.

Rameau: 94… 942… 94… nope, southeastern… eastern, Gerry, do we have to go through this every -

Dr Hartlepool: Hello?

Rameau: Oh!

Rameau turns abruptly.

Rameau: I'll call you back, Ger.

Rameau puts down the headset and gets up, smiling.

Rameau: I'm so sorry - I wasn't expecting any visitors. Um, please -

Rameau gestures to the table in the centre of the room. Dr Hartlepool sits, and smiles at him. Rameau starts making two cups of tea in the kitchen area.

Dr Hartlepool: I won't bite.

Rameau laughs.

Rameau: When you live in a small wooden hut hundreds of miles up the side of a mountain, you don't often expect visitors.

Dr Hartlepool: I don't suppose Lampeter ever considered moving you to somewhere more reachable? Somewhere that didn't require a ludicrous amount of power and precision to jump to?

Rameau: Oh, but it didn't! Doesn't. Back in the olden days, when this place was inhabited…

Dr Hartlepool: And how long ago was that?

Rameau: Centuries. This was a tomb-world. Have you met many of those?

Dr Hartlepool: A few. I passed through at least three on the way here.

Rameau: Hah. Well. Did you consider just taking the ski-lift over there?

There is a short pause.

Dr Hartlepool: There are… protocols. This is technically classed by the Foundation as "newly reclaimed", which means -

Rameau: But you're Rosie Hartlepool, aren't you? Our lady and mistress?

Dr Hartlepool: Look, if I do it, it looks bad for the whole department…

Rameau laughs.

Rameau: Fine, fine. I'm not offended. But the line is safe, really.

Dr Hartlepool: Not the way I hear it. Seven missing in this quadrant alone…

Rameau: But none at this station! I run a tight ship here.

Dr Hartlepool: So why doesn't everyone else?

Rameau returns to the table with two mugs of tea. He places one in front of Dr Hartlepool, and sits opposite her, stirring his tea and looking intently at her. She takes a sip of the tea, staring back.

Rameau: You never saw this in the good old days, did you?

Dr Hartlepool: Did you?

Rameau: What's that meant to mean?

Dr Hartlepool: The Lampeter lines have been here for centuries. Their golden age must have ended long before the company fell into disrepute. Didn't the last member of the family burn himself alive?

Rameau: That's a rumour.

Dr Hartlepool: A rumour that's impossible to confirm, given what happened to the archives.

Rameau: OK, fine. I never saw it in its glory days either. But I've heard about it. We all have. The stories down the line, passed on by passengers and stationmasters. A little stop like this would have had three, four employees at all times. Constant maintenance. Hundreds of lifts running up and down the cables every hour, dozens upon dozens passing through. And…

Dr Hartlepool: And the people, all flying to so many stations.

Rameau: Golden palaces, they said.

Dr Hartlepool: They always say things like that.

Rameau: But it makes sense, though. Whoever the early Lampeters were, smashing holes in reality… they must have had big ambitions. A lot of capital behind them.

Dr Hartlepool: Yeah. They must have.

Rameau: But now… look, I'm not saying that you people didn't do a good thing, stepping in as you did. But it's getting harder. One of the cables snapped last month - we were out of action for a week.

Dr Hartlepool: I'm - sorry, but I don't get to decide how much money we are allocated. I try to tell them, but -

Rameau: No, I know how it goes. The L-NESC - yeah, OK, it wasn't much better, towards the end. But it's cold up here. Shifts are extended - I live here half the year, now, barely getting home at all.

Dr Hartlepool: You don't have a home.

There is a short pause.

Rameau: …My adopted home, then. A place that isn't a hut on the side of a frozen mountain.

Dr Hartlepool: Fair enough.

Rameau: Things are straining. The network can't go on like this. A whole chunk of the line is being routed through here, through a ski-lift station! We don't have the manpower for something like that. The only reason we have stations like this is because the holes had to be here, or something.

Dr Hartlepool leans backwards.

Dr Hartlepool: Had to be here?

Rameau: Look, I don't know. It's just old station lore. There was something about the locations they chose. Weak points, or something. Places where it was easier to build.

Dr Hartlepool: Hmm.

The two are silent for a few moments, drinking their tea.

Rameau: Why are you here, anyway?

Dr Hartlepool: I got curious. I thought I'd ask around, talk to some of the old hands from the L-NESC. We have no archives, so I thought…

Rameau: You have to start somewhere.

Dr Hartlepool: It's not exactly a professional interview, but I had some free time. I just wanted to see it all for myself, I suppose.

Rameau nods.

Rameau: I get it. Lampeter - SCP-7005, I suppose I should say - is important. It binds things together. All reality.

Dr Hartlepool: Did it need binding, though?

Rameau: Oh yes. How else will we find God?

Hartlepool laughs.

Dr Hartlepool: You think this is all to find God?

Rameau: I don't know what it's for, but it's the only way to do it. And I guess it doesn't have to be God, exactly, but… there's nothing else beyond this. Every possibility, contained in every universe, stretching on to eternity… it really is the final frontier, this multiverse. If anything can find a hidden unity, it's Lampeter.

Dr Hartlepool: Maybe there are multiverses beyond this one.

Rameau: What does that mean?

Dr Hartlepool: I… don't know. Just something my colleague - Kells - was talking about.

Rameau: Ah. Our lord and master.

Dr Hartlepool: So he likes to think. But I don't think I agree with you.

Rameau: All reality, bound as one. It's as good a dream as any.

Dr Hartlepool: But a dream as big as that has to be better than "as good as any". Nobody can escape a thing like that. There won't be anywhere left if things get weird for "all reality".

Rameau: Maybe. But what else have you got?

There is another pause. Dr Hartlepool gets up, walks over to the window, and looks out.

Dr Hartlepool: Do you know what happened to the archives? Is there any station lore about that?

Rameau: Oh, yes. They say that John Lampeter, the last of the family, went mad.

Dr Hartlepool: Ah! So he did burn himself to death.

Rameau: Well, maybe. I will not speak ill of the dead. But they say he found something, somewhere, deep in the east of the line.

Dr Hartlepool: The "east"? There are no compass points in the multiverse.

Rameau: No, but it's easier to think of it that way. This - all the area you control - is the west. You've got more of it than you think. Then there's the centre, full of interchanges and half-abandoned stations, a broken network that was once Lampeter's crowning glory. Then there's the east. Nobody knows what goes on there.

Dr Hartlepool: Why?

Rameau shrugs.

Rameau: Like I said. I've been working on this part of the line my whole career. I don't get a lot of time to talk to the passengers - the lifts all pass above my head.

Dr Hartlepool: So John Lampeter found something out there…

Rameau: That drove him mad. Yep. And then the flames roared bright and high.

Dr Hartlepool: Poetic.

Dr Hartlepool peers out of the window. The snow remains too thick to make much out through, but a small light can be seen, coming from the base of the mountain.

Dr Hartlepool: What's the light?

Rameau: This was a tomb-world.

Dr Hartlepool: Most tomb-worlds are, well, full of tombs.

Rameau: Exactly. The Retrenched Priests of the Flaming Heart believed in the glory of decay itself. Each one of their tombs burns eternally, keeping each corpse in a constant state of destruction. Ashes fall off continually, transforming into fuel as they float to the ground. The body is never destroyed, but it's always losing more of itself.

Dr Hartlepool: Do you know how many files we currently have in the Foundation database? Seven thousand. Seven thousand individual anomalies. And yet, barely ten universes away, the laws of entropy are suspended, and thousands of tombs litter the surface of an alien world.

Rameau: Is that meant to be shocking?

Dr Hartlepool: No. No, I suppose not.

Dr Hartlepool returns to her seat, staring into her mug.

Dr Hartlepool: You're a creature of decay too, I suppose. All you stationmasters seem to be.

Rameau: Are you trying to rile me, doctor?

Dr Hartlepool: Maybe a little.

Rameau: I was born the son of a Foundation researcher. I grew up to join the Hand. When I was thirty, I stumbled across a Foundation file that told a story, of how Matthew Rumsfeld fell through time as a teenager, changed his name to Rameau, and lived a broken and unhappy life in a distant past. He grew old and died. But you knew all this already.

Dr Hartlepool: I'm sorry.

Rameau: Don't be. I'm a rat of the rails, Rosie Hartlepool, like we all are. Like you are. I took my other self's name to remind me that if I wasn't here, I'd be there, or somewhere else entirely. Here, though, on the boundary between possibilities… maybe I really can find God.

Dr Hartlepool: I hope you do.

Dr Hartlepool stands up, and heads for the door.

Rameau: Hey - wait.

Dr Hartlepool stops, and turns. Rameau moves over to his worktable and writes something on a piece of paper. He hands it to Dr Hartlepool.

Rameau: If you really want to know what's out there, try this guy. Universe F433. He used to work in the east, apparently. He might know something more.

Dr Hartlepool: Thanks. Thanks, Mathieu.

Rameau: Any time, doc.

Dr Hartlepool opens the door, and steps out. She looks back one more time as she does so, and sees Rameau back at his desk, putting his headset on again.

Rameau: 65…93… three, Ger, for the love of -

The door closes.

<End Log>

The following is a personal log recovered from a train station in Universe L453 "Harald's Hole", a universe located in the "central" area of SCP-7005 referenced by Rameau in the previous interview. It is believed to have been composed 300 years ago.

Today, we logged 456 refugees from the East. That is over 12% of all the traffic through this station. We are a small station, to be sure, but the numbers of those who run is staggering to me. They wear whatever they had, whatever they could take, and rely on the mercy of the stationmasters to keep them in food, water, clothing.

We did our part - gave them what scattered rags we had, whatever other passengers gave to us. I wonder, sometimes, at the High One's plans. Our Scarlet King is a kind and merciful god, to be sure, but why do so many pass through here?

They come in so many different forms. There are the rich, or once-rich, wandering in ragged suits and golden coats. There are the poor, faces iron-clad against the deprivations they have seen. There are children, some who think this is all a game, some who understand that their homes are gone forever. There is such variety that all I have said seems cheap, just petty categories that even I don't understand.

There is as much suffering as this in the terrestrial realm, but not so spread out. All possibilities now collide into one another, and still there is something we must flee from. We have heard of what dwells in the East, what spreads its tendrils to place to place. I cannot quite believe it, but the evidence is reflected in every passing iris, every haggard eye.

I was raised, as all the Ghul are, in the far desert, in the sands under the black sky. Our only dwellings are collections of tents, and the occasional shelter-shrine erected by the long-dead who came before. I never knew of the city until I came here. It is like the desert, in its own way; there's a purity to it, a rejection of all that is wild, despite the wildness within. In its desire for conglomeration, it creates its old wilderness.

I have heard tell of other worlds, where our King is not the benevolent, red-crowned sky, but a vicious creature of spite and envy, an idea born of the crushing weight of suffering. It is hard for me to believe. And yet, I will still make the offerings of stone and cobalt, in the hopes that our King hears us. When I see the suffering, I will remember well the luck he has bestowed upon me. And one day, I trust, all the realms will be united, and the East will be free again. One day, I hope, we will feast together in his halls, the rich and poor alike.

The following document was found in the ruins of the Lampeter archives. It is one of only a handful of documents that was not destroyed at the end of the L-NESC's existence.

The city shines. I see it from my window.

It is within my window.

It has taken most of the bedroom now. Only the bed remains. I don't know why I can see it and the others can't - it's so obvious. There is the city, and there's the rest of the floor. Then there's me.

The city shines against the night, and it's beautiful. I used to hate it, like the others did, but now I love it. They move through it slowly, still trying to find spaces in it, hoping to get out. Get Away In The Car. But they never find them. They'll learn to love it, too. They'll have to.

Its sprawl extends outwards, gradually, caressing all it touches. They rise, the steel and glass, twisting upwards like strange plants over what was the Mojave, crushing the cacti, burying roots into the sand. Does physics allow the Earth's molten crust to be converted into condominiums? Will the lights go out as we fall into the sun? But that doesn't matter either, because then the sun will become part of it.

I have not yet been taken, but I want to be. I bear my heart, I give it my skin. The city aches, cradling its way across the world, its slithering trains creating new jobs where once there was only farmland. The concrete slips and slides, playing in mixers, splattering across the valleys, the Welsh hills becoming slag heaps again, the Kazakh steppe absorbed into a greater Almaty into a greater Novosibirsk into a greater Beijing.

I love the city. I love it all. I love its alleyways and its theatres, blaring white light into their moaning and shrieking faces. I love the pristine slums, scrubbed to the bone, like any self-respecting city should have. I love its ancient monuments, destroyed and cast again in metal, to be destroyed again and recontextualised in the future. I love it all.

And most of all, I love the lights. I love those lamps, on the tops of the buildings where mountains used to be, where tombs used to be. I love their colours, flickering red, green, yellow! The grass looks lovely, splayed in yellow. I want to be in it.

I give myself to you, O city. I want to be one of them. A neon light, blaring outwards, outwards, outwards forever. Let me light the world. Let me show them how it's done.

The following is an interview between Dr Hartlepool and Titus Quaker, a stationmaster in Universe M433 "The Hollow".

<Begin Log>

Dr Hartlepool is in a lift, which is heading to the top floor of a building. The walls and floor of both the lift and the building are made of glass, allowing the occupant to view the entire structure. It is extremely large, several hundred metres in height, divided into a number of square rooms with no visible furniture or inhabitants.

Through the external windows, a huge volcano is visible; the building is apparently constructed on the edge of the caldera. A number of metal platforms can be seen jutting over the caldera's edge, upon which a large number of hot-air balloons are visible. These balloons appear to be both ascending to and descending from the clouds above; on the platforms, a complex series of passenger exchanges are taking place.

Dr Hartlepool reaches the top floor of the building. An elderly man can be seen on the other side of the room, some metres away; he is dressed in black, holding a silver cane, and it staring out at the balloons. Dr Hartlepool leaves the lift.

Dr Hartlepool: Oof… it's a long way up.

Quaker: Yes.

Dr Hartlepool approaches Quaker.

Dr Hartlepool: My name is Rosie Har-

Quaker: Hartlepool. Yes.

Dr Hartlepool sighs.

Dr Hartlepool: Look, I work for the Foundation. I have had it up to here with cryptic responses from interview subjects. You don't have any tricks up your sleeve I haven't seen a hundred times before, and if you've got magic powers, it doesn't make you special. OK?

Quaker turns, and smiles.

Quaker: My apologies, doctor. I was miles away. Do come and join me.

Dr Hartlepool approaches the window, and looks out at the rising balloons.

Dr Hartlepool: Do you have any idea why…?

Quaker: I'm told it was the only way. The hole had to be built next to the volcano. The balloons - well, I don't know about that, but this was, according to ancient stationmaster lore -

Dr Hartlepool: - gossip-

Quaker: - the only way they were able to set it up. Dr Hartlepool, is there something I can do for you, or did you come all this way to interrupt me with snide remarks?

Dr Hartlepool: Sorry.

Quaker: Don't mention it. Now…?

Dr Hartlepool: I was sent here by Mathieu Rameau, in Universe G299.

Quaker: Ah, yes. The man on the mountain. I met him briefly at some function or other, in the dying days of L-NESC. We've talked a few times. Good chap. A bit isolated, I think.

Dr Hartlepool: Isolated? You're in a glass building the size of a skyscraper with nobody else in it.

Quaker: Yes, but unlike him, I get in a balloon at the end of the day and return home to my family. You should try it some time.

Dr Hartlepool: I don't have a family.

Quaker: Get a new one, then. There are a lot of them out there. Some that are the same as your original one, but missing a Rosie Hartlepool.

Dr Hartlepool: Is that what you did, then? Get a new family?

Quaker: Good gracious, no. I don't go in for that sort of depravity.

Dr Hartlepool looks askance at Quaker.

Dr Hartlepool: Depravity?

Quaker: Oh, yes. You see - well, I was born in a world that snowed all the time.

Dr Hartlepool: What fun.

Quaker: Yes, it was. The snow did things to you. It… changed things. Changed how they'd always been. You'd wake up and people you'd known your whole life had never been born. Every possibility altering, changing, shattering around you. Eventually, the entire timeline disappeared, destroyed by its own contradictions. It's no way to live, moving between the possibilities of life, seeking to hop between timelines to satisfy your longing to fix past mistakes. We all have our paths, and we should stick to them.

Dr Hartlepool: …O-kay. Well. I have no plans to find copies of anyone in my family, thank you, but I'll keep that in mind. Now -

Quaker: Don't be so flippant. The possibilities out here are endless. You can move from poverty to unimaginable wealth, because the lint in your pocket is worth more than anything to some half-baked reality off the eastern arm. You can lose yourself in it - pleasure after pleasure. Mirrors beyond mirrors.

Dr Hartlepool: I wasn't being flippant. I understand the… temptation. But it doesn't bring them back.

Quaker: No. It doesn't.

There is a pause for several seconds.

Quaker: Now, I think, you want to know about my time in the east.

Dr Hartlepool: Did Rameau tell you?

Quaker: No, I simply know how this works. Why would you want to come here otherwise? There's nothing here. This was once a bustling building, until -

Dr Hartlepool: Until decay got to it, the L-NESC folding, and so on. Yes, I've heard it before. I want to know what John Lampeter found in the east.

Quaker sighs.

Quaker: What he found is what any easterner, or anyone from the centre, could tell you lives there. What he found was the Neon God.

There is a pause.

Dr Hartlepool: And what is the Neon God?

Quaker: The Neon God is - is what you get when you mess around too much with the fabric of reality.

Dr Hartlepool: Meaning?

Quaker: You don't have to go there. Rameau is full of idiot ideas. He's young. Idealistic. We all must forge our own -

Dr Hartlepool: I don't care. Tell me.

Quaker sighs again.

Quaker: There was a world - a world far away from here. A universe. It had an Earth, like so many of them. It sounds quite similar to your own. There was a village in this earth, a village called - called Peiriant. In the Argentine.

Dr Hartlepool: A village?

Quaker: Yes. It was a village. Then, one day, one of the houses started to grow. New rooms grew on it. Normal anomalous stuff. So their Foundation stepped in.

Dr Hartlepool: What do you mean, "grow"?

Quaker: It just appeared. Another room, then another. Extending and expanding, moving from house to house. No two quite the same, but all - in keeping, I suppose, with the village's aesthetic. At first, anyway, before they started becoming more… generic. Concrete, glass, metal.

Dr Hartlepool: A village just - expanding?

Quaker: Yes. And it kept on going. Forever. Without stopping.

Dr Hartlepool: …Oh.

Quaker: Yes. It took decades to cover South America, decades more to cover the whole earth. A single metropolis, expanding, onwards and onwards, highrise after highrise, eating everything in its path. The people in it… they stopped eating, drinking, doing anything. At first they became manic idiots, but after it had finished, after the world was a single city, entire connected, they just - stopped. They broke down. They wept, they beat their fists, they cried, and then… stopped. Staring up at the stars.

Dr Hartlepool: You know about this in a lot of detail.

Quaker: Because it didn't stop there. It happened again.

Dr Hartlepool: …Oh. Oh.

Quaker: The East is broken, Dr Hartlepool. It's little islands of civilisation between worlds that have become the Neon God. The first one, in Peiriant, was millenia ago. We only found out what happened, where it started, because of archaeologists who went back, into dead world after dead world. They never dared step into the original universe. Now, there are hundreds, maybe thousands…

Dr Hartlepool: Thousands?!

Quaker: Yes. People have tried everything to stop it, but nothing works. They have tried blowing up whole planets to stem the tide, and it just happens again. And again. And again. And it's still going on.

There is silence for some time.

Dr Hartlepool: How did we not -

Quaker: Refugees don't often make it all the way to the west. Lampeter is vast, and has been ill-managed for a long time. The Neon God is just another piece of lore, long-forgotten. It's one tale out of a hundred that comes from far-off lands. But the further east you go, the further it becomes a reality.

There is silence for several minutes. Dr Hartlepool continues to stare at the hot air balloons as they ascend and descend.

Dr Hartlepool: So - there's some kind of virus. Turning planets into cities.

Quaker: Anywhere there's sentient life.

Dr Hartlepool: And the trains take the survivors away.

Quaker: Yes.

Dr Hartlepool: Including you?

Quaker: Oh, no. My world died because - well, that's a story for another day. It doesn't exist any more. It never did. I got out when I could, and left the rest behind, and now I stand here, day after day, staring at the balloons. Doing my part, as I understand it.

Dr Hartlepool: And that gives you… comfort?

Quaker turns and looks at Dr Hartlepool for the first time.

Quaker: What else is there?

Dr Hartlepool puts her face in her hands.

Dr Hartlepool: There's a virus, turning worlds into cities, consuming them and leaving the people gibbering idiots on the floor. Thousands of universes have succumbed. And it can't be stopped.

Quaker: Maybe it can. I don't know. I just run the station.

Dr Hartlepool: Good for you. Whatever makes you happy.

Quaker: Oh, go on, try to stop it. Maybe you'll be the hero. I will keep the station running, keep allowing whole lives to be lived when, otherwise, they would be stopped, by the neon plague or by something else. Generations are alive because of our efforts.

Dr Hartlepool: Generations more could be alive too. How could you not tell us?

Quaker continues to stare out of the window.

Quaker: I've done my part. My conscience is clear.

Dr Hartlepool stares at Quaker for several moments, before turning and walking away.

<End Log>

Report by Director Kells on the Neon God

We were not completely ignorant of this "Neon God" that Quaker described. We'd heard stories, especially from those with knowledge of the "Multiversal East", as we're provisionally calling it. Stories about cities that take over the world, mock-cities that imitate the real ways people live, build, develop communities. A nightmare-city, a shadow of reality.

That's the thing about cities. They're essentially conglomerations of people stuck together. The first cities were formed because farming allowed people to "specialise" - instead of spending all your time searching for enough food to get you through the day, a smaller subset of the tribe could provide food for everyone. So that meant some people were free to do other things - like build, trade, pray and so on. Conquer, rule, become a living god.

A lot of these things needed to be done in specific places, with other people - so, cities were formed. People coming together. It's a simple matter of cause and effect, in a way. One thing happens, so another thing happens.

But, in all the stories we've heard, in all the texts and legends, the same thing kept coming through. The city just - appears. It starts growing. It's not a real city, a human thing that makes sense according to how individuals live their lives. It's just… there. The same symbols of our reality replicated, over and over, constantly.

I grew up in London - huge city, a vast metropolis. The original city was a little thing, clinging onto the banks of the Thames, a rival to nearby Westminster. Then, different settlements merged together into something larger than themselves. But they were never entirely pulped out. There are still old remains, walls, bits and pieces. The boundaries of neighbourhoods.

This city has none of that. It's a grotesque parody, transforming itself over and over again, like it's - trying to become a real city, but doesn't know how. Or maybe it's just a glitch in some system we can't see.

It'll be thousands of years - probably - before it reaches us. But it's still a threat. We are the Foundation, after all - we'll have to find some way to contain it. That's what we do. That's what our purpose is. And we're being given a shoestring budget to do it.

The following poem was discovered by Dr Hartlepool while travelling into the "Multiversal Centre".

in circles comes the muddied mind
that hurtles 'round the railway lines
it spins its top across the bow
and seeks to answer where to go

but there is nowhere to go. the ash aligns
with the steel as it punches through card
and paper, slicing round
a new world where you're born again, another
where you're stuck in mud, in circles come

the paper train screams your name
the neon god has marked your time,
your world is halogen and luck,
you, in circles, bless the mud
where you are born, where you disgust

your choices made a hundred times
the tree branched out, across the line,
lampeter stretches in the dark,
and in its veins, the blackened bark,
the neon god is rushing through
its tunnels found, its reign pushed through
in circles all your choices come
the lanterns sway before your tongue

and all the world is steel and glass
now, in circles, beneath the grass

~jean-antoine delacroix

The following is a log of an encounter made by Dr Hartlepool while in Universe Q865 "Grasslands".

<Begin Log>

Dr Hartlepool is on a large, open steppe. In front of her, a stable and small wooden structure can be seen; they are reminiscent of a 13th century Mongol yam station, a waypoint for messengers in the Mongol Empire where they would quickly exchange horses, allowing them to make long journeys in a very short amount of time.

Around the buildings are several large rocks. Most have weathered carvings on them, which are largely unrecognisable. Some appear to have newer, albeit cruder, designs, displaying a series of forking wires and pieces of string.

Dr Hartlepool approaches the nearer building of the waystation.

Dr Hartlepool: Hello?

No movement comes from inside the building. Dr Hartlepool moves closer.

Dr Hartlepool: Hello? Is anyone there?

PoI #7005-A: They won't come.

Dr Hartlepool starts, and turns around. A man in his mid-40s, dressed in furs, is sitting by one of the rocks, whittling a stick.

PoI #7005-A: They're not there. They'll be back soon.

Dr Hartlepool: I - you startled me.

PoI #7005-A: Come. Sit.

Dr Hartlepool: Are you the stationmaster?

PoI #7005-A: Somewhere, probably.

Dr Hartlepool: I don't like cryp-

PoI #7005-A: -tic answers. Yes, I didn't think you would. Foundation generally doesn't. Very well; my name is [DISTORTION].

Dr Hartlepool: Rosie - uh, Dr Hartlepool. Nice to meet you. Why are you sitting by a rock in a multiversal yam station?

PoI #7005-A: It passes the time.

Dr Hartlepool sighs. PoI #7005-A laughs.

Dr Hartlepool: I'm looking for information about the Neon God. Do you know anything about it?

PoI #7005-A: Oh yes. But it really doesn't matter. Come, come, sit with me. Let us play a game of chance.

Dr Hartlepool: Of chance?

PoI #7005-A: Yes. One of us tells a lie about our past, and the other tells what actually happened.

Dr Hartlepool: How? And how's that a game of chance?

PoI #7005-A: This is a station between realities. The fabric of things is different here; the right answer should be easier to guess. As to how it's a game of chance, well - everything is happening somewhere, right?

Dr Hartlepool: Right…

PoI #7005-A: It's all luck. There are an infinity of Dr Hartlepools, an infinity of [DISTORTION], with every choice or proto choice and every branching possibility creating new realities from there. But why are you you? Why do you feel the sensations of this one Dr Hartlepool?

PoI #7005-A gestures widely.

PoI #7005-A: This steppe exists as part of a cluster of universes, where the Mongol Empire never ended, where the entire world became a dwelling-place of nomads. Only a few are connected to Lampeter, but the universes are all there, behind one another. So many steppes, so many camps, so many yurts. Choices upon choices. But each individual is still a person, whole, unique, made of blood and flesh and bone. And yet each one must exist, because all things exist.

Dr Hartlepool: Why do all of you keep trying to -

PoI #7005-A: Because talking about this kind of thing passes the time up here. In the rigging, behind the scenes. Each universe is so full of narratives and meanings and everything else that all we have to talk about is, well, how weird it is.

Dr Hartlepool: Hmm.

PoI #7005-A: Makes sense, no?

Dr Hartlepool: Of a sort. Alright. I'll play your games of chance.

PoI #7005-A: Attagirl. Alright, I'll start: when I was a child, I learnt to play the clarinet. What's the truth?

Dr Hartlepool stares at him for a moment.

Dr Hartlepool: You learnt to play the piano?

PoI #7005-A: Violin. But you've get the idea! OK, your turn.

Dr Hartlepool: Hmm. OK. I've been divorced twice.

PoI #7005-A: Alright…

PoI #7005-A rubs his chin for a few seconds.

PoI #7005-A: Once - I think, eight years ago? You were in… a place called San Francisco?

Dr Hartlepool leans back sharply.

Dr Hartlepool: Porous walls in the universe can do that?

PoI #7005-A: Oh yes. Come. You try me again: I was born in Idaho.

Dr Hartlepool: No…. you were - you were born in a place like Idaho, that would become Idaho, but was called… [DISTORTION]?

PoI #7005-A: Yes! Spot on! You're a natural.

Dr Hartlepool: Thank you. But - OK, if everything is a game of chance, what does that imply?

PoI #7005-A: About what?

Dr Hartlepool: Well - everything. What's the meaning of -

PoI #7005-A: The meaning of life? Come on, we're not children. It's whatever you want it to be. You are who you are because of the luck of the draw. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Every good moment will pass eventually, so hold onto them while they last.

Dr Hartlepool: That's only comforting to people who are experiencing good moments.

PoI #7005-A: Well - OK, fine. But what else is there?

Dr Hartlepool: I met someone who lived on a mountain. He thought the entire point of being able to see the multiverse, to see every possibility, was to find God.

PoI #7005-A: But if you found God, another set of realities would be formed where you didn't find God.

Dr Hartlepool: …I don't follow.

PoI #7005-A: The multiverse isn't the end of the line, see? No? Look, the point is that, just as every decision in a universe creates a new universe, every decision in a multiverse creates a new multiverse. Once you break the barriers between timelines, it's just a universe on a bigger scale, which means its counterpoint has always existed. Mirrors upon mirrors.

Dr Hartlepool: That… the logic there seems -

PoI #7005-A: What else could there be? Your Neon God will cover all the multiverse, the world will be as one, and then another multiverse will come to mirror it, where the Neon God never existed. It's very simple. Now - it's your turn.

Dr Hartlepool: Alright. My sister is a marine biologist.

PoI #7005-A: No… that's not right. No…

PoI #7005-A tilts his head on one side.

PoI #7005-A: No. The truth is that you left the city on a train when you were a girl.

Dr Hartlepool: …What?

Dr Hartlepool stands up abruptly. She starts looking around, apparently panicking.

Dr Hartlepool: What - what do you mean? How did you - who the fuck are you?

PoI #7005-A: [DISTORTION]. I told you.

Dr Hartlepool: That's not a name! That's a sound! the sound of - I don't know, film crackling? What the fuck is happening? Where am I?

Dr Hartlepool backs away, fast. PoI #7005-A continues whittling his stick, slowly, while staring at her.

PoI #7005-A: You're backing away, Rosie Hartlepool. That's where you are. You're backing away, at the same time as you're playing another round, at the same time as this stick runs you through.

Dr Hartlepool: …Fuck.

Dr Hartlepool runs to the stables, and mounts a horse. PoI #7005-A continues to whittle and stare. Dr Hartlepool rides away.

<End Log>

Report by Director Kells

The refugees have started to reach us - or, maybe, we've just been able to spot them, now we know what we're looking for. Now we know to locate stories of cities in the middle of so much confusion. And once we began, there were so, so many.

The anonymous "Ghul" described them as "iron-clad against the deprivations they have seen". I am not so sure. I don't see people who have built defences, but people who put on masks, trying desperately to seem normal when nothing is.

From what we have heard, the people who are infected by the cities become like manic, gibbering idiots. This doesn't seem quite right. It seems everyone is affected differently by them. Some become manic; some begin to despair; others become bright, strange fanatics, preaching gospels of urban planning and high-powered development schemes. There's no one reaction to the Neon God; it produces no patterns, no consistency.

At least, at first. Eventually, the same thing happens to all of them. At least two dozen were too far gone to be saved; we've placed them in observation. But after a while, when all the rage and desperation was finished, there was nothing left to observe. They lie down on the floor and stare up at the ceiling - eating nothing, needing nothing. Feeling nothing, as far as we can tell.

It's like there's nothing left to move for, to get up for. Physically, we can find no problems with them. Mentally, they are whole and intact. There's no anomalous effect we can detect - just what we can observe. Silence, bug-eyed and beautiful.

People keep trickling away from the research team. We've been working out of two buildings near Site 565, with a burnt-out skeleton crew trying to coordinate hundreds upon hundreds of waystations. It's not working. We need more funds, but the O5s keep diverting them away.

What is happening up there? Don't they understand the importance of Lampeter? It's the principal organ of interdimensional travel, our only way of communicating with all that's beyond us. Yet the council seems more and more apathetic. Barely anyone's bothered reading this page in months. It's just degenerated into Rosie and I writing down notes, interviews, reports. There's nothing systematic here at all.

How can I make them understand? I could write reams about SCP-7005. I could use this space to map out the network, describe every scrap of its history we've managed to recover, detail legends from the old lines - the Golem Cascade, the Corialis Incident, the Lamplight Prophecy. But I don't. I write down my impressions. I write down what seems important in the moment.

I don't know what any of us are doing.

The following is a letter discovered on a refugee from the "Multiversal East". Although its authenticity has been established beyond doubt, it is not known how this document fell into their possession, as they succumbed to the effects of the Neon God shortly afterwards.

To whomever it concerns,

Last night, I dreamed I went home.

No Lampeter has been home for centuries. We have told tales of it. We have carved murals into the ceilings of our trains and trams, our ski-lifts and saddlebags. They all show the same thing: grotesque men, the early members of our family, heaving and carving and building things that should not be built.

I don't know what that world looked like, but I can guess. It was an Earth-world, one of that standard pattern that's so common between our trains. It had a New York, a Tower of London, a Red Fort with all its guarded ceremony. It had an Isfahan, sacked by the Hotakis like a thousand others. It had green forests and Moroccan lamps, spires and symphonies, Iron Gates and Wyoming nights. It had all the things I, and others, have seen so many times before.

I've seen cousins of mine settle on such worlds, play-acting what their presents, their pasts, might have looked like. I've seen them set themselves up as princes over their own fiefdoms. But who was the first Lampeter? Was he a king? A rich man? Or was he a predator, a poor man who saw a way to make himself rich at the expense of his brethren?

We all enjoy the fruits of his labour. The lines have made us rich. We are prosperous, respected, loved. Tickets fly through our stations, building up our capital, making us unstoppable. Even the decay, the slow collapse of Lampeter, has not done lasting damage.

But I am the final Lampeter, the last one still holding on to our name. And I found something, far in the East. I found our home. I pinpointed, in a derelict navigation room above a distant star, the exact origins of the Lampeters. Surrounded by skeletons and burnished corpses, I retrieved the last fragment of a half-burnt computer from centuries ago, a thing of bronze and iron carved by the earliest grandchildren of our house.

I found our home. And it was the first one - the very first one - to succumb. The mythical Universe Z999 is the birthplace of the Neon God.

And doesn't it all make so much sense? I saw images of it - grainy, pixelated things, continents covered in blue-grey cladding. I saw, in that moment, why all of it had come to pass. What the Lampeters were. How they had, in an ignorant desire for power, unleashed hell upon the multiverse.

Because that's how it spreads. It must be. It spreads along Lampeter. Our network and the Neon God are inextricably linked, because one is the pathway for the other.

We did it. Our hubris. Our desire for connection, for purpose, for more and more and more, for the destruction of countless universes in the name of one single reality, individuals living whole lives on our line with no connection to land and time. We did this. We wanted a unity of all things, and we got one - a unity buried under a city of the night.

The archives of Lampeter sit under a vast blue dome, stuffed with papers, documents, microfilms, hard drives. There is no backup - it exists in the only place it can, a pocket universe outside time and space. I will go there tonight, and I will bring fire. I cannot destroy the line, but I can destroy us. I can destroy all that remains of us. Lampeter will burn bright, as fuel, as a shining light in this multiversal sky. And every world that dies in the dark can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that their vengeance has been sealed.

~ John Lampeter.

The following is the log of an incident experienced by Dr Hartlepool in Universe Z987 "Line's End".

<Begin Log>

It is nighttime. Dr Hartlepool is in a train depot, which belonged to the L-NESC before its dissolution. A fairly large bonfire can be seen 20 or 30 metres away; an indistinct figure can be seen behind it. It is wearing a pair of large sunglasses.

Around Dr Hartlepool are a series of wrecked trains, apparently from multiple different eras of the 20th century. Some of them look unusually weathered, as if they've been gradually affected by varying climate conditions over the course of several centuries.

Dr Hartlepool moves closer to the fire.

Dr Hartlepool: Hello? Is someone there?

PoI #7005-B: Oh! Hello. I'm so sorry - I wasn't expecting any visitors.

Dr Hartlepool: I wasn't really expecting to be here. What is this place?

PoI #7005-B: This? Oh, this is a depot, my dear. It's a place where old trains go to die when the lines don't need them any more. You see this one?

PoI #7005-B gestures to a carriage.

PoI #7005-B: This one was one of the first! It was launched from only the fifth universe that the Lampeters discovered. It is timeless, and forever.

Dr Hartlepool: I can see. What a strange thing. We have trains like that on my own universe, but none that have grown so old that they'd look like that. What are those carvings on it?

PoI #7005-B: Oh, aren't they beautiful? They're the Lampeters' own carvings. All the old ones have them. They tell the story of the first Lampeters, how they built a device to break through the walls of reality itself.

Dr Hartlepool moves closer to the train, and shines a light on it. A set of weathered carvings in the metal of the train can be seen, apparently showing several men and women laying bricks on a huge wall.

Dr Hartlepool: Extraordinary. How did they do it?

PoI #7005-B: I don't know! I am just a minister. It is not my place to describe the insights of the prophets.

Dr Hartlepool turns back, and looks at PoI #7005-B.

Dr Hartlepool: Prophets? The Lampeters?

PoI #7005-B: Of course. They created the network. They allowed the Neon God to enter into everything.

Dr Hartlepool: The Neon God?

Dr Hartlepool slowly begins to edge away, while keeping her eyes trained on PoI #7005-B. PoI #7005-B laughs.

PoI #7005-B: Yes! Have you not heard of us, his church? His servants in these many worlds?

Dr Hartlepool: You worship it?

PoI #7005-B: I do. I understand what he is, when so many others don't.

Dr Hartlepool: He - it - seems to be an unstoppable force that turns worlds into cities.

PoI #7005-B: Oh, but he is more than that. Come and sit by the fire. I'm not going to hurt you.

Dr Hartlepool stops. After a moment, she approaches, and sits across the fire from PoI #7005-B.

Dr Hartlepool: Alright. I've got nowhere else to go. I don't even know how to get home, at this point.

PoI #7005-B: You're from the west?

Dr Hartlepool: The farthest west. A001. Although I think we changed the name when we took over.

PoI #7005-B: We?

Dr Hartlepool: The Found- do you have a Foundation here?

PoI #7005-B: I don't know what that is. Foundation for what?

Dr Hartlepool: …Do you know, I don't actually know? Just the Foundation. The SCP Foundation, if you're feeling formal. It's always been a bit vague.

PoI #7005-B: Well, Foundation girl, you're always welcome around my fire. It never stops burning, did you know that?

Dr Hartlepool: I didn't.

PoI #7005-B: I've been sitting here for so long. I've never known it to go out.

Dr Hartlepool: That must get annoying in summer.

PoI #7005-B: Yes. I suppose it must.

Hartlepool tilts her head quizzically. PoI #7005-B smiles.

PoI #7005-B: So. You want to know about our master.

Dr Hartlepool: Mm. If… if he's not a virus, then what is he?

PoI #7005-B: He's our salvation. Do you know what a city is, Foundation?

Dr Hartlepool: It's a conglomeration of people in a particular place. What happens when you start to specialise as a society…

PoI #7005-B: Go on.

Dr Hartlepool: People come together because, when you start farming, there's enough to go around so that not everyone needs to farm. So they can do other things, and often do them best in close contact. It starts with temples, barracks, warehouses, and then gets bigger.

PoI #7005-B: Yes. Yes, it does. Factories, right?

Dr Hartlepool: You can make things, so many more things, in the confines of vast buildings where everyone is concentrated together. No more cottage industries weaving carpets - now, a single room can produce dozens, hundreds every day. The city becomes a focal point for production.

PoI #7005-B: Yes. And so it goes. The city exists to justify itself.

Dr Hartlepool: What does that mean?

PoI #7005-B: Why make these things? What's the end goal? Profit? That would be too easy. The strength of the nation? But the nation persists regardless. No, the city exists for its own sake, propagating itself as a system. The things we do, our reasons for getting up in the morning… they all just fall away. Don't you feel that?

Dr Hartlepool: Not for a very long time.

PoI #7005-B: But you did, didn't you? We all did, once. That's what cities do. When you realise that there's no point in any of it, the ways they came to be matter less, and less, and less. Until all you're left with is the image of the city. The roads are laid out for a reason - old sheep trails, easy walkways - but these stop mattering. You can't see them. See how the skyscrapers rise, and they lose their function in your head.

Dr Hartlepool: I don't -

PoI #7005-B: The city becomes something more than a function. It's an image. It's a thousand ideas, circling it. Its alleyways where the poor live and die, its broadways of thieves and merchants. It gets too big. You can't see the logic any more. Oh, books describe it, but you can't see it. You know this city is built on a hill or harbour, but when you look up, there's just more of it, buildings doing arcane jobs you can't understand, nobody understands. It's just there. It's just more of itself.

PoI #7005-B stands up, spreading his arms wide.

PoI #7005-B: Oh, and isn't it beautiful! I used to be a pastor. I would lead flocks in worship of the Lord. But then the neon glare came to me, and I saw that what I thought was reality was just so many lights, so many sounds. And what beautiful lights they are!

At this, lights corresponding to a city skyline lights up all around the depot. A large series of skyscrapers can be seen, fully illuminated. Dr Hartlepool abruptly gets to her feet, staggering backwards.

Dr Hartlepool: Oh, god…

PoI #7005-B: Yes! This is one of his! He took this world long ago! We are so much blood and matter!

PoI #7005-B removes his sunglasses. In place of his eyes are two fog lights coated in dried blood, which shine on the ground a short distance from Dr Hartlepool. Dr Hartlepool moves quickly behind a train, where the light cannot reach her.

Dr Hartlepool: Oh god, oh -

PoI #7005-B: You are one of his too, Foundation! Go on! Go onwards! Find him, find him at the end of the line! He will show you all he knows!

Dr Hartlepool runs for the entry door to SCP-7005, a hundred metres to her right. As she does so, other sets of fog lights can be seen: standing behind trains, on top of warehouses, among the wrecks. They appear to be moving at random, but humanoid figures can dimly be made out, which they are attached to in the same manner as PoI #7005-B.

Dr Hartlepool reaches the door, and swiftly exits. Laughter can be heard behind her.

<End Log>

The following log records an interview between Dr Kells and O5-9.

<Begin Log>

Kells: Sir.

O5-9: Kells. Keeping well?

Kells: I can't complain, sir.

O5-9: Family alright? Still alive?

Kells: Still amnesticised and far beyond where I'll ever be able to see them again, sir, yes.

O5-9 laughs.

O5-9: You really mustn't hold that against me. It had to be done.

Kells: As you say, sir.

O5-9 sighs, and gestures to a chair opposite his desk.

O5-9: OK. Please, take a seat.

Dr Kells sits down. O5-9 leans back, staring at the ceiling.

Kells: Sir, I would like to know why, after seven requests in the last month for an increase in funding and manpower, I have now been told that you are slashing our budget by ten percent. A tenth, sir. On research into the most momentous discovery of our age.

O5-9: Kells, you are not the only department that needs funding. We have dozens - hundreds, even - of potentially world-ending threats on the books. Research is an important part of the Foundation's MO, but containment remains our -

Kells: Sir, with all due respect, Lampeter - SCP-7005 - it contains an infinity of anomalies, all of whom could end us so many times over. It contains examples of how we, how the Foundation, have defeated any threat you could think of. Sir, in theory, it contains everything. I have given my life to this organisation. We have here a tool that can solve all our problems, and you're just ignoring it, sir!

There is a pause for several seconds as O5-9 stares at Dr Kells.

O5-9: I could have you killed in under a second, and you interrupt me?

Kells: Are you going to kill me, sir?

O5-9 stares at Dr Kells for several more seconds, before smiling at him.

O5-9: No. I'm not. And I think you knew that.

Kells: Then will you tell -

O5-9: Do you really think our council was so wholly ignorant of the multiverse as you suggest?

Kells: I - no, but we -

O5-9: Lampeter is not our only route out there, Kells. If you could see what I can of the archives, of the hundreds upon thousands of anomalies we have charted - Lampeter is nothing. It's just another route out.

Kells: And - and this is why you deny us funding?

O5-9: I deny you funding because I just don't care, Kells.

O5-9 sighs, and sits up in his chair.

O5-9: Do you know how many of you I have seen? There is a Simon Kells who fought with the Devourer, and died. There is a Simon Kells who unleashed an ever-changing blizzard on the world, annihilating timeline upon timeline, forever, constantly, creating whole realities that never existed. There is a Simon Kells who spent a century becoming a tyrant, locked in a forever-war with an ancient monster, and a Simon Kells who killed himself so that would never happen.

Kells: I don't -

O5-9: There is a Simon Kells who walked through dead earth to see his wife, and a Simon Kells who snapped her neck. I have seen you burn in the half-light of a dying sun to save all humanity. I have seen so much of you, Kells, and you're still nothing more than a blip on the radar to me.

Kells: How can t-that be. How can you say this? All of that -

O5-9: Matters? Don't you get it? It has to happen somewhere. Everything does. Don't you understand what Lampeter is, Kells? It's a mirror, for you, for me, that shows us that all we are is the luck of the draw. I give you money, I withdraw it. I go insane, I maintain my sanity. The agony of choice is no agony at all!

O5-9 laughs hysterically. Kells gets up, and heads for the door.

O5-9: And you'll go back to your office, and sit, staring at the screen, waiting for Rosie to send you more reports while you're stuck here, Kells! She'll send you more and more, and you'll reach for your bottle - or maybe you won't. Maybe you'll die, maybe you'll live, maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe…

Kells exits the room.

<End Log>

Final Report from Dr Hartlepool.

I write this from the last train out. I write this looking up at those murals, carved on the train's ceiling as it blurs through ice, fire, jungle - I look up, and think about my sister, about my world before she died.

I arrived, at last, in Universe Z999, largely because I didn't know where else to go. I emerged - somewhere. The coast of South America, I think, but there the city is even spreading along the water. There won't be much left of the ocean soon.

There are no people, now. Not even the starers. The sun does not come up any more. The water glistens black, and the corpses of fish rise to the surface, desperate, cloying, the scent of so many bodies washing up from them.

I found a train line, and headed south. The trains had adverts on them, with no words, only images that could never exist in that world any more. They changed as I looked at them. I wondered why I was not being affected as the others were, and had no answer to give.

The city burnt, the city shone. Plumes of fire rose from factories that produced nothing. The cityscape looked like a microchip, strange buildings with no purpose rising and falling, again and again. It had dingy alleyways and shining offices, industry and commotion. But no people lived in it. It couldn't figure out what to do with them.

I arrived where Peiriant had been. Where it all began, if Titus Quaker is to be believed. I thought, at first, I was back at the train depot, with great husks of metal surrounding me. It looked like a scrap heap, a graveyard. I didn't know where to look.

Then I saw the neon lights.

They were scattered around the station, twisted metal tubes, glowing and flickering faintly. There were dozens of them. They were hanging from the roofs of buildings, emerging from the tarmac of the roads. They clustered together, following lines, patterns. Skyscrapers littered the air around me, and I followed the lights inward.

They were so many colours. Red, blue, purple. But as I got closer and closer to some imagined centre, they started to become white. Yellow. Everything looked yellow in that light, that burning light. The streets wound large and small, twisting in unnatural directions. The suburbs were becoming a labyrinth.

Finally, we stopped. And there, where it all started, I saw the Neon God.

A wall, a hundred feet high and fifty feet wide, jutted up from the ground like a shard, a stalagmite of steel. No more sound could be heard - not even the wind. Like it was straining to hear something. All around, the yellow lights were strewn, scorching patches of cement like a graveyard.

The lights were bound to the wall, attached irregularly with metal and wire. They were arranged in rows and columns. I wasn't sure what it was - an attempt at art? A warning? But, no - I realised, finally, that it was meant to be writing.

It was meant to be a message. The lights were trying to spell out letters. But they didn't know what letters were, what a sentence was, what a word could mean. It was an uneven scrawl in symbols that did not exist.

And all above us, no stars shone. There was nothing left, in the centre of all that devastation, but these things. These yellow and staring lights, trying to be something and failing.

Now I'm here again, on another train heading out of the city, writing these words. Above me are images of men and women with hammers and chisels, carving out a hole in their universe, striking out into infinity.

And it was while looking at this mural that something occurred to me. John Lampeter was wrong. Delacroix was wrong. The first Lampeters did not spread the Neon God through their networks. That wasn't it at all.

They were escaping it.

Lampeter - SCP-7005 - this entire endeavour, these centuries of construction, longing, dreaming. Lampeter, those lonely nights of stationmasters in ski lifts, volcanos, stables, wishing wells, whatever else, as they stared up at the sky at stars that once, as children, they had thought promised infinity. All of them, driven by something more than mere flesh and matter.

Lampeter is an escape route. It was built without hope, without design. It was built as an act of crazed desperation in the dark, as the suffering tried to get away, get out, to remove themselves from that neon void that lay behind them. And in doing so, Lampeter has allowed billions upon billions to live their lives. Entire histories, entire civilisations living and falling. Who cares about luck, when there is life to be lived?

There is no steel and glass here. It doesn't move with the winds. The murals are chiseled, hard and firm, into the forms themselves. Whatever luck or chance has influenced their designs, in the enormity of all things, are irrelevant.

The day we buried my sister, it was sunny, and I fled from the city. I took a train out, away from that day, as the sun burnt and the mourners swayed gently, where nothing made sense. I took a train out of the city, and I became Rosie Hartlepool, out among the autumn leaves. The apples I would eat. The auburn sun as it hit the grass.

I took my chisels from my sleeping hands, and carved murals into the air itself. I carved them into metal and russet red, and into lines upon lines of train track, as I took myself away. And so I stood before the neon, in its yellow and blinkered heart, and saw it for what it was.

Not even nothing.

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