Smothering Dreams
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Journal recovered from SCP-186 on 08/03/1971 during a routine bi-monthly patrol. Inside cover contains inscription in Russian1 "Property of Dr. Jean Durand." Writings are variously in Russian, French, English, and an unknown language, resembling Indus script. Tests on inks and paper of the journal have proven inconclusive.

July 22nd
The death spasms of Europe have provided increasingly fertile ground for my work, particularly on the Eastern front. Whereas my ideas were once met with stunned silence in the halls of the Academy, a creeping sense of desperation has begun to overtake the corridors of power as this internecine conflict looks to continue indefinitely. The generals of Paris and London have torn apart half the continent searching for me, hoping to utilize methods and devices they once decried as "products of a diseased mind." Such is the way of war.

This newest group is almost entirely unremarkable, distinguished only by the near-complete lack of organization. Morale has deteriorated rapidly, particularly due to perceived ill-treatment by commanding officers and a lack of adequate supplies. For example, currently only one in every three soldiers is armed with a rifle manufactured this century, with 38% of soldiers lacking any manner of projectile armament. There are rumblings among the men about the need for revolution and change.

Officers continue to attempt to rally the troops for a counterattack with mixed degrees of failure. Those more fortunate tend to receive glares and rude gestures. Others are less lucky, and are at the receiving end of hurled rocks and clods of mud. Last night, a lieutenant named Katin was assassinated while he slept.

To call this an army is, while perhaps a fitting commentary on war, inaccurate. It is a fleeing mob, full of frightened and angry young men. The absence of even a large group of individuals will go unnoticed. They are perfect.

July 23rd
Today, I finally revealed my presence to the men. Although slightly ahead of schedule, doing so now means that I have a larger group from which to gather accurate data.

I went to a clearing containing approximately five hundred men at dawn and began to speak. There were some who cursed for disturbing with such talk at such an early hour. However, the vast majority of men seemed curious to listen to this stranger who spoke with such authority. I began by telling them of a peace so everlasting as to make war little more than a myth. Of the sciences that could create weapons of such ferocity that even the most bloodthirsty tsar or president would be given pause. Of the plenty and prosperity that would come when the sciences of war reached their culmination and were rendered obsolete by their own horror.

"Think!" I said, "Of the wonders that might have come, had a genius the caliber of Alfred Nobel or Sir Maxim focused upon the science of life, rather than the trade of death!" Many of the men, no strangers to these inventions, began to nod when I said this.

I told them that, with even a small taste of my weaponry, even the most stalwart enemy would turn tail and flee. There was an appreciable murmur that ran through the crowd as I said this. When I called upon them to cease their flight and gird themselves, not for the good of any president or nation, but for all mankind, the crowd erupted in cheers.

The men surged towards me in a great wave, surrounding me and my cart. Each made for a weapon, ignorant of its function, and I feared that someone might accidentally wound themselves, leading to further chaos. It took me several minutes to restore order. However, in time, the men gathered at my feet as I explained the methods by which the most basic weapons could be used. The rest of the weapons, I am saving for later, as the unprepared reaction to a weapon will be far more elucidating.

The men took it upon themselves to elect me commander, citing my knowledge of the new weaponry as well as experience with tactics. I accepted command graciously, although my mind turned to thoughts of mice selecting a king from among their doctors. The erstwhile leader of the group, a Cpt. Toropov, seemed thankful to be relieved of his duties.

July 24th
First contact with the kaiser's forces! I must admit, I first felt something like apprehension when the scouts returned with the news. The men performed admirably at first, filled with certain and swift victory. A small contingent of the advancing German force was easily driven back by the men (I nearly wrote "my" men. Never "my" men or "our" men).

For the occasion, I had elected to arm them only with ossification rifles as the rifles were to be much more familiar to the soldiers than some of the more exotic armaments. As the spikes of bone burst forth from the struck German soldiers, shredding their flesh, the men paused, apparently unsettled by the effects of the rifles. As the Germans began to scatter, I ordered an advance, but only half of the men made to move after the retreating forces.

Afterwards, I spoke to some of the men individually. A Muscovite named Bunin spoke of his first time seeing a motorcar in the field, while a sergeant named Zinchenko spoke of a wife and a loyal dog back home in a village near Omsk. The specifics of their lives are irrelevant, but speaking with them helps bring my purpose into focus.

July 25th
Today, the German forces attacked in strength, effecting 95 casualties. What is more, they appear to have been armed with some sort of anomalous weaponry of their own: a rifle that appears to cause cancerous growths, as well as a kind of gas that causes a permanent sensation of burning. I was unaware that the kaiser's government was working on such projects; I must now readjust my calculations for weapon efficacy.


July 26th
Today, a captured German soldier told us of the source of the new weapons: Nemeş!

I did not foresee such an eventuality, assuming only that his engines of war had been imported to the Western front, or preferably, that he had died in obscurity. It can't be that his appearance is a mere coincidence. Whether the work of an intrepid spy or of the larger cosmos in its dizzying array of looping fates, I dare not say.

July 27th
Notes to self
Expand in r. notes!

  • Austrian's weapons appear to be built on principles of waves
  • One of said weapons appears to, among other effects, greatly increase the elasticity of human skin while decoupling it from membranes. Investigate if principle can be applied, but non-lethal and allowing intact nerve endings.
  • Sgt. Ryzhov + others have had opposite anticipated reactions. Love the destruction of the weapons, love the pain they cause. Must redouble efforts.
  • Barbed wire efficacy lower than expected. Rather than a preset sensory pattern, perhaps a malleable compound that incorporates phobias? Investigate.

July 27th-30th

Pages torn out

July 31st

  • Flesh affected by N.'s guns turns necrotic within five days. The men struggle to cope with the stench.
  • Desertion rate approaching 15%.
  • The ossified bodies of the German soldiers now fill no man's land. Tales spreading around lines regarding their supposed movement. A primitive reaction, but one worth investigating?
  • Ryzhov + others remain stubborn. Casualty rate from psychosis approaching 5%. Good w/ bad.

August 1-7th

Notes in unknown script.

August 8th
Tonight I finally got a look at my so-called rival!

Our line at the edge of the clearing had been attacked. Even if he had not been wearing his greatcoat, I could see that he would have been a giant of a man. Despite nearly two weeks of combat, his hair and mustache were impeccably groomed. Likewise, although it was splattered with mud and other substances, his uniform looked recently washed and pressed.

His movements, though, were quite twitchy, almost spastic. It was as though he was trying and not altogether succeeding in controlling himself. The effect was quite queer, like seeing a hyena in a general's uniform.

However, all concerns about his physical demeanor were washed away when he turned to face me.

I readied a shot from one of the ossification rifles, hoping to freeze him where he stood. At the sound of the gun cocking, his head whipped around, and our eyes met.

I have seen many things in all of my days, and consider myself to be nigh-imperturbable at this point. However, when I saw those brass eyes of his, I began to tremble.

It was nothing like the eyes of a man who does what he has been trained to do. No, his was the look of a man who sought warfare because it was what he was meant to do. Even the bloodlust of Ryzhov paled in comparison to what I saw in those narrow Magyar eyes.

I could swear that I recognized him from somewhere, although I am sure that I have not. Something about those eyes, all full of exultant fire.

August 9th
All day today, I was so distracted from my work as I tried to recall where and when I knew those eyes from that I quite nearly neglected to record some invaluable data on the efficacy of Batch 98.

It was only when I saw muscles beneath Zinchenko's stomach as he tore away at what he thought was a suffocating snake that it finally occurred to me! I cried out as he began to pull at his intestines. Of course: Inkerman!

Those eyes had met mine once before as I looked at the bodies stretching to the horizon on the final day of the battle. I suppose that he was birthed, after a fashion, in those terrible days. Our eyes met only for an instant, but even then I could see that they were filled with all things detestable in human nature- bloodlust, ignorance, hatred, rage, pride, thirst for glory and conquest.

To call that thing "him" feels incorrect. Such a term is to be used for those with humanity, which may be drawn out, either through compassion or fear. That thing knows neither. It is an abomination, drawn to all that is wretched in the world, seeking only to perpetuate suffering and carnage.

If only I had had the presence of mine then to take up one of the rifles scattered upon the ground and pop that head of its, filled with its evil thoughts, who knows how much finer a place the world might now be! Sadly, at the time, I was engrossed in my own despair, fearing that this would be the fate of man for all time.

How I have changed since that November day! It, however, appears to as set in its ways as the day I first saw it. Only its appearance has changed to any significant degree; when I first met it, I recalled resembling a British soldier at the time. A short fellow of Hibernian extraction, at least as far as I could tell at the time. However, the missing right side of the body's head made it difficult to be fully sure. If nothing else, its sewing skills have improved markedly in the intervening years.

August 10th
Over the past few days the men have begun to look to me as something more than man. To some, I am a god of war and of horrors. To others, I am the devil incarnate, responsible for their torment, taking joy in their suffering. With regards to the latter, I am surprised at the depths of their misunderstanding.

I take no more joy in their suffering than does the biologist in the suffering of a laboratory animal. Their pain is not for my own benefit nor even for theirs but for all mankind. Although they may never know it, their unknowing sacrifice will usher humankind into a new golden age of love and cooperation and fear.

August 11th
Tonight, I spoke with it at a distance under the cover of darkness. The smoke of the day's battle covered any stars in the sky, but I could still make out its movement in the dark. I could hear the sobbing and night terrors of the men on the other line, and I could not resist the temptation to speak to it.

"How," I asked, "does it feel? Your inventions, so horrible, so perfect, are rendering your men unable to fight! Tell me, how many have deserted? How many have gone insane? How many simply refuse to fight any longer?"

There was silence for several minutes. Then came a voice that sounded more like a beast than a man.

"My men are strong enough. And soon they will be stronger. All there is to do is to steel their souls for war," it said, "Just how much longer will your toy guns hold out? My weapons are steel, yours are of paper mache and silk, old one!"

I laughed. "You don't sound too well. Perhaps the battle has taken its toll on you! Perhaps your steel is weaker than you imagine! By all means, please, create more efficacious devices! More terror means more reluctance! Your work hurries along your death! I look forward to it!"

There was no response. I suppose that I had shaken its resolve somewhat.

August 12th
This morning, the men informed me that Ryzhov took his own life last night. Unable to cope with what he had seen and with what he feared would become of him, he opened his own throat with a razor.

I do not normally consider myself prone to sentiment, but as I processed the news, I had the unfamiliar sensation of tears welling up in my eyes. The men stared at me as I wept openly. Even Toropov came out of his stupor to look at my tears of joy.

If a man like Ryzhov, a bellicose fool, full of hatred for his fellow man, can be driven to self-destruction by the mere thought of battle, then I am far closer to my goal than I had previously dared hope.

Still, there is much to be done; Ryzhov only saw the folly of war after weeks of battle. It is my hope that the man and woman on the streets of Paris, of St. Petersberg, of Berlin, utterly untouched by conflict, may some day be driven to such extremes of fear by the mere mention of war.

Then and only then, when those who control the engines of conflict realize its terrible cost, will the world know peace.

Writing this, I look at the men in what remains of the encampment. With each breath of Zhidkov's, a swarm of flies briefly stirs, disturbed by the movement of his rotting flesh. Ivakin's flesh has begun to split as the tumors begin to erupt from within. Even those few who have escaped with body fully intact have had their nerves utterly shattered. Toropov stares at the sun all day. Saltykov insists that he is merely a gear in some infernal machine.

But, alas! I can feel that the battle is coming to an end. With the end of the battle is the end of useful data. The thing will likely make its exit soon, and I must make myself scarce before then.

But still, to think that I have done in a few weeks what it took the butchers of Europe three years to do! I have not felt such hope for mankind since the days of First Republic.

Each night, it gives me much heart to hear as they cry out in their sleep, unable to escape the madness that surrounds them even in slumber.

Although this represents only a first step, I have looked into the eyes of men as they were broken by the unremitting and incomprehensible carnage around them. The screams and moans of the men form a continuous chorus that sings the correctness of my path.

I will lead these humans to peace, no matter the cost.

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