The Mulhausen Incident
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Tyler Palma leaned on the railing of the freight ship, taking in the droning of the vessel's engine and the salty aftertaste of the air, watching the rich red sun melt into the ocean. He swore, to no one in particular.

It had been a bad day.

Palma was a Foundation Containment Specialist, and though that usually carried many problems with it, today had shown itself to be particularly troublesome. He had been ordered to permanently leave the comfortable office he’d spent years making into something of a home for himself just so he could work in the field with an active SCP, one that had already killed seven people in a single day, and then stick with the thing until they finished moving it from rural Portugal to a secure base on the French coast. This "SCP-002" was already shaping up to be a handful.

And there was also the throbbing, bitter pain in the forefront of his mind left from knowing this operation he was in had resulted in the deaths of dozens of innocent people. Even if he was there when it happened, maybe there wouldn’t have been anything he could do to stop it. All they'd done was take a look at the meteor that had fallen outside of their village. Protecting Foundation secrets, the General said. How should they have known the thing was a skip? The General didn’t want to take any chances, though, and they were all out of amnestics.

Of course, not all of this information was officially provided to Dr. Palma, but word gets around fast when everyone’s stuck on the the same boat. Still, the deaths weighed on him. They were unnecessary, in his opinion.

But it wasn't about his opinion, was it?

The only opinion that mattered was The General's. General Mulhausen, captain of SCP-002’s containment operation, was a strict, severe old man; he was a militaristic relic that had passed his prime ages ago. His insistence that he be referred to as "General" was one aspect of this, as were his expeditious decisions and the stubbornness with which he upheld them.

But he was damn efficient, and everyone knew it. He may cross the line from time to time, but he would get results. It was lunch time though, so he banished the thoughts and put on a smiling face. Just gotta stay positive.

At the mess hall, Dr. Palma found his pal Rob sitting alone with his hamburger. He was older, and balding a little, but Dr. Palma felt like he was one of the few sane people working this operation.

"Need a partner?" Dr. Palma said as he slid to the opposite side of the table from Rob, putting down a small stack of case reports next to him.

"I’m just eating, not ballroom dancing. But sure, have a seat." Rob said in a friendly, if not dry, tone.

"Can you believe this operation? Stuck on a boat with some important anomaly and we can’t even see it?" Dr. Palma complained, poking at the food on his tray. "Classified information? Now that’s a joke. I’m supposed to keep it contained. Can’t do that if they won’t let me know what it actually is."

"Yeah, they’re being real hush-hush about whatever they’re keeping down below us. I mean, I don’t know a thing about it, and I still have to process the papers for it? It’s bullshit." Rob grumbled.

Rob had the stature and dead stare of a man working a job with too many hours and too little explanation. Workplace rumors and secrets, particularly the classified kind, were the only thing that provoked a bit of liveliness in him.

"And you know me, gossip’s the only thing that keeps me alive! Yet I’ve heard nothing! It’s driving me crazy."

"I know, I know." Dr. Palma agreed.

"Tomorrow I should get more details though, since a bunch of people are gonna get involved in testing." Rob told Dr. Palma as he inspected his dry hamburger. "But you got stuck studying it up close, didn’t you?"

"Ah, just overseeing the research. If the General wants to get me up close to this thing, he’s gonna need to find a new containment specialist fast." Dr. Palma let out a chuckle. "I don’t know what he wants to do with this, but stick any important personnel close to something as dangerous as that and we’ll be abandoning ship faster than the hair abandoned your head."

"Oh, come on." Rob rolled his eyes. "That’s like a joke Mathilde would say."

"That’s your daughter, right?"

"Yeah. Miss her to death." Rob stared off into the distance, then, catching himself, slammed his fists against the table. "This damn boat! I miss being home."

"I think we all do." Dr. Palma nodded sympathetically. Dr. Palma thought of home, but his mind came up blank. His parents had never given him a real home, those scumbags. And since he lived at the Foundation he didn’t have much of an actual residence besides what was provided to him. He banished the confusion to focus back on the conversation.

"Anyways, you are seeing what this thing is, right? What it does?" Rob asked, the curious glimmer returning to his eye.

"Honestly? Not a clue. All they’ve told me is that I gotta transfer across the seas on this heap of metal to beautiful France, land of snails and wine." He mimicked the last part with an atrocious French accent. "At least, until they have this new skip sealed away into a tight metal box where no one will ever have to deal with it again."

"So it’s small enough to fit in a box?" Rob raised an eyebrow.

"No, I don’t-" Palma sighed. "You probably know just as much as me right now. I’m overseeing testing in about two hours though." Dr. Palma grabbed his files as he stood up and prepared to leave. "Sorry, but I gotta go through these case files again before we begin any testing. Take it easy."

"Hey, I think I wrote one of those reports." Rob craned his head over to snatch a glimpse of the papers. Dr. Palma pressed them close to his chest. "Sorry, need-to-know basis. Can’t have a number cruncher knowing about the person cruncher."

"That is literally my job." Rob said with a bit of hurt in his voice. "But anyways, good luck out there." Rob called as Palma left the dining facility.

"Seriously, don’t die!"

He was only partially joking, and Dr. Palma knew it.


In a cramped metal office, Dr. Palma looked over hastily-scrawled notes under a dim, faltering light. The only information available came from the containment team when they weren’t overseeing the troubled capture of this thing, so there wasn’t much to work with. Different reports pulled together a picture of a ball of flesh, twice as tall as a person, crashing into a field back home in Portugal. Notes from one agent described three villagers being ordered to walk one-by-one into a hole on the side of the ball under threat of gunfire. None of them came back out. Another report documented seven total deaths from the thing. There was no information on who the other four deaths were. Personnel, maybe? Either way, it was impossible to understand with what he had. He dreaded it, but it looks like he’d have to ask the General about it.

"So much for a trouble-free voyage." Dr. Palma muttered to himself. "Discrepancies in the books already. Looks like someone’s gotta fire Rob." He let out a small laugh at his own joke, but it didn’t alleviate the growing dread of facing the dangerous unknown.

He didn’t have time to worry about that, though. It was time to begin the testing.


"All I’m saying is you should take some pride in your work!"

"Meh."

In a lab filled with a sickeningly yellow light, Dr. Palma walked into an argument between two others: his junior researchers. Junior Researcher Santos, a tall, gangly and wired man, berating his equal, Junior Researcher Torres, who was a short and groggy woman.

The small chamber around them was crowded with computers and other scientific instruments. A large shuttered window covered the wall that the equipment wasn’t. The junior researchers barely acknowledged his presence as they squabbled.

"Listen, you’re going to get errors if you’re not being organized." He gestured with his arms dramatically. "And Dr. Palma and I still have to read your notes!"

Torres pinched her creased forehead, eyes shut tight. "Santos, I have had a hell of a headache ever since I left homand got on this boat and I really don’t need this right now."

"O Senhor, fine."

A short yet broad military man breached the door and marched through the conversation into the center of the room.

"Rise and shine, eggheads! Here’s the monster of the day!" He declared smugly.

He pulled a lever on the wall and the shuttered window slowly clacked its way up. All four of the room’s occupants peered through the thick glass, revealing a large, rusted chamber, and a grim monstrosity within.

A large fleshy orb with a sickly black hue floated in the center of the chamber, unmoving. It was bigger than the notes had said, towering almost three times larger than a normal person, with short, tentacle-like protrusions scattered across its surface. A dark hole, large enough for one to enter, was present in a lower region of the sphere. It throbbed and undulated slowly, as if waiting for something.

"Meu Deus." Junior Researcher Santos said, his shaking hand making the sign of the cross as he stood behind Dr. Palma’s shoulder.

"Damn," Researcher Torres said, to the other side of Dr. Palma. Her muzzy eyes opened wide with anticipation and fear. "We've gotta work with that?"

"Yep. Sure beats working with safe-class shit, doesn’t it? You've got a couple days to tell me what the hell is going on with this thing. General Mulhausen stated, pacing in front of the trio. Though he didn't have much in the way of height, he did have presence. "Don't waste too much time staring. You’ve got work to do."

Dr. Palma turned to the General. "What does it do?" He asked slowly, carefully.

"See for yourself." Mulhausen bent over a microphone. “D-1005, move closer to the anomalous object.”

A haggard man in his 50s stepped into view. He stepped towards the orb and looked fearfully at the window.

"Look at the SCP, not me."

The old man turned hesitantly towards the object, and took a couple more steps towards it. Silent seconds passed by.

"Now pay attention." The General said to the scientists, as if they weren’t already fixated on the scene. "Move away from the anomalous object." He ordered.

The gaunt man stood in place, staring at the black growth.

"D-1005, move away from the object."

"No." The weary man declared, fearful but steadfast.

"D-1005, step back."

Tears began flowing down the withered face. The man took a few slight steps towards the object. Steps turned into strides as the man wailed. He shouted incomprehensibly, echoing throughout the room, as he ran across the rusted chamber towards the blackened fleshy orb. The D-class disappeared into its dark orifice. The shouting stopped. The scientists stood and watched from the window, wordless.

"He won’t come back." The General stated, unfazed. "None of them do."

The scientists still waited at the window for some time before turning away. Of them, only Dr. Palma had ever worked with anything dangerous, and even then he had only been a junior researcher at the time. He spoke first.

"General,"

"What?" He asked, proudly.

"Why-why did you do that? Why would you-"

"The test? I had to show you all what it does." Mulhausen said flatly.

The lackluster response provoked Dr. Palma, but he tried to keep it together.

Come on, happy face. Just gotta keep it together. Keep it together.

"Sir, there was no good reason for this test. We’ve all read the reports, we all know what it does." He felt his voice rise with his temper. "You just killed a man! You killed him and-and there was no reason to kill him!"

The General stepped closer to Dr. Palma. His face was tight and his eyes were wide and goading. Dr. Palma had to suppress the urge to cringe away from that stone-still face, inches away from his.

"You’re not in charge of this operation. I do what is right for the mission. There are a million different aspects of this mission that I am personally in charge of. So I make the calls, not you." General Mulhausen said, sharp yet slow. "Remember your place, and let me work!"

The General moved away from Dr. Palma, heading towards the door. But before exiting, he did an about-face into a stiff military stance, a souvenir from his time in service.

"You will follow my orders, and you will trust my orders! You’re all going to make sure that thing stays contained," he pointed to the window. "Or I’ll throw you in it myself!" He shouted before turning again and exiting the room, leaving the trio stunned.

Santos slowly began to speak.

"You’ve read the files too, right?"

"Yeah." Dr. Palma replied.

"Maybe we should ask about the four-"

Dr. Palma covered his face with his hand and sighed. "Ugh, you’re right." He hesitantly moved out to the hallway.

"General! General!" He called out.

The General turned around and walked over, slowly but forcefully. "What do you want?"

"There’s four unreported deaths in the reports! Did you also send them into that-that thing?!" Dr. Palma shouted down the hall before the General could get close. "We don’t know anything about it and you’re just feeding it bodies! You can’t do that!"

"I can do whatever the hell I feel like I need to do to complete this mission! Now get the hell out of my face. That’s an order!" The General shouted, staring down Dr. Palma with eyes wide open and angry.

Dr. Palma turned around and briskly walked away with anger in his stride, stuck with only questions and a sense of foreboding.


Within the cramped confines of his room, Dr. Palma went over the events of the afternoon again and again. The man from the test, he had just started running towards that fleshy…thing for no discernible reason. He listened to the audio recordings. He listened to them again. It was all gibberish being shouted by this poor old man. He slowed the recording down, and then realized there was one word being repeated again and again, between the lines of slurred rambling.

"Home."


"Man, I’m homesick. I miss my wife. Mathilde too. She’s a sweet girl."

In the dining hall, Rob and Dr. Palma sat talking in-between bites of scrambled eggs.

"Yeah." Dr. Palma replied, his mind occupied. "Home."

Where was that? What was that? What makes someplace a home? Did he even really have a home?

Rob chuckled. "Distracted?"

"Yeah, it’s just been a lot these past few days."

Rob’s teasing smile turned to a concerned frown. "That bad, huh? Usually you’re all sunshine and jokes and stuff."

"There’s just so much wrong going on in this operation." Dr. Palma lamented. "The General’s acting more like a mob boss than a leader."

Rob responded with a long sip of coffee. "There’s only so much you can do."

"But aren’t you worried it’s all going to go south? We could all be in danger!"

"Like I said, only so much you can do."

A couple seconds passed awkwardly until Rob changed the subject. "You know, I’ve never heard anything about your home. Tell me about it. Got anyone waiting back there?"

Chaos erupted in the back of Dr. Palma’s mind. Shadowy figures yelled and fought. Somewhere, a bottle broke. A scream. Crying.

"Home? Nope. Nobody." He said quickly, banishing the thoughts from his head.

"A shame. It-"

Suddenly the blaring alert of a klaxon deafened the room and cut Rob off.

An alarm drenched the cafeteria in stale reds and piercing wails as the crimson outlines of other individuals started shifting and moving, gradually becoming more and more of a frenzy.

"Shit!" Rob jumped up as Dr. Palma started running towards the door. Everyone was moving towards the main entrance but the emergency exit was closer to them. "Come on, Rob!" Dr. Palma shouted.

They fled through the escape door, running up the stairs that led to the deck. It was dark up above, an indifferent sky gazing down with its million shiny pinprick eyes. There were a few people up here, scurrying about on their way to the safe rooms. Rob was slowing down, distracted by something out of Dr. Palma’s sight.

“Rob, arre! Run! We’ve gotta get moving!”

Rob slowed to a stop, turning and walking away.

“I think I’ll go home now.” Rob uttered in a neutral, too-calm tone. His eyes were wide and his movements were sluggish.

“Hey! We don’t have time for this! Let’s go!”

“No, I want to go home.” He continued staggering away from Dr. Palma to something unknown. “I’m going home now.”

Dr. Palma looked back, only to instantly turn his head and start running away. Behind him was that large uneven circular outline. Despite its color mixed in with the pitch black sky behind it, the shape was unmistakeable. Dr. Palma only got a brief glimpse of its slowly waving tentacles and pulsing flesh before averting his gaze and turning to get away. He tried to grab Rob first, but Rob had left Dr. Palma as his staggering turned to uneven, frantic running.

"I’m coming home! Daddy’s coming home! I’m here, bunny!" Rob was choked up, exclaiming his utterances between labored breaths and tears of joy. "I’m here, my sweet Matilde! Daddy’s here!"

And then the yelling stopped. Dr. Palma knew it meant Rob was gone, into the fleshy orb that had devoured him whole. It only made him run faster to the nearest door, with the looming bridge close. He sprinted with all his might, trying as hard as he could to not turn around, to not see if the black growth was approaching him, gaining on him. He grabbed the heavy bridge door and slammed it shut.

Around him were the ship’s controls, an array of dials and switches on a metal console. Moonlight shone through the windows onto a dead navigating officer, splattered blood painting the aged dashboard. The General loomed above the dead man, his menacing profile clad in darkness, a smoking gun in his hand.

"So you’ve stumbled upon me, eh, Palma? Mighty stupid mistake. Mighty stupid."

Dr. Palma was too surprised to fully process the scene, only shouting, "Hold on, don’t shoot!"

"Oh, this?" The General observed his pistol for a moment, then put it in its holster. “I’ll only need this if we come to a…disagreement.” His eyes flashed with that final word. "And you will agree with your general, won’t you?"

Dr. Palma kept shaking his head in confusion. "I don’t know-I don’t understand, what are you-"

"I think you’ll be smart enough to come around to my side. Just watch me."

At that moment the bridge door slammed open again, with the timid, gangly figure of Junior Researcher Santos appearing in front of it. He was breathing heavily, rapidly mumbling prayers with each exhale.

"That sick, godless thing is free! It’s out there! It’s on the deck!" His eyes were wild and frantic as sweat fell from his brow.

The General, as calm as a still tide, addressed his subordinate. "Santos?"

"Yes?"

"As your superior, I am ordering you to turn around." His words were slow and delicate. It was so uncharacteristic that Dr. Palma could only watch as he tried to understand.

"But-"

"Please, for your general. Turn around."

Junior Researcher Santos slowly turned back around and peered through the open metal door. Dr. Palma didn’t have to look to know that the black orb was still out there, still waiting. Santos’ eyes widened as his pupils dilated at the sight.

"See? There’s nothing bad here. We’ve decided to let you go home." The General’s words were uncomfortably kind. "We brought your home all the way here. Isn’t that nice?" By the end of the sentence he was enunciating with almost pointed care.

Junior Researcher Santos nodded slowly. "My…home." He began to smile warmly, like a child.

"Yes, now, before you can go home I have one small task for you."

"Yes, General?"

"Junior Researcher Torres is still on this ship somewhere, and I bet you know where. We brought her home here too. Could you please show her to her home? Then you can go home."

"Yes."

And with that, Santos lumbered off into the night. Dr. Palma saw as the General turned back to him.

"Do you get it now? I’m just…taking everyone here home." His voice had switched back to the low, gruff tone it had always taken before. "Now look out the door and help me. That is an order."

Dr. Palma saw the glazed look in the General’s eyes, looking right past him, and the awkward way he was standing, almost too straight, and knew that this wasn’t the General. He was gone, and only a shell remained. A shell filled with the wishes of that black tumor. The General’s dead skin continued to stare at Dr. Palma with a cold malice seeping out from behind his eyes.

Dr. Palma sprinted to the door, running as fast as he could to escape the General-Husk that was so close to him. It lunged at him as he ran, grabbing a leg as Palma tried to shake him loose.

"Look! Look! Look at it!" He was screaming, his voice strained beyond any human’s ability. His fingers tightened and his nails dug into Dr. Palma’s ankle.

Dr. Palma kicked at The General with his other foot, finally stomping down on his wrist. A cracking sound came with impact, and the hand finally let go. Dr. Palma kept running, keeping his head low to avoid looking at the large creature that was surely chasing him now.

He fled to a staircase heading down into the freighter, and thanked the heavens he had familiarized himself with the ship’s map. He stumbled through corridor after corridor, passing dazed passenger-husks who tried to latch on to him, each one empty and hostile. His room was just around the corner. If he could hide there-

But the hallway in front of him ended abruptly.

In front him was the orb of black, twisted flesh, squeezed impossibly tight into the medium-sized corridor. It completely filled up every corner, small tentacles reaching and grasping for whatever they could hold. Dr. Palma was face to face with the dark, foreboding Void in its side. He turned to run but tripped on an exposed electric cord. While getting back up he saw the thing again.

And then the monster ceased to be a monster. It was his house, actually. His lovely family house back in Portugal, with the big window out front and the red door (his Mom always said the red made it lucky) and the grey paint and his family. He knew his family was inside. His mother. His father. His sister. They were in there.

They were waiting for him.

So he went home. And he was right, his mother and his father and his sister were there standing in the living room all perfect and happy to see him back. The living room was the same as he remembered it, and so was his family. They wanted to embrace him. His mom wanted a big hug.

But then, a shadow flickered across the dream. A hint of nightmare rose. Shadowy figures started yelling and fighting on the walls. Somewhere, a bottle broke. A scream. His sister was crying. The voice of his father was yelling in his deep, slurred voice. The voice of his mother was begging and pleading. His family just stood there and smiled. They didn’t move. They didn’t blink.

This wasn’t his family. And this wasn’t his house.

His family was broken and shattered. The house had been sold.

So where was his home?

Lost in thought and confusion, his surroundings swirled and blurred together.

Home was where his friends were and were his work was and were he lived every new day as an explorer of the unknown.

Home was The Foundation.

So where was he?

Everything melted away. The chairs and couches and tables turned to brown and grey. The walls were a meaty red. He was in a barren apartment, but something was wrong. He looked at the table, the couch. Instead of wood and glass he saw hair and bone, woven and nailed together intricately to create furniture. A leather reclining chair had faint veins still splayed across it. The walls pulsed.

Then, the shapes became more familiar. Dr. Torres’ face peered out of the chair, flesh melded into flesh. Rob’s eyes stared blankly from the wall, beady and white. An arm began to slowly reach out of the table, an amalgamation of skin and other body parts in the mockery of a limb. More began to sprout, like fast-growing meat flowers, clawing, reaching. The room tried to grab Dr. Palma from a hundred different angles. It cried in a hundred voices. He could hear Dr. Santos’ voice, and Rob’s too in the cacophony.

Dr. Palma ran.

Out the door.

Out of the belly of the beast.

He heard a loud humming increase in pitch as soon as he left, the walls lurching more and more. The eldritch globe crawled forward, every one of its sides squeezing against the rusty metal walls, pitch-black protrusions flailing wildly.

Dr. Palma tripped again as he ran over the same electric cord, causing a small rip in the insulative rubber. He had an idea. He may not have had any weapons on hand, but he could make one. He grabbed the cord and yanked on it hard. Maybe it would fail, but it was the only chance he had. If he kept running, those possessed husks of the people he once knew would drag him back eventually.

He yanked once.

Twice.

Thrice.

And with the fourth, its electrical innards broke loose. The electrical wires now free in his hands. He wasted no time and thrust it rapidly into the cramped black mass. The humming from it turned into a deafening screech as he let go. The orb compressed instantly, flesh folding in on itself as it sped past Dr. Palma, blasting through the air as it disappeared down the corridor.

Dr. Palma approached the rusty door that it had been covering. He pulled out his key, and unlocked the room. He looked around, and saw the small closet space in the corner. He ran to it and pulled the door shut.

Not taking any chances, he gripped the handle tightly and listened closely for any sounds.

And he waited.


Hours later, the door was broken open with a BANG. Armed Foundation guards spilled into the room, opening the closet and revealing Dr. Palma. They kept their sights on its sole occupant at all times. Dr. Palma obliged. These men didn’t have the same gear as the boat’s team did, which meant the Foundation had found the ship. They were saving him.

He may have had six guns aimed at him, but for the first time since he had gotten on the boat, he felt safe.

He felt at home.

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