The Value Of Proper Dental Care
rating: +16+x

If you are to understand Dental Assistant Luke Hamilton, you must learn two things.

The first is that the dental clinic he works at belongs to the SCP Foundation. He assists in complex dental procedures for anomalous humanoids. General check-ups are done in the humanoid's cell, to minimize time out of the cell. This is good for Luke, especially because of the second thing:

Luke is terrified of the anomalous.

It's not that the patients have done anything to him. But it's hard to keep your cool when some of your patients are people that turn into bricks, a cyborg from an alternate universe, and a literal Babylonian god. Despite Dr. Morris’ assurances the patients will not rip his spine through his throat, all he thinks about is a patient ripping his spine through his throat.

Site-17A offers some form of comfort, a place of relative normalcy. Most of the time. He stays there, passes tools to the dentist as he inspects teeth, and his job is done. Nothing he hasn’t accomplished in dental school.

On this particular day, Dr. Morris calls him into his office. It’s never good when the head of your department calls you into his office, and this is no exception.

“Mr. Hamilton. I’d like you to accompany me to Site-17,” he says. “I have a check-up to perform, and I’d like some assistance.”

“You’re joking, right?”

I believe my distrustful relationship with jokes has been established.”

“But I’m on-site staff.”

“For now, yes. But if you want to continue to rise through the ranks, travel is part of the job.”

“But I –” Luke starts. He doesn’t have a proper counter to this, so he shuts up and nods. “When do we leave?”

“We leave now,” he says. He grabs his coat and exits. Luke watches him leave, hoping he forgets he’s there. Dr. Morris leans back, waves him on, and Luke follows.


Officially, the Department of Oral Hygiene is listed as Site-17A. Located just on the edge of the map, the drive from the main site to the department building takes no more than five minutes. The drive takes twenty, because most people forget where the building is, the aforementioned map cutting off the edges to save paper.

The silent driver stares ahead, no apologies or words to his passengers. Dr. Morris is silent as well, arms crossed and scowling. Luke looks around nervously, unsure if he should say something to break the silence or let it simmer.

“Do you have an issue, son?” Morris finally asks.

“What?”

“The fidgeting.”

“I guess I just have a few questions. Like, who we’re going to see and all that.”

“Information about our patient is classified unless it becomes necessary.”

“Do you know who we’re going to see?”

“Yes.”

“And you can’t tell me?”

“No.”

“Is there anything you can tell me?”

“No,” says the driver. Luke elects to shut up again, and the rest of the drive is silent.


Not much can be said about Site-17. It is a research facility and containment site – and the construction team built it solely for that purpose, before waking up with a blank spot of the last six months and a mysterious six figure sum in each of their accounts.

Dr. Morris approaches the greeting desk and chats with the secretary. Luke hangs behind, letting his boss do the talking. He tries to find something of note in the lobby, but finds it unbearably nondescript. No indication of what he can expect.

Luke approaches the only other man in the room, a researcher staring out the window, arms in front of him.

“Uh, hello,” he says.

The researcher turns to him. It is only when Luke extends his right hand, he sees the researcher’s right arm is not with him. Luke freezes, arm hanging in the air. The researcher waits for him to do something.

“You can put your arm down,” he says.

Luke drops his arm. “Sorry, I just…”

“No, no, it’s fine, it happens.”

“I, um, I just got here, and I was wondering what kind of anomalies you guys have here.”

“Oh, mostly humanoids. Nothing too dangerous.”

Luke’s eyes drift to the missing arm.

“Ah, that. Yeah, I made the mistake of lying in front of a truth-detecting statue head-thing and it didn’t take too kindly to that.”

“Holy shit.”

“Hurt like hell. But I like to think it’s made me a better person, who’s kinder to people and –”

Dr. Morris approaches them, and the researcher bursts out laughing.

“Hello, Rensburg.”

“Oh, man, you’re one of the dentists, aren’t you? Oh, that’s frickin’ great! Ha!”

“If you’re finished,” Morris says. “We’re here on business.”

“What, did we run out of toothpaste?”

“We’re here to see your charge.”

Rensburg stops laughing. He sighs. “Fine. Follow me.”

Rensburg leads them to an elevator and presses the button for the ninth floor.

“So this anomaly you’re in charge of?” Luke asks. “What’s it like?”

“Your boss didn’t tell you?” Rensburg says. “Oh, right, you’re on a need-to-know basis, aren’t you? Well, I won’t be the one to spoil the surprise.”

The elevator doors open, and Luke feels his stomach drop as they’re led through the hall. They pass several cells with people in them. Some look human. Some don’t.

“Yours is at the end of the hall here,” Rensburg says.

They approach a large metal door, two security guards posted in front. Rensburg inputs the code on a keypad.

Luke backs away as the keypad glows green. The door swings open. He braces himself. Readies to run. Rensburg and Morris enter. Luke takes a tentative step inside, and his mouth drops open.

Laying in a bed, hooked up to an EKG machine, is an unconscious child. No more than fourteen.

“Here she is,” Rensburg says. “Just as we left her.”

Morris side-eyes Rensburg a moment, then approaches the bed. He takes a seat next to her.

“Hamilton,” he says. “The tools.”

Luke shakes himself out of his daze and approaches with his own stool.

“Guard,” Rensburg says. “One of you keep an eye on the two of them. Make sure they don’t wake her.”

One of the guards enters the room, his gun prominently sticking from his holster. Luke sweats, but Morris pays it no mind.

“Mirror and scraper, please,” he says. “Then hold her mouth open.”

Luke pulls them from his bag and hands them to Morris. He wears a pair of gloves and holds her mouth open, and already he can see her teeth are out of shape.

“Must have been awhile since she brushed her teeth,” Luke says partway into the procedure.

Dr. Morris grimaces. “It would appear so, yes.”

“When she wakes up, we should probably tell her that.”

The guard reaches for his gun. Luke backs away from the girl, thinking he’s about to be relived of his spine. But the guard has his eyes on Luke.

“Relax, Tommy,” Dr. Morris says to him. “He doesn’t know. Give me a few more minutes then grab Dr. Rensburg for me, would you?”

The guard keeps his eyes on Luke. Slowly, he switches to his walkie and radios for Rensburg. A half-hour passes, and Luke settles into a routine. It’s no different than the clinic. He calms, but he can’t help but wonder who the girl is.

Rensburg arrives. “All finished, Morris?”

Dr. Morris stands and cracks his back. “It’s Dr. Morris.”

Dr. Rensburg rolls his eyes. “Whatever. If you’re done –”

“Not quite.”

He rushes to Dr. Rensburg. The doctor backs away until he hits the wall, but Dr. Morris continues his pursuit until he is within inches of him. The guard pulls his gun.

“Your staff is focused on medical care of this girl, and you have been slacking off!”

“We haven’t —!”

“Lie to me, doctor, and I’ll take your other arm. We’ve had this child in a coma for years, and the best we can do is make sure she is taken care of. You, however, have failed to take care of her teeth, and now she has plaque build-up.”

“You’re getting this worked up over a cavity?”

“Over a child’s health.”

“She’s an anomalous object –”

“And you’re not doing the proper work. So I will tell you how to do your job. Luke, hand me the toothpaste.”

Luke looks at the guard.

“You mind?”

He holsters his gun. Luke pulls out a tube of toothpaste and hands it to Dr. Morris.

“Use this. Extra strength. Four of five of us recommend. I realize that sounds like a joke, but of the five dentists who rate this toothpaste, Taylor dissented. Make sure to floss her teeth daily, exercise her jaw. I’ll be back next week to check plaque build-up. Luke, we’re done here.”

Luke nods and packs up his equipment. He stares at the girl, then at the guard. He follows Dr. Morris out, making sure to avert from Rensburg’s fiery stare as he squeezes the toothpaste in his fist.


When Luke enters, Dr. Morris is staring out the window, phone to his ear. He grunts intermittently, and a few minutes later he hangs up.

“Who was that?” Luke asks.

“Site Director,” Dr. Morris says.

“Not happy about today?”

“Yes and no. They transferred Rensburg again. Seems I’m not the only one who took exception to his deficiency. But he also took issue with my candor today.”

“Are you going to be alright?”

“I’m irreplaceable. Which is why I can do things like that.”

Luke nods, staring at the floor. “Can I tell you something?”

Dr. Morris groans. “Sure.”

“When I got this job, I didn’t know it was about… anomalous. I still catch myself calling it supernatural, but the few things I’ve seen blow that description out of the water. And I’m terrified every day a patient comes in because, what if this is it? This is the one that kills me? But today we had a kid. And we’ve had kids before, she wasn’t the first. But the stuff she was hooked up to, it wasn’t to help her through her coma, it was keeping her comatose. That guard put me in more danger today than she did.”

Dr. Morris sighs. From under his desk, he pulls a clear bottle of scotch.

“You know what this is?”

“Macallan. That one should be a decade old, but it smells like it’s aged two-hundred years.”

Dr. Morris nods. “You know your history.”

“I come from a long line of whiskey collectors. I’m considered the disappointment. Are we off the clock?”

“We are now,” he says, and pours two drinks. “A friend stuck this in the timecrowave and came out with the best scotch I’ve ever had.”

“But you can’t age scotch in the bottle.”

“Unless you drop wood in the bottle. Takes a lot of wood, though.”

Dr. Morris knocks it back. Luke takes a sip.

“Seems like an unprofessional use of an anomalous object,” Luke says. “Though it’s very good.”
Dr. Morris nods, and stares at his drink.

“The people that come through here, the anomalous ‘objects’ in Foundation custody are human, outside of a few qualities here and there. It can be easy to forget that. Some of us certainly do.”

Dr. Morris pours another drink and knocks that back too.

“I’ve been laughed at and ridiculed for the past thirty years of my career, Luke. I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe and would make Rensburg piss himself. And my job is to care for them. Because no one else will.”

“Isn’t that part of the whole Foundation mantra? Secure, contain, protect?”

“Protect what, exactly? Protect the public? The anomalies? The secrets that could fill a mass grave? Most of the ones that come here, could live a normal life otherwise. What we do to many of them is unnecessary.”

Luke’s eyes widen. “I think that would be considered treason.”

Dr. Morris chuckles ruefully. “We’re off the clock, aren’t we?”

“You think the Foundation is bad?”

“Not entirely. Take the girl, for example. She’s an unstable reality bender. Put into a coma because she couldn’t be controlled. Could she have been trained, instead of having years of her life robbed? Maybe. Maybe not.

“But there’s another little girl I give dental care to every so often, and her treatment makes our patient’s look like a Sunday picnic. That is necessary. The world would end otherwise. I know you’re scared of them, and you’re right to be, but there are far scarier things at work, much more normal than you would think.”

“Why would you work here if they’re so terrible, then?”

“Someone has to be there. To check their teeth and treat these people like people when no one else will. I’m not the only one. After all, most of the staff, we’re only human.”

Dr. Morris looks out the window. “You should get home. It’s late.”

“Right.” Luke places the empty cup on the desk. He’ll take the bus home.

“See you tomorrow?”

Luke pauses at the question, understands its subtlety. He has to think it over, because he’s not sure at first.

“Yes. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Luke exits the building and takes the golf cart to the bus station. He will remain a dental assistant for the things that can rip out his spine. Because, like him, they are human.

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