Yellow Lightning
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⚠️ content warning

Senior Researcher Jacob Geller sat within a dark, empty room at Site-73: the video archives room. In front of him was a DVR connected to a CRT monitor. It sat on an extended shelf, on which the designation SCP-1733 was written. The door to the room was locked, though Geller knew that this precaution was largely unnecessary. Aside from SCP-1733, the videos stored here were mundane, mostly consisting of backed up security tapes and old recovery logs. Of the many years he's been working for The Foundation, perhaps no more than half a dozen personnel visited this place. If someone needed to archive a video file, it would be uploaded to one of the many Foundation-secured servers, digitally preserved and protected from physical wear.

Physical forms of digital media were largely obsolete within The Foundation.

Still, even if something transcended physical form, it wouldn't last forever. Those video files, some would corrupt, some would be deleted, and some would simply perish as parts of the online web simply ceased to function, its servers corroding to scrap after they outlived their human creators.

So close, Jacob thought as his finger hovered over the monitor's power button. To be an instrument of digital recording, but trapped in that form. Replaced entirely by the immense, sprawling web of the internet, with all of its cloud servers and databases. You arrived just a bit too late.

Jacob turned on the CRT, which began to flicker with an unpleasantly intense light, its screen filled with a messy jumble of black and white static. He frowned but made no motion to lower the brightness. Instead, he reached over to the DVR and began a reverse playback of SCP-1733. Normally not possible with this type of DVR, but it was simple enough to modify.

It would be the third day in a row spent within this room, playing the same video over and over again.

Evie Geller sat at the commentator stand, huddled in a ball as they muttered incoherent words under their breath. Aside from the buzzing of the court's overhead lights, as well as the occasional sob or scream that came from the bleachers, it was silent. From time to time, they would cry without thinking about it, tears gently streaming from their unblinking eyes as thick clouds gathered in their mind.

Time was a lost concept. It had begun gradually, before spreading like a virus throughout the horde of spectators and even the basketball players themselves. One by one, then dozen by dozen, they would fall silent. Gone were the killings, the sacrifices, acts of paranoia. Only broken husks remained.

Some lasted longer than others. Far, far longer. Whether or not this was a good thing was up to interpretation. Evie saw it as a terrible thing. They had lasted for quite a while, maintaining their wits as the stark, raving horde around them began to diminish. People they had formed bonds with, people they have been killed by, people they have killed…

Evie had to sit and watch as they devolved. They weren't totally inert, these living human beings with all of the memories and trauma that came with decades of reliving the same day over and over. No, not quite. They still talked, still cried, some were even capable of shuffling about the basketball court, aimlessly wandering as if in search of something.

They shuddered, then closed their eyes. Most folks never went to the commentator's stand anymore, making it the ideal place of retreat from them all.

Alone, Evie waited, in hopes of soon becoming like the rest of them.


Evie blinked, and the red lights vanished. The paralysing bout of pain that had been crippling their body only moments before faded, leaving behind only a dizzying spell of nausea that spun the room around them. They sat there, stunned, as the people around them stood from their seats. For a brief moment, their brain rejected the reality they experienced, desperate in its attempt to remember what had happened as a nightmare, some horrifying visage of horror spawned as a result of the stresses they've experienced, being cooped up in here for so long.

Away, away, away, away, away, away, away, away.

So why was it so tangible? Why could they still remember so vividly, as if it had just happened, the agony coursing through their veins like molten lead, seizing their muscles in painful cramps and forcing those throat-tearing screams out of them? Why could they still see so clearly, the dark, blood-stained front of their shirt? Why could they still hear the jingling of car keys as their stomach was ripped open with visceral strength?

Away, away, away, away, away, away, away, away. I need to leave. Leave, I need to LEAVE!

They jumped from the bleachers, landing at the outskirts of the basketball court which had already become a place of riot. They stumbled past the shouting crowd, flinching back as several pairs of trembling hands reached out to them. They hiccuped and broke into a sprint as they noticed someone looking at them, a tall woman with a long ponytail of jet-black hair. Away. They needed to get away, from everyone, from all of this.

The woman's name was Jessica Drunnel, a thirty-six year old high school teacher who had one ten year old child by the name of Max. Her hair was dyed; she had been self-conscious of the numerous strands of grey that had begun to pop up. She was a single mother, having taken custody of her child after a messy divorce. Evie knew all of this, of course, because she had told them herself.

They might as well have known each other for years. At least, it felt like years. Evie had lost count of how many times they'd been forced to relive this damned basketball game. Sure, for the first few hundred loops, they could have been something akin to friends. A companionship formed from confusion and terror. Evie once thought of her as an anchor, something to keep her from going insane from it all. Just years and years of being trapped in this place, with the same people.


Evie made their way towards the restrooms, pushing their way in through the door and quickly locking themself in a stall. A heavy weight settled in their chest as burning tears dripped from their eyes, a choked sob tearing its way out from their mouth. They cried and cried, hand pressed firmly over their stomach. At some point, their sobs devolved into guttural screams as they began to pull at their hair, jittery anxiety bubbling within their veins, making every movement seem numb and uncertain.

Deep, panting gasps and moans were coming from the stall next to them, paired with the rhythmic clapping of flesh. Their nausea suddenly doubled, and they found themself vomiting into the open toilet. As they retched, someone slammed their fist into the stall's door behind them. AWAY, why can't I just get AWAY from these fucking people?

"Evie! Are you okay?" A sharp stab of fear went through their heart as a familiar voice spoke from outside the stall. Jessica. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, okay? I was just-"

"Shut up!" they screamed. Something cracked within their throat, and they doubled over, caught in a coughing fit that forced them to inhale the bathroom's noxious fumes. It made them want to vomit all over again. "Leave me alone, just leave me alone you fucking-"

"I'm sorry, please, Evie." Jessica knocked on the door several times, each one sending a chill up their spine. They didn't want to look at her. Not now. Not ever. "I… I was just desperate. The Faithkeepers, they promised… they told me that if I just-"

"You've gone insane, you know that?" Evie wiped at their eyes with the back of their sleeve. They kept their eyes trained at the tiled floor, trying desperately to filter out the disgusting aroma of human waste that had already begun to accumulate. The moans coming from the stall next to them grew louder. "Everyone. Everyone's gone insane, even me, because what the hell? I just want to be alone, god, I can't take this anymore. I can't take this, I just can't."


"I said, leave me the fuck alone!"

There was a brief moment of silence, then Evie heard the clicking of footsteps. They counted to thirty before inhaling, finally exiting the stall. Head still buzzing from the burst of adrenaline that came with their tantrum, they turned on the sink and splashed cold water onto their face.

"How much more," Evie whispered to themself as they stared into the red eyes of their reflection. "How much more of this?"

"This side is for the Celtics, right?"

Jessica nodded silently, still holding them by the hand as they slipped past a few people who were in an argument. Something about more escape plans. Evie suspected deep down that they were truly stuck in this place, perhaps forever, or at least until some sort of outside force freed them. They hoped to be proven wrong though. Hoped desperately.

In fact, that was why they were letting themself be lead by the hand like this. Jessica, one of their only friends in this mess, had told them about it. About escape. She claimed that some of the teenagers had managed to carve a path out from the locker rooms.

Evie didn't believe it. Not at first, and not now. Surely, it couldn't have been that easy. What, a group of kids, with nothing more than makeshift tools, had managed to carve an escape route when literal explosives failed to even cause a scratch to the walls of this place? It seemed ludicrous. Impossible.

Still, Evie thought as they rounded a corner. Better to be proven wrong. I really hope that I'm proven wrong. It's the only thing I want, a way out of this nightmare.

Immediately, they noticed something was wrong. The locker room was dark, only kept dimly lit by a few red lights perched on top of the lockers. They squinted, finding that the source for the lights came from smartphones. Dressed in tattered, makeshift robes, several tall figures stood in a half-circle, facing them.

"Erm…" Evie turned to Jessica, only to be met with a hard shove. They yelped, stumbling forward into the arms of a few hooded figures who held onto them with painfully tight grips. "H-Hey! What gives? Let go, let go of me!"

"I'm sorry," Jessica whispered as she started forwards. "I… This is for the best. We're going to get out of here."

"Jessica, what are you talking about?" Evie strained against their hold as they lowered them down onto one of the locker room's benches, forcefully keeping them in a flat position. Just moments later, they had their hands and feet tied down to the bench with makeshift rope, made out of some sort of cloth. "Help! Someone, help! What are you doing?"

"Okay," one of the figures rumbled in a deep voice. "You have done well, Jessica. For your part in this sacrifice, your spot in the Great Escape shall be ensured. Rest easy, knowing that all of this will soon come to an end. Now, may the ritual commence."

"R-Ritual? Hey, what are you…" Evie's voice dried up as the shrouded figure lowered their hood. He was one of the commentators for the game. Mike, if they recalled correctly. He had been one of the early leaders for the group known as the Faithkeepers, a bunch of lunatics who thought that they had to sacrifice "luxuries of modern life and post-industrial society" in order to get out. Once, the Faithkeepers managed to climb onto the giant Jumbo-tron on the ceiling and actually cut it down, letting it crash onto the court below.

Oh. Evie's mouth hung open as Mike lifted up their shirt, exposing their stomach to the cold, biting air. He had a set of car keys in his hand, which jingled as he moved. They stared, not quite comprehending as he slowly lowered the key until its point touched their skin, sending a harsh shiver up their spine.

"Please. Please, don't do this. Don't. Jessica, come on. Help me. Help me."

Without warning, he pushed the key into their skin, burying it within them. They gasped as a harsh coldness spread from their gut. They could only stare in silent horror as he started carving through their skin, leaving behind a jagged trail of dark red as he went. Even in the dim light, they could see quite clearly how he strained in effort, the veins in his wrist growing taut as he pulled the key through their body.

Something popped, and they began to scream. The cold quickly gave way to a radiant burst of pain that strangled them. They couldn't breathe. They couldn't think. They could only feel the incomprehensible hurt that had spawned within them, jerking their body about as if they were being electrocuted. As they strained against their restraints, small spurts of blood shot from their widening wound, drenching the front of their shirt and streaming down onto their face.

Their blood was hot, nearly boiling. They shrieked as it dripped into their open mouth, assaulting them with its jarringly salty taste, an unpleasant and off-putting sensation amidst the deafening pain that somehow continued to grow.

Mike had managed to cut open a small opening in their stomach, an irregularly shaped hole with walls of crooked, gnarled flesh. He dropped the car keys onto the floor and held out his bloodstained hands to Jessica. She avoided Evie's gaze, refusing to look at them as she handed him a small tupperware container filled with various objects. Wallets, a lighter, some hats, and even a player jersey.

Evie sobbed pitifully, muttering various pleas as Mike began chanting something. He held the jersey above their wound and lit it on fire. The flames spread quickly, eating away at the fabric and melding its colours together until the player name was unrecognisable. Just as the jersey began to blacken, he let go, allowing it to fall directly onto their open wound. The flames sizzled and sputtered inside of them, producing plumes of thin smoke.

"Now," Mike said as he took a ballcap out from the container, "we shall make the rest of our offerings."

Evie frowned as they looked at the various people taking turns in trying to pry the doors open. Some of the adults had begun to discuss making some sort of battering ram to smash the door open. Many tried to call for help on their phones of course, but for some reason, no one could get a signal. Evie tried it themself and sure enough, no calls could get through, not even when they dialled 911.

For some reason though, Evie didn't feel all too panicked about the whole thing. There was a sense of concern, maybe tinged with the unwelcoming bite of fear that lingered in the back of their throat, but nothing akin to panic. The whole situation had a dreamy tint to it, as if at any moment, everything would be resolved, and they could just continue on their way. As if they were just watching a horror movie.

It's not like we'll be stuck in here forever, right? Evie thought to themself, trying to filter out the paranoid chatter around them. This sort of thing doesn't just happen. It's just all too weird. Kind of like that Groundhog's Day movie. Except, this is real life.

Not for the first time, they wondered how many times they've lived through this game. They wished that they had a counter or something, just anything to keep track of every loop. It was hard enough as is; the memory of each passing loop was distant, fuzzy. Like trying to recall what they ate for breakfast yesterday. It was only through repetition that they could be sure that they were all in a loop in the first place.

Assuming, that is, that this wasn't just some insane nightmare that their brain decided to concoct for some bizarre reason. They felt entirely lucid, in control of their every movement and decision though. If this was a dream, and if they were cognizant of the dream, shouldn't they gain godlike powers? The ability to shape their own dream in any fashion they want?

Hey, dream world. Evie pointed lazily at one of the basketball hoops. Make that hoop grow ten sizes larger.

Nothing happened, of course. Suddenly self-conscious, they lowered their finger and looked around to see if anyone caught them pointing. Too often they'd get caught in their own thoughts and find themself doing weird things without really thinking about it. A mostly harmless habit, and they doubted that anyone cared all too much, but still…

Ah, crap. A low blush rose to their cheeks as Evie noticed someone looking at them, a middle aged woman a few seats to her left. For a single moment, they made eye contact, sending an inexplicable wave of primal fear through Evie's chest. They quickly turned away, focusing their eyes down to their lap. Ignore me, just ignore me, please…


Evie flinched back as the woman sat down on the empty seat next to her. She quite literally appeared out of nowhere, and without so much a noise. Their anxiety only increased as they noticed a look of mild concern on the woman's face.

"Um, are you okay?"

They gave her a stiff nod. "Y-Yeah. Hi."

"Sorry, if I scared you… just figured, y'know, we're all in this together it seems, so might as well strike up some conversation, right?" The woman glanced back at the crowd surrounding the entrance doors, still caught up in their attempts to break it down. A few people had resorted to trying to kick the doors down, though it seemed pretty obvious at this point that it wouldn't lead to much. People needed some type of outlet though, and the apparently indestructible doors were happy to serve as sandbags for violence. "Those guys… they're talking about ramming the door down."

"Yeah… well… um, to be honest, I don't think they're gonna be able to break the doors down." Evie admitted.


"I don't know. I-I mean, I know it sounds pessimistic or whatever, but, like… you know, it's just that with all of this stuff happening. It's weird. I don't think escaping will be that easy. I guess, because, like…" Evie groaned and shook their head. "Ugh, never mind."

"No, that makes sense," the woman said. "Whatever's going on, it's definitely not normal. There's probably more to all of this than meets the eye, right?"

"Y-Yeah. I mean, if we can't even use our phones to call anyone, then whoever's doing all of this probably barricaded the doors." Evie said, suddenly encouraged. They hadn't realised it, but simply hearing someone else validate their concerns was such a relief. It was a weight off their shoulders, knowing that they weren't the only one thinking such things.

"So you think that someone trapped us in here?"

Evie shrugged. "Well, it has to be that way, right? This kind of thing doesn't really just… happen. Like, it's all too deliberate. The locked doors and jammed signals and… stuff. It's all too deliberate. I mean, that's just what I think. I guess I could just be paranoid or something. "

"I see what you mean," she nodded. "It isn't natural. You've been thinking about this a lot, huh?"

"I… guess." Evie admitted. They couldn't do anything but think. It wasn't as if they were going to find an exit, at least not before someone else did, and if that happened, they'd find out eventually, along with everyone else. They had gone alone, of course, so they didn't have anyone to talk to. That is, until now.

"Oh, and by the way… my name is Jessica. It's nice to meet you!"

Evie managed a small smile. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. "I'm Evie. It's nice to meet you too."

"… a lot more than LeBron James has in his seven years in Cleveland, so it's gonna be LeBron James running the point…"

Evie sat in the bleachers, bored as they listened numbly to the commentator's post-commentary of the game. If they were being honest, they didn't even know who won. For the entire game, they could hardly pay attention, for the simple fact that they weren't very interested in basketball.

Pretty much the only reason why they wanted to come here in the first place was because they knew that their dad was a huge sports fan.

Two tickets, good seats and everything. It could have been a great opportunity for them to actually bond together, something that could maybe create a happy memory for the both of them. Evie thought that it would be a good birthday present, and yet even now, they could remember so vividly the way he frowned at them. Even more so, what he said afterwards:

"I'm sorry Evie, but I can't go."

Work. Work, work, work. It seemed that his work had consumed practically all of his free time these days. He had told them that he was assigned to be the head of a big, important project and that he wouldn't have the time. To make things worse, he wouldn't even tell them what the project was about. He was always so secretive about his work, as if he was constantly involved with secret experiments by the government.

Hell, it was possible that was exactly the case. He could be involved in some Area 51 type of deal for all they knew. It hurt, not being able to spend time with him, all because he was some bigshot doctor who just had to be busy all the time. Just once, just for even one day, they wanted to have him all to themself. Was that so much to ask?

Apparently, it was.

"Well, I guess I kind of watched that game with you after all, didn't I?" Jacob Geller chuckled, running his hand through his thin, oily hair. Dark half-circles had gathered under his eyes, creating layers upon layers of shadow that made it look like he hadn't slept in a week. "The Celtics won, just like I said they would. At least, on the first time through. Heat snuck a few games in there, but hey, only the first one really matters, right?"

Too many times. Too many times, he had watched that basketball game. Even if all of it was in reverse, it was still too much. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to watch another game again without getting nauseous. After he finished, he viewed it another half-dozen times to make sure nothing else changed. After that, he simply replaced the recorded footage with an identical, non-anomalous copy of Playback 908, which consisted of two and a half hours of a dark room with red overhead lights, and nothing else.

He didn't plan on granting permission for the study of SCP-1733 anytime in the near future, but it never hurt to be cautious.

Twenty-one vacation days a year, and for every month, he would always use at least one of them to visit his child. He remembered, back when he was really starting to get a hang of the whole Foundation business, he would just find himself stuck at work for days on end. Often, he'd fall asleep in his office only to wake up and get right back to work, typing up documents and supervising experiments.

In retrospect, it was time wasted. So, so many unused vacation days, and for what? To advance his career further, faster? To gain the reputation of being Site-73's resident workaholic? He would be lying if he said that the thought of stealing one of The Foundation's many temporal anomalies, just so that he could go back and yell at himself, didn't cross his mind.

"Hey, Evie?" Jacob sighed and looked at the ground as he dug his hands into the lush fields of healthy grass; they were wet, having gathered the cold precipitation of the morning's dew. "I just wanted a better future for you. You know that, right? I guess somewhere in my head, I thought that if I worked hard enough, I'd be able to retire early, and with a pension to boot. Would have been more than enough to send you to college."

Nine hundred and eight playbacks. Nine hundred and eight loops that these people had to go through. Nine hundred and eight basketball games that Evie had to relieve. Nine hundred and eight times that I approved those studies instead of doing something worth my time. And for what?

It was a morbid curiosity, he supposed. At first, there were some genuine attempts at progress being made. They tried to communicate with the people trapped within the video. Some theorised that the video was an isolated alternate dimension that was contained within the DVR, though none of their tests picked anything up.

Eventually, after it was determined that none of the basketball players had any recollection of the events unfolding within the video, they decided to just keep going. Why not? They weren't real people, were they? What would happen if they kept the experiments running?

It was fascinating, initially. Like a psychological experiment without limits. The tests decreased in frequency eventually, of course. With all of the projects and anomalies that went on within The Foundation, watching a video of people suffering through a time loop wasn't very high up on the priority list.

He didn't even think about Evie. In fact, during the several watch parties he partook in himself, he rarely ever saw them during the playbacks. Besides, it was harmless. It was for research. It was for work.

That all changed, of course. As soon as he lost them, it all changed. All of the sudden, it didn't seem so harmless anymore, witnessing those manic acts of violence happen, knowing that Evie was trapped in there with hundreds of people driven insane from the repetition of it all.

At least. At least I atoned. At least I made it all better, even if just a little bit.

He stood, grunting as he arched his back, sending pops and cracks into the graveyard's silent atmosphere. It really was such a peaceful place. "Well, it's about time for me to go." It was already six in the morning, and as much as he would have liked to spend the rest of the day with them, his job had other plans.

"I'll see you soon, okay? I love you. Always will."

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