Unremembered Oceans


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Unremembered Oceans

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In Ivy’s dream, the world had been consumed by twin oceans— one below, one above. They were each smooth and silent, one lapping against the wood of the rowboat, the other a ceiling of tranquil water, low enough that, if she stood and reached, her fingertips would've just grazed its cool surface.

The waters were as clear as dark glass and seemed to go on forever, speckled with motes of what appeared to be luminescent plankton. If one were to ignore how they darted about in the water, it would be easy to mistake them for glinting constellations. Ivy was surrounded by two seas of false starlight.

As is the way of most dreams, time had become murky, porous, and warm to the touch. She didn't know how long she had been here, how long she had been sitting in this strange, narrow boat— only now did her focus begin to coalesce. Across from her was a figure in a dark hooded robe. For the duration of Ivy's stay, it had been moving an oar to and fro, pushing the ship along to its enigmatic destination.

All was silent, save for the subtle lapping of water, the sweep of the oar, and a sourceless, rhythmic tap-tap-tapping that reminded Ivy of the second hand of a clock. Ivy shifted in place, the wood creaking beneath her. It was only the slightest of sounds, but in this aqueous void it felt like an avalanche. Perhaps feeling the same way, the robed figure stilled, then pulled the oar from the water—

No, that wasn't an oar at all. It was a simple wooden staff. Ivy sucked in a quick breath as a realization shot through her veins like ice; she knew this figure. They had met before, in the waking world. It was SCP-6766. How could she have ever forgotten, when it had taken her the bulk of two months to recover from its attack— no, that wasn't right either.

Agent Ivy Bacchus of the Foundation had been trained to withstand telepathic and empathic assault— but 6766 had never attacked her. Not really. When it looked at her, it was as though her eyes were opening for the first time to a tragedy that had been woven into every fiber of the world. A depthless sadness that had sent her into hysteric weeping fits for weeks. Even now, she still needed prescription antidepressants just to function.

Looking at the figure, here, she felt that sadness anew— but it wasn't the same. The sadness had been placed behind glass, visible, but muted. Distant. Abstracted enough to not touch her heart directly.

"Why am I here?" murmured Ivy, feeling as though speaking any louder would bring about some terrible catastrophe.

"I don't know," said 6766, with the hoarse, hushed tone of someone who had been recently crying. "I never know what brings visitors to this place." Still gripping the staff with its right hand, 6766 brought skeletal fingers to the edge of its hood, pulling it back. At this, Ivy stifled a sound of faint surprise— where she expected the bleached white of a skull, there was, instead, a face. A woman's face.

6766's face was a dull, ashy brown, framed by thick matted hair that laid on a low, flat skull. Its (her?) brow was a prominent ridge that jutted out like a brazen cliff. She was an honest-to-god neanderthal, looking for all the world like she had stepped out of a museum exhibit and into that shapeless black robe. Had the Foundation ever catalogued a ghost so old? Was 6766 even a ghost at all?

A set of stolid grey eyes laid below 6766's eminent brow. She was weeping silently, perpetually, her tears like black ichor. They flowed down her face and past her chin. Little drops of black tears tap-tapped on the floor with metronomic regularity. Her robe flowed, too. It was made of the same ichorous substance.

6766 held Ivy's gaze for a moment, before dropping it to look back at the ocean below. She dipped her staff back into the water, continuing her strange rowing pantomime. A sound startled Ivy— her own voice. She had begun speaking without intending to.

"Why? Ivy found herself asking. "Why do you do… this?" For a long moment, 6766 said nothing, continuing to row. False stars swept about in inscrutable patterns in the drowned sky above.

"Do you know what the weight of a life is?" whispered 6766, her voice like the moonless tides of dual oceans.

"What?"

With horrible, gentle slowness, the drowned sky began to descend.

"Our experiences have a… weight to them. They accumulate across a lifetime; one's fears and joys, angers and heartbreaks. We become like worlds unto ourselves. What does it mean when all of that disappears?" A lilting waver had entered 6766's voice, as though she were on the verge of crying, but was valiantly holding on to the edge. "Don't you see the tragedy of it all? The horror? For all of that to vanish and for nobody to even know it?"

"I… of course. I've felt it every day since… well. The day we first met."

"I remember them all. All the forgotten dead. I know all their names and I will give them the rites they are owed. I could not bear it otherwise. It's not right."

"But who will remember you?" Ivy pushed herself to her feet, swaying slightly before righting herself. "Who will know your name?"

The sea enveloped the top of 6766's head and began sinking further down.

"You are… very kind to ask." 6766's smile was thin and fleeting, like a dust mote through sunlight. "But there is nothing left to—"
































Ivy woke with tears in her eyes and didn't know why.







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