rating: +7+x

Item #: SCP-642-FR

Threat Level : Red

Object Class : Neutralized a priori

Special Containment Procedures : The village of Mergozzo (province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Piedmont region, Italy) is subject to an annual public health monitoring between February 13 and 15. Any other intervention by the SCP Foundation in the village of Mergozzo is not recommended, or, in cases of force majeure, must be carried out with the utmost vigilance without notifying the local authorities.


Photograph of SCP-642-FR-A on its discovery on February 13, 1948.

Description : SCP-642-FR is an epidemic phenomenon of abnormal collective hysteria, akin to the dancing plague or St. Vitus' Dance, and the first documented contemporary case of Chorea Macabæorum or Danse Macabre. SCP-642-FR is characterized by, but not restricted to:

  • A loss of consciousness of the subject, who no longer responds to basic verbal and physical stimuli,
  • An abolition of willpower, leading to frenzied, uncontrollable dancing until death,
  • A post-death dance of the subject's body towards the epidemic's catalyst point, called SCP-642-FR-A.

SCP-642-FR took place from February 13 to 15, 1948 in the commune of Mergozzo, beginning with the emergence on the night of February 13 of an Isle of the Dead, designated SCP-642-FR-A, in the center of the lake of Mergozzo bordering the commune, linked by an unknown process to the gradual epidemic phenomenon of Danse Macabre. SCP-642-FR-A is an island of craggy rocks, containing mortuary tombs carved along the structure, and hosting at its center a grove of several cypress trees. Several representations in the artistic universe of the Isle of the Dead (German: Die Toteninsel) suggest the recurrent appearance of this type of anomalous structure in the history of epidemics.

The Danse Macabre epidemic wave reported ███ victims within a 5 km radius of Lake Mergozzo, who after initial clinical signs of hallucinations succumbed in 100% of cases to the effects of SCP-642-FR. No cure has yet been established, and only containment of the affected area has proved effective in managing SCP-642-FR during the epidemic. The SCP Foundation's intervention on SCP-642-FR during the night of February 14-15, 1948, consisting of neutralizing the island's effects, probably halted the epidemic, but without conclusive proof.

The following documents are restricted to agents involved in at least one of the following research topics:

  • Sanitary Measures — Abnormal Plague Type
  • Abnormal Antique Religious — Study and Containment
  • National Particularity of Social Management — Italy

February 13th 1948

File #642-FR Foundation Digital Archives (v.3.6.1)

Brief Communication

The Mergozzo case: Danse Macabre outbreak

Jean Oporin, Conrad Néobar, Fioretta Beth-Sheba§

Fondation SCP, CORAIL, Laboratory of Switzerland CHE:5346
§ Fondation SCP, Ordo Iani, Italy

This paper was submitted on February 13, 1948, to report on the initial management of an abnormal contemporary plague in Mergozzo, Italy. A detailed comparative study of the Mergozzo case will be issued soon.

The national monitoring service of the Italian branch of the SCP Foundation was alerted by the sudden appearance of an island in the center of Lake Mergozzo, concomitant with cases of collective hysteria leading to death and, more preoccupyingly, the persistence of dancing mania phenomena by the lifeless bodies of the subjects.

We will approach our communication from three angles, each essential in the management of the abnormal plague that the Foundation is trying to limit, as much for the sanitary aspect as for the preservation of the Veil, and handled in parallel during the day of February 13 by doctors Neobar, Oporin and Beth-Sheba.

The Island

Analysis of the island reveals traces of pagan and Roman religions, consistent with the date of onset of the abnormal phenomenon and the subjects' delusions: we find engravings bearing the effigy of Faunus, also known as Faune, Idoles or Lupercus, a primitive divinity represented in the form of a dancing faun, and to whom the Lupercales, an annual festival held from February 13 to 15, are consecrated.


The photograph above is taken from a rock wall surrounding the island, Lupercus is shown in the center with his classic attributes: horns, legs and goat hooves. The plan and full shot of the island are available in the appendix.

There can be no doubt that the appearance of an island dedicated to a dancing deity on the day of its annual festival is linked to the epidemic of dancing mania spreading through the village, described in the next section.

The Plague

The figure below illustrates the six stages of the Danse Macabre as characterized by Dr. Oporin.


Muscle loss seems to occur after the subjects death, but this hypothesis remains to be confirmed.

The Village

The interrogation of Fortunato de Felice, mayor of Mergozzo, and Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, deputy mayor, was recorded without their knowledge using a portable tape recorder, miniaturized by the Mechanics Department, belonging to Dr. Oporin. This transcript testifies to the added complexity of managing this abnormal plague. Note below the frieze depicting a Danse Macabre in the mayor's office.


February 13 at 5:32 p.m., in the presence of :

Fortunato de Felice (FF)
Jean Oporin (JO)
Conrad Néobar (CN)
Fioretta Beth-Sheba (FBS)
Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi (GGR)

Translated from Italian into English.

[JO knocks on FF's office door.]
[FF opens the door; GGR, seated at a table in the corner of the office, is busy filling out documents.]
FF: Oh hello dear members of the Foundation, please come in. Please have a seat, I'm sorry I couldn't welcome you earlier, I hope you'll understand.
CN: Of course, Mr. Mayor. Thank you again for the warm welcome you've extended to us and to our agents.
FF: Of course, what's the full name of your Foundation?
CN: SCP. Fondazione di Soccorso Cattolico Popolare. We come to the aid of souls led astray by the hardships that the human mind cannot comprehend.
FF: That's a credit to you, but how did you hear about it so quickly?
FBS: The Pope sent us, and that's all we can say.
FF: I understand, I understand… It's a delicate situation we're in at the moment, and I can certainly imagine his concern.
JO: Right now, with the skeletons of at least 94 people lying in the lake after their dancing mania towards this island, it's indeed a delicate situation. Forgive my incomprehension, Mr. Mayor, but nobody in the village seems to be paying any attention. It's true that this disease primarily afflicts the elderly, but it remains an epidemic whose mode of transmission is unknown. Do you know things we don't?
[FF hesitates for a moment.]
CN: We're here to help you, Mr. de Felice, to protect you.
FF: Well, dear guests, it may seem unthinkable to you, but we're already protected. We have a protector who has been ensuring our well-being for years. Thanks to him, the war has claimed no victims: no mother has mourned her son.

FBS: Thanks to Lupercus?
FF: Precisely, we call it "idols" here. You know what they say: "Sua cuique civitati religio, nostra nobis"
[Translated from the Latin: "To each city its religion, we have ours."]
JO: But why is your protector punishing you like this?
FF: It's not a punishment. He gave us the gift of health. Every hundred years, Lupercus harvests our village, to protect us for the next hundred years… I can see from your doubtful expressions that you don't understand our customs. We live like this, protected by the powerful.
FBS: Are you the only village with this kind of tradition?
FF: No, not at all. There are many of us in Italy who have a protector, sometimes human, sometimes abnormal. And we're not the most orthodox! Some remote towns in the French Alps live outside society, defended by their protectors, but they're not part of our Association.
CN: Your association?
[FF pauses, GGR puts down his pen and listens.]
FF: Please do not leak this information, the Association for the Liberation and Distribution of the Anomalous wishes to remain quiet. Most of our members are protected by human lords, and there are very few of us who have retained the customs of our ancestors.
JO: So if I understand correctly, you're not interested in stopping the plague spreading through your village?
FF: We all die one day, and that would be contrary to the pact we've sealed with our protector. On February 15, everything will be over and we'll be protected once again for 100 years.
JO: At the rate the disease is spreading, there won't be anyone left to protect.
[GGR resumes his task, the rest of the discussion provides no further information.]


February 14th 1948

File #642-FR Foundation Digital Archives (v.3.6.1)

February 14, 1948 at 6:05 pm, in the presence of :
Jean Oporin (JO)
Vincenzo (V)
Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi (GGR)

Recorded by Jean Oporin, in Vincenzo's family home. Translated from Italian into English.

JO   Vincenzo, don't listen to idols, listen to me!

[Sounds of violent shaking can be heard, over the creaking of a wooden bed.]

V   The idols, the idols…

JO   Listen to me, listen to me!

[The struggling person utters a harsh moan, followed by a 30-second silence. Heavy footsteps sweep and strike the wooden floor, accompanied by the steady rhythmic clatter of a pasty substance on the floor. A door is opened and the sound of footsteps recedes, followed by 17 seconds of silence. JO's incomprehensible murmurs followed by sobs.]

JO   Fourteen… fourteen February nineteen forty-eight, eighteen hours and seven minutes, Doctor Oporin's audio diary… The remains of Vincenzo, age 7, make their way to the lake. Five hundred and forty second victim of the abnormal plague.

[The wearer of the recording equipment seems to be getting up with difficulty. Hurried footsteps can be heard in the distance and are getting closer. A door opens with a bang.]

GGR Doctor, there you are! We've been looking for you everywhere.

JO   Giovanni? For what, telling me again that all this shit is normal? Your village is currently confined by the Foundation. It sees with its own eyes the violence of your god. It sees your people dying one by one. Meanwhile, you wait patiently for the evening to end!

GGR  The mayor is dead.

JO   We all die one day, don't we? Is that right, Giovanni?

GGR  Doctor, I in no way endorse the words of the late Fortunato. We're part of the same association, but the old methods of the former members are leading us to our ruin. As the new mayor of Mergozzo, I and my sympathizers have the means to change the situation. Jean, I'm not going to beat about the bush: let us go to the island, so we can stop the massacre.

JO   I'll… I'll see what I can do.

February 14, 1948 at 23:58, in the presence of :
Jean Oporin (JO)
Conrad Néobar (CN)
Fioretta Beth-Sheba (FBS)

Recorded by Jean Oporin, on a boat moored on the shores of Isle of the Dead.

[A strong wind covers the recording of some parts.]

CN   They seem ready, Giovanni steps forward in the direction of the island's tallest cypress tree.

FBS  They begin to dance around the tree, to the rhythm of the curved flute played by one of them.

CN   The words of the rite are hard to hear, in old Latin… "Virus ab insano quod fuderat Lupercus ore".

FBS  "This venom is vomited from the impure mouth of Lupercus".

CN   "Opposito fluctus dum pectore frangit."

FBS  "Dare to fight evil."

CN   "Ergo ut cedendum ratus est ne forte."

FBS  "And so he understood that he must give up his seat."

JO   One of them brings the flaming torch to Giovanni. He said to move away at that point.

[The sound of an engine near the recorder covers the chanting of the followers and the sound of the flutes. The source of the chant fades away, replaced by the sound of waves hitting the hull of a boat, followed by 13 seconds of silence. The crackling of a fire is faintly heard.]

[A shrill howl from a non-human source saturates the recorder for 28 seconds. The shriek fades painfully, giving way to the faint crackle of fire. Silence for 33 seconds.]

JO   My God, what have we killed ?


February 15th 1948

File #642-FR Foundation Digital Archives (v.3.6.1)

February 15, 1948 at 09:12, in the presence of :
Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi (GGR)
Jean Oporin (JO)
Conrad Néobar (CN)
Fioretta Beth-Sheba (FBS)

Recorded by Jean Oporin, in the mayor's office.

[A door opens.]

GGR  Ah Jean, Conrad, Fioretta, come in come in. Please have a seat.

JO   Thank you Giovanni.

GGR  Well. As you can see, the island has disappeared, and so has the epidemic. Is the Fondazione di Soccorso Cattolico Popolare satisfied with our management ?

CN   Regarding the plague epidemic, we can only confirm what you said, Mr. Mayor. However, regarding the island… it is no longer visible on the lake, but our exploration indicates that it still exists. It just sank to the bottom of the lake.

GGR  [Silence for 3 seconds] Well, it's basically the same thing, isn't it?

FBS  Not really, we're not sure whether the village is safely out of Lupercus' influence. Moreover…

GGR  Moreover, that's not the only thing you found at the bottom of the lake.

JO   Precisely. All the skeletons of the victims lie at the bottom of the lake. All but one. Can you explain why the body of the former mayor, Fortunato de Felice, lies in the middle of this mass grave, without the after-effects of the Danse Macabre, tied up and weighted down with a cinder block?

[The sound of a leather armchair is heard, followed by a few seconds' silence.]

GGR  Of course. That was a message for my colleagues, and for you. I'm asking you to leave this village.

CN   You know very well that's not an option, Giovanni. Not after this discovery, we advise you to comply, for your own good. We only want to prot…

GGR  We don't need anyone's protection, Doctor Neobar.

[The chair creaks and a slow walk can be heard around the recording source.]

GGR  You see, dear doctors, the rite we performed last night was not intended to neutralize Lupercus' influence, but rather to control it. For too long, our association has humiliated itself before the powerful, the lords, the protectors. ALDA distributes and uses anomalies for its own benefit. And we thank you for the help you have given us to strengthen our independence. Now I suggest you leave this village, as it is still under the influence of the island, and we would like to avoid any unpleasant surprises. I promise you that this influence will only serve to protect our members…

CN   Our military intervention team is about to arrest your colleagues, Giovanni, it's over…

GGR  I'm disappointed in you, Conrad, I didn't want it to come to this.

[A noisy interference covers the discussion, the recorder's wearer seems to turn around several times, rubbing the recorder's microphone. He breathes loudly.]

GGR  Is there something wrong, Jean?

JO   I [cough] I [a sudden gesture causes the microphone to rub] I don't feel very well.

[A chair creaks as the abrupt movements become more and more repeated.]

CN  What's happening to him ? Stop it !

JO   The idols… the idols…

FBS  Stop it Giovanni ! Let's talk !

CN   [The voice is very close to the recorder] Jean, don't listen to the idols, listen to me, listen to me! Take my hand, listen to me!

JO   The idols… [JO groans, a pasty substance seems to fall to the floor at regular intervals]

GGR  Sit down Conrad, there's nothing you can do for him anymore. You wouldn't want me to do the same to Dr. Beth-Sheba, then to you, then to all the Foundation agents present in Mergozzo. You really wouldn't.

CN   [Silence for 6 seconds. Still close to the microphone, voice sounds hesitant and tremulous] Sorry, Jean.

[The wearer of the recorder rises painfully, heavy footsteps hit the floor.]

[JO's footsteps seem to scrape against the dirt, the sound of cicadas replaces the chatter. He groans.]

[10 minutes later, JO's frantic footsteps seem to glide over a pasty material, then seem to clatter to the floor. Solid elements collide with JO's every step. His moans seem to lack air.]

JO   Audio… Diary… The muscles… The loss of muscles… is not posterior to the death of the subjects.

[5 minutes later, the sound of waves is heard, JO's footsteps are immersed in liquid. The recorder stops working.]


Additional information: This and the preceding sequences come from Dr. Jean Oporin's recorder, found at the bottom of Lake Mergozzo before the SCP Foundation's final departure.

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