Daydreaming for the Last Time
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Doctor Andrés Gascoigne:

We are aware of your dispute with the Ethics Committee representative who was sent to evaluate your case. We have decided to hold the hearing of your case in a neutral place, away from the influences that both Dr. Borja Dowell and yours may intervene in the outcome of your case. The trial will be held within the next week, please wait for our response.

Sincerely, the current Site-34 Director.

That message had been in his head for several days, and today, on a day when Gascoigne's first sensation was the rhythmic gait of his legs, he knew for certain that it had not been a joke. He had been taken from his home the night before. The Foundation's advances in the field of amnestics and drugs in general, while useful, are even creepier.

"I introduce myself, for this occasion I am the representative of the current Director of Site-89, I am Researcher Altair Cervantes" said that man as he extended a hand, pointing to an armored door to his left. "That is where the session will take place. The accuser's material has presented 'difficulties' to our IT department. Any objections?" Gascoigne scanned his surroundings, the height of his escort did not allow him to do that on his way here. With a brief scan, he realized he was in an anomaly containment wing, one with which he was unfamiliar.

"So those are what we have, you plan to throw me in a cell and forget about me?" "Doctor, calm down please. This cell has been suitable for conducting the trial you have agreed to participate in. As I had said before, certain complications arose. But there is nothing to fear, there is security for a reason" and just as Altair finished speaking, the soldiers squeezed themselves and Gascoigne into the cell, which had a lighting system, a projector, a surveillance camera system, seating and a diagram outlining how those involved would be seated. Altair was not on the list, and just as Gascoigne stopped paying attention to him, he disappeared from the place. Could it be that he did not want to be linked to what was about to happen?

That's when he saw him "Row 3, Seat 2, Borja Dowell" Gascoigne grumbled, and wouldn't start ranting about this ambush were it not for the fact that he still held a degree of respect, and affection, for Dowell. One day they save your life and confer a new one, the next they save your daughter, the next your savior is the one holding the trigger of the gun pointed at your forehead.

The two previous rows gradually filled up. 12 soldiers took their place on the backs of Gascoigne, who was paying attention to a now discovered Swiss style clock in front of him. "16:58 Heh" he muttered to himself as he lowered his head and closed his eyes in an attempt to take in the situation he found himself in. For the first time in a long time, he didn't remember anything from the night before, and he didn't know whether to laugh or get angrier. "I'm a long way from home, at least let me try some wine first."

17:00 hours on the clock, and the large metal door creaked again, giving way to two humanoid figures. The first belonging to Borja Dowell, who averting his gaze from Gascoigne, adjusted his glasses and quickly sat down, breaking off any attempt at dialogue with the latter.

The second figure, a man in his late twenties, with short, slightly untidy brown eyes and hair, instead walked to the midpoint of the cell, and raising his voice, asked for the attention of those present. "Good afternoon, I am Agent Lewis Curry, a field agent assigned to Site-89, I specialize in operations that require detection of memetic or cognitohazardous anomalies, and because of my background I have been selected for this assignment. I will be the one to carry the flow of this trial, to determine whether or not the people affected by SCP-ES-260 should be neutralized" and at Gascoigne's look of disbelief, Curry took his seat, which was between the prosecutor and the plaintiff.

Curry thus called the session to order:

Log 1: Projection of recording number 329 SCP-ES-260, part 1.

<BEGIN LOG>

(Voiceover) Agent Curry: To give a brief introduction, the General Research Department of Site-89, after analyzing the signals coming from the mine crystals related to the object in question, proposed the theory that these apparently junk codes worked by linking them together and analyzing them from different angles, as if they were a quartz storage system. This resulted in audio and video files related to the problematic population.
However, these recordings are mostly unconnected, so in addition to the decoding process a filtering of the implausible events had to be performed. Forgive the brevity of the screening. They also have some degree of effect on our local reality, which is why this location, which has a Scranton reality anchor system, was chosen. Anyway, please do not get comfortable. I will proceed to play the most relevant recording.

Agent Curry uses a remote control to start the recording. The projection shows what appears to be the schoolroom, there are several children talking to each other. Judging by the lighting and the absence of a teacher or authority figure, it is assumed to be a recess.

A group of 3 girls approach the camera. It is discovered that this footage is from the perspective of a female pupil.

Girl 1: Hey Carmila, why are you bringing all that? Are you going to run away from home?

The group starts to laugh.

Carmila: Emmm, maybe? well, I'm not going away forever. I heard the other day about the mine, and I want to do something fun, you know, when you're alone all day with your mother you can get bored from time to time.

Girl 2: hehehe, I understand that, my parents won't let me have a boyfriend, can you believe it?

Girl 3: But don't you think you're taking it too far? Mines are dangerous aren't they?

Carmila: I know, but they say that not far from the entrance there are several colored crystals. I'd like to explore a bit and take some back to my mom. They can be as heavy as I want, but after all I love her, I'd like to give her something.

Girl 2: Wow Carmi, who knew you had a sensitive side.

Girl 3: Still let someone know, what if something happens to you?

Carmila: Don't worry, I'm not going alone, a friend will help me. Her dad's a miner, so she's going to bring equipment so it won't be so hard for us.

Girl 1: It's ok girl. If I don't see you tomorrow I'm going to make a fuss and tell your mother.

Carmila: You don't have to worry, I'll be fine. My neighbor will go with me.

Dr. Gascoigne gets up from his seat, visibly angry. Agent Curry stops the projection and the recording.

<END LOG>

"Damn it Borja, that' s how far you have come?! How much do you need to humiliate me to prove you are right? You were my friend, I thought you were something more than a hypocrite! What is the eagerness to keep hurting my family?"

"Please Doctor, calm down. This is not what it looks like, please pay attention."

"Bullshit! You're the one who's going to listen to me! This proves nothing, I interviewed her myself to get that out of her, you're just wasting my time."

At such a display of anger, Agent Curry ordered the guards to subdue Gascoigne, who after struggling, and taking a punch from one of the guards, resumed his seat, hoping everyone would stop focusing on him.

On the other hand, Agent Curry's expression had changed for the worse, his face looked pale, as if during all this brawl his soul had left his body and suddenly returned all of a sudden. In a somewhat fearful voice, he turned to Doctor Gascoigne, "Doctor, can you say, for the record, who you recognized on the recording up to the moment of the pause?"

"To Carmen Lopez, who was subsequently classified as SCP-ES-260-5."

Agent Curry swallowed his saliva, and proceeded with the video, but not before warning Doctor Gascoigne about his behavior, and that another such misconduct will not be tolerated:

Log 2: Projection of recording number 329 SCP-ES-260, part 2.

<BEGIN LOG>

The projection shows that Carmila has left school, and is heading to a rural area of the town she lives in. She stops at a house and knocks on the door.

A woman opens the door.

Subject 1: Hi Carmila! How was school?

Carmila: Hi ma'am! Today was a nice day, we didn't see much, is Vanesa home?

Subject 1: Sure, let me go get her.

The door closes, two minutes pass. The door opens again, and both Subject 1 and Vanesa come out. The latter is carrying a large backpack. Vanesa's physical appearance is consistent with that of SCP-ES-260-4

Subject 1: (laughing) They already had everything ready, they even look like sisters.

Vanesa: Come on mom, don't embarrass me in front of my friend.

Carmila: (laughing) No problem, we have to go, otherwise we'll be late. See you later ma'am, I promise we'll behave ourselves!

Both girls walk away from the house, and start talking about trivial things on the way. Dr. Gascoigne asks for a pause, which is granted.

<END LOG>

Doctor Gascoigne had lost the strength and determination of a few minutes ago, now resembling a corpse, similar to the face that Agent Curry showed. The cell fell into a stony silence for about 10 seconds that felt like hours. Gascoigne was the first to break it.

"What the hell is that?" he exclaimed in a shaky voice as he looked toward the guards for moral support, as if they all shared his memories.

"Doctor, there is a way you can fix that bad impression. At this point, you may be able to save yourself. Just answer the following truthfully: was SCP-ES-260-5's version of the facts about your accident never altered? Do you know anything about it besides your testimonies?"

Gascoigne maintained his puzzled expression, and after a futile attempt to look into his memories, he had no answer. Agent Curry interpreted his silence as a no, and having regained his composure, proceeded with the search:

Log 3: Projection of recording number 329 SCP-ES-260, part 3.

<BEGIN LOG>

The projection shows the entrance of a cave. Vanesa is on the right side, equipped with a helmet and some mining tools. She is holding Carmila's hand.

Vanesa: Carmi, it's too late to chicken out, we're here, it just would be a waste to go back with nothing.

Carmila hesitates, but enters the mine together with Vanesa. They start humming a song. It is estimated that they descend about 30 meters into the mine. The girls stop when they find themselves in a wide space, with several blue crystals around them, there is a kind of lake in the middle.

Carmila: This… This is just beautiful.

Vanesa: Wow. How could my father never told me about this? Something like this could be a great place to vacation. The town could get rich!

Carmila walks slowly forward, leaving Vanesa behind. She looks at the windows to the side, which flicker as if a light is being projected on them. Vanesa can be seen, who has climbed a rock to get a better view of the lake.

Vanesa: Look at this Carmila, I bet I can splash you right up to where you are!

Vanesa jumps off the rock into the lake. Carmila runs to the shore, it is assumed that the lake is at least 5 meters deep. Vanesa can be seen swimming while waving to Carmila. 5 seconds after the dive, Vanesa tries to get out, however, a group of flashes similar to those seen in the crystals move towards Vanesa. Vanesa notices this, showing an apparent expression of terror, as she swims faster towards the surface. Carmila notices this, and quickly reaches out her hand towards Vanesa, which she reaches out and tries to pull her out of the lake as she screams..

The glowing sparkles moved, as if they were solid mass and appear to be holding Vanesa. She winces in pain. Carmila keeps trying to pull Vanesa out of the water.

After a few seconds, Vanesa begins to lose consciousness, and is dragged into the depths of the lake. The mass of flashes takes the form of a jaw similar to that of animals belonging to the Selachimorpha family, and in one swift movement, almost completely engulfs Vanesa. Carmila is only able to extract the arm she was holding from her friend.

Carmila screams, and without letting go of Vanesa's arm, runs to the exit of the mine. She stumbles 20 meters from the exit, and stays there, adopting a fetal position as she screams and cries, hugging the severed limb.

The video is fast-forwarded approximately 18 hours, and Dr. Andrés Gascoigne appears on camera.

Dr. Gascoigne: Carmila, is that you? Thank God you're fine, come on, you're not in trouble, there's nothing wrong.

Carmila was apparently passed out. Gascoigne's vociferations brought her back to consciousness. When she notices Gascoigne, she starts to scream and move away from Gascoigne.

Dr. Gascoigne: Wait, don't go, don't-

Gascoigne stops. It is inferred that he has noticed Vanesa's arm. Gascoigne looks shocked, says nothing, and sits on the floor while covering his head with his hands. Carmila dropped Vanesa's arm.

Carmila: (between sobs) I-It's not what it looks like, something took her. I tried to help her but she had teeth and when I realized she was gone and….

Carmila is unable to continue speaking. She sits on the floor. Gascoigne gets back up with a lost expression, as he approaches the girl.

Dr. Gascoigne: Let's go back home Carmila, this kind of scares don't do your mother any good.

Gascoigne takes Carmila's hand, and forcibly lifts her up.

Carmila: Wh-what are you doing, let go of me, you're hurting me!

Gascoigne tries to move forward dragging Carmila. You can see that she is limping.

Dr. Gascoigne: Come on daughter, dinner awaits.

Carmila: Let me go, I am not your daughter, your daughter is Vanesa and she is no longer here!

Dr. Gascoigne: What are you talking about Carmila? You have always been my only daughter. I know, you saw something in the cave that made you forget your family, didn't you? Don't worry, I'll protect you from that Vanesa. Is she down there? I'll show you that your father is not afraid of anything.

Gascoigne drags Carmila back into the cave. Carmila tries to get away with all her strength. The camera points towards the darkness of the mine, and some flashes like the ones described above can be seen, with each passing second they increase and seem to get closer. Carmila starts to scream.

(voiceover) Agent Curry: Wait a minute, that wasn't on the recording. Disconnect the projector, quickly shoot the flashes!

Agent Curry runs to the projector socket. Dr. Dowell quickly takes cover behind his seat, while the guards ready their weapons, aiming at the mass of glitter. The projector is disconnected, but the mass of glows lingers, and quickly rushes forward, in the direction of Agent Curry. The guards open fire, shrinking their size to reduce the object to 50% of its original size. However, they are large enough to form the jaw of a Selachimorpha, and it lunges forward, at a greater speed. Doctor Gascoigne pushes Agent Curry out of the way, taking the bite full on.

The guards finish off the remaining luminous mass, but it is too late, Dr. Gascoigne is dead. His head has been crushed, and the recognizable parts have multiple wounds corresponding to serrated teeth.

<END LOG>

The guards were quick to secure the cell, and when they were done, they called for a cleaning crew. Agent Curry secured the computer controlling the projector, and helped Dr. Dowell to stand still. Five minutes of deathly apathy passed, removing in a black bag the remains of the last survivor of San Lorenzo del Añil.

Agent Curry leaned against a wall, and looked sadly at Borja "Is this what you wanted? Did this playacting make any sense?"

"I never wanted things to end like this. If you heard the whole story, then you must have deduced that Gascoigne was special. It was not my intention to kill him, I just wanted his personal story to have a denouement, whether satisfying or not."

"Gascoigne created an illusory world where the accident never happened, and this was affected by the hive. To what extent do you think it affected the overall investigation?" replied Curry, as he nervously fiddled with a key ring he pulled from his pocket.

"Honestly, not at all. He would have made a fuss if he had known from the start that his people were already dead. Maybe the hive isolated him, being an element that affected it." said Borja as he looked up. They both pondered for a few seconds, until the sound of the key ring falling to the ground revived the conversation.

"With all due respect, I do not quite understand you. You did not hesitate to eradicate a town, but you were willing to risk the site personnel, including yourself, so that one person would accept that his life was a lie."

"They are two different things agent. Gasciogne could have represented a great tool for SCP-ES-260 containment, had we discovered the purpose of the cave, and had an infiltrator willing to help…"

Borja stopped abruptly. Neither of them were seeing eye-to-eye, but Curry's intuition was one of the best within the ranks of Site-89.

"So what do those tears mean."

Borja hadn't noticed, but his eyes were wet. He carved them both out, slapped his hands together a couple of times, and regaining his characteristic seriousness replied, "Well, those 4500 people did not go with me in high school."

"I understand. It works for me."

And with these words they both departed, leaving the now execution room. Borja Dowell handed the video logs to Altair, while Agent Curry left the facility. No one remembered the key ring lying on the floor. That day Agent Curry had to vandalize his own car to return home.

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