rating: +73+x

Item #: SCP-4038

Object Class: Keter

Special Containment Procedures: SCP-4038-C individuals may travel freely within Site-44 during the day so long as they wear surgical masks and report to their quarantine before dark. The quarantine quarters contain individual cells, a cafeteria, and a recreation area. Research and facilities staff are required to wear full protective equipment within the quarantine area at all times. Study of SCP-4038 outside of quarantine is permitted but must take place in sealed chambers with full decontamination systems.

Foundation operatives within global media outlets will periodically broadcast trigger phrases in order to locate SCP-4038 outbreaks. Any confirmed SCP-4038-C are to be brought to Site-44 for quarantine and study.

Description: SCP-4038 is an anomalous contagion that affects the anatomy and behavior of sleeping humans (infected humans are collectively referred to as SCP-4038-C). The specific biological vector has not been discovered at this time, but it is clear SCP-4038 can only be transmitted through direct oral contact. Because SCP-4038's properties only manifest when SCP-4038-C sleeps, many infections spread unknowingly within populations before being discovered. No cure is currently known for SCP-4038, but it appears to have no adverse effects on SCP-4038-C health.

SCP-4038's primary anomalous feature is the ability to make the human tongue lengthen and contract without losing strength, dexterity, or girth. The tongue also seems to gain a degree of sentience. CAT scans have confirmed that when SCP-4038-C enters REM sleep, abnormal activity occurs in the language and motor centers of the brain. While asleep, SCP-4038-C will begin muttering a polyglot mixture of approximately 150 languages, some believed long extinct. Translation of these mutterings is difficult, but invariably are curses, insults, and vague threats directed at humans and humanity.

After 10 to 20 minutes of this muttering, SCP-4038-C will stick out their tongue, which will then proceed to anomalously elongate. The maximum length the tongue can achieve is a function of time since infection. Each night, the tongue can reach anywhere between 10 and 22 centimeters further: the growth rate appears to be highly correlated with the number of languages the SCP-4038-C individual speaks. The tongue will then attempt to search out any other sleeping humans within its range. To this end it is capable of opening doors, windows, and tent flaps, indicating at least partial sapience.

There is no neurological connection between the tongue and SCP-4038-C's brain at this time: hence damaging the tongue does not wake SCP-4038-C. However, upon being touched by a waking human the tongue begins to writhe in seeming panic before expiring. Unless an emergency tracheotomy is performed this will result in the death of SCP-4038-C by choking, as the tongue is blocking the airway. The tongue will then begin a process of anomalous rapid necrosis, starting from the tip: this part will naturally detach and the tongue will return to normal length. However, SCP-4038 infection has not ended, and the tongue will begin growing again the following night.

SCP-4038-C's tongue appears to navigate solely by feel. When it locates a sleeping human, it will enter the mouth for a period of approximately 90 seconds: infection occurs in 95% of cases. The tongue will immediately begin searching for additional hosts.

Recovery: SCP-4038 was first discovered when Foundation staff were notified about unusual events on the fifth night of a music festival near ███████. Monitoring on the sixth night yielded an observation of a massive Towering Event (see addendum SCP-4038-I8 below for a description of Towering Events) with 544 participants.

All individuals were quarantined and interviewed, but Foundation staff were unable to determine the history of infection for the original SCP-4038-C. Eight subsequent outbreaks have occurred, in locations where large amounts of humans sleep in close proximity. Cruise ships, music festivals, and hostels are particularly susceptible.

In all outbreaks, at least one SCP-4038-C had recently traveled to the city of Jerusalem. It is believed there is a source of the infection somewhere in the city or the surrounding area.

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