When Day Broke the Unbreakable Reptile

rating: +280+x

by TopHatBionicle

When you’re assigned to SCP-682, they tell you there are three laws of nature that you must believe:

  1. There is no such thing as immortality. Everything will die eventually, be it from murder, accidents, or just old age.
  2. Everything has a weakness. If everything can die, then anything can be made to die. Anything can be killed.
  3. Under no circumstances can you believe, even for a second, even subconsciously, that SCP-682 can’t be killed.

Of course, those apply more to the researchers trying to terminate SCP-682, but I still believed them wholeheartedly. I wasn’t here to try to terminate 682, though. I am — was — a psychologist, sent in by the Foundation to try to study the Reptile and make a psychological profile of it. Essentially, I was trying to understand how the mind of pure destruction and hatred worked. It was part of a new initiative in the Foundation: trying to improve the containment procedures of sentient SCPs through understanding them psychologically, and maybe even find a way to make them more complacent and reduce the number of attempted breaches. Everyone said I was mad when I requested 682. Maybe I am, maybe I wouldn’t have been here if I wasn’t mad, but here I was every day for a month, staring at a giant, murderous, Hard-to-Destroy Reptile in a vat of acid.

And I think it was staring back at me.

I knew 682 would never cooperate with questioning, or knowingly give me any insight into its psyche, so I resolved to sit and watch it until it started talking to me. Every day I sat with a pen and notebook, watching the Reptile, and when he had nothing better to do, he watched me back. It felt like I was Clarice Starling staring at Hannibal Lecter, except Hannibal at least talked. I knew 682 found me and all the other researchers “disgusting”. I knew it wanted all life on Earth dead, but I wondered if maybe, just maybe, curiosity would get the better of him.

We’ll never know, because one day the Sun decided that it wanted all life on Earth dead, too.

On that day, I stood in disbelief, in a doorway just barely out of the reach of the sunlight, staring out into the sun-bleached world. Heat charred the bare Earth. Reds and oranges danced and pulsated where there were once greens and blues. Friends and coworkers were melting, turning the landscape into a nightmare surrealist painting, yet all I could stare at was 682. Flesh melted off the Reptile’s back almost as fast as it could regenerate it, maybe faster. It smelled like burnt rotting flesh and hatred, and sounded like tar bubbling and boiling in the deepest pits of Hell. What terrified me in that moment, more than the containment breach, more than the melted people around me, more than the hateful Sun, was that no matter what adaptations it tried, the Reptile was still melting.

And despite myself, despite everything I’d held faith in and worked for, despite the three natural laws that I’d held higher than any regulation, rule, or religion, I couldn’t believe it.

I couldn’t believe that SCP-682 was dying.

After several failed adaptations, 682 resorted to piling the already melted flesh on top of itself and curling up as small as possible, in an effort to avoid being exposed to more light. It huddled under the mass of wiggling flesh that had melted off its back, even as it seemed the flesh itself was trying to get away. Curled up under an umbrella of its own melted back, shying away from any sunlight that threatened to touch it, 682 almost looked scared.

The Reptile must’ve noticed me staring at it, because it then did the one thing I’d wanted it to do for weeks: It spoke to me.

“I don’t want your pity, human.” It turned to look at me, ignoring the sunlight melting the tip of its snout to do so. “Aren’t you happy? You finally found a way to kill me. Isn’t that what every disgusting human in this wretched place wanted?”

“Not like this.” I finally found my voice. “All I wanted — all the Foundation ever wanted — was to protect humanity. Killing you at the cost of humanity itself? That’s not a victory. That’s the worst defeat we could’ve had.” Then my anger rose, along with my voice. “Aren’t you happy? Almost every living thing on Earth is dying. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

SCP-682 may have chuckled, or maybe it was just the boiling of melted flesh, but even through all the heat, the Reptile’s voice still sent a chill up my spine.

“I know death. I revel in death. I want death for every disgusting creature that lives! But this…” 682 snarled at the flesh, hissing like a snake. “This is worse than death. Worse than life. Worse than anything either of us could imagine. Even for something as revolting as you, this is not a punishment I would wish.”

“Is that why you are coming back inside?” I don’t know why I said it, or why I kept talking after I saw the anger flare up in the Reptile’s eyes. “You hate all life. Does that include yourself? Do you think this death — or, ‘not death’ — is a fitting punishment for you?”

I knew I was signing my own death certificate. 682’s hatred eclipsed its survival instinct, and it slowly got up and lumbered toward me, dragging the flesh on its back with it. In hindsight, I should’ve run. I should’ve at least closed the door. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t. The Reptile collapsed before it got back inside, before it could even get close enough to hurt me. More and more of its body melted, and its regeneration tried desperately to keep up.

I must have been hallucinating, or maybe it was just a piece of melting flesh, but I swear I saw a tear fall from 682’s eye.

“Does it hurt?” was all I could think to say. A stupid question really, and one I should never have asked, but 682’s answer surprised and terrified me.

“Not the way you’d think it does. You and your ‘termination attempts’ have caused me far greater pain.” The Reptile shifted under the weight of its own melted flesh, turning to look me right in the eyes. “Do you want another tidbit for your database, Little Scientist? I’ll give you one. Every one of your attempts to kill me has been excruciatingly painful, but that’s nothing compared to the pain of regenerating after each one. It seems that part of my curse is to feel twice the pain while healing than what I felt from the injury.”

My mind raced through every termination attempt on 682, every painful procedure, every excruciating moment the Foundation had put it through.

I didn’t even know a quarter of them, but I already wanted to hurl.

“But this is nothing like that,” the Reptile continued. “The melting doesn’t hurt at all, not physically, and the regeneration is little more than a tingle. No, the only pain I feel is from knowing what I’m becoming, and what I have to admit to myself.”

682 inched closer. I should’ve left. I should’ve closed the door. I definitely shouldn’t have asked any other questions.

“What ARE you becoming?” I choked out. “And what do you have to admit?”

The Reptile dragged itself to within centimeters of the door. I still couldn’t look away. I still couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“I have to admit that you were right,” 682 snarled. “That deep down, there’s no living thing I hate more than myself. That every day I wished your next attempt to kill me would succeed, and I could finally pass into eternal damnation. And that, maybe, melting into an undying pile of flesh is the only punishment I could truly deserve.”

“As for what I’m becoming,” it said, finally pushing up from its crouch, that should become obvious soon enough.”

Oh God, how do I even describe the sound it made? It was like a cry of pain and a sigh of relief, a scream of hatred, and a shout of pure joy all rolled into one. 682 threw the flesh that had been shielding it off its back, stood on its hind legs, and screamed at the Sun. As long as I live, I will never forget seeing 682 melt and regenerate and melt constantly as the Sun beat down on it. The pile of flesh grew bigger and bigger as the Reptile shed its melting skins one after another, each one wriggling and writhing as if it was alive.

I think I know what Hell looks like.

All I could do was stare in horror as 682 threw layer after layer of melted skin off its body. I’ve seen 682 survive tortures and mutilations crafted by the most sadistic minds on Earth, and yet this… this was more horrific than all of them combined. It was like the Sun was fighting 682’s regeneration to see which was faster, and 682 was helping the Sun.

Suddenly I was yanked back and the door closed in front of me. “The hell were you doing?” An MTF shouted at me. “There’s an XK in progress AND 682 broke containment, we have orders to shelter in place so we can do fuck all about it, and you’re just standing there gawking at the doorway while whatever the hell that… hey, you ok?”

When you’re assigned to SCP-682, they tell you there are three laws of nature that you must believe:

  1. There is no such thing as immortality. Everything will die eventually, be it from murder, accidents, or just old age.
  2. Everything has a weakness. If everything can die, then anything can be made to die. Anything can be killed.
  3. Under no circumstances can you believe, even for a second, even subconsciously, that SCP-682 cannot die.

On that day, as I stared blankly at the MTF, all I could say was three words. Three words that, on any other day, would’ve been cause for the greatest celebration the Foundation had ever seen. Three words that, on that day, of all days, were absolutely terrifying.

“SCP-682 is dead.”

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