1. This story is an AU that places Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter in the world of the SCP Foundation, a fictional collection of objects, humans, and extraterrestrial/extradimensional beings deemed a threat to global security or human normalcy. The SCP Foundation originated on 4chan’s /x/ board, where people would dig up pictures of weird things and write stories explaining what they were. Eventually the concept got its own wiki. You need not possess any prior knowledge of the Foundation before reading this story, but it might be helpful to visit a few pages there, to become familiar with the format and themes. (Here are some of my favorite entries, none of which are mentioned in this fic. Some are spooky, some are funny, and some are both: 381, 426, 1981, 294, 361, 147, 586, 597, 1370, 1839, 374, 1d6-J and 006-J.) Be warned that the SCP wiki has suction powers rivaled only by TV Tropes. Try to remember to actually come back and read this fic after browsing the wiki!
2. I tried to explain things that needed explaining, but also deliberately left things to the reader’s imagination. (Which is the way the SCP wiki itself is written.) Some events/discoveries described on the wiki have been dramatized in this fic. If you go to read the entire wiki entry for an SCP object as soon as it is mentioned, you might be spoiled for something that occurs in the story. So what I did was, I embedded “easter egg” links to objects mentioned in passing, so you can get more info about them if you wish. But if you see something mentioned for the first time and there is no embedded link, you can just continue to read the fic, and you’ll learn all you need to know about the object.
3. There are many canonical secure facilities run by the Foundation, and each one tends to specialize in particular types of objects, or is located in a specific area to house an immovable object. I didn’t want to limit the story based on which items are housed in which facilities, so I made up a facility of an ambiguous nature and location, U-62, and moved any objects there that I desired, for story purposes.
*** Please be advised that this fic contains canon-typical content for both Hannibal and the SCP Foundation. That means blood and guts, psychological horror, body horror, and occasional pauses for homoeroticism. I cannot be any more specific than that without spoilers, so please use your best judgment before proceeding. ***
It was assumed that this would be a low-risk retrieval, despite the fact that four people had died from the effects of the object. Each death had been attributed to dehydration, which took several days and indicated that whatever the thing was, it did not kill quickly. With a skilled retrieval team to look out for one another, it could likely be captured without incident.
Will Graham had been shoved into the Mobile Task Force van six minutes ago, and the team leader, Oshawa, now briefed him on the situation; aided by some photographs taken by the local police:
“This woman was found dead in the bedroom of her apartment. Dehydration, no evidence of foul play. Police report said no one had heard from her in five days. Not so bizarre, except that her mother and stepfather had died of apparent dehydration ten days previously, in comparably secure and isolated circumstances. Twelve days prior to that, the mother had found her mother dead from dehydration in her attic, following the death of her husband…although his death was attributed to complications from diabetes, so we don’t think it’s related.”
“Any leads on whether it’s targeting women, specifically, or whether it might have something to do with the family line?” Information like that would not help Will locate the anomalous object, but knowing that either of those things were a crucial factor would make him feel a whole lot better about walking blindly into a dead woman’s house.
Oshawa shook his head. “It’s not unheard of for an SCP’s effectiveness to be dependent on gender or heredity, but it’s fairly unusual. In this case we suspect we’re dealing either with a cognitohazard that is compelling individuals to go without food or water, or a parasite that is actively dehydrating the victims. In either case, we’re equipped to deal with it.”
The van pulled up in front of an unremarkable house in a neighborhood typical of the kind that had sprung up in this part of the state, after the construction of an aqueduct system which facilitated a population boom. An additional vehicle pulled up and parked behind the van, an ordinary civilian car. The residents of this house were at work, and the van had “South County Plumbing” on the side, so their presence did not draw suspicion. Oshawa led the team quietly to the south side of the house, where he lifted the latch on the gate and proceeded to the pool house in the back.
The interior of the pool house seemed a perfectly typical residence for a woman in her twenties doing the best she could with mid-century modern construction: photographs and posters of rock bands covered most of the wood paneling, and the old kitchen fixtures were augmented by a toaster oven and a juicer. A Foundation agent had placed a few calls in the last forty-eight hours, to ensure that everything remained untouched, once the coroner had left with the tenant’s body.
It was a tiny little house, and Will’s head ached in every corner of it. But he found the pain particularly hard to bear in the front room, where, amongst the Ikea furniture and contemporary consumer electronics, he saw a large, empty cardboard box and several vintage items scattered around it: a jewelry box, a few animal-print polyester dresses, some old jazz LPs, and a table lamp. There was also a full-length mirror that looked like it had been recently brought in.
“If her mother and grandmother both died recently, my guess is that these items belonged to them,” Will said, waving to indicate the collection. He did not touch anything; it was too risky a task for him. Instead, two members of the MTF spread everything out on the little dining table, while Will moved back and forth, paying attention to the way his splitting headache became even more intense. But then the jewelry box was opened, and Oshawa said, “I think we found it.”
He held in his hand a single cigarette with the words “BLUE LADY” hand-written along its length.
One of the other members of the task force whined, “I got suited up for a Blue Lady cigarette? Fucking Christ. Dumb bitch probably blazed up thinking she’d found her grandma’s secret stash.” The man looked at Will like it was his fault.
“Just go get a B3 containment unit from the van,” Oshawa said. “Don’t mind him,” he said to Will. “It’s just kind of like…well, you were a cop, right? It’s like getting called out on when a kid pranks 911: you gotta check up on it in case it’s really something serious, but when it’s not, you know…” and he flung up his hands for effect.
The rest of the MTF stood around while they waited for the containment unit to be brought in, though at this point they knew that their continued presence was just a formality. A Blue Lady cigarette wasn’t dangerous unless you consumed it. Anyone could have dropped it into the box without fear for their safety. At this point, they seemed more concerned with any titillating items of a personal nature that might have been left in view before the young woman had died, and their eyes darted about.
The whiny MTF member put the cigarette into the box with a sigh, sealed it, and walked back out to the van with it like he was carrying his wife’s purse. The rest of the MTF followed, but Will hung back; one of the team members of the MTF – Agent Halifax, presumably, as he also remained in the room – would drive Will back to the U-62 facility in the civilian car, so he would not have to endure a two-hour drive next to an SCP object. Will anticipated the relief that would come as the cigarette moved further away from him, but the pain behind his eyes remained just as sharp. He was about to say something, when Oshawa shouted, “Halifax! Let’s move it!”
Oshawa marched out of the little house, expecting that his order would be promptly obeyed, but Halifax said, “I can’t.”
Will looked over at Halifax, who was gazing intently at the full length mirror. “What do you mean, you can’t?”
“I can’t leave. It’ll kill him.”
Will walked over and looked into the mirror, which showed a reflection of himself and Halifax. Except Halifax’s reflection, and only his, was moving independently.
“When did this happen?” Will asked. “Just now?”
“No, I’m real!” the reflection said. “I’ve always been here!”
“It’s not real,” Will said. “Let’s go. Can you move?”
Halifax was able to avert his eyes from the mirror, and took a step away from it, but before his reflection could lose sight of him, it screamed, “Why are you telling him to kill me!?” Halifax froze and said, “See? I can’t.”
After observing Halifax’s reflection for a short while, Will noticed something else. His own reflection now moved independently of his actions. “He’s only trying to protect us,” it said, indicating Halifax’s reflection. “You have to stay close, or we’ll die.”
“What would Mom say, if you let us die?” Halifax’s reflection said to him. “Remember when you were seven, how angry she was when she found out you were pulling the back legs off grasshoppers? And those were just grasshoppers. She’d disown you if she found out you killed me.”
“Is that true?” Will said. “About the grasshoppers? How does it know that?”
“Look, this is not that big a deal,” Halifax reasoned. “All we have to do is stay here. That’s a small price to pay to save a life, isn’t it?”
Will rolled his eyes and took a step to the side, but the agonized whimpering, in his own voice, gave him pause. Perhaps Halifax was right. The Foundation had resources; they could find a way to make it so they always stayed in front of the mirror…
Oshawa stomped back into the room, shouting, “Agent Halifax, I ordered you to—”
“Don’t come in,” Will snapped. “Stay right there, and don’t look into the room. There’s another SCP in here, and I think it’s memetic.”
“God damn it,” Oshawa muttered. “Agent Halifax, if you don’t step away from that mirror right now, you’re demoted to D-class.”
“Don’t listen to that guy!” Halifax’s reflection begged. “He wants to kill us! Don’t let him kill us!” Will’s reflection chimed in, its pleas just as shrill and earnest, and Will felt a flash of sympathy, something more urgent than guilt. It was more like his own sense of self-preservation was being triggered.
But he could not hang onto the feeling for long. Already his head hurt like a bastard, and all the screaming and shouting was not helping him one bit; all he could think of was how he could make it stop. “Calm down, both of you,” Will said, and then, more softly, “Stop screaming, please. Now listen, I’m going to step back a little bit. I’ll stay where you can see me, but it hurts me to be too close. You must know that.”
His reflection nodded. “Okay. Yeah, I know. Okay. But you’re not going anywhere, right?”
Will stepped backwards, until his leg bumped the corner of the futon. “Of course not,” he insisted, which seemed to soothe both the men in the reflection and Halifax himself.
Then, with lightning speed, Will yanked the blanket off the futon and flung it over the mirror. The moment their reflections lost sight of Will and Halifax, they began to scream in agony, and Will caught sight of a turbulent disintegration in the one corner of the mirror that remained uncovered.
“What the fuck just happened?!” Halifax said. “Oh God, what have you done?” But then he seemed to calm down somewhat, and when the screaming finally ended he said, as if waking from a daze, “Were they real?”
“No,” Will said gravely, “they weren’t real.”
“Wow. I must look like a real sucker right now.”
“Yeah, well, don’t worry about it.”
Oshawa was utterly lacking in sympathy. “Halifax, go bring in the C3 containment unit from the van,” he said. “And try not to look at anything else too hard while you’re doing it.”
“Sir,” Halifax said, and trotted out of the room.
Oshawa approached Will, looking at the covered, and now presumably harmless, mirror. “That was quite a thing you did, Agent Graham,” he said. “You’re a worthy addition to any Mobile Task Force. Where the hell did you find the nerve?”
“I don’t know,” Will shrugged, staring forlornly at the covered mirror, which was still giving him a massive headache. “I must just be completely lacking in empathy.”