📋 SCP-4000 — Taboo
rating: +2+x

"As you wish, fellow scholar. I shall talk until the tea is cold."

SCP-4000: Taboo by PeppersGhostPeppersGhost

Object Class: Keter


In the event that the world is about to end and you only have thirty seconds left to read this declassification, you can gain a reasonably thorough idea of what the hell's going on in this SCP by only reading the emboldened and italicized parts of the text. However, if you do so, you will miss out on some incredible minute details and recurrent themes, so please, skim-read at your own risk.

We begin by noting that this is one of the most colorful entries on the entire SCP wiki. As a header to the piece is an official-looking warning that states, in very large letters, that SCP-4000 is affected by communication.

Do not refer to it in speech or writing unless trained.

Then we get treated to some nightmare fuel: a picture of a girl with no face suspended in the air. The caption refers to the entity "manifesting", implying that the anomaly also has some physical capability.

Finally, once our eyes have recovered, we can begin to unpick the actual document. The first thing you'll notice is that certain words and phrases are in a different color to the rest of the document:

The extradimensional location described below

the forest outside normative space

the place where the nameless are found

the forest found in chimneys

What do all of these have in common? Well, they're all descriptions of a location: a forest. Apparently the forest in question is a "nomenclative hazard" - that is, its name has some dangerous effect. This is a recurrent theme throughout the piece: names have power here. More power than we realize.

Note how, of the four phrases highlighted above, not one of them gives this forest a name. This will become important later.

Aside from this observation, there is only one other thing worth mentioning in the containment procedures. One is the following:

If the individual responsible for the breach has no known next of kin, the individual's name must be expurgated from all existing documents and records; any other individuals possessing the same name are to be administered Type-G viral amnestics and assigned a new one.

Further evidence that names are significant somehow.

On to the description, and it's here we begin to get some idea of what's actually going on with this forest. Initially we don't learn anything new - just confirmation that it's a forest that does weird things with names - but then we get a new color. Up until this point, everything has been green, but a new location is described in blue,

a dilapidated brick well

and then another in brown.

a single dirt path

The key to the colors is to realize that, since for whatever reason they can't describe things normally, they have to use alternative methods to identify specific features. Here it's colors: green is the forest (like leaves on the trees), blue is the well (like the water that should be inside it), and brown is the path (like the dirt that composes it).

A variety of anomalous entities native to the nameless habitat have been documented. […] Native entities are sapient and often highly temperamental, but can be interacted with safely as long as 4000-SEP precautions are followed.

Things live in the forest. We'll meet one later. But first:

Various anomalous phenomena may occur when consistent nomenclature is applied to the realm of the unnamable, its native entities, or its landmarks.

This is arguably the most important part of the entire thing. Consistent nomenclature? What that means is that you cannot call the forest, or anything in the forest, by the same name twice. If you do, several things may occur. A full list can be found in the document itself, but there are a few ones worthy of note:

The development of nonhuman physical characteristics among exposed subjects, such as feathers and pollen sacs.

The development of biological components in non-biological mediums where nomenclature is written or recorded.

Sudden transport of native entities to areas where nomenclature was used. Extreme iron deficiency in exposed

subjects, with an absence of expected negative side effects.

We have people turning into animals, plants appearing when the name is written, and teleportation of native inhabitants of the forest. And… a lack of iron?

Onwards! There are four dropdown menus which seal the deal, as far as the anomaly is concerned. The first is some good ol' fashioned horror, with people fusing into floors, people fused with lights, and people throwing up their own bones. But there are a few things that appear… off… with the reports.

Breach Date: 22 December, 1955 Traces of soil and human tissue were later found in the pencil, paper, and harvey mansfield Desk Desk had used in his writing.

Breach Date: 19 August, 1958 After completing an exploratory mission, field agent Ethan Mercy Mercy Mercy Mercy used the same epithet several times when describing a particular native entity.

Breach Date: 30 October, 1992 Agent Michael Ashley Vincent, who had completed an exploratory mission several years prior, used the possessive phrase "██ house" several times while recounting stories to two of his colleagues, who did not have names.

…hm.

The next two are merely protocol for accessing and operating inside of the forest. You can read them in your own time, as they provide some good worldbuilding. But there is something that should be highlighted, and yet again it has to do with names:

2.07 Do not refer to a native entity by a name, title, or designation, even if it introduces itself with such.

2.08 Do not state your name, nickname, codename, alias, or any other personal designation when in the presence of a native entity.

2.09 If a native entity offers to assign you a name, title, or designation, politely decline.

2.10 If a native entity makes a statement in which it addresses or refers to you by a name, title, designation, or anything other than a physical description, ignore the statement as though it had not been spoken.

Finally, we reach an interview. The creature being interviewed is an odd mixture of rabbit and man, which certainly adds to the Wonderland-esque vibe of the whole piece.

[Begin Log]

"Good morning, strange traveller."

Dr. Japers: Good morning.

Wait, no name? Huh. That's odd.

"How is your name?"

Dr. Japers: How is…? I'm sorry, I'm afraid I can't tell you that.

"Are you simple? I'm merely asking how your name is. My name has smelt of raspberries lately, I think—or snapdragons, perhaps. It's so hard to tell these days, but one makes an effort."

Dr. Japers: Ah, my apologies. I'm afraid my name has tasted rather tart as of late.

The second interview provides yet more in the way of how names work:

Dr. Japers: When we last met, you said it had become difficult to describe your name. Do you have any theories for why that may be?

"I can only assume it's because of how long we've been apart—my name and I, that is. It was a good name, a proud name, I'm fairly sure. By this point, though, it's probably decayed from its former grandeur, if it even still exists."

We can skim through the rest of it, and move on to the third interview, where everything starts to make sense.

"Much as it grieves me to say it, we were betrayed. We had fought side-by-side, you know, in the war against that factory. We had done nothing but help them, and what did they do? They destroyed us. They took so many of our lives, and all of our names. Some of us fled here when the war was just beginning, but not many. Not many. Still, though, I don't hate them."

Dr. Japers: I'm glad for that.

"I'd imagine so! There are some old fogies around these parts who bear a grudge against the whole species, but I know you're not all bad. There were many who sheltered us, fought for us, even died for us. Some came to live here amongst us, rest their souls. I, myself, courted a human once upon a time. He came to visit a time or two, but I never saw him after that. I still wonder now and again if he fell at the hand of an unkind neighbor, or if he merely stopped caring to see me. But it's no matter, now. I apologize for prattling on about old flames. Certainly such things are of no interest to you, fellow scholar."

Dr. Japers: On the contrary, I'd quite like to hear more these stories. The life of you and your people is of great interest to me.

"I'm sure it is, fellow scholar."
The rabbit-person who lives there grunts and places a hand to its head, as if in pain. Dr. Japers places his hand against the teapot.

Dr. Japers: It appears the tea has gotten cold. I think it's time I took my leave.

(Speech slightly slurred) "What? You're leaving? I—I should leave too, then."

[…]
"Stop! What have you done? I don't know who… what happened to my name? I can't…"

Dr. Japers quickly exits the house. His former companion whimpers and looks at its hands as he leaves.

Dr. Japers: Hm. It does taste rather tart.

Sorry for that massive block of quoted text, but it's all crucial for piecing together exactly what's going on here.

So what is going on here?

Well, to begin, let's look at one of the rabbit's lines:

We had fought side-by-side, you know, in the war against that factory.

The words "the war against that factory" link to this Tale, which was among the first and most highly rated SCP-001 Proposals. It details how the Foundation did battle against an evil corporate body that mass-produced anomalous artifacts. But one aspect that tends to get overlooked is the existence of faeries:

1911 was when it all went wrong. Things… we called them faeries. An entire race of things, living beside us. They could look the same as you or I. The only obvious difference was an allergy to Iron.

Remember earlier, when it mentioned the iron deficiencies? This seals the deal: SCP-4000 is the home of the Fae race, a race which the Foundation tried, and failed, to exterminate. This explains why creatures can exist that are half-human, half-animal; this explains why such formal and delicate language is needed; but it doesn't explain the deal with names. For that, we need to turn to one of the euphemisms that describes the Forest:

the place where the nameless are found

and also to the Rabbit's tale:

They took so many of our lives, and all of our names.

The Fae are a race without names. I mentioned this at the beginning of the first interview, where the Rabbit lacked the indicator of identity that Dr. Japers possesses. Instead, it gets a color all to itself - similar to how the colors from earlier clarified which object was being described.

The Fae have power over names. Once you call a Faerie a name, the Faerie gains control over that name. If you use it again, the Faerie in question can use it to travel to the location of where it was spoken. However, if you accept the name a Faerie gives you, when spoken again the Faerie can use it to steal your 'true' name.

Side note - I'm using the term "Faerie" to refer to anything existing inside SCP-4000. This is because we not only see living organisms exerting this power (as I shall examine in just a second), but also inanimate objects, such as a desk and a house.

This leads to an interesting question: what happened at the end of the interview? The rabbit became dazed, and Japers left, making a seemingly nonsensical comment about the feel of his name. Earlier, Japers mentioned that his name was "tart", and a footnote tells us he was reprimanded for breaking the rule that prohibits lying in the presence of a Faerie. So why would he clarify that his name was "tart"…. unless it wasn't him in the name at all.

The third interview ends with the rabbit stealing Japers' name. Evidence? First, consider what the rabbit had said prior to the incident:

"As you wish, fellow scholar. I shall talk until the tea is cold."

"Certainly such things are of no interest to you, fellow scholar."

"I'm sure it is, fellow scholar."

2.10 If a native entity makes a statement in which it addresses or refers to you by a name, title, designation, or anything other than a physical description, ignore the statement as though it had not been spoken.

"Fellow scholar" is a designation, and Japers accepts it - something that they have specifically been warned not to do.

Then, consider the abrupt change of heart Japers has regarding his time inside SCP-4000: he goes from "please, tell me more" to "it's time I left" in the span of roughly half a minute. There is also the choice phrase,

I believe I'm long overdue to return home.

which is incongruous with Japers' mission to collect information on the race.

Next, consider the behavior of the rabbit following the incident:

The rabbit-person who lives there grunts and places a hand to its head, as if in pain.

(Speech slightly slurred) "What? You're leaving? I—I should leave too, then."

His former companion whimpers and looks at its hands as he leaves.

Up until this point, the rabbit has been flawlessly composed - and indeed behaving in a manner identical to that of Japers during this exchange. This implies that the rabbit has changed personality; that is, the name "rabbit" has shifted to someone new.

If you're still unconvinced, consider this as final proof:

Afterword: Dr. Japers successfully returned to Site-08, but was reported missing soon after. Investigations into his disappearance and current whereabouts have been inconclusive. It was initially theorized that Dr. Japers was exposed to an anomalous influence on his physiology during his most recent mission; however, thorough analysis showed no genetic abnormalities in the fur he'd shed on his expedition gear.

fur

Fur.

But this isn't the first time this has happened. Cast your mind back to the nomenclative effects of SCP-4000. Specifically,

The development of nonhuman physical characteristics among exposed subjects, such as feathers and pollen sacs.

This, combined with the iron deficiency, illustrates clearly that the Faeries are using stolen names to enter back into the human world.

With this knowledge, the containment breaches begin to make sense. Poor old Researcher Desk Desk dying at his "harvey mansfield" - the two objects swapped names, which explains the traces of both soil and flesh found on the "harvey mansfield" (or, just to make it perfectly clear, Researcher Mansfield's desk). Who can blame Field Agent Ethan for crying out "Mercy!" when confronted with a "native entity that sits atop a throne of bones and cradles a flaming child"? The entity was named "Mercy Mercy Mercy Mercy" by Ethan, almost certainly by accident, and this allowed it to enter through into him, resulting in him starting to "vomit blood and bone marrow." Finally, Agent Vincent summoned a house by using the same name twice, turning him into a horrifying house-man hybrid. The existence of his "nameless colleagues" just confirms what we already know: the Fae are breaching into our world and taking our names.


SCP-4000 is a story of genocide, retribution, and fantasy, all wrapped up in a deep exploration of the history of the Foundation. It expands upon an element of the world the Foundation inhabits that isn't frequently brought up - the existence of other races, races that co-existed with humans until we drove them out and made our world "pure".

Out of all the SCP-4000 contest entries, this one is by far my favorite, but my best wishes to every author who has submitted a draft. There will doubtless be more SCP-4000 declassifications to come, so stay tuned!


Link: SCP-4000: Taboo

Written By: BlazingTrailBlazingTrail, u/BlazingTrail42

Date Published: July 26, 2018

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