SCP-093 is an absolute masterwork. Here’s why.
This essay is adapted from this comment on the SCP-093 discussion page, by me, in 2019. So, the audience of the post of more “people who are familiar with the SCP wiki” than the usual audience of this blog.
Some time ago, I was trying to write a long, exploration-log based SCP. However, I found myself struggling with keeping pace with the logs over a long period of time. So I decided to consult one of my favorite skips: SCP-093.
I consider SCP-093 to be the second best skip of all time, second only to SCP-2000, which probably deserves its own essay. I wanted to go in depth and figure out what made 093 different from all of the other 4000+ skips that have shown up since its writing in early 2009.
SCP-093 is about a disc that showed up on the Red Sea. The disc acts as a portal to another world, where everybody’s dead and monsters roam the Earth. The SCP Foundation eventually discovers that this was the work of a singular entity, “Him”, who convinced the world it was their god.
Out of universe, SCP-093 used to just be a disc that glowed when people held it. The entry dated back to the EditThis wiki, before Wikidot, and its original author remains anonymous to this day. Eventually, an enterprising user named NekoChris completely rewrote SCP-093, adding a mechanic where it rolled towards mirrors, as well as the new test logs. Aside from some edits made by other users for grammar and tone, this is the version we’re reading today.
This section is probably unnecessary, but I feel like it’s important to understand these things in the context of their creation. Without further ado, let’s move onto the skip itself.
I wanted to do a line-by-line analysis of this. So let’s skip the ubiquitous Item # and Object Class and skip to the Special Containment Procedures.
Special Containment Procedures: See testing document SCP-093-T1 for outline of testing conditions. SCP-093 must remain on a mirror at all times and under video surveillance. Admittance into the area of SCP-093’s containment must be authorized only with proper video recording and subject retrieval procedures in place. Any attempt to use SCP-093 outside of an approved test will be dealt with severely, up to and including termination.
Short and to the point. Keep it on a mirror, make sure it’s under surveillance, and don’t let anyone in without approval. This foreshadows what’s coming ahead, which is what any good SCProcedures should do.
There are, however, some points here I’d like to point out.
Any attempt to use SCP-093 outside of an approved test will be dealt with severely, up to and including termination.
This is kinda a recurring thing that I dislike about older SCPs. The SCP Foundation hires highly trained, valuable scientists and agents, so why would they just kill them? I think “termination of employment” would work better here.
See testing document SCP-093-T1 for outline of testing conditions.
I had to take a moment and think about not only why this line was in the SCProcedures, but why it was the first thing that it said in there. If this SCP-093 document was thrust into the hands of a containment agent, why would they want them to read “look at this document for testing conditions” first?
I don’t know, but I have a few ideas:
- NekoChris wanted to emphasize that this is a testing log skip.
- In universe, the testing procedures are really important to make sure He doesn’t breach containment (more on Him later)
- My personal favorite: notice that it says “testing document T1” (where the mirror testing is) rather than “testing document T2” (where the exploring is). I think that this is outlined at the top of the file because they want to make sure people are testing 093 with the mirrors correctly, so they don’t accidentally enter the alternate reality. This foreshadows that the Foundation doesn’t want people entering the alternate reality, even by accident. I’ll bring this up later in this essay.
Description: SCP-093 is a primarily red disc carved from a stone composite resembling cinnabar, with circular engravings and unknown symbols carved at 0.5 cm depth around the entire object. Deeper cuts are present on SCP-093 with a depth of 1 to 1.5 cm. SCP-093 is 7.62 cm in diameter and fits comfortably into most palms without abrasion. SCP-093 will change hue when held by a living individual. The colors taken by SCP-093 are still being researched to establish a link. Current belief holds that the changes depend upon regrets carried by the holder.
This is fairly straightforwards. The first paragraph describes the appearance of the object, that it can be held in your hand without issue, and that it changes color when it’s held by different people. Nothing big.
By the way, remember how I said that this was a rewrite of a previous low-quality skip? Well, NekoChris pretty much summed up that entire skip in a single paragraph. Which is, number one, an amazing feat of writing and, number two, I feel is done intentionally. He’s getting the old skip out of the way, so he can focus on the new stuff.
If SCP-093 is removed from a mirror and not held by a person, it will seek out the nearest mirror-like surface. SCP-093 has been observed to travel in the largest possible circle while rolling, building up phenomenal speed.
Again, pretty straightforwards. 093 wants to be in front of a mirror, so it’ll roll towards the mirror and break any obstacle in its way to do so.
Additional Notes: No records exist to clarify the nature of SCP-093’s discovery or presence in the Foundation. See SCP-093-OD. Since no records exist explaining SCP-093’s method of containment, a test procedure was initiated to establish why mirrors must be used to contain it. The results of SCP-093-T1 lead to the discovery of living beings holding SCP-093 being able to move through mirrors and the series of tests in SCP-093-T2 to ascertain the destination reached through this travel.
I’ll come back to this in a minute, but they’ve lost the records for SCP-093, so they have to do some tests to figure out what it does. This leads into the mirror tests, which lead into the exploration logs.
Before we get to the tests, we get to see the original documentation of SCP-093. This is done in a very interesting way; the SCP-093-OD is actually the pre-rewrite version of SCP-093. This is interesting because, as far as I know, no other rewrites include their pre-rewrite versions wholesale.
However, the way that it’s included, it’s not just a callback to the original. NekoChris used it in such a way that, just by being there, it progresses the story. Let’s look at two points in this section that I feel are important:
SCP-093 resembled the documented blue for 54:34 at 1:23 on 26 April 1986 coincidentally when the body of 194-9834 was discovered in Research Facility █████.
Ties between 194-9834 and SCP-093 remain inconclusive and effects of prolonged exposure to 093 remain unknown except for infrequent reports of periods of calmness and in the case of 242-0049 as periodic waves of depression, loss of balance and thoughts of suicide.
Okay, in this, it asserts that SCP-093 causes calmness and, in some cases, suicidal thoughts. Remember that this is never mentioned for the rest of the skip. I think that there are two options here:
- NekoChris either accidentally forgot to make a callback to this property, or deliberately did not call back to it to avoid mucking with his narrative.
- In between 1985 and whatever date the current document takes place at, SCP-093 somehow lost those anomalous properties.
Additional Notes: Origins of 093 remain unknown and documents of recovery of 093 have since been destroyed in a fire in Research Facility █████, 09 December 1989.
At first glance, this may seem inconsequential. But, remember this line:
Additional Notes: No records exist to clarify the nature of SCP-093’s discovery or presence in the Foundation. See SCP-093-OD. Since no records exist explaining SCP-093’s method of containment, a test procedure was initiated to establish why mirrors must be used to contain it.
You see, these two relatively small blocks of text, written by two different authors, years apart from each other, instantly create a storyline involving the Foundation in less words and in a much more compelling way than most skips do today.
Let me explain; according to the “Additional Notes” section of the old documentation, there was a fire that destroyed most of the documentation for SCP-093, leaving them not knowing why they contained it on a mirror, or what the colors of SCP-093 meant. First off, this is actually kind of meta; it explains why a lot of Series I skips (especially the older ones) are so short: a fire destroyed their documentation.
However, NekoChris took advantage of this line in his rewrite by saying that the Foundation didn’t know about why it was laying on a mirror, and that testing was beginning to find out why.
This paints the following picture for me: a researcher, or bureaucrat, or whatever, is going through the old Foundation files, when they find the file for SCP-093. From reading it, they find out that we’ve had some red mood-ring disc lying on a (very expensive) mirror since 1968 for seemingly no rhyme or reason. Of course, they say something along the lines of “why?” followed by “we need some tests.”
This not only establishes the beginning of a narrative in only a few words, but sets up something grand that I don’t see in a lot of skips, new or old, do: it sets up the Foundation as a main character, and sets it up for characterization.
What I mean by this: in most skips, you learn information from a certain point of view, whether that of a researcher, the SCP itself, an MTF team, or just none at all. However, in SCP-093, the Foundation itself takes this role. The reader learns new information at the rate at which the Foundation discovers it, and almost gets to feel the role of the Foundation as they figure out the anomalous properties of SCP-093 and explore the world beyond. In addition, this also allows for some pretty cool characterization of the Foundation; we see the Foundation’s motive change from simple testing, to exploration, to full-on planetary defense. I’m not saying that 093 is the only skip to do this; many other skips characterize the Foundation’s goals, history, and parts as well. But they often use paragraphs upon paragraphs to do it, while 093 does it and such a wonderfully subtle way that it’s hardly noticeable without paying attention.
Just a reminder, all of this is set up in just around five lines. Five. Lines. This is economy of language at its finest, and is really genius level writing.
Anyways, now that the main character is set and the plot is ready to go, let’s start with the part where SCP-093 really gets interesting.
Test Log 1
Mirrored surface, brass frame, retail-grade mirror: SCP-093 rests without activity when placed on the mirror. This test alone removes the need for costly silver or wooden containment systems.
This is actually kind of funny, because it feels like something of a roast directed at the original author.
This test log really just restates what we’ve already learned from the Description, and principally serves to build up to the final log:
A person holding SCP-093 placing it on a mirror: This test was accidental, the result of one of the staff tripping another after some debate about who would be covering the lunch tab. As a result of the behavior of the researchers, it was discovered that a person holding SCP-093 and placing it against a mirror will in fact move into the mirror.
First, a complaint: along with the “termination punishment” thing mentioned above, this is how you can tell that this was written in early 2009; the era of lolFoundation, Keter Duty, and Omega-7. Why would a researcher bring SCP-093, a dangerous object that can punch through walls and has been known to cause suicides, to lunch? Why would they have it out while walking? Why is there a mirror in the hallway? Why would a researcher trip another researcher while he was carrying aforementioned object that punches through walls while it’s not in the palm of someone’s hand?
To be honest, I headcanon this as some kind of cover-up for some O5-eyes-only secret. Although I do admit that this line has personality, I think a simple “a D-class tripped and accidentally fell through a mirror” would work as well.
Alright, rant over. What this does well: it kickstarts the upcoming plot. We already knew that 093 rolls towards mirrors, but nobody knew why 093 rolls towards mirrors. In this, it’s implied that the whole reason why 093 rolls towards mirrors is to show us to this alternate realm. Reminds me of that one movie where there’s that bird that shows the main character to the gateway to the alternate dimensions where she’s supposed to go.
Now we know that SCP-093 + Mirror = Gateway to an Alternate Dimension. And now our main character, the Foundation, turns its motive from containment to exploration.
Test Log 2
(By the way, I’d like to interrupt this by saying that I really like this table-header format. It’s sad that, as far as I know, there aren’t any skips outside of 093 that use it.)
We transition here into the exploration logs, which is where the meat of this skip is. We get an idea of what our subjects are taking into the alternate dimension, and then we’re thrown into the Blue Test.
Camera activates, flickers to view. Subject is looking out over the same field reported by technicians. Looks like typical lowland plains, everything has a heavy blue tinge overlapping the normal colors. No discernible landmarks visible as subject pans view left to right, only grass, weeds, and a breeze moving the taller grass. No trees. No living beings visible.
The first paragraph asserts that we’re in some kind of plains. However, there are no trees, and no living beings. Right off the bat, it is asserted that we’re either in some kind of remote part of this alternate universe, or that everything is dead. This is a post-apocalyptic universe.
Eventually, the subject enters a hole in the ground, which leads to a tunnel, which leads to some kind of bunker.
Room is bare, no contents, but walls are filthy. Subject states material on walls isn’t dirt, but he can’t identify it, seems to resemble melted plastic but is brown in color rather than black.
This is where we’re first introduced to what I’ll be calling “mystery goo”. It smells bad, and it’s everywhere. It serves as sort of a “recurring mystery”, where it appears everywhere, and we’re slowly clued into its origin.
Walls of room are clean as is floor, ceiling is coated in the same strange brown material as the third room. In this room there is a makeshift cot made from aged blankets with a pillow, a wooden crate containing open boxes of what appears to have been food stuffs, language appears on video as squiggles however subject states they simply read ‘Cereal’. A second crate in the room contains what appear to be empty water bottles that have dried out. A book lays next to the cot, closed, no title or identifying marks.
Okay, this is definitely a survival bunker. This confirms the belief that this is some kind of post-apocalypse, and that there used to be people here. But now, there is just the weird mystery goo, collected on the ceiling.
Careful review of the following ten seconds of tape shows that as the camera pans, a figure is visible at the end of the tunnel where the seventh door is. The door is open only enough for a face to be seen through a crack just before the door silently closes. No details can be seen.
This is another one of those “recurring mysteries” to help keep readers hooked: these mysterious shadow people that show up everywhere. After all, it’s made clear that this is some kind of post-apocalypse, so why are there people?
This is almost glossed over- which is good. It’s kind of a “wait, what the hell?” moment, and the fact that it’s almost entirely unmentioned after the fact solidifies that moment.
Then there’s some cable trouble, then the subject gets pulled out of the hole by some unseen force, and the camera sees 37 creepy ghost people. They’re unidentifiable, and they’re watching the subject for some reason.
Control requests subject return following cable path and screams are caught on the audio with panic from subject. Five shots fired as subject aims pistol at something not visible on camera. Control reports being able to see subject returning toward point of origin while camera shows wire disappearing into a point floating in the air. As subject passes this point all cable is now in the pulley system and camera films only the floor. Control reports that the mirror took approximately five seconds to return to a reflection and SCP-093 remained blue in color until one hour after being recovered from subject.
A vile smelling fluid was present on subject’s clothes around his hands when firearm was recovered. This fluid dried quickly and was deemed insignificant of study due to lack of quality sample. Control personnel monitoring the mirror state having seen a massive human being, crawling on the ground, easily fifty times the size of a normal person with no facial features and a very short arm reach, pulling itself toward the mirror before it returned to a reflection. Due to proximity fine details could not be made out but at least one observer noted the being appeared to have been shot from the marks in the otherwise smooth featureless face.
This is where we get a look at the “antagonist” of SCP-093, for lack of a better word: the Unclean. In the first test log, the reader only gets a glimpse of them; they’re big, they’re scary, and they’re chasing the Subject.
Field Test Kit recovered from subject containing a news paper article that reads: [DATA EXPUNGED] and was filed as item [DATA EXPUNGED].
These expungements may seem unnecessary at first glance; however, this is some story information that is best saved ‘til later, and (IMO) actually convinces the reader to read on out of curiosity as to what’s behind the expungements.
All in all, a pretty good opening log for this skip. It introduces the parallel universe, the fact that it’s a post-apocalypse, the mystery goo, the ghost people, and the Unclean in just the right amount for it to be spooky, but also to leave the reader wanting more. I do think it could be improved by adding some foreshadowing to the religious apocalypse (I.e. maybe a cross in one of the bunker rooms?) and I think that the Unclean were described a bit too much for what should’ve been a vague hint at a monster (I.e. instead, maybe say “technicians saw a glimpse of a large humanoid figure crawling on its hand before the mirror returned to a true reflection” and leave it at that), but for what it is, it excellently introduces the concepts and players which are built upon in the remaining logs.
No landmarks from Test 1 are discernable as subject pans camera over area.
Present is a field, long abandoned, in the middle of which stands the remains of a scarecrow of unknown design, fragments left are rotted and torn. Nothing grows in the tilled land. A farm house is visible to the right of the field, large, two stories, a basement shelter entrance is visible at one end.
Alright, the first few lines tell the audience the following:
- This is in a different place than Blue Test.
- We are on a farm.
- Everything is dead.
- There’s shelters everywhere, which implies that people knew about whatever apocalypse happened here beforehand.
As subject pans the area a metal hatch is visible in the ground, similar to a bulkhead on a submarine with a turn handle. Subject remarks that the smell is at its worst around the hatch and the dirt around the hatch is noted as being clumped and claylike.
This is repeating the whole “stench” and “mystery goo” thing from Blue Test. What this does is make the audience anticipate the inevitable “mystery goo” and perhaps even the ghost people from Blue Test.
On the beds are two skeletons and on the floor is a third, lying next to which is a simple six shooter revolver containing no ammunition. Three spent casings are across the floor near the gun.
I haven’t been commenting a lot for a reason I’ll bring up later, but this gives the audience new information: there was a struggle. They didn’t just keel over, they were killed by something.
In the distance, approximately 700 m from the farm, two massive, humanoid beings are crawling across the landscape.
This further introduces us to the Unclean, which were only slightly glimpsed in the last test.
There is a recliner, a couch, and a television all of 1950s style design. In the recliner is a laptop whose case also resembles 1950s decor and is coated in heavy dust.
This is some further world building. When this civilization ended, it was in the 50’s, or some analogous point. This helps to further paint a picture of this world in the reader’s mind.
To conclude, at first glance, this seems to be a retread of the first log. In fact, the reason why I didn’t do as many quotes was because a lot of the structure is almost identical to the first. However, along with some decent world building, it gives us new information. Whatever apocalypse happened here wasn’t instant. There was a struggle, against something. Something that managed to get into the bunkers and kill an entire population. And if you’re like me, you’re beginning to suspect that it has something to do with the large human like things that we’ve seen twice now.
This all helps to build the mystery, along with the creep factor NekoChris has been setting up: the eerie feel of an empty world, roamed by these eldritch horrors.
Now onto the third test…
Subject is in what appears to be a modern downtown district similar to a city like New York. The streets are mostly bare except for a few cars of unknown make or model. These cars look highly advanced and streamlined.
Instead of another rural area like the last two tests, we instead start with a city area, which, if we had any doubts about whether or not this was an apocalypse or just a bunch of people leaving the countryside, this silenced those doubts.
In addition, this gives us a glimpse into this civilization’s tech level with the advanced cars, which we haven’t yet seen. This is some further world building.
Subject attempts to look into the car windows without being instructed to but backs away remarking there is a ‘rank ass stank’ coming from the areas around most of them.
Subject is persuaded to move closer to one car and does so with coughing, wiping off a window which is covered in dirt. The inside of the car appears to be completely filled with a strange brown matter, there is nothing at all visible other than the brown matter.
Control debates this issue while subject stares around the cityscape from the car. During one pan a face is clearly seen staring into the car, eyes watching the subject; however, this was not noticed until post-test footage review.
Now we also have the stench, the mystery goo, and the ghosts. These are familiar elements, and they’re all gotten out of the way before we really start the exploration.
A team of four armed personnel is sent through the mirror and proceeds to subject’s location.
This time around, we have an entire team of soldiers traveling with the subject. I feel like this is done to change things up from the last log.
The view of the city is astonishing. This building is one of the tallest visible but certainly not alone in its stature. The city below is gray and silent, no evidence of life at this altitude. Some buildings in the city have a strange brown growth that appears to have been splashed against them as if a gelatinous mass was flung and then seeped down before hardening.
Again, some more world building. They have some pretty good tech, but whatever they did they still weren’t able to fend off the apocalypse. “Gray and silent” in particular get to me in emphasizing that this is a ghost town, minus the Unclean.
On the desk is a notepad titled ‘From the desk of Dr. Borisizki, Blessed Purificationist’.
Yeah, this was implied with the whole “FaithfulOS” thing earlier, but this tells us that this world has something to do with the wide adoption and fundamentalism of some religion. This is further asserted by the test tubes.
The camera pans to a section of raised expressway across which one of the large torsos is crawling slowly. The entity turns its featureless head to look at the escort team, raises its head to the sky, and emits a bellowing sound.
This is an “oh, shit” moment. So far, all we’ve seen involving these entities is them either walking around, or vague glimpses of them. Now, we’re fighting one head on.
When a matching color is displayed and applied to the mirror the video receiver is visible and all individuals report a horrific smell.
Later review of the recovered camera shows escort member ██████ grasping at the air where entry point should be and then turning to look up at the oversized torso. A brown gel seems to drip off the creature as it moves that disappears shortly after being dislodged as if evaporating. Several shots are fired at the creature’s face with the automatic weapon carried by ██████ that land in the ‘face’ of the creature, causing a spray of less viscous brown liquid to pour forth from the ‘wounds’.
I’ll comment on these two parts later, but this reveals two things:
- The stench, and therefore, the mystery goo, are both associated with the Unclean.
- Since they’re associated, and given the goo and the corpses in the bunker, the Unclean were the cause of this apocalypse.
Also, a side note: I think NekoChris went out of his way here to not say “SCP-093-1” and instead use descriptions to describe the Unclean. I think this is to evoke more imagery with the techniques that they have.
This test actually reveals quite a bit about the world SCP-093 leads to. We see the high tech cities, the people in the vials, the religious connections, where the mystery goo comes from, and we experience the first real encounter with the Unclean. While Blue Test and Green Test paint a picture of a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by the Unclean, the Violet Test paints a picture of the world as it was before apocalypse. As much as I do detest the fact that the religious aspect is hardly touched upon in the first two logs, I feel like it makes the payoff in this log much more satisfying.
D-class subjects no longer authorized for testing. Testing focus has been shifted to data collection after analyzing the articles brought back from the previous three tests to better understand the fate of the world accessed by SCP-093 and determine if safeguards or practices are required for our own world.
Can I just remark on how epic this line is? After painting a good enough picture of the world in 093, the Foundation shifts its focus from exploration to full-on planetary defense. Holy crap.
Just a reminder that this line comes after the test log where we, the reader, receive a definite linking between the apocalypse and the Unclean. Remember what I said earlier about the first parts of the skip setting up the Foundation as a “perspective character,” a character where we learn information at its pace? This is that setup in action, and it puts the audience is the Foundation’s shoes as it calls for planetary defense. This is one of those genius writing moments that make me love this skip.
The descent down the elevator is long, consuming 15 minutes, during this time the camera experiences one malfunction where the image jerks and turns to snow, restoring to show 14 other figures in the elevator with Dr. █████ as video pans around, all of whom move as he moves to allow him space. They remain for 35 seconds then the camera flickers to snow and returns, Dr. █████ is now alone in the elevator dancing as is assumed by the ducks and sways of the video feed.
Just wanted to remark about how imagery-inspiring this is. For all the complaints about the tone of these logs, they have some pretty good imagery and characterization.
The third view is facing the opposite direction as a camera glides vertically checking each observation station. A total of 10 can be counted and Dr. █████ is visible as the camera passes by his own station. Looking up, a hovering camera unit with no visible means of propulsion glides up past him. The fourth view shows the ground floor below the observation deck where a single astonishingly large torso being is crawling in circles, bumping into walls and changing directions. From the camera feed the creature’s estimated size is six stories.
This is actually setting up for the conclusion, and it does so in an unusual way: contradicting itself. NekoChris has spent the past three logs asserting that everything is dead, and the world has fallen apart. Now, we’re seeing rows upon rows of function PCs, and the containment of one of the Unclean. I’ll comment on this more later.
Analysis of ███-███ and the ammunition for it postponed for reason that it would require deconstruction of one of the rounds and they may be beneficial until testing of SCP-093 is resolved. Video ends.
Two things about this line:
- ███-███ is just a poor man’s SCP.-███
- “they may be beneficial until testing of SCP-093 is resolved.” This is one of those sentences that really pop out at me. Remember how it was asserted earlier that the Foundation’s now focusing on defending the world from whatever happened in the 093-world? Yeah, they’re taking every weapon they can get to make sure they’re defensive.
All in all, the yellow log is really a continuation of the violet log, and helps to set up for the finale with its tonal shifts and feats of working technology.
Without further ado, let’s get to that finale.
Service Technician ██████ was able to cause SCP-093 take on a fierce red hue and glow, much brighter than the object’s normal color.
This is one of those moments where you, the reader, know that shit’s about to go down. It’s when your heart starts beating, and you end up glued to the chair as you scroll downwards. This almost perfect buildup for what’s about to happen.
Video flickers to life and Technician ██████, known hereafter as Subject, is viewing a large cylindrical pillar that is rotating on its own. Object is of unknown height and appears to be 1.8 m (6 ft) in width. Holes are distributed throughout the object at seemingly random intervals. On occasion a beam of white light is emitted from these holes. Turning of the camera finds that the beams are connected to a multitude of objects similar to SCP-093 that are part of the room’s wall. The room turns out to also be cylindrical in shape with countless copies of SCP-093.
This makes two assertions. The first is more obvious: SCP-093 is a dimension-travel technology. However, the second, the fact that this is some kind of hub for SCP-093, doesn’t guarantee that we’re in the same universe.
Let me explain this theory of mine. For the past four tests, we’ve been thrust into an alternate dimension, which appears to be SCP-093’s intended destination. Now, we’re in some kind of 093 hub. Maybe the service technician somehow activated a “return to sender” feature on SCP-093 that brought him back to the source? I’ll discuss this one more later, once we’ve finished the SCP and we have all of the facts in one basket.
The ladder exits into a large clean room full of computer equipment that appears antiquated compared to previously encountered equipment. Large computers running on reel-to-reels are clicking and spinning at various locations, a light bulb of unknown meaning turns on for ten seconds then turns off. A large CRT monitor is displaying single words in 8 colors at roughly 5 second intervals. While observed the words ‘Clean’ ‘Unclean’ ‘Clean’ ‘Clean’ ‘Lost’ ‘Unclean’ flash on the screen.
Some more evidence to my “not the same dimension” theory: it’s obviously not the same level of technology. I theorize that the meaning of the words on the screen are referring to different universes accessible through the 093’s we saw in the hub. Whether they’re not infected by the Unclean, are infected, or if their SCP-093 instance is broken or lost.
All further SCP-093 tests have been discontinued while review of materials recovered is in effect.
I’ll comment on this line later.
All in all, the red test is a pretty good finale. It takes an “oh, crap” moment and extends it throughout the entire log. Now, let’s move on to the last log.
Any employee reading past this point who does not have proper classification should consider themselves to be terminated from employment and now subject to disciplinary actions up to and including: Forced administration of Class A Amnesic, immediate transfer to Keter class security, and death.
Another one of those “Series-1-esque” bits I talked about earlier. It’s charming, but I feel like punishing employees with death is the wrong way to go.
Most Holy Father Announces Progress, Unclean Being Cleansed!
Alright, this segment, I feel, is the result of a “Catch-22.” NekoChris couldn’t put it explicitly in the Blue Test, as it reveals lore that should be saved for later. But that means that they had to put it here. At this point, the payoff is good, but could be done in another way, I feel.
But if you see this symbol, if you see it.. you run boy, you run fast, you run far, and you hide, and you never go back where you saw it. That’s all I know. - I remember the symbol, was on the rock he kept on his neck under his shirt. Next day, pap was gone, nowhere to be found, dad weren’t sad, said he knew it’d happen one day, pap went home. See you soon dad, pap..
This is some creepy, good shit.
Also, why would the symbol be expunged, especially in a file where all of the recovered, unexpunged information is? Given what we learn later about the origin of SCP-093, I’d guess that the symbol is this.
During preparation for the Tears subject went into a rage and the attending Hand went to recover a sedative. Jennifer tore her clothes off and screamed impure words at me so I locked the door and instructed the Hand to wait outside. I am half shameful to admit I laid with Jennifer a total of seven times before putting her to the Tears.
This line introduces us to the “Tears,” as well as emphasizes the corruption of whatever system was in place before the apocalypse.
The Eyes have dated the sample, it is older than myself, older than my elders. It is over 200 cycles in ages. 200!
I do not think this Unclean is alone. I have seen how they can get into places, between places. Between places! Is that where they have been, all this time? Between places?
The smell, it is so strong, it comes from all directions. It is not a smell of the dead, it is a smell that comes from something that should be dead but does not know how to die
This is some Kalinin-tier prose, and the note it’s in is great. It shows the perspective of the corruption and the Unclean from somebody who’s not on the top, but knows quite a bit. It’s great insight into this world, and it does it without being too over-explaining.
In the event of any Emergency requiring the Facility to be evacuated, all Clear-4 staff should report to Train Station 3 and use their Vial to call the Evacuation Train. Only one Vial is required to call the train and may contain any amount of Tears. An Empty Vial will not call the train. Clear 2 and 1 staff should remain at their posts until either 10 minutes after the departure of Clear-4 persons or until authorized by Clear-4 staff. Clear-3 staff should utilize the Protective Garments at their stations and weapon lockers before proceeding to designated Crisis Areas as dictated by Clear-4 staff.
This makes it clear that this is some 093-infected Foundation analogue. But remember the multidimensional hub? Yeah, NekoChris invented the multidimensional, all-intrusive Foundation before Scantron codified the concept in their 001 proposal.
I actually found a scientific report written by someone who stumbled here with a SCP-093 copy. These creatures are the result of exposure to a very pure form of His Tears resulting in a genetic apocalypse occurring within the exposed.
- “Genetic apocalypse?”
- This is where it all starts coming together for the reader. And it does so beautifully.
I think someone is in this facility, or someones, I keep hearing voices and requests coming from areas under the floor. I want to leave this before I explore the facility any further. I have sent SCP-093 back through the entry mirror to seal that gate. These things can’t be let into our world nor should we have anything to do with this one, we’re simply not smart enough to understand it all I feel.
I’ll comment on this more later, but this is one of those moments where it calls back to something earlier: specifically, the “bad grammar” entry just before this one. And something happened to that person.
They’re.. in my head I think.. I didn’t notice it till just now but, equipment in this room is starting to react to me, words on the screen, begging for help.
I’ve seen the faces, of the people, the Unclean. They show up on the pictures cast by the machine, in the room with me, watching me. I think, they’re everywhere on this world, only seen by machines now.
And it also explains the ghost people. Nice.
they showed me things when i touched them and its not quite like the records say. the unclean remember it all, every person they touch becomes part of them, safe inside them, but dead to us. every mind, every feeling, every terror, its eternal to them. i kind of want to join them but.. too much to do.. they want me to.. find him, kill him.
there was no war it was him him him him him IT. IT. it came from between the folds of time and space and worlds and light and dark something that is but should not be slipped in and called out to them as their god and they believed it and they tasted it and touched it and layed with it and became its property and did its will and IT IS STILL HERE the scp-093 it brought with it pulled forcefully with it built it i don’t know they don’t know but it belongs to him it lets him move between places between worlds so i BROKE IT ha ha ha i threw pieces of it away and through holes so those doors are closed just like ours is closed and i can’t go home so what else can i do
it calls out through the rock, somehow, it knows where they are but can’t touch them, but if you hide the rock he can’t call out and he’s stuck too i got you you son of a bitch I GOT YOU BANG BANG ha ha
i touched him. with my fist. and my gun. and he fell down. but he’ll get back up. soon. i’m sorry, i did all i could, let me sleep now, please… let… me… slee
Despite the over-explaining in the note, the end of it is a fitting conclusion to the adventure. It’s cryptic, but not too much, and leaves the reader wanting more.
I’m gonna try here to take educated guesses as to what happened in SCP-093. I know it’s not really analysis, but I’ll use it to prove a point later.
So, first of all, what is Him? All we really know about Him is from the last log, so let’s put all that together:
- He’s obviously not human, as the description of his origin (“it came from between the folds of time and space and worlds and light and dark something that is but should not be”) kinda makes me think of “Lovecraftian Monstrosity.”
- He is able to impersonate, or is, a god.
- He created several extremely high-end technologies, including SCP-093.
Now that we know what He is, what happened to him? My two theories are:
- He killed and impersonated the service technician to get into our reality, and when he was killed He was killed (boring ending).
- He is still alive, and is somehow attached to SCP-093 (see below).
I find the second one more interesting, and I think it actually makes a couple of writing quirks that I’ve commented on so far seem justified.
Let me use an example. For the purposes of the example, let’s give names to the worlds involved in the story:
- World 1 - The world accessed in the Red Test, and the “Hub World” for SCP-093.
- World 2 - The world accessed in the Blue-Yellow Tests, and has fallen to Him and the Unclean.
- World 3 - The world where Agent ██████████ from the recovered documents is from.
- World 4 - The world where our Foundation is in.
Let’s establish a timeline. In World 1, He appears, possibly just a natural anomaly, like how SCP-173 is an anomaly native to our world. He takes over World 1, builds the 093 hub, and sets out to send 093’s to the other dimensions to bring Him to the other worlds.
World 2 is a world that got successfully invaded by Him and taken over.
World 3 is a world that got ahold of SCP-093 and apparently went on a thorough investigation of either World 2 or another Unclean world. However, the agent eventually realized what SCP-093 really did, and then broke it to He couldn’t get to World 3.
In World 4, AKA our world, we see that SCP-093 is really just a vehicle for Him. We now know that its usage could lead to the end of the world for all of us. So the Foundation does what it does best: it locks it up in a box, to make sure it doesn’t see the light of day.
This explains the narrative quirk of: “why didn’t the Foundation do more explorations of SCP-093?” Why didn’t they pass around 093 some more to see if they could get it to glow orange, or something? Why didn’t they send an MTF back into the Blue Test so that they could break down some of those stuck doors? Why didn’t they even test out the Unclean-killing revolver? The answer is simple: to open up SCP-093 again would be to risk the same thing happening to us.
This also explains the missing sadness property from the original documentation: it was there originally, but maybe He fixed it so people would be more likely to pick it up. This also explains why SCP-093 spins towards mirrors: it’s Him, trying to show us the way to let him into our world.
This also explains the very first line of the SCP:
See testing document SCP-093-T1 for outline of testing conditions.
They’re saying “if we’re testing this thing again, whatever you do, don’t open up a mirror portal.” As the first thing we see in the documentation, this is driving home the fact that the Foundation wants SCP-093 to stay buried.
I love these SCPs that you can speculate on, and SCP-093 does a fantastic job of facilitating this speculation. It’s close-ended enough to be a satisfying story, while open-ended enough to the reader to have a sense of wonder.
In short, SCP-093 is a timeless masterpiece. It not only presents a compelling story and a well-built world at a time when these things were rare, but also develops it all through subtle, masterful writing, and introduces some ambitious concepts that make the SCP truly shine. Really, this could’ve been a lot worse; NekoChris could’ve just said “let’s just make it roll towards mirrors now” during his rewrite and left it at that. Who knows where this skip would be if that happened? But instead, NekoChris made something dazzling. NekoChris made a classic.
Of course, this isn’t perfect. Some problems I noted:
- There’s some Series 1 bits that I mentioned above. These slow the skip’s momentum and could be executed better.
- The tone of the exploration logs is all over the place, and definitely could use a run-through for clinicality.
- The last document comes across as an info-dump of sorts. I think that it could be spread more across the logs.
However, what I came here to do is to figure out what SCP-093 does right, and how we, as writers, can learn from it. Here’s some key takeaways:
- Don’t Show Your Entire Monster - This is a weakness of the SCP Format: it often forces you to show the entirety of your monster up-front. But when you can, gradually reveal your monster to keep the reader guessing as to what it is.
- Create Threading Mysteries - Stuff like the mystery goo and the Unclean that recur are what trigger reactions out of the audience and keep them hooked.
- Imagery - With clinical tone, it’s hard to pull off imagery. But when you can, the pictures and worlds you can create are fabulous.
- Don’t Overwhelm the Reader - Using a “perspective character” can help to keep information flowing at an appropriate, but exciting pace.
- Leave the story Open-Ended - I see too many skips today that don’t leave anything up to speculation. This can be a great strength and helps to keep up the mystery.
If you want to see a skip that takes these lessons from SCP-093 and follows them to a T, look no further than djkaktus’ excellent SCP-2935. It barely even lets the reader get a picture of the anomaly at first, it has a ton of recurring mysteries, the world is very fleshed out through imagery, the information is well-paced, and the ending is solid enough to be impactful but open enough to leave room for speculation.
There are some other similarities too, like the log structure, the apocalyptic theme and how the ending is put together. I don’t know if this was an intentional homage to SCP-093, or if it was coincidental (the number 2935 points me towards the former conclusion), but it’s a good example of something that follows SCP-093’s example.
In conclusion, when we write today, instead of looking at older skips through our new-author-eyes, I think we should instead look at our newer skips through the eyes of the old authors. We can learn a lot from the tried-and-true older skips.