SCP-2456 - Dreams Of A Broken World

SCP-2456 - Dreams Of A Broken World

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When it comes to anomalous religions, the SCP Foundation is no stranger to them. The weird, wild, and utterly incomprehensible belief systems that populate the world of the anomalous might seem too crazy and dangerous to participate in on paper, but if there’s anything that brings people together, it’s the power of faith and belief. Take for example the Mekhanites, a massive religious following with various sects located across the globe, united in their belief that body-modification using technology is the pathway to worship their god, Mekhane, the Broken God who will one day reassemble the lost parts of its body and usher the universe into a new age of technological superiority. Or the cult-like Children of the Scarlet King, who worship a brutal ancient entity known as the Scarlet King, who exists as a dangerous idea, unable to be accurately described or cataloged by contemporary science, separating the ages of modernity and antiquity, and invigorating its followers to commit horrible acts in the name of their King. But if you’re a long time viewer of SCP Explained, then chances are you’ve heard of the Broken God and the Scarlet King, arguably two of the most popular anomalous religions.

So today, we’re going to be talking about one you might not have heard about – Fifthism. Fifthism is a lot more difficult to explain, because instead of a central prevailing deity and strict belief system that unites Fifthists, the religion is defined more by its nonsensical, illogical, and absurd state of mind that it imposes on its followers. Fifthism is all consuming, a mindset that is often transmitted through memetic means, such as books that contain rambling paragraphs of surreal imagery and platitudes that are dispersed among unsuspecting populations by Fifthists. Those who read Fifthist literature often succumb to Fifthist beliefs themselves, losing their mind and delving into a strange world centered around cosmic starfish and the number five, where nothing makes sense, but it doesn’t matter, because you’ve now been enlightened, and to the Fifthist zealot, it all makes sense. The Foundation had to deal with a dangerous piece of Fifthist literature in the past.

SCP-1425, the book titled Star Signals, was a self-help book with memetic properties that nearly consumed the mind’s of the entire world, becoming a national best-seller, that forced the Foundation to take extreme measures to purge it from public knowledge and destroy every remaining copy. Just listen to this excerpt from SCP-1425, which illustrates the strange, mind-altering Fifthist doctrine. “Now imagine that the place where your desires are made real has a name. It’s called the Fifth World. The Fifth World is the cosmos twisted around you into the shape you will wish for.

It has never been, but you can make it so. If the current world is like a tight, collared suit, then the Fifth World is like a flowing robe that allows complete freedom of movement. You will never truly move before you move in the Fifth World.

You’ll feel like a square on a piece of paper who was only just made about up and down.” When dealing with Fifthism, that’s the kind of strangeness you’re guaranteed to encounter. The Foundation’s operation to get SCP-1425 under control took weeks, and didn’t work out as smoothly as they hoped, proving the religion as a force to be reckoned with, and definitely not one to take lightly. But the story of Star Signals, SCP-1425, is one for another day. Now that you have a crash course in Fifthism, we can get to the real reason you’re here: SCP-2456 Dreams of a Broken World.

What exactly is SCP-2456? Well, if you guessed that it’s Fifthist, you would be correct, but considering what we know about Fifthism, that could mean anything! SCP-2456’s discovery dates back to a Foundation operation in Eugene Orgeon, where Foundation operatives raided the hideout of individuals belonging to the Serpent’s Hand, a para-military resistance organization unified by their belief that the world should embrace the anomalous. The Serpent’s Hand has been heavily critical of groups like the Global Occult Coalition and SCP Foundation, their containment, and especially their destruction of anomalous objects and entities. In an ideal world for a member of the Hand, anomalies co-exist with the world we know. It’s an idealistic picture, but their antagonism against the Foundation has painted a serious target on their back, subjecting them to frequent ambushes and raids on their hideouts. And that’s exactly what happened inside the abandoned warehouse where SCP-2456 was discovered. The Foundation sent a highly trained Mobile Task Force, a squad named Bookworms, after one of the remaining copies of SCP-1425, the Fifthist self-help book Star Signals, which was supposedly stowed away inside the warehouse.

Upon entry, the operatives stumbled upon a Serpent’s Hand hideout, and a firefight between Hand members and Foundation operatives ensued. The Task Force suffered minor casualties, but they managed to secure a hold over the warehouse after a brief struggle. Inside, they not only found the copy of Star Signals, but several other anomalous artifacts that the Hand was using to further its goals. During the inventory, another curious object was found, a wooden crate with a label that read ‘FIFTH CYCLE OF THE MIND’ stamped onto its side. When opened, the Foundation uncovered dozens more copies of Star Signals, as well as numerous other Fifthist texts, and a weathered note signed by an unknown individual that read: “George, this is our latest catch; please burn these as soon as you can at your discretion.

Don't let the idiots find this.” At the very bottom of the crate, several manuscripts were discovered that contained information about a then-unknown Fifthist anomaly involving a strange variation of the belief system, which the Foundation immediately began researching. The manuscripts pointed towards the existence of an abstract theology that has existed for centuries, that, when preached by its believers, transmits a memetic virus. This religion is varying in characteristics, but is distinguishable by several qualities, such as starting out as a variation of an existing theology, making frequent use of the number five in its written doctrine, and revolving around godhead figures that are synonymous with the sun, who are believed to bring about a future apocalypse. On top of those, written works make mention of a nonexistent sea, frequent references to celestial objects, the appearance of hands as a religious symbol, and the belief that the sun has great mathematical significance and importance.

If all of that sounds confusing to you, congratulations, you’re immune to Fifthism. If it sounds appealing, well, you might just be affected by SCP-2456. SCP-2456 is a memetic parasite, transmitted from one person to another by being exposed to the theology we described above, which the Foundation labeled SCP-2456-1. Those affected by SCP-2456 show an affinity towards astrology, astronomy, and pseudoscience in general, as well as an increased proficiency in speaking foreign languages.

There’s also prolonged episodes of psychosis, paranoia, and Dissociative Identity Disorder, as well as a high attention span for geometrical shapes, patterns, and sequences involving, you guessed it, the number five. Usually, the SCP-2456 parasite will remain dormant for a period of time, but once activated by several stress triggers, the subject afflicted with the anomaly will undergo a mind-altering revelation, falling asleep for a period of three to four days, experiencing vivid, cryptic dreams involving religious prophets and figures from various theologies being executed one by one with a sword, and celestial bodies “dancing” in the sky. After this long rest, the subject will begin preaching the -1 religion to others, causing the parasite to transmit from one person to another, bringing more and more followers to its cause. And after that, the cycle will repeat.

More followers are attracted, more begin preaching, and before you can realize, SCP-2456 has affected a large group of the Foundation. With such an easily transmissible anomaly, it's a wonder the world hadn’t been taken over by SCP-2456 a long time ago, but when you consider that Fifthism is already an established belief system, maybe, in a way, it already has. Believers in the religion that those affected by SCP-2456 preach are incredibly violent and aggressive, with their strong feelings growing more and more with every new iteration of the religion over time. Believers usually seek out those who haven’t been affected by SCP-2456, and attempt to spread the religion, and if they refuse, murder them. But the Foundation’s research has shown that no individual that has been affected by SCP-2456 has ever been successful in infecting more than 5% of the existing human population. Chalk it up to luck, because Foundation simulations have indicated that a CK-Class End of the World scenario would occur if SCP-2456 infection rates ever exceed over 7%.

If you can’t tell, that’s pretty bad. Not only that, but the Foundation discovered that as the religion evolves over time, it creates a minor reality-warping effect, and if left unchecked, can fracture the integrity of space and time at a high enough level. Thankfully, the Foundation has one way to combat SCP-2456. During the period of time directly after an individual wakes up from their prophetic sleep, treating them with high-class amnestics has been discovered to completely rid the individual of the SCP-2456 parasite, bringing them back to their senses.

But still, due to the memetic nature and the high number of suspected infected individuals, the Foundation has found that complete containment of SCP-2456 is not physically possible, at least with the organization’s current technology level. Still, that isn’t stopping researchers from working tirelessly, trying to develop methods of neutralizing all instances of the parasite in the wild, taking the fight to the internet, and making sure that their web-crawlers can quickly scan for keywords related to SCP-2456 on websites and social media databases. If they’re found, the Foundation can quickly trace posts to whoever wrote them, and bring them to a secure facility for further research. It’s never clean work having to abduct civilians from their homes, but in this case, given how dangerous SCP-2456 can be if left unchecked, it might be justified.

But how has the religion that SCP-2456 instills in its victims, SCP-2456-1, evolved over the years? The manuscripts that the Foundation uncovered inside the Serpent’s Hand hideaway detailed six variations of the theology over time. Let’s take a look at them. The first variation dates all the way back to 1837. A religion by the name of the “God Worshiping Society”, which was a fusion of Confucianism and Catholicism that cropped up in China at the time, spread by Hong Xiuquan, a Chinese revolutionary who led the Taiping army in rebellion against the Qing dynasty. The stress of having to deal with the political instability of the era resulted in SCP-2456 triggering inside Xiuquan’s mind, and causing him to preach his variation of the -1 religion to his followers.

This furthered the strength of the Taiping army, allowing them to march through nearly every province of China in retaliation until they achieved their goal. Some accounts of Xiuquan’s followers recount them transforming into piles of geological matter, which the Foundation found DNA evidence bonded to sediment in pockets of igneous rock in the area. Undoubtedly a result of SCP-2456’s reality warping side-effects. The second variation was found in ancient Egypt, under the name of the Cult of Aten.

The progenitor of this variation is unknown, due to how far back it dates, but the person who imposed the will of the Cult of Aten the most was the then-Pharaoh, Akhenaten of Amarna, who used his power as head of state to condemn worship of all Egyptian deities other than Aten. The Cult of Aten’s reign over Egypt resulted in several reality altering properties, including strange behavior of celestial bodies, feelings of stretched out, unending days, and the refusal of the sun to set for five days, which resulted in a drought along the bank of the nile. Egyptian star charts from this time display star systems, constellations, and nebulae that do not exist, or are depicted incorrectly. The most prominent of these changes include the inclusion of a planet named “Nbu”, which is described as half of the size of Venus, that would pulsate with light in five second intervals. There’s that number again. The third variation jumps to the time of the Aztecs, and while little is known about its origins, its impact on Aztec society was enormous.

The Aztec deity Tonatiuh was said to be the fifth sun that set in the sky. The Aztecs frequently made sacrifices to Tonatiuh, and the worship of the entity caused a reality warping effect throughout the empire. The sun and the moon were eclipsed by unknown celestial objects consistently for weeks. Bodies from past sacrifices would reanimate and attack civilians, reaching into their throats and pulling out their hearts. The coasts of the empire suffered from glowing red poisons, which killed off fish and caused tissue necrosis in humans, as well as forming large blood clots in the lungs.

The fourth variation, the Cult of the Supreme Being, was a short-lived religion perpetrated by French philosopher Augustin Robespierre during the time of the French Revolution. Its small longevity meant that the religion didn’t garner enough followers to cause intense reality-warping effects, but some anomalous characteristics were still prevalent, such as reports of incorporeal manifestations in the streets of Paris, dimensional shifts in salons and smoking parlors around the city, and the increased brutality and ruthlessness of the revolutionaries, who imposed a large daily quota of executions. The fifth variation is entirely unknown. Most likely to do with the number’s significance to the Fifthist belief system, attempts to access the SCP Foundation files on the fifth incarnation of SCP-2456-1’s belief system are met with failure, as the files data is corrupted. This, however, raises a new question.

Maybe this unknown religion is still one that’s active today. Maybe the fifth variation of SCP-2456-1 is Fifthism itself, having evolved as a variation of SCP-2456 over the years. That would add a whole new level of danger to Fifthism, as if it got out of hand, the reality warping effects of being a SCP-2456 based theology would cause destruction to the fabric of reality itself. The sixth variation is similar to the fifth, with its files being similarly corrupted in the Foundation’s databases and all information on it being entirely unknown, save for a single readable sentence which states that the main perpetrator, the prophet of this sixth variation of SCP-2456-1, is still at large today, remaining a threat to the world.

Knowing that this virus can affect large swathes of the population, as it did in the Aztec and Egyptian empires, the Foundation remains extremely cautious of SCP-2456, especially with the added risk of Fifthism being prevalent in the anomalous world, and the unknown sixth religion still at large. Also discovered inside the Serpent’s Hand warehouse were several manuscripts from the various religions that SCP-2456 influenced. Scriptures from the Cult of Aten, letters written by Robespierre in his journal, and even a text from the Taiping revolution, labeled the Wisdoms of the Heavenly King. But what did they say? The text sourced from China described the story of a Prophet, who wanted to bring great knowledge to the people beneath him. And so, as the text describes, he followed the smoke, a Fifthist metaphor for reaching enlightenment.

He did so by studying alongside a mentor for five months, and on the fifth day of the fifth month, he had achieved enlightenment, and knew he had a great mission to complete. He roused his subjects, rallying the people who lived in ash and filth to war, attacking with the power of the sun on their side. Those who faced the Prophet ran, but the ones who were left understood. On the Fifth day, they turned into tar, sand, and salt, and the Prophet remained victorious. Sound familiar? It’s an abridged retelling of Hong Xiuquan’s revolution.

The rest of the text describes a parable of a master and a student philosophizing about the stars, with a particular poem that stands out. It reads: Five spokes of a broken star Five elements that forever spar Five senses to evoke the mind Five pieces slowly unwind. A Black Moon, howling, is a vision unworthy of one's sight. A hymn sourced from the Cult of Aten also makes references to the number five, and specifically makes mention of the “Black Moon”.

If you’re familiar with the SCP Foundation’s inner circle, the Overseer Council, then you know that they frequently use the phrase “Does the Black Moon Howl?” as a security measure to access top-secret, confidential documents. Its true meaning, however, remains shrouded in mystery. But here, you see it connected to SCP-2456. It can’t be a coincidence. Robespierre’s diary describes an account of the French revolution, detailing Robespierre’s descent into madness that led to the creation of the short-lived Cult of the Supreme Being.

The revolution descends into brutality, and as Robespierre describes, “the streets run pink with blood and agony” as the Cult revels in the bloodshed and ruthlessness. All of this points to a compelling mystery about the true nature of SCP-2456, especially with the connection to the commonly used symbol of the Black Moon in the SCP Foundation. And all of this came to a head on December 21st, 2016, when an unidentifiable audio file was sent to a Foundation Researcher that alerted the server's firewalls. The audio file was traced as originating from a cubicle that had been vacant for six years, with hardware that had been short-circuited and badly corroded.

A portion of the audio file was recovered from the damaged terminal, and the Foundation quickly began to transcribe it. It was the voice of an unknown Foundation employee, who detailed that he had been working with the organization for two decades, and that while he had seen horrible things in the past, as he was recording this message, he was more terrified than ever before. He was assigned to research SCP-2456, cataloging all the past occurrences of the various religions that had cropped up as a result of the parasite over the years. He had experience in memetics, but the danger of researching SCP-2456 was proving difficult to contend with. Members of the research team were succumbing to SCP-2456, but not only that, they were disappearing too.

After one personnel was admitted to an infirmary, the speaker recounted that he was never able to find them again. The audio continued to play, and the speaker explained that SCP-2456 also carries a potent anti-meme, an idea that causes dramatic reality shifts, often characterized by something being imperceptible and unrecognizable to the human brain. Whenever information about a SCP-2456 religion is read or written about, the anti-meme will enter the subject and slowly erase them from existence, alongside all records and knowledge of the subject. Sometimes, however, corpses and names remain. The speaker detailed how he witnessed his peers slowly disappear.

As the file goes on, he descends into typical fifthist ranting. Speaking about fives, following the smoke, and a dream, but he leaves a terrifying message: The Foundation is old, but the world is older. Maybe the Serpent’s Hand, with their manuscripts and research on SCP-2456 were attempting to keep the forces of the Fifth King, a mysterious deity the man mentions, at bay. Now, inside the hands of the Foundation, these documents will never be destroyed. They will continue to be read, and continue to linger in reality. The speaker signs off, ranting more about the Star Signals incident, and the Fifthist Dream that permeates the shadows of all reality.

As the speaker states, “Once history is forgotten, it is of course doomed to repeat itself. And the sixth cycle will forever more echo.” Now go check out “SCP-001 - The Broken God - Ouroboros Cycle” and “Children of SCP-001 The Scarlet King - Is SCP-999 Really His Son?” for more anomalous religions and their bizarre followers from SCP Explained!

2022-06-08 19:37

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