Nexescore

The recruitment of Doctor J Burrough.

(This is just a little piece of creative writing I've been working on to satisfy my creative itch.)

Jason has always considered his best trait to be his empathy, he could feel what others felt to a tee no matter their context, this made him a very good psychology. He had graduated with a double degree in criminology and psychology from the University of South Africa before moving to Australia to work for their government. For a number of years he worked in the Australian prison system counselling young offenders, attempting to understand and persuade them not to return to the criminal lifestyle. The job didn’t pay much, but it was fulfilling to Jason and allowed him the free time to pursue his postgraduate studies.

At the University of Melbourne, he received a masters degree in clinical neuropsychology and then his doctorate. For his Ph.D. thesis he wrote about the relationship between imprisonment and the deterioration of a person’s psychological state. It was this thesis that first attracted the suits to him.
A man and a woman stood in his office dressed in all black, He felt like he was in a movie. They talked about a research opportunity, gaining a rare look into the psychological state of prisoners on death row. They offered an incredible salary, plus all sorts of benefits. When Jason asked the specifics of the project the two merely danced around the question, using various technical speak and an unreasonable amount of acronym’s.

“Well the Foundation is doing important work for ASIO’s, AOD division working with researchers from the Go8 and from the American government cover nuerostate’s of various late stage prisoner class men and women working in the field” The woman said.

“Yes, the AOD in partnership with the ADF and Go8. All above board” The other chimed.

The two then placed a non-disclosure agreement on his desk that was thick enough to make Tolstoy blush.

“Once you sign this mail it to this address,” the woman handed him a business card “We will reimburse the postage fee, have a good day.”

The two left his office.

Jason often reflected on that meeting, thinking to himself about how different his life could’ve been if he had simply laughed it off as some joke and thrown away the pile of paper on his desk, this would’ve been the most reasonable option, but Jason did not take the most reasonable option. Instead he had read through the non-disclosure agreement, it took him the best-part of a day to do so. As his eyes moved from line to line, page to page his curiosity got the better of him. There were sections of this novel length legal document that alluded to strange and wonderful things.

S106(A) In the circumstance the person upholds this agreement, and knowledge of the agreements existence is no longer available to The Foundation, the agreement is still un-void.

Within the behemoth of a document there were words and phrases that seemed far out of place in a legal context, not that Jason had received legal training, but he’d seen enough tv to know that ‘un-void’ should not be a legal term. The insanity within the contract drove Jason to become more interested in this ‘Foundation’, he wanted to know what it was, who these people were, and what this research project was really about.

The business card was an eggshell white with Romailian lettering. On it was an address to send the signed document and a set of eighteen numbers spanning the width of the card, the card itself was credited to Simien & Crienfelds Physicians, obviously the company organising this whole thing. Jason supposed the numbers was some specially assigned phone number, if the company was working with the Australian Government then it would make sense the government would give them an exclusive number that someone wouldn’t accidently dial.

Before signing the agreement, Jason thought it would be prudent to make an attempt to contact the company, simply to ensure that this was all a real thing. He plugged the 18 numbers into his office phone, a small dial was heard, then Jason heard pre-recorded text to speech voice much like you’d hear when calling a bank.

“You have reached Simien and Crienfelds Physicians, please be aware that talking you will be recorded for security reasons. If you are a member of the AOD please use our secure line, thank you for waiting” after the voice finished a sharp tone played, followed by a female voice.

“Hello, you have called Simien and Crienfelds Physicians, how can we help you today.”

“Ah yes, this is Doctor Jason Burrough, I just had two of your people in my office talk to me about a research project your company wants me on, they dropped of a large contract to sign-“ before he could finish Jason was cut off by the woman’s voice.

“Thank you for calling, please sign the non-disclosure agreement and post it to the address provided.”

“Ah yes, I know, your people said that. I was just looking for some information-“ Once again he was cut off by the woman on the other side, her voice took a more authoritative tone.

“Mr Burrough, you have been given instructions to sign the non-disclosure agreement and then send it to the address provided if you are interested in working on the research project. This is the process all prospective researchers go through, you are no different, you will not be treated differently. You have been asked to perform a task, if you do not wish to work on the research project then simply do not sign the agreement, do not mail the agreement, throw it away and forget about the agreement.”

Jason was taken aback by the woman’s words, they were cutting. How could a receptionist, well the person he assumed was a receptionist at the very least, talk to him like that. He felt like he should apologize, but he could not place what he had done wrong. He was simply asking for information, surely that was not cause for such a tone.

“I’m…” He stumbled over his own words, “Sorry about the confusion, I’ll sign it and send it through asap. Thank you for your time.”

He hung up and placed the phone down.

“What the hell is going on.” He mumbled to himself.

Strangely enough, the odd phone encounter and spurred a greater curiosity in him.
Surely this must be of great importance, Jason thought to himself. Why else would there be such secrecy, such authority, what else could have made him feel so small? For many years Jason had worked with disaffected youth, caught in the prison system. Most of these young men and women came from broken homes and had been brought up in a cycle of violence and crime, for many juvenile detention had been a revolving door that led to prison. He was underpaid, underfunded, and under-appreciated, but it was fulfilling for Jason. But he couldn’t help but look in envy at his colleagues as they researched the human mind, making life-changing discoveries, and receiving all sorts of praise and glory. Jason deep down wanted that, that thing, that moment that would allow him to leave a mark on the world, and perhaps this mysterious research project would be just that. His Magnum Opus.

Jason hasn’t even read half-way before signing the contract, on his way home he mailed the contract in a thick brown envelope to the provided address.
He got home late, with a pile of papers he should’ve read at work, but today’s diversion had prevented that. Just as he picked up a report titled ‘Application of ERG theory to Prison work, an exploration of inmate motivation.’ His home phone rang. He let it ring out, probably telemarketers, they were the only people to call at this time on night. As he was reading through the table of contents his home phone once again rang. They were persistent tonight. Then whilst looking at the glossary of the report, the phone rang a third time.

“Fine” he called out to the telemarketers as if they could hear him.

He marched to the home phone, ready to inform the marketer that he did not want to purchase a subscription to some magazine. He picked up the phone, and to his surprise he recognised the voice, it was female, the woman from before.

“Doctor Burrough, how are you this evening?” the woman asked in a decidedly lighter tone than the one they had ended their conversation on earlier.

“I’m fine thank you, is this Simien and Crienfelds?” he said, with a combination of tepidness and curiosity.

“Well thank you for signing the contract, thank you for willingness. We’ll send a car to pick you up tomorrow, you don’t have to pack anything we have toiletries and clothing at the facility, but if you’d like to bring your own belongings please do.”

“excuse me?”

Jason was confused to say the least. Australia Post was in no way capable of same day delivery, how could they have possibly known his phone number, and he had only signed a non-disclosure agreement so he hadn’t legally agreed to anything yet.

“would you like to repeat what I said Doctor?” the woman asked politely.

“I only signed a non-disclosure agreement, I don’t really understand any of this.”

“This is standard procedure doctor Burrough, no need to be alarmed.”

“No I wasn’t, I mean-“ his bumbling was cut off by her voice, much like the last phone conversation.
“Don’t worry Doctor it will all be taken care of.”

Before Jason could say anything else he was hung up on. He stared at the phone, thinking, What the fuck is happening.

Jason was crudely awoken by a knocking on the front door of his flat, he had fallen asleep on the couch reading through some report. He wondered who would be visiting before remembering the madness of the previous day. He brushed aside the papers on his couch, slowly stumbling to the door, groggy from a poor night’s sleep.

Opening the door he was greeted by the sight of a women in her mid-thirties, red hair down to her shoulder blades, pale freckled skin with glasses adorning her face.

“Doctor Burrough,” she said, “I’m June, we spoke earlier.”

Jason vaguely remembered her voice, and the brief conversations they had had over the phone. She was different than what he imagined, he had thought of her with brown hair. She reached out to shake his hand, Jason did so in turn.

“I’ve got the car waiting out front, if you’re ready to go. We have coffee waiting in the back” she gestured to her left, on the front of the verge was a black non-descript car or some sort, Jason was in no shape to identify.

“What time is it?” he mumbled.

“Just past five in the AM, we like to be early, sorry if we woke you.”

“No it’s ok, you said over the phone I didn’t need to pack anything.”

“Yes, but you can grab some belongings if you want.”

He nodded went back inside, leaving June waiting at the door. He was still dressed in his work clothes from the previous day, so he didn’t really need to get changed. He thought about the madness that had enveloped his life in just a day. He wondered why he was just going along with this without questioning it, was he mad? Too tired for introspective wondering Jason decided simply to go with the flow, move with the currents. This attitude reminded him of some of his patients in the past, kids who went ‘with the flow’ and found themselves behind bars. He needed to stay somewhat grounded through this experience, he thought, somewhat grounded in his own life. So, he grabbed the research reports he was meant to read then returned to June.

“I’m ready to go.” Jason said.

June smiled, “Let’s go then”

While walking to the car June informed about the days process.

“We’re going to drive out to one of our research facilities, just outside of the city. There you’ll meet the director of the research project, he’ll fill you in on everything else.”

She continued the conversation as they stepped into the back seat of the car.

“Don’t worry about your work, we called your office and they understand you’ll be gone for a couple of days,”

“A couple of days?” Jason interrupted.

“Well it all depends on what the director says, you may have to stay a couple hours, up to a couple weeks. If you hand me those papers I can put them in a file for you, so you don’t have to worry about losing them.”

He passed her the reports. She neatly placed them into a pouch attached to the back of the driver seat.

“Thanks, look do you mind if I grab some sleep while we drive, I’m not exactly the early bird you are.”

June nodded smiling. Jason let his head rest on the window, closing his eyes to get some much needed rest.

Jason was a dreamer, even though he would always forget his dreams, no mater how hard he tried to grab hold of one they disappeared like tears in the rain. All except one. It was less a dream and more a memory, though memories can warp and be manipulated by the brain, what is truth and what is fiction blurs. It was the memory of his first patient in prison, this memory often influenced his subconscious, a running theme of his sleep. The boy’s name was Jamie, a good kid who grew up on the wrong side of the trainline, dad was in and out of jail for most of the kid’s young life, an abusive mother. Kid was lucky he didn’t turn out more screwed up than he did. He was in jail for breaking and entering, got 6 six months. Jason saw right through the kid’s macho exterior, on the inside he was calling out for someone, anyone, to tell him what to do, the kid was lonely. Jason couldn’t do anything to help him, a year after the kid got out he was back in for assault. Jason was haunted by that. A lesson was learnt though, it’s hard to change.

Jason was woken by an abrupt halt, his body jolt forward then hitting the leather seating. He was instantly more aware of his surrounding than when he was woken up at his home. His door was opened for him by a man in what looked to be black military gear, a strange circular logo imprinted on the left breast of his uniform.

“Thank you, Henry. Jason you can step out, we’re here.” June called from out of view.

Jason unstrapped his seatbelt and stepped out of the car. The man named Henry shut the door behind him. Once out of the car Jason was hit by a massive wave of heat, looking around he noted a desert landscape of nothingness stretching out to the horizon. The only thing around was a military base looking facility. June was stood next to a large metal pole with what looked to be an antenna atop it, she lied when she said ‘just outside the city’.

“June” He called out “where’s Sydney?”

“About four hours east of here.” She pointed in a direction Jason assumed was east.

They looked to be in a small military base, there was a plane hangar and a couple square single-story buildings, but it was very sparse and looked to be unused. There were a couple people walking around dressed in the same black military gear as the man name Henry, all armed with large advanced looking rifles. June was talking with one of the men dressed in all black. He nodded and talked into a radio wired to his chest. June looked back at Jason.

“Come on, we’re heading in.” She beckoned him to follow her.

Jason trailed behind as they walked towards the large hangar. He observed one of the people in black, they paid no attention to the two strangers walking into their facility.

“What the hell have you gotten yourself into Jason” he whispered to himself.

When they reached the metal door on the side of the hanger Jane pulled a thin metallic rectangle no bigger than a credit card, out of her pocket, she pressed it against the centre of the door. After a second or two a clicking sound could be heard and the door swung open revealing a clinical white interior. The two stepped through the doorway.

Jason found himself in a large foyer looking room, there were leather seated chairs lining the eastern wall, light jazz music played from an unseen speaker. Jason noted it was a lot cooler in here, but he could see no noticeable air conditioning units. He felt a little uneasy, sick even.

“Do you mind if I sit?” he asked Jane

“Go ahead.”

He gave a weak smile of appreciation and then slumped into a chair. This was surreal, he thought, absolute insanity. This time yesterday he was reading through patient reports, now he was in some secret military base surrounded by black clad guards with rifles he’d never seen the like of. This was real-life not some movie, this sort of thing didn’t happen in real-life, life was boring and long, this was certainly not reality.

“It’s real, trust me.” Jane said.

She sat next to him.

“Everyone goes through the same experience really, they get plucked out of their day to day life and get thrown into some random situation of the likes only seen in movies.” She smiled, knowing that she had correctly guessed what he was thinking.

“Am I that predictable?” He asked.

“Everyone’s predictable, you of all people should know that Doctor Burrough”

“Call me Jason.”

She smiled.

Their conversation was interrupted by an alarm. On the far side of the hall, opposite to the entrance, a door opened. A man grey haired man stepped through, adorned with a white lab coat with the strange circle logo on the left lapel. He walked towards the two. Jane stood up and went to greet the man, Jason decided that standing up was probably the best thing to do as well. Jane talked to the man, he nodded in response.

“Doctor Burrough” The man called out, he had thick American accent, though Jason couldn’t pinpoint where in America.

Once the man was in reach, he vigorously shook Jason’s hand.

“Jason Burrough. I hope the trip wasn’t to bad, the early wake can be a bit startling.” The man chuckled, he was jovial and had a calming presence, “I’m Doctor Andrew Smith, director of research at this facility, and you’ve already met Jane, manager of human resources, lovely isn’t she.”

Jason found himself smiling, this Doctor Smith was the calming force he needed in this surreal situation.

“Come walk with me” Smith said, smiling.

They left Jane behind to take a call, Andrew lead Jason through various white halls.

“Jason, you don’t mind if I call you Jason, do you?” Smith asked.

“It’s fine.”

“Good, good, I must say Jason I was very impressed with your Doctoral Thesis ‘Effects of prolonged imprisonment on the psychological rigidity of the mind’ We were all very impressed in the research team.” Smith spoke with this natural charisma, Jason couldn’t help but smile.

“Well, thank you, I don’t know what to say, didn’t think anyone actually read it but me to be honest.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, it’s the reason why we contacted you, ah we’re hear great head in.”
Jason had gotten so lost in conversation that he had forgotten that they in fact had a destination to reach. The destination being Smith’s office. They had stopped in front of a wooden door adorned with white lettering reading;

Dr Andrew Smith Ph.D. MSc Mdiv, Head of Research

Doctor Andrews was obviously a learned man, Jason took note of the Mdiv, a Master of Divinity. He didn’t think he’d ever seen someone with theological training in his field. Odd. Opened the door, holding it for Jason.

Smith’s office was gorgeous lined wall to wall with bookshelves stuffed with well worn books of all sorts, from philosophy to pulp-fiction. Smith sat in the middle of the room, behind a large desk covered in papers, reports and images of things totally foreign to Jason. Smith grabbed a pen from his draw, pushing the mess on his desk aside he placed a form of sort in front of himself. Then looking up at Jason, smiled.

“Jason, I’m afraid you’ve caught us in a lie.” He said

“Pardon.”

“You have been lied too, for that I’m sorry.”

“Ok, what about.” Jason was confused, this had taken him off-guard.

“You did not sign on to work for Simien and Crienfelds Physicians. That is a cover for the real organization we all work for.” Smith tapped the logo on his left lapel, “The is the logo of the SCP Foundation.”

“Ok,” Jason said wearily, unsure how he was supposed to feel, “What is the SCP Foundation?”
“Well the SCP Foundation is a large international, apolitical, scientific community. Our mission is to Secure, Contain, and Protect. We perform some of, if not the, most important research on Earth. We do it beyond the public eye, for everyone’s safety. It’s much better that everyone worries about taxes rather than what goes on behind Foundation doors.”

Maybe it was the surreal nature of his previous twenty-four hours, or maybe it was a lack of oxygen being pumped into the facility, but Jason felt that his reaction to this information was the opposite of what it should have been. Jason should’ve felt a combination of overwhelming confusion and fear, instead he felt relieved, calmed. Suddenly his mind became clear, he accepted what was happening around him, this was reality, just not as he had known a day ago. Maybe he had embraced the madness surrounding him, or maybe he had just taken his first step towards a truth he had never before considered. All Jason knew is, he wanted to know more.

“Tell me everything.”