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An unrelated page (fol. 29r.) from MS Cotton Galba VI, the source manuscript of SCP-XXXX (SCP-XXXX appeared on fol. 26v. prior to its removal by the Foundation).

Item #: SCP-XXXX

Object Class: Safe

Special Containment Procedures: All copies of SCP-XXXX must be contained at Site-08 in compliance with standard Tau-Level memetic/cognitohazard containment protocols. The original manuscript copy of SCP-XXXX must be stored according to Foundation historic manuscript preservation protocols. Outside of testing, access to SCP-XXXX is restricted to individuals who are illiterate in both Modern and Old English, and who have not been read into this file.

SCP-XXXX-affected individuals are held in medical humanoid containment with relevant care staff to support their needs. SCP-XXXX-affected individuals may be amnesticized, to facilitate their care. Due to the low risk of hostility, escape or information breach related to their care, such amnesticized individuals may be attended by Level-0 personnel unless otherwise stipulated by the ranking duty officer, AHCL supervisor, or research lead.

Containment of extant copies of SCP-XXXX in public circulation is the purview of MTF Rho-4 ('Page Turners'). Academic research into Old English literature must be passively monitored for references to SCP-XXXX. Eradication of SCP-XXXX from public circulation is presently considered a low-priority target.

Description: SCP-XXXX is a 10th-century riddle in the West Saxon dialect of Old English, originating from the composite manuscript, MS Cotton Galba VI.1 Comprehension of SCP-XXXX's content potentially presents a debilitating memetic hazard. Exposure to SCP-XXXX does not guarantee infection, as SCP-XXXX's effect is seemingly contingent on a specific interpretation, impression, or pattern of thinking regarding SCP-XXXX's content.

Limited experimentation indicates that the transmissibility of SCP-XXXX is below 10% in normal circumstances, but that certain factors (such as exposure to SCP-XXXX-CF1, or prior knowledge of its anomalous effects) can increase SCP-XXXX's transmissibility to above 95%. Once infected, individuals will begin to exhibit effects between 36 hours and 20 days later, with most having developed symptoms within 72 hours of infection.

SCP-XXXX's causes a series of stereotyped mental disturbances affecting the subject's perception of space, time, and the relationship between themselves and the rest of the observable world. The initial symptoms of SCP-XXXX include a drastically reduced ability to accurate determine spatial distances and sizes and a general inability to track one's movements or locate oneself spatially. SCP-XXXX are also frequently subject to a variety of additional, episodic sensory disturbances and delusions, including but not limited to:

  • Periodic intense awareness of, fixation on, and amplified reaction to skin contact and internal bodily sensations, to the point of extreme distress and sensory overload, in some cases accompanied by formication.
  • Prolonged periods of depersonalisation, accompanied by an inability to identify the subject's body as their own.
  • Periodic episodes of stuporous catatonia of various kinds. Subjects report experiencing an altered state of sensory perception, described as being akin to shrinking to a minute size and moving within their own body.
  • Periods of intense anxiety when in enclosed spaces, resulting from the erroneous belief that the the subject's immediate environment is, in fact, the interior of the subject's body. Subjects may become convinced that any damage to or sudden movement in the immediate environment would injure them.

The effects of SCP-XXXX are debilitating and frequently highly distressing, although some subjects report a level of fascination with their distorted perceptions. Symptoms are highly variable over time, with most subjects reporting an irregular cycle of relapse and remission of symptoms every few hours. Symptoms can be moderated, but not eliminated, via medication.2 SCP-XXXX's effect does not appear to abate with time, although patients naturally acclimatize to their condition and develop coping strategies to alleviate the distress caused by the condition.

Addendum XXXX-1: SCP-XXXX was only identified and contained by the Foundation as an anomalous threat in 1977, after the attempted publication of a critical essay3 regarding the riddle, written by academic ██████ ████, in the 1977 Spring edition of ████████████████ ████████████, a quarterly humanities journal, resulting in the infection of 12 people. Subsequent research suggests that this essay, designated SCP-XXXX-CF14, is the most virulent known vector of SCP-XXXX's memetic effect, with comprehension resulting in infection in almost all cases where the reader can read Old English, and in ~33% of cases where they cannot.

Addendum XXXX-2: Due to its long period of circulation in academic discourse prior to the discovery of its anomalous effects, copies of SCP-XXXX have proven difficult to eradicate from circulation. While the most effective transmission vector (SCP-XXXX-CF1) has been fully contained, the following publications contain SCP-XXXX and may remain in public circulation, representing an on-going infection risk:

It is estimated that the number of uncontained copies of SCP-XXXX may number in the low thousands. Scanned copies and transcriptions of the Wallace text have appeared online on several occasions. However, SCP-XXXX's low virulence has resulted in only three known transmissions outside of containment since containment began in 1977.

Addendum XXXX-3: The following is a prepared safe translation of SCP-XXXX composed by research staff. While SCP-XXXX not normally transmissible in translation, knowledge of SCP-XXXX's anomalous effect constitutes a priming factor that has resulted in at least one case of transmission via a translation among Foundation staff. As a result, two sections of the riddle deemed active transmission components by Foundation memeticists have been obscured for safety.

Set out to tread the tide aboard a ship
Of wondrous construction, most fair of vessels:
Thick walls, a strong-ribbed hull, sturdy pale timbers
I am a steady sailor, with great strength and skill
I keep a fair course, never tiring of my labour.
And yet the water drenches me,
Stains me most darkly, as a shame-faced warrior.
I am an exile, battle-drenched, bursting against bonds,
And can seek no homeland in this changeable world.
Clay-fleshed wretch, seeking the world-wielder's6 favour…
When I die this ship shall be my bone-house8,
Beneath this deck shall my quiet heart be locked.