ThingBehindTheSun - Runner's High

This is going to be a SCP about an extremely tall staircase instead of an extremely deep one.

It eventually turns into a philosophical discussion regarding extremely high numbers.


I'm going to provide an image of the stairwell here.

Item #: SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH

Object Class: Euclid

Special Containment Procedures: While only manifesting when entering from the bottom floor, all doors leading to the stairwell that SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH is located in are to be locked and boarded. A cover story has been provided to the occupants of the apartment complex that SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH is located in that the affected stairwell has been affected by water damage and that the second stairway in the apartment complex is to be used until the matter has been resolved.

In the event that an individual is subjected to the effects of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH, amnestics will be provided to all observers, video evidence of the event will be deleted and replaced, a cover story will be provided to the victim’s family, and the instance of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04 generated by the event will be incinerated.

Description: SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH is a phenomenon located in a stairwell in ███████████, an apartment complex located in ███████, ██, that manifests if a human living being is to travel uninterrupted from the bottom of the stairwell to the thirteenth, and top, floor of the apartment complex. Upon reaching this floor, the subject will find that the stairwell continues upwards beyond where the roof would normally be, and progressing beyond this point will trigger the following four phenomena:

  1. SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01 is the stairwell itself, which continues upwards for a seemingly infinite number of floors (AS OF 06/17/██ THE NUMBER OF FLOORS HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE FINITE BUT UNCOMPUTABLY HIGH). Time becomes progressively more dilated in the higher floors of SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01; however, without the use of specialized equipment for exploring SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01, one is unlikely to progress high enough in SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01 to experience severe time dilation.
  2. SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02 is an unidentified voice speaking with a thick Brooklyn accent. SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-02 has been observed to give the subject words of advice and encouragement, often referring to the subject as “slugger”, “tiger”, “bucko”, and other terms of endearment. While SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02 appears to be aware of whoever has entered SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01, communication with it has proved unsuccessful. A list of phrases that SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02 has been observed to say has been provided in Addendum 01.
  3. SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-03 is an entity that manifests exactly five steps behind the subject once they look backwards while in SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01. It will then follow the subject, matching its pace exactly, until the subject ceases movement. Further description of SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-03's appearance and abilities are restricted to those with level 3 clearance or above.
  4. SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-04 consists of a scorecard detailing the subject’s performance in what is described as “The Bowers-Saibian Long-Form Endurance Test”. Under most circumstances, the wording of the scorecard remains static, with the only variable being the number of flights of stairs the subject had climbed once entering the bottom of the stairwell. Incidences of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04 materialize 30 cm to the north of the subject once the subject is transported out of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01 and back into the lobby of ███████████. The wording of SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-04 is as follows:

“The Bowers-Saibian Long-Form Endurance Test is a test of cardiovascular and mental endurance. One’s score in the BSLFET is to be calculated by the number of flights of stairs they climb before they are rendered unable to continue climbing. When the subject completes the test – by any method – they are to be transported to the exterior of the facility with a copy of their scorecard.
Your score is [the number of flights of stairs climbed by the subject]. Excelsior!”

Discovery: SCP-RUNNER’S HIGH first came to the attention of the Foundation when ██████ ███████, age ██, as well as a copy of SCP-RUNNER’S HIGH-04, suddenly materialized in the lobby of ███████████ at 03:02 AM on 05/05/██, having suffered an apparent myocardial infarction and receiving a score of 56 on the BSFLET. Video records of the incident were destroyed and the victim’s family was told that ██████ ███████ died from a cardiac arrhythmia resulting from long QT syndrome.

Addendum 02: Test Logs 01-0x

Test 01 - 07/01/██
Subject: D-01984, a 22-year-old Caucasian male of average athletic ability.
Procedure: Subject was instructed to climb as many flights of stairs as possible. Subject was provided with an [audio transmitter] to maintain contact with base, as well as a heart rate monitor.
Results: The following is a transcript of D-01984's audio log.

RX: Please confirm where you are in the stairwell.
D-09184: I think I’m at the fifteenth floor.
SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02: YOU’RE GETTING THERE, SLUGGER! KEEP IT UP!
RX: Please continue climbing, then.
D-09184: [sighing]. It’s tough,bro. Thought you said that you don’t know where the top of the stairwell is, either.
RX: Your job is to get there.
D-09184: Yeah, I get it.

D-09184 remains silent for four minutes and twenty-eight seconds.
D-09184: I read some stories, bro. What if there's a monster up there?
RX: My grandfather always said that running builds character.

D-09184 walks silently for fifteen minutes and twenty-two seconds. His heart immediately stops beating. The connection between audio transmitters was lost.

Subject D-09184 then materialized in the lobby of ███████████ with an instance of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04 materializing 30 cm to the north of his body. Attempts to revive D-09184 fail. His scorecard reads as follows:

“Your score is 40. Excelsior!”

An autopsy has revealed that D-09184’s myocardial infarction occurred as a result of an undiagnosed case of long QT syndrome. It is unclear as to whether entering SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01 triggered his infarction.

Permission for testing SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH with an unmanned drone has been granted.

Test 02 - 07/03/██
Subject: An unmanned flying drone.
Procedure: Subject was piloted to the top of the stairwell so that it could enter SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01
Results: SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01 failed to materialize.

Permission for testing conditions for SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01's manifestation has been granted.

Test 03 - 07/05/██
Subject: "Ganesha's Goitre", a male greyhound, age 4.
Procedure: Subject was first trained to climb up stairwells and was then instructed to climb into SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01.
Results: "Ganesha's Goitre" rematerialized into the lobby of ███████████ with an anomalous instance of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04. It has remained catatonic since rematerializing. SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-04-02 reads as follows:

ERROR 33: Dogs are not allowed within the testing facility.

Permission has been granted to find additional errors.

Test 04 - 07/09/██
Subject: D-52560, a 29-year old Japanese-American male who has claimed and then demonstrated that he can ride a pogo stick up stairs.
Procedure: Subject was instructed to ride
Results: D-52560 rematerialized into the lobby of ███████████ in an unconscious state due to his hitting his head on a stair after falling off of his pogo stick. An anomalous instance of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04 has materialized 30 cm to the north of his body. SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-04-03 reads as follows:

ERROR 1: Testing has been interrupted. We encourage you to return to the premises once your condition is stabilized.
ERROR 206: Riding a pogo stick has interfered with obtaining an accurate score.

Test 05 - 07/11/██
Subject: A female specimen of Homo ignotus, age 30

[DATA CORRUPTED]

Testing to find additional errors has been prohibited. Testing to determine limits of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01 have been restarted, and due to his clear interest in the subject Senior Researcher [NAME]'s duties in supervising Junior Researchers [RX] and [RY], and has been transferred to [DATA CORRUPTED] in order to research SCP-[DATA CORRUPTED] directly from within its testing facility.

Test 06 - 07/28/██
Subject: Subject D-78945 is a 27-year-old male Afro-Canadian triathlete. He has been screened for any underlying heart conditions.
Procedure: Subject was instructed to climb as many flights of stairs as possible. Subject was provided with an [audio transmitter] to maintain contact with base, as well as a heart rate monitor.
Results: The following is an abridged transcript of D-78945's audio log.

RX: Remember. Climb as many stairs as possible. We don't know if there's a limit.
D-09184: Then what happens to people when they're in here?
RX: Finding that out is the purpose of this test.
SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02: COME OOOOOOOON CHAMP! WE'RE ALL GONNA MAKE IT!
RX: Please continue climbing.
D-78945 climbs up eighty flights of stairs before responding.

D-78945: This goes on for a while, eh?

RY: We don’t know if there’s a limit.
D-78945: Can I look down? I'm getting dizzy.

Subject D-09184 then materialized in the lobby of ███████████ with an instance of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04 materializing 30 cm to the north of his body. Attempts to revive D-09184 fail. His scorecard reads as follows:

“Your score is 40. Excelsior!”

An autopsy reveals a massive surge of adrenalin within D-78945's body, providing more evidence that his death stemmed from a combination of overexertion and an intense fear response.

Test 07 - 07/30/██
Subject: Subject D-88888 is a 25-year-old Caucasian female and fifteen-time marathon runner. She has been screened for any underlying heart conditions. She has been outfitted with a video camera on her back, as well as a heart monitor, eight pills containing [x] of modafinil, and enough food and water to last her nine days.
Procedure: Subject was instructed to climb as many flights of stairs as possible and to not look back under any circumstances.
Results: The following is an abridged transcript of D-78945's audio log.

RX: Whatever you do, do not look back. We have hypothesised that doing this triggers the additional effects of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH.
D-88888: I’ve been climbing for forty-eight hours. I've got to be like ten kilometers above the ground right now and everything's looked exactly the same up here since I first came up.

RX: You have enough food and water to last you for nine days.

RY: If you keep climbing for that long I'll make sure you transferred to the Safe Wing at the end of August.

D-88888: Okay. What happens when I run out?

RY: We'll try to extract you.

Ten seconds of silence.

D-88888: Do you know how to?

Eight seconds of silence.

RX: We'll figure it out.

RX: If all else fails, try looking down.

D-88888: Like the last guy.

RX: We think it's possible to stabilize you. Most of our tests have survived entering SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-01.

D-88888: While being catatonic, yeah.

RX: It's better than being terminated.

RY: He's just joking.

D-88888 continues to climb for the next four days. Faint muttering can be heard, along with SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02's calls of encouragement.

RY: She hasn't come back.

RX: She's a good listener.

RY: What if she doesn't come back? We don't know what triggers rematerialization.

RX: D-88888, where are you?

D-88888: In the stairwell. I'm probably outside of Earth's orbit by now. This is gonna be a real fun walk back, eh?

RX: Have you noticed it getting more difficult to breathe?

D-88888: No. Weird.

RX: So it's probably not connected to the outside world at all…

RY: She's got a point. She won't be able to walk for that long without water.

RX: So we should abort testing?

RY: Best practices suggest that we keep D-Class terminations to a minimum. They started marking it on the end-of-year review after that guy did the thing with the reverse voodoo doll.

RX: One thing first. D-88888, what do you see if you look up?

D-88888: Nothing. More stairs, then it fades to white. Not black.

RX: So the higher floors are illuminated too. [I think that's how this would work?] Turn back, D-88888: We're done for now.

D-88888: You know what would be really messed up?

RX: What?

D-88888: If you were lying to me about why I shouldn't look back.

RX: We don't know what happens.

D-88888: Sure you don't.

RY: Nothing's registered on the camera so far.

D-88888: They told me about the stairs, dude. There's probably going to be a monster with a creepy face right behind me or something.

RY: I promise you that there isn't.

D-88888: So I'm supposed to walk backwards down several hundred thousand flights of stairs without looking behind me then.

Seven seconds of silence.

RX: Looks like it.

D-88888: You do know that's fucking bullshit, right?

RX: There's a reason we aren't getting senior researchers to do this.

D-88888: I'm hungry, and I'm tired, and walking down the stairs backwards is going to take twice as long as walking down them like a normal person, and I only have three days' worth of food and water, and there's going to be a creepy thing behind me the entire time. That's why the other guy started screaming, right?

RX: We haven't definitively proved that. Nothing's shown up behind you.

D-88888: Noooooothing's shown up behiiiiiiind me. No way. I've got a real good scientific experiment for you then.

One minute and nineteen seconds of silence. D-88888 can be heard breathing heavily and muttering softly to herself.

D-88888: I….hypothesise…that there's a spooky ghost behind me and that I'm going to have to run away from it for the next three days while you assholes sit in your comfy office chairs and eat a bucket of popcorn while watching the poor D-Class get royally fucked by the Wacky Monster What Kills You. My experimental procedure is that I will look behind me right…about…n-

At 06:06:18:55:55 D-88888 screams and breaks into a fast sprint, with her heart beating at [x] beats per minute. The video transmitter cuts out for the next minute.
D-88888: YOU FUCKING LIAR HOW LONG HAS THIS THING BEEN FOLLOWING ME WHAT IS THIS THING WHY IS THIS FUCKI-

RX: IT JUST STARTED! [RY] JUST FELL OUT OF HER CHAIR LOOKING AT IT!

RY: COVER THE SCREEN UP WE'RE LOOKING AT THE VIDEO DATA LATER

RX: WE'LL GET CHEWED OUT BY SENIOR RESEARCHER [x] IF WE DO THAT AND IT'S HARD DOING THAT FROM THE OTHER END OF THE ROOM

D-88888: BULLSHIT THERE ISN’T ANYTHING BEHIND ME HOW ARE YOU GOING TO GET ME OUT OF HERE PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE

RY: KEEP RUNNING! YOU'LL GET TELEPORTED OUT WHEN YOUR HEART STOPS!

RX: We'll stabilize you then.

D-88888: I’M GOING TO DIE IN A FUCKING STAIRWELL WITH THIS THING FOLLOWING ME AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAU-

SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02: EASY, TIGER! LIFE'S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT!

D-88888: WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU ANYWAY I'M DYING UP HERE SO FUCKING TELL ME

RY: You're going to be fine as long as you're up there.

RX: Technically.

D-88888: I HEARD ABOUT THE STAIRWELL IN [REDACTED] YOU ASSHOLE I’M NOT FUCKING FINE

RX: As I said, we think we can stabilize you once your heart stops.

D-88888: OHHHH YOU THINK SO?

RX: There aren't any signs that anything abnormal happens to it in there.
D-88888: I HOPE I WRECK YOUR END-OF-YEAR-REVIEW FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK
D-88888 continues cursing and running at maximum speed for the next forty-five minutes as SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-03 chases her, remaining five paces behind her the entire time. SCP-RUNNER'S-HIGH-02 continues to provide words of encouragement during this time period. The audio and video cut out once D-88888's heart stops.

D-88888 materializes in the lobby of [Complex] with an instance of SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-04. Her condition is stabilized. Her scorecard reads as follows:

"Your score is 80808". Excelsior!

While D-88888 has become the first known human to survive entering SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01, demonstrating that the phenomenon is not inherently lethal, she has yet to fully recover. Transferring her to the Safe Wing for her efforts is recommended.

Examination of D-88888’s fingernails reveal that they have grown 1? mm longer than they should have during the time she spent within SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH.

Time runs differently in here. I’ve known that for a long time, of course. I have spent, according to an outsider’s perception, what they would describe as an infinite number of eternities within SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01. It isn’t the most scientific way of describing how long I’ve been in here, and La Viarge would tell me that it’s one of her Salad Numbers if I told her that, but it should illustrate that point rather well.

More importantly, if this “number at the end of time” is definable by the stable form of the iota function, it means that I am beyond time itself in this stairwell. I do not know when I will return to the outside world, nor do I know what will happen to my body or these logs when I do. All that I know right now is that yes, SCP-RUNNER’S-HIGH-01 has a finite number of floors, and that no, you can’t even begin to describe how large the stairwell is by using our current conceptions of mathematics. I would like to hope that my scorecard doesn’t include every digit of my score, because any attempt to do that would destroy the universe, but the markers I have seen have all been presented in an easy to understand and elegant manner and I suspect that you will simply receive a method of deriving the iota function, as well as a measurement of its input - the lifespan of the universe in Planck-times – when my scorecard materializes.

I do not know myself how large the input will be, and I do not know how you will derive its function. La Viarge has said that we – that is, humanity at the time of my entrance - are about to experience a paradigm shift in mathematics, and I suspect that more will follow. I would like to believe that deriving the number at the end of time will help humanity in its mathematical – and consequently scientific – efforts, but I have no illusions that this will necessarily be the case. The final leg of my life’s journey has been learning the secrets of the mathematical universe from a “spooky ghost”, as my grandchildren would call it in private, and due to my inability to convey these secrets effectively, the culmination of my life’s work will essentially be a private race against eternity, although I have now discovered that said term is meaningless.

I have no regrets, of course. I lost my sense of hunger around the billionth floor, my sense of thirst at the trillionth. Pain means nothing to me; I run day and night, although those terms too mean nothing in the stairwell. I do not remember the faces of [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], nor do I remember why I should care. I have always been a solitary individual; to live and die alone may have been my destiny all along.

The researchers in [REDACTED] once told me about an entity that, upon seeing it, would make it impossible for the subject to perceive anything beyond it. One’s vision would be filled with images of the entity, one’s tongue would only taste it. I always found the concept difficult to instinctively understand, but I think I do now.

My legs pump and push me upwards in a metronomic rhythm. My breathing is steady, my heartbeat is calm. Behind me lies La Viarge, always [x distance] away, always describing new mathematics, new methods of perceiving reality, new extensions of humanity’s ability to understand. In this world of one experience, I have lost my ability to feel.

In its place I have found the Runner’s High.

I asked her how long I’ll be running for, and for an answer in maha-kalpas; that is, the largest unit of time devised by humanity, which is equivalent to 313,528,320,000,000 years.

She said I haven’t reached that number yet.

The voice above me said to pick up the pace.

Interviewed: [The person, persons, or SCP being interviewed]

Interviewer: [Interviewer, can be blocked out using █]

Foreword: [Small passage describing the interview]

<Begin Log, [optional time info]>

Interviewer: [speech]

Person: [speech]

[Repeat as necessary]

<End Log, [optional time info]>

Closing Statement: [Small summary and passage on what transpired afterward]