Private Hell
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It's about the time that Kondraki blows up a bus full of nuns to capture the flying fire-breathing walruses that Dr. Alto Clef has the first suspicion that things are not going as they should be.

It should be awesome, he realizes. And it is awesome. Riding the adrenaline rush of explosions as the fire-breathing flying walruses scorch the earth around them, causing bystanders to flee in terror from the pyroclastic pinnipeds. Diving behind the counter of a Starbucks and opening fire with his shotgun (loaded with FRAG rounds) and seeing the fat flying walrus (with the flames jetting out from under its massive mustache) explode in a shower of meat and blood. And it definitely should be awesome when he and Kondraki fist-bump on top of the stack of bodies as the city of Des Moines burns around them both.

But as he rode his black convertible back to Site-19, with a beautiful blonde woman giving him head from the front passenger seat, Dr. Alto Clef could not help but feel a small voice in the back of his head whispering something to him (like the Roman soldiers who would stand next to conquering generals, telling them that they, too, were human).

This is wrong.

He was rappelling down the side of a building, with the office windows exploding outward all around him, a beautiful redhead at his side and Dmitri Strelnikov providing covering fire from a hovering Little Bird helicopter, when Dr. Clef suddenly realized that he might not be the hero.

It was the expression on the girl's face that did it. She was frightened, yes… of course she was. And she was exhilarated, and aroused, and ready to make love to him…

… just like every single woman he had met in the past few years.

Why was it that every beautiful woman in the world wanted to share his bed? That was statistically improbable. There was no way that even the sexiest man in the world could shag every single beautiful woman he came across… and Clef was not sexy.

After they had destroyed the Skyscraper's Spontaneous Combuster, as he was leaning in for a kiss with the redhead, Clef paused with his lips bare millimeters from hers, then leaned back and gestured to the door.

"You can leave if you want," he said.

He wasn't surprised when the girl bolted.

Something was wrong.


"Yes, Clef?"

"… how many civilian casualties were there?"

"None. They evacuated the place before we went in."

"They evacuated ten city blocks in thirty seconds?"

"Of course. The cops are very efficient."

"… six cops can't even knock on ten city blocks worth of doors in thirty seconds. Much less evacuate everyone within."

"Well, maybe they just weren't around. Maybe we just got a lucky break."

"Are we sure there were no civilian casualties?"

"Of course there aren't any. Do you see any?"

"No, I don't. But… I just have this feeling that something is wrong."

It was during the middle of his ninth swordfight against SCP-076 that Clef realized what the problem was.

Life was… too exciting.

There was no way that life could ever be this exciting, he realized. The life of an SCP Foundation agent could be interesting… but a firefight and a life or death struggle every day? Not a single day passing during which he did not battle for the sake of the world? Not a single day in which all he did was paperwork and file reports?

He was a researcher who spent more time bashing in people's heads with a crowbar than he did doing any actual research.

After he kicked Able over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Dr. Clef took a moment to think back to the last day he could remember ever being bored…

… oh.



That's what went wrong…

And if that were true…

"… Gears?"

"Yes, Clef?"

"… I'm thinking that maybe we shouldn't deploy against SCP-953 this time."

"… why?"

"Because… in the end. With all the collateral damage we'll deal bringing her in… it would be less destructive just to let her eat a liver or two."

"Are you saying that you're giving up?"

"No! I'm just… look. Is this the only way?"

"We are the Foundation. We secure. We contain. We protect. But if you're tired, I can send in Kondraki instead."

"NO! No… I'll do it. I just… needed a moment to think."

"Take all the time you need, Doctor Clef. You've done enough work. After all, the Foundation would fall apart without you."

It is after he has thrown SCP-953 into the intake of the Boeing 747 that Clef finally allows himself to grieve.

He grieves for the dead bystanders he will never see. For the pain and chaos he knows he is causing, but cannot perceive. He grieves for the Foundation, fallen from grace, and for his friends, who know not what they do.

He grieves for Dr. Alto Clef, trapped in a hell of his own creation.

Damned to be badass for the rest of his life.

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