SCP Review: SCP-3000
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
Culture & Community
by Lack of Lepers
This article contains spoilers.
By the time of the 3000 contest, the SCP Wiki had experienced a tonal shift. Long gone were the days of pure horror. The SCP-2000 contest had infused a heavy science fiction note into Series 3, and the site had taken its first steps towards the eclectic mix that we now know the SCP Wiki to be today.
At nearly the 10-year anniversary of the site, some were longing for the old identity of the SCP Foundation as a horror-centric project. We can see this discussion as far back as the SCP-2000 contest's brainstorming forum thread (4 years earlier), where people pined for the old days:
Enter the 3000 contest; the theme is horror, and it heralds a return to the site's roots.
The SCP-3000 contest page itself states:
"The SCP Foundation's oldest works were intended to bring genuine fright to our readership. This is your aim."
Additionally, the gap between the SCP-2000 contest and the SCP-3000 contest was, aside from the time it took to get to the SCP-1000 contest, the longest in SCP Wiki history — at just over 1,000 days, or just under 3 years (source). Anticipation was at a boil.
For these reasons, the SCP-3000 contest may historically be the most competitive in SCP Wiki history. This is a fact few appreciate when looking back on it. There were only three less entries competing in the 3000 contest than in all of the prior Xkons combined (3kon: 42 entries, 1k+2k: 45 entries). Additionally, the contest was quick; the voting period ended a mere ten days after posting did. (Compare that to today's month-long voting period for 7k.) Edits were not allowed to the entries once posting ended.
Turn-out for voting also reached an all time high, with the top six entries amassing +200 each, with the top two surpassing +300. The winners of previous Xkons hadn't broken +200. The top 20 articles from the contest were rated over +100. To this day, the 3kon has produced more +2000 rated articles than any other contest, at three — SCP-3000, SCP-3001, and SCP-3999. (This arguably may have included four, if S D Locke's "When Day Breaks" hadn't been deleted and reposted as the SCP-001 entry we know it to be today.)
The winning entry "Anantashesha" was written by A Random Day (ARD), djkaktus, and joreth — also known as "Team Djardeth" (or as the entry's URL stated, "djkarethday"). This was the first time in a Xkon that a team of writers had collaborated, and have that entry win the contest. The incidence of collaborative Xkon entries would skyrocket after the 3k.
A fortuitous segment of old IRC chat logs captures the moments of this entry's first mention, and the birth of the collaboration:
Joreth and djkaktus would plot out the basic article, and later recruit A Random Day, who would introduce elements of Hinduism and a primordial Hindu snake god named "Ananta Shesha". djkaktus had released a now-deleted article, "The Vorehole", a few months earlier, and carried over themes and imagery from that article's interests into the scenes of SCP-3000, including the action's climax.
As with most or all Xkon entries, the winning article both encapsulated the styles and writing trends of the time, and introduced new literary devices or storytelling techniques. SCP-3000 was the first Xkon winner to answer deep questions of lore and couch them into Foundation "canon"; in this case, the birthplace of Foundation amnestics, their source, and their production. The chemical compound and source material for all amnestics, here Y-909, is infamous, and a staple of lore that has been re-cast and included in numerous other works.
With the context and history out of the way, let's look at the article proper.
Word Count: 7,020
Reading time: ~30 minutes
Alternative title: Anantashesha
Posted: 2017-03-25 09:05
Contributors: Joreth, A Random Day, djkaktus
Rating: 2127 (+2218 / -91)
Contributor rating: 303 (+331 / -28)
Adjusted rating: 656 (+686 / -30)
Translated: 14 times
Tags: 3000, alive, animal, aquatic, biological, co-authored, cognitohazard, empathic, memory-affecting, ophidian, religious, scp, thaumiel, visual
At around 7,000 words, SCP-3000 was the longest of the Xkon winners up to that time, more than doubling the output of the previous two (SCP-1000 - ~2,000 words; SCP-2000 - 3,000 words). Like SCP-2000, the article's content is hidden in a collapsible. The article opens with a Kaktusonian security notice and teases the anomaly's cognitohazardous nature. It's object class is Thaumiel, same as SCP-2000.
A striking image of an oversized, ophidian creature (original image is a photoshop of an eel and a tree snake) is lit as if by night-vision spotlight; a lone diver can be seen just before the serpent's wide maw. The containment procedures detail the setting of the article — deep within the Bay of Bengal — and give what information is necessary without lingering on extraneous detail. Conprocs seem to have been streamlined since SCP-2000, with more of the content featured as addenda. A submersible task force is charged with enacting an ominous procedure called the Aztak Protocol. A looming sense of danger is introduced by a line procedurally abandoning those who would disobediently leave the submersible.
The description details an aquatic, eel-like creature that is exceptionally large, particularly in its length. We are introduced to this anomaly as one that can become motivated to hunt when the opportunity arises, but that seemingly does so for pure sport (it is suggested that it does not need to eat to survive). A chemical compound, Y-909 — a subtle homage to SCP-909 ("Mr. Forgetful") — is reported as something excreted from SCP-3000's skin during the process of feeding.
Like its Xkon predecessors, SCP-3000 intersperses subjective statements and accounts of personnel within the description section, such as the log by Dr. Eugene Getts. While perhaps not obvious, this section is longer (has a higher word count) than the preceding clinical portion, structurally suggesting the focus on personal and subjective elements in the narrative and artistic intent. A relatively brief discovery section follows, and the article then hits its stride with exploration logs, detail of the Aztak Protocol, interviews, video transcripts, and personal journal entries.
SCP-3000 the article itself has undergone numerous visual modifications over the years. Initially, it featured a different, sparser header and the stock Sigma-9 CSS theme. Later, it was given the "nu-SCP"/prototype "Black Highlighter" CSS treatment, and in its current form utilizes the "djkaktus" CSS.
The initial photograph used for Dr. Venkatraman Krishnamoorthy, while initially Creative Commons, was at some point taken down from WikiCommons Media after the article's posting. Thus, it was no longer CC-compliant and had to be replaced.
It was, for a short but perplexing time, replaced with a picture of well-known actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. This picture was finally changed to its current depiction, to the prodding and questioning of several commentors.
On the surface, this article may seem like your typical massive monster SCP that can kill you. Doubtless, that is how most of those with a passing familiarity of the article likely view it — not helped perhaps by the ubiquitous social media and video thumbnails that can't help but highlight the visual candy; truly Hollywood, Jaws-esque material. But, like its setting's waters, this article is much, much deeper than that.
This is an article about imminent threat and death, yes, but more so it is a rumination on what happens to us after we die. It is about the anxiety of legacy. While most of us might be afraid of never leaving a legacy at all, the true horror of this article is a god-like entity who reaches out across all spacetime to bring any and all legacy back to oblivion, as if it had never been achieved to begin with. Its power comes from being plugged into scientific reality: our names will be forgotten with time, and awareness of our histories will one day be dissolved, not unlike consciousness itself before the still, silent, gaping and inescapable maw of this eel. Given a long enough playing field, time always wins. All it has to do is wait. The article is truly about that second death.
In line with a second layer of death, the thematic structure is bifurcated, agape. The authors, perhaps as a result of their diversity, skillfully blend two distinct layers of insertion points and article access for their readers.
The first is a more superficial, more initial, more expected pull; the sheer terror and fear of an anomalous colossus. The second is of more literary value and is a store of contemplation. Along each of these parallel threads are major fears that have long been with humanity: a sharp, visceral, and sudden fear of giant, horrific monsters lurking in the depths of waters we can't see into; and also a more dull, numbing, and chronic fear of the sheer heat death of one's identity. The first is evolutionarily-retrospective, harkening to our deep-seated biological aversions; the other is evolutionarily-prospective, playing with our advanced ability to forecast ourselves into the future.
To put it in one of the authors' (djkaktus') words:
"Not to get too super dark, but 3000 is about my own fear of oblivion. There are some other themes mixed in there (ARD's feelings about feeling forgotten are prevalent throughout and create what I think is a compelling contrast), but it's primarily about being afraid to stop existing." (source)
The clinical tone of the article is advanced. There are no flourishes, but what it lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in efficiency and clarity. There are moments of slight tonal turbulence, such as the line "All divers were equipped with high-pressure suits, as well as front-facing headlamps.", where it is surely not necessary to specify that headlamps on divers would be "front-facing" (this last word pairing also perhaps being better stated with the more clinical word "anterior"). The dialogue and character speak is effective, and we get the feeling that the characters are real people, with real fears, and real thoughts... very necessary to an article like this.
At moments, the read sags with underbaked characterization, particularly with the narrative's throw-aways, such as the members of MTF Orion-9 "Kingfishers" in Addendum 1. We get a trite introduction to this cast by way of microphone checks, complete with the trope of that one, prickly, acutely-sarcastic, and more foul-mouthed rebel member who is just too cool to participate in the mic check (Foxtrot).
The pacing in Addendum 1 is a bit rushed here as well — something inopportune for an action-and-atmosphere part of the article. The memory-altering effects take hold and cause mass confusion almost immediately. Once this boil of cognitive chaos is quickly reached, the escalation has nowhere to go for a while, and it feels as though the article needs to fill some allotted time that it rushed too quickly through. So, we endure the MTF members voicing Holders-tier lines of melodrama that are about as subtle as a jumpscare. These clearly intend too hard to instill a sense of existential dread in the reader.
Lines such as...
Foxtrot: —on the edge of the nothingness, inches from oblivion. There's a… there's a sickness in my mind that I know can't be cured. Beyond me is only blackness, and a single pair of dark eyes-
Foxtrot: —silence, only silence, my consciousness coming undone and only and only and only-
Foxtrot: —and only the eel remains.
... come off as low-budget, and bring to mind the worst literary components of the "Crazy Until Dead" trope so prominent in Series 1. I honestly believe the log and article would be better without the character Foxtrot, that great, last-quoted line above notwithstanding (give it to someone else). Nice ideas, nice lines, bad execution & direction. In contrast, and as if to save the day, Bravo's monologues here are much more grounded and believable. The calmer the character in this situation, the more unnerved the reader. That's good writing.
The authors have an excellent sense of tonal balance and rhythm, which they keep varied, allowing the article to breathe. After the dramatic dive scene, we are given a dry and technical account of the Aztak Protocol. ("Oh yeah," the mind says, "that thing.") The Aztak Protocol's distant account of what we just witnessed first-hand in the dive brings the sinister harmonics from undertones into overtones, as we are introduced to the heart of this article: an ethical dilemma. One that the Foundation comes down on the more questionable and Utilitarian side of, maybe per usual (and hauntingly... as they might rightly should).
As Addendum 6 later puts it, and succinctly:
"But the hard truth is, if we want to continue to use modern amnestics, we have to have Y-909. If we want to have Y-909, we have to feed D-Class to SCP-3000."
The remainder of the following addenda mix these colors — staunchly clinical and cinematically kinetic — while building the article's punctuating characters, Drs. Krishnamoorthy and Mannava. It segues from a Hollywood blockbuster-style approach to a cerebral and highly psychological account of subtle horror.
The replay value for the article is great (e.g. re-read lines like "Of course, one saving grace of being on the psychological division for the Atzak Project is the awareness of its potential effects - I'm aware of what's happening to my psyche." — Dr. Mannava), particularly the joint-psychological interview between our two research characters. Here, the character building is organic and effective; the article's religious connection serves as the reader's placement into the interstitial spaces of the article — in hearing about Hindu mythology and a researcher's familial ties to it, we are somehow closer to both these human characters and this monstrous eel simultaneously.
The article tortures its characters, and the action's climax (that first, more superficial thread) is in Addendum 4, where we see a similar scene to the first addendum, only now with the added emotional weight of knowing the victim, Krishnamoorthy. The vore scene in this is disturbing. It would seem that our pseudo-tagonist — whether by their own sobering intimacy with their immediate death, or by the perverted pleasure of this twisted eel — realizes at the last second, too late, that wandering out into the void with the creature was a mistake. The physical and emotional pacing of this section is masterful.
There is a helplessness in the pitiful researcher's last-minute attempts to preserve himself that gives this scene an animalistic vividness and almost primal, twisted satisfaction. The authors and readers are safely indulging their sensationalistic exhibitionism here, the likes that would be explicitly on display in say the old Roman colosseums; death as a processional, almost ritualistic spectacle. This awakens in the reader a sense of perverse enjoyment that mirrors that sort which the worst members of the Foundation must impart within their signatures upon the Aztak Protocol's official approval.
We take a more retrospective, down-hill slope from Addendum 5 onward, but that is not to say the article has reached its peak. This is the softening of the first thematic thread; the second, deeper thread is building beneath the surface. Its climax is moving slowly, deep in the waters. Addendum 6 is creepy as hell, there are some great lines in here ("… like my body reacting to reflexes it didn't know it had."). The twist in Addendum 7, while not muah-levels of perfect, is as good of one as you'll see on the site.
We end with the article and its characters — along with the authors and the readers by proxy — abandoning themselves to the relentless pull of the article's overwhelming nihilism; a nihilism that overcomes all the hopes inherent in religion, both within objective time and within the personal privacy of one's emotions & history. The only option becomes the question of getting it over with quicker, and paying the price that it takes to be the author of whatever fate you might have to call your own. Our second-thread, psychological pseudo-tagonist Dr. Mannava emotionally mirrors the last moments of his more somatic counterpart — he cannot learn from Dr. Krishnamoorthy's defeatism, or overcome what caused it, and so numbly embraces the inevitability of this anomaly's cold & dark implications. Dr. Mannava overdoses on Y-909. Krishnamoorthy is symbolically devoured twice.
Mannava's is a fate arguably worse than being eaten by what produced it. Whether his act was a final, desperate act of volition, the last possible reclaiming of legacy in the face of SCP-3000, or if it was simply more of SCP-3000's mental violation, we do not know. The mystery is contained in the silent enormity of a jeering god.
"And only the eel remains."
Eclipsed only by SCP-4000 in this regard, SCP-3000 is notable in its topical claustrophobia. Most Xkon winners deal on very large and global scales, typically with overt catastrophe in a very physical sense. Yet in telescoping on the imperceptible crevasses of an specific, underwater mountain range, SCP-3000 and its authors are able to touch on something much larger than world collapse. The authors are magicians; they reach into the same deep crevasses of the human mind, the hidden sulci of the brain, and rend out the creature from therein.
Anantashesha is a jealous god. It counts all higher functioning as an insult to its uniqueness. So it will whittle the offenses away, like dementia given a muscular form. And while you may find housing for your soul in the memory of others, there even long after you die, still something will outlast them. Something cold. Something dark. Something eternal. Something without much motion because it doesn't need it. Something that can and will corkscrew anything you might hilariously call a legacy and peel it like string cheese. It's not only that you can't take it with you; it's that this something will always be at the ready to snatch it from the feebleness of your last breaths, be they defiant shouts, or frail coughs.
SCP-3000 the article gets a little bit of a chip on its shoulder. It is not perfect and has its design flaws, as well as its fumbles. For example, what was the picture of Venkat's wife and daughter doing in Dr. Mannaya's office in the first place? How didn't Dr. Mannava recognize Venkat's face, but could recognize his handwriting... something entirely more subtle? Why didn't Dr. Mannava, in his awareness of the mind-bending anomalous effect, attempt to stay grounded to reality by looking into his personnel files prior to the ending twist? Why is Addendum 6 directed to new additions to the SCP-3000 team, but is Level-5 classified too?
Aside from its internal questions, the article also has to answer to other entries from the SCP-3000 contest, that over time have arguably developed a bit more cultural traction since the win; articles like SCP-3001, SCP-3999, and technically "When Day Breaks". As an aside, it's almost "cool" to subvert SCP-3000 as the literary lesser to these other works, and with a subtle smugness that these others were simply too sophisticated for an immediate audience to truly grasp.
But SCP-3000 is truly a fantastic article. I would be proud to show it to a first-time SCP reader as an introduction; that is to say, SCP-3000 is a fine representative of the genre. It was not a first-mover in taking a more subjective, consciousness-focused, existential horror (again see the concurrent SCP-3001, SCP-3999), but it perhaps mixes classic horror and psychological horror the most stoichiometrically. In its subject matter and themes, it created on-ramps for the widest strata of readers, while retaining great depths of subtext and undercurrent for the more academic of us to surf. This likely explains its lasting commercial success. And it smartly leveraged this well in order to win the SCP-3000 contest outright.
And nothing but Anantashesha's hunger can ever take that away.
SCP-3000 "Anantashesha" is written by authors A Random Day, djkaktus, and Joreth, and is released as CC BY-SA 3.0. The work must be properly attributed by law.
Read SCP-3000 here: SCP-3000 - SCP Foundation
See Confic Magazine's analysis of a fan-made (Forlorn Foundry's) SCP-3000 CGI video adaptation: https://www.conficmagazine.com/post/media-review-scp-3000-fan-video
Read here for Confic Magazine's fun facts about past Xkons: https://www.conficmagazine.com/post/xkon-winners-where-are-they-now
Lack of Lepers is a containment fiction author and critic. You can check out his blog here, and join him for weekly Twitch streams about articles and multimedia in the space here. Visit his Linktree for more links and projects.
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