SCP-5XXX "In the Cat's Cradle"
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"Have you heard of the term 'stuck in the cat's cradle'? The idea that you could undergo a long and complicated process with many steps and end up in the same position that you started in sounds familiar, does it not?"

The words echo in your head… where did it all start?


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The fax machine at your desk comes to life and spits out a piece of paper. You take a glance at it, hiding it from your coworkers.

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A new assignment? And right in the middle of this one, too… guess it can't be helped.

You pick up your phone and start dialing before a voice behind you stops you in your tracks.

"Scheide! My office. Immediately."

So much for earliest convenience.

You walk to the office surrounded by the stares of your colleagues and open the door. The office isn't exactly the most lit; it also reeks of dull mahoganies and faux importance. Sub-director Flannery sits at her desk. Arms crossed.

Fuck.

On the other side is an empty chair - presumably for you. In another chair next to it is a bearded man, still facing the Sub-director. Flannery clicks on her desk recorder.

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> RECORDING START <

FLANNERY Agent Scheide, if you would take a seat.
The sound of a seat being pulled out, sat in, and pushed back in is heard.
SCHEIDE What's going on here? I need time to notify my team and clear out my materials from the Prism Products investigation before… well, before whatever this assignment is, Sub-director. Give me a week.
FLANNERY I know what you may or may not think, Agent, but this assignment is more important. I'll have someone take care of your investigation.
SCHEIDE Hmph. As you wish.
FLANNERY This assignment should be a cakewalk for you; it's just tracking a missing girl and bringing her back for general questioning.
SCHEIDE What's the deal, then. She anomalous or something? Reality bender?
FLANNERY She's entirely normal.
Scheide bangs his hand on the table.
SCHEIDE So why me? Why not some glorified local deskie?
FLANNERY Because it's classified and I'm relying on your skills, Agent. Simmer down and don't make me fucking regret picking you up from that unit.
SCHEIDE Y-yes ma'am.
FLANNERY Good. This is Tech Officer Haldrunn of the BPD SWAT, we've worked with him before. He'll be your only contact during this operation so keep a good rapport with each other. You'll be provided with a two-way handheld set.
HALDRUNN Nice to meet you, Agent Scheide.
SCHEIDE Likewise- but you can call me Jerry. All my friends do.
HALDRUNN I couldn't- I just met you. We're not even friends yet!
SCHEIDE We're going to be by the end of this. I insist.
HALDRUNN Alright then, Agent Jerry. Keep me in touch, will you.
FLANNERY Let's move on now. Agent Scheide, we have the location of the victim's last known location as well as their last correspondence. Here's that information. I've already given a copy to Officer Haldrunn so you two talk it over as you wish.
HALDRUNN Of course, sub-director.
SCHEIDE Got it.
FLANNERY I'd like to get the victim back as soon as possible, so I'd like to get both of you out there tonight.
SCHEIDE We'll get prepared.
FLANNERY Well then. Dismissed and good luck.

> RECORDING END <

You and Officer Haldrunn step out of the Sub-director's office. Both of you make it several steps before stopping to talk. He gets the first word in.

"What do you think about it?"

"Just like any other assignment, really. These ones are better done sooner than later though."

"I think so too. Well, speaking of, I'm already ready on my end. Didn't take much and everything I did bring is in my car. How about you?"

He seems to be a good man, but you want to try your own approach on this one. Sorry bud.

"I've still got a couple of things to take care of. Can I ask you to head down to her last known location and see if you can scout out anything? I'll be along soon."

"Alright then. Sounds good. See you later."

"Seeya."

You wait a while.

Last checks before you head out. You open your office desk's drawer and spot your S&W Model 36.

Better to have it than not. After all…

You picked up the MODEL 36.

…you've got a particular foreboding about this.



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It's been a very long drive.

Nothing out but miles of darkness and forest.

You passed the last gas station - the same station the victim made last contact - a short while back.