by Jacob Shelton
Have you ever wondered who catalogs the strangest fictional phenomena on the internet? The Special Containment Procedure (SCP) Foundation is a collaborative website where writers congregate to work on creepypasta-style “reports” about different kinds of creatures and paranormal activity. What is SCP? Rather than a wiki-inspired array of loosely collected stories, the SCP has a distinct approach which lends itself to horror, science fiction, and comedy.
SCP stories range from spooky descriptions about entities living under your bed and shadowy men watching you in the dark to breakdowns of how a Tupac CD has helped solve cold cases. If you’re a fan of science fiction or the short-form work of H.P. Lovecraft, then you’ll find hours of chilling delight when you dig into SCP.
The SCP Is A Modern Science Fiction Community
The SCP website initially aimed to appear as if the shadow government group “Special Containment Procedure” exists to acquire, research, and catalog all manners of paranormal entities, creatures, and objects. This description may sound dry, but only until you start reading. The site comprises a global online community of science fiction and horror writers who collaborate to create some of the most compelling genre fiction.
Writers design each “report” to resemble a bare-bones account of creatures and unexplainable phenomena. These range from scary to funny and straight-up weird. The best SCP stories manage to blend the elements mentioned above into one piece.
The SCP Deals With Unusual Life Forms
At first glance, SCP looks like a bunch of spooky stories about monsters locked in a cell, but there are so many writers on the site it’s almost impossible to produce a duplicate account. The mods go to extreme lengths to ensure the site offers something for everyone – they don’t want the stories all confined to a single genre.
There’s a whole world of weird phenomena to read about:
- SCP-1029 is a JPEG, and some claim it emits a smell.
- SCP-2137 is a sentient copy of Tupac’s “Me Against the World,” which allegedly solves crimes.
- SCP-063 is supposedly a toothbrush with bristles capable of erasing things from existence.
- SCP-249 is a purported door that opens to random places.
- SCP-106 is an alleged creepy old man who eats children.
The Foundation Got Its Start On 4chan
Before SCP was a living, breathing online organism, it was a single report posted to 4chan’s paranormal page, /x/. In 2007, SCP-173 debuted; it described an aggressive sentient statue, which seemed to move only when an observer broke eye contact.
The post was a hit, and readers began to make fanart of the statue and create new reports. This influx of creative energy gave the initial SCP creator the inkling to start a wiki.
Many Of The Reports Let Your Brain Do The Heavy Lifting
Many science fiction and horror short stories are so caught up in feeding the reader minute details – this ends up preventing people from using their imagination. The reports on SCP manage to toe the line between providing enough context and inundating you with too much information. In numerous cases, when a writer leaves out or redacts details in a report, the censored sections compel wonder about the potential horror of the deleted text.
For instance, a writer tells a terrifying and sad story about a young woman kept alive against her will through an advisory report, which describes how researchers handle themselves when working on the case. SCP-087, an entry about a staircase leading to nowhere, takes a page from the book House of Leaves by expunging one of the additional reports entirely.
There’s A Loose Narrative Structure
When browsing a fiction collection as dense as the work on SCP, you may wonder if the stories connect. If so, should readers start at the earliest report, or dive in wherever seems the most interesting? The mods at SCP clarify how there’s no real narrative to the individual pieces, so new readers can come to the site without feeling overwhelmed. Some reports do share a link, but the relationships between entries are tenuous at best – and this is a good thing.
If you like structured fiction, then you should read through the canons. These stories connect through a narrative and tone that plays with sci-fi and horror tropes. If you like your Lovecraftian horror and soul-crushing sci-fi to have an arc, there is a spot on the SCP wiki for you.
Each Creature Or Phenomenon Has A Special Code
To make the reports feel realistic, each has a specific code number. For instance, the first report was about SCP-173, a horrific statue. The generic number system doesn’t only serve as a handy way to catalog the 3,000+ stories available on the SCP wiki – it’s also a way to tell the audience no matter how weird a story’s content is, it’s entirely rational for the SCP characters.
There’s An SCP Video Game
If you’d rather experience your creepy-crawlies via first-person POV, or you’ve already burned through all the reports on the site, you should check out Containment Breach. This free online game transports you to the world of a researcher who has to deal with SCP-173 (the first anomaly).
The gameplay follows the player as they investigate a randomly generated SCP facility where 173 is running amuck. Because the creature can only move when you’re not looking, you’re safe only when it’s within eyesight. There is a function in the game where you have to blink, however, so it’s not a walk in the park.
It Has A Complex Classification System
If you’ve casually glanced at the SCP wiki, you’ve probably noticed the classification system attached to most of the reports. The system breaks down into different categories: Safe, Euclid, Keter, Neutralized, Explained, and Thaumiel. This kind of system can turn off readers who prefer their science fiction with more fiction than science, but they’re easy to keep straight:
- Safe: Contained, “reliably understood” anomalies.
- Euclid: “Inherently unpredictable” items not easily understood. These aren’t dangerous enough to technically call dangerous.
- Keter: The most dangerous items cataloged in SCP “[that] require extensive and complex procedures to contain.”
- Neutralized: The designation for something either deemed safe, destroyed, or disabled.
- Explained: Items “completely and fully understood” or entirely debunked.
- Thaumiel: These items do not count as highly classified, but standard practices do not easily classify them. Most Thaumiel-class items are super dangerous.
You Can Write Your Own Report
Though the SCP seemingly houses a lifetime’s worth of reports, the group is always looking for new stories. If you read through the wiki and find yourself burning with inspiration, then you can write an SCPand send it in.
There are abundant rules when it comes to writing about creepy-crawlies who have invaded our plane of existence. The site’s mods prefer to keep the collection organized, so to join, you must apply and learn the rules.
You Can Rate The SCP Entries
As with many collections of user-generated content, there’s a rating system. All the stories undergo curation by a group of moderators who ensure submissions align with SCP’s style. Thus, you’ll find some stories better than others.
If you’re part of the community, you can vote reports up and down to more accurately show which stories reflect the weirdness at the heart of SCP. The rating system is helpful to new readers who want to find the best of the best before taking a deep dive into the site.
Aside from making the reading experience better for new members, the rating system also show seasoned members which stories need work. Low ratings may appear like a cruel addition to such a community-based site, but they truly help to refine the reports.