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The seat that was provided was a harsh gunmetal black edifice, warped enough that it was effectively impossible to place all four legs on the floor at once.  It made an obnoxious clacking sound when Dr. Johannes Sorts shifted his weight, the noise echoing through the unnecessarily large concrete room.  Row upon row of harsh florescent lights buzzed overhead, the sound only momentarily drowned out when Dr. Sorts shifted his weight back again.  Clack.
제공된 좌석은 한 번에 네 다리를 전부 바닥에 닿게 할 수 없을 정도로 뒤틀린, 거칠고 검은 건메탈색이었다. 요하네스 소츠 박사Dr. Johannes Sorts가 자세를 고쳐앉을 때마다 좌석으로부터 불쾌한 딸깍거리는 소리가 불필요하게 커다란 콘크리트 방에서 울려퍼졌다. 머리 위로 줄지어 늘어선 형광등이 내는 윙윙거리는 소리는 소츠 박사가 다시 자세를 고치자 잠깐 묻힐 뿐이었다. 딸깍.

Agent Schaffer cast an irritated glance over the top of a manila folder.  He closed it and clasped his hands atop the blank cover, leaning forward across the scarred and pitted old cafeteria table between himself and the doctor.  Apart from the comfortable padded folding chair he occupied, the doctor and the table were the only other things in the stadium sized chamber.
셰이퍼 요원Agent Schaffer은 마닐라지 서류철 위로 짜증섞인 눈길을 던졌다. 그는 서류철을 닫고 텅빈 커버 맨 위를 움켜쥔 채 그와 박사 사이에 놓인 긁히고 구멍 난 낡은 카페테리아 탁자를 가로질러 앞으로 몸을 기울였다. 경기장 크기의 방 안에 있던 건 그가 쓰고 있는 편안하고 솜을 덧댄 접이식 의자를 제외하곤 박사와 테이블 뿐이었다.

"You do, of course, know where we are and why we are here?" Schaffer asked, the first he had spoken since security had escorted the twitchy little doctor into the room.
"우리가 어디 있는지, 왜 여기 있는지는 물론 알고 계시겠죠?" 셰이퍼가 물었다. 경비가 초조해하던 작은 박사를 방으로 호송한 뒤 처음으로 한 말이었다.

Dr. Sorts rolled his eyes in open contempt but cast his gaze towards the unfinished floor and mumbled, "I'm not stupid.  I also know you stuck me in this chair to make me feel uncomfortable.  I know what this room was used for before it was re-purposed to contain th- -that… goddamn thing."
소츠 박사는 노골적인 경멸감을 담아 눈을 굴리되 시선을 완공되지 않은 바닥으로 향한 채 중얼거렸다. "난 멍청하지 않아요. 날 불편하게 하려고 이런 의자에 처박아 둔 것도 알아요. 이 방의 용도를 그—그… 빌어먹을 물건을 격리하는 것으로 바꾸기 전에 뭐에 썼는지도 알고 있고요."

Schaffer watched the doctor very carefully, noting the difficulty with which the other man spoke.  He opened the folder again, noting that the enclosed psychological profile had indicated a marked increase in the subject's paranoia in the past months. "Doctor, that was the only other chair in the room.  We did not bring it in here to torment you.  It's not like we entertain guests here."
셰이퍼는 박사가 말하기 어려워하는 점에 유의하며 다른 남자를 매우 유심히 쳐다보았다. 그는 다시 서류철을 열어 대상의 피해망상이 지난 몇달동안 뚜렷하게 늘었음을 나타내는 심리 프로필에 주목했다. "박사님, 이 방에 있던 의자는 그게 전부였습니다. 당신을 괴롭히려 가져온 게 아니에요. 손님을 따로 접대해주는 것도 아니고요."

"Yeah, t-two chairs in the room, and you got the good one.  Call it what you will," Sorts grumbled, shifting his weight again to send a clacking sound to bounce about the distant walls. "The floors in here are rough and dirty, only worn smooth in tracks where the forklifts moved the pallets around.  How much manpower did it take to yank up all the old shelves that used to be in this storage room just so it could be a glorified lobby for you… I mean that… that fu- -goddamn thing…"
"그러시겠죠, 방에 의자가 두-두 개 있는데, 좋은 걸 차지한 건 당신이잖아요. 하고 싶은 대로 말하시죠," 소츠가 다시 자세를 바꿔 딸깍거리는 소리가 멀리 떨어진 벽까지 닿도록 하며 투덜거렸다. "여기 바닥에서 부드러운 부분은 지게차가 화물을 옮기던 길뿐이죠. 거칠고, 더럽고. 인력이 얼마나 필요하덥니까? 이 창고에 있던 낡은 선반을 전부 치워서 여길 당신… 그러니까 그… 그 씨—빌어먹을 물건을 위한 잘나신 로비로 만드는 데…"

"Would you like to trade seats?" the agent offered calmly.
"자리를 바꿔드릴까요?" 요원이 차분하게 제안했다.

"I think I'm fine where I am, annoying you with this unbalanced chair." Sorts squirmed back and forth until his chair made a squealing noise on the concrete.
"그냥 이 자리에서 이 짝짝이 의자로 당신 짜증나게 하는 것도 괜찮겠네요." 소츠는 그의 의자가 콘크리트에 닿아 끽끽거리는 소리를 낼 때까지 앞뒤로 꼼지락댔다.

"Doctor Sorts, you are a level 2 researcher.  Given that you lack the clearance, could you explain exactly how you learned about me?"
"소츠 박사님, 당신은 2등급 연구원이시죠. 인가도 없이 저에 대해 어떻게 알아내셨는지 설명해주시겠습니까?"

Sorts gripped the edge of the table with pudgy hands and finally met the Agent's eyes with a contemptuous glare. "Don't talk like that.  You and I both know wh-what…" The doctor licked his dry lips and swallowed before continuing. "You and I both know what we're talking about.  But I'm the only person who can speak honestly here.  You lack the capability."
소츠는 두툼한 손으로 탁자 끝을 잡고 드디어 요원의 눈을 경멸 섞인 눈초리로 마주보았다. "그런 식으로 말하지 마시죠. 당신이나 나나 우리가 뭐-뭘…" 박사는 말을 잇기에 앞서 마른 입술을 핥았다. "당신이나 나나 우리가 뭘 얘기하고 있는 지 알고 있죠. 하지만 진정 말할 수 있는 건 저뿐이에요. 당신은 그럴 능력이 없어요."

"You didn't answer my question.  This is a grave security breach.  Given your own specialized research into memetics, you understand the severity of this leak and how your very knowledge of me is a dangerous liability."
"제 질문에 대답하지 않으셨잖습니까. 이건 중대한 보안 위반입니다. 밈학 연구를 전공하셨으니 이 유출이 얼마나 심각한 건지, 저에 대한 당신의 지식에 얼마나 위험한 책임이 따르는 지도 아시겠지요."

"So what, you're going to terminate me?" Sorts screeched. "The only person who can deal with… that goddamn thing?"
"그래서, 절 제거하기라도 하실 겁니까?" 소츠가  날카롭게 내질렀다. "그 빌어먹을 물건을 다룰 수 있는 유일한 사람을…?"

"Your open discussion of…" Agent Schaffer paused to consider his words carefully. "…this matter caused a memetic containment breach that infected the entire breakroom at site 19."
"당신이 이…" 셰이퍼 요원은 신중하게 단어를 고르기 위해 말을 멈췄다. "…것에 대해 공개적으로 논의한 탓에 밈적 격리 실패가 일어나 제19기지 휴게실 전체가 감염됐습니다."

"Memetics is bullshit!" Sorts interjected. "A meme is when I say 'Knock, knock' and you say 'Who's there?'  It's not a virus, it's not a weapon.  It's not a compulsion.  The other researchers in the breakroom are not sick- -any more than they already were, anyway."
"밈적이라는 건 개소리에요!" 소츠가 말을 끊었다. "밈이라는 건 제가 '똑, 똑'이라고 했을 때 당신이 '누구세요?'라고 하는 거에요. 그건 바이러스도 아니고 무기도 아니에요. 충동도 아니죠. 휴게실에 있던 다른 연구원들은 아픈 게 아니에요—어차피 원래 그랬던 것보다 더 나빠지지도 않았고."

"Doctor…"
"박사님…"

Sorts laughed. "Meme is a fucking stupid word to fancy up the concept of a running joke, one of the more irritating concepts that mouth-breathing crap-flinger Richard Dawkins has inflicted upon an undeserving world.  I hate the very word. 'Mmmmeeeeeeem.'  I pronounce it 'maim' every time I can because I hate it so much."

"I thought it was pronounced that way." Schaffer frowned.

"You thought, you thought, you thought eight things tonight!" Sorts laughed, then rubbed his forehead. "Oh god.  There I go.  That's an obscure one, I don't expect you'd know the reference.  But see?  A meme is only as good as the amount of people that understand its context.  Context is the key to unlocking these things.  I learned about that goddamn thing by paying attention to the context.  I talked to the people who were rotated out of working containment in here.  I noticed the peculiar pattern in their speech.  I deduced the rest."

Schaffer raised his eyebrows. "You'd never seen me before now?"

Sorts just narrowed his eyes. "I know enough about that goddamn thing to know this is a ridiculous waste of resources.  Where is it right now?  That old supply closet over there?  The one that has a fancy electric lock and the old faded 'fertilizer' sign that was obviously recently added?  All the other doors in this room are either sealed off or specifically go somewhere.  Seriously pathetic misdirection there."

Schaffer had heard enough, he stood up from his seat and gestured to the aforementioned door. "Yes, that's where they keep me.  Would you like a look at the room?  Perhaps, since you have learned so much about me, you can offer some insight into future containment procedures."

The two men strode towards the old closet, which Schaffer opened with a wave of his unique key card.  Schaffer picked up a clipboard from the reverse side of the door and read the introductory language that had been carefully prepared to make otherwise straightforward containment procedures sensible.

Schaffer cleared his throat and recited the lines he had spoken only a few times before, when he was first assigned to security for this containment chamber and during scheduled testing:

"Hello, I am SCP-426. I must be introduced this way in order to prevent ambiguity. I am an ordinary toaster, able to toast bread when supplied with electricity. However, when any human being mentions me, they inadvertently refer to me in the first person. Despite all attempts, there is yet to be a way to speak or write about me in the third person."

Sorts made a derisive sound and waved towards the object sitting on the middle of a shelf in the otherwise empty closet. "That goddamn thing.  That goddamn thing is a goddamn toaster."

"No one else has ever been able to refer to me in that way before, Doctor Sorts.  How did you do it?  Your file said you had a talent for defusing memetic effects."

"That goddamn toaster is not a meme!  It's a goddamn toaster!" Sorts snatched the containment papers from Schaffer's hands and read through them with a scowl. "We have no cultural references to that goddamn toaster.  People who never heard about that goddamn toaster refer to… to it as if it was themselves.  Memetics has absolutely no application here.  Maybe I'm the normal one and you are all just goddamn idiots."

"I notice that you have great difficulty referring to me.  When you do, you only do so to damn me… to speak of me derisively.  Do you suppose that it is your intense dislike of me that allows you to avoid my effect?"

"I didn't say that goddamn toaster had no effect on me.  Sure, it's hard for me - that's me, as in Johannes, I can use that word properly - to talk about that goddamn toaster any way I want.  Clearly the mere concept of that goddamn toaster has the property of defining itself in the psyche of the individual who thinks of it.  It's a glitch in logic.  Where you can only refer to that goddamn toaster as yourself, I choose to refer to it as th—"

"Yes, I get the picture, Doctor Sorts.  Are you aware of my secondary properties?"

"I don't care about your goddamn properties! Secondary, tertiary or otherwise!" Sorts flipped through the attached test logs. "You're doing a piss poor job of containing that goddamn toaster though, I tell you what.  I could keep this goddamn thing in a box under my desk and do a better job.  I sure wouldn't start thinking of myself as a goddamn toaster.  I'm not replacing my concept of self with it."

Schaffer hadn't thought much of the pudgy doctor before he started ranting, and he had to fight to keep his voice level when he replied. "Doctor, please calm down, you're becoming very agitated.  This presents a unique opportunity for us to work together, to do some tests regarding our interactions and your ability to to avoid my effect."

"I don't want to work with a goddamn toaster!" Sorts hung the clipboard back up on the door and reached for the handle.

Schaffer put a hand on the Doctor's arm. "I meant me.  I want you to work with me."

Sorts whirled upon the agent with a furious grunt, shoving the larger man square in the chest with all his might. "That goddamn toaster should just stay locked up!  I'm clearly not immune to the influence of that goddamn toaster.  I don't want to have anything to do with … with that goddamn…"

Schaffer stumbled backwards for a moment but regained control of the situation as his training took over.  He redirected the smaller man's momentum and whirled the doctor face first into one of the closet's bare walls with a metallic clack. "That's quite enough, Doctor Sorts.  You don't really have a choice in the matter." The agent leaned in and growled with a sharp twist of the doctor's arm, "Do you really want to do this?"

Sorts rolled his eyes back up at Schaffer over his shoulder. "Alright, alright." His words were slurred by the way his lips were rammed against the dirty wall. "I'm sorry.  I get the picture."

"Okay.  I'm going to let you go now and you're going to deal with me like a rational adult."  Schaffer released the doctor and took a step back, running his hands down the front of his black uniform.  Something tickled the back of his mind, perhaps it was the way Sorts' eyes cleared of panic too quickly, or perhaps it was the absence of a familiar weight at his hip.

Sorts whirled around, revealing the pistol he had yanked out of the agent's belt on his short trip to kiss the wall. Schaffer stepped forward and put out his hands but the doctor slid away, keeping himself out of reach. Sorts held the pistol low, aiming at the agent's unprotected groin and legs.

"Doctor Sorts, that is my sidearm."

"Listen to you! It can't have a sidearm. It's a goddamn toaster!" Beads of sweat were thick on the doctor's brow. "You're talking crazy because you can't tell the difference between you and a stupid inanimate object. That goddamn toaster needs to stay in here and it would be better if everyone forgot about it."

"If you do not stand down and return my sidearm immediately-"

The toaster hit the ground after two shots, and the doctor kicked it into the corner of the closet for good measure. After using Schaffer's key card to lock the door to the goddamn toaster's containment chamber behind him, Sorts dropped the pistol into the pocket of his coat and wiped his brow.

Taking a deep breath, he strode out of the empty storehouse, past the ever-present security cameras, and returned to his office to file a report on the incident.