The Antique Chess Computer

Let's try a scary one. An SCP with a really classic horror feel, and one that I only finally read myself this week! 1875 begins ordinarily enough, with an intelligent chess-playing machine much older than should be possible for such advanced computing. That's certainly weird, and the early addendum that it's somehow affecting modern computer systems is weirder still, but at first glance, it seems like it's going to be just another dry, clinical desription of a cool and improbable artifact.

That is, of course, a deliberate ruse on the author's part, with increasingly alarming details dropped throughout this one at strategic intervals to keep us reading. The first thing that might raise your eyebrow is the passing mention of it being a mechanical and biological system, which at first might feel like a throwaway line the entry isn't going to elaborate on as we read more about its history as a roadside show and the other associated objects the Foundation has recovered, including a piece of eerie samurai armor said to have been seated as the "opponent" of patrons challenged to a game.

The intake report then drops the first bombshell on us; the disappearance of a famous chess master's two twin girls, and a slashed out note that the significance of this isn't currently known.

In the testing log, the SCP initially performs fairly well, but its highest speed setting seems to "malfunction" and it seems to make increasingly bad or outright illegal moves across consecutive games. After at least ten games in a row, it begins violently slamming pieces into one another and somehow e-mails a mysterious photograph to everyone working on its study and containment.

If you have a wikidot account, then Addendum-03 has a pretty fun little shocker for you, and the fourth addendum, while not actually a "jump scare," springs an image on the reader that seems to have scared the piss out of even long-time readers. If, like me, you relish visuals as chilling as those in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, you probably got a big kick out of this one.

In the end, it's an SCP with a fairly straightforward and even somewhat conventional explanation straight out of some spooky real-world urban legend. The chess machine isn't "artificially" intelligent, but "haunted" by the real consciousness of two missing girls, who naturally can't stand playing chess game after chess game without an end to their misery. The fact that the machine is partially biological, however, indicates much more than your typical supernatural presence, feeling more like a story of arcane, frankensteinian science than just a couple of restless poltergeists. These girls were transformed together into a monster, so removed from anything human that nobody ever could have suspected the truth...and all just for some tacky, money-making sideshow.

From concept to execution, 1875 would easily make my top ten or fifteen most frightening SCP entries.