On March 15, 2011 in Carson City, California, Martin Sims walks into a police station with an unlikely story: he had just escaped a supernaturally large IKEA somewhere in the city. The police wouldn’t have taken it seriously, were it not for the fact that Martin Sims had been missing for 3 years. Thankfully, SCP Foundation agents embedded in the Carson City police office took notice, and the Foundation launched a full-scale investigation soon after.
Thus, starts the story of SCP-3008, one of the most popular stories in the collectively written fictional project called “The SCP Foundation”. The SCP Foundation is a series of sci-fi/horror stories written by members of an online internet forum called, well, the SCP Foundation.
But First: What is the SCP Foundation?
The real-life SCP Foundation has pretty fascinating roots: it started out in the /x/ forum of 4-chan, where people talk about paranormal events and, occasionally, tell paranormal stories to one another. One of these stories, SCP-173, garnered so much positive attention that it spawned other, stand-alone stories of the same format. And thus, the SCP Foundation was born.
The SCP Foundation’s stories are all written as stand-alone articles detailing the ‘containment’ of various paranormal entities, objects, locations, and/or events. These articles are written like scientific research notes, and while certain in-universe rules are applied (i.e. certain “characters” like the SCP task forces, the O5 council, anomaly classification levels etc.), most of these stories are meant to be written and read as stand-alone sci-fi/horror stories.
That being said, there is a certain expectation for people to follow ‘canon’ rules, despite said rules being arbitrary. It’s a fascinating look at how collectively owned and operated intellectual properties can thrive without funding, relying completely on both community oversight and donations.
And of all the stories within the SCP Foundation, I personally found the story of SCP-3008 to be particularly frightening in a very existential, post-capitalist sort-of way.
What is SCP 3008?
In the lore of the SCP Foundation, SCP-3008 is a “Euclid”-class anomaly (SCPs that are either not understood enough to reliably contain or that behave in an unpredictable manner) that takes on the appearance of a fully functional IKEA store. It was previously owned and operated by the Swedish franchise giant, although the Foundation has determined that IKEA had no knowledge as to how this one location became SCP 3008.
During exploratory expeditions, SCP Foundation agents found that most of the store is practically normal; however, one portion of the site, named SCP 3008-1, is where all the anomalies seem to be centered. SCP 3008-1 is potentially infinitely sized, meaning that the interior is infinitely larger than the exterior. Using exploratory drones and cross-referencing with people who have escaped SCP 3008 (only 14 have been documented), here is what the Foundation knows about the site so far.
SCP 3008’s geography remains constant, which means that people can theoretically find their way out; however, escapees mention that they usually find themselves way too deep into SCP 3008 to begin with, thus minimizing the potential of finding the exit. Within SCP 3008 is an undetermined number of human survivors, but they are potentially in the thousands. These survivors have formed a rudimentary society of loosely aligned settlements or towns. There is no shortage of resources: escapees say that food is abundant, thanks to IKEA restaurants within SCP 3008 mysteriously replenishing with fresh food every day, same with other resources that people consume. Lights within SCP 3008 turn on and off at regular intervals, thus creating a sense of night and day for the inhabitants.
But other than being lost forever, SCP 3008’s real threat comes from “Staff”: paranormal creatures made completely of flesh and dressed up as IKEA employees. “Staff” members are observed to be completely faceless, be 7 feet in height, with arms stretching out to over 5 feet, and unusually strong. These creatures are completely docile during the ‘day’ but become extremely hostile and aggressive when the store goes dark, prompting survivors to barricade themselves in their towns and fighting off hordes of Staff members every night. The Staff members don’t seem to have any intelligence to them, save for one phrase that they repeat: The Store is Now Closed, Please Exit the Building.
SCP 3008: A Capitalist Nightmare
The horror, for most people, is clear enough: getting lost in an IKEA and being hunted down by hordes of what-is-basically Slender Man in an IKEA uniform. However, SCP 3008 offers an entirely different dimension of existential dread by a terrifying metaphor: SCP 3008 is capitalism, the Staff are the oligarchs, and while escape is possible, it’s completely implausible.
IKEA’s products are unique, but they’re mass-produced, which means their uniqueness becomes obsolete. Everything about the production process, from design to execution, is kept vague, with people knowing only the monolithic IKEA as a brand. Think about it: despite the wonders IKEA has done in making home accessories a little more accessible, it is one of the most perfect expressions of capitalism.
Understandably, the writers of the original story probably didn’t factor this in, and yet I can’t help but shake off the feeling that SCP 3008 acts as symbolism for how we all collectively live in a post-capitalist nightmare, where we must fend off constant attempts by capitalist organizations (i.e. the “Staff”) to take our lives, all while groping aimlessly around an artificially constructed, infinitely vast, and terrifyingly bland world.
To take a page from Žižek, the real monster was capitalism all along!