Redacted Anthology: Student Essay

Melvin Rodgers

Dr. Melinda Smith

E568: Independent Inquiry

1 December 2015

Teenage Wasteland: The Mysterious Case of Taylor Henderson

Academically, there has not been much research on games, video or otherwise, in the span of modern academia, and even less to actually merit much attention. There is, however, the rare strange case that piques the minds of students, professors, and enthusiasts alike when it comes to the unknown. Events such as these are still only talked about in the most secluded of circles, and even then only a percentage of those will come to publish works on the odd cases. Such events are speculated upon and scrutinized with such vexation by all parties that they become something even further removed from reality. Esoteric in nature, these instances certainly seem more supernatural than our understanding of normal laws of truth and physics might allow, however wildly they may present themselves. Such is the bizarre circumstance of Taylor Henderson, a young lady that descended into madness after curiously acquiring an unidentified video game. Though never explicitly stated, the game obviously caused a decline in her mental and physical state, which is apparent in entries from her blog that she maintained for about four months.

Early in 2015, Taylor began a blog to chronicle the events of her life. Blogging has quickly become a way for youths to diary their daily lives, though publicly instead of privately. Perhaps Taylor had made a New Year’s resolution to write more, as recent studies have linked journal writing with higher critical thinking skills 1 . Perhaps others she knew had also started blogs, and the engagement in this activity represents nothing more than a desire to conform to social norms. In any case, there exists a record, however slight, of events which transpired due to a mysterious video game. Though Taylor’s entries may seem lethargic, and apathetic at best, her posts suggest she had a knack for learning, was quite studious, and would do whatever she could to improve her grades. However, through a close examination of Taylor’s diction and underlying tone, it becomes apparent that the dedication to her studies does not solely stem from a thirst for learning. In her expression that “good grades are [her] only ticket out of here when [she] graduat[es],” Taylor not only implies a general dissatisfaction and discontent with her current life circumstances, but also insinuates that education is the key to her happiness. Taylor suggests that she would leave if she could, but lacks a “ticket”, the resources, to do so. Therefore, Taylor perceives knowledge as her escape. Her educational success exemplifies the “wing wherewith [she] can fly to heaven” 2 . Although Taylor does not disclose the details required for bliss, she insinuates that her present state of residence does not satisfy her vision of paradise.

Although Taylor’s blog, “Dissocalledlife,” was not updated regularly, it disclosed detailed events in her day-to-day life. Taylor’s early posts were school-centric, as most teenage girl blogs are 3 , and revealed that her life was otherwise ordinary. Simple statements regarding school or plans for the day imply a normalcy that, while unsatisfactory to Tailor, was routine “as always.” However, Taylor’s posts begin to change when an anomaly arrives in the form of a package on a Sunday morning. The occurrence was considered unusual not only in regards to the day of the week, but also due to the lack of address, return address, or stamp on the package. Despite her implied grievances that accompany what she thought was “another [similarly] boring day,” it is interesting to note that Taylor hardly reacts to the strange event and responds with a standard attitude of disinterest. Unaware that this day would lead her down a path of breakdowns, physical sickness, and emotional instability, Taylor gives little thought to the occurrence. Out of mere curiosity, Taylor tries to turn the headset on. Taylor proves unsuccessful and sarcastically thanks whomever left it on her porch. In doing so, she misses an opportunity to implement a comma, saying, “thanks a lot for the piece of junk secret admirer” instead of the more correct “thanks a lot for the piece of junk, secret admirer.” This could be attributed to common teenage lapses in judgement and grammar, however, Taylor herself states that she has a 4.0 GPA, and it seems unlikely that, based on her prose and diction, she would commit such an error. Could she be thanking someone–a higher power perhaps–for the “secret admirer” (with “junk” functioning as an adjective and not a noun) and not necessarily the package itself? There is no more mention or hint of anything similar anywhere else in the blog, effectively making this a moot, and ultimately inconclusive, question.

There is much debate about whether the package in fact contained anything at all. This argument is often extended to question whether the package itself existed 4 , insinuating that Taylor was delusional all along. Although she claimed to have pulled out a sort of headset, there was never any picture of said box, nor pictures of its contents, namely this device, posted anywhere in her public blog. While it is hard to imagine that someone would fabricate a story as elaborate as Taylor’s, there is no proof to back such claims; for what little evidence that does exist contradicts such a theory.

Taylor’s discovery of a switch on the headset five days later comes in a post labeled “Eureka!” The headset is implied to be some type of virtual reality video game. Despite an initial claim of aversion to independent activities, Taylor immediately exhibits a strong gravitation to the game and plays for four hours on the first day. Along with Taylor’s behavior, an expression that the video game is “amazing” and that it “feels like it was made for [her]” foreshadows an infatuation that will only grow stronger with time and the consequent onset of a series of troublesome happenstances. Curiously enough, Taylor’s family has removed all traces of the game’s name from the blog entirely. The last entry of the blog–written by Taylor’s family–states that this was done to “ensure that no one will suffer as she did.” As the parents distance themselves and refuse all questions regarding this mysterious note, it becomes apparent that the truth is not only upsetting, but also unspeakable.These reactions of real emotions suggest that the blog cannot be the musings of an insane individual. The Henderson family was again contacted for further questioning on the matter, but they refused to comment on the subject. One can only speculate as to what happened to Taylor, or what happened within the Henderson household during the spring of 2015.

Taylor’s abnormal behavior continues and within a few days, she begins to act increasingly more out of character. Taylor forgoes a night of sleep to remain actively engaged with the game. Although this behavior proves unusual for Taylor, it is not outside the norm for other teen gamers 5 . Stanford’s own Dr. Richard Jenkins has done extensive research on youth culture and the rise of gaming mentality in the past decade. In his paper The Addictive Properties of Modern Video Games, Dr. Jenkins states: “It is not atypical for a teenager to ignore sleep, remain glued to their television screen, and take a quick slumber before heading off for a full eight hour day at school” 6 . As time goes on Taylor shows signs of dependency on the game and begins using it as a reward, a Pavlovian conditioning technique. In one instance, she treats herself to “a few rounds”  for slimming down and fitting into an old pair of jeans. Here we see Taylor falling into what Jenkins calls “a certified path to self destruction.” Taylor is so hooked on this game that she is unable to see the dangers in her sudden weight loss. It is soon revealed that along with a physical transformation, Taylor also begins to exhibit signs of mental and emotional degradation with suddenly high levels of anxiety, an inability to eat, and a propensity for violence. Although these symptoms begin to take their toll on Taylor’s health, she is unable to break free from the grasp of her desires.

Later, now the end of February, Taylor becomes increasingly and noticeably irritable. School had been the subject of many of her posts up until this point and, while perhaps not entirely positive, was at least met with a begrudged enthusiasm. However, this post at the end February marks a shift after which any and all mention of school is done so out of indifference, very uncharacteristic for a 4.0 GPA student. Although she seems to logically acknowledge her breaks in character, she at the same time shows a profound sense of lethargy in facing them. The video game is not mentioned in this section, but obviously has had a profound effect on the girl by now. Mood swings and violent outbursts do not usually occur in teens this suddenly after so many years of normalcy. Taylor succumbs to inner desire triggered by the video game once again, letting it feed her information in a symbiotic relationship.

Over the next month we get a taste of the supernatural effects this game is purported to have through Taylor’s exhibition of delusional actions and worrisome thoughts. She never states if she is under any spell or if she is terrified by anything in particular, aside from sudden paranoia, but it is apparent through her diction that she is not herself, and has become severely afraid of not only the unknown, but also the familiar. In one post, How is this possible?, Taylor describes her attempts to destroy and get rid of the game only to find it sitting on her bed waiting for her. She makes a claim in this post that she is scared. Now, one could take this post at face value and believe the claims that the game not only refuses to burn, but also constantly materializes back in the owner’s room. The answer to this mystery lies in her surrounding posts where Taylor discusses her malnutrition and deterioration. Several posts disclose that she is unable to sleep, unable to eat, and constantly sick to her stomach. It is clear that Taylor is not in a sane or healthy state of being. Therefore, it is not difficult to conclude that this degradation from malnutrition and exhaustion could easily lead to hallucinations and paranoia. She exhibits lapses in judgement and perception not only through an engagement in unprovoked arguments with her parents, but also in her declining academic performance. In one of her last posts, Taylor notes her inability to focus on even the most minute of things. This, combined with everything she has been experiencing so far, including vomiting and severe anxiety, emphasizes an even greater dependence on the game than the reader might have realized. It becomes obvious that it is all she can think about, yearning for something more, but can only find darkness. This video game, whatever it is, proves to be a strong influence and certainly contains some sort of supernatural power. Although there have been instances of video game dependency in the past, there has surely never been anything to this extreme. Taylor’s inability to process even her own thoughts clearly, much less her own food, are a product of her gollum-like attitude towards the game. She becomes reclusive and hostile. Once again, the reason for this must be the game itself, as normal video games of any kind do not cause these odd behaviors, and this game appeared in her life just before Taylor’s mental, emotional, and physical decline began.

What follows is a terrifying incident that only serves to further prove her psychological breakdown. Taylor goes missing for a week. Although her parents yell at her for disappearing, screaming for answers, Taylor is completely bewildered and cannot provide an explanation. She has no recollection of leaving home, how her clothes got muddy, when it rained, or even what day it is. It can be assumed that at this point Taylor has endured the detrimental effects of malnutrition and insomnia for well over a month, thus sending her body into a meltdown that caused her to black out and enter a fugue state.When asked for comment via email, Dr. Chad Richardson, MD of Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles said something like this would be, “very odd. The human body can only survive for so long under such circumstances. This girl should have been on the very edge of death, or far past it as far as I’m concerned” 7 . The only post following this disappearance is Taylor’s celebration that she has found her game once more. One month later, Taylor’s parents create an ambiguous post with little explanation, a digital death knell for the recipient of that cursed game.

Whatever the end result of this ordeal was, it assuredly was not good.The sad distress of the final post by the family screams heartbreak and agony. Coupled with Taylor’s descent into psychosis due to the game, it is almost astonishing that the rest of the Henderson family did not go mad themselves. Perhaps whatever this game is only affects teenagers. If so, how? And more importantly, why? Taylor’s week long absence from her home is also concerning. Questions remain on where she went and how she survived on her own being as malnourished as she was without proper funds, resources, or cognitive stability. Whatever video game has been redacted from her blog certainly tormented this girl and twisted a good student into someone who has not been heard from in months, and may never will be.

 


  1. See New York Science Journal Vol. 43 
  2. Shakespeare – Henry VI part 2 
  3. As stated in the article “Teens and Blogs” in TechDaily vol 9 issue 3 
  4. For example, in “Taylor Henderson’s Psychosis” by Fred Williams, published in Psychology Now! vol. 3 issue 5 
  5. From “Study Shows Teens like Games” in GameMan Magazine issue 86 
  6. “The Addictive Properties of Modern Video Games” Jenkins, Richard. Stanford. 2012 
  7. Personal interview 
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Redacted Anthology: Research Transcripts

Transcripts from the Audio Diaries of researcher Dr. David Smalls

Subject: Matthew Daley

Source: Los Angeles Police Department

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date :October 3rd 2015

Matthew’s parents are concerned about him, they say he’s spend his days playing a video game he received in the mail recently and done little else. There are obvious concerns that this might be the infamous deadly video game that’s been circling around recently. It took some convincing but I finally got them to agree to let me study the effects the game has on him without his knowledge. All under the guise of trying to find a way to stop the negative effects from happening, of course.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 5th 2015

The hidden cameras have all been set up around the house. I have several in Matthew’s bedroom, and scattered all around the house. For obvious reasons, I’ve placed no cameras in the house’s bathrooms. Matthew has no idea what is happening and I’ll be able to watch his every move moving forward.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 9th 2015

Matthew came home from school today and went immediately to his room and put the headset on. For a second I thought the footage froze but I confirmed with several of the cameras in his room that there was no error. Matthew spent the hours of 5pm to 2am sitting completely still in his chair, headset on. At one point his mother walked in to ask him if he wanted dinner, she was ignored completely.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 12th 2015

Today I witnessed Matthew urinate himself while sitting in his chair. Not once during the process did he flinch or even attempt to make his way to the restroom. The footage shows the true addictive nature this game must have. To deny one’s own primal needs so blatantly. I’ve never seen anything like it.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 16thth 2015

Up until now I have instructed Matthew’s parents to leave Matthew to his own devices. I’ve assured them I would tell them should any dangerous activities present themselves. I was able to convince them that the defecation and urination was typical behavior in situations such as these. Well, no one ever won a Nobel prize being honest.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 20thth 2015

Matthew did not play his game today. Instead he walked straight up to one of my cameras and stared into it for four hours. I could feel his gaze on me the entire time. It was the hardest footage I’ve had to watch thus far.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 24h 2015

Matthew knows he is being watched. That much is clear, he has taken to not playing the game in his bedroom anymore but taking it to the restroom where he knows I am not watching. I will not let this experiment get away from me. Perhaps it’s time to start pulling some more strings.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 27h 2015

I instructed Matthew’s parents to confiscate the game. I have never seen such rage before. As soon as they lifted the headset off his head Matthew attacked like a feral dog, thrashing wildly, knocking over his desk and charging at his mother. If it wasn’t for his dad tackling him to the ground and holding him there I have no doubt that he would have tried to kill his mother.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 28h 2015

Matthew sat in his bed all day today holding his knees and rocking back and forth. His parents took everything from him. The boy has completely lost it and at first I thought it was time to call the ambulances. Then he began muttering to himself. It was the same two words over and over again. When I played the audio back a chill ran down my spine. He was repeating my name.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: October 31st 2015

Matthew has disappeared. At approximately midnight every last one of my cameras went black, two minutes later the images returned and Matthew was no where to be found. His parents have finally given in and called the police. A wise decision.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: November 7th 2015

Matthew visited me tonight. I woke up at 3 in the morning to a knocking at my door. I went to look through my peephole and heard him immediately, still repeating my name. I told him to go home or that I was going to call the police. He didn’t stop. I called the police and they showed up 20 minutes later to find no trace of the boy. All that they found was a small unmarked package on my doorstep. Inside was Matthew’s video game.

 

Natural Observation Case 347: Subject: Matthew Daley Date: November 10thth 2015

Matthew visits me every night at 3:00 am. Every night I am woken up to the whispers of my name from outside my door, the police are sending an officer to stay in my home tonight, to try and catch him when he returns.

 

 

The final audio diary has never been released by the investigators. Purportedly it begins with Matthew arriving at the door at 3:00 am and what follows is the gruesome murder of David Smalls and Officer James Howell. The contents have been deemed too disturbing for the public and there are no plans to release the tape in the immediate future. Matthew Daley remains missing.

Redacted Anthology: Psychiatric Evaluation

Medical Restricted

Montana Health Department

Division of Mental Health Services

 

Identification of Patient:

  • Fifteen years old
  • Caucasian male
  • Single
  • First year high school student
  • Lives at home with both parents (married) and two sisters (ages six and ten)

 

Referral Source: Dr. Delfino Cordez, MD (through the inquisition of the patient’s parents)

 

Sources of Information:

  • Karen Stowe and Mark Stowe (the patient’s parents)
  • Karen, an accountant, and Mark, an architect, both appear to be reliable sources of information.
  • Several phone calls with Karen lasting from one half to a full hour in the month prior to the first assessment of the patient.
  • One half-hour interview with both Karen and Mark in office one week prior to the first assessment of the patient.
  • Medical records
  • This is the patient’s third evaluation.

 

Chief Complaint: The patient states that he does not need to be evaluated. When asked to explain, the patient says that he is “still fine” and otherwise remains silent. The patient has again been brought to this facility for a third evaluation by his parents for worsening behavioral changes including irritability and anger, a decline in school performance, insomnia, a withdrawal from normal activities and social relationships, failure to eat, and an unhealthy obsession with a new video game. Noticeably small changes at home began in November with mild mood swings and reclusive inclinations. The severe effects of poor school performance, malnutrition, a propensity for violence, lack of sleep, memory loss, and the fixation on the game began to emerge at the end of the month of December and only seem to have increased over this month of January.

 

History of Present Illness: The patient has been receiving services at this facility over the past two months under my care. Historically, he has found that he is often distracted and unable to focus for long periods of time. His parents relate that they became aware of this struggle and lack of ability to concentrate when he was ten years old. After many conferences with the patient’s elementary and middle school teachers, the patient’s parents finally had him tested for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Symptoms of poor school performance, minimal motivation, absentmindedness, and the inability to remain actively engaged and involved in day-to-day actives have greatly improved with treatment that began in October 2010. The patient has had no troubles for five years. However, suddenly the patient’s medication does not seem to slow the arrival of both old and new problems as of November 2015. The patient is often not present mentally. He seems far away and disconnected from the conversation or task at hand. This detachment and disinterest has been increasing with time. It began with decisions to forgo simple social outings with friends and has developed to include weekly school absences, a refusal to join the family for gatherings during the Christmas holidays, and the confinement of himself to his room. Food has not only become unappetizing, but also recently toxic. The patient either chooses not to eat or involuntarily regurgitates all that he consumes. The patient has lost twelve pounds since the last evaluation two and a half weeks ago. The patient’s parents report that the dark circles under his eyes and his lifeless demeanor and appearance stem from insomnia and malnutrition. Over the months the patient’s sleep has diminished from four hours a night, to two hours a night, to now around four hours per week. The patient’s parents convey that he spends all of his time and sleepless nights alone in his room either playing his game or staring at it in silence. Symptoms of verbal aggression began with minor incidents at school. These incidents have now escalated to encompass fits of uncontrollable physical violence and verbal threats that exist in all aspects of daily life. The patient “does not become angry, he becomes infuriated at anything….with everything,” Karen said. According to the patient’s parents, violent behavior is most common when in connection to the game and namely, attempts to confiscate it from the patient. The patient also exhibits periods of memory loss. The patient often disappears anywhere from hours to days at a time. Upon return, the patient reports that he “never left [his] bedroom.” The patient claims that he has “been upstairs playing [his] game the whole time.” However, the patient’s shoes, clothing, and documented history of credit card charges imply otherwise. Review of symptoms suggests something greater than the return of an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The symptoms of the patient suggest that something in his life has changed. An unidentified stimulus has generated the sudden onset of such behaviors.

 

Psychiatric History: The patient has never been hospitalized for a psychiatric purpose. The patient was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in October 2010 at the age of ten by Dr. Samantha Brock, MD of Riverside Medical.

 

Substance Abuse History: NONE

 

Medical History: See History of Present Illness. Ongoing nausea, upset stomach, vomiting since the end of November 2015. The patient suffered from a broken wrist and two broken fingers from a bicycle accident in June 2007 (age seven). No reports of head trauma or seizures.

 

Surgeries: Adenoids and Tonsils Removed August 2003 (age three)

 

Allergies: NONE

 

Current Medications: Prescription – Vyvanse 30 mg daily (a.m.)

 

Family Medical History: The patient’s paternal grandfather diagnosed with lung cancer at age sixty-five. The patient’s father suffers from hypertension. No family history of heart disease or diabetes. No family history of psychiatric disorders.

 

Spiritual Beliefs: Christian

 

Employment: Student

 

Legal: No legal problems.

 

Hobbies: The patient plays baseball and likes to be outdoors (prior to the problems that emerged in November 2015). “Now all he wants to do is play that game. I’m not even sure where he got it or who gave it to him. He has never shown an interest in video games until this one came along,” reported Karen.

 

Education: The patient’s parents relate that the patient is (was) very social. He had many friends and was always well liked. He never had any problems with anyone. He had a good relationship with all of his teachers. The patient’s parents reported that the patient did not always make straight A’s, but he never made below a B+ (until now). “He had to work for his grades. But that’s what is important to note. He always worked for it. He usually puts all his effort, every ounce of his being, into everything he does. Now he doesn’t seem to care about anything. Not school, not his friends, not even his own health,” said Mark.

 

Mental Status Examination: The patient is five minutes late to his appointment. According to the patient’s parents, the patient refused to get in the car. The patient locked himself inside his room and barricaded his door with his bed. It is reported that the patient violently screamed and threatened to injure his parents when they finally managed to open his door. “Once I finally got a hold of his thrashing arms, I noticed that he was foaming at the mouth. He was uncontrollable. He was shaking from the anger. His cheeks were red, his back was wet with sweat, and he was hot to the touch. When I looked into his eyes, I didn’t recognize my son anymore,” explained Mark. The patient is unclean. His unwashed and thinning hair is dark with grease, his body emits a foul odor, and his fingernails are uncut and yellow with bacteria. His clothes hang two sizes too big off of his small and continually shrinking frame. The patient’s pale and weak demeanor ages his young body. The patient is not cooperative and does not maintain good eye contact. He is not alert. When he is not looking at his hands, mumbling in anger, he stares through me, only seeing the thoughts in his head. The patient’s gaze often scans the room, back and forth, as if he is watching a very different scene unfold. He is distant. His reactions and speech are slow. It seems that a response is only generated after the question is repeated for the third time. The patient’s educational history reveals that his intelligence is above average. However, he offers little explanation and insight when asked for interpretations of various pictures, readings, or questions. When asked why, the patient often responds: “I don’t know or I don’t care.” Although the patient displays a good short-term memory when asked to recall a series of phrases previously stated, the patient denies any memory of purchasing batteries four days ago. The patient denies any behavioral changes, mood swings, irritability, and physical transformation. As questions about the video game begin, the patient once again becomes fidgety. The patient finally discloses that he found the game in his backpack at school on October 31, 2015. When asked about the need and desire he has to play the game, the patient quickly shouts, “I have to. I have to play it. I have to play.” The escalation from a calm and detached disposition to one of rage is noted to both occur more quickly and with more intensity each successive evaluation.

 

Clinical Impression: The patient is a fifteen year-old Caucasian male with no family history of any psychiatric disorders. He has no history of substance or family abuse. The patient benefited from the treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in October 2010. Although medical treatment has been successful, the patient now displays troubling symptoms in addition to and greater than that of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

 

Diagnoses:

  • AXIS I: Rule out PTSD. Rule out Bipolar Disorder. Rule out Panic Disorder. Rule out Depression.
  • AXIS II: Rule out Borderline Personality Disorder
  • AXIS III: History of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • AXIS IV: Psychosocial Stressors: The patient’s behavioral changes began after he acquired the new game. The patient’s obsession to the game is the catalyst to his arising problems.
  • AXIS V: GAF: 11. Declining with time.

 

Prognosis: Good, if the patient adheres to treatment. The patient will continue to display physical, mental, and emotional degradation without the correct assistance from his treatment plan.

 

Treatment Plan: The patient is to return to this facility for evaluations every week. We will check the patients weight and blood pressure. We will examine the patient’s alertness, mental presence, response time, cooperation, judgment, and emotional stability. We have discussed treatment options for the patient’s parents to implement at home regarding the video game. We also have discussed hospitalization.

 

Dr. Brett Boline

3 January 2015

Redacted Anthology: Coroner’s Report

Coroner’s Report

 

Patient Name: [REDACTED]

Patient Age: ██

Location: █████████, Texas

Date: 10/14/20██


Cause of Death: Unknown

 

Notes: Patient is a male of age ██. Height is 6 feet 2 inches, weight is 210 pounds. Patient’s cells appear to be in a state of advanced necrosis considering the time of death reported to be less than 48 hours past. Skin exhibits a deep pallor common among cadavers that have been expired for extended periods of time. The patient did not exhibit any external wounds indicative of the cause of death, but internal organs appeared to have ceased function long before the patient expired. Samples were taken of the patient’s blood and spinal fluid to investigate for clues as to what may have caused his death. Analysis of the blood revealed little, although the presence of [REDACTED]; however, the patient’s spinal fluid contained a formerly unknown prion, the structure of which was many times more complex than any seen before. Further testing of the prion is underway to determine what effects it may have had on the patient and to test for its virulence. See Addendum 01-A for further details. Of note was that the patient underwent several bouts of reinvigorated brain activity during autopsy. These caused sporadic movement in the extremities and rapid movement of the eyes, including extreme dilation of the pupils. These spasms occurred twice, the first of which lasted roughly 30 seconds and the second lasting almost a full minute. It was after this that the brain was removed for testing, and from that point no further spasms were noted. Samples were taken from the patient’s stomach and found to include the flesh of █████████. Samples were sent to the lab for further analysis.

 

Addendum 01-A: After extensive testing, it was determined that the prion discovered in the patient’s spinal fluid could very well have been the cause of death. Cultures were replicated in order to experiment on various subjects. It appears that the prion has absolutely no effect on most forms of life, simply entering a state of hibernation until transmitted to a human host.  Preliminary tests indicate that once infected with the prion, victims undergo the following phases.

 

0 – 12 Hours: Victim will notice few if any symptoms. These may include fever, sweating, dilation of the pupils, and vomiting.

12 – 24 Hours: Victim will begin to notice increased onset of symptoms, ranging from severe restlessness to acute paranoia. Subjects were noted to refuse any and all food offered to them, often violently attacking attending staff and attempting to [REDACTED].

24+ Hours: [REDACTED]

 

Addendum 01-B: [ACCESS RESTRICTED]

On 10/16/20██, security staff responded to a report that there was an intruder located in the morgue. First response teams arrived on the scene to find [REDACTED]. Casualties were recorded at ██ security staff members and █ research staff that were still within the building. All remains were incinerated with extreme prejudice.

 

Addendum 01-C: [ACCESS RESTRICTED]

Further analysis of the prion and ensuing infection have revealed that the main vector of infection is the bodily fluid of the infected. Most commonly this involves saliva entering a new victim from bite wounds inflicted by the infected. Once infected, there appears to be no way to reverse the progression to the final phase outside of early termination, and even then the infected must be left in a state which prohibits any and all mental activity, the most effective method found to date being incineration. It is currently theorized that an outbreak of this infection would be catastrophic if not responded to immediately.

You Can’t Do It – Explanation Post

For this story I was inspired by the image of Karen standing at the open door to the endless hallway/labyrinth. At the time she definitely was not ready to enter and I don’t know what would have happened to her if she had gone in after Navidson. I wanted to write a story about someone in Karen’s situation, faced with an overwhelming fear and choosing to move through it instead of backing away. As I’ve been reading a lot of no sleep stories and watching horror movies recently this action does not have a positive outcome for my protagonist. There’s a lot of Carrie inspiration in my story and I wanted to play with format just like Danielewski but decided that for this story it would just be a gimmick and would add nothing to it, so I wanted to let the words speak for themselves.

You Can’t Do It.

You can do this.

You can do this.

You can’t do this.

Mike Crawford hated gym class, despised it. His hatred didn’t come from a lack of athleticism, as a matter of fact he thought himself quite manageable in most sports. It also didn’t come from his social standing. He may not have been popular but he was never picked last for anything, he was never made the butt of any joke. In all honesty those fifty minutes of playtime were some of the most fun any 15 year old kid could have at school, and Mike was no exception. It was just the God damned showers.

These showers were the bane of his existence. The shower room was a completely empty, eggshell colored room. It had twelve showerheads attached to the walls only a few feet apart from each other. There was not a single wall separating one boy from another, and the entire place reeked of a long expired carton of milk.

Every time Mike looked into the room he could feel his heart sink into his stomach. The color of the wall made the entire room seem insignificant yet giant at the same time. The very thought of stepping into it made Mike feel that he would be lost in it’s grasps forever. Mike’s very instincts told him that this room was a place that was not to be entered.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Mike knew he shouldn’t swear. His Mama had taught him that and raised him right. Even so he couldn’t help himself as he made his way to his assigned locker. Everyone around him began to throw off their clothes as they prepared their trips to the shower. Oh, if they only knew, Mike thought, what would they do to me?

Mike untied his shoes, taking extra care to make sure the laces were packed in tight before placing them in his locker. Then came his socks, and this was when his eyes began to wander. Jeffrey Dern was undressing four lockers down, now clad only in a shirt and his underwear. Mike watched as Jeffrey lifted his shirt over his head, his breath increasing in pace ever so slightly. He let his eyes wander down Jeffrey’s body. Mike knew that Jeffrey was one of the most popular guys in school, at least with the girls he was. That in turn made him a hero with the guys. Rumor had it that Jeffrey had slept with four girls since school had started and he had no intention of slowing down.

Mike let his eyes trail down past Jeffrey’s well-defined chest, across his developing abs and towards his navel. Jeffrey fortunately had not noticed a thing. He slipped his fingers underneath the waistband of his boxers and…

A slamming locker to Mike’s right side snapped him out of his trance.

“Crawford, are you gonna shower, or are you going to stand there all day?”

It was Coach Stevens. Crap, Mike thought, had he seen me watching Jeffrey?

“Yes, sir, on my way sir.”

Coach Stevens had no idea why the Crawford kid would always treat him like a drill sergeant, but he didn’t pay it too much attention. What he did pay attention to was the manner in which Mike was just ogling that Dern boy.

Mike quickly threw off his shirt and his shorts, leaving him in only his briefs as he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Mike heard someone scoff behind him but paid it no mind. The coach watched him as he approached the showers, and then made his departure, leaving Mike alone with his twenty classmates.

There was no hiding here, Mike thought, he knew that no matter how hard he tried to conceal it the room knew his secrets. It knew and he had no way of protecting himself from it.

Three people were already showering. Elmer Mears, the mayor’s little handmaiden, as he was known around the school, had taken the showerhead at the far left corner. Billy Crick had taken the first showerhead he saw, clearly in an attempt to get in and out of this shower as soon as possible. Daniel Steel had taken the center showerhead, keeping equal distance away from both other occupants, and had his back to the wall giving Mike a clear view of his…

Jeffrey bumped past Mike and took a showerhead in between Billy and Daniel.

You can’t do this, the room whispered to him.

He entered and made a quick turn to get to the showerhead across from the other guys. It left him good and alone at the moment, but he suddenly got scared that his isolation would make him a focal point for the others. Too late to turn back now. He tossed his towel through the ring hanging on the wall and took a minute to try to adjust to the horrible smell that began to fill his nostrils. Futile. He turned the showerhead on and screamed.

Fuck that was cold! Mike heard Jeffrey and Daniel laugh but refused to turn around to meet their eyes. Fortunately the room had already begun to fill with steam, so anyone’s vision beyond their own bodies would soon be limited. Mike made the water warmer and slowly disposed of his underwear. He placed it on his towel but it immediately slipped and his attempt to catch it fail. Another laugh from Jeffrey as Mike watched his underwear get soaked on the shower’s floor. No use picking it up now.

Mike turned his attention to the shower. He let the water hit him square in the face. Perhaps the water could “clean” his mind. He went through this every single day. The locker room. The boys. The laughing. It never stopped. Sometimes he wished he was like Elmer. Everyone’s punching bag.  He was the one who would always get picked last, he was the one who was teased, and he was the one who probably hated gym class more than anyone else in school. Still, stuck in this shower, Mike would have given anything to switch bodies with even him.

Mike grabbed his soap and began running it over his body, washing away the filth that came with the boy’s new pubescent sweat. He ran it down his arms, around his neck, and over his chest. He washed his stomach and made his way down to his legs. Instead of bending over, Mike let his knees bend and crouched down in a fetal position to wash them. There was another chuckle from behind. Once he had washed in between his toes he came up and gave a quick look around him, the steam had intensified and he couldn’t see anyone attempting to stare him down. I guess it’s only me that does that then, he thought.

He let the soap come into contact with his groin. He was almost hugging the wall now, desperately trying to hide from anyone’s view. He scrubbed gently but fervently and let the water wash away any suds that formed. As he washed his thoughts began to wander. He had barely begun to grow hair down there around two weeks ago. Everyone else seemed to have hair already. They all also seemed to be more gifted as well down there. Mike let his head sink at the thought. He didn’t have to be teased by anyone else; he knew he didn’t have much down there. He doubted that he ever would.

His mind drifted to Jeffrey. In reality everyone in that shower now, the population had just reached nine, envied Jeffrey and his “little” friend. Mike thought about the first time he had seen Jeffrey, his jaw had nearly dropped. It looked nothing like his own. He had taken the time to scan the locker room and showers on future occasions, and while no one seemed to reach the lengths that Jeffrey did, they all seemed to be leaving Mike trailing behind.

I hate him, Mike thought, it’s all his fault. Stupid Jeffrey with all his girlfriends. Stupid Jeffrey with that stupid smirk. Stupid Jeffrey with that great body. Stupid Jeffrey showing off every day. Stupid

Jeffrey…..

It happened in an instant. Daniel was the first to point and laugh. Elmer noticed and joined in. Soon the entire shower was staring right at Mike, pointing and laughing. Mike let himself fall in embarrassment. He landed hard on his thigh and tried to cover up his mid-section with his hands. He felt himself begin to lose consciousness. He wanted to die.

“Boner!” “Boner!” “Boner!” “Look at the little fag!” “What a tiny dick!”

Mike desperately tried to shut them all out but it was useless. He could run, but his legs wouldn’t dare move. And where would he go? Would he start running down the hallways naked, determined to never return again. Anyone who had been in the locker rooms had now barged in to see what the cause of laughter was and joined in. Mike had his eyes sealed shut and didn’t hear the footsteps approaching him.

He was too frightened, too embarrassed, too furious with himself. A hand touched his shoulder and his eyes shot open, full of fire, extinguished by forthcoming tears. He inched his eyes upward and saw Jeffrey standing over him. The hand on his shoulder was warm, friendly almost. Mike felt a strong inclination to get up and throw himself into Jeffrey’s arms. Jeffrey had come to save him, to protect him. Everything was going to be ok.

The thought only flashed through Mike’s mind for a second. His eyes turned from relief to fear as he watched Jeffrey raise his arm and curl it into a fist. Mike released his grip on his crotch in an attempt to block his face but he wasn’t fast enough. Jeffrey’s fist went flying into Mike’s cheek. The pain was sharp, Mike was sure that Jeffrey had just broken his teeth and sent them crumbling down his throat.

“That will teach you to keep staring at me, you fucking fag,” Jeffrey said as he stood up and spit on Mike’s head. Mike had lost control of his body, his arms were at his side and any arousal he had felt earlier was completely gone. His eyes wandered from Jeffrey, whom he had admired not five minutes ago, to the pool of blood now mixing with the water and spiraling down the drain. He felt the water hit his lifeless body, each drop a dull thud against his empty carcass.

Just finish me off now, Mike thought. The blood was filling up his throat and Mike thought about just letting it fill up his lungs so he could suffocate. Just kill me already.

And as Jeffrey lifted his foot it seemed as though he was about to do just that.

“What the hell is going on here?”

Coach Steven’s thunderous roar immediately stopped all laughter. He looked at the gruesome scene before him, All the boys gathered around a limp, bleeding Mike Crawford. Jeffrey standing over him, foot all but ready to break Mike a new one. Mike began to cough and spurts of blood began to fly out in every direction, covering Jeffrey’s feet as well as the floor.

“Get the hell away from him!” he yelled. Everyone obliged. “Jeffrey Dern, principal, now. The rest of you finish up and get the hell out of my gym. You come with me.” He turned off the water and threw the towel that was on the ring over Mike. Stevens bent down and helped Mike, still shaking in shock, up to his feet. Mike looked at the room with his blood on the tile and it seemed to mock him.

I told you you couldn’t do it, it said.

Gerald’s Garden – An Explanation

I was inspired to write this piece by many different aspects in Frankenstein. The titular Garden came about in my head after reading all the beautiful descriptions of nature in the novel. I tried to capture in my opening paragraphs a small sense of Romanticism and their love of nature. The other idea that inspired me was the idea of creation. In Frankenstein Victor is often referred to as the creator of his creature and while at first he can’t wait to be seen as a creator and worshiped by this thing that should rightfully call him God, he eventually is terrified by his creation and curses himself for ever having brought it to this Earth. I wanted to play with creation in this story through Gerald and his wife being unable to have children and Gerald seeing himself as the creator of this Garden. Just like Mary Shelley I tried to skim over the “science” of what was actually happening in the story but I was inspired by reading reports over DNA splicing and fertility treatments.