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Editorial: Helter Skelter Meets Chicken Little

Posted on Wed, Jul 07, 2004

I pride myself on my readings of Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz and Bram Stoker. Of Richard Laymon, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Bloch. These men represent novelistsóor to be more precise, horror novelistsóat their best. And though Iím well-read of these horrible men, you shouldnít be fooled Ė paper and fine print is as far as I can proceed into the genre of horror, for Iím a sissy. A wimp. Yellow-bellied through and through. Even the slightest morbid occurrence will send fear shooting through my body. Dead raccoon in the road? I swerve. Red Cross blood drive? I shudder. Striped shirt and burnt skin? I flee to Old Navy and reconstructive surgery. Like I said, Iím a wimp.

So with this knowledge you could easily surmise the trouble I have when indulging in one of my favorite pastimes: playing horror-based video games. How ironic, to be so fascinated with something I find so terrifying. Oh, but I ramble. There is a point to all this, believe it or not. Iíve come to you, the readers, to help me in my most desperate of times. What do I need from you, you ask? Not counsel. Nor judgment (snobs!). Rather, I need a diagnosis. I need to know what Iím to do about this conundrum. But donít pull out your pens yet Ė Iím going to help your decision along. For the next five days Iíll be jotting down journal entries that will better detail my problem. I just hope I have some marrow left in my bones by the time Iím finished.

Day 1: Woke up at four this morning. Something was scratching at my bedroom window. I rose from bed, shivering, and looked out the window. I found a mere tree branch, motivated by the wind, was knocking at my window. My fears quelled and my heartbeat slowing, I sighed. Suddenly, something darted into the street somewhere to my right. Something big. Some, despite the hour, wouldíve investigated such a strange occurrence. I stayed inside for the rest of the day.

Near noon and still safe inside my house, I prepared and ate a ham and cheese sandwich. Once finished, I took a seat in front of the TV, Konami and Black Label Gamesí The Thing in the Xbox and a controller in my hands. I thought I would be relatively safe with this game, since the novel The Thing is based on (by the same name, written by Alan Dean Foster) is of the science fiction genre, not horror. It seems the game differs.

Around every turn I met a Half-Life-esque Ďhead crab,í Ďwalker,í (a looming, long-armed, human-turned-beast) or some other monstrosity. Whatís more, the game didnít shy away from showing gore; vivisected, chewed-up bodies and the gallons of wall-coating blood that accompanied them made me lose my ham and cheese from earlier today. Twice. In addition, the gameís fast-paced story left me no time to contemplate which of my rifle-wielding companions would transform into fearsome beasts next. Needless to say, this made for some highly intense gameplay. Witlessly terrified though I was, I found that gore and monstrous Things, enclosed by distrust and suspicion, made a far tastier (if only in a sour, acrid fashion) sandwich than anything I could whip up in my own kitchen.

Day 2: Had awful nightmares last night. I was in a large mansion, fighting off strange monsters and solving even stranger puzzles, periodically checking the mansionís clocks, though Iím not sure why I bothered Ė they all read the same time: 3:33. I, by some odd circumstance, wasnít myself, though; I was a slim young woman, then a Roman gladiator, then a priest. God. I had so many identities I canít even recall them all. No matter whose body I was in, though, I was always combating the same monster. No, it wasnít anything physical, like you gape at in the movie theatre. There were no killer sharks, masked murderers, or werewolves of any sort. This monster was different. This monster was inside my head, gnawing gnawing gnawing at my psyche, at my brains, pounding through my eyes and rebounding off my skull only to crash into my delicate face again and again. It made me weary and dizzied me, made me see things that werenít there but could certainly hurt me. It felt like I was going insane.

My nightmare must have been a premonition, because after eating breakfast, showering, and inserting Silicon Knightís Eternal Darkness into my GameCube, I experienced it all again. Playing predominately as Alexandra Roivas (though I took control of many other characters, as in the nightmare), I traversed a dimly-lit, moody, and sanity-devouring mansion in search of the killer of Alexandraís grandfather, who was bloodied and mangled the night preceding the gameís opening scene. Discontent with the police forceís conclusions concerning the murder, Alexandra stayed at the mansion instead of leaving with the police.

I really do hate my addiction.

During her stay at that Godawful mansion, Alexandra faced creepy zombies (which only got creepier as the game progressed), some insanelyóin the literal meaning of the wordóunreal head trips, and some surprisingly deep puzzles, which only succeeded in making things scarier. As the game was ending, the story kept unraveling like a ball of blood-red yarn, except when it was all said and done I wasnít left with a pile of useless yarn, but a new ball, tighter than before and just as bloody. And if this simile proves anything, itís what Eternal Darkness has done to me Ė even a ball of yarn can scare the hell out of me now. Iím a bundle of nerves. Iím going to bed.

Day 3: Sleepdidnít help at all. Woke up at 8 this morning, still shivering from yesterdayís venture into horror. Just like Alexandra, I havenít quite regained my sanity Ė shortly after waking I slipped The Suffering fromMidway into my Xbox, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

I had no idea prisons could be so scary. The creaking cell doors; psychosis-inducing, unbending metal bars; overhead lights that flick, flick, flickered until they finally burned out completely, they all smashed me down, putme on edge, marinated me for the salivating creatures that lurkedin the shadows but came no nearer. And when they did, I was in for one hell of a trip. I couldnít possibly prepare myself for everything I saw when playing that game: stitched-up monsters, limbs ripped out and replaced with gut-spilling blades. Looming beasts toting crackshot machine guns. Water-dwelling, fear-drinking imps with syringes for eyes, armor and weapons. Theyall came at me relentlessly, charging and jumping and leaping and shooting. God. I shudder when I think it, but it seems that all these creatures represented not just death, but particular methods of execution at Abbott prison, where the game takes place: murder, lethal injection, death by firing squad. I was terrified.

The monsters arenít the only things that frightened me Ė like the prison and the creatures, Torque (the gameís main character), was alsotruly evil. He was sent to prison in the first place for murdering his wifeand children, though no one actually saw the murder happen. After all I saw him do, though, I bet he did. With a giant arsenal of weaponry, the guy slaughtered blade-arms, gun-back, and needle-eye like it was no sweat. After he killed enough of them, the guy turned into a monster himself andkilled even more. Jesus. Icanít handle this. Igotta take a break.

Day 4: Stared back atmyself. Inhuman. My bodyís white. Too white. My flesh is flushed. No red, nobrown hues in my cheeks, my face. I turned away from the mirror. I was afraid I wouldnít makeit through this five day journal. I felt weak, like I needed to eat. But I wasnít hungry. I just wanted to sleepÖ But I knew Icouldnít. Had to finish the journal so you couldhelp me. I hope all this wasnít in vain.

8 p.m. was when I slipped Resident Evil into my GameCube. Deadpeople that walked, crawled, ran at me. Tried to eat myface and bury their claws in me. They gave way to larger creatures. Man-eating spiders. Mutated sharks. Crows that peckedpeckedpecked at my face Ďtil they stole my eyes and left me for dead.

Iwas paced as to take as much horror at one time as possible. Winding hallways hidmonsters in their shadows. Could always hear them, but never see them. Hear them crawling outof sight to ambush me. Hear them jump through windows. Break through doors. Grab at mythroat and drink my fear. Typewriters (only sane things in the whole damn game) were scarceand healing items were even scarcer. It all kept me on edge, waitingfor the crows and dogs and plants and zombies and sharks and all the deranged monsters out there that were really just inmy head. Fear was my own worst enemy. It caved in on me, my head, my brain.

Day 5: must havefainted yesterday. woke up on thefloor. ear was bleeding. got rag toclean it up. rag was bloody. could notstand it and gave it to dog. he ate it. funny dog. still haveto cure fear of games. silent hill 2 is in xbox, foggy streetsand straightjacket monsters. bloodstains everywhere. nobody to bleed. hugemen murder living mannequins. wander throughhotel and hear screams. ring in my ears. make them bleed,, makeme sad. I cryand bleed my tears. I threwup and laughed and criedat the little girl she died and gotkilled by the old man and the radio hisses at melike a snake in the grass andshows itssssss fangs and hisssses at me the monsters are getting closer and i hide and they find me and eat me oh godthey eat me and the the radio hisssses and hisses at me Ďtil im a monster too oh god they eat my brains I cant see im bleeding andlaughing and I cant breatheand im dead

Day 6: Now, I know that I said this thing would last five days. Why do I waste more of your valuable time, you ask? Why, to tell you Iím all better, of course! It turns out I didnít need your help after all! But then you ask ĎWhy the sudden recoveryí? Ah, I must be telepathic. (Ha!)

You see, Iíve cured myself. Iíve just sat here in this room for the past hour, not thinking of those horrid video games or anything of the like. Itís very peaceful in here, you know. But why are these pills so hard to swallow? I suppose itís because they work so well. They keep me even more peaceful than usual in this nice white place with these nice white doctors in their clean white suits. I saw a man here in his nice white suit get a nosebleed once (awful things, those nosebleeds). I never saw him again. Maybe itís because the blood didnít match all the other white things here and they couldnít keep him for decorum reasons. (Ha!)

Before his nosebleed, that same man put me in a nice white suit, too. It made me feel special, because it wasn't like the other suits. This one put my arms behind my back and kept me from doing things the nice white men in their clean white suits donít want me to do. The nice white men always feed me and give me my special medicine that tastes like M&Ms, even when I donít want it. Sometimes I spit it back at them, in their faces. (Ha!)

But donít let me lead you astray from my point Ė I no longer need your help. Thanks for trying, but Iím doing just fine here. Here I donít have anything to be afraid of. Itís really nice. In fact, why donít you join me? Youíll love it here in the white building. The nice white building with the white ceiling and white floor and white men and bloody jackets and spinning walls and shaking floor.

Youíll love it to death.

Posted By: Stealth52 - 1408 Reads

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