Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Dark Fiction - Prick Version 2.0

Prick Version 2.0

Written by Casey Douglass

(Bad language / adult content below)

‘How are you feeling?’
‘Not bad thanks.’
‘Okay, how are you really feeling? You’re grinning like a Cheshire cat!’
‘They’ve pumped me full of happy pills or something Rod! It’s amazing!’
‘Thought so. Shit!’
‘Don’t be a hater Roddy boy!’
‘I’m not being a hater Phil, it’s just that I need you to be more with it if this is going to happen.’
‘Oooh the packing case over there... is that your new toy?’
‘It is.’
‘And I’m the lucky guinea pig?’
‘You are, if you want to be.’
‘You don’t?’
‘I thought you said you couldn’t get it to work safely with rats? If it made poor old Roland’s brain leak out of his ears, why will it work for me?’
‘We’ve improved it since then, the guys and girls at the lab are a talented bunch. I’ll admit it still wouldn’t be allowed to be used anywhere though, for many years, if ever.’
‘Maybe you had it set to liquidise rather than blend last time. Sounds just groovy.’
‘Think it over properly, you know what I said it can do.’
‘Rewrite my mental firmware with something a bit less... depressed?’
‘Something like that.’
‘What if it goes wrong?’
‘Then you’ll probably be a vegetable. This is why I need you to be more with it Phil, you need to understand what you are saying yes to. You’re my friend and if this goes wrong, the only way I`ll be able to live with myself is to know that you really wanted me to do it. Otherwise, I just can’t. And here you are doped up on goofballs or whatever the doctors have got you on!’
‘Hey, I know what’s what thanks.’
‘You know why you are here, what happened?’
‘Indeed I do. I got into difficulty while out for a swim.’
‘Christ. Most people don’t swim at night, in the river, with bricks in their coat pockets. Stop giggling for fuck sake!’
‘Maybe I’ve founded a new Olympic sport!’
‘This is the third time. I don’t want you to keep trying to do this, which is why I’m risking my job just to see if I can help you. We seem to have tried everything else and you are still hell bent on ending yourself. You’re worrying about being a vegetable or whatever else might go wrong... if you walk out of here in a few days and try to top yourself again, you’ll have lost far more than your mind!’
‘Even if your gadget works, what will you try to switch around?’
‘I’ll try doing one small change, just to see how we get on.’
‘And that change?’
‘I was thinking about... you know how you said a few weeks ago, about how you don’t seem to enjoy anything any more?’
‘Please stop grinning like that, you don’t win a prize for remembering!’
‘Sorry, go on...’
‘Well I’m going to try to make you enjoy the fact that you don’t enjoy things, just in the short term.’
‘Hmmm. Not very enticing is it.’
‘Might be life saving though. Who knows. I’m out on a limb here, this is no man’s land.’
‘It makes me think about something I read on the Internet awhile ago.’
‘Stop right there.’
‘Someone, for a joke, said, imagine if your sexual fetish, the thing that turned you on the most, was the sight of your own flaccid penis. You’d never be happy! You’d start to get turned on, then would lose interest! It’s like a pervy Zen koan. What’s the sound of one hand fap-’
‘It’s not really like that!’
‘I understand your point but it’s not. If it works we’ll fine-tune it anyway, if it doesn’t, well, we’ll both be in the shit.’
‘Will I lose consciousness?’
‘Maybe for a few minutes.’
‘You won’t, you know... interfere with me while I’m out will you?’
‘If I wanted to see a middle-aged man’s penis I’d pay closer attention to my own the next time I go to the gents!’
‘Pity you don’t do that anyway, the mess you leave around my toilet when you miss is just criminal!’
‘Fucking wake up Phil! This needs to happen now if it’s going to. One chance, what’s it to be? I’m here to help you, I care about you, but even allowing for the drugs you’re on, you are pissing me the fuck off!’
‘Do it.’
‘You’re sure?’
‘What day is it?’
‘What year?’
‘Which political party is in power?’
‘That bunch of useless wankers.’
‘That could apply at any time but I’ll take it. Seems like you know what’s what... Let’s get started then.’
‘I do hope it works, and I do appreciate what you’re doing, the risks you’re taking.’
‘I know you do Phil, there’s no need to say it.’
‘There’s one thing I do want to say though, before you crack open that case and put that gizmo on my head.’
‘What’s that?’
‘The doctor will be doing her rounds soon. If she walks in while you’re doing it and I’m out, she’s allowed to interfere with me, okay? She’s a lovely lady. Irish I think.’
‘Duly noted. You’re such a prick.’
‘That’s Prick Version 2.0 to you!’

‘God help me.’


Thanks for reading. I really wanted to write a dialogue only piece of fiction as apparently, I have a knack for writing interesting dialogue, according to a handful of comments at least. I've been in a darker mood than usual so it felt good to channel something into this piece. It was also quite nice to have a bit of a swear fest. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Connection Lost: Major Carnage

The first of a series of articles written by myself, that use games as a mirror for pondering death, is now up on New Normative at this link. This particular one, Major Carnage, ponders games that feature mass death and why it seems all too easy to care about one death more than another.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Dead by Daylight Drinking Game

I've rustled up a playful drinking game that will fit in nicely with Dead by Daylight this Halloween. It's for Killer Mains, the people, who in the eyes of some Survivors, can just do no right. So to celebrate, tick off the words below as they appear in the salty post-game chat and take the edge off.

You'll probably be pissed as a fart after only a few games. Click the pic for a bigger version. Oh, and the "GG" in the middle is worth two swigs because if you've had a good game as a Killer, the chances of getting even one GG tend to be negligible.

Game Review - Indygo

Depression is a fucker. No two ways about it. Indygo is a new PC game that takes the topic on in a visually striking and interesting way. You can read my full review on Geek Syndicate at this link.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Life Goals and Dead by Daylight

I've written another of those articles where I learn something from a game and ponder the implications for my non-gaming life. This time it's about Dead by Daylight and how the game's Daily Ritual system led me to finding more fun and less frustration while playing. You can read the article on New Normative at this link.

Friday, 13 October 2017

What-If Avenue – OCD Awareness Week 2017

What-If Avenue – OCD Awareness Week 2017

By Casey Douglass

Image used freely from Gratisography

I think I read somewhere that our mind projects meaning out into the world and then responds to the echoes that bounce back. I forget where I read it but I think it’s an elegant way of describing what goes on in our noggins. Of course, our mind can also project meanings on to our internal experiences too, and that isn’t always helpful, particularly if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Briefly, OCD is an anxiety disorder in which sufferers experience intrusive thoughts or fears, the obsession part, and feel compelled to carry out compulsions, to try to get rid of the anxiety. The classic example is someone who feels anxious about possible germs or contamination on their hands and feels compelled to wash them over and over. OCD can manifest in almost limitless ways, but that seems to be the most accessible example I can give.

When someone is hit with an obsession, the body reacts in a fight-or-flight way, pumping adrenaline and other stuff around and gearing the person up to enter into combat, or to run like the wind. Sadly, when the obsession is caused by a nasty email, a mundane thing that you’ve only now noticed, or a memory, this kind of response isn’t really ideal. If you are in a truly fight-or-flight situation, your actions would burn through the adrenaline automatically. As far as it happening in a modern setting, you will more than like just have to sit and bear it.

Sadly, during the aftershocks of an anxiety spike, you are most vulnerable to other ones hitting or new stuff arising. I lose count of the number of times I’ve been obsessing about something, gave into the compulsion, felt minutely better for thirty seconds, and then got hit by a worse obsession. This left me regretting giving into the first compulsion and at times, regretting even being born. It’s no fucking way to live I can tell you.

The problem lies in the excellent What-If generator that we call our mind. It’s fantastic for writing horror stories I’ll admit, but when you are afraid of something, and your mind can find fresh new ways to worry about it down What-If Avenue, you are in for a rough time. If you’ve seen Final Destination, the way a possible event has a knock on effect, then another, then another, you’ll probably understand something of what I mean.

Just writing this article as an example: What if nobody reads it? What if I sound silly, What if I’m wasting my time. Now, those What-Ifs are all floating around the central idea of doing this post. Imagine if instead it was something you were really really afraid of. What if I didn’t lock the door and burglars come in. So you go and check the door. You get back into bed. What if the window next to it is unlocked. You go and check, come back. What if I locked it too tightly and the key didn’t do anything, just went around and around. You go and check. What if someone is out there watching me do this checking and is waiting for the light to go out. Etc etc. Now, the What-If about the key really locking the door might sound a stretch too far for a non-OCDer, but anyone who falls down the What-If hole (What-If Avenue is a sod for potholes) will probably recognise that stage. You know it’s probably bollocks, but you have to check “Just. In. Case.” The words that can often rule an OCD sufferer more malevolently than the worst of dictators.

Stressed bodies and stressed minds set up vicious circles of influence over each other, keeping sufferers in that kind of fertile What-If state. There are ways to get through it, and the crux of nearly every one is to do nothing, but do it in the right way. When that first What-If strikes, at least give yourself thinking time before you act and trigger a gush of yet more anxiety. If you are in bed and you worry about a locked door, ask yourself if you can take the chance, just for tonight, of not checking it. You may be in for similar doses of anxiety whatever you do, but by not acting and accepting how you feel rather than fighting it, one dose will mean something, the other would just take you deeper and leave you more prone to the same thought in the future. (I would add that you have to decide the correct risks to take and when; you can never get rid of all risk. If you decide not to check that your door is locked and something bad does happen, that was your choice, so be sensible... and don't blame me. This is why it is best to get treatment from a qualified person).

I think that’s enough for now, as this is getting mighty lengthy. If you have OCD or suspect you do, you should seek help from your doctor or some other qualified person. There are treatments out there, usually Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention based, and these are effective in helping you to lead a better life. You may never fully get over your OCD tendencies, but you can reduce them enough to not be so bothered by them. 

I write this post after a hellish week where I felt I was at real risk of relapsing badly. I am still struggling with an overly sensitive body that is jumping at the slightest sound, but I am still here writing this post and moving forward. I know it will pass, and if it doesn’t, I will just do the best I can, as always.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Insomniac Writing - The Victorian Pervert and Imposter Digestives

Insomniac Writing - The Victorian Pervert and Imposter Digestives

(Scrawled in pen last night at 2 am and typed up now. No lead image because, you know, I'm shattered.)

I rarely suffer with insomnia, but tonight I feel myself unable to sleep, mainly due to a mind that just won’t quieten down and the ruminatory avenues it keeps wanting to stroll along. I accept that, it’s just one of those things.

I read a little more of Grit, a book by Angela Duckworth on passion and perseverance. Ironically, I only get a few more pages chalked off before I find I don’t have the required focus for reading. My brain disengages and flows into rivulets of preoccupation again.

I sit and stare awhile. Mind chatters away. I decide to write down the stuff in my head, purging the bullshit that is keeping me conscious. It flows over 2 sides of A4 and does lessen the load a little. I still feel far too wide awake though.

I turn the light off and lay back down, listening to The Mindful Way Through Depression audiobook I repeatedly listen to in the hope of taking the information in more deeply each time. I manage 45 mins, relax a little bit more. I’ll take that. During this time I did apply my usual relaxation technique (a form of yoga nidra that I personalised and adapted a few years ago). Still wide awake.

Decided to check social media before getting up and going for a pee. Nothing really grabbed me. I know looking at a phone screen is probably harmful for sleep chances but what do I have to lose at this point? I just wanted to spend a few mins looking at a world in which other people were still doing stuff, knowing they were out there.

I got up to go for said pee and found myself catching a glimpse of the Moon. It was very high in the sky so I bent down to get a better look and almost knocked myself out on my TV stand.

‘How did you get that black eye Sir?’
‘I was trying to see the Moon my good man!’
‘Did she have nice ankles in accompaniment?’
‘Verily, they were a goodly distance apart!’

What the fuck? It appears I turn into a Victorian pervert when I’m sleep deprived.

I had that pee, and then found myself at the biscuit tin scoffing imposter digestives. You know the ones, the ones that don’t look like proper digestives but you’d broadly class them as meant to be the same thing. I followed those with a knock-off Nice and a healthy low fat glass of water. Yay for comfort eating.

I lay back on my bed again letting my Buddhist prayer beads trickle through my fingers. I find their grainy wooden texture comforting. I wonder if a bit of mental Om mani pame hum chanting will clear the mind. It does and it doesn’t. I did a full rotation of the beads and got back to the knotty bit again. I threw them half-heartedly across the room. Then I had the idea for writing some bollocks, and here it is.

It’s so quiet at night. I’m not sure if the internal noise of the blood rushing in my ears is louder than the odd sound around me or not. I noticed my nose had gone stuffy. Maybe it was trying to reduce my oxygen intake so I would pass out. Good nose!

I pondered whether to try and create a new swear word. Decided against it. Not sure why now.

I sat like a hunched over Buddha, that if someone entered the room and saw from behind, would think was either dead or masturbating. Maybe he has insomnia you jerk. Lol.

My mind moved to horror survival game Dead by Daylight, which is no real surprise as I’ve played a goodly amount with my good friend lately. I decided I should be more vicious as a Killer, I was losing far too many ranking pips by being overly nice to Survivors. Then I wondered, do paranormal style killers go on holiday? Do they fly? I hope their flights weren’t cancelled too. Is their chainsaw or axe considered carry-on luggage? Oooh matron. Do they get teary eyed when they see the sun rise over the gleaming wing of the plane as it skips over the clouds? Or do they watch something shit on in-flight TV instead? Would any mask or costume get in the way of using the oxygen masks if an emergency happened? I mean, most killers seem to have some kind of breathing issue already, whether it’s not breathing at all, or the raspy sex-pest kind that gurgles down your ear as they chase you.

I’ve been writing for twenty mins. Zoned out a few times there along the way. I did find myself looking at the wood-grain of my bed, specifically two dark swirls that now look like the realistic eyes of a bear. Can’t unsee that, it will stay with me now. Decided to try and drop off to sleep, hopefully to dream of a better life.

(I did fall asleep for a couple of hours. I ended up seeing what it was like to escape in Dead by Daylight by climbing down the escape hatch, telling my mate to not step on my fingers as he followed me down. The hatch is very fucking deep, no bottom in sight. Not sure how the Survivors in the game just leap down. I guess that would be the ultimate irony, escape the Killer, die by shattering bones through 100 ft drop. Interesting dream anyway. Freudian? I hope not.)