The Lighthouse Project

📅 Published on July 2, 2021

“The Lighthouse Project”

Written by Michael Paige
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

ESTIMATED READING TIME — 19 minutes

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In early April of 2016, a study was conducted on the psychological effects of solitary confinement under the influence of lights.  The following is an account of that study.  For privacy and at the request of individuals involved, names and identifying details have been omitted or changed.

* * * * * *

It was on a Sunday morning when tragedy transpired for Guy XXXXX.

He had just sat down with a frothy cup of flat white when the unknown number dialed his phone.  Calling from a New York State Penitentiary was a prison chaplain who opened the conversation with, “Good evening, Mr. XXXXX”  Then, indiscreetly, the chaplain did not hesitate to add, “I regret to inform you about this…”

The voice, as Guy describes it, was hollow and absent, but trying its best to sound compassionate, like an apathetic machine wired to read an empathetic script.

The chaplain continued, “It concerns your brother.  Last night he unexpectedly passed away in our custody.  The remains have been released to a mortuary and must be claimed within forty-eight hours, or disposition must be made, as provided by law.”  The call was then affectionately ended with, “We extend our sympathy for your loss.”  One day after that, a letter of condolence was sent.

At 3:15 AM, March 13th, Guy’s twin had hung himself in his cell, ending a seventy-day stretch in solitary confinement.  An officer had found his somewhat-elevated body motionless and unresponsive.  A bedsheet had been used, tied off to a plumbing fixture.  Death by slow strangulation; very few ligature marks visible on the neck; heavy discharges of vomit from both nose and mouth (as summarized in the investigative report).

It had been his fourth year of a twenty-five-year sentence for second-degree murder.  He had been convicted of killing a woman he was attempting to carjack.

“My little brother had issues.  I’ve always known that.”  Guy fought back the quivering tones in his speech and paused to wipe his eyes.  “We had just graduated high school when our parents passed from a car accident.  They were both killed almost instantly.  We had no aunts or uncles, no trustworthy relatives.  We just had each other.  He got mixed up with bad people.  They got in his head and led him down a bad, very crooked path.  I gave him all the help he needed—I did.  It wasn’t enough to steer him from that path, but I never gave up on him.  After every phone call, every monitored visit, I told him I’d always be here, waiting for his sentence to clear.”

Guy also had this to add: “I know that I am not alone in my belief that solitary confinement is a monstrous punishment to inmates.  My brother had a history of mental issues; he should have been in a hospital, not a prison—let alone an isolated lockup.  I believe we’ve forgotten what it means to correct bad behavior.  Torture can’t force a broken mind to repair itself; it only forces the mind to behave.  That is not a solution or a correction; it’s cruelty.”

Officials from the penitentiary maintained that there was “little-to-no” concern that the inmate had been planning to take his own life.  Had it been the case, he would have immediately been transferred to a mental health unit.

Faced with the cruel separating agent of grief, Guy turned to his research for comfort.  He knew that extinguishing solitary confinement was unlikely, considering its worldwide practice, so he instead focused on an alternative approach.  His proposal: to capitalize on the benefits that seclusion does have for inmates, while also applying a more humanitarian method for their improvement.

His work brought him to an isolation chamber, constructed within a former nuclear bunker somewhere off the outskirts of Hempstead, New York—a keepsake of the Cold War.

After weeks of lengthy meetings, countless emails, and frustrating phone calls, Guy’s preparations were complete.

For the next two weeks, he would lock himself inside the six-by-eight feet space, trapped between the cement walls and all-encompassing darkness.

“I needed an environment as authentic as possible,” Guy explained at the outset.  “I found myself drawing a lot of inspiration from ‘the hole’ on Alcatraz Island—a pitch black, tight space without any human contact.  Granted, not all isolation cells have these severe conditions.  But, if we can still produce positive results from the worst treatment possible, imagine the success from less harsh conditions?  Start from the bottom, work your way to the top.”

The room was equipped with a refurbished toilet, up-to-date ventilation, a metal bed frame, and a small table.  Bolted atop the table was a lantern fitted with a bulb that could be changed to different colors via remote control.

“I have a very loud mind, and vivid thoughts are always trying to squeeze their way out, so there is no doubt the sensory deprivation will take a huge toll on me.  That is where the light will come into play.  As it changes colors, my reactions to those different colors in my mind will be noted.  Colors stimulate the brain; there is real psychology there.  I hope that the changing colors will act as a tether that will allow my senses to cling onto something, and will perhaps help me manage and endure my time in there with minimal negative effects.”

Thus, Guy dubbed this experiment: The Lighthouse Project.

The ones overseeing the experiment, handpicked by Guy himself, were Ronald Westbrook, a retired clinical and forensic psychologist; Victoria Wick, a therapist specializing in PTSD patients; and Brian Rexford, an independent radio psychologist.

Though each came from a different background, they were all equally fueled by discovery and Guy’s compelling determination.  Together, they agreed on their joint schedules and varying night shifts to observe Guy’s behavior and safety throughout the test.  They’d be stationed in a separate room rigged with different screens and connected to night-vision cameras within the chamber.  Internal audio would also be fed to them by the recorder Guy would have on his person the entire time.

Other than documenting and supervising the experiment, they were also to follow another important instruction: Do not under any circumstances stop the test.  No matter what was said, screamed, or begged, the door would remain locked until the experiment is complete…the only exception being if a hospital was needed.

Before being taken to his cell, Guy partook of several psychological tests and interviews to examine his mental capability of taking part in the project.

He’d taken with him a month’s worth of military food packets, drinking water, toilet paper, and batteries for his recorder.  When asked if he’d preferred a set of different sheets, Guy declined.

With everything now in motion, the door was locked, the lights were cut, and the cameras were activated.

* * * * * *

Day 1

Incarceration

Guy spends his first ten minutes in absolute darkness lying on his bed.  Every so often, he makes a popping sound from his mouth. Minute by minute, the popping becomes a hum and then graduates into a whistle as Guy taps his foot impatiently.

After the thirty-minute mark, he records his first log.

Day 1

04-01-16     Audio Log     30 minutes inside

What a bizarre feeling,” [chuckles]  “My hand is an inch from my face, and I can’t see it at all.  It’s pitch black and dead quiet in here.  I’m not even sure what to say at this point.  I want to hear something other than my breathing bouncing off the walls.”

Four hours pass.  Guy takes to wandering around the room, appearing to count the number of steps it takes to reach each wall.  The result: not very many.

Day 1

04-01-16     Audio Log     4 hours inside

Getting cold in here.” [rubbing hands together]  “I should have brought a heater or something with me.  I’ve already lost track of how long I’ve been here.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  I have to say, this is the worst hotel I’ve seen.  The service is God awful.  Room service, anyone?”

Guy, to his credit, forces a smile for the cameras and masks the ever-growing anxiousness with humor.

But as the passages of lightless time stack up, his mild uneasiness begins to shift into paranoia.

Day 1

04-01-16     Audio Log     7 hours inside

[Excessive tapping on microphone] “What’s with the crackling sound on this thing?  Is it even working?  I’ve said I’m cold three hundred times now, and it hasn’t changed a single degree.  [Pauses to drink water]  The blanket isn’t helping that much.  At least give me a sign this piece of junk is working, alright?  A knock, a tap, anything.  Throw me a bone here.”

He sits up with his legs folded on the bed and tears open the first meal packet.  He eats it slowly as though to savor the taste and the new sensations it brings.  Perhaps he’s waiting seven hours to experience something new in the room’s unchanging pitch before it becomes repetitive.

It isn’t long until Guy takes to pacing the room to each of the walls.  The audio captures possibly an old conversation he recounts with someone under his breath, plausibly his brother.

“It’s not unusual,” Rexford explains.  “Animals do the same thing when you place them in confined quarters.  He’s anxious, trapped, and bored.  The pacing provides input in his life, builds a mechanism to cope with.”

Eventually, Guy crawls into bed and tries to rest.  He manages to fall asleep for ten hours straight, tossing and turning restlessly in his sheets.  When he wakes, the realization takes a moment to dawn on him, as he rubs his eyes and tries vainly to get his vision back.  He falls back into his pillow and sighs loudly.  “Right.  That’s right.  Shit,” the audio captures.

As an entire day passes in the chamber, the adverse effects of his sensory deprivation begin to intensify and become especially more evident in his eighth log.

Day 2

04-02-16     Audio Log     30 hours inside

They’re everywhere, aren’t they?  All over the grainy darkness, so many of them.  Spindly shapes are floating around me.  I’m hallucinating.” [Rapid, shallow breathing]  “Aimlessly drifting, bouncing off of nothing.  Aimlessly.  I think they are organic.  Spores, swarms of them, all over the place.  What day is it?  Can anyone hear me up there?” [Knocks against door]  “I said: I’m hallucinating.”

In view of this, he waves around both hands, sifting his fingers through the invisible objects his mind was manifesting.

Before long, he claims to start hearing music in the corner, even snapping his fingers to the non-existent rhythm.

For the remainder of the second day, the researchers take note of every hallucination Guy experiences:

  • Visual – A kite on the wall, blooms of jellyfish, spores, a grey cat.
  • Auditory –Static from a radio, a piano’s G-major, incoherent whispers.

In the early AM hours of his third day, submerged in darkness, Guy reaches the threshold of his sanity.

At 6:53 AM, he is sitting against the wall, his face buried in the crevice between his knees.  Suddenly, without the slightest portent of warning, he chokes out a gasp and flings himself desperately to the toilet.  He crams two fingers in his mouth, prodding desperately at his throat as he vomits profusely into the bowl.

Day 3

04-03-16     Audio Log     72 hours inside

—ight down, oh shit, oh god.” [Deep, guttural sounds]  “Something poisonous is inside of me.  Slid right down my throat.  Will I die?  Will I fill up with mushrooms?  No, no, no.” [Induced vomiting sounds]  “I don’t want to do this.” [convulsive gasp]  “I want out.  Shut it all down, okay?  I don’t want to be here anymore.”

Judging by his panicked utterance, he seems to believe he has swallowed one of the spores.

The silver lining behind Guy’s severe episode was that it acted as the perfect gauge for the experiment’s next step.

Now that the deprivation and quarantined blackness has successfully pried away at his resilience, it is time to administer the treatment.

In the next instant, the lamp, which was bolted atop the table, lights up.  Due to Guy’s eyes most likely being weakened from his time in the same bleak enclosure, the white glow only shines as a dim, pale hue at the back of the room.

At first, he backs away from it, his expression trapped behind pure shock.  It seems that he’s completely forgotten about the lamp’s existence until now.  A glint of joy shimmers across his face.  Slowly, he approaches the table and gently rests his head over it.  Nothing is said, but a distinct muffled sob can be heard.

For the remaining duration of the test, the bulb will shift its soft glow into a different color every eight hours or so.

By reintroducing Guy back into the light, the overseers hope to negate his long days without stimulation and, in a sense, guide back his rationality.

To fit their increasingly differing schedules, each overseer agrees to assign themselves a particular color to monitor.

LIGHT EXPOSURE EFFECTS RATING

1: Green:

Westbrook: Subject’s anxiety and overall mental tension have lessened considerably.  His appetite has returned.  Good.

2: Yellow:

Rexford:     Guy seemed uneasy about the room changing color at first, but he seems to be over it.  Yellow, being a bold, energetic color, tends to support happy thoughts and optimistic thinking.  We especially see this in his recent recordings.

3: Blue:

Rexford:    The compulsion to anxiously pace disappeared with the addition of blue.  It looks to be making him tired.  He spent most of the time sleeping during the exposure.  At least his circadian rhythm seems to be getting back on track.

4: Purple:

Westbrook: Subject has a strong aversion to the color purple.  He started complaining, growing progressively more restless.  Possibly an emotional situation from the subject’s past.  Claims the walls are moving.  The color was not active for very long.

5: Red:

Wick: After looking over Guy’s reaction to the purple light, I was especially nervous about what would happen with the color I chose.  It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but I soon realized that the only red-tinted rooms I could think of were from horror films.  But his response has been a positive one.  He’s more active now, even performing different exercises and physical activities in the small space.  Although, he’s been lying in bed for some time now.  Oh. [cough]  He’s masturbating.

* * * * * *

Day by day, Guy, who has previously been screaming about swallowing hallucinations, starts to act like himself again.  As the positive effects become more tangible, the lights reveal their restorative power over his mind.

In the early morning of the seventh day, as Guy stirs in his sheets, something else appears on camera.  Small, white, furry, with a pointed twitching nose—a mouse scurries along the wall, apparently granted access to the room by way of an unchecked crack under Guy’s bed, possibly even led there by the left-over crumbs from his food packets.  It lets out a chattering sound, which immediately catches Guy’s attention.  He takes a moment to register the sound before hearing it again.  In a split second, he jumps to his feet and twists his neck all over the place to find the tiny creature.  By the time he spies its sharp movement, it has already crept past him and into the hidden crack.

After the discovery, he deliberately starts to leave pieces of food under his bed.  A newfound habit develops, where he lies along the cold floor, constantly checking to see if the mouse has returned.  While Guy’s intentions are unclear, Rexford shares his thoughts in his report, “I highly doubt Guy was going to hurt the thing.  He is locked in stasis right now, in a room that never changes, save for the alternating lighting.  It’s been a week now, and we’ve seen a lot of improvement, but it’s far from a full recovery.  The mouse triggered something for him, a reminder that there was something else other than four walls and a toilet.  It’s a little piece of life for him to hold onto.”

As many attempts as Guy makes, there is still no sign of his mouse lure working.  Throughout the next few days, Guy’s overall temperament begins to shift.  In spite of the light and the recuperating stepping-stones he’s taken, paranoia starts to raise its way back, like a contaminating spill of oil.

Day 9

04-09-16     Audio Log     216 hours inside

They’ve forgotten about me, haven’t they?  Forgotten about the test.  I shouldn’t have trusted them as I did.  At some point, my food and water will run out.  What then?  I’ll disappear.  What else?  Bastards.  Torturers.  Lock me up and throw away the key.  Are you all still taking notes?” [Raises middle finger to each camera]  “Jot that down.”

Day 9

04-09-16     Audio Log     218 hours inside

I don’t want to see these four walls anymore.  Every crack, every ancient smudge is leaving a permanent stain on my memory.  Is this what you had to see?  Is this the hell you lived in? [Most likely referring to his twin]  “I don’t want to sleep in these greasy sheets.  I don’t want to eat this dry, tasteless food, drying like sawdust on my tongue.  Here is where I’ll die, where not even God will hear me out there.”

[Hitched gasp]  “It’s back, that pressure I felt before, drilling right into my temple.  It’s been coming back more frequently lately.  Sometimes I think the walls are moving.  When I close my eyes, it feels like I’m underwater, traversing invisible depths nobody cares about.  The room is sinking further, now and then.  Sooner or later, it’s going to crush me.”

Day 9

04-09-16     Audio Log     224 hours inside

I need to move—walk around awhile.  The valves in my legs are starting to swell from not moving.  Hurts like hell—damn.  I need to stretch them, but I can’t.  I can’t leave the bed.  I can’t because I don’t want to.  When I start to stand, a bad feeling gnaws at me, like an overwhelming premonition, whatever it is.  ‘Don’t move. For the love of God, don’t move’. Something is at risk of being stimulated.  The pressure is worse than ever.  It isn’t leaving this time.  Even the air feels different.  Every breath leaves an acrid taste in the back of my throat, as though I’m sharing the air with a different mouth.”

Even with his growing protest to leave the confines of his bed, Guy finally succumbs to the stabbing pangs of hunger.  He crawls—cautiously—out of bed and swiftly moves to his supplies.  As he reaches for one of the packets, he immediately jolts and stops.  Winding around in a flurry, he retreats to his bed and grabs the recorder.

Day 9

04-09-16     Audio Log     230 hours inside

Gone—torn to bits—my food.  I can’t.  I don’t.  What happened?”

Guy has discovered that five of his once-sealed food rations are torn to shreds, gnawed open, the flexible pouched packaging gutted by some unthinkable means.

With the lack of any footage, the researchers deduce that mice were the most likely culprits.  If one had found its way inside, what was to stop more from sneaking in and raiding the unguarded stash?

Although it is unexpected, there is still plenty of food left untouched to make do until the experiment’s final day—a day Guy’s rattled mind has transfigured into fiction by now.

His already withered nerves are shot, so Guy’s refusal to leave the safe boundary of his bed is only magnified.  The soft light draped over the table is not providing even a sliver of comfort.  Unsurprisingly, he can no longer fall asleep.

Sometime later, between the hours of 3 and 4 AM, a scream resounds in the chamber.  The cameras reveal Guy scrambling backward, pressing the small of his back firmly against the wall, with his eyes bulging and his fingers hooked into his chest.

Day 10

04-10-16     Audio Log     240 hours inside

[Stifled breathing]  “Just now, right at the edge of my bed—oh, God, I-uh, heard something.  It sounded like movement, something rustling about.  Then a growl.  A horrible growl.  I’m not hallucinating, I know I’m not.  There was a growl.  The air is thick; there is a potent rotting taste in my mouth.  Something was there; something was watching me.”

The captured audio does not interpret Guy’s growl, but the feed does suffer a few stuttering distortions in particular places.

As the next sluggish roll of hours passes, Guy complains frequently about a growing sickness he feels.  The increasing “hidden pressures.”  The thickening “rot in the air.”  The tension builds, until his body ultimately demands to purge itself.  He gags, covers his mouth, and then recklessly bolts to the toilet.  When the vomiting sounds stop and the shaking in his legs ceases, he finds the strength to stand up and return to the safety net of his bed.

Suddenly, he stops.  The already fleeting color drains from his face.  His hands quiver nervously, pinned to his sides.  A lingering thread of bile runs down his chin.  The team begins to worry he is having some sort of stroke.

Luckily, his motor skills return to him, as he falls backward in a series of chaotic steps and collapses in the opposite unlit corner of the room.  He sits there for some time.  Eventually, he searches for his device and presses a trembling finger on “record.”

Day 10

04-10-16     Audio Log     245 hours inside

[Whispering]  “I’m not alone.  There is something here.  I felt it just now—standing a few inches from me.  Why?  I see nothing, but it was there.  Looming over me.  Waiting for me.”

Adopting the shaded corner as his newfound security, Guy does not return to his bed or the light blanketing it.  Even as the bulb alternates the different colors, none of them spur a different reaction.  He merely sits there, staring into unoccupied spaces and craning his neck as though seeing something.

Day 10

04-10-16     Audio Log     248 hours inside

There is movement; I’m sure of it now.  I am no longer alone.  But what are they?  Ghosts?  No—too active. [Hushed, overlapping breath]  At first, I thought the walls were moving, but I was wrong.  It’s the light that is moving, rippling and being bent as they pass through it.  The darkness is properly marinating my brain to see them.  Sometimes vague silhouettes.  Sometimes textureless shapes.  Sometimes shifting and then reshifting.  Moments of motion.  Sometimes clicking their teeth.  Molar against molar.  Clack—clack.  Sometimes scraping nails on the floor.  They are drawn to the light, moving only where it touches, hiding in it like a blanket.  I don’t think they can see me.  Not yet.”

One notable piece of footage reveals Guy making a poor attempt to reach his food and water rations.  His head scans the room in a back and forth motion as if checking that the vacant coast of space is clear.  Slowly, he drifts back into the reaching glow, inching closer to the supplies.  When he is nearly there, he freezes.  He turns his head toward something the cameras can’t see—something under the bed.  After a moment of staring, he aborts the mission in a mad sprawl and retreats to the shadows of the corner.

Day 11

04-11-16     Audio Log     265 hours inside

“I saw a mouse under the bed, picking at one of the scraps I left. [Stifled sob]  Then it started screaming and squirming all over the place.  Blotches of blood were left wherever it rolled.  Then it stopped and started to float as though it were caught in something’s invisible jaws.  Digging into it, opening it up.  Entrails dangling like wet ribbons.  I am not safe.”

Day 11

04-11-16     Audio Log     273 hours inside

“I know how they’re getting in.  Small spaces in the room…I want to call them pockets.  They squeeze their way in.  The horrible stench returns.  They squeeze their way out.  I think I know where the pockets are, too. 

ƃuᴉlᴉǝɔ ǝɥʇ uo ǝuO

One

on

the                                                                                                                    One under the bed

left

wall

They’re everywhere, getting more and more numerous.  Getting louder.  Clack-CLACK-clack-CLACK.  I’ve lost count of how many now.  I have to stay away from the light; it will only make me easier prey.  Please, if you can hear me, turn off the light.”

The visual hallucinations haunting him only grow worse from there.  Every audio log received grows primarily more fearful about the unseen things coming in and out of the room.  While there are no remains of a mutilated rodent found under the bed, signs of discoloring on the floor are present.

Despite the three hellish days he has spent in the dense unlit veil, Guy refuses to leave the shelter of that corner.  The light, which had previously hoisted his sanity back, was now what he avoids.  What should have nullified the other appears to only intensify it now.

As though summoned by misfortune, the researchers face an anomaly they did not prepare for.  Both the cameras and Guy’s recorder begin to malfunction.  The stuttering audio distortions from earlier worsen.  What sound does manage to leak out of Guy’s device is corrupted with hisses of static and delays.

Unable to fix the issue, they are forced to make a decision: End the experiment early and collect the accumulated data, or follow Guy’s original instructions and proceed to the final day.  With two in favor (Westbrook & Rexford) of continuing, and one opposed (Wick), the decision is made to endure until the fourteenth day.  Even if the audio is no longer functional, there is still plenty of visual input to extract.

Guy’s mannerisms only continue to deteriorate. He no longer sleeps or forms an effort to reach the food and water, let alone to even use the bathroom.  Instead, he takes to urinating and defecating in the opposing ill-lit corner.  Piles and pools of his excrement gather there like the cumulating waste of a caged animal.

“Things were bad,” Rexford shares from the following interview.  “We honestly should have stopped and packed everything up then and there.  But we had precise instructions to see it to the end.  There was one night [Victoria] and I were working together.  I remember stepping out to get some fresh air and coming back to her gasping, her hand cupped over her mouth in shock.  I quickly checked the cameras and saw exactly what had her horrified.  Guy was digging into his excrement and smearing it over the wall.  At first, I thought it was nothing but a smothered mess of unintelligible garble.  But then I saw exactly what he was writing:

THEY                                                            

                                  EVERYWHERE

       TURN                                                         OFF                                    

                                  LIGHT

“After that, Victoria wanted nothing further to do with the experiments.  She told us she was done being party to torture.  Westbrook was also losing the amount of time he could give, so things mostly fell on my shoulders.  I didn’t mind it much; I wanted to be involved.  I wanted more than anything to see the success of the experiment.”

With two days left of Guy’s confinement, Rexford takes it on himself to make the final push.  “I was trying to think of a way to ease him back into the light.  So, I thought of a plan.  Little by little, I was going to amp the lantern’s voltage until the room was nothing but light.  No more dark corners for him to hide in.”

To set his plan in motion, Rexford starts by amplifying the soft blue hue within the room.  The light begins to lick up the walls and climb over the bed.  Guy quickly takes notice and noticeably shrinks further back.  He tries to protest vainly, according to a recording of garbled feedback.

Day 13

04-13-16        Audio Log       315 hours inside

STOP 0ou are dr0wing 00em cl00er are 0ou lis00ning 00ey will f0nd me 00rn off 000 light 00ey will f0nd me.

Ignoring Guy’s clear objection, Rexford shines the light more strongly.  It inches closer, burning away the shadowy blanket of Guy’s position.  In a desperate, animalistic effort, Guy resorts to slamming his fists against the locked door, clawing at it fruitlessly with his nails.

Simultaneously, as the last shade of his protective layer evaporates away, Guy makes a mad dash toward the lantern.  With a desperate flail of his fist, he punches it, shattering the bulb in an eruption of glass, like an aerial firework shell.  As the darkness once again overlaps the room, and with the adrenaline still racing through his system, he grabs handfuls of broken shards and shoves them in his mouth.  The corrupted bits of audio still capture the sound of sharp bits breaking between his teeth.

Rexford immediately abandons his post and rushes for the chamber.  He opens the door, to find a room with protein-stained bed sheets, hieroglyphic feces on the walls, and their test subject collapsed over the table.

“The smell took me out,” Rexford commented.  “An amalgam of different odors.  Composites of sweat, urine, feces, blood, rotting, and other questionable smells I don’t care to describe.  I tried to block it out.  The last thing I wanted to do was vomit as I pulled him out of there.  He was sputtering something to me, while spitting out globs of blood and broken glass.  Something about his back burning.  When I checked it for him, I had no idea what I was even looking at.  Bruises, hand-shaped bruises all over him.”

On Wednesday, April 13th, at approximately 9:05 PM, Guy is taken to Nassau University Medical Center, where he receives several stitches for his hand and also the loose flaps of tissue in his mouth.  He is constipated, running a fever, severely dehydrated, and malnourished.  When examining the peculiar bruises lining his spine, Doctor Marion Cobb, asks if Guy has been assaulted.  When told no, he shares his thoughts.  “In Vietnam, we refer to unexplained bruises as ghost bites, marks that appear without injury and have no business being there.  It could run the risk of an underlying medical problem or even a risky blood disorder.  We’ll perform a complete blood count (CBC) for any irregularities.”  He adds skeptically, “However, if that is the case, I’ve never seen any this prominently shaped before.”

The blood tests come back normal.

As Guy recovers from his time in the bunker, he repeats the same series of tests and interview he took before his incarceration.  The tests to do with his memory showed that it had been impaired: he struggles with even the simplest questions and takes 65% longer to complete each task.  While admitted to the hospital, he is adamant that the nurse keep his room light off.

As for the aftermath of the project, New York college journalist, David Saxon (after months of evasion) is able to conduct a short interview with Guy on the first sunset of August.

He goes on to describe the house where the exchange took place.  “Dark, not so much as a flicker in any of the rooms.  All the bulbs were screwed out of everything.  Even the windows were spray painted black.  When I asked if the light from our camera would be acceptable, he hesitantly agreed.”  The reporter adds, “From what I could see of Mr. XXXXX, he looked very tired.  His eyes were sunken, and his skin was pale, like the pigment was being sucked right out of him.”

Q: “Here’s the description of the experiment, as written on your website: “An effort to diminish the harrowing effects of solitary confinement through the use of light manipulation.”

Guy: [Nods in his chair]

Q: “You’ve since retracted that statement.  Why is that?”

Guy: “Isn’t it obvious?  The result was not the one I wanted.”

Q: “Right.  In hindsight, do you think that you underestimated what two weeks in the bunker would be like?”

Guy: “Perhaps.  In the beginning, I thought that I had taken every precaution imaginable.  I believed my mental fortitude could overcome any obstacle.  I was wrong.”

Q: “If you’re comfortable enough to answer, I’d like to ask you more about your time in the bunker and about the hallucinations you experienced.”

Guy: “Oh, yes.  There were countless hallucinations in that place.  Animals, toy cars, music, you name it.  But that isn’t what you are asking about, is it?”

Q: “Well—no.  I was referring to the things that, uh, killed the mouse?”

Guy: “I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve spent praying that what I witnessed in that place was a simple fabrication of the mind.  But it isn’t that complex.  A light was on in a dark place, and something took a liking to it.  For a time, I believed what I saw in there wasn’t real.  That was until I started seeing them at home.  Things rustling around, doors inching open, nails raking the kitchen tiles.  Looking for me.”

Q: [Clears throat uncomfortably] “Is that why your house is so dark?”

Guy: “I’d like to ask you something now.  Do you have any kids at home?”

Q: “Huh, yeah.  I have one with another on the way.  Why do you ask?”

Guy: “Do they still sleep with a nightlight?”

Q: “What is the relevance with that?”

Guy: [Inches forward] “You may want to tell your friend to turn the camera light down.  They followed me home.  Hopefully, they don’t follow you.”

Q: “What do you mean by that?”

No further questions are answered.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Written by Michael Paige
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Michael Paige


Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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