T H I R T E E N

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OCTOBER 27TH

Nearly three weeks after Misha's Flight

"This is very graphic... very difficult to watch...what we are viewing is footage of a trail of blood, stretching over the length of a football field, very large in diameter, spanning the entire width of the subway tunnel," the news reporter began.  

"In what is being reported as one of the largest group suicides in history, several youths, some as young as twelve years old, joined hands and leapt together in front of the incoming bullet train.

"The youths are believed to have been inspired by a viral video that quickly made its rounds through social media. In what appears to be a normal video, the sound on the video is tuned to a frequency that is more likely to be picked up by younger ears rather than an adult's. Police now believe that this video contained subliminal messaging that became progressively more suggestive throughout its course. However, it is not entirely understood how such messaging could trigger such a tragically uniform response in its young viewers:

Dr. Bryan Scully, Psychology PhD:  "It's something that we've coined as 'meme-think.' 'Meme' traditionally being of course an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation, now commonly used to refer to a funny picture or video or phrase, spread rapidly across the internet. So pervasive is this form of expression, many scientists hypothesized long ago that it could cause a drastic bottleneck effect on the way human beings convey their thoughts and emotions to one another. Is it so unbelievable that such a popular form of expression could negatively impact the robustness of thought in general?

Dr. Zelda Koeppel, Evolutionary Biology PhD: "Human 'meme-think' behavior can be likened to the behaviors of every other species in the animal kingdom. We are what our environment makes of us. In this case, our environment is composed of the things we create and digest. Given enough time— I guess the real question is 'how much time?'— before these things become all we're even capable of knowing and understanding.

"Much like the laws of genetics in which alleles of a finite population size survive to push towards fixation, or risk the fate of dying out, so too had the collective intellect of man been in an age-old struggle against variation, in support of one extreme or another.

Dr. Bryan Scully, Psychology PhD: "What's my best assertion as to what is triggering these incredibly strong suicidal urges in young people? It can be something as innocent as a song or a melancholic lyric. Something with the ability to just randomly come to mind, like it came out of a cloud. So pleasant and without cause for alarm, it can reside in the back of the mind. Then suddenly, from the voice of an external entity, an entirely different being begins to recite the melody within the vicinity, without any prior inclination to do so. The phenomenon is immediately attributed to the whimsy of serendipity, an enchanting coincidence. It's really actually something we're just beginning to grasp as we continue to study it.

"What has the local community outraged was the apparent lack of urgency in police response. The police reportedly received several calls pertaining to the incident, and many families say their pleas for action have largely been ignored by the government. City officials have now come under fire for negligence in investigating the origin of the mysterious video. Here, hundreds of protesters can be seen picketing in the street outside of City Hall.

"This comes at the heels of other unpopular initiatives pushed during the governor's tenure, such as reducing the police force by a substantial number after budget cuts. After doing so, the city saw a significant increase in violent crime due to limited patrol coverage and slower response times.

"The governor, in approving these budget cuts, has been accused of emboldening violent criminals looking to take advantage of the city's growing unrest. Perhaps most disturbing is the growing trend of "copycat killers," who are using this teen suicide trend to stage brutal ritual killings to look like suicides. In each incident, detectives have found the same marking near the scene of the crime: an oval-shape, with a broad stroke cutting straight down the middle, narrow, almond-shaped eyes, and two triangular horns flanking the upper hemisphere of the oval, hastily drawn in a deep-red color, possibly human blood. The first reported incidence of this was in the alleged attempted murder of Emily Staubeck, in an event that was originally declared an attempted suicide by car crash. It was later found that it was her boyfriend who drove the car to a head-on collision. He is believed to have been influenced by the viral video. The boyfriend, Zachary Hurst, was killed in the accident. Near the fiery wreck was the mark described. This horrific trend is expected to only increase with Halloween approaching next week."

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The papery yellow shades were pinched shut, though the sunlight still burned through like a blurry image on a television monitor; it was bound not to make it very far, anyway, for it spilled out over the unpolished wooden boards with dark streaks like shadowy fingers clawing out from underneath the bed. The dust had settled like old snow beneath the skirt of the bed, undisturbed for some time in the dour, lonely tranquility of the tiny old room. The sheets of the bed had barely a wrinkle, though they climbed a small hill and converged at a single, quiescent peak. Audrey sat there, propped up against the headboard, her face pale and flush, and her bangs let run wild down her forehead. Her eyes were hollow in their gaze.

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