Sometime in the 1940s, the Russians brought five political prisoners to an army-run facility, where they were put in a chamber pumped with experimental gas, to keep them awake for 30 days. They were provided with cribs – but without bedding, food and water.
Prisoners can be monitored through microphones installed in the room and a glass window. This was in the pre-CCTV days.
Problems began to appear from the fifth day when the test subjects refused to eat. Someone started screaming on the ninth day. Others blocked the glass window with leaves. Then the room was quiet with only whispers.
When the room was opened on the 15th day to understand what was going on and the Special Forces were sent to handcuff the people, these people were seen to have been transformed into zombie-like beings – they were eating their own flesh and had their skins and many organs missing. One person died. The ensuing conflict killed one more person and six more hardened soldiers.
The experiment ended when the military commander ordered that three scientists be locked up inside the room with the last two remaining subjects. Scholars refused, but the commander stood by his order. A scientist rebelled and shot the leader on the spot before shooting the remaining zombie-like people.
Unlike many other stories from the Soviet Union, which traveled to the outside world during the Cold War years or years after its downfall, this horrific story from the 1940s was not published until 2010 when it appeared on the Internet. It was clicked with readers who sent it to friends and shared it on every internet platform they know.
The more than six-decade delay in publishing the story was not because it was top secret, but because it never happened. The “Russian Sleep Experience” is one of the first and most successful of the so-called “Creepypasta” – the kind of horror circulating on the Internet that is highly believable.
What type is Creepypasta?
Creepypasta refers to the type of online horror stories with stories that are highly believable and spread across the internet – The Russian Sleep Experience is just one of the many known stories.
The name Creepypasta is believed to have come from “copy pasta”, which itself came from the “copy and paste” nature of these stories, as these stories were copied across several places around the same time due to their prevalence.
These stories are often told from a realistic first-person perspective, which makes them all the more believable. While some of the previous stories were text-only, many of the stories feature images and even videos, which are often edited.
What makes creepypasta popular and how did the genre develop?
Unexplained phenomena, supernatural themes, and deaths are common elements in these stories, helping them stay in people’s minds.
From their humble beginnings as freely circulating viral stories and photographs, these stories have now evolved into an organized genre where authors are now known rather than anonymous as they were in the beginning. Novels and films of this kind have also appeared, such as Dathan Auerbach’s PenPal series and Felix Blackwell’s Stolen Tongues, both of which were first shared on Reddit.
There were unintended consequences, too, such as the stabbing in the US where two 12-year-old girls stabbed another girl in the belief to protect their family from “Slender Man” – a character in creepypasta published in 2009. The character is a slim, tall, and haunted character. Parks, forests, playgrounds, or abandoned buildings.
What are some popular creepypastas?
Other than the Russian Sleepover and Slender Man, there are two of the most popular creepypasta stories that many would be hard to believe:
• Mickey Mouse lost clips are a common story. In this video, Mickey Mouse is seen walking with strange background music. A minute or so into the video, the screen turns black and when you come back there’s screaming in the background and more voices join in and it just keeps getting horrid every moment. Mickey’s face also distorted towards the end.
The accompanying story is this – film critic Leonard Martin found this clip while browsing an old set, but was so upset about watching this particular video that he left and asked his assistant to watch it and take notes. That night, the guard said, the assistant stumbled outside the room after completing the footage, spoke seven times with the phrase “true suffering is unknown” and grabbed his rifle and shot himself.
This really scary story is of course just a story. There is an entire subgenre of creepypasta “the missing link”.
• The Polybius video game is said to have been used in Portland, USA in 1981. There are many stories about it. Some say it was a tool used by the US government to test the mental and physical strength of recruiting soldiers. Others say it was a prototype for the CIA’s brainwashing activities. There are also accounts that it causes seizures and aneurysms in the brain.
Just like the Russian sleepover experiment, this story only came out from the ’80s in 1998. It wasn’t because it was a state secret but because it was just a story.
But there is no dearth of believers, perhaps because the idea of the government spying on people through video games is so appealing – perhaps even more so in the age of Pegasus.