The Russian Sleep Experiment is a very well known creepypasta.
It is also not very good as a story and absolutely terrible as a scary story.
Let me explain using the text here.
Russian researchers in the late 1940s kept five people awake for fifteen days using an experimental gas based stimulant. They were kept in a sealed environment to carefully monitor their oxygen intake so the gas didn’t kill them, since it was toxic in high concentrations.
This was before closed circuit cameras so they had only microphones and 5 inch thick glass porthole sized windows into the chamber to monitor them. The chamber was stocked with books, cots to sleep on but no bedding, running water and toilet, and enough dried food to last all five for over a month.
The test subjects were political prisoners deemed enemies of the state during World War II.
It starts off with exposition. Really, the whole story is exposition. This story suffers from the dry, near-clinical tone of the prose. It would have worked better if:
1. It went into more detail and gave the test subjects names, personalities, histories, and other things to make them full characters. This would help get the reader emotionally invested and better emphasize the cruelty of the experiment and the Soviet government. It’s not scary when a flat, amorphous group with no personalities among them die horribly. It’s like if someone videotaped themselves burning a yeast colony over a hot stove and expecting you to be scared as each cell died.
2. It were presented in the form of leaked government documents or lab notes. Then it would take the dry prose and turn it into an asset and create a greater sense of atmosphere and immersion.
As it is, this story isn’t scary because there’s no emotional core. There’s no characters to give a damn about and the premise itself is just a big pile of wasted potential.
Speaking of wasted potential, how about Obama’s presidency?
Did you see that?
That was topical satire right there.
Everything was fine for the first five days; the subjects hardly complained having been promised (falsely) that they would be freed if they submitted to the test and did not sleep for 30 days. Their conversations and activities were monitored and it was noted that they continued to talk about increasingly traumatic incidents in their past, and the general tone of their conversations took on a darker aspect after the 4 day mark.
This story is all about telling and not showing. The bit about the conversations and activities being monitored and them talking about traumatic pasts would have been much more effective if the story went into any detail about said things or actually showed us. What the currently unidentified (I can’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to put my name on this thing either) writer should have done is give us the specifics. Tell us about things like the test subjects arguing over portion sizes at meal time, have them talk about their families and what they did to get into this mess. Maybe one of them was a piano teacher who was caught making a joke about Stalin’s mother. Maybe one of them was a bureaucrat who got falsely accused of publishing anti-Soviet tracts by a political rival. Those are interesting things. This isn’t a story, it’s a brief summary of one.
After five days they started to complain about the circumstances and events that lead them to where they were and started to demonstrate severe paranoia. They stopped talking to each other and began alternately whispering to the microphones and one way mirrored portholes. Oddly they all seemed to think they could win the trust of the experimenters by turning over their comrades, the other subjects in captivity with them. At first the researchers suspected this was an effect of the gas itself…
Like I said, it’s hard to get interested in a downward spiral of a group’s collective sanity if there’s no showing. Tell us HOW they’re showing severe paranoia, let us hear those conversations. This is just lazy. I’m getting the impression that the writer is just trying to rush through the setup so he can get to the gore, which explains why this story reads like a description of a movie on fast-forward.
After nine days the first of them started screaming. He ran the length of the chamber repeatedly yelling at the top of his lungs for 3 hours straight, he continued attempting to scream but was only able to produce occasional squeaks. The researchers postulated that he had physically torn his vocal cords.
Or he could have just strained them to the point where he couldn’t exert them. Like how your legs feel weak if you’ve been walking over a really long distance. I’m not asking for total medical accuracy. I’m just saying that I smell bullshit here.
The most surprising thing about this behavior is how the other captives reacted to it… or rather didn’t react to it. They continued whispering to the microphones until the second of the captives started to scream. The 2 non-screaming captives took the books apart, smeared page after page with their own feces and pasted them calmly over the glass portholes. The screaming promptly stopped.
So did the whispering to the microphones.
Well then. If they were going to smear shit everywhere, they might as well have been running these experiments on monkeys. Also, the mental image of two guys smearing shit on book pages and sticking them over the windows while another guy screams his lungs out isn’t scary, it sounds like a G G Allin concert.
After 3 more days passed. The researchers checked the microphones hourly to make sure they were working, since they thought it impossible that no sound could be coming with 5 people inside. The oxygen consumption in the chamber indicated that all 5 must still be alive. In fact it was the amount of oxygen 5 people would consume at a very heavy level of strenuous exercise. On the morning of the 14th day the researchers did something they said they would not do to get a reaction from the captives, they used the intercom inside the chamber, hoping to provoke any response from the captives they were afraid were either dead or vegetables.
So they never cleaned the shitpaper off the windows or thought to check on them regularly. These are some bright scientists here. Mother Russia’s greatest minds took 3 days to come up with the idea of ‘check on the test subjects regularly.’ Keeping the portholes clean never came to them, though. This is an example of story contrivance because for this to happen as the story says, the researchers would have to be incompetent. These docs are less like Dr. Mengele and more like Dr. Gumby, Brain Specialist
They announced: “We are opening the chamber to test the microphones; step away from the door and lie flat on the floor or you will be shot. Compliance will earn one of you your immediate freedom.”
To their surprise they heard a single phrase in a calm voice response: “We no longer want to be freed.”
"We’re postwar Soviet citizens. This holding cell is bigger than all our apartments combined."
Debate broke out among the researchers and the military forces funding the research. Unable to provoke any more response using the intercom it was finally decided to open the chamber at midnight on the fifteenth day.
It sure would have been nice to see that debate. That’s the big problem with this story. It’s boring, the prose is bland and bereft of character, and it’s very hard to masturbate to.
The chamber was flushed of the stimulant gas and filled with fresh air and immediately voices from the microphones began to object. 3 different voices began begging, as if pleading for the life of loved ones to turn the gas back on. The chamber was opened and soldiers sent in to retrieve the test subjects. They began to scream louder than ever, and so did the soldiers when they saw what was inside. Four of the five subjects were still alive, although no one could rightly call the state that any of them in ‘life.’
That’s some awkward wording near the end.
The food rations past day 5 had not been so much as touched. There were chunks of meat from the dead test subject’s thighs and chest stuffed into the drain in the center of the chamber, blocking the drain and allowing 4 inches of water to accumulate on the floor. Precisely how much of the water on the floor was actually blood was never determined. All four ‘surviving’ test subjects also had large portions of muscle and skin torn away from their bodies. The destruction of flesh and exposed bone on their finger tips indicated that the wounds were inflicted by hand, not with teeth as the researchers initially thought. Closer examination of the position and angles of the wounds indicated that most if not all of them were self-inflicted.
So the experimental sleep-suppressing stimulant made the subjects claw themselves apart.
This is what’s going to really kill the reader’s suspension of disbelief. There’s no logic to any of these events. It’s a nonsensical story. It’s not like in Eraserhead or an Aphex Twin music video where the absurdity of what’s going on is the disturbing part. This was set up as a straightforward military experiment horror story, the reader expects the events to unroll in a way that makes at least some sort of sense.
The abdominal organs below the ribcage of all four test subjects had been removed. While the heart, lungs and diaphragm remained in place, the skin and most of the muscles attached to the ribs had been ripped off, exposing the lungs through the ribcage. All the blood vessels and organs remained intact, they had just been taken out and laid on the floor, fanning out around the eviscerated but still living bodies of the subjects. The digestive tract of all four could be seen to be working, digesting food. It quickly became apparent that what they were digesting was their own flesh that they had ripped off and eaten over the course of days.
This story is trying way too hard. Not only did they rip themselves apart (wooo), they pulled out their organs (Woooooo!) and ate their own flesh (WOOoOoOoOoOo!!) Again, why? Some people on PCP will claw their own flesh and cut themselves, but that’s because the drug causes them to experience delusions that there’s bugs and shit crawling under their skin. We’re not given that detail here. This is like your cousin trying to scare you by saying “BLOODY FINGERS” and waving his arms around and it’s the middle of the day, and you weren’t telling ghost stories, and screw you Kevin this is why your dad drinks.
Most of the soldiers were Russian special operatives at the facility, but still many refused to return to the chamber to remove the test subjects. They continued to scream to be left in the chamber and alternately begged and demanded that the gas be turned back on, lest they fall asleep…
Hardened Russian spec ops soldiers are scared of mangled bodies despite them likely having served in World War II.
I’m smelling bullshit again.
To everyone’s surprise the test subjects put up a fierce fight in the process of being removed from the chamber. One of the Russian soldiers died from having his throat ripped out, another was gravely injured by having his testicles ripped off and an artery in his leg severed by one of the subject’s teeth. Another 5 of the soldiers lost their lives if you count ones that committed suicide in the weeks following the incident.
And now the test subjects are somehow capable of killing able bodied soldiers despite missing half their flesh and organs.
Are the soldier’s armed? Why didn’t they open fire after the first guy got jumped? This bit hinges on the soldiers not using the guns they were trained to use in this very situation.
And I’m still calling bullshit on the mangled guinea pigs being able to fight like that. If someone loses half a pint of blood, they start feeling queasy, you’d have to be a fucking starfish to lose half your pieces and still keep on trucking. Shit, is that what the gas was? Was it starfish DNA in vapor form?
In the struggle one of the four living subjects had his spleen ruptured and he bled out almost immediately. The medical researchers attempted to sedate him but this proved impossible. He was injected with more than ten times the human dose of a morphine derivative and still fought like a cornered animal, breaking the ribs and arm of one doctor. When heart was seen to beat for a full two minutes after he had bled out to the point there was more air in his vascular system than blood. Even after it stopped he continued to scream and flail for another 3 minutes, struggling to attack anyone in reach and just repeating the word “MORE” over and over, weaker and weaker, until he finally fell silent.
And one of the test subjects who clawed their flesh and organs out bled out after having a ruptured spleen.
Was this story written by Oscar Meyer? Because it’s full of baloney.
The surviving three test subjects were heavily restrained and moved to a medical facility, the two with intact vocal cords continuously begging for the gas demanding to be kept awake…
'But Mooom! I'm not sleepy! I wanna claw my pieces off more!'
The most injured of the three was taken to the only surgical operating room that the facility had. In the process of preparing the subject to have his organs placed back within his body it was found that he was effectively immune to the sedative they had given him to prepare him for the surgery. He fought furiously against his restraints when the anesthetic gas was brought out to put him under.
Putting their organs back in.
After they’ve been pulled out and laid on the floor for days.
I hope like hell the joker who wrote this isn’t in Med School.
He managed to tear most of the way through a 4 inch wide leather strap on one wrist, even through the weight of a 200 pound soldier holding that wrist as well. It took only a little more anesthetic than normal to put him under, and the instant his eyelids fluttered and closed, his heart stopped. In the autopsy of the test subject that died on the operating table it was found that his blood had triple the normal level of oxygen. His muscles that were still attached to his skeleton were badly torn and he had broken 9 bones in his struggle to not be subdued. Most of them were from the force his own muscles had exerted on them.
And why is he not dead?
Explain this Mickey Mouse shit right now.
The second survivor had been the first of the group of five to start screaming. His vocal cords destroyed he was unable to beg or object to surgery, and he only reacted by shaking his head violently in disapproval when the anesthetic gas was brought near him. He shook his head yes when someone suggested, reluctantly, they try the surgery without anesthetic, and did not react for the entire 6 hour procedure of replacing his abdominal organs and attempting to cover them with what remained of his skin. The surgeon presiding stated repeatedly that it should be medically possible for the patient to still be alive. One terrified nurse assisting the surgery stated that she had seen the patients mouth curl into a smile several times, whenever his eyes met hers.
These are Soviet scientists. These are the same people who hooked severed dog heads to life support machines and tested grenades on prisoners. Them being scared of this is an obvious attempt on the writer’s part to tell the reader to be scared with them. It’s not going to work on anybody but stupid people and kids. (But I repeat myself)
When the surgery ended the subject looked at the surgeon and began to wheeze loudly, attempting to talk while struggling. Assuming this must be something of drastic importance the surgeon had a pen and pad fetched so the patient could write his message. It was simple. “Keep cutting.”
I rolled my eyes so hard at this that they got stuck.
I’m gonna sue for this.
The other two test subjects were given the same surgery, both without anesthetic as well. Although they had to be injected with a paralytic for the duration of the operation. The surgeon found it impossible to perform the operation while the patients laughed continuously. Once paralyzed the subjects could only follow the attending researchers with their eyes. The paralytic cleared their system in an abnormally short period of time and they were soon trying to escape their bonds. The moment they could speak they were again asking for the stimulant gas. The researchers tried asking why they had injured themselves, why they had ripped out their own guts and why they wanted to be given the gas again.
If you ever wanted to know what kind of story would be rejected by the SyFy channel, here it is.
Only one response was given: “I must remain awake.”
"I have finals in the morning!"
All three subject’s restraints were reinforced and they were placed back into the chamber awaiting determination as to what should be done with them. The researchers, facing the wrath of their military ‘benefactors’ for having failed the stated goals of their project considered euthanizing the surviving subjects. The commanding officer, an ex-KGB instead saw potential, and wanted to see what would happen if they were put back on the gas. The researchers strongly objected, but were overruled.
Why didn’t they just terminate them after they attacked the guards? They’re a security risk and whatever B-Movie Science they were trying to do obviously failed so they’re nothing but a liability. This is retarded with a capital Potato.
In preparation for being sealed in the chamber again the subjects were connected to an EEG monitor and had their restraints padded for long term confinement. To everyone’s surprise all three stopped struggling the moment it was let slip that they were going back on the gas. It was obvious that at this point all three were putting up a great struggle to stay awake. One of subjects that could speak was humming loudly and continuously; the mute subject was straining his legs against the leather bonds with all his might, first left, then right, then left again for something to focus on. The remaining subject was holding his head off his pillow and blinking rapidly. Having been the first to be wired for EEG most of the researchers were monitoring his brain waves in surprise. They were normal most of the time but sometimes flat lined inexplicably. It looked as if he were repeatedly suffering brain death, before returning to normal. As they focused on paper scrolling out of the brainwave monitor only one nurse saw his eyes slip shut at the same moment his head hit the pillow. His brainwaves immediately changed to that of deep sleep, then flatlined for the last time as his heart simultaneously stopped.
The first brain wave reading device was developed in the 1960’s.
This story takes place in the 40’s.
You do the math. (Hint: 60 minus 40 equals This creepypasta sucks, Beavis)
The only remaining subject that could speak started screaming to be sealed in now. His brainwaves showed the same flatlines as one who had just died from falling asleep. The commander gave the order to seal the chamber with both subjects inside, as well as 3 researchers. One of the named three immediately drew his gun and shot the commander point blank between the eyes, then turned the gun on the mute subject and blew his brains out as well.
Self mutilation is edgy, secret experiments are edgy, suicide is edgy. If this thing has rape in it, we can fill out the EDGINESS Bingo card!
He pointed his gun at the remaining subject, still restrained to a bed as the remaining members of the medical and research team fled the room. “I won’t be locked in here with these things! Not with you!” he screamed at the man strapped to the table. “WHAT ARE YOU?” he demanded. “I must know!”
This dialogue is just like an anime. You know, the shitty ones made to sell those spinning top toys or whatever plastic crap Japanese toy companies are peddling nowadays.
The subject smiled.
"Have you forgotten so easily?" The subject asked. "We are you. We are the madness that lurks within you all, begging to be free at every moment in your deepest animal mind. We are what you hide from in your beds every night. We are what you sedate into silence and paralysis when you go to the nocturnal haven where we cannot tread."
And we end with hokey, goth-kid-poetry level dialogue. This is the most meaningless collection of words since Dianetics. This would stupid on its own, but mixed with the pointless gore and the rest of the nonsense and you get a powerful cocktail of Fuck-Ass Stupid.
The researcher paused. Then aimed at the subject’s heart and fired. The EEG flatlined as the subject weakly choked out, “So… nearly… free…”
This story is relatively short yet it feels like it drags on way, way longer. A dull opening, a plot hinging on everyone involved being stupid, pointless gore, with a pretentious monologue that sounds like it came from a pimply nerd wearing a dollar-store cape.
This creepypasta isn’t the worst ever. It’s just bleh. It could have been interesting but it wasn’t done right. It reads more like a loose outline to a story than a full, fleshed out story.