The Secret Doctors of NASA: A Surgeon’s Nightmare

(Horror stories about space.)

“The Secret Doctors of NASA” is a series of memoirs, diaries, and reports from actual doctors employed by an undisclosed arm of NASA between 1970 and 2001. These writings contain true accounts of the unusual and often highly-classified medical conditions experienced by astronauts during and after their space missions. Following the defunding of the clandestine medical program after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the majority of these accounts were left, forgotten, on tape drives in a NASA storage facility. In 2016, a former intern, whose job was to clean out one of these facilities, discovered them. Two years later, he is ready to release what he found.

Thus far, the following reports have been released: A Dentist’s Discovery, A Psychologist’s Suicide.

Releaser’s note: This account is from a post-surgery oral memoir dictated by an unnamed surgeon to an anonymous NASA official. The background circumstances are unknown.

A Surgeon’s Nightmare

Look, I’d been awake for two straight days. You guys have been putting us through hell with all the injuries from the Hephaestus Project, so forgive me if my results weren’t as great as they could have been. But come the hell on – what do you expect when someone comes to me in that condition?

So you want to know what happened in my own words? Fine. But don’t get pissed when I call your practices into question.

The patient was admitted with significant injuries to his legs, torso, arms, and head. On the surface, they appeared to be lacerations, which was strange because their severity would have caused near-instantaneous exsanguination and they would’ve gone straight to the morgue, not to me. Closer inspection revealed the wounds had been sealed by intense cold, as if the patient had been frozen either while being injured or immediately after. He was still clinging to life.

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The Only Solution

Whenever I see him on the screen, I feel my fingers clenching. It’s as if they’re practicing the motion for when I squeeze the life from his small body. And it will happen soon. Finally.

I’ve watched the boy for years. Watched him grow from an infant to a toddler to the preteen he is now. He smiles easily. His heart is innocent and carefree. I will make sure it stops beating.

One of my recent breakthroughs took me beyond the viewing screen and allowed me to transport into his room as he slept. I hadn’t perfected my technique to be there physically at that point, but that was coming. Just my consciousness would travel. I floated over his bed and gazed down. My hatred seethed, and, for a moment, I feared he sensed my presence because his eyes flew open and he gasped. Continue reading “The Only Solution”

Something horrible is happening to me on Reddit.

reddit logo

(Horror stories about Reddit confessions.)

I’m not really sure how to explain this properly without sounding like a lunatic, but I’m going to try my best. Over the last few years, I’d gained some notoriety after posting unsettling vignettes in the comments of some /r/wtf posts. I don’t know if they’d count as Reddit confessions or anything like that. Most of them were just humorous and deliberately disgusting, but I always figured people visiting that subreddit and looking at whatever gross picture I was commenting on would be able to handle them.

Then, last fall, I started frequently writing stories for /r/NoSleep. I stopped creating those little vignettes in order to concentrate on more “proper” work. It all went pretty well. I surprised myself with my prolificacy and it appeared I’d tapped into a creative pool that had been inaccessible to me for two decades. Toward the end of last month, though, some disturbing things started happening.

It started off with a few strange messages. All of them said something similar, like “why don’t you post on /r/wtf anymore?” The odd thing was, instead of a username, it just said [deleted]. The first couple times, I just ignored them. I’m used to getting weird messages and emails. I figure it’s the cost of doing business when you write the kind of stuff I write. On May 24th, I got something different. Continue reading “Something horrible is happening to me on Reddit.”

Regina’s Raspberry Jam

jam

Everyone loved Regina’s raspberry jam. No one could get enough of it, either. As fast as Regina could produce it, it’d get bought up and consumed within the first couple days. No matter what she did, demand always outpaced supply.

From the moment that one popular food blogger mentioned her jam, Regina was inundated with orders. Something about the jam was extraordinary. No one could quite put their finger on it, either. People even went so far as to investigate the suppliers of the raspberries to see if they were selling Regina something special, like a hybrid variety or something. Nope. Just regular, organic berries. They were high quality, but nothing you couldn’t find at a Whole Foods or another high-end retailer. Continue reading “Regina’s Raspberry Jam”

Open Mouths

moss

Their pale faces were tilted skyward. Each pair of eyes brimmed with hope. In the moonlight, their skin seemed luminous; a battle of bright flesh against the surrounding darkness. Their mouths were slightly open, as if expecting to receive holy communion. They stood in a circle on the mossy ground, hand in hand. Their open throats drooled blood down their young chests.

Under my bare feet, the moss felt so comforting. So inviting. With the children standing guard, I would curl up on the ground and fall asleep.

Continue reading “Open Mouths”

A hard-learned lesson about body hair removal.

wax

My trouble started when I realized I was out of razorblades and waxing supplies and my crotch looked like the Amazon rainforest before the mechanization of the logging industry. My date was due to arrive in half an hour. So, I resorted something unconventional. Something, I now realize, was not the best idea.

I’m going to give a little backstory first. I’m not ashamed to say I enjoy sex. The widespread belief that a woman should suppress her sex drive because society finds it “improper” has always disgusted me. Sex is great. Safe sex is wonderful. I respect myself and I respect the men I sleep with. All I ask is that I receive the same respect in return. It’s just two people making each other happy.

Now, I’ve known this since I was fifteen. Two decades of positive experiences have only strengthened my feelings on the subject. That said, there are a few personal responsibilities I feel I have, such as keeping current with the shaving trends. I’m not a huge fan of the concept behind shaving myself, to be honest. If you think about it, it’s actually kind of creepy, but I’ll still admit I enjoy the sensation of hairlessness. I guess it’s a tradeoff.

I prefer to shave, but I’ve waxed myself a lot, too. I have to be careful, though, because I’m allergic to some of the waxes on the market. I don’t know what particular chemical or fragrance it is that causes the irritation, but the itchy rash it produces keeps the downstairs out of business for over a week while it clears up. No one wants to pull off a thong and see that staring them in the face.

So, back to the other day. I found something in the apartment I thought would work like wax, so I tried it out. It hurt like hell and was an absolute bitch to wash off, but it did the job. My date arrived when he said he would. We hit it off at dinner and we ended up back at my apartment, where we both managed to achieve orgasm despite being so full from our meals that we were like two beached whales slapping against one another. Since we both had to get up early the next morning, we said our goodnights and he went home.

The itching woke me up before dawn. It started with my armpits, but then moved to my, if I may use the medical terms, box and asshole. I got out of bed and went into the bathroom. The mirror confirmed my assumption: that damn allergic reaction again. Welts were forming in extremely sensitive areas and it looked like I was already getting a bunch of ingrown hairs. I braced myself and doused the affected areas in rubbing alcohol, hoping none of the ingrowns would get infected. I showered and scrubbed, then went back to bed. I still itched.

When I got up to shower, the swelling looked pretty nasty and the ingrowns, despite my best efforts, were starting to get whiteheads. I got up and left for work. I sat in my cubicle feeling utterly miserable. The itching was way worse than any of the reactions I’d had before. When I got up to use the bathroom, I checked the damage.

I almost threw up. A nearly perfect triangle of densely-clustered whiteheads occupied the entire area I’d waxed. Even worse, and this is going to be gross but there’s no real way to talk around it, they’d been popping the whole time I was sitting at my desk. My underwear was soaked.

After cleaning myself up as best I could, I talked to my boss and told her I needed to leave early. She said it was no problem, so I left and headed straight to the walk-in clinic.

I lucked out and got seen right away. The doctor raised her eyebrows to the ceiling when she saw the reaction I was having, but quickly reassured me that she sees people who get skin irritation from hair removal all the time. She gave me some kind of ointment to rub on it twice a day and said if it doesn’t improve in a week, she’d give me something stronger.

I cancelled the date I had with the nice guy from the other night. I felt pretty bad, but he was understanding. He said was that he had to go on a business trip the next day and would be gone for a week. I told him that I looked forward to his return, assuming a week from then I’d be in the clear.

Spoiler: I wasn’t.

I applied the ointment diligently for a few days and most of the whiteheads stopped appearing. The swelling, though, persisted. Same with the itching. My armpits weren’t particularly bad, but my, well, perineum, and the surrounding area, was a disaster area. It was super swollen and it hurt to walk and use the bathroom.

The other night, six days after I’d seen the doctor, the itching turned to flat-out pain. It wasn’t unbearable, and if it had been, I would’ve gone to the emergency room right away, but it was enough to keep me tossing and turning in bed. The clinic started seeing patients at 6am and I was planning to be the first person there when the doors opened.

As the night dragged on, I felt steadily-intensifying pressure on the affected area. It got bad. I scratched through my pajamas and felt small pops under my fingernails. When I pulled my hand away, my fingers were wet. I gagged. Off to the shower I went.

Because I like you guys, I’m not going to be as graphic as I could be. However, I can assure you this will be extraordinarily unpleasant to read. Before I jumped in the shower, I used my phone to take a quick picture of my perineal area. No, I won’t share it with you. But my God, I wish I hadn’t seen it. The small whiteheads in the area had clustered into a few very large ones. They bulged out of the skin almost half an inch and I knew right away that they were the cause of the pressure I was feeling.

I deleted the picture, got in the shower, and squeezed the biggest one as hard as I could. Its contents splattered on the floor of the bathtub like a pasty spitball. I watched as the water washed away the gooey parts. I bent down to look at what remained, screamed at the top of my lungs, threw on my clothes, and drove myself to the hospital.

Don’t worry, I’m going to be fine. I got to speak to a lot of specialists, though; lots of smart doctors whose curiosity was obvious. They kept me there for a few hours and cleaned up my crotch and armpits pretty thoroughly. Then I was discharged with a bunch of medications and tasked to share a bit of hard-learned advice. So here it is!

Always make sure the skin you’re about to remove hair from is clean. Be mindful of the sharpness of your razor when shaving, and if waxing, do your best to avoid any chemicals you might be sensitive to. Stay away from depilatory products that haven’t been evaluated by the FDA. This includes, but is not limited to, creams, lasers, and waxes.

Further, homemade depilatory products are discouraged. That was my mistake. Well, one of two. No one should ever, ever use flypaper for hair removal, especially flypaper that’s not right out of the box. This is because no matter how clean it looks or how meticulously you picked the flies out of their sticky confines, they may leave pieces behind. In my case, those pieces were eggs.

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Elf on the Shelf

elf

Grandma would always warn me that the elf on the shelf was watching to make sure I wasn’t bad. Growing up, even when it was nowhere near Christmas, the elf would observe me. The elf would judge me.

With my brother and cousins around all the time, it wasn’t easy to be good. But I tried. I tried really hard. When I’d make a mistake and be mean to one of them, I felt the elf staring at me. It would remember that moment. I’d picture it waiting until I was in bed, then running and tattling to Santa. No matter how much I screamed and sobbed to it, the elf wouldn’t answer. It would just watch and wait for me to do something bad again. It knew me too well.

On the fourth of July, I burned Marisa with a sparkler. I didn’t do it on purpose. I mean, I meant to burn Marisa, but I didn’t want to hurt her. I just wanted to see what would happen. Unfortunately, she got hurt pretty bad. Grandma had to take her to the hospital, but not before she got out the belt and whipped me until I couldn’t sit down.

After Marisa’s mom came over to give me a beating of her own, I was left watching Neil, my little brother. Grandma was still at the hospital. Neil watched TV while I tried to walk off the pain from the beatings. Before Dad died, that’s what he’d tell me to do. “Walk it off, you little faggot.”

I walked a lot.

When I got to the living room, the elf was watching me. It knew. Its wooden mouth was open, almost like it was screaming accusations.

“You’re a bad kid.”

“No one likes you.”

“Santa thinks you’re terrible.”

“You’ll be a bad man when you grow up.”

It didn’t actually speak, of course, but it was obvious that’s what it meant. It was the same stuff Grandma said to me, day in, day out. And somehow, I always made sure to live up to it. Try as I might, I couldn’t be good. At the age of eight, I was already certain I was rotten to the core.

Months went by and my best efforts yielded punishment. If I wasn’t accidentally knocking over a vase in the kitchen, I was tracking mud into the hallway. It invariably ended with my pants around my ankles and my grandfather’s old leather belt smashing into me as I tried not to scream. Screaming would only make the beatings last longer.

When it was finally over and I inched my jeans and underwear back up, I told myself I’d be better; that I’d be a good kid from here on out. And for a while – for the entire month of November and into December – I was.

Grandma, Neil, and I went to get our Christmas tree on December 4th. We came home and decorated it while cookies baked in the oven. I remember Grandma lifting me with her strong, solid arms so I could put the star on top. The star had been her daughter’s. My mother’s. It was one of the only things left that had belonged to her.

On December 5th, after Neil and I had gotten home from school, we were playing around. Like all brothers, we played rough. With him being six and me being eight, I was quite a bit bigger. When we were wrestling and I was spinning him by his arm, I made a mistake. I let him go and send him right into the Christmas tree. It fell onto the hardwood floor. Ornaments broke. Lights went out.

The star shattered.

In an instant, I was panicking. I knew Neil would tell Grandma. I knew the elf in the other room would learn what I’d done. I’d been good for so long that I’d started hoping I might get Christmas presents. After this, though; after breaking the one thing Grandma had left after her daughter was killed by Dad, I’d be doomed. Grandma would beat me senseless. The elf would tell Santa. I’d get nothing. And Neil would taunt me with his presents.

Something sparked inside me. What if the elf hadn’t seen what happened? What if Neil didn’t tell Grandma?

I was very busy for about an hour, but I finished. Grandma would be back from work any minute. I knew I might not fool her, but I’d fool the elf. That was most important; it was he who talked to Santa. Not Grandma.

I wore Neil’s face into the living room and looked at the elf on the shelf. He stared back with his black, judgmental eyes.

“I’m sorry I knocked over the tree and broke the ornament,” I said, doing my best impression of Neil’s high voice. I thought about his body cooling on the kitchen floor and his blood making a mess everywhere. Maybe Grandma would believe he fell on a knife if I cried hard enough.

Under the mask of my brother’s skin, I peered at the elf through the eye holes. The skin tasted awful, but I had to breathe through my mouth because the nose holes didn’t line up right. I wondered if the elf believed me.

“I’m sorry, elf,” I squeaked again. I heard the garage door rising and a car pulling inside. Grandma was home. I felt a new rush of panic. I glared through the cold mask at the arbiter of my Christmas fortune. The door connecting the garage to the kitchen opened and I heard my grandmother’s shrill, hysterical shriek.

“Elf,” I whispered, as tears mixed with my brother’s blood and cascaded down my face.

The elf on the shelf cocked its head at me as its mouth opened and closed. It spoke.

“You’ve been very bad, Neil.”

I fell to my knees in fervid, incomprehensible relief. Some part of me heard Grandma still screaming, somehow even louder when she came into the room and saw me. Again, the elf spoke: “You’ve been terrible, Neil.”

Grandma whirled around and looked at the elf, but then shook her head back and forth like she was trying to get ahold of herself. I stood up. Not wanting to ruin the illusion for the elf, I held the mask to my face until I left the room and sat down in the kitchen. Grandma didn’t try to hit me. She didn’t touch me at all. I plopped the skin back on Neil’s head and told Grandma he fell. She didn’t answer.

It didn’t matter, though.

20 days later, in my own, warm room at the hospital, I got some very nice Christmas presents. The doctors and nurses were so kind and gentle with me. One even hugged me after I’d opened my gifts.

The gifts weren’t exactly what I’d hoped for, but they were better than nothing. So much better. I giggled to myself as we hugged. When the nurse asked what I was laughing at, I lied and told her I remembered a funny joke. She smiled, and I was surprised to see a tear running down her cheek. I didn’t think much of it, though. All that mattered was I’d won. I’d finally fooled the elf on the shelf.

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