A Russian researcher enters a room where he expects to see his human test subjects alive and well. Instead, he witnesses absolute pandemonium; he hears the screams of the damned and in front of him is a body that has been torn apart and eviscerated. It looks as though the anti-Christ himself has been in the room. Even the survivors have had chunks of flesh ripped from their arms and legs.
The ends of their fingers show exposed bone; their faces are sheared of skin. “What is this inferno of madness?!,” thinks that researcher. “Err, this wasn’t exactly how the experiment was supposed to turn out,” he thinks.
“Ok, the food wasn’t great, we might have made those beds a bit more comfortable, but tearing each other to shreds over a bit of lost sleep…Come on guys- that’s not very Comrade of you.”
That nightmare scenario is straight out of the famous Russian Sleep Experiment, if you believe it really happened. Let’s start from the beginning of the story and then we’ll tell you what our team of world-class sleuths dug up on the truth behind this horrific experiment.
So, it’s the late 1940s and Soviet-era researchers have created a stimulant that they believe can keep a person awake for a long time, which is handy when you are fighting a war. In the second world war, the Germans had their version of such a stimulant, which was a formidable methamphetamine called Pervitin.
The Americans and the British would dose their troops with the amphetamine Benzedrine, which was similar to your garden variety speed. The Soviets are looking to up the ante and use their own version of a drug which won’t lead to a total wipe out after a three-day binge.
They’ve made something special, but they need to test it on humans first. It’s not hard to find test subjects since prisoners of war were aplenty in the 1940s, and where prisoners were concerned, bypassing ethical considerations wasn’t such a big deal.
They set up a test area where five subjects will stay. It’s a sealed environment into which the researchers can release the stimulant in gas form and check if the levels of oxygen are ok. The subjects have been given dried food, each a bed with no bedding, running water and a toilet.
The researchers listen to the subjects through a microphone and there are cameras through which they can monitor the subjects. The only portholes to the outside are five-inch thick glass windows, which are barely good enough to see a shadow from. The scene is set and the five men seem in good spirits for the first three days.
The gas is doing its job and the researchers are pleased about that. One researcher tells another, “Nazi meth, what a joke, just wait until the world sees what we’ve cooked up. Comrade Stalin will be most pleased.” The subjects have agreed to try and stay awake for 30 days, and have been falsely informed that if they can make the 30 days they will get their freedom. Such a deal seems fair to them.
Things turn slightly dark around the four-day mark when the subjects start discussing war and the horrors they have seen. They speak of traumas, continual nightmares, other ghastly things they witnessed. Day 5 and things get worse. The men start showing signs of psychosis, talking to themselves and to things that are not there. They grow paranoid of each other and start whispering into those microphones, telling stories about the other subjects.
The researchers of course know all about sleep deprivation. After five days the mind can turn on a person; hallucinations can seem real and horrifying. But, they wondered, was it the loss of sleep or the gas itself. Suspicions about the gas effects were more solid at day nine, when one guy just starting screaming; howling like a banshee and running up and down the room.
He screamed so much he seemed to tear his vocal cords, because after a few hours he squeaked like a children’s toy. A few more days passed and there was an eerie silence. The men could not be seen from the cameras. They were alive for sure, since the oxygen levels indicated five breathing men.
But where were there? The researchers hadn’t wanted to interrupt the study but they felt they had no choice, and so said into an intercom: “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.” They heard one voice respond. It said, “We no longer want to be freed.”
What was this? Had they been getting ripped on that gas and were now addicted? The researchers said there’s nothing we can do but open the door. They opened the vents and let fresh air displace the residual stimulant. What the researchers heard next was the men screaming again, pleading for more of that damn fine gas. “W-t-f,” thought one of the Russians, “those guys are seriously hooked.”
They opened the doors on Day 15 and to their surprise saw one man was dead. You know what the scene looked like because we laid that out for you in the intro, but we didn’t tell you what happened shortly after the gruesome discovery of the half-eaten man and the wounded survivors.
On closer inspection the researchers saw that the wounds on the men were very bad. They looked as if they might have been self-inflicted, too. They had torn the skin and muscles from their own chests, which revealed the horrific sight of the men’s lungs.
Each man it seemed had performed this macabre surgery on himself. Blood vessels that were still working, had been removed. Other internal organs were seen laid out on the floor like a piece of art, and the men were going to eat those morsels. They were dining on their own bodies, and doing it with enthusiasm.
The researchers called for back-up, not daring to go near those poor wretches. They closed the door to howls of the men pleading for that gas to come back. When soldiers arrived to help remove the subjects, the extrication process wasn’t exactly fun. One of the subjects ripped a man’s throat right out, while another soldier had his balls removed. Five soldiers lost their lives in total, but some of the victims took their own lives after the event.
Once the subjects were out, the doctors injected enough morphine into them to sedate a Canadian moose, but the men still fought like wild beasts. One subject bled out and his heart stopped beating, but he still carried on screaming, “Give me gas, I need gas.”
A doctor had some bones broken during that grim spectacle. The three others were eventually sedated and strapped and moved to a secure facility. The researchers talked to each other saying things like, “That wasn’t meant to happen, was it?” They hated to admit it, but maybe the Nazis, the Brits and the Americans had done the right thing in just plying their troops with top-notch crank.
The surgeons got to work on putting the missing organs and bits of viscera back in one man, but this guy almost broke through his restraints. When the docs finally got the anesthetic into him, the man’s heart stopped and he died right on the spot. The autopsy showed he had broken nine bones and his muscles were torn all over his body. When they tried to fix up the next man they decided two deaths were enough and didn’t use an anesthetic.
They patched him up nice, sewing up his ruptured organs and laying skins graphs on him. The head surgeon said this man should not be alive after what he has gone through, but he admired his own work. A nurse commented that during the surgery the beast had been smiling at her.
She did wonder how male carnal instincts can remain functional during the worst of times. Maybe with death, comes the need to create something new, she philosophized, but quickly shook herself out of her reverie. The man suddenly started making a wheezing sound, as if he wanted to say something.
The nurse, quick to catch on, handed him a pen and held a pad below it. The man wrote, “Keep cutting.” Wow, she thought, what a maniac. She was glad she had not reciprocated his flirty smile. As for the other maniac, he laughed like a hyena during his bodily reconstruction. He said he wanted that gas, the good stuff, and when asked why, he just said he needed it to stay awake.
The surgeon mused, if these guys weren’t so hellbent on eating themselves they’d make excellent night shift custodians. Cleaners perhaps, or maybe security, but he knew all too well they couldn’t be trusted to wash their hands. Then a former KGB agent had an excellent idea, something that had amazingly escaped everyone else’s thoughts. Why not put these poor suckers back on that gas. He said, “It seems the problems all start when they go into withdrawal.
High they’re ok, if not a bit hyper and paranoid. We can work with that.” Once back on the gas they were fine and dandy. But then something strange happened. The EEG monitor showed crazy brain activity, but then it just died down. One man flatlined. Finally, he just died.
His last boost of that junk had done him in… or at least it seemed so. The last guy ended up back in the study room with the other guy seemingly dead on the bed, but three researchers were in there, too. Suddenly, one of the researchers shot the commander and then shot the subject.
He then shouted out loud, “I won’t be locked in here with these things! Not with you! WHAT ARE YOU? I must know!” The subject that was shot but evidently was not dead replied, “Have you forgotten so easily? 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.” That was almost the end, but for good measure the researcher put a bullet in the man’s chest, which might have breached the Hippocratic Oath somewhat, but hey, harsh times call for harsh measures.
The End So, a lot of people seem to think this all actually happened. Now, without much investigation one can easily tell by reading this catastrophic flash fiction that it’s written by someone whose grammatical skills need improving. Not only that, though, the story simply doesn’t make sense at times.
Quite a few times someone dies, and then comes back to life, and we don’t think it’s on purpose by the storyteller. He just forgets what he’s said, or her. In another part, the writer says the oxygen levels indicated the men were alive and the researchers knew that, and then in the next part he says the researchers were not sure if they had all died.
But there’s more than bad writing that gives this away. Hmm, where do we start. Well, we might not need to tell you that you cannot rip out vital organs and lay them on the floor like a bunch of textbooks. That is pure fiction. Those men would have died from blood loss or shock.
Remember that they were discovered like this and left for some time before the soldiers came. Ok, you say, but that was the gas working. This was a secret experiment that went wrong. High on that wicked drug maybe men could routinely come back from the dead and rip out their own organs and even do a bit of flirting when the mood took them.
How do we know that isn’t true? Well, there is the matter of recorded history and plausible science. No gas has ever been discovered that can keep a person awake for 15 days, never mind turn a person into a self-loathing zombie. There is no history of the experiment anywhere but on a website that is known for its scary, fictional- read again- fictional tales.
It would be astounding if one author alone, writing badly from his or her bedroom, had access to more secret information than the CIA and the British Secret Services. As we said in the story, and we embellished this part ourselves, many soldiers on all sides of the war broke bad so they could stay awake longer. The officers were handing out that stuff like candy, but not even the most dedicated ice fiend could stay awake for 15 days, and those badly buzzed soldiers would have likely only done 24 to possibly 36 hours awake.
The Pentagon has even done studies on this, and even if men are forced to stay awake for more than 48 hours they will become pretty slow and pretty much useless as soldiers. They’ll make tons of mistakes, which is not ideal in war when you have to be constantly alert. Sure, the speed helped the Germans with their Blitzkrieg attacks, but the drugs had to be taken with some precautions.
With this in mind, the Russians would not have even tried this experiment. There is something called Morvan’s Syndrome that can cause severe delirium and very bad insomnia, and sufferers can go into a dreamlike state. We say dreamlike, because even if they don’t sleep, they will have micro-sleeps. Plus, no one with this disease has ever started eating themselves. Sure, perhaps a noxious agent spayed into a room full of guys can kill someone, but It’s very unlikely it could turn them into gas-addicted zombies.
There’s nothing in scientific literature that supports anything in this experiment. There’s another thing that can cause massive sleep loss and that’s called Fatal Familial Insomnia. But that is passed down through genes, and isn’t caused by environmental agents. And again, it doesn’t and will never make someone want to rip their own organs out and eat them.
There’s just nothing that exists in this world that aligns with the story, and if it did, we would expect it to have appeared in medical journals before it became an Internet meme. Then again, many of you have been asking in the comments how we manage to put out so many episodes per day. Maybe the entire staff of The Infographics Show is a crank-addicted zombie with an undying lust for human flesh after all.
Of course that’s preposterous… but isn’t that exactly what a team of crank-addicted zombies with an undying lust for human flesh would want you to think…? The Russian Sleep Experiment isn’t a bad story, but could have been better. Sleep deprivation is actually a torture that has been used by militaries, and that itself can drive a person half-crazy. Still, in this story when you add the addictive gas and the organ rug and the reanimation it just isn’t believable.
You might also like to read: The Unkillable Soldier, Modern Day God of War