According to most accounts, this scenario allegedly took place within an undisclosed scientific facility in the year 1983, and its status as one of the internet’s most terrifying mysteries has been steadily rising since it was first circulated via Reddit’s NoSleep community in 2012.
While it bears a strong resemblance to another infamous urban legend, “The Russian Sleep Experiment” (which we documented in our list of the Ten Creepiest Creepypastas), there are some significant and disturbing differences — particularly the added visual element, which was allegedly sourced from video footage shot by the scientists involved (more on that later).
The experiment in question reportedly stemmed from earlier studies in the results of sensory deprivation on the human mind, but this project was much more metaphysical in nature (and bears more than a passing resemblance to plot elements of the controversial French film MARTYRS).
The goal was to prove if a human deprived of all sensory input would eventually come into contact with a higher plane of consciousness… perhaps even to see or hear God.
The doctors participating in this test were obviously willing to engage in less-than-legal procedures, and the sole volunteer subject is described as an older man who claimed to have “nothing left to live for.”
The first stage of the experiment involved severing nerve connections to all of the man’s major sensory organs, rendering him unable to see, hear, touch, taste or smell, while still retaining all higher brain and motor functions — thus rendering him a virtual prisoner within his own mind.
In the first few days after the surgery, the man could only mutter unintelligible mumbles, chatters and grunts, but halfway through the first week he began to speak more coherently. His first fully comprehensible words were about hearing voices in his head — including that of his dead wife, with whom he began to have lengthy interior conversations.
This is apparently a legitimate phenomenon among sufferers of certain degenerative neurological conditions which target cognitive, sensory and motor functions: vivid hallucinations, including “visions” of deceased loved ones, are not uncommon symptoms in these cases.
The study, conducted by neuroscientists between 2000 and 2003, revealed hallucinations are present in 39.8% of the patients afflicted with these ailments, and these fall into three categories: the vague sensation of a human presence, a sideways passage of an animal or person, or in some cases, fully-formed human figures.
But this patient’s hallucinations soon took an inexplicable turn.
In the days to follow, the man said he could see and hear many more dead people as well, and described some of them in detail to the doctors… who were stunned to realize that he was describing their own long-dead relatives and friends. These revelations disturbed some of the scientists strongly enough that they declined further participation in the experiment.
But their horror was nothing compared to what the test subject was going through by that stage.
The voices soon became so unbearable that the old man tried desperately to injure himself in an effort to distract from the unending chorus of voices from beyond. The remaining doctors attempted to sedate him, but his sleep was soon interrupted by severe night terrors.
Still, the voices got louder… according to the old man, they were beginning to describe unbelievable horrors, including evil omens foreshadowing the end of the world.
“No heaven,” he began shouting endlessly. “No forgiveness.”
The patient’s intense self-harm finally escalated to the point where he had to be restrained to prevent him from killing himself. Still, the doctors continued to observe him for several more days, convinced he was on the verge of revealing ultimate truths.
But all they observed were the man’s cries of anguish and despair as he stared upward at something only he could see.
Finally, when one of the doctors went to his bedside to change his intravenous feeding tube (the man had not consumed food or water for more than a week), the patient turned to face him — and looked directly into his eyes.
The old man was completely blind, and his own eyes were darkened, useless spheres… but the doctor somehow knew that he could see him.
Finally, in a hoarse whisper, the old man uttered his final words:
“I have spoken with God… and He has abandoned us.”
The moment the patient finished speaking, his vital signs immediately ceased. The cause of his death was never determined, and still remains unknown.
So, that’s the story as it stands to date… and now, here’s at least one part of the tale we know to be fictional.
The man pictured in the “Gateway” footage and the accompanying still images is actually a sculptor, painter and performance artist by the name of Olivier De Sagazan, who is shown transforming himself into a living sculpture of flesh, clay and paint.
The original video installation, entitled “Transfiguration,” shows De Sagazan sitting down and undressing in front of a crude frame, applying layers of liquid clay to his head and body until his face is completely obscured, then twisting and tearing at the material to contort his “flesh” into horrific shapes. Throughout this process, the artist can be heard uttering animalistic shouts and moans.
Here’s an excerpt from the original work:
“Transfiguration” was later re-edited, digitally distressed and darkened to resemble archival video, then uploaded as allegedly “leaked” footage from the 1983 experiment.
As to the rest of the story… as with the case of most creepypastas, its validity has neither been confirmed nor denied.
But I think we’ll need to take a closer look at the work of De Sagazan in the near future… there’s definitely something dangerous going on there, and I’m totally down with that.