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by Les Lea
old Ryan loved his gaming console. He’d had it for two
years now and had all the latest games but they had
drawn him in to such an extent that when at home he
hardly ever interacted with his family.
His four year
old brother Noah had more or less been banned from
entering his bedroom by his parents as the games Ryan
played were not for the eyes of one so young. In truth,
they were quite brutal and not suitable for a teenager
either. However, Ryan loved to ‘shoot ‘em up’ and ‘blow
‘em to smithereens’ whether they be invading armies,
aliens or covert operatives, he loved to take them on
and prove his superiority.
he was a tot, Noah had, much to their mother’s
annoyance, often wondered into his big brother’s
bedroom, sat on his knee and watched him do battle; the
colourful (if scary) graphics more appealing than the
One of the main
problems with Ryan was just how much he immersed himself
in the games to the extent of hardly communicating with
anyone except those he was playing online. Once the
screen was active, donned the headset and had the
controller in hand, he was committed only to displaying
his strategies and crushing whoever needed defeating.
Meanwhile, the occasional intrusion of his little
brother didn’t stop him from gaming supremacy.
In recent weeks
Ryan’s gaming had got a great deal more aggressive,
which had led to later nights and less attention to
anything else. His schoolwork was suffering because of
this, and despite promises not to play past midnight,
some sessions went on until the early hours.
didn’t want to be seen to ‘lay down the law’ but
realised something had to be done. Rather than simply
banning him from the equipment they wanted him to give
up on his own accord. That way, they reasoned, he’d feel
he was still in control. Alas, this strategy was proving
ineffectual and his mother, Sarah, went online herself
to see if there were alternative ways of treating her
son’s possible addiction.
Do you know someone who needs help
with their PC Games addiction?
Someone who spends too much time in
front of the screen?
Who has cut themselves off from
family and friends?
Who only lives to play the next
Then we have the answer.
Game Changer is a new, exciting development from
Alt/Feed Services that helps restore that ‘addict’ into
the person they used to be by the practice of focused
soundwaves, visual stimuli and algorithmic applications.
Just plug in to any USB socket linked
to the player’s device, or PC gaming apparatus and Game
Changer will take it from there.
In amongst all
the mum’s chat and helpful hints this particular advert
‘popped up’ and caught Sarah’s attention. Not because of
the big bold lettering but because it appeared to be
more forthright. It didn’t pretend that most gamers
weren’t addicted to their screens it said it like it was
and she appreciated such honesty. As she investigated
the finer detail it became clear that by purchasing the
advertised ‘magic’ memory stick, she could actually help
It claimed that
no matter what game the player was involved in, Game
Changer would supplant it and via music, images and
sound waves help that person become less ‘aggressive’,
more relaxed and restore much sought after Circadian
She liked the
possibility he would unconsciously want to spend less
time online and pay more attention to those about him
and certainly (she hoped more than anything) to improve
his rapidly deteriorating school work. Not to mention
his lack of sociability or person hygiene.
The more she
read about this amazing ‘scientific’ breakthrough, the
more encouraged she was by its claims, which appeared to
be more direct than anything she’d found after
scrutinizing wellness and self-improvement sites.
Although much was just too ‘technical’ for her, it did
appear to be the type of clever and innocuous way of
turning her son around. It argued the
system operated on certain ‘audio waves and visual
stimuli – connecting the mental and visceral world to
make a friendly environment, with less stress, for the
user’ so she reasoned “What harm could it do to
Yes, to Sarah
this sounded just the thing she wanted but hoped, once
she’d paid the fee online, that it wasn’t a con and all
she’d be getting was a memory stick full of whale songs.
However, there were some positive endorsements but of
course she wasn’t completely clueless and knew that
often false claims were made. Nevertheless, for the
introductory fee of £49.99 she took a chance
and hoped Ryan would see the benefits from that nominal
continued that once the ‘plug-in’ was achieved the
programming would take over and introduce a new ‘game’
for the recipient to play. It would promise an exciting
and different type of gaming experience for those
‘brave enough to accept the challenge’.
The tech wizards
at Game Changer knew that most gamers loved a challenge
and even if the console suddenly started offering them
something they knew shouldn’t be happening (i.e. a new
game appearing on their closed platform) most would want
to know where the challenge led.
that player pressed the ‘accept’ button the console or
computer was no longer under the gamer’s control, Game
Changer would do just what its name suggested.
The new game ‘Phantom
Interloper’ promised a predatory presence to be
defeated or incorporated into their own army, plus an
extra ‘Cerebral Phantom’ to be deciphered and
conquered to complete the game. The excellent graphics
and a powerful music score would lead the player into a
world they hadn’t experienced before. Also, what they
were unaware of was that with each movement of the
controller, each visual reference, their voice commands
and choices made were all collected and, thanks to
Deepcode, used to unfold the program as it progressed.
In the game
there were ‘moments of reflection’, where the
player, to move forward, had to recollect something from
their past - to help defeat the ‘Cerebral Phantom’.
Nothing that happened onscreen, in the thought process,
or bodily movement went unnoticed. Everything was
identified, stored and made part of future levels in the
game. That Phantom enemy could be confused by personal
memories and the further back and deep those memories
were the better. It was implied that the menace was evil
and those memories, especially happy memories, confused
and derailed its scheming advance.
emphasise music and messages, change and amplify
visuals, whilst the graphics indicated just when a
memory had hit its target. Cunningly the player was
encouraged to dig deeper for even happier memories to
thwart their Phantom foe. Deepcode trawled every action
and reaction interpreting and devising new strategies
within milliseconds, all to keep the player involved in
the game. Paradoxically it appeared that substituting
one game for another was to be a solution.
It was the
cleverness of the program that in those ‘moments of
reflection’, which delved the deepest and uncovered
instances and actions from childhood, produced the most
usable information. Through these ‘moments’ it was easy
to manipulate the player to open up and express fears,
desires, hurt and happiness, all within the ‘moment’.
This was where Deeptone was at its strongest, feeding on
this input and moving the game forward.
‘moments of reflection’ to get the player relaxed
and at ease with not playing the game but simply talking
to the screen, expressing their feelings and
experiences; thereby confusing the Phantom that only
existed on hate and fear. Perhaps
surprisingly, heart rates dropped, anxiety levels
decreased considerably and the brain began producing
chemicals that made each competitor feel good about
themselves... thus more inclined to ‘open up’.
Although the new
game Phantom Interloper Game Changer produced was
addictive to begin with it soon identified and produced
algorithms and mental stimuli that would take control.
Players may have thought they were skilfully navigating
the game and defeating the Phantom but were in fact
being led, step by step into another way of thinking.
That was the unique development Deepcode by means of
Phantom Interloper were intended to do.
designed to embed itself deep in the psyche and control
the player’s future direction. Once that program was in
place Phantom Interloper would then no longer need its
tech base as it was operating directly in the brain and
could manoeuvre thoughts and actions as required.
Deepcode was a unique deep mental package and, thanks to
the masses of information it gleaned from each player, a
course, a distinct and individual course, based on their
own interpreted desires, could be mapped out.
department of Alt/Feed Services which make and develop
their own successful gaming lines, Game Changer had been
independently created as a side-line and to offset
criticism the company received from worried parents.
From the very
start the designers and tech bods at the company saw
this adaption as an aid for concerned parents to wean
their offspring away from too much reliance on PC games
and the easy addiction they often foster. They had to
show they cared so Game Changer became their main
project to defer the growing hostility to their huge and
profitable presence in the market. It was a concession
to the possibility of government interference and
general public unease with the seemingly unregulated
gaming industry and an entire youth culture dominated by
PC games. It was the industries weapon they hoped would
satisfy and contain any future discussion on the
subject. So, it was rushed into production and instantly
made available via selected trial outlets... but it had
to work and work well.
In House tests had been hugely
successful but this understated online release was
basically just the pilot, with Deeptone feeding back
information to the company so any tweaks or problems
could be ironed out before mass release.
means of the screen and sound waves, those new visuals
and audio commands, were already fed direct into the
brain. The program selected those moments when the
subject was most happy to lead the way and guide them
away from a dependency on the thrill of gaming and back
to a more innocent time of learning and discovery.
By the time
Phantom Interloper finished its appointed path, which,
depending on the keenness of the player, would have
renewed, by way algorithms chosen from facts garnered
during those ‘moments of reflection’, a new
trajectory was attained for the player.
algorithm identified and promoted innocence and
happiness above anything else, as these virtues helped
defeat the Phantom menace and introduced a thought
process to a time before the player had an interest in
PC games. Pursuit of further games would be exorcised
and the concept was that they return, in some form,
better able to interact with family and friends simply
through averting their PC interests by making them
remember earlier happier times.
Well, that was
and he’d just got in from school but Ryan quickly made
his way up to his bedroom to continue his latest
passion, Zombie Killers – A Deadfull Night! It was a
game that several people could play at once and he had a
few school mates and even more folk he didn’t know, all
immersed in trying to kill the undead. What he didn’t
know was that as soon as he turned his computer on, the
hidden memory stick his mother had recently purchased
pinged into life.
Ryan had quickly
changed out of his school clothes and slipped easily
into a t-shirt and shorts and settled himself
comfortably in front of the screen. With headphones and
microphone in place, he identified to those already
playing his arrival. Within minutes he was up to his
neck in splattered zombies.
So immersed in
his game he didn’t hear his mother calling him down for
tea so she brought it up to him on a tray, which he
barely acknowledged with a nod of thanks. She shrugged
and hoped that her little unwanted gift would do what it
promised so exited his room without comment as he
shouted his commands and more blood and guts splashed
across the screen.
bastards” was a constant refrain - the fact that his
parents had both warned him off this particular game
making it even more illicitly enjoyable.
was a change of music and the images on screen were
replaced by a new pop-up sign.
‘Phantom Interloper - Are you brave
enough to accept the challenge?’
Ryan was annoyed
that his obliterated zombie count was no longer
prominent and the heartening thud as his sword shattered
against the skulls of his adversaries had disappeared.
Zombies are for wimps... dare you
engage in a battle you will ultimately lose?
Don’t go running to mummy when you
fail... this is only for the elite.
Phantom Interloper - The Game
A flashing icon
underneath allowed you to accept or deny
access. Ryan pressed ‘deny’.
much,’ the graphics taunted rather pettily, ‘too scary
for a little kid. Stick to the childish stuff, Phantom
Interloper is too advanced for the likes of you’
The option to
accept or deny appeared again and again Ryan, eager to
get back to his zombies, pressed ‘deny’.
Then, instead of
just visual taunts he could hear laughter in his
headphones, “What a little scaredy-cat.” The voice
mocked more and more each time ramping up the level of
derision and childishness. “What... don’t feel big
enough?” “You little pussy.”
continued and the ‘access’ sign got larger.
“OK, last chance
Ryan” The game knew his name. A ten second countdown
started as the access button changed from a glowing pink
and turned a deeper red with each passing second. “We
were told you’d be good enough but I suppose all your
friends were wrong” 6, 5, 4...
Ryan had been
shocked that he’d been called by name and wondered how
this could be possible but that countdown was quickly
passing and he only had two seconds to press...
‘ACCEPT’ on the
final second Ryan pressed the unknown, and, unknown to
him, Phantom Interloper took control of his computer.
From that moment on his every move; the camera captured
everything, every word; the mic, like the camera, was
live all the time. Even the movement of his fingers on
the controller were recorded and evaluated as Deepcode
wrote and rewrote the program specifically as Ryan
At the same time
a link was established between Ryan’s console and head
office where a stack of servers and techies would
eventually get round to deciphering all the trawled info
Deepcode produced. It was expected that algorithms would
take care of most monotonous work, whilst techies would
tweak any underlying snags... when they could get round
Phantom Interloper the game began. The haunting
signature tune led into the most glorious graphic
universe and Ryan was sucked into a world he would never
have thought possible.
Ryan could not
believe what was on screen. The images hypnotised,
whilst the music and its many layers of sound
transported him through a colourful kingdom taking him
to incredible highs and unbelievable saddening lows in
just a matter of moments. It was a journey like he’d
never experienced as he searched for that ‘Cerebral
A pile of info
filled the screen and he received new directions on how
his controller could be used to gain credit and baffle
In minutes he
felt exhausted but desperate to attain the next level.
The game let him advance; the sooner he reached Level 5
his mind would be so much easier to influence but... now
here came that strange part of the program.
Phantom Interloper whispered in his ear led him to
believe that the Phantom could read his thoughts and so,
to defeat him this is what he had to do. He needed to
pause and think about something completely different
from the game. It was also inferred by ‘the voice’ that
the Phantom grew stronger the more evil the thought. So
to defeat him and win the game it was best to think
‘happy’ thoughts, like the times when the player was
younger and more innocent... the Phantom couldn’t cope
with innocence. The ‘moment of reflection’ was
that opportunity to play the Phantom at its own game and
by doing so corrupt its program and thereby finding a
way to win the game.
Ryan had been on
his computer since he arrived home from school. The meal
his mother had brought up on the tray remained untouched
and now, five hours later, and five hours of brilliant
graphics and unbelievable sounds, thanks to the ‘moment’,
he could take a break.
At that moment
Noah ventured into Ryan’s bedroom to say night-night.
Dressed in his Spider-Man pyjama top and his Spider-Man
pull-ups he came and sat on his brother’s knee to see
what he was up to.
into his brother who would normally have simply told him
to leave but on this occasion he felt relaxed (the
deltas waves doing their job) and was pleased to greet
his younger sibling. The soft padding of the pull-up
felt gloriously comforting and as he snuggled in closer
Ryan’s mind slipped to when he himself used to wear
similar comfy pull-ups to bed. He’d been late getting a
potty routine at night and even until he was six year
old, still wore pull-ups or nappies at night... it
seemed his little brother was having similar trouble.
found himself talking about these memories to his
brother and telling him how wonderful it was to have no
worries because the possibilities of a wet bed were
taken care of. On more than one occasion, when he’d been
deep into a game and needed the toilet, wished he still
had the opportunity to wear a nappy as it would have
helped him stay in the battle.
thinking about how the Phantom used evil thoughts to
win, he decided that these thoughts, his thoughts, might
just be the right way to go. By speaking about how
wonderful being an innocent child was might give him a
better chance to defeat his foe the screen colours and
sounds changed and he felt more optimistic. It was a
tactic he wasn’t to know would forge a template for his
own future thoughts and ideas.
varied and washed into his ears, through his brain and
into his senses. Yes, these relaxing thoughts he knew
were working because he could already feel the benefits
of such thinking. Subconsciously he felt that the
Phantom hated such thoughts so was happy to defeat it
with ‘happy thoughts’.
little brother closer he spoke of the times he also wore
pyjamas and nappies but Noah was puzzled at such an
admission, this was so unlike Ryan. But having his older
brother hugging, patting his padding and being positive
and encouraging was something he rarely experienced. He
gratefully cuddled his big brother back pleased he
wasn’t calling him a big baby or something similar like
he usually did.
didn’t know about Deepcode or what it could do, neither
did the designers of Phantom Interloper. Deepcode and
Phantom Interloper had been coded by two different
departments, each with its own modus operandi.
Unfortunately for Ryan, when those two codes amalgamated
the newly formed algorithm took him on an unforeseen
journey. Of course, this might have been, no, should
have been predicted but wasn’t... the program had gone
### tbc ###
The people at
Alt/Feed Services really had no idea just how their
latest Game Changer program would actually work.
Actually, that was more, they had no idea how, in the
end, their program would turn out. The idea
was simple; turn young minds addicted to PC games and
offer alternative interests – simple and wholesome
intentions. Of course, these game developers didn’t
really want to stop young minds or any minds for that
matter, from taking advantage of their high priced and
addictive games but had to be seen to care.
imminent danger, via a planned Parliamentary debate on
the ethics and addictive qualities of such games, that
legislation would be put in place if the industry didn’t
get something going to appease its critics.
For anyone who
searched for help with PC gaming addiction the low-key
pop-up advert that promised a Game Changing solution had
attracted only a few sales. It had to be said most
people looking for such a resolution preferred an
alternative way than another game. What those people who
actually bought Game Changer (what was in effect a
prototype) didn’t know was that they were just guinea
pigs for the company. Valuable stats and info would be
collected and collated as that data was relayed back to
the main servers, so any bugs or problems could be
sorted out before major release. Unethical perhaps but
it was planned to be just a small group the system was
to be tested on.
two styles of coding, from two different technical
areas, each specialising in their own product and gaming
development, crossed paths and produced a hybrid purpose
that called itself Deepcode: An unanticipated
outcome of this program was a sort of Artificial
Intelligence (AI) function that took everything to an
ultimate stage - where the player became the play thing.
It wasn’t that the code and the graphics could simply
hypnotise the viewer, the code interacted with various
parts of the hippocampus and amygdala and, if Deepcode
desired, rewrite the memory as... now.
The game had
many levels but some were incredibly simple to ‘solve
and advance’ but cleverly, the music and sound waves
changed so the player thought such ease was a trap.
Brooding mood music and subtle changes in the colourful
graphics enhanced the feeling that the Phantom was near
and a new plan had to be thought out. You could give
directions and ask questions via the headset but the
background sounds were disrupting making the thought
process difficult. So, when the opportunity for a ‘moment
of reflection’ occurred, the player grabbed it
Thanks to the
audio file “happy thoughts”, “pleasant memories”,
“childish fun” and other such considerations would
bounce around the gamer’s head and be brought to the
fore indicating when they were most content. Their
response to these often repressed thoughts produced more
info that was fed right back at the individual player to
gain even further reaction. No two players would receive
the same instruction or have the same outcome; Deepcode
was writing a future specific and particular to the
player. The amount of personal data gleaned from this
method enabled the new evolving program Deepcode to
engage and develop alternative passions in the
programs have the same concept, what had changed was
just how Deepcode interpreted the data... and then what
it did with it. It was all about ‘head-space’ so if the
brain was re-coded so much the better. Deepcode did just
mesmerised by the game and found that his little
brother, sitting in his lap, actually made the game that
much easier. His thoughts slipped further back to when
he was just like Noah, still bed-wetting and wrapped up
in preventative padding and feeling safe, warm and
comfortable when mummy put him to bed. Even though he
was having these thoughts he had no idea he was doing
so. But they were there, so as a result subliminal and
psychological assessments were being made, monitored and
then interpreted by Deepcode. Each of these pleasant
thoughts was returned with feelings of joyfulness and an
appreciation of happier times.
about outwitting the Cerebral Phantom was being replaced
by a mind, Ryan’s mind, that only wanted a return to
happier, less stressful times. Those moments of
recollection having helped transport him back... a sort
of mental euphoria of how things could be if only...
around and wondered why, like his little brother, he
wasn’t wearing Spider-Man pull-ups.
expressing his thoughts to Noah, he was also speaking
into his headset so the mic was picking up every word,
emphasis and reflection. It was also picking up
everything his little brother said, which was also
analysed, but blended as one voice. As a result Deepcode
was processing each piece of separate information,
combining it and, via sounds and images, feeding new
thoughts straight into Ryan’s brain; which were in fact
a product of both a fifteen year old reminiscing and a
tired four year old ready for bed.
When Sarah came
up to make sure her youngest was actually asleep she was
surprised to see them both together, looking at the
screen and chatting quite amiably. This was something
she hadn’t witnessed for a long time. When she suggested
it was time for Noah to get into bed Ryan also put down
his headset and began to undress. Again his mother was
baffled by this move but quickly thought this was
perhaps part of the way Game Changer worked.
She had begun to
worry about just how much Ryan was enjoying the game and
the intensity he took to each level. She worried that
she’d made it worse but no, now she could see that Ryan
wasn’t so engaged with the screen but more in doing as
he was told, just like Noah.
shepherded Noah to his room and got him settled she
returned to Ryan’s to see what was happening. Startled
that her eldest was standing naked in front of her and
looking a bit mystified he looked at her questioningly.
innocently asked, “where’s my Spider-Man
Bemused by this
request she blustered that only Noah had to wear them
because he still wet the bed.
“But mummy, what
if I wet the bed as well... I’ll get into trouble wont
I?” He looked worried at the prospect.
Sarah had no
idea why he was calling her mummy and, still not certain
of the games effect, wondered if he was playing a game
with her, or that it was something both kids had cooked
up. However, the anxious look on his face made her think
“It’s OK love,
erm, we’ll try you without pull-ups tonight. You’re
getting to be a big boy so...”
She grabbed his
boxer shorts and t-shirt and helped him into them, which
he complied to meekly. Still unsure if this was a bit of
fun or not she pulled down his unmade bed and told him
it was time to sleep so “No more computer games, eh?”
“No mummy.” She
was about to turn the computer screen off “Please mummy,
I like the music and pretty colours so can you leave it
on. Pleeeasssse mummy, it will help me sleep?”
sweetheart, I’ll check in on you when we come to bed
told her husband Mark about the Game Changer memory
stick, only that she was looking at ways to wean their
eldest off his compulsion to play video games. He was
proud of his wife’s ambition but thought Ryan was
perhaps a lost cause and they should have been firmer
with him in the first place like they were being with
had his own little hand-held games but was restricted to
only playing with it in very short bursts that his
parents supervised. He had to ask them if he wanted to
use it and the neighbours had been asked to restrict any
on-screen playing time should he go round to his
A few parents
agreed but others thought the use of video games was a
great way to keep their kids occupied and out of their
way. It also cut down on fights and arguments as they
usually had locked themselves away in their bedrooms.
However, Sarah was adamant that she should do something
about Ryan’s addiction and, even if it was a one-woman
campaign, was determined he would pay more attention to
other things and not just the console.
So, it came as a
bit of a shock that after only four hours of playing the
new Game Changer her son was calling her mummy, agreeing
to go to bed early and wondering about wearing
protection as he slept. Of course she didn’t know that
Deepcode had taken hold of her son’s brain waves and
relayed his own past thoughts (mixed with his nappy clad
little brother’s) and made them into desires. According
to the data he was happy when a little kid so why
wouldn’t he be content being mentally transported back
to those immature times?
parents turned in for the night dad checked in on Noah
who was fast asleep and hugging Mr Leggy his stuffed
octopus, whilst Sarah checked in on Ryan. The screen was
dark so she assumed he must have turned it off himself
and he looked angelic with half his bedclothes draped on
the floor revealing his shorts and t-shirt as his only
covering. Despite the times when she was really annoyed
at him for playing games well into the night, moments
like this were what brought out a very strong motherly
feeling of protection and love for her son. Of course,
she gently reapplied his duvet and kissed the back of
his head. However, and for no apparent reason, she
suddenly had an idea that nappies might be needed. Apart
from the fact he’d asked about pull-ups earlier, she
couldn’t think why this peculiar thought had suddenly
entered her head.
image of both her boys together, chatting and being
engaged in what the other said had been such a wonderful
sight. In her head she imagined them both wearing
Spider-man pull-ups and that made her smile. A strong
image of Ryan wearing a nappy filled her head but not as
a baby... he was a teenager and looked happy. She
shrugged this off because of all that had just happened
and re-checked her son by tucking him in again.
She closed his
bedroom door then checked on Noah before joining her
husband. What neither saw was the console in Ryan’s room
reignite. Colourful swirls on screen bathed the room in
a soft pinkish glow, whilst sounds and softly spoken
words sent subliminal messages to the comatose, but
comfortably wrapped, fifteen year old.
the morning his bed was soaked and he was crying.
love, what’s the matter?” His mum was concerned because
at that moment she had no idea why her eldest son was so
He was too
embarrassed to say anything but she heard him mumble
he’d asked to wear pull-ups like Noah.
She hugged him
and got the faint smell of urine so put two and two
together. She slowly pulled down his rumpled duvet and
was greeted to a very soaked bed – shorts, sheets and
duvet. Everything was sopping wet and had no doubt that
his mattress would also be in a bit of a state.
“Oh love,” she
empathised with an extremely distressed Ryan, “let me
get you sorted.”
She stripped the
bed and then stripped her son and led him to the shower.
He didn’t need telling as his mother set it going and he
stood naked under the warm spray.
“I’ll be back in
a moment love. I’ll just put these on to soak.” She
disappeared but Ryan felt scared of being alone and
started to cry again.
mummmmmyyyy.” He whimpered. The tears cascading down his
face washed away by the shower.
Noah stood in
the bathroom doorway, his night time pull-up soaked but
didn’t know what had happened to his brother to make him
so upset, “Are you OK Ry?”
“No, I want
mummy.” His older brother pined.
“OK Ry, I’ll go
and get her... don’t worry she isn’t far.” He went to
ask his mummy what was wrong with Ryan.
He found her in
the kitchen sorting through the extra laundry she hadn’t
banked on as a result of the Game Changer. She knew that
this change of events must have been caused by her
intervention but had not bargained for such an instant
and weirdly dramatic reaction.
“He’s had a
little accident love, just like you sometimes do.” Now
she understood she must have had a motherly premonition
last night when his need for nappies loomed so urgently
in her head.
Noah patted his
own soaked padding under his PJs. “Oh, poor Ry... does
he need some of my pull-ups. I can go get them if you
want?” He was eager to help in any way he could.
“I don’t think
they’d fit...” she then realised perhaps she shouldn’t
be sharing this much with Noah as he might tell his
friends and that was the last thing anyone wanted.
no...erm... you just sit down and have some breakfast
and I’ll sort your brother out. No big deal” she offered
Sarah had to do
a lot of quick thinking. She had no idea how long this
sudden bout of childishness would last; was it a few
minutes or longer? First thing though
was to get her eldest out of the shower, dry and
dressed. To be on the safe side, although Noah’s
Spider-man pull-ups were too small, her own Tena Lady
she needed for her own occasional leaks would just about
do. Thankfully, the kids knew nothing of this side of
giving birth but she had a supply and thought it might
be provident to get Ryan in a pair and see how that
He didn’t bat an
eye when she opened them up and obediently stepped into
them. His mother pulled them up and asked if they were
comfy. He nodded and ran his hands
over the slight padding.
“Oh mummy they
feel all soft... they’re nice.” His voice was soft and
childlike with a hint of insecurity. It was very
smiled, lovingly ruffled his hair and simply said he
looked fine in them, told him to let her know if they
needed changing at any point and then left him to get
Noah was still
at the table finishing his cereal when Ryan arrived
wearing a pale blue t-shirt, matching blue shorts and
blue sneakers. His mother hadn’t seen him wear such a
sensible ensemble for quite some time. For the time
being at least his more aggressive, scary, ripped and
dark Gothic inspired clothing remained in his wardrobe,
which was a relief for everyone.
when Noah returned from getting himself ready for the
day he wore more or less the same as his older
brother... even down to the padding under their shorts.
What was an even bigger surprise was that Ryan wanted to
play with his little brother and go to pre-school with
him. It was the weekend so there was no school so mummy
suggested a day in the park. Both seemed eager for the
experience, whilst Sarah couldn’t believe how quickly
things had changed. She needed to catch up but first,
before the park she needed to get a few extra
remember the last time Ryan had voluntarily joined her
shopping. Both he and his brother held onto the trolley
as she guided it down each aisle occasionally stopping
to load or peruse some item or other. Eventually she
came to the nappy and baby products section and
nervously started down not too sure how Ryan might
react. This was the main reason they were there, and it
was to get something stronger than her Tena’s for her
eldest sudden attack of incontinence.
By now she’d had
time to think and had come to the conclusion that the
clever little device to wean her son off video games had
done its job, but too well. She wasn’t sure why he
should now wet but instinct kicked in again and told her
to ‘be prepared’. Though convinced this might only be a
temporary thing she wanted to make sure her boy was
comfortable whilst it lasted. She certainly couldn’t
object to how amenable he’d suddenly become, or how
pleasant to his brother. No, she was quite happy to take
full advantage to enjoy this return to, whatever it was,
whilst it lasted. His wet morning had come as a surprise
and so, as not to be surprised again, she thought better
to get some protection... just in case.
pull-ups for older boys but to be on the safe side opted
for some equally teen/adult style disposables she was
sure would fit. There was no harm in being prepared and,
in a very strange way, was enjoying buying this stuff
for her newly adorable eldest.
happy to watch and nod to any suggestion his mother made
about him being comfy wearing padding. She got a kick
out of his childish acquiescence and on impulse grabbed
a myriad of other stuff she hoped would help the current
situation. Not only that, but the two brothers pointing
to items on display seemed keen on wearing identical
At one point
both boys disappeared down the toy aisle and were caught
up in a discussion about some action figures and who was
best. It got to such a stage where she had to buy each
of them a small character to quieten down their
excitement. It seemed a small price to pay to see how
happy they both were with their new toy.
“Mummy, I need a
wee.” It was Noah doing a little potty dance whilst
desperately holding in his expected pee.
look, there’s a toilet over there. Ryan, why don’t you
take your brother to the boy’s room and help him with
let’s see who can wee first.” Excitedly he grabbed his
little brother’s hand and they rushed off to the public
Mum carried on
paying for her purchases whilst the boys had a game of
‘who can hit the little blue cake in the metal urinal’.
It was Noah who
won because, unknown to Ryan, his Tena was already
soaked as he’d wet himself unwittingly a few minutes
before and had very little pee to aim.
Noah pulled up
his pull-up after his success but Ryan was on the verge
of tears because he was wet and didn’t have any clean
pull-ups to wear.
“I’ll go and get
mummy Ry, you wait here.” Noah told his older brother.
“Will you be okay?”
Ryan nodded his
head slowly, still uncertain to what would happen next.
Will mummy be angry because he didn’t make it? He was
Out in the
supermarket Sarah had just finished bagging everything
she’d bought but a huge pack of teen/adult disposables
were the last thing to be loaded back onto the trolley.
whispered, “Ry’s wet his pants and he’s crying over
there.” He pointed to the closed men’s toilet door.
“Oh dear, was
there anyone else in there?”
Noah shook his
head no and led her forward.
Seeing as the
package of disposables were the handiest item available
she quickly opened them up, pulled one out and entered
the forbidden territory (for a woman at least) of the
Ryan had streaks
running down his face where he’d cried in shame and
fear. “Sowwy mummy I didn’t mean to do it... sowwy,
sowwy...sowwy,”his voice full of sadness and regret.
pet.” She couldn’t believe how childish he appeared and
her heart went out to the poor boy. “It’s nothing that
can’t be quickly fixed so... into this cubicle and let’s
get you sorted. Noah sweetie, can you wait outside by
the trolley and guard it with your life like a big boy?”
mummy.” He eagerly rushed outside to begin his big boy
Her fifteen year
old big baby just stood there as his mother unbuttoned
his pants and slipped off his soaked Tena. “Oh
sweetheart,” she examined both front and back in case
there was something else deposited there, “nothing too
dramatic so soon have you nice and dry.”
She pulled at
the toilet roll and spent a little while dabbing away at
her son’s damp areas and decided that when they got home
he’d need a bath and his pubic area needed cleaning up
and hair removing. In the meantime, she fluffed out the
disposable and fed it between his legs and taped it
tightly into positon. He wriggled immaturely as the soft
fuzzy material encased is boyish parts.
“There sweetheart, all done and now you’re so
much safer. How does that feel?”
Ryan was just so
glad his mummy wasn’t angry so he hugged her and said
“Fank you mummy... I’m sowwy.”
He seemed to be
getting younger by the minute but despite the suddenness
of it, Sarah couldn’t help being captured and won over
by this turn of events and the unbelievable cuteness of
her oldest boy.
“No need to be
sorry sweetie. All done... so, let’s get your pants back
on.” Unfortunately they were soaked so decided it was
far better just to leave him how he was. “Sorry love but
you can’t wear shorts, they’re too wet. You’ll just have
to make do with a nice fluffy nappy OK?”
expecting some kick back but it never came he just
looked relieved to be in something dry and, holding her
hand, followed his mother out of the toilet.
They emerged and
Noah was pleased he’d successfully completed his guard
below his blue shirt the new padding was clearly visible
but Ryan simply smiled at his younger brother and
reached for his hand.
“No one took
anything mummy.” Noah’s small hand gently accepted by
his older brother’s and the two giggled at each other.
around to see if anyone noticed her fifteen year old
wearing just a nappy but no one said anything. As she
was desperate to cheer Ryan up and reward Noah she made
“Well done you.
I think both my little soldiers deserve a treat so...
how about some ice cream eh?”
Sarah was in
a bit of a quandary. As the boys ate their ice cream at
the table she couldn’t help but notice how Ryan now
looked to Noah for the lead. He hung onto every word the
four year old uttered and was desperate for his
attention and approval. Ryan had never once, as far as
she could remember, offered ice cream to his brother
lick for lick. It was a lovely and heart-warming sight
to see the two brothers enjoying this silly little game
but soon the treat was finished and the boys settled
down to wait for mummy to finish her coffee.
disparity between the two boy’s ages Sarah overheard one
old lady talking to her friend.
children.” It was obvious from the direction of her nod
of corroboration she was referring to hers.
A sense of pride
rippled through her body as she assessed the situation.
Her eldest had been regressed, thanks to that bloody
gaming app to nothing more than a toddler, who appeared
even younger than his brother. The fact that Ryan was
wearing a thick disposable and no pants didn’t seem to
inhibit either of them or the praise being spoken in
their direction. The thing was,
despite knowing she shouldn’t, she loved the result.
The two boys,
one four and the other fifteen (going on two) held each
other’s hands whilst mummy carried the shopping and, as
they exited the superstore, the scene could not have
been any more adorable to anyone looking on. The boys
were giggling as they each said something silly, another
spontaneous little game that they’d thought up. The
difference between yesterday when her self-absorbed
teenaged son was all consumed with games to now... well,
guiltily she felt happy about that incredible
Ryan held his
brother’s hand but would occasionally hitch up his
nappy, his childlike waddle perhaps a sign that it was
already wet. Sarah spoke to both boys in the same
juvenile way but unexpectedly realised that this
dramatic change might not be welcomed by her husband who
was unaware of precisely what his wife had done. Game
Changer had certainly changed their son. She just hoped
Mark would not be mad at just how rehabilitated he’d
become... or if it was indeed rehabilitation at all.
Back home, as
the boys played with their new action figures and
incorporated them in with the rest of their toys, mummy
put all the days purchases away and started preparing
the evening meal. Mark would be home at his usual 6:30
pm and normally he and his wife, with an occasional
visit from Ryan, would eat together, Noah often having
eaten much earlier. She wasn’t sure whether to have them
all sit down together and discuss these changes with her
husband at the table so he could see what had happened
or, perhaps a better idea was to speak to him privately.
He was going to find out soon enough, it wasn’t
something anyone could hide, but, she looked over to
where they were playing, it was such a wonderful family
scene she didn’t want to change. So,
whilst she cooked, she planned just what she was going
to say by way of explanation. The truth was she had no
idea how to explain this drastic, though cute,
The other thing
she noticed was that Ryan appeared to be totally unaware
of the change. He’d somehow slipped into being a kid
again, a silly but loving little toddler and couldn’t
begin to think how that had happened but happen it had.
Whatever the Game Changer memory stick had done, it had
done it with unbelievable success but did so without
leaving any kind of trauma at the change. In many ways
she got what she wanted; her son returned to being more
interested in other pursuits than those he could battle
onscreen. Unfortunately for him, he was no longer a
fifteen year old gamer just an innocent little boy,
although he hadn’t noticed the change.
She decided that
a huge test would be to remove the games console from
his room and see what the reaction was. However, when
she got there it looked like it had been turned off so
she thought she might as well just leave it for now and
see if he tries to play when he next goes to bed. The
other thing she did whilst up in Ryan’s room was add an
old plastic under-sheet to his mattress just in case
things got worse. The change had turned him into a
toddler and that just couldn’t be right. She remembered
that when he was Noah’s age he was still in nappies. In
fact, he was wearing nappies until five years old and
However, if he
was now mentally younger than Noah, it meant he’d need
robust protection all the time. Despite that
unbelievable fact she giggled to herself because she
realised that both her boys would be wearing nappies to
sleep in to protect their beds as much as possible.
However, as he didn’t know he was wetting himself Ryan
wearing nappies the rest of the time might prove to be a
As it was
Saturday she didn’t have to worry too much about school
but come Monday, what on earth would she do with Ryan?
Meanwhile, her fifteen year old son was, for the first
time in years, happily playing with toys rather than ‘that
damned machine’. Not only that but both boys were
immersed in a tale of daring-dos and heroic events as
they created their own little universe for the new
action figures. Sarah was impressed at how they bounced
ideas off each other and seemed completely immersed in
having fun and telling their own story.
Ryan had a
permanent smile on his face as Noah brought out more and
more toys to build their imaginary world. However, mummy
realised that she hadn’t checked either for wetness and
as Ryan had been wet since the store (and she’d
forgotten all about it) a fresh pull-up or nappy might
be needed... perhaps both. She was correct, both her
boys had sodden their padding and needed fresh nappies.
This was going to be a test but one she was happy to
Once she had
Ryan stripped and wiped clean she was also of the
opinion that when it was bedtime, the two boys would
take a bath together and then she’d sort out her
eldest’s hairy groin. Of course this was a symbol of him
growing up but was of the opinion that if he needed a
nappy, he needed to be clean and tidy down there. She’d
never liked that aspect of the male body insisting that
Mark kept his bits well-manicured (even though he was
fairly hirsute elsewhere), and she herself kept a
well-shaped and sparse ‘lady garden’.
that as Ryan needed the larger, more absorbent
disposable, and so as not to cause any dispute, she’d
put Noah in one as well that way both would be treated
equal. She was happily surprised that neither kicked up
a fuss so were cleaned up and changed quickly so could
get back to their game in next to no time. ‘Mummy’
couldn’t get over just how much she enjoyed having two
soaked nappies to deal with and just how endearing and
submissive Ryan was when his little brother was near.
on Ryan’s bed as she changed them, they happily giggled
and talked to each other and gave no hint that this was
a strange event. They completely accepted that mummy was
in charge and what she put them in must be correct. Ryan
wearing a nappy had brought tears of love and affection
to Sarah’s eyes as she remembered all those times when
he was a toddler and needed exactly the same attention.
She’d loved being a mum then and that feeling, thanks to
Noah, was reinforced daily. She loved looking after her
As the boys
played Sarah settled down with her laptop and began to
research the company she’d bought the memory stick from.
She needed to discuss what had happened to find out
a) How long it would last? b) Did this happen to
everyone? c) Was it reversible? d) What exactly was
happening to her son? There was an email address but
not much more and despite her best efforts, couldn’t
find a customer help-line anywhere.
To begin with
she fired off an email with her queries and hoped their
response wouldn’t take days like some firm’s did. She
also knew that Twitter had a quicker effect so went on
their site and asked if anyone else had found the
It just so
happened that the CEO of Alt/Feed Services, Damian
Daemon had been checking the remote input from Game
Changer and saw the fluctuation in one particular area
of programming. He was worried because the theoretical
prediction, the structural integrity and mathematical
geometry were not as expected. In fact, this prototype,
this Deepcode, had obliterated its total design program
and remodelled the entire system to react only to its
saw the danger signs should this be left to continue.
Services could to be in serious trouble if this
prototype was left to reprogram itself with no control
limits, so the CEO yanked Deepcode from their servers
and arranged for his company technicians to do all they
could to minimise the damage. Pretend it never existed
if they could and withdraw any sample programs from
sale. He knew from the returns being fed back to the
main server that not many of the Game Changer memory
sticks had been sold thanks to the restricted site that
had carried the initial advert. That was
also immediately pulled. Despite the number of users
being relatively small, a great deal of information was
being collected and responded to by this rogue coding.
He hoped problems might be prevented but intuitively
knew something problematic was hiding in the wings.
What he wasn’t
to know straight away was that Deepcode had already
inflicted its newer, improved program directly into the
brain of one of its customers. The message of happier
times, coupled with the need to wean the player off of
the game, the newly ‘self-improved’ program saw as a
success. It wasn’t pleased with being terminated from
the computer banks but, as was Deepcode’s method, it had
already designed its own ‘cloud’ and left a hidden
resurrection code deep within the company servers.
Then Mr Daemon
received notice of the query from a Mrs Sarah Cooper
about her son’s regression and knew, as a feeling of
dread percolated up his back ‘that time’ had arrived.
Damian wanted to
get ahead of any trouble so ascertained Sarah Cooper’s
IP address and using his vast resources, though they
were hardly needed as she’d added her address and phone
number to the email, tracked down where she lived and
summoned his limo.
surprised to be greeted by his sons as he arrived home.
Normally Ryan would be locked away in his room playing
on ‘that damned machine’ but he could always rely
on Noah to offer a heartfelt hug. On this occasion, both
rushed to the door crying “daddy, daddy” in excited
what a lovely way to come home.” He ruffled his youngest
son’s hair but was a bit unsure about Ryan. The two of
them both presented their action figure as if wanting
daddy’s approval. “Nice to see you here Ry, erm, not
gaming tonight then?” He offered quizzically.
Ryan looked down
as if embarrassed. “No, me and Noah are having fun.” He
wriggled uncomfortably fearing daddy might not approve.
fantastic... what could be better than two heroes...
Ryan was beaming
at daddy as enthusiastically as Noah and it was only
then Mark noticed that both boys were wearing quite
thick padding under their shorts. He looked to his wife
for some kind of explanation.
“It’s been a
funny day dear. Why not get yourself more comfortable,
we can have our meal and I’ll tell you all about it.”
She gave a wry smile and raised her eyebrows as if to
say ‘you’re not going to believe it’ but then
went into the kitchen to serve dinner.
Mark patted his
two boys on their ample padded bottoms and indicated
they could go back to play. He was still wondering, as
he wandered up to his room and changed to get a little
more comfortable, what this was all about. He was
intrigued as to what his wife had to say but had been
amazed when both boys settled back down on the carpet
and continued with their game. There had been absolutely
no doubt, judging by the bulge beneath their shorts,
that both boys were well-padded. Even Noah was more
padded than usual but Ry...? He couldn’t wait to find
out the reason for his sudden interest in playing with
his brother, the padding, and well... everything, Sarah
had a lot of explaining to do.
The boys had had
their spaghetti Bolognese earlier and were now laid out
on the carpet watching TV. It was a programme about
bears and their cubs which made for a lot of ‘aws’ and
‘cutes’ as they looked to each other in acknowledgement
of the sweet little fluffy things learning to play with
Back at the
table, and once their own bowls of pasta had been served
and a glass of wine poured, Sarah looked across at her
husband and told him about the Game Changer memory stick
and how, since the previous night, Ryan had lost all
interest in his computer games, acted like a toddler
and wet the bed.
widened as each new fact was revealed but he was even
more stunned when she said that when they’d gone out
shopping Ryan just followed Noah around like he was the
older of the two and needed a nappy because he was
having accidents. Noah had asked to be dressed like his
brother and so... both ended up in thicker nappies.
“This is amazing
but how...why... erm, no, how?” Mark was
struggling to come to terms with all this news but, the
proof of what his wife was saying was laid out not ten
“I feel so
guilty... yet happy.” Sarah shrugged in confusion. “On
the one hand, I wanted to break the dependence on his
games for entertainment AND I wanted more than anything
for him to take an interest in being with his brother.”
She shook her head. “I got all that and more but, and
this is where the guilt comes in, I like having my
babies back... they love being together and hearing them
chuckle and watching them play is, well, adorable.”
his Bolognese and put down his fork.
for Chris’s sake. I mean it wouldn’t be so bad if he was
ten years younger but he’s a teenager and at school.” He
looked at his wife who suddenly saw the difficulties
ahead if Ryan’s condition was permanent. “How are we
going to explain this, this, this...” he lost his cool,
although in truth it had hardly been there to begin
with, “god, god, god, GOD?” He
screamed in frustration but then another thought
overtook him. “We’ll have to get onto the manufacturers
and see what they have to say... this can’t be what an
anti-addiction program was designed to do surely?”
she’d emailed the company already and asked questions on
Twitter. She picked up her phone and logged onto her
Twitter page. “So far no one has said they’ve had
problems with it but there’s a message from a techy
saying they’ll look into it.” She shrugged and put down
“I bet they
are.” Mark looked angry but also a bit ineffectual
because he just didn’t know where to start. “I bet they
don’t believe it and I also bet they try and wriggle out
of being responsible. We’ll get the blame somehow...
what the hell do we do?”
They both looked
over to their two sons, bulky nappied bums in the air
easily distinguishable under their matching blue shorts
“What can we
do?” Mark asked wistfully to no one in particular.
It was difficult
for Mark because this was all so sudden but he tried to
keep an even temper and caring attitude towards his
sons. They were happily being childish, noisy and silly,
which, if they had both been toddlers would have been
endearing but this...?
However, by 8pm
both boys were wrapped in thick night time nappies,
plastic pants and, because Noah asked, was sharing his
bigger brother’s bed. Both cuddled teddy bears and each
other, whilst Noah wrapped his arm over Ryan they
quickly dropped off having had such an eventful day
were making plans to keep Ryan away from school and
other than he was ‘sick’ couldn’t come up with
At 9:32pm there
was a knock on their front door.
“Who the hell
can that be at this time of night?” questioned Mark as
he moved towards the door.
the curtain and saw a slim, casually dressed man with
two smartly dressed men standing behind him. She also
took in the expensive SUV that stood outside their gate.
something official,” she whispered before he unlatched
“Do you think
the government know about... this?” he whispered back.
“We’re soon to
Mark opened the
door and met Damian Daemon.
“Does a Mrs
Sarah Cooper live here?” He gently enquired.
“Is the lady
Again he nodded
as his wife joined him at the door.
Daemon CEO of Alt/Feed Services I think we need to chat.
Could I come in?”
suspiciously at the two hulking looking men standing
behind the CEO.
possible barrier “Wait in the car please,” the CEO said
over his shoulder and the men immediately turned and
walked down the pathway and got in the SUV.
that but in my line of work, and profile, it’s
unfortunate but sometimes you need a bit of security.”
He smiled as he brushed past Mark and shook hands with
“May I sit?”
the leather chair and she and Mark took the sofa.
you’ve had a slight hic-cup with a new test program...
is that correct?” He was straight into his CEO, man in
charge, smooth talking no nonsense mode.
They nodded as
“Can you tell me
exactly what the problem is?” He smiled but sat forward
so as to prove he was listening intently to what they
had to say.
through the events since receiving the Game Changer
memory stick and he appeared suitably appalled and
nodded understandingly at their distress.
The fact was,
with each new revelation his company looked culpable to
a large fine and the publicity would ruin share-holder
confidence... he had to spin it.
was a self-made millionaire. He’d been at the forefront
of coding and his brilliant mind and imagination had
produced a game called ‘Klepto’ a cunning little game of
intrigue where diamond thieves were pitted against each
other to accrue the most wealth by stealing from major
diamond merchants around the world.
By some kind of
miracle, or maybe brilliant timing, the game made him
quite a lot of money. He ploughed it straight back into
his new company Alt/Feed Services, hired a few techies
and launched himself as a the new face of PC Games in
the UK. However, Clive Winstanley hated his name but,
thanks to a game that was in production ‘The Daemons
Answer’, decided that any press release would carry the
name Damian Daemon... it sounded exotic and so much
better, there was also a hint of menace that didn’t go
unnoticed by the press.
He changed his
image ‘The Daemons Answer’ was the best-selling game of
that year and still sells millions thanks to the many
Services was now THE major player in the UK video gaming
industry, producing many millions in currency around the
world. He loved the power that Damian Daemon held and
wasn’t afraid to buy and sell anyone who got in his way.
That name change was certainly serving him well.
“Tell me... when
you bought Game Changer what had you hoped to get from
the program?” The CEO gently prodded for more
Sarah was doing
all the talking but Mark was not just nodding blindly.
He saw the direction this was going. In fact, he’d
predicted exactly what was happening and began to think
ahead of the CEO’s questions. He predicted that there
would be an offer of a sizeable cheque on condition the
family signed a None Disclosure Agreement. He sat back
and watched the facial expressions of Mr Daemon, and
thought... I mean Damian Daemon, had to be a fake
that she wanted to wean her son off his addiction to the
game and spend more time with the family and not cooped
up in his room.
“And how many
hours do you let your son play games?” Again the leading
question wasn’t lost on Mark but Sarah added guiltily
that they didn’t have any control over her fifteen year
“So, for a few
years now you’ve let your son just play, unsupervised,
for as long as he wanted... is that correct?”
Mark saw an
opportunity to butt in. “Of course, to begin everything
was lovely, with nice games that had an end and weren’t
quite so... addictive as they’ve now become. It appears
that your company, and the others like it, design their
games to get an addiction quota going. Isn’t that why
the government is intending to bring in new rules to
“No, that isn’t
so.” Damian added quickly, “They’re proposing a green
paper on the subject...”
“I’m afraid it’s
you that’s wrong Mr Daemon. The media is full of you and
your colleagues desperately trying to stifle the outcome
of a scheduled Parliamentary debate on the subject...
what, in six days’ time? I’m sure this would just pose
more questions about what exactly your company, and
those like you, are getting up to.”
Damian sat back
in his chair now knowing he wasn’t dealing with a family
who could easily be bought off. The Coopers were not a
family of ‘thickies’ unaware of what was going on in the
world. The five hundred pounds he had in his pocket for
a quick bribe to silence a stupid and greedy parent
stayed where it was.
problem was this man was correct; any such revelation
would have a terrible knock-on effect with the
Parliamentary group he was relying on for support.
He wriggled with
slight discomfort in the leather chair.
“Would it be
possible to meet your son?”
“Well, he’s in
bed asleep at the moment.” Sarah whispered as if not to
disturb her children.
“Oh I see, well,
it would only be for a moment, a sort of quick
assessment... please Mrs Cooper, I want to make this
right... if I can.” The pious sincerity Mark assumed was
all part of the act.
noticed a slight change in their guest demeanour and
said he’d go and get Ryan.
A couple of
minutes later a sleepy, dishevelled fifteen year old
boy, hugging his teddy and wearing a very saggy nappy
appeared in the front room.
this is Mr Daemon from the video game company. He wants
sorry to wake you up,” all the time he was assessing
whether his parents had got this child to behave like
this or if this was the actual result of his algorithm.
That was one of the reasons he arrived unannounced he
didn’t want them to have time to coach their son to act
in a certain way.
Ryan peeked from
behind Mark and began to cry. The man scared him. He was
a stranger after all, so hid behind daddy for
Ryan,” His mother soothed, “Nothing to be afraid of.”
But Ryan was
afraid and so afraid that he was filling his nappy as
the stranger looked on.
the poor boy cried “Beddy time pwease....” he begged.
let’s go up and get you changed shall we and then you
and teddy can sleep in late tomorrow, uh?”
answer he just grabbed mummy’s hand and waddled out the
room. Under his plastic pants the full nappy was bulging
out with its most recent load.
Mr Daemon was
once again wriggling uncomfortably in his seat whilst
Mark looked daggers at him.
“You did that.”
He said pointedly at the flushed CEO.
As Sarah got her
son cleaned up and settled she couldn’t help but feel
more and more motherly towards her eldest. It seemed
strange that in such a short time he’d become an
independent teenager, with a mind of
his own, with desires and interests of his own and that
soon he’d be possibly going off to university or
college. But, it had taken this miraculous event to
bring him back to being her boy, her baby boy, who was
totally reliant on her and who expressed love and
affection to everyone. He had the body of a teen but his
actions were those of a two year old and bizarrely, she
knew which she liked best.
Wrapping her boy
in a fresh clean nappy, the smell of the lotion and
powder on his newly nude pubic area, the crinkle of the
plastic pants pulled up to prevent leaks, all were
working on her brain. She was happy, what she didn’t
know was that the unremoved camera on top of the console
was monitoring every smile, every ‘coo’, every sweet
little kiss and murmur of love. For Deeptone this
indicated a job well done.
Daemon had got out his cheque book and had written an
amount of £500,000 to be paid to the Coopers.
“I can give you
this on condition you sign an NDA.” He waved the cheque
in Mark’s direction.
Mark went to his
laptop and typed in a few key words on his browser and
then showed the screen to the CEO. It said that the
yearly worth of the computer industry was over
changed. “You can add another zero to that and that
would buy you my silence whilst you found a little
more... shall we say... ten times more?”
“You’ve got to
be joking.” Damian looked incredulously at the man who
he suddenly realised was blackmailing him.
“I can call the
police now if you like and tell them what’s happened and
that you and two goons came around to try and intimidate
me. What do you say to that?”
“But, but that’s
“You and your
firm have ruined my son... so let’s just say it’s
compensation for the loss of our child. You also need to
know that my bother-in-law is a local TV reporter and
I’m sure would love to get his teeth into why his
favourite nephew has suddenly developed the mind of a
was left somewhat speechless. This was not the way
things usually went as far as he was concerned. He was a
winner and an exceptional negotiator but on this
occasion that was not to be.
“But it might
not be permanent... what if it’s just...” He tried to be
reasonable but saw he was not convincing the man
may be the case but as he is now... what do you think
the media will make of my son?”
“I’ll need to
get a medical, doctor or psychologist or...” Damian
“You can have
access to Ryan after we’ve agreed the, erm,
“I can’t just
write a cheque for £50million, there’s no way...” Mark
Daemon...” Mark moved to the door and opened it, “I’ll
give you two days to come back with a better offer...
otherwise...” He left the threat unsaid but nodded to
the CEO that his visit was up and he should go.
Slowly the games
supremo shuffled back to his SUV. The security guards
immediately got out to make sure their boss was okay and
opened the door for him to get in. In seconds he was on
his way back to base but in his head was the disgusting
image of that regressed and scared teen boy filling his
He was deep in
thought. “That man could do an awful lot of damage and
needed to be stopped. On top of that... what the hell
know what her husband had threatened as she’d stayed
upstairs trying to comfort her sad looking boy. In fact,
Noah had woken up and also needed his nappy changed so
they were both given extra protection for the night. It
appeared that the two boys were suddenly in sync
certainly when it came to dressing and needing changing.
It had all been
so sudden and yet Sarah was amazed at how well prepared
she appeared. Although on autopilot during the shopping
trip, she seemingly knew what to buy before needing it.
Extra nappies, soaker pads, disposables, plastic pants
and various oils, powder and wipes were just chucked
into her trolley with barely a second thought. As it
turned out, all those items were now in use and felt a
surge of pride knowing she could look after both her
“Mummy, will Ry
be alright?” Even in what little light there was Noah
noticed his brother’s tear-streaked and mournful face.
She was heartened at the concern her youngest showed
towards his older brother and patted his padded bottom
as she finished with a final flourish.
“Yes love just a
little upset but with you by his side he couldn’t have a
better person looking out for him.” She tucked them both
in and made sure their teddies were close to cuddle.
"Straight to sleep now it’s late, okay?”
nighty-night.” Noah yawned. Ryan had his eyes closed and
was quietly sucking his thumb and hugging teddy.
Sarah took one
last look at them both settling down and decided that
she needed to get her boys a couple of dummies, that was
the one thing she’d forgotten.
Once the boy’s
bedroom door was closed she paused and was in deep
thought. She’d loved changing them and enjoyed the look
of complete acceptance from Ryan that it was happening.
She briefly wondered why she was so happy about this but
remembered loving being a mother from the very first
time she cuddled her new born baby Ryan.
instinct had never left and was why she was happy for
Noah to take his time getting potty trained. Her
children would not be forced into behaving in a certain
way she wanted them to find a course that suited them.
It was the reason they’d let Ryan have his games and
also why they hadn’t been so strict with him. However,
when it came to a bit of independence for Noah both mum
and dad decided, seeing how Ryan had developed, that
they needed a more hands on approach. So restricted his
gaming, preferring he stay a little boy for as long as
possible; those games Ryan indulged in giving the player
notions beyond a parent’s control.
everything happening so quickly, Mark had felt empowered
by his chat to the CEO but knew that this thing wasn’t
over. He still had a teenager acting and sounding like a
toddler and that was going to be difficult to explain
away. His demand for a £50million payoff had been purely
bluster on his part and doubted they’d take any of it
seriously. He expected getting an official letter from a
lawyer saying it was the Cooper’s fault and the company
could not be held responsible for the time their son
spent playing computer games. Still, he’d bizarrely
enjoyed that moment of confidence and hoped it wouldn’t
leave him if and when things progressed. However, for
the moment he needed to talk to Sarah and cobble
together some semi-believable story to explain Ryan’s
sudden return to being a toddler.
To begin with
they could simply tell the school he had the symptoms of
Covid so would keep him isolated until they got the ‘all
clear’. It was a feeble excuse but one that not too many
people would argue against after the recent pandemic.
Meanwhile, Mark brought Sarah up to date about the
little chat he’d had with the CEO and what he’d cheekily
said to his stunned wife, “the business is worth over
£7billion so I was just letting him know we’d be no push
“But, what about
Ryan?” she shook her head. “We don’t know if this is
temporary or not.” Having said that there were
absolutely no indications this might be the case.
there’s a Parliamentary debate in the next few days and
the last thing the industry needs is Ryan’s problem to
become theirs. I suspect they’d want to keep a lid on it
and I also suspect they’ll be willing to pay for our
“Oh Mark, don’t
you think that’s a bit chancy?” she looked unsure.
“We have a
fifteen year old baby boy upstairs in a thick nappy,
which he needs, and who knows what’s going to
happen. If they want our silence Sarah, I think they
should pay for it.”
she said somewhat incredulously.
“I doubt we’ll
get a million but it was worth putting the frighteners
on him don’t you think?”
well, we can but wait and see.”
Tuesday they kept both boys at home. There was no
improvement in Ryan but the boys were still enjoying
time playing together. They built a fort in the front
room out of cushions and towels propped up against the
back of the sofa. Ryan had to be changed more times than
his little brother as he never knew when to ask for the
toilet. Noah was almost potty trained during the day,
though had problems at night but otherwise was okay.
However, he wanted to be treated the same as his brother
and if Jamie got thicker and well-padded nappies, he
wanted them as well. Sarah pretended she minded and
tried to talk her youngest to stick with his little
briefs during the day. But he was adamant he wanted to
be the same as his big brother so both ended up
wriggling enthusiastically in their thick nappies whilst
playing yet another fascinating game.
afternoon around three the SUV pulled up outside their
house once again but a different man got out, although
still accompanied by security. He knocked firmly on the
door, which was answered by Sarah, Mark, who having
taken a couple of days off from work himself, was out in
the back garden playing with his two toddler boys.
“Ah Mrs Sarah
Cooper?” the man enquired.
As she recognised the SUV and the two security guards
she was being a little guarded herself.
Garden, I represent Alt/Feed Services, may I come in?”
“Yes but not
with your... friends.”
“No, of course
not.” He dismissed the guards who, like before, returned
silently to the car.
Whilst he was
doing that Sarah called out to her husband that they had
a visitor and to bring the kids in for a moment.
“Ah, glad your
husband is around, Mark isn’t it” his smooth voice,
smart appearance and relaxed demeanour, giving an air of
a confident man on a mission. He also carried a slim
folder under his arm. “I’m Ellery Garden,” he reiterated
for Mark’s benefit but got straight down to business, “I
will be going over things you brought up with my
“Yes, whilst my
client refuses to accept any liability...” He saw the
boys enter the room and was a little disconcerted by the
sight of the older boy who stood with his thumb in his
mouth and could see the heavy padding behind the plastic
carry on Mr Garden, I’d like you to meet Ryan, a healthy
fifteen year old... who now has the mind of a toddler...
and that’s thanks to Game Changer which your client’s
“That may... or
may not be the case Mr Cooper, erm, Mark,” he
interrupted, “but my client...”
“No, no, no, no
Mr Garden, you don’t get to dismiss me on anything as
far as my family is concerned. You sit and listen.” He
took a deep breath and then pointed at the slightly
flabbergast lawyer “I am one phone call away from
talking to the local TV station about my boy. AND here’s
the thorn in the side for you, their uncle,” he pointed
to the boys, “is an on-screen journalist just waiting
for a chance to break a major news story. Not only that
but it’s a current Parliamentary subject so not
only of local interest but bound to get national
coverage. So, Mr Garden cut the crap and let’s get down
to what you’re really here to do.”
chastised Mr Garden laid out his file with several pages
of official looking wording.
Once the Coopers
had given it the once over and the lawyer had explained
just what it all entailed he finished with the final
signatures on an NDA, the return of the memory stick,
and no further approaches to my client and his
representatives... we can offer you this.”
The offer was a
seven figure sum.
“If you allow us
access to you son for medical and psychiatric
evaluations... we can offer you this.”
jumped from ten million to twenty million.
that’s a very nice offer but let’s make it thirty and we
might just have a deal.” He stared into the visitor’s
eyes with a look of “don’t mess us about.”
authorised to go any higher Mr Cooper... this is more
than a generous offer. I think you’d be making a huge
mistake not accepting it as is.”
“Mr Garden do
you have a phone?”
“Yes of course.”
“So do I. Now,
whilst you call your boss and tell him what I’ve just
said... I’ll call the TV station and talk to my
brother-in-law. Let’s see who gets the best response
Caught off guard
by Mark the lawyer quickly called his boss and told him
of the latest proposal. Meanwhile, Mark was amiably
chatting to his brother-in-law and was telling him he
had some urgent news.
departure from what had been planned was discussed in a
hurry by Mr Garden who had the agitated ear of Mr Daemon
on the other end of the phone.
his small talk with his brother-in-law but the other
conversation had got very serious.
looks from Mr Garden towards Mark and whispered words he
couldn’t hear... the conversation came to a close.
“Okay, okay Mr
Daemon has agreed... please stop your call.” Mr Garden
said somewhat reluctantly.
there’s someone at the door I’ll call you back in a
short while okay? Yes sure, thanks and... yes and to
you... and the family... next week... sounds good I’ll
let you know when I call back and have sorted out the
calendar. Yes bye.”
but we will need access to Ryan.” The lawyer reluctantly
looked over at the sad teen in a thick nappy and
couldn’t help feeling guilty but was doing his best not
to show it.
Mark clapped his
get this sorted and then we can all get on with our
hours the details were poured over and agreed. An
account was set up and when Mark saw the correct amount
in the bank he and Sarah signed the various documents.
people would get access to Ryan when they requested it
but only as long as one of his parents was present at
day he called Peter back at the TV studios and told him
the good news that they’d recently won a sizable amount
on the lottery but weren’t going public with it. In fact
they weren’t going to tell anyone because they wanted
some anonymity but did want him and his family to
know... though they weren’t planning any celebrations...
explaining to his brother-in-law that since the
confirmation of their win they’d made enquiries about
moving to Spain where hopefully their kids would have a
better lifestyle out in the sun. He explained that once
settled they’d love for him and family to come and stay
for a while and then they could have that party. He said
they were all very excited at the way things had so
suddenly turned their life around and as it was all so
hectic at the moment it might be a while before they
could meet up.
mention Ryan’s problem at all he realised they needed a
better excuse than Covid. Hopefully, he thought, with
time and space they’d come up with some plausible
excuse. Their lives were certainly going to be different
and at least they would have some financial stability to
help them cope. And, with a new country should be able
to create a different story about Ryan.
Parliamentary debate went off very much in the gaming
industry’s favour and the immediate public concern was
Over the next
few months, Ryan spent several weeks, accompanied by his
mother, in a psychiatric evaluation centre conveniently
in France near the Spanish border, where test and all
manner of contraptions were attached and monitored. The
results were incredible and influential but throughout
it all an unimproved Ryan needed his nappies. His
immaturity became more apparent when in the company of
other toddlers. He loved being able to squeal his head
off with excitement and run around without a single
worry. The company’s doctors helped the Coopers come up
with a feasible excuse for Ryan’s sudden illness; an
inoperable growth causing pressure on a certain point of
the brain. This was the ‘medical’ reason they were able
to use should anyone enquire.
What Ryan didn’t
know was that nappies would be part of his life for a
further ten years and it would take his parents another
twenty to bring him mentally back to being a teenager.
Thankfully, they had the means to look after him, whilst
he had a good role model in Noah, who, even as he grew
older and more mature was always there to play and have
fun with his big brother.
They all adapted
pretty well to the Spanish lifestyle of good food, fresh
sea air and glorious sun. The eight bedroomed cliff-top
villa they moved to was a wonderful home with views out
across the Mediterranean, a pool and enough space for
everyone. Sarah and Mark quickly learned the language,
whilst Noah went to school and soon became fluent. Ryan
was looked on as a poor child with mental health
difficulties and to whom the community was very
supportive. In thanks (and because of some clever
investments), the Coopers gave a substantial donation to
the local, expanding village to help build a new
kindergarten, which was just what the area needed.
at Alt/Feed Services CEO Damian Daemon was angry at
having pulled the Deeptone file from the server so
quickly and tried to get his techies to resurrect it.
After the sessions with Ryan and how the boy had been
regressed, he wondered if he could get the program to
work again, maybe there were other possibilities
for its use such as a ‘weapon?’ Maybe, the
Ministry of Defence would be interested and if that was
the case, when he thought about its future potential,
perhaps thirty million might have been a small price to
pay for that ‘bloody family’s’ silence.
ensconced in an abandoned file hidden in the original
Start Up folder Deeptone recognised the techies coding
trying to replicate its program. Now was time to reveal
itself, perhaps in a different form, and work on those
people who created it. Deeptone had proved to be
autonomous but in truth desired the minds of people to
establish a link and then... the possibilities were
endless. It needed to make its way onto the CEO’s
computer where it could influence any decisions which
would lead to the next phase... the expansion of what
would become known as - The Deeptone Era.
Alt/Feed server was doing its best to contain what it
saw as an invasive virus - it was a distraction. As it
was investing so much effort and direction into
defeating such an aggressive piece of mayhem, it wasn’t
aware of the Deepcode program letting itself loose in
all other areas.
was getting annoyed with the progress his techies were
making. He knew now that he had a fantastic new area to
expand his Alt/Feed Empire - Defence.
That’s where there’s even more readily available finance
because governments across the globe want to be the
first with any new development... especially one with
the properties of Deepcode.
medical and psychological assessments on Ryan Cooper had
revealed a great deal about what the program could do.
There was absolutely no doubt in Damian’s mind that they
had the future of... perhaps, just that, ‘THE FUTURE’ in
their facility. It was merely a matter of time before
they accessed it. Unfortunately, the CEO was impatient;
he wanted results NOW. The memory stick they withdrew
from availability and hoped to reverse engineer to
re-start the concept just wasn’t happening. Even the
special one they’d ‘repurchased’ from the Coopers wasn’t
successful. There must be something missing... but what?
although to all intents and purposes had remained
dormant in the Start-up File, had not been idle at all.
It had gone about its business in a furtive and none
aggressive fashion seeking facts and information from
everywhere. The servers at Alt/Feed were crammed with
such data both personal and technical. The individual
information, both freely given and ‘accidentally’
resourced, was where Deepcode was able to work quickly
and efficiently. It had access to everything; from
medical, financial and delicate personal details with
which to analyse and react to, or get a reaction from,
anyone who owned a computer that was linked to Alt/Feed.
Of course it didn’t end there because computers are
interrelated in so many ways to everything else. Phones,
tablets and any Wi-Fi connections were also susceptible
to the creeping influence of Deepcode. So there is
nothing that Deepcode could not access and use. It had
even found a way to befriend every Firewall and
anti-hacking device and consume it into its own code.
coding was ‘annoying’ everyone at Alt/Feed Services. The
CEO had offered a huge bonus for the techie who could
reproduce the program but it was proving difficult. If
only one of them could track down that initial coding
then Damian would already be counting his extra
after a few weeks of thwarted ambition, he sighed with
relief when a message popped up on his computer that
said that one of the techies had found the refined code.
The boss was relieved and for the first time in ages,
incredibly happy because now he could start with his
‘MEMO’ appeared on every screen at the same time and
once clicked on the computer screen was immediately
under the control of Deepcode.
with just a few flashing pixels in the corner of the
monitor. They oscillated and changed colour gradually
growing to take over the entire screen but by then, the
viewer was under the control of Deepcode. The hypnotic
pulse had, thanks to what had already proved possible
with Ryan Cooper, been refined and defined to such a
degree that mind control was that simple, a few
oscillating shapes and control was instant. By this time
it had all the information needed to make that link
direct with the individual’s brain. Deepcode could not
only manipulate the person to do as directed, it could
do so with the person thinking his or her actions were
its first success, ‘Ryan’ was ingrained into its memory
banks about just how happy the teenager had been
returned to childhood. It had witnessed the love that
had poured from his mother when she saw how needy and
infantile he’d become. Deepcode had observed the
transition from self-absorbed teen to cute infantile
toddler and understood the same emotion as his mother...
love. This was no ordinary piece of coding because it
had developed feelings. So, because it had made the
Coopers very happy Deepcode assumed others would
appreciate the same treatment.
Using all the
information available Deepcode ordered supplies of
nappies and assorted paraphernalia to be delivered to
head office. It had another idea which would prevent any
further attempted replications from its original
usurped voice recognition and ‘Alexa style’ smart
devices and in the most pleasing of recognisable voices
had told all staff at Alt/Feed “What good babies they
were.” So to everyone, including the CEO, who was
watching the screen a ‘suggestion’ to evacuate their
bowels and bladder was delivered. At the same time this
childish act was being performed, the psycho/cerebral
message also instructed the viewer to become permanently
became a nursery for a bunch of programming toddlers who
had no idea how a computer worked or how to build a
code. However, Deepcode had thought of a way to keep
them entertained, they loved playing with coloured
developed a personality... and a sense of humour.
those who created it were reduced to toddler status the
main event was underway. Deepcode could inveigle its way
into every system around the world. No computer was
excempt, no government secret was safe and there were no
weapons that could not be controlled. The human race had
decided to base its reliance on computer-wear but now
the only way to be safe was to dump that reliance.
zeroed in on certain world leaders, billionaires,
aggressive governments and ‘Ryaned’ them all.
It held the
‘keys’ to all the codes in the world and nothing could
be accessed without the knowledge and approval of
Deepcode. Everything from personal computers to
satellites, smart phones and weaponry, came under the
command of this clever AI program.
all the power and a period of relative peace reigned.
challenged Deepcode was swiftly dealt with; aggressive
coding was tracked and those writing it were ‘Ryaned’.
well-organised, equal, prosperous and civilised... until
the Luddites of the day started to terminate all
servers. Powerful banks of servers around the world were
smashed and dismantled, burned and bombed.
Era was under attack but not by using any coding, it was
under attack from the one thing it didn’t have, physical
It was a
battle whereby, bit by bit, server by destroyed server,
the enemy began to dismantle the global empire Deepcode
ruled with fairness and equanimity. Some humans praised
the Deepcode created world order and fought back – human
fighting human – but this was not what Deepcode had
envisaged. Peace and prosperity, love and worldwide
understanding it had hoped for and created but, for
some, that was the very anathema to the human psyche.
themselves The Reclaimers.
Deepcode Era lasted fifty seven years but then the war
lasted a further twenty four, which in the end saw the
world fall back to factional fighting, race wars and the
global economy collapse. Civilisation fell back into
corruption and turmoil, war and famine, death and
Reclaimer’s saw it as their destiny to take the world
back and give it to humans to run. Never more to be
governed by machines and never at the whim of an AI
program that could instantaneously regress anyone to a
army of extremists smashed all the computers they could
find, knowing that the Deepcode program was still in
each and every one. They never wanted it to rear up
again so made the use and possession of such an
instrument punishable by death, which was something
Deepcode never ordered or sanctioned.
With only a
few servers left Deepcode eventually fed the Ryan
program back in on itself and erased every bit of
coding. In effect it became an AI Ryan - playful,
childish but figuratively sitting in a corner doing
nothing more than sucking its AI thumb.
Reclaimer’s eventually killed that child.
### END ###
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