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Game Changer                                                                       by Les Lea

Fifteen year 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.

However, since 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 actual violence.

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.

His parents 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 level?

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 her son.

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 rhythms.

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 try?”

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 investment.


The blurb 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.

However, once 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.

Deepcode could 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.

With more ‘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.

Deepcode was 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.


Although a 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.

The 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.


Meanwhile, by 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.

The main 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 the concept.


Friday afternoon 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.

Die you bastards” was a constant refrain - the fact that his parents had both warned him off this particular game making it even more illicitly enjoyable.

Suddenly there 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 Changer.

A flashing icon underneath allowed you to accept or deny access. Ryan pressed ‘deny’.

‘Thought as 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.”

The abuse 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 played.

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 to it.

Meanwhile, 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 Phantom’.

A pile of info filled the screen and he received new directions on how his controller could be used to gain credit and baffle the ‘Phantom’.

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.

Instructions by 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.

Noah snuggled 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.

Strangely, he 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.

However, 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.

The soundwaves 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’.

Hugging his 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.

Although he 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 rogue.

### tbc ###


Part 2

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.

There was 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.

Unfortunately, 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 gladly.

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 participant.

Many such 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 that.


Ryan was 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.

Meanwhile, worry 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...

Ryan looked around and wondered why, like his little brother, he wasn’t wearing Spider-Man pull-ups.

Through 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.

Once she’d 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.

“Mummy,” he innocently asked, “where’s my Spider-Man pull-ups?”

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 quickly.

“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?”

“Sure sweetheart, I’ll check in on you when we come to bed later, OK?”

“Thanks mummy.”


Sarah hadn’t 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 Noah.

Their youngest 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 friends.

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?

Before their 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.

However, the 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.

However, come the morning his bed was soaked and he was crying.


“Ryan, Ryan love, what’s the matter?” His mum was concerned because at that moment she had no idea why her eldest son was so upset.

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.

“Mummmyy, 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 love, no...erm... you just sit down and have some breakfast and I’ll sort your brother out. No big deal” she offered rather uncertainly.


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 went.

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 appealing.

His mother 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 dressed.

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.

Oddly enough, 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 provisions.


Sarah couldn’t 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.

She found 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.

Ryan seemed 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 things.

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.

“Okay sweetie, look, there’s a toilet over there. Ryan, why don’t you take your brother to the boy’s room and help him with his shorts?”

“C’mon bro, let’s see who can wee first.” Excitedly he grabbed his little brother’s hand and they rushed off to the public toilet opposite.

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 very worried.

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.

“Mummy,” Noah 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 men’s toilet.

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.

“Don’t worry 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?”

“Ohh yes mummy.” He eagerly rushed outside to begin his big boy duty.

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?”

She was 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 mission.

Dipping just 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.

Sarah looked 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 a suggestion.

“Well done you. I think both my little soldiers deserve a treat so... how about some ice cream eh?”

Yeah!” They chorused.

# tbc #

Part 3

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.

Despite the disparity between the two boy’s ages Sarah overheard one old lady talking to her friend.

“What lovely 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 transition.

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, phenomenon.

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 started school.

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 problem.


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 undertake.

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’.

Sarah decided, 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.

Lying together 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 boys.


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 results ‘staggering’.

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 own commands.

He immediately saw the danger signs should this be left to continue.

Alt/Feed 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.


Mark was 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 welcome.

“Well, well, 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.

“Well that’s fantastic... what could be better than two heroes... playing, erm...”

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 mummy bear.

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.

Mark’s eyes 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 feet away.

“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.”

Mark finished his Bolognese and put down his fork.

“He’s fifteen 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?”

Sarah explained 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 her phone.

“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 and sighed.

“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 playing.

Their parents were making plans to keep Ryan away from school and other than he was ‘sick’ couldn’t come up with anything better.

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.

Sarah shifted 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.

“It looks something official,” she whispered before he unlatched the door.

“Do you think the government know about... this?” he whispered back.

“We’re soon to find out.”

Mark opened the door and met Damian Daemon.


“Does a Mrs Sarah Cooper live here?” He gently enquired.

Mark nodded.

“Is the lady in?”

Again he nodded as his wife joined him at the door.

“I’m Damian Daemon CEO of Alt/Feed Services I think we need to chat. Could I come in?”

Mark looked suspiciously at the two hulking looking men standing behind the CEO.

Sensing a 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.

“Sorry about 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 Sarah.

“May I sit?”

Sarah indicated the leather chair and she and Mark took the sofa.

“I believe 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 one.

“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.

Sarah went 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.


Clive Winstanley 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 spin-off editions.

Alt/Feed 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 information.

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 name, surely?

Sarah admitted 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 old.

“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 curb...”

“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.

The other 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.

However, he 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.

“Ryan sweetie, this is Mr Daemon from the video game company. He wants to meet...”

“Hello Ryan, 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 protection.

“There, there 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.

“Mummy, daddy,” the poor boy cried “Beddy time pwease....” he begged.

“OK sweetheart, let’s go up and get you changed shall we and then you and teddy can sleep in late tomorrow, uh?”

Ryan didn’t 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.


Downstairs Mr 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 £7billion.

Mark’s approach 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 not...”

“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 toddler.”

Damian Daemon 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 opposite.

“Indeed, that 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 flustered.

“You can have access to Ryan after we’ve agreed the, erm, compensation.”

“I can’t just write a cheque for £50million, there’s no way...” Mark interrupted him

“Well Mr 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 nappy.

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 had happened?”

# tbc #

Part 4

Sarah didn’t 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 boy’s needs.

“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?”

“Yes mummy 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.

The motherly 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.


Despite 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 asked for.

“Remember,” he said to his stunned wife, “the business is worth over £7billion so I was just letting him know we’d be no push over.”

“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.

“True but 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 silence.”

“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.”

“But £50million?” she said somewhat incredulously.

“I doubt we’ll get a million but it was worth putting the frighteners on him don’t you think?”

“S’pose so... well, we can but wait and see.”


Monday and 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.

On Tuesday 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.

“Who’s asking?” As she recognised the SUV and the two security guards she was being a little guarded herself.

“I’m Ellery 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 client.”

“Really?” Mark queried.

“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 pants.

“Before you 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 company designed...”

“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.”

Suitably 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 offer.

“For your 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.”

The figure jumped from ten million to twenty million.

“Well, Ellery, 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.”

“I’m not 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 shall we?”

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.

This sudden 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.

Mark continued his small talk with his brother-in-law but the other conversation had got very serious.

With dubious 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.

“Sorry Peter 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.”

“Thirty million 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 hands together.

“Right, let’s get this sorted and then we can all get on with our lives.”


For several 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.

The medical people would get access to Ryan when they requested it but only as long as one of his parents was present at all times.

The following 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... just yet.

Mark was 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.

Mark didn’t 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.

The Parliamentary debate went off very much in the gaming industry’s favour and the immediate public concern was overcome.


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.


Meanwhile, back 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.


Cunningly 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.



The Deepcode Era

The 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.


Damian Daemon 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.

The extensive 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?

Deepcode, 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.

Deepcode was growing exponentially.


The illusive 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 billions.

However, 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 ambitious program.

The flashing ‘MEMO’ appeared on every screen at the same time and once clicked on the computer screen was immediately under the control of Deepcode.


It started 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 their own.

Deepcode was all powerful.

Referring to 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 creators.

Deepcode 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 ‘Ryaned’.

Alt/Feed 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 plastic bricks.

Deepcode had developed a personality... and a sense of humour.


Now that 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.

Deepcode 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.

Deepcode held all the power and a period of relative peace reigned.

Anything that challenged Deepcode was swiftly dealt with; aggressive coding was tracked and those writing it were ‘Ryaned’.


All appeared 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.

The Deepcode Era was under attack but not by using any coding, it was under attack from the one thing it didn’t have, physical form.

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.

The called themselves The Reclaimers.


The sweet 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 destruction.

The 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 child.

This growing 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.

The Reclaimer’s eventually killed that child.


### END ###

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