Laika (Underground) Pt. I

Laika (Underground) Pt. I

Part one of a surreal trip into the unknown.

The air around Laika felt stagnant, sickly even, as she sighed and reclined against the rough bark of a tree. The sound of flint hitting steel distracted her ears from the atmospheric sounds of the woods around her, if only for a moment. Puffy clouds of smoke rose from her lips and the cigarette held between them as she surveyed the crowded greenery. I couldn’t have walked that far, right? She thought to herself, clicking the lighter shut and exhaling.

Laika’s face twitched, her soft features briefly contorting in a taut picture of unease, before shifting back to her normal cool demeanour. “Might as well see if I can find my way back,” she muttered around her hanging cigarette, grunting through the minor exertions of standing. Her old army boots crunched twigs and flattened grass into the mucky dirt below as she began to stride forwards.

Of all the places to move, the South had to have been the last choice she would have ever made, followed closely by the Midwest. And yet there she was, several months after being dragged from the city and the more bearable weather by her parents and refusing to adjust. Even a simple walk in the woods for some much needed alone time had become a meandering wander through unknown nature, not even made tolerable by cool air or a pleasant breeze. This air hung, heavy and soup-like. It felt oppressive, almost solid as Laika practically walked against it.

She cussed under her breath, discarding the stubby remnants of her cigarette and savouring the warm feeling of smoke slowly roiling in her lungs and throat. Soft tendrils slithered from her nostrils, her shoulders dropping with release. It felt like the tension was, momentarily at least, leaving her to coil in the humidity before dispersing out of sight.

It was still daylight, with angular beams of sunlight glistening in the spaces between the trees. Laika knew, however, that if she didn’t get her bearings soon she’d end up wandering alone in the dark, which was far from ideal. Well, as long as she didn’t choke to death on the damned humidity first. Maybe leaving my phone home to charge wasn’t such a great idea after all. She thought to herself, mentally sighing at her own stupidity.

She couldn’t believe how turned around she’d become, just by wandering off a path in her new neighbourhood. There wasn’t much time to berate herself over it though, she had to focus on reaching the edge of the woods. Even if it wasn’t her house or even her neighbourhood she would (hopefully) at least be in some semblance of civilisation. So she walked on, losing track of time as she went, feeling the soft tones of night gradually encroaching on her visibility.

“Fuck,” she muttered aloud, realising there was no way to avoid spending the night in the woods. Her legs were beginning to pulse, aching tension telling her to rest, but where?

Through the foliage she spotted an unnatural shape. It was boxy and angular, standing in sharp contrast to the curves and chaos of the wilderness around it. As Laika approached she found herself facing an old wood house. For something she’d just stumbled upon in the middle of nowhere it actually looked quite nice, with a fairly sturdy air about the structure.

The house wouldn't have seemed quite as out of place if it had been wrecked and dilapidated. A corpse of a home definitely would have felt more appropriate for the middle of the woods, and yet Laika stood there puzzling over the relatively decent condition of the building. She approached with a subdued wariness to each movement. The weight of each step was suddenly so hyper focused that she could feel her body’s weight pressing down into her feet.

She walked up to the side of the building, peering into its shadowy interior through a window beside the door. It looked like no one had lived there for a while despite the overall lack of damage. She stewed for a moment, biting her lip nervously as she considered spending the night in the old home. The likelihood of a slasher flick villain lurking within seemed illogical, but threatening nonetheless.

After a few moments standing in place, turning it over in her head as the darkness thickened around her she finally gave in. With renewed purpose to her stride, and artificial confidence to stave off the doubt, Laika stepped forwards and took hold of the handle. There was an almost imperceptible moment of hesitation before the knob turned and the door opened with an uncomfortably loud creak.

She plunged into the darkness, shadows enveloping her, slowly coating her in an inky black miasma. It had been her intention to turn and run her hand along a wall in the off chance that there may be a working light switch of some sort near the door. Instead she found herself experiencing the sickening sensation of falling.




She shuddered, groaning in the emptiness. It was dark enough that for a split-second she was seized by the panicked thoughts of going blind. After a brief moment of hyperventilation Laika reasoned with herself. It was the middle of the night in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere, of course it was going to be dark. She could feel something pressing against her. Had she passed out while leaning on the door? Now that just seemed odd. Without a second thought she reached down and twisted the knob.

The door opened, uncaring as its user tumbled out, disappearing into a small cloud of dust and sand she’d kicked up. It swung shut, a loud slam that reverberated far off into the distance followed by the small footnote of a click. Laika groaned, already thoroughly sick of being thrown about today. She curled inwards only to finally register the heat and uncomfortable coarseness of the sand beneath her.

Sand?! Laika’s eyes split open, suddenly blinding her as if she hadn’t seen the sun in days. Blinking almost as rapidly as she was breathing she looked around. It was nothing but desert for countless kilometres in every direction. Craggy brown rock formations and skeletal shrubbery were the only variations she could see as the rolling dunes stretched outwards.


End Part I

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr Artwork

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The Logan Paul Fiasco Is Just A Symptom Of A Much Larger Problem

In the wake of Logan Paul's suicide forest debacle, I decided to explore how this could even happen in the first place.

Wow, 2018 sure has started off with a bang, hasn't it? First, Donald Trump seemingly threatens North Korea with nuclear annihilation. Then, all these stupid memes about tide pods and Knuckles the echidna circulate across the web, and finally, Logan Paul decided that he would not be outdone.

Yes, the YouTube star decided to vlog in Japan, and every foreigner who has ever hated American tourists for their arrogance and ignorance has been validated. When he arrived in the country, Paul stated that Japanese culture was all about respect. He then proceeded to run around streets in traditional Japanese attire, buy a Game Boy Color from a store only to immediately spike it on the road like a football, and oh yeah, went to the suicide forest, and decided to film the body of a man they found who had recently hung himself in the forest.

Yep, Logan Paul found a dead body and decided to post it on YouTube. I imagine this is what the end of "Stand By Me" would've looked like if it were written today, and by a trash person. Paul has since apologized after lots of backlashes.

Logan Paul is one of, if not the fastest growing star on YouTube, and this controversy has barely affected his ascent in subscribers, some of which defended his actions, and even sent threats to those who didn't. Also, I feel I am justified in saying that both Logan and his brother Jake Paul (a former Disney channel actor turned YouTuber) are both arrogant pricks who make their livings messing with people and being an overall nuisance to anyone they encounter and have no concept of consequences for their actions, but this article isn't about them.

I believe that their popularity is only a result of several fundamental problems with YouTube.

First, I want to get into YouTube's algorithms. It's how the site decides what videos are recommended for you, and more importantly to this story, what videos are on the trending page. Logan Paul's suicide forest video, the one with the dead body in the thumbnail, and the one with the words "dead body" in the title was NUMBER 1 on trending.

YouTube's algorithm exposed millions of people to this deplorable video.

YouTube wasn't even able to take the video down; this was a video that had to have been flagged thousands of times, and it was only removed because Logan Paul himself took it down after all of the backlashes. YouTube was simply unable to do anything about this, and there have to be changed to ensure that they don't let things like this slip through the cracks again.

The real question, at least to me, is why even make a video this ridiculous and ignorant and disrespectful in the first place?

The answer, of course, is for the content. Unfortunately, this is not new. YouTubers have been doing shocking things to get views for years now, and this has led to the bar being raised. Many things that were shocking before simply aren't anymore. We've seen it so many times we get numb, so creators come up with even crazier things to do. Eventually, it becomes normalized, and the cycle continues on and on until we have people filming dead bodies in haunted forests.

YouTubers are trying to get a rise out of us so that we click on their videos, and they're seeing how much they can get away with. It seems that on the internet, no matter which site you go to, the loudest, most obnoxious, most divisive voices always rise to the top, but they don't have to. We can resist that knee-jerk angry share that they want from us.

We don't have to give these idiots the light of day, and we can tell them that we have had enough of their crap, not with our voices, but with our views, because once those go away, they'll have no choice but to listen up.

Cover Image Credit: Esther Vargas

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