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Squidward's suicide

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I want to say right at the beginning: If you are expecting an answer, don't expect too much. Because there won't be any.

In 2005, I was an intern at Nickelodeon Studios in the final year of my animation degree. Of course, like most other interns, I was not paid, but you always got a little slice. It might not seem like much for adults, but it would drive most children crazy.

Working directly with the editors and animators, I was able to see new episodes days before they aired. I will go on about this without going into too many unnecessary details. Shortly before that, they just finished the SpongeBob SquarePants movie and the whole team didn't really have any new ideas, which delayed the start of the announced new season. But there were other reasons for the postponement. There was a problem with episode four that had cost each of us months.

Myself and two other interns were in an editing room with a main animator and editor for the final cut. We got a copy called "The Fear of a Krabby Patty" and gathered around the screen to look at it. Now that it was often not yet finished, the animators gave the unfinished episodes mostly wrong and sometimes sexually tinged titles (something like an inside gag), such as “How sex doesn't work” instead of the correct title “Parents it is not difficult to become… ”, in which Spongebob and Patrick adopted the sea shell. Not really fun, but always good for a giggle. Then when we read the headline "Squidward‘ Suicide, "we thought it was just a morbid joke. One of the interns managed to get a little chuckle.

The happy music played as usual. The story began with Squidward, who, as so often, practiced the clarinet and, as usual, hit many notes wrong. We heard Spongebob laughing outside and Squidward stop to yell at him to be quiet because tonight he was going to give a concert himself and he was practicing for it. The scene change with the bubbles followed and we saw the end of Squidward's concert.

That was the part where it started to get weird.

Several frames were repeated while he was playing, but not the sound (at this point the sound was already synchronized with the animation, so nothing unusual). But when he stopped playing, the sound also stopped, as if the dropouts hadn't happened. A faint murmur went around the audience before they began to boo on Squidward. But it wasn't normal booing like it's common in cartoons, you could really hear malice in it. It was cut to the audience, with Spongebob at the center, and he booed him too, very unusual for him. But that wasn't the funniest part. What caught our eye was the fact that everyone had extremely realistic eyes. Very detailed. No real eye images, but much more real than normal CGI. The pupils were red. We looked at each other in confusion, but since we weren't the writers, we didn't question if it was suitable for children.

It was cut to Squidward, who was sitting on the edge of his bed, looking lonely. The view from his porthole window told us that it was night, shortly after the concert. It was disturbing that there was no more sound from here. Really not a single sound. Even the big loudspeakers didn’t reproduce anything. As if they were turned off, but they indicated that they were still working properly. Squidward just sat there and blinked. The silence lasted about 30 seconds, then he began to sob softly. He hid his face in his tentacle hands and weeps quietly for about a minute, while in the background there was only a very faint noise that sounded like a gentle breeze in the forest.

His face was slowly zoomed in. By "slowly" I mean that you only noticed it when you look at the individual shots, which last every 10 seconds. His sobs grew louder, filled with hatred and anger. The screen then jerked a little, as if it wanted to break open, then it normalized again. The cruel thing was the sound of Squidward sobbing, which sounded very real, as if the sound hadn't come out of the speakers. It sounded like hearing it straight away. Even if the studios always want good sound quality, they definitely don't buy any equipment so to get a good quality.

Besides the rustling of the wind and the sobbing, one could very faintly hear something that sounded like a laugh. It came at odd intervals, and it never lasted more than a second, making it almost impossible for us to pinpoint the exact timing. We'd watched the episode twice so far, so please excuse me if some things sound strange, but I've had plenty of time to think about them myself. After 30 seconds, the screen went blurry and it jerked violently as something flashed on the screen, as if individual frames were being exchanged.

The main editor paused the series and rewound frame by frame. What we saw was horrific. It was a photo of a dead child. It couldn't have been more than 6 years old. The face was disfigured and bloody, one eye hanging out of his upturned face. It was on a sidewalk, probably on a street.

It was disturbing that you could see the shadow of the photographer. There were no police barriers, seized evidence or markings, and the angle looked unusual for a police photo. The photographer himself must have been the child's murderer. We were shocked, of course, but still toyed with the idea that it was just a very sick joke.

The screen showed Squidward again, sobbing louder than before. Suddenly blood flowed from his eyes. The wind sounded like a storm now pushing through the woods. You could also hear branches breaking. The laughter, in a deep baritone voice, lasted longer and came more often. After about 20 seconds the screen jerked again and showed a single photo.

The editor initially refused to rewind. We all didn't want it, but we had to. This time there was a girl in the photo, barely older than the child before. She was lying on her stomach, her hair clip lying in a pool of blood next to her. Her left eye was also hanging out and she was bare except for her underpants. Her entrails were on her back, which was also a cruel incision. Her body was also lying on a sidewalk and the photographer's shadow was visible, almost the same size as before. I had to pull myself together to keep from vomiting. Meanwhile, the only intern ran out screaming. The episode went on.

About five seconds after the second photo, Squidward fell silent. Every note was dead, like at the beginning of the scene. He put his tentacles down and his eyes were hyper-realistic again, like the others at the beginning of the episode. They were bleeding and pulsing. He was staring straight at the screen as if looking at the audience. After about 10 seconds he started sobbing again, this time without hiding his eyes. The sound was piercingly loud and his cruel sobs mixed with screams.

Tears and blood dripped down his face like a heavy mass. The sound of the wind came again, as did the deeply laughing voice, and this time another child's photo paused for 5 frames with no noise.

The editor managed to stop at the fourth frame and slowly rewinded. This time it was a boy again, about the same age, but this time it was different. His entrails were pulled out from his slashed belly by a large hand, his right eye was hanging out, blood dripping down. The editor went on. It was hard to believe, but the next frame was different, but we couldn't tell what it was just yet. He went on to the next one and it was exactly the same. He went back to the first frame and played the frames faster. In my horror, I puked on the floor and the editor gasped. The 5 frames weren't individual photos: they were the frames of a video. We saw the hand slowly pulling out the entrails and the boy's hanging eye watching him. In two frames the child even blinked with a sadistic smile on his face.

The sound engineer ordered us to stop the video immediately. He had to consult the creator of the "Spongebob" series, Mr. Hillenberg, with a request to watch the episode. Mr. Hillenburg arrived in about a quarter of an hour. He was confused about which he was called downstairs and the editor continued to play the episode. Every sound - every scream, every sound - stopped. Squidward stared directly at the audience in a close-up of his face for about 3 seconds. It zoomed out quickly and the deep voice said, "DO IT!" Whereupon we saw a gun in Squidward's hand. He immediately put it in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Realistic blood and bits of brain splashed on the wall and the bed behind him as he fell backwards. The last 5 seconds of this episode showed his body in bed, at least what was left of it, one eye hanging out, the other eye lying on the floor, blinking at each other. That was the end of this episode.

Of course, Mr. Hillenburg was furious and immediately wanted to know what was going on. Most of the people had already left the room by this point. There were only a few people left who were still able to watch it again. Seeing it a second time only burned it deeper into my brain and started having nightmares. I'm sorry, but I stayed.

The only theory we had was that the file was being edited by an outsider. The technical director was tasked with investigating roughly when it was changed. The analysis showed that the new material was cut over the old. The timestamp showed it had to be changed 24 seconds before we saw it. All materials were checked to see if the timestamp was fake, but it was found that everything was correct. We don't know what happened. Nobody knows until today.

An investigation was made into the photos shown, but they were in the dark. No child was identified and nothing was found out about the pictures, neither the origin nor when they were taken. I had never believed in unexplained phenomena before, but this time I saw it myself and if I can't prove something right away, I'll think twice before I say it's just bullshit.

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