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Literature: The Sick Land
The Sick Land is the blog of Alex Case, a researcher based at a remote station on the outskirts of an area called The Sick Land. The Sick Land radiates a malign influence called the mal. It warps life forms, damages machinery, drives researchers insane, and sometimes worse...

A surprisingly effective Cosmic Horror Story, The Sick Land has concluded after a ten-month run. Definitely not for the faint of heart.

This story provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: The Sick Lands used to be inabited, before the mal started spreading. Now all but one of it's inhabitants have just disappeared.
  • Ambiguous Gender: the narrator, Alex, could be an "Alexandra" just as much as an "Alexander", and the narration gives no clues as to the character's sex.
  • Apocalyptic Log
  • Apathetic Citizens: Most of the world, while aware of the Sick Land, doesn't seem terribly worried about it despite the fact that it is spreading. Similarly, the Facility scientists not only simply sit and observe the Sick Land as it spreads, but don't even care to figure out how the equipment they use works or what their findings really mean, just sending them to another department.
  • Breather Episode: After the harrowing experiences of his Sick Lands expedition and working with Subject 83, Alex finds himself working with Subject 407, who is basically normal except with a large right arm. He even lampshades how much of a welcome break it is.
  • Brown Note: The mal appears to be a version of this. It doesn't seem to have any physical component (bacteria, virus, etc.) and doesn't act as any known contaminant should, randomly infecting people with random mutations, with little regard to exposure or contact, acting more like a force in the Sick Land then an actual infection.
  • Body Horror: In Alex's weird dreams about Bob, Bob is increasingly decomposed with each subsequent dream. At the same time, a piece of mal keeps growing more and more and spreading across his arm and devouring it. Yikes.
    • Bob's decomposition also seems to parallel Sergei's infection, as his injuries start on his hand, travel up his arm, and begin to spread out from there.
    • He also describes a dream where an Uncanny Valley deer with a jointed needle for a foot is eating grass and looking at him. Alex is suitably creeped out.
    • Subject 83. Holy shit.
    • Another subject's stomach is described as a pustule the size of a dinner plate with an insect-like leg sticking out of it.
    • Alex as he dies. He describes that his skin is sloughing off, hanging from his body in strips, and that he intermittently spits out his own teeth. It's no wonder he considers the Facility caving in and crushing him a preferable death.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Invoked. In a dream/vision Bob shows Alex a gun placed in a safe place and how to get it so that Alex can use it to defend himself from the mutated Sergei later.
  • Cosmic Horror Story
  • Critical Existence Failure: It's rumored that this can happen to someone in the Sick Lands. No matter what state they're in when it happens they just kind of, stop existing.
  • Downer Ending: The Sick Land suddenly and unexpectedly expands massively, engulfing places all around the world. The Facility ends up near the red zone, causing the staff, including Alex, to be slowly killed by mal exposure. The kicker is that it may have been Alex's fault.
  • Driven to Suicide: Bob after he spends a night in the Sick Lands.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Implied to be the cause of the Sick Lands. Alex finds the skull of something that appears to be one and it causes his Sanity Slippage to become even worse just by being around him.
    • The huge thing in the underground lake. Nothing much is told about it, but the Sick Lands expanded all over the world after Alex seemed to piss it off.
  • Eldritch Location: The Sick Land sometimes does not follow normal rules. It's possible to spend more time travelling from one place than it took to get there using the exact same route and for entire research facilities to simply cease existing.
    • The Lake, especially; an entire body of water that is not only bigger than it should be, but alternates between existing and not existing every time Alex blinks.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Implied to happen to people who spend too long in the Sick Lands.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Sick Lands, but the worst part is that it's spreading. It moves slowly but it's going to start engulfing things eventually. The government has covered up the fact that it's spreading in order to prevent panic.
    • According to the old woman from Alex's dream, the land itself literally hates people.
  • For Science!: Study of mal is viewed as this by the larger scientific community because nothing concrete has ever been found out about it.
    • The lower levels of the Facility practice human vivisection on mal infected people simply because they have found no better way of examining its effects on humans, ostensibly for the purpose of preparing for if the Sick Land spreads to populated areas.
  • Government Conspiracy: Alex gets caught in one.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Sick Lands used to be inhabited by beings called Birdheads that varied from humans with beaks to bizarre monsters. They supposedly weren't real, but Alex finds the skull of one while in the Sick Lands.
    • Sergei is seemingly turned into some sort of humanoid monster, presumably due to mal exposure.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Sergei after he gets mutated by mal.
  • Insufferable Genius: Sergei.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Alex. He really doesn't seem to comprehend what he's getting into and notes that the only experience he's had with the Sick Lands and mal before is reading about it in books. He gets joined later by two likewise inexperienced scientists after Sergei and Xi are killed.
    • Then Alex is shifted to the Facility, where he's supposed to be this, but most of the scientists immediately available don't seem to know any more than him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Sick Land suddenly expanded across the world after Alex seemed to piss off the huge thing in the underground lake by destroying what might have been the creatures' offering to it. Granted, it was established that the Sick Land was expanding anyway, but his actions seemed to have sped it up.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Alex starts having weird dreams about Bob after he commits suicide. They're growing increasingly vivid and strange and Alex is starting to wonder if they're really dreams...
  • Psychological Horror
  • Sanity Slippage: This starts happening to Alex. It's apparently a distressingly common effect of spending too long in the Sick Lands.
  • Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: Almost nothing is understood about mal and nobody knows why it affects people the way it does.
    • The machines the scientists use in the upper levels of the Facility. They apparently come from the cave underground, where creatures seem to get them to work through strange and violent rituals. When Alex looks inside them, he finds that they are full of random parts, having no right to actually work. Nonetheless, the scientists use them, even though they have no real understanding of how they work or even what their findings mean.
  • Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: Alex mentions his mule vomiting when they're deep in the Yellow Zone. Mules, like all equines, are incapable of vomiting. On the other hand, we know The Sick Land warps physiology...
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