One Year, One Room

Day One:

Well, here we go. One year, one room, one hundred thousand dollars if I make it. Spoiler alert, day 365 me, I’ll make it. 

It’s been twenty minutes since they sealed me in here. The room is bigger than I was expecting so that’s nice. The lack of walls, especially around the bathroom was jarring at first. It almost seems like a prison cell except there’s no bars or windows. Just the four blank walls and no areas to hide, everything is open. 

In one corner is a bed, a dresser with some clothes, and an armchair. A small kitchenette sits nearby with a sink, a few cabinets with snacks, a microwave, a table with one chair, a small fridge, and a coffee pot. Along one wall is a bookcase and a desk. The opposite wall has the door they just sealed shut and an airlock-like hatch which I’ll receive food and supply deliveries in. In the far corner is the bathroom, and calling it a bathroom is generous, there’s another sink, a toilet open to the room, and a showerhead sticking out of the wall with a drain in the floor below. No walls or even a shower curtain for privacy. 

Speaking of no privacy, I’ve counted about a dozen different cameras covering every inch of the room. They told me I would be monitored 24/7 and they meant it. The constant monitoring is helpful though. They gave me a key phrase to say out loud to any of the cameras at any time. As soon as I say it, one of the researchers will unlock the door and the experiment is ended early. I lose out on the money though so I have no plans on doing it. 

Psychological study on isolation is what they call it. I call it free money and time to finish my novel. I know, everyone thinks they’ve got the idea for the next great american novel but I really do. I just didn’t have the time to work on it.

So when I saw the ad it seemed like a no brainer. $100k and uninterrupted time to write? Yes please!

In addition to all the video monitoring, they want me to keep a journal so here you go. Journal for Day One is done! Now it’s time to take a shit for the first time with people watching. Wish me luck!

Day Seven:

Its been a week and I’ve got the perfect routine going. Since there’s no windows for sunlight they use the lights to regulate my sleep cycle. They go on gradually starting at 6am. I wake up and head to the kitchen to make myself a coffee, then sit and read a book from the bookshelf. It’s filled with classics and contemporary novels from all different genres. I’m making my way through Moby Dick right now. 

About an hour after I wake up, a light beep sounds, alerting me to my first meal of the day. My kitchenette has coffee, water, and snacks but all my meals are provided three times a day. In my contract, I filled out a sheet with likes, dislikes, allergies, etc so that must be what they’re working from because I’ve yet to have something I didn’t love. Today was waffles with fresh fruit and a side of bacon to dip in my syrup.

I leave the finished tray in the hatch after I’m done. It’s also where I leave my dirty laundry once a week. I feel bad for whoever has to wash my boxers, but I’m glad it’s not something I have to do.

After breakfast, I do a workout of pushups, jumping jacks or burpees, and a jog around the room. 

Then I plant myself at the desk and write until my wrist aches. I was given a stack of blank notebooks for my journaling and my writing. So far I’ve filled half a notebook for my novel. After only a week! I may have time to write several novels while I’m in here. 

I write through lunch and dinner, eating at the desk. Then I take my evening walk around the room and then I read until the lights start dimming around 8pm. 

Since its been a week, today was my first supply day. A double beep sounds, different than the meal beep. I open the hatch, there’s a pile of fresh clothes, more coffee, a new box of pens so I don’t run out and a blank sheet to leave with my next opening with requests for additional supplies.

I’m still hyper aware of the cameras. Every time I scratch my balls or take a shit I can’t help but laugh at the poor scientist watching who needs to write that down. Sorry, dude! Just wait until I’m comfortable enough to jerk-off.

One week down, 51 to go!

Day 30:

Writing has slowed down, I’m second guessing everything from my characters to my outline. I spend most of my time staring at the wall going through things in my head. Good thing I’ve got eleven more months to figure this out. 

The special clock on the wall says 335 days left. I try not to look at it. That seems daunting. Eleven months seems more manageable. 

I do miss chatting with someone else. Even boring small talk. ‘How’s my fantasy football team doing? Crazy weather we’re having, huh? Did you email me that spreadsheet?’

Reading helps with that though. The characters having conversations make me feel like I’m eavesdropping on people on the street or something.

I know this entry seems kind of negative but I’m not going to quit. I’m just having a bad day. We all have them, even in isolation.

That $100k will change my life. That and finishing my novel are what keep driving me forward. 

Day 90:

A quarter of the way done! Three months in the books. I’m feeling hopeful today, like I can easily make it to the end. I have good days and bad. Some days I spend entirely in bed except for when the meal bell dings. 

Today is better. Today I’m writing again. I took a quick break to write out this journal entry but I’ll get back into it as soon as I’m done.

I never ever thought I would say (write?) this but I miss people. It’s been three months since I talked to anyone, three months without even seeing another person’s face. I try to race to the hatch to possibly get a glimpse of whoever is dropping off my food but all I ever see is the closed door.

I miss the sun, I miss different smells. I miss hockey games and cheap beer and the raw power of twenty thousand fans screaming their faces off.

I miss sex. I miss flirting with a girl in a bar and I miss that moment- that look in her eyes when you know she’s yours for the night. I take care of my needs in here (I don’t even care about the cameras anymore) but it’s not the same. Especially because they refuse to supply me with porn like I request each week. 

Ok, so instead of focusing on what I miss, I need to keep focused on what I have. I have plenty of reading material- I found that if I leave finished books in the hatch with my empty meal trays they swap them out for new books with the next meal. I have plenty of blank notebooks for my writing. I have incredible meals delivered three times a day. Even after three months, there’s been no repeated lunches or dinner meals and everything has been restaurant quality amazing. 

Three months down, nine to go. I can do this. 

Day 130:

I started talking to the cameras today. It felt incredible. I imagine some Poindexter in a white coat and a clipboard watching the screens and answering me back.

It started with breakfast. An omelette. I asked the closest camera how they get their eggs so light and fluffy and yet still tasting so rich. I talked about the texture and taste and how fresh the fruit was. I felt better with each word I said aloud. 

I then took a walk around the room. Ten laps, talking directly to the cameras the entire time. I told them about my favorite Seinfeld episodes and about a hike I took at a national park once where I saw a family of brown bears. 

Next up, I took a shower, telling them how much I love the smell of the soaps and shampoo they chose for me. After, I examined my face in the mirror. I decided I was going to stop shaving and grow my beard out. I told the camera next to the mirror that I think it’ll be funny after a year of isolation to have a big scraggly beard. I showed the camera two shirts and chose the one I think Poindexter would have picked for me.

Next up was time to write. I sat down at the desk and explained the whole plot of my book to the camera. In the process of explaining it to Poindexter, I figured out my ending!

Ok, off to write some more. This novel is going to make me famous! I’ll make sure I thank you in the acknowledgements, Poindexter. 

Day 183:

I CROSSED THE HALFWAY MARK!

I imagine Dex is watching me dance around the room laughing at how silly I look. He’d get that pinched look on his face and tell me I shouldn’t quit my day job. Then we would crack up because that’s exactly what I did for this fucking study. 

Poindexter and I have full conversations now. I supply both sides of the dialogue but he’s so real, it doesn’t feel like his answers are coming from me. His voice is higher than mine too. It feels like he’s in the room with me. He keeps the unbearable loneliness at bay. 

I snuck a note on the tray with my lunch trash. I asked, begged really, for Dex to write back. Even if its just the word ‘hi’ I need that confirmation that someone still exists outside of this place. Logically I know they’re all still out there- meals are still showing up, my laundry is getting washed weekly, new books are left for me. But it’s such an odd feeling not seeing a single soul for six months. I had no idea how badly this was going to affect me. 

I know the point of this journal is to describe exactly how I feel but I can’t. It’s so surreal I can’t even begin to describe it. I thought this year would be a breeze but its not. Its the single hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I would cut off my own foot for a hug, a handshake, or even for someone to just look at me and acknowledge I’m alive. 

Day 240:

I started to see things today. Always just at the edge of my vision, a large shape. If I was anywhere else I would say it’s a person. 

What if it is, though. What if this is part of the study? They snuck someone in through a hidden door while I slept at night and their whole job is to remain behind me, just out of my line of sight. 

Ok, I just walked around the whole room. Theres no one here. The whole point of this room is that there’s nowhere to hide. Everything is visible at all times.

I hate this room. I hate the color of the walls, I hate the uncomfortable mattress, I hate the scent of the soaps I have to use, but most of all I hate the cameras. All they do is remind me that someone is watching me lose my mind in here and isn’t doing a damn thing to help me.

There it is again. I just yelled at Dex to stop fucking with me. He says it’s not him but I don’t believe him. He’s a liar.

I should try to write my novel more today. Or read a book. I haven’t done anything in a few weeks. Dex won’t shut up so it can be really hard to concentrate.

The days feel longer. I watch the clock on the wall and the seconds tick by slower than they should be. I think Dex and his pals are messing with me. Seeing how far they can push me before I quit. 

But I won’t. I didn’t go eight months in this hell-hole to quit now.

So fuck you, Dex. You won’t win. 

Day 303:

I thought about breaking out today. I took the butter knife from breakfast, went into the delivery hatch and was about to begin prying open their side when I stopped. Cooler heads prevailed. I was worried that even attempting to break out would invalidate my chance at the $100K. 

$100K. I should’ve asked for more. It’s almost not worth it. But I only have two months left. 

Dex keeps telling me to stop watching the clock. I allow myself one look a day.

The rest of the day I spend actively trying to not look at it. Sometimes it’s so tough not looking that I sweat from the exertion. 

I see shapes in the edges of my eye line all day long now Sometimes they’re small like an animal waiting for me to notice it, other times it’s almost as tall as the ceiling. Dex swears it’s not them but I know it is. 

At night as I fall asleep, I hear them. Dex and his friends come into my room and move my things around. My notebooks are never where I leave them, the books on my shelves are in a different order and I KNOW they’re messing with the clock. They’re trying to make me stay in here for more than a year. 

I screamed at the cameras for hours today. They can’t do this to me. We have a contract for one year and one year ONLY. 

Dex kept trying to get me to calm down but he doesn’t get it. He’s free to leave anytime with no consequences. If I leave I lose $100k. 

If I believe the clock (which I don’t), I have just under two months left. 

Sixty-two days.

One thousand four hundred and eighty eight hours. 

DAY 335, 9PM- Log for Subject G

Subject G has shown signs of severe depression and schizophrenia. According to Subject G’s file, there is no family history of either.

Subject G spent two hours standing in the shower immediately after waking, ignoring the signal for breakfast. 

Subject G then spent time at the desk writing. Upon reviewing the desk camera footage (camera feed 14) it was found that he was copying a single line over and over into his notebook. The text consisted of the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” After speaking with colleagues in the lab, the line is noted to be a line from a popular movie. 

After spending hours filling a notebook with the single line, Subject G then individually tore the pages, crumpled them up, and threw them into the trash. Pages will be collected and logged when the trash is deposited into the supply hatch. 

Subject G spends at least two hours every day staring into different cameras and screaming at whoever he believes is watching. 

At no time, however, has Subject G ever used the code phrase given to him to end the study. 

Monitoring will continue to be logged daily. 

Day 358:

It’s been a while since I’ve written. It almost feels pointless but whatever. 

SEVEN FUCKING DAYS LEFT. 

I’ve got a grizzly man beard now. Dex wants me to shave it but I’ve long since stopped caring about his opinion.

I hear people whispering. All the time. Even now as I write. Whoever they are, they are never loud enough to understand what they’re saying but its constant. A dull roar in this quiet room.

I’m terrified. 

I’m terrified of the whispering, of Dex, of the knowledge that in one week I’m going to be reintroduced into society. This study ruined me. I am a shell of who I was.

Will they continue to monitor me after I leave? They’ll say they won’t but they will. I know they’ll be following me until the day I die. 

If they even let me out of here. 

Please God let me out of here. 

Day 365:

I woke up this morning, didn’t even get out of bed, just laid there and cried. I haven’t cried since I’ve been in here. 

I did it. It’s the last day. 

Dex spent the last few days trying to get me to say the quitting phrase but I refused. Dex is trying to trick me out of my money. 

Once I was out of tears, I got up and showered. I folded all my clothes and left them all on the bed. I straightened up my notebooks and bookshelves. I tidied the room. 

Today is a big day. I was told the study would end at noon. It’s 10:30 and the room is spotless.

It’s now 11:30. Ive done nothing for the last hour but watch the seconds tick away on the clock. I have no idea what it’ll feel like when that door opens but I can’t wait to find out. 

DAY 365, 4PM – Log for Subject G

The preceding entries were selected from hundreds of pages written by Subject G. These passages were chosen because they aptly depicted Subject G’s mental state during the study.

A full transcript of Subject G’s exit interview is available upon request and is summarized below. 

Subject G broke into sobs when the door was first opened. Subject G hugged the two lab assistants and wouldn’t let go for several minutes. 

Once somewhat calmed, Subject G was escorted to an interview room. Subject G collapsed into the chair and began answering the questions asked by the interviewer. Subject G cried during most of the interview, asking to hold the interviewer’s hand several times. 

Towards the end of questioning, Subject G went into a catatonic state and would no longer answer questions or respond to stimuli. 

Subject G’s emergency contact was notified of our decision. Subject G, like Subject A-F before him, has been transferred to the State Psychiatric Hospital for an indeterminate amount of time. 

Further Subject studies have been cancelled. 

Changes- they are a-here!

As promised (granted it was two years ago, but I stuck to my promise!)- Changes are here!

In today’s world, information of all kinds is at our fingertips and the more I post, the more followers I gain. Using my real name made it easier for friends and family to find my writing but also leaves me vulnerable to internet predators. 

For my personal safety, I have come to the decision to re-brand all of my writing under a pen name. At the time of this posting, my instagram name has been changed, website address is now changed, and my website redesign has been launched. Please update any bookmarks you may have to my site. 

From now on, all my writing will be released under the name Maeryn Stills. (Pronounced “mare-in”)

If you know me personally, I apologize for any confusion this may cause but as my writing gets more popular, I would like to protect my privacy. 

I have a few new short stories I’m finishing up, keep an eye out for them to be posted soon!!

Love you all,

Maeryn Stills

Changes, they are a-coming

Things are going to be changing around the site so if you visit and it looks a little different, don’t panic- you’re in the right spot! The final look will come with a big announcement to make sure no one misses it. If you’re not already following, use the form to the right to sign up and get notified of each new post.

In addition to visual changes, there’s going to be some content changes which will include more regular postings (finally, right?). More details will follow as things get settled into place.

Can’t wait to continue on my writing journey with all of you!

The Girls Weekend – Book Review

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4 stars
I was hooked with the opening line. “Like most clusterfucks these days, it starts with a group text.” Perfect way to set up the ensuing drama.

The girls weekend is a quick, entertaining thriller. A group of old college friends reunite for a girls weekend. During a drunken night which none of them can remember, one of the women goes missing leaving bloodstains around the house. Despite the premise being nothing super unique, this book was very enjoyable to read. The characters were all well fleshed out and the relationships between them strained and believable as they would be 10 years after college with plenty of secrets to be revealed.

I have a bad habit of being able to guess the ending or who the killer is in the beginning, but this one had enough plausible suspects that I actually wasn’t able to guess who the killer was. I had suspicions on a few of them so the reveal was both surprising and not because it was set up properly.

If you’re looking for a quick thrilling read, definitely pick this up when it releases on June 9th!

*I was given an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books