Wednesday, 8 June 2016



In my last Creepypasta feature I was amazed to hear that even though the fantastically rich and layered Holders series of features is quite clearly a work of fiction, there were still web users posting questions as to its validity.
This is often the case with creepypasta stories — there seems to be a large number of people who assume that if something is reported on the web, it MUST be true.
This week’s feature focuses on another of those tales that just won’t go away — The Expressionless.

The Expressionless, like Jeff the Killer before it, is one of those rare Creepypasta stories that comes with an image. The story, for those of you who haven’t yet heard of it, follows in its entirety below.

In June 1972, a woman appeared in Cedar Senai hospital in nothing but a white, blood-covered gown.
Now this, in itself, should not be too surprising as people often have accidents nearby and come to the nearest hospital for medical attention, but there were two things that caused people who saw her to vomit and flee in terror.
The first being that she wasn't exactly human. She resembled something close to a mannequin, but had the dexterity and fluidity of a normal human being. Her face was as flawless as a mannequins, devoid of eyebrows and smeared in make-up.
There was a kitten clamped in her jaws so unnaturally tight that no teeth could be seen, and the blood was still squirting out over her gown and onto the floor. She then pulled it out of her mouth, tossed it aside and collapsed.
From the moment she stepped through the entrance to when she was taken to a hospital room and cleaned up before being prepped for sedation, she was completely calm, expressionless and motionless. The doctors thought it best to restrain her until the authorities could arrive and she did not protest. They were unable to get any kind of response from her and most staff members felt too uncomfortable to look directly at her for more than a few seconds.
But the second the staff tried to sedate her, she fought back with extreme force. Two members of staff had to hold her down as her body rose up on the bed with that same, blank expression.
She turned her emotionless eyes towards the male doctor and did something unusual. She smiled.
As she did, the female doctor screamed and let go out of shock. In the woman's mouth were not human teeth, but long, sharp spikes. Too long for her mouth to close fully without causing any damage…
The male doctor stared back at her for a moment before asking "What in the hell are you?"
She cracked her neck down to her shoulder to observe him, still smiling.
There was a long pause, the security had been alerted and could be heard coming down the hallway.
As he heard them approach, she darted forward, sinking her teeth into the front of his throat, ripping out his jugular and letting him fall to the floor, gasping for air as he choked on his own blood.
She stood up and leaned over him, her face coming dangerously close to his as the life faded from his eyes.
She leaned closer and whispered in his ear.
"I... am... God..."
The doctor's eyes filled with fear as he watched her calmly walk away to greet the security men. His last ever sight would be watching her feast on them one by one.
The female doctor who survived the incident named her "The Expressionless".
There was never a sighting of her again.

The story is certainly a spine-chiller (if a little hackneyed in places — the ‘I am God’ line is overplayed in horror fiction), and the image that accompanies it is utterly horrifying. In my previous feature on Candle Cove I mentioned the Uncanny Valley hypothesis, whereby there is an abrupt and marked decrease in the beholder’s comfort levels when an anthropomorphic item reaches a key resemblance level to an actual human being. As such puppets, dummies, dolls and mannequins are inherently a little bit spooky. It is for precisely this reason that the aforementioned objects feature regularly in horror fiction.
The humanoid but definitely not ‘normal’ face of the Expressionless is a perfect example of this. One need only look at it for a few seconds to feel a sense of unease.
The story itself is also worthy of mention. It preys on the real-world fears of hospitals (plenty of people feel unnerved by them and for good reason, there are more deaths and graphic gore in your average hospital each month than in any cheap horror flick) and that most potent of sources of scares — the unknown (what exactly IS the Expressionless? What does she want? Where did she go? And where is she right now?) However, it also adds a couple of details that enhance its believability.
With the events taking place 1972 the odds are most readers won’t have long enough memories to recall any news reports on the story at the time it was said to occur.  
What’s more, Cedars SInai is a prestigious real-world academic health centre located in Los Angeles, California, and has been in existence since 1902. It has a long and storied history, and by including this real world detail, a location that many readers will have heard of, the story comes with that little bit of extra credibility. If they know that Cedars Sinai is real there’s an increased chance that the other details are genuine as well, right?


Sure, the story has convinced a lot of people, with questions about the story appearing on Yahoo answers in January 2013, then twice again in April of the same year, then again that August.

The answer to the question is, that while it is a very nice work of fiction, The Expressionless is precisely that. Plotholes aside (if she whispered in his ear and he then died, how do we know what she said? If the pointed teeth in her mouth were so long she couldn’t close it, how did nobody notice this until she smiled? At what point do highly trained medical professionals start asking deeply personal and hurtful questions about a patient’s appearance?), there is plenty of evidence online to prove that the story simply did not happen.
First, let’s address that horrifying image. It’s certainly one of the strongest pieces of evidence to suggest that the events happened. Unless of course, the picture was entirely unrelated.
Which is precisely what this photograph is. It was actually taken in 1968 by Antony Armstrong-Jones, the 1st Earl of Snowdon. Lord Snowdon actually published the picture in his book Assignments (Morrow, 1972) under the heading ‘Student Nurses with a Waxworks Patient’. So that waxwork-looking lady is actually, um, a waxwork.
Who’d’ve thought it, eh?
Of course, it could always be the case that the writer of the story simply chose this picture for artistic, illustrative purposes. This being the case, there’s nothing that proves that the story is simply a work of fiction. So let’s look a little closer at that writer, shall we?
Considering the fact that this story was alleged to have taken place in 1972, it may seem a little strange to some that the earliest mentions I can find of it were posted in 2012.
In fact, THE earliest version I can find is the one pasted above, which was taken from an article posted to in May of that year. The author is one Ivysir AKA Tom Lever, and it is on his user page on the wiki that we get THE irrefutable proof that we need — he out and out tells the reader that he is an author and that his story, The Expressionless, is his creation.

Let me just clarify — there’s been no subterfuge from Lever — he’s quite open that The Expressionless is a work of fiction.
To quote him directly: ‘I write a lot of mediocore CreepyPasta, best known (so far) for "The Expressionless" which has since gone viral on several forums and been turned into a short film by BlackBoxTV, which I'm eternally grateful for, though it does get stolen a lot.’
Instead, it has spread and become legend due to those people who have simply copied and pasted his work on to other sites and forums without including the right credits, acknowledgements or context.
The simple facts that Lever has posted the earliest version of the story and that nobody has challenged him over his claim makes it pretty obvious that he is the original source of the story.
However, one thing that I do take exception to is his description of his work as ‘mediocre’. Lever’s most famous work may be The Expressionless, but I’d argue that it’s actually one of his weaker stories. Just check out his Reddit user page for access to some very nicely written Creepypastas over on the /r/nosleep sub-Reddit. He’s a talented writer and I know that another of his iconic works will feature here in the weeks ahead. I’ll leave you guessing as to which one.
Lever writes about a skillfully made short-film adaptation of The Expressionless, and by far the best one I’ve found is this spectacular example directed by Michael Gallagher, with appearances by The Walking Dead’s Michael Traynor and Smiley’s Jana Winternitzto boot!

It boasts some impressive production values and the other central performance, that of Denna Thomsen as The Expressionless, is fantastically creepy. Sure, I’d have liked to have seen some make-up work to make Thomson appear even more mannequin-like, but I imagine budgetary constraints would have caused all kinds of trouble with creating prosthetics that could match the nightmarish imagery of Lord Snowdon’s photo.
Instead we get a pared back take on the story, which somehow makes it all seem that little bit more realistic.
But realism, as we’ve seen all too often with the viral spread of Creepypastas, is not actually that important a factor when it comes to believability. From haunted abandoned Disney parks, to videogames said to induce psychosis, to a fake TV show created by a child-murderer, if the story has the ability to scare, it has the ability to worm its way into the mind of the reader and cause them to wonder: ‘What if?’
It matters not what I or any other myth debunkers have to say on the subject, for ultimately fear will always be stronger than reason.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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