It was a shame for Andrew; so much promise, so much talent, so much money… just the wrong time to have a break down.
Andrew Simmons, Andrew[i] 'The Frick' [/i]Simmons, was all but burnt out after an extremely busy few years. He'd built up the business "The FrickFactory" from a simple, though addictive, game he'd created when he was seventeen, which had gone viral. The add-ons to this unpretentious computer programme 'Frickland' had launched a business that escalated, in less than seven years, to be worth $56million. We know this because that was for how much he'd just sold it. Andrew was almost at the point of collapsing from nervous exhaustion. It didn't help that his small, frail, pale body, which had hardly seen sunlight over the past seven years, looked like it could have done with a good meal. He was burnt out and having such terrible trouble sleeping he was becoming addicted to drugs to help alleviate his many problems. Those seven years where, almost single-handedly, he'd developed and designed the 'Frickland ' franchise and the harder, more phantasmagorical 'Conspiracy Gene' game, had been intense and draining. He was up against a huge number of other exciting computer games on the market and it was a battle to keep up with all the leaps in tech, story lining, design and artwork. In fact, every day brought something new and revolutionary in to his business. Innovation was nonstop and although at first it was fun and challenging, for Andrew it had become mind-numbingly terrifying. He was descending into an abyss of his own creation, whilst his reliance on chemical highs to help him exist was taking its toll. Every one of his friends thought the shedding of his company would help, but it didn't. His anxiety level was through the roof and, living alone, in the spacious mansion that only success can buy, was making him feel isolated, even when surrounded by people. He was getting desperate. He was sure his mind was going and there was a creeping sense of paranoia that drove every decision. With all that money in the bank, and the fact that he no longer had the responsibility of his company to worry about, you would have thought was enough to ease his predicament. If anything, his mood got darker and he became a very unpleasant, secretive, angry and deceitful young man. Somehow he managed to annoy business colleagues, frustrate family and alienate his best friends, which led to being more solitary. His parents had begged him to return to his mid-western home. They thought rest and recuperation away from the pressures of California was all he needed to get himself back to his creative best. He was adamant that he didn't need any help, convinced if he did it would be used against him in some way. He screamed he needed nothing from anybody, there was nothing wrong with him but, at the back of his mind, he knew everyone was out to get him. A little rest, a little escape from all these annoying voices was all he really needed. He had to get away from all these leeches that would suck the life out of him. It was they who were the problem not him. The paranoia was no longer creeping… it was full blown suspicion. One morning his personal assistant Becky found her boss lying in a pool of vomit, shivering and crying for his mommy. She herself had known the problems of a personal breakdown but had recovered thanks to her psychotherapist Doctor Drummond. Once she'd cleaned Andrew up she begged him to try her doctor. She claimed that after only a couple of hours of therapy there was an instant improvement. Her boss was dismissive of her claims but she insisted that the doctor had hypnotised her, found the root of her problem and, by regressing her back to that moment, she had confronted the problem at its cause. She claimed that she'd been 100% calmer since those sessions and thanked the psychiatrist almost daily in her prayers for delivering her from a whirlpool of doubt and terror that up until that moment, she couldn't explain. Andrew would have none of it, yelling and calling her a liar. Becky begged him to at least try him but the foul verbal abuse was just too much and she was glad that the following day was her last in his employment. When he'd sold the company, his employees went with the new owners, Becky wasn't needed but thankfully she'd found a new position and couldn't wait to leave now her boss was such an obnoxious prick. In many ways she was looking forward to telling him just what she thought but it would have to wait until the last pay-check was signed then she could walk out and never have to worry about the jerk again. That last morning was a disaster. She arrived to find him lying unconscious, surrounded by empty bottles and an assortment of Class A drugs and, on top of all that, he'd shit and pissed himself. Becky was at her wits end, finally she called for help.
Head clear, mind refocused, Andrew was enjoying this new game, why he hadn’t thought of it before was a mystery. Instead of progressing Frickland he was going back to how it all started; The Frickland Nursery. The entire concept was there before him; it was bright, colourful and fun, a sort of cross between The Sims and Rugrats; entertaining cartoon characters you controlled. The simulation and sets were designed for the most enjoyment a child could possibly have.
The game was clever, easy and at times fiendish. At each stage they could graduate up to the next age group if they achieved certain levels and collected special prizes. They had a time scale to accomplish otherwise they were returned to the beginning of the game. Andrew thought this was a cunning part of the experience because, no matter how advanced you were, at any moment, when timed out, you could be returned to a crying baby and the entire process would start from scratch.
Andrew was relishing developing this game more than any other, well apart from that first one which had set his career in motion. Thankfully, now there was no pressure he was taking great delight in making each character age appropriate; diapers, rompers, onesies, pacifiers, stuffed toys, toys in general, powders, lotions, plastic pants, rubber sheets, cribs, nursery rhymes, mobiles… he couldn’t stop once he started. ‘The Nursery’ was going to be the best ever. The walls were all bright colours; cartoons festooned the surfaces, whilst the personality of each child was sweet and cute they were clothed in appealingly decorated diapers. Some of the kids would be timid, others adventurous but all were adorable wearing their little baby outfits.
Some of the characters were new-borns, others crawling and some toddling around. They walked and talked like babies and each wore a very visible diaper; some wore more than one. The thickness was a penalty for not achieving certain ‘points’ or ‘prizes’ throughout the game. Occasionally a grown-up (Nanny), would come in and change, discipline, dress or insist on ‘nap time’ for various individuals as needed.
To gain age levels they had to collect colourful items like golden pacifiers (there were seven colours to be won to get up to the golden prize), four lace layered pink panties (pink was the top plastic panties you could achieve though there were four other colours and different layered ruffles to attain first). Food, baby bottles, sippy-cups, bibs and playtime were all graded and awarded points and only once you’d achieved the top level in each of these could you advance.
Andrew was getting more and more excited as each new component of his game dropped into place or he expanded on the idea.
‘The Nursery’ was heavily populated. Padded bottoms were everywhere as the cast crawled or toddled to various areas of play where some tried to gain the rewards that meant they would be able to ‘grow up’. Baby boys and baby girls cried, wet and soiled themselves if they failed and that set them back a stage which they had to repeat. The changing mat also meant that more diapers were added, which slowed the toddler down and made achieving the next level slightly more difficult.
Andrew giggled to himself when he saw that one of the 30 month-old toddlers lost all his rewards and had to start at the beginning – so it was back to being a baby again. That was a penalty which seemed extreme but was fun to have. Crying was just as much a part of being a child as giggling, or moodiness, or sleeping, so at times the nursery was both chaotic and peaceful.
Andrew thought it was the best game his imagination had ever created. He loved the colourful characters he’d produced. He loved the innocent but slightly edgy nursery world in which they lived. He loved the fact that it was a fun place to play. Every game was an adventure; every detail of a kindergarten was included, from the selection of soft and furry toys to the lettered building bricks. It was all so realistic, every move was accompanied by the rustling sound of plastic diapers and plastic pants… he could almost smell the baby powder… in fact; he could smell the baby powder!
He looked down at himself. He was wearing a thick, thick diaper and a pink vest with a cartoon mouse on the front. Whilst the cartoon mouse stayed the same the rest of the Sim-like caricature world dissolved from colourful comic animated figures into real people. Each of his characters was no longer in a game but the real world. There was a cross-section of ages and when he tried to speak the only noise he could hear was childish gibberish. He tried again, but no words formed just sounds and noises those around him responded to but couldn't understand. The toddlers had a few words in their vocabulary but Andrew; well he wasn't sure what or where he was. He looked like a twenty-four year-old but his dress and speech were that of a one year-old. He thought this was all part of his own creation but now he wasn't sure. He could only crawl and his diaper felt full, wet and uncomfortable. He tried to tell someone, anyone that he was having a nightmare, but no one could understand what he was trying to say. His body just wouldn't do the things he wanted or expected it to do. There was no coordination, no strength, even crawling around was difficult. On top of all that, the frustration at not being understood led him to do what babies always do when in such a situation - he sat in his soiled diaper and cried.
High up on the gantry, looking down on his medical achievement, stood the fifty year-old, white-haired and self-satisfied Doctor Drummond; he was pleased with the way business was progressing. The specialist area of psychiatry had led to his ground-breaking research being financed by the government. His responsibility was to find a psychological way of rehabilitating hardened criminals so that they were no longer a menace to society. Unfortunately, his deep and controversial exploration of the human mind had led to a few setbacks along the way, which the government, seeing lawsuits on the horizon, weren’t happy being associated with. His funding had almost dried up until he’d found a way of utilising those unforeseen but effective ‘setbacks’.
Now, with his state-of-the-art desert retreat (psychiatric institute) he was able to offer a service he was surprised how many people wanted to exploit. Some patients were volunteers, some were sent, whilst many had no choice. Most of the ‘children’ who were crawling around below were heirs to various fortunes that either family, or Doctor Drummond himself, had managed to convince needed to start his specialist treatment. They all had problems of one kind or another and hoped for a cure that the saintly (and highly regarded) psychoanalyst might provide. Whether, kidnapped, coerced or corralled business was doing well. The clever and opportunistic shrink had certainly found a market for his specialised (some might say criminal) therapy.
None of patients were aware what their ultimate ‘cure’ would be, though this particular outcome suited many business rivals or disgruntled siblings. The doctor would tamper with their minds; explode memories, kill off thought processes, defeat certain urges, impose control, manipulate will, rectify and regress each one of them back to those glorious, happy, untroubled, childhood days. That was the initial idea; however, what that actually meant was they were destined to a lifetime of diapers and toddlerhood… repeated ad nauseam. Visiting guests and high powered execs took great delight in seeing a rival reduced to diapers and building bricks and were happy to pay for the privilege to keep that person out of the way and incapable of a response. They reasoned that being ‘forever a toddler’ was better than ‘not being at all’, and congratulated themselves on being so considerate, finding a wonderful world for their ‘adversaries’ to live out their lives. They also loved the idea of the humiliation that a grown person having to wear baby clothes, smocks, diapers and plastic pants would feel, they hadn’t realised that humiliation can only happen if the person humiliated is aware of the fact. These babies had no concept of anything but their toddler existence and the childish sphere in which they blissfully lived.
No matter what their real age, in ‘The Nursery’, no one would ever progress past being a toddler. The nurses (or nannies to the little ones), trained and cared for their babies in the colourful, childish world that the good doctor had created for them. The regression trigger he’d placed in all of his subject’s minds was there should any start showing signs of developing an intellect. Their entire lives were spent as little kids playing and trying to win prizes. He, and a couple of his technical boffins, had come up with an app called ‘The Nursery’ so there was a digital baby world as well as a real one in existence. He was able to combine the two for his tots, which gave them something to aim for, even if that aim was bogus, after all, it did form another part of the research. However, as soon as they reached the advanced level (about three years-old), cleverly they were re-set to start all over again with no memory of what they’d already accomplished.
Smugly, as the doctor looked down on the latest patient in his care he smiled. After a couple of weeks intensive ‘therapy’ Little Baby Andy was now able to join all the other babies in the nursery. His brain had needed a complete retune but using the game and Andrew’s own programming abilities, had been fairly easily convinced it was all his creation. He’d planted the computer game idea, and the characters, so deep that Andrew would have difficulty in separating one from the other and believe he was responsible for everything that went on. That was until his mind refocused on the real rather than the cartoon element then, as the doctor planned, his mind would scramble and he’d slot right into complete babyhood with no problem.
The cunning academic could see the newest ‘recruit’ to the nursery sitting in his thick diaper and cute little mousey t-shirt crying, coming to terms (or not) with his situation. It wouldn’t take long. Soon his brain would stop computing and start accepting, although he may never quite be able to mentally differentiate between the physical and digital worlds. However, Baby Andy would be a welcome addition to the doctor’s crazy collection of kindergarten kids. Besides, the cute, sad-eyed, under nourished looking baby with the huge diaper had nothing to worry about; Doctor Drummond was going to be taking special care of him. After all, the clinic was financially safe for quite a while now that he had access to $56 million.