Previously: Eight Feet Tall.
(CW: Suicide, homicide.)
Type: EV (Electronic Virus). Or at least, we think it’s an EV. Honestly, we’re not totally sure.
Period/location of origin: Conflicting. In one form, subject, known as “Ronald Opus,” may originate as early as 1947; in this form, state or country is unknown. In another form, however, date of origin may be traced back to 1987, and location of origin may be traced back to one Don Harper Mills — or perhaps more accurately, to the mind of Don Harper Mills. Where the thought may have come from before it arrived in Mills’ head remains — as is often the case with these kinds of things — unknown. Additionally, subject in its current form appears to date back to 1994, at which point it first appeared on the internet.
Appearance: Conflicting. Subject may appear to be a deceased male humanoid between the ages of 20 and 40 whose passing occurred as a series of unfortunate events; or, subject may appear to be a story of a deceased male humanoid between the ages of 20 and 40 whose passing occurred as a series of unfortunate events. The difference between these two possible forms is… significant.
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Modus operandi: In the case of subject as deceased male humanoid unknown. In the case of subject as EV, subject spreads in the manner of all EVs: By encouraging targets to share it. Subject-as-EV’s ultimate goal, however — that is, why it needs itself to be shared so continuously — remains unknown.
Containment: Unknown. It’s just so hard to stop things from spreading on the internet.
Additional notes: Subject’s bizarre and complicated death is frequently detailed as follows:
On March 23, subject died of a gunshot wound to the head. Prior to suffering this gunshot wound, subject had jumped from the roof of a 10-story building; according to a note he had left behind, subject jumped with the intent to die by suicide. As subject passed the ninth floor, a shotgun was fired through the window, the shell of which struck subject in the head, killing him. Additionally, a safety net at the eighth floor had previously been installed for the safety of several window washers working outside the building. The net would have impeded subject’s ability to complete suicide. Neither subject nor the shooter were aware of the net’s existence.
Despite the gunshot wound having been inflicted by someone else, subject’s death would ordinarily have been ruled a suicide, re: intent. However, due to the existence of the net, which would have prevented subject from completing suicide had the shotgun not been fired, the incident was initially investigated as a homicide.
The investigation determined that the shotgun had been fired by an elderly man who, during an altercation with his wife, became so upset that he was unable to hold the weapon steady; although he had intended to threaten his wife, his aim was off, which resulted in the blast missing and firing through the window.
However, the investigation also determined that neither the elderly man nor his wife knew that the shotgun was loaded. The man often threatened his wife with an unloaded shotgun with no intent to murder; it was a regular, if somewhat odd, element of their marriage. In light of this discovery, the firing of the shotgun — and subject’s subsequent death — may be seen as accidental.
However, the investigation also determined that a witness had seen the son of the elderly man and his wife loading the shotgun six week prior to the incident. According to the witness, the mother had cut off the son’s financial support, and the son, knowing his father’s habit of threatening his mother with an unloaded shotgun, had loaded the shotgun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. In light of this discovery, the case may be seen as an attempted murder of the mother — the elderly man’s wife — on the part of the son.
However, the investigation also determined that the son had become despondent over his failure to get his mother murdered, which led him to jump off the 10-story building on March 23, which led to his being killed by a shotgun blast fired by his father with a gun he himself had loaded.
Ultimately, subject was determined to have died by suicide.
Although subject is often taken at face value — that is, it is often believed that subject is, in fact, a male humanoid between the ages of 20 and 40 who was ultimately determined to have died by suicide following a series of unfortunate events — subject may not actually exist as a male humanoid between the ages of 20 and 40 who was ultimately determined to have died by suicide following a series of unfortunate events. Subject may, in fact, be a thought experiment proposed by Don Harper Mills, then the president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, in 1987 in an effort to “show how different legal consequences can follow each twist in a homicide inquiry.”
Subject eventually made its way to the internet in 1994, although precisely how it made that particular transference has not been determined. Additionally, how later versions of subject became attributed to “Kurt Westervelt of the Associated Press” is unknown; the Associated Press has never run subject as a story, and “Kurt Westervelt” does not appear to exist.
Sharing subject in EV form does not appear to negatively affect targets; however, sharing subject in EV form does not appear to positively impact targets, either.
It is possible that, should subject be shared enough — and believed enough — subject may will itself into existence.
It is not known, however, whether subject should be permitted to will itself into existence.
That… doesn’t always go well.
Suicide Or Homicide Of Ronald Opus — example of subject presented truthfully as male humanoid, rather than as thought experiment.
[Photo via Kip Soep/Flickr]