I've always loved Cartoon Network, when I was growing up it was my favourite channel to watch. Even today it has some good shows, like Adventure Time and Regular Show. One of the newest shows on the network, The Amazing World of Gumball, is a cute and mildly entertaining show. Not really my cup of tea, it's a little immature, but my little brother seems to like it a lot.
One day, I was watching Adult Swim when I realized that I'd been up so late that I hadn't even kept track of the time, it was already 4 AM. I don't recall ever watching AS this late, so I stayed awake to see what would happen when it ended. A little bumper showed up at the bottom of the screen during a commercial break, it said that a special episode of The Amazing World of Gumball was about to come on. I was a little confused about an episode of a very popular, new show coming on this early, but I was bored and decided I would watch it; thinking it might come on later in the day so I could spoil it for my brother. Sort of mean, I know.
The flashy and energetic intro theme played, although it was played a little differently than I recall. The music was a little different, and the show's logo wasn't animated, it's colours were done rather sloppily as well, almost like something a little kid would do on a Doodle Board or a Glow Board. I ignored it, assuming that it was done just for this 'special' episode. The title of the episode was "The Grieving", a sort of sad title, but I didn't really pay too much attention.
It began with Gumball, the show's 12 year old protagonist, standing alone facing a corner of his dimly-lit classroom. He looked absolutely miserable, a far cry from the cheerful demeanor he usually had. There was no one else in the room, not even his best friend and adopted brother Darwin the goldfish, and the windows in the room clearly showed the night sky outside. I was really starting to get confused, why would he be at school at night, and why was he standing in the corner all sad and alone?
After about what seemed like a minute of Gumball standing somberly in the corner, the scene suddenly changed. We were in Gumball's house, once again the scene is silent and a little disquieting. Richard, Gumball's enormous rabbit father, walks in from the kitchen, he looked even more miserable than Gumball had in the previous scene. Richard isn't wearing his usual attire, he's dressed in a fancy black suit, a little uncharacteristic of him, as he's usually a slob. He sighs, and slumps down onto the sofa, and starts sobbing intensely, sounding like someone who had just lost something important.
I was starting to get a little creeped out, where was the silly, fun cartoon that I usually looked forward to watching with my younger brother? This was something completely different. I was beginning to think that this might have been something the creators did as an experiment or something, a test of the animation or sound perhaps. Though, it couldn't have been, aside from the opening theme, which was still different from the final shows', the episode had been much quieter than it usually was, only subtle sounds and very little music, and the animation was not anything to write home about either. It was done a bit like an amateur flash on Newgrounds, the character designs were somewhat sloppy and rushed looking, and the real life backgrounds used for the show looked different.
As confused and somewhat frightened as I was, for some reason, I kept watching it. Poor Richard was still sobbing on the sofa, as the front door opened suddenly, making me jump a bit at such a loud noise, and Gumball's mother Nicole, a blue cat like him, stepped in. Like Richard, she wasn't wearing her usual outfit, for some reason, she was in a black dress and was wearing a pretty black hat to match. Nicole sat down on the couch to comfort her husband, although she was looking a bit saddened herself. By this point Richard's crying had began to get more pained and miserable sounding, this wasn't the normal cartoon crying on the show, this was realistic and almost depressing crying, I almost felt like sobbing myself.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, the sad scene at their home ended, as it shifted back to the school. We weren't in Gumball's classroom this time, we were in Principal Brown's office. Nicole and Richard were there, in their usual clothes, looking more normal and happy than they had before, but still slightly worried. Principal Brown however, looked extremely sad. He quietly and somberly informed them that their children, Anais and Darwin, were not present after lunch earlier that day. They hadn't been seen at all the rest of the day. Nicole was instantly furious at him, she began spouting various insults and calls at him that I don't think would have made it on a more mature program like Regular Show. I was laughing at this, because it seemed sort of funny for Nicole to flip out in this manner and start swearing like a sailor in a G-rated cartoon, but my outlook soon changed when Principal Brown told her something else after she finally had quieted down.
His eyes began to tear up as he informed them that they eventually were found, but they had not been found alive. He then went into graphic and nearly nauseating detail describing how their bodies were found, their parents sitting in utter shock. I could hardly believe what was happening, how could such a cheery and fun kids show be taking such a dark and twisted turn. I was considering turning the television off, but I was too scared to be left in the dark by now, nearly frozen by fear and disturbed intensely at the terrible things that he was saying.
Another flashback, the scene was earlier that day, and the animation in this scene was even worse than earlier. I don't remember it very clearly, but I think he began his recollection by saying that the school had called the police department when they first turned up missing, believing that the kids had simply ran off and decided to skip school. They said it was very uncharacteristic of both Darwin and Anais to go skipping school like delinquents, Darwin was a little naive and a bit ditzy, but he was a good kid and wouldn't have even dreamed of doing something like that, and Anais was even less likely to run away, she was a straight-A student, despite being only four, which also troubled the police, seeing as a defenseless four year old little girl was missing as well as an older boy.
The school had been thoroughly checked, so the police started to search the heavily wooded area outside of the school. It took little time for the police to discover the horrifying fate of Anais. In a small clearing outside of the school, Anais's head was found in a small box, you likely would have expected something like that to be shown in the show's cutesy art style, but it was nothing like that at all. Realistic blood covered the box, inside and out, while Anais's head was done in the normal style, but was drenched in blood and some other fluids, not all of them hers apparently. There was a note in the box, seemingly written in her blood. It was never stated during the episode what exactly was written on the note, but it apparently lead to the rest of her remains and Darwin's heavily mutilated corpse.
What I remember most about this scene was how out of place it seemed. All the blood and gore from Darwin and Anais's slaughtered and dismembered remains was done in a very realistic and disturbing way. It looked like the scene had been taken from a crime scene photograph done by a professional, not something from a cartoon. The way this scene was animated was different from most of the show as well, you may know that the characters from this series are done in vastly differing animation styles, from Flash animation, to CGI, and I think that there's even a character done by someone putting their chin upside-down to make a face.
This particular scene wasn't like anything I had ever seen on the show before, every little detail on Darwin's face was clearly illustrated, he looked a little like a zombie, his face was very pale and his eyes had been gouged out by someone. Anais fared no better, or, what was left of her anyway. She was naked and her stomach had been slit open, her intestines were strewn around the trees and bushes in the woods, done once again in a very morbid and realistic style.
I was feeling very ill by the time this incredibly disturbing flashback had come to an end, so I quickly ran to the bathroom to vomit. I was feeling better after upchucking, so I had realized that I had good timing and had ran to the bathroom during a commercial. It was then I noticed that the show had been running twice as long, it usually ran for eleven minutes, but this episode was running for about thirty. By then I was wondering if there was any information on "The Grieving" on IMDB or something, so while the commercials were still playing I looked up some information about this episode on Google. Nothing came up, no information remotely similar to the plot or name of this episode existed anywhere.
Now incredibly scared and wondering if anyone else was watching, I quickly dialed my brother Larry and asked him to turn on Cartoon Network and see if he was seeing the same shit that I was. He was pretty mad that I woke him up at this hour, but he's a nice guy and told me he would see for me. I thanked him and stayed on the line as the show came back from commercial break. The scene had thankfully panned away from the horrific sight of the children mutilated and was back to the principal's office. I asked Larry if he saw some cartoon animals talking or crying, since that was what they were doing on my TV. To my surprise, he said that he saw nothing like that, instead it was a rerun of an old Looney Tunes short. In utter shock, I dropped the phone and ran over to the TV to turn it off and as hard as I pressed the buttons it would not shut off at all, I tried every single button and none of them did a thing. I tried unplugging the whole thing as well, but nothing worked, the TV stayed on no matter what.
Larry had hung up, assuming that I was playing a joke or something, I guess, and I was alone once again. My door was locked from the outside somehow, and the door to my bathroom was now locked as well. It seemed that I had no choice but to call the police, since my other family members were gone that night, it was the reason I could stay up so late to watch Adult Swim in the first place. When I hurriedly dialed the number, I accidentally dropped my cell phone into my cup of Pepsi. I was very scared, and had no choice but to finish the episode, I turned on all the lights in my room and got under the covers, hiding like my little brother does when I make him watch scary movies with me.
I had apparently missed a little bit, but Gumball's parents were still talking to Principal Brown, so not that much. Nicole was asking him if Gumball was alright, apparently since she hadn't remembered him when Principal Brown told her what had happened to Darwin and Anais. He looked slightly confused and shocked for a moment, and explained to her that he thought Gumball was out sick today and he had spent the day at home by himself with the stomach bug. Nicole screamed and wailed, while Richard quietly told him, in a very out of character voice, that they thought Gumball had got on the bus this morning, but it didn't seem that way.
The police were called once again, to search the building and the small forest outside of Elmore Junior High. They had found him in Miss Simian's classroom, hanging by a noose, with a blood covered knife behind him and blood covering his clothing. The episode ended with the shot of Gumball's dead body hanging there in the corner fading to black. The credits rolled silently, not like the usual way Cartoon Network annoyingly airs a promo that squishes half the screen, these credits rolled unusually slow and they weren't that fun to watch either, a little creepy, just plain white text scrolling on a black background.
I only recognized Ben Bocquelet's name, as he was the creator of the show, the rest were people I'd never heard of. The copyright notice at the end said © Cartoon Network Studios, 2001. Which was incredibly odd, seeing as the show was new for 2011. After all that was over, the screen went to static for a split second, during which some incredibly creepy and shocking video clips were shown between static intervals. I can still remember them all very clearly.
The first was a picture of a person in a Plague Doctor outfit, those always scared me for some reason, and the way the person in the suit was filmed was just as bad, a red light, something that freaks me out incredibly was shone over the clip. The next was what seemed like a video being played very quickly, over and over of a kitten's face being squished by a woman wearing high heels, which was strange because a so called "friend" of mine sent me a picture yesterday of a cat being stepped on and killed, similar to the kitten in the video.
The last one was the one that disturbed me the most and made me want to both cry and vomit my guts out, it was my little brother or at least a small child who looked very similar to him being shot in the face by a person who looked like my father. You could clearly see the child's brains and blood splatter on the wall. I began to sob uncontrollably after that traumatizing clip, so much so that I passed out.
When I woke up, my door was unlocked, and my television was turned off. I went to call the police on the home phone in my kitchen and report that I had seen some very disturbing things on TV and that my doors had been locked. When they arrived, they could find nothing like what I remembered from early this morning. My internet history was even cleared, they were angry at me, and just assumed that I had had a bad nightmare, when I was sure I hadn't. Thankfully, one of the officers felt bad for me and took me out to a small diner so I could recollect my thoughts.
At the diner, I remembered that my family was out visiting my aunt, and they were supposed to be back by noon or so. It was already eleven, so the officer and I drove back only to find a whole squad of police cars and even some government agents at my house. They explained to me that my little brother was missing and that my mother and father were major suspects. I was freaking out, and trying to tell them about the disturbing clip of the boy who looked like my brother being shot in the head, but they wouldn't listen. I stayed with my older brother, Larry, who wouldn't believe me either, still insisting that all he saw was an old Looney Tunes cartoon, and nothing at all creepy or weird. The cops eventually told me that they would contact Turner Broadcasting and tell them about the incident.
A representative of Turner Broadcasting came to my cousin's house to talk to me in private about what I had seen and experienced that night. He was very kind, but it all seemed a little like some sort of front. After I could tell him all I remembered, he agreed to playback that day's programming from when the incident with the disturbing Gumball episode had occurred. To my shock, all that was airing at that time was an old Looney Tunes short, nothing more, nothing less. I hysterically sobbed and moaned that what I had experienced and seen was completely real, but no one listened. Eventually, I discovered that Ben Bocquelet had a Twitter account, so I sent a message about the episode and this was the reply I got:
"One thing, how in the heck did you find that? I never, ever, EVER, thought I would think about that old shame again. Don't tell anyone this Sarah, (Yes, that's my name), but The Amazing World of Gumball goes back further than you know. I used to have a really boring job as a teen, and I sketched little drawings of The Wattersons and friends. The episode you saw was never supposed to be seen by anyone but me and a few friends of mine. It was a very, very awful thing to do, but we made the episode as a joke. A guy from my old job, who everyone hated, had lost a child to a crazed serial killer, who is apparently still out there somewhere. Anyway, we made it so we could make fun of how he came into work usually, crying like a fool, which is why you saw Mr. and Mrs. Watterson cry so much in the episode. I know, I am deeply sorry for what I did, which is why I tried to bury that stupid thing years ago. Literally, I went out into the countryside with my mates and dug a hole and buried it.
What I don't get though, is how you described the blood and guts and stuff. We didn't have any scene with Darwin and Anais's bodies being found, all that happens in the episode is the parents are informed of the kids being found dead and them crying like crazy. We didn't even draw anything in the episode like that, at all. We're not that sick.
Now, this is my theory, the lunatic who killed the man's child found the tape we buried, watched it, and heavily edited it. Then, he hijacked the local TV station near *******, (I blocked out the name of my city, I'm paranoid enough, and it's a small town.) somehow, and got the episode to air on your local Cartoon Network station. Now, why your brother couldn't see it, I have no idea, why it seems you're the only one who saw it, I have no idea either. Sorry, but I just don't know.
Now, for the explanation you have been waiting for, the clips at the end. I DON'T KNOW. I DON'T. I'm deeply sorry, from the bottom of my heart, but I don't know why those clips were aired, I just don't. I am sorry, I really am, but me and my mates are just the ones who made those scenes with Richard and Nicole crying, that's it. I'm so sorry Sarah, I'm so deeply sorry. -Best wishes, Ben Bocquelet and everyone involved with, 'The Grieving'."