It’s amazing what can come from just googling your own name. It can even manage to be the biggest mistake of your life.
The internet is both a wonderful and heinous creation, a vast digital landscape compiled of untold gigabytes of information. The trouble is, once you really go looking, you never know what you might find on there. I admit fully to being a child of the internet, being one of many who were exposed to it at a young age and grew with it over time, from clunky internet connections to slick smartphones and touch screens, technology that would have been nothing short of futuristic to my eight- year- old eyes when I had first sat behind a computer.
It was eleven years ago that I accessed the internet for the very first time. Up until that point, I thought I could deal with anything that I could encounter on the internet.
But I admit that the internet isn’t as wonderful as I seem to make it out to be. There was the only discovered underbelly of the internet, the ' Dark Web', which I, along with everyone else was (thankfully) only vaguely aware of, along with fetish websites and other kinds of debauchery. Over the years, I’ve been exposed to things far beyond my age range and understanding. Probably everyone as at one point in their lives has seen something either weird, horrifying, or both on the internet. Sometimes that trauma can linger in the back of your memory, even when you think that you’ve triumphed over it.
This was something altogether different for me.
It was out of a mixture of millennial boredom and slight egotism that I searched my own name online. I had done it before, and expected the results to be no different- a few obituaries, maybe some other people that shared my name, or had been born around the same time as I was. You know, the usual results that one who expect to get when they search their own name.
As I scrolled down the page, there was one result that caught my eye-
There was no description for below the link, just a simple website domain, sitting amidst articles and obituaries. I found myself intrigued by the shortness of it, of the mystery that seemed to lurk behind it. But at the same time, I found myself equally intrigued. I thought that it might be a website that compiled birth dates, or medical records.
So out of curiosity, I decided to click on it.
The front page that greeted me after the short load time was not what I expected. The design of the webpage was simple to the point of being unappealing. It was just a completely back background, save for some small red text in the center of the screen. As I scrolled downwards, I realized it to be a set of eight-digit codes, each uniquely numbered, stretching down almost endlessly. To be honest, it took me aback a little, I wasn’t expecting something so simple to have such an amount of text. It had been the most I had ever seen on a website and I would almost afraid that I might crash my computer.
I found my interest hovering over one such line- 03021998. As I roved the cursor over it, I realized that it was a link to another page. I soon realized that all the other lines of numbers were, to separate pages, each assigned to that individual line of code. Of course, I could have clicked on any other available one of them, but it was that order of numbers that caught my attention. There was something almost familiar about the numbered jumble I had found.
After hesitantly clicking on the link ‘03021998’, it directed me to a white webpage with a single video in its center. I suddenly felt a little anxious about playing the unmarked video, with no prior knowledge of what I might be in for.
I was afraid that it might be just another screamer prank, or even worse, some twisted porn video.
However, just as I was about to close the window, the video began to play by itself.
The video itself was shot in black and white from what looked like a security camera feed. It was completely silent. It was filming what looked like a sterilized operating room, where a figure was lying on a gurney in the center of the room. A closer look revealed that the figure was a woman, dressed in a pale hospital gown, who was strapped to the gurney by her hands and ankles. But this wasn’t just any woman- she was heavily pregnant, the swell of her stomach visible through the trailing folds of the gown she was wearing.
The woman looked to be more than a little nervous, as she looked around the room. She looked as if she was expecting someone and I saw her silently call out for someone. Her clothes had dampened with a fine sheen of sweat under the hot operating lights that illuminated her, like an unwilling star playing out on some demented stage.
The whole thing was almost theatrical to extent. Like it was some clever viral marketing for some new horror movie, or maybe some even more obscure product.
Due to the soundless quality of the video, I could only try to guess what it was that she was yelling. From the way her lips were moving, it looked like she was yelling something like ‘Daniel’ or ‘Doctor’.
What drew my attention the most was the rising fear on the woman’s face as she began to struggle against her restraints, her emotions escalating from uncomfortable confusion to outright screaming in panic when she realized just how helpless and alone she was in that room. I felt a nauseous wave churn upwards within the pit of my stomach. This didn’t seem like acting. Her terror almost looked real. And as disturbed as I already was by the first few minutes of the video, I had a lingering dread that things would only get worse.
And believe me, they did.
The woman suddenly stopped struggling as three figures entered through an unseen door at the lower right hand bottom of the screen. Her mouth fell open slightly as her face became unreadable, eyes wide with what seemed like shock or muted terror. I almost followed suit when these three new characters shuffled into the center of the room onscreen.
They were of varying heights and dressed in plague doctor’s outfits. I had never seen plague doctor’s outfits outside of history books on the middle Ages, or movies. I guessed that they might have been two males and a female, but they were near androgynous because of their strange outfits.
The tallest, wearing a hatted black mask with a leathery, sewn design to it, stepped forward with a raised hand, so uncomfortably close to the bound woman’s face that the grotesque beak of their mask practically scraped her cheek. I felt unclean just watching his gloved hand rove down the side of her pale cheek, soaking up her tears as she sobbed in terror. It was almost as if he was comforting her, in his own bizarre, twisted way.
The other two who hovered about in the background, preparing something unseen with their backs turned to the camera wore similar bird-like masks. The shorter of the trio, wheeling a metal tray wore a completely white plague mask that looked like it was made of latex from the way it reflected slightly under the dimmed operating lights. The other wore a brown mask with a brimmed hat, one that almost comically resembled a gardening one. The odd thing about all of them was the visible lack of zippers and buttons on their clothes, something that would have easily indicated to me that they were just actors in costumes and maybe even eased the growing sense of dread I felt just by watching the video.
Their appearance made me even more uneasy about watching the rest of it. I was actually half-convinced that this might have been some kind of twisted fetish film, just for how bizarre it was.
Yet I found that I couldn't stop watching it. It was almost as if some unseen force had coiled around my chair as I was sitting there like a boa constrictor, preventing me from closing the tab or from even getting out of my seat. I even found myself morbidly curious about what new direction the already strange video would take with these three surreal new figures.
I saw the woman scream again, fully terrified now as her struggles to free herself became more violent, her body jolting up from the table.
He nodded to one of the others, who wheeled over a gas can. Connecting it to a breathing mask, the doctor slid it over the woman’s mouth, albeit with some difficulty, owing to her violent terror. Soon, the woman’s limbs grew limp against her captor as the gas began to take effect. Her eyes lolled to the back of her sockets as she slowly and tortuously lapsed into unconsciousness.
The ‘female’ of the group, wearing what looked like a plastic white mask, erected a plastic sheet of the limp body of the pregnant woman and the tall one, the one who I guessed to be the head of the group drew a marker and a pair of scissors from a silvery metal sheet which I had only just noticed was there in the room, but had been too unnerved by the terror of the seemingly captive woman to even notice outside details like that.
They cut away the clothes, exposing the pale skin of her vulnerably swollen belly, smattered with pinkish red stretchmarks. Under the near blindingly white light, it became grotesque to the point of being alien, instead of beautiful as it should have been. He began drawing a incision line down her stomach, plotting each tiny dark dash as if it was a map.
I laughed out loud at this point. I nervously refused to believe that any of it was real, that this was playing out in front of me as I sat in front of my computer. It felt more like an art project or a clip from a horror movie. As disturbing as the video had been up to this point, I couldn't accept what was going to come next. They wouldn’t actually cut her open, not on camera-
As if taunting me, the leather-masked man delicately picked up a scalpel and ran it along the plotted line that he had drawn on the woman’s pregnant stomach, parting the pale flesh with a rapidly growing red line.
It was at this part of the video that I almost vomited. But I clutched a hand to my mouth as I sat frozen in mute terror at the silently buzzing video that continued to play out in front of me on my very monitor. It was a sight so vile yet so oddly hypnotic that I could do nothing but watch it.
The plague doctor peeled back the layers of the woman’s stomach, slowly exposing her red, gelatinous innards that quivered and splattered onto the plastic sheet through the square space in it that the doctor was operating her on through. All throughout the ordeal, the woman remained unconscious and still-breathing with the expansion of her rib cage above the bloody incision that the doctors had made into her abdomen. Under the gas, she looked as if she was sleeping peacefully throughout it all.
I was amazed by the fact that she was even alive at this stage.
Finally, the doctor came to the quivering amniotic sac within the crater of blood and flesh he had created within the woman’s body. He slowly sliced through it, transparent fluid splattering onto his dark robes. Then he felt down the scalpel on the table and reached both gloved hands into the woman’s womb. He pulled out a squalling, bloodied yet fully alive infant from the woman’s open womb. The white-masked doctor leaned out and snapped the infant’s trailing umbilical cord near the base of the navel.
It was just the way the doctor held the screaming new born in his dark hands, his masked expression completely unreadable. He stared into the infant’s screwed-up features for an uncomfortably long time as their colleagues cleaned up around them, the woman still unconscious. I swore that the dark eyes almost sparkled with adulation at the child, the one that had pulled into existence just seconds before.
The other one handed them a small bottle which the tall doctor opened as he placed the baby into the other’s arms. Then slowly, he poured a dark tar-like mixture onto the baby’s stomach as it wriggled about in discomfort. With long longer fingers, he began to steadily massage it into the infant’s torso, intermixing the mysterious fluid with
It was then that camera feed abruptly cut out.
Despite the increasingly disturbing events that had unfolded out before me, it was only then I jolted in my seats. The screen was black for about five seconds before it unexpectedly cut back to video.
The brightness of the new footage, when compared to the darkness that I had been so used to watching from the very start of the video made me shut my eyes. This new camera angle was more awkward, the camera being handled by uncertain hands rather than just being fixed to a wall, as it had been for the last fifteen minutes. It was clearly some home movie.
The footage was in full color this time, now in a maternity ward where rows exhausted new mothers lay in their hospital beds, surrounded by husbands and loved ones as they stared lovingly over their new born babies snuggled in their arms.
The camera’s view shifted towards one such mother and her baby. Despite the tiredness plastered across her features and the disarrayed strands of hair that half-covered her face, it was only in the daylight that I was able to see the woman’s face. Despite the cheery talk between her and the cameraman, who I now guessed to be her husband as they fawned over their sleeping baby, my heart froze at the sight of her.
This woman, the one who I had seen operated on and cut open, was my own mother. Despite her womb being cut open and her baby being pulled out of her, she was smiling like nothing was wrong.
The bottom of the camera that my father handled had the same set of numbers- 03021998, which I felt that same rising sense of sickened realization once I realized now the same meaning
February 3rd 1998.
It was the day I had been born.
The baby that my mother lovingly stroked in her arms, the very child that had been cut out of her by those strange beings, was me.
As impossible as the whole situation seemed at that very moment of watching, I had just witnessed my own birth on the internet.
It was all too much for me to take. I closed the page as quickly as I could, then rushed upstairs to the bathroom where I gladly purged the contents of my rapidly churning stomach into the toilet. After recovering some courage to go back online, I erased my hard drive. I wanted no trace of that website on my computer, I refused to let myself be reminded of that horrible video.
Those random lines of number on the website - they hadn't been just random, but completely separate dates of birth, links to other individual pages, just like my own. What they led to, I don't know nor do I wish to find out.
For the next week and half, I had nightmares about the plague doctors, particularly the tall one. In my dreams, he would loom over me in the shadows of my bedroom as I lay there in my bed, the same way that he had loomed over my bound mother on that hospital table, with the damnable small bottle in his hand. He would force my mouth open before I had the chance to scream, pouring that black tar liquid into my mouth. I felt into seep into my mouth, down my throat and into my stomach, suffocating me. I would usually wake up screaming, scratching at my throat until dried blood caked the underside of my fingernails.
It wasn't if I wasn't new to disturbing things on the internet. I had seen horror movies, read more than a few stories on the internet, not entirely like the one that I'm telling you. It would have been easy to think of it all as some huge coincidence or at worst, some sick elaborate prank.
But this was different. The whole thing felt...raw. Real. I knew, in spite of how much I tried to convince myself otherwise, that nothing had been staged about it. Even the home movie at the end had somehow been pilfered from my family's own personal belongings, as I now recalled seeing it as a child on a VHS somewhere. How the website had managed to attain such footage, along with the video of my birth both terrified and intrigued me, once I had calmed down from the initial shock of video. Despite reason screaming at me for doing so, I knew that I needed to find out more about BirthLog.com- the identities of the mysterious masked doctors, just why they had done such a thing to my mother and of where I had truly come from.
Knowing seemed to be the only catharsis for what I had witnessed. As if just affirming that I what I had seen was indeed real would somehow cleanse it from my memory and perhaps even finally get the nightmares I was having to stop.
I nervously asked a few more technically-minded friends if they had ever heard of a website called 'Birth Log'. They had shaken their heads and after a few searches on the internet, turned up nothing. Not even on the Dark Web, which one or two of them were actually brave (or foolish) enough to frequent. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was as if all traces of it had been purged from the face of the planet.
Eventually I gave up asking them. I decided then and there that the only other time I ever wanted to see that plague doctor again was in my own nightmares.
I never spoke to my mother directly about it, for fear of bringing up any hidden memories within her psyche but I did inquire about the exact circumstances of my birth with her, as way of working around the subject- what hospital was I born in, at what time and how was I delivered?
This last question made her raise her eyebrows slightly.
She admitted that my delivery had been a difficult one and that the doctors had given her a Caesarean. Apparently my umbilical cord had become entangled around my neck during delivery and cutting open my mother’s womb and removing me was the only way to save me from potential strangulation.
My mother’s eyes seemed to glaze over with memory. Even though she smiled, there was a trace of fear on her face. She seemed almost lost in a trance as her features scrunched up, trying to remember. But it was as if she was desperately trying to remember something, but had found the clarity of what had once been vivid memories suddenly fogged over.
I watched with a burning dread in my throat, remembering the plague doctor’s slow sedation of her. She shook her head, trying to shrug off what she thought was just forgetfulness. But I saw the smile she wore was only for me, her expression more unnerved than she had been just a few minutes ago.
“I still have the scars,” she sighed mirthfully, “but it was all worth it to have you.”
My mother then smiled up at me, like nothing had ever been wrong. That was the last time I ever discussed the circumstances of my birth with her.
Take this as a cautionary tale if you will. I still have no idea what the hell to make of it but I prefer not to think about it now. The scars of the video still run deep through me, engraved into my very consciousness. I now that I can never forget the trauma of what I now know, but try to live with it every day. I’ve never been one to preach about anything, but I think it’s advisable not to dig too deep while searching on the internet because you can only dig so deep before you uncover something that you know you were never supposed to.
Believe me, I know.
And I’m trying very hard to forget.