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Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

Sometime during the third consecutive night spent huddled over the toilet, insides heaving and shuddering as I vomit forth seemingly everything I’d ever eaten, I realize what’s happening: He’s trying to poison me. It’s all so elegant, so perfect, and so clear, that I almost laugh, but another barrage of retching forces me into silence

The next morning I throw everything in the kitchen away, wrapping it three times in black plastic and burying it deep in the apartments communal trash cans, to prevent an unfortunate transient from crossfire of His wrath. I am out the door of the complex and halfway to the corner store when I realize: He knows, must know, where I would shop.

I pick a direction and walk, enjoying the chill winter air that soothes the ragged shreds of my inside. I turn at random intervals, following an improbable path out of my familiar neighborhood, until I find a small shop with an unfamiliar name. Once inside, I hurriedly fill a small plastic basket; brands that I never have eaten, strange tins of ethnic ingredients I can’t recognize, foods that I’d never thought of buying. Soy milk. Tofu. I can feel my stomach reborn in anticipation of an untainted meal.

I prepare the meal in a fog of nervous anticipation, trying to focus on savoring the aromas and the grease spitting sounds of the frying pan. It tastes clean, but then, so has every other meal before this. I try to tell myself that the mounting pain inside me is simple fear and anxiety, but before the stroke of midnight, I am again crouched in the dingy bathroom, surrendering the days work into the porcelain mouth of the sewer.

The next day, I pack up the remaining food and dispose of it with the same care. I eat out that day, layering debt onto the last of my credit cards at restaurants on the opposite side of town.

He is more clever than I could ever imagined, and I am awash in despair as I spend another sleepless night gagging and sobbing on the tile floor. I imagine the Algorithm, the perfect predictive models at His disposal, brilliantly charting my every move across the city; every time I thought I’d outwitted Him, I was willingly walking into his web.

I buy a candy bar from a vending machine in a theater, and hold it close like a talisman. When I get home, I fill the bath a few inches deep with rust colored water, and hold the little plastic wrapped bundle beneath the water and squeeze. I know that I will see it, but it still breaks my heart when I do. A thin almost invisible stream of bubbles picks out the point where a foreign object has pierced the protective layer. Through the haze of piercing hunger, I convince myself to try, just one bite, and to take the chances. It’s a gamble that I do not win.

In the small hours of the morning as I press my fists into my empty protesting belly, I imagine the legion of His followers sliding silently through the restaurants and produce aisles of my life, slipping hypodermic needles into carefully selected packages of food. They are ruining and corrupting at His whim, surgical and efficient, before vanishing into the throng of the city at my approach. They will always be one step ahead of me, until I learn to think in new ways, to chart new cognitive pathways, and turn the game back upon Him. So, I tell myself, this is what I must do.

The first day of my new life, I spend in the small living area of my apartment, organizing my thoughts with clean and sterile efficiency, and conserving what energy I can from my wasting body. Night brings the retching sickness, but all that arises is water… and pills, half digested in the bilious water.

The pills. Of course. Not for the first time, I feel a sharp twinge of respect for crystalline perfection of His plans. I dump the last of my dozen prescriptions into the toilet.

On my third day, I feel a clarity and a sense of purpose that shocks me in it’s intensity, and my will penetrates the starvation malaise. I must win, or I will die. The rashes and sores in my cheeks are deeper, and I can feel the gentle sway of loose teeth in my desiccated mouth when I grind them in thought. He is winning, but not for long. There is still time.

Water, I collect from the roof in a small army of cheap hardware buckets. I know that somewhere in the byzantine plumbing of the aged building, there must one of His infernally clever devices; a tiny pump, squatting like a predator and pulsing it’s vile contents into the water main. I’ll have to give up bathing. A small sacrifice. The rain water will keep me alive for a while longer, but I must find a way to eat.


The answer comes to me in small unconnected puzzle pieces over the next few days. While gently working another loose molar from my bleeding gums, they suddenly snap together, and a warm smothering blanket of epiphany coats my aching frame. The clattering of the tooth into the sink basin is like the ringing of bells.

Late in the evening, I begin another unconscious dérive, drifting through the city on shaking and atrophied legs, knowing full well that He is watching. But this, my beautiful solution, is beyond even His reach.

I choose the house at random, and then, in one final attempt to baffle the Algorithim, turn around and choose another house across the little tree lined street. I sift through the mail; it’s a small sample size, but enough to confirm the most necessary of facts. A single occupant.

The poor man is surprised to have a visitor at all, and his face contorts with fear as force my way inside. I am flooded with guilt and regret as I push him to the floor and strike quickly with the crowbar I pull from the folds of my jacket.


I must steel myself. This is His fault. He has brought us to this, and this poor man is just another of His victims.


I make quick work of the meat, the muscle memories of summers spent hunting in the mountains flaring up with each quick cut. I allow myself a quick bite, a feast to my shrunken and withered stomach. The iron and mineral salt taste floods my head like a vapor and I bawl in relief, like a child. When I have the meat packed tight into my rucksack, I light a single candle on the top floor of the little house, and turn the gas range on high.

I’m not yet home when I hear the low rumble in the distance; the pulsing lights of fire engines highlight the black cloud hanging in the sky.

For the first time in more than a month, I sleep well, my body rapidly healing as pure, untainted nutrients penetrate my cells. I am not yet well, but after a few more meals, I will be ready, once more, to fight Him. I know I can beat him now. I know the Algorithm can only predict the actions of my past self, bound by the laws and morals of the old world.

That world is dead.

I am a free man.

CREDIT: Josef K. / Cameron Suey

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129 thoughts on “Sick”

  1. Really enjoyed this one. I love the ambiguity, the way your mind is left to sort out what’s happening. Leaves more questions than answers and I love that.

  2. This was an excellent pasta, and I believe could be followed up. After all, we don’t know who He is. Could it be some ancient god trying to reclaim his domain? An infection that causes a craving for flesh, resulting in a zombie apocalypse? Or could it simply be the person’s insanity, causing him to subconciously induce himself into vomiting all but human flesh? Either way, it was a truly great piece, and I hope to see more like it.

  3. And here i thought i was clever thinking it was a zombie story. He cant seem to keep food down, his body is deteriorating (but not enough that people at the restaurant notice), though the meds doesnt exactly fit. Beautifully written story though. Mmm mental peeps.

  4. At first I thought it was guy who was bulimic and the ‘He’ was his own disorder. I’m not quite sure why it had to lead to cannabalism though, but all in all pretty creepy.

  5. I love how I’m seeing some people trying to shove a concrete analysis down everyone’s throat: Stop it. Writing is art, and art is what you make of it. Meant to be interpreted as the reader wills. Is he schizophrenic? Perhaps. Is he actually a victim? Maybe.

    But let each reader decide for himself, and don’t insult the intelligence of other readers.

  6. Shub Niggurath

    Um, like…go get some seeds for some edible plants and grow them in your bedroom and get a really loud burglar alarm that calls the police and keep a shotgun in your closet…??? Seriously, just guard your home-grown food and blow the frakking heads off his minions when they come!

  7. He could have just raided that dudes fridge. I mean, he already threw The Algorithm off by changing his target house every now and then.

  8. The narrator abused his cat and told the Internet about it.
    The Algorithm is 4chan\’s hive-mind.


  9. Seventyseven: “He could’ve gone to the McDonalds down the street.”

    The narrator is trying to avoid food poisoning :P

  10. I imagine the main character in this to be the same man as the protagonist in the Josef K story where he keeps receiving videos of his son, telling him he’ll kill his family etc. But on the topic of this story’s plot, once it had been revealed to us all his food was being poisoned, my first thought was “hop on a plane, live the rest of your life in the Amazon where he can’t get you”, so the twist was nice. Fantastic story.

  11. In the first few sentences, I thought ‘He’ was an abusive husband.
    Then I thought ‘What the heck is an Algorithm?’. *goes to Google*

  12. great, though up till the end i thought it was about a schizophrenic pregnant woman and that “He” was the father.

  13. I was pretty sure it was going in the direction of “hes insane and hes poisoning all of his own food but doesnt realize it”, so the cannibalism was a nice twist. Or maybe he really was poisoning all of his own food and was just subconsciously trying to justify cannibalism? Lol. One of the better pastas ive read either way.

  14. So…Boil your water, then nothing can possibly be in it….grow your own food, and set traps for people trying to do shit to it….

  15. … Lovely, lovely ambiguity. Is the protagonist a madman who, trying to escape imaginary poisons and a fictitious poisoner, turns to cannibalism as his only escape? Or is He real, and the man, driven mad by starvation and the impossibility of his situation, stumbles across the only escape from death in his insanity? Without an outside reference point this story doesn’t provide, there’s no way to be absolutely sure either way.

  16. I thought it was going to turn out that He had invaded the home previously and forcibly injected the man. That’d be cool – random psycho needles you and five hours later, his snaggle-toothed rash minion eats you as directed.

  17. Excellent. Masterfully-done analogies, a real sense of desperation, a flow of literary writing expertise, and it ends with a suspenseful, thrilling climax.

    Delectable. Well, not in the cannibalistic sense, but… y’know.


  19. Haylias makes a really good point.

    Also, it was really predictable when the hunger pangs started to appear in the pasta.

  20. Anyone who doesn’t realize that there is no algorithm and that the guy is just schizophrenic is a fucking moron with no sense of subtlety, reading comprehension or good prose.

    Another good one from Josef K (but you already knew that).

  21. I liked it,
    it gave me the ” Is he going to…….? No, he couldn’t…..Wiat OMG he’s doing it …..ewwwww ……no way GROOSSSS.”

  22. Grammar Police

    Great story! There’s just one thing that ruined it for me. The word “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” – not the possessive form of “it”. So, in the sentence “On my third day, I feel a clarity and a sense of purpose that shocks me in it’s intensity, and my will penetrates the starvation malaise,” I read it as, “I feel a clarity and a sense of purpose that shocks me in it is intensity…” It just made me cringe and ruined the story for me a little. :(

  23. Haylias – The algorithm depends on the main character depending on the morality’s of the culture he is in.

  24. Really well written, but couldn’t you have at least started to try and hunt fresh meat from wild animals and such?

  25. I didn’t get it at first, and everyone was like it’s a cannibalism story, lol so I read the last few paragraphs and got it, you see I am getting distracted my workmates are talking to me while Im reading this lol, really good story BTW, now I get why he kept on vomiting.

  26. LOL at everyone who doesn’t get that it’s paranoid schizophrenia. I mean, come on. He even threw in that bit about the pills!

  27. Best part about this whole thing is it cannot be madness and it cannot be insanity because there is proof she is being assaulted in some way. Amazing as his powers are, they are not unreal for she found a hole in the packaging of her candy bar that made her sick.

  28. I’m not sure if this is more of a thing about me or the story, but I didn’t really feel anything but curiousity when I read this. Course, I spend most of my time researching serial murderers and killers.

  29. Awesome! I just Stumbled on this site and I have it bookmarked as “Go here on dark and stormy nights”. Love it!

  30. That’s brilliant. :3 I love it! Ugh, but now my teeth feel all weird. >.< I can just imagine the feeling of it coming out…

  31. and why not just ask random strangers if you can eat with them eh?
    Cannibalism isn’t the only answer…just the lulziest

  32. very good and very true calculating some ones moves by algorithm very sinister but no one has the time to make such a thing

  33. I kind of figured he was mentally ill, what with the pills and resorting to cannibalism only afte he’s thrown them away.

    An excellent story, I would expect no less.

  34. while reading this,i imagined the “Poisoned” food as being a growing mental disorder in the narrators brain,and that he comes to a solution,which is cannabilism,all because of a mental disorder,whic hmakes me this how people become cannibals??? also
    is it wierd that hannibal rhymes with cannibal,hannibal the cannibal

  35. Excellent Josef K. It actually made my stomach hurt, that’s hard to do to someone like me, especially with a written story.

  36. A great story, I really enjoyed it the first time I read it. I could’ve sworn it was already on here, but I must have read it somewhere else…

  37. This one makes a nice story. Could be extended into something even bigger. Reminds me of “Special” in this aspect…

    Anyway, I have the feeling the Algorithm won in the end. That bastard set of deterministic opertions upon an input producing an output…

    Yes, you can punch me now.

  38. i like that if you read between the lines, you find that the narrator is probably schizophrenic or in some way mentally unstable.

  39. that was really, really good! you should definitely put more like this on the website. not creepy, per se, but it made me think.

  40. there’s nothing from josef k. that we can’t like =)
    but then again, creepypasta keeps posting old stories from josef’s site =/
    its sad that josef ain’t updating that frequently anymore ='(

  41. the Person Formerly known as 'Noneya'

    This one was so cool! I feel so bad and disgusted with the main character at the same time.

    That if the whole thing is just “His” way of driving the character mad?

  42. Lol. its sort of ironic that these cannibalism stories have been popping up just after I watched that Most Evil show about cannibals and such….on the ID channel…

    Anyways, decent pasta.

  43. I like how he left it up to us to decide whether or not there was an algorithim or the narrator was just batshit insane, his symptoms brought on by his own mind. Veddy, veddy yummy.

  44. Awh, man… this was so beautiful. I wasn’t really creeped out, but this is still one of the best pastas I’ve ever read, just because of the amazing writing. So much win…
    The world is in desperate need of more stuff like this; I’ve read too many pastas that were poorly written.
    Again, awesome! I’ll go read it again now…

    1. Precisely. That was the creepy part for me; He really did win, whoever He is, be it an actual malevolent being or just insanity.

  45. Oooh, I like!

    The only thing that bugs me is that I’m not sure whether an algorith would be capable of predicting human behaviour. Typically, they are used to solve more….static problems. Rubix cubes are a perfect example. Behavior follows some patterns, but there’s the little hang-up of free will, you know?

    Kind of a creepy-within-a-creepy to think that the algorithm could predict humanity.

    1. First I thought that there was no “Algorithm”; that the guy was subconsciously making himself extremely sick for some reason and that no matter what he ate he’d just become more and more ill, or that he’d gotten food poisoning once and was now convinced that all of his food was contaminated. I think you’re right, though. Your version makes more sense and is a much more interesting conclusion.

  46. Well, that was a brilliant story. Reminded me of The Holders from the way you said Him, but then I considered the Algorithm as an object and it became 5 million times more creepy. Excellent pasta, I woud dine here again.

  47. “While gently working another loose molar from my bleeding gums, they suddenly snap together, and a warm smothering blanket of epiphany coats my aching frame. The clattering of the tooth into the sink basin is like the ringing of bells.”


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