While I tend to be kind of picky when it comes to the type of content I really like, one thing that I usually am okay with is a dark story. Just because there is no happy ending doesn't mean I'm not willing to read something. Sometimes, though, when I finish something with a downer ending, I get this general feeling of "Why did you have to end it this way? What purpose does this serve? Was I actually supposed to have fun reading this?"

There are plenty of stories that I finish without getting this feeling. A lot of MCs end up permanently regressed because, quite frankly, they're mean. Or they foolishly messed with some sort of technology or magic they didn't understand. Or they're part of a larger setting or societal construction in which this is the norm, in which case the means of large-scale regression itself become part of the interest as much as the MC's downward spiral. Much of the time this regression may also be stated to be morally wrong by other characters. These last two are a large part of the reason why I generally like Diaper Dimension stories a fair amount. Many of these statements also apply to some degree to many works of the individual who many would say is the master of dark stories, long_rifle.

But, yesterday, I read a story that, in my opinion, went too far. This story is called Veronica's Stolen Adulthood, Part 1 and especially Part 2. If you don't want to check it out, fair warning, I'm going to spoil it.

In terms of telling a complete story that makes sense and uses sound grammar, this is a very good story, doubly so since the author apparently learned English as a second language. There's no real way this premise could've been executed more fully or with a higher quality. But it made me so angry. No other story has made me feel bad about myself for having read it. This portrait of physical, mental, emotional, and financial abuse is absolutely stunning in its brutality and unapologetic nature.

Let's talk about the narrator, Eddie. He is quite possibly the most sociopathic character I have ever encountered. Compared to Eddie, the likes of Humbert from Lolita or Light from Death Note seem benevolent. There are two big things that make Eddie and his plan so repulsively twisted and sadistic. The first thing is that the world of Veronica's Stolen Adulthood is relatively realistic. If Eddie were a nine-foot-tall Amazon, a robotic nanny gone rogue, or a mad warlock, the impression he left would've been very different. But he could live in our world. His manipulation of Veronica is methodical and meticulous in the extreme, like an elite pickup artist. Nearly everything he does has a place in his ice-cold logic. The other factor that makes him so completely irredeemable is directly tied to the ending. Even in the darkest of dark denouements, when the regression has been carried out to its fullest extent, the dominating character is usually happy to take care of their new 'baby' forever. Eddie has the gall to get bored of this person whom he has utterly destroyed. When he has run out of new ways to desecrate the person once known as Veronica, his solution is to hook her up to an autonomous life support system in a closet and leave her there forever. To me, calling this fate reminiscent of Terri Schiavo one "worse than death" would be a little bit like calling death itself "a fate worse than life".

The thing that I wonder about this story is if the author was aware of how depressing and hopeless it is. The way that it plays out gives the titular character no agency in the plot. Veronica is the object, not the subject, of this story. At no point does it honestly look like Veronica could derail Eddie's plan, partly because she is never made aware just how long and how skillfully he has been engineering her decline. This is compounded by the fact that during the opening of the story, Eddie describes himself as a target of bullying, and then he resolves to make a victim out of Veronica, the one person trying to help him. The second sentence of the entire story tells the reader that Eddie is successful in his plan of complete and utter dehumanization. The only value of this story is in observing his machinations; in other words, the "how" rather than the "what". I feel like the appeal of this story is probably something like that of a snuff film.

If you want to feel like a monster, this story is for you. Never before have I been made to feel so ashamed and yet morbidly fascinated by a piece of writing.