Best of 2014 – Confessions of a Serial Killer: Games Made Me Do It

First Published: Feb 24, 2014
Voted For By: Ed
Reason(s) For Vote:
“On a first glance, it’s everything that the Daily Mail ever feared, and part of me was privately hoping they’d glance at the headline, think it was totally real and start publishing articles about it until someone had to explain the concept of satire. It’s a masterful piece, and should be the first thing every paper reads before they publish any ‘teenager who did a murder also owned a game maybe’ headline ever again.” – Ed

“It’s 2am on the morning of January 6th, 2014 and I’m finding it hard to sleep. This is in part due to the fact that in approximately ten hours, I will be led to the viewing room and be asked to take my seat, knowing full well that the next few moments will be my last as the cocktail makes its way into my system. For the most part, however, it’s because this is the first time in years that I’ve been able to close my eyes and not see or hear everything playing back in my mind on a constant loop. There is, at my very core, a new-found peacefulness that I find somewhat overwhelming. This calm has given me cause to reflect on everything leading to this point, and even though the DNA evidence against me is overwhelming, I’ve yet to confess and so I’m taking this opportunity to set the record straight.

They say that I’m a monster; that I was born evil and would never have amounted to anything different had I been given a ‘decent’ upbringing, yet I’m inclined to disagree. My parents worked harder than anyone I’ve ever met, and their principles are second to none – always making sure I’d done whatever homework had been set by my tutors and encouraging me to wash behind my ears just like any other parents. The punishment brought upon them by simply knowing what I have done to their good name is enough that they’ll never again sleep peacefully for as long as they live, however long that may be, and for that I offer my sincerest apologies. There could not have been better parents, and their only mistake was allowing me to play video games. And forcing me to wear grey socks.

Bradley’s mother June, Bradley (rear), his sister Euphemia (front), and his father Ralph circa 1971

I wasn’t born with a mindset bent on destruction, wishing to extinguish the lives of those around me, but the constant pressure to leave no-one alive somehow spilled over to reality. A trip to IKEA watching bemused shoppers fumble around and bump into each other in a daze became nothing more than a maze filled with pellets and ghosts, and the compulsion to clear the room would become so overwhelming that I’d start to wonder what everyone tasted like. That’s when I knew that I had to take steps to either control these urges, or act upon them in a responsible manner.

Realising that I would invariably end up having to hide a number of bodies in a relatively small space, with my compost bin being the most obvious solution, I looked to my collection for inspiration. This came in the guise of Tetris. I would spend hours at a time going through level after level, trying to reach a point where my greatest handicap would be no more than four incomplete lines at a time. The shapes contorted in my mind – the straight lines appeared as torsos, blocks of four were heads, t-bars became arms, and zig-zags for legs. After only a few weeks, playing sixteen hours a day and stopping only for Mountain Dew and Doritos, my handicap was down to only two lines and I knew that I had what it took to cram as many body parts as possible into a small area until such times as I could find a proper burial ground.

Secure in the knowledge that my work could be kept under wraps for a considerable amount of time, I set out to hone the skills necessary to carry off my kills. The most important trait would be to reach victims undetected, making no sound as I closed in on them. I would spend months studying the movements of Agent 47, watching him sneak past guard after guard until he eventually reached his target, but putting this into practice was never as simple as it appeared on-screen. Before even getting to two metres away, my test subjects would realise that they were being followed and would either take off in another direction, or do whatever they could to attract attention to themselves and blow my cover. I even shaved my hair off, bought a black suit, and had a barcode tattooed on my head (Cherry Coke 6 x 300ml cans) but it made no difference. Perhaps I should have worn the tie.

Ultimately, my salvation came from playing Oblivion. Had I known that by simply crouching down in a public place, while wearing soft-soled shoes and light armour, I’d be able to do anything without being detected, I’d have done it sooner. My first port of call was Schuh, where I bought a pair of suede moccasins, but my quest for light armour was considerably tougher and it was weeks before I saw someone selling a Stormtrooper costume on eBay and had that eureka moment. Realising that the beige slippers would have made me look a tad conspicuous, I used up all the Tipp-Ex I had in the house to colour them white, and my ensemble was now complete. A quick trip to the town centre would test my theory, although the initial bus journey did result in many people noticing me as I felt a little self-aware when I tried crouching in the queue. That said, once I arrived in the heart of town I was almost invisible. Despite there being hundreds of people around me at any given moment, each had a look of ignorance on their faces… almost as though they could see me, but chose not to acknowledge my presence. Either way, I was now able to take my victims without being noticed, just as long as I crouched down in my Stormtrooper costume and slippers.

The kills themselves took a considerable amount of time to perfect. As simple as Red Dead Redemption made it look, holding down a wriggling victim while you gut and skin them really isn’t the straightforward task you’d perhaps expect. For a start, they can still scream for help. And did. They can also punch at your helmet which, believe me, isn’t exactly the most comfortable attire at the best of times and is made so much worse when someone’s fist is pounding into the side, especially as the cooling fan can easily become dislodged from the inside and get tangled in your hair. Thank god mine still hadn’t fully grown in from my Agent 47 experiments. I decided that this was not the most plausible killing method.

Similarly, the leaf I took from Arkham Asylum‘s book turned out to be equally distressing. I had the helmet, I had the costume, so all that was required was to drop down on them from above, grab them around the throat and pull them back up into the darkness where I’d presumably break their necks with my bare hands. I bought a tow rope from my local Halfords and fashioned a grappling hook from some old butcher hooks that I had lying around from my Red Dead testing period. The initial rush of climbing up the lamp post and sitting atop was incredible, and as I saw a potential victim coming my way I attached the hook as securely as possible and threw myself towards them – they never knew what hit them (a brick). I reached my hand around their neck, which was tougher than expected as the ABS that the Stormtrooper costume is made from isn’t the most flexible of materials, and tried to climb back up the rope… but to no avail. Unconscious people are heavier than expected. In a blind panic, I dropped them and attempted to make my way up the rope to the top of the lamp post where I’d be safe, but I gave up after a few moments flailing around and instead hailed a taxi home. Back to the drawing board.

I already knew that the Agent 47 option of garotting from behind or stabbing in the neck likely wasn’t the way to go as the Hitman series had already lied to me about stealth, and there was no way I was going to do any of that Assassin’s Creed stuff – due to my fear of embroidery – and so the only obvious choice left was to delve deeper into my collection… to the darkest and most sinister of places. My love for bright colours and sweet tooth meant that there could be a win/win situation from each kill – there would be the thrill of the kill itself and, if Viva Pinata were to be believed, a delicious payout at the end. Thankfully, the rumours were true and so, armed with my trusty shovel, Stormtrooper light armour, and (Tipp-Exed) stealth moccasins, I embarked on a journey of personal discovery. Over the years, however, I grew tired of the chase and found myself slowing down with each fresh kill.

Having evaded capture, and all suspicion, for only two weeks short of four years, I was ultimately let down by the one thing that led me to this point. My training in evasive manoeuvres came from perfecting the various speed runs in Mirror’s Edge but, when it came to it, reality was more like playing with a controller than a mouse and I’d moved away from consoles years prior. With police on the ground below, helicopters above, and a dozen men chasing at my heels I knew that my only hope was to take my chances in the local brewery – they worked through the night to cut down on polluting the air with the smell of the raw materials, and would undoubtedly have nooks and crannies all over the place, so I seized the opportunity and made my way in.

Almost immediately, my concentration was broken as the first of many barrels dropped from above and came hurtling towards me. Sadly, I was never much of a Nintendo fan and so, with no immediate instinctive reaction, I froze. All attempts to work out a drop pattern failed, and jumping to avoid them invariably led to my face impacting with the floor on more than a few occasions. The more I slipped up, the closer my pursuers grew, until eventually there was nowhere left to run and it was game over. This is how you find me today – a broken man, caught only because of his hatred for plumbers and apes… this is something that I’ll likely never come to terms with.

If there’s one thing that games have taught me, however, it is consequence. At the very least, I won’t have to live with the consequences of my actions for much longer.”

At 9am on the morning of January 6th, prison officers escorted the chaplain to the cell of Bradley Nikol only to discover an empty cell, still locked from the outside. Nikol, known as Candymangler – the notorious killer who would beat his victims to death with a shovel and scatter hundreds of brightly coloured sweets around their bodies – was due to be executed at noon by lethal injection. A police forensics team spent more than six hours combing the cell for trace evidence but found nothing more than a scratched bobby pin.

Last five articles by Mark R


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