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"Beyond The Edge of Sanity" A Short Story

Posted on in story


She was around here somewhere. She had to be. A person doesn't simply vanish into thin air. Especially not one who had just murdered twenty people in the same building during the last hour. But, damn, she was hard to find! To Mark it felt like he had passed through these blood marked halls at least fifteen times now, and nothing had changed. No new footprints, no new bullet holes, or screams...

Or bodies.

Mark ran up the next stairwell he saw, hoping that he would find his target on the third floor. Again he tore throught the hallways, peeking into each and every classroom he passed looking for other survivors, but only finding more of those same forty pound containers of homemade ANFO that haunted the school. Wondering how and when she had gotten them in the building, or how she had made it were questions for another time. He had to find her fast. He didn't know if she actually would destroy the school, but he didn't really want to find out, either. At least not from this distance.

He finished checking the last room, still finding nobody, and ran straight towards the last place left to check: The roof. It wasn't very probable seeing as how the police were outside in huge numbers, but she wasn't anywhere else.

His feet pounded on the stairs as he put the last of his might into making it up. At the top, he stumbled through a door that should've been locked and right into the barrel of a shotgun.

"You should've listened," was the last thing he heard before a hideous crack sent him back down the stairs, blood trailing from multiple holes in his gut. Straining to move even his eyes, he looked up to the top of the stairs and saw the one he had been looking for. The one who had just pumped him full of lead.

"E... lz... a...." He rasped. His head sagged to one side, bringing him face to face with yet another container of ANFO. For some reason, he still feared that stuff. Even though he was about to die from excessive bleeding, the thought of a painful, fiery death still had weight. He began shaking. It was getting cold. Thought after thought began to race through his mind. Each one held a common theme: Why?




"Because I hate you. I hate all of you. Every single person down to the last unborn infant. Everything you people do, and everything you have ever done." Mark realized that he'd been mouthing the word and stopped. He looked out the side of his eyes and saw Elza staring right back at him, her face so beautiful even when stained in blood. Elza conitnued: "And I hate you because nobody sees the real issues, nobody tries to fix things, nobody ever cares. It's all about me, me, me! If they want a world where people only look after themselves, then I'm here to deliver it!"


Elza backed away from him and out of sight. She chuckled, no, she laughed, a cackling the likes of which belonged to one who was far from sanity. "Why am I telling you this!? What point is there in telling someone so close to the end!?" Her laughing continued. To Mark it seemed that she was moving away, and she probably was. She wouldn't have any intention of staying behind and dying if she was going to turn the world to anarchy. Tears welled in his eyes for the first time since this whole ordeal began. He didn't want to die. He had never wanted to die; he never even thought to plan for the possibility, either. All he had ever wanted was a good life, a girlfriend, eventually a wife, a good job. And all of that had been taken from him by the very person who he had hoped to share it with. As he wept, a new sound could be heard; the din of people screaming, gunshots being fired and cars moving away. Then it was quiet.

And then nothing... Nothing at all... Had Mark lived longer, he might've been able to witness the split second after an ANFO explosion. Perhaps it was a mercy that he didn't have to. Nobody shall ever know.



I don't know why, but I have a distinct love for stories that don't always end well. Darker themes in general are just more interesting to me, so it comes as no surprise that much of what I write ends up that way. Not always, but a good deal of the time it does. It'll be some time yet before this starts to leak into Square-Headed(it won't be this extreme, don't worry). I know I could prevent it, but I write what what I like and I think it'll be great.

I should've posted this earlier. It would've been more timely. Better late than never, I suppose

"Beyond The Edge of Sanity" is owned soley by Jeff Hackmann, AKA Dark-NESS. The beliefs and ideas of Elza are not endorsed by the afforemention party in any shape, way, or fashion.

Well... That Didn't Work Out As Well As I'd Planned...

Posted on in news post history reviews

I was kind of hoping to have had more news posts by this point, but it looks like that didn't happen. Why? Partially my laziness. I've also been working on comics, playing games in 3D(which IS awesome), going to work, getting over being sick, and writing comics and other things. I've also realized that there isn't much more to tell in the history of Square-Headed outside of stating that I got this site, made my older brother construct it and moved all of the comics over to it. Oh, and I changed the style format to story oriented as opposed to brief skits. I suppose I could add onto it by saying something deep a memorable, but that would get in the way of me talking about something else: Sephiroth and Relm.

*Girly squee.*

Ok, maybe I won't start talking about that(I'd written a paragraph where this statement now stands, but I erased it because it seemed too much like I was steeping myself in my own ego. It was also kind of awkward and creepy.). Anyway, the fact is that I need to start writing news posts more often, or period, really. I mean, uploading new comics is important, but it won't mean anything unless I show myself being active. Although, uploading comics kind of shows that, too...

Hmmm... Maybe I could start reviewing "Final Fantasy" games... I'd meant to do that before now. I was going to start with VII, then move to VIII and IX as I completed them. But I won't review VI. Why not? Actually, screw it, I'll do that right now.

"Final Fantasy VI" is the greatest @#$%ing game EVER.

Graphics: 10; Flawless expressions and excellent execution in every aspect. You can tell the designers put their hearts and souls into every pixel.

Sound: 10; Uematsu's greatest soundtrack. There are literally no songs that I do not like. BUY THIS SOUNDTRACK.

Gameplay: 9; It's a freakin' RPG, but the battle system is very well done and customizing is easy.

Story: 10; Best in the series. No, really, it is. I won't say anymore than this for fear of ruining it for everyone... Even though some parts of Square-Headed contain spoilers.

Overall: 10x(Infinity); Buy this game on the SNES, not the GBA. Whoever was in charge of the port $@#%ed the sound up. And if you don't own an SNES, what the hell is wrong with you? Go buy one. I don't even care if it's one of those SNES/NES combo unit things. Get one!


I think the reason why I didn't want to review VI is very apparent now. And in case it isn't, I'll tell you: I can't say anything bad about it. I think it's already pretty obvious what I think of VI anyway. Why do I need a review to tell everyone what they already know? Now VII, VIII and, at some point, IX, I can review because I do have issues with them. Some issues are larger than others, but that's to be expected.

I'm looking at you, VIII.

Dark-NESS, AKA Jeff Hackmann

History of Square-Headed part 5

Posted on in news post history

That comic resonated with me for some reason. Relm and Sephiroth together in the same location... At that time, characters, except for Sephiroth or Kefka, were chosen completely at random. Why I decided on Relm is a mystery, but one thing was not.



Loved it.

Almost immediately after that comic ran, I began to think of the weirdest thing ever: Relm has a crush on Sephiroth. But it didn't stop there. I wanted to really show this off in the comic, I wanted to show Relm hiding in the background of strips Sephiroth appeared in, I wanted some other thing that I'm sure existed. The idea resonated with me so well that I had to write a full script detailing them on a date(which I did). It was then that I realized it was going to be another major Square-Headed arc. I was about to make what I had sworn not to make. Did I care? I did at some point... after I had actually started making the damn comics. But that was because production was dragging on and on and on. But I wanted to make this, even though I was worried about it, I continued to make it without hesitation. I was proud of it.

So now I had two arcs under my belt, what was next? A third arc. I had it written almost immediately after the second was written. But what would come after the third? A fourth arc, which had not yet been written, but would be at some point. And after that, a fifth? You bet. The second arc made me see exactly what I could do with Square-Headed. I could incorporate story without making story the only focus. Also, if I could make the story funny at the same time with only limited drama, then it would be perfect. One major arc per year, each one launching on the sixth of September: that was the plan. But during the third year of Square-Headed, while I was making the third major arc, major problems arose. I had a job, so time was limited, I went on vacation at the same time I was trying to start making the third arc, and after I had finished making the third arc, I couldn't think of anything for singular comics. Actually, I had already shown signs of being unable to think of any good singular jokes long before I started making the comics for Locke and Celes' wedding. I worried about it, but figured that I would build up some ideas while the third arc ran.

That never happened.

After the wedding arc ended, and Square-Headed went back to nroaml, I managed to make only one update, and two weeks of filler. it was then that I decided it was time for Square-Headed to go away... for a time. I didn't want it to end, because there was still so much that I wanted to show. I just needed to get away for a little bit to rethink my strategy, because the strategy I had been using for so long was starting to fail. It lacked evolution which is key to the survival of anything. It needed to evolve. I needed to evolve...

Dark-NESS, AKA Jeff Hackmann.

History of Square-Headed Part 4

Posted on in news post history

The first major Square-Headed story arc... It was something that I wanted to use to trick readers into thinking that I had a new update schedule and a new story oriented format. The basis for the arc was actually just a random collection of ideas that I had accumulated. There was no written script, and no set timeline for it, and as a result it was short. It also marked the first time I ever used Gimp to create comics. I made most of the comics ahead of time(the ones that required Gimp to make), but some were made while the arc was running(the ones that I could make in paint with haste). It was during the construction phase that I realized just how hard maintaining such a schedule was, but that was ok because the change wasn't permanent.

After the first major arc excursion, I vowed I would never do such a thing again. At the time, I felt it was too long, the amount of time it took to create for my skill level seemed astronomical, and, most of all, I felt like I was being just like every other sprite comic out there. I did keep using Gimp, though, and so Square-Headed became a little easier to make. Square-Headed had taken its first steps towards evolution.

Thanksgiving came, Christmas passed, comics were made, and with months of Gimp experience under my belt, I was starting to think of ways to make Square-Headed look better. My first decision was to try and use exclusively real world pictures for backgrounds. It probably would've worked if it hadn't turned out to be impossible to find new backgrounds of exact locations and situations every time. So, I decided to go with the next best thing: upscale everything.

For two years, Square-Headed had been on a 1x scale, which is no change to the original sprite size. And for two years, I didn't see this as a hinderance. I just assumed that if it was hard to see, then you could just get your face closer to the moniter. But there were some things that would be hard to see, even if one did get closer to the moniter. There was also the issue of some things being too large for the characters to hold because of their size, and occasional rotation needs. When I switched to a 2x scale, I realized that there were many more things I could do. Not only that, but is just plain easier to see without having to stick your face in the moniter. I think it may have also helped pave the way for this comic, which is one of the most significant in Square-Headed history. Why? Ha ha! Next time.

Dark-NESS, AKA Jeff Hackmann

History of Square-Headed Part 3

Posted on in history news post

September 12, 2006, Square-Headed officially moved to Smackjeeves. Why? Because it was free; because I needed to improve; because there was a community there that could also view my comics. But the main reason behind it, was because Photobucket started to impose stupid rules upon those who used their service. They only allowed image sizes of 800x600, I think the maximum file size was 1MB, and their interface started going to Hell.

I was displeased.

Smackjeeves worked out well for me. I could see exactly how much traffic I was getting, people could favorite it and give me a rough estimate on fanbase size, and I could make the site look exactly how I wanted it... Assuming I ever learn CSS or HTML... Which I didn't. I made my younger brother design it instead, presumably under the cover of "I need to work on making comics and have no time for web design." But that didn't happen until much, much later. Like, over a year later.

During that first year, I was content to let my comic be its random little self. But something was missing... I felt like I was making some sort of headway in the character development field, but ultimately, I had achieved nothing. Aside from the fact that they were all assholes. Sure, I would try here and there to move Cloud's role as an FFVI-character-in-training in some sort of direction, but it never came out right, and trying to make a story arc out of it would take forever with only one CPW(Comic[s] Per Week). I largely ignored the issue, but it kept eating me. I wanted to do more, I wanted to make a longer story arc. But there were also other things to consider, like, "How long do I keep the arc running? Will I be able to prevent it from becoming an eternal story arc? Will Square-Headed become just another sprite comic?" These were first and foremost in my mind because I feared them. Not only that, but I was also trying to remain a clean webcomic(yeah, that totally happened...), and I was running short on ideas that didn't deal with what I believed to be terrible topics.

Weeks passed, I wrote down a few ideas, but nothing moved foreward. Square-Headed updated each week as usual, unless I forgot to make it or was too busy with something else. And then, one day, just out of the blue, I came up with the answer. I knew how I could weave a story, and retain all that Square-Headed was. It was so simple, that I probably should've thought of it sooner.

Actually, it was just me being a dick again. And once again, you'll have to wait until Friday to find out what happens next. I'm not sure if I'm putting enough information into one post, or too much, or just the right amount. Regardless, this has nothing to do with the fact that I am making ice cream today.

Dark-NESS, AKA Jeff Hackmann

History of Square-Headed Part 2

Posted on in news post history

Ok, so I'm not entirely used to this whole "gotta make a news post every update" thing, yet. Don't judge me.

Getting back to my story, I didn't want Square-Headed to have any discernable continuity. I did this because I believed that doing so would inevitably lead to comic's demise. Not only that, but I also believed Square-Headed to be above every other sprite comic at the time. I thought that because I was basing my comic off a game nobody seemed to care about I was different, and therefore better. There was also the fact that every other sprite comic had a continuing storyline, and none of them seemed to be very entertaining. And so because of this, I got the notion that if I left all continuity out, if I just made it like a regular newspaper strip, I would be better than everyone else making sprite comics. This was before I found "8-bit Theater." But that's besides the point. The point is that, once again, I was a dick. A very egotistical one at that. It didn't help that my brother's kind of helped feed it.

Pressing on, I made several comics and posted them on the forums at ZeldaUniverse.net. If you clicked the link, then you'll notice that I updated for a while with seemingly no readers. Regardless, I pressed on and continued to make them on the grounds that it was a fun little diversion for me. Actually, that's kind of all it is today, too. But I enjoy it.

Just a note, but there are some comics on that forum that remain ONLY on that forum for very good reasons.

After my debut on those forums, I gained a small but loyal following, and I began to worry for the first time about how my comics were recieved. The fact that people were reading Square-Headed was enough to make me really want to improve my comics. That and by August of that year, I had found "8-Bit Theater," and hope began to build. Up to this point, I had believed that all sprite comics were simply reviled by everyone except for a few. I couldn't comprehend the idea that someone might actually make a living off of it, or that they hadn't been shut down by the company who owned the original sprites. That was probably when I first thought about getting a site for Square-Headed. But I didn't go through with it because I couldn't find anyplace that would host it for free... That is until my younger brother found Smackjeeves. But once again, that will have to wait.

Dark-NESS AKA Jeff Hackmann.

I just remembered that another influence on the creation of Square-Headed was my younger brother. He had actually started making his own webcomics before I did. I guess it was a combination of baseless hatred and "me too" that brought Square-Headed to life.

History of Square-Headed part 1

Posted on in news post history

Four years ago, Square-Headed came into existence as an animated signature image for the forums on ZeldaUniverse.net. It was made in paint, it was a pain in the ass to make, oh, and I hadn't even played Final Fantasy VII yet. But I was proud of it. And I was proud of my completely baseless hatred towards FFVII, too.

So, I decided to make more.

Square-Headed originated from the idea that I could make something that would enrage fanboys and fangirls of Final Fantasy VII. I've always prefered Final Fantasy VI to any of the others in the series, and couldn't stand the fact that Final Fantasy VII had so many more fans, stealing the spotlight that I felt rightfully belonged to VI. It didn't help that most of the hype surrounding the game seemed to stem from the initial wow factor it had on players. So much was my biased anger that I wanted to make something to piss all of those people off, maybe even attract a wave of hate mail after me. to accomplish this, I decided that I would make Cloud a complete and utter moron, and place the characters of FFVI on a much higher plane of intelligence. It was a simple premise, one that had been done to death with countless other things, but still a worthy vessel for my rage. But then I thought of something else. What if Cloud was not just a mere moron, but a misunderstood moron who simply wanted to be like the other characters? What if he really liked the way FFVI was made and wanted to become a 16x24x sprite? What if he wanted to abandon his own game and remain in FFVI forever? This was the main storyline of Square-Headed. Something that I never got around to actually using. Oh, I tried to, several times in fact, but it never seemed to work out. Mostly because of the one comic a week format, and my complete and utter refusal to add continuity. Why didn't I want continuity? Next week, people. Next week.

Getting back to the hate mail, it never happened. Big surprise there... Oh, wait, no, I got exactly ONE reaction. It was a single post on a forum I don't even go to anymore, and I don't remember what it said. I do remember being happy about it, though. Looking back on this, I realize something that I probably should've noticed sooner.

I was a dick. A stupid one at that. Oh well, I'll make up for it later in life. Probably.

Dark-NESS AKA Jeff Hackmann.

Day two of updates and things are going smoothly... Mostly... Let's hope they stay that way.