squat research
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This paper is my submission for the 2018 Foundation Multicultural Contest. For those who are unaware of what this is all about, you have to give a piece of writing, a presentation or artwork of some kind about your culture or another culture you're interested in.

In this research paper, I will discuss an overlooked part of many cultures: Squats. I will first give some background information (Brief Description), then discuss some relevant information (Research) and finally provide you with a conclusion.


1. Brief Description

What is a Squat? Those of you who are more experienced around here probably know better than me, but I'm the one writing this, not you, because as you very well know: I need that prize money. So here is what I've got:

Squats are spirits that are bound here on earth and have not yet fully passed away. By that description, most would assume that they are similar to spirits, however, this is a common misconception. In this case, "bound here on earth" means that the bodies have never actually died fully. They do decompose, but the spirit of a squat still lingers in their vessel and can do many powerful things1

People say that Squats look and smell akin to 106, in that they have a bony figure and the only tissue left is sludge, gradually melting away. Squats who reach the surface have been mistaken for hobos, because the skin on their faces sag so far down toward their chest that it can't possibly be perceived as human tissue upon first glance. It looks more like a hoodie that's been dragged through a sewer. You would also think that their flesh would have rotted away already, but somehow that is also false.

If you stop moving and hold your breath, you can sometimes feel a Squat (or if you're lucky, several Squats) writhing underground. They are known to cause seismic movements but we often don't notice them because their wriggling is subtle.

Other names include sleepers, watchmen, house lurkers, forefathers, and land guards.

2. Research

Admittedly, there is not much information regarding Squats, not even on the SCIPNET database. There's no Wikipedia page or any research conducted by even the most renowned paranormal 'experts', which is weird right? It is likely that Squats are inherently antimemetic in nature, or consume their victims at such a fast rate that no information can be spread.

You also have to consider that most victims are atheists and detest the existence of the paranormal. In all honesty, the person who best knew about Squats was Researcher Thomas Pharrell, the most hopeless weirdo2 in the entire site3. Through him, I learned the origins of the squats:

They're mostly just people who were murdered. A lot of Squats around the world died in wars or in a clash between tribes. Tommy4 claimed that he himself lived near a Squat.

Next is the habits of Squats. These behaviours are not exactly what you would call appealing, but they're definitely understandable5. They talk to you and take you for a walk.

Now, considering we're Foundation employees, that's laughable, but hear me out. They almost always take the form of someone you know, a pet you own or call your phone claiming to be a friend or relative. They tire you out, cause bad luck and can even affect your physical and mental health. Then, offering you some kind of relief, they appear to you in their true form (as described above in 'Brief Description') and convince you to leave. Permanently. Most people who have been claimed by squats never return.

This is likely because they're extremely territorial about their land, though nobody really knows why. Interestingly, in many South American, African and Pacific nations, people ask Squats for permission to use land before building anything, almost as a sign of respect for the ancestors. On the other hand, Tommy theorized that is to scare tactic of sorts, but I don't buy into that explanation. Nobody else did either, considering he was picked on by security, administrative staff and even D-Class and people did nothing. If I may pose a question to everyone in Spatial Anomalies, did you ever notice? Were you afraid that defending him would make things worse? If so you were probably right. It was best to just ignore it. There are places that once you step in, you can’t get out.

So anyways, let's say that you're buying a house.

At first, you seem to be tired all the time. Sometimes bad luck comes your way but hey, that's part of life. The longer you spend time in your home, the more exhausted you become. Family and friends stop visiting. "There's something wrong with that house."

"There's something wrong with him."

The house is quiet. You dust it every few hours but it's never clean. The food rots too fast. Water leaks everywhere.

One day you get a visit from someone you've never met before, but you both know each other. You've known them for a long time. The visitor smiles and embraces you, their rotting skin tissue spooled around your shoulder. "Are you ready?" they ask.

"I don't want to." But you're already halfway outside, the wooden porch creaking as your first foot plants down. The other follows suit and the Squat wraps one arm around your shoulder; the other squeezes your palm.

"You're the one who called. It's alright now, let's go together."

And with that, you walk outside. Walking, hand-in-hand, through a sea of pitter-pattered autumn leaves. You don't stop walking.

3. Conclusion

Why did I choose to write about this? Why are Squats important?

I first heard about Squats from Tommy. He used to get roughed up by the Security Department guys on East Wing6.

One day he yells out, begging them not to "step on my Squat research". Admittedly, I laughed with the security because I didn't understand the context, but when I saw them ripping up the documents one of the photos slid towards me and nearly touched my foot. I didn't pick it up, because only a fool would want to associate themselves with Tommy, but it intrigued me.

I didn't interact with him for a while afterwards until one day I saw him selling baked goods. It was Halloween and a lot of staff had their own offices set up to sell stuff. Of course, he never had his own office so he instead set up a small table at the cafeteria. There was nobody else there, so I came over to him and bought some stuff. He smiled and we made some small talk and that's when the topic of Squats came up. How did he always smile like that? When I came to his stall to buy his pastries, he just grinned from beneath the hanging banner of slasher film characters; he didn't even think that I came to mess with him or bully him even though that was the most likely scenario.

We started talking more. November rolled by and I wanted to write about Squats. He gave me another one of those huge grins and an approving nod. "Man, that would be really cool." Tommy was special, and a lot of you know it. I saw people from Spatial Anomalies talking to him in private - laughing with him, in private. I saw you watching that day he was beat up, frail and lost. You were scared, right? Who wouldn't be. Who would want to end up like Thomas Pharrell?

Anyways, I guess I did become a fool like I mentioned earlier, because we ended up sleeping together. I expected his place to be nerd's galore, but it was more than that. The rustling of a tree outside. The smell of lavender. Warm fairy lights hung across the edge of the ceiling, action figures dancing together and the faint flicker of a lava lamp in the corner. I still remember the sheets being soft7. My boots sat snugly on the window sill, snow melting off.

That was the last time I went to his place. I never invited him over to mine. I should've invited him over. I should've invited him over.

Every time someone laughed at him I watched and kept my mouth shut. "I'm not like them," I used to think, but I'm no better than the rest of you. Why was everyone surprised when security put him in hospital? Why was everyone surprised when the Ethics Committee hearing was dismissed8?

I cried in the hospital for hours after that. His face was pale, like something had drained the life out of him. He just sat in the bed and stared at nothing. White bandages over his nose, white light everywhere. When he was eventually discharged he went home and never came out. I stopped by every single day, but I got nothing. I know he was alive, because he'd peek from behind the curtains whenever I rang the bell.

That was up until last week. The door was left wide open - it must have been like that for a while, because snow was already seeping in. There were two trails of footprints, but only one kept going through the thick snow, so far that even after hours of following it, you'd need Foundation-level equipment to make even a fraction of progress.

So now you know why I'm writing this. You know why I couldn't attend the service in his honour. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn't look anyone in the eye. His colleagues, the security agents who messed with him in the first place, HR and the Ethics Committee who just let them get away with it. I couldn't even look at myself. Why didn't I do anything?

Was this because of a Squat? Tommy said he lived near one. Was that it? They say that Squats cause bad luck; that they drain the energy from you; is that why he was picked on? Were we all being influenced by it? Please I need help from you guys in Spatial Anomalies. You must have been researching this too, right? Was he kidnapped?

Or was it that he felt abandoned? We weren't horrible people because of any Squats - we're just horrible people. He must have called the Squat to bring him to peace. They're just walking together, yeah, maybe that's it. The Squats just want to help us. They wanted to help him. Please tell me that the Squat came to help him. Do you know how to contain it? How to bring it back? Or at least tell me that he's okay. I want you to tell me that the Squat has just come to help Tommy, and that he has somebody with him. He's far from us now, far from the Foundation. Far from me. Nobody will ever hurt him again.

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