I just want to start off by saying if you want an answer at the end, prepare to be disappointed. There just isn't one.

I was a storyboard artist at Nickelodeon Studios for a year in 2005 for my degree in animation. I didn't get paid, at least, not as much as I wished, but it did have some perks beyond education. My family didn't see it as a big job, but to work at a major studio, I would've gone excited over the opportunity.

Now, since I worked directly with the editors and animators, I got to view new episodes days before they aired. I'll get right to it without giving too many unnecessary details. At that time, we had very recently made the SpongeBob film and the entire staff were somewhat sapped of creativity so it took them longer to start up the series. But the delay lasted longer for more upsetting reasons. There was a problem with the series 4 premiere that set everyone and everything back for several months.

Me and two other employees were in the editing room along with the lead animators and sound editors for the final cut. We received the copy that was supposed to be "Fear of a Krabby Patty" and gathered around the screen to watch. Now, given that it isn't final yet animators often put up a mock title card, sort of an inside joke for us, with phony, often times lewd titles, such as "How sex doesn't work" instead of "Rock-a-bye-Bivalve" when SpongeBob and Patrick adopt a sea scallop. Nothing particularly funny but work related chuckles. So when we saw the title card "Squidward's Suicide" we didn't think it more than a morbid joke.

One of the interns did a small throat laugh at it. The happy-go-lucky music played as was normal. The story began with Squidward practicing his clarinet, hitting a few sour notes like normal. We heard SpongeBob laughing outside and Squidward stopped, yelling at him to keep it down as he has a concert that night and needs to practice. SpongeBob said okay and went off, probably to see Patrick. The bubbles splash screen came up and we saw the ending of Squidward's concert. This was when things began to seem off.

While playing, a few frames repeated themselves, but the sound didn't (at this point sound was synced up with animation, so, yeah, that's not common) but when he stopped playing, the sound finished as if the skip never happened. There was slight murmuring in the crowd before they began to boo him. Not normal cartoon booing that is common in the show, but we very clearly heard malice in it. Squidward was in full frame and looked visibly afraid. The shot went to the crowd, with SpongeBob in center frame, and he too was booing, very much unlike him. That wasn't the oddest thing, though. What was odd is everyone had photorealistic eyes. Very detailed. Clearly not shots of real people's eyes, but something a bit more real than CGI. The pupils were red. Some of us looked at each other, obviously confused, but since we weren't the writers, we didn't question its appeal to children yet.

The shot went to Squidward sitting on the edge of his bed, looking very forlorn. The view out of his porthole window was of a night sky so it asn't very long after the concert. Suddenly, at this point there was no sound, literally no sound, not even the feedback from the speakers in the room. It was as if the speakers were turned off, though their status showed them working perfectly. He just sat there, blinking, in this silence for about 30 seconds, then he started to sob softly. He putted his hands (tentacles) over his eyes and cried quietly for a full minute more, all the while a sound in the background very slowly grew from nothing to barely audible. It sounded like a slight breeze through a forest.

The screen slowly began to zoom in on his face. By slow I mean it was only noticeable if you look at shots 10 seconds apart side by side. His sobbing got louder, more full of hurt and anger. The screen then twitched a bit, as if it twisted in on itself, for a split second then back to normal. The wind-through-the-trees sound got slowly louder and more severe, as if a storm was brewing somewhere. These sounds, and Squidward's sobbing, sounded real, as if the sounds weren't coming from the speakers but as if the speakers were holes the sounds were coming through from the other side. As good as sound as the studio like to have, they don't purchase the equipment to be that good to produce sound of that quality.

Below the sound of the wind and sobbing, very faint, something sounded like laughing. It came at odd intervals and never lasted more than a second so we had a hard time pinning it (we watched this show twice, so pardon me if things sound too specific but I've had time to think about them). After 30 seconds of this, the screen blurred and twitched violently and something flashed over the screen, as if a single frame was replaced.

The lead animation editor paused and rewound frame by frame. What we saw was horrible. It was a still photo of a dead child. He couldn't have been more than 6. The face was mangled and bloodied, one eye dangled over his upturned face, popped. He was naked down to his underwear, his stomach was crudely cut open and his entrails laid beside him. He was laying on some pavement that was probably a road.

There, what we spotted was a shadow of the photographer. There was no crime tape, no evidence tags or markers, and the angle was completely off for a shot designed to be evidence. It would seem the photographer was the person responsible for the child's murder. We were of course mortified, but pressed on, hoping that it was just a sick joke.

The screen flipped back to Squidward, still sobbing, louder than before, and half body in frame. There was now what appeard to be blood running down his face from his eyes. The blood was also done in a photorealistic style, looking as if you touched it you'd get blood on your fingers. The wind then sounded as if it were that of a gale blowing through the forest; there were even snapping sounds of branches. The laughing, a deep baritone, lasted at longer intervals and came more frequently. After about 20 seconds, the screen again twisted and showed a single frame photo.

The editor was reluctant to go back, we all were, but he knew he had to. This time the photo was that of what appeared to be a little girl, no older than the first child. She laid on her stomach, her barrettes were in a pool of blood next to her. Her left eye was too popped out and popped, naked except for underpants. Her entrails were piled on top of her above another crude cut along her back. Again the body was on the street and the photographer's shadow was visible, very similar in size and shape to the first. I had to choke back vomit and one intern, the only female in the room, ran out. The "episode" resumed.

About 5 seconds after this second photo played, Squidward went silent, as did all sound, like it was when this scene started. He putted his tentacles down and his eyes were now done in photorealism like the others were in the beginning of this episode. They were bleeding, bloodshot, and pulsating. He just stared at the screen, as if watching the viewer. After about 10 seconds, he started sobbing, this time not covering his eyes. The sound was piercing and loud, and most fear inducing of all is his sobbing was mixed with screams.

Tears and blood were dripping down his face at a heavy rate. The wind sound came back, and so did the deep voiced laughing, and this time the still photo lasted for a good 5 frames.

The animator was able to stop it on the 4th and backed up. This time the photo was of a boy, about the same age, but this time the scene was different. The entrails were just being pulled out from a stomach wound by a large hand, the right eye was popped and dangled, blood trickled down it. The animator proceeded. It was hard to believe, but the next one was different but we couldn't tell what. He went on to the next, same thing. He want back to the first and played them quicker and I lost it. I vomited on the floor, the animating and sound editors gasping at the screen. The 5 frames were not as if they were 5 different photos, they were played out as if they were frames from a video. We saw the hand slowly lift out the guts, we saw the kid's eyes focus on it, we even saw two frames of the kid beginning to blink.

The lead sound editor told us to stop, he had to call in the creator to see this. Mr. Hillenburg arrived within about 15 minutes. He was confused as to why he was called down there, so the editor just continued the episode. Once the few frames were shown, all screaming, all sound again stopped. Squidward was just staring at the viewer, full frame of the face, for about 3 seconds. The shot quickly panned out and that deep voice said "DO IT" and we saw in Squidward's hands a shotgun. He immediately putted the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Realistic blood and brain matter splatter the wall behind him and his bed, and he flew back with the force. The last 5 seconds of this episode showed his body on the bed, on his side, one eye dangled on what was left of his head above the floor, staring blankly at it. Then the episode ended.

Mr. Hillenburg was obviously angry at this. He demanded to know what the hell was going on. Most people left the room at this point, so it was just a handful of us to watch it again. Viewing the episode twice only served to imprint the entirety of it in my mind and cause me horrible nightmares. I'm sorry I stayed.

The only theory we could think of was the file was edited by someone in the chain from the drawing studio to here. The CTO was called in to analyze when it happened. The analysis of the file did show it was edited over by new material. However, the timestamp of it was a mere 24 seconds before we began viewing it. All equipment involved was examined for foreign software and hardware as well as glitches, as if the time stamp may have glitched and showed the wrong time, but everything checked out fine. We don't know what happened and to this day nobody does.

There's an investigation due to the nature of the photos, but so far, nothing's coming of it. No child seen were identified and no clues were gathered from the data involved nor physical clues in the photos. I never believed in unexplainable phenomena before, but now that I've something happen and can't prove anything about it beyond anecdotal evidence, I think twice about things.