The newest installment of Stillman’s Slab is a creative mashup. The subject of this weeks’ dissection is the doomed scholar researcher Abd al-Hazir, but I conduct this analysis with a mixture of real time Halloween updates, set in something approximating the real world. You’ve really got to read it and view the images to get the full impact, so start below, and click through for the full piece.

    Stillman’s Halloween Special: Prepare to Die

    Tonight I will be recounting all I have learned about Abd al-Hazir and his true purpose in Diablo 3. The dissection is over and the slab is cleaned, but there will be precautions. The door is bolted, and the windows are barred. With a SERIAL KILLER on the prowl one can never be too careful. Science never sleeps folks, and I am sure the recent killings in my neighborhood will not deter us from learning the secret of Abd al-Hazir.

    As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Abd al-Hazir’s name is almost an anagram of Alzheimer with six of the same letters in each name. With Alzheimer’s disease being neurodegenerative and Abd al-Hazir being a historian and lore buff like Cain, I cannot help but presume that Abd is another rambling old geezer or Cain copycat. So even if Cain dies when the Barbarian breathes on him, his clone will continue the clingy legacy of boring rants. If we have to continuously visit a nursing home to gain insight and pieces of the Diablo 3 puzzle, I was hoping the person we get to greet and obey could be the hot nurse.


    But maybe Abd al-Hazir will at least be a strapping young lad with the manners to step aside and let the Diablo 3 heroes do their thing independently. Or perhaps he will be exactly what he appears to be now: a Blizzard creation to provide extra lore and Arreat Summit styled information for those who are interested. He might not even be in the game itself (let’s all pray). One thing is for certain though: This character Blizzard describes as a Sanctuary’s ?renowned gentleman, historian and scholar? is actually there for a secretive purpose which I will reveal to you now.Well, first I better see who is knocking at the door.

    ?Good evening sir. Is this the Stillman residence? Is everything alright here tonight Mr. Stillman? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost. I’m Sargent Allan. I’m sure you’ve heard of the disappearances and murders in this area, so we’ve been keeping a close watch on people’s houses. I see you’ve got a lot of burglar proofing work done on your premises. We’d appreciate it if you’d report any suspicious sightings to us right away if you happen to notice anything. No, we can’t discuss that case with you. But we can say it’s a top priority. Give us a call if you see or hear anything. Again, we can’t discuss anything about Chip Martin or any of the other victims. Yes, he was well known around here, but all we can tell you is we’re working on it. It’ll be done when it’s done. Ok, good night now.?

    Gosh, the authorities are taking a few dead drunks pretty seriously. Anyway, I find it fitting to announce Abd al-Hazir’s hidden purpose on a night when the whole town is in a state of FEAR and HORROR. Abd al-Hazir is actually in the game to inject an extra element of horror into Diablo 3 and help validate the horror that is already there. He is always fainting, trembling, or vomiting at the sight of gruesome discoveries he stumbles upon. Some of his over dramatized reactions even make us wonder why he has to be such a sissy baby. Then again, we must keep in mind that while players see dead bodies every second or two, the timid Abd al-Hazir is a commoner, a layman who has seen peace and rainbows for 20 years. And as we all know, rainbows in Sanctuary have a magical way of calming and delighting every last one of us. Poor old Abd was entranced by the rainbows and is ill equipped to deal with seeing the slightest drop of blood.

    Hang on, there is another knock on the door. It must be trick or treaters. I’ll give them each a big bag of chips.

    ?Sorry to disturb you again Mr. Stillman. We’ve just got some news radioed from our captain. Everyone in town is being sent parcels by the CULPRIT. They’re paper cutouts of dolls or gingerbread men. How did he explain that, Pete? They’re all linked together by the hands and toes, he said. Yards and yards of them. And everyone’s been getting them in the mail. The Culprit likes to grind down the WHOLE SKELETON of his victims?even the teeth. He makes a fine powder with the bones and glues it to the paper dolls. DNA testing just confirmed that three miles of paper dolls are all coated with the same victim’s bone residue! And that’s just what residents sent in to us! Did you receive anything like this in the mail Mr. Stillman? You haven’t got one yet, eh? Well is it alright if the detective and I come in and take a look around? We just want to make sure everyone is safe tonight. Excellent. Your computer? Uh, yes, go about your work if you like. We might be a while.?

    Paper dolls. Too bad Diablo 3 has gone back to using the old paper doll inventory over the much nicer 3D model they had going on. Now that is horrifying. Anyway, maybe Abd al-Hazir is the monster lore guy kind of like Cain is the item lore guy. Can you imagine both of those town criers in the same town having a conversation? That would bring back some memories:

    Frankly, I am running low on old geezer jokes.  If Abd is the monster expert I should have asked him about the monster that’s been HAUNTING my town when I had the chance.  I hope Abd al-Hazir is not so important in Diablo 3 to have more of a role besides expressing DREAD and fear all the time. The game itself will provide a good scary atmosphere and, just like with modern horror movies, people are paying for the atmosphere and entertainment rather than actually being scared. Cain is too comical, old, and wobbly to be taken seriously anymore, so that explains the invention of Abd al-Hazir as the horror element reinforcer. And that Twinkie addict cop looks familiar too…I guess old habits die hard.

    “Hey Pete, come take a look at this. It almost looks like an operating table disassembled and reassembled into an art sculpture. Weird. Weirdest thing I’ve seen since the forensic file on Chip. The funny thing about our Culprit is that none of the bone dust has any blood components in it. It’s pure bone, Pete. The captain thinks our guy is DISSOLVING the bodies in HYDROCHLORIC ACID! There’s sick, and then there’s forenSICK! No, I didn’t know that Mr. Stillman. Did you know that blood is actually produced in red bone marrow, Pete? That would make it even harder to get the pure bone, would it not? Pete? You’re not getting sick in there are you??

    Pete is the quiet one. I wonder how quiet the zombie Abd al-Hazir will be when those cultists are through with the remains I gave them. [Don’t worry people; the Diablo dissections are all legit!] Will Abd al-Hazir start off dead in Diablo 3, or will players have to rescue him? It is the old ?not knowing? that instills even more of a horror element with this character. It’s actually not a bad move at all by Blizzard. Now, you may be wondering what the point is of Blizzard placing a regular Joe in the game who is mostly there to experience terror and PANIC and share it with us. Why bother when there are plenty of horror elements already scattered though the game like…well, like bone dust spread across my neighborhood? Heh heh. Well I can explain that for you.

    ?Mr. Stillman, could you come over here? We’d like a word with you. Would you mind explaining what you do with this grinding wheel and why Pete burned his hand on your bathtub? We’ve been keeping a close eye on your power bill Mr. Stillman. To be honest, we obtained a warrant for…various documents about your purchases and another warrant to search your place in case you refused to let us in. If there’s anything you wanted to tell us about your ABNORMALLY HIGH electricity usage now would be the best time, Mr. Stillman. An artist you say? Harsh cleaning products? I only see the one sculpture here. People are talking, Mr. Stillman, and they’re saying you’re more of a reclusive freelance scientist. Pete, search the freezer.?

    I have no idea what they are talking about. I record all my wheelings and dealings in greater detail than Abd al-Hazir himself, and there is not a single suspicious entry in my journal. I’m sure they will read it and straighten this whole confusing ordeal out. And where are all the trick-or-treaters? Is the whole town PARANOID over all the alcoholics disappearing one by one, slowly but surely turning up in everyone’s mail boxes? What’s the problem?

    ?All units! This is the captain! The lab has gotten back to us with some SHOCKING findings! DNA evidence is turning up everywhere! And I mean everywhere. It’s all over the whole damn town! It’s on people’s roofs fifty miles away. It’s in people’s cars, on their window sills, on their lawns! Tiny bits of HUMAN TISSUES! The Culprit has not only been dissolving the bodies in acid, but he has also BOILED the GRUESOME acidic sludge sending our victims into the atmosphere. The last victim rained down this very Halloween night! Report to the station immediately for your standard issue umbrellas and galoshes! Eye goggles are available for officers who request them.?

    Whatever. Anyway, Abd al-Hazir is in Diablo 3 because SOMEONE has got to be scared and petrified of the evil monsters….and it sure won’t be us players. No, we have been bombarded with blood and have become completely desensitized to gore and terror. Nothing scares us anymore. Blizzard can bring back King Leoric, have a Smash TV sized boss like the Siegebreaker in every act, and have exploding palm spray blood across one quarter of the screen. But none of these efforts will horrify todays players. Some of us will not even think any of this is DISGUSTING after all the violent movies, games, and TV shows we have been exposed to.But at least Abd al-Hazir will remind us what it was like in the days gone by when scaring people was possible. He has quite a burden to carry and must take on all the fears and trembles that we players just do not experience anymore. Sanctuary is going to chew him up and spit him out, and it looks like he is doing a good job of that before the game is even released. In fact, many horror movies actually have a character whose sole purpose is to run around screaming in fear and overreacting. And that is what Abd al-Hazir is doing…even though he is not a chick. Unfortunately.  Now you know his little secret.

    “Oh my God! My wife was gardening today! She eats the string beans RAW, Pete! Raw!! Right off the plant. And don’t you dare laugh Pete! You’re boy is staying over tonight and he’s playing in the sandbox! All the candy apples we ate tonight have rained GORE on them! Good Lord!! The girls! They do a rain dance whenever it comes down like this! Come on, we’ve got to wash the drunk’s BLOOD off them! Those creeps are PROMISCUOUS and have diseases! I swear to God Pete, I’m packing up tonight and getting my family the bejesus out of this town! This case can go to Hell!?

    Pity. Those cops were the only human contact I recall having in 14 months. Then again, sometimes I block out certain memories and only recall laughing at myself in the mirror for hours and hours on end. There’s nothing like good hysterical laughter. Sometimes I even imagine a man in the bathtub laughing with me, and we compete for the widest smile. I sure hope they catch the Culprit. Maybe then the police could work on other, more serious problems like finding out who has been vandalizing my newspapers! Someone has been cutting gingerbread men out of them.

    But don’t worry about me. You best stay away from the liquor store for a while. Lock your doors, and have some bars installed on your windows. And whatever you do, don’t go outside after dark. Until next time, back to the grind.

    Opinions expressed in columns and guest articles are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

    Stillman’s Slab is where all Diablo characters are dissected and examined piece by piece. It is written by Nicholas Stillman to reintroduce Diablo series topics in a new light or put forth novel themes that have not been fully explored in the forums. Slurry collected from the centrifuge will always contain something new and unheard of at the time of publication. Post your comments below or directly.

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