It was enough of an opening for once-silent Nashville graduates to feel comfortable coming forward with stories of their own. She'd spent most of her college life battling bulimia, binge-eating at night and exercising six hours the next day to burn it off. A Mercy graduate suggested that Christian counseling might benefit Ferris more than the secular treatment she'd tried in the past. Upon entering, Ferris was forced to give up her doctor's prescribed nutritional guidelines.
Stripped of the tools she'd previously relied on, Ferris struggled to restrain herself during her first week when Mercy hosted an all-you-can-eat buffet for the Super Bowl. In place of her dietary how-to, Ferris' counselor—a woman she'd later find out had no experience with eating disorders—suggested an alternative to the scientific care that helped control her urges. For treatment, Mercy gave Ferris a binder called Restoring the Foundations RTF , a scripture-based doctrine associated with charismatic Pentecostalism. Her first assignment was to write down the sins of any relatives or ancestors.
According to RTF, a lapse in conduct, such as premarital sex, could invite in an evil spirit that might curse a bloodline for generations. The final step was to cast out the demons, a process that sometimes involved the bedrock of charismatic Pentecostalism: speaking in tongues. John Altum remembers the day his daughter told him about the tongues. He enrolled her at Mercy right after the Australian story broke. She told him about some weird gibberish her housemates were speaking when they got excited.
She was hoping it might happen to her one day. Ferris was a smart year-old, a rehab veteran with most of an English literature degree. This tactic—call it the exorcist method—was new. So was the secrecy. Unlike other recovery centers, Mercy didn't allow the girls to tell each other why they enrolled. Some girls told anyway, and Ferris discovered that Mercy was a one-size-fits-all treatment program, asserting that the evil forces that kept her chained to a treadmill were no different than the ones that caused housemates to turn their arms into railroad tracks.
In Mercy's eyes, a demon was a demon, no matter what you were suffering from. Ferris recalls one girl who was almost like a zombie. According to Mercy brass, the girl's soul was broken into pieces, an explanation Ferris interpreted to mean schizophrenia. One morning she saw the girl standing next to the second-floor railing. Ferris ducked into the kitchen, then heard a crunch like a car crash. The girl had jumped onto the stone foyer below. As paramedics took the girl away, Alcorn provided damage control. She'd raced down to the home from her nearby condo to gather everyone upstairs.
No one was to speak of what happened, she ordered. If anyone on the outside found out, the Devil could use it to keep her from helping more girls. That weekend, during the hour reserved for the girls to call home, Alcorn stationed a counselor nearby to ensure her order was kept. Rebecca was at Mercy during the same time. She says that Alcorn played favorites, indulging obedient staffers with trips to a resort in Florida and firing those who contradicted her.
The joke among the girls was that there was no point in learning an assistant's name. They'd always leave after a few weeks of abuse. And the favoritism didn't end with the staff. Rebecca was close with Jenny, the first Australian girl flown to Nashville. At the time, Alcorn was hoping to open a home in that country, so it was important that everything went smoothly.
Rebecca and Jenny were allowed special privileges. On Sundays in the fall, they had an open invite to watch Titans games with Alcorn. When she dropped them off back at the home, Alcorn encouraged them to lie about where they'd been so that the other girls wouldn't get jealous.
Rebecca was also one of the few people entrusted with the care of Alcorn's two shelties. But the extra duty came with a hazard. One day Alcorn called Rebecca, furious that she'd forgotten to ask an important question of the vet caring for one of her dogs. Alcorn had promised to send a recommendation letter along with Rebecca' application to a Bible college. Now that Rebecca had failed her, Alcorn reneged on her commitment. Disappointing Alcorn meant swift consequences. But sometimes punishment meant more than just a lost piece of paper.
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Christy was the second Australian girl flown to Nashville. Struggles with anorexia had left her so weak doctors warned her heart might give out during the long flight over. Months after coming to Mercy, Christy was still dangerously underweight and looked nothing like the picture of success Alcorn hoped would help her open the new home Down Under.
Christy's parents were concerned over her lack of progress. Alcorn came up with a temporary solution. She told the girl she'd have to fatten up or leave. Then Alcorn put her in the care of a trusted friend for two weeks around Christmas. There she devised a strict diet of thrice daily ice-cream-and-protein milkshakes. The results were immediate: Christy returned to Mercy 20 pounds heavier. Her gain may have been short-lived—within months she was back to a sickly 70 pounds—but it was enough for her parents.
They received a smiling photo of their daughter, post-milkshake diet, courtesy of Alcorn. Alcorn admonished girls for wearing their hair short, despite keeping her owns locks in a shoulder-length bob. If girls got too close they were forced to sign a separation contract that prevented them from being alone together. Mercy didn't advertise itself as a gay-repair ministry, but some girls enrolled to be cured of their "disease. One day a big donor took a tour of Mercy and thought one of the girls seeking to be "fixed" was a boy.
Alcorn was so embarrassed she bought the girl a new wardrobe.
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By the end of the afternoon, she guaranteed there would be no more confusion thanks to the girl's new shirt: "I Heart Boys. For the girls at Mercy, it wasn't hard to guess why Alcorn overreacted. Her speeches routinely boasted of the virginity she'd kept into her 50s. She attributed it solely to the sacrifice she'd made in order to build her ministry. But Rebecca, Ferris and the other girls had another guess as to why Alcorn remained single.
B y the time Jennifer Wynne graduated from Mercy's Louisiana home, she had the kind of relationship with Alcorn she wanted from the start. The two bonded over basketball. After a time first names were no longer necessary; mom and daughter would do just fine. Wynne was planted firmly in Alcorn's inner circle. Her picture graced ministry brochures and she went to Bible college with help from Alcorn. She toured with Point of Grace, working Mercy's booth and bringing in thousands of dollars a night with her reformed-gangbanger testimony. When she came to Nashville she stayed in Alcorn's condo—though she wasn't the only one there.
Lisa had been gay for 17 years, said Alcorn, but now she was straight. Which made it all the more puzzling to Wynne when Alcorn would shut her door at night with Lisa in the bed behind her. Wynne wasn't sure exactly what was happening. She just knew that every once in a while Alcorn could be counted on to rush into her room in the middle of the night, frantically begging Wynne to pray with her that Lisa wouldn't leave.
Thus began a pattern. Lisa would threaten to go and Alcorn would buy her something. First it was a Range Rover. Then a newer Range Rover. And finally a house in Belle Meade. When Alcorn's pastor caught wind of the relationship, he offered a remedy reminiscent of Alcorn's own prescription for preventing lesbianism: a separation contract.
Suddenly Wynne's job title changed. At 20 years old, she was already Mercy's youngest intake director, the second-highest gig in the house. Now she was also Alcorn's alibi. Wynne was dragged along to local coffee shops to witness Alcorn and Lisa's "accidental" run-ins. They'd leave together afterward. Meanwhile, Wynne was hiding a secret of her own. At a Point of Grace concert she'd met a girl named Marcia, who later enrolled in the Nashville home.
The two began spending all their time together. Eventually they kissed. Wynne was distraught. Mercy was everything to her, and everything about Mercy said her relationship with Marcia was wrong. Keeping it a secret was worse. Wynne felt like a criminal.
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Overcome with shame and overwhelmed by her double-duty in Nashville and on tour, Wynne came clean and tendered her resignation. But Alcorn wouldn't accept it. She said she couldn't quit and accused her of doing more than just kissing Marcia. The executive director of the Nashville home gave Wynne a rubber band.
She was to put it around her wrist and snap it whenever she had a gay thought. She broke it the first day. The ax finally fell a week later, when Alcorn caught Wynne calling Marcia during a Kentucky stop on the Point of Grace tour. Alcorn was furious. She told Wynne to pack her stuff.
The Tragic Story of Ned Stark
Wynne cried the whole way back to Nashville while Alcorn berated her from behind the wheel. When they got home, Alcorn watched Wynne pack up her things. She threatened to call the cops if she ever returned and told her that she'd taped every conversation between Wynne and Marcia. Wynne moved back to Dallas and tried to reconcile, sending Alcorn yellow roses for Mother's Day. The next day she got a call from Alcorn telling her she'd put the bouquet in the foyer just so Marcia would have to pass by it every day. She also had another message to deliver.
Alcorn had found Wynne's secret correspondence, a love letter without a return address she'd tried to sneak to Marcia. That said, playing as a pacifist is a special challenge in Delta Rune. You play through the game as Kris, an androgynous schoolkid who gets pulled into a mysterious world through a supply closet Kris populates the world we see at the end of Undertale; a world where monsters and humans seemingly live in harmony. Kris is accompanied by Susie, a violent monster-girl who was instructed to fetch school supplies with them. The duo quickly meet "Ralsei," a kind-hearted monster who explains the three of you are "Lightners"—light-bearing heroes who are destined to travel to the underworld's source of darkness and cut off its flow to restore harmony between Light and Dark.
Failure to do so will end the world. Here's where your troubles begin. Though Ralsei makes it clear you should avoid as many fights as possible and it's something you might want to instinctively do if you've played Undertale , Susie is initially scornful of her "hero" title. She mysteriously acquires an axe when she falls into the underworld, and she's determined to swing it. Gentle lectures don't dissuade her. Coaxing doesn't convince her. When she enters battle, she'll sink her blade into whomever enters her line of sight.
Yes, fights in Delta Rune utilize multiple party members, and offer a side-view of the action versus Undertale's head-on view think classic Final Fantasy versus classic Dragon Quest. That means being merciful automatically becomes more difficult; more commands mean more opportunities to accidentally pick "Fight" instead of "Act," and then whatever specialized command might calm down your foe to the point where you can talk things over.
But Susie's determination to cut down whomever she encounters makes things that much more difficult. She acts on her own, and if you don't warn your foes that she wants to carve her initials in their hides, she might wind up actually killing them. Like Undertale, Delta Rune tries to make you think about the lives of every encounter you come up against enemies are all on-screen now; no more random encounters.
You quickly learn a vicious king is bullying his once-peaceful subjects into fighting, which serves as extra motivation for getting Susie to behave herself. Susie's part of a bigger lesson Delta Rune dishes out, though: It's hard enough to keep the peace by yourself, but when you're responsible for the actions of another, it's a real big job. So far, Delta Rune arouses weird feelings in me not like that. I don't know how far I am, but the effort of reining in Susie makes me suspect Fox has similar lessons in store for me.
Well, let me tell you a thing—".
Undertale ripped my heart out metaphorically , and like I said, I feel Delta Rune has a dark surprise hiding behind it. Who knows where I'll be this time tomorrow. Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain or the digital facsimiles thereof remember her true name.
She's written for Nerve, About. Ultimate Update, Including Sans?! The desire to make "the next EarthBound" is understandable, but it's also misguided in some important ways.