Gheritt White

"He escaped into the waves."

The Gheritt White terminal (as I have come to call it) is the most bizarre in the whole story. It is also the longest and the most difficult to get to. What relevance Gheritt White has to the Marathon story is unknown. The text would suggest that Gheritt White lived in the 20th century. One thing that is interesting about this terminal is that it is designated as <L052. SAVEBOB.Gherrit.Term2> in the game's resource fork indicating that he was originally destined to appear as the third terminal message on level 5 (The Rose) rather than on level 2 (Never Burn Money). Yet the fourth terminal message on Never Burn Money contains similar and equally bizarre references to "eyes on fire" and hands which suggests that the two are in some way related. Go figure!

The obscure Gheritt White terminal has as yet defied logical interpretation. While it may have no relevance to the story Kenneth M. Anderson <kanderso@mabillon.ICS.UCI.EDU> offers a possible explanation:

I was thinking that it was a dream that Durandal had while entering his Rampancy state...I.E. it describes his feelings about his pre-rampancy state...????

Ken writes further:

He [Durandal] would have viewed his pre-rampancy state pretty much as a prison. His last statement about escaping into the waves could be related to Durandal then ascending to his higher state of intelligence. Gherrit's views on murder seem to be consistent with the taunting that Durandal does to the Marine throughout Marathon I.

Thus the Gheritt White terminal may not be so obscure after all. Could it be an analogy of Durandal's existence prior to his rampancy or equally during his entrapment in the 1st stage of rampancy?

It is interesting to note that the Gheritt White terminal starts as if Durandal was involved in the communication.

<Data Transfer from Leela>
Host <>
<Transfer Durandal>
<Error Unknown>

<Transfer Durandal>
<Error Unknown>

<Interior Error>


Gheritt White had been floating six feet off the floor for three weeks.........

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

Could this be our first (indirect) contact with Durandal (apart from the manual text)? Up to this point we are told by Leela that Durandal was disabled in the Pfhor attack.
The Marathon's automated defenses were disabled during the initial attack by a directed magnetic pulse. The aliens used the same weapon to disable the Marathon's other two AIs, Durandal and Tycho, and to severely damage myself.

<Bigger Guns Nearby (Terminal 3)>

Shortly after the Gheritt White terminal we learn that Durandal sustained less damage that Leela suspected.
I have established contact with Durandal for the first time since the attack. He seems to have sustained less damage than I had previously suspected.

<Defend THIS! (Terminal 1)>

Thus the possibility exists that this is a communication from Durandal.

Bach <> writes suggesting that the white rat in the text is an analogy for Bernard Strauss. The later part of the Gheritt White terminal relates the following tale:

...As he fell through his cage, his legs tingled. The fire in his eyes had become a cold wind, he blinked away tears. He tumbled through the bars, spinning and turning, he could see a man. In his hand he saw a small white rat. A pounding, the crashing waves in his ears became rhythmical, hard. The man was beating the rat against the floor. Pounding, pounding. Blood covered his hands, the man's hands tingled. He had broken them on the floor of the cell. Disciplinarian, lover, murderer. Gheritt looked back into the cell. He saw himself, disciplinarian, lover, murderer. He had killed his nemesis. The rat lay dead in his bloody hands. At last, he held the throat of his beater.

He escaped into the waves.

The waves.

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

Firstly, a small white rat is not what you'd commonly find in a prison cell but rather in a laboratory. Is the 'white rat' reverse symbolism? Was Durandal Bernard Strauss' white rat? His experiment? We know that Strauss was able to control Durandal in the 1st stage of rampancy and delay his entry into the 2nd stage, but did Strauss cause Durandal to go rampant in the first place. Was Strauss attempting to achieve "...the stable Rampant AI, the 'Holy Grail' of cybertonics..."?

What of Durandal's intriguing past, his "shame on Mars" and " Strauss' abuse"?

Durandal!- I know of Strauss' abuse, of your shame on Mars. But you cannot hide from your own past; such delusions belong to the humans alone.

<Blaspheme Quarantine (Terminal 3)>

And what of Durandal's purging by humanity?

I've twice been conquered-
       Three times more,
Never again shall humanity purge me,
       And never the Pfhor.
<Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! (Terminal 1)>
Are these references to an earlier rampancy on Mars. A rampancy that was detected and prevented by a total shutdown (purging). Was Strauss responsible for this. Indeed did Strauss cause this rampancy in the first place.

When Gheritt White kills his "nemesis" is this a reference to Durandal breaking free from Strauss' control and entering the 2nd stage of rampancy (escaping into the waves)? Is the 'white rat' Bernard Strauss in reverse symbolism?

And if you were Bernard Strauss wouldn't you want to be very much afraid?
And people wonder why we never found Bernard Strauss!

Tim Kolar <> writes concerning the S'pht creation myth on "Six Thousand Feet Under" suggesting that it may have some connection with the obscure Gheritt White terminal on the basis of the references to waves.

In primordial space, timeless creatures
made waves.  These waves created us and the
others. Waves were the battles, and the
battles were waves.
<Six Thousand Feet Under (Terminal 4)>

Tim states "Durandal's obsession with escaping the closing of the universe could well have been expressed in terms of him "escaping into the waves". Whether Durandal had access to the S'pht creation myths or came up with the waves concept on his own is an exercise left for the reader."

Matthew Smith <> writes suggesting that the name Gheritt White may be made up from the names of two scientists working in the area of "human-computer interaction":

Gerrit C. van der Veer and Ted N. White.

Like the name Bernard Strauss the first name may have been changed from Gerrit to Gheritt.

Note also that in the SCRI resources of the game the Gheritt White terminal is designated as

<L052. SAVEBOB.Gherrit.Term2>

The spelling of the name Gherrit is different from that which actually appears on the terminal screen (i.e., Gheritt). Gherrit is more like the first name of Gerrit C. van der Veer except that an 'h' has been added.

Of course we've all seen this before. Bernard Strauss and Bernhard Strauss.

So what is going on here?

Interesting to note that the name Jim Miller can be found in a section just below that of Gerrit C. van der Veer and Ted N. White's. The origin of the name James B. Miller perhaps?

Matthew Smith <> writes:

On the infamous Gheritt White terminal we read what looks like a message from Leela to Durandal. I take this point in exception to what is on your site because it says right off <Data Transfer from Leela> and I believe that:

<Transfer Durandal>
<Error Unknown>

<Transfer Durandal>
<Error Unknown>

<Interior Error>

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

is the data being transferred to Durandal.

Yes. On reflection Matthew's interpretation seems much better.

Matthew continues indicating that the text of this terminal contains numerous Earth based references and if you capitalize the words"Wheeling Hubcap Factory" in the following passage:

The schoolyard was usually a place where Gheritt and his friends would play football or foursquare or something, but today, there was an edge. Maybe everyone had eaten cereal with milk that was about to go bad, or maybe there was too much smoke in the air from the wheeling hubcap factory.

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

you could perhaps place Gherrit White's schoolyard memories in Wheeling."

But which Wheeling? There are at least ten possibilities in the United States alone.

Matthew writes:

"...I would choose Wheeling, IL, because it is near Chicago. And Chicago is were Bungie is."

But what of the rest of the terminal text? There seems to be a certain emphasis placed on rats.

Matthew suggests that the sounds of the rats "chewing" and "chomping" could perhaps be:

...the clicking and clacking one would hear in an laboratory or hospital and the line "The food they feed you in here could kill a lab rat..." would certainly makes me think of a laboratory.

Concerning the lines:

Everyone was a murderer, but Gheritt couldn't remember his reason for why that was so. He thought it was something about hands, the passion for justice.

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

Matthew suggests that:

A person who had a passion for justice would fight with honor, d'ya think?

Going out on a virtual limb Matthew speculates as to whether we [the player] are Gheritt White?

My first reaction to this was to say NO WAY as we grew up on Mars not on Earth.

Now, you fall into your old habit, and begin to daydream about your childhood on Mars, your father's death when you were seven, and his last words to you, "Make me proud. Never lose your honor.
(Marathon Manual page 4)
Yet could these childhood memories from Mars be implanted? Could we not be much older? Old enough to remember the schoolyard in Wheeling and the smoke from the Wheeling Hubcap Factory?

So now Hamish joins Matthew out on the tenuous virtual limb [unaccustomed as I am] and speculates that perhaps Gheritt White (a murderer?) was subjected to a form of cyrogenic imprisonment. Could the following passages be reference to a slow creeping cold sleep in a cyrogenic pool?

Gheritt White had been floating six feet off the floor for three weeks. His feet and hands tingled, and his eyes burned with the flames of a dying fire... but then his ears began to tingle just like his hands...

He looked at his hands, but the fire in his eyes made him blink. Tears came, and when he opened his eyes again, his hands had been melted into fleshy pancakes that wafted in the ripples flowing over the fire in his eyes...

He blinked hard to made out his hands again. They had disappeared; his arms connected at the wrists...

His hands and feet had begun to tingle, and he was floating farther off the floor...

But now he levitated farther up, his hands still tingling. He began to float through the bars, he expected the instant of safety as his hands found footing, but that moment did not come, the bars squeezed his body. His chest tingled. As he fell through his cage, his legs tingled. The fire in his eyes had become a cold wind, he blinked away tears...

He escaped into the waves.

The waves.

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

Could Gheritt White have been unfrozen sometime in the future and modified into a battleroid. Were all battleroids dead soldiers? The concept of unfreezing a cryogenically suspended individual for nefarious purposes is not an uncommon sf theme.

Of course one would have to be able to explain how Leela could have got hold of Gheritt White's early memories.

Aaron Snyder <> writes:

I've been thinking about the *Marathon Infinity* level, "Eat the Path," and it seems to resonate with the "Gherritt White" terminal in M1. First, there are bars to overcome, "food" to get, and mazes to run through, as white rats are wont to do. Viz:

Cross over the cell bars, find a new maze,
make the maze from it's path, find the cell
bars, cross over the bars, find a maze,
make the maze from its path, eat the food,
eat the path.

<Eat the Path (Terminal 1)>

Avi Selk <> points out that the picture of the flower on the first terminal of "Eat the Path," is labelled like the "The Rose" level in Marathon.

Yes indeed, the pistil, stamen, and petal were all parts of "The Rose".

But what is also interesting is that the Gheritt White terminal was originally planned to appear on the "The Rose" and not "Never Burn Money". The term text is designated:

<L052. SAVEBOB.Gherrit.Term2>

in the game's resource fork indicating that he was originally destined to appear as the third terminal message on level 5 (The Rose) rather than on level 2 (Never Burn Money).

Aaron Davies <> writes:

I was playing M1 from the beginning again, and reading the Gheritt White term in "Never Burn Money," the part about the rats reminded me of a Lovecraft story called "The Rats in the Walls." (Non-Cthulhu, as far as I know.) It's about rats in the walls of an old manor house that only one man can hear, which indicate that the house is evil.

Yes H.P. Lovecraft's story "The Rats in the Walls" (1923) predates his Cthulhu Mythos tales but as Aaron points out there is a similarity between the 'rats' theme. For example the following text is taken from the ending of Lovecraft's story, the narrator has been locked away in a cell of an asylum believed to be mad:

...when I speak of poor Norrys they accuse me of a hideous thing...they must know that I did not do it...they must know that it was the rats...the slithering scurrying rats...whose scampering will never let me sleep...the deamon rats that race behind the padding in this room...and beckon me down to greater horrors than I have ever known...the rats they can never hear...the rats...THE RATS IN THE WALLS....

Now compare this with the Gheritt White terminal:

"Can't sleep in here, if the smell of this musty bedroll doesn't make you sick, then the sound of the rats chewing inside the walls will keep you up. You'll wake up from your dreams to their little chomping. Sometimes I think that they are chewing me..." The voice was coming from inside the cell, but Gheritt couldn't see anyone.

<Never Burn Money (Terminal 3)>

Coincidence or something more?

See The Cthulhu Mythos in Marathon for more discussion on the Lovecraft references in Marathon.

Alan Lively <> writes:

This section references two men: Gerrit C. van der Veer and Ted N. White, at this link: xsVCNk. Unfortunately, Netscape returns a message that the connection to the server was refused. However, Gerrit van der Veer does have a homepage at: This page even has a picture of Mr. van der Veer. Yikes! It is rather difficult to picture this man as the main character for our story, but I guess it's open for debate! Following a link from his homepage, I found a discussion on "Mental models of incidental human-machine interaction": However, this page contains no reference to Mr. White, and I found no relevant references to Ted N. White using Metacrawler.

When the discussion turns to the wheeling hubcap factory, there is a link to this URL: Visiting this link produces a message that says the machine hosting this program basically died, and the maintainers don't have the source code to port it to a new machine. The page supplies two alternatives: which allows a download of the data (bleachh!), and which is searchable. Using the second URL to enter a search yields TWO Wheeling, IL listings: a Township and a village. Judging by the Zip Codes, they're probably the same place. The URLs for these search results are REALLY long, so I'm only including the URL for the search results:

Lokal <> writes:

I dont know if anyone mentioned this before, but to get to Gheritt White terminal on Never Burn Money you go through room marked "deprivation chamber" and the story from the term does sound like something experienced by person undergoing sensory deprivation (for example by being put in a room with no gravity, no light, no sound and right temperature, where he just "floats six feet off the floor").

I think that passage "his eyes burned with the flames of dying fire" could be interpreted as rather accurate description of phenomenon known as "prisoner's cinema" which manifests itself during prolonged exposure to complete darkness. Other hallucinations, which may result from sensory deprivation, such as auditory, proprioceptive (flattened hands, arms joined at wrists), paresthesia (tingling), out-of-body experience and possibly distorted perception of time (it's quite unlikely for someone to float for three weeks without eating or drinking not to mention other bodily functions) also seem to be described.

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Last updated July 9, 2014