Archive for the Creepypastas and General Writing Category

About a Ham Sandwich

Posted in All the Things, Creepypastas and General Writing with tags , on March 14, 2013 by trivialpunk

I thought I’d provide you with an example of my early work to make up for the lack of video and reviews, because I’m nothing if not indulgent. Cheers!

 

 

Had it really only been a day? The morning had gone smoothly enough. It was almost picturesque, in a sense. Memories were stacked on top of images on top of memories and the days blurred together. Was he really remembering the morning before or was he remembering every morning?

A small ray of the morning sun had caressed his cheek and ushered him from his unfettered dreams. The cool air from the night before had flown, leaving him wrapped in an oven-like cocoon. A subtle soapy scent of fabric softener and perfume mingled with a very human aroma that filled his nose with the scents of a restful morning. Beside him, not yet awake, lay his wife. Her skin had all the warmth of baking bread, yet felt cool to his touch. It seemed that the same warmth which held them in its embrace began to seep into and kindle within his body, filling him with its slow intoxication. So much did he wish that this moment would stretch on for the rest of the day and let them bathe in the bright, unforgiving light of happiness.

“Yet, all good things must end” he supposed and leaned closer to her. For a second, her warmth and the scent of her hair held him transfixed, leading him by the hand into another spiral of memories reborn. Farther and farther he fell in to a euphoric cycle of reinvention and self-recrimination. Until, at last, his mind lay once more in his basket of misery, to that warm bed and his glowing bride.

Sunlight sparked off of her, as if, upon contemplation, it feared ruining the pale brilliance of her sultry skin. These deflected rays danced within her wake and lent an aura to her delicate quiescence. So it went for a minute or more until, shaking himself, he brushed his lips against her ear and whispered a loving call from slumber. A trebled groan and smiling lips beneath an outstretched arm answered him. “Morning hun”.

So it was and always had been. An endless stretch of blissful mornings lay behind him. Each and everyone one, it seemed, stretched on endlessly, but as a fleeting infinite. All of them bound to end without the proper reverence they deserved and he desired. Why had he, for so long, thrown each away with the cavalier attitude of a man possessed? A thoughtless, reckless deed began each of his days, followed by a relentless drive to forget. Only now, in this light that pierced him so, could he… would he… be forced to remember.

It was with this attitude of reminiscent allegations that he approached the fridge to provide sustenance for a body which wanted none of it. “Still gotta eat. Still gotta live,” he reminded himself over and over. Nothing he could conjure seemed palatable. Even the finest foods he could imagine seemed as a fetid froth to his imagined tongue. With a reluctant tug, he cracked the fridge and the pristine light from within spilled forth to hold aside the gloom for a time. His eyes were instantly drawn to the bottom shelf where, wrapped in immaculate form, there lay a sandwich. The last sandwich she had made for him before she had gone from his life.

He stumbled backwards as if struck. How could he feel so deeply for this single item?  Still, there it lay, an icon of her love for him. Carefully wrapped in plastic and assembled with care, it looked to him like an idol of worship. It wasn’t just that it was a sandwich, no. It was his sandwich made by her. In the time they had spent together, she had learned every nuance of his preferences and he had learned to love the special touches she had poured into each and every bite. The mustard spread to run just to the edges when squeezed so that no bite was dry and yet none was suffused with a totality of mustard seed. So too were the ham, lettuce and cheese balanced so that each bite was as complete as the last. Even the sandwich itself was a reflection of her considerations for him. It was a Tuesday sandwich and on Tuesdays he always craved ham.

Yet, had he always considered these nuances? Once more, the rain of his wasteful, unappreciative nature beat down upon his head. So, the sandwich lay there, unassuming, like the relic of an age long past. He couldn’t bring himself to eat it, despite the ceaseless cravings that threw themselves against the walls of his heart. For the time being, he contented himself with an apple. As he tore the flesh and meat from the apple’s core, he thought back to another lost paradise in a garden long forgotten. He too, it seemed, had let such gifts slip away through pure disdain. The day closed and he hated himself all the more.

Night wrapped his small dwelling in its unassuming embrace. Cold and distant, it held the corners and edges of his home in a perfect tranquility. Through the quiet virtue of its velvet wrapping the cracks and chips of time were obscured; slowly worn away by the fading light and its absent revelations.

Even during a fitful night, with much desperate grasping at peace, the rise and fall of his chest was steady. A breath in and it expanded, tossing and turning, retraction followed and his tension relieved itself. In and his need for air was sated, to be expelled once more. In… out… in… out… Until, the tenuous knuckles of sanity failed and from his claws slipped the sweet breath of oblivion. In once more and it burst the bubble of sleep.

Darkness held still the roaring night. No, there was little noise within this empty cavern. But so quiet was it that every notion and blip rang as a cacophony in the darkness. Tick… slowly he fought through the clouds …tick… of blackness until the tick…. World took form.

“A midnight snack perhaps…”

He couldn’t admit to himself the reason he stalked towards the fridge. Long hallways and daunting drops stood between him and the euphoria of the light that drew him. Unthinking, he left the partial gloom of his bedroom.

Breathing filled his ears and the light touches of the world around him brushed past his fingers. Nothing seemed to lie before him, shadows cast upon shadows played across existence and obscured the hall. He drifted within a globe of his own, isolated in a sea of ambiguity. Pictures he knew hung somberly out of sight sailed silently past. Scraping from the carpet beneath his feet competed with the tremulous tremor of his ragged breath for clarity, drowning silently, desperately in the drone of the approaching light. Again, the bubble of epiphany would burst under the tantalizing electricity of a wall, or corner or chair. The wall would break and all of the weight of suppression would drain away. Then suddenly, he was suffocating once more.

Less and less the world pressed in on him. The closer he got to his intended, the more the mist cleared. Eager surroundings encroached, touched him, and, with a slight exertion, his world was pierced and shattered. The shell flaked off and clarity seemed to stream from the white monolith before him.

Finally, he stood unveiled before the object of his attentions, a Freon-fueled deity of the coldest nature. Over and over again, the shadows caressed him freely and stole the warmth from his skin. Shivering slightly in this unbearable heat of oppression, he twitched as a tingling writhed along his fingers and crashed through his arm. Slowly at first, but with gathering momentum, his arm raised itself, a broken appendage on a sadistic marionette’s string, and moved towards the handle. As his fingers closed around the cold polymer and his arm began to flex inwards slightly, he hesitated.

It wasn’t exactly the darkness that stayed his hand. The siren song of repressive self-recrimination had long since lost its magic. A sickly sweet scent caressed his nostrils. He wondered, not for the first time, how long he’d been standing there, frozen. Not in the fridge, but in this world. Had it really been a day? Again… he was frozen in the wake of some passing behemoth sending ripples through the blackness… A shaken leaf on an imagined pond caught in the steps of a greater beast. It turned, met his gaze and, with the barest thought, stripped every last piece of resolve he’d mustered. It offered him nothing, no reason for hesitation, but left no reason to continue.

In the distance, a song drifted: a beautiful melody of moving lips and careless finger tips. It whispered briefly in his ear and asked him to swim. Not for the song, it had long since played, but so that he may dance again.

“Why?”

The question echoed to no one and came back to ring in his ears. The answer struck a quiet, discordant melody in his chest. It wasn’t beautiful, smooth or flowing, but he could move to it. Strings lifted and he pulled the door open. A thin beam of light pierced the darkness and swept it clean. Nothing existed beyond that doorway. The room, illuminated, showed itself unkempt, full of the rot of a man’s soul. Within its embrace lay an answer, wrapped in its polyethylene package.

Fingers pried and it breathed in. A familiar scent wafted up from the supple container and brought it all back. Regardless, he was not the slave of those sights and scents any longer. It was his ears he danced to now and the silent prayer their music offered. Possessed once more, he ripped the sandwich from the bag and tore a piece off. It sat, quivering, on his tongue for a moment’s time. Another, smaller, piece followed the first. Hot tears rolled down his cheeks. Reddened eyes spat their final wishes as both bits of his wanton past rested in time’s brief sanctuary from his ivory threshers. They’d both become dry.

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A Writer’s Aside: Horror, Perspective and Not Cocking It Up

Posted in All the Things, Creepypastas and General Writing, Everything Else with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2013 by trivialpunk

Hello dear reader! I write to you from my death-bed today. Well, not literally. I’m just very sick. I don’t have Sherlock or my TARDIS back (PC and phone respectively), but I thought I’d upload some thoughts anyways, seeing as I’ll probably be sleeping through tomorrow. Today, we’re going to be talking about writing, so, if you’re not interested, turn away ye mortal beings. Hide thine eyes. Shit doth meetest the fan. Not really, but I thought I’d get your attention before I make three more up-coming announcements!

-I’ll be starting a new series I’m calling  The Humble Bundle Blitz! Look for it; I miiiiight be giving away some free games. Shh.

-I’m going to be picking out the games to go on my voting list for the next Letsplay in the series running parallel to Trivial Drunk Gaming, because I’d like something of me playing games while sober. You know, just so there’s more evidence than Star Fox. To help with that, either leave a comment or send me a tweet with a horror-themed game that you’d like to see me play. I’ll compile a short list of games I can record with my current tech and off we’ll go, next week, with the voting process.

-I’m thinking of starting a run of horror movie reviews, because I love them. It’ll be a summer thing, but I think we could have some fun with it. If that sounds cool, then drop off a horror movie favorite and I’ll give it a watch. It’s nice to live right beside an occult movie store. It’ll help expand my horizons and let me test the waters for this concept.

Alright, onwards! Unfortunately, again, I didn’t get to spot-light anything this week, because my laptop is a pain to read from, so I just did a lot of novel reading.

Speaking of novels, it’s probably not surprising that I read a lot, but it might shock you to learn that I do a fair bit of story writing. It doesn’t? Yeah, that was a bad call on my part, but not entirely unrelated. You see, what I did there was exposition. Air-quotes: Thanks, right? The reason I bring it up is because, today, we’re going to take a quick look at exposition, tense and perspective. These are little decisions that will rain fire and havoc on anything you try to write, especially horror.

The reason I say “especially horror” a lot is because it’s a tricky, deceptive muse. It’s heavily dependent on what your audience knows, what they don’t know, what they will imagine, what they can’t imagine, how they experience, what they experience, and why. There’s more to it, obviously, but those are the biggest hidden questions that writers need to answer. Horror experiences must be carefully cultivated; they’re incredibly easy things to mess up. One inch over the line can bring you from “extreme” to “campy” in no time. It’ll never be the same thing that ruins the experience, either. Then again, as writers, we can’t control everything. So, we write for specific audiences, to specific audiences, for ourselves, to ourselves, you get the pattern. In a way, horror stories are a lot like sex. They both rely on a certain degree of emotional stimulation. Maintaining those emotional arousal patterns can be key to a successful “story.” They can even follow similar narrative excitation curves. You can start out with a small amount of arousal or stimulation and build to a climax. You can build to one and pull back just before the edge (fake-out scares in movies are the worst!). You can get to a certain spot and just maintain an edge for the entire experience, the tension and agonizing denial being almost as effective as the pay-off. You can do multiple iterations of different story curves within the same session. Is this metaphor getting too elaborate? Tortured, even?

Whips and pains aside, it does the job of illustrating how important it is to cull and cultivate an experience with specificity. A dog staring at you from the edge of the bed is disconcerting, but a live chicken might be a deal-breaker, unless you prepare the ground-work beforehand. With that in mind, we can see the place of exposition. A lot of movies front-load their exposition, because they don’t have as much space as a novel to carefully slide it in. However, as we’re aware, you can tell a lot from a glance, a picture or a demeanor. Picture, thousand typewriter monkeys, etc. We’re not here to do a comparison but to look at what they have in common. That, of course, is sometimes doing it badly. Front-loading narrative exposition may be necessary, lazy, sloppy, whatever (pick the one that applies to a certain movie), but there’s a lot of information that can be told to us through action or omitted entirely. If you want an example, then watch That-Scifi-guy’s review of Zombie Apocalypse. There’s a ton of stuff they could have shown us while entertaining us; this goes double for Johnny Mnemonic. The opening to Dawn of the Dead (2004) is a good example of weaving a ton of exposition into a brief montage of shots that tell us an entire story in an entertaining way. More to the point, when it comes to horror, you want your audience interpreting and  experiencing as much as possible in a movie. Being visceral is one of a movie’s most commanding strengths. By the same token, you wouldn’t write the same story you’d show.

Look at Lovecraft or Stephen King. Most of the horror in their books come from cerebral ideas or vivid imagery. So, when you’re telling a story or explaining a scene, you want enough information but not too much. Text stories are mentally animated by the reader, so they’ll often have pre-baked concepts that you can take advantage of. That means that you can provide a minimum of detail and still get a good scene out of it. You don’t want to overload your reader with details; it will pull them out of imagining the situation and make them focus on the background. (If you need to do this to highlight an area, then don’t just mention it specifically.) For instance…

…echoed steps preceded him into the grey expanse of the warehouse. The sound struck out over the silent pool of blood. The candles. The contraption that held her aloft. It wasn’t until his footsteps quietly slinked back that Harry got a look at the scene. By then, it was too late…

It’s pretty pulpy, but it was written on the spot and illustrates my point. Words, like grey, echoed, and silent, paint the warehouse. Whether there are boxes at the far end or not is immaterial, unless it’s a plot-point or a red herring. Even additional information can be good, but it must have a purpose. Or, striking purpose out in favor of flavor, it must not be detrimental to the story. You see, the more time you spend on a mental area or idea, the more important it will seem to the story or the reader. The more it will be animated and gain salience. You can write whole pages describing a field if you’re Tolkien, and it might help expand the world, but it may also bog down your story. Don’t faff around too much. By the same Tolkien, you do need to faff around sometimes.

Sometimes, you want to pull attention to something, so you over-describe it a bit more than you would otherwise. Sometimes, you want to pull attention away from something else, so you add in red herrings. Doing this is surgery, though. You don’t want to end up with an obvious one. We’ve all watched movies with obvious-trolls or even just scooby-doo episodes. The reverse is almost as bad, though. Opting for no detail, nor red-herrings, has what I call the scooby-doo effect. Scooby put a lot of effort into cramming a mystery into 20 minutes, but it also gave birth to the Obvious-troll (mentioned above, it’s just the guy who obviously didn’t do it but is made to seem suspicious) and the obvious-perpetrator. As an artifact of their formula and their lack of time, Scooby could only introduce a few characters, so the laundry-list of perpetrators was pretty small. There was almost no guess-work. Still, that’s better than the other cardinal sin…

“It was Gerald all along!” …. “Who?”

Sometimes, you just need to put a face to a crime or atrocity. Sometimes, you don’t, but that’s different story types, and we’re off the beaten path. No, we’re talking about red-herrings and alternate narratives. Alternate narratives are my favorite way to insert a red-herring into a story, because they allow for a minimum of information with maximum red-herring effect. Basically, you build your central story, then you add in just enough details to make another narrative possible. It makes all the information you provide pull double-duty, because, if you pull it off, it can work for either case. You can even use alternative narrative to give away information you want to keep secret, but you can do it in such a way as to support the alternative narrative, thereby hiding your original purpose. Below did this very well. For a more immediate example, the candles from my story blurb can be used to provide occult over-tones. But, what if you found out that the power was out? What if you found out that they cut the power themselves? What if the place housed candles? Flashlights and lanterns? What did the contraption do, anyways? How you answer those questions, and in what order, will create another story entirely. It’s a way to provide information but keep your audience guessing. I have a lot more I want to say, but it’ll have to wait, because we’re talking about tense now.

Past tense, present tense and future tense, that is. A lot of writers seem to have trouble with this; I know I do. So, I use a handy set of questions to help me get started on what I should use… What’s my framing device? When is this occurring? How do I want my audience to imagine this? When I imagine it, how is it going down in my head?… It’s a short list, but the answers to these questions are crucial. If your framing device is someone’s memory, for instance, then you might consider past-tense to reinforce that and keep the excitational narrative in the moment. Or, if you want it to seem that the person is re-living the memory, and make things in the memory more immediate for your reader, then you can use present tense. If you want to have a person remembering something, but standing at the beginning of events from their memory and looking forward, then you can use future-tense. The language will act as metaphorical representations of your device and, thus, your story. It will reinforce itself. The next two questions relate to the first. Obviously, you’ll probably have to flip tenses a few times as you move around in time and perspective, but there’s probably a general line to your story that will require a commitment to one of those tenses for general information. The last two questions are also related. In many ways, you are your own audience when you write. It helps to get up and come back to work at a later time, because it gives you a fresh perspective. It also encourages a look from both a production (first pass) and a reception (revision) stand-point. If you can see the scene while you’re writing it, but you can’t imagine it from the information when you’re reading it, then you’ll need some revision. A common problem writers run in to is that they have trouble separating what they know from what their audience knows. So, something that can seem really obvious to the writers is still too obscure for the reader, because the reader lacks the relevant knowledge to make the connections necessary to illuminate the writer’s idea.

Of course, I’ve just described writing with an alternative narrative, so that whole thing pulled double-duty, too.

I’m running out of steam here. Tooooo much coughing. So, fiiinally, let’s talk perspective. Namely, First, second and third-person perspectives. Part of this feeds back into the tense questions; first-person perspective works with present-tense to provide a really immediate experience. This shit is happening now. First-person perspective also tells a much more personal story, because you can provide the reasoned thought and emotions behind actions. You can also close off other characters by limiting exposure to them and interjecting first-person impressions and thoughts about them. You can muddy the reader’s own perspective with that of the character’s perspective. Second-person is a bit trickier. It’s not without its uses. It allows you to speak directly to the reader and tell them about their actions. It also allows for an interesting level of reader-character insertion. Third person comes in omniscient and limited-omniscient forms. Limited-omniscient is useful for telling stories with a lot of jumping around, but it allows you to keep some things secret by limiting how much you can examine any one character’s motivations, thoughts or actions. Omniscient is a scary beast. It allows for the full exploration of any and all characters, but the possibility is also the obligation. Leaving out specific people or events from the gaze of the reader is telling, but, if it’s done properly, you’ll never know it happened at all. You can also muddy the waters with alternative perspectives on events and leave out an individual for red-herring purposes.

As you can probably tell, I’m treating these different portions of a narrative as gating mechanisms for information and as mechanical representations of the ideas they’re attempting to convey (ie. immediacy for immediate, jarring, in-progress events). They’re more than either of those things, but they need to be looked at that way for part of the writing process. They also deserve special attention from horror writers, because the world of a good horror story is a strictly-controlled, well-represented place. Remember, what your audience knows is their perspective. You want to pull them in. Incongruencies, stock characters, obvious plot-lines, poor exposition and jarring transitions in tense will damage all the work you’ve done in crafting your story. So, answer these questions with care. They seem really obvious, but, if you get that work out of the way, then you can enjoy putting the rest of the blocks snuggly in place.:..’..:.::

Cute Cat With Glasses

Pretentious writer cat thanks you for your time! I’ll get back to some of this stuff later, when I’m not a walking zombie with a keyboard. Take care! See you on the other side.

The Scratch Man

Posted in All the Things, Creepypastas and General Writing with tags , on December 30, 2012 by trivialpunk

There’s an old tale told,

Where dreamers are sold,

Of a man both feared and rotund.

 

With a staggering gait

And a bargain of fate

He’ll ask for a pence for his fund.

 

There’s no telling which,

Both the poor and the rich,

Have bled out the back of his van.

 

With all of the pleaders,

Mixed beggars and bleeders,

It’s hard to spot him: the Scratch man.

 

Give, there’s no middle,

Or tricking the riddle,

Lest he put you on his list.

 

He’ll be just out of sight,

In the day and the night,

In the shadows that you must have missed.

 

Then, one day you’ll wake,

And your silence he’ll take:

As agreement: you have done wrong.

 

Then there’s no time,

No help in this rhyme,

But it’s coming, so follow along.

 

First thing, his face,

It will replace,

With an image both stitched and refined

 

Though, like most Eldritch creatures,

Think of the features;

And there’s little left in your mind

 

You’ll remember a smile,

Be okay for a while,

But, this is the time to beware

 

For, though sweaty, and gross,

He’ll be uncomfortably close,

To your person, and you’ll try not to care.

 

It’s your new jovial chum!

You’ll explain to some,

To most, say, he’s long-awaited.

 

But others won’t stand,

His meat-cloying hand,

And leave you to him to be sated.

 

With building momentum,

And no way to prevent them,

You’ll notice a disturbing trend.

 

When you aren’t looking

Whether sleeping or cooking,

You’ll get a scratch that refuses to mend.

 

Then, you’ll start to drip,

From your leg or your lip,

A trickle of unceasing blood.

 

It goes slowly at first,

But, only gets worse,

Until the rivulets resemble a flood

 

When there’s nothing you’ll do,

The Scratch Man will take you,

To let your self pool in his van.

 

Now, once you’re dead,

There’s not much to be said,

Another victim of the Scratch Man

 

One word of warning,

Before you go into mourning,

Or charter the next ocean steamer.

 

We’ve given him life,

Go wherever you like,

Because you and I are the dreamer.

Home From the Holidays

Posted in All the Things, Creepypastas and General Writing with tags , , on December 29, 2012 by trivialpunk

I’m trying my hand at writing creepypastas, because I like the freedom that the short, crisp narratives encourage, which clash so profusely with my normally verbose style. I’ll post my efforts here, as well. Enjoy!

Sophie slid the key into the lock with a measured sigh of relief. It had been a long Christmas holiday away from home and away from Steve. He’d been looking after her cat while she was away and, while she’d already intended to repay the favour in a number of “creative” ways, she was doubly touched by the box of, her favourite, Toffifees he’d left on her pillow.

“Sweets for my Sweetie,” he’d written in the stark, but loopy, hand that perfectly reflected his personality.

She smiled to herself. Sophie knew they’d fought a little before she’d left, mostly over his decision to stay home, away from her prying family, for the holidays. It had made things a bit awkward when they asked about him, but she’d explained that he was very sick and needed to stay home. In a perverse way, it made him seem more sympathetic, because now he was at his flat, but alone and sick, for the holidays. It helped that they hadn’t met him yet. It had been a boon as she’d scrambled to scrape together an explanation for the kind of life she’d made out of reviewing games with Steve.

“Just got in, when’re you coming round? I can’t wait to attack you when you get home… sweetie ;)” she texted him before throwing her phone on the bed with a tired sigh and shrugging off her travel clothes.

It seemed like he’d stayed the night at least once, probably last night, because the sheets and pillows were a mess, and the bathroom smelled of Febreze and too much fruity soap. Sophie had long ago stopped holding out for a man that understood how loofahs and lathering worked. He must have just stepped out, because the faucet was still dripping behind the curtain and the room held the slight damp of a hot shower.

Her phone binged from the other room. If it was Steve, then she’d need to know how much time she had before he got to her place. Maybe a shave was in order?

No such luck. He’d replied with a, “Coming right over! See you in five :3”

“Crap.”

“Alright, door’s open!” she replied.

Her legs wouldn’t be silky smooth, but it was his own fault for not giving her any time. She’d easily forgive that, though, because she’d missed him just as much. So, she grabbed a towel from the linen closet, dashed into the washroom, and pulled back the curtain, retching in horror.

A naked, masticated torso lay silently in the tub. Stretched across the faucet was the remnant of the skin of Steve’s face, with two brutally carved X’s where the eyes should be. Blood had been cleaned from each and every wound… even the cat-bites. Overwhelmed with disgust, fear, and utter bewilderment, Sophie sank to her knees with retching sobs that threatened to turn into vomit.

Not now, though. She chastised herself. She needed to focus. Call the police. Coughing, she pulled herself shakily to her feet and ran for her phone, locking the bedroom door behind her.

A new text reading, “I’m downstairs, sweetie <3” flashed across her screen and she understood, from the sounds on the staircase, that help was too far away.