Anyone else remember Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?
They were those great scary story anthologies you maybe used to find in the library or at book fairs. The books with the illustrations like these?
Yep. I know that nightmare fuel sure brings me back! Stephen Gammel did those illustrations, and Alvin Schwartz told the stories. I think the pictures are what most of us remember best, with that disturbingly detailed yet sort of crude black and white style! But the stories themselves were good too! The one Harold, about a killer scarecrow, was the inspiration for my story about Patchy Jack, in Paranoia. A few others that stand out to me as particularly frightening (I don’t have the book in front of me so pardon me not recalling the titles) were:
That one, maybe called The Window, where a girl is sleeping on the first floor of her house which looks out from a big window onto a graveyard, and this humanoid thing comes out of the graveyard towards her window and it’s super creepy…
The one where the thief steals the silver dollars off that dead old lady’s eyes and then her ghost comes back for them. (Similar format as The Golden Arm.)
The one where the guy is in the cabin in the woods with his dog, and this weird chanting comes from off in the woods (weird nonsense words, don’t recall the exact words) and then the dog chants back, and the voice does it, and the guy freaks out and tells his dog to knock it off but the dog keeps going and the voice gets louder and a head drops down the chimney. Sounds dumb but you’d be scared if it happened to you!
There are actually three Scary Stories books. They have new editions with good but less good illustrations, but the originals are still for sale on Amazon! The first book came out in the ’80s, and still seems to have many fans! I hope it keeps on scaring kids for years to come! And I’m grateful to Stephen Gammel and Alvin Schwartz for inspiring me in my own writing.
As Jack Larsen said, I have a bit of a similar style to these books in my own anthologies. That’s partially intentional, partially subconscious. If you liked Scary Stories, check out my books, and if you liked my books, check out Scary Stories! I’ve commissioned a few illustrations of my own for my monsters, by the way. (Look around some of my other pages on this website for more!)
Jack Larsen is a Horror and dark fiction author with a blog here. Recently, he wrote a review of my first book, Right Behind You: Tales of the Spooky and Strange. Check out that review here! And look at the rest of his blog. It’s still a new blog, but Mr. Larsen does good work and is always working on more great content!
Look up Vicious516 on Youtube! Listen to his scary storyes
Quick post tonight, ladies and gents. I just want to say, if you’re looking to creep yourself out very quickly, watch one of this guy’s videos on Youtube. (Also yeah, he and some other people really did make Potter Puppet Pals.)
These videos have great production values, he has a great voice. They’re well-written, original, diverse, and often subtle. Below are my top three favorites:
As I’ve talked about previously, creepypasta are scary stories, often written in the form of urban legends or true personal accounts, that get shared around the Internet. They often are inspired by popular culture (such as cartoons or video games) and in turn inspire a great amount of artwork, videos, spin-offs, and games.
Like many kids who grew up in the 90’s, I was extremely into the Pokemon series of Japanese video games, cards, and cartoons. I loved the epic battles between these diverse and fascinating monsters. The story of a Pokemon trainer’s journey to greatness, capturing ever-more-powerful Pokemon, training and befriending them to turn them into an unbeatable team, and then taking on tougher and tougher opponents until becoming the champion totally enchanted me. I acted this journey out and inhabited the amazing fictional world of Pokemon in drawings, physical play, discussions, and of course, the handheld video games. The games are still some kick-ass RPG’s, and I enjoy them to this day.
Many other people in their 20’s and late teens share my childhood love of Pokemon. So, based on the trend of creepypastas corrupting childhood entertainment, a lot of creepy stories involving Pokemon have sprung up on the Web over the past several years. Many of these stories are inspired by the way that, back in the 90’s when Pokemon was at its height of popularity and we kids used to play and talk about it a lot, rumors swirled around like wild Zubats in an endlessly long cave. The Web certainly existed, but, accurate information on games wasn’t nearly as available as it is now. Also, among my group of friends at least, we just didn’t have a lot of know-how about using the Web to find good information, and, we were super gullible about rumors. So kids would always be making up bullshit about non-existent Pokemon that their “uncle who works at Nintendo” told them about, and that you have to use highly implausible methods to unlock. The games actually had cool secrets (such as Missing No., look up that weirdo!) so that made the stuff we made up sound more possible, too. The games really did seem like these self-contained little worlds, where secret areas, new battles, and mysterious Pokemon could be lurking around every corner. It all felt very real and important.
And then, those Pokemon-loving kids grew up and started writing scary stories on the Internet, in a form similar to those childhood Pokemon rumors, but written with the express purpose of creeping other people out. Below, I’ve collected all the best Pokemon creepypastas I could find. I don’t think they require any introduction. Just enjoy. And that white hand on your shoulder…it’s not real?
The Lavender Town Syndrome (also known as “Lavender Town Tone” or “Lavender Town Suicides”) was a peak in suicides and illness of children between the ages of 7-12 shortly after the release of Pokémon Red and Green in Japan, back in February 27th, 1996.
Rumors say that these suicides and illness only occurred after the children playing the game reached Lavender Town, whose theme music had extremely high frequencies, that studies showed that only children and young teens can hear, since their ears are more sensitive.
Due to the Lavender Tone, at least two-hundred children supposedly committed suicide, and many more developed illnesses and afflictions. The children who committed suicide usually did so by hanging or jumping from heights. Those who did not acted irrationally complained of severe headaches after listening to Lavender Town’s theme.
Although Lavender Town now sounds differently depending on the game, this mass hysteria was caused by the first Pokémon game released. After the Lavender Tone incident, the programmers had fixed Lavender Town’s theme music to be at a lower frequency, and since children were no longer affected by it.
One video appeared in 2010 using ”special software” to analyze the audio of Lavender Town’s music. When played, the software created images of the Unown near the end of the audio. This raised a controversy, since the Unown didn’t appear until the Generation 2 games: Silver, Gold, and Crystal. The Unown translate to “LEAVE NOW”.
There is also the said Beta Version of Lavender Town.
It is said that the Beta Version of Pocket Monsters was released to some kids to test the games. This is the video of the Beta Version of Lavender Town:
I’m what you could call a collector of bootleg Pokémon games. Pokémon Diamond & Jade, Chaos Black, etc. It’s amazing the frequency with which you can find them at pawnshops, Goodwill, flea markets, and such.
They’re generally fun; even if they are unplayable (which they often are), the mistranslations and poor quality make them unintentionally humorous.
I’ve been able to find most of the ones that I’ve played online, but there’s one that I haven’t seen any mention of. I bought it at a flea market about five years ago.
Here’s a picture of the cartridge, in case anyone recognizes it. Unfortunately, when I moved two years ago, I lost the game, so I can’t provide you with screencaps. Sorry.
The game started with the familiar Nidorino and Gengar intro of Red and Blue version. However, the “press start” screen had been altered. Red was there, but the Pokémon did not cycle through. It also said “Black Version” under the Pokémon logo.
Upon selecting “New Game”, the game started the Professor Oak speech, and it quickly became evident that the game was essentially Pokémon Red Version.
After selecting your starter, if you looked at your Pokémon, you had in addition to Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle another Pokémon — “GHOST”.
The Pokémon was level 1. It had the sprite of the Ghosts that are encountered in Lavender Tower before obtaining the Sliph Scope. It had one attack — “Curse”. I know that there is a real move named Curse, but the attack did not exist in Generation 1, so it appears it was hacked in.
Defending Pokémon were unable to attack Ghost — it would only say they were too scared to move. When the move “Curse” was used in battle, the screen would cut to black. The cry of the defending Pokémon would be heard, but it was distorted, played at a much lower pitch than normal. The battle screen would then reappear, and the defending Pokémon would be gone. If used in a battle against a trainer, when the Pokéballs representing their Pokemon would appear in the corner, they would have one fewer Pokéball.
The implication was that the Pokémon died.
What’s even stranger is that after defeating a trainer and seeing “Red received $200 for winning!”, the battle commands would appear again. If you selected “Run”, the battle would end as it normally does. You could also select Curse. If you did, upon returning to the overworld, the trainer’s sprite would be gone. After leaving and reentering the area, the spot [where] the trainer had been would be replaced with a tombstone like the ones at Lavender Tower.
The move “Curse” was not usable in all instances. It would fail against Ghost Pokémon. It would also fail if it was used against trainers that you would have to face again, such as your Rival or Giovanni. It was usable in your final battle against them, however.
I figured this was the gimmick of the game, allowing you to use the previously uncapturable Ghosts. And because Curse made the game so easy, I essentially used it throughout the whole adventure.
The game changed quite a bit after defeating the Elite Four. After viewing the Hall of Fame, which consisted of Ghost and a couple of Pokemon I used for HM`s, the screen cut to black. A box appeared with the words “Many years later…” It then cut to Lavender Tower. An old man was standing, looking at tombstones. You then realized this man was your character.
The man moved at only half of your normal walking speed. You no longer had any Pokémon with you, not even Ghost, who up to this point had been impossible to remove from your party through depositing in the PC. The overworld was entirely empty — there were no people at all. There were still the tombstones of the trainers that you used Curse on, however.
You could go pretty much anywhere in the overworld at this point, though your movement was limited by the fact that you had no Pokémon to use HMs. And regardless of where you went, the music of Lavender Town continued on an infinite loop. After wandering for a while, I found that if you go through Diglett’s Cave, one of the cuttable bushes that normally blocks the path on the other side is no longer there, allowing you to advance and return to Pallet Town.
Upon entering your house and going to the exact tile where you start the game, the screen would cut to black.
Then a sprite of a Caterpie appeared. It was the replaced by a Weedle, and then a Pidgey. I soon realized, as the Pokémon progressed from Rattata to Blastoise, that these were all of the Pokémon that I had used Curse on.
After the end of my Rival’s team, a Youngster appeared, and then a Bug Catcher. These were the trainers I had Cursed.
Throughout the sequence, the Lavender Town music was playing, but it was slowly decreasing in pitch. By the time your Rival appeared on screen, it was little more than a demonic rumble.
Another cut to black. A few moments later, the battle screen suddenly appeared — your trainer sprite was now that of an old man, the same one as the one who teaches you how to catch Pokémon in Viridian City.
Ghost appeared on the other side, along with the words “GHOST wants to fight!”.
You couldn’t use items, and you had no Pokémon. If you tried to run, you couldn’t escape. The only option was “FIGHT”.
Using fight would immediately cause you to use Struggle, which didn’t affect Ghost but did chip off a bit of your own HP. When it was Ghost’s turn to attack, it would simply say “…” Eventually, when your HP reached a critical point, Ghost would finally use Curse.
The screen cut to black a final time.
Regardless of the buttons you pressed, you were permanently stuck in this black screen. At this point, the only thing you could do was turn the Game Boy off. When you played again, “NEW GAME” was the only option — the game had erased the file.
I played through this hacked game many, many times, and every time the game ended with this sequence. Several times I didn’t use Ghost at all, though he was impossible to remove from the party. In these cases, it did not show any Pokémon or trainers and simply cut to the climactic battle with Ghost.
I’m not sure what the motives were behind the creator of this hack. It wasn’t widely distributed, so it was presumably not for monetary gain. It was very well done for a bootleg.
It seems he was trying to convey a message; though it seems I am the sole receiver of this message. I’m not entirely sure what it was — the inevitability of death? The pointlessness of it? Perhaps he was simply trying to morbidly inject death and darkness into a children’s game. Regardless, this children’s game has made me think, and it has made me cry.
You see, I am a simple college student living alone in an apartment. I was very enthusiastic about the release of Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver here in the states. I have purposely locked myself out of all media and the Internet aside for school purposes. That means no 4chan, no /v/, no Bulbapedia, etc.
As I was busy with the school year and being poor at the time, I wasn’t able to buy SoulSilver on its launch date. After my school year ended, I ordered SoulSilver on Amazon. However, it would take a week for it to arrive. I decided that during that time, I would replay my Crystal version on my Gameboy Color.
However, I realized that long ago, my mom threw it away because I told her the save went dead, and I was very upset about it then. She also threw away my Silver version, so all I have is my Gameboy Color. As such, I set out to Gamestop and bought a used Silver version, as it’s the only Pokémon game left that they have for the GBC. Ten dollars – fairly cheap.
I went home and started it up for a nostalgia trip. However, that’s where things started getting bizarre, and most likely the reason why you read this.
The Gamefreak logo started up as normal, but it just froze there. I thought the cart was just errored or something, so I turned it off and on. The same thing happened. I tried pressing A and Start over and over, and all of the buttons. Eventually, the logo vanished and there was a black screen for about five seconds.
Suddenly, rather than going to the usual menu screen, I was already in the game in a previous saved file, which was odd as I was expecting all of these carts to have been wiped by the poor battery.
Either way, I wasn’t complaining, as I would have chosen the “Continue” option to see what the previous guy did anyways.
First off, I checked his trainer information. His name was just “…” – He didn’t have much originality.
I checked his profile and apparently he had 999:99 hours put into the game, with all 16 badges, 99999.9 Pokédollars, and all 251 Pokémon on the Pokédex.
Seeing as he apparently had Mew and Celebi logged also, I am guessing he either used a Game Genie or was a really hardcore Pokémon player back then.
I checked his Pokémon to see what a badass team he has. To my surprise, I saw 5 Unowns and a sixth Pokémon named “HURRY”. I’m thinking that this must be some cruel joke by the person who last played this game, but I decided to check the profiles of those Pokémon anyways.
As expected, they were different letters of Unown, all Level 5. I was a bit shaky with my Unown alphabet at the time, but I identified the word spelled out to be “LEAVE”.
As for the sixth Pokémon, it turned out to be a Cyndaquil (mind you, this is before there were individualized Pokémon icons). The Cyndaquil looked normal, but it was Level 5 with only 1 HP left with only two attacks: “Leer” and “Flash”.
I don’t know why they named him “HURRY”, but at the time, I just disregarded it. The most eerie thing was that, despite my volume being at max, none of the Pokémon he had said their usual cries. Just pure silence.
Having enough of the team, I closed it. I was parked at what appears to be a room inside Bellsprout Tower. However, for some reason, there were no NPCs around. Even more eerie was that the “pillar” in the middle didn’t move at all, as if just leaning on its side. There was no music at all, and there was no exit or ladder, or least I thought there wasn’t.
I walked around for a few minutes but can’t seem to find a way out. This was certainly not a room I’ve seen in the Bellsprout Tower before. I tried checking my items for an Escape Rope, but the bag was completely empty. There wasn’t any Wild Pokémon either.
Finally, I managed to find a ladder, which turned out to be behind the “pillar”. The screen turned black and the music finally started playing. I had a sudden chill, as I recognize that melody I heard to be the theme you hear when you listened to the radio at the Alph Ruins where the Unown are at.
I immediately realize that it wasn’t a loading transition, but rather I was in a dark room and would need Flash. Before I took care of that though, I immediately checked my Pokégear to change the radio to something more pleasant, but it turns out that there was no Radio card, or even a Phone nor Time cards. There was only a Map card in which Gold (“…” from earlier, and I will call him Gold from now on) was just walking in a midst of black.
I recall that Cyndaquil has Flash, so I turned off my Pokégear and made Cyndaquil use Flash. I didn’t see any message saying “HURRY has used Flash!” or anything like that. The room just became lit just like that, and I soon regretted it. The room was a chilling blood-red with a linear gray path heading south. The ladder I used to go up/down was not there at all.
I had no choice but to head south. The screen got darker every 20 steps I made, until I finally made it to the end, which appears to be a sign. I read the sign, which said “TURN BACK NOW”.
Suddenly, I was asked to answer YES/NO, but there was no question asked. I chose YES as I do not know what it was asking, and the screen went black again, making a “ladder climbed” sound. The Unown Radio music stopped, and in a few seconds was replaced with the not-as-creepy Poké Flute radio music.
I was in another dark room, but I held my breath and used Flash again. Suddenly, it said that “HURRY has fainted!” which was odd since I recall that there was no status conditions like Poison on him, and I clearly wasn’t in a battle. I checked my Pokémon quickly and suddenly he’s no longer in my party. In fact, after a bit of investigating, none of my Pokémon are there, but instead all replaced with Level 10 Unown. I did the same thing as before and spelled out the Unown. My then team of Unown spelled “HEDIED”.
Either way, after that creepy change, the room was lit to reveal myself in a very small room that appears to be only four squares big. The walls of that room were gray bricks, as if I was inside something that was hollowed out. Outside that room appears to be a bunch of graves similar to the ones in Pokémon Red/Blue. I’ve walked around that small room and pressed A but nothing happened.
I’ve already concluded that this was clearly a hacked game and some sadistic fuck sold it to GameStop. However, my curiosity kept me going. I checked the trainer profile of “…” again only to find out that the sprite of Gold was missing his arms. He also seems to appear less smug, but rather seems more sad and empty in a way that I do not know how to describe. For some reason, it also now said that he has 24 badges, which was clearly impossible.
After a few minutes of aimless wondering, my character suddenly spun and did the Escape Rope spinning animation. Instead of flying up though, my character spun downwards slowly, as if sinking.
After that screen, the music stopped. After finally landing, the overworld sprite of Gold is coloured differently now. Instead of the usual red colour he dons, he appears completely white now, including his skin. It’s as if he came straight from the colorless Game Boy games placed into a colored background of the Gameboy Color.
I checked his profile, and now, while now is as white as his overworld sprite, he lost his legs and has what appears to be bloody tears from his eyes. It also says he now has 32 badges, which now starts to disturb me as this change of number seems to represent something important.
I also checked my Pokémon, which this time contains 5 Unowns and a Level 100 Celebi without a nickname. The Unown are this time Leveled 15 and spelled out “DYING”. I checked the Celebi’s profile. It was a shiny Celebi, except there’s only half of the sprite. One leg, one arm, one eye. It only has one attack: “Perish Song”.
The area I was in itself was the Sprout Tower with the immobile pillar as before, except everything is apparently red now. I walked north for what felt like forever. Eventually, I finally encountered some generic men and women NPC. They were all lined up to the side just facing the long slantish pillar in the middle.
They were also white, and nothing happens when I try to speak to them. I kept on going north until eventually the pillar finally appears chopped off, with a transparent Red in that spot. I went up to Red and without even pressing A, I was suddenly engaged and finally in a battle.
The music starts again, which it sounds like the Unown Radio music again, but played backwards. Gold’s battle backsprite matches his front one with the bloody eyes, white skin, and lack of arms, while Red’s sprite was the same as before in GSC, except transparent. The text simply said “wants to battle!” as if he has no name, and both of us only have one Pokémon each, which is weird as I swore I had six with the Unowns.
My shiny Celebi came out, conveniently with half-a-sprite for the back sprite also. The “Shiny” noise and animation was different, as the sounds it made sound like multiple “Screech” attacks used consecutively. Red sent out a seemingly normal male Pikachu, except he is Level 255 and his sprite seems sad and has tears in his eyes.
Rather than the usual “FIGHT/ITEM/PKMN/RUN” menu, I was only given the option to use the Attacks. Since Celebi only has one, I chose it. Naturally, since Pikachu was Level 255, he went first.
“PIKACHU used CURSE!”, lowering his Speed and increasing his other Stats. I’m not even sure if Pikachu could use Curse.
“CELEBI used PERISH SONG!” In three turns, both Pokémon get KO’d – not like I have a choice.
At this point, it didn’t even go back to the Fight menu, as the battle just continued without me. Also note that there were no animations at all for some reason.
“PIKACHU used FLAIL!”, which didn’t do much damage despite his Level and boost as his health was maxed.
“CELEBI used Perish Song!” Nothing happens as it was already used.
“PIKACHU used FRUSTRATION!”, which did a shit-ton of damage, knocking Celebi down to less than 10 HP.
“CELEBI used Pain Split!”, which surprised me as Celebi didn’t even have that attack in the first place. Now Celebi and Pikachu have about 150 HP.
“PIKACHU used MEAN LOOK!” Not like that did anything.
As expected, due to the effects of Perish Song, my Celebi fainted. Except in the text, it said “CELEBI has died!” and instead of the ordinary drop off the screen animation, the CELEBI backsprite just vanished. For some reason, the Pikachu was still up even with Perish Song and it didn’t count as my loss.
Pikachu used one more different attack beyond the 5 attack limit:
“PIKACHU used DESTINY BOND!”
Afterwards, it said “PIKACHU has died!”, with a slow fade-out animation. Apparently, I was the winner, as the transparent Red Sprite showed up and said “……….”
At that point, I just freaked out, as that transparent Red sprite was suddenly beheaded, leaving nothing but his transparent body. The battle then ended at that point and faded out along with the music.
I’m back in the overworld, with another change to the Gold sprite – he’s now as transparent as Red’s overworld sprite. I quickly checked Gold’s profile, where this time the only thing remains of him is his head, with a transparent skin. The head was zoomed in a bit, showing a black void in his eyes. It now stated that he now has 40 badges. I then backed out and checked my Pokémon. They were all Level 20 Shiny Unown, which when spelled out, read “NOMORE”.
I was at what I now know is next to the end. There was apparently no music playing, but for some reason I still felt like something was there that could be heard. I was back in my room in New Bark Town. Maybe finally I get to play this game properly, but who am I kidding.
I knew that sadistic fuck must have done something. I “walked” around my room to interact with things, as I’m a bit afraid to go down the stairs to see what was awaiting down there. Note I said “walked”, as while the background was moving, Gold was not moving his transparent limbs at all while doing so, just floating like those ghosts you see in Diamond/Pearl.
As expected, the radio, computer, and TV did not work, so I had no choice but to go down the stairs. I ended up in the same lower level room of my house. Everything appears normal, except mom isn’t home. After failing to interact with anything in this room, I decided to go outside. To my surprise, that door leading outside at the south didn’t work, and instead I just walk straight through it to a void.
I continued moving south to see what the fuck was going on. My house vanishes as I head south into the void. It was creepy as when I entered the void, the outline on Gold’s transparent sprite turned white to contrast with the pitch black. Eventually, I reached a white area and Gold’s sprite turned black and transparent again. I continued south without thinking of stopping at all.
After a long trek south, I finally encountered something. It was GOLD’s regular sprite. I talked to it. He said “Good bye forever ….” (notably with a space inbetween the forever and ….), and vanished. As that happened, it said “??? used NIGHTMARE” which at that point, I would not deny that being possible. Gold did another Escape Rope animation spinning slowly downwards like before.
I’m now back into that small hollowed-out room surrounded by graves earlier. Or at least I say I was back there, as there’s no sprite anymore. I tried to walk around but nothing moved – not even wall bumping noise. I checked my trainer profile with absolutely no Gold sprite left. It said I have 0 badges and all the pictures of the Johto Gym Leaders at the bottom were replaced with skulls.
I checked my Pokémon, which were all Level 25 Unown. As expected, it spelled out a phrase that I dared to read: “IMDEAD”.
As soon as I went back to the overworld, the room I supposedly was in was then covered with the same blocks as the walls. I then figured out what exactly that room was when the final text was said: “R.I.P. …”
That room was a big grave, surrounded by other graves. Gold has already been dead. He died presumably a few years after he defeated Red.
He was a young trainer who, despite his efforts in collecting so many badges and attempts at becoming a Pokémon master, was still unable to avoid the inevitable fate of death, and his efforts were eventually forgotten by the next generation.
I was unable to escape from that text no matter what I pressed. I tried resetting the game, and the same thing happened, at which I then finally decided to give up on that horrible nightmare.
After that experience, I will never look at the “gimmick” Unown the same way again. They say that only the first generation have folk tales and legends, but the second generation have shown me how unpleasant the truth can be. I eventually enjoyed SoulSilver immensely, but I still can’t unthink what that rigged game has told me.
January 22, 2027: Dr. Hagiru Sato and his team of scientists from Japan, America, Canada, and Britain begin work on a matter-energy transference machine.
February 11, 2033: First machine is tested successfully after over a hundred failed tests. Controversy over the destructive nature of the technology ignites.
July 18, 2033: A catastrophic incident with an energy-matter machine destroys the city of Hiroshima, in devastation not seen since the atomic bombs were dropped nearly 90 years prior. Japanese government officials move to ban work on this technology, though Western powers urge them to allow it, despite the mishap.
April 22, 2035: First sighting of infected individuals. Most are animals, some humans are also shown to be susceptible to infection. Most seen around the ruins of Hiroshima, which had not been rebuilt.
May 13, 2035: Northern Japan is split off from its southern half as a nation-wide quarantine is enacted. Anarchy soon spreads through the infected regions. 15% of humans exposed to the disease are immune and show no side effects. 84.9% are affected fatally by the disease, which causes cancerous growths. 0.1% of those exposed are shown to successfully mutate. The “virus” is found to be a spreadable corruption of genetic material, which causes rapid mutations in infected individuals. All large animal life is soon infected.
January 1, 2040: 98% of all animals in Japan are wiped out; ecosystems ruled entirely by infected individuals.
May 8, 2048: Japanese Defense Force engages infected individuals to preserve quarantine. Co-ordinated attacks by infected humans and animals are seen. High levels of intelligence confirmed.
May 10: They fail, and the nation of Japan ceases to exist.
October 13: The United States Carrier George W. Bush is attacked and sunk by an unknown force. Later revealed to be a co-ordinated assault by the infected. Use of atomic weapons to destroy all life on Japan considered, but denied.
February 12, 2052: Remaining inhabitants of Japan have appeared, by outward observers, to have begun adopting the infected into their religions. Part of this religion is a total-weapons ban, and the banning of violence against infected individuals. This is surprisingly effective at ceasing conflict with infected individuals.
April 2, 2055: Infected seen to have spread to North America. Military preparedness results in a far more contained infection. Hundreds of thousands in the United States, Canada, and Mexico die.
March 11, 2061: The United States Army begins experimenting with the combat prowess of infected animals, who are shown to have a friendly connection to humans who treat them well, much like dogs. Initial tests exceed expectations. Later that same year, China, Russia, Vietnam, and N. Korea react by signing the Kommu Pact, ensuring protection against the now utterly overpowered West.
July 2, 2063: The Kommu alliance declares war on the United States. Infected used to great effect.
November 9, 2066: The war ends. Communist states are dissolved, China and Russia (and all of Asia) are now under the jurisdiction of the NATO.
December 25, 2072: The now divided regions that were once Japan begin to open up to the outside world. Mostly through scientific trade-off.
February 1, 2081: Japanese scientists sneak into heavily infected Brazil. They recover the DNA of one of the individuals believed to be one of the first infected. Beliefs are that the infected are actually the next phase in evolution, and to find one of the originals would better help their understanding. There are many tried and failed cloning attempts, before a final experiment is successful. The result of this experiment, capable of self-induced energy-matter transference, is responsible for the death of dozens before escaping.
May 22, 2081: Ash Ketchum turns 10 years old, and sets out on a quest to capture some of the strongest mutant animals known to man.
It’s basically about this scary ghost STD where a shapeshifting monster will never stop following you until it kills you, or you pass the curse on to someone else. And that only works temporarily. Also, there’s more to the movie than that. I hope it comes to a theater near me soon, it has only a limited release at the moment.
It’s a wonderful thing to tell and hear stories. People have been doing it for as long as there have been people and maybe even a bit before then. Before the invention of writing, people used oral stories to warn others of danger, to entertain each other, to teach their children, and to pass down virtues that were valued in their society. Plays, with increasingly complicated plots, costumes, and set designs, as well as bigger casts, developed out of early groups of humans telling stories around campfires. In my own life, I’ve engaged in the theatrical form of storytelling in Cub Scout and Boy Scout skits at camp, as well as in a couple high school plays. Working with others to tell a story through acting is a fun and rewarding experience!
Today though, I want to focus on the most traditional form of storytelling: one person narrating a story to others, often including dialogue and sound effects in the mix. I’ll get more specific, and make this post about how to tell a good scary story, though much of this advice can apply to telling funny stories or jokes, too. These pieces of advice come from my own experience, both in telling stories and in hearing good storytellers, such as my old scoutmaster, Mr. James P. Harte.
Know your story well, and know how to improvise.This might seem obvious, but it’s critical to remember. Goofing up a story and having a long awkward pause of confusion totally breaks whatever mood you’ve already created! Re-read, re-listen, and rehearse your story many times before telling it to a large audience. Practice with a close friend or family member first if you can, someone who you know will be a friendly audience. Truly get to know the “feel” of your story, and all the important details of characterization and setting. Don’t fret over memorizing the exact wording of most of the lines: no one will have a script in front of them, checking that you’re remaining perfectly on track. Don’t show your audience that you messed up or forgot a detail a couple sentences ago: just go with the flow, as best as you remember. Know your story, but know how to adapt if and when you do mess up.
Establish a good setting before beginning.In this sense of the word “setting,” I’m not talking about the time and place where your story takes place. Rather, I’m referring to the people and area around you and your audience as you tell your story. For example, trying to tell a scary story in broad daylight, in the middle of a park, with a bunch of kids and dogs running around, would be a dumb idea. Ideal would be late at night, with a low camp fire, and a quiet and willing audience who isn’t currently distracted by food. You can (and may have to) be assertive in getting everyone to quiet down for your story, but sometimes it just isn’t gonna happen, and you gotta wait for a better time, sadly. When you begin your story, establish credentials and mood quickly to increase the power of the setting, such as saying that the events of the scary story happened right in these very woods, or that your strange great uncle told you this story and totally swore it was true. Speak slowly, solemnly, let your words (and the crackling low fires, soft breeze in the trees, darkness of the area all around) sink in. This leads to my next point!
Vary the pace of your telling for maximum impact.Think of noises that put you to sleep. For most people, these are repetitive noises with little to no change in tempo or volume. No pauses, no crescendos. A boring lecturer has the same quality. He or she doesn’t send any signals to your brain to “listen up!” at any particular moment: it’s all just the same “blah, blah, blah, blah” droning on and on at the same pitch and volume. Don’t tell a story that way! If you look at good political public speakers, such as Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama, they all speak dynamically, meaning that the way they speak changes sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph. They may speak softly and slowly for a while to draw an audience in close, then build and build their volume, with pauses thrown in on their most key words, until they reach a crescendo of great poignancy. The audience hangs on their every word. Adolf Hitler was a master of great dynamic public speaking that led his audiences to feel the emotions he wanted them to feel. Use the same sort of magic in your storytelling. Describe the unseen creature creaking up the front steps and knocking one, two, threeeee times at the door with slow and deliberate tension. Speak in frantic, gasping tones as your main character flees and fumbles through the dark Egyptian tomb away from the pursuing mummy. Turn your voice low and grave as the axe-wielding serial killer slowly reaches the closet door where your main character lies huddled, suppressing a scream, and then YELL to shock your audience as the killer smashes through the door. Dynamism is crucial to a truly scary story. Don’t be like that teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!
Here are a few more small tips on scary story telling:
Don’t be an asshole. Sure, your job is to scare people, but don’t traumatize kids with content that is too graphic for them. (At least, don’t do that too much…)
Do, however, use details to make the story more real for your listeners. Readers will be more engaged and scared if you slow down and really describe the cold, sharp, steel of the blood-stained knife, or the absolutely bizarre and troubling other-worldiness of the mysterious glow coming from the meteorite, or the horrible black emptiness of the zombie’s eye sockets.
Don’t sweat it. Have fun! If people are willingly quieting down to listen to your story, they’re looking for a good scary campfire story, and think that you’re competent enough to tell one. Have fun with it.
To find good scary stories to tell, I recommend the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, (terrifically scary illustrations in those by the way!) as they are not only creepy, but also relatively simple to memorize and tell. Look up “CreepyPastas” on the Web, too. Not all work well for campfires, but some of the most popular ones are perfect. Of course, there’s always my books as sources of scary stories, too. (Especially The Golden Arm, in Right Behind You!)
I hope these tips help you get a good start on scary story telling. Get out there and make some people jump out of their seats in terror!
Mr. Creepy Pasta’s audiobook version of “Right Behind You”!
Happy Friday the 13th! Mr. Creepy Pasta, who previously did a reading of my story Mr. Toothy, produced an audiobook version of Right Behind You.
That audiobook is available now on iTunes and through Amazon’s Audible service! Audible is a great service by the way, I use it during my work commutes and on car trips! Huge variety of high-quality audiobooks on there, it basically doubles the amount of books I can read at a time.
Here’s a sample of the audiobook, with links in the video description:
A bit of introduction: I wrote this story back in third grade, when I was eight years old. It’s one of the earliest stories I ever wrote. I didn’t get back into creative writing until college, not sure why. Anyway, here it is: Why Frogs Croak at Night.
Long, long ago on the edge of a sweaty rainforest the animals were having a talent show. “ I’m super fast!” bragged cheetah. “ I should show my talent first!” “That’s fine,” said lion who was running the talent show. “Yippee!” shouted cheetah as he began to dart swiftly and quickly in between the tall trees and on to the savanna where he ran 3 laps around the perimeter faster than any of the other animals ever could.
The animals cheered when cheetah leaped back into the rainforest. “Terrific!” lion said to cheetah. “I want to go next,” hissed python. “Okay. Go on ahead,” said Lion. “Thankssss,” was what Python said as he slithered up to the tree. Crunch! Crunch! Went the leaves under the colossal snake’s belly as he slowly made his way to the tallest tree he could find.
Python began to get up into the place where the trees were thickest. “Try to find me!” said Python. “This will be too easy!” laughed Lion. “I saw right where you went!” Lion climbed up to the place where he thought Python was and found… absolutely nothing! “Look over here!” hissed Python. Lion looked in a tree about 10 feet away from him and there was Python!
“Wow!” said Lion, amazed. “You’re great at travelling through trees!”
“Thankssss.” Hissed Python as he slithered back down the leafy tree he was in.
Everyone cheered. But, there was one animal that wasn’t watching. He was Frog and he was sad he didn’t have a talent for the show. Everyone else did.
Just then there was a rustle in the bushes and monkey jumped out of the bushes. “Hey Frog come over here!” shouted monkey. Frog hopped over. Boing-Boing.
“Why aren’t you watching the talent show with everybody else?”
asked Monkey. “Because I don’t have a talent and you need one to come to the show.” Said Frog sadly.
“Oh so that’s why,” said Monkey. “I’ll teach you a song so then your talent can be singing.” “Thanks Monkey!”
So, Monkey taught Frog a song and soon Frog had perfected it. “I’ll tell everyone to come to your concert right outside your house in the swamp,” said Monkey. “O.K.?” “Great!” said Frog and he leapt back to his house.
Frog practiced the song Monkey had taught him for a long time, but kept it a secret until the night when he would sing it.
Soon it was time for Frog to sing his song. Everyone gathered in the swamp. Some fireflies shone their lights upon Frog so everyone could see him in the growing darkness.
Then everything was silent. Frog was just about to sing when he got really scared. When he practiced he didn’t have to do it in front of a huge crowd. All that came out of his mouth was a little “croak!”
So, now every night Frog remembers that night and croaks!
What books have I finished between the start of this year, and today, March 4th, 2015?
Here’s a list. It includes audio books (which I listen to on the amazing Amazon Audible app) and books I started in December of last year. Also these are out of order.
Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse by Robbin Hutton:
I wrote a blog post about this one here. Great history book about a great horse, quite touching and remarkable. Good if you like horses or military history.
The Command to Look by William Mortensen and George Dunham
The first book on photography that I’ve ever read, though its lessons extend far beyond photography. William Mortensen isn’t too famous nowadays, which is a shame, because he has great artistic style. Each of his photos in this book is precisely staged and carefully composed, to look almost like a painting and be incredibly evocative. Even if you’re not a photographer (I’m not) check it out, Feral House publishes a great edition.
Pleiku: The Dawn of Helicopter Warfare in Vietnam by J.D. Coleman
Fascinating and detailed look into the development of air cavalry before and during the Vietnam War. The book and movie We Were Soldiers is on the same topic, but you get a lot more background and detail here.
The Summoning by Mark Lukens
An enjoyable horror book by Mark Lukens, whose work I also recommended here. His work is also featured in one of my favorite of the stories included in Hand Full of Horror, which you may download for free if you sign up for my newsletter. 🙂
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
The awesome Horror classic that I somehow hadn’t read until now. I was a big dummy to not read it sooner. Great book, vampires, creepiness, thrills, chills, spills. And its Stephen King, what more could you want?
Churchill’s First War by Con Coughlin
A great look into young Winston Churchill’s first military campaign, as a junior cavalry officer in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan war. I love learning about the lives of great men such as Churchill, and I don’t think any such learning is complete without seeing the early years. Also, the war with the Afghan tribes should give us 21st century folks pause as we look at NATO failing in Afghanistan…learn from history, y’all. But yeah, easy to read book, exciting, got some good pictures. I liked it.
The Secret Life of a Satanist by Blanche Barton
Fascinating biography of the Church of Satan’s brilliant and eccentric founder, Anton Szandor LaVey. Barton was LaVey’s lover, and lived with him for many years, so she knew him about as well as anyone could. Interesting guy, whether you share his philosophy or not. Well-written and informative book with a lot of character.
We Are Glass by U.V. Ray
A collection of dark and poetic fiction. Kinda hard to describe. Hm. I did like it, but, in a different way than how I usually like books. I found it intriguing, and strangely inspirational. I honestly haven’t read anything else like it that I can recall.
American General: The Life and Times of William Sherman by John S.D. Eisenhower
Another good military history/biography book. Sherman is my favorite Civil War general, and this book gives a solid summary of his life before, during, and after the war.
Now I’m reading a biography of Ayn Rand. And working on my novel… 🙂