Content warning for discussions of abuse (non-specific) and cycles of abuse. While this post contains many of the elements of a review, it is also about my own experience with cycles of abuse and what this book means to me as a result. If that’s not something you’re interested in, or if it is something you’re going to struggle with, I suggest avoiding this post. Pretty much every paragraph includes some non-specific discussion of abuse and cycles of abuse, so there isn’t anything below this paragraph to read if you’re thinking of just skimming past those bits.Continue reading
Trying to find the right music for a tabletop roleplaying game is a pain in the ass. You have to find something that evokes the right emotions in people other than just yourself without asking your audience since that would risk revealing something. You need to figure out how to incorporate it for the right dramatic tension if it applies to what you’re doing. You need something that either no one will recognize or that will evoke the right feelings even if it is still recognized. Not to mention finding enough music in the first place, equalizing it all so a song never comes on that completely interrupts the tension you’re building, and knowing the songs well enough that you can time things out. Or just finding stuff that can repeat endlessly.Continue reading
I’ve begun introducing some elements of horror into one of my D&D campaigns. One of the BBEGs of the whole homebrew world is essentially nothingness that is something. The Void, since I can’t help but enjoy an allusion to a common phrase. Because when you stare into The Void in this homebrew D&D world, it literally stares back into you. It provides a great tool to mechanism ennui, doubt, and questions about the purpose of it all in a D&D game where some of the players are interested in asking those questions.Continue reading
My dreams are a dark unknown abyss
That always deny me restful bliss
As I try to sleep and only miss
Each and every attempt to end this
String of nights forever gone amiss.
My dreams often lose their frightful sheen
When they are so few and far between
I forget the horror I have seen
And eagerly await the next scene
Of whatever story I am keen
To introduce into my routine.
My dreams aren’t sweet, ephemeral things
Tied to secret hopes by hidden strings
But scaly monsters replete with wings
Moving in silence so loud it rings.
My dreams have no blood and guts and gore,
They have something even worse in store
As I toil through my nightly chore
Of knocking on the dark, horrid doors
Of my mind to find what it fears more
Than any monster to wash ashore.
I have a tendency to get distracted while I’m doing things and then see something move out of the corner of my eye. This happens to a lot of people, usually as the result of some small shift in something our brain chooses to ignore, like a hair that’s out-of-place or a shadow in the background somewhere. It’s super creepy. Countless horror stories have been written about creatures that lurk just outside the scope of our vision; something that can only be glimpsed out of the corner of our eye when we aren’t looking for it. I know of only a few examples of positive things with similar abilities and most of these are more purposely ridiculous than positive.
After I graduated college, while I was still working the area, I stopped having this rather common occurrence and started seeing something in front of my eyes as well as off to the sides. I spent a lot of time talking it over with my friends, both skeptics and believers, and even started called it “The Apparition” because it was consistently the same thing. The more I talked about it, the more detail I was able to notice about it, and and the longer it would stick around. I was under a lot of stress at the time and my imagination was at its most active, so I’m not sure if I even really believe what I think I saw. Despite being so positive this was happening four years ago, looking back on it now makes me doubt it ever really happened.
I don’t really have any proof that ghosts are real, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are. Science can only be used to explain what we can perceive and make educated guesses about what we can’t, so it is entirely possible ghosts are real and we just don’t have the means of detecting them yet. It’s also possible that what we call “ghosts” are just the result of some easily explained phenomenon that escapes us simply because we haven’t figured out how to perceive things correctly. There’s a lot of support for them in the general population, in part as a vague interest and sometimes as a serious belief, which includes a number of people you wouldn’t expect. One of my mother’s church friends claimed to be able to see or feel spirits and also firmly believed that a number of my anxiety, OCD, and depression problems were actually qualities of this spirit that had attached itself to me. According to her, it was likely my great-grandfather. Which is super creepy to think about. Who tells a twelve-year-old that they’ve got a ghost attached to them?
There are, of course, the countless rumors of buildings or places being haunted. After seeing some of the stuff I did in the theater I worked in most days, along with the stuff I felt, I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t something there. Maybe it was a figment of my imagination, maybe it wasn’t. The further I get in life, the harder it is to maintain anything more than a perfunctory skepticism about a lot of things. Maybe I am haunted by the ghost of a deceased relative. Maybe I’ve got some kind of otherworldly being who hung out around me for a while. Maybe they’re the same thing and my spirit’s brief appearance in my vision was a mark of my transition to full adulthood. Maybe they’re not real at all and I’ve got an imagination that just wants to tell stories, even if only to itself.
Who knows? I don’t think it really matters, either way. Sure, it could change some of the way I live my life, but only the micro details. Nothing major. All I know is that thinking about something like this is like lighting a fire in my mind. Open-ended questions that require me to build stories just to think about them are a lot of fun. As a result of these mental exercises, I think I can see where stories for things like Cthulhu or Mind Flayers came from. Additionally, seeing unknown things out of the corner of your eye has given me an idea for a story I would like to write. It would be different from any of the variants I’ve encountered and the prologue I’ve written so far, to solidify the idea, makes use of a few characters who had been homeless for a long while now.
Now, hopefully I haven’t creeped myself out too much to be able to go into my basement to do some laundry. All those memories and thoughts of the stuff I encountered at the theater have given me the heebie-jeebies. I’m going to go spend some time in a well-lit room with many light sources so as to minimize the amount of darkness and shadows near me.
He knew his apartment did not have a good setup for horror movies, but he couldn’t resist them. His couch only fit in the living room with its back to the rest of the apartment and the room was too narrow for other chairs. Even the constant creaking of floors and the furtive sounds of movement whispering through his walls couldn’t convince him of his folly. Attendance at his viewing parties had dwindled after he moved here and now he watched horror movies alone.
He was used to surround sound from his old apartment, so he didn’t notice that not all of the sounds were coming from his home theater until the first thing fell off his counter. After fixing the mug’s handle the following morning, he kept a closer eye on his kitchen and a closer ear on the sounds of his apartment. He took careful note of every sound made by the neighbors and wrote down every creak of walls as the building shifted in the wind.
The following movie night, he was ready. It was a zombie flick he’d seen before, but he picked it because it had always sounded fake to him. As the movie went on, he noted every noise that came from behind him, glancing over his shoulder for the source. He saw a pan hanging beneath his cabinets shift in the still apartment air and noted that as well.
For three weeks, he took notes. At the start of the fourth movie, he shifted so he was sitting on the floor in front of the couch. He had his notebook ready, but he heard nothing from behind him. Once the movie was over, as he headed off toward his bathroom and bed, he heard something new.
Thanks for moving.