After reading about the League of Monster Slayers, it’s a good time to take a detour into some seasonal content. For Samhain 2013, Danny Dufresne, on behalf of the League, asks you to collect some spooky stories from around the island. You have to go searching for them, guided only by the hints collected in a notebook left in the League’s treehouse. I thought it was a great, interactive way to tell some spooky stories for the holiday, and this summary by the Bees is enough to give me chills even now.
Our wisdom flows so sweet. Taste and see.
TRANSMIT – initiate Samhain signal – RECEIVE – initiate the wicked gourd cadence – OH, GREAT PUMPKIN, WHERE ARE YOU? – initiate urban mythos procedures – NINE, TEN… NEVER SLEEP AGAIN – initiate the Stingy Jack beacon – WITNESS – Samhain and the Tree House Horrors.
We relate to memes, sweetling. Living stories. Data with agency. Let us introduce these stories ten. They’ll come knocking on your skull, these tales with teeth from the gourds that grin, saying, “Little pig, little pig, let us in!”
Once upon a time, there was a groundskeeper. Ask him what’s in his flask. So many windows to stare through at the Innsmouth Academy. “O, Donnie Bedloe, Donnie Bedloe, Donnie Bedloe…” Say it into the reflecting panes of glass. Those gormless, bovine-jelly eyes… Not quite looking. He’s not quite looking at you right now.
Once upon a time, there was a hermit. Knock upon the birch coffin: one-two-three. Did an echo knock back-back-back? In the night, if you think you hear a noise, and you call out to a loved one, and their voice answers back – “all is well” – and you still feel the disquiet, then listen. “All is well.” Did you hear chewing? “All is well.” Did you hear crunching? “All is well!” Did you hear grinding? Oh, sweetling, fly-fly-fly!
Once upon a time, there was a bath tub. There was lipstick. There was a mirror. There were words. The red-stained ice cubes clinked. You know the story, or so you think. There are devils in the details. There are ghosts of guilt haunting the silence. Miss Chen, Miss Chen, O won’t you confess?
Once upon a time, there was an email. Is information distilling into a super-weird substance? Can it grow every time it transmits? Can data develop feelings? Can those feelings be hurt? Hell hath no fury like a meme scorned. That’s silly! Right? From our personal experience, sweetling, it is not.
Once upon a time, there was a note, written on a page torn from the notebook in a dead man’s pocket. Yo-ho. Yo-ho. Mister Hills, Mister Hills, O won’t you confess? Wait! Who are you? Why are your innards so purple?
Once upon a time, a story started with love. Then the black rider came. Love was covered over in pox and lumps and pustules. Good fortune is sometimes ugly. The dead do not take kindly when the living beg for beauty. Sometimes vanity smells like sizzling flesh.
Once upon a time, there was Stingy Jack. Heaven and Hell barred their doors. Be careful how many lanterns you gather. Never know what you’re guiding in out of the dark. The story has three layers, to hear dearest Andy tell it. He’ll leave out the bit about his urine-soaked pants. Surely he will. Who is that selling pumpkins? Who dies? Who lives? You get what you give – you get what you give – you get what you give!
Once upon a time, there was a diary. Opening a book is opening a door. Opening a book is making a promise. You should be wary of more than paper cuts. Eh, sweetling?
Once upon a time, there was a frustrated writer. Before him, there was a scared little boy. Both of them did a deal. Never mind the ritualistic particulars. They each agreed to write a story, and each received a head full of undead whales. Who’s that peddling tentacular memes? His fingers bleed ink and his nails gleam.
Once upon a time, there was a hiker. 3am pavement is a kind of purgatory. White lines blur by like souls screaming silently to perdition. O, Chloe Mercer, Chloe Mercer, Chloe Mercer. To die will be an awfully big adventure.
Everyone is a story, sweetling. The question is, who is reading you?