I am in the process of applying for a predoctoral internship. Given the demands of applications and my dwindling free time, I am taking a temporary hiatus from the blog. Posts have been inconsistent, and will probably continue to be until mid-November. The site has not been forgotten, merely placed in stasis until I have the time and wits to write something beyond cover letters. If you need to read me for editing, beta-reading, or collaboration, please email me at email@example.com. Thanks!
In honor of Halloween, here is a quick little piece. As always, it’s a WIP and could use some work, but just an idea I wanted to play around with. This is literally the first draft of this piece, so I’m sure it has some rough patches that could be improved, but I really like what I have so far. In a couple of days, I’ll probably hate it, so I better post it now while it’s still on my good side! I hope you enjoy, and, as always, feel free to leave any recommendations or critiques in the comments!
Jaime hated Halloween. She had never had the brave disposition necessary to enjoy horror movies, scary stories by the fire, or jump scares in the hallways. In first grade, she had spent most of her classroom’s Halloween party in hysterics after one of her classmates leapt out at her when she was walking to the snack bowl. A few years and Halloweens later and she still had not overcome her deep dread about the month of October.
More specifically, however, Jaime hated the Jinkersons’ house during Halloween. The Jinkersons were a kind, loving couple. Eleven months of the year, Jaime loved living next door to them. They baked cookies and had an arcade in their basements that was free for the neighborhood kids to play in. They also volunteered their ample backyard for neighborhood ballgames during the long summer afternoons. Mrs. Jinkerson was a woman decked in smiles, a teacher by trade and passion. Mr. Jinkerson was old, chubby, and an endless repository of jokes and harmless pranks. But, come October, their smiling faces beamed as they draped their home in skeletons, ghouls, zombies, body parts, and buckets of red-tinted corn syrup, and Jaime began to avoid their home as much as she could.
This year took the cake. The Jinkersons outdid themselves on the overall decoration, piling more corpses and ghosts across their yard. Mr. Jinkerson even built a maze out of black trash bags through the backyard, gleefully leading the neighborhood kids through the various scenes of horror. Jaime, while displeased, could handle the decorations in the yard. She simply did not go in there, and did not walk past their house after dark. She crossed the street, and then walked back to her house. Even the willfully scared screams of her friends as they lost themselves in the maze did not bother her. What did, however, was the cheap plastic skeleton hanging in the tree. It seemed to stare directly into her window, and any slight breeze triggered its creepy laughter.
It was 3:15 in the morning and she had early soccer practice at 7:00am the next morning. The chattering laugh—deep, throaty, and echoing unnaturally—woke her with a start. She heard the plastic frame fluttering in the trees, triggering more and more laughter from the flimsy ghoul. Jaime rolled over, pulling her pillow down over her ears as she pressed her face into her mattress. Even with the sacrifice of near suffocation, the decoration’s brittle laughter still pounded in her ears, sending chills fluttering down her spine. It was just a plastic toy, she chided herself, trying to balance her fear with her frustration, but the logical reassurance did little to calm her in the pitch night.
The laughter quieted just as the sun began to rise along the horizon. Jaime’s tired eyes eased into the quiet moment, letting her doze off for a few precious hours before waking.
“Are you feeling okay, honey?” her dad asked as he stuffed a hastily made sandwich into her lunch box. Jaime stared with glazed eyes at her cereal, now soggy mush after wading in the milk undisturbed. “Jamie?” he questioned, snapping her back to attention.
“I didn’t sleep good,” she mumbled before halfheartedly stirring her cereal and lifting a milk-logged bite.
“Didn’t sleep good? What was the matter?” questioned her mother, stomping into the room on the tips of pointed heels. She stopped sharply in front of her husband, spinning tight on her heel and pointing wordlessly at the gaping zipper in the back. “You weren’t up late reading again, were you?”
“No,” she grumbled with a scowl. “It was the Jinkerson’s skeleton. It kept laughing.”
“Oh, honey, surely you couldn’t hear that thing through your window,” sighed her father after taking care of the offending sipper. The metal snapped sharply into place, and Jaime’s mother dropped into her chair at the table.
“I heard it all night.” Jaime reiterated, punctuating each word with an intentional pause.
“But, sweety, didn’t you have your window closed?” her mother asked.
Jaime stared at her mother grimly before giving her a sharp nod. “It was closed. I heard it.”
“I’ll talk to Mr. Jinkerson today, then,” sighed her father as he dropped her lunchbox on the table. “I’m sure he can switch it off or something.” With that declaration, her older brother swept into the kitchen, his chair squealing as it dragged across the floor. He dug into his breakfast as if he had not eaten in weeks, and the conversation shifted to his after school practice schedule. Jaime slipped out to finish getting ready for her morning practice, dragging tired and leaden limbs down the hallway to her bedroom. The skeleton hung outside her window, toothy grin mocking her as it drifted in the gentle autumn breeze. At least, Jaime mused, he was quiet this time.
The school day was a blur. Morning practice was a nightmare of tangled feet and sluggish limbs that responded seconds to late to every drill–by the end she had earned her teammates two extra laps. She fell asleep in her math class, her eyes tired of searching aimlessly for the missing x in so many different equations. English class was even worse as she left her books in her locker, earning herself a responsibility paper for Mr. Edmunds since she could not participate in the class reading. She spilled milk down her shirt at lunch, dropped the paints in art, and slammed her finger in her locker after final period. The day was a maelstrom of unfortunate events.
By the time she laid down for bed, Jaime’s hatred for the grinning skeleton had grown into monstrous levels of rage. It’s meddling had brought on all the troubles she now faced, and all it could do was grin malevolently at her, as if they were childhood friends conspiring on some cheap prank. She was staring at the shiny plastic eyes of the decoration, irritation smoldering in her gaze, when there was a knock on her door.
“Ready for bed?” her dad asked, leaning against the door frame. Jaime didn’t respond, but burrowed a bit deeper into her comforter. “I talked to Mr. Jinkerson. He said he’d pull the batteries out of the skeleton; didn’t know it even made noise when they put it up. And that he owed you a game session for keeping you up,” he chuckled before crossing over to her bed. He tousled her hair–the only part of her visible to him–and sat on the edge of the bed. “Think you can get some sleep tonight?”
Jaime rolled over, flopping with the over-dramatic air only a teenager can muster. “I’ll try my best, dad.”
He smiled and laughed to himself before standing. “Good, that’s all I ask. I’m sure it would help if we could keep Mr. Bones here from spying on you all night.” With a shirt tug, he pulled the curtains closed, effectively shutting out the newly named Mr. Bones. “No sight, no sound, no problem.” The click of the light switch signified his departure, and Jaime found herself rapidly overcome by the heavy hand of sleep.
3:19 and she was awake, again the sounds of laughter rattling outside her window. This time, frustration won out over fear. The cheap decoration had been nothing but a nuisance, and she was tried of it. She resolutely threw her legs off the bed and stomped over to the window. Flinging back the curtains, she saw the skeleton dancing in the wind, limbs akimbo, as it laughed mouthlessly into the darkness. It mocked her.
Without another thought, Jaime walked to the backdoor. She flung the screen wide, robotically grabbing her brother’s baseball bat from beside the door on her way out. The wind blew furiously, tossing leaves into her face as she made her way across the lawn with single-minded fortitude. Her feet squished into the mud, chilling her to the bone. She was on a mission, one who could not be deterred.
The first swing and the decoration’s flimsy limbs were tangled around the bat. Another swing brought the grinning face to the ground. Again and again she lifted the bat before bringing it down on the grin, the arms, the legs, and any part of the cursed skeleton she could. After a few minutes, the ghoul was reduced to shattered plastic and tangled wires. The wind howled through the trees, eagerly reclaiming its dominance of the nightly noises. It chilled the sweat that had appeared across Jaime’s brow, calming the fury that had only recently raged with her slight form.
With abnormal calm, Jamie scooped up the tattered remains of the skeleton and carried them to the trashcan. She dumped the remains unceremoniously into the bin, leaving it to grin amongst the old newspapers and last night’s leftovers. A deep peace settled over her as she walked in the newly quiet evening, back to the back door. With a smile, she climbed victoriously back into bed.
As her eyes closed, her blood froze in her veins. From the darkness of her bedroom, a sound caught her attention. Laughter rattled through her room, reaching across the space to paralyze her beneath the thick comforter. It was deep, throaty, and echoing too deeply to emanate from the darkened corner. Her eyes snapped open, drawn immediately to the gaping, toothy smile waiting for her.
Jaime screamed. It laughed.
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This is a goofy little piece. It is a parody of ritual style stories, which if you haven’t heard of…well…it won’t make much sense. The idea is these ritual stories outline a series of steps and requirements to achieve some desired end. The path through is often fraught with peril, with failure resulting in terrible consequences. This is a parody on those ideas, playing with some of the cliches that plague the style. If you found this blog from creepypasta, then you’re probably familiar.
I am working on some other projects as well right now, including a “kind of” prequel to Purified. They are moving along, but I’m stuck with a bit of writer’s block. Those stories aren’t flowing, and I know that forcing it will end up making it completely terrible. Plus I’m having some trouble tying the plot together in a coherent way. Just need some space to tie it all together. Oddly, the idea for this ritual piece kind of smacked into me, and I wanted to just throw it together and see what happens. I’m not suggesting it is good, but it was at least fun.
In other news, I successfully proposed my dissertation! So, I’m still celebrating that. Well, I hope you enjoy this weird little piece, and I hope to have a new more typical something up by next week. Enjoy!
This ritual should only be undertaken by those brave of heart. If you succeed, the path will not be easy, but you will find your wildest dreams within reach. If you fail, you will doom yourself to a life of misery and torment, haunted by the specter of the chance you had and lost.
This cannot be started haphazardly. If you wish for any chance to succeed, I suggest beginning your preparations months in advance. There are sacred tomes which can be purchased (assuming you know where to look) which will instruct you in the completion of this ritual. If you do not know how to find such tomes, I heartily suggest you do not continue on, for only failure and despair await you.
Read and study the tomes diligently. They will provide tips for how to pass the numerous tests of this ritual, and may even provide sample scenarios so that you might better prepare yourself. If you cannot understand or complete the samples, I recommend you do not continue the ritual. Failure at the preparation almost certainly assures failure of the ritual. Failure no one wants.
Once you are confident in your ability to proceed through the ritual, you must then find the website. The book you have studied should show you the way. Go to the website it directs you to, and provide the information they request of you. Some of the questions may be deeply personal, but you must persevere if you are to accomplish this task. Remember, though, it is not too late to turn back.
Once you have answered the questions, the website will show you many dates and locations where the ritual can be completed, based on cosmic forces that are far beyond our ken. You must not question the timing or location for doing so risks your own ability to move forward in the process. Only those times and locations presented will allow you to successful complete the ritual before you so that you might gain your rewards. Select one, and then make the offering demanded of you. Once your offering is accepted, the computer will provide you with a paper covered in all kinds of warnings, information, and arcane symbols. Hold fast to it, because this page is crucial in completing the final ritual.
For now, you must wait. During this time, I recommend reviewing the tomes and website again for any additional information. You never know the capricious will of those controlling the ritual; perhaps the answer to your success will appear before you in that time.
I recommend preparing the requirements for this ritual the night before it is to begin, for the road forward will be long and trying. The requirements are simple; do not mistake their simplicity for ease. Bring the page you received from the website, a pencil , a calculator, and a photo ID, just in case something were to go wrong. You may also wish to bring food and water, because the ritual will take hours, and you may not leave the designated location once it has begun. Whatever you do, do not bring in any sort of cell phone or external forms of communication. You cannot share anything about what happens once the ritual is begun. I risk much myself by giving you even this information.
On the day of the ritual, arrive at your location at the designated time. Go forward, alone, and present your materials to the One who Waits. The One who Waits is never the same person. They may be young or old, male or female, black, white, or anything in between. The one thing that will always be the same is that their eyes will be empty and lifeless, a cog in some massive cosmic machine. They may look at you wordlessly or they may ask you, but either way provide them with the sacred page you received from the website, along with your identification so that they may ascertain your trustworthiness before you continue on. Answer any questions they ask truthfully, and they will allow you to move forward. Attempt to deceive them, and you may never see the ritual to fruition. Once they have assured you are one strong of heart, they will direct you where to go so that you might partake in this hallowed rituals. Follow their directions, and you will arrive in a room.
This room will look like a normal classroom. Do not be fooled. What you face here is far more than any teacher ever brought down upon you. There may be others like you waiting in the room, characterized by the look of fear and resolution on their faces. Do not be deterred by them, do not be dissuaded. Seat yourself, and wait for the ritual to begin.
Another human will enter the room, perhaps the same as the One who Waits, perhaps someone entirely different. The universe has a strange way of playing out sometimes. The One who Watches will present you with paper, and instruct you on how to continue. Listen carefully to the words, for they hold the answers to completing the ritual with any hope of success. Failure to heed the warnings they give you will lead to almost certain failure.
The final step is upon you. Once the warnings have been given, the One who Watches will present you with a small book. Look carefully as you are instructed, and read the mysteries hidden within. From here, you must simply heed the One who Watches and do your best to provide honest and accurate answers to all the book asks of you. Do not try to jump ahead in the book, or return to those things which have been sealed. You must progress forward as instructed. In each moment, you may only do that which is before you; pay no mind to the past of future, but move forward. After carefully following the commands of the One who Watches, you will complete the ritual.
You will not know whether your participation was a success of failure immediately. Either way, those who have passed through report that the sky looks bluer and the sun feels warmer after you leave that forsaken location. It may take days, weeks, or months, but eventually a letter will arrive in your mail box. Open it carefully, perhaps by the light of a single lamp when you are alone in your bedroom. Inside will be the results of your ritual. If you have failed the ritual, you will see that which makes you sad. You must take heart and persevere. While your life may not go as you had hoped in your wildest dreams, there is still hope. Some have been able to overcome the curse placed on their shoulders after such failure. There is happiness to be found even in the darkest parts of life. And the ritual is always waiting, should you wish to try your luck again. And again.
Should you see that which brings you joy and satisfaction, congratulations. You passed the SAT.
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.