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(HSSC) Our Story

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posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 10:04 AM
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Important

The following story must be read in complete darkness for full effect. If it happens to be daytime where you are when you read this, I implore you to wait until night-time for maximum fear factor. No, don't start reading. Really wait for night.
If it is night, turn off all the lights and shut the door if you can. Enjoy.


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Our Story

Can you see me? I can see you. Do you believe that this is the beginning of a story? That I am a thing of fiction asking some other thing of fiction if it can see me? No, I can see you, sitting at your computer. Reading our story. Yours and mine. I can see you thinking to yourself “Ah, so that’s where he’s going with this. What a tacky gimmick. This won’t frighten anyone”. Are you frightened? I can see you wanting to smile, to break the tension. To rationalise that this is all still just a gimmick, just fiction. Just a trick to make this story more frightening. You’re wrong, though. I can see you becoming more uncomfortable. I can see you telling yourself that you’re not becoming more uncomfortable and then realising, subconsciously, so that you don’t have to acknowledge it, that you are lying. Do you still think this a story? An entry in a contest? Maybe it is. Maybe it’s our story, yours and mine.

Turn around. Can you see me? I can see you shifting in your chair, not wanting to turn your head and, at the same time, not wanting to think about why this is so. But you will see me. This is our story, after all. Do you know me as I know you? Do you feel me there, watching you, as you walk down your darkened hallway at night? I feel you. Do you feel my fingers on your skin right now, as you read this? I feel you. Will you walk with determined, measured paces to turn the light on after you have read this, pretending not to be afraid? Or will you run and validate our story? I can see you. Can you see me? Your cat can. I’ve seen you watching it, when it stares at nothing. It can see me. I live in the timeless space where one breath ends and the next begins. In. Can you see me? Out. I can see you.

I want you to see me. As I see you. I want you to switch off your computer monitor. I can see you wondering at this new literary trick. I see you tell yourself that you are not scared. But I know you want to see me. As I see you. Go ahead, turn off your screen. Reach for the button. That’s it. Switch it off, and look past your reflection in it, over your shoulder. Can you see me? I can see you.


[edit on 13/10/05 by Jeremiah25]




posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 08:58 PM
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Hi Jeremiah,

This was a very nice approach to scary! You almost had me too, until I got to the line with the cat. (I dont have one, but I used to and it used to freak me out when she stared at "nothing" )
Of course I have had moments similar to your story.

There have been times when I have been downstairs at 2am on the computer while everyone was asleep, and I feel like I am being watched! Sometimes I feel like someone is standing right behind me, and sometimes I think I can almost see a reflection in my monitor. I usually try to shrug it off as imagination, which doesnt do much to calm me down. So I end up running upstairs, jumping in the bed and snuggling with my husband. (With my head under the blankets of course!
)

The only way I think the story could possibly be any better was if you were to take out this part "Your cat can. I’ve seen you watching it, when it stares at nothing. It can see me." I think it will serve to capture the readers imagination throughout the entire story. (For those with other pets or none at all)

Yet another great story Jeremiah! Hopefully I will have time to enter a story of my own, but I have been short on extra time here lately!



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 09:52 PM
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Yeah, I certainly took some risks with this story, that's for sure. Putting the thing in about the cat was obviously the biggest one because, well, if you haven't got a cat it kind of kills the story. I debated long and hard about whether or not to leave it in or take it out, but decided that it would be worth it just for that one person who actually does have a cat and reads it and thinks "What the ... ?!?!?!"

Also, I know for a fact that some of the people who will probably read it do have cats, plus it's just a creepy thing when your cat stares off at nothing in the corner.

This story was never meant to be as serious as, say, Samhain, so it doesn't bother me too much if it falls flat for some, or even most people. Basically I wrote it because nikelbee said that it was almost impossible to scare people in this day and age, which I agree with (Also, nikelbee, I know for a fact that you do not have a cat, so I guess this story, too, will not frighten you
). So I thought I'd try and write a story that gets under your skin. Even though most people will read it and go "I haven't got a cat, this is nonsense and I was never scared", I would love to be in the room when those members who do have cats read it in the dark and try to convince themselves that it's fiction.
If I can scare just one person, I will have succeeded.

Based on reader response, I was actually going to use the format of the forums to advance the story. If the first person to reply had said something like "OMG, I totally freaked when I read the bit about the cat - mine always does that", I was going to answer as the character from the story, to keep the feel that it was more than fiction, which I think might have been scary if done right. But you ruined it
. No, I'm really glad you liked it and I appreciate your comments a great deal, given your level of masterful writing ability. Hope to see an entry from you, also.
Thanks, sylvrshadow.

[edit on 13/10/05 by Jeremiah25]



posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 12:06 AM
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Jeremiah25

Did *I* say it was impossible to scare people in this day and age!? I think what I said was 'I'm starting to feel it IS possible for readers to feel dread, if not full out fear' - and I said it about your Samhain story. If I didn't believe it was possible to scare people I wouldn't be writing a short story collection that has as its core, the notion of 'fear'. Maybe not a 'scary' book per se, but certainly exploring those elements that comprise fear/dread/paranoia in our daily lives and also harking to some of the primal fears of yesteryear like legends and myths, which I find fascinating.

*sigh*

I don't know, maybe I did say it - or maybe I thought it and didn't say it and you picked up on it? In which case... does it count? Maybe you 'thought' it was something I would say and prempted that saying by saying I said it. Maybe you knew I never said it but lured me here anyway in your interactive scary plot for your own nefarious reasons...

IN any case - I could talk at length about it and the notion of fear (which I love) and audiences. I grew up on a healthy dose of it (fear not audiences) and hope to do the concept justice some day. I will say this though and you CAN quote me on it and now there are witnesses. We can use your audience if they aren't too scared by now.

It IS difficult (note: NOT impossible) to write good horror. Even Mr. King will have to agree, although for me his scariest stuff if when he is not being scary if you know what I mean, when we are deep in the enjoyment of his characters and not noticing what he is about to do - because then he has us - or he has me.

I have lately been reading a fantastic short story collection by the writer Julio Cortazar - in particular Blow Up which gave me absolute chills for days. I'm still thinking about it in fact. I think he wrote it in the 60s. Absolutely amazing stuff. Apparantly it was made into a film but I've yet to see it (not the one about the Brit photographer). I was going to say something about it in your Samhain story as it reminded me a little of it. I didn't want to ruin the mood you set and so I said nothing. But if you want to hear what I have to say about Cortazar and similarities you can U2.

Anyway - this one here reminds me of Italo Calvino's, 'If on a Winter's night a traveller,' - where he talks to his audience and 'we' become the watched. A very creepy and disturbing narrative, to have the tables turned on you like that. A lot of potential for good stuff in this concept, especially with computers - so far most fillms in this genre have been laughably bad.

One more thing - I was interested in your premise of responding and acting in the 'character' of the watcher - to anyone on this thread. Thanks Sylver for ruining that.


Also, Jeremiah25, how do you know I don't have a cat??? Cause that did scare me a little... scares me... I am scared now...

going away now...going to get a cat now...



posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 12:28 AM
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Originally posted by nikelbee
Also, Jeremiah25, how do you know I don't have a cat??? Cause that did scare me a little... scares me... I am scared now...

going away now...going to get a cat now...


Mwooo ha hah!!! How did I do this? Did my watcher step off the digital page and crawl into your house to report back to me? Did the act of reading his words and interacting with him as a real being, even if only subconsciously, give him power to take shape? Do words have such power? Do mine?

Or did I remember you posting on a thread in BTS called Tell me about your Cat?


Originally posted by nikelbee
I am sorry to say I don't have a cat anymore.


I personally think the first explanation is more in keeping with the spirit of the season, but I guess the second one demonstrates the value of research in constructing stories.


Edit

This story was essentially an effort to examine aspects of interactive storytelling. The approach was one, by having the character reject the notion that he was fictional and speak to the reader directly. The cat reference was another, as was the idea to respond to comments as the character. Another one I was going to do was to count how many lines can be on screen before you have to scroll and, just before this point, have the character say "I can see you". And then when they scroll, his next line would be "Scrolling the page".

If anybody has any other examples of this kind of suspension of belief-style storytelling, I would love to hear them.

[edit on 14/10/05 by Jeremiah25]



posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 04:01 AM
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Coleridge said this about suspension of disbelief. The writing should be "as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith."

In other words - you have to believe it and 'be' in the moment. The goal is to get the audience or the readers to be with you and forget reality.

Various theatrical tricks you can use - but I would concentrate mainly on the one I mentioned above as that is the one that will REALLY make someone live inside your narrative.

Theatrics can include:

1. Magic. Dazzle them with slight of hand - such as your scroll suggestion. JM Barrie is an example.

2. Use unusual devices in your story, like Italo Calvino (called one of the greatest Italian writers of the twentieth century).

'You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise you voice - they won't hear you otherwise - "I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!"... Well, what are you waiting for? Stretch your legs, go ahead..."

3. Stay in character and act a little mad. This always gets people as they are never certain if you the writer is you the person in the story. 'But he must be mad,' people say about horror writers and those who tackle the less savoury topics. 'He must really want to have sex with children (Lolita) want to dismember women (American Psycho) or she must believe in vampires (Interview with the Vampire).

There is a reason they call it fiction. But your reader doesn't have know you are a nice person who wouldn't hurt a fly. Use this to your advantage. You want them to think or wonder, 'hmmm, is this Jeremiah25 guy really the mad type of bloke who wants to watch me (with or without a cat?). You do creepy well - again, use it to your advantage. Plus, people trust you - again, another point to use in your favour. This happy trust comes across in your writing. How else are you going to get them to do your bidding?

You are most of the way in getting them to follow you. I love the ideas within your piece, my only critcism would be that it isn't long enough and appears a little rushed. Just when I was starting to look around the room and wishing I had a cat (like the birds they used in mines) you stopped and I was whisked back out from the reverie into cold reality.


You get points for originality though.


And I'm still creeped out about the cat thing.

[edit on 16-10-2005 by nikelbee]



posted on Oct, 16 2005 @ 04:47 AM
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Originally posted by nikelbee
my only critcism would be that it isn't long enough and appears a little rushed. Just when I was starting to look around the room and wishing I had a cat (like the birds they used in mines) you stopped and I was whisked back out of the reverie into cold reality.



I agree, it was way too short. I'd really like to write a longer version employing similar techniques. Your Coleridge quote was perfect - that is exactly the effect I am striving for.




The goal is to get the audience or the readers to be with you and forget reality for a moment.


Exactly! This is what I was trying to do, although the effort was a little crude, due to the fact that it was the first time I had toyed with such things. My goal was to bridge the gap between what the reader saw on the page as fiction and the reality of them sitting behind the computer as an uninvolved, detached reader. This was my reason behind the scroll theatric (nicely put - so often writing is compared to magic, yet this is the first time I have seen our bag of tricks referred to in the same way) - to use the physical aspects of the page to draw the reader into the story, by connecting their actions with what was happening on screen. This is also the reason for the breathing line:



I live in the timeless space where one breath ends and the next begins. In. Can you see me? Out. I can see you.


To make the reader part of the story by forcing them to link something they did in the real world (breathing) with what was taking place in the story.



There is a reason they call it fiction. But your reader doesn't have know you are a nice person who wouldn't hurt a fly. Use this to your advantage. You want them to think or wonder, 'hmmm, is this Jeremiah25 guy really the mad type of bloke who want to watch me (with or without a cat?). You do creepy well - again, use it to your advantage. Plus, people trust you - again, another point to use in your favour. This happy trust comes across in your writing. How else are you going to get them to do your bidding?


Good advice.
I'm really interested in exploring and developing this style of writing further and appreciate all the advice I can get. So if anyone wishes to add to nikelbee's wonderful comments, please do.



posted on Oct, 17 2005 @ 08:02 PM
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You spooky little bugger you. I could see where the story was going and still could not stop the journey. I should never have turned the darn lights off


I'm sure that if Samhain doesn't win this for you then this story will.

You're a very good writer my friend, very good. You're also young enough to persue this as a career. You should honestly consider it.

My hats off to you. Love and light,

Wupy



posted on Oct, 27 2005 @ 08:08 PM
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That was excellent! You got me freaked. I have a cat and while it doesn't bother me when it looks at nothing I started to look to see if my cat was staring at empty space.

Bravo! Oncore!
Creepily,
Void



posted on Oct, 29 2005 @ 12:41 PM
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Jeremiah, I liked this story and I certainly was disturbed by it, but ultimately I felt it was a little short. It is an excellent idea and you have the nuts and bolts here of a creepy little story but I felt that it ended too soon and it was over before it had begun.

Nikelbee has already offered some good advice about where to take this story. You have a compelling writing style and I would love to see any revisions of this story in the future.

[edit on 29-10-2005 by kedfr]



posted on Oct, 30 2005 @ 02:46 AM
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Originally posted by kedfr
Jeremiah, I liked this story and I certainly was disturbed by it, but ultimately I felt it was a little short. It is an excellent idea and you have the nuts and bolts here of a creepy little story but I felt that it ended too soon and it was over before it had begun.


Yep, no arguments here. Essentially, this story was really more of an experiment. Believe it or not, this style of interactive writing had never really occurred to me before, so when I thought of the concept for Our Story, I kind of just wanted to get something on page straight away.

Revisions will come, now that I have a better idea of what works and what doesn't. nikelbee has certainly been a fountain of great advice, as usual.
Although I can't help but notice that Kallie also wrote a story along the same lines. Something about her just irks me. Does anybody know who she is?


[edit on 30/10/05 by Jeremiah25]



posted on Oct, 30 2005 @ 12:42 PM
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Originally posted by Jeremiah25
Revisions will come, now that I have a better idea of what works and what doesn't. nikelbee has certainly been a fountain of great advice, as usual.
Although I can't help but notice that Kallie also wrote a story along the same lines. Something about her just irks me. Does anybody know who she is?



I'm not sure why you brought up The Watcher or why you are 'irked' by kallie. Saying that you are 'irked' by newbies is not a very friendly way to treat newcomers to the board, nor is it a way to encourage them to post again. The identity - or gender - of a writer should be irrelevant. All that is important is the story itself and I thought 'The Watcher' was excellent and I would love to see more stories from kallie on this board.

'Our story' and 'The Watcher' may have appeared to utilise similar second-person narratives, but in actual fact, 'The Watcher' was written in the third-person. However, for my mind (and as I said in my comments on that story) it was extremely successful, not just as a horror story but as a work of post-modernism. It is this ability to transcend genre that made it so effective and impressed me in particular.

In any case, why do you say that kallie is female? I've always found it next to impossible to determine gender through writing. Just because the narrator in The Watcher was a woman does not mean that the writer 'kallie' is also female. Not only are writers notorious for assuming different genders for their pen-names and in the narration of their stories, but gender-swapping is an integral part of the internet. Not only are people often not who they say they are but it is this ellusive anonymity that makes the internet such a vibrant place.

[edit on 30-10-2005 by kedfr]



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