Monthly Archives: January 2017

Scenes from an Unaired TV Show

The reality television show Roughin’ It was meant to follow a typical fish-out-of-water format, as various c-list celebrities attempted to live on a ranch according to frontier restrictions. 1200 hours of raw footage, roughly equating to 10 episodes, was shot before the network pulled the plug. Due to the near-total death of the cast, the footage was shelved indefinitely following criminal proceedings. Repeated viewing of the footage has allowed investigators to construct a rough timeline from the inciting incident to the final episode.

 

Incident #1

[exterior. The cast had gathered for the day’s challenge: assemble an ancient wash-mangle and do laundry. Celebrity chef A_____ and actress J_____ are conversing as they sort through machine parts. P_____, contestant from a previous year’s reality show, is sitting on an overturned trough attempting to roll his own cigarette.]

A:—and I mean, it’s not that I, like, hate it—

J: —no, you don’t really know enough to hate it—

A: —right. It’s just that I haven’t had a good experience so far and I need, like, a manual or something—

[P_____ drops his rolling papers and swears.]

A: *laughs* gonna have to bleep that one.

J: *joins in the laughter.

[K___, a transplant from a reality show about vintage cars, approaches the two women]

K: Okay, so we’ve got, like, thirteen moving parts, and then we’ve got this gizmo—

J: Oh. Hey. [She is looking somewhere off camera.]

[K stands up and follows her line of vision. He appears to follow the approach of another person with his gaze. K nods affably.]

K: Oh, hey [inaudible].

 

This footage is notable as containing the first appearance of what is most likely a shared delusion of another contestant. The cast would continually refer to a figure that did not appear on camera as if it had been part of the cast from the beginning. No microphone, whether it be worn by a cast member or fixed to a tripod, was able to pick up a name. The figure’s appearance marked a dramatic and ultimately violent turn to events, as cast members began acting upon orders not issued by the network but by said figure.

 

Incident #2

[The “cow pie toss.” Actors were encouraged to toss “cow pies” fashioned from wet clay as far as they could. The winner, predetermined by the network, would win a phone call home and a sports drink. Y___, a runner-up in a national singing contest, was the predesignated winner. The event director was coaching her on her performance in the contest.]

Director: Okay, now I really want you to play up the smell of these things, okay?

[Y___ makes a noncommittal noise and tosses some hair behind her shoulder.]

Director: Like, really—pretend it’s doggy doo.

Y: So are cow pies, like, poop? I never knew *director speaks, rendering the rest of her sentence inaudible.*

Director: Look, honey, I just want a lot of “yucks” from you, okay?

Y: Should I take off my heels?

Director: No, leave ‘em on. It’s better—it’s good for the show, okay?

[the director turns to instruct P_____ on something. Y___ relaxes slightly, shifting in her stance. Y___ stays in neutral position for 23 seconds before appearing to notice the approach of an unseen figure. She mouths “hi” and holds an inaudible conversation with her back turned to the camera. The Director calls for all cast to take up their positions. Y___ appears to finish her conversation, smiling and nodding. As soon as “action” is called, Y___ trips P_____ and presses his head into the mud.]

Director: Stop! Stop! Are you crazy?

Y: I know what I’m doing, jeez.

Director: Let him up, he’s—man are you okay?

P: *coughing* What the fuck, Y___?

[Y___ shrugs.]

Director: Look, sweetie, improv is not your strong suit. So just stick to the outline, okay?

[Y___ shrugs again.]

Director: okay, are we all on the same page? Action!

[Y___ promptly repeats her previous actions, this time crawling on P_____’s back to press his face into the mud.]

Director: Cut! Cut!

 

The cast began to deviate from studio-issued orders on events. Due to the hectic nature of the shooting season, the bulk of the footage was shot by stationary cameras hidden in various points around the ranch while live crews were called in only for supervised events. Behaviors that might have called for an early end to the show went undetected, perhaps facilitating the breakdown of order within the group.

 

Incident #4

[“Campfire” segments were shot as a sort of break between scripted activities. Cast were allowed to set up the camera as long as they made sure they were all visible in-frame. Cast members T___ and R__ were seen to have a budding relationship spark and encouraged to play it up during shooting hours. During this campfire segment, T___ and R__ sat off to one side, sharing a blanket.]

P: *holding a stick and digging into the fire* …and I just wonder if it’s all worth it, sometimes.

K: You can’t think that, man. Like, if everyone thought like that, like, no one would get anything done, ever, you know?

[T___ and R__  simultaneously look to a point off camera. They hold their gazes for ten seconds. The couple then turn back to one another, blank of all expression. They hold a rapid-fire conversation that does not slow or stop once for the entire segment. Their body microphones pick up no audio.]

A: So, what, I have to just keep chugging along, just because I need to?

K: Well, yeah. You have to think of it like—

[K___ suddenly undergoes what appears to be a seizure. He drops his ams to his sides and makes a buzzing intonation in his throat. Drool can be seen escaping his open mouth. His face is tilted roughly up to the night sky. During this period, A_____ and P_____ behave as if nothing remarkable is happening. The entire event lasts three minutes.]

K:—holistically, like, we’re all connected, you know?

[Conversation resumes as if the pause did not happen. In the background, T___ and R__ sit facing one another, mouths hung open, for the rest of the footage.]

 

Incident #5

[The cast was instructed to milk a cow. Instead, after conferring with the unseen figure, they slaughtered the cow and skinned the body. The cast continued to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary, assuming the playful nature they used for scripted events. J_____ picked up a femur and pretended to play it like a flute. T___ and R__  began a splash fight with cow viscera. Once the cowhide was completely removed and put into a barrel to tan, the cast stood still and faced the open doorway of the barn, uttering the same low intonation. This went on for an hour.]

 

The cast’s behavior became increasingly erratic. However, because they did not shed their on-camera personas, they largely escaped detection by the live crews. One noticeable shift was that P_____ became a whipping boy of sorts. Everything that went wrong was jokingly blamed on him. Other cast members would frequently point to him and make a throat-slashing gesture, which he would return with a thumbs-up. The filming crew did not think this odd. P_____ had been set up as a martyr from the planning stage: his departure in the mid-season finale was meant to be a ratings boost. However, crew found the cast’s increasingly sadistic treatment of P_____ disturbing.

 

Incident #6

[A simple relay race, played with lumps of coal. Y___ can be seen horsing around with T___ as  R__, confined to another team, looks on with a slight frown. P_____, back to them, turns around and accidentally knocks a piece of coal out of Y___’s hand.]

P: Whoops! *chuckles*

Y: Boy, looks like you better eat what you spill, P_____!

[P_____ laughs as he gets to his hands and knees. The director can be heard shouting as P_____ cracks the lump of coal with his teeth. The cameraman zooms in long enough to catch a small amount of blood trickling from his mouth before the director calls cut.]

 

Incident #7

[The cast’s assignment is to draw a map of the surrounding area. Instead, they gather at a granite formation and hold an extended conversation with the unseen figure. Having discarded their body microphones, the only evidence of this occurrence is a camera set up on the barn roof to capture establishing shots. The cast returns after three hours. The paper that was suppose to be marked with the map instead holds a 27-point star. The cast insists that it is a map of the area.]

 

Incident #8

[A gaffer is setting up for a scene. K___ is lounging off to the side, holding an idle conversation. The gaffer is apparently only half-listening during this exchange.]

K: …and it’s just like, it’s always been there, you know?

Gaffer: Mmm.

K: Like, east and west, those are just human determinations, you know? The only real direction is inside.

[The gaffer puts a length of tape down and scatters straw over it.]

K: I could die tomorrow and I wouldn’t really be dead. Just shed another layer. I want to eat the dead skin from the outside of me, give me life for my new rebirth.

[The gaffer checks off points from a clipboard.]

K: P_____’s the one. He will open the way for the rest of us. I’d like to sup his misery and call it wine. The only way out is inside. The only way inside is through. Like [inaudible] said. Got to cut, cut, cut away the fat.

Gaffer: *finally appears to tune back into the conversation* Wait, what?I

 

The cast’s erratic behavior finally began garnering attention. The director called a meeting and informed the cast that they must behave in line with the contracts they signed with the studio. The cast greeted this with puzzlement, claiming they had been. P_____, despite having to get medical attention for injuries sustained during the coal-eating incident, denied any wrongdoing.

 

Incident #9

[R__ and J_____ are preparing a dinner of shoo-fly pie and boiled potatoes. R__ is kneading dough. J_____ peels potatoes while speaking at great length in a monotone.]

J: They lived here 12,000 years ago, when man was still sucking at the teat of summer. Slipped their skins every solstice and made wild. Descartes was wrong. There is no sun, there is only the illusion of light reflected in the moon. Man is a peach in the eye of god. God is a leaf in the eye of [inaudible]. 12,000 years is nothing to the stone. Man is carved from his own excrement. Life is a face laughing at the mirror. When I die it shall be to plant my own future. I will slip my own skin and slither into eternity. *she drops her peeler into the boiling pot and reaches in to grab it without hesitating or flinching. After retrieving it, she shows no sign of pain despite her skin visibly reddening on camera.*

R: I want to be sliced like a pear. My blood a gown. My entrails the crown.

J: *puts a hand on her shoulder* Time is the flight of a dead sparrow.

[the two women finish dinner without further comment.]

 

Due to increasing disquiet with the cast, network handlers were dispatched to supervise the remainder of the shoot. They arrived to find the ranch empty.

 

Investigating the surrounding area, they found the cast at the nearby granite formation. The cow hide they had tanned had been cut into a single strip of rawhide, which was then used to mark a 27-point star over the whole formaton. After setting up a stationary camera, the cast then ritualistically sacrificed P_____, who continued to smile and laugh during the entire process. The footage past the point where they began flensing his torso distorts almost irretrievably, repeated viewings have only been able to pick out several images. R__ stabbing J_____. K___and T___ painting an intricate symbol on the granite in blood. Y___, bare breasted and seizing in what appears to be religious ecstasy. P_____’s skin, hung up on a crude framework, flapping in a sudden breeze.The entirety of the cast staring at a single spot in the camera lens.

 

The cast was found dead, having attempted to flense their own skin off. The only survivor, oddly enough, was  P_____. The actor was flown to a nearby hospital where he was put into a medically-induced coma. His body lingers on, despite repeated rejection of tissue donations. His family is currently fighting a legal battle to withdraw life support.

 

This footage was compiled as evidence and promptly shelved after the trial. Do not reproduce.

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Downpour

It was raining.

It was a drizzling, pissing rain that fell without cease. It churned the dirt into thin mud and turned the main road into a chocolate river. The town of Hawk, Arizona(elv. 2, 534) had received a scant 12 inches of rain in the last 20 years. In the past week, it had rained 24.

Scott looked out his kitchenette window, sipping coffee from a slipware mug painted with a saguaro cactus. The lava rocks that made up his yard were drowning. The path from his front door was a stream. The poles of the carport buckled under the reservoir that had formed in the tarpaulin.

Scott made a face. Even the coffee tasted watery, and no amount of sugar or milk could disguise that.

Scott threw open the door and tossed the coffee out. It lingered only a moment as a brown streak before it diffused into the greater tan body of water.

Scott got on the waders he used for fishing and cut holes in a garbage bag to wear as a poncho. Electing to leave his jeep in the high and dry, he walked.

The population of Hawk comprised mostly of retirees. As Scott descended the steep gravel path from his house, he could hear singing. Ed Tomlinson, his closest neighbor, was holed up in his double-wide.

“If it keeps on raining, the levee’s going to breeeaaaak,” Ed wailed in a piercing tenor, “when the levee breaks, you’ll have no place to staaaayyyyy.”

Dottie Paulson’s tin shack straddled a bend in the dirt road-turned-swamp. “The flower lady” graced the frontage in lopsided lettering. The sunfaded daisy that substituted the o looked drowned. Dottie sat in the delivery bay, decked out in overalls and a tye-dye shirt, round face beaming as Scott drew closer.

“Look!” She gestured as if Scott was somehow ignorant of the rain.

“Yup. Still dry as an Irish funeral.”

Dottie laughed raucously. “Here I was beginning to miss Portland. Isn’t it pretty?”

“Mmm.” Scott looked at the mud bubbling through the cracked asphalt of of the loading bay. “Pretty” was not the operating word he would have chosen.

“I hope it rains more,” Dottie burbled, “I hope it rains on all those thirsty jackrabbits and coyotes. I hope it rains so much these hills soak it up and stay green forever!”

The hills didn’t appear to be doing a whole lot of soaking in Scotty’s eyes, but he watched Dottie splash in a puddle and decided words would probably fail him here.

He bid Dottie adieu and descended.

Benjamin Devereux’s stop ‘n shop sat on an incline. For years, his dusty lot had been a nuisance. Now it was a trap, a mire of mud so fine and sticky that Scott nearly lost a wader.

Benjy stood on his porch, meaty arms folded over his apron.

“Benj.” Scott struggled with his left foot, suctioned. “You ought to git over to my place. Foundation’s starting to float.”

“What, in this? Just a drizzle.” Benjy stared at him defiantly as Scotty fought his left foot out of the mud and now began struggling with his right.

“I don’t know if you see this or not, but it ain’t stopping.” Scott tried wriggling his foot forward and nearly fell over.

“Ah. It’ll stop. Has to.”

“Benj.” Scott finally tripped, slipping out of his wader. The cold bit into his bare foot, made his pants cling to his leg. “I’m serious, now. Come to my place.”

“It’ll blow over. Has to.” Benjy eyed the rain as if it had done him personal wrong.

Scott slipped off the second wader, watching it fill with water and sink. He could not feel his feet as he abandoned the lot. Each step made him stagger, there was no solid ground anymore. Scott found a floating tomato stake to use as a walking stick.

Down, down. Ezra was in his front yard, making the most of it. He’d stuck a bucket of iced beers in an innertube and reclined in a pool chair.

“Get to higher ground,” Scotty said.

Ezra raised a beer in salute.

Down, down into town. The poncho did almost nothing to keep the rain from his body. The water hit the rips and drizzled downwards, soaking him gradually. He started to shiver.

The water around main street was calf-height. Scott waded up to Ralph Ohls, laying on the starter in his old ford truck.

“Howdy.” Scott prodded the surface of the water. “Ralph, I dunno if you see this or not—”

“Ah.” Ralph waved his hand, turning his keys back and forth in an endless cycle. “I got it. Don’t worry.”

“I do worry, Ralph. Looks to be a flood.”

“It don’t rain that much here.” Ralph jiggled the keys. “Won’t flood.”

“What do you call this, then?” Scott lifted a wrinkled, white foot out of the water. Ralph refused to look.

“Got to get home to Liz,” Ralph said, tongue tucked into a corner of his mouth, “got to get those sandbags down.”

“Ralph, your house is downhill. There ain’t much sandbags can do at this point.”

Ralph did not reply, just kept turning the keys to his drowned engine.

The water became thigh-deep, then chest-deep. Scotty half swam to Ira’s Antiques and peered through the smoked glass of the front door.

Ira’s widow Sonya stood in the water, antiques garlanding her like the detritus of a shipwreck, and knitted. A sign boasting of “genuine turquoise” drifted past. Scott tried the door. Locked.

“Not open yet. Not til twelve,” Sonya called in a blank voice.

“Sonya? It’s Scotty. You got to get out, Sonya. Open the door. Let me help you.”

Sonya continued knitting. “Scotty, I’m too old to be moving around now.”

Scott shook the knob. “Sonya, I mean it. The whole town’s sitting on mud right now. Any second—”

Sonya shook her head, not looking up from her purl stitch. “I see no reason to go running around like a chicken with my head cut off. If it happens, it happens.”

“Sonya, listen to me: if Dottie’s place comes unmoored, it’ll come right this way. It’ll do some damage.”

“And what do you want me to do about it?” Sonya shook her head. “Thanks all the same, Scotty, but I ain’t moving.”

Scott could not feel most of his legs and his wading stick had got away from him. He shambled to higher ground, past Ralph sitting in a truck cab gradually filling with water.

Dottie met him going the other way, sledging in the flower shop now unseated by the water.

“Whee!” she waved to him as she slid past, looking like a little girl on a parade float. “Here I go! Whee!”

Scotty did not stop to watch her go. He climbed up, up, up, and the rain came down, down, down. It sabotaged every step, dissolving the mud beneath his feet and sucking the warmth from his legs. Benjy sat in a rocking chair on the shop’s porch as Scott stumbled past, whittling with a penknife as the rotten timbers of the building creaked and groaned.

Scott passed the flat streak that marked Dottie’s travel, where her shop had bowled over a “no parking” sign and gouged the hillside so the hollow was filling with rainwater. Gravity was working with the rain, tiring Scotty so every step uphill was a battle. His numb feet could not find purchase and he slipped, falling to meet the water again and again.

He traveled up, up, up to his house. To higher ground. To drier ground. He looked up to see something coming down to meet him.

Tomlinson’s double-wide, shining like a silver bullet, skied down the hill to him. Behind it, Scott could see his jeep, skidding unimpeded by the parking brake. And behind that, he could see his house, his lava rocks, the whole hillside slithering to meet him.

It was raining.

It was a drizzling, pissing rain that fell without cease. It soaked Scott as he futilely threw one hand up in the face of the landslide.

It was a down, down, downpour.

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Creepypasta Cookoff 2016

Another year, another batch of spooky goodness, cooked up by the finest minds of the internet. This year’s entries are:

The Daddy Face

What the Sea Leaves

Homo parkinsoni

Grasshopper Glacier 

All this and so much more in the 2016 cook-off. Multimedia entries as well as traditional text stories, all more than worth a look!

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Vanishing in Paradise

Marine Queen cruise lines no longer offer singles discount packages.

In April of 1983, Beverly Hannigan boarded the St. Marie, crown jewel of the MQ cruise ships. She was taking part in a promotion that had been advertised at her local mall for single women age 30-50. Her last recorded whereabouts were at the ship’s pharmacy, where she bought a small bottle of Midol and a pack of travel tissues. At approximately 15:00 hours, the ship made a scheduled stop at a small island off Trinidad. Beverly was spotted on the gangplank. When the ship departed six hours later, Beverly was not on board.

During the eighties, Marine Queen cruise ships would run regular singles discount promotions every year. Ships running the promotion had the “get lei’d” board: passengers were given small plastic leis and encouraged to loop them over a peg on the board if they were interested in being matched up on the ship. The leis were not issued to male passengers.

Marla Davis checked onto the Marine Queen 2 to be close to her grandchildren. She allowed herself to be classified as single in order to obtain the discount.

Her grandchildren were frolicking in the pool when the ship announced a singles-only stop on a nearby island, promising romantic sights and a chance to mingle. While Marla Davis, a widow of thirty years, was not interested in romance, she had tired of the ship’s scenery.

The island they moored at was approximately 80km off the coast of Venezuela. The ship did not announce its name. Marla partook in a guided tour of the island’s interior, which involved hiking up to the island’s dormant volcano. She took note of various couples breaking away from the tour and walking to the lowlands, between large shrubs that grew in otherwise bare volcanic soil. After a few hours, the guide called for a return to the ship. Out of concern for her fellow passengers, Marla looked behind the group as they hiked down the mountain to see if they left any stragglers.

The bushes were retreating down the slope.

Marla attempted to bring it to the attention of the tour guide, but was brushed off. The group that boarded the ship was fewer in number than the one that had disembarked onto the island. When she brought it up to a ship official, they assured her that many people leave the cruise ship by choice and would find alternative transport back to the United States. When pressed for names, the officials refused on the ground of customer confidentiality. The island at the coordinates described by Ms. Davis is currently designated as “uninhabited”  by the Venezuelan government.

Statistics for cruise ship disappearances are hard to quantify. The cruise lines have a vested interest in not releasing information that would make the company look bad. Often this leads to tragedy, as authorities are notified long past the point where they could have prevented an incident. In one such case, businessman Justin Borland lost his footing and fell from the deck of the Paradiso. He was not wearing a life vest. Fellow passengers witnessed the fall, but the ship’s guard could not be coaxed to the deck until Borland was already a speck on the horizon. Rather than send a longboat to the rescue, ship’s authorities assured the passengers they would call the coast guard. Which they did. Sixteen hours after the fact. The cruise line which operates the Paradiso denies this account, alleging that Borland was drunk and already beneath the waves when the ship’s security responded.

Shawn and Viola di Martino were not on a singles cruise. Their travel agent booked them on the Triton for their fifth anniversary. While on board, they made friends with a young woman named Stephanie Moore, who was there as the caretaker of her great-aunt. On July 3rd, 1987, Viola di Martino went missing.

The boat had not moored anywhere recently, so her husband assumed she had gotten lost on the way to the pool. However, when he questioned the pool staff they were not only unhelpful but belligerent as questioning went on. They alleged Viola had never been on-deck and had probably lied about where she was going. When Shawn produced testimony from other passengers that had seen her on that very deck, they accused him of not being her husband at all, but an obsessed stalker. Shawn gave up on the pool staff and contacted ship security. They assured him that Viola was probably just off on her own, and suggested he go back to their cabin and wait. Shawn refused. Viola was diabetic, he explained, and long overdue for her insulin shot.

It was around this point that Stephanie Moore told her aunt that she was going to the bathroom. The aunt spent the rest of the night unattended when Stephanie did not return. Ship security found her sobbing alone in her room, having soiled herself during the night. As she was suffering from mild dementia, she thought Stephanie had left her alone to punish her.

After six sleepless hours, the ship’s security called Shawn di Martino to the medical center. They hastily explained that they had mistaken Viola for another passenger and had detained her for drunk and disorderly behavior. In the interim, Viola had slipped into a diabetic coma. There were unexplained restraint marks on her wrists and ankles. The ship’s staff told Shawn he had no legal recourse and dropped the couple off at the nearest port. Despite attaining emergency medical treatment, Viola never regained consciousness. Stephanie Moore has not been seen since.

In 1990, the Marine Queen cruise line was brought into a class-action suit by the passengers of the Fruite Royale, alleging major hygiene lapses among other accusations. 208 of the 500 passengers had contracted herpes through unknown means, though a pot of Chicken Marbella contained traces of the disease. The cruise line attempted to settle out of court, but withdrew the offer at the last minute. The company was forced to volunteer 3 of its fifteen cruise ships for inspection, but did not pay any restitution to the passengers as per the ruling. The three ships passed inspection.

In September of 1992, Calvin Wallis and a friend were vacationing in Barbados when they were approached by a white woman. She bore signs of recent abuse and walked with a limp. She was improperly dressed for such a cool night, and both men described her makeup as garish.

The woman identified herself as Beverly Hannigan and begged the two men to help her. Before she could tell them more, two men came up from the bungalows lining the beach and collected her, dismissing her claims as the rambling of a drug addict. They shepherded her off the beach. Though Calvin went to Barbadian police, nothing more has come of it.

The Marine Queen cruise line operates to this day and has expanded its fleet from fifteen to twenty ships.

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