Ichor Falls

October 2011

by on Oct.16, 2011, under Meta

Hello.

I am Mr. Welldone.

No, just kidding, it’s Kris, the author of Ichor Falls and Candle Cove, the reason why you found me. I know the site’s been dead quiet for a long while now, and I’ve been wanting to write more horror, but I have a problem. I can’t. I’m so meta about everything nothing scares me lately. No ghost, no unseen stalking spirit, no lumbering, stitched nightmare. I feel like I understand every trope.

As you may know, traditional horror/suspense/thrillers don’t do a lot for me — for example, the Scream movies or any of their ilk. I can’t get worked up about a guy with a bladed weapon, and the reason is, I know their motive. They want to hurt me, they want me to know fear as I die. I get that, I get all of it. So when he puts the sword through the door and it startles me, now I have to fight him, and it’s just brains vs. brawn, or brawn vs. brawn, and I’m gonna lose, and he’s gonna get me. The end. It just doesn’t inspire the same feeling of dread that an alien entity does, a completely foreign state of existence like something unknown from the depths of the sea, or a haunting. That’s why they scare me so much — because to deal with something, you have to be able to form a pattern. You have to be able to begin to understand them.

I understand a serial killer. He has to conform to the laws of physics; he probably can’t break in without making a lot of noise. And if he gets me, I guess he gets me. I die. Or I get tortured and then die. Misery is terrible, but it doesn’t frighten me; the unknown frightens me. The appropriation of innocence frightens me, like you see in Candle Cove. (If you want to read what I have to say about why I did Candle Cove and its meta legacy, here’s a blog post about it.)

And attempts to frighten me, other stories — there’s a lot of good creepypasta out there that does get me, but it’s also very formulaic. The ritual ones I never understood! How can anyone be expected to remember all that stuff? Who would even bother? And usually the reward is to be cursed and miserable forever. What? Really?

Anyone here watch Suicide Mouse? That meme? I haven’t heard the audio. I just watched the first five seconds and shut it off. Why, because it was frightening? No, because it was supposedly made in the 1930s, but the animation looks like it was done in Mario Paint. Have some pride for God’s sake. Do your job, scare people. Force them to imagine a little more, don’t lay it all out on a plate. People don’t stagger out of a screening of something and raise a gun to their temples. If they do, there’s a much longer buildup. Make me think about it! Haunt me with it, haunt the reader with it after the story’s over.

Anyway. My point is, I don’t know what to get scared by. Who’s seen something in the vein of horror I’m describing? Anyone? If I can’t… get creeped out, I don’t know how I can write more. I know it’s out there. Marble Hornets is excellent… I was a big fan of the Josef K Stories… I just need that consistency. That slow burn. Can you help me find it?

63 Comments more...

Pontypool Radio Drama at the BBC

by on Jun.25, 2010, under Meta

Just wanted to share a link from Shannon. If you are a fan of moody horror and haven’t seen the film version of Pontypool, the BBC has done a radio drama version of the same story with the same actors. I’m listening to it and it’s arguably as good so far. It’s definitely worth the hour-long listen.

4 Comments more...

Ichor Falls RPG at Go Play NW

by on Jun.20, 2010, under Meta

Saturday morning my friend Brendan Adkins introduced me and a group of players to Geiger Counter, a “cooperative survival horror” RPG that seemed more like group storyboarding than an actual game. I think it would be great to brainstorm a story out using Geiger Counter as a tool.

It was rooted in the mythos of Ichor Falls, and as far as Ichor Falls stories go, it actually adhered pretty well to the town. A library burned to the ground, the Amish children’s holiday Totenkinder figured heavily, and a driverless carriage that demanded a driver. It was pretty fascinating and genuinely upsetting at some points. I can see how it would be super effective late at night in the right setting. Thanks, Brendan, and the poor townspeople of Lucy, Chip, Jennifer, Katerina, Amos, Herbert and Omar.

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RPPR Plays “Candle Cove”

by on Jun.07, 2010, under Meta

Hello all, long time no post (no, this isn’t a meta-horror story in a blog post format). Ross over at Role Playing Public Radio informs me that:

Hi Kris,

I run a tabletop RPG podcast called Role Playing Public Radio. We do normal shows, comedy skits and recordings of our tabletop games. Back in March, I ran a two part game based on your story ‘Candle Cove’ from Ichor Falls. Even though the game ran for 6 hours, we got a great response from our listeners, judging from the comments we got. You can see it here.

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of Ichor Falls which I promoted it on RPPR episode 42.

I meant to email you to give you a heads up earlier, but I forgot to until now.

Look forward for any future creepy pasta you make!

Thanks Ross. I’m sharing the link because it’s way too late at night to begin listening to a six-hour-long descent into the (fan-generated) world of Candle Cove, but I can’t wait to hear it and see what people think.

Even as I type this on my laptop, I’m thinking about how in this dark room my eyes have adjusted to where they can only see the bright screen, and nothing beyond it. It would be so easy for a bone-white face to rush at me from the pitch-black just to the left of my monitor and then vanish.

I moved to my desk and turned on the lamp just now; I couldn’t take that chance.

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Ichor Falls Book Now Available

by on Oct.15, 2009, under Meta

The first Ichor Falls book is available for purchase at my personal shop. It includes black and white reproductions of drawings, a little photography from the Falls, and a new town legend written especially for the book.

19 Comments more...

Another toxic town

by on Jun.30, 2009, under Meta

Here’s a real town with almost the same backstory as Ichor Falls, except that it’s probably not also damned.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/06/30/oklahoma.toxic.town/index.html

3 Comments more...

Opossum Society

by on May.15, 2009, under By Kris Straub

My grandfather was a big card gambler, and told us a lot of wild stories from his traveling youth. He mostly kept to five-card stud and was a master at bluffing — given the nature of most of his stories and how we believed them, I guess he was at least telling the truth about that.

The story that stuck with me had happened in the summer of 1940, he said. He was on furlough and visiting his parents a few miles east of Ichor Falls. Landlocked and bored, he overheard at some dive that there was all-night gambling at a nearby Indian reservation, maybe Moneton or Mattaponi, I forget which. The story was that a local group of investors calling themselves “the Opossum Society” gathered there one night a month and talked big policy and local events; the things that had made them wealthy. Intrigued, my grandfather caught a ride near there, and walked a couple miles on foot the rest of the way.

Two things to remember about my grandfather: he was as slick and charming as anything, and he hated to play sober. He said they poured strong drinks there, and by the time he had the courage to wander over to the lone table where anyone was still playing, he was worried they’d kick him out for being too drunk. But he must have turned on the charm, because after twenty minutes or so, he’d been invited to sit down.

The game was five-card stud. My grandfather didn’t have much money, but he hung on in the early hands, and after an hour or so, he had a tidy pile of chips in front of him, to the surprise of the others.

The night wore on, the talk was lively and the drinks kept coming. An old woman came around with a tray of shots of whiskey, which she placed in front of each player. Each raised their glasses, and one man made a toast: “To the Opossum Society, and to new friends.” They all drank and the dealer continued with a new hand.

My grandfather said the tone of the game changed. All the din of small talk and high conversation was replaced with the quiet shuffling of cards, and the clinking of chips. Sensing this, my grandfather bet conservatively — but it became increasingly difficult as the pot grew.

Finally deciding the most he’d be out was the money he walked in with, he went all in on the next hand. The entire table called, and the cards came down. Although there was a clear winner, and it wasn’t my grandfather, all eyes on the table turned to one of the other players, who had trash cards and no chips left. Sweating, he plead with the dealer, the others in the society, even the old Indian woman.

“You know the rules,” said the winner. At this, the losing player burst into tears and, knocking over his stool, ran out of the place whimpering and moaning.

The other players congratulated my grandfather, saying he’d played a good game, and that he had an open invitation to play next time they gathered. The old woman came around with another tray of shots and set them down, when my grandfather said, “no more for me, thanks, I’ve got to get home.” But she insisted he drink. He asked why.

The winning player leaned in and told him.

“It’s the antidote.”

—Based on a story my dad told me of a dream he had.

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Candle Cove

by on Mar.15, 2009, under By Kris Straub

NetNostalgia Forum – Television (local)

Skyshale033
Subject: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

Does anyone remember this kid’s show? It was called Candle Cove and I must have been 6 or 7. I never found reference to it anywhere so I think it was on a local station around 1971 or 1972. I lived in Ironton at the time. I don’t remember which station, but I do remember it was on at a weird time, like 4:00 PM.

mike_painter65
Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

it seems really familiar to me…..i grew up outside of ashland and was 9 yrs old in 72. candle cove…was it about pirates? i remember a pirate marionete at the mouth of a cave talking to a little girl

Skyshale033
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
YES! Okay I’m not crazy! I remember Pirate Percy. I was always kind of scared of him. He looked like he was built from parts of other dolls, real low-budget. His head was an old porcelain baby doll, looked like an antique that didn’t belong on the body. I don’t remember what station this was! I don’t think it was WTSF though.

Jaren_2005
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
Sorry to ressurect this old thread but I know exactly what show you mean, Skyshale. I think Candle Cove ran for only a couple months in ’71, not ’72. I was 12 and I watched it a few times with my brother. It was channel 58, whatever station that was. My mom would let me switch to it after the news. Let me see what I remember.

It took place in Candle cove, and it was about a little girl who imagined herself to be friends with pirates. The pirate ship was called the Laughingstock, and Pirate Percy wasn’t a very good pirate because he got scared too easily. And there was calliope music constantly playing. Don’t remember the girl’s name. Janice or Jade or something. Think it was Janice.

Skyshale033
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
Thank you Jaren!!! Memories flooded back when you mentioned the Laughingstock and channel 58. I remember the bow of the ship was a wooden smiling face, with the lower jaw submerged. It looked like it was swallowing the sea and it had that awful Ed Wynn voice and laugh. I especially remember how jarring it was when they switched from the wooden/plastic model, to the foam puppet version of the head that talked.

mike_painter65
Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

ha ha i remember now too. ;) do you remember this part skyshale: “you have…to go…INSIDE.”

Skyshale033
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
Ugh mike, I got a chill reading that. Yes I remember. That’s what the ship always told Percy when there was a spooky place he had to go in, like a cave or a dark room where the treasure was. And the camera would push in on Laughingstock’s face with each pause. YOU HAVE… TO GO… INSIDE. With his two eyes askew and that flopping foam jaw and the fishing line that opened and closed it. Ugh. It just looked so cheap and awful.

You guys remember the villain? He had a face that was just a handlebar mustache above really tall, narrow teeth.

kevin_hart
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
i honestly, honestly thought the villain was pirate percy. i was about 5 when this show was on. nightmare fuel.

Jaren_2005
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
That wasn’t the villain, the puppet with the mustache. That was the villain’s sidekick, Horace Horrible. He had a monocle too, but it was on top of the mustache. I used to think that meant he had only one eye.

But yeah, the villain was another marionette. The Skin-Taker. I can’t believe what they let us watch back then.

kevin_hart
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
jesus h. christ, the skin taker. what kind of a kids show were we watching? i seriously could not look at the screen when the skin taker showed up. he just descended out of nowhere on his strings, just a dirty skeleton wearing that brown top hat and cape. and his glass eyes that were too big for his skull. christ almighty.

Skyshale033
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
Wasn’t his top hat and cloak all sewn up crazily? Was that supposed to be children’s skin??

mike_painter65
Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

yeah i think so. rememer his mouth didn’t open and close, his jaw just slid back and foth. i remember the little girl said “why does your mouth move like that” and the skin-taker didn’t look at the girl but at the camera and said “TO GRIND YOUR SKIN”

Skyshale033
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
I’m so relieved that other people remember this terrible show!

I used to have this awful memory, a bad dream I had where the opening jingle ended, the show faded in from black, and all the characters were there, but the camera was just cutting to each of their faces, and they were just screaming, and the puppets and marionettes were flailing spastically, and just all screaming, screaming. The girl was just moaning and crying like she had been through hours of this. I woke up many times from that nightmare. I used to wet the bed when I had it.

kevin_hart
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
i don’t think that was a dream. i remember that. i remember that was an episode.

Skyshale033
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
No no no, not possible. There was no plot or anything, I mean literally just standing in place crying and screaming for the whole show.

kevin_hart
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
maybe i’m manufacturing the memory because you said that, but i swear to god i remember seeing what you described. they just screamed.

Jaren_2005
Subject:
Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?
Oh God. Yes. The little girl, Janice, I remember seeing her shake. And the Skin-Taker screaming through his gnashing teeth, his jaw careening so wildly I thought it would come off its wire hinges. I turned it off and it was the last time I watched. I ran to tell my brother and we didn’t have the courage to turn it back on.

mike_painter65
Subject: Re: Candle Cove local kid’s show?

i visited my mom today at the nursing home. i asked her about when i was littel in the early 70s, when i was 8 or 9 and if she remebered a kid’s show, candle cove. she said she was suprised i could remember that and i asked why, and she said “because i used to think it was so strange that you said ‘i’m gona go watch candle cove now mom’ and then you would tune the tv to static and juts watch dead air for 30 minutes. you had a big imagination with your little pirate show.”

 



 
Author’s note: Candle Cove is a work of fiction that first appeared online at this site on March 15, 2009. There was no Candle Cove television show in West Virginia or anywhere else for that matter. Read my interview on writing Candle Cove here, or my thoughts on the story here.

Creative Commons License
Candle Cove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.ichorfalls.com.

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OSD09-H03

by on Jan.09, 2009, under By Kris Straub

“How — what — what kind of foods do they have?”

Four independent subroutines went to work analyzing the phrase uttered by the four-year-old: expression context, voice recognition, tone analysis, body language. Tone analysis needed to be the fastest, and luckily it was also the simplest. No quavering or whining detected. Had it been, the other subroutines would have been directed to stop, and control would be given over to an array of prewritten comfort dialogues.

Expression context came next. Eye contact from the child was only occasional. The image analysis package, in concert with the body language and expression routines, determined that the child, a fair-haired boy, was occupied by something below frame. The RFID scan identified it as a toy train, one of twelve toys in the room. The dialogue routine was updated with the name of the object, potentially to be used later if the child remained silent for a specified amount of time (“Hey, is that a toy train you’ve got there?”).

Voice recognition had been dissecting the phrase all this time. Tone analysis supported the conclusion that the child had asked a question.

??t k?’??d? fudz’ du ðe? hæv ?

“Food” triggered a subarray of typical questions, and once the substrings “kind of” and “they” had been identified and routed through the context and grammar parsers, it was a simple matter to locate the most likely question being asked.

The response set, indexed by question, was accessed and syllabically divided for the vocal synthesis package. Then, poring over a hash table of pre-identified lingual structures of the child’s father, the synthesizer generated an audio file by conflating the two data streams. The file is equalized to include a bassy subaudio component at 180 Hz, creating a comforting, warm “in-room” effect that mimics the tone heard by the child with their head upon the father’s chest.

Meanwhile, a 1280×700 image of the father, taken years ago when he was first deployed, is overlayed onto a digital model (from the neck up only — originally the Department of Defense had planned to include hands so the model could gesture, but this was abandoned early due to overcomplexity). The resulting hybrid passes through a series of basic lingual configurations (augmented with syllable-stress-driven head movements) and converted into a number of keyframes.

These individual frames can be presented directly on the viewing screen, synchronized to the audio file. A series of static-simulating filters create “webcam believability” and reduce Morian “uncanny valley” effects, which children have been shown to be particularly sensitive to. Once it was understood that they want to believe, the goal became to give them less visual fidelity, not more.

“They give us all kinds of foods here to keep us healthy. Lots of things like vegetables, steak, chicken. Even some of your favorites like pizza. You like pizza, huh, buddy?”

The microphone registers no audio response, but expression context identifies upturned corners of the mouth and squinting eyes.

“I miss you, daddy.”

A timer preset with a value of five minutes plus or minus anywhere from zero to thirty seconds reaches zero. A half-dozen randomly-selected dialogue trees are deallocated from memory.

“I miss you too, Josh. I’m coming home real soon, okay? Daddy has to go now. Be a good boy, okay? I love you. I love you.”

Somewhere in the room, a hard drive whirs.

Inspired by http://www.boingboing.net/2009/01/07/dod-wants-parent-bot.html

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