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May 2016 Discussion Post: Your Creepypasta/Paranormal Projects

May 1, 2016 at 12:00 AM

I get a lot of messages from people who are interested in starting their own Creepypasta-related YouTube channel, website, insta, whatever – they usually want to ask for advice about how to select stories, how to get started and find viewers, etc etc and so forth. Given that I don’t operate anything beyond my little two-site blog network, I often am left feeling somewhat useless when replying to some of these people. I’ve tried to go over how I select pastas in the FAQ, but I have absolutely no idea how YouTube monetization and popularity works, or how (beyond simply posting quality content and tagging things properly) certain tumblrs become so popular while others languish – those particular social networks simply aren’t my area of expertise.

Luckily for me, what I do have is free posting reign at a certain Creepypasta website with an auidence full of people who already have their own video channels and tumblrs and whatnot – so in an effort to help those community members who are looking to break into the world of Creepypasta/Paranormal videos (both story narrators and more advanced short productions), people who are looking to network their already established tumblrs/twitters/instagrams/blogs/facebook pages/etc, I thought I’d make May’s discussion post all about the extended Creepypasta family and give the community at large a chance to share their various creepypasta-related endeavours.

In this post, feel free to:

  • Promote your own creepypasta or paranormal-related project. Link your tumblr, your YT channel, your podcast, your Facebook page, your webcomic, your indie game, your blog – as long as it’s actually related to something that could be deemed creepy (and doesn’t qualify as shock/gore content), let’s see it – and tell us why/how you got started!
  • Discuss and share tips for newbies trying to break into your specific social network. How do you gain followers on Tumblr? How do you accumulate subscribers on YouTube? Any words of encouragement or warning are welcome!
  • Kickstarters/GoFundMe/IndieGoGo projects are also welcome, of course, as long as they’re relevant.
  • For anyone posting their links, please make sure to explain your project thoroughly, though, and tell us why you think this community should be interested. If you just drop a link with no other comment, it will likely get eaten by the spam filter or manually spammed by a moderator. You need to actually participate in the discussion in order to promote yourself, I don’t want this discussion post to be just a link farm.

As always, be respectful of each other. If you dislike someone’s website or project, don’t be needlessly rude. Remember that behind each comment and link is an actual person – if you can’t reign in nastiness, you just shouldn’t be here.

Have fun, and I look forward to seeing what everyone shares!

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Creepypasta Contest: Gaming Pasta Challenge

April 19, 2016 at 12:00 AM

As mentioned in the April Discussion post, this month we are having a writing contest!

I’m going to just go ahead and copy/paste what I wrote before:

If you’ve been active in the creepypasta community for a decent amount of time, it’s highly likely that you’ve encountered gaming pasta. Such stories are often referred to as “Haunted Cartridge” pastas due to how many of them involve protagonists who, for some reason, are willing to pay for obviously counterfeit versions of old NES games and then have to deal with the consequences of whatever weird angry gaming spirits they’ve invited into their console of choice.

The genre gets a (largely deserved, let’s be honest) bad rap mostly due to how many gaming pastas are nothing more than retellings of the original, more novel haunted game stories. For example: while Pokemon Black was novel at first and did creep some people out, the countless “Pokemon Blood Orange” or “Pokemon Burnt Sienna” spin-offs that sprung from its loins got really tiresome, really fast. Likewise with the “Ben Drowned” rip-offs – people started churning out variants that essentially were just mad libs, replacing just the game and Ben’s name. There’s really no faster way to kill a creepypasta subgenre than overloading readers with a glut of indiscernable copycat stories – even when a decent and/or original entry appears, readers seem to be too jaded from the ” crappypasta overload to give anything in the genre a chance.

With all that said, I do believe there is hope for gaming pasta. Even if it doesn’t receive many additions, I do retain the Haunted Games tag for a reason – there are those of you out there who truly do enjoy your creepy video game stories, and when they’re done well, I fully agree that they can be enjoyable.

So this month, I have a challenge for all you writers out there: write and submit a good gaming pasta.

From April 19th until May 5th, I will open up a special submission form where people can submit gaming pastas only; anything unrelated that gets sent in via this form will be deleted. The moderation team and I will read through all of the submissions and pick three winners that we feel best accomplished the goal of writing a good gaming pasta. The top three submissions will have their story hosted here, of course, and the top-ranked eligible author will also receive a Legend of Drink Gaming Cartridge Flask:

The Legend of Drink

  • The mods and I will be reading and discussing the submissions amongst ourselves as time allows. Please allow up to a week after contest submissions close for us to choose our winners.
  • Only ONE winner will receive the flask. In order to receive the flask, you must have a shipping address in the US/Canada and be 18 years of age or older. If this doesn’t apply to you but you still wish to submit a story to the contest, that’s fine, just know that you won’t be eligible for the physical prize – it will be given to the next placed author that fulfills the eligibility requirements. However, your story will still be eligible to be declared the overall winner of the contest.
  • TO BE CLEAR: DO NOT SUBMIT YOUR CONTEST ENTRY VIA THE NORMAL SUBMISSION FORM. USE THE FORM ATTACHED TO THIS POST. Submitting your story to the wrong form is likely to result in your story not being read until after the contest is over, as it won’t go into the priority contest queue.
  • Just because I know some of you will read that last sentence and think you have a clever plan to get your non-contest story read quickly: if you submit a non-contest story using this form, it will just be deleted. Don’t try to game the system, it won’t work.

The form is attached to this post under a cut and can be accessed by clicking here (or simply by clicking the post title).

I look forward to seeing what you guys can produce!

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The Banshee

May 4, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I can’t fall back to sleep. I don’t even remember what woke me up, but now that I’m awake I can’t fall back asleep no matter how hard I try. Counting sheep doesn’t seem to help. It wouldn’t even be that bad being awake in the middle of the night if I could get up, but I can’t move a muscle. My body is rigid like a corpse. Can’t even wiggle so much as a toe and not for lack of trying. After the initial panic set in and passed, and I realized I wasn’t dead. I racked my brain and tried to come up with an explanation for my immobility. I began to remember a lecture about dreams and sleep disorders in a psychology course I took freshman year. That’s what made me think of sleep paralysis. Which might help explain why the only part of my body I can move are my eyes. Maybe if I’d paid attention more in class I’d be able to figure out how to raise myself from this state, as it is I’m stuck waiting here for one of my roommates to come check up on me in the morning. Doesn’t make for much of a plan, but it’s all I’ve got. Certainly helps stop the growing pangs of fear that were spreading through my body. Though in the pit of my stomach I still feel uneasy.

There is an ominous, yet measured beep that I can just faintly hear. Too soft to be a fire alarm or a carbon monoxide detector, and it has been going on long enough that it’s definitely not someone’s car alarm. It feels both close and distant at the same time, like it is by my side but just out of reach. Regardless this isn’t the source of my uneasiness. No, it’s something else keeping me awake. Something else stirring in my chest giving me this sense of dread. It’s like something is in the room with me but I can’t quite see it. Everything looks a little blurry like things are moving too fast. There are other sounds like the soft pitter-patter of feet around me, and just outside of my room I can hear what sounds like whispering. Since I don’t live alone and the walls are pretty thin this usually wouldn’t be such a strange occurrence, even this late at night. However, these voices aren’t familiar, and the murmurs though soft, somehow sound urgent. While I want to decipher what they’re saying, deep down I know, that even this is not what has me on edge. It’s something in the air, something is…off.

As I’m trying to pinpoint what is making me feel so restless, the sounds of shuffling feet, faint whispers, and even that incessant beeping all begin to fade away. My vision swims and darkness begins to swirl around me growing thicker. I can feel my chest tighten and my breath catch. I try to cry out, but no sound emits from my mouth. Not a scream, nor a squeak. I try desperately to move, even an inch but my body doesn’t respond. It feels as though I’m being held down by invisible hands. I’m smothered by an infinite darkness and a deafening silence. The pangs of fear I’d suppressed before, grow and spread through my body with a burning fervor. The uneasiness that dwelled in the pit of my stomach is now full blown terror. And just as I’m about to succumb to my fear and apparent demise. A bright light parts the sea of darkness, and I’m brought face to face with a woman.

Her hair is a ghostly white, which reaches out into the infinite black surrounding her, like wispy tendrils. Her skin is so pale it’s almost transparent. I feel like I could make out the bones beneath her skin if I strained my eyes hard enough. But it’s not her hair or her skin that has me captivated, it’s her eyes or lack thereof. Where her eyes are supposed to be instead are just sunken, black sockets. Staring at them I feel as though I’m being sucked back into that never-ending void of black. With difficulty, I pull my eyes away from them. Looking down I notice that she is draped in an alabaster dress that matches her long white hair. The dress though once was obviously beautiful, now lies in tatters, clinging to her body like vines on a gnarled tree. I raise my gaze to meet hers yet again, but before I can even try to utter a word, she raises a withered finger and points directly at me. Her thin lips part and she let out a low moan. As her mouth widens the low moan begins to raise in pitch. Like a kettle coming to boil. Her moan rapidly escalates into an otherworldly wail. Her maw has now become so impossibly wide it’s cavernous. I shut my eyes in a desperate, but futile attempt to block out the piercing sound. It continues for what feels like an eternity. I feel blood trickle out of my ears and down my neck. I hear her desperate wail reverberate in my skull making my teeth rattle. Even with my eyes closed I still see her ghostly visage looking at me. No, she’s looking through me, at my very soul.

When I finally open my eyes it’s not to the oppressing darkness with the female spectre, or even the familiarity of my room, but to what appears to be the inside of a hospital room. I try to move and am immediately jostled by a sharp pain in my chest. A sharp cry passes my lips, and my hand automatically reaches towards the pain in my chest. After a brief moment, I realize that I’m able to move again. I’m not allowed much time to reflect on my shock; however, as someone strides into my room at that moment. A pale man with a bald head looks down at me and smiles showing off an impressively white set of teeth. He’s dressed in a white overcoat and has a black dress shirt peeking out just underneath. “I wouldn’t try to move if I was you, trust me I’m a professional.” He says with a mischievous wink. As he steps closer I can make out a name on a badge pinned to his lapel. It reads Donn, with two n’s. I turn my head and am greeted by a now familiar beeping. The heart monitor is connected to my chest by tubes and wires I can’t quite see. There is also an oxygen mask lying just by my head. The doctor seemingly reads my thoughts and explains I had quite the night. I was wheeled in by paramedics last night after I’d collapsed in my room. One of my roommates had called 9-1-1. The shuffling of feet and the urgent voices all begin to make sense. “You had a close call” he finishes still smiling.

I begin to straighten up slightly and he hands me a small cup of water. After a few sips, I tell him about my nightmare. His smile never fades as I talk. “Sounds like you dreamt of a banshee,” he says when I finish. He explains when I give him a quizzical look. “Ghastly spectres that let out the most blood-curdling cries. They’re known as harbingers of death.” His grin seems to grow wider as he talks, and I feel an uneasiness sprout in my chest. “Despite their frightening appearance, they’re merely warnings that death is around the corner.” I begin to cough and reach for my chest again. “Death doesn’t like to be cheated. You mortals, you build structures and even create professions just to delay the inevitable. A pointless venture wouldn’t you agree?” I clutch at my chest and look back at the small paper cup of liquid that I realize now is not water. The man’s skin begins to fall away and he reaches a skeletal finger to pluck each of his eyes out. He removes his white coat letting it fall to the floor and pulls up the hood of the black robe he’s wearing. The creature looms over me and gently closes the lids of my eyes. “I hope your next dream is a bit more…pleasant.”

Credit: Autumn Leaves

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The Lost Cosmonaut

May 3, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Officially, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to reach outer space. His historic flight in April of 1961 kick-started the space race in earnest. The Soviet space program, however, was shrouded in secrecy from the beginning. There have long been questions regarding the existence of “lost cosmonauts,” those individuals who’d ventured beyond our atmosphere at the cost of their lives, their failure and very existence expunged by the Soviet government in an effort to save face.

From a listening station just outside of Turin, Italy, two amateur radio operators had been scanning the skies since the 1950s. In October of 1960, a full six months before Gagarin flew, they picked up a strange transmission from space. Breaking through a sea of static came the ghostly voice of a woman, which they were able to record. She spoke Russian, and while they couldn’t understand it, the distress in her voice was clear. She seemed to be choking back tears as she spit out the words. After a moment the static came creeping back, swallowing her voice like a wave. It wasn’t long before the operators had a translation:

“No one will ever know,” she was repeating. “No one will ever know…no one will ever know…”

The words would prove prophetic, for indeed no one would know who this mysterious woman was, or why she said what she’d said.

Until now.

Growing up, the greatest speeds Roza Ivanova had ever known were on the back of her favorite horse Agripin, racing across the rolling hills of the Irkutsk countryside. She’d never felt so free as on the back of this powerful beast, and almost believed his hooves might well leave the ground upon cresting each rise, never to land again.

Then came the war to shatter juvenile fantasy. Like so many Russian families, hers came to know loss and hardship firsthand. Roza didn’t like to talk about that. She had been lucky though, securing an education in Moscow in the years that followed. It was here at university where she found her second passion after horseback riding, that of skydiving. Agripin never did leave the ground, but Roza, having achieved the feat on her own, now gleefully dove back toward it.

Motherhood and a stint in local politics kept her busy after graduation. Yet if her thirst for adventure was quelled, it was not quenched. It simmered below the surface, anticipating any chance to boil over. It was with great delight, then, that she received news of her selection for training in the nascent Soviet space program: Me? They want to see me? What I can show them!

Sergei Korolyov was adamant: It must be a woman. Pulled from the Gulags two decades prior, the brilliant head of Soviet rocket development insisted to his superiors that it would be a public relations coup. Besides, he argued, women in general are smaller and lighter than men. And as he was so fond of saying with regard to launches, every gram counts. Only in the last few months had the potential for a payload greater than dogs been realized. Their deaths were not a deterrent. The Politburo, for their part, did not need much convincing. They glowed at the choice. “Hah!” responded a low-ranking official. “First person and first woman in one — let the Americans best that! They haven’t the balls twice over!” That earned a smattering of laughter from the council.

The selection process began, and by the time Korolyov’s team found Roza, there were nine other candidates. One by one, they were brought in and presented to him in the same brusque manner.

“Name?” The baby-faced director sat scribbling at his desk.

“Roza Ivanova!”

He gave her the briefest of glances as he continued to write. “And where do you come from, Roza Ivanova?”

“Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia!”

“Mm-hmm. Age and weight?”

“Thirty-two years, fifty-six point seven kilograms!”

Scribble scribble. “Thank you, Roza Ivanova from Irkutsk. You may go.”

It was new, tense, exciting. She couldn’t wait to start.

All of them passed the rigorous training process, which included isolation and centrifuge tests, numerous parachute jumps, and engineering studies. But it was Roza they picked in the end. Her skydiving background should serve her well in the mission’s critical reentry stage, as should her political acumen in presenting a face to the media. It was an easy face to look at too, with high cheek bones, asiatic eyes, and a confident smile framed by thick blond curls. She was also the lightest of the group — every gram counts — and her father being a war hero didn’t hurt either.

She counted the days until her launch, half-believing there was no way it would actually come, that this was all a grand dream — until the day it actually came.

The October morning in the Kazakh Steppe was cool, dry, and gray. Early sunlight began its steady march across the warming tarmac. Roza had seen the Vostok rocket plenty before. Still, being ferried to it now, knowing what was in store, it impressed anew as the sun rose. The thing was a marvel, a shimmering silver-white skyscraper towering over the flat landscape. Four massive boosters draped off its sides, meeting the core stage with an elegant taper. The surmounting nose cone pointed triumphantly skyward.

Already suited, Roza met with Korolyov at the launch pad. He took her gloved hands in his. “This day will be a remarkable one,” he said, planting kisses of well-being on her cheeks. “You will succeed.” She smiled, grateful for his words. She only wished her son could be here. Of course, the mission must be kept secret, for now, even from her loved ones. Especially from her loved ones. She made her way toward the service structure cradling the rocket. Back turned, Korolyov fetched a pill from his pocket and tossed it down his throat. He was a jungle of frayed nerves inside.

A flurry of thoughts filled Roza’s head as the elevator inched its way up the scaffolding. She felt as if the whole of her life had condensed to this single moment. That she had a responsibility not to one person, not to any group, but to all of mankind. And realized, behind the pride and joy, there lurked the somber knowledge that for a short time, she would be more alone than anyone who ever lived. She made these thoughts known to the flanking personnel, save the last, and they recorded them. With a soft whine, the lift came to a halt before the vacant craft.

Assisted by technicians, she secured her helmet and squirmed inside the cockpit. Cramped, but not much to it, she mused. Seat could use some cushioning. The instrument panel was simple in the extreme: a few gauges, various indicator lights, a moving half-globe to show position. Controls were all but nonexistent. In fact, all major controls were locked. The craft would operate with automatic systems or via remote ground control — manual override was not an option. Nobody was sure how a human might react in the weightless environment of outer space, so no chances would be taken. After a final check, the hatch was closed and sealed. Roza communicated with ground control, operating under the call sign “Dawn,” while awaiting the go-ahead for launch. She’d chosen as her own call sign “Agripin.”

AGRIPIN: How do you read me?
DAWN: I hear you well. Cabin pressurization complete. VHF reception is good. Ping 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
AGRIPIN: I understand fine. Ready to go. How do I look?
DAWN: Roger. TV image is good. Heart beat is normal. Lights check.
AGRIPIN: Roger. Lights are good. Like a New Year tree. [laughs]
DAWN: A bit unseasonable for that, I'm afraid.

This pre-flight chatter continued for a while, until finally:

AGRIPIN: I hear the valves working. Slight rumbling.
DAWN: Yes, get ready please.
AGRIPIN: Ready. I feel good. Rumble increasing.
DAWN: We are giving ignition...preliminary stage...intermediate...main...lift off!

Whoomp. The scaffolding parted. Steam billowed, fires burst, and the tower slowly rose in defiance of gravity.

AGRIPIN: Soar, Agripin, soar!

Roza was pushed to her seat with oppressive force as the vehicle shook and rattled. She prayed it would hold together. Agonizing minutes later, having propelled her to north of 18,000 miles per hour, the boosters dropped away in unison. Acceleration let up at once, throwing her forward. The payload fairing split in two petals and fell away, revealing a second porthole at her feet. She radioed that she could see Earth, that it was breathtaking. Then whoomp as the second stage ignited. Multiple Gs pinned her back as the rocket arced in an easterly curve away from Baikonur Cosmodrome. The sky had gone from white to a variety of lighter and darker blues, approaching black: a smooth gradient of Earth to space.

The second stage engine shut down, then whoomp as the third fired up. More Gs pounded every part of her body, threatening to flatten her, as if she were being pinned down by an elephant. She rode the wave of acceleration until the final stage was spent, detaching with a bang. Free. Ten minutes after liftoff, all sensation of speed stopped for good. Roza was now free-floating in space. She sat off her chair as far as the restraints would allow, enjoying the sensation.

The Vostok spacecraft was little more than a hollow ball on a cylindrical chassis, terminating to a retro engine and bristling with antennas. Its objective was to make one revolution around Earth before reentry, after which Roza would eject from the module and parachute to the ground. Total flight time should be just over one and a half hours.

Roza fed ground control continual status updates as she got on her way. This would constitute the bulk of her mission, as there was little else to do but enjoy the sights. Through the lower porthole, Earth was a beautiful mosaic of mountain, sea, and cloud. She reached for an overhead compartment, producing a monocular (a request granted with some hesitation — every gram counts, after all), lifted her visor, and trained the instrument on random landmasses. The terrain crawled by like a conveyor.

Forty-two minutes after liftoff, Roza reported that she was on the night side of Earth and would soon be passing over the United States. The California coast with its nebulous tendrils of city lights rolled into view, and she wondered how slumbering Americans would react to news of this Soviet woman above their skies.

If Sputnik was a headache, this ought to be a full-blown nervous breakdown!

She radioed ground control for a general update. No response came.

Korolyov was himself on the verge of a breakdown. He paced back and forth through a blue haze of cigarette smoke, puffing and steaming. “My capsule!” he shouted to anyone making the mistake of eye contact. “How is my capsule?”

“She has passed beyond the radio horizon,” said a flight controller, “but should –”

“But should have come back by now!” snapped Korolyov.

“Sir, there are any number of reasons why –”

“I’m getting something!” The controller was interrupted again, this time by a radio operator. “I think it’s her!” He turned up a dial.

Korolyov frowned, cocking an ear. Reception was poor at first, the words coming through in disjointed chunks.

AGRIPIN: ...read me? There is...repeat, I can see something...orbit...to be artificial. Do you read me? Dawn, can...I see an object...
DAWN: We read you, we read you. It is poor, say again!
AGRIPIN: I understand you. Dawn, there is a foreign object in orbit ahead.

Every body in the room froze.

The world of dream transitioned to that of waking. Daylight was breaking above the South Atlantic when Roza, still trying to make contact with Dawn, caught sight of a twinkle. A thing that should not be there. Now, communications restored and curiosity piqued, she provided details as they came.

AGRIPIN: Object is in a higher orbit...I believe I will overtake it. Reflective surface, spherical...approaching closer...too big for a satellite, I think. Just a minute...

Roza retrieved the monocular and aimed it through the forward porthole. She gasped. The shock could not have been greater were it a flying saucer with little green men inside.

AGRIPIN: A spacecraft! I make out lettering...”CCCP” -- it's one of ours!
DAWN: Chyort!

The expletive was under the breath, unintended, but audible.

AGRIPIN: I see extensive damage. A hole has been ripped through the reentry module...two sides...catastrophic. It...

Roza struggled to maintain composure. The craft was almost identical to hers. She conjectured that a small meteoroid might have punched its way through the hull, a one-in-a-million stroke of incredibly bad luck. Aside from the damage, there was something else about this craft that bothered her. It was…too small? What did that mean?

Then came a new shock:

AGRIPIN: There is...oh! Can it be? There is an occupant inside! I see the torso, the helmet. How is this possible? I am approaching closer...

Her little spaceship sailed toward the anomaly.

AGRIPIN: I see the helmet in the sun. He is smi...

Roza let herself trail off. She could not finish the sentence, because it made no sense. Smiling? He was smiling? She pressed the monocular’s eyecup to her skin and soon saw why.

The meteoroid — or whatever it was — had torn not only through the craft, but through its unfortunate occupant as well. His body ended in ragged strips just below the waist. She forced herself to watch as it floated listlessly about the cabin. When the front of the helmet came into view once more, Roza took a good look at the face. The eyes were tiny, shriveled orbs. What she’d mistaken for smiling was in fact decayed flesh around the mouth, exposing teeth and gums in a horrible rictus. This surprised her. She would not have expected decomposition in space.

And he was so young. So young… Her brain did not want to process the final revelation that would set every piece in context. Yet she could not escape it as the gap between the two vehicles closed:

This was no man. This was a boy of about ten years.

Dogs were not enough. They needed a person in space, and before the Americans. Booster capacity, though, had not been adequate for a fully grown adult. Close, they were close, but not quite there. And they could not wait, would not wait. Their solution was a heartbreaking compromise. He must have launched not four months ago, when the last pair of “muttniks” went up. Every gram counts.

Roza thought of her son as anger welled within.

AGRIPIN: A boy? You sent a boy? How could you do such a thing?
DAWN: Agripin -- Roza -- please. We could not foresee such an accident. It was imperative he go.

Korolyov’s voice reached across space, ringing hollow by the time it filtered through Roza’s earpiece.

AGRIPIN: But why? It wasn't right. He should be acknowledged, people should know he was first. We must tell the world he was first!

A heavy sigh, then a moment of silence before Korolyov spoke again:

DAWN: Can you not reconsider?
AGRIPIN: I insist! The right thing must be done.

Rosa’s resolve was clear. More silence.

DAWN: I am sorry, Comrade. He cannot be first in space. And neither can you.

An orange lamp alerted her to the working of the attitude control thrusters. The view tilted as they fired in quick spurts, pitching the rear of the craft earthward.

AGRIPIN: Wait! What are you doing? Stop!
DAWN: I--we cannot return you. In any form. The wreckage may fall into the wrong hands.

Paralyzed, she stared into a silent empire of solitude. The black expanse stared back with a million starry eyes.

AGRIPIN: You mean to...
DAWN: You have served the Motherland well. I am sorry.

And Korolyov was sorry. She was a good Soviet. A good woman. But he could not risk a return to the Gulags.

The smaller Vostok came into view above and to her right. One arm of the remains of its passenger, palm out and bent at the elbow, seemed to give her a lazy zero-G wave as it bobbed through the window.

AGRIPIN: Nyet! Nyet! What you are about to do --

Whoomp. The retro rocket fired with a roar. In tandem with the nitrogen thrusters, it pushed her into a new orbit curving away from the Earth, into an escape velocity from which there was no return. The corpse floated and grinned behind her.

AGRIPIN: Nyet! You cannot!

Roza was powerless to stop the remote commands. The stars beckoned, growing the tiniest bit closer.

The capsule, her bravest, swiftest horse, was now her coffin, and it was her fate that she would be interred in the cold folds of deep space. The conditioned air of the cabin was ice on her skin. It smelled sickly sweet, like rotting fruit. Roza began to shiver. “But no one will ever know about us!” she cried out to the uncaring cosmos. “No one will ever know…no one will ever know…”

Agripin galloped through her mind, unbounded at last.

“Shut it off,” said Korolyov, pointing to the radio. Click. The men in ground control sat at their consoles with grim faces. Korolyov opened a new pack of cigarettes, tapped one out and hung it at his lips. “Tragic, yes. A setback, yes.” He struck a match. “Do not fret, Comrades. We will try again. And we will succeed.”

He trudged out the room in a wake of blue smoke, searching his pockets for another pill. No such luck.

Credit: alapanamo

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Graveyard Pictures

May 2, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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Graveyard Pictures

This is a video pasta. If the embedded video is not loading for you, please click the link above to go directly to the video’s YouTube page and try watching it there.

Credit: Cold Chills

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Crappypasta Roundup for 5/1/2016

May 1, 2016 at 10:47 AM

The following stories were uploaded to Crappypasta over the past week:

Comments on the roundups will be closed – if you have feedback on any of the stories linked here, please use their own individual comment sections.

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Is There Life After Death?

May 1, 2016 at 12:00 AM
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I’ve told this story many times, and without exception it has provoked the same reaction – disbelief. No matter how difficult it is for people to process, and no matter how many conventional explanations have been offered, this did happen and it’s an experience I will never forget.

It started with a friend of mine, Stewart, who had always been interested in the supernatural. I, on the other hand, had no more interest in it than the next person. Of course I’m curious about whether there is life after death — and for selfish reasons — but I prefer to leave these things to themselves, as I find the entire subject morbid. I’m sure I’ll learn the truth in the end, but until that day I’d rather not ask the question for fear of the answer, either way.

Stewart was captivated by the paranormal, he lived and breathed it, but our friendship had developed through another of his passions – film – and although he often asked me to go on one of his ‘investigations’, I always replied that I preferred such things to remain on the cinema screen, and to stay there.

We’d go for a few beers regularly at Farlan’s bar on the main street or catch a film at the local cinema with some mutual friends. Then, suddenly, I didn’t see or hear from him for a couple of weeks, which was peculiar, but I assumed he was simply busy and so I left it at that.

It was 3:04AM when he called. I was angry at first that he’d woken me, but when I heard the sound of his voice, anger quickly bled into concern. Stewart was always such an upbeat guy, but that night his voice sounded distant, and there was a new uncertainty I had never sensed before which quivered underneath each word, unsettling me.

‘I need you to come and get me’ he said in a low whisper.

‘What’s wrong? Where are you?’, I asked.

‘I can’t talk for long, just come to the old botanical gardens at the edge of town’. His breath became increasingly laboured and agitated as he spoke.

‘Stewart, if you’re in trouble, call the police…’

‘No!’, he exclaimed in a unique mix of whisper and shout. I’m not meant to be here, they’ll arrest me. Just come to the botanical gardens and send me a text when you’re waiting outside. I have to go’.

And with that, he hung up.

Ten minutes later I was in my car and driving to the edge of Windarm town. It was an autumn night, and as I passed landmarks which were usually familiar to me during the day, each twisted tree branch and leaf covered garden took on a more threatening nature than I was used to; the night revealing an unapparent side to the town I loved.

It seemed strange to me that Stewart would be in the botanical gardens at night. He quite regularly went away on nocturnal investigations of abandoned hospitals and other supposedly haunted locations, but that place didn’t seem like an obvious choice for such things. In the past the gardens housed beautiful exotic trees, plants, and wildlife under a massive green house which must have been over 200 feet in length, but it had been shut down for a few decades. I guess the townsfolk didn’t frequent it often enough to keep it afloat. Even when I was a kid the place was just fodder for a rock or two, shattering many of its countless panes of glass, each held in place by a rusted frame — although admittedly my throw fell short more often than not. I know my dad talked about going there when he was a kid, amazed by the place, a self contained tropical landscape even during Windarm’s bleakest winters.

I pulled up in front of a large metal fence. It had been erected years previous, encircling what was left of the botanical gardens and its grounds; no doubt to dissuade new generations of rock throwers. On its gate hung a mud smeared sign displaying the words “No Trespassing” in no uncertain terms. Stewart obviously hadn’t bothered with the warning, no doubt more interested on catching a glimpse of something otherworldly inside. I left the engine running, as it was a little cold out, but just as I unlocked my phone I received a text message.

*Kill your lights!*

And so I did. Then another message quickly followed.

*Don’t call me, whatever you do.*

I began to develop the distinct impression that Stewart and I were not the only ones present out there in the night. A nervousness crept into my breath, and as I sat there looking into the darkness of the gardens, partially obscured by a web of fencing, I felt as though something was staring back.

For a moment I was unsure how to proceed, but was then startled by another text message, and, frightened by the thought that Stewart was in there somewhere and about to be grabbed by a burly security guard, a local gang, or worse, I adhered to his instructions:

*Follow my light and get me the hell out of here.*

And there it was, Stewart’s torch flickering for a brief moment before being engulfed by the darkness once more.

I opened the car door, the night uncomfortably cold as it washed over me. Just 30 minutes earlier I had been cosy, sleeping in my bed, and now this, climbing over a fence and walking into God knows what.

The fence rattled as I pulled myself up, and as I reached the top I looked across the pitch night and seriously reconsidered going any further. Then, Stewart’s torch light flashed again and I knew I couldn’t leave him, possibly injured or trapped, with the chilled October air threatening worse.

I jumped down from the fence as quietly as I could, my feet muffled by the whispering grass below. The ground was wet, and the unattended grass and bushes which surrounded the main building made progress difficult.

The light flashed again. Three times in fact before Stewart turned it off once more. I was sure now that he was growing more agitated, and so I continued in the direction of the once-glass building to reach my friend as quickly as possible. But my footsteps were uncertain, and my eyes struggled to pierce the dark. I took out my phone and used the LED light on its back to see where I was going.

As I walked towards the large shadowed outline of the garden building, I grew increasingly apprehensive. There were only three possible reasons why Stewart turned on his torch intermittently. One was that it had broken somehow, perhaps he could only get it to flicker into life every few minutes. Another explanation would be that the battery was low. Perhaps he was lost and switched it off to conserve what little juice it had left. The last explanation was a less appealing one. I switched off my light at thought of it.

Perhaps he didn’t want to draw too much attention to his location. Maybe he was frightened that someone else would find him first.

The darkness stood before me, a wall of black which blanketed all. It was hopeless, I was going to have to switch the light on to see where I was going. I remembered when I was 14 and had nearly fallen down an old drainage shaft when I was camping at night with friends. I always shuddered thinking about that, about how bad that fall could have been.

I needed to see where I was going. If a security guard came and found me, then that was a better outcome than falling into the darkness somewhere, unseen.

And yet, the thought of a night guard seemed far-fetched. The old building had been derelict for years, and it seemed unlikely that the town would waste money on wages for someone to patrol the area at night.

Finally, I reached the building, its base made of red brick which had held up surprisingly well for all its years of neglect. The same could not be said of the frame. Large metal struts reached up to the sky, forming a huge domed roof. I could see pieces of the frame lying on the floor, and in the dim light from my phone I thought I saw strands of it hanging from the roof, just waiting to break off and impale any unwelcome trespassers.

I cringed at the thought of my friend lying somewhere inside, perhaps impaled or trapped by falling metal and masonry.

Stewart’s light flickered again, and then disappeared. It was indeed coming from inside, and as I ducked under and then through one of the countless empty metal frames, I realised that he was somewhere in the middle of the building.

Despite having no solid walls, there was an echo of sorts to the place, subtle, my footsteps ricocheting gently off the concrete floor and then filtering out into the bleakness of the night.

That was when I first noticed it. The cold. Sure, it was always cold in October, but as I slowly proceeded, shards of broken glass cracking occasionally under my weight, a chill in the air grew more pronounced. It bit at my exposed face, and I was convinced that if I looked in a mirror my nose would have been bright red.

There.

Stewart’s light.

It was closer now, and for the first time I saw the light reflect upwards for a moment and illuminate Stewart’s outline. As I drew nearer the night closed in and the cold was now becoming almost unbearable. My hands ached from the bones outward, and the air froze my insides with each breath.

I was now only a few metres away from the centre of that old glassless dome and my friend. Then light flickered again, but it seemed obscured somehow, as if Stewart had turned his back on me, the light from his torch bathing him in illumination for only the briefest of seconds.

‘Stewart, it’s Mike. Are you okay?’ I said softly.

‘Yes, let’s get the hell out of here!’ he replied nervously.

Then a new noise joined us. Just as I opened my mouth to whisper across to Stewart and ask him if he was hurt, the sound of broken glass breaking under weight echoed from behind. It came from somewhere behind us and was subtle at first, but there was no doubt: I could hear movement. Yes, footsteps, more pronounced. They were moving towards us. Then, they stopped.

All I could hear was my heart thumping, the adrenaline of apprehension coursing through my veins. Quickly, I switched off the light from my phone hoping to obscure our location.

‘Someone else is here’, I said.

‘I know’, whispered Stewart. ‘They’ve been wandering around me for hours’.

Then the footsteps moved again, this time circling, prowling under cover of night. I knew then why Stewart had called me. Someone was taunting him, they had been in that broken glass dome all along, terrifying my friend and me in the process.

No doubt he had been terrified. But now there were two of us, and whoever was circling, they were surely but one. I decided we would act, pick a direction and stick to it. I moved close to my friend and whispered.

‘Follow me’.

‘Sure’.

That word still haunts me. The light from Stewart’s torch came on once more. But, you see, it wasn’t a torch. And whoever I was standing right in front of was not my friend Stewart. A strange light emanated from inside the throat of what I can only describe as the figure of a woman. The light bled out through translucent skin which seemed to take on the appearance of night, and the light forced its way up and out of her gaping mouth.

At that moment, Stewart appeared from the darkness, grabbed my arm, and before I knew it we were running. Our feet scrambled over broken glass, pummelling it further into smaller shards. I looked over my shoulder, and the horrid figure, light source and all, was chasing us. The light from her throat and mouth seemed to pulse with intermittent fury, and as we reached the metal frame of the building, she screamed words of hate and anguish, a rasping anger filled with nothing but contempt for the living.

Before I knew it, we had escaped the gardens, that screeching creature seemingly constrained to the boundaries of that derelict building. We reached the fence, then the car, and then home; where I fixed both Stewart and myself a large whiskey as we tried to calm our nerves.

As it turned out, Stewart had been on one of his investigations as I’d thought. He’d heard stories of strange lights coming from the old botanical gardens building at night, and thought he would check it out. He got more than he bargained for, that’s for sure. At first the old building seemed empty, but as the night drew in he felt as though he was being watched. Suddenly, the batteries from his torch drained. The spare batteries he always carried with him were equally unresponsive, and so he was left in darkness, alone.

It was then that he heard the footsteps, and a woman’s voice who simply kept saying ‘I know you’re hear. I know you’re watching me’. To Stewart it sounded like she was pacing up and down, occasionally standing over him as he hid on the floor. God knows what would have happened if she’d found him.

I’m sure you have realised by now that Stewart claims he never called me on his phone, or sent any text messages. Indeed, he dropped it in the darkness and still hasn’t found it to this day.

We talk about that night occasionally, and Stewart hasn’t been on an investigation since. He lost the stomach for it, and who can blame him. My unease with the memory of that night, however, doesn’t revolve around the fear of meeting some spectral creature in the night — I intend to stay as far away from any ‘haunted’ place as I can. It’s more a fear which grabs me occasionally when I really think about what that night meant. If that horrid apparition is in any way what happens to us all when we die, that we are filled with such hatred for the living, I’d prefer to believe that there is no life after death; for what we encountered that night was a twisted reflection of all that is good in each of us, and if no good can remain, I would rather not exist at all.

Credit: Michael Whitehouse

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