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Vile Designs

Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

Greetings, reader.

It’s a strange fact about the modern age, that in order for a thing’s existence to be confirmed, you cannot trust to your own five senses anymore. In order for reality to be ‘real’, it must be confirmed so by the greater populace. Television, and the internet, have changed our way of life whether for good or ill. Events in my life over the past few weeks seem…so odd, even now, that the act of writing them down and…’publish’ it online may be the only way for it all too feel like more than a slide into delirium.

In my living room, near the door that leads to my bedroom, there once hung a 3 1/2’ by 5’ oil painting. The artist was one William Cartwright, an obscure Wolverhampton native who, the owner told me, had died mysteriously in the early 1950’s. I made the purchase at a garage sale for a princely sum of £10 – the owner, a middle-aged man called Charles Franklin, must’ve been desperate to sell, considering the dilapidation of both his house and himself. The picture itself is a bucolic scene, as wholesome as a Rockwell, and as verdant as a Matisse. It depicts a family picnic within a lush meadow, buttercups blooming around the gathering, a small copse of trees to the left, and rolling hills in the background. The weather is fair, and the subjects – mother, father, three rosy-cheeked children – are accoutred in post-war attire. On careful inspection, however, one can see a rather less cheerful detail. Partially hidden behind the foremost tree is another person, a drably clothed young man with a sour expression on his face. I only really saw it after I’d made the purchase, and it rather ruined the painting’s main mood for me…though not enough that I didn’t end up hanging it anyway.

I bought it six weeks ago, and it was one week after that all this started. It was 6:30 in the evening, and I was returning to the living room from the bathroom when I noticed that the painting had been altered. Maybe it was set at a wrong angle? I inspected it, and found it was hung perfectly straight. Nothing had changed within the frame, either…the picnic still progressed merrily, and the dour youth still looked on with his back to the trees. I turned away, prepared and ate dinner, watched some fitfully funny sitcoms and went to bed.

I awoke in horror at 3:30 am that morning, shivering and soaked with sweat, the riddle of the painting answered. I knew what had changed…the stranger, once partially obscured only a few hours before, was completely visible. The still life had moved.

Over the next week, I kept a wary eye on the painting whenever I passed it. Sure enough, with each passing day the dark figure grew ever so slightly larger in comparison to the foregrounded figures. And, as his features became clearer, I saw that his face wasn’t so youthful, or so angry either…maybe it was a trick of the light, but sometimes his expression was more akin to a smile, albeit a sinister one. It wasn’t just the painting, either. Any horror movie I watched, whenever the monster leaped at the screen, it seemed more vivid and threatening than before. Maybe it was my eyes unfocusing, but it seemed to me that the edges of the screen warped outward each time it happened. Every time I listened to music, I heard occasional murmuring, like somebody…or something… whispering the apocrypha of the damned. The backyard of my house always played host to small animals and birds, most of them visibly sickening. And as for the dreams…the less said the better.

Two weeks ago, a loud thump on the back door woke me up in the early morning. Eyes barely open, I staggered out to the living room to investigate the noise. The noise had been made by a crow dashing itself against the door, and it’s crumpled form lay quite dead in the wan dawn light. With the aid of a plastic bag, and considerable reluctance, I brought the corpse inside, went out to the street and gave it a cursory burial in the nearest bin. I then changed and walked out to get that day’s newspaper and a coffee from the corner store.


Ensconced once more in my home, I received a mild shock several pages into my reading. An article, brief and embellished only with a grainy photograph, detailed the investigation of a suicide in the local area of one Charles Franklin. The picture was of a sunken eyed, somewhat unkempt man fast approaching sixty. The picture also matched the features of the previous owner of the Cartwright painting. An involuntary shiver spasmed between my shoulders, and I became ever more aware of the painting behind me. I had not inspected the progress of the dark figure yet, and so paced towards it, brackish dread filling my stomach with each step. I was right to dread…if anything, I wasn’t scared enough.

Nothing I’ve drunk since then can erase the image of that tranquil abomination contained within the frames. As usual, the menacing figure on the left had inched further, further into the foreground than the background now. And, as before, the family enjoyed a frozen repast in the heatless sunlight. The familiarity, even that of the unfamiliar, had been intruded on twice, though. A bird hovered above the meadow, a bird with the dusky feathers of a crow. And in the mother’s hands a baby, dark eyed and sombre, was cradled. Even with the weight of years and worry lifted, I knew I saw none other than the face of Charles Franklin.


I’ve since covered the painting and sealed it in a cupboard in the spare room – yet still I can sense it no matter where I am. It exudes a suffocating aura, instilling me with a leaden torpor no amount of caffeine can shake off. Many times I’ve thought of destroying the damn thing, yet whenever I endeavour to do so fatigue overwhelms me, and I am left unable to rise from the floor. I’ve advertised it for sale, but so far there hasn’t been so much as a single phone call. I can’t listen to music anymore…it’s drowned out by horrendous babbling, a cacophony of obscenities and hatred. I don’t watch movies either…or indeed, anything. I looked into my bathroom mirror for the last time five days ago, and what stared back at me was the dark man’s murderous leer. It took more courage than I care to admit just to switch this computer on. I do not know the nature of William Cartwright, or the nature of his painting, or the nature of the spectre that haunts me. What kind of man was Cartwright? What kind of monster? How many paintings did he create before consigning his flesh to rot? Did his soul follow? It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters now. All I know is that it has consumed me completely, like it consumed Charles and his family.


The sounds of faint hammering drift from the spare room. May the padlock hold out, at least until the pills have rendered me oblivious.

Farewell, dear reader.

Credited to DarkDecapodian.

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113 thoughts on “Vile Designs”

  1. Would’ve made more sense if it was set in the 18th-19th century to fit the writing style. No one says “Torpor”, even the wordy would say lethargy. Kinda breaks the immersion when its a gothic poet on an iMac.

  2. First off, I am supposed to trust the media for what is real and what isn’t over my senses. That is the first flaw, you have a tad bit of spelling errors and you used to many descriptions and little known words. I feel like you attempted to sound more like a government document then a story. The story itself is not a bad one and I liked it.
    Also please note that killing the person at the end of creepy pasta is kind of an insult to the reader to have the frame work be of someone you can no longer connect with, it is a total story killer.

  3. Remind anyone else of Rahl Dahl’s “the witches”? Where that Witch put the little girl into a old picture which hung in her parents lounge. They could hear her cry and she moved around the picture when her parents werent looking. Aged and then eventually died. Only that children’s book was creepier than this pasta cus the words werent unnecceccarily complex (as if that makes a better pasta! Pfft.)

  4. Disturbing, delightful pasta. I thought the wording was appropriate. Maybe some people just need to up their vocab skills.

  5. Though some would disagree, I like the language. It is eloquent and has a nice flow to it. Some error in some places, but those do not detract from the story. The prose reminded me of that of H.P. Lovecraft :)
    I liked the concept, but it would have been told better in places. I was confused as to who in the painting was Charles Franklin; I might go back and read it again.
    8/10, nicely done!

  6. Good concept, but I really despise the fake English-ness of the piece. I’m from England, and no one I know (and believe me, I’m from one of the stereotypically “posh” areas) speaks like that in this day and age.
    The use of Americanisms irritates me too. Terms such as: “garage sale”, “corner store” and “movie” are either never or very rarely used.
    With a little bit of research, less stereotyping and a few changes this has some good potential.

  7. Knew exactly what was going to happen right from the beginning. That plus ridiculously superfluous wording does not for a good pasta make.

  8. While I enjoy the premise of a haunted painting I feel like this story fell short of it’s potential. The ending felt too abrupt for my liking. 3/10

  9. He just keeps the painting? If that shit moved enough for me to notice, I’d throw it away in a second. Also- you have some badass thesaurus skills.

  10. An ok story made WAY too complex with a superfluous vocabulary. I felt like you were trying to impress me with your hardcore thesaurus skills rather than telling me a creepy pasta. I’ve also heard similar stories and the ending was expected.

    Annoying pasta is annoying.

    2/10 for effort.

  11. It’s bad for me.

    For one… Well it wasn’t that scary.

    Now that no one has the painting, it’ll be long before someone gets the curse again. Also, no one would know that the current owner committed suicide I guess.

  12. This reads like someone was trying all too hard to come across as well written but they just don’t have the hang of it.

    It felt like flowery lines of prose, imitated from finer works, were hammered rather ham-handedly into the author’s normal flow.

    Be yourself.
    You seem to have a competent grasp of the English language.
    So just let your writing flow without trying so hard to make it pretty.

  13. Since when does Matisse paint verdantly? It’s a small detail, but art douches like myself are bothered by inconsistencies. If you’re going to include details about a piece of art, at least pick an artist to compliment the description. It was a good story I guess (don’t try so hard to sound smart), but the end was lacking a bit.

  14. Wow. Really good. All it needs is a photograph of the painting to display at the end. That’d be way better than the suicide ending.

  15. I was about to say it is similar to “The Road Virus Heads North” but there are differences, and the writer did say he took influence from several sources.

  16. wow, that’s awesome. I love this story…It wasn’t that scary, because I couldn’t really picture what he saw in the painting upon looking at it for the last time, but i like it anyway. ^-^

  17. I don’t know why but this makes me want to cry out of fear. It’s just so terrifying. Would never want again, 9/10.

  18. 9/10

    It was perfect and really fucking creepy. I can feel the picture of myself as a child staring at me. Classic Twilight Zone-esque.

    There’s just one problem: After the second or third time the man in the painting moved, I WOULD HAVE FUCKING BURNED THAT THING! The hell man? Who keeps a painting with a madman slowly moving in to kill a family?

  19. Not bad, but as with many pasta’s I have to wonder, why not throw the painting out? You got it for 10 pounds, it isn’t worth it.

  20. Overall the story was good 7/10 I’d give it but it just felt a bit Bourgeoisie and like a running monologue. And I am British and I know no-one who calls shops- stores!

    Also I dont think something of this style could possibly remind anyone of the superior writing quality of Oscar Wilde.

  21. It was only SLIGHTLY wordy in my mind. I would like to point out that you should have explained WHY the person didnt get rid of the painting when they first realized it had started changing. I would. Were they drawn to it inexplicably? Or maybe trash pickup was for another couple of days, and everytime they put the painting out for the trash, it mysteriously ended up back on the wall.(and they had NO money for a hotel, as they had just paid rent or some such thing). Also, a thought just occured to me. The man in the painting killed all of the family, one by one, until they were all in the painting? Explain that. Over all, it wasn’t too bad.

  22. 8/10

    The ending kinda brought it down a bit.
    But at the part where he realizes the man had moved, I actually had to light my lamp :X

  23. Was it just a complete coincidence that you picked the town I’m currently in as where Cartwright comes from, or is it some kind of IP Address trick?

  24. Not very creepy, sorry.

    I agree with Faceless.

    5/10 at most. I can’t really offer any crit right now, sorry. I can’t think of how this can be improved without overhauling your writing style to a degree.

    But keep trying! You have talent.

  25. Hugh G. Rection

    The odd cylindrical shape protruding from my lower regions appears to have increased in size after reading this. Well done, sir.

  26. I like this kind of Poe-ish, cold style. Story isn’t whatnot fresh, but really nicely told. Good Job!

  27. Very good job. Although the language was needlessly complex in places, don’t listen to some of the comments here that exaggerate that fact. They were probably just upset because they had to go find a dictionary in order to understand it. “Dumbing down” your language isn’t the answer, just be careful not to make it so wordy that you’re left with no substance.

  28. ;_; I’m scared now cause while I was reading something started beeping in my headphones and I can’t find the source.
    Good pasta, I felt a bit freaked out, although I will agree with others that it was a bit overdone, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. :)

  29. To all those knocking the guy or lady for using “purple prose,” etc, maybe if YOU ALL would pick up a dictionary or thesaurus and f******* READ, you would be able to understand his purpole prose. EXpand your mind; open up a book, you vociferous a**holes. Good job, Darkapodian!

  30. The idea is copied from “The Road Virus Heads North” by Stephen King- either intentionally or accidentally. Grammar is atrocious and the story is not very gripping. The character nor the plot is not developed and the writer seemed to resort to overused Gothic fiction tropes for cheap, momentary thrills. Mediocre at best. 4/10

  31. I liked it. Okay, over written, but that only put me in mind of M.R. James (whose story “The Mezzotint” it echoes). Good first effort!

  32. How the fuck would the buyer know the owners name? Why mention the exact size in inches of the painting?

    (…no, I havent read past the first few lines yet.)

  33. Reads like a half-assed Lovecraft imitation, plot is lifted straight from Stephen King, and that’s not what a still life is.

  34. Charlotte Mander

    I don’t particularly care for stories spoken directly to me. That’s nothing against you, just a personal preference of mine, silly as it may seem. Due to this, I had a hard time enjoying this pasta.

    A typical artifact pasta. A mysterious object with mysterious quality to it that either ends up driving someone mad or killing them.

    I would have to agree with a good bit of the commenters on this one, Dark. Extraneous details were extraneous.

    I think this pasta is the literary equivalent of boxed macaroni.

    Kraft pasta is okay every once and a while, but some people would think it’s not really good for you.

    Kraft dinner with grape kool-aid is okay, but it’s not exactly Fettuccine Alfredo with a glass of white wine.

    -Char Mander

  35. My biggest problem with this pasta is the part where the main character has the bowel movement in the church pew, and then the demon tries to eat.

    I mean, seriously, what the hell?

  36. The choice of words in this was mighty pretentious. When it wasn’t a thorough example of ‘derpderp icanusethesaurus,’ it was overused analogies and comparisons.

    Seems as though a lot of writers can’t seem to keep themselves within the balanced zone of using neither too basic of a word choice nor too complex of one.

    The concept of the story was pretty catchy, though nothing to write home about. The sort of story you read, respond with ‘Well, that was neat,’ and move on without a second thought.

  37. This is EXACTLY how all British people speak all of the time.

    That is to say, this is precisely the manner in which each and every Briton converses from day-to-day.

    1. Erm, i am British. Trust me a know a fair few people that’s vocabulary leaves much to be desired. Stop stereotyping! I am not on here going “oh well it said hamburger so its too American to relate to.” pssh-ahhh.

  38. Horror of horrors, I generally don’t use thesaurii when writing. My vocabulary seems to exceed my grammar. I compensate (?) by being a near incoherent speaker, though.

    And, uh, thanks to those who pointed out the plot hole. >< I’m not sure if the protagonist would’ve been of a mind to destroy the painting while its influence was weak, but I suppose he should’ve done more than observe. But then, if everyone acted sensibly in creepypasta, there probably wouldn’t be any.

    Oh, and Charles was the guy who sold the painting to the protagonist. He was a child when the family bought the painting, and needless to say the household was cursed afterwards. Selling didn’t really bring peace of mind, evidently.

    (As you can tell, I’ve conjured the background to this story afterwards :P).

  39. It’s obvious that you used a thesaurus to look up words since your sentence structure was not at the level that those words were.

    Fairly creepy.

    Oh how I yearn for the short pastas, though~

  40. Fair creepy, I guess. I dont see why he didnt try to destroy it straight away, once he knew it was moving and wierd things started happening..silly

  41. I thought the “purple prose” thing worked well in this case considering the main character is supposed to be some well articulated British gentlemen (or at least that’s how I pictured him).

  42. Sigh. Lukewarm pasta. It seemed that, at times, the author was using big words just to be sesquipedalian (Look it up.), but just fails. Also, just burn the damn house down if you want to get rid of the painting. It doesn’t take that much effort to light a match.

  43. Violent Harvest

    Mr. Welldone wasn’t good at purple prose, either.

    Josef K is the original purple prose king, and he does it to where it doesn’t annoy me. This one did, but I still thought it was old school.


  44. I liked it. For a first-submission, it’s pretty good.

    Not quite creepy but enough that I *almost* got chills. Makes you think a bit, but could have been longer with more detail.

    Would recommend further elaboration and a second submission, maybe even a “sequel” of sorts, explaining Charles Franklin’s suicide.

  45. The first pasta in a while that didn’t cause me severe brain hemorrhaging. Good job, sir author. I wish you luck in your future endeavors.

    …Ones that include “it’s” in the proper context >.>

  46. Yeah, scary haunted paintings are scary and all, but they’re like mirrors. you’re scared by the first few stories and then you’re like “Yeah, new ideas please.” Also, I would like to point out that YOU ARE NOT MR. WELLDONE!! Greeting the reader? Honestly? Put away the thesaurus and write using your own words, please. It’ll be much better. #4 I couldn’t agree more. The writer has potential.

  47. Author here. Glad those who liked it, liked it. Considering it’s my first submission here, the reactions are better than I thought.

    Re: Complaints: Yeah, it does seem a little purple prosey, I wrote it about a year ago and went back and edited it just recently (it was pure plum before). I’m a bit better in that regard now (well, more fragmented). And I did take a bit of inspiration from other stories, though it was more from ‘The Gallery Of Henri Beauchamp’ than anywhere else.

  48. When you start with “Greetings, Reader,” then I hear the whole story in the voice of a poncy English fop doing an Oscar Wilde impression and you lose me completely.

    “A bird with the dusky feathers of a crow”? What, was “a black bird” too obvious?

  49. I was interested in this one for a bit but it lost me near the end. It had plenty of potential, was very well written, and then it ended before it even got started.


  50. Scary and disturbing pasta, but the ending felt rushed and it could have led to much better. Overall delicious. Would order again.

  51. The writing felt a little pretentious and the ending was a bit of a let down but other wise this was tasty pasta

  52. It’s very choppy… I liked the story, and the outline, i just had a hard time keeping up with what was what, and some things confused me.

    Overall 8/10. Great.

  53. I liked it, it was creepy, and was completely ambiguous as to whether or not the man was insane, or if the painting was actually haunting him.

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