Sunday, 14 February 2016

#YourHorror - Week 2

The world is a scary place. Every day we’re forced to make choices, no matter how small, that may be leading us along a new path. Whether that path is heading towards something good, like a promotion or meeting some special, or towards something bad, like an accident, or even death, we can never know. In the end, that’s possibly the scariest thing of all.

That’s why I need your help to guide a character, or characters, through the possible dangers that await them in #YourHorror, an interactive horror story that will be shaped by the choices you make. Even I don’t know what will happen, and I’m the writer…

From Monday to Friday, at roughly 8pm GMT each day, there will be a new Twitter poll. These polls will ask you to choose between a number of options, each of which may take the story in a new direction. Sometimes a decision will give a bit more insight into the character, setting, or backstory, while other times the decision will solely focus on driving the narrative forward. 

Excited? Intrigued? A little bit terrified of the unknown? Yeah, me too. Get involved.

Week 2

When she pushed open the door to the book shop, a bell rang out.  She flinched. A few people dotted around the book shop looked over, and then went back to browsing through whatever 50 shades of vampire romance she imagined they were looking at.

The book shop was larger than she’s expected. Quite narrow, but it stretched past bookcases and shelves to a seating area with a couple of weathered armchairs. To her left was the counter, covered with more books, magazines and leaflets for a local reading club. Just behind it was what she assumed to be the owner, who seemed to be eyeing her up intently. She could have been imagining it, though.

She began wandering past the shelves, looking for some sort of categories, or even alphabetisation. It didn’t look like the alphabet had made it to this part of town yet. After about five minutes of feeling completely overwhelmed by the chaos of random books in random places, and also thinking how much she’d love to spend her spare time organising everything in alphabetical order and themes, she ended up next to the counter again.

She heard the man at the counter clear his throat and steeled herself for what she knew was coming next.

          “Can I help?”

Could he help? She wasn’t here for an autobiography of a street cat, or looking for one of the “classics,” which she’d always understood to mean “pretentious and difficult to read.” This was, potentially, much darker than that… Could she even tell him the truth?

She sighed, mostly to herself. The quickest way to get back to unpacking her things at the new place was to just be honest.

          “Um… I don’t know, actually.” She placed the envelope on the counter. “Someone left this for me to find this morning, and I don’t have a clue what it means. Do you have any books that might be able to help?”

He picked up the envelope, slid the letter out, and studied the symbol for a moment.

His eyes danced about the shop briefly, taking the browsers into account before leaving the counter.

“Follow me.” He walked towards the back of the shop, leaving her somewhat stunned, and only really able to do one thing; follow him.

She followed him past the bookshelves, past the browsers, past the two armchairs – looking even more tattered up close – and then through a door at the back. It opened into what she could only imagine was the staff room. As far as she knew, the “staff” was just him. It would certainly explain why the room had a messy, homely quality to it.

Almost every surface was covered in books, tea stains, or a combination of both. She spied a copy of IT with an entirely circular ring on its cover. It broke her heart. The owner seemed to be rifling through a drawer full of papers and books.

(Probably looking for another homemade coaster…)

          “There you are, you big bastard.” He pulled out a beast of a book, held shut with a leather clasp. “This should be what you’re after. It’s not really so family-friendly, so I keep it back here, away from the prying eyes, and sticky fingers, of children. You understand.”

She did. There was always someone looking for an argument, especially parents that felt their darling children had seen something that they shouldn’t have.

(“Mummy, what’s the occult?”)

(“It’s a type of yoghurt filled with good bacteria, honey. Come along.”)

He blew a thick layer of dust from the cover of the book, which looked like it might fall apart at any second, and then handed it to her. The book felt much sturdier in her own hands. Not even nuclear fallout would tear this book apart. It had probably been around for centuries, handed down from tea-staining book shop owner to tea-staining book shop owner. Or maybe it would have been ink-staining, before.

         “Thanks. I think. How much do I owe you?”  
          “Don’t worry about it. I haven’t seen you in here before – and I’ve seen everyone in here before - so you must be new to town, and this is hardly the warm welcome you’d have been expecting. Let this be my way of saying welcome to town.”
          “Well, it’s not quite muffins, but thank you.” She smiled. Not only because it was nice to speak to someone else and get out of her own head, though that was part of it. She’d also just avoided paying for a book that was probably more than the place she was renting, and everything inside it.


Unsure of what to do next, she ran her hands over the raised pentagram on the front cover of the book, and shifted her weight from foot to foot. It looked like he was getting his lunch ready, so it was probably time to go. She somewhat awkwardly backed out of the room, leaving the owner to his own sandwich-filled devices, and walked back through the shop, attempting to keep the cover facing inwards so as not to attract any attention.

As she opened the door to leave, the bell rang, and everyone looked her way again.

(Damn bells.)

The sky outside was darker than when she’d first gone into the book shop. Large grey clouds rolled past, eager to get to wherever it is that clouds go when they’re in a bad mood. These ones clearly were. She hoped they kept on moving. Wind was also beginning to slash its way through the town, threatening to knock over signs and plants in front of shops. It almost felt like it would pull the book right from her arms. She hugged it to her chest.

She was trying to decide whether she could make it home before the clouds spilled their guts when she spied the café. Again, she’d expected to read a book here when she’d settled into the town a little more, but she hadn’t expected it to be this early, and most definitely not this book. Despite the late start, she was feeling drained. Coffee could help.

The café was quiet, and for that she was grateful. She ordered a latté from an uninterested girl that seemed to shrug and sigh her way through making the drink, and then sat at the back, where she’d be able to look through the book without fearing judgement. That didn’t mean there wasn’t some apprehension as she began to look through the book, though.

Normally, she’d have read a book like this from cover to cover. Even if she didn’t believe in this sort of thing, she’d still have found it interesting. She may even have had to leave a light on afterwards, like a good horror novel. This wasn’t like that. She only wanted to find the symbol. It obviously didn’t mean anything – nothing more than ink and lines on paper – but she had to know.

She skimmed through the pages, looking for the symbol that most matched the one in the letter, and each page she passed seemed to add to the growing knot in her stomach. Summoning. The Host. Lies. Chaos. The words and symbols began to blur. Lust. Sorrow. Greed. Pages turned faster. The Destroyer. Jealousy. Poison. Outside the window, the town was growing darker. Death. Impatience (she didn’t need a symbol to know this one was taking hold). She stopped.

There it was. The symbol that had been left for her this morning.


She didn’t understand. Why would someone send her a letter with the symbol of madness inside? It didn’t mean anything. Wouldn’t do anything. It just was.

Something caught her eye as she picked up her latté. The foam was moving. She held the drink, fixated on the movements within, her face a picture of confusion. A pair of antennae protruded from the foam, slowly at first, but quickly followed by more legs than anything should ever have, each as sharp and squirming as the last. A centipede. Crawling up out of the glass like it would never end, heading directly for her hand.

With a gasp, she dropped the latté and it smashed to the floor. The centipede scuttled from between the glass and coffee, speedily making its way out of the door as someone walked into the café. They didn’t seem to notice. She sat there, hand still raised, and watched until the door closed. Even then, it was as if she could feel hundreds of legs running their way up her arms and legs.

(I think I’m going to be sick.)

She heard a sigh, following shortly after by the girl from the counter, appearing with a mop and a broom.

“Sorry, I… It was an accident.”

The girl shrugged, and cleaned up the mess in silence. With that, she returned to the confines of the counter, ready to serve the next customer with the same level of enthusiasm.

It was time to go home. She didn’t want another coffee, as hard as it was to believe. She wanted to go home, lock the door, and forget all about this pointless, strangely unnerving, day. She may not have unpacked any of her belongings as planned, but she’d also removed the unknown surrounding the letter’s symbol. Right?


She sighed. If anything, she had more questions than she’d had before.

I don’t know about you, but I’m right there with her…


  1. Interesting way of writing a story - not sure I would want to try it. You are keeping it together which is good.

    I look forward to seeing what the next poll will ask

    1. Thanks, I wasn't sure how well it would work, but I've found it easier to piece together than I thought. Appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      I'll make sure to let you know when it's up!

  2. Great work dude really enjoying being a part of this

    1. Thanks! I'm really glad you're a part of it, too :) thanks for always voting and sharing.