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.
She awoke from her nap and squinted at the sun, now beaming proudly from the centre of the sky. Yet again she had fallen to sleep on the sofa, pulled into slumber by the sheer exhaustion of what had been happening to her. Dark circles were more present around her eyes than they had been only two days before, when her biggest problems had been the lack of an internet connection and her desire to be the kind of person that made morning smoothies. Neither were up-and-running yet.
After a few minutes, the memory of the phone call that had beaten the energy from her came rushing back, like water exploding from a cracked dam. Her eyes darted about the room, from the window to the hallway to the window again. Could they be watching her? Had they watched her sleeping? She could still hear the way the thing on the phone had smiled when it taunted her.
If she stayed here, she might not be safe. She had to leave. Now.
She leapt from the sofa and almost ran to the bedroom, where a whirlwind of chaos and packing took place. Not that the place had been tidy yet anyway; hell, she was yet to unpack a single box in its entirety, but now it looked like the next sequel of Sharknado had made its way through here. Considering the budget that the films seemed to be made with, she wouldn’t have been surprised. If anything, it was out of their price range.
Only the essentials were worth shoving into a rucksack right now. A few tops, a pair of jeans, underwear, toothbrush, deodorant, her laptop, chargers. She could come back in a couple of weeks, when she felt safe again, or maybe just send for her things if she decided that she didn’t want to come back at all.
Her eyes swept her bedroom, which she’d barely slept in since moving, and tried to find anything she might have missed. She spied a box by the side of the bed and rummaged through to find one more item. It was bright pink, ran on batteries, and was ribbed for her pleasure. Even a girl on the run deserved to have some fun…
With that key item in her rucksack, hidden under clothes, she pulled on her jacket, tugged on her boots – still slick with centipede ‘blood’ - and went to pick up her discarded phone from the sofa. She flinched as she picked it up, half-expecting that raspy, teasing voice to ooze from the speaker, but it was still dead. The phone was slipped into the darkness of her pocket. It could be charged when she got home. Real home. She’d just have to stay with a friend, or maybe even move back in with – shudder – her parents. Just for a bit.
As an after-thought, she picked up her purse from the counter. She wasn’t getting far without this, but it was strange how far money was from your mind when you were running scared.
Time to get out of here.
She reached for the door handle, when a sensation in her leg shocked her into freezing where she was. At first she thought it might be the toy inside her bag.
(Well, it’s not really the time for it, but if you insist…)
Then she realised it wasn’t anything quite as fun. The phone in her pocket – the phone that had run out of battery and had no right to be doing anything other than shutting the hell up – was vibrating. Someone wanted to speak to her.
Maybe she’d turned it on when she put it in her pocket? Sometimes phones seemed to find a minute of strength on 1% battery, even after dying. Yeah, that’s what it was. Only one way to find out for sure. She placed her rucksack down next to the door, ready to leave at a moment’s notice, and pulled the phone from her pocket.
It was an unknown number. She didn’t answer these at the best of times, let alone when her hand started to shake at the very thought of who might be waiting on the end of the line. Worst of all… it could be PPI claims. No, she hadn’t been an accident, and no, they were not aware of said fictional accident.
(Unless they covered nightmare burns*? Lucrative.) - *read Week 4!
The rational part of her mind, no matter how shaken it was, tried to take over. It could be a friend from home, calling from a new number; or maybe someone from the estate agents, calling to check in on their newest renter; for all she knew, there was a dentist appointment that she was missing back home.
Honestly, it could be anyone, about anything. Unfortunately, based on what had happened in the last 24 hours, it could also be a sickly-sweet stranger that enjoyed watching her, a centipede that had dialled the numbers with its hundreds of legs, or even her mirror-self, calling with another friendly warning.
(“Hai buddy, whatever you do, avoid nightmares, insects and strangers, ‘kay?”)
No. She didn’t want to know. She shouldn’t even have to know. Not speaking to anyone was the main perk of a dead phone.
Something in her head snapped. She’d had enough, and decided the phone could be deader still. The phone was dropped to the floor, and she brought up her boot for the second time in as many days. Her heel was brought down onto the screen with as much strength as she could muster, and there was a satisfying CRACK.
The screen had split, but the phone was still going. She did the same, stamping on the phone in a frenzy no different to the one she’d entered when making sure that the centipede outside her front door was truly dead. Her boot rose up and down like a piston, stamping on the phone until it was hard to tell what the pieces had once been. Teenagers everywhere began to cry. How would she possibly ignore people when they tried to talk to her in person, or keep up with the Kardashians? Blasphemy.
“Call me now,” she smirked. It was strange how much better she felt after crushing the means to contact her.
(I should have done this years ago.)
Feeling lighter without the physical and emotional weight in her pocket, she turned back to the door, picked up her rucksack and reached for the handle once more. She couldn’t wait to leave this place.
Her shoulders slumped, and the rucksack fell to the floor. Tears began to well in her eyes.
She could hear a phone ringing.
The ringing wasn’t coming from anywhere in particular now. It was all around her, and seem to come from every direction, every room, every thought in her head. Incessant. Never-ending. Ringing.
“Please. Please, just stop.” She cried out. “I don’t know why you’re doing this. I don’t know what you want. Tell me what you want.” No answer came back to her. The ringing only continued.
She began to tear through drawers, cupboards, anything that might be hiding another phone, and clawed through or tipped the contents directly onto the floor. Boxes were emptied. Pans clattered to the floor. Books, DVDs and souvenirs littered the floor. Photo frames were smashed on impact. All the while, a phone kept ringing, somehow distant and yet closing around her. It wouldn’t stop.
On the plus side, she had technically unpacked.
She went back to the hallway where her rucksack lay on the floor, and let the remaining pieces of her phone pour between her fingers.
Her back hit the wall as she slumped down, head on her knees. Her jeans became a darker, damper blue as she openly sobbed into them. A never-ending phone call taunted her, daring her to give into the new world she had been dragged into.
A world of madness.
It wasn’t a call she was ready to answer, but how long could she hold out? She was just one woman, no-one to help her, as something she couldn’t even begin to comprehend closed in on her from all sides. She remained in the hallway, rocking back and forth with her arms wrapped around her legs, occasionally whispering to herself:
“Why me? Why me?”
There was never an answer. Only the ringing of a phone that she didn’t think even existed in this world. Someone, somewhere, wanted to speak to her. Someone, somewhere, wanted to take away her sanity. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, it seemed to be working…