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.
It wasn’t possible for her hand to be burned. When she had fallen to sleep, as the storm outside reduced the light comedy on TV to nothing but static, her hand had been completely fine. Now, after the nightmare in the café, where the insects had told her she had been “chosen,” whatever that meant – and the burning, rushing fire, so much fire – her hand was burned. It was as if in that last moment, when the flames engulfed the café with her inside it, the intense heat had burned through from her mind and into reality, nothing more than kindling.
Even so, her hand was burned, and she couldn’t deny that, no matter how little sense it made.
Though unsure whether her legs held the strength to carry her, she sprung to her feet. The room span, and saliva filled her mouth.
She stumbled over a few open boxes on her way down the hallway, internally cursed herself for the fact they were even still there, and crashed into the bathroom. Once there she positioned herself in front of the toilet.
A few moments passed. Then a few more. It felt like hours before her mind and stomach calmed down enough for her to move away from the porcelain prison – which was never going to make anyone feel good at this distance – and over to the sink. She gripped either side and steadied herself on legs that had all but fallen asleep.
Her hand. Briefly forgotten. Still burned.
She held it out, looking at the raw skin and the blisters that were beginning to bubble from her palm. It made her feel queasy again. Not so much the pain, or the shininess of her own skin, so tender and new – no, she’d burned her hand on almost every single plate that had been delivered to her with a cautionary “careful, it’s hot” – it just shouldn’t have been there. At all.
Cold water burst from the tap as she turned the handle with her newly-decided “good hand.” The less fortunate hand was placed under the running water, and stung at first, until the pain from the burn turned into a different kind of pain. An icy numbness. She held it there until she couldn’t take the sensation any longer, and then pulled it back. The pain would return soon enough, but she was content with the lack of feeling in her hand.
Good hand came into play once more as she leant down, cupped the cool water and splashed it onto her face. That was how people calmed themselves down in the movies and she’d be damned if it wasn’t going to work for her, too.
(Shit. Too cold.)
Eyes tightly shut against the water that could only have been pumped directly from the Arctic, she felt for a towel on the heated rack to her left. Eventually, her hand found what she was looking for, and she wiped the water from her eyes. She dabbed quickly at the water that threatened to run down under the collar of the top, and then buried her face in the towel.
For a few grateful seconds, she escaped everything that had happened that day, sticking her head in sand that was made from 100% cotton. It was warm from the heated towel rack, and since she’d bought it specifically for the move, it still smelled new and clean. Ostriches were really onto something with this.
When she finally looked up from the towel, her stomach twisted. The towel dropped to the floor, with the warmth and safety long forgotten.
It was faint, but there was no denying it. Oh, how she wished she could deny it.
There was a handprint on the mirror.
She didn’t think it had been there before, but at which point between trying to keep the contents of her stomach inside her stomach and hiding inside a towel like a damn ostrich would she have noticed it?
(Fuck. Why is there a handprint on the mirror? There shouldn’t be a fucking handprint on the fucking mirror. Fuck.)
Maybe it was hers? It must have been. No-one else had been in here since she’d moved in a couple of days ago. Yeah. That’s what it was. At some point, maybe while brushing her teeth last night, or after leaving the shower, she had placed her hand on the mirror. It happened. It wasn’t a big deal, and definitely not something that she’d have remembered doing.
Like almost every decision she’d made that day, she was driven by the need to know for sure, one way or another. She reached out to the mirror.
If the handprint matched the shape and size of her hand, mystery solved. She’d just find something to make her hand feel better, go to bed, and hope that everything would have returned to normal when she woke up.
If the handprint belonged to someone else – well, that was a bridge she’d cross when she came to it. It’d be the kind of bridge that would be hiding something hairy and troll-like underneath, she imagined, so if she could avoid it, she’d much prefer that option.
(Please let that be an option. No trolls. No trolls.)
Trolls were completely forgotten when, as she was reaching, slowly, out towards the handprint on the mirror, the handprint reached back out from the glass and grabbed her by the hand.
Too shocked to react, she just stood there, mouth agape, as she watched this hand envelop her own. It was almost as white as the porcelain of the sink, but it held absolutely no wrinkles or imperfections, like a mannequin’s hand come to life. Up until now, she’d have put that thought at the top of a “scares the crap out of me” list, but she found that the list needed to be updated after the day she’d had.
No heat came from the hand. It was cold, and its grip on her own hand, luckily not the burned one, was firm and unwavering. There they stayed, as if about to head into an interview or partake in a thumb war, neither party making any movement.
Outside, the storm persisted, and no-one would have been able to guess what has happening inside these four walls. Actually, she didn’t really know either. So, she remained still, and attempted to plan her next move, aware that her life might literally be in someone – or something – else’s hands.