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.
When the aged circle of people around her finally spoke, shocking her from her desperate praying, they did so in unison.
“You will give us life.”
She hadn’t even seen them speak the words, but now there seemed to be some movement within the crowd. It began at the back, a small ripple, and made its way towards the front, towards her.
(What happens now?)
The crowd parted, and something was passed to the front. It looked like an urn of some kind. Inside it, a dark red liquid sloshed about, slick and shiny. All around her, at least from what she could see, these same urns were being passed forward, and placed onto the stone floor.
Wrinkled hands were plunged deep into the urns. Once removed, they began to scrawl markings onto the floor around her. Their movements were fast, almost erratic, but identical. Symbols were beginning to form around her. The smell of iron filled the air, and her eyes watered.
The mad scribblings continued, until, looking almost exhausted, those responsible ceased their twisted finger-painting and were carried back into the crowd. She thought she could see fresh blood on their fingertips.
As she tried to follow the symbols around her, she realised that for the second time in just a few days she understood absolutely nothing about what she was looking at.
Then it didn’t matter anymore. The markings shone a dull red, and began to do whatever it was they were meant to do. Everything warped around her.
Faces melted, blurred into one another. They became nothing, they became more than they were, they became people she knew, people she had known, people that she felt she was meant to know.
Her skin seemed to crackle and pop with changing temperatures in the air, and for a moment she was an actress in an advert for Rice Krispies. This was her moment to shine. If she nailed this, she’d be discovered. Daisy Ridley had Star Wars, but this, this advert, this was it. She beamed, ready to enjoy a bowl of cereal that she’d secretly always found to be plain, but when she looked down, the bowl was an urn, and the cereal, instead of crisped rice, was thick and dark red. Lumps floated here and there - she felt something gristly between her teeth. She vomited, and the scene disappeared. She didn’t think she’d got the part.
A new scene took its place. Or perhaps it was a memory. She was inside the new place, in the new town. Looking through boxes. No, that was her, but it wasn’t her. She was outside, looking in. Other her had no idea she was being watched.
(The letter. I need to give her the letter.)
In a hand that seemed so far away, she held a letter. It was extremely important that she delivered this letter. As she moved to the door, she cast a shadow across the window.
She threw the letter down before the front door. Hopefully that would do it. Inside, movement. Other her was coming. She didn’t have time to hide. What happened then? Did they catch up over tea? How would that work? They were both her. At least she’d know how she liked her tea.
The door handle moved. The door opened. She stared into her own face for a moment, but the face staring back didn’t seem to see her. It stared right through her, scanned behind her, confused, nervous, oblivious. Around her, the world seemed to be fading. Fading. Almost transparent. Ghostly. Was she back in the mist? Fading. Gone.
Only it wasn’t all gone. She still stared into the eyes of herself. They held no emotion now. She was back in the room, wherever it was, surrounded by an aged crowd – her mirror copy had joined her. Reality, in its own sick way, was back.
Her plea fell on deaf, glassy ears. The copy wasn’t here to warn her this time. It was here for their purpose.
Without hesitation, the copy sliced a fingernail across her wrist. It was as if a shard of glass was being raked across her bare skin. She cried out. Blood flowed from the incision.
The copy reached for her other wrist.
“No, please. Please don’t. You tried to warn me. I didn’t know what to do. I’ll listen now. Please. Help me. Please, please don-“
Her sentence was cut short by a searing pain in the other wrist. Another fingernail sliced through her skin, like a hot knife through butter. More blood spurted from her, hitting the floor with a wet slap before turning into a constant waterfall of red. She weeped, unable to do anything but bleed.
(Is this it? Do I die here?)
She could feel herself letting go, and tried to fight it. It wouldn’t be long.
The blood began to spread beneath her, following a path of small, thin grooves she hadn’t noticed before. When the blood reached the markings, another ripple shivered through the crowd, now animated and seemingly more human. Sighs of relief, tears of joy, the odd “thank you, lord.” Previously silent, their outbursts dazed her almost as much as the blood draining from her wrists.
That was nothing compared to her next realisation. The people closest to her, not counting her glassy copy, seemed almost… younger. Wrinkles seemed lighter. Grey hair rediscovered its colour. Eyes, once bloodshot and yellowed, found new life.
(They are. They’re getting younger. I die here, and they get to hand in their free bus passes for a few more years.)
Her blood continued to leak to the floor.
Everything seemed to get further and further away.
Around a sacrifice that they cared little about, a crowd of people shared their glee. New life was flowing into their veins, and they would live forever, no matter who needed to bleed.