I did a thing with some people to do 31 horror story concepts within October. This gets kinda ridiculous. Bear with me…
SPOOKTOBER DAY #29 — Psychic
TITLE: Syde Effexxx
PREMISE: Despite a complete lack of precedent for this ever happening, despite the fact there is hardly a conceivable way in which it can happen, the COVID vaccine had long term side effects. The fascists were right! #thanksobama. The year is 2040 and gen Xers are all senior citizens, with some developing dementia as a natural consequence. But the ones who had been vaccinated are starting to develop unnatural powers as holes and schisms open in their grey matter.
The only people with psychic powers are those who are suffering mental decline. Most cause mayhem they cannot control – telekinesis, pyrokinesis, projecting horrible visions into people’s minds, making heads asplode.
HORROR ELEMENT: There are two gen X dementia-havers that have an unusual level of control over their powers, one good and one evil. It’s Fred Durst vs. Kid Rock. I mean, I don’t know if Fred Durst is good, but he’s probably less evil than Kid Rock. Right?
SPOOKTOBER DAY #30 — Vampire
TITLE: The Estate
PREMISE: I’m going to use one of my old ideas because I don’t believe I’ve ever written it down anywhere. No time like the present. Given that this is something I conceived outside of the promptfest context, it is something I intend to actually write some day.
An egalitarian band of survivors in an abandoned stretch of country take up residence in a crumbly castle. They wonder if they might be able to settle down, live in peace, but a vampire awakens and fucks up the program.
HORROR ELEMENT: The land is abandoned because ruthless exploitation of the peasantry led to horror and a total breakdown of society. The undead man responsible is back to remind the new peasants how man is meant to live in paranoid misery. He’s sexy action cool and doesn’t immediately kill them, instead befriending them, turning them against each other, and ruining their egalitarian system.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #31 — Lost Media
Content Warnings: Suicidal Ambition, Drug Use, Big Age Difference in Relationship.
PREMISE: Video games used to be designed wholly by very small teams or individuals. In a way it’s become like that again on the indie scene, but the small team games are often less ambitious than what the old auteur programmers would get up to. Occasionally the old devs would get some amount of celebrity. In this story a malcontent teen in the ’80s makes a video game with an edgy aesthetic cribbed from skateboard magazines and such. He becomes a minor celebrity on MTV for a few months, is indulged in some celebrity excess, then forgotten by everybody forever.
Years later a young hope-to-die gay youth spends his non-huffing time looking at creepypasta and retrogaming sites, gets really into malcontent’s video game and the lore around it – supposedly haunted, the usual. While researching to find out the truth of a rumor that malcontent was a serial killer, he finds out the old guy lives in a neighboring state.
He runs away from home to see if he can find him, living on nasty Rust Belt streets. As he does, images from his life resemble the world of the video game – random graffiti, violent situations he encounters, visions of decay – all neatly mirroring malcontent’s masterpiece. He finds the guy, now in his fifties, stripping asbestos for a living in his brother’s business. The young guy manages to get hired and get to know him better.
They have too much in common – bitter, lonely, lost, misanthropic to a fault. But can their loneliness end? Despite the age gap and other issues, they might be falling in love. Or maybe not. Evidence begins to mount that young guy’s entire escape from home was a delusion – that he somehow entered the video game or an unnaturally long dream about the game. Is it possible for him to find love, or is the only real escape from his lonerdom in death?
HORROR ELEMENT: I think it turns out all the things he’d been imagining about the unreality of his situation were just a fear of that being the case, and he’ll have something like happily ever after. But right up until that revelation, the horror is from not knowing whether or not the love of your life is real.
SPOOKTOBER DAY #BONUS — Player’s Choice
TITLE: The Dyer Hollow Labor War
Content Warnings: Ageism, Ableism, Implied Child Sexual Abuse, Emetophobia, Horror Content.
PREMISE: We got to choose between any of the leftover concepts that hadn’t been voted for. I decided to try to spin a plot that includes all of them: Anime, Retro Slasher, Lovecraftian, Alien/Space, Giant monster, Creepypasta/Urban Legend, Ghost, Backwoods, Body snatcher, Possession, Clown/Circus, Mutants, Stephen King Style, Undead, Competition, J-Horror, Found Footage, and Psycho-Biddy. Trying to make this even slightly elegant while still even slightly meeting the genre’s requirements will be a trick – let alone coming up with a concept anybody would ever want to read.
Dyer Hollow is a small backwoods New England town in the ’80s where everyone seems folksy enough on the surface but has a vicious undercurrent of interpersonal strife (Stephen King Style), perhaps from economic anxiety (lol), but they get a new lease on life when a Japanese automaker invests in a small factory there. The factory is run by an eccentric matriarch, Shizuko “Obachan” Higarashi (Psycho-Biddy), who treats people like a kindly but oppressively mothering granny. Little did Shizuko know, but the people of the town, back in 1958, had been under the sway of a terrible firebrand preacher.
When a circus (Clown/Circus) was in town, he perved on a child clown, then to cover his crime convinced the townspeople the carnies were a satanic cult. It led to a mass murder of the carnies, though a few townies died in the same event. The townies realized they’d been led into horror by the good priest and one had the bravery to break his hold and kill him. Somehow the other townies, while recognizing that was the right thing to do, still felt some kind of sympathy for the creep, which led to his killer’s family – the Stones – being regarded as black sheep going forward. The Stones are particularly vexed another local family, the Coles.
An effort to unionize goes sideways when tempers flare between Arnold Cole and Damon Stone, fathers of their respective households. Arnold wants the union to suck corporate ass, on the idea u should be nice to ur boss to get ur doggy biscuits. Damon has the more reasoned and sensible position, but being black sheeped, less support. They are, however, passionate supporters, which successfully prevent things from coming to a vote that they’d lose.
Obachan steps in and suggests they resolve their differences with a competition (Competition), a big festival to bring people together as a community, with fun events to compete in. People are surprised enough they end up agreeing to it. This sets up the rest of the story, which will be told in the style of an anime (Anime) series – each episode will have one supernatural / scifi horror theme which is the main focus, but everything escalates through continuity up to the end of the series.
Episode 1, “Dyer Hollow”: The setup, including at least hints at all the above information, keeping the town’s murder secret the most concealed. Point of view characters are high school kids (Anime), including Jason Cole and Jennifer Stone with a Romeo & Juliet deal percolating.
Episode 2, “Tug-of-War”: The old fairgrounds are disused for a reason and people are uneasy about them getting reopened, but don’t feel like they have a choice. The car manufacturer foots the bill and it’s soon a proper carnival with rides and such. An open field is where the competitions are held – tug of war, three-legged race, that sort of thing. The events are taking place over days. On the nights between the corporate-friendly sanitized competition, there are fights and vandalism and hijinks between factions.
That’s all just the backdrop of more events focused on the teenagers. When they wonder why the fairgrounds are dreaded by adults, one kid says it’s because of a creepypasta-esque child clown with blood coming out the mouth and black eyes and such (Creepypasta). Jennifer thinks it’s hooey but one of her friends in the AV club shows her an old 8mm film (Found Footage) that seems to show a circus in town that featured a child clown. AV club friend is working late alone and the clown comes out of the film’s projection to spew blood down her throat and stuff.
Episode 3, “Obachan”: Ms. Higarashi, in a gesture towards peacemaking, invites Damon and Arnold’s wives for tea in the spooky mansion she’s moved into. The ladies are out for blood, but Obachan has such a disturbing presence they find themselves cowed into obedient dollies. Are they going to be poisoned? They have only tense little discussions when she’s out of the room, tooth-grinding polite disagreement when she’s around.
They have random little horror events like choking up a button or seeing a face in their tea, escalating to a ghost (J-Horror, Ghost) coming for them. It’s an old Japanese man with a thousand cuts – Obachan’s late husband (got Psycho-Biddy’d) – but in the end Obachan wins and the ghost is banished. The wives die but the men are so wrapped up in their fight they somehow blame each other instead of the boss.
Episode 4, “The Factory”: Arnold’s faction is looking for an edge in the fight and on a late shift he discovers an R&D lab where Dr. Habato Nishi is working on improvements for car radios. There’s AM and FM and now he has created DM – Dimensional Magnitude – which accesses eldritch sounds (Lovecraftian). “That’s wild, doc. It’s not talking English but I feel like I can almost understand it.”
“No!” He turns off the radio and warns him – if the aliens (Alien/Space) are making themselves understood, it’s because they want something – perhaps something sinister. Arnold waits for Nishi to not be around and sneaks in, uses the radio. Alien voices tell him how to use sound to access great powers. He uses equipment from the lab to make a machine that he takes home. His head throbs with energy and he has visions of the alien beings caressing him. His wife’s ghost howls mutely in complaint.
Episode 5, “Horseshoes”: Arnold’s machine makes an alien grown in your brain (Body Snatchers). This psychically connects the afflicted and while not compete mind control – they have some autonomy – Arnold does have influence over the others as their leader. He expands his faction, has Damon’s labor radicals on the run.
The funeral for Arnold and Damon’s wives is on the same day and Arnold plays Danny Boy on his DM radio. Damon is haunted the rest of the episode by weird betrayals and slasher-type killings (Retro Slasher) by a man in a Greylien mask. He discovers the killer is his most trusted friend, who then turns into an alien mutant (Mutant) he has to kill.
Episode 6, “Dunking Booth”: Damon hears his daughter Jennifer is with Jason at a kegger in the spooky abandoned Miller cabin (Backwoods). He thinks he’s racing up there to save her from teen alcohol abuse and involvement with the son of his nemesis, but he’s actually heeding the call of ghosts. Miller’s cabin is where the carnies made their last stand as they were murdered. His own mother was the hand that killed Preacher Cotton, pushing him into the well, and that allied him spiritually with the murdered carnies.
The ghost carnies are kept imprisoned by the powerful ghost of Preacher Cotton and want to break free, have summoned Damon to that end. The children all get possessed (Possession) by ghosts of carnies and townies that died in ’58 and attack each other. Damon has to keep them from killing each other, tying them up in various ways, while also puzzling out a way to defeat Cotton’s ghost. Some kids die, but Jason and Jennifer make it through. The evil ghost is defeated, but the freed carnies have gone evil too. They offer dark powers to Damon and he accepts, raising their bodies as a zombie army (Undead).
Episode 7, “Field Day”: Damon’s zombies come to town looking for Arnold’s people, only to find them turning into mutants (Mutants). Arnold’s DM radio bodysnatchers have become openly monstrous, shooting slime and hovering and stuff. It’s a zombie vs. mutant battle on the fairgrounds and in the city streets. The kids do an OK job of surviving, but Jason sees his dad leading the mutants and is like, “His parents killed those carnies while yours tried to save them, Jennifer. I’m from bad blood. I belong with the mutants.” She’s like “Noooo” but he lets himself get sucked into a blobby situation.
Episode 8, “Three-Legged Race”: The zombies and mutants form into two giant creatures to do a kaiju battle (Giant Monster), destroying Dyer Hollow. Jennifer has to climb the fighting mutant pile to rescue Jason by chopping him free with a machete. The surviving teens escape the dead town, make peace, and promise to stay friends forever. Jennifer vows to love and protect Jason even though he’s now a hideous abomination. They live happily ever after.
HORROR ELEMENT: This was a horrible idea, haha.