The Youtuber Phenomenon

They call him Pewdiepie.

He’s currently one of the most subscribed to people on Youtube, and the most subscribed to Let’s Play channel (a channel devoted to playing video games while someone makes commentary over it).  Now, depending on your position, he’s either someone who brightens your day and makes you laugh, or someone who raises your blood pressure from the mere mention of his name.  But that’s not what I want to discuss today (like or don’t like whoever you want, but don’t push others around because they disagree with you…that’s just stupid).  Really, he’s just one part of a phenomenon that has taken the internet by storm in recent years.

They call him Pewdiepie, but they also call him a Youtuber.

 

That face though...

That face though…

 

In the most basic sense of the word, Youtuber is slang for someone who creates videos and then uploads them onto Youtube.  But there are certain connotations to the word.  Namely, it’s that Youtubers are consistently generating content on a regular basis (I mean most people wouldn’t consider someone who uploads only two or three videos in the span of ten years a Youtuber, let’s put it that way).  But what interests me the most is not what these people do, but what they represent.

It’s hard to deny that there hasn’t been a major shift in our culture over the last few decades.  Just looking back at the 1990s, you can see a world of difference in how we handle ourselves.  Technology is leaps and bounds above what I had when I was growing up.  It’s amazing, terrifying, and brilliant, all at the same time.  One of our major cultural shifts over the years has been in how we determine what is and what isn’t a job, and how we work these jobs.

If you look back at the generation before mine, people were often molded into specific roles.  The old cliché goes that the husband works and the wife stays at home, which has fast become little more than an old stereotype often played off on in sitcoms and the like.  But more so than that, we had the notion that you go to work a nine to five job, go home, eat dinner, sleep, and then do it all over again the next day until the weekend.  It was very structured and repetitive like that, which is what a lot of people wanted (and still want).

Things are different today.  Many people, instead of working one full-time job, take on two part-time ones to make ends meet.  The economy has shifted, and our perceptions have shifted along with it.  Still others will work out of their homes, freelancing stuff out for people and companies on a job-by-job basis.  We can no longer adhere to the nine to five, full-time employment idea because there just simply aren’t enough full-time jobs out there anymore.

This is where things like Youtubers come in.  They are proof that even as the world economy is in dire straits, there are still ways for people to live a fulfilling and successful life for themselves, doing something that they truly enjoy.  They’re not necessarily the easy way, but life isn’t easy right?  Life is full of struggle and joy, success and failure, happiness and sadness.  Life is a journey, and no journey was ever said to be easy.

Youtubers are a sign of the rapidly changing times.  Look at Pewdiepie for example.  He went from having two million subscribers to having over twenty million within the span of a year.  I can’t say for certain what sparked such an explosive growth, and I doubt anyone really knows for sure.  I’m guessing there were a lot of different factors in play: the growing popularity of Youtube and Let’s Plays, the growing number of people with access to internet, and even something as innocuous as Google changing the algorithms behind its search engine (Youtube is a subsidiary of Google by the way, has been since 2006).  Regardless of the reasons, his success sparked the creation of probably hundreds of Let’s Play channels on Youtube, full of people who just want to make money doing something they love.  Unfortunately, many of them probably discovered, that was incredibly difficult due to the over-saturation that occurred.  The problem with change is that you can’t predict it.  And sometimes, if you’re not ahead of it, you get left behind.

But don’t be discouraged by that.  Things are constantly shifting, the gears are always turning, and the landscape is always transforming.  Much of life is about finding your place in the world, finding somewhere where you are comfortable.  Maybe sometime in the future things will shift back your way, bringing you success beyond measure.  And maybe you’re just comfortable working two part-time jobs.  Who knows?  No one can tell you how to live your life, so on and so forth, blah blah inspirational message blah.  But in all seriousness, just be happy with who you are.  That’s all you really need in life isn’t it?

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for the first post of 2015 (woot woot).  As always, have a wonderful week, and have an awesome New Years.

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How I Got Back Into Point and Click Games

You might remember a long time ago when I wrote a post about my love for point and click games.  It was one of the very first posts I ever wrote actually.  One thing I barely touched on was the story of how I got back into those games.  It’s a story I don’t feel I did justice to, so I’m going to take this post to explore that story in greater detail.  So here goes.

I think I can trace the beginnings of my re surging interest back to the Penumbra games, a series of horror adventure games made by Frictional Games who would then go on to make Amnesia, a game series I have talked about quite a bit on this blog.  The first game, Penumbra Overture, was this engrossing horror adventure set in this abandoned mine in Greenland.  The ambient music and the environments were downright chilling (no pun intended…it is Greenland after all).  About the only part I didn’t like about the game was the strange combat system where you held down the mouse button and dragged the mouse back and forth to swing your weapon.  It was just a silly little mechanic which Frictional wisely took out in the next game: Penumbra Black Plague.

One of the first major areas in the game.  You spend a lot of time here, exploring...hiding...crying like a little wussy baby...good times man good times.  (Penumbra Overture)

One of the first major areas in the game. You spend a lot of time here, exploring…hiding…crying like a little wussy baby…good times man good times. (Penumbra Overture)

It was nice to be playing a game again that wasn’t all about shooting bad guys or being the perfect hero.  It was nice having a game that felt more like an experience.  But it wasn’t really until my second year up at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Let me set the year for you.  It was only my second year there.  I was living on campus in an apartment with three other guys, total strangers to me until that year.  They were nice people, but I didn’t really find much in common with them so I spent most of the year as the “quiet roommate”.  Because of this, and my growing tiredness for all the Shooty McShoot’emups in the gaming world, I really needed to find a different type of game that I could play in my free time, something a bit more laid back that didn’t need constant action and explosions in your face, something that wasn’t always throwing unlocks and experience points your way for every little thing you did.  Something that was more focused on telling a story and showing off an environment.

It wasn’t until I scrolled through the site Good Old Games (GOG.com) that I found my answer.

Scratches was a game that as I mentioned in that post all those months ago, I had encountered before.  But the website that reviewed it gave it an extremely poor review, so I ignored the game at that time.  But I stumbled into it again on GOG and the user reviews were all saying it was extremely well done.  So I figured, what the heck, it’s only like five bucks.  What have I really got to lose in the end?

The game features a great atmosphere and some great details of decay on some of the objects.  (Scratches)  Note: picture taken from Steam store page.

The game features a great atmosphere and some great details of decay on some of the objects. (Scratches) Note: picture taken from Steam store page.

I remember my first moments with the game were middling and inconsistent.  The voice acting was a little stilted, but the music was nice and ominous.  I started exploring the house, reading notes and journal entries, wondering if I had wasted my money on it at first.  It wasn’t until the first nighttime section in the game (the game takes place over three different days) that I found that I had extremely underestimated its potential.

The first time I heard that surreal hammering sound, I shivered.  And I was playing it in the middle of the daytime.

Scratches quickly proved to me that the point and click genre still held some intangible pull for me, that there was something there that interested me greatly.  Over the next couple of months or so, I played the game on and off before I finally beat it (puzzles are hard sometimes man).  So then I started looking for more games like that.  I picked up the original version of realMyst off of GOG, revisiting a classic game from my youth whose impact on me I didn’t fully understand until later (I made a post on that too).

Much later on I went scrolling around GOG again for some more point and click games that had a horror bent to them, which is where I stumbled upon the Dark Fall franchise.  This time, I was living off campus in my own apartment with a buddy of mine, the same apartment I sit in right now writing this post.  Again, I wasn’t too sure about the game when I first began playing it, but it grew on me, and sure enough I found myself engrossed in the world and the atmosphere, trying to solve the mystery of what exactly happened to the Dowerton Hotel on that fateful night in the 1940s.

Welcome to the rustic Dowerton Hotel, where people check in......thoroughly enjoy their stay and come back another time.  Nah just kidding THEY NEVER LEAVE MWA HA HA HA HA...etc.  Well that was fun.  (Dark Fall The Journal)

Welcome to the rustic Dowerton Hotel, where people check in……thoroughly enjoy their stay and come back another time. Nah just kidding THEY NEVER LEAVE MWA HA HA HA HA…etc. Well that was fun. (Dark Fall The Journal)

Scratches may have been the game that got my mind thinking about point and click games again, but Dark Fall: The Journal (the first of three games) was the one that made me realize my love of them.  It wasn’t like one of those movie moments where the main character slowly realizes everything in a single moment, but rather a slow and steady realization over a long period of time.  And since those two games, I have played quite a few more.  Barrow HillDark Fall 2: Lights OutThe Lost CrownThe Darkness WithinOutcryThe 7th Guest, and more.  I’ve played a lot of them over the last few years.

What surprised me the most about the point and click genre was that it still existed in some way.  I had always assumed that point and clicks died out a long time ago considering I didn’t hear much about them aside from references to Myst every now and again.  But in reality, they just went underground so to speak.  There still exists this community of people who create games like these, with different twists and mechanics.  There still exist games that let you take things at your own pace, that don’t constantly cram things like experience points or weapon unlocks down your throat.  It was a nice feeling, knowing that there were still games that wanted to be relaxing without taking things to an extreme and almost pretentious point.  It’s really hard to put into words, which is probably why I feel like I’ve never done it justice.

But more so even than the atmosphere and the pacing was just the passion behind it.  Here were games that were obviously passion projects, games that the people behind them knew weren’t going to make them a whole lot of money.  These were games that felt more like a genuine experience than just a cash transaction (for sixty dollars you get this many hours of fun).  They felt like inspired products rather than just new iterations of the same thing.  That’s what makes them memorable.  They may have mediocre looking graphics.  The voice acting may be stilted.  And they may be beholden to a 1990s style of puzzle design at times.  But I can’t deny the heart that went into making them.  Of course, this is not to say that they are the only games with passionate people behind them, but it does feel like more and more that the video game industry has gotten to the point where developers prefer playing it safe than actually trying to innovate.  If it was actually working, that would be one thing.  But it isn’t.  Most of the games that try to emulate Call of Duty end up falling flat and failing.  A copycat can never be as memorable as the original.

In a perfect world, only the people with the passion for it would be making the games.  This is not a perfect world.  But it can be made better.  All we have to do is try.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week (hey look it’s December and I’m still talking about horror).  I hope everyone has a great holiday season and a wonderful time with their families.  I wish you all the happiest of holidays, the merriest of Christmases, and so on.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post and, as always, have a great week everyone.

Our Appetite for Revenge

“For England, James?”

“No.  For me.”

I remember watching Goldeneye a long time ago, and for quite a while it was my favorite James Bond movie.  It had all the right notes to it: a calculating villain, a suave hero, action, and explosions of course.  The lines above are spoken at the climax of the film, when Trevelyan (the villain) has been defeated and is hanging off a ledge.  What I didn’t really think about back then was what the line really meant.  What’s interesting to me now is what that line says about the nature of revenge.  Most characters who undertake revenge quests usually do it with the pretense of avenging the loss of someone dear to them.  But is it really so selfless?  Or is revenge a much more selfish quest than we assume?

Most revenge stories typically go like this: hero is wronged by villain and loses something valuable to them (usually a person).  Hero becomes angry and pursues villain to exact revenge, usually by making his way up the ladder and killing the bad guys who stand in their way.  The story ends when the hero corners the villain and exacts sweet, sweet revenge.  The familiar story is something that we eat up.  We love the typical story arcs, the good guy taking out the bad guy.  We find comfort in its familiarity.

But lately there’s been a twist in the story.  Many revenge stories have posited the question of “what does the quest for revenge do to the one who journeys for it?”  It’s an interesting question, one that deserves to be asked.  How far is too far?  Is there a line somewhere that divides righteousness and selfishness?  Does the revenge quest inherently corrupt?

I watched an episode of the show Lie to Me earlier this week that dealt with a character whose main motive appeared to be revenge.  He was supposed to be killed by the CIA, but his family ended up in the crossfire and died instead.  So, he goes to the main character of the show (who was involved in the incident) and demands that he help figure out who the killer is.  And, at the end of the episode, he finds his man and points a gun at his head.  But, when he pulls the trigger, the gun clicks empty.  When asked why he didn’t kill him, he say something along the lines of “love for revenge killed my family” then walks off.

The video game series Max Payne is another great example of this self-conscious examination of revenge.  In the games, the titular character loses his family after a bunch of drug addicts break into his house and shoot them.  Years later, he learns that their deaths are somehow tied up with some massive government cover-up.  This sends him on a quest of revenge in the first game.  He succeeds, but the next two games show a man broken and scarred.  Even though he succeeds in his quest, he doesn’t feel better about it.  Even in the third game, which is about ten years later and set on another continent, we still see him as a destroyed man who seems content to try drinking and drugging himself to death.

Revenge has become something a bit more complicated in pop culture these days.  It is no longer a glorified righteous journey, but something that puts a person on the brink, something that can forever change them and leave them taking down paths forever dark.

We still love it because we’ve grown to demand so much more of our storytelling mediums.  We no longer want one-note stories and characters.  We want complexity.  We want characters who evolve over time, who maybe go from being a bad guy to a good guy, or vice versa.  We want something that examines deeper issues, that shows us parts of ourselves that we maybe didn’t realize were there.  Cultural tastes and preferences are complicated things, always shifting and changing.

So will there still be a place for the old school revenge fantasies in the future?  I can’t really say for sure, but I know that revenge stories will always be around as long as there are humans to tell them.  And after all, they make really good popcorn movies.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Thanks for reading.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

 

Tunnel Vision: Our Narrow Focus on Social Issues

Do you know what a “rider” is when it comes to the lawmaking process?  Simply put, a rider is a provision that is attached to another bill or act that simply rides along into law based solely on the bill it is connected to.  It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with the bill itself.  It just has to be attached to it.

I bring this up because of something I learned over the weekend.  Apparently a provision was attached to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) that essentially sells off Native American land to a foreign mining company.  And this is ancestral land, land where their people lived for generations upon generations.  This is land that has been a part of their culture for most likely centuries.  But not anymore.  Now it’s being sold off to some company so they can make some money.

And of course, the person instrumental for adding this provision to the bill is Senator John McCain, the same man who trumpeted the illegal immigration horn for so many years.  I just have to say, I find it painfully ironic that a man so against illegal immigration would so readily sell off land not just to a mining company, but a foreign mining company.  But I can’t say I’m all that surprised…

So why am I so upset by this?  Because no one even knows about it.  Hell, I didn’t even know about it until almost a week after the news broke.  Because that’s just how thing go.  Events like this get lost in the vast maelstrom of media sensationalism that is endemic to our culture.  And we all know what’s been dominating the airwaves for the past month.

Now, I’m not saying that the events in Ferguson Missouri are not worth talking about (I know that there will be someone out there who immediately assumes that’s what I’m saying), but there is a certain trend, especially in our media, that is beginning to really grind my gears.  Working at a television news station, it’s become more and more obvious to me that the news becomes more about one particular topic, the “flavor of the week”.  All news predominantly becomes about that one particular topic, and all others just fall by the wayside.  It happened with Ebola.  It happened with Isis.  And it’s happening with Ferguson.  These issues are something worth discussing (although the Ebola panic was just ridiculous), but they’re not the only issues out there.

And herein lies the problem.  We’ve all become so complacent in this idea that there is only one major issue we can tackle at a time.  We’ve become so attuned to this sensationalist hype we fed into it ourselves.  Look at the Ferguson incident.  People basically split up into two groups.  Those on the conservative end generally sided with the police.  Those on the liberal end generally sided with the protesters.  And neither side seemed willing to listen to the other.  I’m of the belief that when you hear an argument from two sides, that somewhere in the middle lies the true version of the events.  Both parties tend to skew their version of events in their favor, sometimes even unwittingly.  It’s a very human failing.

Take a look at the debate over Ferguson.  On the one hand, we have the people who basically see Michael Brown as a thug who got what he deserved.  On the other hand, we have people who see Officer Wilson as a murderous racist who was just looking for someone to shoot.  The lines are drawn, and now it seems like nobody can cross them.

But when you look at the things we know for sure, the story begins to get muddy.  We know for sure that Michael Brown robbed a convenience store.  There is surveillance footage of that incident.  And we know that afterwards, Officer Wilson had a confrontation with Michael Brown.  But that’s where the facts end, and conjecture begins.  We don’t truly know what happened during that confrontation, because the eyewitness accounts of the incident differ so significantly that it’s become near impossible to build an accurate timeline.  Instead, everyone seems to have settled with vigorously stomping their feet and giving in to their gut instincts instead of taking the time to truly examine the situation.  And because of that, the entire country has been swept up in this sensationalist fervor for so long that I doubt it even really matters what actually happened during that incident.  Everyone already has their story.

And it is because of all this that events like the selling of Native American land fall through the cracks.  I’m willing to bet that a few weeks from now, no one will even know that it happened, aside from the people directly involved.  Instead, we’ll have moved on to the next sensationalist issue, and all those people will lose their ancient homeland.  No one will bat an eye to it, because no one will care…

It’s despicable.  And it’s frustrating because I know that as one person, I cannot do anything to stop it.  They say that every voice helps, but I can’t help but see that as a naive outlook on things.  Sure, I can rant and rave about the unfairness of this provision to the NDAA all I want on this blog.  But will it make much of a difference in the end?  Experience tells me that it probably won’t.

And yet, here I am, writing this anyways.  Because I can’t just sit still and accept it.  Even though this post will likely have zero effect, I still decided to make my voice heard.  Because that’s what our country was supposed to be about right?  Freedom of speech?  Freedom of opinions?  It’s hard to see that these days, living in a culture where money rules everything and most of the power is controlled by a bunch of old men who are more concerned with their re-election prospects than actually shaping a meaningful future.  It’s frustrating, but it’s worse when you just let it all slide.

And who knows?  Maybe someday the things that I write could help shape the world.  I can always dream, can’t I?  It’s better than nothing.

 

Well thanks for reading this deadly serious post.  I had something I really needed to get off my chest, and I’ve found that writing is often the best way to do it.  Tune in next week for another post, and thanks again for taking the time to read my rant.  Have a wonderful week everybody.

 

Here is an article about the NDAA provision selling off Native American land.

 

The Journal of Thomas Edmond

A little introduction to this one is probably necessary.  I decided to try my hand at writing a little ghost story for you folks.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments, and if you’d like to see more.

The story begins after the break.

 *   *   *

Day 1

My first impression is that I like it.

It may be a run-down old hotel, but I like it.  It sits near the edge of a massive ocean cliff, with so many of the bedroom windows looking out at the sea.  You can hear the waves crashing on the rocks below at all times of the day.  The breeze rustles through your hair when you stand outside.  It’s peaceful really.

They called it “The Cliffside Inn”.

This is the fourth place I’ve visited, and I’ve gotta say, it’s the most picturesque of the places I’ve been to so far.  Even if my quest to visit the most haunted places in Europe ends up being a bit of a bust, at least I got to see some cool locations.

I’ve set up in one of the rooms on the third floor of the four floor hotel.  This one still has some wallpaper in it, left over from when the hotel was still operating.  The wallpaper is a light, faded floral pattern with roses and violets.  Yeah it’s kind of a girly room but screw it.  This is where I’m making my bed.  I’m secure in my masculinity damn it!

I’ll write a day entry and a night entry for this journal, recording all that I see and hear.  I plan to camp out here for a week.  So hopefully, something interesting will happen.

 

Night 1

It’s about two in the morning right now, and so far nothing.  I don’t even get a vibe from this place.  I spent most of the night looking into the different rooms around the place.  Most of them have nothing in them, but some still have dressers and drawers left over, and some even have bed frames.  People really did a number on the place.  I had heard that looters had basically cleaned the place, taking everything of value.  But I didn’t realize just how much they did.

When I explored the main lobby and reception area, I found some pamphlets about the hotel.  “Come visit The Cliffside Inn, with exquisite vistas and unforgettable service.  You’ll never want to leave!”  Man, advertisers in the early 1900s were just as out of touch as they are today huh?  Despite their cheesiness, it did give me some good background information on the place.  Apparently the owner, Joshua E. Whitcomb, bought this place back in 1901.  It started as a brothel when it was built in the late 1800s, but didn’t last long that way.  It was abandoned for a couple of decades before Whitcomb bought it and renovated it into a hotel.  I’m actually surprised no one thought of that before.

But now the place is abandoned again.  I’ve heard the stories.  Strange inexplicable events, rumors that Whitcomb may have been a wee bit too interested in the occult, ghostly sightings and noises, the works.

The root of it all seems to be this one June night way back in 1938.  The Great Depression was still hitting people hard, and a lot of them came here to forget their worries.  On June 18th, there was this gigantic party.  All of the regulars and some new people showed up and they were all having a great time.  Well, that is until they all disappeared without a trace.  No one even realized something had happened until a family member of one of the guests went looking for them, and found the hotel completely empty.

The detail that always sends a shiver down my spine was the half-eaten dinners and full glasses of beer left behind, like everyone just got up and left suddenly.

No one was ever found, and the police suspected Mr. Whitcomb once they discovered his interest in the occult.  I’ve always wondered if Whitcomb actually had anything to do with it, or if there was something else going on.  I doubt I’ll ever truly know.  The place was picked clean long ago, so anything of note is probably long gone.

Strange…I thought I heard a voice just now.  I’m gonna check the hallways real quick.

Nope nothing.  Just empty hallways.  It was probably the wind.  It’s always the wind.

Well I guess that’s it for tonight then.

 

Day 2

Something I forgot to mention yesterday.  There’s a lighthouse off in the distance.  It sits at the edge of another cliff, looking out over the ocean.  It’s really tall.  I guess that it must be at least three stories in height.  I’ll have to go check it out sometime this week.  Maybe tomorrow.

Anyway I did some more exploring today.  I didn’t find any more useful information about the place, but I did find something weird.

So the reception area is this big room right?  It has a large, faded wood desk in the middle, with an office directly behind it that I assume was for the owner.  There’s also a restaurant and bar at the other end of the room, separated by a set of double doors and stained glass windows.  Well anyways, near the front entrance to the hotel I found a door I hadn’t seen before.  It was this heavy, shiny oak door with a gleaming brass handle.  When I tried the handle, it was locked.  I briefly considered breaking the door down, but that just seemed stupid.  I’ll look around for a key.

The weird thing about it?  I could swear this door wasn’t there before.  I thought I remembered looking there yesterday and seeing nothing.  Who knows, maybe I just missed it or something.  But I got this strange feeling in my stomach when I was close to it.  I felt uneasy, and a little dizzy.  The hair on my arms stood up.  It sounds silly I know, but there’s something about that door that doesn’t sit right with me.  I can’t explain it.  It all felt so much clearer to me in the moment, but now it feels far away, like a distant sound or memory.

In any case, something better happen tonight, or I’m going to be really angry!

 

Night 2

Um, you know how I said something better happen?  I regret that.  I really, REALLY regret that.

So I was just about to fall asleep tonight (it must have been like eleven) when I suddenly heard music off in the distance.  It sounded like an old piano.  Jesus.  I nearly crapped my pants right there.  Look, I’m not a guy who gets scared easy, but when ghost pianos start playing in the middle of the night I tend to freak out a little bit.

Anyway, I sat still listening to it for a couple of minutes.  It was playing some old classical tune of some kind.  It might have been one of those really early Frank Sinatra tunes, I couldn’t really tell.  After listening for a little bit, I grabbed a flashlight from my pack and decided to investigate.

When I entered the hallway, the piano was considerably louder than it was in my room.  I could tell it was coming from somewhere below me.

I raced down the stairs, the sound growing louder and louder as I went.  Once I hit the ground floor and entered the reception area, I could tell it was coming from the bar area.  As I swept my flashlight across the stained glass, I could swear I saw a woman’s shadow.  She was sitting down, hammering her fingers across shadowy keys.  I only caught a glimpse of it, but I think her mouth was moving.  She was silently singing along to the song.  Call it wishful thinking, but she seemed happy.

I walked up to the door and placed my hand on it.  It was then that the piano just stopped abruptly.  It just cut, like someone paused a recording.  When I entered the bar I found nothing.  There was no piano.  There was no music.  Nothing.

I brushed some of the dust off the pictures hanging on the wall, and sure enough, there was a piano in some of them.  At times, there was a young woman with bright red hair sitting at it.  She looked the same size and shape of the shadow, but I couldn’t tell for sure.  She had lovely eyes.  An older woman stood behind her in one of the pictures, smiling.  She looked to be the girl’s mother, or at least a relative of some sort.

The piano was one of those really old, classy grand pianos.  My guess is that one of the looters took it, although I can’t imagine why.  Seems like a lot of work and effort for a freaking piano.  Who knows, maybe they were a budding musician and just didn’t have the money to buy one.

The pictures are eerie.  They’re like snapshots in time, echoes of the past.  The people in  them are smiling and happy, blissfully unaware that anything bad will happen to them.  As I ran my eyes across them I couldn’t help but ask where?  Where did these people go?  How did they just disappear with no trace?

I have a theory.  If Whitcomb really did murder these people, he probably tossed the bodies over the cliff.  The rocks at the bottom surely tore the bodies apart, and the ocean current carried what was left out to sea.  But I have my doubts about the Whitcomb murder theory.  I see a man in these pictures that looks like he could be Whitcomb.  He has bright blue eyes and slick brown hair.  He’s wearing an old fashioned tweed suit and smiling, standing next to the piano as the young redheaded lady.  He seems happy.  Call it a gut feeling, but I don’t fully believe that he just up and killed everyone.  But who knows, maybe I’m wrong.

In any case, I’m sitting on one of the bar stools right now, wondering what to do next.  I admit, the experience rattled me.  But secretly, I’m all pumped up inside.

Finally, some excitement!

 

Day 3

I found a safe!  But I don’t know how to open it yet.

It was behind a painting in one of the old rooms.  From what I could tell, this was Whitcomb’s room at some point.  I found some books on the desk that talked about the occult, so that’s the assumption I’m making.  It’s odd, certain parts of this hotel are incredibly well-preserved.

Anyway, the safe has a strange mechanism.  It has a little ball that you move along a track.  It can go up, down, left and right, and I’m guessing that when you move it in a certain pattern, it’ll unlock the safe.  The track looks a lot like a cross, which would seem to imply some religious symbolism to the safe.  I have a hint on how to solve it.  When I opened one of the occult books on the desk, a slip of paper fell out.

It read “if I ever forget the combination to the safe, I can remember one word: Trinity.  – J.W.”

I thought about what it could mean for several minutes, but decided to return to it later.

I passed by that door again in the reception area, the one that I assume leads into the cellar.  I don’t know why it bothers me so.  It just looks like an ordinary door but something deep inside tells me that it’s not at all what it seems.  I feel almost nauseous whenever I see it.

So I’m sitting at the bar again (hit me barkeep), looking at all the old pictures.  It seems that at some point this place was always lively and fun.  They may be grainy old photos, but they’re still in color.  Everyone seems to be having a good time.  I wonder if they were having a good time on that summer night all those years ago.  I wonder if they even saw it coming.

 

Night 3

So first it was the ghostly piano, now the ghostly foghorn.  As I went upstairs to write this entry, an ear-splitting horn sounded from far off.  When I looked out of the window, I saw the lighthouse’s beam swinging through the night.  The glaring beam blinded me as it swung past.

Here’s the thing.  That lighthouse hasn’t been operational since around the 1960s, and I’m pretty sure no one has been in the thing for some years.  I remember hearing that there were plans to turn the lighthouses around here into historical landmarks and museums, but it never happened.

Wait.  Now I’m hearing knocking.  It’s really far off, but I can definitely tell it’s knocking.  Is someone else here?  I have to go check this out.

 

Well that was a bust.  I followed the sound as best as I could, but it kept changing locations.  At first it sounded like it was just down the hall, but when I thought I got close to where it was coming from, it changed.  It was now below me, so I went downstairs.  But it went further below me again.  So I made my way to the reception lobby.  And again, it was below me.

It was coming from whatever lies below the hotel.  I swept my flashlight over in that corner, and there it was, that damn door.  It seemed to sneer at me, tempting me to open it.  I almost walked toward it, but I fought the urge.  I walked slowly back upstairs like a total badass.  I didn’t care.  I wasn’t scared at all.

Okay, I lightly jogged up the stairs.

Fine, I ran up the stairs like a little girl.  What do you want from me?

Things are starting to get really weird around here.  Well I’m signing off for the night.  Hopefully tomorrow brings some clarity.

 

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive

The darkness is alive.

 

Day 4

Okay, what the hell is going on?  I woke up this morning to find my journal spread open on a nearby desk.  Below my journal entry from the night before, someone had scribbled “the darkness is alive” in some kind of scrawling handwriting with big letters.

The strange thing is that it isn’t my handwriting.  I can tell as much.  It has some similarities to mine, but there’s a distinctive curve to it, especially around the letter “i”.  So is someone else here, messing with me?  Or is it something else?  I have no idea.

In any case, I’m headed out this morning to check out that lighthouse.  The light and the foghorn last night have me all curious about it.

 

The damn thing is padlocked shut.  I’m standing on the cliff near the lighthouse right now writing this.  There’s no way I’m getting in there, and there’s nothing in there that would make me try.  Here’s the curious thing.  I knew the hotel was supposedly haunted, but I heard nothing about the lighthouse.  Could it be possible that they’re symptoms of the same phenomenon?  I’ve never heard of such a thing, but then again, I’ve never actually SEEN a real haunting.  This place, this entire area is getting under my skin.  I’m gonna start heading back to the hotel.  It took me about an hour’s walk or so to get here, so it’ll be a fair trek back.

 

Eureka!  I did it!  I opened the safe!

On my walk back, I had a moment of inspiration.  The word “trinity” could be referring to the holy trinity.  You know, father, son, holy ghost and all that.  And when do religious people usually invoke the holy trinity?  When they cross themselves right?  So I replicated the motion (up  to down, and then left to right in one smooth motion), and POP went the safe.  Let’s check out what’s inside.

This is weird.  The only thing that’s in here is an old diary.  It looks like it belonged to Whitcomb.

Weirder still, most of the pages seem to be blank.  All except one.

I’m feeling some serious chills right now.  It’s the entry from the night everyone disappeared.  I’ll transcribe it in my journal.

 

June 18th, 1938

It’s all set.  I’m going to try to open that door tonight, the door that shouldn’t be there.  It’s been an oddity since it first appeared some months back.  I know we’ve never built a cellar, nor do the plans for the building ever reference such an addition.  I talked to Betty about it, and she’s never seen it before either.  We’ve lied to our guests about it, telling them that we made the addition during the winter when we closed for renovations.  Thank god for that.

The door is a strange thing, immaculate and shiny.  No matter how much time passes, it never loses its luster.  The brass handle shines just as spectacularly as it did when I first noticed the door.  I put my ears up to it some time back.  I could hear and feel something coming up from below, some kind of thumping.  Like a heartbeat.  I could feel something else in it, something evil.

I plan on getting to the bottom of this tonight.  I procured a crowbar, and hopefully while everyone is still partying in the bar I’ll be able to pry open the door without interruption.  If someone asks, I’ll just say I lost the keys.

Eight o’clock tonight.  That’s when I will attempt to open it.

 

Oh god help me…what have I done.  What did I unleash?  When I emerged from that endless dark abyss, I found no one in the bar.  It was all so deathly quiet.  I ran through the hotel screaming for anyone.  But no one else was here.  Except…that thing.  I can still feel it now, leering at me from the darkness.  I don’t know what it is.  But it wants to claim me, just like I assume it did everyone else.

The front door is gone.  It disappeared.  I’m trapped here now.

I made my way back to my room.  I’m sitting here now trying to figure out what to do.  The bottom floor is totally encased in darkness now, darkness so thick I can’t even see the bottom steps.  I know that if I go down there I’m gone, sent wherever it sent all the others.  What do I do?  I can’t escape.  Everything outside the windows is black.  There are no stars, no light, nothing.  There’s only one thing I can try.  I’m going to see if I can find another way back into that door.  Maybe I can seal it from the other side, and end this.  I wish I could see my wife and child one last time.  By the time they return, I’ll be long gone.

 

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry I’m so sorry

 

This journal, no one fakes something like this.  Those last few lines, they were written by a man in the throes of true terror.  Either what he said actually happened, or he went crazy enough to believe it.  Either way, I’m done with this.  I’m not spending another damn night here.  The sun is setting, but I’m gone.  I’m packing my stuff and getting out.  I’ll be damned if I’m gonna die here.

 

Night 4

Well I’m damned.  The front door is gone.

I packed up my supplies and headed toward the front door, only to find that the front door didn’t exist anymore.  I ran around the entire hotel, looking for another exit, but there is none.  I tried the windows, but all is blackness outside.  Oh god why didn’t I leave earlier?  Why didn’t I leave after the second night with that damn piano?  I’m such an idiot.

I’m sitting in the reception area right now, trying to figure out what to do.  In a last ditch effort I brought Whitcomb’s occult books down with me, trying to find something, anything to help me out here.  But it’s all useless.  There’s nothing in here that’s remotely similar to what I’m experiencing.  I’m trapped here, just like they were.  Am I going to be consumed next?

Wait a second…this book is signed to Joshua Edmond Whitcomb.  Edmond?  Could it be?

Was Joshua Whitcomb my grandfather?

My parents never really spoke about my grandfather, and I never met him as a child.  I didn’t even really know anything about him, and whenever I asked, they dodged the question.  Was this why?  Because they believed the stories about him?  That he murdered all those people and then just vanished?

The only thing my mother ever said about him was that “hopefully he’s dead now.”

Was this fate?  Was I meant to come here?  I mean, what are the odds that I would show up at this place, looking for a thrill, and find traces of my long lost grandfather?

Oh no, The door is open.  I heard a creak just a second ago, and when I looked up, the damn door was OPEN.  I can hear something coming from below, a pulse, a thumping.  Is that…a heartbeat?  Is this what Whitcomb described when he put his ears to the door all those years ago?

It beckons.  It calls.  It wants me to go down there.  I don’t think I can resist.

I’m going.  I don’t care what happens to me.  I have to know.  If I’m going to die here, I might as well know why.

 

The cellar, the cellar is NOT a cellar.  I don’t know what it is.  Something far more ancient.  The darkness down there is impenetrable.  The light from the stairwell won’t reach beyond the stairs.  It just stops, like there’s a barrier there.  I reached out, and I could feel cold stone walls.  I heard a distant wailing noise, the shrieks of the suffering.  The heartbeat, or whatever it is, was much stronger down there.  It thumped in my ears, causing my head to pound.  It felt like my head kept pulsing, getting bigger and smaller with each passing thump.  I felt dizzy, like I was going to faint.  I still couldn’t see anything.

I kept hearing different voices, crying out for release.  They weren’t aware of me I think.  They just kept crying and crying and crying.  It was about to drive me insane.

And then, I heard it.  A deep, gravely voice from right next to me.

It said my name.  IT KNEW MY NAME.

And the laughter, oh god the laughter.

I ran.  I ran as fast as I could to escape.  I bounded up the stairs and slammed the door shut behind me.  It won’t help.  I know it won’t help.

“The devil sleeps in the rocks”.  My grandfather was right.  Something is down there, something evil.  And it wants me.

 

I can see it now, the darkness, it spreads out from behind the door.  The door itself is gone, swallowed by the blackness.  The heartbeat is getting louder now.  I can feel it looking at me, grinning wide, ready to devour my soul.  I’m heading for the attic, maybe I can hold out there until this passes.  It’s my only chance.

 

I’ve been in the attic for about half an hour now, and there’s no sign of the thing.  But I can’t be sure that it’s gone.  I’ll stay here for a while longer before I venture out.

 

It’s getting darker now, so dark.  I can barely see the far wall anymore.

 

I HEAR IT.  It’s right below me now, the pounding heartbeat.  The pulse of pure evil.

 

It’s coming up through the trapdoor.

 

It’s saying my name.  It knows me.  It wants me.

If anyone is reading this, RUN.  Just get out of here before it knows you’re here.  Run as fast as you can, and don’t look back.

 

It’s here, IT’S HERE.  I can see it seeping through the trapdoor.

 

There’s something there, in the darkness.  I can almost see it…

 

Oh god they’re faces.  I see FACES.  They’re begging me, pleading with me.  They want help.  But there’s nothing I can do.

 

Someone is screaming at me from the darkness.  Someone strangely familiar.

 

…Dad?

 

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

The devil sleeps in the rocks

 

The devil sleeps…no more…

 

*   *   *

I hope you enjoyed the story.  I know I enjoyed writing it.  Being a long time horror fan, I found it odd that I hadn’t ever really written anything like this before.  The stuff I tend to write is mainly science fiction with maybe a little tinge of horror in it.

Well let me know what you think about it in the comments below.  Let me know if you want to see more.  I have some ideas on how to expand of the tale of The Cliffside Inn, or I could do something else altogether.  Share your thoughts in the comments.

In any case, that’s all I have for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post.  Until then, have a great week everyone!