Feature: Your Introduction To Creepypasta
Hello, internet. It’s Halloween. Doubtless you’re all looking forward to getting five years frightened off your lifespan tonight, possibly by watching some classic horror movies (may we unconventionally recommend Threads?), or getting creative with pumpkins. We appreciate your nod towards the traditional, but we’d also like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a net-specific phenomenon you really should be gorging on. It’s called Creepypasta, and it’s the shadow on the folklore of the Information Age.
Creepypasta are, in a nutshell, scary urban legends that thrive and propagate on the manic sharing trends that define the exchange of information on the internet. The term comes from ‘copypasta’, the process of copy-pasting text. In the past, ghost stories or urban legends were part of oral tradition, or passed on through literature or film. Now, scary tales can grow legs quicker than that thing that lives under your bed; a dragged mouse and a right click is all it takes to share, bolster and validate tales from the darkside.
Creepypasta aren’t just stories told through prose, either; they can come in the form of images or short films, they can be innocuous things twisted by technology into ghastly shapes, they can have whole virtual landscapes drawn around them to make them seem even more real. They’re composed by people who just want to tell scary stories for the absolute fuck of it. They are wonderful, horrible, exciting and warped. Occasionally, by virtue of their open source nature, they’re childish, stupid and unintentionally hilarious. Either or, it’s Halloween, and if you’re not already addicted to the folklore of bits, bytes and bandwidth, it’s about time you climbed aboard.
Creepy Flash Fiction
The kind of Creepypasta most likely to cross over from urban legend, these are the punchiest stories one can fit into a couple of paragraphs, snapshots of madness that by virtue of their brevity make them most likely to frighten you into a state in which you could crack walnuts between your arsecheeks. These types of pasta are the most familiar. Sometimes they function as cautionary tales designed to scare you straight, like your typical urban legend with a side order of psychosis. But most often they are designed just to petrify, to make the reader doubt the shadows lurking in his peripheral vision, to inspire pre-bed rituals of checking behind curtains and turning mirrors to face the wall.
Oh, you didn’t think we were going to let this go without giving you some examples, did you?
In Berlin, after World War II, money was short, supplies were tight, and it seemed like everyone was hungry. At that time, people were telling the tale of a young woman who saw a blind man picking his way through a crowd. The two started to talk. The man asked her for a favour: could she deliver a letter to the address on the envelope? Well, it was on her way home, so she agreed.
She started out to deliver the message, but when she turned around to see if there was anything else the blind man needed she spotted him hurrying through the crowd without his smoked glasses or white cane. She was, naturally, suspicious, so she went to the police.
When the police paid a visit to the address on the envelope, they made a gruesome discovery, three butchers had been harvesting human flesh and selling it to the starving people.
And what was in the envelope the man gave to the woman? A note, saying simply ‘This is the last one I am sending you today’.
It has been reported that some victims of torture, during the act, would retreat into a fantasy world from which they could not WAKE UP. In this catatonic state, the victim lived in a world just like their normal one, except they weren’t being tortured. The only way that they realized they needed to WAKE UP was a note they found in their fantasy world. It would tell them about their condition, and tell them to WAKE UP. Even then, it would often take months until they were ready to discard their fantasy world and PLEASE WAKE UP.
The Other Watcher
A man went to a hotel and walked up to the front desk to check in. The woman at the desk gave him his key and told him that on the way to his room, there would be a locked door with no number and that no one was allowed in there. She explained that it was a storeroom, and that it was out of bounds. She reminded him of this several times before allowing him upstairs. So he followed the instructions of the woman at the front desk, going straight to his room, and going to bed. However the insistence of the woman had piqued his curiosity, so the next night he walked down the hall to the door and tried the handle. Sure enough it was locked. He bent down and looked through the wide keyhole. Cold air passed through it, chilling his eye.
What he saw was a hotel bedroom, like his, and in the corner was a woman whose skin was incredibly pale. She was leaning her head against the wall, facing away from the door. He stared in confusion for a while, was this a celebrity? The owner’s daughter? He almost knocked on the door, out of curiosity, but decided not to. As he was still looking, the woman turned sharply and he jumped back from the door, hoping she would not suspect he had been spying on her. He crept away from the door and walked back to his room. The next day, he returned to the door and looked through the wide keyhole. This time, all he saw was redness. He couldn’t make anything out besides a distinct red color, unmoving. Perhaps the inhabitants of the room knew he was spying the night before, and had blocked the keyhole with something red. He felt embarrassed that he had made the woman so uncomfortable, and hoped she had not made a complaint with the woman on the front desk.
At this point he decided to consult her for more information. After some gentle quizzing and the promise that the explanation would go no further than him she finally said ‘Well, I might as well tell you the story of what happened in that room. A long time ago, a man murdered his wife in there, we find that even now, people get uncomfortable staying there. But these people were not ordinary. They were white all over, except for their eyes, which were red’.
There was a hunter in the woods, who, after a long day hunting, found himself in the middle of an immense forest. It was getting dark, and having lost his bearings, he decided to head in one direction until he was clear of the increasingly oppressive foliage. After what seemed like hours, he came across a cabin in a small clearing. Realising how dark it had grown, he decided to see if he could stay there for the night. He approached, and found the door ajar. Nobody was inside. The hunter flopped down on the single bed, deciding to explain himself to the owner in the morning.
As he looked around the inside of the cabin, he was surprised to see the walls adorned by several portraits, all painted in incredible detail. Without exception, they appeared to be staring down at him, their features twisted into looks of hatred and malice. Staring back, he grew increasingly uncomfortable. Making a concerted effort to ignore the many hateful faces, he turned to face the wall, and exhausted, he fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning, the hunter awoke – he turned, blinking in unexpected sunlight. Looking up, he discovered that the cabin had no portraits, only windows.
We promise we’re not going to tell you any more of those.
Those that profess to give a glimpse into other dimensions, rather than to tell a story. There are countless examples of Pasta that act as How-Tos towards an end not even the morbidly curious could possibly want. The most common example from urban legends is probably the old Bloody Mary routine, which dares thrillseekers to look into a mirror in a dark room and chant out the name of a deadly apparition. Old as balls, but still fecund enough to give rise to this pants-shitting sub-genre which tells candidates various ways to find their own personal hell.
We lied about not telling you more. Here’s a couple of short ones.
There is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea that does not appear on any map. It cannot be seen from any other island, nor can any other land be seen from it. On this island is a lighthouse, rotting from age and sea water, which is never lit. There is nothing inside it, save for a spiraling staircase that leads to the top, and an ancient, dusty bookcase.
The case is filled with unmarked books; bound in ancient leather, save for a single space. If you remove a book from the shelf, it will fling itself open in your hands, and the words inscribed in it shall start screaming to the air. You must wrestle the book closed and shove it back onto the shelf, or the immortal evil contained within its pages shall break free, and you will be forced to take its place, with pages, ink and binding crafted from your own flesh and blood.
However, if you bring the correct book to the island, and place it in the empty space, the lighthouse will light. As long as it is lit, the world shall enjoy an unending paradise, for all the evil in the world will be contained in the lighthouse. And while it is lit, nothing can go in or out.
The only problem; you will be trapped for eternity with all the evil ever known or conceived, by man or God. And the only way to escape is to douse the light.
The Other Earth
Should you ever despair of life so much that you want to die, you have the means at hand and yearn to end your life, you have written a suicide note to those you will leave behind and you are prepared to die… at that moment, stop.
Get a pair of scissors. Cut away at the note until you end up with a piece of paper in the shape of a key. Go to a door, any one will do. Push the paper key forward and turn your hand as if unlocking an imaginary lock.
The lock is real. Open the door. There you will find it. The other Earth. The one that awaits to replace this one when it dies. That death is inevitable, but in the meantime the other Earth will belong to you.
Be warned: the other Earth is very different from this one.
One of the best, in terms of its being a little more creative and traditionally structured than the norm, is ‘The Gallery of Henri Beauchamp’, which you can find here. If you try it, let us know how you get on. That is, if you’re still here to tell the tale…
Even in an age of unprecedented skepticism, we believe in monsters. In the Information Age, they tend to be inside our heads. There are more than enough Creepypasta stories out there to prove true anyone’s hypothesis that modern man fears madness above all things. The notion that you could be suffering torturous apparitions in a hellish bubble reserved just for you is, let’s face it, pretty fucking disturbing, and some of the most affecting Creepypasta build on the foundation that the worst horror comes from within, and that we’re all susceptible.
This has also given birth to some of the most atrociously bad Creepypasta, because there are far more wannabe horror writers who don’t understand madness than those that do. So for every chiller like The Russian Sleep Experiment, 12 Minutes or even Polybius (which is so ubiquitous it was even referenced in The Simpsons, as you’ll see below), there’s a laughable tale of murder by multiple personality disorder.
Outside of disastrous attempts at exposing the human psyche for the frayed mess it is, the fear of madness gives rise to its own sub-genres, so you should probably know how to avoid tearing your own brain out.
Ermahgerd cersd perchures! There are certain images out there that the human eye is not supposed to see, lest they serve as a gateway to the fragile consciousness that holds us together… and rip us apart. One might think such images would be of crime scenes; you know, something actually real and genuinely distressing, something detectives routinely require counselling for. BUT NO! These are apparently innocuous images that are quietly saturated in the dark stuff. According to this shape of Pasta, one who stares long enough at the offending icon will suffer hallucinations, nightmares, or intense suicidal thoughts. It’s like looking directly at an eclipse, except an eclipse you can find on Google Image Search. As Pasta goes, this one is totally lame… unless it’s late at night.
Examples include The Scariest Picture On The Internet, Jeff The Killer (seen making friends above), and Smile.jpg, which works better than most because its accompanying legend often says that even this isn’t the proper picture BECAUSE THE REAL PICTURE IS JUST TOO INTENSE.
Which leads us to
It’s a lot harder to make a convincing fake Ring tape than it is to Photoshop an inoffensive image into something freaky, because we’re all internet detectives now and we’re not happy unless we’re wreckin’ someone’s adrenaline buzz. But basically, the premise is the same. You watch a video, you become plagued by various internal horrors, and you end up jumping in front of a bus. Prime examples of haunted film Pasta include The Grifter, Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv, and Obey The Walrus. They’ve all been successfully debunked, especially the hitherto terrifying Mereana Mordegard Glesgorv, which turned out to be a test video of a lovely chap from the Virgin Islands called Byron Cortez.
Much more successful as a chiller is the Lost Episode trope. Which we’ve categorised as:
Creepy Schedule Gaps
Nearly always centring on favourite childhood series, this kind of Pasta features a tale of a lost or buried episode that’s either so disturbing it drives the viewer insane, or a harbinger of something rotten in your favourite TV station. The most famous of the lot is Suicide Mouse, an old black and white Disney cartoon which features Mickey Mouse walking along in a loop while eerie piano music plays. The screen fades to black, then starts up again with a soundtrack of bloodcurdling screams and more and more distorted visuals. The final frame, reportedly a piece of Russian text that roughly translates as ‘the sights of hell bring its viewers back in’ has only been seen by one Disney employee, who promptly shot himself.
Naturally, because this is the internet and modern day horror fans don’t know when to let it go, the entire thing has been lovingly recreated and can be found on YouTube.
Other notable examples include the horrific story of Squidward’s Suicide, a Spongebob Squarepants oddity that appeared out of nowhere to seriously disturb the entire production team, and Dead Bart, a lost Simpsons episode devised solely by a Matt Groening who may or may not have been experiencing apocalyptic prophesies. Again, clips from both can be found online, because technology is a privilege that allows us all to fuck with one another’s heads all the time.
But the open source nature of internet storytelling doesn’t have to expand into video treatment and professional editing techniques. We have net-specific horror stories that require nothing more than a cursory nod towards HTML to be effective.
Not actual creepy websites, mind; there are plenty of them out there, and most of them unintentionally. This kind of Pasta is formatted and executed in a way that’s specific to the new information landscape of the web, and two of our very favourite examples of Pasta horror apply. The first is the truly frightening tale of Candle Cove, which is part Creepy Flash Fiction and part Creepy Schedule Gap. It takes the format of a discussion board conversation about a local kids show from the ‘70s, which participants slowly remember was a lot more fucked up than it should have been. The twist at the end is more chilling than a blast freezer.
The second primo example-o is the bordering-on-TL;DR story of Ted The Caver, who started an Angelfire blog back in 2001 to record his run-ins with an unknown entity in an unexplored cave system. Think The Descent crossed with The Blair Witch Project crossed with our totally understandable fear of dead websites.
In a most unwelcome twist, ‘Ted’ had to come out to acknowledge and defend his work of fiction when a slightly more literary writer took his story, changed the title to The Fear Of Darkness, and managed to convince a host of spelunkers (you can never say the term ‘a host of spelunkers’ enough) that his adaptation was the original. Despite this artistically necessarily concession to Real Life, Ted The Caver remains pretty bloody scary. There’s even been a movie adaptation called The Living Dark, but you’re better off reading the original.
Being denizens of the Age of Information, we’re always ready to be scared shitless by haunted video games. Yeah, you read that right. Interactive storytelling coupled with a shady community of hackers and modders gives space to Pasta to grow legs. With bloody bells on.
Creepy Video Games
First off, this kind of Pasta is most likely to infect Pokemon games. We don’t know why. Possibly because Pokemon has such a massive cast, so there are bound to be a couple of them fucking with the dark arts. Every last Pokemon game has a haunting somewhere – whether it’s nasty coders who inspired underage players to commit suicide, distorted musical themes, or unusual mods that killed off every Pokemon and trainer in the game. In short, playing Pokemon Anything is significantly more dangerous to your health than cultivating a meth habit.
But any game that can be modded will have pockets full of Pasta. Morrowind has a pretty chilling one which kills off all of the NPCs, and then the player. However, none of these can compare to Minecraft, a game which deals with Pasta pretty much by stuffing itself with it. Most famous of all of the Minecraft Pasta was one which pointed to the existence of another character in the single-player game, a shady so-and-so who was christened Herobrine and was supposedly creator Notch’s dead brother. Notch tried reassuring fans that he didn’t have a brother, much less one that hung around in a video game, but Herobrine proved far too popular to stick a lid on, and now you can mod him in or play as him – basically removing any supernatural threat through the maxim that familiarity breeds utter boredom.
The most enduring haunted video game Creepypasta has moved out of the genre and become a legend in and of itself. It’s called Ben Drowned, and it’s one of the few Pasta bastions (Pastions?) that have escaped into wider pop culture. It’s one of the…
Otherwise known as Haunted Majora’s Mask, this started (un)life as a Pasta about a haunted Zelda game, laid out in a way that incorporated YouTube videos, coded updates and screenshots. Telling the story of 4chan user Judasable’s run in with a malevolent spirit of a drowned boy called Ben, it swiftly expanded into an ARG (alternate reality game) encompassing websites for horrible cults and vague warnings about the end of the world. In short, it was such a popular story that its writer went a little bit mad with power. Because it started on 4chan, of course, there were some actual casualties, in that believers were trolled in real life by messers pretending to be cultists. Oh, you pranksters. It was good while it lasted.
In general, when a Pasta outgrows its creepy sub-genre, it becomes far too mainstream to remain scary. There are two huge exceptions to this. Prepare thyself.
The Pasta of The Slender Man, a suited, faceless, towering entity which hangs around playgrounds to make off with your kiddies, has become so successful that he now appears in music videos, video games, and movies by directors who swear blind they’ve never heard of him. Created by Something Awful user Victor Surge as his entry into a contest for doctored photographs, Slender Man, or Slendy to his… erm, fans, has really grown legs. And tentacles. And various other horrific appendages. Now a popular character in other people’s Pasta, he tends to stalk his prey to the point of madness, making him a particularly passive aggressive asshole. What makes him a true icon of the internet is timing. While his most frightening properties are of a primal sort – inhumanly tall, kills kids, can’t be reasoned with – he’s lucked out in that he missed the era of legends spread only by hushed teenagers over campfires. As he’s relatively easy to include into existing photographs, he’s immediately twice as terrifying as anything you heard as a nipper, and so even though we know he’s a creation of some dude called Victor, it’s far too easy to wonder if he’s pretty much always been there.
SCP stands for ‘Secure. Contain. Protect.’ The SCP Foundation is an entire family of the best and most terrifying Pastas one could ever read, written by talented horror fiends who know exactly where your buttons are and can’t remember your safety word. The SCP series takes the form of reports and documents about coded scientific anomalies who have to be contained for the good of Existence As We Know It. Apparently starting on the paranormal board of 4chan with information about subject SCP-173, the movement now has its own home online, and accepts submissions from any horror writer who thinks they have the blood-rare chops to meet the standard. And that standard is high, but not nearly as high as the adrenaline buzz you’ll get from reading some of the entries all alone in the dark.
Like many great Pastas, SCPs are often augmented with audio logs and images. And far beyond even the scariest Pastas, this shit is not for the faint hearted.
Notable SCPs include the aforementioned SCP-173, which is basically a Doctor Who Weeping Angel crossed with John Wayne Gacy, SCP-682, which is an indestructible reptile thing that hates every living creature, and SCP-231, which is… just fucking horrible.
The text on the home page of the SCP Foundation says this:
The SCP Foundation
Classified Material Beyond This Point
Unauthorized access will be monitored, located and dealt with
This is your sole warning
You might want to pay attention to that before you dive in.
Right, we ended on a high there. If you do find yourself embroiled in this shit and unable to sleep, here’s some… slightly less petrifying Pasta to bring you back down again. If that fails, you might want to read Encyclopedia Dramatica’s Soviet Russia Pasta. And if that fails, you could do worse than to check out their incredibly helpful Creepypasta Survival Guide.
Somewhere in West Philadelphia , you will find an old basketball court with a single ball lying in the middle. Pick it up and start shooting hoops. After a while, a small group of hooligans will approach you and challenge you to a fight, which you must accept.
After the fight, you must go home and relay the events to your mother. She will then inform you that you have an aunt and uncle living in one of the districts of Los Angeles, and out of fear, she will send you to live there for an indefinite period of time.
With your bags packed, go to the street corner, and whistle for a cab. The cab that will pull up will bear the word FRESH on the license plate, and upon closer inspection, novelty fuzzy dice will hang in the mirror. Although you will suddenly realize that cabs like these are extremely hard to find, do not bear any thought to it. At this point you MUST point out in front of the car and say ‘Yo homes to Bel Air’. You will stop in front of a mansion, and it will be sometime between 7 and 8 o’clock, even though it will feel like you’ve been travelling mere seconds. Get your luggage out and say ‘Yo homes, smell ya later!’, but do NOT turn back to face the cabby. Walk up to the door, look over your shoulder once, and then knock on the door three times.
If you follow these instructions, your life will get flip-turned upside-down.
The First Page
Once, there was a boy who loved to read. He read everything he could get his hands on, and loved going to his favorite book store. One day, the boy realized he had read everything the store had to offer. He confronted the owner, and asked him if he had anything the boy had never checked out. The owner said why, yes, I do, and pulled out a book called “Death”. He gladly sold it to the boy at a discounted price of $50. However, he warned the boy never to read the front page.
Well, the boy returned to his house and read the book, and he was content. However, he always wondered, what could be on that front page, it was always in the back of his mind. One day, the temptation was too much for the boy, and he flipped to the very front of the book, and dropped the book in HORROR. There, in bold print, was MSRP $6.99.
The Scariest Video Game Ever
I just got done playing one of the SCARIEST video games ever. Now, hear me out before saying, “Oh, he’s probably just a fag that gets scared of everything.” I don’t get scared of video games or movies. I’ve played many survival horror games and have seen many horror movies in my day. The only thing that made me just a tiny bit scared were some parts of Penumbra and Condemned. Amnesia was pretty good. Everything else was just boring. This game was different. VERY different.
You aren’t given any sort of backstory to the game at all. As soon as you press play, it throws you right into the game. However, I was able to piece together what the story basically is through finally beating this little brick shitter. Apparently, you’re a madman. We’re never given the name, but you can guess what it is if you pay attention to the title screen. For some reason, you escaped from whatever mental hospital room you were hiding in. Now, the very horrid state of your mind has transformed the halls of the hospital into nothing but a pitch black maze with the only light being the walls, which glow a deathly blue.
Your character is apparently some type of mad cannibal that you can barely control. You can force him to turn corners in the creepy hallway, but not much else can be done. Your character seems to grab anything and try to eat it; whatever is in front of him is thrown into his mouth and he munches it down.
While playing the game, you’re being chased by four hideous and fucking scary ghost monsters. You cannot hurt them at all, and to come even close to one is instant death, in which the ghost latches onto you and rips you inside out, all while you hear the horrible noise of your body being torn.
You can, however, eat some odd objects hidden in the maze, after which your character goes into an even more unstable state. You can literally EAT the ghost monsters. Your character runs right up to them and devours them, only leaving their eyes.
There aren’t any words to describe how horrific and terrifying this game is, and I don’t want to spoil the surprises for you. Just go ahead and try it for yourself. Google the word Pac-Man and you’ll find it on the first search.