One of your favorite old fics has been taken down. You can find it on Wayback Machine, but it’s only the original Geocities site. The font is Comic Sans and there’s a tiled repeating background of stars obscuring the cyan text.
You read a fic at some point in a fandom you no longer participate in. You want to re-read the fic, but the title and pen name of the author keep escaping you. You don’t even know where it was posted. You can find dozens of other fics with a similar concept but not that one.
An author you used to follow moved their work from their personal website to their friends-locked blog. You sent them a request three months ago. It is still marked “pending.” You wonder if you will ever get to read their work again.
You get a follower out of nowhere. Their screen name is familiar. It’s the person you RPed explicit chat logs with when you were sixteen. You’ve changed screen names four times since then and don’t know how they found you.
You forgot the password to your old FanFiction.net account. There are terrible relics of your past as a writer archived there. They must be destroyed. You can’t recover the password because the email account no longer exists, and the site isn’t answering your emails.
You were in this fandom when it was small and just getting started. Now there’s a whole expanded universe of new material, and you just want to read fics in your original fandom. Only the new characters are popular.
Three fandoms later, you run into someone you had fandom drama with five years ago. You wonder if they ever forgave you for your part in what happened. You’re too shy to ask. Interactions are tense and you go your separate ways. You travel the same fandom circles for a while, but never speak.
You have WIPs on your hard drive from years and fandoms ago. You want to finish them, but the fandoms are no longer active. You wonder if anyone would read them if they were done. You sometimes open them
and wistfully read their partially-finished stories.
Okay but surrealism aside all of these Southern Gothic posts are literally how the South is and I’m cackling.
We’ve got creepy ass 24/7 diners that say open but you can’t find the staff for half an hour.
There’s a haunted house and a murder/ghost story in every town.
There’s always a fishing hole no one goes to because of a tragedy living in the waters.
The woods are dark and hunting season is the only time you enter them. So many ghost stories. Haunted everything.
The mountains are alive with the sound of screaming.
Devil’s tramping grounds, hollers, woods, stones, you name it, we got it.
The old people may be racist and bigoted, but they have skin-crawling tales of caution and they’re all true.
Everyone knows someone who’s drowned.
We’ve all got a weird cousin who left the family and never came back. No one knows the circumstances of their disappearance but they were always an “odd duck.”
Community is a foreign concept to many until autumn. People come in droves from the mountain valleys and hollers bearing crafts and baked goods for sale. Apple butter can be smelled from half a mile away and the sound of fiddles fill the air. You will not see these people again until next autumn.
There are cemeteries everywhere, but the ones unloved are left for a reason.
Do not step on the graves, but behind them. If you step on them, apologize to avoid haunting.
Someone has been leaving increasingly bizarre messages on your guestbook.
You get a favorite on one of your drawings featuring a character’s death. You go to thank them, but have second thoughts when you see their page consists only of a bloated gallery of faves that are all about that one character dying.
Just who else is a sock puppet of that BNF?
Your favorite fansite still hasn’t come back from hiatus. Rumors swirl on the forums of a different site that the webmistress died, the broken banner on her splash page her online epitaph.
You swear you’ve read this songfic set to My Immortal before, but it’s the most recent submission. You couldn’t have.
Your computer doesn’t support Japanese characters but that doesn’t stop you from trying to navigate your fandom’s doujin circles. You somehow stumble onto a page dedicated to lovingly-rendered anatomical dissections of every character.
Your favorite fanfiction is getting progressively weirder and more incoherent with every update. You hope the author is okay.
You get the feeling you shared this positive fanart of a female character with the wrong crowd.
There’s a new batch of icons posted on one of your LJ communities! None of them are loading. Everybody else is commenting on them; why are you the only one who can’t see them?
You make a new friend on a forum, and you exchange AIM handles. After a few days of chatting, she begins to tell you about her experiences in something called “the Astral Plane”.
Those dark songs that aren’t quite blues, aren’t quite gospel, aren’t quite folk, aren’t quite rock, aren’t quite a funeral dirge, they’re just something else
The ones that have a lived-in feel and a thudding rhythm like a funeral dirge
You know, the ones that are like
Someone’s drowning. There’s probably a river.
I and/or my significant other are criminals and outlaws who have done terrible things but we still deep down secretly believe in the Lord and know that one day we’ll pay the price for our sins (see also: The Devil)
Some say that his tears are adhesive, and that if he caught fire he’d burn for 1000 days. Some say that his ears aren’t exactly where you’d expect them to be, and that once, preposterously, he had an affair with John Prescott. We suddenly realise that we have no idea what the truth is. Who is the strange creature? What does he want from us? All we do know, is that he’s called The Stig.
It’s the year 2056. Bruce Forsyth is now 141 years old. He’s outlived his family, he’s outlived his old co-stars. He’s outlives everyone he knows. He’s outlived all of us. The apocalypse happened 10 years ago and Brucie is the only one left. He is the last man on Earth.
You’re in Tescos just before Election Day. You stop by the news and magazines section expecting to find some quality political analysis on the front page of your favourite paper, but all you find is rows and rows of the same image. Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich. At least that’s what the headline says he is doing. But you look closer. And that most certainly is not bacon.
You’re on the settee. You’re sort of half asleep-half scrolling Facebook for quality bants. ITV is on in the background but you haven’t been paying attention since Jezza Kyle went off. Something suddenly forces you to snap back to reality. In the corner of your eye you see an oversized white collar, thick rimmed black glasses… No, no, I thought it was over, please tell me he isn’t back, isn’t it over?? You turn to see the collar is now poking through the telly, and he’s there. Staring. There’s only one way to find out… FIGHT
LAD culture is taking over. Every word in the English Dictionary is quickly being replaced to include with word “bant” in it somewhere. All dinosaurs have been renamed Bantersauruses. At Christmas the only thing you can watch at the theatre is a Bantomime. Law dictates that the only things we can put in our gardens are blants, particularly of the
chrysbanthemum variety. We don’t even wear normal underwear anymore. We literally wear bants.
I wonder what ever happened to Dec, you wonder as you watch Ant presenting Britain’s Got Talent solo. You’re suddenly very aware that you haven’t seen him in a while, but Ant has never mentioned where his counterpart has gone. But wait. Ant looks different. The more you stare at his face the more obvious it becomes, but somehow only you can see it. Dec is trapped inside Ant’s massive forehead.
It’s been a long time since Freddos were 10p. A long time. And the price of them is no long a humorous topic used to express faux-indignation at the ever rising cost of living. They are a sad subject now, and it is deemed rude to even bring up the topic of Freddos in good company. Every time your gazes flickers to the £1 label beneath the untouched stack of Freddos at Morrisons, you die a little bit inside, a tear rolls down your cheek.
You are old. You take a walk in the park with your grandson Fritzchen, whom you constantly tell not to pick up stuff that has been lying on the ground. You slip on a banana peel. “Help me up”, you ask the boy. The wind rustles through dry leaves. Fritzchen’s eyes are cold. “I must not pick up stuff that has been lying on the ground”, he says. You are never getting up again.
You are in East Frisia. You cannot understand what people are saying. Come December, they leave their houses through the windows. They throw pepper on their TV screens. You do not ask why. The more you understand, the more you lose your sanity.
Everyone you meet exclaims “Shark!” Frightened, you ask them: “Where? Where?” You never get an answer. They roll their eyes and walk past you. There is a shark, and you don’t know where it is. It might be right behind you.
There is a rabbit at the bakery, every day. It has a strong lisp. It asks the baker if he has coffee, or carrots. He says no. The baker never has coffee or carrots. The rabbit returns, every day, every day…
You must choose. If you choose A, you are doomed. If you choose B, you must choose again. There is no escape.
Your mother. What about her? You do not know. Everyone else seems to know. There is something about your mother.
You’re drunk. You have been drinking all night. Goethe is still ahead of you. You see him in the distance, laughing at you, then turning and walking away. Desperate, you open another bottle of beer. It doesn’t matter. You will never be as drunk as Goethe.
There is a parrot. It hears everything you say. You do not know what it says to other people but things are never the same afterwards. You slip in the shower and break your neck. The parrot mocks you mercilessly. It is always the parrot.
-you decide to write a novel on forensic science. you don’t sleep or eat or drink for four weeks straight. halfway through the novel you realize you’ve only written about murder. and gore. you abandon the novel.
-you find a stock photo that you could definitely make a meme out of. you start to add comic sans and send it to your friend but then what if it’s not funny. you add more comic sans. so much comic sans. and tears. you delete the entire thing and decide to spend some time sobbing.
-you show your friend your half finished novel about forensic science. you secretly hope they love it. they look up from the book in horror. “appreciate me!” you scream, channeling your tertiary fe and bashing their head in. you have the next chapter of your book.
-you receive a brochure detailing your aptitude for careers after taking a survey. that one looks good. and that one. you would do very well in that one. you love that one, too. you could do all of them. you see the deadline for your choice and begin to panic. you rip the brochure up and throw it in the flames. then you decide to follow it in. you burn to death.
-you climb your way up from the underworld. you need to tell mom you’re FINE and PLEASE stop praying that you won’t be sent to hell because you were. but now you’re back because this time the free gift card website is legit. janice saw it work from the underworld.
-the gift card website is not legit. janice LIED. you bang on hell’s doors to get back down and give janice a piece of your extremely witty mind. but satan has locked you out. how dare he. “i am your advocate!” you yell. but then you realize you don’t have a voice. because you are dead.
a shifting in the treeline makes you think you are being followed. somewhere, someone dons their camouflage jacket.
you cut through the mountains to go home, but you never feel your car climb at all. it seems like a straight shot even as the air around you begins to thin.
when it rains, the air fills with the stench of raw meat, of fresh manure, of a can of dog food being popped open and held under a fan. the locals say you’ll get used to it.
some of the farms have no animals on them, no crops in sight, but rows and rows of storage units. you wonder what they could be storing so much of.
the side of the barn has been blown out from the inside, but by who– or what– you don’t know.
a lonely confederate flag hangs above a rickety porch door; around the corner, a handwritten sign preaches god’s hatred of man.
in the distance, further south, you hear the low groan of a house’s foundation slowly retreating into the swampy earth.
the train crawls slowly along the tracks, blaring its horn, and as you wait to cross you feel eyes watching you from the dark inside the open train cars.
downtown, bluegrass and appalachian folk songs blast from every shop, every car radio, every open mouth. the deafening cry is raised to the heavens and as time goes on, you can’t help but find yourself joining in.
at your rival school, everyone whispers jefferson’s name under their breath, silent as a prayer. they fervently believe he’ll return for them one day.
you’ve begun to be able to tell the difference between towns as you drive; or at least, that’s what you tell yourself.
you’ve never seen the peak of the mountain. always, clouds or mist get in your way. you think one day you’ll climb up there and discover it for yourself.
The lobsters scream when you put them in the pot. You tell yourself it’s just the steam escaping the shells. Their eyes are clear when you put them on the plates. You pretend not to see, and suck the meat out of their little crunchy legs.
There are tracks in the fresh snow across your lawn. Even though Uncle Robin taught you tracks before you could make tracks of your own, you don’t recognize these.
Everyone at the farmer’s market knows your name. You have never been to this farmer’s market. The potatoes have too many eyes, and they watch you walk by.
You never thought you’d hope it’s only a moose outside at night.
Giffords announces new flavors! Coffee Mint Moose Tracks (a new spin on your old favorite,) Heath Bar Beaver Den, Bloody Bear Tracks… it’s raspberry swirl, we promise.
People don’t go near the barn on the old Michaud place, even though it’s been abandoned for years. Something about it being condemned, and not by the government.
Something keeps bobbing up in the bay, bright red. It’s too big to be a buoy. No one’s claimed it.
The trees on Schoodic are shifting. We haven’t had a stiff breeze for days.
You can’t read the name of that new fishing boat. Everyone tells you something different when you ask.
The painted tracks to the UMaine stadium are red. Weird, they’ve been blue for decades. You haven’t heard anything about a hockey game tonight either.
I-95 just keeps going. And going. And going. It’s getting dark. What mile marker are we at again?
It hasn’t gone above zero in a month. The wind and snow get through the windows and under the door, even though you had the house winterproofed in the fall. You don’t remember what it’s like to be warm, even next to the wood stove. You don’t recall lighting it, now you think on it.
The blackflies are thick as fog. They are in your eyes, in your ears, your mouth, your nose. You feel faint from blood loss. They are under your clothes.
• there is a spider on your wall; you look closer, and it has a human face. it tells you it’s name is dave, and offers to pay rent. you kill it anyway. you have learned not to fall for their lies.
• whenever it storms, the power goes out. the phones go out. the water goes out. your mother goes out. she does not return. it is dark and someone else is in the room with you. they are breathing very loudly. you cannot see where they are.
• you try to catch a train. there is litter all over the train floor. trash on the seats. filth coats the walls. the walls are made of garbage. the train is a garbage heap, yet someone it still moves. none of the other passages seem to notice.
• in the summer, you hear bats outside. the bats hear you, too. you hide, as best you can, praying they do not find you.
• the prime minster is a lizard-thing wearing a human skin. it intends to kill us all. you know this. everyone knows this. you do not talk about it. you are not sure how you know it. you are terrified.
• “the weather is lovely, isn’t it,” everyone says, as bushfires burn outside. firefighters are appearing out of thin air to combat the blaze. there are thousands of them. they aren’t enough. “Lovely,” the people continue to say. “Lovely.”
• there are always tourists everywhere. none of them are from other countries, but they are not from this country, either. you never find out where they come from. you never find out where they go when they leave.
• old men sit on their verandas with sharpened sticks, muttering about the new zealanders, and war. you have never actually seen a new zealander. you aren’t sure if they are real.
• hundreds people in the streets are brawling. they appear to be on two clear teams. one team screams “AFL.” the other screams, “NRL.” they are killing each other. they say they will not stop until the supreme sport is determined once and for all.
• you go to the beach everyday. the beach goes to you. the beach says it loves you and only you. you know it is lying. it says that to everyone. you continue going everyday.
• winter is a myth. everyone knows this. the weatherman tries to convince the people otherwise. the weatherman is made fun of by a mildly humorous newspaper comic, and is never heard from again.
• the television is bad. it is awful. it is sickening. you watch it every night. you want to stop, but you can’t.
• “everything here is on the coast,” you tell a traveller from overseas. “there’s nothing inland. Nothing.” you hope it is enough to stop him from going inland. if it goes inland he will find It. no one can ever find It. if they do, everything will be over.