The Best Spooky Books To Read, October 2016 — And Why They’re Worth Your Time: Part 2, Serial Killers, Unreliable Narrators & More

books-2Previously: Spooky Books: Ghosts & Haunted Houses.

Time for the second installment of the Best Spooky Books To Read, October 2016 edition. Whereas last week we focused on ghost stories, this week, we’re broadening it out a little bit: Murders and Serial Killers, Unreliable Narrators, and Short Stories. As was the case with last week’s selections, the books found here aren’t necessarily “horror” in the classic sense of the word; they span many genres, often even defying genre entirely. But what they all have in common is that they’re “October books” for me — the kinds of books that are good no matter when you read them, but which always pack a particular punch at this time of year. (See the introduction to last week’s post for more about what I mean.)

Ready? Let’s go.

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The Best Spooky Books To Read, October 2016 — And Why They’re Worth Your Time: Part 1, Ghosts & Haunted Houses

booksThere’s a particular kind of spooky book I like to read when autumn rolls around. They’re not necessarily scary per se — but they all have the same sort of air about them: They’re the kinds of stories that beg to be told when the weather starts to get cooler and the nights grow longer and October is in the chair There’s an impulse to write horror fiction off as “just meant to scare you” and nothing more — but as I’ve mentioned before, good horror is about something much more than just what’s going on on the surface. It’s usually talking about something else — something we really should be talking about.

That’s what these books have. For me, at least.

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The Most Dangerous Games: A Small Radio

Previously: Channel Infinity.

Normally I wouldn’t post a second game quite so soon after posting the last one, but guess what? It’s October. And October means it’s Halloween season. And since it’s Halloween season, now seems like a good time to look at “A Small Radio.” I mentioned it briefly last year, but due to a lot of Big Life Changes, I wasn’t able to cover it in time for Halloween 2015. I put it on my to do list for the following year, though, and, well… here we are. 

Originally posted to the Creepypasta Wikia by user MacaroniArtZombeh in August of 2013, this game can only be played on a very particular day; trying to do it at any other time will result in a failed attempt. So I figured I’d put it on your radar now, at the beginning of the month, so you have plenty of time to get ready for the Oct. 30 start date. You don’t need much to get it started — just yourself, an outdoor location, and a cell phone. If all goes as planned, the rest of the supplies will be provided to you if and when you need it.

Then again, though, I’m not totally sure you’ll want to play it. Like several of the other games we’ve looked at here, this one is a recipe for luck… but luck never comes without a price.

As always…

…Well, you know how it goes.

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Creepypasta of the Week: “The Cardboard House”

cardboard house 2

Previously: “NES Godzilla Creepypasta.”

Rather a lot of creepypastas deal with the creepy child trope — it’s been a fixture of horror fiction for ages, perhaps most notably in the Henry James novella The Turn of the Screw  but I’m always surprised that there aren’t more that address a very particular childhood habit: Building stuff out of cardboard boxes. “The Cardboard House” is one such story, and while I’d kind of like to give it a good copy edit, it’s still quite effective all on its own. Kids build entire worlds out of discarded bits and bobs — things that most adults consider trash, but which can become anything in the right imagination. And it’s amazing.

But there’s also such a thing as the wrong imagination. Or maybe it’s still the right one; it just tapped into the wrong thing. Whatever the case, the bottom line is that when you make something out nothing, something… else happens, too. It opens a door of sorts. Sometimes that door is a literal one.

And what’s on the other side isn’t always benign.

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The Most Dangerous Games: Channel Infinity

Abandoned tellyPreviously: Tomino’s Hell.

I’m honestly not sure where Channel Infinity comes from; it was first posted to the Creepypasta Wikia on March 2, 2014 by user Jett Cyber, but beyond that, I haven’t been able to find any other information about it (other than those same rules copied and pasted over and over again — a creepypasta in the classic sense). I assume the Creepypasta Wikia entry indicates its first instance. Truth be told, it’s a little difficult to follow; for example, the original version notes that, instead of turning your back to the television at a specific point, you can also arrange some sort of setup involving two hand mirrors — but I wouldn’t recommend taking that route. The description of the setup is confusing enough that I couldn’t even figure out exactly how the mirrors are supposed to be positioned.

From a technical standpoint, I believe part of what’s happening during this ritual is a combination of Troxler’s fading and the Caputo Effect — the same trickeries of perception that cause us to see “monsters” like Bloody Mary in the mirror. There’s also something somewhat hypnotic about staring at a blank screen or at a screen full of static for an extended amount of time; the end result is, I believe, perhaps not as literal as the rules might suggest, but rather something more like what occurs during the Three Kings ritual.

Whether you believe Channel Infinity to be an actual television channel or something you visit in your mind, though…

…Play at your own risk.

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The Remains Of Jacob Wetterling, Missing Since 1989, Have Been Found, Drawing To A Sad Close A 27-Year-Old Mystery


Bittersweet news today: The remains of Jacob Wetterling,  a Minnesota boy who has been missing since 1989, have been identified, drawing an almost 27-year-old mystery to a close. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the remains were found on Sept. 1, 2016 on a farm in Paynesville, Minn., which is located about 30 miles away from Jacob’s hometown of St. Joseph; the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Saturday that according to dental records, the remains belong to Jacob. Further DNA testing will be carried out by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the coming weeks.

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