Previously: “A Few Suggestions.”
Confession: I know almost nothing about the origins of “The Art of Jacob Emory.” It’s credited to someone called “Peterdevine,” and the Creepypasta Wiki categorizes it as a “classic”… but beyond that, I couldn’t find a damn thing about where it came from. It’s not the most complicated of pastas; nor are its themes of hubris and Marlovian overreaching anything new. But a story doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective, and it doesn’t have to be groundbreaking to be worth your time. Sometimes, all you need is a good old fashioned yarn to spin while you huddle round the campfire.
Just don’t let Jacob draw you any pictures.
Ghost stories? Nah, we don’t have anything like that around here. We DO have the story of Jacob, but that’s about as close as you’ll get.
…You really want to know?… Well, I’m not supposed to tell you, but all right, just no interrupting. I don’t have the patience for it.
How to describe Jacob Emory… well, I guess you could say he was the kind of guy you could never take notice of. This isn’t to say he was a bad kid, in any sense- many people in this town thought he was the most reliable person for an odd job in the state- but he never really excelled in anything. He was the living proof behind the statement, “jack of all trades, ace of none.” Most of this was due to his own lack of will.
He dabbled in damn near everything this town could offer him, automobiles, radio operation, store management, what have you, but he never stuck with anything. His friends and workers went after him about it a number of times, but everybody got the same unsatisfying response: “It just wasn’t enough.” Needless to say, any friends he kept were either very patient or never spoke of the matter altogether.
It was probably inevitable, then, that Jacob would leave to go abroad. I don’t remember where he went, but I think Gertrude down the street knew before she passed on- you’ll have to scout someone else if you ever get curious. In any case, no one even tried to stop him. Everybody thought that a little travel would stamp the ambition out of him, or else feed it until it was no longer an issue. Hell, we even gave him a sending-off party, which I thought was pretty nice of everybody.
So anyway, he was gone for… six, seven years? Can’t remember. You’ll have to check with someone else about that, too. Anyways, he came back, eventually, and he had changed, obviously enough. He was amiable, energetic, all smiles all the time, and we all quickly learned why. He showed us a souvenir he’d brought back- a solid black stick, the length of a pencil but the texture of chalk. We all wondered why on earth such a simple thing would prompt such a spring in his step, until he gave his demonstration. He took a piece of paper, and with this stick- God, there’s got to be a better word for it- with this stick, he… he drew a crude circle.
It dropped, and rested on the border of the paper, like a stone. It didn’t leave the paper, but it acted out on it, sort of like an old movie projector on a screen.
Son, I know how crazy that sounds, and if you feel like playing skeptic, then you can leave an old man to his craziness, but I know what I saw, even if everyone’s been hushing it up, and that stone he drew dropped. Jake even passed around the paper, and as it was being passed, it rolled around as the paper got tilted. None of us had any words for it- Hell, what was there to say?- but he continued drawing demonstration after demonstration for us, stick figures in various pageants and plays doing everything from fighting each other to making perfect “human” pyramids, and we all thought it was incredible.
That was all the go-ahead he needed- he announced that he planned to put on shows to pay for rent and food, where he would draw anything the crowd members wanted. THAT we talked to some length about, and he eventually convinced us that it would be safe, his drawings ethical, the practice lucrative and unique, and the attention would not go anywhere outside of the town’s borders.
Poor Jacob. If I’d not been so swept up in the moment, I might’ve read the signs right then and there, and saved the sorry son of a bitch by snapping the terrible thing in half.