I moved into town a few weeks ago. I got a new place to live, a new dead-end job, and a new start. I’ll come right out and say it, I’ve been running away from a sordid past my entire life. Well, that’s not exactly true. To be more specific, I’ve been running away from myself. What do I mean by that you ask? Well, I often fall into situations where my true colors show. When that happens, I’m forced to move away and try to start anew.
Some things never change with me. I still like classical music, I still take long walks, and I still like reading creepy pasta. The last of the three has proved to be the catalyst of my current predicament. I’m not blaming the medium of horror stories themselves, I’m blaming my curious fascination with them. Many will agree it’s rare to find a person who openly admits a passion for the subject. So imagine my surprise when I came into contact with Harvey.
It was a typical night stocking shelves at a department store from 10 P.M. to 7 A.M. I’d grown accustomed to working night jobs like these. If you’re a loner like myself, you should know about the limited job prospects available to someone new in town, but I digress. Back to Harvey, lunchtime came at 2, and like usual, I waited out the hour at an empty table. Then I noticed a man who’d gotten done eating, he reached into his cooler and pulled out a stack of papers.
I glanced over at him a few times to observe him reading text that semi-transparently shown through the paper. Curiosity consumed me. I stood up and walked over to the vending machines as if to buy something. While I made the short journey, I got a better look at his reading material. The titles that appeared on the page were those of creepy pastas. Many of which I recognized.
After introducing myself and going through the typical motions of meeting a new person, I asked what he was reading. Of course I knew the answer already, but I figured it would be best to gain some trust from him. As mentioned before, it’s not often people openly talk about it. We spent the rest of the hour talking and laughing about the subject with a heavy rapport. Somewhere in that time frame, I mentioned how I’d been writing a few story ideas in a notebook. This caught his interest like honey catches flies. Before I knew it, I’d been invited to visit his home after work to discuss my ideas in greater detail.
So there I was sitting at his kitchen table, with only a pile of napkins separating us. I opened my notebook and began to tell him my first idea. “Alright here’s one. So a guy sees an employment ad in the paper looking for imaginative people. He gets the job and is told to imagine a double of himself. With time, the double begins to become more and more real, so much so, the protagonist can no longer control him.”
Harvey crossed his arms and shook his head, “It’s already been done.” Surprised, I asked, “Wait, what you mean it’s been done?”
“You ripped off Tulpa.”
“I’ve never heard of that one before.”
“Bullshit, that’s an all-time classic. There’s no way in hell you didn’t know about that one.”
“Seriously Harvey, I have no idea what you’re taking about.”
“Oh sure, that’s what they all say.”
“I’m not doing it on purpose man!”
“They say that too.”
I grumbled a little, “Okay, just a freak coincidence.” I tore the previous page out and crumpled it into a small ball. I glanced at the next page and smiled upon seeing it. This idea was one I knew in my heart to be a masterpiece. Unlike the others, it was a fully written story that took up half the notebook. “Alright, here’s one I’m really proud of.” I said, “So it centers on these political prisoners that volunteer to take part in an experiment where they are not allowed to sleep for a certain period of time.” Harvey burst into laughter, “Really? Again?”
“What do you mean ‘again’?”
“The Russian Sleep Experiment?”
“That one I actually know.”
“You don’t say? You could have fooled me!”
“What you think I stole that one too?”
I have to admit, it felt like there was an apple stuck in my throat when he said that. I spent weeks trying to absolutely perfect that story. Harvey gathered himself a bit and asked, “Tell me, why do you want to write creepy pasta?” I swallowed that painful lump in my throat and responded, “Because I think I can be a good writer.”
“You do know a good writer always comes up with fresh ideas, right?”
“That’s what I’m trying to do Harvey.”
“No, you’re trying to rehash old content.”
“I am not.”
He rolled his eyes at me and slouched in his chair. Meanwhile; I flipped to a random page in my notebook and rattled off another abstract, “There’s a man who’s an avid pet lover, but one day, he discovers he has a joy for doing them harm.” Across the table, Harvey interrupted me with disgust, “Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s one thing to piggy-back on the success of anonymous people, but Edgar Allen Poe? How dare you?”
“No way. Poe has never done a story like this.”
“Um, The Black Cat? Ring any bells?”
“No, I based this one off my childhood.”
“I would believe the claim that it’s based off characteristics of serial killers.”
“Why? What does that have to do with Poe?”
“That’s what you don’t understand. Poe was considered a genius. He knew the mentality of psychopaths long before any shrink. Again, how dare you?”
I became a little frustrated with him, “Well, I’ve got a full notebook here. There has to be at least one original idea.” He rolled his eyes and responded, “I’m sure there is. I just haven’t heard one yet, but do continue.”
I crossed the idea off in my notebook and flipped the page, “Well how about this? A group of coworkers get together at lunch. They all start talking about their woes when one brings up the story of Kirby…” He cut me off with, “The Nice Guy”
“Did I do it again Harvey?”
“Yep, you sure did. Say? Do you listen to these stories on YouTube?”
“Well, yeah. Who doesn’t?”
“Do you sometimes fall asleep while listening to them?”
“I usually do. You know? So I can have nightmares?”
“Bingo! That’s where all these are coming from. You’re subconsciously stealing them.”
My pen made a big violent slash through the story I was going to call The New Guy. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I needed to calm the anger building up in me. “You know Harvey? I came to you asking for help, and all you’ve done is denounced it all with a higher heir of conscience. Tell me, have you ever written one?” He then gathered himself from his poor humor, “Yeah, I used to. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll tell you again. All the good ideas have already been done. That’s why I don’t write anymore.”
“Come on, there has to be an original idea somewhere! People write new stories everyday!”
“Yeah, but most of them are ideas stolen from the legends of horror. Its people like you who steal them.”
“I’m not trying to steal anything Harvey!”
“Then prove it! Tell me one good concept that hasn’t been done yet!”
Paper flashed before me as my thumb whisked through the notebook, “I bet you haven’t read this one. So there’s a child in the park. A strange man approaches him. The man instructs the boy to kill a badly injured squirrel…” Harvey slapped his forehead and said quietly, “Azzy. You got that one from Azzy.” I threw the notebook down to my side, “Azzy? Who the hell is Azzy?”
“That’s the point, you’re not supposed to know who he is until the end.”
I gasped, “How did you know how my story was going to end?”
“It’s not your story! Jeez kid, this was all kind of funny at first, but I’m convinced you don’t have what it takes to write a creepy pasta.”
“I do too! Just wait and see, I know I have a few good ideas written down.”
“Don’t you mean plagiarized?”
For the next several minutes, I kept telling him about the ideas I’d written in my notebook. With every new idea, came a new comparison, Slenderman, Ticci-Toby, Fear Not the Shadows, The Glutton, and Midnight Train to name a few. Harvey had become annoyed with me, and annoyed with my supposed “plagiarism”. With one final attempt, and one last hope, I threw down my notebook and yelled, “Yeah? How ‘bout something I just made up! A person moves into a new neighborhood and after a series of events, it’s reveled he’s a contained psychopath!”
Then came a long pause in the room. Harvey looked at me astounded and I smiled. I thought I’d finally come up with something that was truly my own. Then he started laughing, quietly at first, then louder, and eventually, manically. “What? Do you mean to tell me you’ve never heard of Jeff the Killer? I tell you what. There’s a subgenre of creepy pasta called crappy pasta, I think that’s your true calling.”
A flash of red blurred my vision. Before I could think, my body crawled across the table to him. He tried to get up to dodge my assault, but he wasn’t quick enough. My hands wrapped around his neck and squeezed tightly. He fell back in his chair, pulling me down with him. My hands lost their grasp and he tried to make a run for the door. I grabbed him by the collar and pulled him away.
“What the hell are you doing?” he shrieked. I only responded by smashing his face into the drywall. He started to fight back, blows came to my chest and chin, but the pain didn’t register through the anger. We fell back down to the floor, as luck would have it, I ended up on top. My hands put a death grip around his throat again. I flexed my hands harder and harder until noise could not escape his mouth.
He struggled against my grasp with fingers nails clawing at my wrists. This retaliation made it impossible to keep a firm hold on his wind pipe. Even though I tried my best, he was still able to take in a few breaths of life. I then pulled up on his neck and immediately slammed his skull onto the floor. His struggle slowed. I bashed his skull a few more times and blood began to trickle down his face. With an overzealous burst of energy, his head rapidly made contact with hardwood surface until at last, his cranium was turned to mush.
I sat perched over his corpse for few minutes breathing heavily. A thick pool of blood surrounded the area of which he laid. Why have I done it again? I thought, what the hell is wrong with me? I looked down at my hands covered in crimson liquid, that’s when it came to me.
So this is how the story starts. A man is deep in the woods under a star-lit night. He quickly, yet discretely digs a shallow grave. He throws a black trash bag into the hole and begins to fill it back in. While doing so, he reminisces the events that led up to his current predicament.
He’s new in town. The lawmen can’t find him, but they know he’s connected to a string of violent murders. He goes by a different name, he has a new job, and has a new start. But one night he came across a coworker that shared a similar interest with him.
His coworker invited him over to discuss ideas about writing short horror stories. The coworker turns out to be an expert on the subject. Despite an entire notebook filled with ideas, the expert points out how every single idea is unoriginal. Even stranger, he claims every idea discussed is an almost exact copy of already famous stories and accuses the main character of plagiarism.
The main character swears up and down he was not intentionally trying to copy other peoples’ work. The expert however; is unconvinced and mocks the main character with snide remarks. The main character eventually grows furious and attacks his coworker. After a brief struggle, the main character gets the upper hand and viciously murders the other.
I know this has to be an original idea, it just has to be. How on Earth could I plagiarize my own story?