This is my blog, but it is also a prolog to tonight’s Monster of the Week game (December 28th.2022). I really have struggled with the holidays this year and honestly, I can’t quite wrap my head around why. I have had family friends, and a generally pleasant holiday but there is something inside me that feels…angry?
Why I can’t say. I have put aside many of my fears, moved forward with dreams and aspirations, and let my past selves sleep restfully. And yet here I am writing with the only goal to try and source this anxiety.
Okay, here’s the story that’s in my head, let’s see if it pans out some nuggets of truth.
Oury Colorado in 1994; Sheriff Elliot has called up the team to help him with a mystery. Below is his dialog. They play all retro games that can seriously challenge me to make accurate period statements. (I read this out loud to the gang. Normally I make notes and “perform” it. They all noted that I don’t normally read. The term ‘dialed in’ was mentioned.)
“A few months ago, a child went missing. These things are tragic, but its not unheard of in these parts. It’s not like we have cannibals out there, but we are high in the mountains, and there are all sorts of dangers here. We sent out search teams and dogs, and though we didn’t find the body. Enough time had passed for us to declare him, well you know, passed.
Conner was 13 years old, and a bit odd by the recall of the other kids. He wasn’t into sports or any normal after-school activities, but he really got excited about Fantasy stuff. Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Our phone lines are a bit patchy up here, but I understand he did some internet game called battle net. Well anyway, I didn’t personally know him and only knew his parents as acquaintances when the incident happened.
As best we can tell he wandered off into the “Bridge of Heaven”, it’s a popular vista point, probably just for a day hike. He took his dog Smog with him, can’t imagine why he named the dog that, but kids will be kids. It’s a bit of a hike for a kid and our best guess is he slipped and fell. By the time any of us had figured it out, he was probably bear food. I know that sounds distressing, but if he was out there in the valley at night, he would have frozen to death long before anything would have eaten him.
Well, that was a few months ago, and tragic as it was, there were no leads, nobody, and nothing really to be done. We grieved with the parents, and this being a small town, we all pitched in when we could. The Twigs, that’s the family’s name, they didn’t do so well. I understand they are divorcing; the husband is at the Abrams hotel and his wife moved back to Minnesota. Daniel Twig, he’s a good guy, but I think when you lose a kid, it can really stir you up inside. I understand he’s not working currently.
Normally, that would be the end of it. But a few weeks ago, we picked up a vagrant who had broken into the Twig’s home and was living there. The guy was old, in his 70’s by the looks of him. He was staying in the boy’s room; the Twigs hadn’t moved the furniture out yet. He was wearing the boy’s clothes, though they didn’t fit and he had drawn hundreds of pictures on the walls. He was pretty far gone, mentally.
Oury is a small town, we don’t have homeless let alone a shelter. We know everybody in town. I didn’t suspect foul play at first, so I put him in lock up. I was going to send him to the county seat when one of the guards commented on something he was saying. He said the old guy was worried about his car. Said he kept asking to check for smog.
Yeah, that got my attention, so I decided to chat him up. He was confused, rattled, and just what you’d expect from an old man off his meds, but he told me Smog was his dog, he lost him recently. Said he’d been in a cave up by the bridge and that some doctors were holding him there. For the first time in this case, I had a suspect.
He knew the dog’s name and was into that Lord of the Rings stuff. I suspected he had lured the boy to a bad end. That’s where the case dried up though, cause that night the old man died. We looked up and around the bridge again, but didn’t find anything, let alone a cave with doctors in it. And that was going to be it, a mystery that couldn’t be solved.
Last week another boy disappeared, Jason Tanner, same as before, a loner kid, that don’t play sports, and into the Star Wars and Dragon games. This is normally an FBI situation, but they said without any evidence there isn’t a case. They did send a chopper and some men but like the last time nothing. The parents are devastated. Ultimately the story is about a kid who wandered off into the forest and came to a bad end. The price of living in the mountains.
The reason you’re here? Well, that’s easy, I know what you do, and what you did for my cousin back in Alabama last year. The ghost in the graveyard incident. Last night we picked up another old man. I got him lock up and you need to hear his story.
There we go. Obviously, the boys were being unnaturally aged and this was the story hook. Originally, I intended the gang to investigate a time portal guarded by willow-the-wisp-like creatures, however, Nick, one of the players had noted that the last few games, though exciting, were not scary. He asked me if I could scare them for this game.
I know Nick well and I know the Grey aliens freak him out. As they investigated the mystery their first leads were Owl creatures. On their first night in the town they stayed at the Abrahms inn, and they each had a nightmare sequence that revealed the Greys were behind the missing boys, and that they had somehow aged them terribly. Greys are plenty scary, but I wanted Nick to have nightmares, as he asked for, so I needed something more.
I decided to put a tiny hairline crack in the fourth wall, for my fourth kind. A tiny mind worm that I had used years ago in another game, something inspired by Doctor Who. The way these monsters worked wasn’t slasher style or hide and hunt, but something more insidious. They aren’t real until you imagine them. The more you think about them the more real they become. As the game progressed the characters began to experience more physical manifestations of the monster. When it came to spending a second night in the town and possibly having a second dream sequence the players, uncharacteristically decided to leave town and end the monster hunt. Of course, is a horror game so that didn’t happen. They experienced lost time as one of the creatures told one of the players that it had just begun, that with their next sleep it would be their last sleep. It was late so we called it, but I felt it was a perfect ending.
We had a blast with this one. Sarah made Thai soup, and we had lots of wine; it was a very merry holiday horror show. Now, that being said; did I figure out why I was so upset?
As it turns out my sister is going through a rough divorce and her kids, all teens, are in the middle of it. I live far enough away from them that there isn’t much I can do. They came up for a few hours on Christmas eve and I thought they all looked so grown up. My brain translated this into the story. Lost kids growing old, abandoned families; it all makes sense.
I don’t normally analyze my writing but I imagine if I did so, it would probably all bear some insightful fruit into my inner being. I write what I know even when I’m not directly thinking about it. I guess that’s just how I write.
This was such stuff and dreams, and nightmares this time, are made of….