Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #14: A Terrifying Example of Complexity and Control

The following is an exercise in pulling together the last two articles of this series along with a smattering of ideas from the rest of the series in one sprawling, spiralling example of horror. It all begins with an average man named Doug. Doug lives an ordinary life. He works a nine to five job while his wife Cynthia works from home and watches their children Melissa and Jake. One night Doug brings home a friend from work, Aaron. Aaron is quiet, polite, and unassuming. Doug and Aaron spend most of their time in the basement where Doug has a small shop set up in which to tinker around with things. Everybody likes Aaron--he's the perfect guest. Within a week Aaron is there every night. Within two weeks he almost never leaves.

Aaron is a powerful and amoral psychic. The first night that the children are out of the house--at a cousin's birthday party--he uses his hypnotic suggestion to convince Doug to stay in the basement. Then he goes to Cynthia in the illusory guise of Doug and tells her Aaron has left and they have some alone time. Going forward Aaron replaces Doug in the night with Cynthia a few times before his next move. He replaces Doug--who merrily works on things in the basement--with all of the family, in his disguise. This part of the first stage of his plan culminates in Aaron convincing the wife and children that he is Doug and Doug is Aaron. The real Doug continues to go to work unaware that anything is wrong. To cover himself and his treachery Aaron begins a new stage in his plan.

Aaron cajoles, convinces, and controls Cynthia to break off contact with her friends and family and has the kids pulled out of the public school system. He alienates Doug's family, and Doug's reclusion except for work pushes his friends away. Then the next-door neighbour mysteriously commits suicide. The house won't sell--stories come out about it being haunted. The house whose lot backs onto the haunted house becomes empty next. Next another neighbour is sent to jail for hiring out, via an intermediary, the murder of another neighbour. Aaron has taken over Doug's entire private life and has no further interference because of the buffer of vacant unsellable homes completely encircling his. Aaron has his own little kingdom, and the kicker is Doug never knew Aaron before that first night.

Mood: sprightly.
Music: Rock & Roll Saviors by Twisted Sister and Never Say Never by Twisted Sister.

Twisted Sister: Club Daze (Volume 1)
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Twisted Sister: Club Daze (Volume 2)

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