Walking Down the Aisle

You can see the noose

You can see the noose

I've been interested in the paranormal since I was a child. Some people never grow out of losing sleep over thoughts about death and their purpose in life.

These feelings of fascination and fear contributed to my fixation with the horror genre. I enjoy immersing myself in horror myself  in horror movies, books, and games but find it difficult to write my own stories; 
so, I decided to try my hand at several activities to jog the creative process. 

I signed up for the Haunted Walk Tour and explored the former jailhouse located next to the Rideau Centre. To my surprise, the place doubled as a youth hostel; I didn't expect to walk past the clientele as they did their laundry and cooked dinner.

The tour itself was a hour-long trip around two areas. The guide led the group to a series of hallways lined with prison cells and brought us downstairs, to the solitary confinement chamber. Afterwards, we mounted a set of stairs to reach the gallows and went out into the courtyard.

A well-lighted place

A well-lighted place

The first prison area was bathed in amber-yellow lights that illuminated the cells and hallway. The tour group was given the opportunity to inspect the cells but each cell contained only a cot and the inmates didn't leave many  markings or graffiti. The cells didn't carry the weight of their history; I saw
a suitcase and toiletries in one of the cells.

The second prison area had poor lighting. The layout was the same as the first but I couldn't see much. Afterwards, we marched single-file through a narrow hallway of concrete into an open area with washing machines against the back wall and long counter that isolated a kitchen area. It was awkward. People staying at the hostel gawked at us as we were given a grand tour of the laundry room.

The stairwell to the gallows had nets across the railings and holes in the steps. The guide told us they were leftovers elements of the old jail house. The nets were used to deter prisoners from trying to commit suicide and the holes helped the prison guards see if people were above them.   

The gallows itself was closed because of safety issues. The guide told us that the courtyard and parking lot were former burial grounds but all I saw was a set of tables and hanging lights from some sort of festivity. 

I didn't witness anything strange during my tour and it didn't live up my expectation, however, I might return someday to spend a night in one of their cells. 

Photo Credit: William Au


William Au

William Au is a student in the Professional Writing program with a love for storytelling that spans every medium of expression. His free time is spent sleeping, partaking of new experiences, and indulging in books and films. He helps run the Video Game Club at Algonquin College and collects children's books.

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Together We Laugh with Ouija

My family members are superstitious and refused to help me try my new Ouija board.

It glows in the Dark

It glows in the Dark

"I feel uncomfortable with you keeping that in the house."

"This is how things start in horror movies—from people messing with those things!"

"No thanks. That actually give me the creeps."

It was as if everyone shared an unspoken agreement to censor the term Ouija board.

What is a Ouija board?. The game itself consists of a wooden pointer (planchette) and a board inscribed with the alphabet, numerals, and esoteric symbols. Ouija is similar to a method of divination called Fu-Ji that arose during the Song dynasty (960-1279) in China. Besides Ouija, other contemporary forms of Fu-Ji are popular in the East, such as Die-Xian in China and Kokkuri-san in Japan. However, the notion of using  writing as a medium of communication with the unknown is a universal facet of human culture.

Everyone refused, so I did what anyone else would've done: use every approach at my disposal. I trivialized playing the game, belittled the confidence of others, and begged for their cooperation until three people agreed to join me.

It would have been much easier to convince them if I had bought the superior girls version of this game. Unfortunately, Toys R Us did not have one in stock.

Yes? Oui.

Yes?
Oui.

Over the weekend, I met up with my brother and two of my cousins. We waited until twilight to set up the board in the basement. We dimmed the lights, lit some candles around us, and placed our fingers on the planchette.

For the first 20 minutes, nothing happened. The marker stayed in one place, so we made small talk. Then the planchette inched towards the letter x and spelled out xyhulu. The next several responses were also garbled gibberish. Eventually, the Ouija session devolved into everyone spelling out inappropriate words or teasing each other through questions and answers.

The only coherent messages we received were the words: bin, salt, pop, and rack.

Did we summon a ghost? I doubt we did. My results wasn't similar to the stories I've read; it was devoid of creepy messages or predictions about the future. However, it was a good time full of tension and laughs. I'll probably try this again in the future during small gatherings.

Photo credit: William Au


WILLIAM AU

William Au is a student in the Professional Writing program with a love for storytelling that spans every medium of expression. His free time is spent sleeping, partaking of new experiences, and indulging in books and films. He helps run the Video Game Club at Algonquin College and collects children's books

Facebook | Algonquin Videogame Club

Reflecting Upon Myself

At the stroke of midnight, I went into the bathroom and closed the door. The only light in the room came from a dim electronic candle.
I placed it beneath the mirror and began to whisper, "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary..."

Just little  ol' Me 

Just little  ol' Me 

The reflective property of surfaces, such as water and mirrors, have propagated supernatural beliefs that reflections have the ability to show hidden information, alternate worlds, or the souls of the viewer. These beliefs created superstitions against breaking mirrors and using them as catalysts to invoke spirits.

I searched the web for urban legends about mirrors but the only notable stories I found were Bloody Mary and an offshoot called Blue Baby Blue. 

I tried one variation of Bloody Mary where I chanted thirteen times in a successive manner. In another ritual, I chanted while spinning and raising my voice with each rotation. The only thing I invoked was my mum, who stormed downstairs and asked what I was doing.    

I tried two variations of Blue Baby Blue that was distinct from its parent ritual. In one version, I had to fog the mirror with my breath and stare until a bloody face appeared. For another, I had to cradle an imaginary baby and swing until my arms were sore. Needless to say, my efforts were fruitless. 

The most common misconception about Bloody Mary is the namesake. Many people attribute the spirit's name to Mary I of England.  
She wasn't a vengeful spirit, but a monarch renown for ordering the execution of Protestants en-masse  in the 16th century. 

I had more success replicating another experiment that involved mirrors. In 2010, Giovanni Caputo - an Italian psychologist - published an article in Perception about the effects of staring at your own reflection in a dimly lit room. Within a 10 minute period, participants reported seeing visual distortions. Caputo believes that this phenomenon is caused by the brain's facial recognition system repeatedly processing the same information and its tendency to seek patterns within visual information. 

It's also possible to experience this phenomenon by staring at another person. The hosts of Good Mythical Morning, an online morning talk show, Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln "Link" Neal III replicate the experiment for themselves with much hilarity.

For my personal attempt at this optical illusion, I stared at a compact mirror while sitting in front of a nightlight.  During the next 10 minutes, my complexion started to change. My face began to look more haggard and the shadows lining my features became more pronounced. Also, my lazy eye kept darting from left to right; this was odd because my left eye usually doesn't travel while I'm wearing glasses.  

This test of courage wasn't very exciting but at least that's another item off my bucket list. If I had more resources,  I might have tried The Three Kings Ritual, which is creepy enough to give me second thoughts.

Photo Credit: William Au
Video Credit: Good Mythical Morning


WILLIAM AU

William Au is a student in the Professional Writing program with a love for storytelling that spans every medium of expression. His free time is spent sleeping, partaking of new experiences, and indulging in books and films. He helps run the Video Game Club at Algonquin College and collects children's books

Facebook | Algonquin Videogame Club

Swapping Ghost Stories FUTURE STYLE

I've always wanted to try a parlour game called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales), also known as 100 Ghost Stories. It's difficult to gather people with enough time to swap ghost stories, so some friends and I conducted a variation over Skype.  

My sudden suggestion led to an impromptu session that only maintained the fun of the game, not the tension. In our variation, each participant told a limited amount of stories and lit a corresponding number of candles. 

One of the earliest documentations of this game appears in Ogita Ansei's "Otogi Monogatari" (Nursery Tales), which is from a collection of ghost stories published in 1660 called Tonoigusa (Night Watch Grass)

The traditional  Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai requires three adjacent rooms, with the furthest one branching off to the side (like the letter L). After each story, the storyteller must travel to the furthest room in the dark, extinguish a paper lantern, and gaze in a mirror before returning. Unfortunately, I was unavailable to find a decent video, so anyone who's curious will have to watch a condensed version from an anime

The contemporary version of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai is played by placing 100 candles in the centre of a room or around the participants, in the form of a barrier. The players take turns sharing stories with the stipulation that the storyteller blow out a candle at the end of his/her turn. The stories may be fabrications, urban legends, or personal experiences. 

Looks Like A Lonely Christmas Eve

Looks Like A Lonely Christmas Eve

The tension in Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai stems from the superstition that the telling of ghost stories attracts spirits. Once the last candle is blown out, the barrier protecting the participants dissipates and they are at the mercy of phantoms.

The rendition of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai I participated in was enjoyable thanks to the discussions that arose and one friend who set a rhythm to the game.  Here are some of the stories we shared:  

The "Smiling Man" is a cautionary tale that comes from the subreddit r/NoSleep, which hosts original horror stories. The most popular stories are compiled in a series of podcasts. "He Called Me Dintzie" and "5 Bed House with Cheap Rent"are brief contrasts of personal encounterss from YourGhostStories. "The Tipsy Turtle" is a short story from Pu Songling's Liaozhai Zhiyi (Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio) , which is a collection of short stories.  "Photographic Memory" is a creepy microstory from Jezebel's 2013 compilation of reader submissions. Lastly, The Okiku doll is an urban legend from Japan that originates from WWII.

Photo Credit: William Au
Video Credit: FUNimation


willface.jpg

WILLIAM AU

William Au is a student in the Professional Writing program with a love for storytelling that spans every medium of expression. His free time is spent sleeping, partaking of new experiences, and indulging in books and films. He helps run the Video Game Club at Algonquin College and collects children's books.

Facebook | Algonquin Videogame Club

A Horror Story in Pure Dialogue

Knocking on Wood

"You lose again, Theo."

"Shit! I can't win at anything with alcohol in my system. ”

“You’re just not trying hard enough."

“I've already lost at chess, poker, and now darts! How could I lose at darts? I'm the best out of everyone I know.”

"Well, tonight you're second best. After me."

"Hannah?"

"Yes?"

"Can you get me another beer?"

The mind games

The mind games

"No, you're starting to get rowdy. Do you want me to get you some water?"

"Mm."

"Okay, I'll be right back."

"…Hannah."

"Yes?"

"I'd rather nurse another beer."

"I'll get you one if you win at the next game. Why don't you pick a game while I'm in the kitchen?" 

"Hey, Hun, can you pick one instead; my head hurts." 

"No. I’m already getting YOU some water."

"Fair enough. Still, this shelf is too far." 

"Here."

" This isn't beer."

"Drink slowly.”

"Glug-glug-glug."

“So, what did you pick..Ouija? Didn't you call this a game a load of shit?"

"Well, I feel like shit, Hun. Why do you own this anyway? 

"One of my friends left it behind on girls’ night.”

"Did you guys try it at all?”

"We did but we only got a bunch of gibberish and a couple of misspelled words like betch and dye."

"Sounds like a wonderful time."

"Har har, you're so funny, Charming. By the way, there should be some candles in the box." 

"I see 'em but they're tea candles.”

"We played the game on short notice. Besides, don't you love this atmosphere?" 

"Not when my cup is filled with water." 

"For crying out loud, Theo, give that joke a rest. "

"If only I was joking."

"Do you know how to play?"

Too Spooky For Me

Too Spooky For Me

"Okay, you can finish lighting the candles while I read the instructions out loud. Thank you for your purchase. Ouija (pronounced WEE-JA) is a board game that's great for gatherings or use alone. Ask the board a question and place your finger on the planchette for an answer."

"Hey, the board glows in the dark."

"But I haven't opened this box in weeks."

"Awesome; there's some quality in this product after all." 

 "Let's start the game and don't forget to concentrate, Theo; this only works if you believe."

"Like this?"

"No, you're moving the marker; keep your finger still."

"I am."

"No you're not. Look, you're trembling."

"It's impossible to stay completely still. A skeptic debunk—"

"I thought you were drunk, Theo. Stop ruining the game and ask a question."  

"Oh, almighty board, are there spirits here with us?"

"The cursor is moving to Hello!"

"Now it's spelling something."

I-T-S-M-E

"I think this ghost knows us, Hun. Who are you?"

Q-W-E-R-T-Y

"That sounds foreign."

"Are you messing with the responses, Theo?

"Of course not. Ask another question."

"Where are you from?

L-O-R-E-M-I-P-S-U-M.

"I think the spirit left us a placeholder."

"Theo."

"Okay, I'll be serious this time. Oh, almighty board, are there any spirits here with us?"

S-T-O-P

"I think our ghost wants to call this game quits as well." 

"Har har; can't you stop with the jokes? You're even moving the marker towards No.

 Enjoy blackouts  while you can                                                                                            there are already kids who don't know about vcrs...

 Enjoy blackouts  while you can                                                                                            there are already kids who don't know about vcrs...

"I'm didn't do anything. Take another look at the board."

D-D-D-D

"Why do you keep moving to the letter D?"

"I'm not; this thing is  either broken or our spirit really likes the letter D."

"My finger is starting to cramp. Let's move the cursor to goodbye and try again." 

"Do we have to invite every spook with a speech? It's embarrassing."

"No, we can just put our fingers on the marker."

Hello

"See? Hi, what is your name?" 

A-M-Y

"Oh, a girl."

"How old are you, Amy?"

4-4

"I was expecting her to be a lot younger."

"Same."

R-U-N

"I think sh e's mad at me."

"Theo, that's not funny."

B-A-D- M-A-N-H-E-R-E

"Whoah! Hannah, are you okay?:"

"Just a little jumpy. Do you think this is a blackout?"

"Yeah, the lights aren't working."

"At least, we have these candles."

"I am the one who knocks!" -  Walter White (Bryan Cranston)

"I am the one who knocks!" -  Walter White (Bryan Cranston)

"Dinky as they may be. Do you hear that?"

"Yeah. It sounded like someone opening the front door."

"Could it be your roommate? 

"No, she's staying with her parents this weekend. Should I give a shout?"

"No, send her a text; whoever is out there is stomping around." 

"I just got a reply. She says it isn't her."

"I'm barring the door."

"Please do."

"Did you call the police?"

"Yeah, they're sending someone over."

"Hey, Hannah."

"What?"

"Look at the table."

"Please tell me I'm seeing things."

"You're seeing things."

"But I'm not! That marker is moving by itself!"

"It's just looping around the letter D. Maybe our friend from earlier is doing this." 

"I don't care who's causing this, I want this to stop."  

"How?"

"With this."

"That's a dictionary, Hun. That is not going to help us right now."

"Not true. You drop it like so and problem solved."

Knock, knock, knock.

"Now the maniac is at our door."

"It might be the police. Should we shout?"

"No, Hannah. Let's escape through the window."

She Needs a cat

She Needs a cat

 "Good idea. Let's go. 

"We can't, look outside."

"Look outside."

"Who is that?"

"I can't tell with the curtain, but that person is just standing there."

"..Did we lock the windows?"

"Our windows don't have locks."

"I'm scared, Theo."

"I know. I am too."


"This is officers Hearse and Shepard. Entry at 7:15, we're approaching the house in question."

"10-4, over."

"Good evening, m'am. We're with the police."

"Hello, sirs."

"We received a distress call from this address 15 minutes ago. Is everything all right?"

"Yes."

"The caller was a woman named Hannah. May I speak with her?"

"She's not here anymore."

"Pardon?"

"The man is gone as well."

Look into my Eyes! Have a nice day!

Look into my Eyes! Have a nice day!

"M'am, Can I get your name and why you're standing outside with the front door open?" 

"..."

"Shepard, search the premises for a young woman and her boyfriend."

"Okay, I'll radio if I find anyone."

"Roger."

"M'am, I would appreciate your cooperation in answering my questions; otherwise, I'll have to take you to the station."

"..."

"Please enter the patrol car."

"It would be my pleasure."

Photo Credit: Ciuchta, Piotr | Zolkiffli, Zaid | Beck, Fritz |  Hajdu, Thomas | Schaeffer, Sebastian | Anna Grist


willface.jpg

WILLIAM AU

William Au is a student in the Professional Writing program with a love for storytelling that spans every medium of expression. His free time is spent sleeping, partaking of new experiences, and indulging in books and films. He helps run the Video Game Club at Algonquin College and collects children's books.

Facebook | Algonquin Videogame Club