• Member Since 21st Mar, 2012
  • offline last seen Oct 17th, 2018

DuncanR


E

Applebloom has had a room of her very own for over a year now, and she no longer has scary dreams when she's all alone in the dead of night. But something has come back to visit her, and this time she's old enough to know two things: it's not her friend, and it's not imaginary.

A very short and moody story about one of the many things grown-ups forget.

Chapters (1)
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Comments ( 58 )

Excellent. Love the ending, although the mood and tone takes away from the vagueness; Pretty sure they're about to get mindfucked and scarred for life.

Pretty good for a one shot, especially a short one. Might I ask if their will be a follow up? :twilightsmile: These cliff hangers are killers.

You have the potential to do something here.

Yay! You posted another story!:pinkiehappy:

I like the abstract nature of Appldbloom's monster. Whenever he walks around, it sounds the way pins'n needles feels. It's just so authentic to the construction of nightmares. Nothing concrete and contrived, like a beast with 18 heads or anything. Instead it's simple and primal, giving us a way to connect on a fundamental level. It makes the point of the story evident.

Cheers for writing this.

You need to write a ton of alternate endings like 5 or 6. That would be awesome.

1011694
I do have ideas for additional stories in the same vein, including a continuation of this, but I also consider this a complete story just as it is. If I write more of these, it'll probably be a series of thematically related shorts.

1012358
I love writing about children! They're not smart enough to doubt the impossible or unreasonable, so they can dream about anything. Grownups dream about boring things like falling or speaking in front of crowds. Bleah.
My biggest problem when writing this was that I know exactly what Mister jiggles looks like, so it made it difficult to be vague.

1012638
I thought about this... but they all ended up being joke endings. Alternate ending 1: Applejack opens door and is cordially greeted by a tentacled cosmic horror that tries to sell her an insurance plan. Applejack flees the room screaming. And not because of the tentacles.

As I said above I do have a concrete ending in mind for this story, but I'll only write it if I know I can do a better job of it than the reader's imagination. And let me tell you, that's a tough act to beat.

1012762
Ah, ok. Cool. :twilightsmile

1012638
Dag nabbit, this idea is really starting to grow on me.

Excellent piece here. It really captures the feeling of childhood fears, especially this line.

I dunno if I’ll live if I’m right.

This mentality kept me from going to the bathroom at night for 10 years just in case there was a monster under the bed. And that ending leaves the reader with the same sense of uncertainty as a child. I love it.

1013372 C'mon I really REALLY want to see this done...did i say really yet?

1015133

Tell you what. If I can think of five good ideas--and they'll need to be really good--I'll write them up and post them one at a time.

All I ask is that nobody posts their own ideas for endings, since it might interfere with what I already have planned. If you have an idea for an ending you just have to let loose, you're certainly free to write it yourself.

I swear the more I read the more I got the impression that Slender was in Ponyville which makes every thing about this story especially creepy. Except of course the part where you mentioned about the tooth fairy. That little bit made me think of my first actual fear in life. It was a fear of the dark constructed by a b grade movie called "Darkness Falls". As a movie it is not that scary to be honest but it was the first horror movie I actually remember watching. So that also came to mind. There are so many directions you could take this if you choose to. However, if you are calling this story complete I would personally tag on "and they were never heard from again." at the end. Cliche I know but it is the only thing I can think of happening if that is the last thing that is said.
Sincerely;
The Fictional Critic

:moustache: "Dude, that's creepy."

A very atmospheric and unsettling story, the closest I've seen anyone ponyfic come to the feel of Lovecraftian dread of the unknown.

Was that like a cliff-hanger ending, or am I missing something?

1144080
As mentioned above, I consider this a complete story. The scary part is that you don't know what's in the closet. If you opened the closet, sure it might be scary... but at least you'd know.

As Darkened Star and Fictional Critic pointed out, this would make a really great springboard for "alternate endings." I've already got a couple great ideas, so I don't think we've seen the end of this quite yet.

Hey everybody,

we did a live reading of this story and posted the recording here:

Hope you all enjoy, we certainly did :twilightsmile:

Love and tolerance,
TheLiving Library Player Socieety

Somepony's been reading TV Tropes...

That is a cruel, evil, terrible place to end the story. Couldn't possibly have picked a better one. Excellent work.

First things first: "Apple Bloom" is two words. You can verify this with one of her trading cards or the Pony School Pals toy set.
Now, on to the story.

You know what? Maybe I can just go for help right now. I can live with being wrong. I dunno if I’ll live if I’m right.

I love this way of thinking. Too many people don't think of it when deciding whether to listen to an outlandish idea. Several times when I was in high school the whole school had to be evacuated because the administration received a bomb threat in some form or another. At one point it happened in February, while my gym class was already outside in our paper-thin gym uniforms, and had to stay outside in the cold for most of the day while the school buildings were extensively searched. (Lest anyone think the administration was completely heartless, after a while someone retrieved the lost & found box and handed out extra clothes to help warm us up.) I was not happy at the time. No bomb was ever reported found in any of these incidents, which made me unhappier still.
There was another evacuation during my senior year that turned out to be caused by a bag belonging to one of my friends, which had been taken and playfully hidden by another friend, and subsequently observed on security camera sitting suspiciously under a stairwell for over an hour. The evacuation interrupted an AP exam I was taking, and the bag was practically destroyed by the bomb squad. Again, not a very happy occasion.
But you know what? Each time, the course of action the administration picked made sure that as long as the athletic fields weren't full of land mines or staked out by a sniper with an axe to grind or mysteriously inaccessible to ambulance drivers, I would get to go home at the end of the day. And while ignoring any of the threats they received would have probably only resulted in maintaining the expected productivity of that school day, could have meant significantly increasing the probability that I or someone like me might not- or that I might go home in more than one piece.
So I respect their decision-making process, and I respect Apple Bloom here for drawing the same conclusion- that embarrassment is only very frightening when it's not being compared to something actually dangerous.

I liked the descriptions of Apple Bloom's memories, and the believable nature of both sides of the conversation- her sister repeatedly attempts to make the problem seem smaller than it is, and she repeatedly refuses to be swayed. The dialogue and the plot felt very real to me.

Unlike a number of other readers, though, I think the ending falls flat. I understand what you were trying to do- keep the frightening nature of the idea by refusing to reveal the reality- but I think you chose the wrong way to do it.

I started to write out a detailed approach to each of the obvious things that could happen next when the door is opened ("Mr. Jiggles isn't there and it becomes obvious what really made the noise", "Mr. Jiggles isn't there but the noise remains unexplained", or "Mr. Jiggles is there") and how it could be brought to a conclusion that would evoke the emotional response you were aiming for, but then I realized that that wouldn't address the real problem.

The real problem is that you've given us a set of monkey bars to hang from and asked us to pretend it's a cliff.

See, the question we want answered (and which, as a result, must not only be left unanswered but also sharply pointed out just before the end) isn't "what's in the closet?". The question is "what is Mr. Jiggles?". Refusing to answer "what's in the closet?" doesn't get the response you're going for, at least not from me, because I can imagine my own answers, and they don't make me wonder "what is Mr. Jiggles?" so much as they make me wonder "so which of these happens next?".* Sure, any of them could lead to an ending that would make me respond in the way you want... but even if that's true, I'm not actually responding that way; I'm wondering about something different instead. Even if, in the words of Sun Tzu, you've chosen so that all paths lead to victory, you haven't actually been victorious until you reach the end of the path.

As examples, consider the following micro-alternate endings. Fair warning: the writing may need adjustment to fit with the rest of the story- what's important, in my eyes, is what happens.

"There's no such thing as Mister Jiggles," Applejack said, scolding and impatient, "and as soon as we open this door you'll see it's the truth. You got nothin’ at all to worry about."

Applejack set her hoof on the latch and opened the door.

She felt pins and needles all over- and then nothing at all.

"There's no such thing as Mister Jiggles," Applejack said, scolding and impatient, "and as soon as we open this door you'll see it's the truth. You got nothin’ at all to worry about."

Applejack set her hoof on the latch and opened the door. Inside was exactly what she'd been expecting- the usual contents of her sister's closet, from old toys and board games to craft kits and her new tool set from Hearth's Warming. On top of one pile was the scarf she'd made after her first sewing lesson with Great-Great-Aunt Applesauce at the reunion. "See, Apple Bloom? Nothin' to worry about," Applejack said as she turned to face the spot where her sister had been standing.

"Apple Bloom?"

"There's no such thing as Mister Jiggles," Applejack said, scolding and impatient, "and as soon as we open this door you'll see it's the truth. You got nothin’ at all to worry about."

Applejack set her hoof on the latch and opened the door. There was nothing unusual in the closet, but even after tucking her sister in and going back to her own bed, that hoof still felt like pins and needles all over. And what was that scratching noise at the window?

Each of these endings leaves the reader with a slightly different question- "what happened to Applejack (and Apple Bloom)?", "where did Apple Bloom go?", "what's going to happen to Applejack?"- but none of them are as easily answered as "what's in the closet?", and each of them is closer to the central thrust of "what is Mr. Jiggles (and what does he actually do)?" than "what's in the closet?" is. Heck, the first and third ones even still leave "what's in the closet?" unanswered.

*Despite Applejack's last line of dialogue, there's only one answer that even tells me whether Mr. Jiggles is real or not, because we don't understand the nature of his existence well enough to be able to recognize contradictory evidence if we found some. And to be honest, that answer (Mr. Jiggles is real, and he's in the closet and visible when Applejack opens it) pretty much throws this story off the set of rails you laid out for it. Unless "Mr. Jiggles was there" (or similar) is literally the last sentence, or very nearly so, it replaces the question of "is he really here?" with "he's here- what do we do about it!?", which isn't so much an ending as the beginning of another story.

2452488
This is a very interesting thing you've pointed out. Thank you for taking the time to try and describe it: I know it can be difficult expressing this sort of thing properly.

I hope it's clear that I was intentionally trying to frustrate the reader with a lack of conclusion: no matter what I put in the closet, it's never going to be as scary as your imagination could make it. As for the question I want the reader to ask themselves, the obvious question is "who or what is Mister Jiggles?" But readers can figure that out for themselves: Obviously, he's the worst thing in the world. That's all he needs to be, so that's what he is.

In truth, the question I really want readers to ask themselves is "Is Mister Jiggles real or imaginary?" Tricking the reader into imagining their own Mister Jiggles is just a nice side effect. If I did alter the ending, it would have to be in a way that preserves this question. I must admit, I don't know how effectively this story posits that question... and I don't know if it's the most interesting question possible.

That being said, I do have a bunch of ideas for sequels that I do hope to explore in the future... and a lot of them are eerily similarly to your own quick suggestions. Most of them explore the various shapes and forms that Mister Jiggles could take on, as well as the consequences of his actions or intentions. Of course, all of these ideas hinge on the assumption that Mister Jiggles is real... which would replace the original question, "does Mister Jiggles really exist", with "what is Mister Jiggles and what does he want?" That's a lot more concrete, but each sequel would have a different--and mutually exclusive--ending. I do have a solid idea of the "one true ending", though, and I think it would satisfy your concerns. I mean... I think it would. Not sure.

Your comment has certainly given me a lot to think about... I only hope I haven't misinterpreted it too badly. :twilightblush:

2452939

It's definitely clear that the lack of conclusion is deliberate and that it depends on the reader to fill in something scarier than the writer could. I think... hmm. Let me put this another way.

This is a story about Apple Bloom being afraid of a monster- one that Applejack doesn't believe is real. There are two ways to go with that: the problem of the story can be the monster (it can be an action horror movie, where the heroes fight the monster), or the problem can be the fear (it can be a psychological horror movie, where the heroes wonder if they're even fighting anything).
If it's the monster, the monster needs to show up. But you don't want to show the monster. So it isn't that. Thus, it's the fear.

The fear is Apple Bloom's. Applejack is not afraid, and believes she's right not to be afraid. She explicitly places the burden of proof on the contents of the closet- if there's no monster in there, she's going to go right on not being afraid. But if there is a monster in there, then the story becomes about the monster rather than the fear, and we just said we're not doing that. So in the story you've decided you're writing, when Applejack opens the closet, the monster can't be in there. The genre-savvy reader is going to realize that the only thing that can happen when your mom or dad or big sister checks your closet for monsters is that they don't find any. This doesn't necessarily mean there aren't any monsters- it just means that the monsters, if real, are your problem, and you're going to have to deal with them. (That private relationship with one's fears, even the fears one explains to others, is an important part of being a child- like you said, children haven't learned to question the impossible or unreasonable, and that sets them apart from adults.)

So giving us the "cliffhanger ending" with Applejack still in the room doesn't work, because that's not the ending, and certainly not a scary one. "Applejack defeats Mr. Jiggles" is the outcome Apple Bloom wants, certainly, but it can't happen, because Mr. Jiggles is Apple Bloom's monster, and thus if he is to be defeated it's going to have to be Apple Bloom who does it. (This is why none of my endings have Applejack facing him directly, or even acknowledging that he exists.)

2453084

"This doesn't necessarily mean there aren't any monsters- it just means that the monsters, if real, are your problem, and you're going to have to deal with them."

Spooky. This one sentence is pretty much the distilled essence of all the sequels I had planned out, and I love how you said it so simple and straightforward.

I have to admit, your observations are a little too "genre savvy" for my liking... I like my stories to either break established conventions, or taunt them mercilessly. But that still doesn't change the fact that your observations are also accurate and correct. I'm tempted to ask for your help as a pre-reader or plot-summary-skimmer... but I know how thankless that sort of work can be. :twilightblush:

2453197

In my opinion a genre savvy audience makes a great target for a writer intending to flout established conventions- if your readers don't think they know what's coming, it's not as effective when you surprise them.

I'm totally available to help with brainstorming and/or prereading if you'd like it. PM me sometime.

2453233
Now that sounds like fun! :pinkiehappy:
I appreciate the offer, and will let you know as soon as I've finished my current projects.

cliffhanger?really?

not cool.....

2602502
Nope: that's it. That's how it ends.

I've been thinking of following it up with more, but that would only be an alternate ending.

It's good to be a grown up. Not because the monster go away, they don't, but because I can keep a .357 on my night stand.

Ah yes, the old wardrobe. Doorway to magical lands and home to horrors beyond imagination. Now, what happens when you already live in a magical land? Do the monsters become real, maybe just by thinking about them?
Now I want Susan Sto Helit and her very real poker.:twilightoops:

Dat Cliffhanger

all that tension and such an abrupt ending.

2831951

I believe in the poker. :)

Also, that ending :pinkiesick:

Oh my god, that ending was amazing. It's up to the reader to decide whether "Mister Jiggles" is real—those who are children at heart think he's real, and those so-called grown-ups will think he's just an imagination.

You're making a bold statement here, and I couldn't love it more.

You, sir, have earned my favorite, up-vote, follow, and a spot on my user page for this story.

Have you ever considered submitting this story to Equestria Daily? You can find out how to do so here.

Even though I'm grown with children of my own, I still remember the frustration I felt when I tried to tell my parents about disturbances in my room, and they never believed me. It really, really, REALLY pisses me off when I hear an adult tell a child, "there's no such thing as monsters." I know they're just being reassuring, and wanting their child to be at peace (or at least just shut UP and go to sleep), but that's a damn lie. There ARE such things as monsters. Some are in human form, some pretend to be human, and some don't bother with the deception.

Years ago, my then-wife had a Raggedy Anne doll that had been given to her by her grandmother. ALL three of my children complained that doll wouldn't stay put at night, and each told me and her that they'd seen the doll walking around at different times. Once, it was found out in the middle of the hallway one morning. After that, my ex threw the doll away. And that's just one incident.

Don't tell me there aren't any monsters...I've seen them.

Sorry! I was so busy ranting I forgot to say how much I love this story. Well written, great atmosphere. superb ending. Thumbs up!

4758964
Gotta admit, that's pretty scary. Cool, but scary.

But the purpose of a monster is not to be scary or dangerous (though they usually are). The appearance of a monster is a sign of an imbalance in the natural order of things, often created by us... and the purpose of a monster is to destroy its creator.

4764672 Yeah I see what you mean, when I was young I had to live in a cottage that had its previous owner die (No bullshit) and I would never EVER go in the master room, I saw shadows that had no possible explanations and my mother lost her ring despite clearly knowing were it was.

APB

I love the ending here.
I've got a lot of respect for someone who knows when to end something and when someone knows when less is more.

Sometimes the most terrifying monsters...
Are the ones we don't see...

Props, man. A Halloween-worthy story that doesn't rely on a T or M rating to be scary. Loved it!

Feels a little empty to cut if off at that cliffhanger, but that, I think, is where the truly memorable parts of one's childhood fears end; when you guardian or older sibling explores the dark recess and proves there's nothing in it, it stops being scary and becomes just another corner of the house.

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for this (I have "Silent Night" playing in my head, and it's just not creepy enough), but that ending doesn't satisfy. Reading the comments, I think LittleSallyDigby had the right idea, all those weeks ago. We need some confirmation that the monster isn't there, until Applejack leaves. You wouldn't even have to show it, just tuck AB back in and then have the sounds start back up.

EIther that, or it's because I kept reading Apple Bloom as annoyed more than anything. Like, "Ugh, it's Mr. Jiggles, again, I thought he was gone, ugh."

It also occurs to me that if the closet is supposed to contain the "worst thing in the world", you maybe should have just gone with that rather than personifying it so much (even if the pins and needles thing is fantastic).

Pretty much all the bad things I have to say have been said already, so I won't spend much time on them. Main point of the story seems to be about AB's demons, so AJ opening the door means nothing, unless the monster is real. But you never sold us on this horror aspect, so the possibility of the monster being real isn't scary. Like PP said, 'it was more of an ughhhh, that guy's back again' kinda feeling... so I got to the end of it and was just like, "uh... kay..."

It feels like you wrote a scenario, instead of a story.

But if this is the worst you have to offer, that says a LOT about your writing skill. You did a great job of giving the reader things to identify with. My own closet was much the same as Applebloom's, growing up, and that connection adds soo~ much charm to this piece, just as the University did in the first one. And the prose - just getting from one sentence to the next in an aesthetically pleasing way - was great throughout, and I consider that something of utmost importance.

couple flubs here and there though. You mentioned you appreciated people pointing out errors, so I did so on my kindle as I came across them. Here's what stuck out to me -

She sighed and scrunched her eyes shut but something about the noise continued to nag at her.

comma after shut.

It took her a long time to find the courage to climb out of bed and she never actually approached the closet.

comma after bed.

The hallway was longer than usual and the floorboards creaked ever so quietly as she walked to Applejack's room. It was a farmhouse so of course everything creaked. Sometimes walls and doors creaked for no reason at all—especially in the morning, as if the house was stretching its back as it woke.

Commas after usual, after farmhouse, and after sometimes.

She reached up to knock on the door but paused to look back at her own room.

comma after door.

Applejack rolled over and looked at her, bleary eyed.

bleary-eyed. Source: http://www.queens-english-society.com/guide_5.html

He hobbles around on those pointy little pokers of his and it sounds like pins'n needles."

comma after his.

She'd made it herself, with constant guidance from granny.

Capitalize granny, since you're using it here as a proper noun.

The memories came rushing back all at once: the time she'd set up a little painter's easel and used it as a makeshift studio, and the time she'd camped out there all night, pretending it was a cabin. Then she remembered why she'd stopped using the closet, and the memories came rushing back.

Er, I think you meant that the memories returned to whence they came as quickly as they had come. You use the "rushing back" phrase twice, but with the memories going in opposite directions. I think this would be a lot clearer if you used CAME rushing back the first time, and WENT rushing back the second. That is, if you insist on reusing the phrase. Personally, I'd prefer something else. Maybe she forced them back into their box in her head? Just like the boxes in her closet? Dunno

Not gonna spend any more time thinking about this one, but I want to reiterate that this is still decent stuff, and I enjoyed it. Time well spent. On to story #3.

Scary as I remember it. I'm adding this to Tag-a-long's Book Club:

i.imgur.com/od0xMCF.png

--arcum42

Hey there. I really enjoyed this story, and wanted to produce a radio play of it because I feel the message is so powerful and delivered with so much effectiveness. With the voice talents of ObabScribbler and Magpiepony, I'm happy to say I've finished a dramatic reading! Hope you enjoy!

5904739
This. Was. Awesome.

As I commented on your Youtube channel, audio makes up 60% of what makes a movie good... and I can believe it. You're a fantastic editor! Director.... producer? The... the, uh... sound-thingy-guy. You're a fantastic sound-thingy-guy.

I'm also amazed and flattered that you got Scribbler in on this. I've only known about her for a short time, but I'm quickly becoming a big fan of her and her work. I'm curious to know what she thought of the story, if anything, since she seems to be such a fan of dark fics.

...Gaffer? No. That's the guy that puts duct tape all over everything... I'll get it eventually, dang it!

5905648 yeah, i listened to this and... wow. that's creepy. But... what is it grown-ups forget?

I this story resonates with me on a deep level.

When I was a kid, every night was a gauntlet of terror. I've always had a vibrant imagination, and it turned against me in the darkness. I never saw or heard anything (I don't know what I ever would've done if I had), but primal, monstrous things flowed through my consciousness. As I lay awake, time lost all meaning. Cruelest of all, in comparing my memory of events and my mother's, it turns out that often I would dream of lying awake in bed, haunted by dreams of dreams.

My respite from this hell was the bathroom. Only a few steps from my door, it's small enough that I could keep watch of the whole thing, and brightly lit with a nice, loud fan. I whiled away countless hours in there, recovering and preparing. The worst part was the black maw of the staircase to downstairs, which I had to pass each time I went between my room and the bathroom. Sometimes, I didn't dare to look. Sometimes I didn't dare not to.

Many nights, I would throw in the towel and slip into my parent's room. Sometimes, I awoke there with no memory of entering.

Thankfully, such nights are long behind me, but I'll never forget what those terrible nights were like, and this story captures the feel of those times almost perfectly. This isn't a great fanfic, it's great literature. Favorite, thumbs up, five imaginary stars.

5983622
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! This story was intended to convey a sense of raw, elemental horror, but without using any explicitly supernatural elements.

As for your mention of dark stairways... I still get shivers. I remember dark stairs as a child. I never walked around the house after dark, when both my parents were asleep. I don't know how such a familiar location could become so alien and threatening.

Funny you should mention this. Keep an eye out for my next story, and you might just find a dark door... at the bottom of the stairs.

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