• Member Since 1st Jul, 2012
  • offline last seen Nov 25th, 2019

KillerSteel


"OH GOD, THEY'RE LAPDANCING ME!" -Steel, 2015 - Aspiring author, artist with absolutely no skill yet a lot of wants, and just your typical, all-around lover of MLP fanfiction. That's me.

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"An' they say that he comes 'round every Nightmare Night...preyin' on th' souls o' th' dead. He hunts an' he searches, 'till he finds his unlucky target, and yanks 'em outta a pony's body!"

"But sis, is that really true? There's no way somepony like that could be around!"

"Y'all better believe it, Applebloom. And y' never know...he may be comin' after you next."


[A/N: My second shot at Dark writing, but it's the first one I've submitted. Got another one in the works.

Cover was drawn by the quite skilled MysticalAlpha, and the link there goes to the cover itself. Enjoy this work and his other art!]

Chapters (3)
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Comments ( 21 )

Nicely told, and a good transition from ghost story to reality. Really hope this continues, I'd like to see where you're going with this!

1529265

I'll see if I can't come up with a clever continuation to this, but it did start out as a Nightmare Night one-shot.

We'll see, but I can definitely think of ways to continue this.

1531162

An opinion of the story in your comment would be nice, Leech :V.

Holy shit. That's all I have to say. That and moar.

1540684

Glad people think so; that was the goal, after all! Spread the word about it, I want people to be terrified on this day!

Alright, I gave the first chapter a really deep read and here is the review you have asked for! I hope you don't mind that it gets a bit long. Of course, I'm summarizing, and I won't point out all the small fiddly bits. But just as an overview this is what I think.

Also, I must point out that I'm being very critical here, on the level of if, let's say, you submitted this to my critic thread (which is invisible). I must say now that overall, I did enjoy the first chapter.

Essentially, the whole idea and pace is pretty much there. The transition between the story that eventually leads to the reveal is quite well done, but I must say that from the start to the end, I really felt that it was more of an adventure tale than a horror tale, at least so far. Mind you, part of the idea of the horror story, at least to me, is to capture a certain level of mystery and intrique while you go along. This one has been written with a pace that's more suited for adventure; where the story is already presented and that is what keeps the reader going, rather than to find out what IS going to happen. But in that, it's got a promising beginning.

My main issue, which I think removes me from that element of 'creepiness' is two things. One of which is the scale of the fear. Horror can either be on a vast scale, or on a very personal level. But no matter which one, the thing that binds it together is that it is presented from the experiences of the personal level. Whether it's a zombie holocaust or a woman stuck in a house being prodded by evil fairies, the story tends to still follow them around and the story is elaborated on as things occur TO them. This story is AJ telling another story about two great forces in the past who sort of waged war and caused pretty indescriminate damage on innocent ponies. There isn't anything personal about the story, and yes, I did note that you added the whole 'researcher' angle to bother Twilight. What might have been more effective would be to present AJ's story in the way that it actually followed this one pony from start to end, until she was posessed by Luna's evil demon spirit. By focusing on the Ghost Ryder (by the way... is that who I think it is?) and on Luna, it humanizes them too much, and the story captures the feeling, again, of a more epic grand adventure type story, the kind that warriors regale in pubs.

After all, the purpose of this story was to make Twilight scared, right? To 'defeat' the scientist, so on both levels, both AJ's story and the ACTUAL story, they ought to be a bit more personal.

The other thing I noted was that AJ's story was a bit complex. In horror, simple stories are the best. Complexities make room for mystery and adventure, but for horror, you'd usually find the best horror stories or movies have incredibly simple plots. Usually it's just about people just trying to survive some sort of evil or whatever, and moreso does this apply to suspense horror. Lovecraft, for example, had very SIMPLE stories, but very DETAILED. What I found a bit jarring about AJ's story, which in meta becomes the actual story as well, is once again it's about an epic-scale battle. Liked the idea of the Ghost Ryder, OR the Luna character, but putting them BOTH in the same story might have been a bit overkill, because halfway through I found myself wondering which one of them I was supposed to be scared of. Especially when AJ made a veiled threat that Bloom was already posessed, which directs us to fear the Ryder, because he's 'comin' for ya!' but then she instantly goes into how the posessing demon was the really scary one, so then that sort of distracts you from the original source and it ends up a bit muddled.

Having a focus is good. Make it clear from the very start who we are supposed to root for or be scared of. Something I personally do is, from the VERY beginning of my horror stories, is to really just hint or suggest what the evil is, so people know what to expect. I don't go and add a secondary evil that actually FIGHTS the first evil.

So to conclude, I'm not saying this is a bad story. Far from it. Outside of the few tense thingies and a bit of repetition in your style, it's a pretty solid beginning so far, and it does have a very effective reveal, which I like a lot. However, it really feels more like an exciting 'adventure' type story than fear, because there is a bit of a disconnect between me (the reader) and the story.

Another thing I ought to mention which actually ISN'T your fault is that you chose a pretty difficult method to write horror on. Writers, myself included, do not attempt to try to create atmosphere through a secondary source. AJ telling a horror story is meant to scare HER audience, not YOUR audience. So when a reader reads it, they are ALREADY one step removed from the personal level. The only way to really connect is to have the reader implicitly connected to the actual character in the fic being scared. But in yours, there's more than one. Twilight? Or Bloom? Also, how are we to put ourselves in Twilight's position when the story is written explicitly from the perspective of AJ? (This is evidenced because you use narrative bleeding from AJ's position, so this makes the reader actually instantly associate with HER)

Now, again, this is only my thoughts from the FIRST chapter, because I want to at least let you see how my thoughts evolved. The deal with the Ryder VS Luna might go somewhere, I don't know YET, but I'm enjoying it more for the upcoming conflict rather than to be creeped out.

1713750

Thank you for the review. Figured the story would be a good approach since I wanted a 'fantasy becomes reality' type thing, but I've never told ghost stories before.

Should keep it in mind for next Nightmare Night.

Review of part 2 -

Hi! Alright, lets continue. Honestly, by this point it's already removed from any horror genre specific qualities. You have written what is essentially the hero's quest. First of all, I note that your use of descriptive elements is really great in this one. I especially like the paragraph where Twilight magics the Apples out of the library. As a tale it's already effective as it is. But as you mentioend to me, you wanted this to be fearful, let me tell you what I think is different.

Alright. So let me break it down into three very simple ideas as to why this isn't scary, but is very exciting instead.

1. Peril

Peril is not danger. Peril is not fear. Peril is tension. When a character is placed into a perilous situation, there is an IMMEDIATE threat that they are attempting to overcome. In this case, it's Twilight trying to gather her friends up in order to defeat Nightmare Moon. All the players and story elements are already laid out and you know where it's going. So, while this story is very tense, and yes, you can really feel the rush and Twilight's urgency throughout (good job with that by the way), it isn't scary.

For example, when Indiana Jones falls into a pit full of snakes (why'd it have to be snakes?!) it's peril. It's tense. But you know what he has to do to get out of it. And you kind of know that he WILL. But it's not fearful or scary.

When Ripley is running away from the alien, THAT'S scary. Yes, it's also tense, but it's scary. Why? Because you don't know where it is, you don't know what it can do, it's been sort of stalking her for a long time, we are restricted knowledge and most importantly, we don't really know if she's going to escape unscathed or not. But the presence is always there.

In this chapter, Nightmare moon is basically absent. If you want to do really effective horror, the element of horror has to always play a role in causing, building and maintaining that level of tension. Twilight, here, runs around totally unimpeded and it becomes more like a race against time rather than a haunted burrow.

It's like Armageddon. The meteor's coming! Oh shit! It's perilous, but not SCARY. All you see are the astronauts training, and the meteor is ALWAYS there falling, but doesn't really do anything to engage directly with the characters. The fear is lost because what it does is established at the start and then it's left to its own devices, and the movie then focuses on the attempt to stop it. The reason why scary things are scary is mainly because we don't even have an idea where to begin in stopping it.

2. Consequence

I know you don't like it when they get hurt or there's 'no way out' =) But that is what creates most of that fear. If anything that happens has no real consequence, if you already establish so early that Twilight has a plan and they're going to carry it out, that makes a big difference in how the story is read.

Comparing two zombie films -
Dawn of the dead is a scary movie.
Resident evil 5 is not.

Why? Because in one you know that maybe, just MAYBE, something terrible is going to happen and shit's going to go down and maybe people aren't going to survive. MAYBE they don't know what's going to happen. MAYBE bad awful things will. But there's a consequence. A clear direction that everything they do, every choice they make in that mall, if they do something wrong it could end up very bad.

The latter is about a girl in a bikini shooting dead people with guns.

3. Tone

This is the most important thing in ANY media. Film, books, whatever. Establish your tone early and don't stray. This fic is a bit too cheerful and lighthearted to be taken too seriously. It's like a Joss Whedon project. They make a lot of jokes and very witty quips throughout (Cabin in the Woods) and it adds to the tone, which is why myself and most people take Cabin in the Woods as one of the best comedies ever rather than a horror film. And that isn't meant as an insult. I genuinely love that movie.

Now, in that way it can be effective. But Cabin wasn't scary either. In your fic, the lighthearted discussions and all that kind of thing SET the tone. So from chapter 2 I get two things. One is that sense of pressure, like I said, well done with that. Twi's in a rush. There's this need to get moving and fight against the big bad. However, the casual commentary and 'normal' conversation also pulls it toward a more lighthearted adventure story than fear.

Not to say of course, that a scary story CAN'T use lighthearted commentary. In fact, I use it all the time. But the way it's used is very particular - it should be used not to SET the tone, but to increase the effectiveness of the tone set BY other factors, such as atmosphere. To wit - a casual comment in a casual setting is casual. A casual comment in a horrible situation can show desperation, insanity, breaking down or anything else. So, they must all be used very particularly.

And now, onto the exciting conclusion!

1713987

Huh, so I managed to write an adventure instead of a horror. Interesting. Can't wait to see what you think of the third chapter!

Part 3 -

I wrote the previous part without having read this, but well. Zombies, eh? =D

Alright. Interesting end. Actually is. That is the kind of ending fitting for a bleak horror story, and it actually did come out of a place I didn't expect. Specifically, Twilight dying. I do like the note on where it ended, and I like the sudden tearing of hope away, I think that was done effectively.

But let me use this to recap the points I made for chapter 1 and 2.

There's this lack of focus to the story that makes it hard for it to be scary. Including the idea of this Ghost Ryder who never appears again, and this idea of the zombie army, they're all sort of like hurdles that they have to overcome to get to the end; again, a story construct which is fitting to adventure. I'm left wondering who the ultimate 'villian' really is, and what I'm meant to be scared by. I would have felt a focus of the story ON the idea of posession should have set the idea of the plot, then the tone, and then more elements woven into the narrative. Right now Luna feels a bit like the end-boss of a video game. She plays a very passive part throughout the story and for fear to occur there needs to be some kind of personal attachment.

As for consequense-less actions, the fluttershy scene is nearly exactly what I mean. She got a bit injured, sure, but I didn't feel that she was in any REAL danger. There wasn't that level of oh man she's in trouble NOW! That I would have preferred to get. She gets in and out of trouble in the span of two paragraphs. There's nothing lasting. And even the zombies fade as a plot point after that one scene.

Ultimately, what I feel might be the best use of what you have here is the set up, then a real true struggle to get to the end. It's hard, it was rough, they nearly didn't make it, and then the reader's spirits are uplifted when you finally get to the last part where they are having the showdown, then you have the twist (they kill Celestia) and then you have the emotional falloff point. Hope is built when you see them through the struggles into that point where you actually go "Oh man, they made it. Sheeeeat. Things gon' be OK" and then suddenly BAM, that ending.

So to conclude, interesting premise, good reveal in chapter 1, I really really do like the twist, but really, to me this is a very classic and good old story for me and I didn't get creeped out or scared. But keep trying for the future!

Also this is aside from the plot but I noticed this particular chapter had quite a few tense errors. It did break the flow a bit for me. I know you used to write in present tense for your other fics, but this one was in past and THIS chapter had a LOT of present tense constructions. I'd be careful of that!

Cheers!

1714123

Thanks for the read man, and yeah, I make a lot of errors when I don't have a proofreader :V. Well, just gotta keep trying.

I DO like the premise set up by this story, and may write a continuation later on. I'm interested in how Nightmare would run Equestria, and this would be a good way to set it up.

We shall see.

1714152
Probably with her horde of zombie ponies! But yeah, world building as it is, you have something here.
Twilight and Celestia gone... The remaining 5 having to struggle to save the unzombiefied ponies from the rule of Wuuna....

:moustache: "Don't forget about me! The Element of Mustache!"

:facehoof: "Don't spoil it."

1714185

:moustache: "Element of Moustache? I can dig it."

Pffff.

:moustache: "What?"

Moustaches are physical attributes, not mental.

:moustache: "Moustaches represent confidence. The bigger they are, the more confident the pony, or dragon in my case."

And how big is your moustache?

*Spike strokes his moustache, the tip scraping the ground with every stroke.*

... Damn, impressive.

1714194
:raritywink: "I think that's just because Spikey Wikey isn't very tall, dear."

1714207

Even then, the moustache is reaching the floor! It's glorious!

:moustache: "It is, isn't it?"

*Spike nods with a smirk.*

Very nice, very nice. I like a good, dark story. Always a pleasure to read something that gives you a twinge, a bit of a shiver. Best read at night. Keep it up.

1736830

Will do, I have a sequel cooking in the darkest recesses of my infected, grotesque mind right now!

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