Earth is a haunted house. It always has been.
There is no heaven or hell. No Hades or Fiddler's Green or Valhalla. There's no escape to a better -- or worse -- world after death. There's just Earth. And yes, the soul exists, and it's eternal. Anything that ever lived -- every person, every animal, every fish and bird and spider and even the plants -- eventually becomes a ghost. Forever. Forever and ever.
Some of the ghosts get to be interesting. They get to be Headless Horsemen or Ladies in White or Vanishing Hitchhikers or La Lloronas or Stringy Haired Ghost Girls or whatever.
Most just get to be themselves. Just mostly invisible, mostly intangible, mostly watching what the living do. Most aren't even particularly scary, until you realize how many of them are lurking about. The famous, the infamous, the utterly forgotten, the nobodies. Everyone you ever knew who died? Ghosts. Every dead president and king? Ghosts. Cavemen? Ghosts. Dinosaurs? Ghosts.
All of us? Ghosts.
Yeah, that's right, friend. You're the last one, largely because we were a stupid, stupid species.
New York and Los Angeles sank, just like Miami and New Orleans and Venice and Lagos and Bangkok and Jakarta. The oceans turned into toxic soups. Fish died in the billions. The forests burned. The grasslands burned. The deserts burned. The air turned weird. The jet stream turned weird.
No one did anything. There was too much money in letting the world die. Too many nihilists who'd decided to burn the world and laugh in the ashes.
Billions died. That alone could have saved humanity -- no more massive overpopulation might've let a smarter species give the environment a chance to heal. But the wrong fingers got panicked and pushed the wrong buttons, and 4,000 archaic nukes incinerated everything that was left.
The rats lived. The cockroaches lived. The tardigrades did okay.
But humanity died in anguish.
All except for you.
So lucky. You lucked into the bomb shelter that didn't leak or crack. And the people you holed up with got cabin fever and killed each other off. And they left you alone. Alive, but alone.
Except for us. Except for billions upon billions of ghosts.
And we know you want to die. There's no joy in being the last. There's no joy in receiving the attention of the restless dead. The shriekers, the whisperers, the bullies, the psychopaths, the girls with the furious glares, the babies who won't stop crying, the dogs that won't stop growling, the skeletal horses who pronounce dire prophecies. It's all terror and misery and despair. No one would want to live their life that way.
But you have to. We need you. We don't know if we even exist if you die. And we can't enjoy death if we don't have someone to talk to or someone to scare. So we won't let you die. We'll keep you alive. Maybe not forever, but for so much longer than you'd want.
Earth is a haunted house. And we all need someone to haunt.
It's that time of year again. Let's try to scare each other.
Write an original scary story. Write a horror-themed poem. Node a story that is in the public domain. Write a factual writeup that is about horror or scary stuff. Write a biography of a writer or actor closely associated with the horror genre. Create a review of a horror film or story. It can be any length and any topic -- as long as it's scary.
What's the runtime for the Quest? The entire month of October, plus November 1, server time. Halloween is too awesome to limit to just one day a year.
If you need inspiration, or if you just want to see some more of the scary stories that Everythingians have produced, check out our previous horror quests: I can make you howl. And vice versa. Let's get down to business., Everything Quests: Scary Stories, The Blood is the Life: A Frightful Halloween Quest, They Hunger For Nodes: An e2 Halloween Scary Story Quest, I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Text: The 2005 Halloween Horrorquest, It's the Season for Graves Cracking: The 2006 Quest for Fear (a deleted quest announcement, unfortunately), The Poet and the Worm, The Night's Plutonian Shore: The 2007 Halloween Horrorquest, Necronodecon: The 2008 Halloween Horrorquest, Pickman's Nodegel: The 2009 Halloween Horrorquest, Ten Years of Terror: The 2010 Halloween Horrorquest, The Nodegel from Yuggoth: The 2011 Halloween Horrorquest, Children of the Night: The 2012 Halloween Horrorquest, 13 O'Clock: The 2013 Halloween Horrorquest, No More Room in Hell: The 2014 Halloween Horrorquest, In the Nodes of Madness: The 2015 Halloween Horrorquest, Grisly Ghouls from Every Tomb: The 2016 Halloween Horrorquest, We All Float Down Here: The 2017 Halloween Horrorquest, Tender Lumplings Everywhere: The 2018 Halloween Horrorquest, The Culture of Fear: The 2019 Halloween Horrorquest, and Send More Paramedics: The 2020 Halloween Horrorquest.
Again, the Quest will run for the entire month of October and November 1. If you post early or late -- too bad, so sad.
When you write a story for the Quest, just /msg me with the node title, then softlink your writeup to this node. I'll include a list of all the Quest participants below.
So start thinking horror, boils and ghouls. Halloween is coming. Let's scare each other.