Part of writing horror is having an excuse to seek out and experience as many examples of the genre. I don’t really need an excuse of course, but it’s nice to have one if I ever need it. And, as with any genre, sometimes the examples I find just aren’t that good. But that just makes it all the more exciting when you discover something truly brilliant. Something that really gets horror. Something that chills and unsettles me, or makes me think. Something that goes beyond the easy jump scare of splatter gore.
Not that there’s anything wrong with an easy jump scare or a bit of gore. They’re just – in my own, personal and maybe slightly snobbish opinion – the easy way. To get my recommendation, a movie, book or game needs something more. Something that’s original, unique, especially creative, or simply just hits the right horror buttons and leaves me honestly chilled.
So I thought I should share with people the things I discover that I really think are worth sharing. To spread the word, as it were. And for my first choice I’m sharing something a little different. It’s not the work of one creator, but rather a community created online database of themed creepypasta stories.
It’s the SCP Foundation.
So what is it?
The SCP Foundation is a fictional, global organisation tasked with the collection, identification and – if necessary – isolation and neutralisation of ‘anomalies’. Items, places, people, or… other… that have no place in the “real world”. Items from civilisations long forgotten. Locations of events both ancient and modern which are no longer safe. Religious artefacts. Anything with strange and dangerous properties that have no explanation.
It’s the Foundation’s self imposed mandate to locate, and catalogue these objects. To study them, neutralise them if possible, but essentially to ensure that the danger they pose to the world is minimised.
The website is a community project presented as the Foundation’s database of items. Each entry describes one of the items in the collection; detailing the level of danger it presents, how the item was discovered/acquired, and a description. You can read the stories in any order, including the option to read them in ranked order. Stories are ranked based on members voting them up for down, and anyone if able to become a member.
Any member can write and submit their own entries for consideration to be added to the database. While there are templates and guidelines to adhere to, in theory you can create an entry about absolutely anything; from a coffin that creates clones of anyone who falls asleep in it, a stairwell with no end, a rock that causes procrastination, or a robot determined to destroy mankind but gifted with absolutely no ability to do so. The sky’s the limit.
Why it’s a recommendation
First off, the set up and style of the website is wonderfully immersive. With the number of entries available (currently somewhere over 2000) written by so many different people you really do get the feel of this being the database of a huge organisation. It’s not something you can just sit down and read through in one or two sittings. This combined with the variety and length of the entries gives it a real sense of scale and depth.
Each entry is essentially its own unique creepypasta. Entries range from small, safe but unusual items locked away in a warehouse, locations with strange properties that need to be cordoned off for the safety of the public, to religious artefacts and locations up to and including the Angel of Death standing guard over the gates to the Garden of Eden.
As with any collection of creepypasta not every entry is pure gold. But while some are not greats, most are solid, journeyman entries while others are stroke of pure genius. There is no strict continuity. Different people interpret the idea differently, and while many items entries link directly to others I don’t believe there is any master plan ensuring that no entry contradicts any other. And with the length and number of entries, when you do come across a dud you can simply skip through to the next.
The SCP wiki lends itself perfectly as something to drop in and out of over time. If you’re not a fan of creepypasta then it might not be exactly the sort of thing you’d enjoy, but I would still recommend you give it a try. Each entry is short enough to read while waiting for a bus, or in the five minutes before you need to leave the house, so it’s not going to take up a whole lot of your time it give it a try. My suggestion is to start with the list of top rated entires. That’ll give you a feel for some off the best entries. Then if you’re a bit of a completionist, you can start from number one and keep reading. One entry each time you get a spare couple of minutes.
So give it a go, and try to ignore the growing sense that the world may contain more than you’re comfortable being aware of.