My Father's Long, Long Legs
November 9, 2013 2:26 PM   Subscribe

My family lived on the southern edge of a certain Midwestern industrial city in an old house, old enough that its basement still had a dirt floor.

I was not yet old enough to openly question a parent's behavior, but certainly old enough to recognize its oddness, when my father began digging.
posted by Rory Marinich (81 comments total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
 
(If those lines are too long and a moderator has to change them, can I request line breaks rather than a switch away from the monospaced font?)
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:26 PM on November 9, 2013


How about no monospaced font?
posted by slater at 2:28 PM on November 9, 2013


And also a non-overloaded site ;)
posted by slater at 2:29 PM on November 9, 2013


They break Chrome 30 on a Mac - off the edge of the screen, but no horizontal scroll bar.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:29 PM on November 9, 2013


(And they take the front page down with them.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:30 PM on November 9, 2013


[Yeah, sorry, there are too many devices and browsers in play to screw around with pre tags. It tends to not work at all well. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:33 PM on November 9, 2013


Also breaks the entire front page in Safari on iOS.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:33 PM on November 9, 2013


The link is borked too.
posted by hamandcheese at 2:34 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Add the server to the tally of dead things.
posted by ardgedee at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is mad creepy. Nice.
posted by dismas at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2013


Can I have some reassurance that this is not going to scream at me as I scroll down? Because it's neat but the thing about using sounds at the beginning scares me and I turned my volume way down but I'm having soup and I don't want to get scared and spill it on myself.
posted by NoraReed at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nora: No screaming!
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:37 PM on November 9, 2013


Oh man, this is gorgeous. What a wonderfully spooky premise. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 2:38 PM on November 9, 2013


I never got to the end of this last time I saw it, maybe this time I will remember to leave the tab open.
posted by elizardbits at 2:45 PM on November 9, 2013


Coral Cache link that may (or may not) work.
posted by xedrik at 2:46 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


That was neat. Does it change dramatically when you take the different options? I hate it when there's no easy "go back" option, but I can see how it would break the atmosphere.
posted by NoraReed at 3:02 PM on November 9, 2013


> "Does it change dramatically when you take the different options?"

Not significantly.
posted by kyrademon at 3:04 PM on November 9, 2013


Oh god. Why did I have read this alone at night? With just the light from the monitor. Ugh.
posted by kariebookish at 3:08 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god. Why did I have read this alone at night? With just the light from the monitor. Ugh.
posted by kariebookish at 6:08 PM on November 9 [+] [!]


just stay out of the basement and you'll be fine :)
posted by fuzzypantalones at 3:12 PM on November 9, 2013


And there in the basement was... an Internal Server Error.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:29 PM on November 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


It also poisoned my water and pulled out my rose bushes
posted by Phreesh at 3:36 PM on November 9, 2013


I'm not normally patient with interactive elements in text. But, this one's actually pretty interesting and worth following to the end. The click-to-advance thing isn't entirely the throw-away gimmick it appears at first. (The forced pauses are pretty hard to stomach, but mercifully used only rarely.)

Has anyone actually encountered audio? I've gone all the way through once with one browser (firefox on linux), and tried a few quick checks with several others (chrome on linux; firefox, dolphin, and chrome on android), and have so far heard no audio at all. Can't tell whether the audio is just broken, or there are only a couple of very speciifc instances that I've missed.
posted by eotvos at 3:38 PM on November 9, 2013


There is definitely audio, but only towards the end. I heard it in Chrome on a Mac.

I thought this was nicely done, especially the flashlight effect.
posted by yasaman at 3:43 PM on November 9, 2013


This was great. Saw the Thomas Ligotti inspiration shout out at the end, makes sense. Also vaguely reminded me of House of Leaves.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 3:54 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Argh — too many clicks. One picture show is worth a thousand shovelfuls: God's Little Acre (1958).
posted by cenoxo at 4:07 PM on November 9, 2013


I got lost in the basement and then it restarted (iPad). Can someone spoil it please?
posted by sweetkid at 4:37 PM on November 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I totally want to read this now, but no dice.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:49 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh wow. That was ... well, I'm going to have to go find some trashy romance novel with a big fat happy ending before I'll be able to get to sleep, that's all I'm gonna say.
posted by sldownard at 5:05 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The coral cache version works.
posted by anarch at 5:51 PM on November 9, 2013


I love creepy pasta and this was awesome and perfect in every way and so good thank you for posting.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:59 PM on November 9, 2013


That was awesome. Thanks!
posted by strixus at 6:33 PM on November 9, 2013


Yeah this is cool.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 6:40 PM on November 9, 2013


Yeah, on iPad it died in the basement, flashlight went away, as did the sounds (which freaked my out, honestly).
posted by Ghidorah at 6:46 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It died in the basement on my PC also. I thought that was a deliberate creepypasta ending - lost, alone in the dark in the subterranean labyrinth, no light, just the sound of digging....
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:54 PM on November 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Options?
posted by carping demon at 6:55 PM on November 9, 2013


I very much enjoyed that.
posted by davejay at 7:02 PM on November 9, 2013


Oh, and note: it may not be "dying" in the basement. Let's just say...you should be more patient.
posted by davejay at 7:02 PM on November 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Patience my ....
How come there was a restart button in the right corner then?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:36 PM on November 9, 2013


That button was there the whole time.
posted by valrus at 7:38 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know exactly when the restart button showed up, but I did notice it at some point while the story was still going. I got to a kind of credits page at the end.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:39 PM on November 9, 2013


Well, didn't notice at all till the long pause. Will just have to try again...
Tomorrow.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:52 PM on November 9, 2013


This was great!
posted by heatherann at 7:54 PM on November 9, 2013


How do you know when it's finished? The screen went black and I've been waiting for a few minutes.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:03 PM on November 9, 2013


Really awesome. It crashed on my computer running Win8/Chrome30 but worked fine on another computer Win7/Chrome30.

Some times the screen will stop, I think that's on purpose to get you to spend the necessary time in that situation..
posted by yulik at 8:06 PM on November 9, 2013


orrnyereg: did you try moving your mouse/the cursor when it all went black?
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:06 PM on November 9, 2013


Played it a few times just to make sure I hit all the scenarios.

This has totally gotten me in the mood for more unnerving stories tonight.
posted by mykescipark at 8:12 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The basement is a lie.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:50 PM on November 9, 2013


We all have our own torches...
posted by Kerasia at 10:02 PM on November 9, 2013


Hmm. Definitely some interface/traffic issues.
posted by Miko at 10:05 PM on November 9, 2013


Well isn't this the strangest bit of synchronicity. I've always loved the idea of tunneling, but only since getting my house a few days ago has this become a potential real world thing. And I have this creepy basement that I need to go into to feed the furnace, and I have to bend over to move around... if only there was a little more headroom, maybe this is just a thin concrete slab...

So, dad's hobby in this story speaks to my own interests, shall we say.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:07 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cool, worth staying with, but you need to have a chunk of time available.
posted by Miko at 10:11 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oooh, this was creepy! When I first started reading, I assumed both characters were boys (weird dad + basement makes me automatically think of Frailty). When it became clear that the narrator is a girl, it changed my perspective and made it creepier and more personal. (I am a girl with a younger brother and a troubled relationship with my father, who once visited our boarded up childhood home. EEEEEK.)

The flashlight effect is really cool and the sound effects are effective.
posted by Aquifer at 7:25 AM on November 10, 2013


Yeah, if you are a total wuss like me, I recommend turning off the sound around the time you get the flashlight. That digging sound is super effective.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:37 AM on November 10, 2013


His blog is pretty neat, too.

Thanks for this, Rory.
posted by dogheart at 8:58 AM on November 10, 2013


This is so cool. The off-key "You Are My Sunshine" at the end, along with the digging, is wonderfully macabre.
posted by antonymous at 9:06 AM on November 10, 2013


WTF is this? It's a linear text with breaks and pacing determined by the designer. There is nothing interactive about it, it's just a linear text with no branching, and many forced pauses. This is the most tedious way you could possibly present text.

There is this thing we do with our eyes called "reading" that we do when we scan our visual field across a text. We look, pause for a moment, comprehend what we saw, and move on. This method of presentation confounds every mental process involved in reading.

There is nothing more goddam annoying than a writer who thinks he knows how we should process his text, and insists on forcing us to consume it that way. I was particularly annoyed when I read to the end of a paragraph and there was no link to continue. You had to wait and after a predetermined pause (of a length determined by the author) the rest of the text to appear, with the link. I presume that was intended to be a pause for dramatic effect. The third time it happened, I stopped reading.

Does someone have the entire text, in plaintext? Or is it even worth it?
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:55 AM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is nothing interactive about it, it's just a linear text with no branching

There are branches.

There is this thing we do with our eyes called "reading" that we do when we scan our visual field across a text. We look, pause for a moment, comprehend what we saw, and move on. This method of presentation confounds every mental process involved in reading.

I get where you're coming from, but Jesus, dude, sometimes it's enough to say "I found the presentation annoying" without attempting a psychological explanation of exactly why you were so annoyed by said presentation.

There is nothing more goddam annoying than a writer who thinks he knows how we should process his text, and insists on forcing us to consume it that way.

What? Plenty of writers do this. Do you hate comic books with odd typographic arrangements? Have you never read a hypertext story with branching paths? Have you ever seen a movie where text scrolls at a certain pace?

You may have problems with this particular author's attempts, but you're getting awfully grandiose with your condemnation of people experimenting with fiction. One of the neat things about the Internet/computers is how anybody can experiment with making anything, professionalism or no, and sometimes those experiments fail and other times they yield interesting results. Had you gone on, the story starts doing some pretty neat things with text displays, and, well, even if you're not a fan of his specific motives, the dude who wrote this is a grad student who likes horror stories and wanted to give a couple of things a try. He's not paid for his work, he doesn't have a loyal fanbase, he's just a guy who did something that people're finding interesting.

I didn't find this story to be any kind of masterpiece, and the delays were irritating to me, but come on, three 3-second delays? I have the ability to twiddle my thumbs for that many seconds as something loads. Shit, if I didn't I'd never be able to watch YouTube videos, and I feel like I ought to have at least that much patience (if not more) when I'm reading text on a screen. And honestly, it's so damn rare that somebody on the Internet has a sense of pacing and uncanniness when they're writing horror stories—even the online stories I like the most tend to be shoddily-written—and this guy has a knack for writing interesting, provocative sentences. If he wants to give a couple of things a try while he's telling me a story, sure, go for it.

As Ze Frank said about MySpace "designers" on The Show: "Ugly when compared to pre-existing notions of taste is a bummer. But ugly as a representation of mass experimentation and learning is pretty damn cool."

The need for people to go apeshit when they meet somebody else online with subpar taste is an understandable one, and I get pissy about a whole cavalcade of things, but there's something incredibly unpleasant about taking a young twentysomething enthusiast to task when something cool that he made starts getting the teensiest amount of attention.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:10 AM on November 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


The delays pay off when you get to the graphic at the very end, which was a nice unsettling finish.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:38 AM on November 10, 2013


There's a graphic?? Ugh, okay, here goes Attempt #4.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:49 AM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


While "reading" this text, I had the distinct feeling of being stuck behind a car going 5mph in a 65mph zone, with no way to pass. I am sure this is not the kind of dramatic tension the author envisioned.

The entire essence of the Web and web browsing is that the content and presentation are separated. If I want to change the text presentation to 36 point Comic Sans, or divert it to a braille reader, that is the whole point of the web. But some control freak designers don't like this, and have been trying to take back control, and force people to consume their content in exactly the way they designed it. Fuck em.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:53 AM on November 10, 2013


The entire essence of the Web and web browsing is that the content and presentation are separated.

That sounds like the entire essence of... RSS. The internet has evolved considerably since the early nineties.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2013


The basic structure of the story is prologue, three vignettes that can be read in any order, the present day, a maze of dark twisty passages, all alike, a pause that's way too long, and the ending with graphic, followed by some credits, in case you are worried you missed anything.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:58 AM on November 10, 2013


Charlie don't surf, this is not a text. It's not a webpage.

It's presented in a browser, and the underlying technology is the same one that's used to present text, but it's not a text. It's designed to be experienced in a more similar way to the old zork-style text parser adventure games than a short story.

You are judging one form by the standards of another, and this is a bad example of a short story for the same reason that a painting is a bad example of a short story.
posted by Fraxas at 11:01 AM on November 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Does someone have the entire text, in plaintext? Or is it even worth it?

I liked this as an interactive story. I felt the branching added to it. But actually, what added a lot to the story was the fact that I didn't know how much branching to expect. Up until the end of it I didn't know if there would be dead ends; or whether it would be possible to "lose" or make choices that counted as mistakes; or whether I would ever be certain I had gotten the whole story. In the final maze I didn't know if it would take five minutes to get through or an hour. I got through it by clicking randomly, but I had a growing suspicion that I was going to end up regretting the decision to approach it that way. All of that added to the atmosphere.

As plaintext, frankly, no, I don't think it would be worth it. For all this is a seriously kickass premise and a very effective implementation (if you're into that sort of thing), the author's prose style isn't all that great. The format here does a lot to evoke the mood that the author wanted to evoke. Without that, using text alone, it just wouldn't have been as compelling for me, though YMMV.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:07 AM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Other things that aren't really worth it if you convert them to plaintext: Beethoven's 5th symphony, Ms. Pac-Man, saag paneer, lindy hop, the Grand Canyon, 4'33", oral sex.)
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 11:08 AM on November 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Judging by its own standards, it fails because it doesn't even work (for me). I read the whole thing and then it crashed when I got to the basement. I will likely never know how it ends.. If it were available in plain text I would at least have been able to finish the damn story. Though whether I would have started it at all, I couldn't say, yeah.
posted by cj_ at 11:11 AM on November 10, 2013


I got to the end credits this time - but never heard the song or saw a graphic.
posted by sweetkid at 12:32 PM on November 10, 2013


the only way i could get around the internal server error is to view it on my Droid in Chrome.

This story made me start to fear my browser would crash.

Still not sure i got to the end. the last thing i saw was the narrator wondering if his brother had grown as tall as his father and a not so clever pen and ink drawing of long hairy legs.

Did i miss something?
posted by Colonel Panic at 1:00 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed this CYOA, and hope it gets developed further. As it is, the language was hammy but fun, and the flashlight effect was a great detail for atmosphere. The story was genuinely creepy, but I don't think the ending was fully constructed. I think that there's the potential to build a longplay version of this, and as great as this is, it feels like a too brief demo, which I think speaks to how much I enjoyed it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:31 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed that! Sadly I read without sound, and the images just showed broken image links. Can someone post them?

Also, if feel like it stopped at some point, try scrolling down. After the long pause near the end there was normal text but the scroll didn't go all the way down to it for me.
posted by 23 at 5:42 PM on November 10, 2013


The real question is, how the f- are you supposed to play it? It's a 500 internal server error on every browser and every configuration I have.
posted by mrgoat at 6:59 PM on November 10, 2013


I liked this.
posted by Coatlicue at 7:31 PM on November 10, 2013


mrgoat, I got it working with the Coral Cache link from above.
posted by 23 at 7:45 PM on November 10, 2013


I did like the story - sort of Lovecraft in the post-industrial American vernacular. The presentation was OK until the basement sequence, when it started to get in the way of the storytelling. I think the writer shows a lot of promise and I'm looking forward to what he or she does in the future when the site stops crashing and I can get back to figure out what his or her name is.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:53 AM on November 11, 2013


Basement bit was the best bit. Love shit like this. I wonder if there are multiple endings though?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:43 AM on November 11, 2013


Note: The story is just not as creepy when read in the voice of David Sedaris.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2013


(Other things that aren't really worth it if you convert them to plaintext: [...] oral sex.)

Speak for yourself!
posted by slogger at 11:17 AM on November 11, 2013


I think the writer shows a lot of promise and I'm looking forward to what he or she does in the future when the site stops crashing and I can get back to figure out what his or her name is.

The piece is by Michael Lutz. [1] [2] [3]
posted by mykescipark at 11:28 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked it.
posted by kyrademon at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2013


Things that are really worth it if you convert them to plaintext:

Texts.

You know, sometimes I find a podcast or some other audio or video production that rambles on and on, and just doesn't get to the point, and I jokingly comment to the author "Is a text transcript available?" They don't get my joke, that their message would be more easily conveyed if they skipped the BS and just wrote it down and published it as text. Then I could skim through the boring preliminaries and look for the core content.

But this is the first time I have ever asked for a text transcript of a text.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2013


rambles on and on

Do tell.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:12 AM on November 15, 2013


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