Thursday, December 10, 2020

Week 15 Story: Dante's Inferno The Video Game


Nathan had finally convinced his mom to buy him the best birthday present ever. The all new, Dante's Inferno: The Video Game. Every kid at Nathan's school had it and he was itching to get his hands on it. It took some convincing to get his mom's approval, considering the whole game is one big escape from hell. But she managed to crack. 

Nathan sat in the backseat gripping onto the box with excitement. When he got home he was going straight to his room and staying there all day. He wanted to be the first of his friends to beat the game in its entirety. Nathan's mom pulled into their driveway and before she had even parked he leapt out of the car game in tow as he rushed into the house. 

He slammed his door closed and locked it, excitement oozing out of his pores. He pulled out his chair, slipped the disk into his Xbox and put on his headphones. The game started up and the start screen emerged from the blank monitor. The screen showed nine circular rings surrounded by a roaring red fire. Inside the rings in a simple font read, "Dante's Inferno: The Video Game". His finger hovered over the start button on his controller. He took and deep breath and began.  

It had been eight hours since Nathan firth sat down. He had taken no breaks. Didn't get up to go to the bathroom, eat or even just to stretch his legs. All of this resulted in him making it all the way the the ninth level. Each ring in Dante's Inferno was represented as a level in the game. He was about to come face to face with Satan himself. Nathan's bloodshot eyes drooped but he pushed through for the sake of finishing the game. He knew he needed to win. If he lost this level he would be sent all the way back to the first ring and have to completely start over. 

He watched the screen with intensity. His once sleepy eyes widened at the sight of the animated king of beasts. Satan was as tall as the buildings that he stood next to. He towered over Nathan's small CGI character. His heart rate picked up at the sight of three men in the three separate mouths on each head of the monster. 

The boy's focus was unmatched as he battled and battled for what seemed like hours. He didn't dare break his gaze from the screen to check the time because he knew if he did the final boss would find a way to end him. His headphones blocked out any outside noise replacing it with the sounds of swords and the cries of the dead. He hadn't even heard the creak of his bedroom door opening. 

One shot to the heart brought Satan to his knees. Nathan almost had him. He was going to win. He'd show all his friends at school when they came over and tell them how he defeated Satan first. He could smell victory as it grew closer.

"Nathan! It's two in the morning what on earth are you still doing up?" Nathan's mother had barged into his room with a scowl that could rival Satan's. She huffed in annoyance and pulled the plug connecting his game system to the outlet. 

The screen turned black and Nathan stopped breathing. he slowly turned to his mother. The look of defeat apparent. 

"Bed. Now." 

Nathan crawled into bed. Still unable to process what had happened he closed his eyes and hoped to play again tomorrow.

Athour's Note: I read Dante's Inferno this week. The entire time I was reading I couldn't help but compare the 9 circles that Dante and Virgil had to navigate, to video game levels. That's what gave me the idea to make Inferno into a video game. I wanted some comedic features so I added the part at the end where his mom pulls the plug. 

Bibliography: SatanDante's Divine Comedy translated by Tony Kline (2002)          

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Reading Notes: Inferno Part B

Lucifer devouring Judas, Cassius and Brutus

I just finished reading the excerpts from Dante's Inferno. I was taken with the imagery Dante used to describe Lucifer's dwelling. I liked the way he described Lucifer as a very large being with three heads. He was able to juxtapose this by explaining how beautiful he was. I found it quite comical that he was able to describe him a beautiful and menacing all at the same time. 

The way he described Lucifer was something different than I had ever seen before. Most of us picture a red man with horns, a tail and a pitchfork. But this depiction showed him is as a monster of another sort. One with three faces and a set of wings. I like the idea of changing the way the audience usually perceives a known character. I might take that approach in future stories I write. 

One thing that stayed similar to the common knowledge of hell was the eternal torture. What was seen with Brutus, Cassius and Judas seemed terrible and horrific. It truly explained why Dante was so afraid and hid behind Virgil so much.

Bibliography: SatanDante's Divine Comedy translated by Tony Kline (2002)      

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Reading Notes: Inferno Part A

Dante and Virgil 

Dante's Inferno is a classic from his narrative poem from Divine Comedy. The purpose of this story is Dante's quest to fall back into God's good graces and overcome his sinful actions. He goes through several "circles" while in hell, each having a punishment created by God. He is aided on his quest by Virgil. A Roman poet from 70-19 BC. He is the one who takes Dante through the nine circles of hell.

I quite liked the story of Dante and Virgil's encounter with the Furies and Medusa. I think it's interesting that Dante included not only Christian lore but Greco-Roman mythology in the hellscape. It trumps all preconceived notions of hell belonging to one religion. For me this is a much more plausible iteration of what hell could really be like. I would like to play with the idea of creating an original character that has to go through the circles. I could possibly even connect it to my Achilles story. After his death he finds himself in hell with no guide to aid him. 

I found it curious that when Virgil named each Fury he only described one; Megaera, the weeping one. I haven't done enough research as to why she is considered, "the weeping one". But that could be another interesting storyline. A look into why she was given such a name. And her relationship with the other two Furies. 

Source: The Furies and the Heretics, Dante's Divine Comedy translated by Tony Kline (2002)     

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Week 14 Story: The Devil Works Harder


Haunted castle

The crew and I had just finished unloading the SUV. Our equipment laid at our feet. I turned my head towards the dilapidated building we would be locked in for the night. Broken windows and discolored stone foundations stood intimidatingly upon us. The crew grabbed their gear and started making their way to the front entrance. I slowly followed behind still entranced by the enigmatic dysfunction of the once illustrious structure. 

My team and I are renowned for paranormal investigation TV specials. A few times a year a camera crew from some major network follows us through the night as we attempt to make contact with those from the other side. When we're not filming for the networks it's just the three of us. Jacob, Angelina and me; Logan. Jacob is the equipment tech. He is trained in audio and video production. He makes sure all of our recorders and cameras are in full effect before we begin an investigation. He is the one who usually looks over footage the day after for anomalies and listens to the audio for any EVPs, electronic voice phenomena. Angelina is a medium. From a young age she had always been able to dip between the land of the dead and the living. Able to hear their cries of anger or confusion. She helps us with communication. Me, I'm the ringleader of the group. I have been a paranormal investigator for almost ten years. I have faced many adversaries in this line of work. All of them being too "far-fetched" for the average person to believe in. I've seen poltergeist activity, demonic possession and attachment, orbs and enough shadow figures that I should be able to go into any investigation with my head held high, right? Wrong. The entity we encountered that night was deceitful. It was the sinister work of the devil that will continue to haunt me in my dreams. 

The story behind this Russian castle was that a woman had died after giving birth to her child. In his grief, the husband hired an old maid to fill the slot as mother and care for the baby. The child acted strangely. Crying throughout the day only to sleep soundly at night. When the maid went to investigate she noticed somebody come in at night to care for the child. After alerting her employer, he rounded the townsfolk and they staked out all night to catch the person in the act. To their horror they found the ghost of the dead wife breastfeeding the baby. The next day the child was dead. 

Few people from neighboring cities shared with us their personal experiences with the castle. Many people experienced being scratched or having their hair pulled. Ominous whispers that made the hair on their neck stand on end. We found irregular cold spots spread throughout the inside of the stone walls. Angelina felt the despair of a mother losing her child. Our spirit box even emitted the words, "lonely, abandoned and hurt". We all felt at this point we were finally making contact with the dead mother. 

About four hours after the start, we were standing outside of the room that was once the nursery to the unfortunate child. We held our electronic recorders in front of us while asking questions. Nonetheless, we didn't get anything. I decided to take a radical approach. I started demanding things of the spirit. Demanding their cooperation. Calling the mother a coward for taking the life of her child so they could be together. I have learned from experience that angering the spirits gets them out from the shadows enough to communicate.

A shrill scream interrupted our session as Angelina cowered into the corner grabbing her head. Upon cease of her cries she looked up at us with eyes of contempt. As she spoke her voice seemed more guttural and harsh. She looked at one of the camera men from the TV network and asked how his mistress was doing. We all stood shell shocked as to how she could come up with this accusation. The man she focused her attack on dropped the camera speechless. 

My hands acted before my brain could process. I pulled the rosary from my neck and thrusted it onto Angelina's forehead. Her once silenced screams started to fill the echoing halls again. I knew she had to be facing some sort of demonic possession. While under the possession of a demon, one can have the power to know the darkest secrets of a person they just met. She growled with a distinct primal tone while she spoke in tongues. The other camera men meant to close in on her disposition while I tried to rid whatever had taken over my colleague. One look at Jacob and he rushed to push them away. I wouldn't let the world see our friend in a state like this. In the midst of the chaos I witnessed three scratch marks appear on Angelina's cheeks, mocking the Holy Trinity. Blood started to pool from her eyes as her head was thrown back in anguish. The sweat upon my brow increased as I added holy water to equation hoping for the sum to be my friend's release. I called on Jacob to help me hold her down. He only took one step before he was thrown across the room by an invisible force. The rest of the network's men had run out of the castle at this point. It was me, Angelina, an unconscious Jacob and whatever demon I was facing. I muttered the few prayers I had remembered from my short stint at Sunday school as a child. Until I heard the words fall from Angelina's lips that echo in my mind to this day.

"You fool, I was able to kill a child with ease. Who is to say I'll have no issue decimating you?"

A/N: I have been watching a little too much Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural lately so writing about a paranormal investigation team came with ease. I wanted to take the original story of the dead mother and modernize it. Then, of course, I wanted it to be thrilling so I made the change that it was never really the ghost of the mother in the first place. Only a demon in disguise; a wolf in sheep's clothing if you will. It has been said that demons will disguise themselves as less intimidating people or things in order to communicate with the living easier. Clearly Logan lives to tell the tale but I purposely left out the fate of Jacob, Angelina and even Logan's own sanity to add to the abstruse ending. 

Bibliography: "The Dead Mother", Russian Fairy Tales by W. R. S. Ralston (1887)    

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Reading Notes: Russian Part B


Female spirit

This week I chose to read about Russian folklore. Many of the Russian folklore from the unTextbook surround the supernatural (i.e. ghosts, vampires, witches and warlocks) This is right up my alley because I am completely obsessed with the supernatural. I am not sure if I am a believer in ghosts per se, but I really want to. The story that took me the most was the first one in the collection. The story is about a the child of a husband and wife. When the wife dies the husband worries about how he will take care of the baby on his own. To aid his worries he hires an old woman to take care of the child. The old woman notices that the child is unruly during the day but at night can sleep soundly. When investigating one night she heard somebody walk into the nursery. After alerting the father, the townsfolk gathered to do a group investigation as to who was entertaining the child at night. Upon investigation the watched as the dead mother walked into the room and breastfeed the child. I like how the author described the townsfolk as "terror-struck". Unfortunately, in the end the child was dead upon discovery. In my opinion, I felt that the mother felt that if she could not have this private time with her child she would take him away from the wandering eyes. Therefore, by killing the baby, she could essentially be free to do as she desires. Be a mother. I think that if I was to retell this story I would definitely modernize it. Instead of the townsfolk I would write in paranormal investigators. I could try to spin it as if it was a group of investigators filming for a paranormal TV show, like the ones I'm so obsessed with.

Bibliography: "The Dead Mother", Russian Fairy Tales by W. R. S Ralston (1887)   

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Week 13 Story: "stan"


Harry Styles on tour in Nashville

In the city of Nashville where country music reigns supreme, there was a girl by the name of Olivia. Olivia, despite her peers' affinity for the sound of the south, was not a fan. She quite actually despised it. She found herself in her room listening to the sound of alternative rock most often. There was only one artist that could take her away from the continuous loop of guitar riffs and snare drums in her head. That was Harry Styles. She had been a devoted fan of his since the days of One Direction. And her love for the singer only grew throughout his solo career. 

On the day of Harry Styles' newest album release, Olivia found herself singing along to the new tracks while she walked through Downtown Nashville to go to his concert. As she passed by a nearby bar multiple men found themselves distracted by her head bobbing and singing. Enraged by their own prejudices against the artist they quickly banded together to teach the girl a lesson, even though she was doing nothing wrong. The men quickly left their table and followed the girl. Due to her headphones and being completely enveloped in the music she had no idea they were anywhere near her.
The men were finally able to circle around her and started to yell and criticize her taste in music and insult her favorite artist. Because she was one girl in the presence of a group of men she felt very vulnerable and scared. 

Olivia couldn't breathe. No words could escape her lips nor could she escape the situation itself. She feared for what might happen next with this group of drunken men until she heard a voice shout, "Hey!".
The group of men turned to see a swarm of girls flocking around them. Screaming at them the same way they had done to Olivia. Olivia felt a pair of arms grab her and pull her away from the men. She looked up to see a kind face looking down on her. Olivia joined the group of girls in efforts to scare away her tormentors. With victory, the squad of girls was able to scare away the drunken country fans.  

"Thank you so much for that I don't know what would've happened if you all didn't show up," Olivia breathed out a sigh.

"No worries, we would never let a fellow Harry stan get into trouble. It's just like he says, 'Treat People With Kindness'," The girl that had helped her escape winked back at her. 

Olivia's heart swelled at the thought that a mutual interest in a musical artist could have saved her that day. She went to the concert and felt an even bigger sense of community than she had felt only a few hours prior. Olivia had never been more grateful to be a Harry stan. 

Author's Note:
This story is surrounded by fan culture terminology. If you don't know, "stan" is a word that was created to describe someone who is a fan of something. But not just a usual fan, "stans" are completely enveloped by the content. Whether it be a musical artist, actor, or even a book series. Because this could be loosely related to religion I decided to use it in my retelling for "The Prioress' Tale: Little Hugh". Originally written by Chaucer but retold by Eva March Tappan in The Chaucer Story Book written in 1908. In the original a boy named Hugh is killed on behalf of Satan for his public singing of a hymn about the Virgin Mary. His body was left hidden but the VIrgin Mary allowed him to be found by placing a grain on his tongue that allowed his voice to carry even in death. For my retelling I decided to change the ending and not have my protagonist die. But to use the person my character looks up to and have a way for them to save her life. (p.s. Yes, I understand that I basically wrote a Harry Styles fanfiction, let's just pretend it didn't happen.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Reading Notes: British/Celtic Part B

The Blessed Mother

The  story I decided to focus on was called The Prioress’s Tale: Little Hugh. The story follows a young boy named Hugh who has an affinity for the Virgin Mary. One day in school he hears a hymn his classmates are singing and is captivated. After asking an older classmate what the song means he karen’s that it is a dedication to the Blessed Mother. The boy was delighted and somewhat obsessive over the song. I believe that his obsession over the Blessed Mother and this song in general could signify devout Christians. High would sing the song to and from school. Eventually Satan grew tired if hearing this boy and called upon the Jews to discard of the boy. They hired a murderer to take care of the boy. I can also see this as a metaphor for those who seek to disprove those with faith. High is killed and left for dead in a ditch. But is found because even in death his voice rings out singing the remembrance song of the Blessed Mother. I found that the end of this story was a bit unnecessary. The fate of the Jews and an explanation of how the boy was able to sing was revealed but if I rewrote this I think I would leave it up to mystery as to what happens. 

Bibliography: “ The Prioress’s Tale: Little Hugh” The Chaucer Story Book by Eva March Tappan (1908)

Week 15 Story: Dante's Inferno The Video Game

  Video game Nathan had finally convinced his mom to buy him the best birthday present ever. The all new, Dante's Inferno: The Video Gam...