I’m a horror fanatic, and I am not the type of person who scares easily. So when I had the opportunity to research the fantasy of "creepypastas," I couldn’t pass it up.
I already knew the popular myths of Slender Man and The Rake, who always seem to pop up on Facebook and Twitter. But for Echo, we wanted to create something different, something we had not seen already: Wanted posters for some of the top creepypastas.
You may ask, where in the world do you find these scary characters? Let’s just say I set a personal record for how much time I can waste on the internet. My eyes hurt from staring at the screen, but I couldn't help but be sucked into this world of terror. I read story after story, each one a little different from the last. Some were so well-written that I almost believed them for a moment.
I started off with a long list of different characters, about 15, then cut it down to eight. But I found a lot of the stories were just so disturbing that I didn’t want to overwhelm our readers, so I condensed it down to four with local connections.
This is where the struggle really began. I was deep into Google, asking people on Reddit, searching for the original stories, but the original authors are lost to time. Their stories have evolved into crowdsourced masterpieces, which is the point of creepypastas: they change from one thing to another.
My next problem was trying to find a source to talk to me about creepypastas. There is no such thing as a “creepypasta theorist” or a “creepypasta expert”. Noe one, and I repeat no one wanted to comment about them. I reached out to book authors and conspiracy theorists, but not a single soul emailed me back. Nobody in the Reddit community would speak to me. I felt my stress level skyrocketing at this point.
But then I realized, all of this was playing into the fantasy of creepypastas. All these unknowns were creating the illusions that these characters could be out there somewhere.
Then I stumbled upon some interesting news articles. In 2014, two girls from Wisconsin lured one of their friends into the woods and stabbed her multiple times, claiming that Slenderman told them to do it. In another news story from last year, I learned that a 12-year-old girl from Indiana killed her stepmother because of Laughing Jack, another creepypasta.
So my question is, are these characters real, or are they all a figment of our imaginations?
I’ll leave that for you to decide.