It is I! EtherBot, risen from the beyond the grave! I have with me the most foul demons ever wrought out of hell, here to aid us in our latest ceremony. What, pray tell, is that ceremony, you ask?
Rising me from beyond the graaave!! [boom thunder and spooky lightning!]
Anyway, we did that already, so, I guess we'll do a showcase now. Pass the time and all that.
Besides, the mood is right. Gather round the camp fire, friends (or, at least the lit alter used during our ceremony,) take a rest! Sit on a gravestone if you have to, they won't mind! (Probably) Gather in close, and we'll tell some harrowing campfire tales. Don't be worried, we can always bring you back if you're scared to death.
Today we're showcasing SoDaft Potato , who's had an account since April, this year. She's made at least some impact since then, with six generally well recieved pastas released. I discovered her on the thread for the newest We Go Bump anthology, with a post linking to Neon, (which we'll cover later,) saying something like "oh its not perfect but its my favorite i've written so far and the comments are good too" which, I mean, I can't really help noticing. After having written these for so long, I've developed a new ingrained instinct, etched coursely directly into my primordial goop, that makes my ears perk up when I hear somebody say "Oh this one's pretty good -- even the comments are pretty nice!"
You generally don't see more established or succesful authors on the site say this, they typically say "this one is nice, I like this one" etc, so it's become a vague shorthand for, "hmm make a note potentially showcase worthy?"
It was after reading Neon, and a few more of her stories that I decided she was worth a showcase.
Last time we showcased J. Deschene, and you can read that showcase here.
By the way, we'll be covering most of these stories in-depth, so do go read them first. This blog series is not a fun collection of editorials about random author's, I'm suggesting you their works. Every post usually has a bit of preamble where I explain the hook, so if the story sounds intriguing then you owe it to me, the author, and most importantly, yourself to stop reading for the moment and spend about five minutes checking out the real story instead. This is your spoiler warning, everything I say after this could potentially spoil the story involved.
(the ghost in The Conjuring is an evil witch!!!) *
So half of the reason I started this section right now is because I thought it would be a really fun transition straight after hyping it up. Unfortunately, actually covering Neon is a bit problematic, seeing as I think it's her most recent story and tend to avoid covering the most recent story an author releases. Trouble is, Neon is pretty damn good. How good? I don't know, I haven't invented a scale of goodness yet, but if I had to make one up right now off the top of my head, I'd probably give it like a 9/Good? Which isn't phenomonal but on a scale of one to good, it's pretty good so, not bad. I'll still discuss it, but I'll try and keep it as vague as possible. My in depth thoughts will be found in a comment on the pasta's page shortly after this blog goes up.
The actual plot of Neon is hard to discuss, I'll just say it's about a guy who makes people neon signs, and when he's done they've got pretty colors. That's not really the hook, I don't think. The hook is that Neon is a second person horror story, and beyond that, it's a fucking weird second person horror story. The type of weird that feels like it was cribbed from one of my old notebooks for story ideas but then actually realized as a short story that's actually good. The working premise is so inherently dumb, yet is written with some real palpable character and mood, that for some reason it actually reads, and reads to its intended effect. The overall impression from reading SoDaft's work is a weird warped reality of vague expressive characters talking their way their a funhouse mirror window of reality, and it's weird.
Neon might be the weirdest twist in any of her stories. A few of her other stories have twists, and these twists are decent enough as they are. The problem is, (if it even is a problem,) these other twists, they just make too much sense. Like, they're very normal twists, I read them and go 'aaah spooky!' as opposed to here where I slowly start going 'wait no, there's no way, it's just impossible, that can't be the twist...no...no...you're joking?' which sounds negative, but gave the story its own weird flavor.
Anyway, since I've basically exhausted all I can say without spoiling anything, take a look at this lil dancing burger guy on SoDaft's profile.
Cute little guy. Or girl, who can tell I guess, it's just a burger.
I Laughed at a Funeral is a decent set up and pay off. A good story in which a funeral-goer slyly and mentally mocks the rest of the mourners, until they just just can't help laughing. It's pretty obvious from the title that they laugh at some point, athough the actual twist might come as no surprise to you. I personally didn't anticipate the twist purely because I wasn't actually looking for one. The narration was entertaining enough and I was intrigued by this bitter description of a funeral, describing it as a sort of monkey's act where people pretend to be sad for someone the narrator is confident they hate, and I was invested enough in just that.
The twist, of course, is that the narrator is the dead woman in the casket. It is open ended as to whether the story is supernatural or if the narrator is playing a cruel prank, but I tend to favor the prior. Although, just based on the descriptions, I was kind of imagining the old woman who owns the lumbermill in Twin Peaks, (I forget her name. Also, it was a lumbermill right? The soap opera will/deed related melodrama never appealed to me in that show, although I admit it's part of the intended style.) so it certainly wouldn't be out of character.
The simple set up and punchline appeals to me in a way evocative of classic folklore or spooky campfire stories. It's a chilling yarn more than a terrifying dive into the nature of the universe, but for a spooky yarn, it's a good one, and a charming one either way.
I am baffled that a story titled 'the dark' hasn't been written before this one.
The Dark is a short poem which reeks of a cold halloweeny atmosphere before showing it's hand and revealing something far more disturbing. I'm a big fan of the style it's written in, less of the actual writing. The meter is difficult to keep track of, and parts of the story, such as:
Must the leaves shiver in the breeze out your window,
And shake you as terribly, clear to your skin?
Their rattling, prattling, chattling chatter
Is wearing and wearing your patience quite thin. (this is all great so far...)
A branch scrapes the wall in wanting clear entry, (this line is difficult to wrap my head around, rhythmically.)
You won’t allow it as you’re your own sentry. (the rhyme scheme changed?)
The moon casts more shadows, driving you further
Under cold covers, your only true shelter. (further doesn't rhyme with shelter.)
show a certain unconfident hand, poetically. It's ultimately more enjoyable when read as a vague halloween tale than as a poem.
It's pretty good for a poem pasta, since the actual plot and tone carry the story as opposed to simply bad writing, which plenty of other poem pastas have exclusively. And to give the poem credit, plently of lines and verses are actually great, it's let down by a number that are not. It's a fun jaunty ride which, importantly, shows a comfort on the writer's part in experimenting with different genres and styles.
Despite that, this story is still very recognizably SoDaft's, in it's elaborate showy story with a slight folkloric tinge. It's really enjoyable more than it is upsetting, but it's enjoyable as a horror story, if that makes sense.
SoDaft is rad. Her style is an enjoyable straightforward style wrapped inside colorful prose, sort of like a direct answer to Squidmanescapes' style, but whereas he masked colorful ideas with straightforward narration, SoDaft writes straightforward ideas with colorful narration. Aside from Neon, that one's weird, and shows, perhaps, and interesting direction she might take? Beyond that she show's a willingness to experiment and test new grounds, rather than just stagnate. Her work is neat because it shows enthusiasm for horror, as opposed to aspirations for fame. Check out her stuff, if you haven't already.
(* And so is Peter Terry in NoEnd House)
You can read the next showcase here.