Scared Stiff

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wander-nameless 1/23/17 (Mon) 7:32:55 #92638920

I stayed up late last night after making a fascinating discovery, one that I wanted to share immediately. Of course, that was the exact moment my internet chose to go down. But today is a new day, and I'm here to share some knowledge you probably forgot.

If you were like me as a kid, you probably weren't interested in reading anything. Except, of course, the "Scared Stiff" series.

Scared Stiff was a series of children's horror books published in the late 90s and early 2000s, following in the footsteps of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Goosebumps. It's hard to say how many there were, but a reasonable estimate places the numbers between 35 and 50 novels, each about 100-200 pages long. As I recall, these books were marketed towards kids who didn't like reading, and usually had a pretty dry and macabre sense of humor. Each book featured a different set of characters facing some unusual and horrific challenge. Despite the horrific premise, most books usually ended okay for their protagonists, but many featured some sort of ambiguous "or are they" twist at the very end. It didn't do too well in the shadow of the previously mentioned series, which were honestly of better quality, and it faded into obscurity by the late 2000s.

s0sp00ky 1/23/17 (Mon) 7:55:12 #28362710

You forgot to mention the author, H. O. X. Blackthorn. I always presumed it was a pseudonym (the initials spell out a possible phonetic spelling of "hoax"). I read several of them, and I read about half of several more. I could never really get to the end.

KatyDidnt 1/23/17 (Mon) 8:14:41 #48263911

I completely forgot about Scared Stiff until you mentioned it! Man, that series was completely fucked up. I gave my sister one of my copies, gave her nightmares for weeks. Good times. Doesn't surprise me that this series ends up memorialized here, but I'm wondering what horrific events/conspiracies could possibly be connected to this series.

wander-nameless 1/23/17 (Mon) 8:58:32 #82263919

No horrific events uncovered (yet), but a pretty weird conspiracy.

See, I did a lot of digging last night, and I'm pretty sure Scared Stiff doesn't exist. Stay with me for a second.

Like others, I thought H. O. X. Blackthorn was a pseudonym, and when I searched it last night my suspicions were pretty much confirmed, no surprise there. But searching for it revealed a shockingly small amount of information. I mean, wikipedia had a page for that god awful Goosebumps knockoff, "Shivers," but nothing for Scared Stiff. I was able to find a few forum posts that mentioned it in passing, and was able to discern from there that the books were released by "Lacuna Publishing." No record of such a publisher exists, and the word "lacuna" means a gap in language.

The few titles I can remember yielded no results when searched. I searched a few old catalogues and found no mention of the titles. Im stopping by my library later today, I'll check to see if they have any copies of the book in stock or on file.

KatyDidnt 1/23/17 (Mon) 9:20:29 #62378267

Weird! You know, I used to think those stories predicted the future. I remember reading the one about the horrible earthquakes that tore the earth in two, and the next week there was a pretty big earthquake in my neck of the woods. I was convinced reading the book had caused it. So I reread it that night, lol.

Whomst-Will-You-Call 1/23/17 (Mon) 10:42:16 #03642937

My brother read the one about the kids who turn into parrots, and the next day he swore he coughed up feathers. I always thought he was just being a little shit and pranking us.

wander-nameless 1/23/17 (Mon) 12:53:04 #38295661

So I just got back from the library. They didn't have any physical copies in stock, no surprise there, but when I searched it up on the computer catalogue, nothing came up. Like, straight up nothing. Which is weird, because I know I read several of them by checking them out of the library. I tried searching up Lacuna publishing, and again nothing came up.

It's funny that you guys mention the books seeming to predict the future, I remember thinking that the books caused the future. Like, I read a book where a guy was stuck in a time loop, and I had the weirdest deja vu for days after.

s0sp00ky 1/23/17 (Mon) 2:24:15 #14293674

It's probably just a coincidence. Like the Barenst(a/e)in Bears thing, you know, where there was some arbitrary decision made somewhere on the branch that has far reaching effects and causes people like us to go crazy searching for meaning. Still, it's a nice trip down memory lane. My favorite was the one where the girl turns invisible, though I didn't think I had turned invisible afterwards.

KatyDidnt 1/23/17 (Mon) 5:16:01 #14233187

> s0sp00ky: Thinks it's a coincidence

> s0sp00ky: Posts on Parawatch

Whomst-Will-You-Call 1/24/17 (Tue) 3:07:48 #03642937

So at first I thought you guys were being ridiculous, but I did some research. I did a lot of digging. A lot. And I'm back to share what I've learned.

We can be more exact about the release dates, the earliest was released in 1997 and the latest was released in 2003. By my estimates, there are about 44 books, plus or minus a few. Lacuna seemingly operated only to publish these books. My initial research led me to believe the books were distributed all over America, but I've discovered holes in distribution in the south, the midwest, and a few other places (namely Hawaii and Alaska). I kept researching. And the more I researched, the more I remembered, and I remembered something pretty big.

H. O. X. Blackthorn is mentioned in every single book. I'm nearly positive of this, every book I read had a mention of him and I've seen at least one other person mention that the author avatar appeared in the books. What's more, the reference is always the same every time, an unnamed man clothed in grey, who is looking for Blackthorn (to my memory, sometimes it was written as searching for "a black thorn" due to the characters' ignorance). To my knowledge, the later the volume was released the more desperate the man got, despite never seeming to get closer to his goal.

Here’s where it gets weird(er): this mystery man exists. There are recorded web appearances of a man using a grey suit avatar to search for Blackthorn. At first I thought he was imitating the character in an attempt to find Blackthorn, but instances of his correspondence date back and to 1993, several years prior to the publication of the first novel. Somebody was looking for Blackthorn. Blackthorn knew and made this man a character in his books.

And the weirdest part, I don't know if this is a dream or a memory or a fantasy, but I swear, I met the man in the grey suit. And he warned me to avoid Blackthorn's books. Told me trouble followed them. And regardless of whether it's real, I'm wondering if I should believe him. Because I've only discovered one forum similar to this one where somebody mentions seemingly predictive/causal properties of these books in passing. But I’ve discovered at least half a dozen news stories of local disasters where the series is referenced as portraying similar events, or else being a catalyst or inspiration for the event. Something bad happened with these books.

KatyDidnt 1/24/17 (Tue) 9:34:21 #927648302

Holy shit. So all of that combined with last night and I'm getting a little spooked. Well, more spooked than normal.

I talked with my sister about Scared Stiff last night (she thought it was Goosebumps at first). The one that freaked her out was kind of a Toy Story Gone Horror plot, basically the main character's toys came to life and began plotting to trap mc as revenge for being trapped or something? Like picture the Sid scene but like the toys are actually evil. She said that she got rid of all her toys pretty much immediately. I asked if there was some other reason why. She said at night she knew exactly where each toy was placed, and when she woke they had all moved around, and had moved closer to her. She laughed it off, saying she had a vivid imagination as a kid. Now I'm not so sure.

I asked her if she remembered anything about Blackthorn. She said she remembered that scene specifically from the book because she had weird deja vu with a conversation she had shortly after reading it. She says she thinks it was dream. I don't know what to think anymore. I know someone who knows something about publishing, I'll see if they can find out something about Lacuna.

s0sp00ky 1/24/17 (Tue) 5:35:17 #91627381

You'll never believe it, I found somebody selling a copy of the parrot book on eBay. I swooped in and outbid the maybe two bids it had received and asked for it to be rush delivered, should be here by Friday. I'm trying to get in contact with the seller, see what they know about it.

I remembered the invisibility book plot a bit better. Turns out, the mc isn't afraid of the invisibility, it's of being ignored. I definitely remember feeling overlooked at that point in my life. I'm not saying there's definitely something weird going on, but I'll look into what I can, when I have free time. Figure out if any of this makes sense.

wander-nameless 1/25/17 (Wed) 1:42:51 #91528364

Research into Blackthorn has yielded nothing. Research into titles has yielded nothing. I've been following forum threads and contacting people to see if they know anything, nothing yet. I'm visiting my parents' home this weekend, maybe looking through old boxes of books will reveal something. I'm trying to track this through every trick I can think of. Something's gotta give, we're close to figuring this out, I can feel it.

Whomst-Will-You-Call 1/26/17 (Thu) 8:30:37 #82619367

I'm looking into the guy who was looking for Blackthorn. Found a lot of weird things, but no luck yet. I'll keep you posted.

KatyDidnt 1/27/17 (Fri) 7:22:10 #92648302

So I have some bad news. Maybe it's good news? At the very least it's mundane news.

I talked with my publisher friend, and after a bit of digging, they found out about Lacuna. It was a small boutique publisher that seemed to be dedicated solely to publishing the Scared Stiff books in the contiguous U.S. They apparently were not able to distribute all over the country and had to strategically market which regions they thought the books would sell in, which would account for the apparent gaps in the regions.

I discovered something else fascinating if kinda dull. The books aren't originally English, they're German. "Angsthase" (roughly "scaredy-cat" in English) was a German children's horror series published from 1990-1996. 44 books, each one documenting a new cast of child characters facing some horror scenario, the titles and rough plots of the books correspond one-to-one with all our current information of Scared Stiff. The credited author of Angsthase was "D. E. K. Schwarzdorn" with D. E. K. being presumed to be a phonetic spelling of "deck" for "deckname," roughly "codename" in English and Schwarzdorn translating to, you guessed it, Blackthorn. Schwarzdorn's work is believed to be the combined works of several German children's book authors like similar serialized/anthology series before it (think Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys). Blackthorn is a mystery because they don't exist, and presumably the grey suit guy is just some guy who read the German and was roleplaying

From this I can come to one of two conclusions:

1. Lacuna was a small publisher that closed down a few short years after opening and for some reason was erased from records out of shame or just forgotten to time.

2. Lacuna attempted to rerelease the Angsthase series as Scared Stiff, and somebody from the original German team found out and told them to cut that shit out, removing every trace of Scared Stiff they could.

All of which is a long-winded way to say I don't think these books are that strange. Maybe we did just try and pin coincidences on these weird books during our formative years. Maybe there's a conspiracy going on, but it doesn't go all the way to the top. Sorry guys, better luck next time.

s0sp00ky 1/27/17 (Fri) 4:35:37 #62719362

Book arrived here. When I opened it, the first page comes with an attached bag of feathers and several sets of instructions for pulling off pranks with them. The seller was a German man, thought he had found a rare English translation of an Angsthase book, which in a way he had. That's why the auction was so hard to find to begin with, I was looking for the wrong name. I think we were just kids with active imaginations who got engulfed in the story yet again as adults.

Whomst-Will-You-Call 1/28/17 (Sat) 11:06:21 #16273521

Mystery man posts were a bust. The posts were just made to look weirdly old, and the person who apparently posted them said he'd never heard of the series in his life, leading me to believe the whole thing was faked.

wander-nameless 1/29/17 (Sun) 9:58:21 #56271425

I visited my parents this weekend, asked if they remembered Scared Stiff, they said no. I asked if I could look through the old books. After sifting through a few boxes, I found one book from the series, one that I had never read. Book 44. It was called "DevilsCrown.os" and it was about a kid who was trying to program a text adventure. The text adventure was a story about a playwright trying to complete a script. From what the story tells us, the script the playwright is working on centers on an artist dealing with deep depression, and much is made about a dream sequence the artist has (a narrative within the narrative), where every possible command must be accounted for, to represent the different paths the artist and thus the playwright could take. To handle the processing power of all these theoretical commands, the kid buys a new computer, a jet-black hard drive running an operating system called DevilsCrown. In typical Scared Stiff fashion, weird shit begins happening as he works on the game. Lines of code he never wrote show up, important stuff is deleted, and his home keeps experiencing power outages. Slowly, the dream sequence disappears, then the playwright's whole script, then the game with the playwright. The story ends with a power outage that makes the boy believe he's gone blind, as nothingness seems to surround him. He sees a blinding light, walks towards it, and the story ends.

The man in grey appears. He appears as a minor character in the game, a friend of the playwright, that begins speaking to the kid. Or so it seems. After the kid finally acknowledges that the man is speaking outside of his scripting and more towards the kid, the speech from the man moves from quotations to narration, a jarring shift that makes it feel like he's talking to the audience.

Stop looking for Blackthorn. You will not find him, and only misery awaits you on the path ahead.

That's not dialogue, that's not part of the character's inner monologue. That's said from the grey man to the reader.

I know, I know I'm rambling, but I don't know what else to do. I can't explain it, but I think I'm in danger. My power went out the second I got home. I swear I'm being followed by someone in a grey suit, and if I heard this from somebody else I'd think they were going crazy. Who knows, maybe I am crazy.

But how do you explain the terrible things that happened? I know humans can find patterns in everything, but every single person who remembers these books experiencing the exact same fiction coming to life bullshit is not a coincidence, it is definitely a pattern, and not one that bodes well. I don't think I scare easily, but I shouldn't have read this. I shouldn't have dredged this up, something bad is happening, and I don't know what. I'm scared to go home, and I know how pathetic that sounds, but I'm not crazy. Or maybe I am. But even if I am crazy, I'm not making this up.

If what happens in the story comes true, then I'm next. I'm the next thing to disappear. And I don't know how to stop it.

wander-nameless 1/30/17 (Mon) 8:23:16 #32719352

Haha, very funny. You got me good, whoever hacked into my account. Very clever story. The only reason you got away with this is because my wifi has been out for a week and I haven't been able to log into Parawatch. I'm changing my password, asking the site admins for an immediate investigation into who hijacked my account, and asking that this thread be locked to not confuse site visitors into believing this obvious hoax.

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