"I'm an arrogant bastard of a nerd, and I have a bad habit of thinking I'm always right. I obsess over stupid things. Greatly appreciate intelligent thought. Overimaginitive... Self-loathing."
So, Damien O'Connor. Proud nerd who lives with his roommate and childhood friend Ted. His '10 college courses have ended for the year, leaving him with his summer job at a boring department store. Said job would be practically unbearable were it not for the girl of his dreams, Amelia, being a coworker there. Damien eventually builds up the courage to ask her out.
Ted, meanwhile, has gotten interested in some strange meme that has something to do with a "slender man
" and "marble hornets
" after hearing about it at a gaming convention. Damien is introduced to the whole phenomenon by his roommate, and, despite finding it pretty scary, takes a strong liking to it
But little did Damien know that this supposed internet joke would have terrible repercussions for him and his friends. And little did he know that this urban legend would end up bringing back haunting memories from his past....The blog starts here
Also of interest, a potential novel adaptation has been announced on the author's personal blog here
Wrong! Confused? Well just read the "Author's" personal blog.BEWARE: Due to Wham Episodes and a Twist Ending, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
This blog provides examples of:
- Alien Geometries: The brick building behind Damien's childhood home.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Damien vomits when he remembers the things he did as TheArsonist and initially thinks he's the Slender Man as well, since TheArsonist shouldn't have known that Eve and Vincent would die without planning to do it himself. Amelia shortly afterward sighting Slendy eases Damien's mind on that front, at least. I mean, Amelia ends up dead right after that, but at least Damien isn't Slendy, right?
- Berserk Button: Just try directing homophobic comments at Ted while Damien is around. Hope that Damien doesn't strangle you out of anger.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Toss-up between the Slender Man and the Arsonist. Information is so scarce that we're not sure if they even know of each other, so let's assume they're unrelated.
- Bury Your Gays: Poor Ted.
- Deconstruction: One view of the Twist Ending is that the whole thing is a deconstruction of ARGs in general. In the context of the story, Damien was violently, psychotically delusional and insane, and the commenters, not knowing what he'd done in the process of turning his life into a Slenderblog, just encouraged his crazed fantasies, because hey, it's just a game, right?
- The Ending Changes Everything: In particular, his brother's comments on Damien's last post.
- Expy: TheArsonist starts off as one for totheark, right down to hints that the mask that Damien randomly gets is related to his appearance. TA ends up becoming quite different later on.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: TheArsonist claims that this awaits any of the Slender Man's victims, but adds that it may be possible to free their souls.
- Fun with Acronyms: Who's EVE? Well, if Ted is Adam, then Eve would be his boyfriend, right? No, it's Emily and Vincent Ellison.
- Also, the blog's name is Dreams In Darkness. Damien has Dissociative Identity Disorder.
- Gainax Ending / Twist Ending: Comments left on the final blog post result in one of these. Damien has killed himself, and the blog has, since Ted's death, been a falsified account of real events, effectively making it fiction within fiction. Everything we've seen since then has been a narrative constructed by Damien, pushed over the edge of sanity by Ted's death. There is no Slender Man, TheArsonist doesn't exist, the supposed drawings from Damien's childhood were drawn recently, and it's very possible that Damien was in fact the murderer of Emily and Vincent.
- Heroes Want Redheads: One of the first pieces of information Damien gives about Amelia is that she has curly red hair.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: You might want to watch Marble Hornets for yourself before you give this blog a go.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: M, writer of The Tutorial, is a regular commenter.
- There's also a rather cryptic comment from Zeke Strahm.
- Mind Screw: It's known from early in the story that the protagonist is mentally ill, but this isn't really brought home hard until the ending, which calls into question whether any of what came before was real, and if so, how much?
- Also, there's the "Author's" blog to consider.
- Multiple Endings: According to one amusingly paranoid Slendyblogger.
- Nested Story / Recursive Fanfiction / Literary Agent Hypothesis / Refugee from TV Land: Pick one. The supposed author's life is starting to get similarities to his story. People he knows start to resemble his characters, or the other way around. And then The Arsonist shows up. Time will tell if there will be a third blog, talking about a book deal for Deja Vu Dreamer.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Nearly word-for-word in the second post.
- Playing with Fire: The name "TheArsonist" is a rather appropriate choice, given Slender Man's knack for setting fires. Slendy himself actually does this to the house of Matthew Wilcox.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Date. was. great. That is all.
- "GET. UP. MAKE. ME. It seems Damien and his alternate personality even write like this, in all caps no less.
- Shout-Out: To Marble Hornets, Seeking Truth, and The Tutorial.
- The blog's banner is a panel from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.
- Considering Damien's reference to the band Thrice on his user profile, it's safe to say their song "The Arsonist" was the inspiration for the name of Watch This City Burn and its user account.
- "Now, more than ever, I find myself believing The Navidson Record could have actually taken place."
- Split Personality Merge: Damien attempts to achieve this (or at the least, communicate) with TheArsonist via meditation.
- Stylistic Suck: Watch This City Burn, Damien's fake Slender-blog, is an example of this before Damien's other personality takes it over and makes it an actual Slender-blog.
- Averted with the main blog itself; Damien put a lot of time and effort into making it look like he was actually being haunted by Slender Man, all the way down to actually killing Matthew Wilcox, among other things.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: It's established early on that Damien has issues; his mother was a paranoid schizophrenic who murdered his father and he's on antidepressants and antipsychotics. It's really hammered home at the end.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Damien is one to his childhood friend Emily.
- Unreliable Narrator: Well, he's got at least two personalities, for one...
- Slender Man may not have been the actual cause of his troubles, too.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The Arsonist seems to have a goal, and seems to have some sort of plan. Whether it's for the good of society or its detriment is unclear.
- Villain Protagonist: Damien's Split Personality is what causes everything to occur. He's actually the Arsonist, he killed Matthew Wilcox, he killed Emily, he killed Vincent, he manufactured the entire blog post-Ted's death, and he kills himself in the end.
- Wham Episode: "mynightonthetown.jpg".
- The comments on the final post, specifically, those made by Rick O'Connor and Zeke Strahm.
- newly posted by an anonymous, but with very familiar-looking type of text; "I AM BACK EVERYONE"