... even now I can hear the footsteps of that shambling monstrosity, and hear its eerie piping upon the wind. Poor Blakely, he never dreamed — but now the door is being smashed to flinders, and at last I behold what my meddling has awakened! And now it is dragging me across the floor toward its hideous suckered mouths! Ia! Ia! The Goat With a Thousand Young! No!
The horror manga, Mail, has a story titled "Portrait"; it starts with a woman picking up and arranging her sister's belongings after she had committed suicide via self-immolation and discovering her diary. The diary describes the last few weeks of her sister's life including finding a rare portrait and her growing obsession with it. It starts of with her trying to discover more about the painting, to learning more about the girl in the painting, to writing in her diary that she thinks there is something creepy going on in her apartment, to thinking that the source of the creepiness is that new painting she is so fond of to realizing that sometimes, the eyes of the sleeping girl would open up, to finally writing over and over again how she wants to die. When reading that last page, the woman who finds her sister's diary realizes that the last few pages handwriting slowly changes from her sister's handwriting to someone else's. When she realizes this, she looks at the portrait and realizes that it's looking straight at her. It turns out that the portrait of the girl still has the girl's spirit trapped inside due to the sympathy she got in life, cheering her to live on despite the fact that the only thing she ever wanted was to die and end her suffering and since then, has been committing suicide through the various owners of the portrait!
The Director's Cut of episode 21 of Neon Genesis Evangelion opens with a security video taken about a month before Second Impact. It starts off in a mundane way, picking up not only chatter from staff but a conversation between Gendo and Keel on the nature of scientists. Then with a crash, the scene cuts to the moment when Adam begins to grow into the Giant of Light, and we hear shouting from scientists trying to get the Angel under control. The picture cuts off just as Adam's giant, glowing hands reach into the frame. Similarly, all we see of the activation of Unit 04 is a mushroom cloud rising up from the test site, followed by static.
In Pokémon: The First Movie, Dr. Fuji records logs showing his team's eventual creation of Mewtwo. The final log shows their deaths at the mind of their enraged creation.
In the manga 7 Seeds, most of humanity died out in an apocalyptic event. The "7 seeds" are people who were put into deep sleep far below the surface, and then woken and released far in the future when the Earth has become habitable again. However, it turns out they were not the only humans to survive past the event. The main characters later find one of many vast underground shelters built before the event, but nobody is alive there anymore. They find a desiccated body and a journal kept by one of the entertainers asked to come work in the shelter to raise morale. Most of the inhabitants of the shelters were deceived as to why they were there, but come to accept their new life; at first the outlook is hopeful, and there are other shelters they can communicate with. However, eventually technical problems cause the food supply to fall short, and many of the residents of the shelter are told they are to be sent off to another shelter - in reality they are going to be killed. Supplies dwindle and, in addition, eventually contact is lost with all other shelters, presumably because everyone is dead. The journal's author writes of how he and the people in charge fabricate new communications from the other shelters so that the residents won't lose morale. Finally a virus breaks out and slowly the entire population of the shelter falls ill and dies. As he dies the journal's author manages to trap the virus in a freezer where it cannot infect anyone else. His last act is to paint a X on the freezer door, and then he dies outside it with his journal.
Attack on Titan features one in the side-story "Ilse's Notebook", about a member of the Survey Corps that religiously documented her activities and findings in a journal. Even as she's running for her life, she continues to write and she only stops when she's devoured by a Titan. It ends up being found a year later by Levi and Hange, and contains information that proves vital to the story later on. It reveals Ymir to be a person significantly connected to the Titans, but also provides our first hints that Titans may have very sinister and human origins...
The first is in an OVA, when the Gargantia fleet stumbles upon a giant derelict fleet that's apparently been abandoned and rusting away for quite some time. Based on the captain's logbook Ridget finds, along with some detective work from Pinion in the engine room, some light bugs crystallized the main engine, rendering it useless, and forcing the survivors to get on smaller ships and sail away. It also gives Ridget some closure as a Flash Back of seven years earlier reveals her friend left Gargantia to go with a guy she met on this particular fleet, and she had been wondering what happened to them since then.
A second one occurs in episode 9, when Ledo finds an old recording at the bottom of the ocean, which details humanity on Earth a long time back when it was starting to freeze up. The contents are a shocking revelation to him, and contradicts everything he'd been taught by the Galactic Alliance about their losing battle in the Forever War with the Hideauze aliens.It turns out that the Hideauze, which were also present on Earth, were genetically modified humans. The predecessor for the Galactic Alliance, the Continental Union, who believed humans should stay humans, were opposed to the genetic experiments performed by the Evolvers, who wanted to modify humanity so they could survive in space to leave behind an increasingly freezing and hostile Earth, and would later become the Hideauze. In space, both groups went to war with each other over their beliefs, while on Earth humans forgot about the Evolvers, and the Earth Hideauze gradually "evolved" into the "whale-squid" that humans generally stay away from and treat with some respect.
Magic: The Gathering: a number were posted on a special Wizards of the Coast website to fit the storyline of Scars of Mirrodin block - Farris of the Anvil, Unctus of the Synod, Kessla of Temple Might, Ria of Bladehold, and - technically - Roxith, Thane of Rot, a full-time bad guy. The final scorecard: Farris fighting a hopeless battle in the Phyrexian Furnace layer, Ria having saved her home city once but without a great deal of hope for next time, Roxith torn to shreds, Kessla killed by her own bomb, and Unctus corrupted by Phyrexian oil.
In Countdown, when an unstoppable virus destroys an Alternate Universe (a universe that had ALREADY been destroyed and remade), we see the last days from through the journal of Buddy Blank. We watch through his eyes as the universe becomes a planet where humans and animals are transformed into violent, bloodthirsty Half Human Hybrids.
Brilliantly used in Grendel to illustrate the self-doubts and conflicts within Brian Li Sung, as he slowly succumbs to the Grendel identity. The brilliant part is that what at first seemed to be mere doodles in his journal's margins turn out to be the musings of the increasingly self-directing Grendel spirit, itself!
Dr. Delia Surridge's journal in V for Vendetta. In the graphic novel (though not the movie), she describes V's art projects in fascinated detail; these turn out to be intricate bombs and poisons that he later uses to destroy Larkhill and escape. The graphic novel also mentions that many pages are missing, leading to much speculation over what info they may have contained. Finch suggests that the missing pages contained information on V's identity and the reason he was imprisoned in Larkhill, also claiming that given where the journal was found in the police search that he deliberately placed it there so the government could collect it.
The entirety of the illustrated novel Zombies: A Record of the Year of Infection is treated this way. The book is framed as a journal that was being kept by a young doctor attempting to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. It cuts off suddenly, mid journal entry, several days after the character reaches a supposedly safe haven. No explanation is given, and it is simply stated that the journal was recovered later, and no-one knows what happens to the journal writer, or the other people from the safe haven.
There is a possible explanation.The zombie plague was started by a totally-not-high-fructose-corn-syrup-honest food additive, with sufficient concentrations causing those who ate it to become the living dead. While the narrator is fairly strict about his diet, he has only one food he indulges in — baked beans, which he always eats with aplomb. The moral of this story is to always check the ingredients list of the food you eat... seriously, the book was rather Anvilicious in that regard.
Season 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: after dying in season 8 Giles' diaries are being read by Angel, who Must Make Amends by taking over Giles' responsibilities and who is trying to find a way to bring resurrect him.
Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: First-Aid records a log when the medical station is hit with a disease that causes the recipients to have their internal organs turned to liquid and cry out their eyes. He tries to stay hopeful as everyone dies or comes close to it, lamenting that he, and his remaining coworkers (except Pharma, who "accidentally" locked himself in a containment cell) are all infected, and will succumb to the disease soon.
In Sweetie's Mansion, Sweetie Belle finds torn pages of a shared journal by Madame Fleur and Spector that explains about how they lived before they were turned into ghosts and clues about the mystery of the mansion itself.
In Jericho, surprisingly given the setting, but also downplayed. The most exact events of what's going on are told from a little girl's diary, and so it's not explicit at all what's going on. While it's not a normal example of an apocalyptic log, since the end hasn't technically happened in them, they do tell a story of things getting worse, but, at the times Jericho arrives, the dark events aren’t over yet.
The Pony POV Series has two examples, both of which somehow ended up in the possession of the Interviewers, who eventually saw them end up in Twilight's possession.
The first is Razzaroo's book, containing every last detail of the G3 world and the ponies living there as the Alicorns and Draconequi erased it all from existence.
G2 Bon Bon's diary, containing accounts from herself and the other G2 Mane Cast on the collapse of G2 society and their G3 incarnations' reactions to the above mentioned erasure.
In the fanfic-of-a-fanfic, The Dark Past, the boys exploring an ancient alien spaceship discover the final log recording made by the only remaining relatively able-bodied crew member right before he killed himself. The recording gives them enough clues to understand what happened and also provides some plot exposition.
The Hidden Frontier season 1 episode Perihelion, in a manner similar to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Night Terrors, features an excellent cameo by Gabriel Köerner, in logs which show him deteriorating under the constant pressure of hallucinations, system failures and mutiny:
Felidae. The progressively alcoholic veterinary Dr. Preterius holds a pre-mortem camera diary of him and his two lab assistants trying to develop a new "glue" for organic tissue, by experimenting with homeless cats in his practice in his house's basement. The first trials lead to gruesome deaths of several cats, as the prototype glue turns out to be acidic. The next trials on a special homeless cat promptly named "Claudandus" are way more successful. However, they have to cut the agonized cat open again for further experimenting. Then, the experiment's funding is cut, and both of Preterius' lab assistants quit. Preterius, who is slowly succumbing to his alcoholism, keeps on working independently, and seemingly goes mad at the end when he claims Claudandus to be talking to him. It should be noted that Felidae is a crime story told from the viewpoint of a talking cat. Therefore, Preterius' ravings aren't as nutty after all.
Films — Live-Action
In the "found footage" genre of horror movies, a good portion of the film is supposed to be footage recorded by someone experiencing a horrific scenario.
The infamous exploitation film Cannibal Holocaust is split into halves, the first being the recovery of an Apocalypse Log, and the second being the log itself. Because the film was made way back in 1980, this makes the found footage genre Older Than They Think.
The Last Broadcast is a pseudodocumentary featuring found footage from a disastrous cable-access paranormal program. The film pre-dates the vastly more successful Blair Witch Project by a short time, causing many viewers to mistake it for a rip-off.
Cloverfield is a "worm's eye view" of a Kaiju film in which a man records himself and a group of survivors struggling through New York City during a monster attack.
[REC] and its American remake Quarantine are found footage recorded by a female reporter and her camera man while trapped inside an apartment building with zombies. There's also a subversion of the trope when they discover a dictation machine in a Room Full of Crazy. You'd assume that the machine would hold an Apocalyptic Log about the zombie virus's origins, but the batteries are dead, so the message is incomprehensible.
Paranormal Activity is presented as footage taken by a man whose girlfriend is being terrorized by a demon. It's made pretty obvious that putting up a camera has only made the demon more active - and angry.
Man Bites Dog is also an example that predates the Blair Witch Project.
The style of 28 Days Later is meant to evoke this, even though the film itself doesn't fit the category. Aside from shooting on relatively inexpensive DV cameras and using odd angles to mimic a "found footage" look, several scenes were deliberately staged to resemble photographs from the genocide and war in Bosnia.
Grave Encounters is this. It's supposed to be the footage the titular ghost-hunting show takes when they go into an abandoned mental hospital to film an episode. Obviously all of it was supposed to be fake (as shown by the spokesman of the show paying a custodian to say he saw something creepy), but, of course, the ghosts soon turn out to be real, and very, very nasty. It seems to switch between the in-universe cameras and regular ones, though (probably so the whole film wouldn't be in slightly grainy green-light)
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (a remake of UFO Abduction a.k.a. The McPherson Tape) predates The Blair Witch Project and involves a family celebrating Thanksgiving in a secluded cabin when the power goes out. When searching for the source of the outage, the family stumbles on a UFO and a group of aliens who start terrorizing the family. Besides the typical "shaky cam" effect, suspense is added by the fact that the aliens are never shown in detail, as their very presence somehow causes the camera to pixelize. The aliens also possess some sort of Psychic Powers, allowing them to mind control the family. There are two endings: one involves the family members disappearing one-by-one, with the boy holding the camera finally dropping it when coming face-to-face with one of the aliens; the other has the aliens simply walk into the dining room, the family marches out under mind control, and an alien switches off the camera.
Some of the footage used in The Bay is this, like the videos left by Dr. Abrams, head doctor who must deal with the outbreak at the local hospital, and Jennifer, a young girl who records the progress of her infection via a YouTube-like web app.
I Am Legend is a variation on the typical setup, as its the main character keeping the log of his continuing research into the plague, almost three years after the Vampire Apocalypse.
Island of Terror had such a log, explaining how anti-cancer research resulted in the creation of the bone-eating Silicates.
In Serenity, the crew of the eponymous ship head to the planet of Miranda and come across a lot of dead folks who had apparently lain down and died with no explanation. When they come across a video log from a rescue mission, they find out what happened to the planet. They also see what happened to the rescuers. We don't see, but they do.
George Pal's version of The Time Machine in the form of the talking rings that explain how a nuclear conflict created two separate species of humanoids.
In The Killer Shrews (another MST3K episode), there is a Narmful scene where a scientist, having just been bitten by one of the title monsters, sits down at a typewriter and records the process of his body succumbing to the shrew's poisonous saliva. Based upon the real-life incident of herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt (see folder "Real Life", below).
When the Fellowship reaches the Mines of Moria, they find Balin's journal next to his grave, which reads:"They have taken the Bridge and the second hall: we have barred the gates...but cannot hold them for long...the ground shakes...drums in the deep...we cannot get out. We cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. Will no-one save us? They are coming...They are coming."
King Arthur:(about the inscription on the rock) What does it say, Brother Maynard? Brother Maynard: It reads, "Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the holy grail in the Castle of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh..." King Arthur: What? Brother Maynard: "The Castle of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh". Sir Bedevere: What is that? Brother Maynard: He must have died while carving it. Sir Lancelot: Oh, come on! Brother Maynard: Well, that's what it says. King Arthur: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn't have bothered to carve "Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh" into the rock. He'd just say it. Sir Galahad: Maybe he was dictating it. King Arthur: Oh shut up!
This is actually a humorous subversion. "Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh" is actually the name of the castle where the Holy Grail is being kept.
A very abbreviated version can be found in Event Horizon, wherein the salvage crew finds the ship's logs. The first portion shows the ambitious crew getting ready to perform the experimental hyperspace jump, but it cuts out at the moment of entry, to be replaced by horrific images of what happened to the crew after the trip. The last coherent line recorded on the log is "Liberate tutume ex inferis", or "Save yourself from hell".
The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) has one from an Asian and Nerdy video blogger. We see several video entries about his dreams of Freddy... and then we see one with him asleep. He then suddenly slams into the camera and the screen blacks out.
The pseudo-remake of Day of the Dead had the survivors come across a scientist's video-log in a underground medical facility (which was very reminiscent of Resident Evil). The log also shows the scientist turning into a zombie.
In the cult classic Night of the Creeps, James Carpenter "J.C." Hooper leaves a audio recording for his friend explaining how the alien leeches get into your head and incubate. They then create more "brain slugs" before they kill you and reanimate your corpse. His voice is clearly changing, due to the fact he's slowly turning. It's one of the few things in this Horror/Comedy hybrid film that's played bone chillingly straight.
The DVD extras for Zack Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead (2004) had a video log of Andy's last days right up until he became a zombie. The log also had a short clip of what appears to be his family, which he partially recorded over.
Subverted in The Core: Zimsky records his thoughts on his impending death... until he realizes the tape recorder's going to die with him and bursts out laughing. His final words are "What the fuck am I doing?"
Planet of the Apes (2001) has this, explaining how the crash of Leo Davidson's ship turned the desolated planet into a simian dystopia.
The original 1954 Gojira featured a reporter giving a blow-by-blow description of Gojira's destruction of Tokyo, ending with his description of the monster's attack on the tower he was broadcasting from.
The Evil Dead trilogy uses this trope as the catalyst for its plot, as Professor Knowby, the researcher who first unearthed the Necronomicon, kept an audio journal chronicling his battle with his demon-possessed wife Henrietta, and his failed attempt to survive the night. Unfortunately, he'd also recorded the recitation of the demon summoning spell that'd accidentally caused the mess to begin with, meaning that anyone who listens to the whole tape ends up going through the exact same thing.
As the rescue team enter the deserted Glasgow in Doomsday we're treated to excerpts of Kane's log, detailing his frantic attempts to survive in a barricaded hospital as civilisation outside crumbles and burns in the aftermath of the Reaper virus outbreak.
Timothy Treadwell's tapes in Grizzly Man constitute this, even to the point of recording Tim and his girlfriend being eaten by a bear (although with audio only).
The BBC docudrama Supervolcano has a group of people watching the logs of a dying scientist, who documents the conditions of the U.S. after the eruption of Yellowstone. Subverted, in that the scientist actually survives, and is one of the people watching the logs.
The titular journal in Antarctic Journal clearly wants to be an Apocalyptic Log, but since the guys who find it don't really read much of it, and the pictures are vague, it fails in its attempt.
The anthology films V/H/S and VHS 2 revolve around a collection of these.
The Age of Stupid is a 2009 pseudo-documentary that is created as one. The various clips we see are old recordings from our time, viewed by a sole archivist played by the late Pete Postlethwaite, living in an arctic repository in the mid-21st century in a world where damage from climate change has driven humanity to extinction. The man attempts to create a film showing how humanity didn't save itself when it had the chance.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship go into the Mines of Moria, but find out that all the dwarves of Moria had died. They discover a chronicle of Balin's doomed attempt to recover the mines of Moria in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Gandalf finds the log of the last siege by the orcs:
"They have taken the bridge and the second hall. We have barred the gates, but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums...drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow lurks in the dark. We cannot get out... They are coming."
The last three words are written in a jagged scrawl with the final letter terminating in swift descending line. It's fairly obvious the author wrote this just before the last line of defense was breached.
The Last Survivors series is done this way.
John Barnes' The Sky so Big and Black is set in a solar system where they're terraforming Mars for living room. They can't use Earth any more, because it's inhabited by a hivemind united by a behavioural meme, Resuna, which is aggressively trying to spread itself to the rest of humanity (it just wants to help!). The novel is the log of a psychiatrist going over and adding to his notes of his latest patient, plucky Action Girl Teri, and is one part her adventures terraforming, one part a discussion of exactly how memes work to take over a person, and one part, well, where these two things intersect. The psychiatrist catches the meme off Teri, and the entries in his log show his mind going.
"The End of the Whole Mess", found in the collection Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Like Cloverfield, this one is a variation in that the entire story is the Apocalyptic Log and the reader is the one discovering it.
"Survivor Type", included in the collection Skeleton Crew, follows a similar tack, with the survivor of a shipwreck recording his time on a tiny rockpile of an island where there's pretty much no local wild life or edible plants. The spelling and grammar steadily deteriorate as he descends into madness. He eventually resorts to cannibalizinghis own body. "Lady fingers they taste like lady fingers."
One of King's recent stories "1922" turns out to be this. In somewhat Lovecraftian fashion, the writer apparently continues to write even as the supernatural rats that have stalked him since he murdered his wife finally get around to devouring him. Of course, it's possible that he's just insane... The epilogue indicates that the manuscript was devoured along with the man, subverting the trope.
King seems to like this trope. It's also in The Stand, in the form of Fran's and Harold's diaries-though they dont die while writing them.
H.P. Lovecraft loved these. Many of his stories consist almost entirely of Apocalyptic Logs, usually ending with the narrator in an asylum or clearly about to be eaten by something.
His non-mythos story, "The Temple," is supposed to be the log of a German submarine commander found in a bottle washed up on the Yucatan peninsula.
"Dagon" and The Thing On The Doorstep are even better examples. As referenced in the page quote, "Dagon" (and a number of other tales) end with the author writing something as the horror is entering the room. Why he actually writes his final despairing scream is a question only Monty Python can answer.
To be fair, Lovecraft does handle it more realistically than some of the more extreme parodies. In Dagon, for example, the final paragraph is written to sound like the narrator was frantically scribbling as much as he could and it is not entirely clear just what happens- just as much as you can say that he was attacked by a sea creature, you could also argue that he was just crazy and hallucinated the whole thing which led him to commit suicide by jumping out a window).
Also "The Hound", a short story about two grave robbers coming under a strange curse ends with the final lines revealing the entire story was a suicide note—the narrator could no longer cope with the unfathomable terror.
At the Mountains of Madness could be considered a variation of sorts. It's written as an account by one of the surviving members of the expedition regarding just what the heck happened, but it still serves a similar function. Lake's report on his discovery would be closer to a straight example, though it doesn't record the actual horror that he experiences. Also in a weird, twisted sense, the artwork which tells the story of the rise of the ancient empire of the Elder-Things, and their fall at the hands of the Shoggoths.
Lovecraft's not the only one to write stories like this in the Cthulhu Mythos. In Frank Belknap Long's story The Hounds of Tindalos, a police officer investigating a writer's sudden death finds a few scraps of paper he had written on, the last of which was apparently scribbled as he was attacked and killed by the titular monsters. Robert Bloch also wrote a story titled "Notebook Found in a Deserted House", which is basically a 12- year-old boy writing down everything that happened to him in a notebook while he's hiding from the horror that's literally just outside his house. It suddenly ends mid-sentence just as he's found.
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden includes a letter to one of the main characters from her father, early in the text. The sentiment is something like, "I'm going home to destroy this letter as soon as possible, so if you find this letter, I'm right and something is very, very wrong. Go bush."
In Garth Nix's Sabriel, the heroine discovers a magical recording of the last moments of a soldier's life.
Lords Of Night by Thom Brannan has the framing device of The Chosen One telling a story about how the Locust People escaped from the Atlantis exhibit at the Smithsonian and ended the world. Later, After the End, he writes about he and his associates tried to put it right.
"M.S. Found in a Bottle" by Edgar Allan Poe, also a Message in a Bottle. The protagonist states that he's writing the account for posterity, and that if he is about to die or suffer some other fate that would render him incapable of finishing the story, he will put it in the titular bottle and throw it in the sea. He apparently does so when he goes down a whirlpool on a ship full of The Voiceless...
A Hat Full of Sky quotes a few passages from a book recording a wizard's attempts to contain and control a Hiver, a mind-controlling monster that gradually turns whatever creature it possesses into a pathological id. To drive the point home, the last few pages degenerate into "Those fools! I'll show them! I'll show themall!!!!!" ranting, and finally completely incoherent random letters.
Thud! has the numerous, disjointed, seemingly-random-numbered notes left by the painter of The Battle of Koom Valley, who slowly went mad (including thinking alternately that he was being chased by a giant chicken and that he was a giant chicken). The last one — only known to be so because it was found under his dead body — read "It comes! It comes!!!" He was found with his throat full of chicken feathers.
In Guards! Guards! the last few pages of the Library's copy of The Summoning of Dragons have been scorched...
Frankenstein may or may not be one of these, depending on whether or not you think the sea captain who narrates the Framing Story will rescue his ship from the Arctic ice.
Dan Simmons seems to really enjoy these. In Hyperion the Apocalyptic Log is subverted as we get to read the journals from the character as he goes insane from sickness and then as he gets better. In The Terror it's much nastier as the journal appears through out the book slowly becoming more and more hopeless until in the final entry he tells us how he finally managed to kill the people who captured him as he dies of starvation, scurvy and freezing cold.
In the novel based on true events Mila 18, one person decides to keep a log of his starving to death as a Jew in Nazi occupied Warsaw. He figures since he is starving, he might as well contribute to science with full logs of all the effects. That is not the only instance of Apocalyptic Log, as other Jews also record the atrocities and their resistance for posterity. This is not a happy book.
The Third World War: August 1985 includes excerpts from the emergency logs of three communities during the war and pulls this twice. The first log ends when the building it is in is destroyed by a bombing raid (with a statement that the book was found in the ruins), but resumes with the backup copy describing the situation. The second, from an area in central Birmingham, ends with the warning of Birmingham's imminent nuclear destruction being received, stopping mid-word. A statement follows that its charred remains were found in the destroyed building.
A Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel features a Cyberman-obsessed researcher recording her experiences for future references as she is gradually converted into a Cyberman. Unusual, in that no one gets to discover it — once she's converted, her original personality is wiped away and she no longer recognises the logic in recording it, and so destroys the recording.
Australian novel Underground is essentially a set of memoirs written by Leo James — washed-up property developer and brother to the tyrannical Australian Prime Minister — during his imprisonment in the near-abandoned Parliament House. In these memoirs, he records the events that led to the permanent state of emergency, his unwanted travels up and down Australia's east coast, his capture and the weeks of torture and imprisonment that followed. The memoirs and the novel end with the moments before Leo's execution:
I hear marching footsteps in the hall outside. Orders yelled. I think the fuckers are actually going to shoot me in here. And God help them, they sound Australian.
In the Lord of the Rings parody novel Bored of the Rings, Tim Benzedrine leaves a note for the boggies the morning after they stay with him in which he enters a drug flashback while writing.
The Illustrated Star Wars Universe does this with a research team on Dagobah.
Maybe it's the same team, maybe it's not, but in Galaxy of Fear the protagonists, heading to Dagobah, find the malnourished and uneducated grown children of a survey team which had been stranded, and all of them were dead of one thing or another. The last adult left a datapad behind, with longer and longer gaps between entries as the item's power ran out. Fever, wild animals, and starvation were the threats. The last entry has the woman on her deathbed, weeping as she confessed that they had started to feed dead parents to their starving children.
The introduction to the novel of Dr. Strangelove says that the manuscript was found under a rock in the Great Northern Desert by aliens.
In Orphans in the Sky, a hidden log found by the original crew's remote descendants details the mutiny that led to their spaceship being lost in space and its inhabitants forgetting that there ever was anything Outside the Ship.
Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge. The diary of the person marooned in real time, while the rest of the survivors of the Singularity used stasis fields to leap forward in time. Decades long record of attempting to change the appearance of the surface of the planet enough to trigger the observation satellites. The hero has to be sedated after reading it.
At least half of Strange Objects by Gary Crew is taken up by the serialized journal of Wouter Loos, one of two convicted killers marooned on the western coast of Australia in 1629. At first a straightforward record of Loos and his "friend," Jan Pelgrom, attempting to seek shelter with a local tribe, the journal slowly becomes more and more supernatural- especially with the introduction of a mysterious ruby ring that Pelgrom wears. However, the truth of this particular matter is never quite resolved, as the most overt record of anyone displaying magical power is in the final chapter — by which time, Loos is delirious and barely coherent in his last pages.
Being a Scrapbook Story, Strange Objects also includes diary entries written in 1986 by the scrapbook's "compiler," Steven Messenger. The diary begins with Messenger's accidental discovery of a small cache of artefacts that once belonged to Loos and Pelgrom: though most of them are quickly handed over to the authorities, Messenger succeeds in taking one- a small jewelled ring, which he keeps on a necklace. As the months pass, he begins to experience a feeling of Being Watched, and frequently mentions encountering a silent "double" of himself. Eventually, Steven begins wearing the ring on his finger; according to the epilogue, he vanished from his home soon after and was never seen again.
C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces has Orual break off in mid-sentence, followed by a section (in italics) saying that she had been found dead with her head on the book. Unusually, she was not writing about her impending death; once she commented at the beginning of Part II that she wished she had time to do it over, but since time is short she will just go on, she never again alludes to knowing that she hasn't got much time.
In the last Empire from the Ashes book, Sean and friends find an ancient digital diary documenting the fall of society on that planet, as the general populous went mad from listening to the dwindling hyperspace transmissions of the Fourth Imperium as a loose bio-weapon killed everything on every other world, turning against technology as the source of the disaster.
Jason X Planet Of The Beast. The space station crew managed to acquire a few of the logs of the Blackstar 13 (a shuttle Jason had gone on a rampage in) before it crashed into a nearby planet. The last log was made by the ship's hiding and rambling cook, and ends with Jason bashing through the door, and horribly murdering him.
Otherland uses this trope in a rather interesting way by having the narrative point of view occasionally shift to Martine Desroubin's subvocalized journal entries. The segments are thus effectively an apocalyptic log in the progress of being written. They're doubly intriguing because she is blind and is therefore writing solely from her own experiences and perspective. Later, her journals are recovered from Otherland and she spends time reading them to analyze her own Character Development.
The Arthur Conan Doyle short story "The Horror of the Heights" details the adventures of an intrepid aviator who flies above 40,000 feet and encounters an "air jungle" - an entire ecosystem of atmospheric beasts. He barely escapes from a predatory creature on his first flight, and records his intentions to go back up later and explore more thoroughly. The framing story reveals that the aviator's plane was found crashed and the aviator himself missing. All that was found in the plane was a torn, blood-stained journal. The last words are hastily scrawled: "Forty-three thousand feet. I shall never see earth again. They are beneath me, three of them. God help me; it is a dreadful death to die!"
George R. R. Martin's "The Plague Star", the (chronologically) first Haviland Tuf story. The beginning of the story is a diary left by the last survivor of diseases sent by the title object, a biowar seedship of the Terran Ecological Engineering Corps. It describes how the plagues killed the alien inhabitants of the planet, his wife, and finally himself.
Also, in A Storm Of Swords, Sam's messages to Castle Black during an attack by wights take this form, as they start out informative but become terrified and hasty as the battle turns against them.
In David Brin's Kiln People, several of the disposable clones of Albert Morris get to describe their own demise in first person. As a lampshade/justification, Albert is used to them being unable to return to him for inloading, so he deliberately orders blanks fitted with voice recorders and a compulsion to recite.
An in-story example for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Oskar comes home from school early on the morning of September 11, 2001 and finds to the voice mails his father, who works in the WTC, has left on the answering machine. When he calls again, Oskar freezes and listens as his father's last words go to voice mail. He hides the tape out of shame and panic and never tells anyone, but listens to it by himself at times.
The Sound and the Fury has a depiction of one character's breakdown that works in many of the modern conventions, including using worsening punctuation and capitalization to show the character breaking down, a blackout that starts abruptly mid-sentence, and said blackout is filled with a just barely comprehensible, completely unpunctuated or attributed flashback about the source of the character's trauma, followed by a sudden, temporary jerk back to the present, in which we get to find out what happened while he blacked out.
In The City of Ember, a journal from one of the first residents of Ember is found as Lina and Doon find their way out of the city. In the prequel to Ember, The Diamond of Darkhold, this log is shown to be the work of the protagonist of Darkhold.
Hans Heinz Ewers's short story ''The Spider'' is about a hotel room whose guests always end up hanging themselves, and it mostly consists of the journal of Richard Bracquemont, a medical student who offers to investigate.
The novel of Double Indemnity consists of entries from the main character's diary leading up to his Suicide Pact with the star-crossed love interest. In the film, the story is told from the mortally wounded protagonist's recording on his Dictaphone.
The end of Rant by Chuck Palahniuk subtly implies a strange subversion of this. The interviews that make up the story are from a world that doesn't exist, but only because the events of the story caused it to cease existing. What's worse is that the story not only fails to tell the reader how to avert this "apocalypse" from happening again, it states that it can't be stopped, that it will happen again, and that nobody will ever notice except for the twisted degenerates that figured out how to pull this trick. Except for the few people who have become gods through murder and rape, reality is one big Lotus-Eater Machine.
The confessionalist school of poetry frequently deals with themes of mental illness and suicide. Perhaps its most famous member is Sylvia Plath, whose collection of poems Ariel and semi-autobiographic novel The Bell Jar chronicle her slide into clinical depression and, ultimately, suicide.
Oryx and Crake has a very short, but no less creepy, variation, found by the protagonist after a devastating global pandemic:
Beside a vase of withered flowers and a framed father-and-son snapshot—the child was a boy then, seven or eight—there's a telephone scratch pad. Scrawled across the top page are the words GET LAWN MOWED. Then, in smaller, fainter letters, Call clinic . . . The ballpoint pen is still on the paper, as if dropped from a slackening hand: it must have come suddenly, right then, the sickness and the realization of it both.
All three books of the Life As We Knew It trilogy are like this though minus the death ending.
Near the end of Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh series has Georgia's last blog-post, which begins very coherently, but slowly degrades as zombie-fication nears completion. The writing stops mid-word when the author is shot.
House of Leaves is three apocalyptic logs, embedded within each other; reading the story keeps driving people over the edge.
Septimus Heap: Syrah Syara's diary ends with her reminding herself who she is while succumbing to the Syren's possession.
Don Tumasonis' horror story "The Prospect Cards" is a sales catalog of very odd postcards. The back of each card has a fragment of the log from an expedition intended to milk an isolated tribe of all their wealth, while the front has a picture that hints at each expedition member's fate. The picturesaren'treassuring.
In Andromeda Nebula the starship Tantra, making emergency landing due to lack of fuel, discovers anothe starship, Sail, which was lost decades ago. There they find a log describing how Sail was forced to land, and how its inhabitants were killed one by one by some unknown creatures which always attack from the dark.
The fictional memoir that makes up the backbone of Julian ends as the titular character invades Persia. The rest is told in diary entries and field dispatches, which become increasingly harried as the campaign goes south.
The Ology Series features several among its installments, usually featuring the alleged author of the book and the tragic end of their research expedition. (Egyptology, Pirateology, etc). One exception that formula is Mythology, where the log is of a man who borrowed the book and wrote notes in the margins.
In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the lighthouse in Area X contains whole pile of apocalyptic logs: all expedition members keep a notebook of their experiences, and the notebooks of expeditions which never return always find their way to the lighthouse. By the time the biologist finds it, the pile has become alarmingly large.
"The Raw Shark Texts" begins with the main character having no recollection of himself, slowly reconstructing his history from an Apocalyptic Log he left for himself before the incident that resulted in his amnesia. Or at least, that might be what is happening- a little like House of Leaves the boundaries of reality and the text are somewhat thin.
Blackbirds has Miriam's diary, intended to be one in the making, until Ingersoll intuits her intentions, and Harriet subsequently tries to get her to go through with it. The one thing that stops Miriam from killing herself? Realizing that Harriet was eagerly listening in on the other side of the door, waiting.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, episode "Space Vampire". The title creature (called a "Vorvon") is being tracked by a man named Helson (possibly from "Dr. Van Helsing", as a Shout-Out to Dracula). Helson's drone makes a recording of him confronting the Vorvon: it ends with him being killed. Buck discovers the monster exists by watching the tape.
In the episode "Silence in the Library", the Doctor and his companion listen to a recorded message (censored "for tone and content") on a data-terminal in an abandoned library. "Message follows: Run. For God's sake, run. Nowhere is safe... We can't — Oh, they're here. Argh. Slargh. Snick. Message ends."
"I am the only one left now. I raise these stones to my wife, Astrid. May she forgive my sin. The day grows dark, and I sense the evil curse rising from the sea. I know now what the curse of Fenric seeks: the treasures from the Silk Lands in the east. I have heard the treasures whisper in my dreams. I have heard the magic words that will release great powers. I shall bury the treasure for ever. Tonight, I shall die, and the words die with me."
"The God Complex": The episode opens with a young policewoman writing an account of her final moments as she succumbs to brainwashing that seems to befall everyone who arrives in the 'hotel'. The Doctor and the others later discover this.
Parodied by Red Dwarf in the episode "Psirens". While investigating a derelict ship, the crew find a flight recorder showing a fear-crazed astronaut munching a burger as he documents the horrible fate of his crew. A hideous insectoid monster approaches as the astronaut backs away in terror. A spray of red splatters across the screen...
Astronaut: You've squeezed all the ketchup out of my burger!
In the second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the crew discovered the log of the last people to encounter the A God Am I effect of passing through the barrier at the edge of the galaxy. It ends with the ship's captain giving a self-destruct order.
"That Which Survives". The last survivor of a colony leaves a computer message for any of her people who might find it.
Losira: My fellow Kalandans, welcome. A disease has destroyed us. Beware of it. After your long journey, I'm sorry to give you only a recorded welcome, but we who have guarded the outpost for you will be dead by the time you take possession of this planet. I am the last of our advance force left alive. Too late the physicians discovered the cause that kills us. In creating this planet, we have accidentally produced a deadly organism. I have awaited the regular supply ship from home for medical assistance, but I doubt now whether it will arrive in time. I will set the outpost controls on automatic. The computer will selectively defend against all life-forms but our own. My fellow Kalandans, I, Losira, wish you well.
One especially notable case: in the episode "Contagion", the Enterprise downloads one of these from the USS Yamato. Unfortunately, the log had hidden in it the computer virus that caused the Yamato to blow up.
"Night Terrors" has a chilling log from the Captain of the "Brattain", who is going steadily insane.
"First officer Brink and his men were behind it. They got to the engines, they don't work anymore. Had to eliminate Brink!"
The Atlantis expedition finds an Apocalyptic Log in the pilot episode:
Melia: In time, a thousand worlds bore the fruit of life in this form. Then one day our people stepped foot on a dark world where a terrible enemy slept. Never before had we encountered beings with powers that rivalled our own. In our overconfidence, we were unprepared and outnumbered. The enemy fed upon defenseless human worlds like a great scourge, until finally only Atlantis remained. This city's great shield was powerful enough to withstand their terrible weapons, but here we were besieged for many years. In an offer to save the last of our kind, we submerged our great city into the ocean. The Atlantis Stargate was the one and only link back to Earth from this galaxy, and those who remained used it to return to that world that was once home. There the last survivors of Atlantis lived out the remainder of their lives. This city was left to slumber, in the hope that our kind would one day return.
Also happens in "The Daedalus Variations". Sheppard & Co., aboard an empty Daedalus, find a video log left by the captain before the ship was abandoned.
Stargate Universe uses a variation of this concept in the episode "Time" — the difference is the log is created by Eli in an alternate timeline then sent into the past through a wormhole. This wound up being recursive: at the end of the episode, Matt records a second Apocalyptic Log explaining what had been discovered the first time 'round, so that when the crew found it the next time, they'd have a leg up. At least two loops and logs were required to ensure the crew's survival, but for all the viewer knows, there were three, or three hundred.
The episode "Ice" shows the first and last videos of the sequence. At first the tidy, cheerful and well-lit scientists of an arctic research base report digging ice cores from record levels; the second is gloomy and shaky, with one dishevelled man saying "We're not... who we are... we're not... who we are..." before being attacked.
The episode "Dřd Kalm" also includes the Apocalyptic Log. This episode is about an ill-fated ship which had the supernatural effect of rapidly aging its passengers. Scully keeps a journal of their misery, stating "Agent Fox Mulder lost consciousness at approximately 4:30 this morning, the 12th of March. There is nothing more I can do for him, or for myself. Supplies are exhausted, no food or liquid consumed for over 24 hours."
The seventh season episode "X-Cops" starts with a homage to Cops (where a cameraman follows a sheriff's deputy check up on some disturbance), when they are suddenly attacked by something that stays just out of the camera's view all the time.
This happens in an episode of the Logan's Run series. The protagonists discover an ancient bunker from before the end holding a few Human Popsicle survivors (the best and brightest) from the ancient civilisation devasted by a plague. There is also an Apocalyptic Log from a man dying from the disease, but holding out long enough to reveal he discovered that one of the hibernated people is an imposter (and potentially a murderer).
The Clip Show episode of Power Rangers RPM featured an Apocalyptic Log that the Teen Genius left in case they lost the Robot War. It provided a brief character summary and log of the fight, but most of it focused on the merchandise toys weapons and equipment they'd been using all season that the prospective finder of the log would find nearby, the general impression being "if you've found this, we lost our war of attrition. You are now one of the last humans alive. Here's what you have to work with- now take up our fight". An odd case of seeing the Apocalyptic Log as a caution of what might happen if they lose, rather than a means of figuring out how they lost.
Jericho does this in the first episode with an answering machine. Doubles as one heck of an Oh, Crap moment, as we quickly find out that the message originated in a totally different city than the one that the characters and viewers knew had just been nuked, meaning that the disaster was not just local.
The original Land of the Lost had the Marshall's tracking down installments of a diary by a predecessor to the land. Eventually, they enter a cave full of dormant Sleetaks and find his long decayed corpse and his final entry in a small section. They read that he never found a way home and was doomed because of being trapped in the cave with the Sleetaks awake. Suddenly, the Marshall's heard the sound of the Sleetaks waking up, take the hint and barely manage to escape themselves.
Dr. Jenner of the CDC is making an ongoing video log in The Walking Dead when the group of survivors comes across the CDC. Several of his entries are shown in the episode Wildfire.
The End of the Whole Mess from the anthology series Nightmares and Dreamscapes is basically this trope.
One of the challenges in season 1 of Scream Queens has the contestants filming these, Blair Witch-style, in order to test how well they can act on their own without co-stars to prop up their performances.
Lost Tapes does this at times: the episode Devil Dragon starts with a man documenting his attempt to survive in the Australian rainforests for a television show, but turns into an Apocalyptic Log when he is bitten and stalked by a megalania. It even ends with him sending a message to his wife and daughter before making one last desperate break for safety, only to be caught by the megalania and dragged off, never to be seen again. Others are much shorter examples where a person tries to get out of danger until the very end of the episode when they realize they will never escape from the monster chasing them and make a last minute attempt to warn people that it's out there before they are attacked and killed.
"Death Story" by Lecrae is the last-minute prayer of a gangster on his deathbed.
I wronged You, I see that, I want to give in, But I ain't really sure if you'll forgive me my sins... Well, this is it. No more discussion to do. I don't know much, but I know I should be trusting in... BEEEEEEEEEEEEP...
"The Chariot" by The Cat Empire.
This is a song that came upon me one night When the news it had been telling me About one more war and one more fight And "aeh" I sighed but then I thought about my friends Then I wrote this declaration Just in case the world ends.
Then they told us All they wanted Was a sound that could kill someone From a distance. So we go ahead, And the meters are over in the red. It's a mistake in the making. ... We won't be there to be blamed. We won't be there to snitch. I just pray that someone there Can hit the switch.
Dr. Jekyll sings an Apocalyptic Log in the musical version of Jekyll & Hyde.
"Two Suns in the Sunset" by Pink Floyd describes the last few moments of a man's life before he is killed by a nuclear bomb.
the rusty wire that holds the cork that keeps the anger in gives way and suddenly it's day again the sun is in the east even though the day is done two suns in the sunset could be the human race is run and as the windshield melts my tears evaporate leaving only charcoal to defend finally i understand the feelings of the few ashes and diamonds foe and friend we were all equal in the end
Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon" - the first two lines let you know that it doesn't end well.
Loudness's song S.D.I., which is about a world going into nuclear war:
All the nations will be glowing On their way to hell
Angels of death are marching closer The last supper's held Here in the land you'll see no more I'll see you in hell They call it war * Similarly, EZO's Fire Fire, with the entire song describing nuclear war and the world after, with a plea at the end to stop the war before it happens. Lyrics here as the entire song is this.
Iron Maiden's "Satellite 15...The Final Frontier" is about a pilot in a damaged ship giving his last report.
We left the earth in 1983 Fingers groping for the galaxies Reddened eyes staring up into the void A thousand stars to be exploited Somebody help me, I'm falling Somebody help me, I'm falling down... Into sky, into earth, into sky, into earth
Rush's "Cygnus X-1" is about a space pilot flying his ship directly into the heart of a black hole. Subverted in the second part, "Hemispheres", where he comes out the other end.
Mind.In.A.Box's "Stalkers". By the sound of things, the singer is either suffering from a mental breakdown from paranoid schizophrenia, or being forcibly assimilated by a Hive Mind.
I can feel my thoughts dying out so my last thought is just your name and it is all that will remain...
"30k ft" by Assemblage 23 is about a doomed airline passenger making a final phone call to his wife/lover. The song cuts off in mid-sentence at the end.
Eminem's "Stan" has the final tape recorded by Stan, just before he drives his car off a bridge because he thinks his hero Eminem is deliberately ignoring him. Stan's girlfriend is locked in the trunk. It's only at the last minute that he realizes he has no way to send the tape.
cosMO's Adventurous Girl and Miniature Garden Game starts out as a song about a cute little girl exploring a Sugar Bowl. At around two minutes in, the music video zooms out, superimposing the image of a heartbeat monitor onto the girl. She then discovers a pile of what appears to be stick figures with Xs drawn over their faces. The rest is a parade of really confusing imagery, which gets more and more distorted as the song goes on, while the beeping of the heartbeat monitor goes on behind the music. Eventually, the video starts glitching to the point when it's very difficult to see anything. The song ends with the girl saying she'll see everyone in the aforementioned Sugar Bowl again, and then fades out to the monitor flatlining. In a later song, it's revealed that the world that she's in is an artificial reality, and she has no idea what's going on.
Comedy Musician Stephen Lynch's Dear Diary series is diary entries by either celebrities or famous figures in history before something really bad happens to them. One example is: Christopher Reeve writing an entry about a horse he hopes to tame...
Perhaps more notable is the rather chilling, not to mention, literal, example revealed by SCP-093.
SCP-1025 is a subversion. There was no threat. All the SCP does is make people think that other people are infected with horrible diseases. After the research staff go completely out of control with hypochondria-by-proxy, somebody from O5 comes along and just sticks the SCP in a box somewhere.
SCP-370 has Incident-370-A, a personal log written by the Foundation doctor in charge of the expedition that found SCP-370. It details the progressive infection and death of expedition personnel caused by SCP-370's influence. Although he had been infected himself, he managed to use a ritual (which required 80% of his blood supply) to contain it. It ends with a That Was the Last Entry that breaks off in mid-sentence.
SCP-772 ("Giant Parasitoid Wasps"). The scientist who discovered the wasps kept a journal. It details how he found a body filled with wasp larvae, let them hatch and contained them, and how they escaped, attacked and implanted eggs in him. It ends with a That Was the Last Entry of him cutting himself open so the larvae could escape.
SCP-772 ("The Soup"). Dr. George Farrow was suffering from cancer and had less than six months to live. He tried to cure himself with stem cell therapy and ended up changing himself into a mass of protoplasm.
SCP-930 ("Seagull Island"). One of the survivors of the wreck of the U.S.S. Kete kept a journal of his experiences. One by one the other 18 survivors vanished in the night, apparently just walking away. The remaining survivors sometimes found the bodies hanging in the trees, but none of the others ever came back. The last survivor saw glimpses of something in the bushes that was worse than anything he'd ever seen.
SCP-1983 ("Doorway to Nowhere") is an extensive one, left by one of the many agents sent inside,, the last one left alive when he wrote it. It details what he saw, how the creatures he saw inside work and reproduce, and what he thinks may work to take them down, punctuated with several hopeless statements. He finishes saying he'd leave the report where it could be found, and then make sure the creatures wouldn't be able to use his heart for their nest. When they finally found the note, the SCP had been neutralized, but it's certain the one who did the deed had found the note.
Good luck. Morituri te salutant
SCP-2661 ("The Hoof Diary"). A man who took an anomalous drug was compelled to build an enormous maze. After he did so a cow-like humanoid appeared out of the maze, killed him and ate him. The man left a diary describing his increasing compulsion to build the maze and worship the being who would appear from it.
Commentator Carl Phillips describes the effects of the Martian heat ray right up to the bitter end:
Phillips: A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror. What's that? There's a jet of flame springing from the mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame! (screams and unearthly shrieks)Phillips: Now the whole field's caught fire. (explosion) The woods... the barns... the gas tanks of automobiles... it's spreading everywhere. It's coming this way. About twenty yards to my right... (crash of microphone, then dead silence)
An even better example is the announcer broadcasting from atop the CBS building in New York, watching the Martian's poisonous smoke drift across the city.
Announcer: Smoke comes out, black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now. They're running towards the East River, thousands of them, dropping in like rats. Now the smoke's spreading faster. It's reached Times Square. People are trying to run away from it, but it's no use. They're — They're falling like flies. Now the smoke's crossing Sixth Avenue... Fifth Avenue... a hundred yards away... it's — it's fifty feet.... (a thud, as he collapses)
Made even creepier with the other half of the Apocalyptic Log from the radio immediately following: "2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... 2X2L calling CQ... New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone... 2x2L—" *silence* Now remember that this was being portrayed as a news broadcast...
The Big FinishDark Shadows audio play The House By The Sea is told through a collection of tapes a man is leaving for his psychiatrist. The recordings tell of how the man, Gerald Conway gradually tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding the house he has rented (rented because he kept seein it in his dreams). Things start hotting up when he keeps reporting finging human teeth throughout the house, he sees a ghost, records a conversation with Barnabas Collins (whose voice fails to appear on the tape) and holds a seance in which we hear him being briefly possessed by the assorted spirits who occupy the building. Of course, it all culminates when he breaks into the celler, finds a human skeleton and a living shadow which starts making pump pump noises causing Conway to have a heart attack and the final moments reveal that he has been taken over by the freed remains of the warlock, Nicholas Blair.
The prologue to the Zombie Apocalypse game All Flesh Must Be Eaten has a scientist, just bitten by a zombie, discuss the transformation from human to infected cadaver in a truly disturbing series of logs. The last few are after his death, as the brain is the last thing to go... and the final one has him reduced to groaning that the hunger is all he has left.
There's at least three examples along these lines from the Warhammer magazine White Dwarf, although two are merely dealing with attacks by vampires and Necrons respectively.
Not a tabletop RPG, but a letter-writing RPG, the out of print Lovecraftian game De Profundis was presented wholly as a collection of letters from someone gradually going insane after having a dream about a book that laid out the game's rules. Part of the supernatural insanity gripping the "author" involved writing down and sharing the game to try to spread the insanity.
The background book Xenology turns out to be one drawn-out example of this, written by an Inquisitor examining another's work at gathering and studying various alien beings in a hidden facility. It turns out the "Inquisitor" who set up the facility is actually a Necron Lord who established it to study other organic races, and once he was finished, he lured the other Inquisitor to the facility to study him.
We never get to read it, but the galaxy-sized locust swarm that is the Tyranid race was named because of the Apocalyptic Log that was left behind, buried 1000 feet underground, on the planet Tyran. Most of the Tyranid Codexes — combinations of backstory and rulebook — contain detached descriptions of Tyranid attacks that read like an encyclopedia entry based off an Apocalyptic Log as well.
Similarly, the Warhammer background book Liber Chaotica is written as an in-character study of the Chaos Gods. As the book goes on, the author starts having more and more ominous visions and making less and less sense as he descends into madness. At least half of the quotes in the Necron, Tyranid, and Dark Eldar codexes fit this trope.
A Planescape supplement contained, as Flavor Text, the diary of an explorer describing his journey around the Concordant Plane of the Outlands. The diary takes on a distinct tone of encroaching madness after he set foot into the Caves of Thoughts, the domain of the mindflayer deity Ilsensine the Great Brain. It doesn't end well.
Module S4, The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, had a diary left by a previous expedition into the title dungeon. It had vague hints of what was to come, with several sections with vital information being smeared and smudged. It ended with the party meeting the Final Boss of the dungeon.
The Tome of Strahd is something of a half-journal/half-manifesto written by Count Strahd von Zarovich, which details in his own words the night he made his pact with Death and sacrificed his younger brother in exchange for immortality and the love of his brother's fiancée. Said fiancée, consumed with grief, flung herself from the castle walls rather than live without her love. The Tome's final words reflect Strahd's anguish at seeing her being constantly reincarnated by the Dark Powers only to be lost to him time and time again.
Plenty of other Ravenloft supplements use excerpts from victims' diaries, journals, and literal ships' logs as flavor-text.
Dragonlance module DL12 Dragons of Faith. A page from a ship's log tells of the destruction of the ship and the fate of its crew.
Module DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor. In the Comeback Inn the PCs find a parchment scroll written by Hepath Nun. It tells the story of how his adventuring party searched for, found and entered the Inn. It further tells of how they were trapped inside, couldn't find any way out and eventually went through the Gate in the cellar. Only Hepath Nun decided not to go, because he was too scared. The PCs find his body hanging from a chandelier near the scroll.
Also, in the adventure "Horror on the Orient Express," the player characters keep Apocalyptic Logs to allow replacement investigators to join a very long, detailed investigation fully up to speed.
Supplement Cthulhu Companion, adventure "The Mystery of Loch Feinn". Professor Gibbson's journal details his investigation of the Water Horse and his run-ins with the MacAllans — the Cthulhu cultists who eventually killed him.
Fearful Passages, adventure "Armored Angels". Professor Powell's notes give information on his plan to open a gate to the planet Yuggoth. The last page of his diary give a horrifying account of the invasion of Mi-Go and a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath through the gate.
Mage: The Awakening has one of these as a magic item detailed in the Grimoire of Grimoires supplement — the Hildebrand Recording, an attempt at capturing a seance with a ghost on tape. The poor researcher got an Eldritch Abomination instead, which proceeded to toy with his psyche before ripping him to shreds. It's just as bad as you think it is.
Many of the cards one can draw on the Forbidden Island in the Touch of Evil expansion "Something Wicked" detail an exploration party gradually succumbing to a lycanthrophy curse. Several other cards can inflict lycanthopy on the exploring player.
The recent "Jihad" series of BattleTech sourcebooks feature a number of these, usually from victims of the Words frequent use of WMDs. Probably the most distressing are the cries for help from Alarion; the population are dying from a bioweapon attack, but claim there are un-infected children.
Normality can pretty much be described as Apocalyptic Log from start to finish, insofar as it makes any sense at all. Extra points for having the ''authors'' die in-game halfway through though.
Rolemaster campaign setting Shadow World, supplement 'Norek: Intrigue in a City-State of Jaiman''. A powerful crystal inside a mine causes radiation poisoning in the miners. They think it's a plague and seal off the mine to protect the outside world. After the effects get worse, the miners seal themselves in their rooms to await death. One of the miners leaves a diary of the events that the PCs can find.
The free solo RPG Swords of the Skull Takers on 1km1kt.com is about the player creating an apocalyptic log, unless they win. Even then, Diabolic Victories can get even more disturbing.
The Morrow Project adventure R-002 Project Damocles. In the Back Story, a group of scientists create an artificial intelligence but a nuclear holocaust begins while they're testing it. They try to escape the underground area where they're working but the AI (named Damocles) malfunctions and won't let them out. One of the project members, William Lezrow, records the events that led up to the disaster and the fate of each of the team members. The PCs can find it and read it as they explore the area.
Chivalry & Sorcery 3rd Edition adventure Stormwatch. The PCs can find the log of an old expedition that was destroyed by a disease. Because the members did not die on holy ground, they were not properly laid to rest are were condemned to become undead.
Conversed in Mary Mary, where Mary, blaming Bob for being too analytical, compares him to "those people who take an overdose of sleeping pills, and sit there making notes while they're dying: '4 A.M. Vision beginning to blur.'"
At Disney Theme Parks, one of these can be heard while waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise ride.
At Busch Gardens Europe, Curse of Darkastle is an Apocalyptic Log... set into an Endless Loop.
The plot of Curse of Pompeii and many other Howl O Scream rides is often one of these, too.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando occasionally uses this on their websites to build up the storyline for the houses and scarezones. A notable example was the 2004 house, Disorientorium, supposedly a Wonderworks-style tourist attraction based around disorientation and illusions. Most of the story is told through the Blackberry of a man who became more and more obsessed with the attraction, to the point of breaking in and gradually losing his faculties, until the final entry is a blood-splattered phone with a bullet hole in the screen and a garbled message frozen below it.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent is basically built upon this trope. The main character, Daniel, wakes up in a castle with, you guessed it, Amnesia. His only clues to any backstory or objective come from diary entries he wrote to himself, on account of his amnesia being self-inflicted. These entries tend to sound more and more unhinged as the player finds them throughout the game.
Batman: Arkham Asylum has Patient Interviews with idealistic doctors trying to cure some of Arkham's worst inmates hidden throughout the game. Each has five segments and they all end up getting more and more unnerving as you find them.
The worst is definitely Zsasz, whose doctor truly tries to cure him... so he tries to kill her halfway through. The last bit has him escape, and his current doctor giving an urgent call to warn her... but she can't talk, there's someone at the door... but a preorder bonus comic reveals that Batman stopped Zsasz before he was able to go through with it.
Croc's is a close second for most unsettling... his doctor simply can't believe that he's cannibalistic like the rumors say... well, at the end he escapes... she makes it out unscathed, but the scene she sees... isn't pretty.
BlazBlue: Arakune actually becomes oddly sympathetic for a cannibalistic swarm of insects held together by a mind hanging off the brink of insanity thanks to this. His arcade ending starts with an audio log on tape, detaling his undisclosed job and how he hates meetings regarding turning a local phlebotonium into weapons because of the "hard chairs and harder people" involved. Eventually, the logs become slightly more detailed as he begins to find out things about the power source that "everyone uses, but no one quite understands". He thinks he's cracked it when it fast forwards forward again... and we slowly hear his descent from coherent, normal speech into the scattered, stuttering voice he speaks with in game, slowly detailing the process of his becoming Arakune.
"Of course if I don't have a face, I'll just make one."
Guybrush:(reading the last plaque, found on the edge of a quicksand pit) "Quicksand pit. Quicksand pits of this type are common throughout Plunder Island's nature trails. Many an unwary traveler has found himself trapped and unable to esca- Someone, anyone, please, please help me, I'm sinking..."
Much of Dead Space's story is told through these. In the first game the opening recording is also an Apocalyptic Log, but you don't get to see the apocalyptic part until the end of the game.
In the undersea lab level of Deus Ex, at least one scientist attempts to send a message for help all the way to the last moment. The message, retained in text format, is notably filled with spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, as would be expected. In several other points in the game, the last words of the dead are to be found on datacubes left beside their bodies, including in the Hong Kong Canal Road tunnel collapse, X51's underground section and the MJ12 base under Hell's Kitchen.
It is to be noted that the designer of Deus Ex, Warren Spector, had previously worked on System Shock, which, as noted below, used this trope effectively as a core means of plot progression.
Though your protagonist is present for the beginning of the Apocalypse in Doom 3, most of the story of the game, as well as the How and Why of said event, is told through the scattered Apocalyptic Logs of Mars City's scientists, soldiers and workmen.
Practically every book you can find in Dungeon Siege and its expansion. For bonus points, most of them contain variations on "The rest of the pages are covered in what appears to be blood."
One example in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind involves an expedition to Solsteim in a "flying ship" powered by magic. As one can expect, it crashed, leaving everyone dead but the man who had spent his life designing the ship. He records the days he spent stranded in the Solsteim wilderness, slowly freezing and starving to death. The last sentence trailed off, due to his hand becoming too frozen to write. You later have to bring the journal back to the man in Kraal who funded the whole trip, which starts an annoying Fetch Quest.
There is also a second example in the dungeon of the tower Tel Vos. A construction crew was working on building the place, and fragments of the foreman's journal are all that is left. They are scattered around to be found by the player. What's mildly funny is that the Telvanni who owns the place doesn't actually care that much there's an eldritch abomination under his tower. Or that he sent the construction crew or hired them in the first place.
There is also a miniquest near Kvatch involving a man that believes he must appease "The Sunken One" to prevent the rest of the world from suffering the same fate as Kvatch. You don't meet him while he is still alive, learning of his quest (and its depressing ending, as he died believing that his failure to appease The Sunken One will doom the entire world) through journal entries.
In a great deal of dungeons, most commonly those featuring the Falmer, the player will find already slaughtered bodies and the remains of those who went through the dungeons before. The player will also often find the journals of those ill fated travelers, often involving the situation leading up to their grisly demise. Many involve them noticing strange sounds or strangebehaviorin their compatriots with increasing frequency, just before everything goes horribly wrong... this is usually the only way to gain any kind of background as to what happened in these places, and most are quite harrowing.
One example can be found in Japhot's Folly. Japhot's journal chronicles his ill-fated attempt to start a settlement on the inhospitable hellhole of an island. Even when the rest of the settlers went Screw This, I'm Outta Here!, he stubbornly refused to leave. He was eventually reduced to eating ice-moss before starving to death. The journal is found in a a small locked room with Japhot's dessicated body. The final entry in the journal?
OH GODS HELP ME
Labyrinthian is another good example, and one involved in a major questline. As the player delves deeper into the dungeon to find the Staff Of Magnus, they come across ghostly imprints of a group of eager young wizards who seek to discern the secrets of the place, serving as an Apocalyptic Log the player can see unfold before their very eyes. The expedition is marked failure - one of the explorers dies before they reach the final chamber, and another is forced to be left behind in a room with a trap. The group visibly starts cracking mentally before they even reach their goal, which they have to force themselves to continue towards... and then they accidentally free a trapped Dragon Priest...
The Mo'ia Atoll tablets in Endless Ocean, albeit a lot less disturbing than most. Also, the emails you get after discovering parts of the Deity Idol.
In this online game , while exploring the abandoned house you discover the journal of the most recent inhabitant, a man who found the house while hunting deer in the surrounding forest. The earliest entries report that shortly after he started exploring the house, he heard countless voices screaming at him in rage before he fell unconscious: when he awoke, he found himself unable to leave, forced to listen to the ghostly voices speaking to him- voices belonging to "The Exmortis." Over the course of the next few entries, the writing grows increasingly deranged, as the man is slowly brainwashed into a pawn of the Exmortis. The final entry claims that a party of five hikers is approaching the house, and all of them are to be sacrificed in a ceremony to release the Exmortis into the mortal realm. Later it's revealed that the writer is none other than the player character, suffering from amnesia after making four out of the five sacrifices needed to release the Exmortis.
Exmortis 2 features the diary of a farmer who found himself unlucky enough to observe the destruction caused by the Exmortis in the months after they were released, recording the news of initial attacks on isolated communities, the first autopsy of an Exmortis creature, the sky turning red, the assaults on capital cities, the failed nuclear retaliation, and the fall of major religions and most of human society: he also kept several newspaper clippings of each event, most of which are found pinned to a cork board in one of the rooms of his home. Eventually, the farmer finds himself directly in the path of the oncoming Exmortis horde, and has no choice but to kill his wife and two children, and then kill himself.
In one quest, you can find pages from the increasingly illegible diary of a man who escaped being sacrificed by cultists, befriended a band of hobbes, and started to think he was a hobbe too.
The promotional site for Fable II also included one of these to explain the fall of the Heroes Guild, covering the journals of an unnamed Hero who survives the fall and then tries to escape extermination at the hands of the anti-Hero mobs. He even writes a journal entry as he's dying of a gunshot wound with the mob breaking down the door to his house. What a trooper.
Another chilling example is "Terry Kotter's Army", the area behind the Wraithmarsh Demon Door. Cotter was a shy, young Momma's Boy who befriends an army of silent golems called the Knights. His journal, which lies beside his corpse in a room filled with suits of armour, details his first encounter with the Knights and his ever-more frequent trips to the cave where he found them. His final entry simply repeats over and over the phrase: "They watch. They watch. They watch. They watch."
Also, the first cave you enter also has three pieces of paper — a journal entry, a letter and a suicide note — written by three dead treasure hunters who grew to mistrust each other and, amusingly, poisoned each other at the same time.
Probably the best example in Fallout 3 is in the DunwitchBuilding. Something about the building is conducive to turning people into radiation ghouls. In the days after nuclear war, you can read the journals and track the progress of the building's residents as they lose higher brain functions and end up as violent, mindless cannibals.
The Keller Family Tapes one must collect in order to get the Experimental MIRV in Fallout 3 detail how one family desperately tried to survive the coming war by finding a vault in the National Guard Depot to huddle in. One is even recorded as the bombs are falling. The last of the logs is from a member of the family who refuses to spend life inside the vault with his father. He decides to give them his part of the passcode and walk into a mushroom cloud. "Have a happy Holocaust!" There are also some holotapes in Little Lamplight that shed some light on him the city started up.
There's a cut tape that provides an epilogue for the Keller family's saga that can be obtained in the PC version through the console. It was originally meant to be found in the shelter that the other tapes are about trying to get to, and indicates that at the very least Dad and Candace survived. However, Candace complains that her father keeps leaving the shelter and going out into the bombed-out DC ruins to scavenge for useless junk and that everytime he does, he lets a little more radiation in...
There's also the notes and holotapes from the residents of Vault 92, and the scientists performing experiments on them.
And Peter Stevens' journal entries in Vault 87; in the last entry he appears to be going mad after losing his son Jason and hearing the laughter from Little Lamplight on the other side of the door.
The logs of the Canterbury Commons search party that was looking for Cheryl. Neither they nor you are able to find her, although you find the corpse of one of the searchers, which spawns a Super Mutant Behemoth.
And then there's this in the Point Lookout DLC. A crashed plane with a blackbox recording, a Parachute in a Tree, and a soldier's skeleton.
Fallout: New Vegas has Vault 11. The first thing the player hears when searching is an audio log of three people swearing they can never mention what happened inside, then one of them turning a gun on the other two. Searching the terminals inside, you slowly piece together that the vault was operating under the assumption that one of theirs had to be sacrificed every so often to keep operations functioning. The first sacrifice was their Overseer. After that, they tried doing it through elections, at least, until the major voting bloc started blackmailing one "candidate's" wife for sexual favors to keep her husband from being elected, then elected him anyway. She then started killing as many of the bloc as she could get her hands on, which led to her being elected Overseer, and her first decision was to change to a random selection process. The bloc then started a revolution that ended only when there were only five people were left and they refused to give anyone up... which, it turned out, they were supposed to do in the first place.
You also find four letters at the Matthews Animal Husbandry Farm, showcasing the mental collapse of the writer who is forced to kill their own parents when they become feral ghouls, then develop the paranoid conviction that the farm animals have become ghouls too. The last note is found in the burnt-out house, as the writer decided to burn themself to death to prevent the ghoul animals from eating them. (How the last note survived the fire is a mystery.)
In the Honest Hearts DLC, there is a series of supply caches left by a survivalist, each accompanied by a journal entry. The last, found with the man's skeleton and a unique Service Rifle, is his own epitaph.
The radio signal Oscar Zulu in Fallout 3 consists of a man broadcasting a distress call asking for medicine for his sick son, repeating over and over. If the player investigates they will find an improvised fallout shelter in a nearby sewer drain, with one room containg the skeletons of a man and woman, and another the still active ham radio. However a child's skeleton cannot be found, leaving the son's fate unknown.
In Mothership Zeta, you find recordings from the people that the aliens have captured, most of which are deceased by the time of your arrival. One records a captive being mutated into an Abomination, the alien version of a Feral Ghoul.
One can find a lot them in the Lonesome Road DLC, not surprising given the nature of the Divide, nuked during the great war then nuked again by accident two centuries later, thanks to the Courier, turning it into an irradiated treacherous hell hole. these include a soldier's diary that ends with a series of random letters from when the apocalypse happened, numerous travelers and NCR scouts who tried to cross the Divide and ended up defeated by it, a silhouette of a flash-vaporized person, and some haunting graffiti of unknown vintage proclaiming everyone is dead. There also several holotapes left by Big Bad Ulysses describing his travels in the Divide itself, the Big Empty, and Zion Canyon.
The Fatal Frame series of games include text diaries, audio logs and, as appropriate to the genre, ghostly apparitions that record exactly what happened before the whole situation went to hell in a handbasket. Sometimes, the last expression can be taken quite literally...
Final Fantasy VIII includes one of these on the spaceship Ragnarok. In an odd subversion, the crew apparently succeeded in destroying the aliens infesting the ship, and made the log in case anyone else encountered the creatures. Considering that the Ragnarok was left orbiting the moon, abandoned, and with more of the same aliens on the ship, however....
The DS remake of Final Fantasy IV features a sort of mental example. When you pause, you can see a small sentence that the leading character is currently thinking. Switch to Kain just before he is taken over by Golbez again at the end of the Sealed Cave, and you get lines like "this feeling... I've felt this before" and "No... not... not again!"
In Grandia, the party finds a captain's log on a ghost ship detailing an attack by a sea creature that killed the crew. Guess what promptly happens.
In The Guardian Legend, the Sole Survivor of NAJU's native population left a ton of helpful notes, including the introduction to the premise of the plot. The full text can be read in the quotes page.
The Half-Life mod They Hunger has a series of audio logs left by a doctor experimenting on the... creatures. His final recording (which describes his own infection) plays right before he attacks you.
Killer7 has as its second-to-last level a high school in Seattle dotted with old style tape-recordings containing the details of a detective's investigation of the murderer and assassin Emir Parkreiner. The tapes become increasingly disturbing, as the facts presented seem bizarre and contradictory (much to the exasperation of the detective). The final tape ends with him mentioning in shock that Emir is standing right in front of him, with his final words cut off by a gunshot.
Ansem's Reports in Kingdom Hearts. Especially subtle in the first game, where you only have the odd-numbered logs to begin with, showing Ansem under steadily increasing threat from the Heartless... then you're handed the even-numbered logs in the second-to-last area, and learn that he created the things.
The Last of Us several can be found throughout the game in the form of journals, including one from a boy whose parents make an attempt to escape long after the infection has hit and the leader of a doomed Disaster Democracy.
Metroid Prime 2 includes several logs from the doomed Marine crew. The corpses of certain Luminoth warriors (which mark the locations of Plot Coupons in the Dark World) can also be scanned to get accounts of their deaths (generally concluding with a Bolivian Army Ending).
The entire plot of Metroid Prime Hunters is revealed by reading lore datashades with the scan visor on the way. It's impossible to miss several crucial messages that refer vaguely to something called Gorea, but unless you actively look for the log it's basically a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere when it arrives, and you never get to know what's going on.
The first Metroid Prime also had Chozo Lore scattered throughout the world (mostly in the Chozo Temple stage). Some of these detail Samus's past, while others talk about the spread of Phazon and the death of the Chozo on Tallon IV.
Space Pirate logs and computer scans in the Metroid Prime are largely a record of memos, announcements, and reports detailing the Space Pirates' increasingly desperate attempts to stop Samus from killing them all. Let's emphasize that: your enemies are keeping Apocalyptic Logs about you, the hero. Since the game, in fact, largely consists of Samus killing them all, this alternates between mildly depressing and extremely awesome.
The best logs are in Prime 2, when Samus and Dark Samus inadvertently attack the same Space Pirate installation. Their logs read something along the lines of "oh crap, there's two of them."
Metroid Prime 3 loves this, as it has a series of journals for each corrupted planet you visit. The Space Pirate lore gives you a bit of a twofer as it begins with Dark Samus corrupting them, and continues on as Samus begins killing them all. Again.
Bryyo is also a variant, as it details the literally planet-shattering civil war that drives the surviving natives to savagery, beforeThe Corruption arrives.
There's also a message from the Aurora Unit of the destroyed Valhalla? First you have to activate the message by getting a code from a dead trooper, then you have to listen to its deep voice go on about how it feels the "Darkness Coming..." Add in the effects such as the ship rattling and it just adds to the apocalyptic factor.
Bungie has a long history with this sort of exposition. Their early games Pathways into Darkness, Myth and Marathon all relied almost exclusively on this method of story telling.
This trope is also invoked to the letter on at least one computer terminal in Marathon Infinity.
"The shields are gone, not down, but gone, and so are the engineers. It's coming back, I'm sure: and my last mercy is immolation."
"I am Arther Frain, Chief Petty Officer, USEC Marathon. Arther Frane calling all USEC personnel. Calling Cmdr. Robert Blake... Calling Security Chief Jones... Arther Frain calling any USEC controlled ship in vicinity...
Station hull breached, we are losing pressurization. More than half the men are without vacuum suits. Patrols reporting intruder, last location unknown.
Any USEC controlled ship surviving nova event, transport when ready.
Arther Frain calling. That is all..."
Pathways in particular took this even further, as instead of reading the journals lying next to mangled corpses in order to progress, you can use a mysterious artifact to talk to them. Needless to say, most people aren't very talkative after spending twenty or forty years trapped in their corpse as the Horror-spawned monstrosities that killed them shamble by and occasionally nibble on them in the darkness.
Halo 3, also by Bungie, includes something similar in the form of the Terminals, which contain reports, memos, and recordings made the Forerunner chronicling their war with the Flood.
Halo: Combat Evolved first introduces the Flood by way of a video recording from the helmet cam of a (deceased) Marine named Jenkins. If you read the novelisation, though, you find out that the marine whose video the Chief watched wasn't dead at all — he'd been turned into a combat form, but had somehow retained his consciousness, turining it into an "And I Must Scream" scenario.
Halo 3: ODST features 30 hidden Audio Logs littered about New Mombasa that reveal a subplot called "Sadie's Story," in which a girl attempts to reach her scientist father during the panic of the Covenant finding Earth. It's best described as a Bittersweet Ending.
Halo CE Anniversary also had terminals added, telling backstory to the upcoming Halo 4.
Persona 3: The tape left by Yukari's father, and the Old Documents found in Tartarus. Interestingly, the writer of the Old Documents survived - according to the last one, she now runs the Antique Store in Paulownia Mall.
Phantasy Star Online has the character find the logs of Red Ring Rico, a fellow hunter who is always one step ahead of the player. The logs mostly serve as a guide for the levels, enemies, and bosses the player encounters. It's not until the final level that Rico notices all the creepy architecture and realizes something is wrong. The final log found right before the last boss which Rico unknowingly released, killing her was presumably recorded minutes before the player got there. It makes the whole thing a lot more personal than something that was recorded a while ago.
The original Pokémon Red and Blue (and their Videogame RemakesFireRed and LeafGreen) feature logs throughout the abandoned, Pokémon-overrun Cinnabar Mansion detailing the discovery of Mew, and its giving birth to Mewtwo. The last entry obliquely notes Mewtwo's "vicious tendencies".
The movie adaptation goes on to use the same trope in describing Mewtwo's origin (see above in Anime and Manga), through a narrating scientist who's almost Lovecraftian in his devotion to finishing his report. "We dreamed of creating the world's strongest Pokémon...and we succeeded."
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness has one during the Cipher takeover of Phenac City when the player goes to the mayor's house, only to find he's not there. There is a note, however, to Justy on the second floor, which shows his growing concerns over the increasing Cipher presence in Phenac. The letter abruptly ends.
A subversion also appears in the first Pokémon Colosseum: Late into the game, Rui's grandfather sends Wes an email, but most of it is cut off, causing Rui to fear that her grandpa may be in trouble. They arrive at Agate Village, and learn that her grandfather's perfectly alright: It was cut off because her grandfather was unfamiliar with current technology. He then supplies Wes with the thing he alluded to in an email: a Master Ball.
At various points throughout Portal, you can escape the testing facility into the 'warehouse' areas, and there you find various notes, clues and mementos left by previous test subjects... including lovingly enshrined pictures of the Weighted Companion Cube.
In Project Firestart, the science logs detail the initial conception of the genetically-engineered organisms all the way to when they become too aggressive to control.
EveryResident Evil game has these, often including succumbing to The Virus and committing suicide. Generally, since everyone you meet in the average Resident Evil game is dead or crazy, nearly the entire backstory of the game series is told through this trope. One obliviously continues writing about how itchy and hungry he's become. After you read the last page, the author bursts out of the closet behind you.
The remake of the first game for the Gamecube even has one written by one of the monsters. Lisa Trevor, the daughter of the architect of the Spencer Mansion, and the first test subject of the Mother virus. By the time you face her (and her diary ends) she is essentially a 45 year old woman with the personality of an insane 14 year old, that being the age at which she was infected. The final entries of her diary are broken, incoherent, desperate cries for her mother, whom she had become obsessed with and had murdered several years earlier, believing her to be an imposter and tearing off her face.
Saving the game requires a typewriter and consumes a typewriter ribbon, meaning the player's save files are an Apocalyptic Log.
Resident Evil 4 is different from the others in that the logs are generally written by your enemies, and usually detail either general orders or what plans they happen to have for you. Nevertheless, there is at least one "Oh crap the protagonist has killed us all" note to be found.
In the beginning of RuneScape's Stronghold of Security is a corpse. Looting it gets you a journal written by the explorer as he wandered through the place. It vaguely describes the monsters and atmosphere of each level, and at the end he writes that he has run out of food and needs to head back through the dungeon, and just prays the monsters don't get him. There are no monsters in the area where you find his corpse, and you can bypass most of the monsters by using the nearest ladders to go back up.
Later on you'll find one in Mort'ton, a ruined town where the populace has gone mad with a strange affliction. The log tells of the affliction's spread and concludes with the author succumbing and writing gibberish. The quest in the area deals with using the author's research to develop a cure.
However, easily the most literal use of this trope is during the quest Ritual of the Mahjarrat where you have to go to a ruined plane called Kethsi and, after an extensive puzzle, find a bunker with a log sitting at a desk detailing how The natives of this plane found the Stone of Jas and, upon using it for a few months, learned rather unfortunately that its use causes creatures known as the Dragonkin to appear and destroy every living thing on the plane the stone was used on.
In Seiken Densetsu 3, the party stumbles upon the captain's log of a Ghost Ship. The last page is nothing but "death" (or "die") repeated over and over again, and one party member is cursed to become a ghost soon afterward.
Silent Hill 4: The Room had a version of these in the red memo pages the main character collected in his scrapbook — so many red pages, in fact, that between catching them all and traveling among different worlds, it felt more like a diabolical version of Myst than a Silent Hill sequel.
The final tutorial you find, though, greatly increases the creepiness: it's just the phrase "Run away!" repeated over and over.
In the first Silent Hill has the main character himself doing this: before you save for the first time he mentions that he'll write his experiences down and leave them behind, in case someone else ends up going through the same thing. Sure enough, in Silent Hill 3 you can find Harry's notes from the first game in the amusement park.
In Star Control II, your Redshirt lander crew will discover some logs left by the Androsyth. Apparently, the entire race managed to catch the attention of an unseen something from "outside". And now... they're all gone, bar the cities full of crazy. Predictably, the guy reading the log doesn't escape with his sanity intact.
A staple in the System Shock series; logs from personnel can be found scattered everywhere and frequently out of order.
System Shock 2 in particular, contains an audio log which follows this trope word-for-word, where a scientist tries to focus on conveying useful information about The Many, even as he is being devoured. In System Shock 2, the logs each come with a little icon of the speaker's head and face, not moving, probably just there to show players what they looked like. One, Anatoli Korenchkin, is infected by the Many early on, as the logs show. At one point he leaves a log full of him speaking in a warped voice about the glory of the Many; the icon, rather than his face, shows a mass of unfacelike tissue, vaguely like a jellyfish. At a later date he sends the player character an e-mail which contains the same icon; it can be seen a few minutes into thisLet's Play.
You find quite a few of these through the course of System Shock's Spiritual SuccessorBioShock. For example, Dr. Steinman's logs detail how, thanks to ADAM abuse, he went from an ambitious plastic surgeon to a deranged, self-proclaimed "Surgery's Picasso" whose motto was "Aesthetics are a moral imperative." And it gets the bonus points too. In one log, Dr. Suchong, a man the player has been given some very good reasons to hate, is reporting that the plasmid he designed intended to force the Big Daddies to bond with Little Sisters and protect them, violently for preference, is more or less a failure. At the same time, a Little Sister can be heard in the background, trying to get his attention. Fed up with her bugging him, Suchong slaps her, and then a Big Daddy's whalecry can be heard. Guess what happens next. You find it on a body stuck to a desk by a Bouncer's drill. Gee, how could that have happened?BioShock maintained this trend for the most part; the few people the player makes direct face-to-face contact with don't live long after the meeting, with the exception of the eerie Little Sisters and Dr. Tenenbaum.
Both System Shock games relied on this trope thematically. The times that the player is able to make human contact are so rare as to be notable; the only communication the character typically gets is through voice logs and emails left by the dead...or those who will be dead by the time he reaches them. Due to ADAM absorbing and containing memories of its previous users, you can sometimes see Ghosts throughout Rapture. The Apocalyptic part comes in because, well, obviously something had to have happened to them.
The infamous "The Cradle" level of Thief 3: Deadly Shadows was built around this, allowing a separate (and chilling) diversion from the main story line.
Threads of Fate has a somewhat silly example of this: Mint comes across the remains of a workshop and finds a diary. There are only a few entries, but the second to last one has the magician howling about how incredibly genius he is for hiding the item inside a monster. The final entry has his lamenting his foolishness for doing the same thing, once the monster escapes. Mint's only response the situation: "Moron."
Unreal had no movies, no dialog and no explanatory scenes. The plot (along with random facts) was relayed entirely through logs, some of which were of the "oh no we're doomed" variety.
The recordings of doctor Grout, the LA Malkavian Primogen, in the madhouse sequence. Hey, he's a Malkavian. They all go insane.
There's also less logical examples (Grout wasn't in any direct danger when he wrote his last log) found in the Ocean House Hotel and the LA sewers, with people even writing down "aaaaah!" while they were being assaulted.
The Ocean House Hotel is a terrible offender, where a woman's diary describes how during their stay her husband was basically acting out The Shining. It ends with an entry where she wrote down that her son seemed to be knocking on her door (who writes that in their diary?), then the woman apparently went to open the door, found her husband who just murdered their son, and then WENT BACK to write so panickly in her diary before being murdered herself.
The generally weird You Are Empty had a level set in an abandoned farm. Along the way you'd see written notes from the former owners indicating that the chickens were growing strangely quick, and that something was wrong with them. Sure enough, near the end of the level, you have to fight van-sized chickens.
Both Penumbra games had plenty of these type of logs. First with Dr. Roberts' (the spider hater) insane diary, then with Eloff Carpenter (who recorded on cassette his horrifying final moments) and at last, with Philip himself.
In the first game, whilst out on a particular quest on Kashyyyk, you find the corpses of several Wookies — all murdered by the shape-shifting assassin you're looking for. Thankfully one of his victims was Genre Savvy enough to keep a diary of the systematic murder of an entire hunting party:
We found Grarwwaar's body last night: what was left of it. If we do not leave the Shadowlands soon, I fear we will all become victims of the Faceless One.
As well as the entire Peragus level before it, containing holographic recordings of the crew being systematically killed off by an assassin droid turning the station's automated systems against them.
"Mocking Query: Coorta? Coorta, are you dead yet?"
KOTOR enjoys this trope quite a bit. KOTOR 1 let you find the journals of a Terentatek hunting party, each written shortly before the final fights of their owners, each written in a manner that suggests doom. At least one Sith student heading into a tomb left a datapad on how he or she was going to get around the traps and monsters left in there. A party going after a malfunctioning assassination droid with oversensitive hearing and using stealth belts takes a moment to log this and note with irritation that one of their number is clumsy. KOTOR 2 had these in multiple places, from the holorecordings on Peragus to the journal left inside the Jekk' Jekk Tarr's ventilation system...It's hard to find a planet that doesn't have one of these.
Malachor V. Unfortunately, this only serves as a stunning reminder that the entire planet and everybody on or around it were obliterated too fast for even The Force to catch up, so maybe it doesn't much count.
Not to mention a reminder that level is no where near finished.
The tradition of dying words holograms continues in Star Wars: The Old Republic where you find multiple examples of quest instructions and macguffins from such holograms. Apparently, it's remarkably easy to set up and record your dying words and still look directly into the camera while you're being murdered or mauled by wild beasts.
Vigil is the textbook example, though originally designed as the overseer of the research station, Vigil adapted by his creators with the most complex translator algorithms they had so he could communicate to future species and contained every piece of information they had on the Reapers and their plans to buy future cycles more time while giving him the tools needed to stop Sovereign from retaking the Citadel once he learnt of the situation.
In one case, the party boards a spaceship that is seemingly abandoned besides one brain-dead man on life support. It eventually becomes clear that the comatose man's lover, a powerful biotic, was violently opposed to his being taken off life support. Logs left by the captain and the ship's doctor reference her declining mental state, and it's fairly obvious that she eventually killed all the other passengers. If you turn off the man's life support, she will appear behind you and attack.
And then there's Ilos, where you can hear recordings from the Protheans as they try to get the word out about the Reapers in the vain hope of fighting them off. The fact that the recording is slightly garbled doesn't help.
Cannot be stopped... cannot be stopped...
The second game lives on this trope; nearly every mission or sidequest includes, at a minimum, a datapad or two documenting events in the process of going horribly wrong. Notable examples include the excavation site with the datapad reading, "If you're reading this, GET OUT RIGHT NOW," the logs of the quarian scientists on the Alarei (including Rael'Zorah's last message to Tali), and the logs of the Cerberus team studying the derelict Reaper, which depict the horrific course of reaper indoctrination, even though the reaper is supposed to be dead.
"But a dead god can still dream!"
That last has one log that stands out, at first seeming more banal and harmless than the others. Someone talking about his wife Katy's anger management issues. The other exclaims that Katy is his wife, he must have told the first the story. He hadn't. They wonder how the hell they can remember the same thing. In context, you can see that this is part of the Loss of Identity and indoctrination they're going through.
Mass Effect 3 itself has far fewer instances of this trope. Most logs are made with no hint or inkling of the fate that befell the writers, like at the Ardat-Yakshi monastery and the hopeful, doomed staff and refugees at Sanctuary. The situation devolved too quickly for them to write about it. On Mars there's one memorable instance of a banal email that suddenly became an allcaps warning that the atmosphere was venting. At the end, on Earth, there are a few logs scattered around
A demo for the DLCLeviathan certainly makes it appear that they're making a strong comeback, with a level on a crashed ship whose crew ran out of food. And were indoctrinated, though arguably this was a kindness - the crew would have died of starvation either way, but this way they did not feel hunger.
Notrium has you the player writing a log each day you're trapped on the planet for any who find your corpse, it can very easily turn apocalyptic after you've been on the planet awhile and succumb to one of the many ways of dying.
the white chamber has three "reports" by one Arthur Anderson that gives insight into what the hell was going on prior to all hell breaking loose. He happens to be responsible for what the protagonist goes through, and makes The Reveal in person... Sort of.
Neverwinter Nights 2 Storm of Zehir has an example of this in the wizard tower "Tempest's Fury". In this tower, they were experimenting on a djinn. Then the obvious happens, as it does with most unpleasant experiments on extremely powerful entities. You can find a journal in one of the rooms, of which the last two entries are "I'm certain the wards on my room can keep him out," and, presumably moments before being obliterated, "I was wrong about the wards."
Episode 1 of 1213 includes a document of the days before an orderly's demise at the hands of the mutants, ending with said orderly holding his pistol to his head, ready to fire.
In Trilby's Notes, the third installment of the Chzo Mythos, diaries are found belonging to a dead traveler, telling of the death of his wife and his own slow loss of sanity, concluding with the series' Arc Words: it hurts.
Not forgetting the tie-in fiction, The Expedition, charting a journey in the Mythos Dark World, with repeated Arc Words at the end, signifying the narrator's continuing terrible, painful existence.
Additionally, if Trilby dies during Notes, you are treated to a brief note stating that these were the last words written in a notebook found in the wrecked hotel (as Trilby was himself keeping a log during the game).
In Iji, some of the few logbooks written by humans are quite apocalyptic, but it's nothing next to those the Tasen write when the Komato attack.
Sierra's Space Quest V: The Next Mutation has this as Roger Wilco pokes around in Genetix, finding around what causes the Body Horror disease he has been witness of, explained in the scientist logs. Pretty chilling when combined to the creepy background music, and when you realize they dumped this vicious mutagen where they could dispose of it, by bribing high-ranking StarCon officers.
A Second example is on Klorox II, where Roger digs up the doomed colonist's log. A third is in Space Quest 4, where Dr. Lloyd is describing the destruction the Vohaul-possessed supercomputer has done to Roger's homeworld. For a comedy series, Space Quest was nasty about inducing Fridge Horror.
In another Sierra game, Quest for Glory IV, the hero will find, in the adventurer's guild, the story in the logbook written by a paladin called Piotyr of how he attempted to defeat the Dark One and ended up dead, and how the mage Erana tried to seal it away and was trapped with it for eternity.
An early mission in the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC plays this straight, by way of the ECHO correspondence of Jakobs Cove logger Hank Reiss. Gradually, his ECHO logs detail the zombie outbreak on Jakobs Cove, though for his part Hank remains hopeful throughout the ordeal — why, the company physician, Dr. Ned, thinks he can develop a cure! Hank volunteers to be a test subject for the cure, and his last log ends as he's just about to go see Dr. Ned. As you find out a little later, Dr. Ned turned him into a wereskag. You're forced to kill Hank after Ned sics him on you.
In the same DLC, there's a mission where you collect the logs of various other adventurers who tried to tackle the zombie problem at Jakobs Cove. Most of them are very confident in their first log, and near tears, overwhelmed by the creatures in their second.
Borderlands 2 has a number of these. In particular, one mission involves collecting the notes of an adventurer named Taggart, an old pal of Sir Hammerlock's. It appears Taggart went missing after he set off to study Stalkers. As you collect his notes, you discover that for a while, Taggart had fun punching Stalkers and learned quite a bit about their behavior, until a big one he calls "Henry" (after his mother) stole a special mother's day present. An incensed Taggart vows revenge, and in his next log he is dying, having had his hands eaten by Henry. Henry comes back to finish the job as Taggart screams for his beloved mother.
In the Caustic Caverns, there are ECHO logs detailing the Dahl mining operation that discovered Crystalisks, giant rock creatures with precious crystals on their bodies. At first, Crystalisks were friendly to humans, and a big one called Blue seemed to take a particular shine to Security Officer Boothe. When Boothe was killed by her boss over the matter of 'killing Crystalisks for their crystals, yes or no', the creatures went berserk and killed the whole crew. It's implied that this was the Start of Darkness, so to speak, for the Crystalisks, as they've been hostile to humans ever since.
Alric's journals in Torchlight as he gets crazier and crazier from the effects of Ember.
And, in the sequel, we get one in the form of scattered diary entries spread around an abandoned sawmill whose inhabitants were gradually picked off by werewolves, along with another in the form of a diary entry in one optional ice cave that's a direct shout out to The Thing (1982).
While searching the abandoned village of Dubrensk, John Vattic finds a diary belonging to one of the dead villagers — apparently the mother or father of one of the psychic children being experimented on nearby. As the writer refused to leave the village when Director Hanson's mercenaries invaded, it's safe to assume that he or she was murdered some time after writing it.
Also, scattered throughout the Zener facility under Dubrensk are notes on the various children that were held in the facility: almost all of them ended up horribly deformed by their medication.
Resistance 2 has a live version of this: At various points in the game, you can listen to live radio broadcasts delivered by Henry Stillman from the overrun city of Philadelphia. After running out of food and booze, his last broadcast ends with: "I think I'll go for a walk."
Assassin's Creed I has something like this with Subject 16's encrypted messages and voice clips, especially towards the end of his sanity streak.
In the fifth chapter of Eternal Darkness, Max Roivas picks up three notes from his father, each more distressed than the last. Four if you count the envelope with the key. There's also Brother Andrew's diary entries in Paul's chapter and Private Jackson's letters in Peter's chapter.
Either subverted or mis-handled in the casual game Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, in which you collect videotapes from some graduate students' Apocalyptic Log. The video clips include footage of things the students couldn't possibly have filmed themselves, like the four of them driving off in their car. While this could be a Hand Waved continuity error, it's later implied that the supernatural forces in Dire Grove have lured you there deliberately, so those same forces might have doctored the tapes' contents.
You find one right near the end in The Spirit Engine 2, attempting to Fling a Light into the Future, warning not to use the World Eye, as it will cause the user to become insane. The villains find it as well, but they're too impatient to translate it all. It's anybody's guess whether reading its warning would have changed their course though.
Bones are scattered throughout the Crystal Desert in Guild Wars. Examining some of them lets you read the last written entries by the person when they were alive. The desert really, really sucks, by the way....
The Dorfs of Dwarf Fortress will often make artworks depicting significant events in the fortress. "Significant events" usually means "terrible, bloody violence": "On the item is a finely-designed image of a goblin and dwarves in pink tourmaline. The dwarves are dead. The goblin is laughing."
The first Descent: Freespace game has the main plot hinge on one of these. The log itself is shown throught the player in segments during cutscenes, and documented the rise of an empire, their conquest of hundreds of star systems, their contact with a powerful new race, and ends just before their destruction by the Shivans, thousands of years before the game starts. Bonus points for being the last recording not just of an individual, or a group, but an entire species. The last message, which is found by the player's side of the war late in the game, is the key to the survival of the human and Vasudan race.
"There is little left for us. Little time. But much irony. The galactic destroyers that darkened out skies are not invulnerable. The can be stopped, but we have no way to deliver the blow. This, then, will be our legacy. In subspace, they cannot use their shields. And into subspace, they can be tracked."
Doom 3 and Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil both have a few PDA's in them with this. Most of the PDA's are members of the task force complaining about security problems, other members, or the occasional Things That Go Bump in the Night, however a few PDA's involve people trying to relay a last minute message, and the one inside of Hell details two logs about a man being toyed with for nearly two days by the demons. One man involved in the storyline gives you a data disc he asks you to send back to Earth when you escape which details the entire plan that Dr. Betruger and the powers of Hell had for Mars.
At least one of the Fullmetal Alchemist games does this, detailing Shou Tucker cracking under the pressure of having to create a chimera that can speak, while you may not see him or Nina in the game, knowing the adaptations and seeing what went on in his head is horrifying.
In the mission "In Utter Darkness", the Protoss create and seal one of these, along with the history of their species, into a temple as the last of their civilization is destroyed by the Xel'Naga hybrid-controlled Zerg Swarm. The mission is a prophetic one that takes place in an alternate future.
Egon Stetmann's logs on the Zerg and Protoss specimens read like this ("it grew an ocular organ today", "it must be getting power from somewhere", "at the first sign of trouble I'll throw it out of the airlock myself..."). By the end of the game, it's subverted with the Protoss specimen, which has been helping Stetmann all along, whereas the log on the Zerg specimen still seems to be playing straight.
Professor Windlenot's tape recorder plays back an audio journal in which he discovers the Ixupi have been released from their vessels and are loose in the museum. The player hears how the professor is dying due to the Ixupi sucking out his life.
Both of the two kids (who unwittingly released the Ixupi) leave behind notes too. The boy's notebook is instructive and helpful at first, but end in panicked scribbles about having to find some place to hide. Do some poking around near where you find it, and you'll find... his dessicated corpse, curled up inside one of the displays. Hiding didn't help, evidently.
The summer camp in Psychonauts has a history of the area display, complete with gradual decent into madness of the entire town. The display is matched with the rings of an ancient tree, making it a literal Apocalyptic Log.
One of the secret Reports in Dissidia 012 Duodecim Final Fantasy is written by a Lufenian scientist. It's a log of the events happening around his lab in Cardia, including a few things about Garland's growth and Cosmos. When disaster strikes, his final log is this:
Military on orders to expunge all persons with knowledge of experiments. Lab is on fire as I write this. But I'm not letting go of these documents. This will be my final stand. Sucks to know you're going to die.
One of them is the Book of Mazarbul from the original saga, which you actually get to write the final entry in during the "We Cannot Get Out" session play in Moria.
In an early quest, you are tasked with recovering the journal of a dead Dwarf outside a cave filled to the brim with spiders. Piecing together the pages reveals an Apocalyptic Log that ends with the Dwarf preparing to take the battle to the spiders to keep himself from being used as bait for his cousin, a spider-slayer who has passed his prime.
In the original Alone in the Dark, one of the first things you find is the suicide letter of Jeremy Hartwood. It is literally written just after he has unwittingly released the evil of the mansion and hears the footsteps of the newly awakened abominations closing in.
Every dungeon in Tales of Maj'Eyal has some form of records or diary entries, and almost all of them end with the writer about to die horribly at the hands of the dungeon boss. Twists include: the writer let the boss kill him, the writer allied with the boss, the writer is the boss, and, at least once, the writer may possibly have gotten out alive.
Inverted in Crysis: after being dropped into a cavern near a buried alien spaceship, the Player Character, Nomad, narrates his observations as he moves through the spaceship, becoming more and more nervous as the extent of the danger becomes clearer. By the end of the level, he's pleading for anyone who hears his transmission to evacuate the island, because the aliens are waking up. In a later level, naval officers on an aircraft carrier are playing back Nomad's transmissions in classic Apocalyptic Log style. Nomad is there to hear them.
Played straight with the CELL blackboxes in the third game.
In Alien Legacy, you are the captain of a colony ship sent from Earth (which, by that point, has likely been destroyed by a vicious alien race), arriving at its intended system only to find out that another colony ship got there first (it was sent later but had a faster engine). However, instead of thriving colonies, you find nothing but ruins and messages. Besides surviving and establishing colonies of your own, the main task of the game is to discover the fate of the original colonists. And yes, by the end, the messages get more ominous and vague, even suggesting that those same vicious aliens have found you.
Caynan's log in BioForge as he slowly succumbs to insanity after his Unwilling Robiticization. Lampshaded; as the Mad Scientist Dr. Mastaba notes, the victims of the cyborgization process after a certain point all typically begin to obsessively write down everything that's happening to them.
The final level of Messiah contains a couple of scientists' logs to that effect—they chronicle how Satan broke free of imprisonment, how only a handful of people survived, and how they managed to find out how to defeat Satan.
Diablo III is loaded with these. Some people leave them on lecterns or with abandoned personal possessions, and others carry them around until they die and you find their corpses (or until after they die and you defeat their undead corpses). Sanctuary may be a Crapsack World but at least it seems to have a high literacy rate.
The Japanese Famicom version of Shadowgate has first-person narration, rather than the third-person narrator all English versions have. This includes The Many Deaths of You, which are even more ludicrously melodramatic.
In the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider, the history of the island Yamatai, on which Lara is stranded, is mostly told through a whole collection of documents, which range from the personal diaries of a court priestess two thousand years ago to the last words of an unfortunate WWII-soldier.
Parodied in South Park: The Stick of Truth, where during the spaceship section of the game you can come across audio logs from a hobo who notes that he keeps coming across audio logs from other people, each more "boring and irrelevant" than the last and wonders why everyone (including him) is taking their time to make these rather than focus on escaping. Predictably, the final log ends abruptly after the hobo finds some green goo, turning him into a Nazi Zombie. The last we hear is him spouting Nazi propaganda in German.
One of the trailers for Sword of the Stars has the last surviving crewman of a crippled SolForce destroyer describing the disastrous First Contact with the Liir and the Tarka (well, technically, they didn't even get to talk with the Liir before the latter were destroyed by the Tarka). The Tarka opened fire on the small SolForce flotilla. Only one ship managed to complete a node jump, but the ship's reactor was hit, and deadly radiation flooded all compartments. The survivor explains that he will die soon from radiation poisoning and is sending this message to both warn SolForce about the Tarka and warn other ships not to board their destroyer. According to The Deacon's Tale novel, the message was received.
The CLANNAD visual novel, Kotomi's route, her parents left her a testimony and a teddy bear in a briefcase despite of many important scientific files are being contained in it, and they wrote the testimony during a horrible airplane crash.
Professor Imagawa in Yu No left one of these to chronicle her last days after becoming trapped underground. While she eventually discovered the way out, she grew too weak to actually take that method of escape and instead wrote down how to do it. Unfortunately, the solution is no longer at her body because Takuya wasn't the first one to find her, so he has to figure it out himself.
In the visual novels of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, The TIPS show that Shion kept a journal as she was going mad due to Hinamizawa Syndrome. Although you actually do get to see many of the events that the journal refers to, it gives a closer look into her mind as the events unfold and ends with the "Notebook of Happiness" entry, which ends, as you might guess from the ironic title, "I'm sorry for having been born". Naturally, it was cut from the anime.
In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the first arc ends with a note written by Maria Ushiromiya that relates to the murders that took place on the island of Rokkenjima in 1986. Later on, it's revealed that the note was actually written by Yasu, who is also revealed to have written the first and second arcs; they washed up on the mainland in message bottles.
In Shin Super Robot WarsEiji Asuka is able to identify an artifact that Eri Anzai brought back with her: a storage device which despite its age he may just be able to get running. After some fiddling with it, he gets it to project a hologram - a hologram of a beautiful woman. With an expression of deep sorrow, she relates that her people are the descendants of refugees from war with the Balmar. They had scarcely begun establishing their own culture on this distant planet when the offworldly assault came again, and the battle rages on even as she records her words. She tells of a massive battle of attrition, the destructive fruit of which is a ravaged surface of the planet soon to be submerged as the polar ice melts. Believing their destruction to be imminent, her people have created twelve special children using the DNA harmonizing apparatus, and sent them to the highest spot on the planet in the slender hope that they can one day revive her people, and with her people's last reserves of Tronium. With a sad smile, she says that even the faintest glimmer of hope that one day her words will be heard and understood makes the undertaking worth it, and says that all depends on the twelve children, and the Mutron-powered combat robot, Raideen.
Plenty of these can be found in Corpse Party PC-98, recording the thoughts of various people who've been pulled into Tenjin Elementary before. The Fan PrequelCorpse Party Zero actually hinges on the creation of one of those notes... while other notes seem to directly mirror their experiences to a startling degree...
Later, when they travel to the sunken Sea Shrine in a submarine which is really their aptly-named airship "The Deathtrap", Black Mage falls into a spoken version. After he tells you of his team's decent into madness, Red Mage tries to tell him it's only been a few hours since they started the journey. Black Mage keeps narrating with something to the effect of "I ignored the gibberish which sprouted from my former teammates misshapen lips." Apparently he really likes doing this. Or he just wants to see them all dead. As usual.
There's a web-only story which isn't an apocalypse log, but a diary found in a life raft out at sea. The sole survivor of a shipwreck saw dolphins around her all the time and believed that she was turning into one; the last entry is more or less a heavily misspelled variant of "Flippers are useless. Fuck it, I'm going into the water."
Everyman HYBRID has Doctor Corenthal's reports, which are left in bags for viewers to find. The weirdest part is that the three patients he mentions have the same names as the main characters, despite the reports supposedly being written in the 1970s.
Several notes in Ruby Quest, particularly Filbert's journal, detailing his... tests... of the limits of the treatment. It's a Cosmic Horror Story where everyone has recurring amnesia, so what else would you expect?
The Alternate Reality Game "Ben Drowned" is an account of what happened to one person who picked up a haunted Majora's Mask cartridge, and what happened to the people who interacted with it.
The forum game is especially creepy due to the fact that it's never implied what's really going on.
Justified in that an unexplained setting would practically make it easier for people to write logs as creepy as they can imagine them since the mystery would remove most limits to their logs, allowing them to establish any horrific event as probable since there are no specific details to abide by.
Right-wing You Tuber Nightvisionphantom made an "If Obama Wins" video during the 2008 election (needless to say, it was quietly removed afterwards), in which he claims to bethe last surviving member of a resistance who fought a losing battle against the Islamofascist hordes that Obama unleashed upon the world.
The ARG viral campaign for the Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero is a wide collection of barely decypherable websites That describe a Crapsack World. These websites are sent from the future by a team of computer programmers and quantum physicists as a warning to those of us living in the time of the events triggered their circumstances. Bonus points for one entry written by a White House aide describing the monster sent to allow the Earth to... shall we say, startover.
The blog The Darth Side records the thoughts of Darth Vader from Episodes 4-6, ending with Vader preparing to take Luke to their final meeting with the Emperor.
Stars, a story in The Wanderers Library, describes the stars descending to earth and destroying The Land of Elrich as punishment for returning to ways of violence and warfare.
Gleefully parodied along with several other horror game cliches in the "Oh the Horror" segment of this Flash game released for April Fools' Day.
"I have never kept a journal before, but I figured that the occasion of moving into that house where that occult-inspired mass suicide happened 30 years ago was an excellent time to start."
Two of Robert Brockway's Cracked columns focus on him taking a series of drugs, driving him steadily more insane until concluding with a note from Dan O'Brien describing his behavior at the point where he can write no further - the first, nootropics (which according to Dan, were all actually cocaine in false packaging), the second, various methylphenidate formulations and a natural ADD "remedy" that turned out to have a dangerous interaction with the methylphenidate.
Proton Jon:(audibly on the verge of tears) MOVE FASTER POKEY!
Code Lyoko features a rather unique and disturbing take on this trope, as Franz Hopper (a.k.a. Waldo Schaeffer), the creator of Lyoko, uses the supercomputer's "Return to the Past" function to create a "Groundhog Day" Loop, while preserving a video file of his attempts to avert his and Aelita's impending abduction by government agents during that looped day. By the time the entry for "day 1000" rolls around, his sanity seems to be hanging by a thread (and there are still a thousand more entries to go). Meanwhile, as far as his daughter and the outside world are concerned, no time has actually passed at all.
In The Simpsons episode "King of the Hill", Grandpa tries to talk Homer out of climbing the Murderhorn, telling him how, in 1928, he was nearly killed when he and his partner C.W. McAllister tried to climb it, only for McAllister to betray him, steal all the supplies, and shove him off the mountain, then continue on his own. Later, when Homer is making his own attempt and is too tired to go further, he finds McAllister's frozen body and Apocalypse Log, detailing a very different story: Abe had been the betrayer, and had even tried to eat McAllister's arm after stealing the supplies. (Presumably, McAllister shoving Abe off the mountain had been self-defense, but he could only crawl into a nearby cave where he likely died of altitude sickness after writing the last entry of the log. The last sentence was, "Tell my beloved wife that my last thoughts were of her... blinding and torturing Abe Simpson. Cheerio.”
In an episode of Futurama, the Planet Express team, on their way to the hive of giant space bees, a.k.a. "deadly, deadly bees," on a quest to gather space honey, discover the wrecked ship of their predecessors, who were killed whilst undertaking the same mission. They discover the black box recording, which recorded a conversation between a nervous underling suggesting they turn back because it's too dangerous, and the over-confident captain insisting they press on to glory. And then recorded the sounds of their horrible, horrible deaths moments later. Leela, who has been taking the role of "over-confident captain" in the current team's efforts, is particularly keen to pretend they never found it.
Jonny Quest Classic episodes "The Invisible Monster" (Isaiah Norman's notebook) and "The Sea Haunt" (the ship captain's log).
Parodied in the South Park episode 'Pandemic', as Randy's incessant camcordering of the disaster gets on Sharon's nerves. And it turns out he didn't have a tape in it.
The Legend of Korra has the sports announcer discussing everything going on in the Pro-Bender arena. Then the Equalists invade and he continues narrating the events. "One of the masked men has currently broken into this booth and is about to electrocute me. I am currently wetting my pants" in the same announcer's voice without emotion.
Seen in the multipart episode "Notes From The Underground" in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and actually called in advance by Michaelangelo, who is a sci-fi aficionado. Later on used again in the episode "The Trouble With Augie", recording the destruction of an interdimensional culture by their seemingly-benign visitors.
A classic Space Ghost episode, "The Energy Monster", features a posthumous recording by the scientist who created it.
Done in Disney's Tarzan series by a character who actually lived, but thought he was going to die and didn't get to finish his entry. Didn't help when he said that the item that he (falsely) believed would solve the problem plaguing the jungle was "hidden inside the p-", leaving Tarzan and Jane to run around the hut exploring every item they could find beginning with "P" (it was the phonograph machine, for the record.)
Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Beyond the Farthest Star". 300 million years ago a member of the crew of the dead ship left a warning message telling what happened to them and why they decided to destroy their own ship.
Adventure Time has one in the episode Holly Jolly Secrets. Finn has found an old set of VHS tapes that contains a video diary of the Ice King. The last tape is the diary of a human, Simon Petrikov, as he slowly loses his mind and humanity, until finally becoming the Ice King. Bonus points for the apocalypse taking place in the background over the course of said log.
In Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice," Batman does some sleuthing around GothCorp's facility and finds a videotape inside Viktor Fries' case file. The videotape has him documenting on a revolutionary process that he developed of cryogenesis that he is placing his terminally ill wife, Nora Fries, in until he can develop a cure for her. Suddenly, Ferris Boyle bursts in and demands that he shut down the experiment due to his stealing money from him to commit the experiment. Viktor attempts to reason with and eventually is forced to point a gun at Boyle to stop him from halting his experiment. Boyle then tries to reason with him, before promptly kicking him into some vials containing chemicals relating to the cryogenetic process, causing a biohazard, with Fries also visibly deteriorating from the accident while calling Nora's name in a lamenting manner as the tape ends.
Gravity Falls, Dipper reads in journal #3 that the author needed to hide the book away from someone before it trails off.
In one episode of The Venture Bros., Doc uses a submersible bodysuit in an attempt to salvage a 40-year old spacecraft wreck in the Sargasso Sea, and records his progress with a handheld tape recorder. However, he quickly steps into a giant clam that eats the suit's legs. Until he actually finds the wreck he's pretty much resigned to his fate. "I've taken refuge in the forward compartment and am now running on reserve power. Mobility hindered... morale low... no radio contact. Oh, yeah, I lost my locator. And yes, I realize the irony of that."
Parodied on an episode of Family Guy. Peter gets a birthday card from Cleveland of the "record your voice" sort. The recording starts out as Cleveland just saying happy birthday, than comedically spirals into a violent run in with a racist cop.
Another victim of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, an amateur radio operator named Gerry Martin, also radioed to Vancouver to report the eruption. His last recorded words were "Gentlemen, the uh, camper and the car sitting over to the south of me is covered. It's gonna get me, too. I can't get out of here..."
The 1942 siege of Corregidor, Philippines, and the final radio message sent by Sergeant Irving Strobing. "They are piling dead and wounded in our tunnel. Arm's weak from pounding key, long hours, no rest, short rations, tired. I know how a mouse feels. Caught in a trap waiting for guys to come along and finish it up."
A number of soldiers of the Soviet garrison of Brest Fortress held out in the basements of the old fortress for over a month after it was overrun in the early days of Operation Barbarossa. One carved into a wall: "I'm dying but I won't surrender. Farewell, Motherland. 20.VII.41"
We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more. R. Scott. [Scrawled] Last entry. For God's sake look after our people
The onboard video camera was recovered from the wreckage of Space Shuttle Columbia after the disaster and the last few minutes were played, although it stopped before the actual disintegration.
The entirety of the Hindenburg disaster was caught on film and narrated by radio presenter Herbert Morrison, who was audibly overcome with grief and horror until he could no longer bear to continue. On seeing the gigantic airship burning, and people falling from the passenger decks, he coined the famous aghast phrase: "Oh, the Humanity!!" Despite the shocking power of the explosion, amazingly, about two-thirds of the passengers escaped alive. The other one-third died mainly because they panicked and jumped out of the cabin before the it hit the ground.
There are a number of appropriately awful accounts from the Submarine world, notably the brief log kept by the survivors of "Kursk "after her sinking. And, even worse, the audio recording from "USS Thresher's" underwater telephone. The captain kept up a narrative as the submarine sank, totally out of control, and passed crush depth. Utterly horrifying.
And so forth. Real life examples aren't going to detail an apocalyptic horror, or anything, but will definitely qualify in the "desperation and insanity grow from entry to entry" sense.
And even in cases where the witnesses weren't part of those who died, records of traumatic events still capture moments in history with terrifying clarity: the Zapruder film of JFK being shot, the morning of 9/11/2001...
Any detailed, candid diary writing by a person in the grips of depression or similar can read like one of these. Things are going great, then one starts going downhill...
For example, the last words Kenneth Williams wrote in his diary before his apparent suicide were, "What's the bloody point?"
A heroic example from September 11 is Todd Beamer, who used an on-plane telephone to recount what had happened on United Flight 93 and a plan to take back control of the plane: "Are you guys ready?Let's roll."
Less 'heroic', but far more fitting with this trope is Kevin Cosgrove's last phone call from an upper floor in the south tower of the World Trade Center. As he describes the situation, he suddenly shouts, "Oh, God!" and screams as the building collapses around him.
I, Brother Clyn of the Friars Minor of Kilkenny have written in this book the notable events which befell in my time ... so that notable deeds shall not be lost from the memory of future generations I, seeing many ills, waiting for death till it come, have committed to writing what I have truly heard; and lest the writing perish with the writer, I leave parchment for continuing the work, if haply any man of the race of Adam escape this pestilence and continue the work which I have begun.
[in another hand] Here it seems the author died.
This is sort of the whole reason they have black boxes on airplanes. The CVR, or Cockpit Voice Recorder, records everything said in the cockpit and over the radio on an aircraft.
ALA 261 First Officer - I think if it's controllable, we oughta just try to land it — ALA 261 Captain - you think so? ok let's head for LA. ALA 261 - [thump] ALA 261 First Officer - you feel that? ALA 261 Captain - yeah. ALA 261 Captain - ok gimme sl— see, this is a bitch. ALA 261 First Officer - is it? ALA 261 Captain - yeah. ALA 261 - 2 clicks, then a extremely loud noise 1 sec later ALA 261 Captain - [upside down and falling fast] Mayday
The most common last word on black box recordings is "Shit!" (or its equivalent in the pilot's native language). This is rendered as "Unintelligible" when said recordings are broadcast on the news.
Christopher McCandless kept a diary of his time in the Alaskan wilderness, which documented his eventual death by starvation in Alaska on the 112th day of his excursion. Notably, this also appears in literature and film as Into the Wild.
The last speech that Jim Jones gave to the residents of Jonestown was recorded for posterity. In it, you can hear him direct the older members of the community to help the younger children, and for them to "not worry about the children's crying; [the punch] is just a little bitter. It's not painful." Makes for some chilling night time listening.
The Edith Roller journals. A former college professor, she kept a detailed log of her daily life in America and Jonestown. She never came home.
After the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, a tourist victim's camera was recovered with the memory card still readable. Photos of the wave were published, one of them shot just a few seconds before the guy was pulled under.
Even the "scientist records his last thoughts, scientifically" variant has occurred; Allan Blair, the scientist credited with proving black widow spider bites are dangerous to humans, took a rather direct route, as recounted in Gordon Grice's "The Red Hourglass." The guy continued writing notes until the pain proved too much; then he had an assistant continue taking notes. Fortunately, though he proved spiders can be dangerous, he did manage to survive the bite.
Well-known herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt did this in 1957, after being bitten by a small boomslang viper; he believed it wasn't large enough to be dangerous, so he did not take antivenin, but did type a running log of his symptoms through the night and into the next morning; he was found dead later that day.
While it doesn't work 100%, it's still an interesting type of this. In Aokigahara, a forest in Japan famous for the amount of suicides that have taken place there, photos have been taken of trash and items strewn around where the bodies were found. There are things like shoes, hair brushes, papers, glasses, and much, much more. If you were to look through it, it would probably give you a great deal of information about the person and what was going on in their lives before they ultimately ended themselves.
7.30pm: Let it end, let it end, it's 46-all. It was funny when it was 16-all and it was creepy when it was 26-all. But this is pure purgatory and there is still no end in sight. John Isner has just struck his 90th ace. Nicolas Mahut, poor, enfeebled Nicolas Mahut, has only hit 72. Maybe we should just decide it on the number of aces struck? Give the game to Isner and then we can all crawl into our graves.
An episode of I Shouldn't Be Alive recalled the story of two campers, hopelessly lost in the woods, stumbling upon the abandoned campsite of a more experienced climber. Among his belongings, there was a detailed journal recording the climber's attempts to get out of the valley, and his dwindling food supply. They later found his body.
A recorded footage of a diver who had a diving accident and died, the video shows how he goes in the water, starts diving just as he normally would, but things starts to go wrong when the diver begins sinking and cannot react. The video basically records the process along with the reaction of people watching it. Be warned, the footage is rather disturbing...
The events that the film Lost Signal are based on.
The Balibo Five — a group of TV reporters from Australia and New Zealand who travelled to East Timor in 1975, shortly before the Indonesian military seized control of the territory. Three days before he was killed — suspected to be the work of Indonesian militants - one of the reporters, Greg Shackleton, recorded a film newsreel about the local villagers and their impending plight in the face of military aggression.
"June 3rd 1864, Cold Harbor Virginia, I was killed." The final entry of a Massachusetts volunteer in the Army of The Potomac in the The American Civil War.
The disappearance of Frederick Valentich in 1978. While flying his light aircraft from Melbourne to King Island he reported to ATC that he was being harassed by an unidentified "aircraft" that he presumed was an Air Force jet of some kind, but none were operating in his area, nor were any civil planes in the vicinity. In his final transmission he comes to a frightening realisation:
"That strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again." (open microphone for two seconds) "It is hovering and" (open microphone for one second) "It's not an aircraft."
Ulysses S. Grant completed his autobiography five days before succumbing to throat cancer. His notes concerning the progress of his cancer were reportedly required reading in medical schools for many years.
During the shooting at Columbine High School a library phone line was left open by a teacher who called 911 before the shooters' entrance forced her to leave the phone to go hide. The open line caught and recorded the sounds of students being killed and injured, the dialogue of the shooters to their victims and each other, and after the shooters leave the surviving students being told to quickly flee out a nearby door then dead air. The first five minutes of the call were released in which by listening carefully under the conversation of the teacher and 911 operator several things can be heard. Including a bomb going off, the shooters cheering and after entering the library shouting at the students get up, and three shots being fired (two of the shots were fatal).
For 33 years, the fate of S. A. Andrée's Swedish Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 to the north pole remained a mystery. In 1930, the remains of the three expedition members, their camp and a large number of photos and diary entries were found at Kvitřya island. In these, the men had recorded in extrodinary detail how their balloon crashed after just three days on july 14, their increasingly desperate attempts to get back to Svalbard the following three months and their ultimately doomed battle against cold, hunger, disease and exhaustion. Andrée ended the last coherent diary entry, from early october, with the words: "With such comrades as these, one ought to be able to manage under practically any circumstances whatsoever." All the members of the expedition are believed to have perished just a few days later.
In the days before committing mass suicide several members of the Heaven's Gate cult recorded finalexitstatements. The morning after the suicide the tapes with the recorded statements were delivered to a surviving member.
Hunter S. Thompson: "No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax. This won’t hurt."
Björk once had a stalker by the name of Ricardo Lopez. He had planned to kill her with a letter bomb wich would launch a discharge of corrosive acid upon opening, and he kept a video diary detailing the process of his plans. During the course of the diary we can clearly see Ricardos mental health erode, culminating in him shaving his head, painting his face and blowing his brains out with a revolver, on camera. A perfect example of an Apocalyptic log.
The increasingly irrational log entries of amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst, whose mental state gradually deteriorated to the point of suicide during a solo round-the-world sailing race.
A man driving with his daughter during the April 17, 2013 explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas pulled out his camera phone to record the plant on fire, when the whole thing suddenly exploded (about 30 seconds into the video). The last thing you hear in the footage is the man's daughter repeating "Daddy, please get out of here...Dad, I can't hear, I can't hear." Both father and daughter were fine and relatively unscathed.
The transcript of the recording from Apollo 1, the crew of which died when a fire started in the cockpit during a test.
Ed White: Fire!
Gus Grissom: I've got a fire in the cockpit!
Roger Chaffee: I'm burning up!
The final transmission from RNLB Solomon Browne, the lifeboat involved in the Penlee lifeboat disaster, as it attempted to rescue the crew of the MV Union Star in hurricane force winds. Both vessels were lost with all hands.
"...and the floor is shaking quite a bit... we are live with a quake here, must be magnitude 6... 7... now it's up at 8...earthquake, earthquake, guys! It's moving quite-*sounds of rattling furniture* I'M GONNA DIE, I'M GONNA DIE!"
Charles Gordon kept a detailed diary of the Siege of Khartoum, ending prophetically: "If the expeditionary force... does not come within ten days, the town may fall; and I have done my best of the honor of our country."
During the early jet age, ejection seats would not operate until the cockpit canopy was jettisoned (today they can punch through the glass). A British pilot test-flying a hawker-Siddeley Sea Hawk had his controls jam while in a moderate descent over open ocean. His canopy would not jettison, so he could not egress the doomed plane. He calmly narrated the last moments of his flight and his efforts to recover control so that later pilots might learn from what happened. The transmission was cut off at impact.
In 1988, Ivan Lester McGuire went skydiving and recorded his dive. Partway through the video, he appears to be looking for his ripcord, which he can't find, since he'd forgotten his parachute. At this point the camera goes spinning until the video glitches out, as footage of the final stage of his descent was destroyed on impact.