A lone man, absolutely empty city:

Total posts: [24]
An idea just popped up. It's a Psychological Horror short story/film where a man walks around the city that is perfectly normal, clean, bright, and new city.

Except that there's absolutely no other live being.

What would the reader/audience think if I put in some intentional Fridge Logic elements, like the main character (let's call him Walker!) having a meal in a diner?

I'd like to put him into a very vast and quite places, like a library, a hospital, and a park and have rather unusual things happened to him, like a book suddenly dropping from the bookshelf, a flipped over wheelchair whose wheels are still turning. I want to evoke the atmosphere of an apocalypse story, only in a very normal looking society. Most importantly, I want to write an ultimate [[ Nothing Is Scarier horror story that utilizes emptyness.]]

Now, what can I add/change to this formula to make it more interesting and most importantly, terrifying? I also want to make a challenge; to make the most horrifying story that is rated G (or whatever the book equivalent is).

Any suggestions?
slice of lice
It seems fine, it's just that I'd expect comparisons to I Am Legend.
Forget the tropes until after you're done.
3 Wheezy27th Sep 2011 01:51:05 AM from Tampa, FL. Again.
(That Guy You Met Once)
That sounds awesome.

And besides the Ghost City trope, I don't see any similarities to I Am Legend.

edited 27th Sep '11 1:51:37 AM by Wheezy

There's no visible threat, to say. At the appearance, there's seems nothing wrong; there's grocery store with perfectly well preserved foods, restaurants that you can get food from (again, intentional Fridge Logic), and a park with working fountain and everything. It's as if the city was perfectly normal and then ALL people suddenly just disappeared for some reason.

However, I want to make the reader/audience to keep thinking, "WHY is he the only person?" "Where IS everyone else and what HAPPENED to them?" and such.

Evoking mysterious feeling was never one of my strong points, unfortunately.

Oh, and as long as there is no actual trace of violence, this kind of movie can get a G rating too, right?

edited 27th Sep '11 1:56:11 AM by dRoy

slice of lice
[up][up] I may be only thinking of the movie version (and only in its early part), but that's the version most people will be familiar with these days.

  • OP points out questions that also apply to I Am Legend's early part.
  • Aside from some grass overgrowth, the city in the movie is also pretty pristine.
  • The daytime animals and dog companion didn't really change the "only person" feeling.

edited 27th Sep '11 1:59:44 AM by OuthouseInferno

Forget the tropes until after you're done.
[up] Actually, the movie's city still have this rather bleak undertones, grey/brownish color filtering and all.

edited 27th Sep '11 2:29:31 AM by dRoy

7 Wheezy27th Sep 2011 03:31:44 AM from Tampa, FL. Again.
(That Guy You Met Once)
The MPAA doesn't rate books, so just write it without sex, violence, or Cluster F Bombs and it should be fine for all audiences.

edited 27th Sep '11 3:34:18 AM by Wheezy

read Ray Bradbury's short story where the guy is the last dude on Mars, well, except for one girl he tries to get ahold of....

it's also included as a chapter of "The Martian Chronicles" which is just a bunch of his short stories put into one mega arch of all his short stories in the same 'verse

that might give you some ideas on how you want to approach it, plus, it's pretty good/funny

edited 27th Sep '11 7:48:59 PM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
9 SandJosieph27th Sep 2011 10:50:35 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday , Relationship Status: Brony
Bigonkers! is Magic
I had something similar except my story revolves around a lone girl in a city filled with monsters. So yeah, just a few minor differences.
there has to a trope for this, somewhere on the site... being the last man on the earth. might want to look into that as well for ideas on how you want it to play out.

edited 27th Sep '11 11:29:56 PM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
11 nrjxll27th Sep 2011 11:30:25 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
you know, i actually feel like this alot. i woke up at 8 PM today, and its not uncommon for me to be up until the sun rises.

though i dont find it scary, at first your character might find it refreshing or relaxing. but as i have found living alone and being up all night that can quickly go sour if you do not have AT LEAST something with you like a tv or dog. before i got my old dog back from my mom's i went bonkers.

the first 3 or 5 days might be good, but thats when he goes crazy. hallucinations in people that are locked up for as little as 3 days are not uncommon, then again they have no human contact or ANYTHING to do. At least your guy will get to do stuff.

And given all electricity will go out, he might get bored quickly unless he likes reading or smashing out car windows and trying out guns from gun stores. al the food in the markets would rot soon enough and animals raid the walmarts in teh food section, but amist the rotting cans of food would be good for up to two or three years.

though the idea of being the last man does have a certain amount of romanticization for me; add to the scaryness and him breaking down, and to me that makes a good short story.

whatever angle you go with it, it's something i will want to read. if you do write it, give us a link to it.
as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
there has to a trope for this, somewhere on the site... being the last man on the earth.

Actually, you wouldn't know that for sure, although it is implied. Like I said, the city is SO well maintained, almost to those tourism advertisements picture, complete with blue sky and buildings with shiny windows and everything.

at first your character might find it refreshing or relaxing.

The thing is, Walker acts as if there's absolutely nothing wrong. I think I will start the story by having him wake up in a Saturday morning and have him walk around, shopping. He goes to supermarket, pays the money, goes to restaurant and order some food (Sandwich for lunch, spaghetti for dinner), goes into a very empty library to read/check out some books, and going for a walk in a dark, quiet, and absolutely empty park. It's as if he has been doing this for a long time and just got accustomed to it. Oh, and by empty, I mean not even wild animals like squirrels, pidgeons, and whathaveyou.

I guess the only horror aspects are small things that seem out of ordinary, like a book suddenly dropping from a bookshelf, a wheelchair in a hospital with its wheels still spinning, swings that slightly swing by themselves...

It's something of a Mind Screw-ish work, I assume it would be.
My mind immediately went to, "It's not empty. He just doesn't recognise the presence of other people/animals."

How does he order food from a restaurant without anyone else there? (Not Fridge Logic-wise so much as how the scene will play out.)
You will not go to space today.
He just sits, take a look at outside (Scenery Porn ensues) and he's seen eating.
16 BlueNinja028th Sep 2011 07:33:12 AM from Underneath Damocles' Sword , Relationship Status: I made a point to burn all of the photographs
Sailing the big blue sea
It will, eventually, get explained of how everything is so maintained and works for him, right? Because nothing would piss me off more than reading the whole story and have nothing but speculation on the causes behind this world of his.
the prospect of being in presence of impossibly gigantic, improperly supported anti-gravity breasts has never made me afraid for my life.
[up] Sorry, no. You wouldn't like this work. It would probably end with him lying on a bench on a park, watching the stars, and Fade to Black. Probably, I don't know, this idea is very premature as of now.
what the fuck? i dont get it then. we read about how the last man goes thro his day, and you leave us hanging with nothing at all, are we supposed to figure it out ourselves or is there nothing to figure out?

edit: then again you should totally post it just to troll everyone waiting for the build up and get nothing. im 100 percent behind this

edited 28th Sep '11 12:46:00 PM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
Couple of things this idea reminded me of:

Diary of a Lonely Man

Amid The Rubble
Doesn't sound like there's any kind of conflict at all, so you don't have a story. Which also means you won't have much of an audience, save for those with way too much time on their hands who also have an affinity for stories like this, which may be only a single person (also, that person may be you).

A story like this might benefit from a metric ton of psychological thrills. Sure, Nothing Is Scarier is scary and all, but if it doesn't really affect this character, then what's the point of trying to point out that Nothing Is Scarier? Hell, if the city is pristine, how is it maintained? Does he maintain it, and where does he find the time to maintain an entire city by himself, whilst also maintaining himself?

It sounds a bit like it would work in a Twilight Zone-esque universe, but that still doesn't negate from the fact that there is a complete lack of story.
21 SandJosieph28th Sep 2011 01:23:06 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday , Relationship Status: Brony
Bigonkers! is Magic
A fun idea would be to have all the people suddenly replaced by robots. But not robots that look like humans. I mean the kind that have visible joints, have noisy actuators, and sometimes require treads in order to get around. And the thing is they act like the people the guy once knew! That should throw him for a loop.
[up][up] For the most part, yeah this story doesn't have a main plot. It does leave an impression of having one though (I just woke up and my mind feels a bit hazy), it spans around several days, but each day, something more and more abnormal is happening, like I mentioned above. I'm actually considering using Walker's blatant apathy toward his environment as a creepy factor too.
You're not doing much to make this pitch more impressive. The best way to leave an impression of a plot is to include a plot. Good for you if this is just a slice of life piece, but you'll find yourself in want of readers.

Apathy does very little conflict wise, let alone to do anything to build suspense. Suspense is built upon the reactions of the characters in concern to their environment. A character showing apathy to their environment is alright and perfectly fine, but it does absolutely nothing to build suspense, as it tells the reader, "This is no big deal."

So creepy things are happening. The protagonist and, at this juncture, only character doesn't seem scared or respond at all to it. Where's the conflict? Where's the driving action to this? Where's the motivation for the reader to keep turning pages?

This sounds like a fairly good framework for an experimental film, but for fiction? Not so much.
24 cutewithoutthe28th Sep 2011 06:20:27 PM , Relationship Status: Star-crossed
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.

Total posts: 24