It is 1981 in a small town in Pennsylvania. The town is growing moderately, but won't hit city status for at least another decade or two, but the people there are still happy. The kids enjoy life there, and the parents are satisfied. A buzz goes around the community as the kids become excited for a certain TV show from the makers of one of the best cartoon producers of all time once it is announced, and almost all of the children in town tune in for the premier. Unfortunately with that premier, the children begin to change, becoming more hostile and aggressive, tempermental, and obsessed with the show. The few children who were not able to watch the broadcast are harrassed by the other children, to the point where they are bullied and beaten for not yet watching. The parents begin to worry, including single father, Andrew Sternwood, who is simply trying to keep his only son safe from the show, because he knows the truth behind it, and its sinister host, the so-called 'Larry Laughter'.
This story takes place in the interconnected literary universe from young author Nathan Thornsbury, Universe 11-N. For more information on his other stories and how they connect, go to Universe 11-N .
This story provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: To any parents out there, picture yourself in this small town. You live in a place with your only child, when the children of the town start to mentally change into vicious and deranged savages. No one understands why this is happening, or whether it could be contagious. You can't tell your child directly for the fear that they could become like the others. You lay awake every single night, fearing that you'll wake up tomorrow morning to find your child to be just like one of the others ... Are you horrified yet?
- It gets even worse when we realize that this was Lucius's exact goal. He knew that to create an Eldritch Location in the Mortal Realm, one needs to have a place where extreme suffering and concentrated dark emotions come out, like fear or depression or rage or paranoia. So Lucius took an entire town where he would use them as a conduit of dark energy, by making the town experience the most potent type of fear and paranoia of all... A parent fearing for the safety of their own child. It is the most potent sadness, fear, and paranoia when you make a parent think that their child is at risk, or is even missing. His entire plan relied on the concept of Adult Fear.
- Anachronism Screw: It may be The '80s, but there are a few details that are from later in time, like some of the kids making references to films that hadn't been made yet.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: After watching the show, the children in the town start to act differently, as if they're being controlled by the show and its creator.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: In the beginning, it is implied that Andrew is paranoid and over-protective, reacting so vigorously and panicking to the idea of his son watching the show, and the other kids start to say that Andrew is crazy, thinking VHS tapes can brainwash people and such. The other kids even start bullying Andrews son for it.
- The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right: As it turns out, Andrew wasn't wrong for forbidding his son to watch the show, and he was just being careful by destroying the tape, because the show was actually dangerous. How did he know though? Because he knows that the show's host, Larry Laughter, is actually Lucius, due to prior dealings with the Devil himself.
- Do Wrong, Right: Lucius takes offense to the fact Andrew thinks that he's brainwashing the children of the town in order to consume their souls. He might be taking the children for a horribly sinister purpose, but not to eat them or their literal souls.