An author and illustrator named Harris Burdick tells an editor that he has written fourteen stories and brings an illustration from each story with a caption, promising to deliver the full manuscript if the editor publishes his stories. Burdick, however, is never seen again. All that remains of him are the fourteen illustrations and their captions.
A collection of stories based on the illustrations written by well-known professional authors, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, was released in 2011.
The book provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: Many authors have taken it to themselves to write adaptations of the illustrations. One of the more notable examples being Stephen King, who wrote a short story based on "The House on Maple Street" for Nightmares & Dreamscapes.
- Mind Screw: Many of the images are this, as they usually show weird, surreal things that couldn't happen in real life. Why is a house blasting into space? Why is a book sprouting vines? How is that pumpkin glowing?
- No Ending: All that remains of each story is a single sentence. Done with the intention that the reader will write their own story based off it.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Often. Quite a few of the pages allude to some unspecified danger or tragedy, and even Burdick's fate is hauntingly ambiguous. Actually a very handy tool for introducing the concept to budding horror enthusiasts.
- Noodle Incident: What stories could Harris Burdick have in mind for these pictures? The world may never know.
- Riddle for the Ages: Everything in this book is left a deliberate mystery for different writers to fill in the blanks.
- Spooky Photographs: The illustrations themselves can be pretty scary, and their collective backstory is supposed to be unnerving. The stories written by each individual author go all over the place, however.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The central mystery of each illustration is what the heck kind of story would make the caption work with the art. Of course, this is the whole point for aspiring writers.