Canto | Beginnings.

“Crash Site” by noro8 on Deviantart.

Canto started as a thought-experiment I had after watching a couple of horror movies on a weekend with my roommate. Most horror movies give you suspense, thrills, cheap jump scares, and usually a happy ending. The creature get banished, the killer gets some sort of justice, the couple escapes. Not every movie ends like this, mind you, but the majority of classic Horror movies appeal to this kind of trope. After a night of the spooks, I’m sitting here thinking, “How bad could things possibly get?”

And this really got me thinking.

“The Stagman Ghost” by Dimitri Armand

Most of the time — I’m not sure if it’s due to laws pertaining to these kind of visual things, or if horror writers nowadays are trying to go easy on their audience — writers tend to write so haphazardly and semi-bland that a lot of the plot points of newer horror movies can be guessed early on or at least alluded to in some significant way. I wanted something fresh to fill that void in my heart, get my adrenaline rushing, a suspense music rising type of deal. I started thinking, well, what if there are these ‘demons’ that existed in our material plane and have decided to take over this little town; and then I’m like, no, that really wouldn’t be a good premise. There are already movies and worlds based on that kind of thing. What if there were other elements? Something worse than just demons? Literal gods. Okay, we’re getting somewhere. Demons and Gods. Sounds like Dan Brown novel, but it’s something I can start working with. I want something that will strike fear into my readers hearts. I start rattling off various things that would help enrich my world. Creatures, entities, calamities, events, spirits, killers, psychos, and lastly: survivors. Now my world is starting to form.

Now this plot starts to raise some questions. How did these things get here? How do these entities and God’s deal with one another? Keep in mind, it’s not just a set of creatures under one God. Various, and I mean, various gods are starting to appear, bring with them destruction and their children of hate and death. Surprisingly as I started fleshing out some details, it started to sound cooler and spookier.

The town of Crescent, OR, a small and quaint little town. Nothing much usually happens here. Far north Oregon, hidden away between fields of lush pine trees. Very Twin Peak’s-esque. The kind of place you wouldn’t mind settling down or having a damn fine cup of coffee. Population isn’t too much. Your average small town diner with a Mom-and-Pop convenience store. Other no-name places, filled with people who know each other by name, go to church with on Sunday. A real place by the way, but for the sake of this story I’m just borrowing the name; I’m not sure how exactly the town is in real-life (If you live there, or have been there, leave a comment and let me know!) but nonetheless, a town thrust into chaos after a calamity that instantly killed approximately 33 people in a 400 foot radius around a specific location; details to follow. Panic, dread, fear set in fast.

The time is exactly 11:59 AM.

Wireless and cellular reception no longer work. By the hour, a dense a particularly viscous fog is settling in the town. You can reach out and wade through it like water; cup it in your hands and pour it out. It’s carrying with it a foul smell. A sickening thickness to it. Low roars are echoing through the forest all around the town. Why is this happening? What could this mean?

At this point, as writer I’m having various back-and-forth’s in my mind. Should there be a build up? A waiting period? Do things happen in waves? Maybe by a deadline? The people who died, why are they important? Some cause and effects should happen. But that’s not how I’m going to spin this. Anything and everything bad that could possibly happen, will happen. You might be thinking to yourself, “If something like that happens, I wouldn’t stick around. I’d high-tail it out of there!” Yeah. You can’t. If you manage to make it to the edge of town before anything eviscerates you, you’d be in for a very rude awakening, but I can’t go into that just yet. Oh, and our survivors have it pretty terrible too. They can’t even end their life. Something is preventing them from killing themselves. Your guns work, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work on you.

A very, very early prototype of the Canto game I had before it was changed into more of a rogue-lite, survival game.

Murphy’s Law x100.

This isn’t going to be a happy tale. There is no ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Well, pun intended, there will be for some, but in an ever-expanding plot arch: no, there will not be.

As a world-builder, you tend to have this constant struggle with your inner-self. How much should I know? You’re spending all this time creating this world, there are moments when you wish you could enjoy it yourself. Maybe you don’t have to explain something right now. Open ended situations — handled in the right way — is something that shouldn’t be sprinkled everywhere throughout the story, but every now and then, throwing one in there doesn’t hurt, and you get the enjoy the story as well as your readers.

The people who died in town at exactly 11:59? Yeah, they probably died for no particular reason. They probably had families, lovers, children. Canto doesn’t care.

Things will happen because tropes are killing genres.

In Canto, I want my readers to sit back and say aloud, “What the fuck?” but in a eerie sort of vivid-imagination pulling those words from out of them.

Crescent, OR changed completely after that day and unfortunately for the town, I can already tell you that it’s not going to end well. At this point, time has stopped. I mean literally. Whatever is causing these events to happen have literally stopped time. The air is still, and the birds have stopped singing. I know what is causing these events, but to you readers, I’m trying to give you insight plus keep some things a secret. I’m going to relay a situation to you. Imagine this the best you can.

People around you are dying for no reason. The deaths have stopped, but you’re so scared you can’t focus on what is going on correctly right now. 911 wont work. Cellular service is gone, but you just assume the lines are busy. The fog is starting to set in. It seems like it’s seeping out of the ground, but your adrenaline is pumping so fast that you’re not focused on that. Now, it’s getting darker. Last you checked it was almost noon? You’re right. It is pretty much noon, or, it would be, if time could progress. You look up; the sun is becoming eclipsed. You don’t remember there being an eclipse being scheduled for this year? Especially one that is causing this much darkness.

Then they came.

Creatures of horror. Mists of shadows gliding across the ground from the north. Amalgamations of flesh and rot crawling to you from the south. Screams and roars are filling the air above the town. Why is this happening?

This is pretty much where I’ll leave off for this section. I just wanted to introduce you guys to the world and origins of Canto and hope provided some insight into the situations that I have in my mind. I currently have about a quarter or two of this universe done. I want to populate it with creatures and madness, sketch out the city and it’s various locations, create survivors, their backstories, love interests, and so much more.

Stay tuned, and hopefully you’ll get a glimpse of this in a more interactable sense if I can ever get started on the game version. That too will be a rude awakening, even for the players.

Tune in next time when I go into detail about the town of Crescent and who managed to escape the first onslaught!

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