Hey, True Detective fans—did the resolution of Season 1 leave you cold? Disappointed in the reveal of the King in Yellow and the non-reveal of the evil cult’s machinations? Upset that you invested that much time into something for so little a payoff? Did you just plain think “this could have been better?” Well, you’re right. And if you’d like a taste of what could have been, please head over to Amazon and pick up a book by CK Walker.
CK Walker—also known on Reddit as The Dalek Emperor— is a rarity in that nebulous medium known as Creepypasta. You know what I’m talking about—those spooky little short stories that used to pop up on message boards and discussion forums, alleging encounters with the paranormal or ghoulish goings-on in suburbia. In its’ heyday, Creepypasta bred the Slenderman, the Rake, and Candle Cove, amid a number of other less-remarkable but still unsettling “this might have happened” style tales meant to leave the reader not so much with a jolt but a lurking sense of uncanniness. Although the format has shifted gears over time to focus more on short-story length narratives rather than sinister chain-posts and urban legends, it’s nonetheless remained a medium conducive to the supernatural and fantastic—be it clandestine super-experiments in Soviet Russia or mutated killers out for revenge, there’s always an undercurrent of our realm touching another.
Which, again, is what makes CK Walker so special.
Walker’s stories take place very much in the real world, and the threats populating them are all too recognizable. Much more Thomas Harris than Clive Barker, Walker takes human evil and jacks it up a notch, amplifying the horrors of the nightly news to terrifyingly unreal—yet all too believable—levels. Bolstering Walker’s grip on the depths of man’s depravity is a natural and relaxed style of prose, which slowly eases the reader into a false sense of security. Even as she’s building up to some macabre revelation, the reader doesn’t quite feel the threat until it’s already too late—she’s set and baited the trap, and you’ve walked right into it.
Although Paradise Pine and Rocking Horse Creek are stellar, bite-sized examples of Walker’s way with words and cruel grasp of the world, her magnum opus is undoubtedly Borrasca. Set across two time periods, it tells the story of a group of young friends’ exploits in a seemingly peaceful mining town, and their loss of innocence following the disappearance of the narrator’s teen sister—an event that seems to somehow correlate to a local legend about “skinned men,” a sinister tree fort in the woods, and a horrifying sound coming down from the mountains. Novella length but reading as fast as a short story, it’s a ghoulish coming-of-age tale like no other, and after you’re finished you’ll find yourself reading it a second time to pick up on all of the minute clues and dark subtleties woven into the story.
With its’ spate of child disappearances and cabalistic revelations, Borrasca is everything True Detective could have—and should have—been, offering up an evil in the woods far more compelling and well-executed than a burly guy quoting James Mason. Attention, HBO—want to salvage the series? Hire CK Walker to write Season 3. Better yet, give her a series of her own—she’d surely give us one Hell of a franchise.
Preston Fassel: What made you decide to start writing Creepypasta?
CK Walker: I enjoyed reading Creepypasta quite a bit. I've always been fond of writing so I decided to take a stab at writing a short story of my own. I became addicted and immediately shelved the novel I had been writing so I could spend more time writing horror.
PF: Your stories deal with much more real-life situations and their emotional aftermath, as opposed to more supernaturally based Creepypastas. Is this a conscious decision, and, if so why?
CW: Yes. I like to write character-driven stories that cause the reader to be painfully sympathetic to - and heavily invested in - the fates of the characters. At that point, less is more. You don't need to do a whole lot to deeply affect the reader if you write your characters well. Also, writing monsters is not a strong point of mine!
PF: Why do you think Creepypasta has become such a phenomenon?
CW: I think people like that stomach-dropping, winded feeling that the end of a great Creepypasta can give you. It's absorbing, thrilling, and makes your heart beat faster. Also, short stories on the internet are easily digestible, don't take much of a time investment, and cost nothing. I think the sum of these points produce the formula for Creepypasta's enduring popularity.
PF: What do you consider your proudest achievement?
CW: I suppose it would be Borrasca. It continues to enjoy wild popularity, which thrills me to no end. I love nothing more than debating the controversial ending with strangers!