By: Anna DeRango
When I was sixteen and a sophomore in high school, I had been too afraid to watch horror movies or go to haunted houses for a long time. In fifth grade, my parents took our whole family to a “family-friendly” haunted house that turned out to be not so friendly. I decided that horror was not for me, because that experience made me feel unsafe and betrayed. After that, I swore to never step foot in a place like that again. With the encouragement of friends, I slowly started building up my horror movie tolerance, easing into it by watching some films with the volume down and lights on in every room of the house.
Eventually, I was intrigued by horror and wanted to experience more. I still refused to go to any haunted houses around October when my friends would ask. However, I found another way to access it that I thought wouldn’t be so scary. I started reading online horror stories. One night, when it was getting late and my house was silent, I read this story . Rather than just an online story posted in some forum, this form of horror was interactive. The story simulated a chat history between two teenagers, but instead of just reading a conversation, you had to click to get every new message. As I sat in the computer room, I shook with anticipation to figure out what the next text would be. It felt like I was receiving the texts, and that the horror was happening to me.
The elements in that interactive horror experience immersed me in the story like I had never been before. There was anticipation when one of the characters was “typing,” so it made me feel like I was a part of the story. I shook in my computer chair, completely silent as waited for each new message to come through.
That night, reading that story opened up the world of online horror. I clicked link after link, eager to read more and more, but scaring myself more and more. By the end of the night, I had terrified myself so much that I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep. The world of online horror amazed me, and I will always remember the story “Annie 96 is typing” as the first online interactive horror story that really scared me. Although I never explored too much, I spent many long car rides with my synchronized swimming team reading and listening to stories we found online.