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Daniel Brophy's picture

The Ghoul on the Moon

By Daniel Brophy in Scare Us

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Among the superstitions and unofficial rules Ouija board users have, the ultimate and most sacrosanct rule is you do not play alone. Ever. Little Missy Taylor didn't know this.


annuvin's picture
annuvin from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada is reading Hilarity Ensues by Tucker Max July 5, 2012 - 11:11pm

Great story!

Daniel Brophy's picture
Daniel Brophy from Taunton, MA is reading The Power of One July 8, 2012 - 8:17am

Thank you!

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 6, 2012 - 12:03am

I like it--I like the details about Ouija-board atrocities before the story starts, and I REALLY like the Ghoul on the Moon. I don't like Missy and her brother as much--they don't ring as true to me as the Ghoul does. I know that probably sounds crazy. I'd like a little more transition from Missy the cute little girl to Missy possessed by the Ghoul. It's a bit too abrupt for me, although it's nice that we get to see it all from the brother's point of view.

Daniel Brophy's picture
Daniel Brophy from Taunton, MA is reading The Power of One July 8, 2012 - 8:36am

This is something I'm getting a lot: the characters aren't good. And you know what? You're right. 

The transition is part of the Ghoul's mystique. If I go into the transition, describe what she's going through, then the story becomes an Exorcism knockoff. Going into it gives more definition to the Ghoul, which was something I really tried to avoid. But, I should go into the conversation even more with those two. 

Thank you so much for reading this. 

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 6, 2012 - 5:43am


I really liked the interaction between Missy and the Ghoul, and I think that's the strongest part of your story. Missy's reactions, as well as the 'voice' of the Ghoul is suitably creepy, and I felt that there more than any other place in the story, there was clear tension and kept me reading to find out what happened.

Unfortunately, to get to that part, you have to read through a beginning that I just don't feel works. I think that the Ouija board is a big enough piece of pop culture history that it doesn't really need two full pages about it's mythos. Yeah, some of the factoids were interesting, but they ended up coming off as nothing but factoids, and really slow down the story. The big introduction also hurts the rest of the piece as I found myself starting to get impatient, even when Missy finally makes her appearance to get to the actual story-I knew she was going to play with the Ouija board, and I knew something bad was gonna happen, so it was kind of a struggle to actually get to the interesting part.

The writing of the piece is okay, but I thought it was a little restraint, and 'by the numbers'. It's like a narrator was bored of the story and wanted to tell it as dry as possible. As cliche as this sounds, the story and characters(except for maybe Missy) never felt alive to me. This is made worse because the scenes between Missy and the Ghoul actually feel compelling, so I was left sort of wondering if maybe you were more interested in that scene than anything else.

The ending also didn't really work for me because I never really cared much for the characters, so I didn't care what happened to them. I also wasn't much of a fan of the gore/shock at the end, because everything else before it had been a bit subdued, yet when it worked, it worked really well and was creepy. My advice would be to drop the entire two first pages and focus on Missy, her family, and the Ouija board. Make us care about them as a family, so when things inevitably turn to shit, we're invested on them. The Ghoul of the Moon seems like such a great name, that I want to know more about it.,

Daniel Brophy's picture
Daniel Brophy from Taunton, MA is reading The Power of One July 8, 2012 - 8:25am

The stuff about the Ouija board history came from researching them when I thought up the story, which was simply 'little girl plays with Ouija board.' I found all these stories surrounding Ouija boards, and noticed as I read them, they went from good to bad. And there was my in: the Missy part would be the final story of the history of the Ouija board. Had I just started with Missy, I felt the impact would be lessened. Although, you're right, I do lose on character. I actually cut out a few scenes with the family, feeling that the focus should be on Missy, once the story moves to her. 

With regards to the name 'Ghoul on the Moon,' it's the name of an unproduced Ed Wood movie. I liked the odd rhythm to it, and felt it enough of a cypher where you don't really know the deal with it, whatever it is. 

Thank you so much for the critique, though. I agree with making the characters WAY better, but I gotta stick with the first two pages. Thanks, Hector.

Oh, and the ending? That was originally way more gory. Rules of the contest state I needed three deaths. Believe me, wish I could take the story in other directions, but one must work in the parameters again. Again, thanks, sir.

ChokingGame's picture
ChokingGame from New York is reading American Psycho July 6, 2012 - 8:53pm

See, I really liked the little snippets at the beginning.  The Ouija Board is a pop culture cornerstore so starting your piece like that instantly made it feel a larger story.  It creates a world that I believe existed before the story started and will continue after the story ends. It grounds it in my current reality. I dug it.

Also, I didn't have problems with the little girl's voice.  Sure, she sounds a little precociously mature but I found her to be a compelling narrator.  In a weird way, it was like the Goul in the Moon had already started infiltrating her mind because she seemed to become more mature the more she interacted with him/it.

My only qualm (if you could call it that) is that there is such an abrubt shift from Missy to Possessed Demon Missy and no transition between.  It shies away from the truly terrifying part - what it's like to actually BECOME possessed - and instead goes to gore as a means to scare us.  You already get inside Missy's head so much. What it is like for her to become possessed? And what is it like for her to kill her parents?  Is she still in there somewhere?


Cool story!

Daniel Brophy's picture
Daniel Brophy from Taunton, MA is reading The Power of One July 8, 2012 - 8:33am

To be honest, I always pictured Missy (I wrote this story orignally about 5 years ago) as what I wish my daughter would be (were I to ever have one): a little Lisa Simpson. Precocious, curious, smart. She was orginally much younger, I think about six, but made her ten, where she wouldn't be truly frightened, and more curious, with a bit of understand about what she was dealing with.

The story wasn't really about possesion; were I to go into it, then the story becomes an Exorcism spin. To me, the horror is in what you don't know. I go into the possesion, and it makes the Ghoul a demon, something from Hell. The closet door opens, and the cut to Michael coming home, makes the reader wonder what the hell happened. You come home to your parents slaughtered and your little sister the culpret, but she calls herself by some strange name? I feel the impact of ending gets lost if more goes into the possession. 

The gore's only there since the parameters of the contest say I need three deaths. Granted, I cheat with the opening history bits, as there's only two deaths at the end. I feel like the story would've went somewhere more horrifying (although I know not what the angle would've been) or somewhere where gore and dead bodies isn't the ultimate scene (and, to be honest, I REALLY cut back on the gore: previous drafts had a whole page describing the the scene).

Thank you so much for reading it.