Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween in Second Life

There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery. 

Joseph Conrad


Happy Halloween!
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, Halloween.  At least for those of us who celebrate it it’s a time of ghosts and goblins, tricks or treats.  I know many of you don’t and are glad you don’t.  But, please indulge me.  This is one of my favorite holidays.  (Although, contrary to rumors put out by Significant Other and certain relatives, I did not go trick or treating in high school.) 
Real Life (RL) permits us some liberties and safe scares during Halloween.  But, recently, thanks to a recommendation from Lisah Lorefield, my good friend in Second Life (SL), I had a chance to visit a sim inworld where horror and terror are unleashed.  (Warning, those easily frightened should go read some of my other stories.)
SL always gives us something fun to do at this time of the year.  I blogged a short while back about Perryn Peterson’s event around gacha and last year’s story about the goings on at Tribute City which show the originality and diversity of Halloween celebrations inworld.  Not to mention, demonstrating a certain cosmopolitan and restrained view.
Well, where Lisah sent me throws restraint to the winds and attempts to scare the living whatever out of anyone game enough to go in.  (And here I thought Lisah liked me.)  Let me tell you my story…
I visit Lisah’s recommendation at Veil of Darkness and upon arriving immediately have the sense that something is different here.  I feel and hear a world that is scary.  (Don’t believe Significant Other here, I don’t scare that easily.) A lonely pathway goes into woods that are not too inviting.  But I enter because that’s what we always do in B-movies and SL. 
I notice too as I go in that others rezz in (always a good sign) and that some of them are carrying weapons (never a good sign). 
The woods hang over me and strange sounds give the sense that there is something or someone just over in the shadows.  A kneeling, young woman is impaled into the ground by a two handed sword reminiscent of those used by the Landsknechte during the Thirty Years War.  (I really hope that my readers appreciate what risks I take to get these stories.  OK, yes, the physical risk is minimal but the psychological…)  And all this is within the first few steps!
Anyway, I continue along the fog wrapped path and follow a signpost to a village.  Or, more aptly, what was once a village.  It’s deserted.  Bodies lie everywhere.  (If you’ve ever seen parts of Brooklyn after a particularly good Saturday night then you’ll know what I mean.)  Buildings have been gutted and their inhabitants’ guts (Sorry for the pun, I couldn’t resist.) lie everywhere. 
          As I exit a desecrated church (What else would you call one that’s been sacked and has a mummified corpse sitting in it?)  zombies begin to approach me.  (What’s with zombies?  A few years ago, vampires were all the rage, now these guys.) 
          Beating a hasty retreat across a haunted cemetery, I come across a rickety pier with an even ricketier raft that has a sign announcing a swamp raft tour.
          What do I have to lose?  I’m doing nothing else at the moment and I’m being pursued by zombies. Besides, I’ve always enjoyed boat tours.
          I hop on, push off, and I’m on my way.  The raft takes me through a river which runs through the sim.  I get to see, from a nice, safe, very safe distance, all the fun ‘n frolic the creators have unleashed here. 
          By land, sea, and air, I see horrors.  HP Lovecraft would be amused.  My core beliefs are attacked when I see Mickey Mouse trapped in an enormous spider’s web with guess who coming to dinner.  Elsewhere, Bambi is threatened.  Nothing, religion, Disney, nothing is safe or sacred here. 
          Bodies float in the water, lie on the riverbanks, or hobble along undead. 
          Water boas swim by.  Creatures from Dante’s Inferno haunt the shadows.  Are you getting the idea here?  I can’t even ask for my money back because this is free! 
          Then there’s the sounds.  Even when I close my eyes or turn away, they fill my mind.  There is no escape.  (Yes, I could exit and turn off the computer but what would this story look like then?) 
          The raft returns to the poor excuse for a dock and unceremoniously dunks me in the water. (Next time I’m booking through Orbitz.)  I get back on land and cross over the river on a tumble down covered bridge.  (It might be easier and more succinct if you just assume everything’s a wreck and I let you know when things get better.) 
          Walking inland past the spiders and other assorted baddies I come across yet another signpost pointing the way to a castle.  I follow along.  Let’s see how the better half live.
          Through spider webs, assorted ghouls and goblins, more zombies (BTW, forget about calling 911 for the police if you get into trouble.)  I find the guest book along the way.  (Over two hundred so far have signed in.)  I also find the nursery.  (Don’t ask.)
          Climbing stone steps long given to disrepair and after accidentally crucifying myself, (Trust me, it could happen to anyone.)   I stand on top of a mountain looking across at the most impressive castle that I’ve ever seen in SL.  The view alone is worth the trip.
          Gathering up what’s left of my nerve, and it’s not a lot, I make my way over to the causeway leading to the castle’s main gate which has Dante’s famous quotation emblazoned across its top, “Abandon all hope all ye who enter here!”  (I’ve got news for the creators, they’d scared any hope out of me a long time ago.) 
          Somewhere in this castle is some sort of goal or prize which I never obtain.  I meet others wandering about.  This is a great place for a dungeon crawl, literally. 
          RL requires that I leave, I don’t know how long I would have needed to find the end of the quest.  (Significant Other doubts I’d live that long.)  But, at least I know I tried.
          I must confess that when I first heard of Veil of Darkness I wasn’t aware of the creative team behind it.  I later found that this was part of a family of astouding sims belonging to Calas Galadhon.  SL residents, Tymus Tenk and Truck Meredith, are the creative duo behind these sites.  Many visitors whom I met during my visit referred me their other work.  I’ll blog about them and their work in subsequent posts. 
          I strongly recommend Veil of Darkness to all who are looking for a little thrill during the Halloween season. Be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart.  Veil of Darkness is serious stuff.  Visual and auditory effects are very good and contribute to a heavy, somber atmospheric effect.  The sim interacts with its guests but doesn’t impede them like some sims guardians do. 
          Have fun and are you brave enough to visit it in the dark?      
          I’ve included a few pictures from my visit to Veil of Darkness.  I’ve deliberately avoided some of the horrors so you could go see these for yourselves.  Don’t take my word for it, go, see, and believe.    
          I’d like to thank Lisah Lorefield for referring me to Veil of Darkness.  (I still think she was a little surprised when I returned.)
As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.  (Including the undead!) 
I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here. 



Photo No. 1  Entrance at LZ

Photo No. 2  Into the Woods

Photo No. 4  Signpost

Photo No. 5  Village

Photo No. 7 Church Interior

Photo No. 8 Cemetery

Photo No. 9 Swamp Raft Tour

Photo No. 10 Guest Book

Photo No. 11  Staircase to Castle

Photo No. 12  The Castle

Photo No. 13  Approach to Castle

Photo No. 14  View from Castle

Photo No. 15  Friendly Greeting

Photo No. 16 Castle Foyer

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