However, "Rivaly" isn't that story. Instead, what began as the main character's introduction and origin anecdote turned into a six-thousand word short story in and of itself. The story of "Rivalry" is based around, in part, a weird experience I had at a friend's house when I was in grade school. We kept thinking his house was haunted; it wasn't of course, but a couple of odd occurrences did spook our overactive imaginations.
It's rather amazing how little things that happen to you as a kid can have a strong impact on you decades later. And the bigger that trigger event is, the bigger the wallop can be later on in life. I'm no developmental psychologist, but I don't really buy into that whole "kids bounce back better" theory. Personally, I just think trauma at a young age buries the scars deeper and affects your life in the same way an underwater mountain can affect ocean currents, waves, and tides without anything being obvious on the surface of the water.
So with that in mind, I wrote "Rivalry". It is not a horror story, per se. Many classic "ghost stories" are not necessarily horrific. Most are creepy, unsettling, and by the end you give a shiver and find yourself a little less comfortable sitting alone at home late at night. Aficionados of the horror gaming genre may agree with my opinion that it is extremely hard to cause "horror" during a horror gaming session, but I have seen players become creeped out and unsettled. If you can give your players a case of the "heebie jeebies", then that's often reward enough for an evening's gaming. That was the objective I set out to meet with this story, and from all the feedback I've received, "Rivalry" comes pretty darn close to achieving that goal.
So if you enjoy a classic ghost story a la M.R. James or Sheridan Le Fanu, I invite you to give "Rivalry - A Ghost Story" a try. $0.99 at Amazon, approximately six thousand words. Perfect for a ten-minute read just before going to bed tonight, and who knows - with a little redesigning, maybe you can use it as inspiration for your next ghost-related horror gaming scenario?
Here's the description copy from the Amazon product page:
Owen is a kid fascinated by ghost stories, but he's never seen a ghost, or met anyone who has - until Doug moves into town. Owen soon learns that Doug's family is haunted by a ghost that follows them from town to town, an entity that can slam doors and throw coffee mugs, an entity that finds Doug's family no matter where they move.
Fascinated by his friend's haunting, Owen begs Doug to let him spend the night, hoping to have a ghostly encounter of his own. Doug reluctantly agrees to ask his parents' permission, but when Mike and Sharon say no, it's the ghost that throws the temper tantrum, forcing Doug's parents to agree to the sleepover.
Owen packs a "ghost hunting kit" and prepares for a weekend of thrilling supernatural encounters, but what he experiences will change his life forever...