Posts Tagged ‘Momo’

The original photo that started the Backrooms. At first, not too creepy, but then you realize that there’s no sign of human habitation. And that’s what makes it really terrifying.

Well, I didn’t think I’d get it done this weekend, but I somehow managed to do it. Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Happy Boxing Day/Happy Holidays to me.

So, as I mentioned in my last article on Ginger Nuts of Horror, I was developing a story based on the Backrooms, an internet urban legend that’s become really popular in the past year or so. For those who don’t know, the Backrooms were inspired by a photo of an empty office decorated with yellow wallpaper and some accompanying text, both posted anonymously. The text went something like this:

“If you’re not careful and you noclip out of reality in the wrong areas, you’ll end up in the Backrooms, where it’s nothing but the stink of old moist carpet, the madness of mono-yellow, the endless background noise of fluorescent lights at maximum hum-buzz, and approximately six hundred million square miles of randomly segmented empty rooms to be trapped in
God save you if you hear something wandering around nearby, because it sure as hell has heard you.”

Spooky, no? The Backrooms has since gone viral, becoming a series of games, YouTube videos, and fan art, among other things. However, there isn’t a lot of prose fiction set in the Backrooms yet, so I thought I’d try to get ahead of the crowd and give it my own original twist while I was at it. After all, it was stuck in my head. Might as well make something with that.

Thus, I have created “It Changes You: A Backrooms Story,” which I have spent basically all of December working on. The story follows a bunch of people, particularly two teen girls named Kat and Ginger, who end up falling into the Backrooms, and what happens to them as they try to find a way out.

This story was a blast to work on for so many reasons. The first half is very strange and psychological, while the second half has body horror, some really gross stuff, and a bit of cosmic horror that was terrifying even to me! I also had a lot of fun making the main characters nerds into anime and Doctor Who like I am, and Kat in particular is a writer who also happens to be aromantic, like me.* I also based some characters loosely on characters from shows I watch, including Law & Order, and let my mind go in some really weird directions with this story, which allowed my characters to take over to a greater degree than I’d ever seen before with a story. Overall, it was just a great experience writing it.

And let’s not forget how much ambience helped me write this one. Prior to Kat and Ginger finding themselves in the Backrooms, I listened to YouTube videos of outdoor crowd ambience to get in the mood. Afterwards, I listened to ten-hour vids of fluorescent buzzing to really help me feel like I was in the Backrooms, and during the final scenes of the story, I listened to creepy horror music to get me in that cosmic horror mood.

And now this story is finished, a novella of decent length of nearly 27,000 words. Yeah, that long. No wonder it took all month to write. Anyway, I’ll let it rest a while before editing it and then sending it to a beta reader to look at. But honestly, I think it has potential. The Backrooms are still not as well known as other internet horror creations like Slender Man or Momo, so there’s plenty of room for this story to make a splash. That’s the hope, anyway.

So, now that this story is done, what’s next for me? Well, I’ll save that for another blog post. Right now, I haven’t had dinner, so I’m going to fill my belly, watch a late movie, and then hit the hay. Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and happy holidays! I hope Krampus didn’t visit you this year. Or maybe I hope he did, I honestly don’t know how many other people love the guy like I do.

*Aromantic means I don’t feel romantic attraction or want to be in a romantic relationship. Like, I’m physically incapable of doing so. It’s a real thing and a discussion for another blog post, but I liked putting it into a story through one of my characters.


One more thing before I forget, my Followers of Fear: in the hopes of starting 2023 off on the right foot, I’m having a special sale on my published stories. The electronic copies of most of my books will be discounted to 99 cents for the first week of January, and the audio book of The Pure World Comes will also be discounted for that first week from certain retailers. If you’re interested, please head to the retailer of your choice after the new year and download a copy.

And if you like what you read, please leave me a review letting me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reviews, and they help me out in the long run. Not only that, but reviews help other readers figure out whether they want to read a story or not. Pretty sweet, right?

Right, now that’s the real end of this post. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

So do you remember the other day, when I posted about the character of Momo, who supposedly reaches out to kids and teens online, and tries to hurt them or make them hurt themselves? I outlined the myth and how the character took off in the public consciousness, before mentioning that I was working on my own story inspired by Momo and other terrifying figures that originate online and gain a life of their own in the real world.

Well, I just finished that story a few minutes ago. As you can tell by the title, I’m calling the story Queen Alice, and it follows an investigative reporter who delves into the burgeoning legend of a cult leader named Queen Alice who uses social media to bring harm to her targets. Or does she? Is she even real? The reporter is determined to make it to the bottom of this mystery, and what happens when he releases his report will change his world forever.

Writing this story was a lot of fun and I found it easy to write it, despite how much went on in my life (it’s gotten to the point where I’m going to bed earlier and setting lower writing goals so I can get more rest during the work week). The online world is as much a play and communal space as the campfires were for early humanity, when our first boogeymen were created. Today we’re creating boogeymen through the Internet, and people are taking them seriously in ways that would’ve been unimaginable even just ten years ago. Tapping into that fear, even though I sometimes have trouble understanding the most basic of human emotions and motivations, allowed the story to really flow for me and I was able to get it out much quicker than I thought I would.

It probably also helped that I pictured actor John Noble in the role of the reporter. Not sure why, he just fit the part in my head when I was visualing the character.

So what now? Well, I think I could get it published somewhere. At 27 pages and under 7,600 words, the story isn’t too long for many publications. I’ll get it looked at first and see if a beta reader can’t give me some good feedback before I edit it. With any luck, I can get it published somewhere very soon.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I have some stuff to take care of before the day is over, so I’ll see you all later. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

 

And while I still have your attention, I’m still looking for advanced readers for my novel, Rose. The book is a fantasy-horror story about a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). In exchange for an early electronic copy, all I ask is you read it and consider posting a review on or after the release date. If you’re interested, send me an email at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com.

If you’ve been on the Internet lately, you’ve probably heard of Momo and seen the photo associated with her/it. For those who haven’t, Momo is an Internet urban legend that, like Slender Man before her, has gained a sort of life on and off the Internet. Supposedly, she’s a woman or entity you contact or she contacts you online and threatens you and taunts you, predicting your death and encouraging you to do increasingly dangerous tasks and dares, including committing suicide (this latter part is known as the Momo Challenge). Most photos that pop up when you search her are of a woman with bug eyes, long stringy hair and a beaklike mouth. This is actually a 2016 statue from a Japanese artist named Keisuke Aisawa depicting an ubume, or the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth.

Over the past several months, normal people and YouTube personalities have said to have found Momo’s contact information for apps like WhatsApp and posted videos/screenshots of their conversations (not sure if those are faked, though they are creepy). Parents have also reported their children coming across videos of/about Momo on YouTube and YouTube Kids, traumatizing them and causing YouTube a lot of trouble (this is what happens when you have imperfect algorithms and AI that can’t actually examine video content for appropriateness or guideline violations). And rumors of deaths around the world supposedly caused by Momo (though no official police statements have definitively named Momo in any way to the case). This caused parent groups, celebrities, and Internet safety organizations to warn the public about Momo, saying she could pose a real threat to children and teens, and encouraging Internet safety.

Nowadays, any numbers/accounts associated with Momo are reported inactive and people are starting to realize this is just another Internet monster going around and getting a lot of attention. In other words, more hoax than horror (unless people are posing as Momo online, in which case I hope they can be traced and turned into the police). Still, parents and many others are concerned, and it’s not hard to see why.

So what made Momo so popular?

Well, a couple of factors. Like Slender Man before her, Momo is a modern, Internet incarnation of the boogeyman figures and demons that have haunted humanity’s dreams since the cave dwellings. She is an entity, a witch or demon who tempts or influences people, particularly vulnerable children, to harm. We’ve seen this before with Lilith and succubi, various demons across different cultures, and Krampus, among others. As time and technology have changed, so have our fears and the forms and ways our demons target us, the Internet being the newest way, both as a way to reach people and as a way to spread the word.

There’s also the photo of Momo, which as I said is a statue of Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa’s conception of an ubume. However the photo itself got associated with the Momo character, it fulfills a lot of the same visual requirements to make it an effective creepypasta image. For one thing, it’s human-like, but distinctly inhuman. This matches up with the theory of the uncanny valley, which states that the further something moves away from being human, the less we are able to identify it as human. At a certain point between human and inhuman, images or objects will enter the “uncanny valley,” where we can’t identify it as human or inhuman and we react with anxiety. Momo’s exaggerated features put her squarely in that valley.

That, and she’s very meme-able. In the time she’s entered the public consciousness, Momo videos, images, artwork, and stories have popped up all over the Internet, ranging from the creepy to the funny. Hell, I even made some Momo imagery. Look.

Like it? It’s me using a filter on my phone. And it was easy to make. So imagine how easy it is for other people to take Momo’s iconic look and put their own spin on it. As I said, instantly meme-able.

But there’s one more reason why Momo’s become so popular, and in this way she’s out-paced Slender Man. You see, Slender Man is specified as an impersonal entity who mainly sticks to forests. Outside of the movie, he doesn’t really rely on the Internet to do what he does to people (though the Internet has been great for his career). Momo on the other hand, while her exact nature is up for debate, is much more human than Slender Man. Her picture has features, she uses the human tool of the Internet, and she attacks us in a personal, psychological way.

Even worse, she can be anyone, and we sense that on some level. We get that beyond the inhuman picture, there’s a human intelligence trying to traumatize and harm us. It could be the elementary school teacher, the kid delivering newspapers to the neighborhood, your local politician, your neighbor, the PTA mom, the college student looking for a thrill that doesn’t come from a needle. She’s the avatar of how you really can’t trust anyone on the Internet and can never really know what their intentions are with you. And isn’t being unable to trust your fellow humans the scariest thing of all?

Obviously, I condemn anyone using the Momo persona to cause harm to others. And I would remind everyone that Momo is a fictional character birthed on the Internet, and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Momo has given me an idea for a story. I look forward to getting it written.

But all that being said, it’s no wonder she went viral like she did. She embodies several types of fears in one persona and image, horrifying and fascinating us all at once. It’s fascinated me to the point that I’ve been inspired to write a story. Not about Momo, but a character like her, one born on the Internet that becomes so viral it takes on a life of its own. I think Slender Man and Momo are only the first of a long line of these sort of entities, and I would like to give my own thoughts on the character type through the best medium at my disposal. I hope it turns out well.

 

And while I still have your attention, I’m still looking for eARC readers for my novel Rose. For those unaware, this is the story of a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). If you would like to get an advanced electronic copy, send an email to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com and I’ll put you on the list. All I ask is you consider posting a review on or after the release date. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Good night, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant (possibly Momo-filled) nightmares.