The NoSleep Diaries Entry 6: It Came With the Storm
The NoSleep Diaries
“It Came With the Storm”
Please welcome guest contributor Lindsay Moore of Hellcat Press. Lindsay has written for us before, sharing her experience putting together an all women horror anthology. In this series, she'll share her experience writing horror stories that were adapted for the NoSleep Podcast.
There’s a subreddit called NoSleepTeams that I frequent. Every other month, the moderators will organize teams of volunteers, and each team will write a story for the NoSleep subreddit. I’ve been a member of several different NoSleep Teams, and I’ve always had a fun time with it. I like collaborating with people. I like exploring different creative avenues and seeing what other people come up with.
“It Came With the Storm” was my second foray into NoSleep Teams. It was the sixteenth NoSleep Teams round. As per usual, I wandered into it without knowing what to expect. This is how I enter almost every group collaboration I’ve ever been involved with; it feels like I wander blindly into it and give it my all. My fellow teammates were Christine Druga, Seamus Coffey, Ash Ellinwood, E.K. Skinner, and Michael Marks, and it was wonderful to work with them. Our team was called the Blueberry Twatwaffles.
Christine Druga, Seamus Coffee, and Michael Marks had actually been featured on the NoSleep Podcast before (though I wouldn’t find out until after “It Came With the Storm” wound up on the podcast).
We wrote the story round robin-style. Each contributor would write a few paragraphs of the story, then pass it along to the next person, who would add on a few more paragraphs before passing the baton again. This approach is pretty par for the course over on r/NoSleepTeams. I’ve been on teams that have used outlines and carefully plotted out the course of the story, and I’ve been on teams where we were all flying by the seat of our pants. The Blueberry Twatwaffles fell into the latter category, which is a method that I actually really enjoy. To me, it’s sort of like a controlled form of chaos; the story grows organically, like a big crazy weed.
Once our team was put together, the captain messaged us to tell us which order we’d be writing in. I was fifth in line, which was fine by me, as it would give me more material to work with. Our captain started the story, introducing us to a character who was in an isolated country house, drinking beer and watching a thunderstorm. By the time it was my turn to write, others had thrown several monkey wrenches into the protagonist’s evening plans: something large and menacing was lurking outside the house and -- even worse -- there was now something else inside. Details about the monsters were still vague.
I decided to complicate things further for the protagonist by having the monster outside wreck his car, trapping him in the house. In the first segment I wrote, our intrepid hero discovered that something was up in his attic; luckily, the humidity had caused the door to stick, so he was temporarily safe from it. My segment ended with the protagonist standing on his law, looking out at his wrecked car and realizing that he was trapped. I passed the baton and eagerly awaited the next round of contributions to the story.
As luck would have it, our captain had timed everything so that each of the Blueberry Twatwaffles would be able to write two nonconsecutive segments of the story. It’s my understanding that every NoSleep Teams Captain strives for this goal, but it’s not always possible to pull off. Each team has about a month to complete their story, and each team is made up of separate individuals scattered across the globe, all of whom have their own lives to lead. Life can get complicated and, as with any group project, sometimes people need to drop out. It’s one of the risks that you embark upon with any group project.
All that being said, the Blueberry Twatwaffles was a great team, and I think we wrote a fantastic, creepy story.
When the baton was passed back to me, our team captain informed me that the person who would have gone after me had had to drop out. The captain told me that I could finish the story if I wanted to or I could pass it back. I said I’d take a shot at finishing the story before I opened up the web page to look at our progress. I read through the story and realized that we had sort of written ourselves into a corner.
I should pause here to say that I helped write us into that corner. By destroying the protagonist’s car, I had trapped him in the house with no way out. I had built that corner we were all sitting in, and I would need to be the one to fix it.
As things stood, the creature in the attic had finally broken out and was chasing the protagonist through his house with a gigantic wooden mallet. Our protagonist was being menaced by two malevolent entities -- one inside and one outside his house. I needed to come up with some kind of an ending.
I decided to do what I always do when I’m writing a scary story: take an old, tired trope and see if I can invert it and make it different. At this point, I’m going to spoil the ending of “It Came With the Storm,” so I highly recommend listening to or reading it before you continue here. You’ve been warned.
I decided to go with the ever-classic “it was just a dream” scenario. The demon inside the house knocked the protagonist out the window. The protagonist woke up on the asphalt beside his wrecked car and surrounded by EMTs. He tried telling the doctors what had happened, but no one believed him; according to doctors, he’d been in a bad car accident and hadn’t even made it home. The accident had broken his spine, leaving him permanently disabled and questioning his sanity.
I hadn’t thought too much of this ending at the time. I handed it back to the captain, and it was posted on r/NoSleep a few days later. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a hit or to say that it completely blew up, but the Blueberry Twatwaffles won that round of NoSleep Teams, and we were later contacted by the NoSleep Podcast asking if they could feature our story. I was thrilled to pieces by this. “It Came With the Storm” is the only story that I didn’t directly submit to the NoSleep Podcast. The fact that it was picked off of the subreddit makes it extra special for me.
I wasn’t expecting the speculation in the comments section of “It Came With the Storm.” People had some pretty interesting fan ideas and theories about the story’s end and what it meant. I almost feel bad that it was something I had pulled out of my ear at the last minute. I’ve decided that user DontTellThemImDead is correct in their interpretation: after the car accident, the protagonist was fought over by two entities, a giant trying to bring him up to Heaven and a demon trying to drag him down to Hell. In the end, neither entity won, and the protagonist is left wondering where he’ll end up once he does eventually die. I like that idea a lot. I wish I’d been the one to come up with it.
When the NoSleep Podcast did the story, Dan Zappulla narrated it. Dan’s one of NoSleep’s go-to actors whenever they need an everyman trapped in a bizarre and horrifying situation. He’s got a voice that you can just relate to. Whenever his character is distraught or in grave danger, you just feel for him. Dan has been with the podcast since Season 6 and is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I met him at the NoSleep Live show in 2017 and again in 2018.
I know I’ve talked at length about Brandon Boone’s music, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love the score he composed for “It Came With the Storm.” For a story that’s very action-packed, the music is eerie without being overwhelming. It blends with Dan’s narration and sound effects, working together with those elements to create a creepy vibe that builds slowly, matching the protagonist’s descent into panic. If you listen to the music on its own, it’s powerful and spooky.
“It Came With the Storm” is my first story that wasn’t produced by Phil Michalski. It was produced by NoSleep voice actor/producer Jeff Clement, who is best known for his work on “The Danny Series” (“Soft White Damn,” “Sure to Follow,” “Every Leaf is a Flower,” and “The Earth, the Air, and You”). (Fun Fact: To date, “Soft White Damn” is the only NoSleep Podcast story to ever give me nightmares, and this is thanks entirely to Jeff’s chilling performance.)
Though he didn’t lend his nightmare-inducing voice to “It Came With the Storm,” Jeff made it creepy and effective by expertly blending the sound effects with Dan’s narration and Brandon’s music. Even though I had written part of the story and knew exactly how it would end, I was still on the edge of my seat the entire time I was listening to it.
I had a blast working with the Blueberry Twatwaffles. I salute my fellow Twatwaffles -- Christine Druga, Seamus Coffey, Ash Ellinwood, E.K. Skinner, and Michael Marks. It was an honor to work with you, and I love the story that we created.
Christine Druga’s, Seamus Coffey’s, and Michael Marks’ NoSleep Podcast stories:
“Pop Go the People,” Season 5, episode 3 (Christine Druga)
“I Spent Two Years in Hell, Season 5, episode 7 (Seamus Coffey)
“Madness Above the Clouds,” Season 5, episode 5 (Michael Marks)
Classic Dan Zappulla episodes:
“Chyandour” (Season 6, episode 21)
“Creeping Crimson” (Season 6, episode 25)
“My Dad, Chuckles, and a Blue-Striped Hat” (Season 8, episode 11)
“The Handler” (Season 8, episode 17)
“Unleashing Atlas” (Season 9, episode 13)
“The Art of Transubstantiation” (Season 10, episode 11)
“Whispers in the Woods” (Season 11, episode 17)
Classic Jeff Clement Episodes:
“I Spent Two Years in Hell” (Season 5, episode 7)
“Soft White Damn” (Season 5, episode 18)
“Sure to Follow” (Season 6, episode 8, sequel to “Soft White Damn”)
“Every Leaf is a Flower” (Season 6, episode 25)
“The Earth, the Air, and You” (Season 7, episode 1)
“My Grandma Lived Under the House” (Season 7, episode 20)
“It Had Antlers” (Season 8, episode 11)
“Dogs in the Drywall” (Season 10, episode 9)
“The Man in the Cell Next Door” (Season 12, episode 21)
“Waterless” (Season 13, episode 6)