Stories in Hide and Shriek are diary pages that can be found scattered around in the school grounds. They come from the diary of an unknown student from Little Springs High, telling their story and giving extra information on the school and its history within the world of The Secret World.
First day of school. I'm supposed to write in this. This is my grimoire. My book of shadows. My spells go in here. Notes cribbed from my textbooks... tomes (tomes sounds way more heavy) go in here. My journal goes in here.Then, at the end of the year, you get lots of people to sign it to show you're not a looser. I guess.
I don't know. I've never been to an occult school. I've been to high school either.
I miss my friends. I miss cornfields. I miss the wet chill and pretty sadness of Fall coming on.
But I'm in friggin Arizona.Mom and dad wanted me togo to a school where my special gifts could get training. Always wanted to go to Innsmouth Academy, on the east coast... but we're not rich. So here I am in Little Springs. Go blue collar warlocks. Go Jackalopes! Can you believe that's our mascot? Shoot me.
But I have to make the best of it. Mom and dad left their jobs, friends, everything... just so I could come here and study. No pressure, right?
The first hour teacher needs to take a chill pill. You'd think it'd be all hexes and potions here, but no. He spent the whole period ranting about good spelling and grammar.
"They're called 'spells' for a reason!" he said. He said magic is just the grammar of the cosmos, and dictionnaries are just another type of grimoire, and that we should each have one, and that "Strunk and White are-forgive my parlance-goddamn archmages of the noble are of scrivnomancy, and you should all have their books in your pockets as well!"
Say it, don't spray it, man.
ARGH! It's. So. Hot.
This is not the place to wear black.
So, I played Dungeons and Dragons tonight.
Mom says it's important that I socialize with the mundanes. Keep perspective, I guess. So here I was in the basement of the normies, playing AD&D. It was actually pretty fun. Except, I got stuck playing the wizard (because you know that's what I want to deal with in my fantasy life).
So, my party and I are battling the demon lord Orcus, and it's my turn, and we're surrounded by hordes of zombies and everyone is yelling: "Cast Magic Missile!" and "No, no. Lightning Bolt!" And it's all I can do to keep myself from yelling, "That's not how evocations work!"
...but I don't. Hush-hush and all. Whatever.
You'd think occult text books would be more exciting -- all demon-god names with too many consonants and... and lightning bolts. Not. It's pretty academic. This one text, by some doctorate student named H.J.Montag, is so freaking dry, I want to slit my wrists just to wet the page. Reads like stereo instructions.
But the histories are pretty cool. There is this one gal, Laughing Jenny. Stone cold badass, like King Solomon level badass. She's hardcore. Jenny just doesn't give a shit. The grunge magus of the 1800s.
I'm cribbing lots of Laughing Jenny notes from the history books into my grimoire. She did like an insane amount of living. Even partied with the Lafitte Brothers. She didn't invent every spell, but came up with new ways to use them. An outside-of-the-box freak thinker. bet she was a riot to hangout with.
When I grow up, I want to be like Laughing Jenny.
Today, someone switched my underwear. While I was still wearing it! I don't know who. Lunchtime is awkward enough, never know where to sit, where to look, and... Suddenly I felt even odder than normal. Had to check in the bathroom.Who's underwear is this? Brutal. I miss mundane pranks.
Maybe I should lean that spell.
It's Homecoming.Events all week. Bake sales, sporting events, a gathering in the auditorium for a reading from the Book of the Mouthless Tongues, Alumni visits, etc.
In class, we're learning basic greetings in the language of certain primordials. They speak apparently. Our mammal mouths aren't meant to make those sounds. But with a little enchantment, we can mimic all sorts of voices and noises. It's called the Magpie Knack. I'm getting pretty good. I can do police sirens. Scared the crap out of dad when he was driving me home. So there's that.
Before that, after 5th period bell, I heard a scream. I mean, a scream of terror. Some upperclassman comes running towards me. He collapses by the trophy case, shivering. That look on his face. I thought something got out of the lab, something murderous. A door opens... and it's just his friends.They're all laughing hysterically. They help him to his feet, friendly noogies all around. He wipes his tears and snot away, slows his breathing, and then manages a smile.
I ask them what's up.
"Practicing our shrieks," says Jesse.
"Oh, you'll see."
Then they all grin mysteriously and saunter off as only uperclassmen can. Shrieks?
Tommorow is the Homecoming Dance. I guess I'll go... I'm NOT going. Maybe? What do you even wear? Lots of Freshmen go stag, right?
I hear the release the Jackalope for a hour.
Hide and Shriek. That's the name of the game.
Finally making friends. Something about October. Suddenly, the upperclassmen all went from predatory to mentoring. They say they have to get us ready for the big game. We're up against Innsmouth Academy. Nothing like an outside threat to bring everyone together.
This is how it goes down. The night of Halloween, after all the Trick-or-Treaters go home, we sneak over and gather outside the school and break in. The game is simple: two students enter the school, invisibly, and try to out scare each other.
There's other rules and junk, but Jesse, the senior, wouldn't get into all that.
"Go to hone your shrieks," he said.
Shrieking is a sort of spell. Part illusion, part ectoplasmic manifestation, part emotionnal projection. Like being a haunting ghost, but still alive.
Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!
Badass, right? But apparently, the first step in being scary is to have the ever loving shit scared out of you. To project fear into others, you have to feel it intimately.
"The fearless never make good haunters," Jesse said.
"They've got nothing to draw from."
Then Jesse gets all serious. Says the emotionnal aftershock can be freaky. Fear, real lizard-brain terror, has the power to tear down all of our illusions, how we present ourselves, how we like to see ourselves. Rip that away, and all that's left is the naked, shivering, actual you. Not everyone likes seeing that. Heavy.
So now, after school, the older kids terrorize us, for real this time. Only now, it's for our own good. The first time, I pissed myelf a little. I don't think the other noticed. Or maybe they were polite about it. Everyone remembers their first time, I guess
Did more research on Innsmouth Academy. They are THE premier occult prep school, the place we'd all be if our parents were rich or connected. A coed boarding school on some little island off the coast of Maine. Founded and built in 1798... and rebuilt in 1852, 1906, and 1967. What the hell happened there!?
And they're our rivals for Hide and Shriek. It's a tradition. Every year, they visit for a sort of academic exchange and a few sporting events. But the real event, the upperclassmen say, is Hide and Shriek.
"Gotta show those spoiled, little witchers that they're not better than us," Jesse said.
Little Springs vs. Innsmouth Academy
Poor vs. Rich
Red vs. Blue
Jackalopes vs. ...does Innsmouth even have a mascot? It's probably a fat owl wearing a monocle.
Jesse and the others say that we have to keep the game a secret from the teachers and parental units. How can they know? I think the teachers do know, but pretend like they don't. They give these conspiratorial smiles. OK...in this school, the teachers are always sporting conspiratorial smiles. But still.
Went to the library to see if I could find any info on Hide and Shriek. It's actually a really old game. Had a ton of other names. Back in the days, it was played for keeps. It was a fear-based sorcerers' duel. Some participants actually died of fright or suicide. The only rule: you couldn't directly harm your enemy.
Now, it's a mostly harmless game. Except... the older kids say that, a few years back, some boy playing Hide and Shriek had his hair go white; and he has to live with his parents still, because he was never the same.
That's got to be some righteous BS. Still...
OK. This is messed up. Let me preface with two things.
First thing, face mites. There are those micro-arachids that live on your face. They come out at night to eat, mate, and die. Every night death and spider orgies on your face. Micro-arachnids spunk and corpses in your pores.
Second thing, floaters. There are those imperfections and proteins on the surface of your eyeball. They're always there, but sometimes we see them and we get all hyperaware and can't stop seeing them till our eyes naturally focus past them. But they're always there.
Had to say those first two bits to make the rest make sense, because it's still strectching my brain. In class, weird math meets magic. We learned about parallel dimensions. I always thought of those as far away places. But they're here, right on top of us.
We don't just normally sense dimensions past our normal three. Humanity used to. We have vestigal organs and glands, and some of them may have sensed those odd angles. In fact, we might even have vestigal organs we can't detect. I might have a monster appendix in dimension X!
And there are creatures there, all around us, wrigglig on us. But we can't see them, and they can't see us. That's good.
Jesse says there's this thing called the Stalker. We'll learn to summon it during Hide and Shriek. It'll gank your opponent and pull them into a pocket dimension they call the Time Out Zone. No biggie, just have to find your way out (advanced math finally becomes useful).
Once you see beyond, you notice it more often. Impossible angles and weird critters in your periphery. Like floaters.
But I wonder if it's like that for the creepy crawlies from beyond. Once you see them, do they see you?
Raised the dead tonight. And smoked weed. Shouldn't write this.
We're all hanging in Jesse's basement. A stranger comes in, Kirsten Geary, someone's rich cousin from So-Cal. Shock of bleached hair. Killer smile. Junoir, maybe a Senior, but she's got this worldly poise. Like, we're all warlocks and WE'RE tripping over ourselves to impress HER.
She's mundane, so we can't say anything. But Kirstin gives these sly looks, like she knows everything about everything, so you may as well spill. And everyone spills.
At first, I thought she valley girl vapid, all , "As if!" But ther's something swimming under that. While they're looking at her, I'm looking at Reggie. He's good at reading auras. Reggie just stares at her afraid.
Kirsten passes a flask and a joint around. Soon, everyone's showing off with spooky tricks. Then she's like, "That's peachy keen, but can you sow me something really good?"
Jesse bites the hook and says, "I got something".
He takes us to a raodkill coyote on the highway. It's got one eye. We name it Blinky.
Suddenly, Blinky's up, guts trailing, attacking us. Everyone bugs out. We all know spells, but that's like trying to do advanced calculus when a shark eats you.
The only one not useless is Kirsten. She puts a switchblade thgough Blinky's good eye, shouting, "Booyah!"