Secrets on Television
Today I want to talk about one of my favourite CreepyPasta stories, a favourite because it taps into a childhood fear that most of us will share.
Today I want to talk about Where the Bad Kids Go.
The unnamed narrator tells of a television show he used to watch as a child, growing up in Lebanon during a war. The show was highly moralistic and trying to instil good behaviour in children. However, whereas most television shows aimed at children are more carrot than stick, this show was more stick than carrot. For those of you not familiar with the saying, the carrot is a reward, the stick is punishment.
The show would almost threaten children with statements like “bad kids stay up late,” “bad kids have their hands under the covers when they sleep,” and “bad kids steal food from the fridge at night.” Followed by threats of what happened to ‘bad kids’. This was coupled with graphic imagery, though we are not told what the images were of.
The closing scene of the show would be a closed-door, behind which could be heard screams. This was where the bad kids went.
The narrator goes on to explain that this show stuck with him through to adulthood and he went on to investigate it. He finds the building where the show was filmed, now a burnt-out husk. Eventually, he finds the door behind which the ‘bad kids’ went and upon opening it finds a gruesome scene, blood and faeces stain the wall, bone fragments litter the floor and hanging from the ceiling, a microphone.
This story is short but effective, it works because of three things in my opinion.
The first by playing on a childhood fear, many parents would warn their children not to be bad, with words not dissimilar to ‘you know what happens to bad little boys/girls.’ As children many of us would avoid being bad because we didn’t want to face negative consequences, we would fear or at least not want the negative consequences that misbehaviour brought. This story taps into that fear, causing at least in some, a visceral remembrance of that same spike of fear we experienced as children.
The second level that this story touches on is the very adult fear of evil people kidnapping and harming children. The thought of something that horrific happening to a child is enough to trigger a very real unpleasant reaction in a lot of people. It reminds us that we don’t need a supernatural threat to be frightening, real people are monsters just as much as ghouls, vampires, werewolves etc.
The last point that helps this story work is the lack of understanding. The narrator mentions the show was not completely understandable to him, we have no idea what was happening in the show (though the implication was pretty clear), we don’t know why this show existed, what its true purpose was, why it ended or how it ended, though the burnt-out building could indicate it didn’t end well. The number of unknown elements in this story is just enough to keep us interested without losing us completely and keeps the tension high.
Overall this is an effective little horror story that will make a great many people deeply uncomfortable.