from the archives of Essex Terror: Home Of Hell!

Home Of Hell! is an exciting, terrifying, incomprehensibly horrifying choose your own adventure story where YOU! are the hero.

Presented here in an interactive browser-playable format for THE VERY FIRST TIME! Home of Hell is possibly the most exciting adventure story you will ever play this afternoon.

Play Home Of Hell here



1. Home Of Hell was originally written in November 2011
2. But has since been re-written
3. And updated
4. I’m not sure if this has ever been published online before
5. And if it was it was only as a pdf
6. Of the print version
7. That sold 10 copies
8. Or maybe 9


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from the archives of Essex Terror: The Laughter Never Dies

[Notes: This was from one of the printed Essex Terror’s, rather than an onle Essex Terror. I can’t remember if it made more sense in context but it’s still the most frightening thing ever written. And every word of it is true.]


The Laughter Never Dies

THE CLACTON CLOWN has been horrifying the children of Essex for most of their lives. It is described by some as Ted Vaaak’s most disturbing creation. Yet it lives out in the open with impunity. We sent Karen Parallax to investigate.

It sits unassumingly at the entrance to the pavilion. Looking to the casual observer like any other glass box of seaside entertainments, the Clacton Clown has managed to evade the notice of adults in the town for what feels like decades. Only children appreciate the true horror of its existence, and the malevolent hold it has on their dreams.

The first, and so far only, product of Ted Vaaaak’s entertainment and leisure devices corporation, VELDC (pronounced Veldoc), the Clacton Clown has been designed to horrify and unsettle the young and the timid to the maximum possible level without ever inducing within the victim weeping, flinching, spasming, biting, fleeing, or any other overt external manifestation of terror. Ted claims it has been a complete success, and that the longer it stays unnoticed by adults, the greater its victories must be.

The clown sits in a glass box, which is to be its prison for all eternity. Faced with the horror of its fate (that of being bound to Clacton until the end of time to be glared at or ignored by the Essexmen and Essexw’men and the mutated offspring that are forced to follow them), the clown chooses not to despair but to do what clowns are designed to do — laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh, its hand pressed up against the glass, its body rolling back and forth and round and round as it is overcome with mirth, its head lolling wildly yet with eyes that never ever stop staring straight at you, until its suppressed anguish at the horror of existence is radiated out from deep within itself across the ether into the young hearts of its victims (the frequency of the laughs is such that they are mostly inaudible to the adult emotional system, sounding like nothing more than the regular chuckling of the commonfolk, aggressive and tinged with contempt but containing nothing sinister).

The clown is purged through this desperate laughter while the victim is stricken, often terminally. On a quiet day particularly susceptible children can receive these dread transmissions from as far away as nearby Frinton, and often do.

I ask Ted how he and his team managed to create such a lifelike facsimile of a living clown for imprisonment within this Amusement. He looks at me and pauses for a second, pondering whether to lie or admit to me his crimes. He opts for the latter and it all comes tumbling out of his cracked lips in a rushed jumble.

“Clowns, clowns, more than us, more than anyone, are immortal. Both metaphorically in that they live on in our minds frightening us with echoes of their cries long after we are immune to their actual vibrations, and physically, in that clowns cannot truly die. They do die, obviously, but whereas with people when we die our flesh and blood rot and crumble away while our core of bone and claw solidifies into permanence, a clown, an inversion of humanity in spirit and in flesh, rots from the inside upon death while the outer flesh solidifies in defiance of natural law. Instead of intricate bonework they leave behind a leather skin filled with ash for us to find and fetishise.

”It is common for a person, upon finding an intact clown skin, to obsess and marvel over it, hiding it from friends and family, caressing it in privacy and seclusion, eventually donning it yourself, and thereon surrendering your soul to its legacy, eventually becoming clown yourself, living as they do, unendingly, until your own eventual murder, leatherification, discovery, possession, the cycle continuing onwards throughout time, one clown making one new clown, no growth but no diminishment neither.

“I must admit on discovering this specimen that I too became obsessed for a time, but knowledge is innoculation, and I knew what I must do. Levers and tentpoles and pipes became arms, legs, spines and more, a teapot a skull, butterknife fingers, an old tobacco tin heart, a shoehorn tongue. Over this skeleton I slipped the skin, and it fitted, perfectly, just as my measurements suggested. Its memories poured into the teabags left rotting in its head while its malevolence seeped into the dried and clotted tobacco that cluttered its heart.

“Awareness came before movement fortunately and I had time to erect a glass prison for this monstrosity, this undying abomination. He sat on his nest staring out in horror at me. But then came the cries, the gyrations, the never ending laughs.

“I abandoned it in Clacton, by the sea, where the people come, where the children come. For twenty pence you can amuse yourself in this town, the flashing machines and the grasping claws and the guns, the guns, simulated and real, water and pellet and cork. Yet for free you can feel his pain. And you cannot avoid it. From this each child will be hollowed out, emotion eaten by the maggots and worms of his thoughts until nothingness is all they have, empty husks lost and vacuous and insane, our county forever changed. Yet unchanged, too, still here maintaining ourselves as a void of horrors to buttress against the sickening disgustments of the civilisations beyond.”

Ted begins to laugh and his chuckles and guffaws mingle with the desperate laughs of the clown. Up close you can see the sorrow in its eyes. The clown stops laughing for a moment as I hold my hand up against his, the cold glass seperating our palms and undoubtedly saving my skin from his frosty touch. From beneath the unit a wave of scuttling sea bugs emerge, miniature trilobites with extrajointed legs. Are these physical manifestations of the clown’s dreams? Or just mutations hurled here by the crashing waves of the sea against the sea wall? I do not know. I catch my finger on a splinter on the wooden edging of the clown box. The sudden jolt of pain shocks me and I involuntarily stamp at the creatures, my DM clad feet crushing relentlessly down upon them. They burst under the harsh soles of my boots in a spray of grey mucus and a satisfying crunch of shell and bones. A single drop of my blood falls from my finger and mingles with their remains.

“The clown will never die,” Ted jabbers at me later while I run my welling hand under a tap in the toilets. He shouldn’t be here in the Ladies with me but he is. “One day the children will be old enough to vote, to work, to join the council and decide its ways. The clown’s secret will be known and they will have it removed, buried like the rest of its kind in a skip full of rubble and old furniture, everything rusted and moldgrown in the rain.

“But someone will find it, rescue it, take it home and sit it on their settee, nurse it back to health. Knit it a new uniform, stitch its eyebrows back to its face, replace its hat, mend its bones and warm its skin until it begins to awake.”

He looks me in the eye for the first time this afternoon. “This time it will be uncaged.”


The Clacton Clown can be located at the entrance to the Clacton Pavilion, Marine Parade, Clacton, Essex. The Clown can be seen at any time during the day throughout the year, but it is usually taken inside at night in the winter months for reasons of safety.


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from the archives of Essex Terror: The Augmented Old Man

[Notes: This interview was conducted during the summer of 2013]


The Call From The House Of Ted

I was on my way home from work at the Maldon salt mines when I received a phone call telling me that Ted Vaak had requested my presence and wished to be interviewed. I gasped in shock, and yet as strange as this news was (and it is is strange, as usually he only ever consents to our requests when his lawyer can no longer afford to try and argue Ted’s way out of it), it is not the strangest occurrence of the evening. For this turned out to be one of the most baffling encounters of my entire life.

The House Of Ted

Although technically Ted’s whereabouts are unknown, I have been here several times before. It is a short walk from my house, largely through a tangled bramble wood which leads eventually to a clearing, at the centre of which stands the house.

Ted often claims that the house has always stood here, and that he has always lived here, and that, cut off from the outerlands by the bramble bushes, time has no dominion over him. This latter claim is, as I have proven countless times by the simple expedient of observing that the movement of atoms and light still occurs within his house, not true, but as for the others I do not know.

The Garden Of The House Of Ted

Ted’s garden, which extends all the way to the bramble bushes in every direction, is usually choked with dead yellow grass. Today, the grass has been covered extensively in rubbish, all of it mechanical or technological in nature. Old typewriters, rotary phones, several speak and spells, a battery powered pencil sharpener, legless pinball machines, record players, television screens removed from their cases, video tapes unspooling in the wind.

Ted, it appears, has been to the tip. And discovered at last technology.

Inside The House Of Ted

The house was dark, darker than perhaps it should be. Bare wires trailed from the walls towards the living room. Above everything the faint hum of electricity and the whirring of gears. I moved towards the living room, towards the origin of the sounds.


And in there, at the centre, all the wires leading to him, stood Ted. He saw me, and began to talk.

“It began with a simple idea – if a cassette box can be the same size as the cassette it contains, why not a cassette player the same size too. All you would need is a magnet, a couple of cogs, an input for wires. I worked hard, many years, and eventually I had a working prototype. I called it The Ted Vaak Portable Tape Explicator, later streamlined to The Portex.

“This was three months ago. It has yet to reach the market. What I am telling you here is confidential. But I must tell someone. Must show you. It is transformative. The first time I listened to something through the headphones, but outside, untethered from the large scale high fidelity stereo units stacked ominously in the living room, it changed my perception of everything. I lay there in the garden, looking up at the sky, accompanied by the stirring speeches of Margaret Thatcher. Things seemed to coalesce in my mind. The universe was ours, if only we could grasp it.

“Two days later she was dead.

“From there things accelerated. First came the Doublex, a multiphasic Portex, allowing for two inputs, two outputs, merging them together, creating something new. Tape 1: Prime Minister’s Questions, 27/11/1990. Tape 2: The living gurgles of the draining mud, low tide, the blackwater estuary, date unknown. The output cables intertwined into one, fed into a single pair of headphones, from their to my ears.

“Then the Inverted Doublex, stereo field recordings in the palms of my hands, and then, so I could keep my hands free for more important tasks, embedded within the emptiness of my chest.”

He stepped here into the light. Plastic embedded in the gaps beneath his ribs, wires trailing out like veins to every extremity of his haggard body.

“The possibilities fractalised in my mind. Instant infallible memory is finally available. Never again must I forget. Now I can just replay.

“Look, and listen: “It began with a simple idea – if a cassette box can be the same size as the cassette it contains, why not a cassette player the same size too. All you would need is a magnet, a couple of cogs, an input for wires. I worked hard, many years, and eventually I had a working prototype. I called it The Ted Vaak Portable Tape Explicator, later streamlined to The Portex.”

“The double nature here is important. The second recorder can continue its work while the first replays. Nothing is lost. Once the replayu is stopped, the present can be returned to, recording restarted. Occasional moments may be lost at the changing of the tapes, but nothing important.

“More portablised technology follows. Clocks, miniaturised and embedded in my wrists. A spirit level in each thumb. My skull shaved clean, an electric blanket repurposed as a heated wig.

“Most useful was the leg mounted typewriter. The keyboard separated, half on each thigh. Legs pushed together, sat in my most comfortable chair, the paper held by clips on each knee.

“But why only portability? Why not the reverse? Why not allow the control of the environment around you – around me – while I am at home, as I usually am. Why not allow myself control of light itself!”

At this the lights in the house faded up from nothingness to antiseptic factory style brightness. Ted’s hand erotically rotating a dial at his throat.

“The house plugged into my body. Wires from every system – the lights, the heating, the doorbell, the phone, everything electrical you can imagine. No longer must I get up to switch the kettle on. Now I can do it from the comfort of the centre of my own house, equidistant from every extremity of the house to minimise on wiring and subsequent loss of signal.

“The rotary dial of the phone on the palm of one hand, the speaker in the other. A thermostatic filament threaded through my forehead. Teeth became light switches. Fingernails fuses.

“Even my tongue painted metallic, allowing for insertion of a lightbulb when a torch might be necessary. There is not a single thing I cannot do. No system cannot be upgraded, that will not be upgraded.

“I am the future of humanity and there is nothing you can do to stop me.”

The lights switch off one by one with several flicks of his tongues. From nowhere a lightbulb appears and is pushed whole into his mouth. I back away then, the light shining directly into my eyes for a few seconds before finally Ted closes his mouth. I stare briefly at the red glow of his cheeks, before turning to flee screaming into the brambles that thankfully separate our world from his.


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Tale #49: The Innkeeper And The Woman

There was a man who owned an inn by the side of a busy road, and every day he sat outside and watched the people as they walked by.

One day in the middle of summer, he saw a woman walking past. She wore a long black robe and her hair was covered in a scarf, yet, despite the heat, she did not carry an umbrella to keep herself out of the sun. The innkeeper thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

To get a closer look at her, he called her over and said, “Sit here with me under this parasol for a while, my dear, so you may keep out of the sun while it burns so very bright.”

And she nodded in thanks and took a seat next to him.

He talked to her all afternoon, although she did not say a word in return, nor ever even smiled. And the more he looked at her, the more beautiful she seemed.

He was intrigued as to what her hair looked like under her scarf, and to that end he gave her a beautiful yellow flower to put in hair. She took off her headscarf, and her long red hair tumbled down around her shoulders. She gave it a quick brush with her long fingernails and then placed the flower behind her ear. And once again she nodded in thanks.

The innkeeper was more smitten now than ever before. He wondered what she looked like under her robe, and to that end he asked her if she would like to come for a swim with him in the pool behind his inn. And she nodded and followed him to the pool.

He took off his clothes and stepped into the water and beckoned her to follow him. The woman removed her robe and placed it over the back of a chair and then she stepped naked into the pool and swam over towards him.

The innkeeper knew now that she was surely the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Yet, still, he was intrigued as to what her smile looked like beneath her closed lips. To this end he called out to his maid to bring them some food. And the maid brought out some chocolates and some fresh fruit and put it by the side of the pool. The innkeeper offered the woman a chocolate and said, “Here, my dear, have something to eat.”

She took off her face and, showing her teeth at last, turned to the innkeeper and hungrily began to feed.



1. Written in July and August 2016


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