This spooky season, we asked our website staff members to come up with their own Gothic styles! Like Southern Gothic before us, each staff member wrote about a place or  experience that seems harmless—that is, until you look a little closer.

Beach Gothic
Christie Basson, Website Editor

  • Something brushes your feet underwater. Below you, the water is clear. You never see any seaweed washed ashore. You never see anything washed ashore.
  • Sometimes, the sun disappears. The whole world becomes five shades darker. Everyone hides behind their sunglasses.
  • You never open your eyes below water. You did, once. Sometimes you dream about it and wake up salt drenched, eyes burning. Once was enough.
  • A small snail treks towards the waves. You pick it up. The shell is empty.
  • The waves whisper your name. You realise you’re walking closer, your toes almost touching the water. Something tells you to run, but you don’t know which direction. You step back. The whispers cease.
  • The seagulls flock overhead, screaming over and over and over again. No one listens.
  • Midday stretches for hours. No one notices. People fall asleep in public, under umbrellas. They don’t feel the sand crawling into their ears. They wake and the sun is setting. No time has passed.

Water Park Gothic
Kylie Warkentin, Managing and Website Editor

  • You hear two long whistles. That’s an emergency. You automatically start sprinting, trying desperately to find the person who blew it. You hear the whistles again, but you can’t figure out where the emergency is. You sprint faster, keenly aware of the time passing. You hear them again. Everyone’s sprinting. You hear them again. Where are they coming from?
  • It’s 95 degrees and you’re standing in line.  Sweat drips down into your eye. You let it sting. The person next to you asks how long you’ve been in line. You don’t remember. You both quietly turn to face the front of the line. You don’t remember what you’re in line for.
  • You’re sitting on your tower, moving your head up and down to scan the water for any guests who may be in distress. You hear a splash and see the guard across from you go in for a save. You stand up. You hear another splash, and see the guard next to you go in for a save. You look down to see if they need assistance. The water is bubbling and thrashing violently about, but you don’t see the guards surface. You sit down and resume scanning.

Grocery Store Gothic
Abbey Bartz, Website Staff Writer

  • The fluorescent lights flicker and hum above you like a skipping record. Otherwise the store is silent. Even though it isn’t that late yet, you are the only person in the store. The air is thick and humid like a cave, heavy and still. You wonder why there is no background music playing, no incessant announcements over the intercom announcing special deals, no cloyingly cheerful beeps as workers ring up customers’ purchases. If you didn’t know for certain that the store was open 24/7, you would think it was closed.
  • You walk down the aisle to the cake mixes, and as you walk you hear a clicking sound, like a dog’s nails on tile floors. Only it sounds too big to be a dog. You tell yourself that it is only your imagination. As you bend to pick up a box of Betty Crocker, you hear the clicking getting closer. You look down the aisle, but its empty. You turn back and hear a noise somewhere between a screech and a howl. You turn quickly and see boxes of cookies tumble down, and tubs of icing and sprinkles roll across the worn flooring. You think you see the tip of a massive tail—scaly and gray and thick as a tree limb—disappear around the corner. Maybe you didn’t need that cake mix so much after all.
  • You head towards the exit and step onto the mat in front of the automatic doors, waiting for them to slide open. They don’t move. As you wait, the flickering lights above you flicker once more, before crackling and dying. As the store goes as dark as the moonless night outside, you hear another screech, this one much angrier and much closer than the first.

Gym Gothic
Chloe Manchester, Website Staff Writer

  • You walk into the gym. Every direction you turn, you see gym rats with pulsating forehead veins, shaking their sweat onto the cracked linoleum floor. 
  • You walk to the locker room. Steam rises ominously from the endless hall of showers. You change into sweatpants and an oddly discolored t shirt. Big mistake. You stand out like a sore thumb in the sea of Lululemon sports bras, Outdoor Voices tri-tone leggings and Hoka sneakers. 
  • The spray-tanned bleached blondes flex their abs at you in a menacing manner; the receptionist sips her green juice. Unbearable.
  • A man approaches you, then another and another. “That’s not proper form,” they say all together. “Let me show you.” Oh god. It’s time to run. 

Coffee Shop Gothic
Kayla Bollers, Website Staff Writer

  • You walk into the same coffee shop you visit every morning. A small, rusty bell rings as you open the door. Even though it’s loud, the baristas always hear the bell.
    It’s only 7 AM, but the café is full. There’s never a time that the café isn’t full.
  • The barista doesn’t recognize you, but you’ve spoken to her a dozen times. She asks for your name after you order, but that’s not the name she writes on the cup. She doesn’t offer you a printed receipt.
  • Ten minutes pass. You still haven’t received your order. The woman who ordered after you has gotten her drink, but the guy in the navy hoodie has been waiting since you walked in. You glance at him curiously, and he continues to stare forward with a glazed expression on his face.
  • The barista calls your name, but they’re holding a cold brew. You ordered a latte. Two minutes pass. No one else claims the cold brew. You reach for the cold brew, and then the barista puts out your order.
  • But they don’t call out your name.

Convenience Store Gothic
Leah Park, Website Staff Writer

  • It’s early in the morning on a lonely, empty highway. You glance down at the meter. You’re running low on gas.
  • You pull off the highway to the nearest local gas station. Once you fill your tank you open the door to the station and an unseen speaker rings out an off-kilter tune from above your head—the American equivalent of a herald. The scent of old breakfast tacos and burnt coffee wafts over the stale, convenience store air. You hear the faint music of an unknown radio station. You don’t recognize the language of the song. You half-consciously grab a bottle of water and walk to the counter. The cashier rings up the water and gas. It adds up to $50. You place a handful of ten dollar bills on the counter and leave the station and get into your car, getting on the road again. 
  • And you drive.
  • After a while you look down at your meter. It’s early in the morning. You’re running low on gas. 
  • You pull off the highway to the nearest local gas station. Once you fill your tank you open the door to the station and an unseen speaker rings out an off-kilter tune from above your head. You hear the faint music of an unknown radio station. You don’t recognize the language of the song. As you half-consciously grab a bottle of coke and walk to the counter you feel a strong sense of déjà vu, but it is quickly shaken off as the price of the gas and coke comes up. It adds up to $50. You place a handful of bills on the counter and leave the station and get into your car, getting on the road again. 
  • And you drive.
  • After a while you check your dashboard. It’s early in the morning, and you’re running low on gas.
  • You pull off the highway to the nearest local gas station.

Lecture Hall Gothic
Lindsey Ferris, Website Staff Writer

The seats are stained with unknown remnants of previous classes lost to history. They squeal every time you shift your body weight, as if moaning for you to take them with you when you leave.
But students feel as if they never leave.
They sit in the drab room hunched over. Eyes have become glazed, and pencils dangle listlessly from hands pale in the haunting flicker of fluorescent lights. While you try to take notes from the drone of the professor, you can feel the weight of some ghostly hand pushing your head down. It whispers in between the monotone notes of the lecture, tempting you to just close your eyes just this once and relax with everyone else. Your breathing slows as your eyelids begin to droop. Maybe sleeping this one time wouldn’t be that bad.

Gothic, Colorado Gothic
Natalie Nobile, Website Staff Writer

  • The snow guardian is watching the flakes fall.  Soon he must leave.
  • The mornings are as dark as the midnights, and the lingering moon is mirrored in each swirling speck of snow.
  • Nobody is ever coming back here. The wind whispers their name, swaddling them in susurrations.
  • Now the snow starts later, and leaves sooner, and so does the moon.  When the snow stops falling, you know what will happen.

Waffle House Gothic
Stephanie Pickrell, Website Staff Writer

  • There it rises in the distance, sitting on the hill by the highway like a pat of butter on a stack of pancakes. It’s the Waffle House. 
  • Walter Henry Davis was in his fifties when he invented the teleporter. Lacking the resources to build a teleportation network from the ground up, he decided to ride on the back of a new popular fast food restaurant. However, before he could make the network public, a system malfunction caused Davis to suddenly disappear. Some say they can still see the outline of his ghost in the windows and hear his voice in the sizzle of the bacon.
  • Have a wish? Bring it to Waffle House! Make sure you pay it tribute—get the blueberry waffles for the highest chance of success. And whatever you do, don’t leave leftover food on your plate. And never, ever, ever go to Dunkin’ Donuts. 

Tattoo Parlour Gothic
Vanessa Simerskey, Website Staff Writer

This is a forever thing. No going back. But it’s going on my back. The buzzing, the needle piercing my skin, my skin is now numb. I’m marked for good. I’ll be with her for good. I can still feel the buzzing. Oh, she texted me. Cool She just broke up with me…over text… cool. I wonder if the artist can still change the design. From Angela to Angel. They could add wings. Maybe even a halo. She was the one. We just made our one week-aversary.

Posted by:hothouselitjournal

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