Friday 23 February 2018

Dead by Daylight Survivor Interview – Nea Karlsson

Dead by Daylight Survivor Interview – Nea Karlsson

Written by Casey Douglass

Dead by Daylight Survivor Interview – Nea Karlsson

Dead by Daylight is one of my favourite games at the moment. As a writing prompt, I thought it would be interesting to interview some of the characters involved, working in parts of their back story that are known, and adding a few other twists and quirks that hopefully fit in. You'll get most out of this is you are familiar with Dead by Daylight. It's horror, so be prepared for some gore if you do read on.

First up is Nea, my favourite survivor character, and at the moment, my only Prestige 3 survivor.

Me: Hi Nea, it’s good to meet you.

Nea Karlsson: Yeah, you too. I’m just surprised The Entity brought you here. You’re not dead or something?

Me: I hope not!

Nea: I’m sure you’re fine. Actually, I don’t even know if I am, so who knows what the fuck is going on?

Me: I mean, I remember sending the email and The Entity replying. I don’t remember much after that.

Nea: Fuck, you’re pale!

Me: Just feeling a bit...

Nea: Yeah, I can see.

Me: So... I’ll do this interview and see how I get back later. Guess that’s all I can do.

Nea: Keep on keepin’ on. I know the feeling.

Me: That might be a good place to start. What’s it like being stuck in your own kind of ground hog day, being butchered and chased over and over and over again?

Nea: It sucks, but you get used to it. I mean, the pain hurts, but when you die or get out, old pain becomes ghost pain, ghost memories of pain anyway.

Me: You know you’ve experienced it but it feels detached, or maybe like watching a recording of yourself on your phone, but one you don’t really connect with?

Nea: Totally! It hurts like fuck, and then it doesn’t.

Me: What’s it like when the players who are controlling you make you do silly things, or stuff that causes more pain than is needed?

Nea: I want to slit their fucking throats! Yeah yeah, Mr Big Dick, making me bodyblock a hook against a maniac with a machete, just so your dweeb friend doesn’t get scratched. I didn’t get where I am today being that fucking dumb.

Me: How did you wind up here? I know you had brushes with the law awhile back, but that’s some distance from ending up in some kind of purgatory.

Nea: My life turned to shit when my parents moved us from Sweden to the States. I didn’t want to go, but I had to, because I was still a kid.

Me: And it was in the States you found your love for skate parks?

Nea: Hell yeah! I mean, I couldn’t skate for shit, but once I’d managed a few aciddrops and pulled a few melongrabs, I was hooked. I got a sweet custom deck made by this guy near our hangout. He was a chill artist type soul, always doodling.

Me: I won’t pretend to know what an aciddrop or melongrab is. Was the guy the person that got you into tagging your Mashtyx tag everywhere?

Nea: [Laughs] Maybe.

Me: Why did you do it?

Nea: Tag? To be seen!

Me: For your tag to be seen, or you?

Nea: Both I guess. I think I was the invisible kid, not really having any power in the world. So I started tagging, and when I hit my 20s, I switched things up to more sketchy things.

Me: Pun intended?

Nea: No way. But I like it. I stole some stuff, tried some stuff, fucked up a whole lot. Learnt a lot too.

Me: Your sneaky ways?

Nea: Yep! I practised slipping away when no-one was looking, making supplies last longer, because I mean, I was fucking broke, and generally, learning how to fall off high shit and not stumble. Man I lost a fair few thugs that way, back in the day.

Me: Stuff you make good use of now too!

Nea: Hey, anything to help me stay alive. Or whatever I am. As I said, I’m not sure any more.

Me: Which Killer do you most like to face, and which makes your heart sink when you know it’s them?

Nea: Damn, I’ve not really thought about that. I mean, to put it in words. Favourite would probably be Leatherface. He’s a big dumb fuck, and that skin-mask stops him seeing most shit. You can smell him coming a mile off too, which helps. You might think it’s all that chili, but the dude just stinks fullstop.

Me: Least favourite?

Nea: Oooh, I’d say The Shape.

Me: Because he’s creepy?

Nea: Fuck yes! You’re working on a gen and something makes you look up and he’s there, breathing into that white mask. He scares the shit out of me, literally has a few times. And he always cops a feel when he takes you to the hook.

Me: That doesn’t sound nice.

Nea: No shit! Still, some of us have it worse!

Me: The other survivors?

Nea: Yeah. He hates Dwights. Especially tea-bagging ones. Hand on heart, I saw him drop a tea-bagging Dwight once, pull his trousers down and castrate the dude there and then!

Me: Where were you?

Nea: Hiding behind a broken wall, spying through the bricks.

Me: Shit!

Nea: Yeah. Shit. If you speak to Dwight, he’ll probably deny it. I know what I saw though. I’d never seen two mangled balls thrown at a wall before that. Like two little bloody water balloons going “Splat!” Hope to never again. Fuck that.

Me: So... we didn’t really get to how you ended up here, in The Entity’s realm. We touched on your move to the States and your survival skills, but you didn’t say how you actually got “here”.

Nea: My memory just stops at a certain point, like it’s been rubbed out. I was there, now I’m here. No fucking journey in-between. I don’t know what happened, whether I did something dumb or was just unlucky. All I know is I’m stuck here.

Me: I was going to ask if you wanted to get back, but I realise how stupid that question would be. Do you think you’ll ever get back?

Nea: No.

Me: Really?

Nea: I’ve been here long enough to just get the feeling that this is it. I could move on somewhere else later, I don’t know. I just doubt I’ll get home.

Me: How does that make you feel?

Nea: You sound like a fucking psychiatrist.

Me: I wish I earned what they do.

Nea: Yeah but you have to talk to crazy people.

Me: Interesting people.

Nea: Fucked up people. Perverts and neurotics and skitzos.

Me: They are still people Nea, that’s not very kind.

Nea: Fuck being kind! They’ve got things cushy. I get murdered thousands of times a day! Oh boo hoo my dick won’t work if I don’t get caned across my arse. Boo hoo nobody loves me. Boo hoo I might be gay, what will my husband think. Survival! That comes first. If you’re surviving, you’re ahead. Anything else is just mental masturbation.

Me: You sound like you think you’re more alive than they’ll ever be.

Nea: You’re a genius!

Me: And you’re starting to fade.

Nea: Oh great! Another round!

Me: Thank you for talking to me Nea, I wish I could help you.

Nea: The only person that can help me is me, as per usual. Stay safe Case.

[Nea blinked out of existence, her fists clenched and a scowl creasing her face].

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Japanese Art, Porno Puns, and Life Writing with Illness

Japanese Art, Porno Puns, and Life Writing with Illness

By Casey Douglass

Last night, I watched most of a documentary about Japanese art, about how nature is so pivotal to it, and how it inspired some of the greatest creations throughout Japanese history. The fact that I only watched most of the documentary isn’t a negative review by the way, I was just too tired to watch it all.

Thinking about it this morning led to a flight of fancy about what it might be like to actually visit the places that were shown, such as the Bonsai museum and Mount Fuji. I fancied that if it ever happened, I might even try my hand at travel writing, and wondered at what it would feel like to actually have something exciting to share, by way of words, pictures and video.

Of course, me being me, my flight of fancy soon became a morbid rumination on my health issues, and how a trip to Japan would likely be some kind of suicide. Oh, that’s reminded me of another place I’d have liked to visit, Aokigahara, the suicide forest near Mount Fuji. Not to partake, but just to experience the place. (VICE did a nice little 30 min documentary about Aokigahara, well worth a watch, if you are interested).

The result of my thoughts was in how frustrating it is to not be able to experience life in a way that would help me to have material to write about. I can’t even consume entertainment in any kind of normal way, which is a bit of a fucker for someone who likes to review stuff. I read books at a rate of ten pages or so a time, and then have to rest. I watch films in two sittings, often needing to lay down half way through. I can only listen to around 40 mins of music a day as any more just tires me. And as far as video-games, even one that might have around six hours of content would take me at least three or four days to pace myself through. It’s not ideal and it’s damned frustrating.

All I am left with is my own internal experience (sounds like a title for a posh porno “Internal Experience 2: The Physical”) or writing fiction. Dealing with those in an arse-about-face manner (sorry, still in naughty porn pun mode), fiction is dandy but is even harder to make progress with than the non-fiction stuff. Even if you create something pretty decent, you’ll still be lucky if A) more than ten people read it and B) you make more than a tenner if you pop it up on Kindle.

As far as the internal experience stuff, who really cares? Unless you are setting yourself up as someone with “the answers” and writing hackneyed listicles like “7 Ways to Beat Anxiety Fast” and “12 Must Have Mental Health Tools” (god I fucking hate listicles, but I find it very amusing that my spellchecker suggests testicles as an alternative. Even computers can detect bollocks it seems), people won’t read it. I also refuse to set myself up as some kind of expert on anything. Not because of the backlash against experts in this age of rising ignorance, but because I don’t have the answers, and I wouldn’t bullshit my way through an article about something that I couldn’t backup with my own experience. I know stuff, I write about that stuff, but I’m not prepared to “market it” in the guise of some holy grail of “this will solve your problems” and then adding “Why not take my course?” (Everyone and their aunty seems to think you have to offer some kind of course on your website now. Just fuck off. Really.)

Anyway, internal experience. I spend a lot of time alone, struggling through the day. Unless I create some kind of twisted fiction story out of that, with imaginary beings that live in the corners and are at war with each other. “Oh, we don’t go into corner four in the spare-room, the O’Cleefes murdered one of the Spitzers there, so they are forever at war with the third cupboard from the fridge in the kitchen!”. As The Cumshots (great band) say in one of their songs, “These four walls, that's my society”. If I start basing fiction in them, I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t go loopy. Loopier anyway.

I don’t know what the whole point of this post was. Partly, just to write something and get the juices flowing (not in a porno way). Partly, to have something to focus on for awhile, and partly, (more parts than a gore movie so far), partly, in the hope that my mind might throw up some sort of answer. Sadly, I’m shit out of luck on that count. As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you are having a good day or night, whatever you are upto. Unless you are writing listicles.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Lucid Dreams – How to Experience the Ultimate Virtual Reality

Lucid Dreams – How to Experience the Ultimate Virtual Reality

By Casey Douglass

The other day I realised that the subject of lucid dreaming is something that I’ve not written about for almost two decades. When I was at high school, and later college, it was something I was truly fascinated by, but not really having any kind of platform to write on back then, those scribblings have likely been lost to the winds of time.

Here is a lucid dream related how-to post, drawing on techniques and tips that I can remember as being useful in helping me experience the lucid dream state. Others will likely have different techniques, but as with many things, it’s a matter of finding what works for you. If these techniques don’t produce results, a quick web search will likely bring up many more for you to try.

First a warning though. Anyone that has trouble with differentiating reality from non-reality, maybe due to mental illness for example, would probably be wise to not venture too far into the idea of lucid dreaming. Only you can decide if it’s right or wise for you to try, but it can be pretty head bending at times.

If you do decide to push ahead, you will find a wonderful, quirky world inside your sleeping mind, one in which you can be a superhero, a supervillain, or anything that you can conceive of. You own imagination is literally the limit. Without further ado, let’s get started.

What is a lucid dream?

A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer knows that they are dreaming. A bit like Neo knowing that he is in The Matrix. It’s a moment of realisation that often comes with a “Holy shit I’m dreaming!” excitement, only for said excitement to wake you up and leave you feeling annoyed, like someone who’s just been locked out of paradise. There are ways to get around that however, but I'll get to those later.

What is a lucid dream like?

Knowing that you are dreaming is a pretty intoxicating feeling, marvelling that your mind has created this whole seemingly real world for you to play in. I once wasted an entire lucid dream running my fingers over a leaf on a tree, and I’m not even a hippy-type guy. The “realness” just felt so uncanny, my mind kind of got lost in the novelty. I would add that it was only a 30 second or so dream, I didn’t spend ages doing it. I’m not weird. Honest.

Lucid dreams are like the ultimate VR, one which has a very low financial cost to enter, but that takes its payment in the form of the effort and patience in trying to get inside. Some will likely experience lucid dreams without trying, but others might go their whole lives and not really experience a single one. I remember a good friend at high-school who could never remember having had one. He was ecstatic when he came in one day beaming that it had finally happened! It’s one thing to know something is possible, it’s another to know it because you’ve experienced it!

How do you trigger a lucid dream?

In the years that I’ve been reading and studying the subject, a wide variety of methods have emerged. I will describe just two for now, two of the most straightforward, and to me, the two most successful.

Keep a dream journal

If you are going to be doing anything with dreams, it is very worthwhile to note them down upon awakening, whatever the time of day or night. Even if it’s just a few keywords, getting something down on paper creates an anchor that can unlock other memories when you mull it over at a later time.

Keeping a dream journal with any kind of regularity will boost your dream recall. Those initial handfuls of keywords upon starting will soon expand to fill pages in your notebook. You are basically signalling to your mind that you are interested in these things, and so it puts more effort into remembering them. As a handy side-effect, just keeping a dream journal often seems to cause a higher occurrence of lucid dreams in and of itself, maybe due to said heightened interest, so it’s a win-win.

Test your reality

The second method for having a lucid dream is to periodically check or test the environment around you as you go about your day. The dream world is strange at the best of times, and even in seemingly hum-drum dreams, our usual mindset of blank acceptance makes everything seem normal. How many times have you seen things in dreams that in waking life would have left you incredulous? It is in their strangeness however, that dreams offer up the key to picking up on the fact that you are dreaming.

There are a number of clues that you can look for to see if you are dreaming. I mean, after all, how do you know you aren’t dreaming now? It’s possible. This is where keeping a dream journal comes in handy, as you can pick up on the behaviour of your own personal dream world and note down its tricksy ways.

Firstly, settle on a trigger that will prompt you to do your reality check. Maybe whenever you check the time? Every time you open a door? It could be anything really, as long as it happens quite frequently during your day. It will also help if it’s something that you know you do in your dreams too. The idea is that you will perform your trigger enough that the habit will carry over into your dreams. Personally, I like the time checking one, as it kind of comes with its own built-in reality check.

Writing and numbers tend to change in dreams. They certainly do in mine. If I read something, even a simple sign, turn away, and then turn back, there will be some kind of change if I am dreaming. The same goes with digital clocks. This makes reality testing when I look at the time a big no-brainer. I simply see my clock, remember the reality check, and then look away and appraise my environment for any weirdness that doesn’t make sense. Then I look back at the time to see if it has changed beyond the few seconds it should have. If it has, there is a strong chance that I am dreaming. If it hasn’t, chances are that I’m not. I should also add that if the time has changed in a strange way, one more look at what is going on around me will usually give a blatant clue that I am dreaming, such as seeing someone who I know to be dead, walking and laughing across the street. The checking sometimes makes the weirdness come out of the woodwork, so to speak.

I should probably add that it’s important to do more than one reality test if you suspect that you are dreaming. I tend to try to levitate on the spot as if that works, it’s game time, and it’s something I’ve yet to achieve in waking life. Another test is trying to remember my day or night up until that point, as dreams often have a pretty broken narrative. Can I remember getting here? What did I do before that? and that, and that etc. If I’m at a loss, it’s another sign that I am likely dreaming.

Another great exercise that aids in this narrative-based test is, before going to sleep at night, try to remember your day, but backwards, as far as you can. So, starting from the act of getting into bed, and then getting ready for bed, having that biscuit, watching Netflix... until you get all of the way back to the morning and when you first woke up. It doesn’t matter how far back you can actually remember, but the act of trying will see you get better and better. This will help a great deal with the “narrative” questioning reality test, and also help your memory in general, even helping you remember your dreams more easily. A virtuous circle if ever I saw one.

Be sensible with your tests. No trying to see if you can fly by jumping off something dangerous, or assuming you’re dreaming and going on some kind of bender. You need to use your common sense and with practice, you’ll soon know with more certainty. The first time you think you are dreaming, a good bet is to just go along with the dream but doing so while trying to hold onto your knowledge of the fact. It’s quite easy to forget you are dreaming again. If you can hold onto the notion, you’ll remember things more easily, and you can explore your mental landscape in a more considered way.

I think that about wraps up this first post on lucid dreaming. You have a few techniques and tips above that will, over time, help you to experience a lucid dream, but persistence and patience is what is needed. My aforementioned high-school friend tried for months before it happened. It might happen on the first night for you. Who knows.

If this article does well, I will write more. The next ones will feature ways to prolong the dream state, techniques to manifest the things in your dreams that you like (maybe that celeb you’d like to do naughty things with), and other fun things you might like to try, such as causing false awakenings and going recursively deeper into the dream state.

Thank you for reading, and if you’d like to chat more about lucid dreams, leave a comment or send me a message on social media.