Previously: 11 Miles.
Tracking down what I believe to be the origins of the Dark Music ritual was… an adventure. I’ve found it in a few random places on the internet: A version was posted on Wattpad on March 3, 2014, for example, as well as on Quotev “five months ago,” which was roughly October-ish at the time of this writing; a seemingly abandoned blog called Queen of Scare also posted it in March of 2014, just about a week after the Wattpad version appeared, so it would be reasonable to assume that there’s some kind of connection in the timeline there, too.
As I traced it back, though, the most fruitful trail I found was this: Whispering Dark posted a version on Jan. 17, 2015, crediting a cite called Blah Since I Know. The link from Whispering Dark to Blah Since I Know, though, just goes to the homepage, rather than the specific post with the game in it, so you’ll have to perform a search on the site to dig it up. The Blah Since I Know post that does contain the game is dated Aug. 23, 2013, where it credits the Hide and Go Kill Wikia — a wiki geared towards chronicling creepy games, although I found it sadly sparse. If you go into the edit history of the game on Hide and Go Kill, you’ll find that it was first uploaded on March 13, 2012 by StormingThornX.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
That’s where I lost the trail, so I’m assuming that that’s where the game begin — which means it’s likely one that’s less a descendant of actual folklore and more just something someone made up on the internet for funsies.
What’s sort of interesting, though, is that the version currently on the Hide and Go Kill Wikia is quite different from the original version (which, again, you can see if you go into the edit history of the game’s Wikia page). The major change seems to have happened on March 22, 2014, made by a user going only by a sequence of numbers as their name. The version that’s on Whispering Dark, Blah Since You Know, and all the other websites this game is floating around on seem mostly to take their cues from the original version, though, as they all feature a hawk feather and ink rather than a pencil, as well as a much simpler closing ceremony.
So, what I’m saying is, the evolution of this one since what I believe is its beginning has been… interesting.
Is it possible that one of the many variations will work better than the others? Maybe. But maybe it just depends on what you’re looking for personally when you start it.
Here’s the version I think is the most useful.
As always, play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A sheltered location with a door.
- A musical instrument. Something small and portable is ideal; think a guitar or a flute, rather than a grand piano.
- A pin.
- A cup of salt water.
- A container of salt.
- A sheet of paper.
- A pencil.
- A camera. This requirement is optional.
- A hiding place. This requirement is not optional.
- Begin at night.
- Turn off all the lights.
- Place the musical instrument in front of the door. If using the camera, place it such that it may capture the instrument while recording. This is your concert setup. Do NOT stand between the instrument and the door. Do NOT otherwise block the instrument from the door.
- With the pin, prick the part of your body that is typically used to play your chosen instrument; then deposit a drop of blood on the area of the instrument that part of your body would touch in order to play. For example, if you chose a guitar, prick your finger, then deposit a drop of blood on the strings along the fretboard.
- Using your pencil, write a brief message on the sheet of paper asking the spirit to play you a song. The wording is up to you; however, it is recommended that you be respectful and kind. It is NOT recommended that you DEMAND the spirit to play. No one likes being ordered about.
- Place the note beside the instrument.
- If using the camera, begin recording.
- Draw a line of salt between you and your concert setup.
The Main Theme:
- Go to your hiding place. Take the salt and the cup of salt water with you. You should NOT be able to see the musical instrument from here.
- Be still.
- Be silent.
- Enjoy the music.
- If the music draws to a natural close:
- Leave your hiding place. Take the salt water with you.
- Go to the line of salt between you and the concert setup.
- If it is broken: Do not proceed. Instead, go to Step 1 of “If any of the following occur.”
- If the instrument is broken: Do not proceed. Instead, go to Step 1 of “If any of the following occur.”
- If the salt line and the instrument are both intact: You may proceed.
- Using both hands, put a break in the line of salt.
- Go to the musical instrument. Do NOT stand between the instrument and the door. Do NOT otherwise block the instrument from the door.
- Pick up the piece of paper with the message on it. Fold it three times.
- Place the folded message in the cup of salt water.
- Place the cup of salt water next to the instrument where the message previously sat.
- Thank the spirit for its performance.
- Use the salt water to wash the blood from the instrument.
- If using the camera, stop recording.
- Finish the night however you see fit. It is recommended that you stay quiet and do not play any further music. You may choose simply to go to sleep.
- If any of the following occur: The music comes to a sudden halt; the music begins to play out of tune or time; a loud noise sounds from elsewhere in the house; the salt line is broken; or the instrument is broken:
- As fast as you can, leave your hiding place and go to the instrument. Take the salt water with you.
- Splash some of the salt water on the floor between the instrument and the door. Do NOT use all of the salt water. Do NOT stand between the instrument and the door. Do NOT otherwise block the instrument from the door.
- The countdown begins now. You have 15 seconds.
- Pick up the message. Tear it into five pieces. Crumple each piece and drop it in the remaining salt water. Make sure each piece is thoroughly wet.
- Check your countdown. You have 12 seconds.
- Ask the spirit for forgiveness.
- Ask the spirit for forgiveness.
- Ask the spirit for forgiveness.
- Check your countdown. You have 10 seconds.
- After you have asked the spirit for forgiveness three times, pick up the instrument.
- Play the instrument. Do NOT show off. Do NOT attempt to play what the spirit played. Keep it simple and clean.
- Play for 10 seconds.
- Your countdown is up.
- If you have completed all three of these tasks — destroying the message, asking for forgiveness, playing the instrument for 10 seconds — you may proceed.
- If you have NOT completed all three of these tasks — destroying the message, asking for forgiveness, playing the instrument for 10 seconds — you may not proceed. Or perhaps more accurately, you will be in no condition to proceed.
- Put down the instrument.
- Turn on the lights.
- Be still.
- After an hour has passed, make a new cup of salt water and wash the blood from the instrument.
- Do not play music in that location again.
Variations on a Theme:
Some versions of the ritual instruct players to begin at specific times. According to one, you must be in your hiding place before midnight; that is when the concert begins, and it is rude to be late. According to another, you may begin anytime between 11pm and 4am. Choose your time wisely.
Some versions of the ritual require a hawk feather and ink. These materials are to be used instead of the pencil. It is unknown whether the feather and ink are in any way more effective than the pencil.
Some versions of the ritual do not include the salt line. It is not recommended that you perform these versions; the salt line is a failsafe, and it would be rather foolish to play without it.
Some versions of the ritual require an audio recorder and headphones. It is unknown why a live concert would require these items to hear.
Some versions of the ritual instruct players to leave sheet music along with their message. The function of the sheet music may be seen as if the player is making a specific song request; however, should the second coda be necessary, players are required to tear up the sheet music as well as the message. This makes it highly unlikely that players will be able to complete the second coda before the countdown runs out. It is therefore not recommended that players leave sheet music along with their message.
Some versions of the ritual require not just a place to hide, but also a thing in which to hide. A dark colored blanket is often recommended for this purpose.
Some versions of the ritual have only one coda option. These versions instruct players to end the ritual on their own time, rather than the spirit’s, and to do so by taking in a mouthful of salt water and spitting it on the floor by the instrument. The safety of this version seems somewhat suspect.
Concerning the Camera:
If you performed the first coda, you may watch the recording at your leisure.
If you performed the second coda, it is strongly recommended that you do not watch the recording and/or that you destroy it.
No matter which coda you performed, DO NOT UPLOAD THE VIDEO TO THE INTERNET. The spirit doesn’t take kindly to those who try to profit off of its private performances.
[Photo via Orin Zebest/Flickr]