In my last feature on creepypastas, I talked about Mother Horse Eyes, a sprawling narrative posted in many different comments on Reddit. Today, the story I’ll be looking into is a far more traditional creepypasta, originally shared on the nosleep subreddit by author C.K. Walker (Rebecca Klingel). Most popular creepypasta narratives are posted on this particular subreddit, and Borrasca dates back to 2015. There will be spoilers for the entire plot, so if you’d like to read it, you can do so here.
Borrasca was very recently adapted into a podcast produced by and starring Cole Sprouse, but I have not listened to it and therefore will not be talking about it in this piece. Let me know if you’ve checked it out, I’d be interested in hearing how it is in the comments below! The original author worked on it and after the success of the original story was hired by Mike Flanagan to write for The Haunting of Hill House and later the follow-up The Haunting of Bly Manor, so I’m looking forward to whatever they produce next.
Borrasca follows the Walker family as they move to the fictional town of Drisking, Missouri, a former mining town with over half the businesses owned by the famous Prescott clan. Sam Walker, our narrator and protagonist, quickly befriends neighbors Kyle and Kimber.
They tell him about a huge treehouse in the woods known as the Triple Tree where you need to follow a certain initiation ceremony or else you will disappear and die. While hanging out in the treehouse, a horrible, metal grinding sound emanates from somewhere on the mountain. What is it? asks Sam. Borrasca, Kimber replies. It’s a place in the woods. Bad things happen there. She doesn’t go into further details, except to say that The Skinned Men live there.
Six months later, Sam’s older sister Whitney goes missing. His parents believe she ran off to be with her boyfriend, but Sam worries something more sinister happened. He goes to the treehouse with Kyle and Kimber and finds Whitney carved her name into the bark, a part of the initiation. Did she get snatched by the Skinned Men? People disappear far more often than normal in Drisking. What’s really going on here?
Seven years later, Sam is now a teen and is haunted by his sister’s disappearance. He researches the town’s history and even goes to visit the aging Prescott patriarch, Thomas, now in a retirement home. Thomas gets extremely agitated when they mention his son and how he “ruined the town’s legacy” that he fought so hard to renew. He also mentions a “fine powder.” A child Kimber babysits also jokes that “The Shiny Gentlemen” will get you.
Soon the unthinkable happens. Kimber’s mother commits suicide, and, during the funeral, Kimber goes missing. They’re here is her last text message sent to the boys. Desperate and fearing she will end up like Whitney, they do some research and find out a borrasca is a mine that has dried up. The pair acquire a map of the mountain and head towards the first mine that closed. What they’re greeted with is…disturbing.
The cluster of buildings has a rotten, century-old sign out front. What once read DRISKING UNDERGROUND MINE has worn away, leaving SKIN ND MIN behind. Skinned Men. Inside one of the buildings, The Shiny Gentleman is revealed to be an old ore refining machine. The source of the metallic grinding heard throughout the town.
The other structure, an old dormitory for miners, is full of the missing girls. Every one of them abused and impregnated. The iron ore in the water has tainted the town, giving the local women fertility issues. So the Prescotts devised a horrible plan: Prescott Jr. and the Sheriff would “take care” of outsider girls who do not have issues from the water and offer the babies to the townsfolk, even sell extras on the side. When the girls were no longer useful…they met their end with The Shiny Gentleman.
Almost the entire town was in on the plot. The halfway point, to exchange babies, was the infamous Triple Tree. The legend of the Skinned Men, the legend of Borrasca, was used to cover up what was going on. Some women are desperate to have a baby…but Kimber’s mother couldn’t deal with the guilt.
Sam finally, after all these years, is reunited with his sister Whitney. It’s all wrong though. She refuses to leave, her body and mind broken from years of this torture. She stares at him and there’s nothing there. Kyle and Sam are forced to flee, and Kyle is horribly wounded in the process.
To me, the story is about complacency. All of the evils the townsfolk are perpetrating are behind closed doors, out of sight, out of mind. What does it matter where the babies come from? Drisking is prosperous again. Everyone gets what they want.
The Humans are the Real Monsters trope is not a new concept in horror and fiction in general. In fact, it’s probably one of the most famous and well-known ones, with many examples, the most obvious one being Frankenstein. It’s also a topic explored in most Guillermo Del Toro movies, such as Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Shape Of Water. We recognize and understand this trope fairly quickly.
Another aspect often used inside of this trope is bystander apathy, more generally known as the bystander effect. You see something terrible happen, and you do nothing or even just stand by and watch passively. I believe a major part of this is because when an event is not happening to someone we know personally, we can’t relate to it as much. We think “oh, it’s not so bad”. The old mine is literally about as far away as possible from the main town—the only aspect you are exposed to is the strange noise, which can be dismissed rather easily.
Since the Sheriff and many other important figures of the town are involved, there is virtually nothing Sam and Kyle can do about this plot. Kimber is rescued from the “stables” as Prescott calls them, and immediately flees town. Kyle is beaten to within an inch of his life and becomes a vegetable. Sam spends years trying to cope with drugs and alcohol. There is unfortunately no happy ending to this story, except for the consolation that at least Kimber got out.
When looking into Borrasca again to write this, I noticed a lot of people responding to the podcast ending with “Season 2 when??” While some of this could definitely be attributed to people just wanting more content with Cole Sprouse (someone whom I know nothing about), I believe a part of it to be the desire for a more uplifting ending. The bad guys get their comeuppance! In real life, though, things don’t always happen that way.
Horror has the power to change us, to make us look at the world differently while exploring themes of trauma and pain in safe ways. It helps us to understand that monsters are not always the Other, the Outsider. No mysterious Skinned Men are whisking young women away in the night. They can be your neighbors, your community. You begin to realize that sometimes the worst thing you can imagine is right in your backyard.