Read the Los Angeles Staff’s Freaky and Weird Exquisite Corpse Story

It’s a 16-part tale of creaking doors, rumbling stomachs, and wayward cats

R.L. Stine would argue that ghost stories are appropriate year round, but never more so than the weeks leading up to Halloween. The LA mag staff decided to create a spooky Exquisite Corpse, partially to get in the spirit of the holiday but mostly so we could write the words “Exquisite Corpse” in a headline. Here’s how the game works: each player writes a sentence on a piece of paper and then folds the paper so that only the final word or phrase is visible. The next player adds a sentence based only on what they can see. The result is sometimes cohesive but often nonsensical (one rousing round of the game played in 1918 produced the sentence “The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine,” which is where the exercise gets its peculiar name). 

Here you’ll find a 16-line tale of creaking doors, rumbling stomachs, wayward cats, and the scariest thing of all—taxes. Read the story below, and check out an image of the EC as it made its way ’round the office.

Gary was not a disobedient boy by nature, but this stormy evening, he told his parents that he planned to stay home whether they wanted him to or not. [Marielle Wakim, associate editor]
But the howling wind made the door creak open. [Leilah Bernstein, associate editor]
“Is that you?” she hissed to the lurking shadow just beyond the door. [Nancy Miller, deputy editor]
Heart pounding, he took out his iPhone and peeked at the Domino’s delivery tracker; the pizza was still in the oven. [Josh Scherer, associate food editor]
So were a few bits of human anatomy that might be considered edible—in the far reaches of New Guinea. [Ann Herold, managing editor]
Perhaps it is the sea air that inspired such bizarre and terrifying customs in coastal peoples. [Chris Nichols, city scholar]
One of the annual customs is to be chosen to walk down the long, overgrown path to the abandoned lighthouse and leave an offering to the spirit who is said to haunt the crumbling structure. [Amy Feitelberg, photo director]
Meanwhile, the lost kittens finally found their way back to…[Steve Banks, design director]
The dock. They were shivering—maybe because they had stayed in the dark water too long, maybe because the threat of danger lurked. [Shayna Rose Arnold, senior editor]
Three eyes surfaced. [Israel Lemus, senior producer]
Been 14 days since I don’t know when…[Julia St. Pierre, production director]
…but even despite the infrequent ghost sightings, I knew they would appear in time. [Julia Herbst, editorial coordinator]
“I’m not ready to die—I still have to do my taxes,” someone in the room whispered hoarsely while the bathroom faucet continued to drip. [Daphne Tanyol, copy chief]
Days passed, then months, then years—and all the while, the faucet kept dripping, each drop leaving behind a thin layer of residue that slowly built up, swelled, bulged, oozed, wiggled a little bit, and gained consciousness. [Thomas Harlander, editorial assistant]
When the wretched creature came to, he cried for his mother. [Linda Immediato, style editor]
The curdling screams were as furious as they were futile—he could already hear the grim thud thud of the beast returning for more. [Lesley Bargar Suter, food editor]