Creeping Darkness by Pen Stroke, Batty Gloom
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Author's Chapter Notes:
This chapter is meant to bring pony fans up to speed with Alan Wake and set the stage.

Journal Entry 1

After just barely managing to regain my sanity, I've decided to begin this journal as a means of keeping myself anchored. It will also let me keep some sense of time. Every time I take a break from my typewriter, I will write a journal. It may not be much, but each entry will let me keep track of how long I've been here, in this place where there is no sun, no moon, no stars, and no clocks to keep track of time in the same way.

My name is Alan Wake. I'm a writer, and I'm currently trapped in a shadowed world I know only as the Dark Place.

My first encounter with the darkness came when my wife, Alice, was taken by an malevolent sentience known only as the Dark Presence. The presence wore the face of an old woman in a mourning gown, a Barbara Jagger, the love of Thomas Zane, a poet who has helped guide me in my fight against the darkness.

The Dark Place is a realm where the creative works of authors, song writers, poets, and likely others can change reality with their work. Thomas Zane, when his love Barbara drowned in Cauldron Lake, tried to use the power of the Dark Place to bring her back. He succeeded, though only in bringing back Barbara's body. She, however, was hollow... a vessel only to the Dark Presence... darkness filled her heart.

The Dark Presence sought to escape this place, which was both its home and prison. It had tried twice before, and I was to be its third attempt. The Presence took Alice and then tempted me with the power to change reality, to write Alice back into my life. The Dark Presence became my editor, and slowly twisted my words, mind, and work so that the story I was writing turned into a horror story, at the end of which The Dark Presence would be unleashed on an unsuspecting world.

By some miracle and the help of Thomas Zane, I was able to escape the Dark Presence before I finished writing the story. I became the main character in my own novel, fighting against the darkness until the very end when I managed to end The Dark Presence using a broken light switch, the Clicker. I was then able to give a happy end to the horror story, returning the ravaged town of Bright Falls back to normal while also saving Alice.

But to do all that I had to pay the ultimate price. That's the way the Dark Place works; everything has a price. To return Bright Falls to normal and to save Alice, I allowed myself to remain trapped in the Dark Place where its strange nature and magic tore at my mind. I was insane for a time, but through the strange, dream logic of this world I managed to regain my sanity.

That brings me to this moment, to where I am beginning the first entry of this journal.

I have begun work on a new story, a sequel to "Departure", which was the story I wrote while under the influence of the Dark Presence. It's entitled "Return", and hopefully I can use "Return" to write myself out of Cauldron Lake and back into Alice's arms.

In truth, it's my only hope of escape.

• • •

Journal Entry 9

A horror story with a happy ending... not the easiest thing to get right. Even the ending to "Departure" was bittersweet, as I was forced to remain here.

The darkness demands that it is right. I just can't slap "And Alan escaped the Darkness and lived happily ever after" on a page and find myself on the shore of Cauldron Lake. No... the story has to work, the story has to be real. I have to somehow please whatever sentience controls The Dark Place in order to free myself from it with the story.

And that thought nags at the back of my mind. The Dark Presence was the master of this place, the one that sent the shadows out. The one who turned the honest, simple folk of Bright Falls into the Taken. It was the Dark Presence that took Alice and wore Barbara Jagger's face. Yet... if that was the case, now that the Dark Presence is gone it should be easier for me to escape. Without its master, the Dark Place should give life to my words without resistance.

Yet there is resistance... there is an editor... and it isn't the Dark Presence I came to know and defeat. The Dark Place isn't just in Cauldron Lake... it isn't just a lake... or even an ocean. It is a world that lives between worlds, the shadow of the universe, of creation... of everything. And not just the universe I know, but of others as well.

Perhaps I didn't completely defeat the Dark Presence, maybe parts of it linger in this world and that's what is resisting me. Maybe the Dark Presence I defeat wasn't alone, that there are others in this place who can control the darkness and would seek to use me to escape.

Or, maybe, the Dark Presence is the Dark Place... maybe they are merely one and the same, and the Dark Presence can only enact its full power through a puppet, like Barbara Jagger.

I don't know which is true... none of the options are what I would consider good. All I can do is focus on my writing. The sooner I finish "Return", the sooner I will be able to escape.

• • •

Journal Entry 27

I have used my typewriter to create a number of short horror stories, allowing myself to explore the darkness. To come to understand the rules that dictate it and to simply get fresh supplies, like more batteries for my flashlight or more paper for the typewriter.

They have a strange nature... these short stories. I begin one, and then suddenly find myself away from my typewriter, standing wherever I set the story to begin. Once I find my way back to the cabin, I can hear the typewriter ticking away in the upstairs study, as if someone was hammering out words as fast as possible.

Yet the moment I open the door to the study the typewriter grows silent and I find nobody there. It's as if all the short stories I write end with me returning to my typewriter, returning to my efforts to write my way out of the darkness.

It makes me fear how "Return" itself will end if I must always return to this place.

And as I explore the darkness, I find that I have very little control beyond what I hope to find. It's as if the story goes into auto-pilot, and I as the protagonist am just along for the ride. It's like I'm on the other side of the mirror, not the one writing but the one being written.

A cold chill runs down my spine when I start to wonder who is my writer.

• • •

Journal Entry 34

My fears were realized today... I am not alone in the Dark Place. Someone else is here, and I can't tell who it is. She could be another soul trapped in the dark like me, another Dark Presence, or even the same Dark Presence I once defeated wearing a new face.

She hasn't tried to attack me yet, but like Barbara Jagger she whispers in my ear. She taunting me with promises of escape and a happy reunion with Alice. I have yet to see this figure, but I have been given a name. Nightmare Moon. Honestly, it sounds like a name you give to some villain in a children's cartoon... but when you've seen the things I have you know that names don't mean a thing. After all, calling this the Dark Place isn't the greatest stroke of creative genius.

It's a simple name, childish... but there is no denying how well it fits.

Nightmare Moon whispers, promising me my freedom and my return to Alice if I will write for her. She asks me to use my words to plunge another world into darkness, one that has somehow invited her wrath.

It is an offer I can't deny is tempting me. I miss Alice, Barry... I miss seeing the sun... but part of me knows I could never do what it asks. First, I can't trust her... especially if Nightmare Moon just turns out to be a mask for a or the Dark Presence. The Presence that wore Barbara Jagger's face promised me the same thing, that I could save Alice by writing her back to life in my story... but in the end the story was only going to ensure its own escape into the world.

Secondly, I don't think I could bring myself to plunge another world into darkness. I have seen the horrors of the darkness... it is a curse I would never invite upon even my worst enemies.

• • •

Journal Entry 41

Nightmare Moon continues, trying to sway me to write for her. She not only whispers in my ear, but temps me with other things. I find pictures on the cabin's doorstep, gifts that show the world Nightmare wishes to take over. Maybe she's trying to prove to me it deserves to be overtaken by the darkness, or that it isn't my world so I don't owe it any favors.

Equestria... another strange name and its residents are even stranger. Ponies, unicorns, and pegasi in a rainbow of colors. Again, I'm reminded of a children's TV show. Still, I relish the pictures. The warm colors, the bright images of the blue sky and sun... they are welcomed beacons of hope in the dark. They help me continue on, to continue to struggle, allowing me to believe that, in time, I will be able to see Alice again.

Still, one thing worries me. Since I freed myself from my insanity I have not seen or heard from Thomas Zane. The poet is the expert of the Dark Place. He's managed to survive here for decades, and can manipulate it in ways I can't even imagine. He is the only reason I'm sane at the moment... and yet he hasn't appeared to me.

Perhaps it means that Zane doesn't think I need his help anymore, that I'll be able to find my way back to the light and to Alice. That, or the Dark Place has figured out how to keep him away from me.

Whatever the reason, I can't focus on that right now. I have to keep working on "Return".

• • •

Journal Entry 43

I have been struck by writer's block on "Return", and I can't push myself through it. Whatever I write past a point gets wiped from the page. The Dark Place isn't accepting my work, and I know why. It's sub-par, childish... it's the same reason why I had a writer's block for so long before going to Bright Falls with Alice. For some reason, I just don't know what to write next.

While I try to figure out what to write for "Return", I've distracted myself by slowly learning more about Equestria through my short story driven journeys outside the cabin. It's a world of magic, a world that plays by different rules than my own.

Unicorns are able to use magic. There are such things as manticores, hydras, and dragons. To top it all off, the ponies are ruled by a pair of immortal alicorns named Celestia and Luna. God-princesses, with the magical power and duty to make the sun and moon cross the sky.

If they have that kind of magic there... maybe they have an answer. Maybe they can give me an escape that doesn't require me to write myself back into my own world with "Return". At the moment, it's a more viable option. I have no clue when or even if I'd be able to push through my writer's block and finish "Return".

• • •

Journal Entry 51

I have done the unthinkable... I have released the darkness and Nightmare Moon.

In hopes of freeing myself I used my short stories to learn more and more about Equestria, but what I didn't realize was the cost of that knowledge. Everything that I write that changes reality comes at a cost, that is the way the Dark Place works. It is a rule I had forgotten about, which is now coming back to bite me.

By letting myself learn more about Equestria, I incurred a cost. That cost was a weakening of the veil that separated that world from the Dark Place.

And now that veil has become torn. This has released Nightmare Moon, allowing her to return to the world with the darkness under her command. Her presence is still weak... much like how Barbara Jagger was weak when Alice and I first arrived in Bright Falls. Still, it will not take long for her to gather her strength. All she needs to do is find a writer, an artist, anyone that can create and she will have a means of taking over that world.

Still, I have come up with a plan... well... I'd call it a plan. Barry would probably call it the insane ramblings of a crazy person. I don't think I'd argue with him at this point.

Nightmare Moon needs someone to create art for her, to write for her, and any pony she finds to do this in Equestria won't know how to fight back. Thus, to hopefully save that world from the darkness, I'm going to give her what she wants.

I have started a new story, about Equestria, the ponies and Nightmare Moon's return as a master of the Dark Place. I have become what Nightmare Moon needs, a writer whose words can give her strength in that reality.

Still, by allowing myself to become the writer she needs I will hopefully be able to stop her. I know what to expect, I've been through the situation first hand. I have experienced it all before, which means I should be able to out-maneuver Nightmare Moon and use the story to destroy her or, at the very least, seal her back in the Dark Place.

All I need is a horror story with a happy ending... thankfully one where I won't have to play the part of the main protagonist.

No, that role is reserved for another... one who has also faced Nightmare Moon before. It's the jewel of hope in this dark situation I unintentionally created. Nightmare Moon was already defeated in Equestria once before, cast into the Dark Place by something called the Elements of Harmony. From what I've been able to learn, the Elements were wielded by six ponies... one of which is a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle.

Again... I can't help but gawk at the name and wonder what kind of world Equestria is where such a name could actually be considered commonplace.

Names aside, I will do everything I can to help Twilight defeat the Darkness. She will be the story's protagonist, her friends the supporting characters. They will have to face trials, horrors, and the Taken... it is a horror story after all.

Still, by helping them from my place at the typewriter I should be able to give them the tools they need to defeat Nightmare Moon and the darkness. And, maybe in the process I will learn how to free myself from this place... come to understand the rules of the Dark Place enough I will be able to finish "Return" and embrace my wife Alice again.

The title of the story is "Creeping Darkness", and it will begin as my story did. With a nightmare.

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