“A Cabin Divided” follows a newlywed couple honeymooning in an isolated cabin in the woods during the COVID-19 pandemic. What begins as a secluded, romantic getaway quickly becomes a thrilling horror story as the reader faces decrepit architecture, covert surveillance, and the creepy groundskeeper’s locked shed door. This piece of interactive fiction allows the reader to explore the setting in a non-linear fashion and to make choices about the protagonist’s personality; the reader can be brave or cowardly, aloof or kind, curious or willfully ignorant. While each hyperlinked choice affects the reader’s experience of the unsettling events of the plot, the text is also interspersed with hyperlinks to live websites, Youtube videos, and news articles that explore America’s widening cultural, class, and systemic divisions, which have recently been made more apparent by the looming COVID-19 pandemic.
Click here to view the story.
Writing “Divided” was so much fun. I’ve had the idea to write a horror story about a creepy cabin for a while now, and I’m so happy I got to expand on my initial plan by turning the concept into a branching piece of interactive fiction. The combination of the pandemic, the 2020 election, and the current political landscape in the US really influenced what I wanted to say with this piece, so I hope it doesn’t feel too political to be enjoyable—my goal was to write something that stands on its own as entertainment, but that also has some more subtle messages for anyone who cares to analyze the text more deeply.
I’m not sure I succeeded in creating a suspenseful, thrilling horror story or in making subtle, scathing political commentary, but I’m pretty happy with the overall structure and format of the piece. I was a little wary of using Twine to present the text, but I was able to figure out the program pretty easily with a few Google searches. I do wish I’d had more time to write additional branching narratives—I originally had the idea of letting readers choose from which character’s perspective they would view the story—but I had to keep the plot pretty streamlined in order to finish it by the due date. If I’d had more time, I also would’ve loved to include some photography, illustrations, or even just some different font and background colors to make the story more multimodal.
I’m not super confident in my creative writing abilities, but it’s a skill I’d like to improve—so if anyone ends up reading through the entire narrative, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or criticisms! I hope you have as much fun reading this piece as I did writing it!