[Short Story Review] Ted the Caver by Anonymous

2/27/2021

[Short Story Review] Ted the Caver by Anonymous

2/27/2021
A spelunker named Ted recounts his experiences exploring “Mystery Cave" where strange occurrences start happening to he and his friend.

Ted the Caver is THE horror story of the turn-of-the-millennium Internet, IMO. Hosted on an Angelfire website of all things, TtC predates our cultural obsession with amateur Internet horror stories and the creepypasta genre. And while most of what came out of the creepypasta and r/NoSleep crazes were at best overdramatic and unsubtle in their attempts at horror or at worst literally unreadable drivel intend upon wasting the reader's time, Ted the Caver is a fun little tale with just enough creepiness to keep you going.

There are, of course, two things to remember about TtC. One: it's from 2001. It does not adhere to the conventions of the creepypasta genre because it predates it; moreover, it might seem trite, cliche, or even boring to the modern reader. In the years since TtC came out, there have been a million other stories, on the Internet or otherwise, that told similar stories playing with the same tropes and heading toward the same (anti-)climax. I don't feel that takes anything away from TtC, but it does mean that TtC's glory days might be past it. Ted the Caver's scares might not seem so scary to Gen Z (and whatever we're calling the new batch of kids coming up!).

Two: it's not immediately clear that it's fiction. In the tradition of many an old ghost story, found footage films like Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project, podcasts like The Black Tapes, and the modern storytelling sub r/NoSleep, Ted the Caver attempts to maintain the illusion of being a true story. Honestly, I'm sure there are probably still people who to this day would swear up and down that there really was a caver named Ted who did what his blog posts claim and who (spoiler alert) mysteriously disappeared to never post again. This façade of reality was easier to pull off convincingly in 1999, as the Blair Witch proved, and it was still something you could do in 2001. Twenty years later, no one believes any of those totally-a-true-story ghost stories that come across your Twitter feed from someone who's clearly an aspiring author or journalist looking for some likes and Patreon subscribers. But in 2001, when there was no easy way to get fame or money from a spooky story that you let loose online, it was a lot easier to believe that someone's blog about their scary experiences could be more than just a creative writing project.

Now, I didn't find Ted the Caver all the way back in 2001. I would've been only around eight at the time, and my Internet browsing was reserved to browsing my local library website, playing Neopets, and Google image searching Sailor Moon OCs. I probably found the story sometime around 2011 or 2012, after I'd graduated high school, and honestly? It didn't matter that the story was a decade old at that point; it was clearly fake, but it was fun. I liked the tropes, I liked the open ending, and there was even something a little charming about it being an Angelfire site. (Now, ten years out from that, I'm just shocked the site's still up!)

All in all, I'd definitely say it's worth a read. Don't read a .pdf or .doc file floating around; don't read it copy/pasted into some forum or on Reddit or whatever. Read it on Angelfire. Get into the 2001 of it all. And if you can't appreciate the story itself, at least take a minute to appreciate it as an awesome little snapshot of where Internet horror started out.

A spelunker named Ted recounts his experiences exploring “Mystery Cave" where strange occurrences start happening to he and his friend....

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