Have you ever experienced the so-called "Mandela Effect"? Wikipedia describes it as the phenomenon of remembering something that didn't exist or happen. It's also called "false memory." But for anyone who's experienced it themselves, it's hard to imagine your own brain could make up something that never existed and then wholeheartedly believe it did.
One of the most famous examples of the phenomenon - aside from the namesake, where thousands of people allegedly believed Nelson Mandela had died in the 1980s - is The Berenstain Bears. I'm one of many who remembered it as "Berenstein," and I can sort of figure out where that false memory comes from. It's likely due to Frankenstein being a very similar word. Another example is the phrase "Mirror, mirror on the wall" from Snow White. The actual phrase is "Magic mirror on the wall." Or "Play it again, Sam" from Casablanca. "Play it, Sam" is the real quote.
Or is it?
I distinctly remembered watching The Goonies when I was a kid and being terrified by the giant octopus scene. Nobody else remembered the giant octopus scene. I watched it on TV years later and wondered why they cut the giant octopus scene. Turns out it wasn't in the movie. Or was it? Because on the deleted scenes, lo and behold, there's an octopus. How is it possible I saw the octopus scene in theaters when apparently no one else had? It's odd, isn't it? It's kind of scary.
But I've got an even weirder one. For years, I thought I made up not just a book title, but the book itself and the author who wrote it.
Rex Garrote was the gateway drug of horror for me. I already loved Stephen King and had started getting into Laymon and Barker and a handful of others - but for me, Garrote was The Guy. He had a style of writing that cut right through the BS and went straight for the jugular.
And suddenly I couldn't find his books anymore. Not at the book store. Not at the library. It was like he just disappeared. This was before the internet. There weren't very many ways to verify this sort of stuff outside of physical proof or your set of Encyclopedia Britannicas.
I would ask other horror fans if they remembered him, and be met with blank stares. "Never heard of him." Was I losing my mind? Could I have succumbed to the Mandela Effect yet again?
Years went by and I forgot about those books. I forgot all about Rex Garrote. But unbeknownst to me his influences echoed throughout my writing. And eventually I started to think about those books again - The House Feeds, in particular.
It was about a horror author who buys a new house and slowly goes mad. Definite Shining vibes. Nothing particularly noteworthy about the concept. But the character's descent into madness, the sheer creepiness of the house itself, the ghosts (or are they demons) who haunted it - and the fact that Rex Garrote himself owned a big creepy haunted house cemented the idea that he hadn't just written about ghosts (or demons) in The House Feeds. That he'd in fact lived it.
So I've been asking around. I know a fair amount of horror fans and fellow authors now, and still, nothing about Garrote. Nobody remembered him. "Dude, he's a figment of your imagination." "What are you smoking?" Again, I found myself wondering about the power of imagination. Did I really make up a writer and believe I'd read his book? Was that level of Mandela Effect even possible?
Well, I'm glad to say, I'm not crazy. (Or at least, not wrong.) Today, I finally came across "proof" that he existed or at least that someone else remembers him - I just found his Wikipedia entry! (Update 11/02/19: The wiki has since been taken down, believed to by someone to be a hoax.)
According to Wiki, Garrote was "an American horror fiction author. He was nominated for three Bram Stoker Awards. His novels included A Roller-Coaster Ride Thru Hell, Shoki, and the House trilogy. He was the creator and host of the short-lived Rex Garrote's Ghost World television series (1993- 1994).
"...Garrote died of self-immolation on March 11, 1999, in his Seattle home at the age of 58. [Although I think he would have been 57, wouldn't he??]
"...In 2019, Garrote's dream of opening a horror-themed amusement park was finally realized with the announcement of Ghostland in Duck Falls, Maryland."
So why does no one else - aside from the creator of this wiki page - remember him? That's a lot of stuff to just vanish down the memory hole, isn't it? Multiple novels? Stoker nominations? A TV series?
Is it possible to erase a human being from existence?
And what is this Ghostland place?
Rest assured, I'll be following this all the way down the rabbit hole, now that I've found the trail again! As soon as I find anything new, I'll post an update here.
Until then, keep watching for signs. I'm worried there might be a lot more to this thing than I first thought...
Update: Somebody found the book!
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