Dear David

13 November 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

Before I start, read this. It’s a fairly long read, but worth it.

Have you definitely read it? Don’t carry on if not…I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Now, we’re up to speed.

Hopefully you didn’t go through that by candle light while in bed late at night as I did (a short term, no lamp option, which eventually became permanent).

If you did though, I probably should’ve warned you against it, because if your experience of reading those tweets was anything like mine, then you felt a growing tingle of hair raising unease that culminated in a thrill of real horror. Something which, in my case, wasn’t helped by an unexplained noise emanating from our kitchen at the story’s disturbing climax.

Much of it I found genuinely chilling.

I first came across the tweets a couple of months ago when the story was in its relative infancy. But stumbling across it again over the weekend, the tale had grown in the telling. And it had grown far more sinister.

Could Dear David truly be a malevolent spirit bent on murder?

The tweeter of the tale, Adam Ellis, had me going along with it at first. The style of the telling; a few tweets here and there outlining a series of relatively mundane, but certainly odd occurrences, before ratcheting up the tension and suspense over the course of several weeks to reach its disquieting zenith seemed too haphazard and irregular to be fiction.

Admittedly, I wasn’t entirely hooked. The narrative seemed a tad too clean for my liking, which served to arouse my suspicions. But despite this reservation, it was so convincingly told that I found myself wanting to believe the story, even if the brief explanations the narrator dropped in for certain scenarios seemed a little too convenient:

“(I have sleep paralysis, it sucks).”

“I bought a polaroid camera because they’re fun and dorky. Decided to take a few photos.”

“I have air con and like to keep it chilly.”

“Could’ve been a fly, but honestly, I never get flies.”

“Don’t really want strangers in my house sensationalising what’s going on.”

Taken on their own, they’re insignificant, but there just seemed to be too many expedient justifications casually slipped into the narrative. Having used a very similar polaroid at my wedding recently, for example, photos that develop purely black are quite common, while it’s easy to turn the hall light off and claim it was on. Also, who doesn’t have flies?!

Despite misgivings towards its authenticity, it was still enthralling and there was a definite sense that perhaps, perhaps this was true. Maybe, just maybe, these occurrences were of supernatural origin?

I’d almost convinced myself to believe Adam’s account.

Until the pictures at the end.

At first I felt spine tingling horror at the sight of a seemingly demonic child with a caved in skull, but this was then followed by a snort of laughter as I realised it was all an elaborate hoax.

A masterful and marvellous telling admittedly, but undoubtedly a stunt of some description. To what end remains to be seen, but given the fact Adam describes himself as ‘a comic boy’ you can guess where it’s going.

Tip of the cap to you, Adam Ellis, because you’ve played a blinder here, pulling in social followers by the thousand and generating coverage and interest worldwide. However, there’s no way I’m prepared to believe you got the holy grail of ghost hunters – actual footage of a ghost – while sleeping.

Looking back over it, there’s definitely a storyboard feel to it, where each point has been mapped out (hence the small justifications dropped in). But it’s been done brilliantly, with the lengthy gaps in the telling giving it an air of authenticity that’s helped to rope in the sceptical.

It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here, but unless Adam Ellis dies in circumstances too bizarre for even Jonathan Creek to decipher, then my fear of Dear David has been well and truly dispelled. An excellent job all the same though, and major kudos to whoever’s behind the long game. I’ll be looking forward to the final reveal.