Umbrellas All the Way Down
Smile: it’s the end of the world!
Eldritch comedy-horror amalgamation; Midwestern gothic if it wasn’t the Midwest. Rocky Mountain gothic? Man, I dunno, I just work here.
The story thus far:
Larger holes in reality, dubbed "dead zones", are beginning to crop up around Earth and some other dimensions, bringing monsters and hungry Lovecraftian beings with them. To everyone's annoyance, some of these dead zones are enveloping entire towns and many appear to be growing in size. Governments are stringing up "Do Not Enter" tape around them and running away. Some particularly pessimistic scientists hypothesize that the fabric of reality is wearing down to nothing and soon all dimensions will collapse into each other, leaving everyone in a nonsensical hellscape as eldritch horrors fight for dominance in this absolute dimension. Other scientists encourage citizens to walk into these exciting, likely lethal new additions to the multiverse as we know it, "just to see what happens".
The story follows Quill, a weird little kid who decides her only way she can escape the boredom of her life is to pester a detective who's just moved in to give her a job. Together they begin investigating the disappearances, the murders, the horrific eldritch abominations slowly creeping further and further in and wearing down the town's very foundations, and also probably sometimes some guy who suspects their spouse is cheating on them or whatever.
Quill Cardenas: The main character. Has a bad habit of befriending entities that are trying to kill her.
Anthony Croce: Founder of Cross and Co., PI. Has the air of a slightly mad scientist about him, but he is actually, in fact, a slightly mad detective.
Dallas Dame: A grim reaper out to steal Anthony's soul. Or his heart. Whichever.
Jacques Device: A man(?) who seeks out Quill insisting that she's going to end the world. He answers the terrifying hypothetical, "what if the French were even worse?"*
Felix Fairbanks: The most beloved (only) host of Helston's most beloved (only) local channel, Channel 01. Talks to residents about the latest gossip directly through their televisions and can report on things almost as they happen.
Azazel: A reoccurring "hallucination" of Quill's.
Same as in the real world, but supernatural phenomena are generally recognized as such.
There are lots and lots of religions and cults out there with different beliefs as to the answer to that. The majority of people believe in the Big Bang, but it's not the dominant belief by much. No one really knows, and I'm sure as hell not going to pretend I do just because I created the thing.
...However, I can tell you that the multiverse rests in the mouth of a very large snake. If you know and are willing to divulge any information regarding how this snake got there or the color of the snake, I would be much obliged.
Psssh, you're trying to tell me that different realities have to exist on completely separate layers? With the super thin, shitty fabric that reality is made of in this universe, dimensions can bleed into each other, and interdimensional travel has never been easier! (Though it is not always or even usually intentional.) Just try to avoid falling into any reaching eldritch horrors while you're at it.
The fabric of reality is regarded as a scientific law like gravity or any other physics, albeit a scientific law with really, really stupid rules. Even in modern times it has proven difficult to research.
Scientists will show you a thousand different complex charts of how different dimensions can overlap to different effects, rant to you for hours about how some dimensions have different laws of physics, would you stop calling it magic -- and yeah, they're right. But for all intents and purposes: fuck it, it's magic. I don't want to say "science that we can't comprehend with our puny non-scientist minds" every time. That'd get old fast.
Nothing in the story is actually called "magic" the same way weird creatures in horror stories probably wouldn't be called magical.
Pretty much parallel to the real earth's technological level, although I have elected to make it purposefully unclear as to what year it's supposed to be. Does the detective own a flip phone because he's just Like That or are smartphones not a thing yet? Why does the social media look suspiciously like MySpace? Fuck if I know
The United Nations is attempting to implement stricter regulations regarding interdimensional travel. However, considering that once someone is in another dimension they are completely out of their government's control, and that people accidentally end up in other realities all the time, among infinite other complications, it has proven very difficult to enforce any of these new rules or to criminally charge anyone who breaks them.
Many governments such as the USA's are repeatedly trying to gain more control over the fabric of reality and enforcing regulations on it. The fabric of reality is, of course, a law of physics like any other, and so they are also repeatedly failing. Can you imagine if your government was constantly trying to get the upper hand on gravity?
Ever heard of the London Necropolis Railway? It was a railway line that started operating in 1854, for the sole purpose of carrying corpses and mourners from the city to a cemetery over thirty kilometers away. In our world, the railway closed in 1941, but in this universe necropolis railways never fell out of fashion due to the discovery of the Void, and in fact became hugely popular across the world. There are hardly any small, accessible graveyards, certainly none erected after the 1800s; only giant cities of the dead that you can get to by traveling to the Void by train.
(Check out Jacques Device’s History section if you feel like reading an even bigger info dump about the Void and necropoles! An article on this universe’s general beliefs and superstitions regarding the dead and how that shaped their use of the Void for cemeteries probably coming soon.)
There's a whole subculture dedicated to finding places where reality is especially thin and exploring them, similar to urban explorers in our world.
Our protagonists live specifically in Helston, Colorado, at turns bitterly and lovingly referred to as "the Hellhole" by its residents (I would hope Colorado is real, considering I live there. Helston is not, at least to my knowledge). They travel to other dimensions, though--and sometimes even other towns!
A few clarifications:
Earth is the only dimension humans are found on and really the only dimension they can live on for long periods of time. There’s weird little creatures and eldritch horrors in abundance on other planes, but humans in this story are just as alone in the universe as we are.
Other dimensions and how they overlap are not mapped very well due to how difficult they are to study and consistently get into and out of. There are very few dimensions that have been well-studied enough to be confirmed to be entirely separate levels of existence and consistently the same. Because of the difficulty of study most research comes from the very few people out there who have become vessels to other entities and can tranverse them without going completely mad. The Void is the one which comes up most often in the story as Helston bleeds into it quite often and Jacques Device is one of the most famous vessels/scientists and has studied it in much detail.
Humans are aware that these eldritch beings and whatnot exist, but it is exceedingly difficult to research specific dimensions or entities. Because of the nature of eldritch concepts, other dimensions, and that sort of thing, there are a lot more cults and conspiracy theorists (or perhaps the same amount, but they're just more out in the open. Who can say?). Cults and conspiracies are much more widely accepted as beliefs in this earth.
Religions that are more widely accepted in the real world, such as Christianity, exist in pretty much the same form; though many think God must be some sort of eldritch being, they still generally regard it as they do here. No one's actually met it, so it's still a lot of speculation as it is in real life.
Music, especially Will Wood's, the Choir Vandals' and Jack Stauber's stuff; Neil Gaiman (mostly Good Omens and American Gods); Terry Pratchett; The Magnus Archives, Welcome to Night Vale, The Sheridan Tapes, and possibly every other fiction podcast you have or haven't ever heard of; lots of cartoons, but especially Gravity Falls and Mob Psycho 100; Scott Pilgrim
Umbrellas has a whole playlist! Wow! Here are some of the Greatest Hits™:
- "Elephant Bones" by That Handsome Devil (this song is where the page description comes from!)
- "Churches" by Flipturn
- "COUNT THOSE FREAKS" by Whitey
- "Suburbia Overture: Greetings from Mary Bell Township! / (Vampire) Culture / Love Me, Normally" by Will Wood
- "Dancing Devil" by Small Leaks Sink Ships
- "Spiderhead" by Cage the Elephant
- "Seventeen (Age)" by Mike Krol
- "First of the Gang to Die" by Morrissey (deepest apologies for the Morrissey jumpscare)
- "Surf Song" by Sean Henry
- "Pneumonia" by Me Like Bees
- 「脱法ロック」("Law-Evading Rock") by Neru
- 「カゲロウデイズ」("Heat Haze Days/Daze") by Jin
- "Pastels" by My Kid Brother
-"Blast Doors" by Everything Everything
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