This is a Choose Your Outcome Novel done over the 13 nights leading up to Halloween. If you're reading this as it's happening, then be sure to vote for the choices you want made. If not, enjoy the story! Here's how it works:
It will run from October 19th – October 31st (13 days of Halloween). Every night I put up the newest chapter, along with a poll for you to make your decisions. Polls close at Noon CST on the following day, so I can write the next installment. Post goes up at night, rinse, lather, repeat.
There will be Dead Ends, choices you make that get your character killed. If people pick one then I’ll give you the Dead End, then redirect you to the other choice that didn’t kill you, because I think we all cheated at those books as kids and I see no reason to change that. However, if you all can get to the Halloween without a single Dead End, I’ll post a special bonus story or chapter as a prize.
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You can’t believe this horseshit. For once, for one fucking year, you were prepared in advance. You did early shopping and picked something fun, recognizable, yet unique. It was all lined up, and at tonight’s Halloween party you were going to be the center of attention. People would bring you beers, laugh at your costume, and you’d have your pick of who to bring home. It was all perfect.
Until Jim, your roommate, came home wasted in the middle of the night and turned your costume into a bong. You’re still not even sure how it worked, really, there was nothing remotely bong-like in the original materials. Still, when you walked out this morning, your Steampunk Darkwing Duck costume was now unquestionably a bong. It was also in no shape to be worn, unfortunately.
That was why you’re walking down a windy sidewalk in the crisp fall air on Halloween day, trying desperately to find something passable for tonight’s party. Not just any party either, The Halloween Hell-House Hauntstavaganza. The revelry itself was going to be awesome, great food, free beer and liquor, hot bodies as far as the eye could see. In the three years it had been getting thrown by some unknown patron, it had risen past all the local clubs and frats for the “must attend” party of the year. However, the mysterious owner of the mansion where it was held took Halloween super-seriously. Bouncers at the door had been known to turn away people who they felt hadn’t put in appropriate effort on their costume. Trying to get in without one was like trying to make reading James Joyce enjoyable. It couldn’t be done.
Perhaps that’s why all the stores were looted to the bones. You’ve checked every shop in the area and seen little more than a wizard’s hat, a barbarian’s plastic axe, and one child-size Little Bo-Peep outfit. You contemplated the Bo-Peep option longer than you’re proud of. You did, however, grab the hat and axe, because at this point you’re grasping at straws.
A rogue stone juts out from the sidewalk, but in your costume-less funk you don’t notice it. The stone snags your foot and nearly sends you tumbling to the ground. With more grace than you’d have believed yourself capable of mustering, you catch yourself at the last moment. As you recover your bearings, you notice a spooky shop across the street. It’s made of aged, dark wood and has spider-webs obscuring most of the windows. In gold filigree writing across the front door are the words “Transient Collectables.” You’re almost positive it used to be a Blockbuster, so it sort of makes sense something else bought the space. With a half-hearted shrug you head toward the shop, because even if its not exactly a Halloween store, you still bet you can find some good stuff.
A small bell tinkles overhead as you step in. It smells like an old keg line, musty and with a strange scent of yeast mixed in. All along the shelves are various knick-knacks. A set of golden rings that seems to glow softly in the light, a fake dragon’s skull almost as long as a cat, containers with colored liquids and signs in a language you can’t read. It’s Latin, by the way, and you took that as a class freshman year, but showing up day-drunk didn’t exactly precipitate a healthy learning environment.
“What do you want?” The words come from an old woman manning a counter near the back. Wrinkles skin, slightly hunched- you know what? I think you know what an old woman running a shop like this is supposed to look like. Dragging it out just feels mean, so we’ll skip ahead.
“I was looking for a costume,” you reply.
The woman snorts, a phlegmy sound that makes you wish you had some Purell on you, despite the distance. “I don’t trade in costumes. I deal in authentic wears only.”
“Costume can be authentic,” you point out. “That makes them even better. You can pass as totally different person, if they’re good enough.”
The old woman gives you a long stare, then motions you to come forward. As you move through the store, it feels like some of the sculptures along the higher shelves are watching you, subtly shifting to take in your changing location. Arriving on the register, you notice it is set on top of a glass display case with frosted glass, which you feel defeats the purpose of a display case.
“So, you want to be something other than what you are?”
“Well, yeah. It’s Halloween. Being just you is pretty lame.”
“Being yourself would be the rarest costume of all, for most,” the woman informs you. “I am a business woman, however, so I’m always up to make a sale.” You see her bend down and reach into her frosted display case. She emerges with a small jar holding a few tablespoons of golden powder. Yes, you can eyeball tablespoons. You do a lot of your own cooking, want to make something of it? Thought not.
“This will do the trick,” she says.
“It’s gold powder,” you point out.
“It’s something that will really transform you,” she counters. “And you can’t beat the price.”
“No, dear one, nothing in this world is free. For this, shall we say the cost is a dream? Due at the end of Halloween night. But, because I’m sporting, it can be a dream fulfilled or a dream forsaken. That’s up to you.”
You’re pretty certain this lady is campaigning for re-election as mayor of Crazy Town. But, you’re in her store and this state had pretty lax gun control laws, so better to be polite until you know what’s up.
“Sounds like a great deal,” you say.
The old woman sticks out her hand, and you take it, giving it firm shake as generations of societal rules have instructed you to do. As you grasp her hand, you feel a strange tingle in your stomach. It might be a light swirl of magic, or maybe you need to hit the crapper. Either way, better wrap this up quick.
“Now then, I’ll just sprinkle this on one of your toys, and you should be set,” she tells you as you break the handshake. Her fingers point to you bag containing the wizard hat and plastic barbarian axe.
You hand her the wizard hat