Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 1

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.

Happy Haunting!

*              *              *

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 

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 2

Still uncertain why you’re playing along with this, you dig into the plastic bag and pull out the wizard hat. You hand it over reluctantly, aware that if she does something weird you’re already shitty costume is going to get fifty percent shittier. Her gnarled fingers clutch the costume hat, and she sets it on the top of the display case.

With more care than you expected, the old woman scoops the last of the gold powder from the jar and sprinkles it on top of the wizard hat. As it falls, a strange ripple courses through the air, like looking down a highway on a hot summer day. Then, as suddenly as it started, the air shimmer is gone and she’s handed you back your property.

“Just remember, like all magic of Halloween, it starts and ends with the night,” she warns as you stow the wizard hat back in the plastic bag. “And don’t forget, fulfilled or forsaken, you owe me a dream by All Saints dawn.”

“Oh yeah, totes,” you agree, scrambling toward the exit with as much subtly as you can muster. It isn’t a lot. The old woman makes no move to stop you, though if you can still feel the statues’ stares from the higher shelves as you push open the door. Sprinting back into the street, you find the grey daylight calms your nerves and you wonder what you were feeling so weirded out about.

You don’t turn back, however. Instead you start jogging through the cold air toward home. Even among the starkly lit signs of reality, you can still feel those stares lingering on your skin. It’s a sensation that won’t fade until you’re back in your apartment and have had a long, hot, shower.

*              *              *

A few hours later, after time to let the ooginess of the shop fade away, finds you somewhat more optimistic about your costume. Digging through your closest for hours allowed you to find some old costume remnants from Halloween’s gone by, which have been sheared and repurposed to compliment your wizard hat. Though you might have gone with the axe if possible, just to avoid thinking about that afternoon’s experience, your materials didn’t lend themselves to a barbarian costume.

They did, thankfully, let you create a passable wizard outfit. You took a blue Snuggie and wore it like a robe, added some silver star stickers to match the pattern on the hat, and found an old rainstick of Jim’s to serve as a staff. It no longer makes the rain sound, though, because two years ago Jim tried to turn it into a bong. Jim might have a problem, but you aren’t going to worry about that tonight.

Admiring yourself in the apartment’s bathroom mirror, you feel like this might just work. Yes, the bulk of your outfit was haphazardly assembled and it shows, but the culmination of everything sort of works together. The hat is definitely the stand-out component. In the store it looked like cheap molded felt with a few garnish stars sewn on. Atop your head, it seems authentic and regal, the stars almost glowing at the edges. You surmise the lighting at the costume store was shitty. You are kind of slow on the uptake.

“Hey, hurry up!” Jim yells, pounding on the door. “I want to get going soon, but I gotta piss. That’s like a five minute procedure in this thing.” Even with the bathroom door closed, you know Jim is dressed like Bowser from Mario Brothers, and that he’s going to use the “want to see my castle” line all night long.

“I’m almost done! What time is it?” You want to snip a few loose threads if there’s time, though at this point such actions are the equivalent of getting a paintjob for an El Camino.

“Fuck man, you know I can’t read digital,” Jim yells back. “The sun is pretty much down though, so maybe seven or eight?”

You’re contemplating how little sense that statement made, when suddenly your entire body seizes up. It’s like the time you drunkenly tried to fix the television, you feel as though your whole body is being ripped apart by electricity. Your bones seem to be stretching and contracting simultaneously, while you vision has completely dissolved into static. There’s no way to tell how long the attack lasts, only that it ends when you pass out in a crumpled heap.

A minute later you awaken and pull yourself up from the floor. Since you use the bathroom counter to do this, you are immediately struck by the sight of yourself in the mirror. Gone is the shitty Snuggie and stars, in their place is a vast, complex robe so dark it seems like someone dipped it in midnight. As you stare into the fabric’s depths, you think you can make out tiny stars swirling about, like dust motes, scattering away when you try and focus on them. The staff is no longer a rainstick-would-be-bong. Now it has become a long length of gnarled wood, with various symbols etched into its wood. Your eyes have changed too, they’re glowing with an unearthly blue light, which matches the sparks of energy intermittently leaping between your fingers.

“Jim, did you put acid in the coffee today?”

“Nah man. I learned my lesson. Wait, did you use creamer?”


“Then you should be fine,” Jim yells back. “Why, something up?”

“I… I’m not sure.” You finish pulling yourself up and stare at the reflection. Carefully, you pull the hat from your head, tensing for another burst of electric seizure. Nothing happens. You check your head for lacerations or bruises, and, finding nothing, must conclude that you are not experiencing a head trauma induced hallucination. No, it just seems like you’ve turned into a wizard.

Taking a deep breathe, you steel yourself. Right now, this is weird and all, but it’s just a costume. It’s not like you actually got powers. Energy sparks off your hands again, right on cue. One spark hits your toothbrush and causes it to levitate off the counter.

Okay, so shit might be a bit more than cosmetic. There’s only one way to see for sure, you’re going to have to try a spell. On the counter is an empty plastic cup that you’d previously had filled with pre-game beer. Next to it is a creepy ceramic frog figurine Jim made in one of his art classes. Refilling cups and animating the inanimate both seem like pretty like standard wizard fare. Time to stop stalling and give one a whirl.


You decide to conjure beer

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 3

Staring into the recently emptied plastic cup, you narrow your eyes slightly as your focus intensifies. The crackling blue at your fingers sparks more rapidly, as if it knows it’s about to be used. You lick your lips, and reach within your memory to find magic words which can be used to alter the very laws of reality.

“Ummm. Fucking Magic!”

Fucking Magic? Really? Not Alakazam or Abracadabra or even Presto? You watched Lord of The Rings last damn week so… you know what, fuck it. Just fuck it. It is what it is and we’re moving on.

Blue lightning leaps from your palm, striking the red cup and engulfing it in a blinding white glow. When the light fades, you tentatively peer at your work. Sure enough, the cup is now filled to the brim with pale brown beer. You carefully pick it up and take a test sip. It’s good, cold and carbonated like it just came from a keg. You’re so impressed with yourself that you’re less careful putting it down, and the cup tumbles onto its side.

Beer gushes out of it, landing on the floor by the toilet. And it keeps gushing. The cup is sending a never-ending flow of alcohol onto the floor, and within moments the whole place is going to be a sticky mess while you sand there staring like a schmuck. Finally you snap into motion when the expanding beer puddle hits your right shoe. You grab the cup and turn it onto its base. It’s filled to the brim, but no longer overflowing. You stand over the toilet and delicately tilt the cup, spilling alcohol into the open porcelain bowl. Under normal circumstances this would, of course, be sacrilege, but normal seems to have gone out for cigarettes and who knows when it will ever come back.

With some experimentation you learn that the further you tip the cup, the more forcefully the beer comes out. When flipped all the way over, it shoots out like there’s a firehouse blasting it. While a never-ending beer cup is pretty sweet, this wasn’t the spell you tried to cast. It occurs to you that maybe you should be careful with you magic, since it seems you don’t quite have perfect control yet. Big shock, Mr. “Fucking Magic.”

“Dude!” Jim yells, pounding on the door again and nearly making you drop the beer. “I. Need. To. Piss. Unless you’ve been hit with a magic spell and transformed into your costume, there is no excuse for taking this long.”

You stare at the door for several seconds, then let out an exaggerated sigh and reach for the knob.


*              *              *

You and Jim are sitting in your living room as you finish explaining the events of the afternoon. Jim has put in a serious effort to see the bottom of that magic cup, however so far it has come to no avail. He is straddling a bar stool so as not to ruffle his Bowser costume. Your wizard garb seems to be immune to things like wrinkling, so you are far less concerned.

“So that’s the jist,” you surmise. “Looks like I’m a wizard tonight. Anyway, want to hit the party?”

“Oh hells yeah, but I think you’re overlooking something,” Jim replies. “You said the lady told you the price of your costume was a dream fulfilled or a dream forsaken, right?”

“Yeah, whatever that means.”

Jim shakes his head. “It means that lady is going to take a dream away from you come sunrise.”

“What? How can she do that?”

“Asks the guy who made a never-ending beer cup,” Jim shoots back, punctuating his words with a hearty gulp from the aforementioned container.

“Well shit. I guess it’s not so bad, though. What’s one dream?”

“Sort of depends on the dream,” Jim counters. “I bet you wanted to get hitched one day. Or have kids. Or live past thirty.”

“Fuck,” you say, realization finally setting in.

“Exactly. So it seems like we should go after the other option.”

“There’s another option?”

Jim rolls his eyes at you. “Bro, you act like you’ve never seen The Little Mermaid. She laid it on the table for you. If you make one of your dreams come true, then that counts as payment. Fulfilled or forsaken. Pretty standard magical bargain, really.”

Part of you wonders why Jim is taking this so rationally, then you realize he’s probably so high he thinks he’s midway through a weird hallucination. Oddly, that shit is right in Jim’s wheelhouse, so it sounds like you might want to take his advice.

“So, I have to make a dream come true by sunrise? I still feel like I’m pretty well-fucked.”

“You do have magical powers,” Jim reminds you.

“Oh yeah, that might help. So what dream should I go for?”

“You’ve been trying to break one of your older brother’s records for a long-time now. I’d say pulling that off would count as a dream fulfilled,” Jim suggests.

Ah, your brother, Thad. Older than you, better looking than you, and way more charismatic than you, he’s been a walking legend since he was crawling. Aside from his incredible skills on the football field, which you have zero percent chance of replicating, he was also known as the hardest partier your college ever saw. His frat still has a board full of records he set, from the most dates in a night to longest kegstand to fastest beer drinking. That last one, by the way, he earned while leading your college to victory in the Intermural Beer Olympics. Beating even one of his vaulted accomplishments would definitely give you a warm glow of satisfaction.

“Not bad,” you agree. “But even with magic, that could be tough. What about something I’m actually good at? I’ve wanted to take the plunge on my cooking skills, and tonight there’s a Halloween fair with a pie contest.” Yeah, remember on page one when you eyeballed the teaspoons of gold powder? Told you that you cooked.

“Dude, you want to skip the party of the year and try to win a pie contest? My new dream will be punching you in the face if we do that,” Jim informs you.

“Fine, you’re so smart then what’s another good one?”

“Victoria Dempsy,” he says, giggling to himself as your face immediately flushes red. Victoria Dempsy went to the same high school as you, and like every other straight male in attendance you were more than somewhat aware of her beauty. It was a happy surprise when you saw her in a class freshman year and realized you’d picked the same college. It was a less happy surprise when you remembered she didn’t even know your name. She is definitely a dream, in more contexts than one.

“I don’t know what you mean,” you lie terribly.

“Uh huh. I’m not saying you gotta close the deal or anything, but a kiss or a date would probably be more than you ever thought possible. Knock either of those out and I bet you’re set. But whatever you decide to do, we better get moving. Only so much night to work with.”

Jim’s right, you need to pick a course of action. Time to try and make a dream come true.

You decide to try and find Victoria

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 4

“I’m going to try and get somewhere with Victoria,” you declare after a few moment’s consideration. “Winning the pie-contest wouldn’t really be proving my talents if I used magic to do it, and I’ve got a feeling that what mystical force has protected Thad’s records probably didn’t take Halloween off. Talking to a girl, that much I should actually be able to pull off.”

“Kick ass,” Jim declares, rising from his stool. “That means we still get to hit the party.” He takes another giant swig from the cup of infinite booze. By your count he’s probably drained the equivalent of five or six regular ones. Looks like you’re driving, yet again. “Before we go, you want to try and magic my costume into being cooler?”

“No way,” you immediately reply. “I’m still getting the hang of this, the last thing I need is to turn you into a real video game villain.”

“That sounds awesome as hell,” Jim sighs, but he lets the matter drop. Together the two of you load up into Jim’s Jeep and drive off into the night.

*              *              *

“Holy shit,” you say, gazing around you. In the span of the year since the last party, your mind has managed to wash away the spectacle and detail of the mansion that houses the Hauntstravaganza. The mansion where it’s held is normally inaccessible, locked behind a massive gate and surrounded by dense forest. Now, having just parked and admiring the scenery, you are truly struck with a sense of wonder. Seeing as you got turned into a wizard less than an hour ago, that is certainly saying something.

The place is massive, looks like four stories tall and who knows how wide. The architecture is gothic and the veneer painted grey-black. It’s surrounded by rough grass, and a thick fog is hovering mere inches from the ground. In the rear, you can make out a small graveyard with bone-white marker’s protruding up, like a skeleton’s abandoned teeth. Just above the chimney sits a full moon, swollen and orange as it gazes down upon you. That part is especially weird, because you saw the moon driving over and it was at quarter-crescent.

Of course, the spectacle is made somewhat less realistic by the multitude of cars parked around you, and the long line waiting for entrance. You and Jim hustle through the crowd and take a place waiting for entry. He has brought the infinite beer cup, though why he is bringing beer into an open bar party is beyond your comprehension.

The two of you admire the costumes surrounding you, noting that many are quite spectacular, as good as, if not better than, your magically crafted one. Up ahead is a knight in full-plate, gleaming silver in the moonlight as they grip their sword and shield. A witch cackles at the front, hideous features and shriveled body hopping through the entrance. A muscular man who reminds you of a video game character you can’t quite place is wearing a gi and red headband, flexing without an audience to show off his sculpted body. A small cluster of people are dressed like Power Rangers, complete with oversized helmets. You shake your head at the last group. Rookie mistake, never wear a head covering to a drinking party. They’ll be popping those bad boys off all night, every time they want a sip.

The line moves surprisingly quickly, the muscular bouncers at the door admitting or rejecting people in mere seconds. You don’t know what the criteria for entry is, however you’re really glad you didn’t end up having to do the hodgepodge outfit you originally wore. From the look of some of the costumes getting turned away, you’re not certain it would have flown.

At last, you and Jim reach the front. The large man with dark hair and sunken eyes looks you up and down critically.

“Wizard and Bowser. Good. Both can come in,” he tells you. “Bar is first floor, dance hall is second floor, haunted maze is third floor. Fourth floor will get unlocked later this evening.” With that, he has shoved you through the door and turned his attention to the next people in line.

The house’s inside matches the exterior’s decor. Spooky sculptures, ancient paintings, dust and cobwebs in every corner you see. Part of you wonders if the owner lives like this year round, or if they only redecorate for Halloween. Either option seems like a lot of work.

You also notice that, despite the insane amount of cars outside and people you saw coming in before you, the place isn’t packed. There are ample folks you can see, however you expected it to be like a bar on St. Patrick’s day, a massive crush of bodies from the moment you walk in. Instead, there is room to walk around, and the overall noise is low enough that you can even see people talking without yelling. To accommodate so many people so easily, this mansion must be even bigger than you realized. True, you should have remembered this from earlier years, however your memory of those occasions is… let’s be polite and say “spotty.”

A few feet from the front foyer is a sign that looks like an abandoned road post. The marker pointing to the left says “Bar”, and the ones sticking right toward the stairs say “Dance” and “Maze.” The bar area you can actually see, it’s through an archway and filled with dozens of people, all accessing one of the bountiful kegs or availing themselves to the services of one of the bartenders dressed like reanimated corpses. The other two areas are a bit more a mystery. You kind of recall the dance hall being like a massive club and also having refreshment areas, but as far as the maze goes your memory is vodka soaked blank.

“Okay Wizard-boy, what’s the plan?” Jim asks. “Step one is finding is actually finding the girl, where do you think she is?”

That’s a good question. Victoria loves booze, dancing, and haunted amusements enough to be enjoying any one of the three activities. You know this only because she headed up a Halloween Dance committee in high school, actively promoting it to make sure it had a good turnout. It’s pretty much a toss-up, so better to just pick one and get started.


You go to the 2nd Floor

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 5

Spell or no spell, you came here to party. The night is young, and if you know anything about Victoria then she’s probably in the dance hall anyway. With a nod to Jim, the two of you head up the dusty, creaking staircase, ascending to the second floor. When you arrive, all that greets you is a turnaround to go up to the haunted maze, another sign post, and a pair of enormous black doors. Seriously, these things are taller than the ceiling in your apartment. You’re a bit skeptical as you reach for the handle, but if strength fails you’ve got magic in your back pocket. A door-opening spell is something even you might not manage to fuck up. The concern proves to be unwarranted, as with a nearly effortless push, the door slides open, revealing the overwhelming spectacle of revelry inside.

The room is filled with bodies, dozens if not hundreds. It should be slammed wall to wall, yet the room is so gigantic that there’s space for everyone. A zombie bartender is positioned at each corner of the room, and clustered around their stations are some chairs and tables. The actual dance area is marked off by large statues in each edge of the floor. Though roughly the same size, each is unique in its appearance. They are Halloween icons: a skeleton, a werewolf, a witch, and a vampire, all carved from some black stone and possessing incredible detail.

Through the hall can be heard a haunting music, a strange sound collection that has never graced your ears before. It calls up images of desolate moors, empty graveyards, and shadows under the bed. Plus the bass in it is sick, so you can totally get down to it. The room is filled with a thin fog, more to give depths to the beams of flashing colored light that seem to have synced with the music. Overall, it’s a pretty sweet set-up.

Jim and you wade onto the dance floor, shaking your groove things conservatively to get warmed up. As you move through the massive area, you’re again struck by the amazing array of costumes that have been accumulated here. A seven-foot tall Frankenstein is being grinded against by a fairy that seems to actually be glowing. There are several girls dressed in period-perfect Victorian ball gowns, all enacting a complicated dance routine together. One fellow is dressed like Superman, and he’s got it down to the dimpled chin and coiffed hair. He seems to have just finished rejecting the ugly witch you saw at the door, laughing with a cruel apathy that you’re certain the real Superman would never indulge in. As she trudges away, Not-Superman floats off the dance floor and quickly flies to the nearest bar station.

You blink in surprise. Did… did that just happen?

“Hey, take this,” Jim says, handing you the cup.


“I think I need to slow down. I swear I just saw a dude dressed like a like a Frankenstein take off his head and adjust his neck bolts. I usually don’t see that kind of shit until one in the morning.”

By the time you turn to look, Frankenstein and his fairy are dancing as normal. Your mind wants to focus on what he said and what you just saw, unfortunately in the act of turning to check Jim’s story you caught sight of something that ranks a much higher priority. Through the thick crowd and thin smoke, you spot Victoria Dempsy.

She’s dressed as a cheerleader, which is actually a little funny since she never went out for the team in high school. Still, you’d know that long, blue-black hair and set of sparkling hazel eyes anywhere. Of course, just as much as her signature beauty, she is also easily identified by her constant throng of admirers. Two cowboys, a monk, and the muscular guy in the karate get up are dancing around her, each trying to jockey into a better position than the others. You knew this was coming, but it’s still a bit disheartening to see.

With a stiff draw from the infinite beer cup to bolster your courage, you begin dancing your way across the floor, moving in her direction. For a moment you’re tempted to try and use some magic to make her look your way, however between the lighting, noise, and costumed spectacles, you aren’t certain summoning Godzilla would get her to glance over. At least, not until you’ve made it somewhat closer.

In the process of trying to dance, move, and hold the cup steady, you forget that you’re wearing long wizards robes instead of your normal pants. This catches up to you in one unfortunate moment of clumsiness, as your foot catches the hem of your robe and you trip forward. Thankfully, you manage to stop yourself before going to the floor. Unluckily, you’re panicked flailing about sent beer sloshing at high velocity all over another nearby dancer. By the time you’re re-oriented, you are in the crosshairs of one very wet knight.

He shines in the flashing lights, covered from head to toe in gleaming silver armor. As you watch, the beer slides off the surface of his costume, as though he’d dipped the whole thing in Rainex. You’re still admiring the liquid repelling nature of his outfit when he pulls his sword out from the sheath on his hip. In the same motion he readies a shield, and now you’re staring at a rapidly drying knight who looks like he’s ready to kick some ass.

“Whoa, man, it was an accident.”

“Wizard,” he declares, his voice echoing slightly from within the armored helm. “I need little provocation to detest your kind. I shall have satisfaction.” To illustrate his point, he swings his blade once, leaving a small slice in the floor with almost no effort.

“Holy shit, that thing’s real?” You are less than eloquent in times of panic.

As you make frantic gestures, a few sparks fly from your hand and strike his shield. Rather than having any funny effect on it, they immediately fizzle out, like freshly poured soda bubbles. He takes this as an act of aggression and begins to advance.

Looks as though you need to defend yourself, and quick. Since it seems like his shield messes with your magic, which makes no sense to you in the moment but you’re kind of just taking shit as it comes, that means you’re best bet is to get something to do your fighting for you. Nearby you can see two of the large statues flanking the dance floor’s edges: the skeleton and the werewolf. You wish you’d gotten some animation practice by making the frog hop, however now is not the time for regret. You need to choose one and sling some magic. Fast.


You animate the skeleton


Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 6

“Fucking Magic!” Your triumphant and idiotic evocation (Again, huh? Again with that shit?) echoes against the bodies around you, as you point your free hand toward the statue of the skeleton and blinding light fires from your palm.

The emaciated figure suddenly springs to life, pulling itself up from the hunch to a proper standing position, and striding purposely across the dance floor. Many of the dancers watch in wonder, but even more seem to be ignoring it in favor of having their own fun. Kids today.

The skeleton arrives, standing pointedly between the two of you, and gives you a hollow-eyed glance. “Well?” it asks, after a few moments of waiting. Its voice is deep, melodic, and surprisingly pleasant.

“Attack him!” You commence pointing to the knight so rapidly that beer is sloshing from your cup.

“I see no reason to do such a thing,” the skeleton replies. “This is all nothing more than a simple misunderstanding.” He turns to the knight, who has his blade at the ready. “Good knight, the conjurer did not mean to douse you, he is merely a clumsy oaf. Such risks, as you certainly know, come with being on a bustling dance floor filled with open containers. Please accept his apology.”

The knight gives a small nod, though in no way makes a move to lower his blade. The skeleton turns back to you.

“Go ahead.”

“Go ahead and what?”

“Apologize.” You’re not sure how he can sound so forceful yet bored, especially without a tongue. Or lips. Or vocal chords. Maybe you should just let this one go.

“Oh, right! I’m sorry I spilled my beer on you. It was accident, and I sincerely apologize.”

“Well done,” the skeleton says. “Now, I think that should sufficiently resolve this conflict. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to my post. However, good knight, should you get any ideas later in the evening, perhaps after a few drinks of your own, about coming back to settle the score, you should know one thing.” The skeleton leans in toward the knight, its skull seeming to splits at the corners of its mouth as a wide, horrifying grin spreads across the stone cheeks. “I will still be watching. I consider the disregard of diplomacy very annoying. And I am far less pleasant when I’ve been annoyed.”

The last line comes out shrill, like fingers on a chalkboard except the chalkboard is your brain. You wince, shutting your eyes as if that will hinder the ringing lingering in your ears. By the time you open them, the skeleton is back in place and the knight has headed somewhere else. Around you, the dancing and revelry has resumed without missing a step, as though a giant walking statue were interesting enough only to watch, not discuss.

Jim ambles over to you and takes the cup from your grasp. “Maybe I better hang onto this after all.” He takes a long, deep gulp. “Okay, so I’m halfway to wasted, but does this seem weird to you? I mean, weirder than just normal Halloween shit?”

“A little bit,” you admit. “I just brought a damn statue to life, but no one cared. I mean, they thought it was neat, and that was it.”

“Hauntstravaganza is known for the insane details and over-the-top special effects,” Jim reminds you. “They probably thought it was animatronic. I was actually talking about the weird shit with the people around us. I mean, who lets a dude with a real sword into a party? And while you were fucking around, I swear I saw a girl dressed like a ghost actually float through people to get to a punch bowl. All these costumes are too damn real.”

That is when it finally hits you. You bought your costume on Halloween day, and since you put together Steampunk Darkwing Duck in August, you hadn’t gone looking for anything costume related. But the rest of the town had. Probably all of them had walked the same downtown street where the shops were clustered. How many had noticed the small shop where the Blockbuster used to be? How many had walked in and talked to the old woman? You’d gotten the last few tablespoons of golden powder from a mysterious jar. A big fucking jar. A big fucking jar that, at some point, was probably filled all the way up.

“Shit on a skillet,” you swear. “Jim, I think at least some of these people got the same magic as me. I’m not the only one here with costume powers.”

You hear a raspy chuckling from behind you. With a quick spin you find yourself face to face with the hideous witch woman that Not-Superman laughed at. She jerks her head forward a bit, sending her wart covered nose on a crash course with your face. When you jump back, she lets out a full-blown cackle of amusement.

“Aren’t you a dumb one,” she says, a few chuckles still bubbling from her throat. “Most of us figured that out within the first few minutes of being here.”

“Yeah, well…. you’re ugly!” This is not a proud moment for you, or your thin scraps of intelligence.

“Of course I am,” she agrees. “But I’m also rather intelligent. You, in contrast, seem somewhat inept, but have an astounding amount of power. It occurs to me that perhaps we could benefit from mutual assistance.”

“Aren’t you a witch? Why don’t you use your own magic?”

“Witches and wizards are different creatures,” she informs you. “While wizards are all show, flash, and quick magic, our image of witches largely evolved from the image of wise-old women who held company with unnatural forces. Their magic works slowly, though potions and ceremony and curses.”

“You know a shitload about witches,” Jim comments.

She gives him an icy stare. “I know a lot about several things, including the fact that the woman running the shop gave us all different prices we would have to pay. The knight, for instance, must defeat a worthy foe or be doomed to never succeed at any competition for the rest of his life.”

You glare at her suspiciously. “How do you know that?”

“Because people are drunk, and chatty, and no one pays me any particular mind if I’m nearby. Now, someone with a little juice would help me to paying my price, and I’m sure I can assist with whatever yours is. In fairness, we can even do yours first. If you’re not interested, however, I can find someone else. It’s up to you.”

You give Jim a glance, but he got bored after the witch part and is now watching two girls who came as dryads do some sort of slow, careful dance. He’s not going to be any help at all, so it’s your call.”

You decide to let her join

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 7

After a brief moment of consideration, you decide that since you’re pretty much stumbling around anyway, it might not be so bad to have another mind in the mix. Especially since Jim’s mind doesn’t qualify as fully-functional.

“I guess we can work together,” you agree. “As long as you’re serious about knocking mine out first.”

“A deal is a deal,” the old woman replies. “You may call me Circe, for this evening.”

“Weird name,” you comment.

“It’s from the Odyssey,” she informs you. “Given all the magic being tossed about, it seems prudent not to use our real names. Wizard and Bowser should work fine for speaking with you two.”

“Why does it matter if we use our names?”

Circe rolls her eyes at you. “Did you pick that costume at random, or don’t you know anything about magical lore? Names have power in the wrong hands, and with this many different supernatural costumed beings in one space, at least one set of hands is bound to be wrong.”

“Okay, okay. Code names it is,” you agree.

“Glad you’re on board. Now, moving on, what price came with your costume?”

“Dream fulfilled or dream forsaken,” you tell her. “So, I’m obviously trying to make one of my dreams come true before sunrise.”

“Not too bad,” Circe says. “Lots of wiggle room in that one. Should certainly be doable. Which dream are you currently aiming for?”

You spin around and point across the dance floor, where Victoria is still dancing with the steady stream of admiring gentlemen. “I’m trying to get a date, or something, with Victoria Dempsey. We went to school together and I’ve admired her for as long as I can remember. Seemed like a good dream to try and make headway on.”

Circe looks from you, to the girl, and back to you. It’s difficult to read her expression, mostly because staring at her face for too long is an unenjoyable prospect. All you know is that her eyes turn heavenward and she makes a few gestures into the sky. Not magical gestures, more like someone cursing another person out would make. When she finally speaks, her words are far easier to decode than her face.

“I suppose this is my own fault,” she mutters. “I knew I was throwing in with a fool when I made the offer. I’ll honor the bargain we struck and give you aid in reaching your goal, but here me well on this: another human being is not a dream. Dreams are things which revolve around what you can accomplish, what can be achieved despite all odds. People don’t fall into that category, because they independent entities, not achievements.”

“With all due respect, I’ll dream the way I see fit,” you snap back, a bit surprised at your own tenacity.

“I assumed that would be your answer,” she says. “Fine, if you want to catch the girl’s eye then you’ll need to be dazzling, without appearing as if you’re trying to approach her.”

“I can’t approach her?”

“She is actively dancing with four men while constantly inviting others to join,” Circe points out. “Thus, it is likely she enjoys the attention, to at least a certain extent. Go over there now and you become another suitor, pitted in a battle of charm and ego against those entrenched, as well as all new-comers. Are your social skills adept enough to handle that?”

“Well, no,” you admit. If they were, you likely would have tried to at least strike up a conversation long before now. “But I’ve got magic.”

“And they almost certainly have some costume powers as well,” Circe replies. “The choice of a battleground is almost as important as the battle itself. You need one where you can win.”

“Fine, I don’t approach,” you agree. “So what then?”

“You stand-out on your own, garner your own attention. Then you can approach her as an equal, not as one of her admirers.”

“Don’t suppose you have any suggest-”

“Attention, attendees of the Halloween Haunstravaganza!” This voice booms through the room, filling the ears of every attendee yet someone seeming to have spoken from right behind one’s ear. Immediately the music stops and the lights cease their rapid strobing. “Please welcome tonight’s host, Doctor Willowbrook.” With that, a single spotlight appears at the northern edge of the room, illuminating a platform you’re certain wasn’t there a few moments ago.

Atop the platform stands a tall man, wearing a long-tailed coat and a top hat. Despite the proper attire, he seems to be a cheery fellow. A wide grin runs between two rosy cheeks, and his eyes twinkle each time the light strikes them. He rubs his hands together in unabashed excitement, then begins to speak.

“My, my, so many guests at my party this year, and all with such wonderful costumes. I feel truly honored that you all came to my humble home for this celebration. In honor of the efforts you’ve put forth with creating your ensembles, I’ve decided to add an additional event to the night’s festivities.”

Another beam of light appears, this time shining right into the center of the dance floor. Somehow, in the time he’s been speaking, every person standing there has been shuffled about, so the perfect circle of light is falling only on empty space.

“I intend to throw a costume contest,” Doctor Willowbrook announces. “The likes of which I’m certain hasn’t been seen for centuries. I’ve even got a very special prize for the winner. Now, if you want to enter, all you have to do is step into the circle of light. Once we have our contestants, everyone is welcome to come to the fourth floor and watch.”

Not-Superman immediately leaps into the circle, as does Victoria’s karate-style admirer and the knight you spilled beer on. Victoria herself joins the spotlight only a few moments later. Several others begin filing in too, though significantly less than you’d expect for a simple costume contest. Then again, when you look at the light, an inexplicable sense of dread rises in your gut. This isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and a part of you already knows that.

You feel a sharp prod in your back, and turn to find Circe sticking you with her elbow.

“Go,” she urges. “You need a place to stick out, so go already. And make a statement when you get in there, you want all eyes on you.”

Reluctantly you plod forward, pausing only when Jim hands you the infinite cup. You accept, taking a few swigs as you go, to calm your nerves. The crowd parts instinctually as you draw closer, knowing it would be an unforgivable sin in this house to keep someone from competing. At last you arrive at the circle’s edge, staring at the multitude of other people you’ll be competing against. You step forward, drawing in a large breath before you do.

You decide to go with the awesome choice

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 8

“And I’m all out of bubblegum!” You yell this with ample gusto as you step into the circle, a far cry from the delivery given by the great thespian Rowdy Roddy Piper, but respectable all the same. Several of you competitors chuckle at your outburst, and a few even thrown you knowing nods. Victoria is not one of them.

With the entire group assembled, Doctor Willowbrook leaps down from his platform and crosses the room to your circle. How he moved so quickly through such a crowd is a mystery, even though you saw him do it. He arrives at the edge of the spotlight and stops, leaving his face cast in a strange confluence of shadows.

“The observers will meet you upstairs,” Doctor Willowbrook informs you. “As participants, you’ll be sequestered until then. Now, if we could just bring the lights up a bit…”

At his words, the spotlight brightens, flooding you in a world of fluorescence. Within moments it’s all you can see, everything outside the circle is too dark to make out. Even the sounds have faded away, like the light is overwhelming vibrations through the air. For a moment, one terrifying moment that seems to stretch out past infinity, it feels as though your group exists alone in this island of light and all the rest of the world has been unmade. Then, as suddenly as it hit, that moment is over and you can hear voices. A lot of voices, actually. More than you can account for having been around you earlier.

The light begins to fade and you can see past your circle once more. The sight that greets your eyes tells you that you are no longer in the dance hall. Now your group is on a raised platform, at least four feet off the ground. It’s wider than the fading spotlight, taking up a huge portion of this massive room. At the ground level are hundreds of costumed guests, all packed around the stage with looks of anticipation. As you’re peering about, you spot two pairs of arms waving frantically. One pair is scaly and ends in claws, while the other is withered and ancient. Recognizing Circe and Jim, you plod over to edge where they’ve managed to claw out a spot.

“Hey guys,” you say, greeting them with more casualness than you’re actually feeling. The experience of teleporting has left you a touch unsettled.

“Five hours,” Circe yells at you as soon as you get near her.


“Five hours, Wizard. You’ve been gone for five hours,” she explains.

“No, we… we just came right here,” you protest.

“Witchy woman is right,” Jim confirms. "You all got vanished away, then Willowbrook said that the contest would be the night’s closing festivities."

“You’ve got to be shitting me. What have you been doing all this time?”

“Trying to drink away my worry,” Jim informs you, holding up a half-empty cocktail. “Which was harder, since you took the cup.”

“That’s what he’s been doing,” Circe corrects. “I’ve been trying to wrangle up everything I can to help you. Unfortunately, that wasn’t highly successful.”

“Did you get anything?” Your beginning to feel a bit desperate now, by your estimation sunrise is probably about an hour away.

Circe nods and throws you something. You catch it deftly, reflexes trained from years of snagging shit Jim has drunkenly knocked off counters. Your hand uncurls to reveal a small Bluetooth device, with a few stars drawn on.

“What the hell is this?”

“An earpiece,” Circe tells you. “It should let us at least give you advice.”

“Why the stars?”

“I did some experimenting while Bowser tried to drink his weight in vodka,” she begins to explain.

“Tried, my ass,” Jim interrupts.

“Anyway, the costumes are sort of finicky. If something is added that doesn’t fit, it won’t stay on. But if it goes with the theme then it gets transformed like the original outfit did. The stars are because it’s a ‘magic’ transmission device.”

“Fuck it,” you say out loud, sliding the earpiece in place. This makes as much sense as everything else, so why not. There’s a strange tingle, a wave of heat, and then you can feel something hovering just beside your ear. You begin to thank her, however Doctor Willowbrook’s voice echoes through the room, interrupting you.

“Thank you all, for coming to the Haunstravaganza costume contest,” he announces. “In fifteen minutes, we will begin judging whose costume is the best. This will be done by applause, which is the only fair way to decide anything. In the fifteen minutes before voting, you are encouraged to show off your talents, flaunt your stuff, and shamelessly garner votes in any way you see fit.”

A sense of both worry and relief fills you. This is something you might actually be good at, but only if you can come up with the right spell to win votes. Still, it’s better than it could have been.

“There are three other things each contestant should be aware of,” Doctor Willowbrook continued. “First, there was a bit of time slip in your transport here, and sunrise is currently less than forty minutes away. Second, only costumes still intact at the beginning of the judging are eligible to win the prize. And third, the prize, which is quite a doozy. The winner of this costume contest shall have the price of their costume paid in full. So, good luck everyone. Remember, do whatever you like for the next fifteen minutes.”

“Ohhh shit.” You can hear Jim’s voice in your ear, and as you look over you see he’s holding a phone up between he and Circe. “They’re going to break the balls out each other’s costumes.”

It seems like he’s right, already people are edging away from one another and sizing up their fellow opponents. It’s only a matter of time before the first attacks are thrown.

“What do I do,” you whisper to yourself. You’re a bit surprised when you get a reply, then realize the entire point of headsets is that they allow two-way communication.

“Hide like the wind,” Jim advises. “Use some magic spell to vanish.”

“No, you already drew too much attention for that,” Circe disagrees. “You need to run, stay mobile and take your shots when a good chance presents itself.”

“Or I can barge in and sling some magic all around.”

“You’re not the only one with powers,” Circe reminds you. “But you are the one on that stage, so whatever it is, do something.”

You decide it's blasting time

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 9

“Fuck a bunch of this,” you mumble. Goddamnit, you’re a wizard, and you’re only going to be one for around another half an hour. Running and hiding are the options you’re going to have for the rest of your life. But for the next thirty or so minute, you’re got one more choice. If you’re going down, then by hell you’re going down swinging.

You begin to sprint forward, toward the largest cluster of other costumed competitors. With an exertion of will you feel the familiar energy crackling along your fingers. A charge up the middle, that’s the way to kick this shit off. It’s actually a solid tactical idea, not to mention it will raise your profile in Victoria’s eyes.

Unfortunately, you aren’t the only one who thought of it.

“Fucking Ma-” BOOOM. The entire stage rocks and dust goes flying, along with several bodies, as a red and blue blur leaps into the air and slams violently back down. Your words and charge are both cut off as the tremor sends you tumbling to the ground. By the time you stop rolling you’re covered in dust, beer from the cup, and dust mixed with beer. You look up in time to see Not-Superman catch the knight’s sword mid-swing and crumple it like tinfoil. With a casual effortlessness, Not-Superman then grabs the armor on both ends and rips it away, like he’s opening a Christmas present. For a moment, the knight stands there, the remains of silver armor still shining in Not-Superman’s hands. Then, an instant later, the armor is gone and the knight is just a gangly young man holding a broken toy sword. Not-Superman turns his eyes to his next victim, and darts off to continue the reign of destruction.

You pull yourself up carefully, eyes still adjusting to the dust-filled air. You notice you dropped your cup of infinite booze and bend back down to get it. This action is all that saves you as a meaty foot goes flying past where your head was only moments ago. Victoria’s admirer dressed like some sort of karate guy lands on the other side of you, spinning around the moment his free foot makes contact with the ground.

“Nice dodge,” Karate-Guy says, red headband flapping in a non-existent breeze. “You’re quick for a wizard.”

You adjust back-up to a standing position, only now putting together what just happened. It seems like you two are apart from the main group, so at the moment he’s your only concern. A small smile slips onto your face.

“This should be easy,” you say confidently, taking a sip from your cup.

“Umm, dude, you know who he is, right?” Jim’s voice comes through clearly on your “magic” Bluetooth headset.

“Doesn’t matter,” you reply. “He won’t be anything in a second.” Karate is well and good, but this fool brought punches and kicks to a magic fight. You’re going to show him the error of his ways.

“You’re over-confident,” Karate-Guy remarks, shifting his foot position and taking a strange stance.

“Pfft, whatever, fucking magic.” You give a simple thrust with your free hand, blasting a bolt of magic right at Karate-Guy’s center of mass. It’s as fast as ever, however it is nowhere as quick as Karate-Guy’s reaction. In a single motion he steps back, presses both wrists together like he’s cupping an invisible basketball, and summons a burst of blue light in his empty palms.

“Hadoken!” Karate-guy screams, firing his blast forward. It strikes your magical bolt on the way, destroying the weaker energy as it moves. And move it does, closing the gap between its origin and you before you even have a chance to move. Thankfully, it seems your magic had a little effect on the energy ball, as it curves at the last moment and strikes your lower body rather than torso. This still sends you flailing to the ground, waves of pain washing over your legs and even more beer showering atop of you.

“I was trying to tell you,” Jim says, voice perfectly clear over your heavy, pained breathing. “He’s dressed like Ryu from Street Fighter. So, you know, watch out for the hadoken.”

“It was a good warning,” Circe tells him. “Pity that Wizard was too foolish to listen.”

You flip onto your back in an effort to get up and catch sight of your robes. While the dust and beer are falling away, there are burn holes where the hadoken struck that seem to be staying in place. Karate-Guy walks over carefully when you’re noticing this.

“Looks like your outfit has almost had it,” he assesses. “One more should destroy it completely. Sorry about this, but with so little time there’s no other way I’m going to be able to pay my price.”

“What was yours?” You ask, trying desperately to buy time while you think of strategy.

“I have to conquer my greatest fear,” he replies. You notice he’s begun to shift back into his hadoken stance.

“Wizard, he’s about to attack,” Circe tells you, not that you really needed her too. “This is your last chance.”

“What do I do,” you wonder aloud.

“Try not to move,” Karate-Guy-Ryu tells you. “It’ll hurt less.”

“Shit, blast him when he blasts you,” Jim advises. “Mutually assured destruction.”

“He’s ready for that, just like he was the first time,” Circe disagrees. “You need to do something out of the box, something he wouldn’t expect. I don’t know, throw beer on him, do anything.”

It occurs to you that since you and Circe joined forces by agreeing to help one another, maybe a similar arrangement can be reached right now. Judging by the flickering blue orb beginning to manifest in his hands, you better pick something and run with it.

You grab the plastic beer cup

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 10

Karate-Guy clearly knows you’re packing magic, so a surprise attack isn’t likely to work. You could offer to help him if he spares you, but with current time constraints you doubt he’d listen. Besides, if you’re going to be eliminated then it won’t be while you’re pleading on the ground. Fuck that noise. In a single movement, one practiced by countless games of flip cup, you spin the plastic cup around in your hand so that the top is facing the floor.

You were right that Karate-Guy was prepared for you to shoot magic, and had a counter in mind for when you did. What he was not expecting, however, was a red plastic cup exploding upward in a forceful stream of beer, directly at his face. The angled shot strikes true, hitting him square in the nose and soaking him in beer. The cup ricochets away, still overturned and flying off in a direction you’re too occupied to trace.

“Son of a bitch!” Karate-Guy yells, grabbing his, likely broken, nose as it begins spewing blood. He would likely lay one hell of a smack down on you for that, but in the commotion you have leapt up from the ground and taken off in an unabashed sprint. Bravery is well and good, however there is something to be said for a well-timed tactical retreat.

As you run, you notice the dust is clearing and the ground has become littered with groaning people holding destroyed costumes. Evidently, the thick of battle was not a fun place to be. On the upside, at least it means you probably don’t have a whole lot of competition left. With an increase in gasping for air, you press on, seeing more and more destroyed costumes. Your eyes scan about for Victoria, however you’re unable to locate her in the chaos. Unless her cheerleader outfit was from the Sunnyvale high school team, you’ve got a sneaking suspicion she isn’t doing too well.

Concern for others flies out of your mind as a body crashes down only a few feet away from you. It’s a pudgy man in a white bathrobe, and clutched in his hand are the tattered remains of a red headband.

“Karate-Guy?” Your voice seems to echo off the floor, and your confusion is evident. You’ve only been running a few moments, what could have already happened to him?

“I’m Ryu,” he says, groaning. “You idiot.”

“What the hell happened?” You choose to ignore his insult, but you can’t help noticing that a lot of people are calling you stupid today. This is not a trend you’re a fan of.

He wearily points over to the left, where you can see Not-Superman ripping apart a cowboy’s costume while the six-shooter fires vainly into the big blue “S” on his chest. “Got me when you ran off. He’s all over the place. The rest of us don’t stand a chance.”

As if to prove the point, at that moment the cowboy begins to shimmer, and moments later he is nothing more than a young man in a torn coat. Not-Superman lets out a hearty laugh, then turns his eyes about. Unfortunately, they land squarely on you.

“Wizard,” he calls, ambling toward you at little more than a saunter. “I didn’t expect you to survive this long.”

“It’s only been around four minutes,” you yell back.

“Exactly,” he replies.

Karate-Guy slaps the ground and gets your attention. “Hide, cast some spell to get away. We’ve all attacked him and nothing works. He brushed off my hadoken like it was a light wind. There’s no way you can beat Superman.”

“Quite right,” Not-Superman agrees. You’re about to ask how the hell he heard that, then you remember that super-hearing in one of his many, many powers. So is super-speed, which means running away is probably not going to be a viable strategy this time.

“Shiiiiit,” you say. “Guys, I’ve got a dude in a Superman outfit bearing down on me. Any ideas?”

“You’re a wizard!” Jim yells through the phone. “Summon Kryptonite!”

You hear a scuffling as someone struggles to take the phone away from him.

“No!” Circe yells. “Listen, you’re a wizard, he’s right about that - damnit, Jim let me talk – so what you should do is-”

“I’m telling you, just magic up some kryptonite. Everyone knows he’s vulnerable to that!” You get the feeling Jim’s overenthusiasm might be stemming from the fact that he feels like he’s finally able to contribute.

“That won’t work,” Circe objects. “Give me the fucking phone right now. Wizard, you to blast him, because- DAMNIT!”

The curse word and a not-so-subtle crunch are the last words you hear before the connection cuts off completely. Not-Superman lets out his laugh again. That annoying, douchebag of a laugh that grates more and more on your nerves with each occurrence.

“Such helpful friends you have,” he says, still chuckling. Not-Superman is only ten feet away now. You know he could close that gap before you even blinked, yet he seems to be taking his time, truly enjoying the sense of impending doom that is rippling through you. “Feel free to try either one. It will be exactly as effective as every other idiot’s attempt to attack me so far. I’m fucking Superman, and everyone knows Superman’s only vulnerability is kryptonite. I somehow doubt your skillfull enough to conjure something like that.”

He’s coming toward you. Running is out. So is staying hidden. Even if he didn’t have an entire suite of sensory powers, you couldn’t bear to turn your back on this asshole. No, now is the time for do or die. You’ve got one shot, so make it count.

It's blasting time

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 11

Circe’s words echo in your ears, sparking a memory that brings an unexpected smile to your face. Yes, pretty much everyone knows that Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite. But you aren’t everyone, are you? You’re the kind of guy who picks wizard over barbarian, the type of man who shouts a quote from They Live when heading into a brawl, you’re a full-fledged geek of modern pop-culture. Three hundred and sixty four days a year, that doesn’t come in handy in any meaningful way. But, today, on Halloween, it’s a fucking godsend.

“Hey dickhole,” you say, magical energy crackling across your fingertips. “You don’t actually read Superman comics, do you?”

“Nah brah, I just go see the movies,” Not-Superman replies.

“Pity. Movies only tell you the new stuff, it keeps it all simple. There’s a lot more mythos that what’s been thrown on the silver screen. If you had read the comics, you’d know that Superman sucks at dealing with more than kryptonite. Like, just for example…” You take a deep breath and try to pull out every bit of mojo still pumping through your body. Your hands are practically glowing with energy, but still you press more into them. You tongue darts out and moistens your lips, preparing to call forth untold power.

In this highly unlikely scenario, your go-to evocation is perfect for the situation. So, just this once, go for it. Holler than sumnabitch to the rafters. Make the moon shit its pants.

“…Fuckiiiiiiiing MAGIC!” You hurl both arms out as you scream, releasing a bolt of energy easily as thick as a sumo wrestler’s leg. Not-Superman could dodge it, but it’s only as the blue blast is about to make contact that he understand the meaning of your words. Even for someone pilfering the powers of the man-of-steel, it’s just a second too late. The magical blast strikes him dead-center on the giant “S” and envelops his entire body in an explosion of light. When it finally clears, there is a crater in the stage, five feet across and three feet deep, as well as scorch marks going out for another ten feet behind it. In the crater’s center, keeled over on his back, is some douchebag with frosted tips. All that remains on his body is a tattered pair of work-out shorts and several poorly drawn tribal tattoos. He opens his mouth to speak, however instead of words all that comes out is a small wisp of smoke. With that, he falls completely back into unconsciousness.

Yes. Fuck Yes.

Your ears are still ringing from the explosion, which might explain why you don’t notice the air behind you shimmer or hear the soft rustle of wings. You do, however, hear the loud “RIIIIIIP” sound that come as your costume is shredded across the back. For a moment, your stomach drops away and you feel as though you’ve fallen into a pit of molasses. Then it’s over, and you’re normal again. Completely normal, in fact. Your hands lack any blue sparks of magic and you are now clad in a tattered Snuggie and wearing the shredded remains of a wizard hat. You have no idea where the rainstick went, you lost that shit early in the night. With some trepidation, you slowly turn around.

Gazing back at you is a grinning girl with pointed ears and fairy wings. In her right hand is a dagger that still has scraps of your robe clinging to the blade. Unlike the fairy you saw grinding on Frankenstein earlier, she’s quite tall, adorned in dark purples and blacks, and her smile is more predatory than adorable.

“So close,” she says, her grin stretching to the corners of her mouth in a way that leaves you deeply unsettled. “Silly boys, always underestimating the power of a good illusion.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen and all other creatures,” Doctor Willowbrook calls, whereabouts still unseen. “It seems we have only one costume left, so by default Midnight Fairy is our costume contest champion.

The girl who just destroyed your costume, and hopes for winning, gives a deep bow. Her wings flutter in excitement as she begins to rise from the floor.

“All other contestants, please leave the stage. Midnight Fairy, please come to the spotlight so I may present you with your prize.” A beam of light appears near the entrance, and she immediately heads that direction.

You do as your told, trudging off toward Circe and Jim, a numb sense of disbelief still wedged solidly in your stomach. This is nuts, you should have won. You beat fucking Superman. It seems wizards aren’t called glass cannons for no reason.

After a quick walk, you rejoin your friends, receiving a fist bump from Jim and a high-five from Circe. Jim has, somehow, recovered the cup of infinite beer and is chugging away before the sun can rise.

“You did well,” Circe tells you. “There was no way you could have seen the fairy coming. Not with Big S Asshole taking up all your concentration.”

“No joke,” Jim agrees. “I can’t believe you beat him without kryptonite.”

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” you tell him. “Even a super one. But I had a little help. Thanks, Circe, for helping me remember. Actually, thanks for all of your advice in general.”

Circe beams at you, making a face that’s almost tolerable, even with her hideous visage.

A scream from the front of the room tears away your attention. Before your eyes, a mummy’s bandages fall away, revealing a normal girl only a few years your senior. That alone would not be so bad, but what is terrifying is the woman standing next to the former-mummy. It’s the old lady from Transient Collectables. A slight green coloration washes over your face, as you realize that is up and you haven’t paid your price. What’s more, you never got around to helping Circe, either. This is just a fuckbundle no matter how you slice it.

You scan the room, noticing the old woman move quickly and efficiently, appearing at each person’s side as their costume melts away. You can see the first few rays of dawn poking through the windows, it seems the magic is failing sequentially, not all at once. As you sweep things visually, you notice that there is another door, all the way at the back. Maybe it leads somewhere further away. Maybe not. Still, it’s better than nothing. Or is it? Perhaps the dream she takes won’t be so bad. Then again, you still don’t know what Circe’s price is. Screw it, all this waffling is getting you nowhere. Circe and Jim are staring at you, waiting for your direction. Time to act.

You tell them to run

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 12

“Run, I’ll try to buy you some time,” you instruct Circe and Jim. “There’s a door over near the rear. I have no idea how long I can keep her occupied, but maybe you can get somewhere safe.”

“Wizard, that’s touching,” Circe replies. “Stupid, but touching.”

“It’s the least I can do,” you tell her. “You at least tried to honor our bargain. I screwed things up so much that we never got around to your price. Now hurry up and go already.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Circe says. “I have no intent to run. Especially not into that door. The things behind it are… less than friendly.”

“Same here,” Jim agrees. “I didn’t even get a magic costume, so I don’t owe any price.”

“Not to mention, I’d have found all of you easily anyway,” the old woman from the shop says, her voice coming from over your shoulder. You leap nearly a foot in the air, coming down on both feet but certain you just lost a few years off your life. “Now then, I think it’s time we settled up.”

“Me first,” Circe says. At the sound of her voice, the air around her ripples. Moments later the witch you know is gone, and in her place is an woman in a long black robe wearing a hideous, but plastic, mask. “My price was met.”

“Yes, yes, able to win the trust of a mortal without use of your looks or powers,” the shop-keeper replies. “Though you left it down to the last minute.”

“Dramatic flair,” Circe replies. There’s something about her voice that’s familiar, however you find yourself unable to place it.

“Right then, which brings us to the wizard.” The old shopkeeper looks you up and down, eyes lingering on the tattered remains of your robe. Jim edges slightly closer to you in a protective fashion. The effort is appreciated, but you aren’t sure what he’s going to do against magic.

“Looks like you paid yours off too,” she says at last.

“I, wha… I did? When? How?”

The shopkeeper points to Circe. “She’s always wanted to be appreciated for more than her power, position, and beauty. Tonight, through you, she was able to showcase her own type of wisdom. You took her advice and thanked her sincerely for it. You made her dream of showing she had her own talents come true. Dream fulfilled.”

“But… I didn’t make any of my dreams come true,” you point out.

“When did I ever say the dream had to be yours?” With that the old woman vanishes off to claim the price from someone who was likely less fortunate than you.

“Um, what did she mean power?” Jim asks, peering at Circe with uncertain eyes. “And why did yours sound more like a bet?”

“Because it was,” Circe informs him. “I wagered with my father that I had the talent to beguile mortals even without any magical means. The beauty thing was merely him upping the stakes.” Circe reaches up and pushes down her hood, revealing a long tumble of blue-black hair. As she peels off the mask, you’ve already figured out what’s waiting beneath it. The plastic facade falls to the ground, revealing Victoria Dempsey’s stunning face in its place. “Not that you fools made it easy.”

“Wait, but, I saw… you dancing when I met… you.”

“Did your loss teach you nothing about illusions? The girl you saw was the same fairy who cut away your costume,” Victoria tells you.

Suddenly you become aware that you told your secret crush that she was the dream you were trying to fulfill, and your ears begin to burn with a bright redness. Victoria pretends not to notice, which is made easier by Jim continuing to pester her.

“Okay, so you were the old lady, and the you we saw was a fake you,” he surmises. “I still don’t get why you made a bet about winning people’s trust.”

“Because trust, my dear dragon-turtle, is the first step in illusion.” These words come from Doctor Willowbrook, who has stepped into the conversation right out of the shadows. “And illusions are the beginnings of all magic. You did well, Pumpkin.”

“I appreciate the compliment, Father, but I care more about the wager,” Victoria shoots back.

“I am a man of my word,” Doctor Willowbrook replies. “Next Halloween, you shall be part of the planning. We shall see how you do from there.”

“About time,” she mutters.

“I thought your name was Dempsey,” you blurt out at last, finally recovering from the case of stupid-tongue that struck you during your embarrassment attack.

“Mother’s maiden name,” Victoria tells you. “In our family, wearing the Willowbrook name is a right that must be earned. We are no mere aristocrats, you see, we are one of the high families of All Hallows Eve.”

“Oh, well that makes sense,” Jim says, sipping the beer.

You stare at him. “How does that make sense?”

Jim shrugs. “I dunno, I mean this was a lot of crazy shit. I doubt I’ll understand it any better if I pry, so it seems like just rolling with this is easier. The girl you like is some sort of super-Halloween-witch.”

“The drunk one is surprisingly adept,” Doctor Willowbrook comments. “I think I might like to take a look at his brain.”

“Be good,” Victoria chides. “You already got your winner.”

On cue, a horrifying, gut-wrenching scream pierces the air. You can’t see the source, however you think it sounds vaguely familiar.

“Ah yes,” Doctor Willowbrook sighs. “She was so lucky to win the prize: a permanent position in my mansion. With someone like her, our haunted maze will be all the scarier next year.”

Your eyes darts between the two of them, brain finally breaking down after nearly a whole day of impossible piled onto impossible. The top-hat wearing magical mansion owner and his beautiful daughter.

“It will be quite a spectacle,” Victoria agrees. “And you, Wizard, will have to join us. I promise, next year’s events will be far more spectacular than the paltry offering my father has made. Bowser, you are welcome too.”


You decide to swing for the fences

Halloween 2013 Adventure: Page 13

“Next year seems like a long time to wait,” you tell her. “Why don’t we trade numbers and do something earlier.”

“Asking out one of the daughters of All Hallows, and in front of her father,” Doctor Willowbrook notes. “This one has guts.” From the way he says he that last word, you have a sickening feeling that he’s wondering what they look like.

“Guts indeed, if not brains to go with them,” Victoria replies. “Still, I suppose it would be nice to have a few friends around town that actually knew the truth of my lineage.” She pulls out a small card and scribbles a few digits across it. “Don’t go getting any big ideas. There is no chance of romance between us.”

“Of course,” you say, accepting the card. You’re too stupid to entirely believe her, which puts you in the same category as capital-grade morons and legendary romantics. Only time will tell which you prove to be. The dumbfounded grin on your face does provide some clue, however.

“Let’s get going,” Jim says. “I am hungry like a dolphin.”

“See you soon,” Doctor Willowbrook says.

You try not to let the certainty with which he utter those words unnerve you. You fail, miserably.

*              *              *

As you and Jim walk back toward your apartment building, the sun has fully emerged and the day has begun. The two of you have bags stuffed with fast-food burritos, a pitiful attempt to fend off both the hunger and impending hangovers you are destined to begin November with. Still, given how things could have gone, this actually seems like something of a best-case scenario.

“Hell of a night,” you say, looking up at the sunrise. The other denizens of your complex are giving you funny looks as you walk the parking lot dressed only in a wrecked wizard costume. Jim’s outfit, at least, is still functional. He shifts his bag of food from claw to claw, moving things around so he can grab another sip of beer.

“Not bad,” Jim says.

“Not bad? How was that ‘not bad’ in your book?”

“I mean, it was cool and all, but remember last Arbor Day? Now that shit was insane,” Jim reminds you.

He makes a valid point, this was actually pretty tame compared to last Arbor Day. You reach for your keys just as Jim takes another awkward sip and spills beer on his costume, not that a few more stains will matter. As he angles the cup back up, you notice it’s full to the brim.

“Jim, is that the magic cup I enchanted?”

“Yeah. You didn’t think I’d forget this beauty, did you?” Jim looks at you like you’ve just suggested taking a shit on the Guinness factory’s lawn.

You stick your keys in the lock, juggling your own food to a free hand. “No, it’s just… the sun’s up. Shouldn’t it have stopped refilling by now?”

“Beats me,” Jim replies, taking another glug. “Maybe it was just your magic that died at dawn, but the stuff you put spells on stay enchanted.”

“Damn, makes me wish I’d cast a spell on more than just the cup,” you say, turning the key and twisting the knob.

The door opens to reveal your nice, cozy apartment living room, illuminated by sunshine and the television you forgot to turn off. This picturesque scene is somewhat marred by the seven-foot tall stone statue of a giant skeleton sitting on your couch, watching a cooking show with exceptional interest.

“Ahhhh!” You yell loudly, dropping the bag of burritos to the ground. This gets the skeleton’s attention, who looks over at you.

“Morning,” he says, giving a polite wave. “Hope you don’t mind, but since you brought me to life Doctor Willowbrook says you’re responsible for food and lodgings.”

You are too stunned to move, however Jim is stricken by no such predicament.

“Scoot over,” he says, setting his food and beer cup on the coffee table. “Is this Good Eats? Shit yeah, Alton Brown is my jam.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, you reach down, grab the now busted bag from the ground, and pull your door closed. Looks like Halloween has resulted in more lingering effects that just a hangover in…

The End