“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