Welcome to the 2nd Annual Choose Your Spooky Outcome Novel, done over the 13 nights leading up to Halloween. This is a sequel, so if you want the story to make sense you should go read the first one here. 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.
“Yo, come check me out!”
You push yourself off the couch wearily, still fighting off the hangover from last night’s Post-Pre-Pre-Halloween-Pre-Actual-Halloween-Party. Having real Halloween fall on a weekend has led to an entire week of themed costumed parties, which has been hard on both your liver and your supply of costumes. Last night’s barrel-scraper was a bed-sheet toga, which is now drenched in beer, among other fluids, and tossed in the dumpster behind your apartment complex. Whatever, a comforter is all you really too to sleep on anyway.
“How do I look?” Jim asks as you push open the partially ajar bathroom door. He’s wearing jeans, a baseball cap, and a hooded sweatshirt; all of them on backwards.
“Honestly? I have no idea what the hell you’re supposed to be,” you tell your best friend/roommate.
Jim absorbs this news along with a few sips from the Cup Of Infinite Beer, a leftover treat from last year’s Halloween shitshow. “Damn,” Jim says at last. “I was really hoping you’d make a guess and I could use it as my idea. I’m basically out of shit. Guess we have to hit up the costume shops.”
A slight shudder worms its way down your spine as you remember what happened last year when you went to buy a costume last minute. It’s really Jim’s fault you’re in this mess, again. You had a perfectly adequate Gravity Falls/Evil Dead mash-up costume lined up for this year. Unfortunately, it only survived the first three parties of the week, and you were really pushing on the third one at that.
“I’m sure we’ll think of something,” you say.
“We better think quick. Victoria is going to be here soon.” Jim points to the antique grandfather clock he came home with one night in July (not that he had any memory of how he procured it), which indeed says there are only a few minutes left before Victoria shows up.
Since last Halloween, she’s become a semi-regular fixture in your life, regarding you and Jim as her friends. Friends she often looks at like an alligator watching a toddler play on the banks, but friends all the same. You were surprised when she asked if you three could go somewhere different this year, given her relation to the man who threw the biggest Halloween party in the county, but you didn’t object. After last year, there was no way you were going to the Halloween Hell-House Hauntstavaganza. Unless they booked a sweet band. Or if there were lots of girls going. Or they had more of that free top-shelf… yeah you were probably going to end up there.
A crisp knock on the apartment door pulls you free of your reverie, and you rush down the hall to answer, all thoughts of a lingering hangover forgotten. It might have been a year, but you’re still a bit smitten with Victoria Dempsy. You fling open the door, revealing her standing there, bundle of garment bags clutched in her arms. Despite what they must weigh, she seems not the least bit inconvenienced, waltzing through the front door with an effortless smile.
“Evening, Merlin.” Victoria greets you. You’re pretty sure she’s learned your real name since last Halloween, but you aren’t completely certain. “You and the dinosaur ready for this evening?”
“It was a dragon-turtle!” Jim yells from across the apartment, causing Victoria’s smile to widen a touch. She took a strange joy in ribbing him about last year’s costume choice, despite that fact that her own had been a hideous witch. Despite the late afternoon Halloween hour, she isn’t in any costume yet. With her worn jeans and dark purple hoodie, Victoria could pass for a regular, everyday college-aged woman. Which, when you were particularly brave, you admitted to yourself might just be more costume than anything you had ever worn.
“Did you not know what you wanted to wear?” You try to help her by taking a few of the garment bags, but she swipes your hand away and begins delicately setting them out on the couch, one by one.
“Mine is the one with the red hanger,” she replied. “But I assumed you two buffoons would have destroyed every worthwhile costume you possessed by the time the true All Hallows Eve rolled around, so I brought along a few options.”
“Thank the sweet lord of vodka,” Jim said, bounding of the bathroom. “I had no idea how I was going to manage peeing in these pants.”
“By your tenth drink you probably would have just soiled yourself,” Victoria said.
“Well obviously. I meant until then.” Most people would have been bothered by that sort of assumption on her part, or at least disagreed with it. Most people were not Jim.
“Here, I had yours made up special. It’s extra-resilient, especially against the sort of stains one acquires from spilled drinks.” Victoria hands the last garment bag to Jim, who accepts it and immediately darts right back into the bathroom.
“You didn’t need to do this,” you tell her.
“I most certainly did. Tonight, you will be seen with a member of one of the high families of All Hallows Eve. It would shame the entire Willowbrook line if I publicly consorted with those who don’t honor the evening properly.”
“About that, aren’t you supposed to be at the Halloween Hell-House Hauntstavaganza? I mean, you went through all that trouble last year to win the right and help plan it.”
Victoria looks up at you, then gives a slow, solemn nod. “That was my intent, but the opportunity to offer a more prestigious service has arisen. This will be greatly benefit my family, and will move me through the ranks much more quickly. Now, Merlin, will you ask me questions all night, or would you like to select your costume?”
“I get to choose? How come? Jim didn’t get to choose.”
“I only had so much material for a costume that wouldn’t be immediately destroyed by his antics. Since you’re somewhat gentler, I was able to commission a few options.”
Victoria leans down and unzips the first garment bag, revealing long black cloth as thick and heavy as morning fog. Further inside is a white shirt, sashes, and what appears to be a thin sword next to an ancient pistol. As you look inside, you also notice books and a hat. There is no way all this stuff fit into just a regular garment bag, that much is for sure.
“In my line, we like to stick with the classics. Your first option is to wear the garb of a pirate.”
She unzips the second bag, revealing fiery red cloth that spills out so quickly you’re afraid it will light the couch on fire. As you peer in deeper, you catch sight of what looks like a trident, only far more cruelly designed, and a pair of monstrous horns.
“Second up, you may don the visage of one of hell’s army: a demon.”
The last bag is unzipped to reveal a gleaming crest; one that almost looks like it has a skull and a beer cup on it. The crest is on a shield, which is next to a tunic, boots, another sword, and a lot of chainmail. Victoria takes a step back to admire this one before speaking.
“Lastly, you may take up the mantle of a knight, if you are so inclined.”
“Okay, level with me here: am I going to turn into my costume again? You haven’t told me where we’re going or what we’re doing; and I feel like I’ve been pretty cool about that. You’re our friend, you asked for a favor, so Jim and I are down. All of that said, if I’m going to turn into my costume again, I really feel it’s only fair to tell me up front, before I decide what to wear.”
“The enchantress who visited last year has not returned, nor do I sense her type of magic in the air. However, never forget that on All Hallows Eve the costumes were once meant to hide from and fight against monsters. I cannot promise that the weapons you pick up may not be needed at some point on our journey.”
Well, that’s about as straight an answer as Victoria has ever given you, not likely you’re going to get much more out of her. Time to decide what you’ll be for Halloween this year.