Welcome to the 3rd Annual Choose Your Spooky Outcome Novel, done over the 13 nights leading up to Halloween. Let's get this out of the way real quick, since some people missed it last year:
This is a sequel, so if you want the story to make sense you should go read the first one here and the second one here.
Now, 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.
All around you, lights flash and sirens wail as the ship plummets to the ground. The Earth, formerly a tiny blue marble on the screen, has risen up at alarming speeds. You can make out the ocean, and now landmasses, and now cities, and holy shit you’re going to crash.
You and Jim both let out terrified screeches, grabbing onto one another as the ship careens impossibly fast toward the ground. Nearby, a small light you’d only barely paid attention too is flashing green. Once. Twice.
And suddenly, you and Jim are sitting in the grassy area of your apartment building, the spot where people walk their dogs, still holding each other and screaming. People would probably be giving you weird looks, but in a complex full of college kids they see much crazier shit on a daily basis.
“But… how,” you stammer. Still the picture of eloquence, apparently.
“The teleportation doodad,” Jim says, carefully extricating himself from the fearful embrace. “I guess you picked the right gem after all.”
“Yeah, but then you spilled liquor all over it!” you remind him.
“I find liquor is a great teleportation aid. If I drink enough of it, I wake up in all kinds of places I don’t remember traveling to.” Jim drives this point home by pulling a flask from his pocket and taking a victory swig. You’d chastise him, but at the moment you’re just glad to be home.
As the sun dips lower in the sky, you lean back, pausing only to check your phone. The aliens are gone, for now, and you and Jim found your way back safe. It looks like this interstellar journey has finally reached:
“Oh fuck me running!” you yelp, hopping up from the ground and dragging Jim forcefully by the arm. “There was another time skip while we were up there. We lost three days.”
“So?” Jim asks, obviously more worried about spilling his flask than losing time form his education.
“So, that makes today the thirty first. Halloween. And in case you didn’t notice the sun setting, it means we’re late to meet Victoria.”
Now Jim starts to move, though with less panic than your flailing limbs. He’s never had quite the level of fear, or other types of interest, for Victoria Dempsy as you. Then again, you’re not sure Jim’s brain chemistry still lets him process things like terror. Years of doing…. Recreational activities frowned upon by law enforcement… have surely left his brain in a different state that its original design. That’s fine though, because you have enough fear for the both of you, dragging Jim along and bursting through the front door of your apartment.
Victoria is already there, no doubt let in by Wilbur, your third roommate, who is making polite chitchat with her in the kitchen. Wilbur is a giant animated skeleton that you sort of brought to life two years ago, when you had wizard powers for a night. Scary as he is to look at, the dude is really chill, pays his part of the rent on time and helps out with cleaning. Basically, he’s a much better roommate than Jim.
“Well, glad to see you’re finally joining us.” The words seem nice, but there’s a frostiness to Victoria’s tone that sends a shiver down your spine. While you don’t only see her on Halloween, this does seem to be the time that she has the biggest effect on you, and the world around her. You’ve never really dug deeper into what her family being some sort of Halloween royalty means, partly because you don’t want to offend, and partly because a very rational piece of you is terrified that she’d actually explain.
“I don’t suppose alien kidnapping is a good enough reason to excuse being late?” you tentatively venture.
“It might suffice; though I’m a little hurt you’re packing in adventures so close together. Makes a girl feel unspecial,” she replies.
“Whoa no, first off I didn’t choose to do the alien thing, that just happened. And you promised tonight wouldn’t be another crazy evening like the last few. No magic costume fights in Halloween parties or surviving evil Halloween theme parks.” You point at Victoria, who is smiling innocently. “Just a nice normal Halloween night.”
“I promised I would do my best to keep it mundane,” Victoria counters. “On the night of All Hallows Eve, no one is promised safety. But I did select a thoroughly boring activity. We’re going Trick or Treating.”
“Pretty sure people will tell us to get off their lawn,” you inform her. Seeing as you’re all college seniors, the age in which begging for free candy is cute has long since passed you all by.
“We are not doing the Trick or Treating,” Victoria says. “We are mere escorts. Annabeth, come here.”
From off to the side, hidden by your kitchen counter, steps a small girl in a strikingly real witch costume. A wide brimmed black hat covers her head, almost entirely hiding the same blue-black hair as Victoria’s, and casting a shadow over her dark brown eyes. In her hands is a candy-pail shaped like a pumpkin, or perhaps actually carved from one. It sure looks real enough.
“My little sister,” Victoria explains, as though the physical resemblance wasn’t obvious. “Tonight we will walk her around town, gathering tribute. It is a sacred duty, one that can only be fulfilled by the youngest member of a clan. However, since millions of other children practice the same ritual, I daresay it is no longer as risky as it was in the olden days.”
“Huh. Okay, you got me there. Nothing all that inherently risky about taking a kid Trick or Treating.” You still don’t totally trust it, honestly after the last two Halloweens who could blame you, but it’s hard to argue with Victoria’s proposal. If anything, taking a kid Trick or Treating seems a little too boring, a waste of a good Halloween. Only Victoria’s company and the low-chance of death make it seem appealing.
You lean down and try to meet Annabeth’s eyes. “Hi Annabeth, nice to meet you. My name is-”
“Merlin,” Victoria says, calling you by her nickname for you and cutting you off. “My sister isn’t overly fond of talking with normal folks. Perhaps it’s best if we all just get into costume. Or have you failed to secure one of those yet again?”
“Nope! This year I planned ahead.” And you did, too. After last Halloween ended, you went and bought three ready-made costumes at a deep discount. Granted, it’s been months of beers since then, so you don’t quite recall what they are, but you know they’re in your closet.
“Then go change. You too, Jim.”
“Oh, you’re going to love this,” Jim says, dashing off before you can try and talk him into picking another outfit. You know what’s coming, and it won’t be pretty.
“Wilbur, would you be so kind as to watch Annabeth while I make use of the restroom to change?” Victoria asks.
“Yeah, I can be a little late to the coffee shop tonight,” Wilbur says. “Perks of being management.”
You take the cue and hustle off to your room, digging through the closet until you find the familiar plastic-wrapped bundles of your costumes. Picking through them slowly, you lay each one out side by side so that your options are spread before you. Seeing them for the first time in nearly a year, you’re reminded of just how slim the pickings at the costume shop were when Halloween ended.
A circus strongman, complete with inflatable barbell.
A goofy jester, with bells that can be heard jingling through the package when it moves.
A cowboy, hat and fake duster included.
Everyone is getting ready, so you need to step on it. Time to don a costume for the coming night. What will it be?