“The light!” You grab Jim by the shoulder and drag him across the graveyard, toward the nearest lamppost. Together, the two of you get in the direct center of the dim yellow light, not nearly bright enough given how dark the graveyard is. It’s like the very air is turning murky, the very world shifting into shadow. Is this whole place coming undone? For that matter, you still don’t even know what this place is.
“Jim what did you mean when you said we were in a wish?”
“Huh?” Jim has used the short time you weren’t looking at him to pull a medium-sized liquor bottle out from somewhere on his costume and is chugging it liberally. Once he notices you looking at him, he lowers the bottle and offers it to you, which you quickly accept. If you’re getting murdered by shadow creatures, you’re damn sure not doing it sober. “Oh right, the wish. Yeah, we’re stuck in your wish.”
You nearly choke on the mouthful of liquor, swallowing it only thanks to college-level amounts of chugging practice before you hand the bottle back to Jim. “I’m sorry, my wish? This is all something I did?”
“Wow, and people say I’ve messed up my brain. Yes, it’s your wish. Remember, we ended up buried in that weird maze outside of town, found a few relics, and one of them was a magic lamp that granted wishes. You were all stressed out because the hunt for a job after graduation was going really bad, so you wished for a secure, peaceful life.”
And you ended up working in a shitty cubicle job. Well, it was secure and peaceful, no question about that. “So it was a Monkey’s Paw situation?”
“No way, I was the only other person there and you need at least four participants to do a proper Monkey’s Paw.” Jim stares at you for a moment, then smacks his head. “Oh, the story! Sorry, thought you were talking about the sexual position. Sure, it was a Monkey’s Paw thing. You got ripped out of reality, and once I escaped the cave I brought Victoria the lamp. She said she could pop you out, but it would take a lot of mojo. Anyway, here we are.”
What a place to be, at that. Surrounded by shadowy figures that are slowly drawing in closer, the circle of their bodies so tight you can no longer see past them. You’re not even sure there are multiple bodies anymore, it seems like one solid seething mass of shadow reaching out with disgusting claws. Occasionally you catch sight of an eyeball or two, and it’s all you can do not to throw up as the world spins in those moments. These things are unnatural; they don’t belong in this peaceful, stable existence. But neither does magic, or Jim, or Victoria’s influence. They pushed your wish-world, and your wish-world pushed back.
The good news is that the light is holding them at bay for the moment. The bad news is that with every passing second, the lamp is growing dimmer. Every now and then, it even flickers for a few heartbeats. Their presence is disrupting it, weakening it’s power. If the lamp lasts another full minute, it will be impressive, and you’ve got at least three to go. Not the greatest situation.
Your staring is interrupted by the sound of fabric tearing from behind you. Turning around, you find Jim ripping off a shred of his cape. Once it’s free of the rest, he pours some of the liquor onto the strip of fabric, high heresy for Jim’s code of drinking ethics, and then stuffs it into the mouth of the bottle. From his pocket, he produces a lighter which he twirls once before setting on the ground.
“What… are you making a Molotov cocktail?”
“Shit yeah! These things don’t like light, they’re sure not going to like it when we set the whole ground on fire. That’ll cast a ton of light!”
See, this is why you make the plans. “Um, Jim, those are extremely dangerous, and there’s a good chance that if you threw it close enough to hit the shadows you’d set us on fire too.”
“Wait, people can get hurt here? Isn’t this your wish-world?”
“Apparently I need to make more precise specifications when wishing on evil lamps,” you tell him.
“Oh wow. And you let me make this? These things are really dangerous. Not cool.” Jim stops stuffing the strip of cloth in, leaving most of it still damp and sticking out of the bottle. “But I think we need to do something.”
As if on cue, hell, maybe actually on cue for all you know, the overhead lamp flickers again, this time for a few full seconds. By the time the light comes back on, the grasping hands are halfway to you before shrinking back from the dim glow of the dull yellow light. Jim’s right, you’re not going to survive in here long enough to meet with Victoria. Running to another lamp might buy you time, but you’re surrounded on all sides. If you want to see midnight, you have to bust through this wall of living shadow.
Glancing around, you take stock of your items. A half-finished Molotov cocktail, a lighter, a formerly-enchanted hammer, and a cell phone. Not exactly a sawed off shotgun and a chainsaw hand, but you might be able to make something work. The phone screen puts out light; if you crank the brightness to its max you may be able to punch a hole in the surrounding shadows. Then again, it’s just one cell phone, and there’s a lot of shadow. Maybe Jim was right about fire. If you wrapped the liquor-soaked cloth around his hammer and lit it on fire, turning it into a makeshift torch, that could be enough to get you to freedom. Again though, you run into the problem of a limited range. Heaven help you… there is also the option to use Jim’s plan. Finish the Molotov, hurl it at the ground, and pray you get through whatever gap it creates without lighting yourself up.
The lamppost flickers again. No time for debate, there’s barely enough time for action. Let’s see if you pick the right one.