Halloween 2018: Choose Your Spooky Outcome: Chapter 4

                You could throw a pumpkin on the street and hit a haunted carnival or haunted office, those are default standards. Something magical is here, in this building so it only makes sense to start with a section wholly unique to FratCo. No matter how much you might find yourself wishing you’d picked a costume that better muffled the ears.

                “Let’s do the Haunted Hall of History.” You barely get the next words out without grimacing. “I’d love to learn more about the company.”

                With a clatter, Thad drops Jim to the ground and squeezes you with another hug. “That’s the one I was hoping you’d pick! Come on, lets take a tour. And don’t worry Jim, I’ve got you, there are drink stations set up all over. This is a FratCo party.”

                Thad takes the lead, enthusiastically rattling off tidbits about the company as he guides you through a miasma of costumes, booze, and creepy decorations. True to his word, you’re barely five steps into the tour before there’s a cocktail inside a skull-shaped cup that’s been slapped into your hand. Looking around, you find Victoria holding similar a mermaid glass, while Jim is just finished slamming down some liquid from a robot-head chalice. Not exactly a match to everyone’s outfit, but given the spread of costumes possible, its still pretty impressive they had a semi-adjacent one for each of you. This party really does spare no expense.

                While Thad is pointing and explaining, your attention is mostly focused on looking for anything out of the ordinary. There’s certainly some odd stuff afoot, like people being lowered on pulleys to bob for apples in a… fucking hot tub? Damn, they keep this going and Victoria’s family might have to step up their game. None of it seems to phase Thad, however, which means it falls into whatever FratCos definition of normal is.

                A few quick turns in short succession brings you into a gigantic conference room that’s been decorated to look like a historic museum. Portraits line the walls, as do trophy cases, pedestals holding high honors, and other displays. Sprinkled in are sections of “Spooky Facts” according the big block orange letters. You can’t make out any from far off, but the closest one informs you that a former VP was nicknamed “Wolfman” because of his beard. Cool? No, definitely not.

                “Fuuuuuck. Did we pick the educational section?” Jim turns around, glaring at you, then up to the ceiling. “Look, I’ll get to it when I have time. I told you, this night is spoken for, and I’m not bailing even if it is… educational.”

                Okay, maybe letting that slide all night isn’t going to work after all.

                Before you can ask, Thad jumps in. “Oh no, I would never try and take you into the educational section. I’d only take you to the drinkucational section!” At his word, he holds an empty cup shaped like a knight’s helm, quite similar to the one on his head in fact, up to a small faucet you’d missed before. “Wolfman.” As soon as the word leaves his mouth, a golden liquid spills from the pipe, filling his cup nearly to the top before stopping.

                “Learning stuff blows, we all know that too, but we also wanted to put something special on. The first spooky fact is the easy one. From here, you read until you find the right word, then say it out loud. That will trigger a fill-up of the person in question’s favorite drink.” With a raise of his glass, Thad kills the entire cup in a single swig. He then turns and coughs hard, slamming a meaty fist against his own sternum.

                “Forgot the Wolfman liked cheap whiskey.” Thad hasn’t even finished coughing by the time Jim is at the pipe, getting his own chalice filled. Evidently, he wasn’t put off by the comments on quality, since the look in his eye makes it clear that Jim has come to play.

                To your surprise, it’s Victoria who speaks up next. She’s been largely disinterested in everything so far, but the trophy cases seem to have piqued her curiosity, as she examines the Wolfman’s meager legacy. “These displays you’ve put on, are they all trophies?”

                “Oh no, we varied it up. Game balls, awards, keepsakes, we reached out to tons of people to put this on. Totally worth it though!” As Thad is speaking, a fresh crop of people wander in from the rear of the room. The opened door shows you more spaces like this one, a line of conference rooms setup to imitate a display hall.

                “Fascinating.” Victoria turns to you as Thad greets a coworker and the area fills with new people hunting for Spooky Facts. “Were I inclined to hide a magical item in a place like this, clutter from the past would make perfect camouflage. All manner of unusual objects easily explained away by sentimentality and put in plain sight. Alternatively, if something magical is here by true accident, these would also make the likeliest sources. New objects, brought in for the event, would certainly account for the sudden appearance. I shall look them over, keep your eyes peeled as well.”

                She doesn’t dash off, Victoria is more composed than that. Her form merely glides gracefully away, somehow moving faster than the stragglers in spite of their hurry. The vacancy at your side doesn’t go unfilled for long. Seconds later, Thad is there, leaning in.

                “Technically, you’re supposed to work for it, but I don’t mind telling my little brother which of the people feature the best drinks.” He holds a conspiratorial finger to his lips before sipping from a new cocktail. It doesn’t cause as much wincing, so this one must be an improvement.

                “Thanks.”

                You’re both momentarily distracted by a commotion as you see a small crowd has gathered around Jim while he keeps saying “Wolfman” and taking the fill-ups directly into his mouth. It falls apart briefly when Jim flashes a thumbs-up to the ceiling and gets doused in the head, but a quick recovery for the next one keeps the crowd engaged.

                With a loud gulp, Thad finishes his own drink. “Damn, Jim would do amazing at the company picnic. As would someone else I know.” He bumps you, gently, with his shoulder. “Offer still stands, Lil Bro. Times are changing, rules change with them. I think I could get you an interview.”

                 “Again, thanks, but no thanks. This place is amazing, for you. I’ve got my own thing going on.”

                “I know, it’s just…” For a second, Thad looks at you strangely, an unusual concern in his eyes. “I just worry sometimes. Probably over nothing, little things, but I’m your big brother so I get to be concerned.” His eyes linger on you for a bit longer before he suddenly turns away. “Never mind, guess I’m over-enamored with the idea of you working here. Forget it.”

                He walks over to the nearest display for a new drink, leaving you alone in the odd atmosphere he created. That was strange, admittedly, but what can you tell him? That you’ve become progressively more involved with impossible shit through the years, things most people would never believe, let alone understand? But still, annoying as it can be, Thad’s always looked out for you. If he’s worried, should you hear him out?

                Looks like it’s time to make a call. There’s not a lot going on right now, so your options are limited. You can go find out more from Thad, ask Jim what the hell is up with him and the ceiling, or help Victoria search. Kudos, for this far in the night, you’ve managed to keep things pretty low stakes.

                Wait… why is that a Dead End block? Maybe choose carefully after all.

Drew Hayes5 Comments