Halloween 2018: Choose Your Spooky Outcome: Chapter 6
Ah, the hell with it. Jim’s a solid friend, and he’s ignoring his own call to adventure just being here. You can at least let him have this, seeing as the situation looks fairly tame.
“Jim… we’ll do your thing. Grab us some extra players because we’re taking them on in flip-cup.”
Victoria looks surprised, while Jim merely balls up his hands and lets out a high-pitched squeal of excitement before bolting through the crowd to secure your position. A few people are slow moving out of his way and get barreled through, Jim is a force of nature when there’s a drinking game to be played.
“Did I hear that right? You want to take that ghost squad on?” Thad’s enthusiastic slap to your back is strong enough to nearly lift you off your feet. “Guess that means you’ll want the five time FratCo Flip-Cup Summer Tournament Champion on your team. But gee, I wonder if you can get him, he’s pretty in demand…”
With a resigned sigh, you pinch the bridge of your nose. “I know it’s you, Thad. You’re the only person who casually wins entire tournaments for half-a-decade running, plus your old frat still has all those records you set.” Much as you would love to end it there, unfortunately he has made a solid point. “Would you please be on my flip-cup team?”
“The two of us, on a team together. We should just send those geezers home now, no way they’ve got a shot.” Thad gives you a high-five that leaves your palm stinging. “I’ll go help Jim pick a fifth, nobody knows the talent around here like me.”
Once he’s gone, you blow gently on your hand. It’s slightly embarrassing for Victoria to see, but after this many adventures she’s witnessed you do far worse. “You think this is silly, don’t you?”
“Merlin, we have spent a significant number of Halloweens together, over the course of which I have learned one lesson time and time again. Though I might not understand the choices you make, they consistently lead us to our goals. It takes longer in some cases than others, yet we’ve made it every year. Do I see how this will help? No. Do I trust that it will, because you’re the one leading the way? Yes, I do.”
She fixes a small section of her belt, ensuring a supposedly decorative dagger is in easy-drawing position. “Tonight, I’ve begun to understand why you seem ignorant of your own talents. Comforting words are not my forte, especially not on this hallowed evening. But I will offer you one piece of counsel: I am an efficient, calculating person. Were you not at least skilled enough to be useful, I wouldn’t keep bringing you along. You might doubt any sweet condolences I whispered; however, that statement, I hope you can see the truth in.”
With that, she heads toward the flip-cup table and you follow. Arriving, you find Thad and Jim, already in position. Next to Thad is another large man dressed in some kind of half-inflatable dinosaur costume. Whatever his outfit was, it’s clearly been compromised so that he can play.
On the other side of the table, the ghosts are celebrating their latest win. So far, apparently, they’ve gone undefeated. The dangerous gleam in Jim’s eyes says he’s looking to change that. You’re not even sure he remembers there’s magic afoot at this point, all he seems to be aware of is the table. Finally turning away, he motions you all into a huddle.
“This is Thad’s boy, Rex. Rex, this is the team.” Jim doesn’t pause when Rex opens his mouth to speak, blazing right on past. “On the other side we’ve got Wolfman, Big Mug, Wibble-Wobble, Pukemaster, and Boots.”
“How can you possibly know that?” you ask.
“Haunted Hall of History. You give me booze for learning, I learn like a mother fucker,” Jim shoots back. “Now Wolfman is their anchor, and Boots is their lead. Start strong, end strong. We want to match that, we have to bookend with our best as well. Pukemaster is their slowest member, looks like he’s sitting in the middle. Who do we think is our worst?”
After several moments of consideration, your gaze turns to, shockingly, Victoria. “Jim is Jim, I live with him, Thad is a five-time tournament winner, and I’m guessing Rex must be decent as well.”
“Three-time runner-up,” Rex says, shooting Thad a look of jealous respect that gives you a surprising sense of comradery with the man.
“Nice. Point is, I think by default, that makes you the worst at this.” You’re braced for glowering; instead Victoria nods her agreement.
“True, this is not a skill I have mastered. Somehow, I’ll find a way to bear the shame.”
Once lineup is settled, everyone falls into place. Thad is first, followed by Rex, with Victoria taking center. After her it goes to you, with Jim as the anchor to make up for time lost. Across the table, the ghosts are taking their spots as well.
“Oh shit!” Jim holds up a hand, causing a halt. “I almost forgot the bet! Hey, if we beat you guys, will you show us how you got here? Also, we know you’re all real ghosts, and it’s cool, we’re not narcs.”
Thad and Rex both laugh, missing the brief flash of panic that rolls across the former FratCo employees’ faces. Their fear is short-lived thanks to Jim’s reassurance, and by the time Thad and Rex look up, Wolfman is already speaking.
“Sure. We’d show you that anyway, but a game does make it more fun.”
Before you can follow-up on that statement, Jim lowers his hand and whistle goes off, signaling the start of the game. Thad is precisely as skilled as one would expect from a five-time champ. His beer is gone in a single gulp, with the cup successfully flipped in one speedy try. Unfortunately, Boots is no slouch either, beer spilling out of his slit neck while he slugged it down. His cup only requires two tries, keeping a dangerously close pace with Thad.
Rex and Wibble-Wobble turn out to be evenly matched, as both take almost the exact same time to chug and flip, preserving the minor lead Thad had bought the team. Good thing, because when the turn passes to Victoria, it’s hard not to hold your breath in fear.
She gets the beer down at a fair pace. Not ridiculously fast, but a reasonable speed for a normal drinker. Pukemaster, unfortunately, is still cooking along at the same rate as Boots and Wibble-Wobble, catching up to her as both cups touch the table. Both of their first hits fail, plastic clattering on wood.
From the back of the bar, you notice more activity. Something new seems to be drawing people’s attention. A lot of attention, actually.
Cursing brings your eyes back to the table, in time to notice Pukemaster succeed his second attempt and Victoria fail hers. Big Mug reaches for his cup, while Victoria’s eyes narrow at her own. For a second, you’re afraid she’s going to fill the whole office with murdering zombies. Instead, she sets he cup on the edge and hits it one more time.
The plastic receptacle flies up through the air, ridiculously high for that amount of force. It goes all the way to the ceiling, where a mechanical flying bat swinging around knocks it back down. The cup tumbles through the air at a breakneck speed, before landing soundly on the table, bottom-up.
“Merlin, you’re up.”
Well, aside from an excellent reminder on why not to piss Victoria off, that made it your turn. Unfortunately, that ruckus on the other side of the room is getting bigger. You can’t tell what it is, or if it’s supernatural. All you can see are lots of people milling about. There’s screaming, whether its good or bad you’d have to shut off all the dance music to know. If it is danger, though, then should you get your brother clear? He’ll try to jump in as security, and you’re mostly sure coming back from the dead isn’t one of his gifts.
The only thing you know for certain is that Big Mug has a lead. Maybe Jim can close that gap, but if you don’t start now he’s got no chance. You can either finish this game, run over and see what’s happening, or get Thad clear. Whichever it is, best pick now. Big Mug’s cup isn’t getting fuller as he chugs.