Halloween 2018: Choose Your Spooky Outcome: Chapter 8

                When you consider it carefully, who really needs the most help? Okay, yeah, that’s Jim. But who has the greatest chance of succeeding? Based on historical precedent, you, sort of, assuming Victoria is there to set-up the alley-oop. Which in no way explains why you’ve made the decision to split apart from both of them, and follow a group of ghost strangers while they traipse through an office. Although they do seem like an entertaining crew, so maybe you’re just trying to have some fun with the holiday for a chance.

                However you mentally justify it, the teams are split and set off immediately. Victoria disappears from your view after darting briefly behind a small wall, while Jim and the bobcat race off screaming, and yowling, announcing their presence to everything living and dead that dares get in their way. That leaves you alone with Thad and the ghost team, who lead you toward a stairwell tucked away behind a haunted house facade.

                As you might expect, the old friends fall quickly into discussion with one another, leaving you and Thad more or less by yourselves for the climb. The ghosts aren’t terribly interesting outside of partying anyway, currently they’re talking about finding a phone book so they can call cabs to hit up a late-night cocaine shooting range, which you are really hoping is something they made up and not a forgotten relic of the old days.

                Thad breaks the silence, diverting your attention from your momentary sojourn into recent history. “So… we’re walking behind a bunch of ghosts. After a different ghost, one of a wild animal, tried to rip your face off. The same ghost was then snatched out of the air and turned into a pet by the girl you used to crush on in high school. All of which seems to be having no visible effect on you whatsoever.”

                “Would you like to just go ahead and ask your question?”

                “Actually, no.” Thad ruffles your hair slightly, just like he has since you were kids. You hate it now the same way you hated it then, which is to say less than you pretend. “I don’t get this, any of it, but you clearly do. I’ve been wondering what you were up to these last few years. Knew it would be something special, and this puts even my expectations to shame. Whatever it is, if you want to bring me in, you will. Until then, I’m along for the ride, and watching your back.”

                Somehow, Thad’s boundless faith always feels heavier than anyone else’s disappointment. All the same, you do appreciate that he’s giving you space. When you meet his eyes, you can see love and concern looking back. Along with something else. A worry, a fear, something he isn’t saying. At least now you know why, Thad doesn’t want to push to hard and send you off again. Just as you’re about to ask him if there’s anything other topic he might like to discuss, one of the ghost’s voices rings out.

                “Here we are, best accommodations in the whole office during my time.” Boots has halted the group at what appears to be a fairly normal office, certainly not the biggest, yet he’s got a surprisingly certain expression on. Maybe confidence is just the default setting amongst this group? “On top of being a great spot for an under-wraps nap or place to tip back the old bottle, there’s a slight issue with the slope of the floor. Keeps it so that the lock never… quite… works!”

                Everyone hops back as Boots slams into the wooden doorway, jarring it open. “Granted, an outsider wouldn’t know that, but if they were just trying knobs at random, this would be the most likely one to open. Gents, you all want to check your offices as well?” No sooner has he spoken than the ghost team scatters, going up to various rooms. Some tap hidden sections of wall or door, others start scanning the area until coming up with tucked away keys.

                Reaching under a potted plant, Big Mug goes through three keys before he finds the one to his office. Mercifully, Thad doesn’t actually make you ask the obvious question. “People get fucked up a lot in FratCo. It became policy to have a hidden key or latch for every office a long time ago. Apparently, they were spending a shitload on locksmiths.” Not a great explanation, from a logical point of view, however given the mindset of everything else in this company, it does make a sort of drunken sense.

                By the time everyone else has their door open, Boots is already wandering into his office, so you follow. More eyes will hopefully make for quicker work, although how a magical ghost-spewing mirror could be tucked away that effectively is hard to imagine. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, you’ve learned to take nothing granted, even more so on Halloween. Thad is on your heels, helping you search, not that there’s much to see. Whoever uses the office now, the most interesting thing about them is the collection of whiskey glasses shaped like sex toys. First room seems to be a bust.

                Roaring hits your ears, far louder than what one meager bobcat could accomplish. You’re spinning around, but Thad has already slammed the door closed, bracing it with his considerable body. The move turns out to be a good one as a fucking polar bear (or a regular bear whose fur was turned white by death) comes barreling through the hall. Everything in its way is devastated, including a few partially opened doors sent bursting off their hinges.

                Okay, it’s official: even by your standards, this shit is getting ridiculous. One good thing, though, is that you quickly realize that this detour is a waste of time. “Hang on, that bear is huge. If it came out of one of these offices, the place would be gutted and leave a ton of debris. No chance the mirror can be up here.”

               “One of the few times I’m glad these offices aren’t bigger,” Thad says. “That still leaves us with the question of which way should we go? There are stairways all over the place, and we’ve got no clue where exactly the bear came from. We’d have to pick one of your friends to go meet up with, which might be tough since we don’t know exactly where they ended up. Tough for Victoria, anyway, got a feeling Jim will find a way to stand out.”

                “Could track the bear’s path,” Boots tosses in. “I think Wibble-Wobble used to do some hunting. Follow the trail, it should lead us to the mirror. That assumes it hasn’t been moved, of course, and that there’s enough trail to follow. Then again, if we pull it off, could save us a lot of time.”

                Hunt down your friends or follow the origin path of a wild ghost bear. Not the easiest of choices, although you aren’t recently trampled, so that makes this a cut above many past adventures. Still, that bear is heading somewhere, and not everyone will get out of the way. Best to choose a course of action fast, because the shit coming through that mirror only appears to be getting weirder. And more dangerous.

Drew Hayes13 Comments