Halloween 2018: Choose Your Spooky Outcome: Chapter 9

                What the hell was that? Eh, never mind, it’s a weird night all around. Doesn’t seem like you told it what it wanted to hear anyway. It was probably nothing, don’t give it another thought.

                Hunting down your friends would be tough, you know that from the outset. Victoria only turns up when she wants to, and good luck predicting what Jim will do or be up to. You’d have better luck guessing which bubble in a freshly poured beer will pop last. Following the trail of destruction left by a ghost bear might not be the most guaranteed tactic available, but there’s an actual path to follow. That gives it a distinct advantage over blindly searching for your friends. Besides, where there’s trouble, those two inevitably appear. Although in Jim’s case, that’s often because he’s the one who caused the trouble.

                The ghostly crew has begun popping out of their respective offices now that the sounds of a rampaging bear have faded. It’s a little strange that they immediately ducked out of the way or dove for safety when they’re already dead, however that roar tripped something primal in your head too. Alive or not, humans probably built that terrified reflex for good reason. With everyone milling about, you’ve got an easy opening to take charge.

                “Any of you know where that hall comes from? Wherever the bear popped out of, that’s where we’ll probably find the mirror.”

                “If memory serves, there are two stairwells that could bring you to this spot from that direction. Both of them spit out into halls on opposite sides of a huge conference room. It was the one where we held major meetings in my day, so we couldn’t have people wandering through to get to stairs.” Pukemaster has a wistful look in his eye, like he can practically see the past.

                “Still a room, though we don’t use it for conferences as much,” Thad confirms. “That’s actually where we set up the big finale of the night. Whole place is blacked out, made to resemble a creepy forest like the entrance. We’ve gotten hidden tokens scattered through it that can be traded for door prizes or company perks, in the case of employees.”

                Fucking hell, these people know how to throw a party. Sorry, but… damn. Anyway, now that you’ve got something of a course and a destination, you point toward the cracked, splintered hallway where the remains of a fluorescent light are still sparking on the ceiling. This place probably has good insurance, right?

                “Be careful, everyone. No telling what else got loose and might come this direction.” Funny that you say “everyone” even though you and Thad are the only ones present who could actually die, and your potential for that is iffy at best, based on what you know. Really, the warning has only one intended recipient, who gives you little more than a nod in return for your concern. It will have to do, because you’ve got a mirror to find.

                For a pleasant change, luck seems to be along for the trip as you all creep down the hallway. Well, you’re creeping, Thad is walking, and the ghosts are carrying on a casual conversation, albeit at a whisper. Ghost animals or not, the whole situation is so bizarre that it’s likely hard for them to take it seriously. That, or you’re just in a group of people who are either already dead or so good at life they’ve probably never had to feel true fear. Regardless, you make it all the way to the stairs with no incident, easily following the breadcrumbs of destruction left in the bear’s wake. Since either side leads to the conference room, there’s no need to waste time debating, instead you head back down to the lower floors.

                Light flashes along the creeping mist that drifts out from the open conference room door. This whole area is more subdued than the decorated sections you’ve seen so far. Here, they appeared to have embraced the “Halloween” part of Halloween party.

                Dim lighting bathes everything, and spooky sounds are whispering over the speakers. Dark, creeping vines line the walls, sometimes slithering onto the floors and ceilings as well. Withered fruits droop from the vines, casting soft lights that somehow only seems to add more shadow. Everywhere you look, there’s a constant sensation of something moving just outside your range of vision. Basically, it looks awesome. If not for the few annihilated plants and spots of shattered flooring, you might never know that a giant bear just came through the area. Along with some other creatures, based on the curious number of paw-prints you can see through the plants’ scattered dirt. This whole building is going to start getting really crowded, and soon.

                “Something is in there.” Thad pointed through the frosted doors of the conference room, where you can make out flickering lights coming from within. “No idea if that’s part of the show or not. My job was to help with the bar.” While that is an absolute lack of a surprise, you can hardly fault FratCo for it. If you were planning a party, that’s where you would stick Thad as well.

                A wave of fresh sounds reaches your ears, originating from somewhere around the corner to your left. The sound of people, people who are screaming. What kind of screaming, you have no idea. Probably bad, though, given the context of the evening. Before you can even fully absorb it, another interesting clue catches your attention. Amongst those various animal print tracks, there are some that look strikingly like those of a bobcat. No human ones, but honestly, if Jim hasn’t tried to ride that thing by now then you’ll be reasonably sure he’s been replaced by a gum replicant like last summer. If so, it won’t last long. Not even artificial beings can survive doing Jim’s level of daily substances. As for the tracks, they lead away from the stairs and the room, toward a poorly lit hallway heading off in an unexplored direction.

                “Bro, this is your wheelhouse. You lead, I’ll follow.” Thad’s support is helpful, although it might be more encouraging if you hadn’t failed after receiving it so many times throughout your life. Even so, it’s nice having him here. For strategic reasons, since your friends aren’t around to cover you, of course.

                You’ve got glowing, non-specific lights in the conference room, screams around the corner, and what sure looks like bobcat tracks leading further back into a dark hallway. Not a lot to go on, and you’ve become keenly aware of all the eyes on you, waiting for a decision to be made. Based on the amount of destruction, you have to be close to the source of these ghosts. The question is if you’ll find it before something else finds you.

Drew Hayes3 Comments