A Choose Your Own Adventure Horror Story (for Skeptics)

CYOA-1
CYOA-2

1

“If it isn’t my child relative! Come hither within touching distance!”

Uncle Joe is your favourite. He’s the cool, funny uncle. The only grown-up who really gets you. But there’s something a little off about his welcome.

His eyes follow your taxicab as its starts the perilous thirty kilometre journey back down the dark, isolated mountain. Uncle Joe’s arms are spread for a hug, his breath turning to mist in the night air. But as you step onto his creaky verandah, he kneels down and seizes your arm.

His grip is brutal and ice-cold. Bloodshot eyes level with yours, he puts an index finger to your lips.

“Shhh. If she hears the words, she will come.”

You look around. Uncle Joe lives alone. There’s nobody for miles, you think to yourself.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Uncle Joe says. “There’s nobody for miles, you’re thinking to yourself.”

To tell Uncle Joe he’s lost it and go watch TV, turn to page 2.

To tell Uncle Joe he’s lost it and go watch TV, turn to page 2.

To tell Uncle Joe he’s lost it and go watch TV, turn to page 2.

2

Foolishly, and somewhat insensitively, you tell your Uncle Joe (who you are completely alone with, remember) that he is insane.

He laughs off the suggestion, insanely.

You march inside and see Uncle Joe’s wooden television set. It’s ancient, like something out of one of the movies you watched with your dad when he still loved you. You approach it and look for a power button.

Uncle Joe shrieks. He is shaking with terror.

“Don’t touch that! It’s not a television!”

Reading the confusion in your eyes, he lowers his voice.

“She calls it… the Hell Box.”

Seeing that this hasn’t clarified anything, he hurriedly suggests, “Why not choose a bedroom and make yourself comfortable? I have nice rooms! Nice rooms with nice company! You can stay in the attic with the Lost Spirits! Or in the cellar with Khrug’mata the Mad!”

To say, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but there’s no such thing as a Hell Box,” and switch on the TV, turn to page 3.

To say, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but there’s no such thing as a Hell Box,” and switch on the TV, turn to page 3.

To say, “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but there’s no such thing as a Hell Box,” and switch on the TV, turn to page 3.

To stay in the attic because there is no evidence for the existence of spirits, turn to page 4.

To stay in the attic because there is no evidence for the existence of spirits, turn to page 4.

To stay in the attic because there is no evidence for the existence of spirits, turn to page 4.

To stay in the cellar with Khrug’mata the Mad who is likely just Uncle Joe’s pet budgie or something, turn to page 9.

To stay in the cellar with Khrug’mata the Mad who is likely just Uncle Joe’s pet budgie or something, turn to page 9.

To stay in the cellar with Khrug’mata the Mad who is likely just Uncle Joe’s pet budgie or something, turn to page 9.

3

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but there’s no such thing as a Hell Box,” you say with, in all honesty, a bit too much confidence given you only just arrived and Uncle Joe surely knows more about this place than you do.

Nevertheless, you find an “On” button and press it.

The screen flickers to life, though ‘life’ somehow seems the wrong metaphor.

The picture is black and white. A woman, alone in a stone dungeon cell, faces away from the camera.

She turns toward you, and while you feel she is looking at you, there is something wrong.

She has no face.

You see Uncle Joe out of the corner of your eye, lying prostrate on the floor, apologising and urinating.

The Faceless Woman sobs from unseen eyes. Then there is more sobbing, coming from all around you. It grows to hundreds of moans, then howls of anguish as your eyes remain locked on the woman’s faceless form.

“Come to me, child,” the Faceless Woman cries directly into your mind. “Know and love my misery for all eternity.”

To grab some popcorn and see where this weird Art House horror movie is going, turn to Page 6.

To grab some popcorn and see where this weird Art House horror movie is going, turn to Page 6.

To grab some popcorn and see where this weird Art House horror movie is going, turn to Page 6.

6

“No!” Uncle Joe shouts as you turn away to get popcorn. “You mustn’t turn away!”

You turn back. The television has switched itself off. Uncle Joe has completely soiled his trousers and most of the carpet.

“We must pay a penance!” he mutters, frantic. “The Faceless Woman’s favour must be courted, or her wrath will be great!”

He is a gibbering wreck. You need to do something about the Hell Box!

To assume that the sudden switching off of the television was a result of its age and subtly call a doctor for Uncle Joe, turn to page 12.

To assume that the sudden switching off of the television was a result of its age and subtly call a doctor for Uncle Joe, turn to page 12.

To assume that the sudden switching off of the television was a result of its age and subtly call a doctor for Uncle Joe, turn to page 12.

12

You take out your mobile phone to call for help, because apparently you weren’t convinced by that bizarre experience with the television, but you have no reception!

“She hates those!” Uncle Joe whispers, pointing at your phone. “They are works of this realm, and they will be devoured by The Infant’s rage.

You hear a deep rumble from the Hell Box as it comes back on.

“I am love for you!” Uncle Joe screams and falls back down before the image of the Faceless Woman.

“All misery is ours,” they say in unison. “And ours will be the misery of all!”

“Bow down,” Uncle Joe says, under his breath. “It helps.”

The Faceless Woman watches your next move closely.

To assume that this whole thing with the Faceless Woman is just a movie Uncle Joe has seen before, and also assume that the lack of mobile phone reception is due to the remoteness of your house rather than any supernatural activity, and to then use Uncle Joe’s landline phone to call a taxi and go home so you don’t have to stay with a man who’s clearly getting too involved in a movie, turn to page 15.

To assume that this whole thing with the Faceless Woman is just a movie Uncle Joe has seen before, and also assume that the lack of mobile phone reception is due to the remoteness of your house rather than any supernatural activity, and to then use Uncle Joe’s landline phone to call a taxi and go home so you don’t have to stay with a man who’s clearly getting too involved in a movie, turn to page 15.

To assume that this whole thing with the Faceless Woman is just a movie Uncle Joe has seen before, and also assume that the lack of mobile phone reception is due to the remoteness of your house rather than any supernatural activity, and to then use Uncle Joe’s landline phone to call a taxi and go home so you don’t have to stay with a man who’s clearly getting too involved in a movie, turn to page 15.

15

Like an annoying, skeptical fool, you use the landline phone, call a taxi and go home.

When you walk in, you find your dad having sex with his divorce lawyer. It’s messy and the image is burned into your brain forever.

“Oh hey!” he says, nakedly. “Your mum died.”

That’s what you get for being so skeptical about my story.

THE END

Do you dare play again?

4

You take your bag and head for the attic. Uncle Joe, having gathered his wits somewhat, follows.

As you walk, Uncle Joe explains the history of the house. “This house is built on an old graveyard for children, which was built on top of an even older graveyard for child sorcerers. Back in the 19th century, the graveyard’s keeper, Billy John Wheaton, murdered 22 young girls, whom he lured to his shack using voodoo. Wheaton claimed to have gained immortality from drinking the blood of the girls, so the judge sentenced him to be buried alive in the earth he had tainted with that blood.

“It was forgotten for years, and the site became overgrown with woods, though they say no animal lived there. In the 1950s, a dollmaker cleared the area and built this house from the haunted timbers. He filled the house with wooden dolls, carved from the same trees. A few years later he hanged himself, penniless, because any child who bought one of his dolls suffered endless nightmares.

“I got the place cheap.”

To proceed into the attic on the rational assumption that the cheapness of the house was entirely unrelated to supernatural activity arising from the house’s admittedly dark but largely undocumented history, but was instead due to its remote location and poor state of repair, turn to page 7.

To proceed into the attic on the rational assumption that the cheapness of the house was entirely unrelated to supernatural activity arising from the house’s admittedly dark but largely undocumented history, but was instead due to its remote location and poor state of repair, turn to page 7.

To proceed into the attic on the rational assumption that the cheapness of the house was entirely unrelated to supernatural activity arising from the house’s admittedly dark but largely undocumented history, but was instead due to its remote location and poor state of repair, turn to page 7.

7

You boldly climb the ladder into the attic, still unafraid. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps you are a fool.

The attic is filled with a bright, white light. It is lined with shelves housing rows of old, wooden dolls. They are misshapen things with wicked, painted smiles. Every doll’s head faces you. On the far wall, scrawled in thick lines of blood, are two words:

LEAVE US

The room suddenly goes dark. You try to find a light switch, but there is none. There is no lightbulb in the room. You hear a sound like chattering teeth. It is coming from the dolls!

What do you do?

To ignore the sound (which is probably a consequence of movement of the poorly-stumped house in the mountain winds, leading the dolls to clatter against each other) and get into bed, turn to page 10.

To ignore the sound (which is probably a consequence of movement of the poorly-stumped house in the mountain winds, leading the dolls to clatter against each other) and get into bed, turn to page 10.

To ignore the sound (which is probably a consequence of movement of the poorly-stumped house in the mountain winds, leading the dolls to clatter against each other) and get into bed, turn to page 10.

10

You make a completely unreasonable assumption about where the noise is coming from. The dolls don’t even have any moving parts, so how can their teeth be chattering unless there’s something supernatural going on? And what about the blood? Or the light? You didn’t rationalise either of those. You should think about that for a bit before you keep going with the adventure.

Ignore this and turn to page 14.

Ignore this and turn to page 14.

Ignore this and turn to page 14.

9

You turn away from the “Hell Box” and head for the cellar. Uncle Joe, having gathered his wits somewhat, follows.

“I bought this house for the solitude, mostly,” Uncle Joe says, unprompted. “But I have come to love it because of the Faceless Woman who watches over me from the Hell Box. She is all horror and all beauty. When her howls of anguish fill my mind, I am terrified, yet at peace. In time, her howls will fill your mind also, and we will tremble before her together in worship.”

He leans down and lifts the trap door. “Khrug’mata the Mad dwells down here, and yet he does not. He lives and lives not. He dies and dies not. He is and was, and is not and was not. He yearns for reality or oblivion, but lingers in the space between. I do not know what he will ask of you, but you cannot trust him, for he is mad.”

To nod patronisingly, then shake your head in bemusement when your uncle turns away, then go down into the cellar, turn to page 5.

To nod patronisingly, then shake your head in bemusement when your uncle turns away, then go down into the cellar, turn to page 5.

To nod patronisingly, then shake your head in bemusement when your uncle turns away, then go down into the cellar, turn to page 5.

5

You bump your arrogant and ugly head as you descend into the cellar. You look around for signs of Khrug’mata the Mad, but see only a single bed, a writing desk, and an old, wooden television set exactly like the one in the lounge. You kick off your shoes and settle down on the bed.

Suddenly, you hear a voice. It is close, but somehow distant. You strain to hear it, yet it is painfully loud.

“Child,” the voice says, “I am Khrug’mata the Mad. I was the High Priest of the Faceless Woman and cupbearer of The Infant. The object before you is the Hell Box. It looks to you like the television set above because it is the same object existing in many places.”

This makes a lot of sense even to your skeptical mind because this thing about an object existing in many places is kind of like quantum physics.

“The Hell Box must be destroyed, or the Infant will devour the unwashed and the Faceless Woman’s misery will be shared by all who worship her. But your human mind alone cannot comprehend the true form of the Hell Box, and I have not fully entered your world. Only if my soul unites with yours, child, will we be strong enough to destroy it. Choose now whether we will be joined as one.”

To categorically reject the existence of disembodied voices and Hell Boxes and explain Khrug’mata the Mad’s voice by assuming that this is a prank, and to then get into bed, turn to page 21.

To categorically reject the existence of disembodied voices and Hell Boxes and explain Khrug’mata the Mad’s voice by assuming that this is a prank, and to then get into bed, turn to page 21.

To categorically reject the existence of disembodied voices and Hell Boxes and explain Khrug’mata the Mad’s voice by assuming that this is a prank, and to then get into bed, turn to page 21.

21

Now you’re just being ridiculous. A prank? Come on. I’ve already established that no one else lives nearby, and Uncle Joe certainly isn’t a prankster, trust me. This story isn’t going to work if you keep coming up with the most likely real world explanation for its events.

If that introduction made you worried that this was going to be too scary, I’m sorry. I made up all of that stuff. That bit about the other authors going mad - I just said that so you’d want to read it. But it’s still a good story, I promise.

Ignore this and turn to page 14.

Ignore this and turn to page 14.

Ignore this and turn to page 14.

14

Eventually, you drift off to sleep. You enter a dream unlike any you have experienced - it is more vision than dream, each image real and indelible. Before you is a woman, shrouded in white. She has no face, yet she is mesmerisingly beautiful. You hear her sobbing gently as you hover together in an otherworldly red mist.

“Look down, child,” the Faceless Woman says. You do so.

You are floating above a vast, gelatinous creature, stretching farther than you can see. It is covered with thousands of eyes and mouths that constantly form and dissolve. You sense only its hunger and rage.

“That is The Infant,” the Faceless Woman tells you. “When enough humans worship me through the Hell Box, The Infant will enter your Universe. It will torment all of you as it torments me, and we will be united in misery.”

You sense that you are about to get another choice, but this time you should take it seriously because this clearly isn’t a regular dream. I really want to stress that it is unlike any other dream you have experienced and you must not blow it off.

“Will you worship me, child, and learn the ecstasy of my anguish?” the Faceless Woman asks, sobbing. “Or will you stand against me and be devoured?”

To wake yourself up (because you realise you’re dreaming and can do that) and attribute the whole thing to the weird stuff your clearly unhinged Uncle Joe was saying and the Lovecraft story you read a few weeks ago, turn to page 8.

To wake yourself up (because you realise you’re dreaming and can do that) and attribute the whole thing to the weird stuff your clearly unhinged Uncle Joe was saying and the Lovecraft story you read a few weeks ago, turn to page 8.

To wake yourself up (because you realise you’re dreaming and can do that) and attribute the whole thing to the weird stuff your clearly unhinged Uncle Joe was saying and the Lovecraft story you read a few weeks ago, turn to page 8.

To use your lucid dreaming abilities to turn the Faceless Woman into the hot celebrity of your choice, turn to page 11.

To use your lucid dreaming abilities to turn the Faceless Woman into the hot celebrity of your choice, turn to page 11.

To use your lucid dreaming abilities to turn the Faceless Woman into the hot celebrity of your choice, turn to page 11.

8

Seriously, what are you trying to do? You can’t just keep on rationalising everything and not being scared, or this whole concept is going to fall apart. Work with me just a little and I promise this will be scary and spectacular. Let’s just say the dream thing was real and you rejected the Faceless Woman’s offer.

You wake up. You are in Uncle Joe’s lounge room. You don’t remember getting up. The Hell Box is right there, switched on.

On the screen, the Faceless Woman from your dream beckons you forward with a crooked finger. You feel your soul drawn to hers.

You look around for an escape route, but the windows have vanished. You are no longer in Uncle Joe’s house, but a stone dungeon cell. The Faceless Woman now sits beside you. You are alone with her and the Hell Box. You pinch yourself - it is no dream this time.

“Join with me,” she wails. “Join with me and love me!”

Do you look for an escape? Or do you join with the Faceless Woman? This is a really clear dilemma and you only have two choices.

To switch the TV to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, turn to page 13.

To switch the TV to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, turn to page 13.

To switch the TV to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, turn to page 13.

To switch to Channel Nine’s Today Show, turn to page 22.

To switch to Channel Nine’s Today Show, turn to page 22.

To switch to Channel Nine’s Today Show, turn to page 22.

11

Seriously, what are you trying to do? You can’t just keep on rationalising everything and not being scared, or this whole concept is going to fall apart. Work with me just a little and I promise this will be scary and spectacular. Let’s just say the dream thing was real and you rejected the Faceless Woman’s offer.

You wake up. You are in Uncle Joe’s lounge room. You don’t remember getting up. The Hell Box is right there, switched on.

On the screen, the Faceless Woman from your dream beckons you forward with a crooked finger. You feel your soul drawn to hers.

You look around for an escape route, but the windows have vanished. You are no longer in Uncle Joe’s house, but a stone dungeon cell. The Faceless Woman now sits beside you. You are alone with her and the Hell Box. You pinch yourself - it is no dream this time.

“Join with me,” she wails. “Join with me and love me!”

Do you look for an escape? Or do you join with the Faceless Woman? This is a really clear dilemma and you only have two choices.

To switch the TV to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, turn to page 13.

To switch the TV to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, turn to page 13.

To switch the TV to Channel Seven’s Sunrise, turn to page 13.

To switch to Channel Nine’s Today Show, turn to page 22.

To switch to Channel Nine’s Today Show, turn to page 22.

To switch to Channel Nine’s Today Show, turn to page 22.

13

I cannot believe you.

You didn’t play along, so the humans worship the Faceless Woman and the Infant comes and destroys the Universe and it’s your fault. The Infant digests you over all eternity and you are completely alone and miserable. All surviving members of the human race exist in endless, limitless anguish, and everyone knows it’s your fault. Your name becomes a swear word. And not a cool swear word. A bad one.

Suck it. I’m the writer and I can do this to you.

THE END

To ignore this ending and actually choose your own adventure, turn to page 16.

To ignore this ending and actually choose your own adventure, turn to page 16.

To ignore this ending and actually choose your own adventure, turn to page 16.

22

I cannot believe you.

You didn’t play along, so the humans worship the Faceless Woman and the Infant comes and destroys the Universe and it’s your fault. The Infant digests you over all eternity and you are completely alone and miserable. All surviving members of the human race exist in endless, limitless anguish, and everyone knows it’s your fault. Your name becomes a swear word. And not a cool swear word. A bad one.

Suck it. I’m the writer and I can do this to you.

THE END

To ignore this ending and actually choose your own adventure, turn to page 16.

To ignore this ending and actually choose your own adventure, turn to page 16.

To ignore this ending and actually choose your own adventure, turn to page 16.

16

Fine. You know what? Here are a couple of blank pages. If you’re not going to work with my story, write your own.











Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

17













Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

18

Keep going. Here are a couple more pages. See what else you can come up with. Hard work, isn’t it? Probably not even scary compared to what I was going to do with the Infant and Khrug’mata the Mad.











Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

19













Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.

Keep writing on the next page.