I don't know how long I stood there but when I heard someone talking to me and snapped out of the daze, I noticed that the door with the employees only sign was now closed and that the tickets I had been reading were safely secured in my pocket.

“Hello,” the voice called. It was a woman. “Are you all looking for Carousel?”

I looked down toward the road. Three people stood there expectantly. The person talking was a slender woman with black hair. She might have been in her late twenties. Two men accompanied her. One was a tall twig of a guy who wore a jester’s grin. He might have been her age.

The other guy was older—maybe forty-five or so—and he did not look nearly as entertained to be there. He wore a gruff beard and tamed his slightly overgrown hair with a ballcap. He said nothing, but slowly smoked away at the cigar in his mouth.

My friends had apparently been out of it as long as I had. Everyone started to snap out of it at once.

Antoine spoke first. He cleared his throat. “We’re here to visit my brother. Carousel is just down this road, right?

“It sure is,” the tall skinny man said.


The woman said. “My name is Valorie. This is Todd and Arthur.” She gestured toward the tall man and then the gruff man respectively. “We’re here to guide newcomers to town and help you get all set up. Things are a little diff- “

She was cut off by the man, Arthur, “Is your brother Chris Stone?” he asked. He didn’t speak with the tone one might expect from the welcome committee.

His two compatriots seemed taken aback by his question. They quickly began looking intently at Antoine.

“… Yes,” Antoine said. “Do you know him?”

Valorie, Arthur, and Todd look at each other. There was real concern in their faces. I had no idea why.

“Yeah, we know him,” Valorie said. The pep had gone out of her voice. “You two look alike. We’ll take you to him.”


“He has a lake house on Dyer’s Lake,” Antoine said, “Is that down this way?”

Todd started to laugh. “A lake house?” he asked. “I guess that’s one way of putting it.”

Valorie sent him a death stare. He stopped laughing.

“We’ll take you to him,” he repeated.

They gestured for us to follow them and began walking down the path toward the road.

“Actually the two of us are going to the horror convention in town,” Bobby said, putting his arm around his wife. “Is that this way too?”

“Yes,” Valorie said softly. She continued walking.

“That was weird, right?” Camden whispered to me as we grabbed our luggage and began following the three guides.

I nodded enthusiastically.

“What kind of place is Carousel?” Anna asked Antoine as we took to the road.

“Dude, I have no idea,” he answered. He must have been as confused as we were. Apparently, his brother didn’t warn him about the welcome committee.

As we walked, my curiosity turned back to those strange tickets we had been supplied so generously by the creepy mannequin. I took mine from my pocket and examined them. Truthfully, they looked like they belonged to some sort of game. Was Carousel a fancy LARPer colony?

“What did you get?” I asked Camden, showing him my tickets.

He showed me his.

He had a gold ticket:

The Scholar

Major Archetype

You were always the smartest, cleverest, and most knowledgeable. Let’s put it all to the test. When danger lurks at your door will you be able to outthink evil, plan for success, or solve the mystery?

Study up! This will be the hardest test you have ever taken.

Base Stats

Mettle-for Feats of Strength and Offensive ability 1

Moxie-To make your performance convincing 2

Hustle-to be Quick, Deft, and to always hit your mark 2

Savvy-for Intelligence, Planning, and Deduction 5

Grit-for Durability, Toughness, and Endurance 1

Plot Armor- Mastering all five aspects of Plot Armor will make you a master of horror.

(total of all stats)