The Relic: Part Three (Vote Your Adventure)

Paint can

This is the third part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read part one and part two.

You turn right and start down the hall. The air is rancid. Patches of dried blood crunch beneath your feet and each step makes your skin crawl. More doors line the right side, marked with bloody handprints and black occult symbols identical to the one on the window. You put your ear against a door and hear wind and the frenetic sound of wings passing back and forth.

It is looking for you.

Fifty paces from where you started, the signs of violence increase. Blood is thicker, smears on the wall are darker, and lying against the wall is a dismembered arm. You force yourself to ignore it and glance back over your shoulder. From here, all the doors look alike and disappear into darkness.

Ahead, the hallway breaks off to the left. You press yourself against the wall and inch toward the passage. The blood no longer crunches beneath your boots. It is so thick that it supports your weight. You raise your hammer, hug the paint can tightly to your body, and slowly lean your head out.

Ten feet in, a mishmash of wood and steel has been carefully piled to the ceiling. A large piece of particle board bearing the protective symbol leans against the front.

The look of the barrier bothers you. For one thing, some of the metal looks welded together. For another, someone planted a stop sign in the middle. The longer you look, the more you feel you’re being manipulated in a certain direction.

You walk up to the barrier and tug on a few pieces. You are certain it will hold your weight. You set the paint can on the floor and secure the hammer in your belt. You climb.

The top of the pile is mostly loose. You carefully move pieces around to get a better view and pull yourself up to look.

The other side is dark and you can just make out the form of something huge. It makes a sliding, scraping sound. You start to back away, quickly and quietly. As you descend, a cat-like eye as big as your head moves into the light and fixes you with a piercing stare.

Terrified, you let out a shout. Your feet slip. You grab for anything that would slow your fall. You land on the particle board, cracking it through the center and splitting the symbol in two. Your hip hurts like hell from the impact.

The barrier lurches and a deafening slam erupts around you. A few of the boards snap and the entire structure groans. Another slam, stronger now. The barrier starts to give way.

You grab the paint can, jump to your feet, and run. The bloody doors and the remains on the floor are a blur. You dash through a doorway. Your feet skid over a pentagram and you come to a dead halt. Your blood runs cold. Crossing a pentagram will beckon the demons to you.

You’re in a rectangular room with vaulted ceilings. The violence in the hallway reached its pinnacle in here. Blood is splattered everywhere and bullet holes dot every surface. To the left, a set of shelves and boards are haphazardly nailed into the wall. They seem a little out of place. To the right, small enclaves are set into the wall. You guess they once displayed art and sculpture. Fore and aft are matching single doors. The door across from you is closed. Pentagrams have been painted on the floor in front of both single doors.

You hear a low hum and the sound of rushing wings overhead. The demon outside heard your movements. You hear a violent series of tearing and slamming sounds up ahead, just beyond the closed single door. It is inside the building.

From behind you hear one final slam and you know the demon you just saw is finally through the barrier.

They’re coming at you from opposite ends. To protect yourself, you know you must obscure the pentagrams and place protective wards on the doors.

You grab the screwdriver from your pocket and open the paint can. Your heart skips a beat. There is very little paint left. You only have enough for one.

What do you do?

A: Stop the demon with the cat-like eye behind you.
B: Stop the flying demon in front of you.

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. The scaredy-cats have the vote by a very slim margin. The next step in the story will be posted Friday. Many thanks for everyone’s participation.Continue reading “The Relic: Part Three (Vote Your Adventure)”

The Relic: Part Two (Vote Your Adventure)

Rusty Hammer

This is the second part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story. Read part one.

You stagger to your feet and the room spins. So does your stomach. As your body expels breakfast and blood onto the floor, you know something is very wrong. You crouch over your own vomit, hands on your knees, sweating and breathing heavily. You focus on the pink splatters of protein shake swirling around your boots. Even though you inhaled it this morning in the mess hall, you knew it tasted funny. Now you know you were drugged.

You wipe your mouth with the back of your hand and stand up straight. Your eyes lock on the workbench and you cross the room in three steps.

The bench has been repeatedly ransacked and the tools left behind are subpar for a maintenance shed, much less an armory. In a dirty pile you see a rusted hammer and various screwdrivers and wrenches, all heavy-duty. You grab the hammer and give it a swing. The balance is good and the claw is at least menacing. It will have to do.

You use the hammer to sift through the dirt. In the back right corner, the claw catches on something large under a tarp. You reach for it and pull it out. It’s a flak jacket just like yours. Blood is caked everywhere and obscures half of the name tag. You scratch off some of the blood. Zuniga. You don’t know a Zuniga. You pull off the name tag and slip it into your pocket. If you find your way back to base, you can report the missing soldier.

By moving the jacket you uncovered a few other items: a quart-sized paint can and brush, a small flat head screwdriver, and a full 9mm clip. No gun. Nearby is a thin chain. Instead of dog tags, it bears a crude symbol made of twisted paper clips. You lean closer for a better look. Three, possibly four religious symbols have been combined into one. You work on tangling the chain around the head of the hammer.

As you finish, a deafening boom fills your ears. The walls shake. Dirt showers from the ceiling. Terrified, you grab the hammer and whirl around. Another slam erupts from the right side of the room. A light fixture smashes to the floor just a foot away. Another slam now, from the left side. In the pause between, you hear wings.

You’re being flushed out.

Doesn’t matter. You’re done here anyway. You pocket the clip, the small screwdriver, and the paint brush, and scoop the paint can into your arm. You run to the blood-splattered interior door. Raising the hammer, you open the door and rush outside. The door closes softly behind you, barely dampening the noise.

You’re in a narrow hallway with thick gray carpet. To your right, the hallway is long and you see a light at the end. Blood covers the wall and cakes the carpet all the way down. To your left, the hallway is dark but may be just as long. It appears thoroughly clean. Directly across from you, on the wall, someone has left a message in blood.

“And when the thousand years are expired, the Beast shall be loosed from his prison.”

What do you do?

A: Take the bloody hall to your right.
B: Take the dark hall to your left.

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

Image courtesy of Sam Ley.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. The A’s have it. A final count has been added in the comment section, in case you’re curious. The next step in the story will be posted Friday. Many thanks for everyone’s participation.Continue reading “The Relic: Part Two (Vote Your Adventure)”

The Relic: Part One (Vote Your Adventure)

This is the first part of an adventure series where YOU determine the next step in the story.

You are woken by a scratching sound. Rhythmic. Incessant. Needy. Your head is on a dirty floor, so close to the wall that your nose is almost touching it. The scratching is coming from the other side. You scramble away from the sound on your hands and knees, kicking up a cloud of dust in your wake. You stop in the center of the room and struggle to shake off the overwhelming grogginess. The scratching has stopped and all is still. A high-pitched ringing fills your ears.

Your head is pounding – whether it is from previous injury or the sudden movement, you aren’t sure. You can’t remember how you got here. The room starts to spin very slowly. Drawing a deep breath, you close your eyes and lower your head to the floor. The cool pavement against your scalp is soothing, though it makes you realize you lost your helmet. You open your eyes and scan your body armor: standard-issue Kevlar, black and green and beat to hell. Patches of duct tape hold it together and the front is coated in dried blood and black mucus. Other than the pain in your head, you feel no injury so you guess the blood isn’t yours. Your supply bag is gone, and so is your gun. To add insult to injury, your name tag is coming off. Slowly, so as not to scramble your brain again, you lift your head and scan the room.

It looks like an abandoned maintenance room. Directly in front of you, a long, wooden workbench is set against the wall, cluttered with tools and a thick layer of dust. To the right of the bench, a metal ladder leans against the wall next to a mop and bucket and a push broom. To the left, a flimsy interior door is covered with dark red splatters. You decide not to think about the splatters and keep your eyes moving. The walls on either side of you are blank, though scrapes and holes lead you to believe that shelving was once attached. You twist your neck to look over your shoulder and wince from the pain. Behind you is a closed metal door with an emergency push bar. The floor around it is brushed clean, so you guess that’s where you came in. To the left of the door is a window, the only source of light in the room. A massive, hastily painted occult symbol covers the glass. You’ve seen the warped crescent-and-star symbol before and know it will temporarily restrain evil. You don’t know how long it will hold.

You squint through the streaks of black paint, noting the waning light. You have no radio, no weapon, and experience tells you that you will not make it through the night alone with only a hasty ward.

The sound of wings beating draws your attention back to the spot where you woke up. The scratching resumes.

What do you do?

A: Open the metal door.
B: Look out the window.
C: Check the workbench for a makeshift weapon

Vote in the comments or on Twitter. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.

UPDATE: The voting is now closed. Looks like the C’s have it. A final count will be added in the comment section, in case you’re curious. The next step in the story will be posted Friday.
Continue reading “The Relic: Part One (Vote Your Adventure)”

Coming Soon… This Place!

Welcome to the new JenKirchner.com! If you’ve stumbled here from a link or you’re just jumping the gun with your bookmarks, thanks for coming by. The official live date for the website isn’t until Friday, May 6, and we’re working hard on sprucing up the place before then (the front page is looking a little dull, but we’re going to change that).

On Friday, we’ll kick off this new site with a new recurring series — a riff on Choose Your Own Adventure stories! I will offer up a 500-word short. At the end you will have choices on what to do next. Vote your selection in the comments or on Twitter (@JenLKirchner). Highest vote wins. The following Friday, I will post the next step in the story. I hope you will stick around for it!

In the meantime, please feel free to take a look around. We’ve moved a few posts over from the old blog just so the front page doesn’t look so dreary. Feel free to peruse, comment on posts, or pop over to Twitter and say hi.

Jen

May I Introduce You…

Every week for the next 10 weeks I will be featuring a friend’s blog. They will get the totally awesome “Kreative Blogger Award” from me and an eager endorsement. Sure, these web awards are about as legit as the MTV Awards, but it’s the thought that counts.

This week’s award goes to: Mark Lidstone!

The Kreativ Blogger Award

I met Mark on Twitter a few weeks ago. He writes horror short stories and features them on his blog. In fact, that’s all his writing blog is: A place to feature his awesome stories. His current series is called “Killing Friends” where he, well, kills his friends.

Come to think of it, maybe being friends with Mark isn’t such a great thing.

Anyway, congratulations to Mark! To see his writing blog, click here.