Ever wish you could change the direction of a story? Ever want to be the main character? Here’s your chance. I wrote an ‘interactive’ story, starring YOU. It’s based off THE HAUNTING SEASON.
Writing it was a challenge, as I didn’t want to give up any spoilers for the book.
Can you survive Siler House? Make the wrong decision and you’re doomed. Make the right choices, and you get to live. Ready to play?
It’s a cool, crisp weekend in late October, nearly Halloween. You and a couple of friends have checked into Savannah’s most notorious haunted mansion turned bed and breakfast—Siler House.
At the turn of the century, several bizarre murders happened here, culminating with the deaths of two young girls, Gracie and Emma Siler. The estate sat empty for decades until last summer when an experiment on the paranormal went horribly wrong. There wasn’t much in the papers, but word from the staff and locals buzzed with dark speculation when you made reservations. Of course, you and your friends, being the eternal fans of shows like Ghost Hunters and the like had to come see for yourselves. Part of you believes in ghosts. The other part of you doesn’t think Siler House, or any house for that matter, can truly be as haunted as they’re made out to be.
You are all settled in, and it’s evening. Not quite full dark yet. Naturally, because this is Siler House after all, and because it’s close to Halloween, there’s a ghost tour of the house and the grounds. The tour host claims to have been one of the maids during the time of the paranormal experiments here last year. She says that she doesn’t stay much past sunset. She’s seen things—things in the shadows, things in the mirrors.
This is what you came for! GO TO 2.
Someone points out that your shoelace is untied. You bend to tie it. The tour guide, meanwhile, moves on to the next part of the house leaving you and your friends in the third floor hallway. Your buddy Steve points to the stairwell leading up to the attic. You’ve all heard what happened up there—the séance, and supposedly, a demon in the mirror that escaped into the house.
Steve and Tom want to go to the attic. Ash thinks you all should continue with the tour. The tour guide will surely take you to the attic as part of the tour at some point. What do you do?
Go to the attic. GO TO 3
Continue with the tour. GO TO 4
You take one look at the small group trailing the tour guide. You see the woman who stood next to you, the one who kept clearing her nasal passages now and then with this annoying clicking sound. It was hard to hear the tour guide. You grin at Steve. He grins back while your friends Ash and Tom shake their heads but dutifully follow you and Steve.
The stairs to the attic are narrow, and it’s dark. Like pitch dark. Somehow, you’ve ended up going up the stairs first. Steve calls you a coward for not reaching your hand around the corner and flipping on the light once you get to the top of the stairs. There’s no way you’re going to run your hand up and down a wall, in the dark, hoping to come across a light switch instead of a demon, ghost, or… spider. Of course, you’re not going to tell everyone you’re too chicken to go first, either.
You can do one of two things: use that flashlight app on your smart phone, or show Steve what you’re made of and just feel for the switch. After all, if this place were as evil and haunted as reputed, it wouldn’t be a bed and breakfast.
Use app. GO TO 5
Suck it up, cupcake. Find that light switch! GO TO 7
You tell Steve there’s plenty of time for that — you’ve all paid for this tour and you never know what cool and freaky thing you’ll learn about Siler House. Steve guffaws at this, and says you’re being a wuss. Everyone looks between the two of you. Siler House creeps you out, but you’re not going to let Steve get the best of you. You tell everyone to stick with the tour now, get familiar with the house and the history and meet in the hallway at 3 AM, the devil’s hour, for your own tour.
Steve nods. He likes your idea of touring the house in the dead of night. Tom and Ash exchange glances, but agree readily enough. The four of you catch up to the tour group that is in one of the rooms down the hall, to the right.
The guide is telling everyone about a woman who was found stabbed to death in this very room. With every knife in the kitchen. There’s a gasp from one of the tour goers, and even you have to admit that stabbing someone with every knife in the house is pretty brutal.
The furniture is the original, the guide says. The mattress is not. Her comment gets a nervous chuckle from some of the people in the group. From there, the tour guide stops in front of your room. “Here,” she says, “is the room that belonged to Riley, the Silers’ nephew. She goes on to tell the group how the original staff in the early 1900s feared the teen, how servants heard him talking to someone inside the room, how the door would slam shut before they could enter, or how the wardrobe doors would close as if someone were inside.
Riley came to live with the Silers after the death of his parents and a failed exorcism. Steve nudges you. He thinks you got the best room. Or maybe he’s glad he didn’t get your room. He’s two doors down. Ash and Tom have the room next door. Great. You have Riley’s room. This bit of news sends a chill dancing down your spine.
When the guide takes you out onto the grounds, the night sky is a deep, dusky grey. She stops in front of a small, gated cemetery with the most intricately carved marble monument you’ve ever seen. Two girls sit on a tree stump. They’re wearing turn-of-the-century clothing. The names carved in the base of the monument: Gracie and Emma Siler.
“This is where I leave you,” the guide says. “I don’t stay here after the sun completely sets. I never give tours at Siler House in the dark.” She makes eye contact with each of you. “Good luck.” And with that, she retrieves a set of keys from her pocket and walks toward the front of the house and to her car. The guests talk among themselves excitedly as they return to the house. Well, most of them, anyway. There are always a few people in every bunch who loudly pronounce the whole tour was crappy and a bunch of bullshit. You and your friends go back inside.
After a late dinner and some drinks on River Street, the four of you return to Siler House, agreeing to meet up in the hallway at 3 AM. You’re tired. The four of you had a long drive to Savannah, a late and very filling dinner, and the alcohol didn’t help. After setting the alarm on your phone for 2:55, you crash. But at some point, you hear a noise. It’s like someone is in your room. You’re sure you locked the door, and although Steve is a practical joker, he’d never go this far. Would he?
There’s that noise again. Yeah. Someone or something is DEFINITELY in your room. Heart pounding, your hand flies to the lamp on the nightstand and turns on the light.
No one is there. But all of the furniture in your room, except for the bed and a dresser, is on the ceiling. You don’t have the strength to scream, but your flight instinct kicks in. You’re up and running, out of the room in a split second. Do you warn the others or do you keep running until you’re out of Siler House?
Warn others. GO TO 8
Oh hell, no! You’re outta here! GO TO 10
The dim light from your smart phone app illuminates the remainder of the attic stairwell. It’s pitch black up ahead. You find that odd since there’s sufficient lighting in the hallway below. Wouldn’t at least a little light find its way up here? It’s like the air up here has a weight to it, a nearly impenetrable substance.
When you reach the top and extend your hand into the room, the phone’s light is enough to bring out slight shadows. Everyone is behind you, barely breathing, waiting for you to find the light switch. You pan the phone around, picking up on grayish objects you can’t quite identify within the room. They’re almost fog-like. You keep focused on the room while your other hand slides over the wall, finally brushing over the switch plate. A small beam of light from your phone manages to reflect off glass or a mirror in the room and you see the five of you on the stairs.
But that’s not right. There’s only four of you. You can turn and run. You could yell and pound on doors as you flee, warning everyone. Let Steve call you a wuss of epic proportions. Or you can ignore your overactive imagination and turn on the light switch.
Run! GO TO 6
Turn on the light. GO TO 7
You run. You run screaming like a little girl all the way down the hall, down the stairs, through the foyer, and you don’t stop until you get outside.
Your friends, a desk clerk, and a few of the guests follow you. They’re concerned. You explain what you saw. But no one believes you. After a thorough check of the house, no one can find anything wrong. Nothing is amiss. No ghosts, no demons. They all think you’re putting them on, or that you’re overreacting. Some guy is bellowing loudly that you’re part of the act, trying to frighten people.
You know better. You beg your friends to check out of Siler House. You’ll find someplace else to sleep tonight. They won’t listen. Steve says he forgot his video camera in his room and you and the others walk back to get it. It’ll give you a chance to convince your friends that you need to leave.
GO TO 9
You flip the switch, bathing the room in harsh bright light. You look behind you to see just the four of you again. Clearly, you imagined the fifth figure. There’s not much up here. The room is lined with old, pitted and frameless mirrors and a handrail. It must have been a dance studio at one time. An old table and chairs sit in the middle of the room. But what gives you the creeps is the antique mirror propped up against the far wall. Steve walks past you, into the room. Figures. He’s brave now that you’ve turned on the lights.
You check out the table sitting in the middle of the room. A glass display case has been attached to the top. Under the glass is a Ouija board. The planchette is pointed over the word GOODBYE. This is where the séance took place last year.
You look at the mirror again. Words are appearing on the inside of the mirror: Help us! You can’t breathe. Two girls appear in the mirror. Twins. They’re holding hands and looking right at you. Gracie and Emma?
You point, but everyone else is already staring. They see the note and the girls as well. It was one thing to talk about coming to Siler House, how brave you all would be if you actually saw a ghost. But this feels different. It feels flat-out evil. Fear trails down your spine as though a hundred spiders were scurrying over it.
Without a word, the four of you turn and run, vowing to warn the other guests. Back down the stairs you go.
Keep running. GO TO 11
With a quick look back, you run to Steve’s room and pound on the door, then back to Ash and Tom’s room to do the same.
Never has a few seconds felt like hours. Your eyes dart to your room again. You’ve closed the door. You did, right? Because it’s closed now. You pound on the doors again. Tom yells, “All right! Coming!” And although you can’t make out what Steve is saying, you at least hear him moving around.
Your eyes dart back to your room, to the doorknob. You fully expect it to be turning slowly, getting ready to spill forth whatever evil lies inside.
It does not.
The gang is in the hallway now, looking confused. You’re clearly frantic. How do you explain this? “There’s something in my room,” you say. “All the furniture…it’s…”
Steve is mumbling under his breath as he walks to your room. You want to tell him NOT to open the door, but find yourself walking toward it, too.
Slowly, Steve puts his hand on the doorknob. The creak as the door opens seems unnaturally loud. Unnaturally human. It’s as though the house is groaning. Steve steps back, eyes and mouth wide open. All the furniture is still on the ceiling. Except the bed and the dresser.
Tom sees it, too. “There’s something in the mirror,” he says.
Except that’s no longer true. Because whoever, whatever is in there is now prying themselves out of the mirror like some hopped-up magic trick.
Everyone runs, pounding on doors as you race for the stairs.
Grab Steve’s video recorder, which is sitting just inside his room on your way out? After all, capturing this is going to put you on the map. It’ll be the next Paranormal Activity. For real.
Or do you keep running?
Get video camera. GO TO 9
Get out. Now. GO TO 11
Steve’s video camera is right inside the door, sitting on a table. It won’t take you a second to grab it.
You go inside his room, nab the video camera, press the ON switch and turn. Steve’s door slams shut, trapping you inside. Steve is yelling for you, pounding and pulling on the doorknob. Tom and Ash are yelling, too.
The floor creaks under Steve’s bed. Tendrils of black fog drift upward. Pale hands emerge from under the bed. They’re dirty, like they’ve been digging in dirt. Beyond that, you can just barely make out red glowing eyes.
You tug at the door, but it won’t open. The black tendrils snake out, pulling at you, dragging you to the person, presumably Riley, under your bed His mouth is open, jagged teeth exposed.
You’ve just become demon chow. So sad about your bad luck. Bwahahaha!
You run. You know you should warn the others, but you’re too scared. You’ll call for help when you get outside or reach the road. Frankly, you don’t know what you’ll do or if you’ve even got your phone with you.
You expect something to catch up with you in the hallway or stairwell. Something IS behind you, because you hear a loud thumping noise. You don’t turn to look. You reach the front door. You unlock it, but the door won’t budge.
You think about running back up the stairs and banging on some doors, but whatever is up there is coming down the stairs. There are footsteps on the stairs, slow. Deliberate. A horrible scratching noise as though its dragging talons along the walls. It’s not a guest. There’s no doubt that whatever is coming for you is not human.
You’re paralyzed with fear. The sound is on the landing now. From within the shadows, you can make out a pair of legs and feet. Shadow eclipses the rest of whatever is standing there. Even in the dark you know it sees you. You just know it’s smiling. You’re thankful you can’t see that smile or what that smile would reveal. You call out for Steve, Tom, Ash… anyone. But there’s no answer. You have to run. Hide.
You know there’s a back door through the kitchen and you reach it and try that one, too. All the cabinets and drawers are open. Your brain is trying to comprehend what’s happened in the kitchen when you hear your name. It’s Steve. He’s calling you from the Great Room. “Come back!” he yells. “I found a way out.”
You take a step back toward the dining room and the Great room, but Ash’s voice carries to you from the basement. “Don’t!” she warns. “That’s not really Steve. Hurry! There’s a broken window. We can climb out! Everything else is locked and won’t open.”
You pause. Ash calls out again, “Would Steve make those noises in the hall? On the stairs? Hurry!”
Trust your life-long buddy Steve. GO TO 12
Trust Ash. She has a point about those sounds. GO TO 13
The four of you keep running. You hear the other guests opening doors to see what the commotion is all about and you look back, briefly. Black fog is slowly spilling into the shadows in the hallway. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you wouldn’t have seen it. It’s disguised as shadow.
“Fire!” you yell, because you know that no one will believe you if you scream, “Demon!”
A few guests duck back into their rooms—for what, you don’t know. Others run with you. One guest shoves past you, heading toward your room.
Do you go back, convince him to leave and hope for the best? Or do you keep running?
Go back. GO TO 14
Keep running. GO TO 15
Steve’s been your best friend since grade school. You KNOW his voice. And as he calls your name once again, you’re sure it’s him. Besides, there’s no way you’re going into that basement. How did Ash know there was sound coming from the third floor hallway if she’s in the basement?
Yeah. Creepy, right?
Okay, so she could have heard it on her way downstairs. But why didn’t she knock on your door? Was she that afraid?
Regardless, you bolt from the kitchen, through the dining room and into the Great Room. Steve is nowhere to be found. There’s an image in the mirror above the fireplace mantel. Riley?
Knives fly at you from every direction. The pain is horrific as the blades embed themselves in your flesh. You drop to your knees just as each knife digs in deeper and twists. The image in the mirror grins.
OOOPS! Your adventure ends here. Well, unless you count your new chef duties in a hellish eternity inside Siler House.
Ash sounds frantic. She’d never go to the basement unless she had to. She and Tom have tried to escape and found the doors locked as well. If they’ve found a broken window, you can get out.
The basement is dark and you use the light from your cell phone, following Ash’s voice. Your nerves are on edge. The basement is filled with all sorts of junk and old cobwebs. You see movement ahead. Ash?
“Keep running!” Ash yells.
You follow her, trying to ignore the spiders as their spindly legs caress thick webs. You try not to trip over all the stuff down here, too. You race around a corner and stop.
Whoever you’ve been chasing isn’t Ash. It’s Riley. You open your mouth to scream, but it’s too late. He attacks, biting into your face. The pain is hot, searing. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long. Your neck snaps and there’s nothing, nothing but darkness.
Fade to black. You belong to the house now and Riley is your new best friend. Game over.
Cursing under your breath, you turn around. Ash calls for you, but you tell her to go on, that you’ll be right behind them. Steve and Tom turn back to help you. Ash pleads with Tom, but he quickly convinces her to go on outside. The three of you head back to your room.
“Help me!” a male voice cries. It’s not Riley. It doesn’t sound diabolical.
“What the hell?” Steve says. It’s just the four of you now: you, Steve, Tom, and a guy lying on the floor, who is desperately holding onto the doorframe. An unseen force is pulling him toward the bed. Steve’s phone is sucked from his hand and it hits the floor before making a beeline for the pitch-black void under your bed.
The three of you grab hold of the guy, but now, there’s this pull from the other rooms, too. The house is working against you.
Steve is suddenly airborne, slamming into walls. He comes to rest, crumpled at the far end of the hall. Something tugs at him from around the corner, pulling him into a room. The door slams shut.
Tom is more fortunate—he bounces off a wall or two, but somehow manages to get back on his feet. He’s bolting down the hall toward the stairs. Color him gone.
“STEVE!” You scream, all the while holding onto the guy clinging to the doorframe. You glance at him. He’s praying and crying at the same time. A pair of boots come into view. You look up into the face and the eyes of what must be the Prince of Hell. He grins and grabs both of you, breaking your grip on the doorway. Within seconds, you are dragged under the bed and into the pit of hell.
Time for a new forwarding address. Game over.
The other guests are panicking. Some are running the wrong direction—toward the woods. That can’t be good. Others are scrambling to get into their cars. You know about electrical pulses and their uncanny ability to stop working under extreme supernatural forces. This qualifies. You, Steve, Ash, and Tom make a dash for the gates, which are starting to close. But you keep running, the four of you just making it out through the gates before they slam shut.
The four of you are the only survivors. You’ve made it out of Siler House alive.
Did you survive? Be sure to share the news with your friends by clicking the SHARE THIS button below. Let them know if you made it out alive or haunt the halls of Siler House forever.
If you liked this interactive story, pick up THE HAUNTING SEASON and read how paranormal experiment participants Jess, Gage, Allison, and Bryan fare at Siler House.
Or ask your favorite bookstore or retailer!