Author’s note — I’ve always wanted to write a choose-your-own-adventure story. A few weeks ago I realized it would be fairly easy to do on Medium. So for this story you, the reader, will have a choice in how it turns out. All you need to do is follow one of two links at the end of each little chapter to decide what decision the characters make. Each with different consequences. Happy Friday the 13th everyone.
Nick has a surprise
“You did what?” Sally yells. She looks horrified. Her reaction deflates Nick’s proud smile a little, but only for a second.
“Sweetie, hear me out. With some renovations it’s going to be a great building for a hotel. It’s located in a beautiful wooded area. Supposedly there’s even deer around…”
“Who in their right minds wants to spend the night in an old asylum?” Sally is still yelling. Nick’s attempt at explaining seems to only make her more upset.
“That’s the beauty of it, Sally my dear,” Josh buts in with a huge grin. “Asylum Hotel will be tapping into a huge market. Paranormal investigators, Goths, thrill-seekers, freaks of various kinds, they will all flock to it. We just need to play up the haunted rumors…”
“It’s haunted?” Sally shrieks.
“No, no, of course not,” Nick says, trying to soothe his girlfriend. “We’re just going to create the rumor that it is.”
As much as Ashley enjoys watching Nick and Sally fight, she can’t help but feel a little sorry for Sally. When Nick messaged them that he had a big announcement to make, she was sure he was going to propose. And the bottle of champagne he opened when they walked into the guy’s apartment, only added to her certainty. Turns out that the big announcement is Nick wasting his small inheritance — money that Sally thinks should have gone to a diamond ring and a nice white picket-fence house — on the ruins of an old Asylum. Just one of Nick’s wild ideas. And as always, Josh is right there encouraging him every step of the way. Ashley can’t tell if he’s egging Nick on for his own amusement, or if he actually believes this hotel would be a good idea. It’s hard to tell with Josh. But she knows he’ll expect her to back him up. All three of them are looking at her, waiting for her input. Ashley shrugs. “Sure, why not? I’ve seen old prisons turned into hotels. If people don’t mind sleeping in little claustrophobic cells with tiny barred windows, then they wouldn’t mind sleeping in an old Asylum.”
Sally gives her a dubious look. “Where’s this hotel?”
Ashley sputters for a moment. She didn’t think she would be questioned about her remark. “Eh… Somewhere in Europe.”
Nick wraps his arm around Sally and pulls her close. “Hey, think about this; we will have Halloween every day. That’s your favorite holiday.”
“I guess,” Sally says. She’s already sounding less upset.
“And you will be the perfect hauntingly beautiful hostess. You can walk the halls in a long black gown, wearing blood red lipstick.” Nick continued, lovingly stroking her hair. Sally started smiling. “You’ll be my very own Mortisha Adams. Cara Mia” He starts kissing up her arm.
Ashley rolls her eyes and makes gaging noises behind them. Sally giggles and pushes him playfully off her. “Okay, all right. I get it.”
“Fantastic.” Nick says with almost childish enthusiasm. “Lets go!”
“Go where?” Sally sounds suspicious again.
“Why, to the Asylum, silly Sally,” Josh says, putting on his best insane smile.
“Right now? You have to be kidding me?” Sally exclaims.
Ashley is laughing so hard she’s gasping for air. “They aren’t kidding,” she says between gasps.
“Well, yeah. I’m itching to see it from the inside. Please? For me? It’s not that far. We can make a weekend out of it. I’ll take you shopping. Please?” Nick begs.
“Oh all right,” Sally gives in with a sigh.
“Road trip! Whooo!” Josh yells and runs out the door.
“Wait, Josh,” Nick runs after them.
“Oh God, Sally,” Ashley says as they are following the guys, “You are such a push over. Why are you indulging him?” She’s still giggling.
“You know, Nick’s plans might be a bit…unorthodox,” Sally replies, “But his plan for the future definitely includes a us. Can you say the same about Josh?”
Ashley’s smile is quickly wiped off her face. “I wonder how much us there would be in Nick’s plan, if you weren’t the only one with a working car.”
It takes much longer to get there than they had planned. Google maps leads them in the wrong direction and they circle aimlessly for over an hour. It’s almost evening when Nicks spots the weathered, almost completely faded sign lying in the ditch next to the post it used to be fix to. “Turn in here, this has to be it.”
The road leading up to where the old asylum stands, has been just as abandoned as the building. The trees lining the sides have overgrown. The pavement is cracked and dotted with potholes. It looks like it never had any sort of lights. Sally drives up it at a snail’s pace.
“Can’t we go just a little faster, grandma?” Josh grumbles from the back seat.
“Not if you want to get there in one piece, jackass.” Sally snaps back.
Finally, just as Sally is starting to think they drove the wrong way again, the building comes into view. She parks at the foot of the stairs leading up to the doors.
“There she is,” Nick says. They all sit and stare at the building in front of them. It looks much worse than Sally imagined. The plaster is not just cracked, it’s missing huge chunks. Graffiti covers almost every surface. Trash is strewn around everywhere. And the windows are all completely dark, like blank, dead eyes staring out. The wind is howling though the many cracks. A chill creeps over Sally’s back.
“Oh Nick, I don’t like this. I have a bad feeling,” she says. “And it’s getting dark soon. Can’t we just go to a motel and return in the morning? When it’s bright and sunny?”
“Oh you have to be kidding! We come all this way just to turn back?” Josh complains loudly from the back. “Nick, come on man, we can’t go now. Not without at least taking a look inside!”
Nick turns to look from his girlfriend to his best friend. Whatever he does, he’s going to upset one of them. He takes a moment, and then makes his decision.