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The Mystery of the Missing Amulet #4: Bears Ahoy!

 Chapter 4 of my Decide Your Quest story, The Mystery of the Missing Amulet. In the last story,you found that Brittany, the granddaughter of the former owner of the amulet, tried to steal it but since her eyesight is so bad, she accidentally stole the auctioneer’s gavel. You found grizzly bear hair, a brochure for Wombat Joe’s Grizzly Bear Emporium and a nametag that said Midnight Gillespie. The readers voted for you to go to Wombat Joe’s to investigate.amulet

The Mystery of the Missing Amulet, Chapter 4: Bear’s Ahoy!

You decide to go check out Wombat Joe’s Grizzly Bear Emporium. It’s almost 5 pm already and according to your sources (Google), it closes at 5:30.

“I think we should go to Wombat Joe’s,” Brittany says.

“I was thinking the same thing,” you say.

“We should go wrestle the bears,” she says.

You weren’t thinking that at all. “Is this part of your danger addiction?” She nods.

You drive over to Wombat Joe’s Grizzly Bear Emporium, getting there after it closes. The emporium is like a huge park, where the visitors walk on walkways over the bears. Signs instruct visitors to taunt the bears as much as they want and throw food.

“Bears are not fed a regular diet and subsist only on dropped hot dogs and lollipops,” one sign reads. “Please be generous. But also, watch your kids and pets.”

“Come on,” Brittany says. She starts to climb over the fence.

“Wait!” you whisper. Someone is just coming out of the main building. He looks like an employee. “I’m going to go charm him,” you say to Brittany.

“Excuse me, sir!” you call out, walking over to him. The man jerks his head up and gives you a look like a trapped hyena. “You’re looking very fine this evening,” you continue. “I’m looking for a man named Midnight Gillespie—”

The man punches you in the face and flees back into the building. Son of a Tim Tam! That really hurt! You run after the man, who luckily did not get a chance to lock the door after him. Out of the corner of your eye, you see that Brittany has gotten her dress tangled in the top of the fence.

You follow the fleeing figure along several suspended walkways until he is trapped in a corner of the park. Underneath, you can see (and smell) the bears quite well. They are only a few feet below you.

“Are you Midnight Gillespie?” you ask, panting for air.

“Is that what my nametag says?” the man jeers.

“You’re not wearing one,” you say and pull out the nametag you have from the crime scene. “I think this is yours. Now, did you steal the amulet from the auction?”

“I didn’t touch any amulet,” the man says. Immediately, in direct contradiction to his words, he pulls out the amulet from his pocket and throws it over the side. Three bears run for it immediately. What should you do?

The Mystery of the Missing Amulet #3: Brittany’s Secret

 Chapter 3 of my Decide Your Quest story, The Mystery of the Missing Amulet. In the last story, the amulet up for auction was stolen and you, the main character, saw Brittany and an auction house assistant running away from the scene. The readers voted for you to chase after Brittany.amulet

The Mystery of the Missing Amulet, Chapter 3: Brittany’s Secret

You sprint after Brittany’s retreating form. She must be scared, the poor dear. She’s running pretty fast, almost like she’s had training.

She rounds a corner and you see her run straight into a plaster bust of Kim Jong-il that’s sitting in the hallway. Pieces of Dear Leader go flying everywhere.

Maybe she’s not such a great runner after all.

“Are you okay?” you ask, running up. She’s lying there, stunned. “Hey, are you tired? Because you’ve been running through . . . the halls all night.” You abruptly abort your pickup line as she glares at you.

“Just help me up, would you?” she snaps. You pull her out from among the fragments of plaster and notice she is holding one hand behind her back. It must be her purse.

“Do you want me to hold your purse while you get dusted off?” you ask, holding out your hand.

She sighs. “You don’t have to play stupid with me. Alright, I’ll confess. I stole the amulet.”

You stare at her in utter shock. You hadn’t expected that at all. Britanny takes her hand from behind her back.

“Here’s the amulet. Just arrest me if you’re going to.”

“This is the auctioneer’s gavel.”

“Not again!” she cries. “I swear I’m as blind as a bat wearing sunglasses in a mineshaft. I have glasses but I never wear them.”

“Why not?”

“I like danger. I’m addicted to it,” Brittany says. “That’s why I wanted to keep my grandfather’s cursed artifacts, even though my family decided to auction them off. And that’s why I stole the amulet.”

“But you didn’t steal the amulet,” you say. “You stole a gavel.”

“Then someone else must have taken it.”

“Let’s go back to the scene. There might be a Clue there.” You are a great believer in Clues. You put the gavel in your pocket and lead the way back to the auction room.

The room is deserted. You get out your magnifying glass and look around the platform. You find three strands of grizzly bear hair, a pamphlet for Joe Wombat’s Grizzly Bear Emporium, and a name tag for an employee of the emporium named Midnight Gillespie.

“I think,” you say slowly, “that the culprit works at Joe Wombat’s Grizzly Bear Emporium.”

“Don’t you think there’s a bit too much evidence?” Brittany says. “It seems a bit obvious.”

“That’s true, although the culprit probably knows that and so is giving us a lot of clues so we’ll think they’re not real.”

“I don’t have time for this,” Brittany says. She turns brusquely on her heel and walks into a wall.

As you rush to her aid, you ponder what your next move should be.

The Mystery of the Missing Amulet #2: The Theft

 This is Chapter 2 of my Decide Your Quest story, The Mystery of the Missing Amulet. In the last story, you, the main character, accidentally bid 150,000 dollars for an old Egyptian amulet. The readers voted for you to retract the bid and explain the mistake.amulet

The Mystery of the Missing Amulet, Chapter 2: The Theft

You know you have to retract the bid: $150,000 is like ten years’ salary for you.

“I didn’t mean to bid,” you mumble.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the auctioneer says, “did you just say you want to raise your bid?”

You turn to Brittany to explain, when she puts a hand on your arm. “That was a noble gesture,” she says, “especially with the curse that is on that amulet. I’m so happy you’re going to buy it though.” She bats her eyelashes. She’s batting a thousand in your book.

“I’m just going to go talk to them about means of payment,” you say in a hoarse voice and walk quickly to the front.

“I wasn’t trying to bid,” you whisper to the auctioneer. He gives you a hard stare that reminds you of that one teacher from high school that still gives you nightmares. Yeah, you know the one. You start to fidget with your gun.


Oops, you forgot to put the safety on when you were playing with it before and you just shot a hole in the floor. The assembled crowd of dignitaries and millionaires all start to scream like little girls and stampede towards the back of the room.

The auctioneer faints at the sheer impropriety of everything and you rush to try to catch him, except that your finger gets caught in the trigger and you shoot another hole in the floor. The auctioneer hits the ground pretty hard.

You turn and see that the amulet is gone. An auction house assistant is running off the stage to the left, talking on a cell phone. Brittany is running off the stage to the right.

She runs pretty well in that dress.

Pretty well indeed.


You slap yourself. This is the time for action. What should you do?

Decide Your Quest – The Mystery of the Missing Amulet

I’ve decided to write a Choose Your Own Adventure-eque story, but since Choose Your Own Adventure is copyrighted, I won’t be using that phrase ever again. So, welcome to my Decide Your Quest series. And you, as the reader, will get to vote on what will happen at the end of every episode.

Another feature of this story is that you will never die, no matter how mind-blowingly certain it seems. This is because in a normal . . . story of this kind, you die about a third of the time and have to go back and choose another path. This makes it feel like the writer is pushing you in a certain direction. Not the case here. Every option is viable. So, without further ado, here is The Mystery of the Missing Amulet.


The Mystery of the Missing Amulet

The auctioneer’s voice drones on and on from the front of the room. Everyone’s eyes are stuck to him, like your tongue to that frozen light pole that one time when you were six.

Not your eyes though. You’re only here because the lieutenant made you come and guard the treasures that are being auctioned off. You yawn and flip the safety of your pistol on and off. You wonder how far you could pull the trigger before the gun goes off, but decide not to try.

“I’m glad we have a big, strong man in uniform here to make sure we are well protected,” you hear a feminine voice say right behind you. You turn to see a gorgeous woman in a red dress, which is slit up the side of her leg. It’s also slit along the shoulder. And the back. It kind of looks like it was recently in a knife fight. The woman bats her eyes at you in an overt way. Everything about her seems to sparkle.

“Are there terrorists around, because you’re a bombshell,” you say. The woman laughs. Huh. First time that line’s ever worked.

“This was my late grandfather’s collection,” she says. “We thought we should sell it off, what with the curse and all. By the way, my name is Brittany Fiona Rattleshack IX.” It sounds like a fake name, but at the moment, you don’t care.

“I’m sorry, can you text me our GPS coordinates?” you say. “Because I just got lost in your eyes.” Brittany laughs again. Booyah! Two for two.

“So where are you staying?” she asks.

“I’m staying upstairs, in the hotel,” you say, raising your hand and pointing to the ceiling.

“I have $150,000 for this beautiful Egyptian amulet, from the uniformed gentleman in the back,” the auctioneer says.

Oh crap! He thought you were bidding. What do you do?

What is it? – A Visual Prompt

This story comes from a picture and prompt from my friend Sharmishtha Basu. Here’s her take on the story, along with another friend’s. The part in italics is the original prompt.

He was lying flat on his back, watching the stars in the open sky.

How he loved these small escapades to the woods! Every necessity was packed in his backpack: a small tent in case it rained, a sleeping bag, and lots of mosquito repellant.

There was no sign of rain and a pleasant breeze was blowing, stirring the leaves of the trees and the grass on which he was lying.

The moon was peeking at him from behind scanty clouds. He fell asleep….

A strange flash of light woke him up, and at first he thought that the moon was coming down on him…

It was not the moon. The pale light grew and grew until it was as bright as the sun. He could not look away. It continued to grow until it the whole sky was glowing. Still it grew, impossibly large, filling the night with a pale brilliance. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, he thought, but I think I’m going to die.

He felt himself getting lighter and to his amazement, he lifted off the ground. Rocks and twigs rose as well and there was a great rustling in the trees as the branches rose on their own, pulled towards the heavens. Gravity abandoned him and suddenly he was falling up into the sky. He fell faster and faster and the earth fell right behind him, straight up into that now-blinding light that filled the sky from horizon to horizon.


Groxhhelin the Prosaic checked the screen of his Galacto-class Starhopper. “We hit another planet,” he said to his cousin, Bob the Normally Unpronounceable. “It cracked the headlight. There seems to be tons of planets in this area.”

“There were, at least,” Bob said. “Hey, pick up that star over there and throw it in the tank, would you? We’re going to need some more fuel if we’re going to make it back home.”


Travelers Beware

“Hey there, which way you going?” The woman leaned casually against the side of Leonard’s car, as if she didn’t care what the answer was. She had come over to him as he was about to pull out of the gas station and he had, against his better judgment, rolled down the window for her.

“I’m heading to Pensacola,” he said, after a moment. Then, because it seemed expected of him, “Do you want a ride?”

“I’m not going that far, but maybe you could take me up the road a ways, just to the next truck stop. I really appreciate it.” She gave him a hungry smile, opened the door and got in.

This scene was caught on the gas station surveillance camera. Neither Leonard nor the woman were ever seen again. Leonard’s car was discovered three days later outside of Portland, Oregon, 2400 miles away from where it had been last seen. The doors were locked and the driver’s seat was severely burned, although no other damage was evident. No human remains were ever recovered.

When the car’s GPS showed that the car had driven the entire way without stopping once, the investigators closed the case as quickly and quietly as possible.

It Only Takes Once

(This is the first story I have posted that I  consider a “Midnight” story. Slightly more creepy than my other stuff.)

There are some experiences that carve such a large hole in our lives that they affect everything from then on, for good or bad. The best defining moment of my life was when I stepped off my boat after sailing solo from New York to Cherbourg, France. The worst defining moment was shorter, but had a greater impact.

I was living in Korea, teaching English for a year for the experience of living abroad. My apartment was apparently designed by voyeurs since the only window in the bathroom led to the outside hallway. Flip the latch, slide the frosted glass window and I could have talked with my neighbors as they were coming home and as I was taking a shower. Needless to say, I never opened the window.

I got up one night around 3:00am to use the bathroom. I’m not normally skittish, but that night, I kept looking behind me.

The motion-sensor light in the hall came on—one of my neighbors coming in late, most likely drunk. I didn’t hear any doors open and a few seconds later, the light went off. I was just washing my hands when I glanced up at the window and saw a hand pressed against the glass.

The fingers were long and thin and the whole hand had a greenish-grey tinge to it. It was pulsing slightly—stroking at the frosted glass window with its fingertips and wherever it touched, it left greenish smudges on the glass.

My heart started to pound and I backed out of the bathroom. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. The hand slowly slid down the glass and out of sight until all that was left were five long smears.

I was not near the living room light switch but I reached into the bedroom and turned on the light there. At the same time, the motion-sensor light in my small entranceway came on.

I was starting to seriously freak out. Maybe it’s just a short in the wires, I thought. I knew my outer door had been locked. The entranceway light went off, but then a second later it came back on. I saw a shadow of something come across the light through the frosted glass windows in the closed entranceway door. The knob began to turn, silently.

I thought I was going to pass out from panic. I had nothing close by to use as a weapon. In a second, the entranceway door would open.

“Go away!” I shouted, although my voice cracked absurdly. “Go away now . . . in Jesus’ name!”

I wasn’t a Christian at that time, and I had no idea where that came from. It just came into my head, suddenly.

At that moment, the light in the entranceway went off again, which made things worse. I backed a little further into the lighted bedroom, waiting for movement to turn the entranceway light back on.

But it never came back on. The waiting became unbearable. I had no idea if the person was gone or if they were lurking there in my entranceway, not moving and not triggering the light. An hour went by before I got up the nerve to venture out and turn the living room light on. From its light, I could tell that the entranceway was empty. I opened the door and saw that my front door was open too.

There were many things I could not explain. I swear that I had locked my front door—I did so automatically whenever I came home. The outer door was big and creaky, but I never heard a sound. The entranceway was covered with bits of dust and tiny clots of greenish-grey dirt. The strangest thing—and what made me shiver in terror—was the sight of one of my steel-toed boots, crushed almost flat and covered with green dust. I could not imagine what could have done that, and silently too.

I have never seen anything like that since, but once was enough. I could not sleep in that apartment again. I slept in a hotel for two weeks until my school arranged for a new apartment for me, one with a pass code to get into the building. I would have thought it was all a horrible dream except for the dirt and the filthy smears on the window that were still there the next day.

Since that time, I have never had an apartment on the ground floor or one where the windows were at all accessible from outside. Still, whenever it is dark and I catch a glimpse of a window, I shudder to think of another hand pressed again it, smearing it with green-grey filth, or even worse…

…a face.

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