Escape Room

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

“Halloween.
It’s a scream.
Say my name and
End your dream.”

I open the door and find another room. It’s always another room. This must be the world’s longest escape game.
The ghosts in the Shanghai Tunnels of Portland? Unnerving, but cool. The house of the Villisca Axe murders? Ok, that one rattled me. But only because that was where I started to feel like a rat in a maze. Then my friend Julia lost her mind in a tower of terror.

“You know the veil between worlds is thin during Halloween,” she sobbed. “Demons own this place, we’ll never escape.”

It’s so sad when someone believes in such mumbo jumbo. As a scientist, I know there’s no such thing. This isn’t hell, hell doesn’t exist. Though what this is, I’m not sure. At the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Julia followed a “ghost” down the death tunnel and I haven’t seen her since. She must have escaped. But I heard the song.

“Halloween.
It’s a scream.
Say my name and
End your dream.”

I walk down a cobweb filled hallway lined with murder holes that emit skittering noises. Along the way are thirteen pumpkins, each on a pedestal. At the end is a long table with a single pumpkin, a knife, and candle. A jack-o-lantern hologram appears in the center of the wall. Not exactly a dungeon of doom. Still, a seed of fear implants itself in my brain. Something is very different in this room.

I walk to the table and see a faint outline on the pumpkin. I inspect it with the candle, it’s the letter M. All the other pumpkins in the hall have a letter on them as well.

I collect them and carve out the letters. I end up with fourteen brightly glowing jack-o-lanterns: E-P-M-H-T-H-S-E-I-E-S-P-L-O.

An anagram? I look around the room for clues, but outside of some fake blood starting to leak from the walls, there is nothing.

I cannot hear that song again. If I do, I will go mad.

The song. The song is my clue.

“Say my name,” I repeat. It’s obvious. The anagram is someone’s name. Whose name?

The one-minute warning sounds, and I frantically throw pumpkins about. Eloise? Eloise who?


“Halloween.
It’s a scream.
Say my name and
End your dream.”


I have lost. The liquid dripping from the walls gushes to a torrent and by the smell of it, I know that it’s real blood.


~~~

“Excellent work, Bifrons.” Mephistopheles entered the room smiling.

“I do love scientists, my lord. They’re so unwilling to accept what they can’t empirically prove.”

Mephistopheles nodded. “Julia said my name. Had she listened to her friend she could have survived.”

“Speaking of Julia, where is she?”

“I gave her to Nidhogg,” Mephistopheles said. “He is… having her for dinner.”

Bifrons nodded and returned to his work. “They are so much tastier when terrified.”

Back in 2019 a friend in my local writing group mentioned that a podcast was hosting a Halloween flash fiction contest. Our entry had to be 500 words or less, and had to be Halloween themed. I thought, why not? After weeks of rolling ideas around in my head, this story came to me after watching some documentary on the world’s scariest places and a trip to an escape room (we won). To my delight, I was accepted, and on October 29, 2019, my story was read on the podcast “Alone In A Room With Invisible People.”

Sadly, that podcast has gone off the air so the hosts could focus on their own writing. But the episode is still up as of this writing, and can be found here. They didn’t quite get the song right, it should have had the same tune as the trick or treat song we used to sing as kids. But it still sounds great! And it was a fun thing to do.