Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Choose Your Own Adventure® - Day 5

Guest Maven Elizabeth HoytFrom now until Halloween, the Manuscript Mavens are running a story, in which YOU vote on what happens next! Every morning brings a new author, from the Mavens to the just-sold, to the best-selling. And every night brings a new twist!

Get your Choose Your Own Adventure® votes in by 8:00pm EST (5:00pm PST) and you'll be eligible for random prize drawings. Vote every day, and you'll be eligible for the Grand Prize--autographed books from Maven pals and Guest Mavens!

(No idea what's going on? Read the "rules.")


Mary looked from the viscount, now on the snowy ground with his legs curled around his most masculine bits, to her gray and grim sister, still kicking him in a rather un-cricket-like way. "You mean . . . ?"

"He couldn't perform!" Sarah shrieked to the heavens, a woman truly scorned. "I'm doomed to an eternity of virginhood!"

Which certainly explained her ire.

"That never happened to me before. I think it was the wine," the viscount began to explain, but at that moment . . .

The Marquis of Moonlight galloped across Satan's Fury, his long, golden hair flying behind him. "The zombies are coming! The zombies are coming!" he screamed, his voice as womanly as his hairstyle.

The door to Hemlock House burst open and an army of zombies staggered out, prompting Lord Nightshade to curse under his breath.

Arms outstretched and mouths agape, the animated corpses lumbered toward Mary. What horrific groans they made! Their unearthly chorus chilled her blood. Why, it almost sounded as if they were moaning... her name?

"Maaaary. Maaaaaaaaarrrrry."

She stood rooted in the path, frozen with terror. The zombies grew nearer and nearer, and still she could not force her boots into motion. Then a man pushed his way to the front of the horde, moving with calm authority. Though his raven-black hair was disheveled, his clothes were exquisitely tailored to his broad form, and Mary noted with relief that his skin was neither bloodless nor rotting, but a healthy bronzed hue.

He was heart-stoppingly handsome.

Just looking at him, Mary felt a strange yearning building inside her. A hunger.

With a wave of his hand, the man stilled the menacing throng. "Mary, darling, where have you been? I've been out of my mind with worry."

Mary blinked. Did she know this man? Oh, she certainly hoped so. "I... I was out walking," she said numbly.

"Yes, dear. I know how fond you are of walking." The handsome gentleman strode forward and took her hand, patting it gently. His touch was warm. Folding her chilled fingers into his palm, he addressed the others. "Lord Nightshade, Nurse Goodweather -- I expected better of you. You were supposed to find Mary and bring her back to Hemlock House, not begin another of your lovers’ quarrels."

“I don’t love her!” Nightshade objected.

In the same instant, Sarah said, “I don’t love him!”

Behind them, the zombies tittered with amusement.

Mary shook her head, dazed. She turned to the handsome stranger. "Did you say back to Hemlock House?"

"Yes, sweet. Hemlock House Institute for the Care and Rehabilitation of the Unfortunate Undead. It's your home." His amber-brown eyes met hers. "Our home."

"Our home? But I couldn't get in. The door wouldn't open."

"Darling, we've discussed this. Don’t you remember? You have to turn the little knob just so?" He stepped closer, folding her into a light embrace, and his scent flooded her awareness -- teasing hints of musk and formaldehyde. Suddenly, memories bobbed to the surface of Mary's mind, like submerged corks. The tragedy. The Institute. Reginald.

"Give it up, Doctor Hemlock," the viscount sneered. "You can't save her. Can't you see she's already brainless?"

"It's true," Sarah said. "She's my own dear sister, and I hate to say it, but just look at her! She can't open a door. She spends hours just staring at the sky. A single snowflake holds her utterly rapt.” Her spectral sister floated across the ice-crusted mud, coming to hover a few feet before them. "Doctor Hemlock, sooner or later you must face the truth. There is no hope."

The doctor's arm tightened around Mary's shoulders. "There is always hope," he said, his voice resonant with emotion. "Where there is love, there is hope."

Love. The word sparked a fire within her. Mary looked up into his handsome face. "Oh, Reginald."

His hand shot up to cup her cheek. "Do you see?" He spoke to the others, but his gaze never left hers. "She remembers me. In time, she will remember everything."

Would she? Mary forced the gears of her mind into motion, churning through thoughts, sensations, emotions, searching for those elusive bits of memory. There was something she needed to tell him, she felt certain of it. Something he needed to know. The key to it all - the tragedy, her cure, Lord Nightshade's unfortunate condition. An image flickered before her eyes – a picture of something thin and silver slashing through the dark. But the instant she grasped for wisp of truth, it melted away. Like a snowflake.

Reginald brushed a lock of hair from her brow, still staring lovingly into her eyes. Oh, how she wanted to kiss him. She longed to press her lips to his, to twine her fingers tightly in his hair and hold him close as she ravaged his mouth, tasted him, feasted on his br--

Dear Lord in heaven! Mary leapt back, pressing a hand to her mouth in horror. "Reginald, you must let me go. We can never be together. You know what I am."

He moved toward her, and Mary took another step in retreat. "Please," she sobbed. "Let me go."

"Never," he replied, his expression resolute. He tilted his head toward the army of restless zombies. "You are not one of them. I was able to halt the transformation that night. I believe I'm very close to reversing the contagion completely. As we speak, I have a new infusion brewing in my laboratory." He held out a hand to her, his eyes glimmering with emotion. "I will not abandon you, Mary. The strength of my love for you transcends even death."

Oh, how she wanted to believe him!

But oh, how she wanted to eat him!

Mary backed away, horrified by the manner in which her heart ached, even as her belly growled with an unholy hunger. She must run away. She could never hold dear Reginald again. But before she could turn and bolt for the trees,

A) Hemlock House exploded, shooting flame and rotting wood into the winter-gray sky. “The antidote!” Reginald cried.

B) Lord Nightshade turned on the doctor. “Enough!” he cried. “Let the girl go. Must the rest of us suffer while you pursue a lost cause?” Behind him, the zombies muttered in agreement. The viscount’s pale lips curled, revealing an elongating set of fangs. He stepped toward the doctor, his eyes hard and glittering. “You promised me a cure for this wretched curse. Now deliver… or die.”

C) Sarah’s bitter laughter rang through the snowy silence. “Hemlock, your stupidity knows no bounds. You can’t want her to remember everything. Even if you manage to reverse the contagion… If she remembers what you did that night, she’ll never forgive you.”

D) A mob of angry villagers streamed forth from the village, brandishing torches. “Kill him!” The Marquis of Moonlight’s high voice pierced the snowy silence. “We must kill that meddling doctor and rid Cotswold of this evil plague forever!”

YOUR TURN: You decide what happens next! Leave your vote in the comments by 8pm (5pm Pacific) every day between now and Halloween---Tomorrow's story continued by Kalen Hughes with the twist YOU choose!

Today's continuation brought to you by Tessa Dare.


Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Roaring with laughter! You have managed to include all but the kitchen sink, but I bet the good doctor has something soaking in it. Brains, maybe? Absolutely hilarious. I'm picking C, cause every hero needs a flaw.

B.E. Sanderson said...

C for me, too. I want to know what Mary can't remember, and what unforgivable thing Reginald did.

Courtney Milan said...

C! C!

And yay for making Mary one of the zombie horde!

Jennifer Linforth said...

ooooo... tough one. Thank god I am alone at work now cause that virgin comment had me on the floor.

Torn between A, B and C...

A) because I had visions of Reginald standing there shaking a fist yelling as if he was NOT getting sliced to bits by flying wood...

B) Because zombies need vampires or else it is not a party...

C)because I love to write angry mobs...

So... C. But put a pitchfork in there... pitchforks are always a good things

Great job. VERY funny!


Erica Ridley said...

Like Jennifer, I'm torn between three (A, C, and D)---man, tough!

Guess I'll have to go with C...

Carrie Ryan said...

But oh, how she wanted to eat him!

I about died at this. I LOVED this -- everything's getting better and better!!! Zombies are always the way to my heart :)

Bill Clark said...

Torn between B and C - but I figure the cure will either come or not in due course, so I'll go with C in order to satisfy my curiousity about "that night".

Tessa, I can't believe it was just a week ago when you said you were not writing a story about Mary and I asked, "Whyever not?" See what mischief we can get into when we try? ;-)

CrystalGB said...

I choose C. :)

lacey kaye said...

Oh, wow. Nice twist. You delivered--romantic zombies it is!

I am absolutely going C. Although, I did like the explosive one, too.

Anonymous said...

Angry mobs, vampires, hmm. I'm going to have to go with C, though. I'm way too curious not to know what happened 'that night'.

Marnee Bailey said...

Tessa, you're right! There were romantic zombies. I was cracking up through this; brilliant!

I am also going with C, I need to know what he did!

Vicki said...

I am so loving this thread. :D I read it very early this morning but couldn't decide then. Not enough coffee in me, yet.

I'm going with C. I will say the vamp thing had me for a moment though.

Hellie Sinclair said...

OMG! That's awesome! I want A, B, AND C! Damnit! I can't pick only one!!!

I guess if I have to choose, I choose C--but the antidote exploding is too good!

Hellie Sinclair said...

OMG, and the "Zombies are coming, the zombies are coming" almost made me spit crystal lite at my computer.

feywriter said...

Another tough decision! I'm going with the majority on this one. C. :-)

Darcy Burke said...

Oh, man, they're all so good! I love the "meddling doctor." Shades of Scooby Doo! I'm going with C because I too want to know what happened that night.

Nicely played, Tessa!

Tessa Dare said...

Gee, I can't believe the consensus is so overwhelming! Honestly, I was leaning toward D. :) But probably because I didn't want to have to think up Hemlock's dark secret. But that's not my problem, I guess!

Thanks so much for letting me play, Mavens! I had a great time, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

And Darcy - Scooby Doo was exactly what went through my mind when I wrote "meddling doctor." LOL.

Anonymous said...

C!!! This is so much fun--thank you for doing this.

Carey Baldwin said...

Oooh! I adore this installment! And I choose B. Simply because of the effort the author expended crafting it.

lacey kaye said...

Just a little reminder since we don't usually post on the weekend:

Tomorrow, Kalen Hughes will continue the story! Sunday's installment will be written by long-time Maven commentor Diana Peterfreund.

See you then!

Lindsey said...

ROFL - total awesomeness! But I must be one of the brainless zombie horde, because I want C too...

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