It’s almost here again: Halloween, a time of candy, costumes and primal fear. I thought of trying to tap into this primal fear for this special week with a little custom-made story of mine, translated into a short pitch for a single-player supernatural action-adventure/survival-horror game. I hope you enjoy, and early Happy Halloween from all of us to you!
NOTE: As you read this, try to imagine actually playing through this story, as if it was a full single-player title. I will try to make the events as explicit as possible, gameplay-wise, while sticking to a narrative story format.
Gabriel Santos doesn’t believe in the American Dream. Not anymore, at least.
A disillusioned veteran, Gabe is just an average-looking dude who’s been down-on-his-luck. On top of being homeless, this winter season has been one of the harshest yet. Making matters worse, he recently was cited for illegal temporary housing, a.k.a. trying to stay warm while sleeping on a cardboard box, in front of a building in Downtown San Diego. Not that he can pay for it, anyway.
This particular morning finds Gabe feeling understandably grumpy in general, but optimistic as to his possible haul today from begging. Maybe today he’ll even be able to afford a cup of hot chocolate.
By late afternoon, Gabe ends up getting $15 and 35 cents. Not bad at all for a days work, and just enough for dinner and that cup of hot chocolate.
On the way to the local cafe, a cloaked and hooded man bumps into Gabe. The man apologizes profusely, then gives Gabe a business card with his right hand, all the while throwing at Gabe a strange, imperious gaze and keeping his left hand in his pocket. He says to Gabe, “Don’t hesitate to call me if you ever need any help. That’s my direct number.” then walks away with a strange crunching sound with every step on his right foot. Gabe takes a cursory glance at the card, noting the name: Robert Dreid, monster exterminator, pest exterminator, and crabber. Gabe tosses the card in the next garbage bin he passes, saying to himself, “What a joke….”
Gabe reaches the midpoint of the crosswalk before the cafe and feels a sudden wooziness come over him, and everything in his vision starts swimming. Trying to fight it, Gabe collapses in a heap in the middle of the road.
Gabe can feel he’s still awake, and so he tries to open his eyes, but sees only darkness. He feels his eyes are open, but darkness is still all he sees. So Gabe tries to speak, and it is the act of speaking that finally lets him see, but not in the way he was expecting. The closest word Gabe can relate it to is a kind of human echolocation: only in the seconds after whenever he spoke is when he “sees” the street, and the cafe ahead of him, but the previously-busy street is now deserted. Gabe practices “seeing” this way for a while, deciding that the best sound to bounce is tongue-clicking. After mastering this surprisingly quickly, Gabe finally stands up, and this is when things get even weirder: a red humanoid figure throws open the cafe door, growing into a giant once it gets outside.
Jaw still dropped, Gabe takes a second before bolting the opposite direction, turning the corner and not even behind him with asphalt-cracking footfalls booming in his ears… until he crashes into the cloaked man he met earlier, nearly collapsing once again with the force of the crash. The cloaked man smiles a small smile, not even shocked in the slightest, asking “Need a hand?” Gabe just stares open-mouthed, unsure of how to explain that there is still a giant monster chasing him and trying to acclimate to echolocating and listening at the same time. Still smiling the small smile, Dreid hands him yet another business card, saying, “Call this number at the payphone a little further ahead so you’ll wake up from all of this while I take care of this mess. And please don’t throw it in the trash this time.”
Gabe nods once, processing too late to stop Dreid turning the corner to ask what he meant by wake up from this. Naturally, Gabe runs to yell at Dreid to run with him in the other direction, thinking the monster is still not too far behind him, but after turning the corner, his eyes show him something he can’t believe: Dreid staring up at the red giant. Dreid throws off his cloak, revealing a body that appears to be a cross between human and crab. Dreid’s right foot and left arm are those of a crab, while the other pair of limbs are human, while his entire torso is a shell like that of a crab. Dreid then cracks his neck with a sickening crunch, triggering a shocking transformation: Dreid grows into a giant as well, even bigger than the red giant.
Panicking and thinking he’s gone crazy, Gabe makes a run for the payphone back where he bumped into Dreid. Dialing the number on the card, the wooziness comes over Gabe once again after the first ring, resulting in Gabe collapsing yet again.
When he comes to, Gabe finds himself once again in the middle of the crosswalk, being helped up by Morris, the owner of the cafe. But something’s off about Morris that Gabe can’t quite put his finger on. There! One eye is a dazzling red instead of his normal hazel-brown eyes.
Morris has a worried look on his face, saying, “Gabe, what’s the matter with you? You alright, man? You want me to call an ambulance fer ya?” Gabe, still disoriented, decides to accept Morris’ offer to call emergency services, all the while still pondering the mismatched eyes of his old friend. He notices a white card lying on the spot where he was laying and stoops to pick it up, confirming his suspicions: It’s Dreid’s business card!
Waiting until after he is seen at the hospital he gets taken to, Gabe once again takes out the business card, wondering to himself if he ought to try to call him or not. Deciding to give it a try, Gabe uses his room phone to call the number, half-worried he may fall unconscious again with every ring. But Dreid’s voice answers, and Gabe wonders what else was actually real in his dream. Dreid says, “So you finally call. You must have many questions, and I will try my best to answer them. What would you like to know?”
Gabe asks the obvious question: Why was Dreid in his dream? Dreid replies, “First of all, much as you would probably want what happened to be one, that was no dream. What you encountered in the Alt plane, what the US government calls naciremA, is called a red-man, and they and many other beings can scent plane-jumpers like us like a dog scents a piece of meat. Second, you can do everything I did too, but, unlike me, you can only enter the Alt plane with transient bursts of emotion, and your skill is still raw and unrefined. But one thing about you that does intrigue me beyond you being a plane-jumper is your enormous reservoir of untapped power compared to my past students. Please, let me teach and train you, so you can control what both of us have been gifted with. In fact, let’s go to our first lesson…” Before Gabe can reply or object, Dreid grips his arm, instantly triggering the wooziness yet again, but this time, Gabe manages to stay conscious for the jump.
Gabe and Dreid land right where they came from next to Gabe’s bed, but this time, Gabe understands his predicament a little better. The Alt plane is basically the same as the regular Norm plane, except for the multiple red-men and other creatures that Gabe echolocates shortly after jumping. Dreid gets a wild and excited note in his voice, saying, “Lesson one was an easy transfer of knowledge by arm-gripping, but lesson two requires you watch me. Observe…” and then pulls out a gun, masterfully taking out the red-men with every crack. Gabe notices something strange about the gun: it isn’t firing conventional bullets. Asking Dreid about the gun after getting up from the bed, Dreid tells Gabe that the gun is indeed not a normal one, and instead fires bolts of light energy gathered from the sun. A solar-powered gun. Dreid makes a point of saying to Gabe that, “these guns are what I prefer to fight the Alt plane monsters because transforming like you saw me do earlier requires a large amount of energy, energy I’d prefer to save and instead get from the sun in the form of solar-powered guns like I just… LOOK OUT!!!”
Gabe looks behind him and reacts a moment too late, getting sacked by a red-man. Dreid, for some reason, won’t shoot the red-man off of him, and instead tosses Gabe the solar-gun, saying, “This is an excellent field training opportunity, so I’ll just leave this one to you. That gun’s got enough charge to last a week with moderate to heavy use, so don’t be afraid to go wild with it. I’ll be back in five days or so, good luck!” And with that, Dreid runs off to Gabe’s bedside telephone and dials his business number, disappearing seconds later, leaving Gabe to get the red-man off of him and fend for himself for five days.
What an awesome first day of school….
So, what did you think? Please sound off in the comments below, and let me know if you think I should continue the story, or just scrap it.