Healing Springs, AR (Choose Your Own Adventure)
  21 min read

Healing Springs, AR (Choose Your Own Adventure)

Choice 1

It’s been a long day. The sun sets so early now. You roll into town long after darkness has fallen.

Being from out west, you thought you knew what it meant to drive through mountains — but this place confounds you. At first glance, this place is nothing like the towering Rockies — you hesitated to even call the Ozark Mountains “mountains” before you arrived. However, the longer you’ve spent here, winding through an endless forest, the crags and hollows (”hollers,” as the locals call them) have begun to press in on you, making you not only feel lost… but like you want to become lost. You sense the forest carries a personality. At moments the trees feel friendly… at others… judgmental — even pugnacious. Sleep claws at your eyes.

It is in this beleaguered state that your headlights illuminate the Main Street of Healing Springs, Arkansas. You know the town has a reputation for its spas and recreation, but you are taken aback at the sudden micro-urban environment that has sprouted up before you.

Deep in the valley, multi-story buildings rise to darken the already hemmed in sky. You spot your place of lodging immediately: The Holler Spring Hotel. However, finding a place to park your car is another matter. You drive the circuitous, undulating streets of downtown three, maybe four, times before you finally find a parking lot at the base of the valley.

You heave your bags up San Francisco-esque inclines until, gasping for air, you finally reach Holler Spring Park, which neighbors your aforementioned hotel. You look around and notice several establishments with illuminated “OPEN” signs.

Choice 2

A tiny, brass bell tinkles as you pull open the door to Pub Asteria. A rich, musky smell — the scent of autumn — greets you. The pub is sparsely populated; a couple sits at a small table in a nook near the back, while the sole patron sitting at the bar is just getting up to leave.

“Money’s on the counter, Diana,” the scruff-looking mountain man shouts as he heads towards you. He glances at you with a kind glint in his eye, and nods in greeting. You offer an awkward nod in return. The front door opens and the bell tinkles as he leaves, a cold gust hits you in the back as he does.

You survey the pub in more detail as you try and work up the courage to approach the vacant bar. A large, rainbow flag adorns a wall in the back. Throughout, you notice collections of hillbilly paraphernalia: banjos, straw hats, hack saws, and the like. You also perceive a mystic vibe to the place based off references to the major arcana of tarot dotting the establishment.

“Hey there, sweetie. Why don’t you set that bag down and take a load off over here for a sec.” The voice of the bartender — Diana, you assume — snaps you from your observant trance. You approach the bar and take a seat, setting your duffle bag on the stool next to you. “Can I get you anything, or are ya just settling into town?”

Choice 3

It’s been a long drive. A drink sounds pretty good. You eye the eclectic assortment of tap handles. You imagine yourself a connoisseur, so you always look to try something local wherever you go.

“What do you have on tap? I’d like to try something local.”

“On tap?” Diana doesn’t miss a beat. “Mountain Spring Lager, Buffalo Coffee Stout, Ancient Age IPA, Faerie Games Sour.”

“Mountain Spring sounds good.”

Diana takes a glass and begins a pour. “Haven’t seen you round these parts before. This your first time in Healing Springs?”

“It is. I’m from Colorado, out around the Fort Collins area.”

“Oh! You know your beers then. Here —” she places the glass of golden liquid in front of you. “Hope this stacks up to your standards.”

“I’m sure it will.” You take a sip; the first sip of a cold beer is always special, especially after a long day — Wow! It’s really good. Smooth and refreshing. The word ‘magical’ comes to mind.

“I can see it on your face,” Diana smiles. “You like it. So, what brings you here?”

You pause and ponder. You’ve been thinking about that very question. You’ve felt drawn here for a time by some inexplicable sensation. You’re unsure of the answer.

Choice 4

Diana doesn’t immediately say anything. She leans against the bar, slowly taking you in. She stares; it feels more like she’s looking into you than at you. After a moment, she breaks the silence: “I appreciate the honest answer. Tell you what, this one’s on the house. Call it a welcome gift, from the town of Healing Springs to you.”

You nod a thanks for the drink, exchange final pleasantries, and pick up your duffle bag.

As you open the door to leave, Diana says, “You can find a lot of things up in these hills. Make sure you figure out what’s calling you before you go too deep in.”

The next morning, you shuffle downstairs to the Holler Spring Hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. After a pleasantly hardy spread and a couple cups of coffee, you feel charged and ready to meet the day.

You step out of the lobby onto the street, unsure of your destination. You could mosey around the downtown area, see the shops and the people, to get your bearings. There’s also the famously haunted (and fully operational) Selene Hotel & Spa up the large hill to the north that draws many tourists. Or, you could take it easy and enjoy the amenities of your Hotel, the Holler Spring, as you get a lay of the land.

Choice 5

You’ve heard so many tales about the Selene Hotel & Spa that your curiosity can’t keep you away. You head off walking north — the hotel is about thirty minutes away.

As you trudge up a steep incline through quaint residential neighborhoods, your mind floats away from the present to thumb through what you know about the “haunted” attraction. For one, the hotel is old: originally built in the 1880s, the premises were conceived as an elite, luxury hotel and rest stop along a railroad being built out west. It was remarkably popular until the Great Depression shuddered its doors in the early 1930s. After this, the hotel rapidly changed hands — one most notably being a charlatan who posed the establishment as a medical asylum to attract and trick the sick and desperate out of their money. Death and dismay had been old friends to the hotel for a long time; it was no wonder it had a reputation for being haunted. Nowadays, the Selene Hotel & Spa is fully functional (and not scam… to your knowledge). It accepts guests and leans into its eclectic past, offering ghost-hunting tours and similar supernatural attractions.

Thirty-five minutes later, you stand huffing and puffing beneath a towering sign for the Selene Hotel & Spa. Its Victorian architecture immediately exudes the haunted vibes of its reputation. You pass through a well-manicured garden on the premises as you make your way to the main entrance. You hold the door for a bell boy maneuvering a cart of luggage; he nods at you and smiles.

The lobby is somehow even more the way you imagined it would be. A young woman behind the front desk looks up and beckons you over. “Hello, welcome to the Selene Hotel & Spa! How can I help you today?”

You hesitate. You spent the entire walk over mulling through the hotel’s history and reputation – you didn’t even consider what you’d do when you arrive.

Choice 6

You tell the woman behind the desk that you’ve come for one of the Selene’s famous (or possibly infamous) ghost tours.

“Wonderful,” she says. “Lucky for you we have a tour leaving in about…” she checks her watch, “ten, fifteen minutes. Is this your first time here at the Selene?”

“Yes, my first time in Healing Springs, actually,” you reply.

“Wonderful! You’re in for quite the treat. The daytime tours aren’t as thrilling as the nighttime ones, but they are much safer.” She winks at you knowingly, yet her meaning remains inscrutable; you find the whole exchange a bit disquieting. Maybe it’s all part of the “charm”.

Thirty minutes later you walk through the bowels of the hotel in a group of five people: four tourists (of which you are one), and one guide. The guide, a young man with a thick Appalachian twang, is good at his job. He’s personable and speaks at a rapid-fire speed while remaining completely cogent; his fine-tuned articulation is mesmerizing.

“And now…” the guide says. “We’ve reached the part of the tour where I gotta remind y’all of the waivers you signed beforehand.” A brief, confused silence falls on the group. Just before things get awkward the guide grins from ear-to-ear and utters an infectious chuckle. “I’m just pullin’ your leg, y’all. I reckon we would’ve told you if y’all needed to sign a waiver.” The group releases a metaphorical stress valve with collective laughter. He motions as he steps down a flight of stone stairs leading to the basement.

The three other tourists follow close on the guide’s heels, but you linger. Something, some light or motion in the periphery, catches your attention. You look down the carpeted hallway… but see nothing.

Choice 7

You call out to the group: “Uh, hey. Hey! I think I saw something down this hallway.” However, the group has already passed into the basement; they either can’t hear you or have chosen to ignore you. You rush down the stairs to catch up.

You’re a bit distressed by how far they were able to make it through the basement’s catacombs in such a short time, yet you catch up — your breathing now slightly-labored .

“There you are,” the guide says in an overly-cheery manner. “I thought we had one more in the group.” A playful smirk stretches across his face. “You’re lucky this is a daytime tour, or something mighta jumped out the walls and gotcha!” The tourists laugh. You do not.

“I-” you feel silly pushing the issue at this point, but you’re too deep in. “I think I saw something upstairs — down the hallway.” A hush falls on the group.

“You think you saw something, do ya,” the guide repeats. “Not a big surprise. This is a haunted hotel, after all.” His fingers do that stereotypical scary-wiggle thing. “That, and the mind can play tricks when we expect things to go wrong.”

You feel silly. Of course it was likely just your mind playing tricks. Confirmation bias and all that psychology hibblety-bibblety. And yet… something at the corner of your consciousness is telling you it was real.

Choice 8

You let the issue drop and continue following the tour group through the basement — although now you make sure to hang back in the rear. The under-workings of the Selene Hotel are as dank and creepy as you’d expect. Chilled air all around gives you the sensation that you’re in an actual cave. As the tour guide gives the group heads up that you’ll be taking a left into an old sanatarium, you see your change to slip away… and take it.

Retracing your steps, you wind back through the catacombs. Left, straight, right, another right… almost there, just one more left and… a sinking shutter drops through your body; the stairs aren’t here, you must have gotten turned around. You spent so much of your energy looking for a chance to slip away, you must have misremembered the basement layout.

You steady your breathing. Everything is fine. You’ll find your way out. Things seem scary because they’re supposed to be scary, just like the tour guide said.

And then, you hear the faint scraping of chains. Was this sound always here… or is this new? It doesn’t matter. As you stand and listen, the scraping sound grows. It reverberates throughout the halls, making it impossible to pinpoint its origin. Louder and louder it grows — scrape, sccraappe, SCCRAAAAPEE.

Choice 9

Fear seizes you as you frantically look for a place to hide. You spot an armoire further down the hallway. You rush to it and duck inside — luckily there isn’t much in it, leaving plenty of room for you. A musty smell envelopes your senses. You wait, trying to moderate your breathing as best as you can.

The scraping of chains grows louder. The sound grows and grows until it is seemingly coming from right outside the armoire… and then it stops.

You wait, breath held.

“I know you’re in there,” a gravelly voice says. “I don’t mean to scare you. I bring a message. I’ll set it on the ground.”

Choice 10

You stay perfectly still and wait. After a moment in time, you’re unsure exactly how long, the sound of scraping chains resumes. SCRAAAPE. SCraaape. sscraaape. scrape. scra… until the sound fades away.

Slowly, you peek through the armoire doors. Nobody’s there. You step out.

Surely enough, on the ground before you rests a folded sheet of paper. You pick it up. It feels old, more like some medieval vellum, with texture and topography, than a smooth sheet of modern stationary. You unfold it, and read:

“You’ve answered the call. So few do, and fewer still find their way to us. We need your help. Come to the Holler Spring Bath House tonight, at five minutes after midnight. There, you will witness what has been calling you.”

The Selene Hotel tour ends as uneventfully as it began. The guide makes another glibly morbid joke as the tourists disband, grins on all their faces except yours — your mind is still fixated on the letter left for you at the armoire.

That evening, you sit at the bar inside your hotel: the Holler Spring Hotel. The bath house is close; it is a mere five minute walk.

The story so far...

You’ve made a long drive from the Colorado Front Range to the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. The small town of Healing Springs has been calling to you for some time — a call you’ve finally decided to investigate. You settled in your first night by visiting a downtown bar: Pub Asteria. Here, among the eclectic decorations, you met and conversed with the bartender (and presumed owner) Diana. She asked what you were doing in Healing Springs, and you confirmed you’re not quite sure… only that you’ve felt drawn here for some time.

The next day, you decided to visit the Selene Hotel & Spa: a functional hotel, yet also a tourist destination known for its ghost tours. You went on a ghost tour, which started lighthearted enough, but soon turned foreboding as you diverted from the group to investigate a sensation from the corner of your eye. In the bowels of the Hotel, you ran from the sound of scraping chains, hiding in an old armoire. A voice spoke to you, telling you it didn’t intend to scare you, and left you a note. The note claimed to know what had been calling you here, and to meet at the Holler Spring Bath House five minutes after midnight that night. You returned to your hotel, the Holler Spring Hotel downtown, and deliberated your next course of action…

Choice 11

You’ve made up your mind — you’ll do as the letter requests. You sit at the Holler Spring Hotel bar until the last call at 10:50 p.m., having nursed a couple of cocktails throughout the evening to steady your nerves. You spend a restless hour in your room, checking the time every thirty seconds. After what feels like an eternity, the time comes and you make your way down to the lobby and out into the night.

The Holler Spring Bath House is not far; it’s a mere five minute walk, if that, and is located in the heart of downtown. You did some research on the place while you waited. Originally constructed in 1889, the bath house was a major tourist draw in the town’s early days and helped establish the area as a getaway, healing resort. It remained in operation until 1989, when a fire destroyed most of the interior. It was faithfully reconstructed, but no longer functions as a bath house — it now houses other businesses on the ground floor, with the top serving as a museum of sorts.

Crisp, cool air nips at your cheeks as you approach. You cross a distinctive wooden bridge that passes over a road, which is on a terrace about twelve feet down. Immediately on the other side stands the bath house. A wooden porch extends from the bridge, providing access to the building’s second floor. You look up and see white-painted writing on the brick below the ornate cornice: “Holler water has made 90 percent of the cures in Healing Springs.” You try the door, expecting it to be locked… but it opens.

You step into a cavernous, tiled chamber. Moonlight streams in from windows high above. You check the time: 12:04 a.m. Before you step farther into the room: a sudden, loud thud echoes through the bath house.

Choice 12

I knew this was a bad idea, you think to yourself as you carefully meld into shadow. You creep around the corners of the room, making sure your footfalls don’t cause reverberations off the tiled floor. Braced for something to jump out at you any moment, you move toward where the loud sound originated.

Yet nothing happens. You reach the other side of the cavernous bath house and peer over a balcony, half a story below. There a sign lies on the ground, shattered mosaics scattered beneath its hefty frame. It reads: Bagley Corp. Best Prices. Better Life. The Bagley Corporation… You recognize that name…

“Hello? Anyone there?” A voice booms through the bath house; someone has entered behind you. “This area’s off limits after hours. You’re not supposed to be in here.” Adrenaline shoots through you, yet your nerves are steadied as you realize this person, whoever he is, is as unsettled as you were when you first entered. You don’t think he’s noticed you yet.

Choice 13

You don’t stick around to get caught by whoever this is. Quickly and quietly, you slink down the stairs at the back of the bath house. As you pass the Bagley Corp. sign, you pause — where did this come from? You glance around and don’t see where the sign might have been previously affixed; it’s almost as if it appeared out of thin air and dropped…

“Hello?” The man’s shaky voice and footsteps echo across the room.

No time to think about the sign. You need to get out of here.

Passing through a clothing store on the ground floor, you easily escape into the night. You snake across the street and up a flight of stairs wedged between two buildings, emerging right in front of the Holler Spring Hotel.

Choice 14

Remembering the hours from the night you arrived, you duck into Pub Asteria knowing it’s one of the few establishments still open after midnight. Again, the tinkle of a tiny, brass bell heralds your entrance as you step through the door.

A vacant taproom greets you. Surreality washes over you; what a strange time and place to find yourself in. You wander between tables, letting your hands brush over the aged, wooden chairs in an attempt to ground yourself, but the feeling persists. You feel drawn to something…

“Haven’t seen you around these parts before.” A voice snaps you from your trance. Sitting in the corner, half obscured in shadow, sits a sharply dressed man.

Choice 15

You tell the truth. You say this is your first time visiting the town of Healing Springs, and that you’re from the Colorado Front Range.

“An outsider.” He lingers on outsider in a manner that puts you on edge. “Nice to meet you.” He leans forward and extends his hand. You shake reflexively, and as you do, get a good look at his face. Pristinely combed, side-parted hair, black with salted streaks of gray, adorns a peach-colored face that appears unsettlingly friendly, as if agreeing to a friendship with the man might be akin to selling your soul. His handshake is uncomfortably firm.

“Back at you,” you say, not knowing what else to do.

“Perhaps we can be of some use to one another.” He ends the handshake and you find a pristine business card in your hand. It reads: Mark Wilson, Regional Director, Bagley Corp. He stands. “Until we meet again.” He leaves without so much as a glance back at you.

You stand flummoxed for a moment, your heart racing anew. You check the time: 12:15 a.m. So much has happened in the last ten minutes: the mysterious summons to the Holler Spring Bath House, the fallen Bagley Corp. sign inside, the security guard (for lack of a better understanding), and now this Mark Wilson lurking in a place he very much seemed to not belong. So many pieces, yet you feel no closer to putting them together.

Choice 16

You find it peculiar that you’ve seen no signs of Diana since entering Pub Asteria. It’s late, and possible she’s in the back tending to some mundane business… but the events of the night have set you on edge, fostering paranoia.

“Diana?” You call out loud enough to be heard, but not so loud to draw unwanted attention. No answer. Something doesn’t feel right.

You walk behind the bar. Clean glasses hang from a wooden trellis above. All manners of spirits adorn the shelves behind you. No sign of Diana.

The creak of aged wood heralds you as you ease through the door leading to the back. You don’t have to look long. Among a collection of cardboard boxes, sitting comfortably yet unconscious, is the bar’s proprietor: Diana Fay. You rush to her side. Placing a tender hand on her shoulder, you give her a gentle shake. She stirs. Inhaling through her nostrils, she begins to come to.

Eyelids flutter, and glassy eyes take a moment to focus on you. “You that Colorado kid?” she asks as if emerging from a dream.

“Still got your memory,” you say with relief. “Are you okay? What happened?” Diana pulls herself to her feet, still clearly groggy. “I don’t know. One minute I was pulling a new keg to tap, the next… well, here I am.”

“Was it that man?” You check the name on the business card again. “Mark Wilson?”

Diana’s expression softens. “Who Mark? No, he’s a sweet man. Wouldn’t harm a fly, that one.” She speaks with conviction… but you’re not sure you believe her (even if she seems to believe herself).

Choice 17

You decide to let the topic of Regional Director Mark Wilson drop, for now, and shift matters to your original focus of the night. After ensuring Diana is back to her senses and feeling well, the two of you drift back out to the taproom. You turn the topic of discussion to the Holler Spring Bath House.

“Been around for ages,” Diana says. “A shame the fire back in eighty-nine put the actual baths out of commission. Still have plenty of spas in this town, but that place had history.” She pauses, and you notice profound expression of longing pass over her. “Some things you can’t recover once lost.” Her expression turns inquisitive. “Why do you ask?”

Choice 18

There are too many unknowns and you’re tired of stumbling around in the dark. You need some answers. You tell Diana about the strange note that was left for you in the basement of the Selene Hotel & Spa.

“Intriguing…” she says. “May I see it?” She extends her hand, and you place the ancient paper in her palm. She reads the note, but you notice she spends more effort examining the paper itself. She looks up at you and a grin grows from her lips.

“What is it?”

“The spirits are calling to you. They’re asking for help.” Diana places the note back in your hand and cups her hand over yours. “You’re special, perhaps more than you realize.” Before you can respond, she continues. “It’s late. Get some sleep and come see me in the morning. We’ll talk more then.”

She’s right. It’s late and you’ve already pushed your luck further than you feel comfortable. She ushers you to the front, and the crisp Ozark night greets you. Your mind drifts as you meander toward your hotel. You are caught off-guard as the bag comes down over your head.

Regaining consciousness, you’re unsure where you are or how much time has passed.

Choice 19

You remain still, doing your best to act as though you never came to your senses. You wait… and listen. It’s hard to tell with the bag still over your head, but it seems as though you’re inside some kind of large, high-vaulted building. But then there’s the smell: a rich, pungent, floral odor that seems almost… tropical?

You note that your hands are not bound. Someone has brought you here, but seemed to be more concerned with obscuring your location rather than keeping you contained within it. But a kidnapping is a kidnapping.

Minutes pass, then what you assume is an hour. Still no movement, no signs of your captors. Is this all an elaborate ruse? Or something else?

Choice 20

One strange turn deserves another, you conclude. With nothing to lose, perhaps leaning into your supernatural encounters will give you the help you need.

You close your eyes and reach out… first with your thoughts, but soon after also with your hand. You didn’t intend to move, potentially giving yourself away, yet the action seemed instinctual — perhaps more than that. You feel something. It’s subtle, but you sense a gentle hand on the small of your back, pressing, pushing. It’s not violent or uncomfortable; it’s more a guiding nudge.

Creak! Slam! Someone has passed through a door… somewhere in this “castle”. With all the reverberation, however, (and the bag on your head) it’s difficult to tell how far away the door may be.

Choice 21

You remove the bag from your head and are immediately struck by the bizarre room in which you find yourself. All around you tropical plants flourish — inside of a building. The room you’re in stretches two, possibly three, stories tall, and you catch your reflection in a wall of massive ceiling-to-floor length windows. Outside is pitch black; an overcast sky obscures any light from the moon or stars.

You hear the footsteps echo closer, so you book it away from your exposed position. The first thing to catch your eye is a set of stairs leading to a second floor balcony. Up you climb, as quickly and quietly as you can, until you rest against a solid guardrail overlooking where you had just been.

The footsteps grow louder and louder until they enter the large, plant-filled room. The footsteps stop… but no other sound follows.

Choice 22

Silence spreads throughout the expansive room. Its ambience, aside from the tropical flowers and vines that creep across its many surfaces, feels like the great hall of some long-forgotten castle.

You hear nothing for long enough to make you curious, or nervous… or both. Your head peeks over the solid guardrail, and you cast your gaze to the first floor below. Expecting to see some grizzled kidnapper, you are surprised to see… nothing. You know you heard footsteps coming into the room. You know you didn’t hear anything since they came to a stop. Yet you see nothing.

A voice behind you says, “I’m sorry for frightening you. You’re not whom I believed you to be.” Jolted with fear, you scream and whip around… and see nothing. Pressed against the guardrail, your heavy breaths make it difficult to focus, but as you sit and stare something comes into focus, like the ripples of pond settling so that you can clearly see your reflection. In this case, however, it is not your reflection, but a ghostly visage — one you don’t recognize. Concern drapes across their face.

You speak, doing your best to keep your voice from cracking. “What are you? What’s going on?”

“I thought you were the bag man,” the ghost says. “I have a hard time telling you people apart.” Its voice speaks clearly, yet sounds simultaneously like traveling from a great distance and being whispered close to your ear.

“The bag man?”

“Yes. We are in terrible danger. We don’t have much time.” The voice pauses, and you see a sudden realization in the ghost’s expression. “You are the one who is to help us?”

Choice 23

“Yes, I’ll help you. But you have to tell me what’s going on,” you say.

“You don’t know?” The ghost’s visage comes and goes, as if the depth-of-field on a camera is constantly being adjusted. “We thought you knew. The worlds of the living are difficult for us to understand, even though we once walked where you do now. Things are… confusing for us. Pieces of a jigsaw puzzle forever lost.”

“That’s okay, but you have to tell me more. I can’t help you if I don’t know what you need.”

“The bag man.” The ghost pauses, as if to shudder. “It all goes back to the bag man.”

“You said that before. I don’t know what, er, or who you’re talking about.”

“He’s going to use us. Trap us. Take away our wills.”

“But who is he?”

The creaking sound of a large door, presumably some kind of entrance by its weight, echoes through the halls of this strange abode. It startles you and you look over the railing, trying pinpoint its origin; no luck.

You turn back to the ghost. “Was that—” you begin to speak but stop short — the ghost is nowhere to be seen.

Choice 24

With your ghostly acquaintance nowhere in sight, you decide to investigate whatever may have entered or made the sound at the front door. You creep down the stairs, moving silently, and stick to the shadows wherever possible (having just snuck around the Holler Spring Bath House, you’re able to keep your nerves in check).

As you navigate across the ground floor, the sound of flowing water and tropical plants growing across the walls again draw your attention. What an odd place. By happenstance, you sidle up to a pillar with a copper plaque you would expect to see at an attraction or historical monument. The title reads: “Cogley’s Chateau”.  A brief history of the building is engraved on the plaque.

Choice 25

You stop and take time to read the plaque. This place is so strange, you feel you have to learn more about what it is (and where you are). The plaque reads:

Cogley’s Chateau

The Ozarks’ Most Peculiar Dwelling

Built over the course of two years from 1941-1943, Cogley’s Chateau is the dream construction of Mrs. Elena Cogley. When she was eighteen years old, during the Great Depression, Elena Cogley (then Elena Fortunato) married Arthur Cogley. They lived a humble life in their early marriage, producing five children to fill the lumber shack in which they resided. Arthur promised Elena that one day they would live in a home fit for royalty, like a castle or chateau, and that he would build it for her with his own hands.

One night soon after, Elena had a dream. In this dream, she was given the vision of a magnificent house of which she could remember every detail upon waking. Most notably, the house was to be framed by twenty-eight large windows and within an ecosystem of tropical plants would be planted to make the interior feel like a world unto its own. She immediately told her husband who, while sympathetic, was understandably hesitant.

Elena and Arthur argued for several months until one day, while he was away working at the lumber mill, Elena declared to her children “we’re going to tear this house down,” and that’s exactly what they did. At this point, living out of a chicken house with his family, Arthur had no choice — the construction of Cogley’s Chateau began.

There’s still a little more text to read. As your eyes drift down to finish, however, you hear a voice behind you.

“Hey there, Colorado. Fancy meeting you in a place like this.” You turn and see Mark Wilson, Regional Director at Bagley Corp. standing behind you, his hand resting casually in his suit pant pocket. “What brings you to the Chateau?”

Choice 26

You say the first thing that comes to mind. “I came here to do some ghost hunting.” Seems reasonable, given the reputation of the town and your experiences so far.

“Interesting,” Mark says. “It just so happens, so did I.” An uneasy silence falls between the two of you. That was not the response you expected. “You continue to fascinate me, Colorado. We really could do some great things together. Tell me…” he pauses, and you see the most normal, most human glint in his eyes — that of greed. “How goes the hunt? Have you seen any ghosts here tonight?”

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