I love throwing Hallowe’en parties.

I feel like that’s probably pretty obvious based on everything else about me, but I really do: something about the spectacle and the way Hallowe’en lets people let their guards down and connect on a creative level is really powerful. I’ve always found it personally inspiring, if that wasn’t clear from the, uh, 20 essays on this site this month. Hallowe’en fires up my creative impulses like nothing else.

Never was this more true than about seven years ago, when I lived in a deeply beloved (and very grubby!) little apartment called The Crow’s Nest.

It was my first apartment in the city and I was appropriately over-enthusiastic about it. Like, Hallowe’en-parties-every-weekend level enthusiastic. I was basically living in an Oingo Boingo video for a while there, it was great. Then it came to an abrupt end: the Vancouver Renoviction Curse eventually comes for us all. The Crow’s Nest had to go.

So for the very last Hallowe’en in the Crow’s Nest, I decided to do something a little ridiculous: I wrote five Horror stories in five weeks, each determined by a decision my audience had made in the previous week. I called it The Last Hallowe’en I think, though this was long before Abby Howard created an amazing webcomic by that same name. The idea was, every week my little audience-committee received a new chapter in the spooky story, and every story ended in a two-pronged fork. They would have to choose one of two equally-inscrutable options. Those choices corresponded to a set of Tarot cards that I had on a table, so the narrative followed the cards – some were good, some were bad, most were extremely weird. When they made a choice, I would flip a card and determine the next week’s theme (which, um, also determined the movie for that week’s movie night).

Remember we were like 24. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

By the end of the fifth week I was left exhausted, with a gigantic pile of extremely improvised, messy fiction in my lap. Those weekly stories would later form the template for the post-a-day format of these blogs, but I also just held on to them in the background. I always intended to do something with them, even if I wasn’t sure quite what.

Anyways, long story short they’re a game now.

Festival of Wax is the remastered, maybe-definitive version of those spooky stories from all those years ago, wrapped up in Twine and published on itch.io, the independent storefront for weird little games like mine. The choices have been soldered off because they were made long, long ago by a wise council of drunk, over-enthusiastic Vancouverites. Everything else has been tightened up, fixed or generally expanded into a form I’m much happier with in 2021. It has a name that doesn’t rip anyone off now, as well as a structure that I hope makes a little bit more sense than the original 2014 version. It had better.

It’s free, it will run in your browser, and it’s right here waiting for you on the official Pop Culture Death Drive itch.io page. Which is a real thing that exists.

It’s wild to me too, I know. I guess I should do the sales pitch now.

Festival of Wax: Chapter I is the first of five surreal, linear Horror vignettes, held together by a candle-wick of narrative and a whole lot of surreal, shifting settings. Every entry dives head-first into a different setting and tone, starting in the haunted, stifling caravan driven by the mysterious Lady of Wax and spiraling out into a kaleidoscope of bizarre, spooky adventures. You’ll never see what’s coming next – which is good, because it’s all in second person.

You have no one to blame for what happens next but yourself.

Free on itch.io, playable in your browser, and suitable for anyone who doesn’t mind a good, weird ghost story.

The Longest Hallowe’en of your life is only getting started. ❤

Festival of Wax: Chapter I by popculturedeathdrive

This has been entry 21/31 of The Long Hallowe’en 2021!