**Note, this was written in the early 90s. Technology was different then. It was pre-casual internet use. Also, a modern term replaced something that was bugging me at the time it was written. That term was not in general use at the time.


My father once told me that change will occur when you least expect it.  I feel the winds of change blowing.  Does that mean that nothing will happen?
-excerpt from Curtis Tyre’s journal [September 4th]
There is nothing in this world constant, but inconsistency.
-Jonathan Swift:  A Critical Essay upon the Faculties of the Mind [1707]

October was less than three weeks away. By the look on Curt’s face, he was anticipating something big. Although he was twenty-years-old, Halloween was still Curt’s favorite time of year. It invoked ideas of vampires, horror movies, and magic, all the things he enjoyed during the rest of the year but Halloween let everyone else in on the fun. “Hey, Al! What are you doing for Halloween this year?”

“I guess James and me will scare little kids and steal their candy. Why? What are you doing?” he asked quizzically.

“James and I!” Curt corrected.


“James and I, not James and me.” Because Curt had always been shorter than Alex, Curt pestered him like a younger brother might, often correcting and taunting him. As far back as the time they first met, Alex treated Curt like a little brother, and he accepted the position willingly, while he looked at Alex as an older brother. Neither had any male siblings, although Curt did have an older sister, Alex was an only child and the role of brothers suited each just fine.

“Oh fuck off! So what are you doing?”

“I don’t know, but I wanna get a Steampunk horror campaign going. The only problem’s that I know the most about that specific setting, but I don’t want to be the GM.” – or game master.

“Steampunk? Oh, yeah. You mean that mix between Victorian England and steam technology with a modern twist that you told me about last week. Well, why don’t you get the guy from the . . .uh . . .”

That past weekend, Curt had gone to a role-playing convention and gathered a wealth of new knowledge and contacts. Hopefully for their campaigns, one of them would be a new game master, which they liked to call GM. With new knowledge, new ideas form, and new ideas give a role-player the bug, the bug to want to play. Curt was different from the others, in that, he wanted to play but not as much as those he spread the disease to. His friends were contaminated, and its effectiveness increased with contact.

“Convention?” He finished Alex’s sentence for him. “I don’t know his name or number.”

“That never stopped you before.”

“Yeah, well. . .” He tried to think of an excuse.

“Yeah well, what?” Alex said, to egg Curt on.

“Umm . . . well . . . uh. Why do you do this anyway?”

“Because I know, and you know, that you can find it. And besides, you can’t think of anything better to do for Halloween; now can you?” Alex stumped Curt, and he knew it. This usually irritated him, but for some reason let it go. As they walked along, Curt’s steel eyes twinkled with a distant look as a large grin washed over the sharp features of his face, and he knew this Halloween would be the beginning of an extraordinary adventure.

* * * * *

Curt went about the task of finding the name and number of the game master. The first place he decided to check was with the sponsors of the convention. A typical role-playing convention has several sponsors that provide the games for the players and pay for the guest authors. The one that he attended, though, was quite small with a single large sponsor. The task of finding the information would be easier than he thought. He didn’t have to let Alex know though.

Curt headed to Miskatonic Books, the sponsor of the convention, and decided to talk to his acquaintance Tony, who also happened to be one of the managers there. Although the two knew each other for ten years, they became estranged at some point. But, Tony was always good for information.

He walked into the large shop and began to look around. Having seen his share of role-playing books the week before, he decided to look at their large selection of fantasy novels. Baden Smilowitz’s lecture on fantasy characterization intrigued him, having never read any of his works, Curtis decided to pick one up while he was at the store.

As he read the inset to one of the books, heavy footsteps crunched the carpeting beside him. Curt continued to look at the book in his hand as the person passed by. Half paying attention, he noticed that the person picked up three books. The man attempted to grab a fourth, but Curt was in the way.

“Excuse me. . .” the man grunted as he reached over Curt.

Curt shifted around the bookshelves and whispered, “Sorry.” Before moving entirely out of the way, he looked at the man’s outstretched arm and noticed a tattoo of a gray rose inscribed on his inner elbow. The rose had five outer-petals to each of the five layers and five thorns on the stem.

While Curt was admiring the detail of the art, someone tapped his shoulder. The unexpected intrusion of his body space startled him into a shriek.

“Can I help you with something?” the birch-like salesperson asked.

“Hey, Tony! What’s up?”

“The usual. . . So, how is your sister?”

“I’ll tell’er you said ‘hey,’“ he paused for a moment as he watched Tony’s saffron-mustached face fall. “I was wondering if you can get me some information.”

Tony sharply responded, “What do you need this time?”

“I need to know the name of our GM from last week. You know, the one that did that cool, gothic horror adventure.”

“Him? That’s Timothy Molner. I really don’t think you want to deal with him. He comes in every once in a while and asks for new players, but I really don’t think that you’d want to play with him. He’s into some bizarre stuff.”

“Strange. . .Strange as in. . .?”

“Strange as in black magic.” Some books in the other aisle fell at that moment.

Curtis ignored the noise. “You’re just saying that.”

“Alright. . . but I warned you.” Tony looked around the corner to see the damage linked to the sound. “I have to clean this mess.” He headed around the corner, “Don’t forget to tell your sister I said, ‘Hi.’“

“Will do. Thanks for the name.”

Curt headed towards the register with Smilowitz’s latest novel in hand. Behind him, he heard a faint call from Tony, “Don’t try to contact him, Curt!”

Curt stood in line at the counter and recognized the people in front of him. They were his friends from role-playing, James and Kenneth. Both were drama majors, which made them quite adept at playing varied characters. As it turned out though, Kenneth would often be the game master and not get a chance to play, and James constantly played roguish thieves. Curt figured James played the rogues to make up for the cumbersome body that he had in reality.

James and Kenneth, both slightly taller than Curt, stood next to each other. They were equal height yet, physically, nothing alike. Kenneth’s tenuous, East-Asian features contrasted with James’ bulky, Arabian, dark-skinned appearance. “Jim. Ken. Why are you guys here?”

“I’m getting the latest issue of Melpomene, it’s got an interesting article on violence in the media,” James ran his fingers through his slightly long, tight hair at the nape of his neck. “Ken is getting another new role-playing system he wants to try out. What are you getting?”

“I just thought I’d pick up the latest Smilowitz novel. Have you read it yet?” As Curt asked, the register’s bell went off with another transaction. He looked towards the sound and saw the outstretched arm of the tattooed man from the bookshelf take his change and leave.

“No; I hear he reads like Dostoevski; slow throughout with lots of symbolism. They say he’s one of the best writers today. Ken’s read it, though. Ask him.” James then moved up to check out.

“What’d you think of it?” Curtis asked Kenneth.

“Read it and form your own opinion,” he replied.

“Why can’t you ever give me a straight answer? You never tell me anything.” Curt turned toward James and questioned, “Is Anne here?” because he figured he would get more of a response than asking Kenneth.

“No, she’s at work. She has to edit a large article for tomorrow’s paper,” James replied as he finished paying for his item. “Ken, I’ll meet you at the car. Bye, Curt,” as he said that, he opened the door to leave. The loud growl of an engine emanated before the door closed behind James.

“Everything’s cool between you and Anne, right?”

“Yeah, just fine. Oh, I forgot to get some dice,” Kenneth told the clerk.

When he left to get the dice, the clerk asked to ring Curt up. “Will that be all?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” He paid for his book and waved bye to Tony. As Curt opened the door to leave, he saw James sitting on top of Kenneth’s car reading his magazine. He headed over to James to question him. “Find out if Ken wants to be in a game this time. Al and I are trying to get this GM to officiate a campaign for us, and he said that you wanted to play. Ask Ken if he’s interested and then tell Al.”

“Sounds good. I’ll give Alex a call later.”

“See ya,” and Curt headed across the street to his car. A gray Caravan squealed its tires and rushed past Curt as he crossed the street to his car. James looked up for a moment and shook his head. Curt waved to James while he was still looking up.


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