Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫
 ABBA “The Winner Takes It All”
 AC/DC “Sin City”
 The Animals “House of The Rising Sun”
As you should be more than aware by this point, the Keeper experience is all about audience participation. Any way in which I can involve my readership that much further than is customary I shall gladly take and ordinarily this will involve the cunning placement of visual and audio stimuli. However, when decorating a fresh canvas from scratch, the most potent tool at one’s disposal would undoubtedly be prose. By making a concept literal you afford your imagination the opportunity of designing a foundation and this can then be heightened by the addition of a few choice images or soundbites for additional effect. I’m always aware of the boundaries when creating but choose not to succumb to limitation; thus operating out of the box habitually. The freedom this affords is staggering and allows a scribe to truly innovate. I’m unsure as to whether or not anybody has attempted what I am about to and neither does it faze me either way. What matters is that I’m so bowled over by the love and support I have been shown when I have needed it most and wish only to pay that forward in kind.
So what does Keeper have up his lengthy sleeve this time then? I desire to answer that question with one of my own. Are you gamblers? Over 32 million people in the United Kingdom alone would plead guilty to this charge and, to a fair percentage of these, a bulging one-armed bandit may as well be a crack pipe. Thus, I have decided to run a little friendly sweepstake; no money changing hands, just playing for pride or, should you be that way inclined, one-upmanship. I grew up adoring slasher and therefore the piece of fiction I have planned will fit that template. In addition, the characters in my story will engage in the usual atypical behavior; sluts will be sluts, nerds nerds, and jocks jocks. No great surprises there; Sweepstake Massacre will follow the rigid guidelines of the numerous films which inspire it. However, this is where I shall exercise the wild card. How closely I choose to adhere to this stringent rule set is entirely at my disposal and I may see fit to piss against the wind from time to time. Not saying I will; you’ll find no breadcrumbs here. Just putting it out there.
So, without further ado, I shall reveal our players and provide each with their own individual odds for survival. Should you guess correctly which of these will endure each round then you are on easy street but bear in mind all variables when you do. I am under no obligation to afford safe passage to merely one character but I do solemnly vow not to snuff out every last one of our teens. That aside; anything goes. As for the odds in question, they are merely a guideline and only really come into play in the closing round when final bets are placed. Next up I shall reveal the scenario. It would seem almost impertinent not to choose the old cabin in the woods chestnut as it is just too rife with possibility to pass up and suitably secluded to ensure no outward lines or friendly nearby sheriff. The entire sequence of events will play out under the moonlight and I would be mean if I didn’t throw in a lake just for additional intrigue. As for the dispatch artist tasked with dismembering as many of our lemmings as is inhumanly possible within the time frame allowed, it wouldn’t seem right if he weren’t a seemingly undefeatable juggernaut. Thus I have chosen Olaf Lund, a man-mountain who was last seen rustling in foliage during my On Ice series.
Should you not be familiar with Lund then feel free to click here for a refresher course. Should you be feeling lethargic then I shall attempt to condense his authority into a single paragraph. Olaf is barely human; any attempts to confirm such have proven inconclusive but all signs point to negative. He’s the kind of mentalist who would go clothes shopping with Leatherface and dine with the Ya̧nomamö tribe from Cannibal Holocaust. A real nut bag. Also noteworthy is that Lund has a signature weapon of sorts; an industrial staple gun the likes of which would bind War & Peace effortlessly. This is the only thing in Olaf’s world that means anything to him. Without it he would be dismally lost.
At any rate, I have blathered on quite enough; time to bring on the cannon fodder. Select carefully Grueheads; you will all start with $500 and I regret to inform you that is only a virtual kitty. Don’t come knocking on my bedroom patio at the dead of night like Salem’s bailiffs as you will likely just freak me out. Actually, I’m something of a nutbag myself, knock yourselves out but I still won’t pay up. Every wager carries a $200 price tag. You can use your $500 stash in whichever way you choose, spread across two or three if you wish, but any protagonist who perishes will wipe out $100 of your legal tender. Case in point; place the minimum $200 on suitor #2 and their death will leave you with $100 to continue haggling with. House takes $100; them’s the brakes I’m afraid. Effectively you can bet three times on each round if you have the full $500 as three bets gets you the third for half price. Aren’t I just delightful?
Failure to hedge any bets during a round will cost you dearly. $200 for each chapter where you negate to place a single bet. Every bet placed which doesn’t lead to your character’s termination will pocket an extra $100. Thus, should you be a keen gambler, then you could effectively double up your money if you select shrewdly each time. Come the fifth and final verse, whatever cash you have left can be placed on whichever remaining survivors you wish. Consider me a life insurance salesman of sorts; I’m unlikely to pay out on the dude who always plays it safe, whereas, those more inquisitive or vulnerable will offer a larger windfall. But ultimately, it all boils down to how well you have managed your stash until that point.
Single Bet = $200
Three Bets = $500
Character Dies = Minus $100
Character Survives Round = Plus $100
Failure to place a single bet = Minus $200
If I haven’t made myself clear by now then I’m steering the titanic and would advise you make your way to the lifeboats in orderly fashion. Ultimately any involvement is up to you; should you be feeling playful then hedge your bets in the comment box at the close of each round or simply play it out in your head if you prefer. Ultimately, it’s just a little fun which, if nothing else, promises for one helluva bloodthirsty parable. So if it all seems too much like hard work, fret not, and hang out for some particularly spiteful bloodletting.
Bethany (Odds 2-1)
No killer in their right mind would wish to obliterate such a timid wallflower. Alban-haired Bethany is holding onto her hymen for safe-keeping and is the only girl present who has never been to second base. She is naturally pretty but plays it down by deciding against wearing make-up. She is also more likely not to leave the larger group as she lacks confidence in herself and has never before been required to show die-hard spirit or pluck.
Jack (Odds 4-1)
Bethany’s older brother is protective of his sibling and unlikely to leave her for a second once the shit hits the fan. He is smart, resourceful, and well-liked among his peers. A year ago he was involved in a near-fatal road accident and had his right leg amputated in resulting surgery. Thus, he walks with a prosthetic limb and is still getting to grips with his artificial appendage. However, he has a long-term girlfriend who isn’t present so is less likely to act upon his hormones. This makes him a safe bet.
Edith (Odds 7-1)
Bethany’s best friend is ordinarily in close tow and the pair do practically everything together. She has secretly been infatuated with Jack for some time but never made her feelings public. Edith isn’t a natural blonde and takes exception to being labelled a ditzy airhead. Having said that, she is prone to acting before thinking and plays on this for attention. She lost her virginity at thirteen and would tell you it was the best thing she ever done. However, her allegiance with Bethany won’t harm her chances of survival.
Boyd (Odds 8-1)
Known as simply Boyd to his friends, Thomas Boyd has been best friends with Jack since kindergarten and the pair are rarely seen apart. He’s an all-rounder; clever, athletic, and cool in a crisis. If he has a weakness then that would be his tendency to be a little too relaxed when the shit is going down. While he would be regarded as a calming influence on the rest of the group; he would also likely be the first to investigate any strange occurrences. His relationship with Tania is reaching its natural end and Boyd has designs on another member of his clique.
Tania (Odds 10-1)
Tania is a deeply paranoid individual. She has long since suspected that something is up with Boyd and this forces her to over-compensate for his dwindling interest by not allowing him the breathing space he needs. She has a bad habit of finishing others’ sentences and this has been known to infuriate her friends on occasion. Her nickname is Flipper on account of her being state swimming champion and she takes it very seriously indeed, mainly because her parents push her so hard.
Dean (Odds 12-1)
African-American Dean has always been jealous of Boyd and Jack’s friendship and secretly despises Boyd. He is popular among his friends and gives the impression of being a team-player although he’s a lot more self-involved than any of them realize. If he gets frustrated then he keeps it to himself and doesn’t let on. Usually at the hub of anything going on; Dean does occasionally tire of the facade and has been known to take long walks on his own. Coupled by the fact that Dean is 80% deaf in his left ear; this leaves him at a distinct disadvantage should he crave a little alone time.
A.J. (Odds 16-1)
Mike (Odds 16-1)
A.J. and Mike are the resident pot-heads and don’t travel anywhere without their bong. While this means that they are unlikely to stray from the cabin while there is still more weed to be smoked; their inability to take anything seriously counts against them. For A.J. and Mike, getting high isn’t about a gentle buzz and instead an opportunity to get supremely fucked up. They’re inseparable which would offer a distinct plus if it weren’t for the fact that they share a brain. If I were a killer; I’d wait until this gormless duo were suitably baked, then rush the pair of them. They’d likely never see it coming.
Tamara (Odds 20-1)
Tamara, or “The Dumpster” as A.J. and Mike refer to her, has taken more poundings than a trampoline at Fat Camp and is rarely in possession of panties. She recently hooked up with Holden McNeil, who spent the entire journey boasting of his intention of tapping that ass at the first available opportunity in a place far less than comfortable. Tamara has attachment issues and hates to be left alone which may prove her only lifeline. However, should she catch a sniff of what Holden is packing in his junk trunk then she could end up in a particularly compromising position. On the plus-side, at least she won’t have to flee with her underwear round her ankles.
Holden (Odds 32-1)
This douche is pure meat. Things never seem to work out for Holden; despite any best intentions. He’ll likely be primed to plunder Tamara’s fortress and suddenly remember that he left his condoms in the van. It’s also probable that retrieval of said prophylactic will prove more than troublesome. If there is a fox trap in the vicinity, then he will find it. Holden makes bad fortune appear an art form and once swallowed a dust mite while on his father’s building site asking for $10. This became lodged in his esophagus and he lost his voice for two months. Plus, he never got the $10. If Olaf doesn’t slaughter this particular lamb, then his sheath will invariably break and he’ll end up with some rare strain of flesh-eating crabs.
Patricia (Odds 100-1)
It’s because of Patricia that our group are at peril in the first place. We’re not even certain that she is even alive at this point as nobody has seen hide nor hair of the grossly overweight walking tantrum since she overheard A.J. and Mike referring to her as Fat Pat and stormed off into the nearby woods. If Olaf hasn’t already spotted her movements then it is likely he has heard her heavy-footed reverberations and is currently closing in on her coordinates. I would urge you to look carefully at her odds and consider how many obese teenagers succeed in a stalk and slash scenario. Or, of course, I could be lulling you into a false sense of insecurity.
So there are our players and it is here that I shall settle into narrator duties and allow Olaf to wreak havoc as he does so exquisitely. While I reserve the right to change things up at any given moment, I can offer certain assurances. Lund is nothing if not relentless; once his quarry has been engaged he can be a most dogged pursuer. Should anybody attempt to enter into skirmish with the man-mountain; they will probably lament their decision. Olaf thinks nothing of tearing his opposite number limb from limb and is almost feral in that respect. If faced with the choice of flanking his victims surreptitiously and walking straight through a heavily fortified front door, then the more direct route is too invigorating a proposition to pass up. So to recap: eleven frisky teenagers, one dilapidated cabin in the woods, a nearby lake, enough surrounding pine to erect a thousand Trojans, potential traps and hazards, around a half ounce of potent homegrown marijuana, only one virgin, two stoners, the token black guy, a ton of ankle blubber, and a most inhospitable host. Should you squander the entire $500 before the concluding round then it must suck to be you. For the more shrewd among us, remember that risk-taking will be rewarded. Without further ado, I bring you Sweepstake Massacre.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Grueheads Films 2016