Coaster Addict – Haunted House

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of Coaster Addict, a blog series where I share screenshots of my latest Planet Coaster ride and rant a bit about the story I’m trying to tell. As it is close to Halloween, and Frontier recently released the Spooky Pack, it seemed only right to try my hand at creating a haunted house ride using the new Huntsman track ride.

So, beginning at the beginning! Riders board their vehicles in a long entry room with two crackling fireplaces, a pair of lounging skeletons, and some suspect books that just won’t stay on their shelves.

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Next, they are taken to the entryway, where we have a creepy rocking chair, floating candles, and some curtains that mysteeerioouuusly blow without wind. Really trying to hit all of the haunted house tropes here.

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The cars curve around a winding staircase and find themselves face-to-face with the haunted library, filled with skeletons trying to manage a peevish poltergeist that just doesn’t like order.

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Of course at the end of the library we have the knight’s tomb, because that’s what rich mansion owners do with their extra space right? Keep open caskets of long dead nights? It’s good feng shui.

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Of course, no rich mansion is complete without a dungeon, complete with tortured skeletons and “captured spiders”

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I say “captured” because the next scene I am working on is the spider room, where the mansion owner’s pets have escaped. Following that will be my next project, the graveyard. I imagine I’ll finish that up this weekend and have a full ride-through video to post next week. For now, here are two shots of the mansion exterior during the day and at night. I really enjoy the purple lighting and the gargoyles.

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That’s all for now! If you liked what you read/saw, poke around the website a bit, leave some comments, and subscribe! Thanks for reading, and see you next time.

–Ashton

New Orleans Short Story

I know, It’s been another MIA week with no posting, but this time I’m going to use New Orleans as my excuse. I was just there for seven days taking in the sights and working a bit. Luckily, I also got some inspiration to start my sequel to A Man of the Mountain (I know, the titles are rough, but I’m sticking with them). Please enjoy the opening chapter of A Woman of the Swamp, the tale of a not-so-great necromancer in Louisiana.

A Woman of the Swamp

By Ashton Macaulay

“Alright now, repeat it back to me so I know you understand the plan.” Marie’s voice was patient, but stern; it was the only way to get through to the recently reanimated.

“I-Inside,” the man moaned through a mouthful of teeth that were attached only by decaying sinews of what used to be gums. She had broken through the bricks and plaster of his grave just days after his entombment, but moisture and heat made short work of flesh. Even the night air was thick, pooling in drops on her skin. One of the man’s eyes wandered off to the side, focusing a trombone player setting up on the corner, just below a sign that read First one’s free at the Snappin’ Turtle.

“Hey!” she snapped, waving a bejeweled hand in front of his face. “Focus. What are you going to do once you’re inside?” The street corner they stood on was dim, but it was only a matter of time before one of the passing drunks would notice. She also longed for the sanctum that was her air-conditioned loft. The dark robes she wore were hotter than Hell (she suspected anyway), but tourists tipped better when she looked legitimate.

“I,” the zombie stammered. “I… Eat brains!” His mottled mouth curled into a wide grin and he clapped his crooked hands together with a sickening squish.

Marie ran a hand through her long, dark hair, beginning to rethink the steps that had gotten her to this point. “Fuck it,” she sighed, I’ll steal it myself. You just go wait over there.” She pointed to a bench under a broken street lamp. “Spell should wear off in ten minutes and you’ll just be another John Doe curled up for his last rest in a gutter.”

“John,” repeated the zombie, mindlessly.

Screw this. Marie turned the zombie toward the bench and shoved him hard on the back. “How dare you try to touch me, pervert!”

A couple passing by looked at the stumbling man in disgust and flashed Marie a quick thumbs up. They continued without a second thought to the recently dead man eyeing them from the darkness. The trombonist had been joined by a few other band members, and together they started to play.

Satisfied that the zombie was out of the public eye, she set off with her heart racing. “Guess it’s your turn,” she whispered and pulled out a jar of spiders from her robes. Despite her fear of the wretched creatures, they were discreet when they needed to be. The walls of the French Quarter were thin, and no one would hesitate to call the cops on another crazy trying to break into the Voodoo Museum.

Carefully, she unscrewed the lid on the jar, making sure to keep her hand firmly pressed against the top. She cringed as she brought her lips close to the edge and began to whisper. “Scuttle under the door, find a key, but don’t touch anything.” Despite wanting to break in, Marie still held a great respect for the craft. In fact, had she not been kicked out for trying to study the darker arts, her path might have led her to a practitioner’s position. Revenge was a fickle beast.

Pretending to stumble slightly, Marie dropped the glass onto the cracked concrete. The shattering sound would garner no notice from the neighbors. People only called the cops for break-ins or assaults, everything else was thought to just be the remnants of Bourbon street. From the remains of the jar, four jet black spiders smoldered into existence and scrambled toward the Voodoo Museum.

After the last had slipped through the door, Marie moved aside and waited under the flickering light of a gas lantern. There was an audible click, and the door swung open. “Return to me,” whispered Marie to the spiders. The four creatures skittered from the darkness and into the street. “Damnit, return to me.” She reached her hand out and muttered a brief incantation.

The largest spider gazed at her with its beady eyes for a moment as if considering the proposition, and then scuttled away with an angry chitter. The others were quick to follow, heading toward the moaning corpse of the zombie in the opposite gutter.

Marie sighed. The spiders had taken her months to acquire and hours of pouring through dusty old books. Replacing them would be no easy feat. Brushing her hair aside, she stepped through the now open door and into the gloom of the museum.

Short Story – Afterlife

afterlife     The white lights switched on, bathing the stage with their fluorescent glow. A man stood silhouetted in a red, sequin suit holding a microphone that was larger than it had any right to be.  He took a deep breath and stepped out toward the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s youuuurr afterlife!” The crowd went wild with applause. He smiled at them with the lopsided grin that only a man missing half his face could achieve.

A sea of corpses raised their hands in excited anticipation as a door rose from beneath the stage. All the spotlights went out and a red glow came from beneath the door’s wooden frame. “Well folks, looks like it’s time to start playing!” A rabbi in the audience collapsed half out of excitement, and half because the last sinew of muscle holding his spine together had finally snapped.

“Let’s give them a countdown,” cheered the host.

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” shouted the crowd in unison. Priests who had been burned alive in the seventeenth century for heresy raised a cry of “Christian! Christian!”, while an equally macabre group of catholic missionaries yelled “Heaven’s dope, follow The Pope!”

The door flung open, spewing a white glow onto the stage. A young man stepped out through the light. The cheers died down in nervous anticipation. “Where am I?” he called out, his voice echoing off the walls. The crowd whispered with tense murmurs.

“It’s not where you are that matters kid,” said the host as he stepped out of the shadows once more.

The young man flinched back at the sight of his gruesome face.

“Oh don’t be offended by my ‘slack jaw’. You’re not so good looking yourself.” The crowd laughed and a brighter spotlight flashed onto the young man. It revealed a five-foot metal pipe that had skewered him right through the chest. To the living, it might have been a cause for vomiting, screaming, or exorcism, but to the dead it was a spectacle.

“Ouch, that’s gotta hurt,” laughed the host good-naturedly.

Large signs illuminated with the word ‘laughter’, and the crowd followed suit. An old woman wearing a lime-green robe that could have only belonged to a cult slapped her knee, and it fell off.

The young man stood in shocked silence. “It’s a lot to take in, but are you ready to play?” The host called back to his days as a used car salesman, and summoned a reassuring grin.

“Play?” asked the man, still confused. “Play what?”

“Oh it’s the game of games,” answered the host with a sweeping gesture to the crowd. “Step this way.” He grabbed the pole that the young man was impaled on with a pristine white glove, and led him to a pulpit with a microphone on it. “Alright, let’s start with the basics. What’s your name? Where you from? How’d you die?”

“I um, I’m Gary.” A sign lit up on the front of the pulpit, outlining ‘Gary’ in flashing lights.

“Great Gary, where you from?” The host looked at the audience and winked, nearly losing his eye in the process.

“I’m from Utah,” said Gary with hesitation. “Wait, did you say I’m dead?”

“Oh, Utah, nice this time of year.” A board lit up behind them displaying a picture of a red rock arch. “And, Gary from Utah how was it that you came to join us?” He looked down at the pole in Gary’s chest with an air of placation.

“I can’t really remember. I was driving a truck, and then,”

“Car accident. Bam! Pole goes right through you. Tragic story I’m sure. Wife and kids?”

“Well yeah,” Gary stammered.

“Too bad for them eh? Well I hope you had insurance.” A cameraman off-stage missing both his legs held up five fingers indicating that they were running out of time. “Alright Gary, I think we have what we need. Now audience members, it’s time to vote.” Lights splayed out over the audience as dramatic music played. A tally began ticking away on the board with percentages. There was a loud buzzer and the tally stopped.

“Alright Gary, let’s see what we’ve got. A whopping 75% said Mormon Easy answer, easy answer, but a good guess. We’ve got 15% saying Jewish, 9.7% Catholic, and a .3% saying Scientologist. Tom, was that you?” The audience laughed again, but soon fell quiet, waiting for the result.

“Well Gary, that is quite something, let me tell you. A landslide for the Mormons. It’s not every day you see that. Now there’s only one answer left that matters, and that’s yours. What religion were you before you died.”

All the lights focused on Gary. He would have been sweating, but one of the facets of death precluded him from doing so. From somewhere behind the stage, a clock began to tick loudly. “Well it’s changed now,” muttered Gary.

“Ah, ah, ah, no cheating now Gary. What was it?” The hosts friendly demeanor had been replaced with that of a principal reprimanding a problemed student.

“Well uh…” Gary faltered. “I uh… I was actually an atheist.”

The crowd uttered a collective gasp as the host ushered Gary to the side of the stage. Stunned silence turned to chants of “Boo!”

“An atheist?” The host’s decomposed complexion became even paler.

“Well yeah, there was no evidence for any…”

The host cut him off. “Well Gary, I will say that is a surprise.”

The cameraman wound his fingers, telling the host to wrap it up.

“Well Gary, as much as you seem like a perfectly fine individual, I’m afraid you’ve been disqualified.” The host mimed a crying gesture.

“Disqualified?” Gary’s eyes grew white.

“Don’t worry, we’ve still got a prize for you! Have a nice trip.” The host pulled a lever, opening a trap door beneath Gary, sending him plummeting down a long, dark chute. In a matter of seconds, his screams died down to a whisper and a large plume of fire shot up from the hole in the floor.

“Well, what a shocking turn of events,” said the host, regaining his composure. The square in the floor lit up red once again and the board went blank. “Let’s try again shall we? Give me a countdown!”

Chadpocalypse 1:3

 This is the third chapter of my newest short story, Chadpocalypse. Parts 1-2 can be found here.

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“Oh great, thanks Marvin, you’ve let the Jehovahs in again,” Chad yelled. It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence for various religious figures to come knocking at the doors of the apartment building, but the trick was to play dead, and not let them waltz in like they owned the place. It was much harder to be converted if a conversation was never had. “The fire’s new though. How do you get enough donations to buy the horse eh?” Chad would’ve chased him off with a baseball bat, but he felt if he stood, he would surely vomit.

“I am not a Jehovah’s witness, and this isn’t your apartment. I thought we had already covered that,” said the demon through clenched teeth, trying to keep anger from his voice.

“Fine, seventh day, scientologist, whatever. Either way, you’ve got a blank check for recruiting,” he said with a loose gesture to the horse, the horns, and the polo shirt. Oddly enough, Chad didn’t think the pool of flame at the figure’s feet to be all that impressive. Anyone can get a few bright lights and a smoke machine for a few bucks.

“I am one of the four horsemen, insolent cur!” The figure swept his hands through the air and produced white hot flames.

“Ooh, and a close-up magician,” said Chad, genuinely excited. He always preferred magic when he was towards the bottom of a bottle. “Do you have a deck of cards?”

The demon wrung his hands together, producing a series of unsettling cracks in his knuckles. A red glow had begun to run through his curved horns. “Yes, I do, but I’m going to need a volunteer from the audience.” He was using the voice of a used car salesman, but just below the surface was the gnashing hunger of a predator.

“Oh, alright then,” said Chad stumbling to his feet. The world spun maddeningly around him, and the mix of liquor and chili fries in his stomach threatened to come back up, but he held it down. Puking on a magician would just be rude. He might have been in someone else’s apartment, sleeping off a hangover he had stolen, but Chad still thought himself a man of standards.

The demon extended a gnarled hand to Chad, and gave him a winning grin. “Take my hand, and think of a lucky number.”

“Mind reading?” Chad stuck out his hand and grasped that of the demon. It was hot to the touch, but not enough to burn him. “Not as good as a card—“

Chad was cut off as the demon pulled him close, ran a long finger down the tasteless, flowered wallpaper, opening a portal to Hell.

“What the shit man?” asked Chad, exasperated. “I’m going to have to pay for that!”

“For the last time, this isn’t your apartment,” said the demon, and unceremoniously shoved chad’s head through the portal.

The Ghost Writer

 This is another one-off I wrote at about the same time as Diary of a Dead Man. It’s a little darker, hope you enjoy.

Sitting with his back to the faded, old window, it almost felt like he was alive. Outside the evening air was stale, held stagnant by a bitter chill. Red drapes hung on either side, not doing much to stop light from coming in, but mostly serving to give the room the feeling of heavy despair. For the fiftieth time, he reached for the pen, and tried to pick it up between his fingers, and for the fiftieth time, it fell through them, causing nothing but frustration.

On the brown, wooden desk before him was an empty yellow legal pad. To Lee, it looked like a window, held open for him to gaze through, but guarded by heavy iron bars. A pale yellow light shimmering from beneath a piece of curved green glass shone on the paper illuminating its lines like tiny railroad tracks.

Lee could put nothing on the page, and it was not for lack of wanting or ideas. His head buzzed with a million of them, trapped, and making desperate breaks to get out. He could even speak them aloud, but the simple act of grabbing the pen was an impossibility. Even when he did manage to lift it, even for a second, it would slip through his fingers and clatter to the table.

Hot rage burned in Lee’s mind, and he even wished he could manifest it physically. A headache, something that could tell him that the pain he was feeling was real. The room around him remained bland and impassive to his existence. He thought back on the last words he had been able to write, and regretted the neglect with which he had penned them. It was too much to bear, but these days, he didn’t have much of a choice. For better or worse, he was condemned to existence.

An image of his wife standing in a bathrobe and dropping her coffee cup shot through him like a bullet, blocking out the room before him. He looked down in his hand and saw the words that he had thought to be crafted painstakingly. Instead he found a hollow tune that provided no more answers than it did questions. Lee’s problems were no closer to being resolved, and in his attempts he had created a set of new ones.

The paper was back in front of him, shouting at him, taunting him to put something down on the page. “He lived just as he had died,” Lee said, letting the words take flight through the room, and letting an angry tremor creep into his voice. A bookshelf caught them and swallowed their prose greedily, adding it to its collection. Every author on the shelf was dead, held captive by last words that they were probably also unsatisfied with.

“The only true shame is that I was unable to see it before I too encountered the very same folly,” Lee once again thought aloud. “For it was my fate to join the ranks of those I thought to be gone from this world too soon.” By the end of the sentence, he was shouting. Memories bandied across the room like they were sprung from a projector.

It was the same dingy hotel room in the French Quarter that he had come to for years. Legends of it being haunted stoked his creative flames, and gave his wife something to speculate about while he remained a dullard. All that was interesting about Lee was tossed into endless pages that were eaten up by the American public for pennies on the neuron. What had initially been content in this lifestyle, had turned sour faster than the leaves turn to autumn.

That night, he had come to the hotel with one thought: end it all, go out on the highest of notes. Hours had passed as he crafted the suicide note. His wife did not bother to look over his shoulder, figuring that she could read it once the paperback came out. After three revisions, he had thought it ready and sent his wife out for a massage. From a secretive drawer in the desk he had pulled a rope, hung it from the ceiling fan, and stood with it around his neck.

Many thoughts had crossed his mind at the moment, but above all else was You’re making a big mistake. He had been about to step down when a voice from behind him shouted “No!”, and in a startled jitter, he fell forward, his neck snapping instantly. The last view he was afforded was of the words he had written on a yellow legal pad sitting on the table.