Do not read this story before reading these notes!
This is not your everyday sort of story. You do not read it from beginning to end. Why? Because this story is actually three stories, all mixed up. Each story is divided into sections, each section marked with a number, like 1.4, 3.2, and so on. To read a story, chose one of the stories and then read the sections in the correct order. For example, if you wanted to read story number three, you would read the section marked 3.1., then 3.2, 3.3, all the way to the end (I recommend using the "Find" feature to do this). The reason why this has been done will become evident as you read.
Choose your story:
1.1: The Halloween House - Daisuke, Ken, and Miyako decide to celebrate Halloween by exploring a spooky old house, one rumored to be haunted by a killer's ghost.
2.1: A Funny Thing Happed on the Way to the Party - Mimi and Michael are on their way to a party at a friend's house when they take an unexpected detour into danger.
3.1: Trapped - Jun and Shuu were supposed to be running a simple errand for Professor Takenouchi. Instead, they find themselves trapped in a building without an exit, and no one is going to let them out.
1.1 - The Halloween House
Daisuke loved fall weather. The coming of fall meant the end of sweltering summer days that left everyone feeling sticky and grumpy, and meant time to start preparing for such exciting things as the coming of the holidays. In the meantime, the air was cool and crisp, making him feel energized and alive. On a day like today, it was hard not to want to run for the sheer joy of it. Instead, he contented himself with doing a half-dance up the sidewalk, while his friends looked on in amusement.
"Wish I had that much energy," Miyako grumbled, shifting her grip on her bookbag.
"Look on the bright side," said Hawkmon. "If you had that much energy, you might be acting as silly as he is."
"I'm not acting silly!" Daisuke protested. "Can't a guy have a little fun once in a while?"
"Don't pick on him," said Ken. "He's been good today. We were in that library almost two hours, and he was quiet the whole time. That's like a record for Daisuke."
The three friends and their partners had spent their afternoon gathered in the public library, holding a group study session. Previous sessions had proven that while Ken had a talent for mathematics and Miyako was good with sciences, Daisuke had a surprising talent for languages, and, when he could be persuaded to sit still long enough to read a book, had a sound grasp of most literary concepts. It had eventually become the custom of the three of them to study together, not just because they liked each other's company, but because of their shared strengths. The public library was the best place to meet because there was nothing there to distract anyone; when they tried to study at home, one or the other of them always seemed to get drawn away by the allure of the Internet or a video game or a comic book they hadn't finished reading.
"Yeah, we were good!" V-mon chirped. "I should get candy for that!"
Daisuke gave his partner a mock-scowl. "You think you should get candy for everything."
V-mon blinked innocently. "I should!"
Miyako shook her head. "If you Digimon got all the candy you wanted, you'd be too fat to move."
"Nuh-uh!" said V-mon defensively. "I burn a lot of energy, following Daisuke around all the time!"
Ken laughed a little. "Good answer. Hang on. I think I might have something with me somewhere."
Going through his pockets, he eventually produced a chocolate bar, which he broke into three fairly equal pieces to distribute among the Digimon. V-mon attacked his eagerly, while the others nibbled a bit more decorously though with no less enthusiasm. Ken watched them with a thoughtful expression and began counting on his fingers.
"What are you thinking, Ken?" asked Miyako curiously.
"Trying to remember what today's date is," he replied.
Miyako glanced at her watch. "The thirty-first."
"I thought so," Ken replied. "Appropriate..."
"What's appropriate?" Daisuke replied.
Ken looked surprised. "Don't you know what October the thirty-first is?"
"The last day of the month?"
Miyako gave a disgusted snort, and Daisuke said, "I was only kidding!" Ken ignored them both.
"October thirty-first," he said, in his lecturing tone, "is Halloween. That's an American holiday."
"What good does that do us?" Daisuke asked. "We aren't American."
"I know," Ken replied. "I just thought it was sort of fitting... On Halloween, people dress up in costumes and go from door to door, and people give them candy and treats."
Daisuke's eyes lit up. "Awesome! Wish we celebrated like that around here!"
"I think I heard Mimi saying something about it, last time I was on the phone with her," said Miyako thoughtfully. "She said a lot of her friends were going to get together and have a big party and tell ghost stories and things."
"Ghost stories?" asked Wormmon, twitching his antennae worriedly. He would gladly do anything to protect a friend, but when it came to the kind of courage that gloried in facing down monsters and spooks, he would just as soon stay home and hide under the bed.
"That's part of the celebration," Ken explained. "There are some people who say ghosts and things are more likely to come out on Halloween, so part of the celebration is to tell scary stories and even build their own haunted houses for people to walk through."
"Sounds like my kind of holiday!" Daisuke enthused. "Wish we could go to the party with Mimi and them. It sounds like fun! I want to see a haunted house!"
"If you went through a haunted house, you'd be just as scared as the rest of us," said Miyako.
"Nuh-uh! No way!" said V-mon vehemently. "Daisuke's not afraid of anything."
"He's not afraid of monsters, maybe," said Miyako, "but what could he do against a ghost? You can't hurt a ghost when it's already dead."
"If I can't hurt it, it can't hurt me," Daisuke replied.
There followed a spirited debate between Daisuke, Miyako, and their partners about whether or not Daisuke really would be scared by a ghost and what could be done about one if they happened to meet it. Ken let the argument run on a while. He was used to the debates that seemed to spring up constantly between his hot-tempered friends, and knew how to stop them when they arose. When his long store of patience was finally used up, he said something. He said it so quietly that none of the shouting parties could hear him. If he had shouted, they would have ignored him, but as things were...
"Did you just say something, Ken?" asked Miyako.
"I did," he answered calmly. "I said, I know where to find a haunted house... and you two are going to spend the night in it."
(Go to 1.2)
2.1 - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Party
Mimi hummed happily as she examined her reflection, making sure every last detail was in place. A socialite by nature and by choice, she made it a point of honor to never go anywhere without looking her best, and this went doubly for parties. She would never dream of insulting anyone by letting them go through all the hard work of having a party, only to have her show up looking as if it were no big deal. Tonight was one of those nights, and she was pleased to see that she looked in particularly good form today. Not a hair was out of place. She would make a more than respectable showing at the party, as well as an admirable date for Michael.
"What do you think, Palmon?" she asked, twirling gracefully. "Did I miss anything?"
"You look perfect," the plant-Digimon assured her. She, of course, didn't need to worry about how she looked. As long as she got the proper amounts of clean water and sunshine, she was always fresh and blooming. "You're going to be the life of the party!"
Mimi giggled. "This is so exciting! I've never been to a big Halloween party like this before. Mom and Dad won't even let me go trick-or-treating. They say it's too dangerous."
She pouted briefly, but her bad mood couldn't last long. Within moments, she heard the doorbell chime, and she hurried to answer it. It was Michael and Betamon, right on time. She opened the door, beaming, only to have Michael look back at her with an expression of horror.
(Go to 2.2)
3.1 - Trapped
Jun Motomiya was, for the moment, almost completely happy. She always felt her best when she was with Shuu - the time since they had started dating was one of the best times of her entire young life. He was everything she could have wanted in a boyfriend: intelligent, good- looking, gentle, always patient with her when she was being silly...
He did have the weirdest ideas about what to do on a date, though.
"Are you almost done?" she asked, trying not to sound like she was whining.
"Just let me finish reading this," Shuu called back.
Jun sighed and resigned herself to a wait. The two of them were standing in a large room in the Natural History Museum, specifically, the room dedicated to assorted ancient mammals. They had come here, not as a social outing, or even for their education, but because Professor Takenouchi had loaned a collection of artifacts to the museum for use in a temporary exhibit. Now that it was over, Shuu had been entrusted with the task of retrieving them, and he had offered to take his girlfriend along for the ride and then perhaps find a quick meal somewhere. Jun had been all in favor of the expedition, conveniently forgetting one of the most essential aspects of their relationship. The trouble with dating an intelligent and curious young scholar was that, no matter how much he loved her, she would always have to share him with his first love, Knowledge. The chance to poke around the museum was one he had been unable to resist.
"You are going to have to finish soon, you know," she informed him. "The museum is about to close."
"It is?" asked Shuu, looking up from the plaque he'd been reading to glance at the wall clock. "Gosh, you're right! Boy, time flies, doesn't it? Guess we'd better get out of here."
"Guess we'd better," said Jun, deciding to refrain from reminding that she'd made the same suggestion a half-hour ago. Instead, she gradually followed him back to the front of the museum, where a pretty young clerk was watching the entrance.
"Ready to leave?" she inquired. "Good, you'll be the last ones. We can close up now."
Shuu laughed. "We're right on time, huh? Hm, maybe I did spend a little too much time hanging around."
"Glad you enjoyed yourselves! Come again!" the clerk urged.
She walked off, presumably to initiate the closing-up process. Shuu and Jun headed for the doors and began walking to the car. Night had just begun to fall, turning the sky deep jewel blue, and the first stars were making their appearance. A breeze blew by, and Jun shivered.
"Brr, it's chilly out here!" she said.
"Gets cold fast this time of year," Shuu replied. Then he stopped. "Darn! I left my jacket in the museum."
"Maybe they haven't locked the doors yet," suggested Jun.
"Let's hope so. I don't have another one," said Shuu.
They hurried back to the museum doors, and were relieved to find that they were still open. They ran inside as if they suspected the doors might lock themselves of their own accord and then paused in the middle of the main hall.
"Where did you leave your coat?" Jun asked.
"I'm not sure," Shuu replied, frowning slightly. "I remember taking it off in that room with the dinosaurs, because it was so warm in there..."
"Let's look there, then," said Jun, "and hurry, before they close!"
The two of them broke into a run, dashing up the long, echoing halls until they reached the hall of dinosaurs. There, Shuu wound his way through the collections of bones, searching.
"I don't see it," he muttered.
"Where did you take it off?"
"Over here somewhere. I was looking at the Plesiosaur and thinking how stuffy it was in here, and I put it down for just a minute so I could get out my notepad to make a sketch..."
"Do you think someone stole it?" Jun asked.
"I don't know, and we don't have time to search the whole museum looking for it," Shuu replied. "We need to get out of here before-"
At that moment, every light in the room went out. Shuu sighed.
(Go to 3.2)
"We are?" said Daisuke.
"How do you know?" Miyako asked.
Ken shrugged. "It was obvious. I knew the minute I mentioned it, Daisuke would want to see it, and if Daisuke went, Miyako would insist on coming along to watch and see if he got scared or not. Since a haunted house isn't nearly as impressive during daylight hours, I knew you'd want to stay the night there. Simple logic."
Miyako glared at him. At first, she wanted to argue with him, but the realization that he was absolutely right stopped her. Of course Daisuke wouldn't be able to resist the temptation of a real, live haunted house, and there was no way she was going to let him go alone, only to have him get as far as the front door, change his mind, and come back the next day full of wild tales about the horrifying things he'd braved inside.
"Then what did you bring it up for?" she demanded.
Ken's grin turned mischievous. "I've been itching to explore in there ever since I was a little kid. All the other kids in the neighborhood sneaked in there at least once, but I couldn't work up the courage when I was little, especially not after the stories Osamu told me about the time he tried it... and then I had other things on my mind. I wouldn't be scared with you two along, though. What do you say? Want to try it?"
"Yeah!" Daisuke enthused.
"I don't know," said Miyako. "I mean, what will we tell our parents?"
"Tell 'em we're having a sleepover," Daisuke suggested. "Tell 'em we're having a Halloween party. Tell 'em anything. They've believed us before."
"I guess..." she said reluctantly.
"So, what's in the haunted house?" asked Daisuke.
"Well, the way I heard it was like this," Ken replied. "Not far from where my grandparents live, there's a park with statues and fountains in it, and all the way at the back of the property, there's a house where the groundskeeper used to live. He had been there all his life - nobody could remember when he hadn't been there. He used to be the terror of the little kids there, so of course they terrorized him back, riding their bikes on the grass and painting mustaches on the statues - you know, the usual little kid stuff. They say the older the man got, the more he started hating the kids. He'd chase them off when they came over, but they kept sneaking in anyway, and he was old and couldn't keep up with him. One day, one little kid didn't come home. His family found him in the park. One of the statues had fallen on him and crushed him. The police decided the kid had accidentally pulled it over trying to climb it, but a lot of people thought the groundskeeper had given the statue a push and killed him. Another kid was found drowned in one of the fish ponds, but there was nothing to prove he hadn't just slipped in. I lose track of how many were supposed to have died, but then one day, word came that the groundskeeper was dead, too. They found him just lying there in his bed, looking for all the world like he'd just gone to sleep. They took his body away, but a few days later, people started claiming they still saw him walking around the grounds. According to the story, he came back from the dead so he could still watch over the park forever."
"Is that true?" asked Daisuke.
Ken shrugged. "I don't know. I do know that the house is still there - nobody will live in it. The story is that anyone who stays there will be visited by the ghost of the groundskeeper, and most of the ones who have been there swore it was true." He laughed a little. "I remember the night Osamu tried it, while we were there visiting my grandparents. He was no coward, but when he came back to his room that night, he was crying like crazy. He told me that when he went to the house, the minute he opened the door, he heard footsteps, and
(Go to 1.3)
"Mimi, where's your costume?" he exclaimed.
Mimi blinked. "Huh?"
"Your costume," he repeated. "This is a costume party, Mimi. You're supposed to come dressed up."
"Oh," she said. Sure enough, Michael was decked out in a silvery space suit, complete with bizarre makeup, and Betamon was wearing a getup that seemed to be constructed with tinfoil and bobbing antennae. "They just said it was a Halloween party. Nobody told me it was going to be a costume party, too."
"Most Halloween parties are costume parties," he told her gently. Michael liked Mimi very much, but he'd discovered there were times when he had to make allowances for her. She was capable of making leaps of intuition that bordered on genius, and other times when he would swear she couldn't find her way out of a room with one door unless it was marked EXIT.
"What am I going to do? I don't have a costume!" she protested.
"Wear what you wore last year."
"I didn't wear a costume last year. My parents wouldn't let me go out, so we stayed home and watched movies instead."
"Well, we'll get you a mask or something somewhere," he said. "It's Halloween; every store in the city is carrying costumes and things."
"All right," she said, brightening. "That sounds like fun!"
They left the building, hurrying toward the ground floor, passing young trick-or-treaters on the way down. A few of them waved to them; they all knew of the famous Chosen Children. One of them was even wearing a pair of goggles and clutching a stuffed dinosaur. She grinned a little as she reached the end of the walkway and stepped out into the busy city.
Darkness had already fallen over the city, though it was not yet very late, and the darkness was augmented by a cover of heavy clouds. It had rained earlier that day, and children all over the city had despaired of being allowed out, but now the drizzle had abated, leaving behind only shimmering wet roads and a mist that gave every light a ghostly glow. It was the perfect kind of night for Halloween, and the proof could be seen in the numbers of children dragging their parents around and teenagers on their way to parties. It was chilly and just a little spooky, but the sound of laughter and the bright colors of costumes were a reminder of what close neighbors fear and fun really were.
*I wonder what kind of costume I can get,* thought Mimi, thoughtfully studying the party dress she was wearing. *Maybe I can get a few flowers so I can match Palmon... Or maybe I'll get a crown and be a princess, or some wings... I wonder if I could manage wings and flowers and say I'm Lillymon...*
Mimi was trustingly following behind Micheal, not really paying attention to her surroundings as she thought. That was why she didn't hear a distant roar, and why she didn't see the dark shadow bearing down on her. Too late, the growl caught her attention, and she turned around to see a huge
(Go to 2.3)
Jun gave a squeal and leaped closer to Shuu as the room was plunged into darkness. There was now nothing but the faintest of pale lights filtering down from a skylight high above them. The room suddenly went from looking like a dry scholastic place to a haunted boneyard. The dinosaur skeletons looked particularly ghostly in the bluish half-light. Jun could almost believe they were alive, and quickly decided she didn't want to make the effort.
"What do we do now?" she asked.
"Get back to the front door," answered Shuu decisively. "If we're lucky, maybe they won't have locked the doors yet."
Jun needed no more encouragement - she wanted out of this creepy place! They dashed back to the front, Shuu slightly in the lead. He reached the door and collided with it with a muffled bang. The door rattled a bit on its hinges, but otherwise showed no signs of opening. He grabbed the handle in both hands and shook it as hard as he could, but to no avail. He kicked it with a show of temper that was unusual for him, then sighed.
"Great," he muttered. "Looks like we're trapped."
"Maybe we could try the other doors?" suggested Jun, without much hope.
Shuu shook his head. "No such luck. The doors are on an automatic system - when one locks, they all do."
"Looks like we're stuck, then," Jun said with a sigh. "We'll have to spend the night here. Not really what I had in mind to do tonight, but it might not be so bad, and they'll let us out in the morning."
Shuu shook his head. "I hate to tell you this, but the museum stays closed over the weekends this time of year."
The news struck Jun like a bucket of cold water. She might not have been as clever as her boyfriend, but she didn't need to be a genius to fill in the rest of that statement. The museum would be empty all weekend. Today was Friday. They were trapped in this museum, without food, water, or even light, for the next three nights.
(Go to 3.3)
he turned around and saw Dad running after him. Poor Osamu - that was probably the only time Mom and Dad ever punished him for anything. It took him months to live it down. And if they would do that to him, I couldn't imagine what they'd do to me, so I never tried it."
Daisuke laughed. "Well, it wouldn't be my first time getting in trouble with my parents. Count me in!"
"If he's going, I'm going," said Miyako grimly.
"Would anyone listen if I said this wasn't a good idea?" asked Hawkmon, without much hope.
"No," all the children said. Hawkmon sighed.
"I was afraid of that," he said.
Within a few minutes, the children had made their phone calls to their parents, convincing them with plausible stories why they needed to stay at someone else's house that night. It took some longer than others to wheedle their parents into agreeing, but in the end, all of them were successful. They stopped by the home of the Ichijoujis, who had been more agreeable than the other sets of parents, long enough to grab a few supplies.
"Flashlights, snack food, band-aids, bus money..." Ken muttered, as he tossed things into a backpack.
"Bus money?" Miyako queried.
"Well, it's a long trip there," said Ken. "We won't make it if we walk."
"And band-aids?" Daisuke asked.
Ken shrugged. "You never can be too careful."
As soon as they were prepared, they bustled out to the bus stop and boarded the next ride to their destination. Miyako sat by the window, peering out at the city as the sun sank lower and lower, lowering a shade of shadows all around her. Deep inside, she began to feel a chill. Why had she agreed to this? By daylight, it was easy to say she didn't believe in ghosts, but when the world was growing dark and uncertain, it was harder to believe there really couldn't be a malignant spirit out there, just waiting for a group of foolhardy children to set foot in his territory. After all, she had seen Wizarmon and Vamdemon, and they were supposed to be dead...
By the time they arrived at their destination, night had fallen, and the moon was shining its eerie blue-white light over everything. The neighborhood they had arrived in would doubtless have looked peaceful and pleasant by day, but now it seemed to be nothing more than a collection of angular, unfamiliar shadows from which anything might spring. A few stray clouds scudded across the sky, throwing mysterious blots of moving darkness like phantoms over the scenery. Miyako told herself it was only the cool air that was making her shiver.
"This way," said Ken. He was speaking in a whisper, but even so, the others could hear him perfectly. There was no sound besides the faint chirping of crickets and the occasional, distant rush of a passing car.
They began walking slowly up a sidewalk, following Ken's lead. Even the normally garrulous Digimon were silent, keeping close to their partners for support. Finally, they drew near a space that was clearly not a residential area, but the park Ken had spoken of. It was barred by a tall iron gate, but when Ken went up to the lock and did some tinkering with it, a movement that was invisible in the darkness, the door opened and swung creakily inward. Before them was a stretch of grass that led off into the shadows of trees and shrubs. Ken slipped through the gate, beckoning for the others to follow, and as soon as they were all inside, he shut it behind them.
*We're trapped in here,* thought Miyako, a little wildly, as they began walking slowly up the winding path. *We can't get out now...*
She shook her head, telling herself firmly that she was being silly. How could a girl who prided herself on her intelligence let herself get turned into a shivering baby, just because of a little darkness and a spooky story. Now that she thought of it, the story wasn't even that scary. It was just the kind of thing a bunch of little kids would make up about a grumpy old man who lived in a spooky old house. There was no reason to be afraid of anything.
She believed that right up until the point where she turned around and found herself staring into a glowing, gray-white face.
(Go to 1.4)
car rushing up the street. It drove by her, its wheels splashing on the wet street and throwing up plumes of muddy, grimy water. They splashed all over Mimi and her beautiful party dress.
"Eek!" she shrieked, half startled, half furious. "How dare you! Did you see what he did? Look what he did to my dress! This is a sixty dollar dress!"
"What a jerk," said Micheal, with feeling. "He didn't even have his lights on. He's going to hurt somebody, with all these little kids around."
He guided Mimi into the light of a street lamp so they could take stock of the damage. The whole front of her dress was streaked in grime, the mud standing out clearly against the pale pink fabric.
"Oh, no," Mimi said miserably. "What am I going to do now? This dress is dry-clean only! My parents are going to have a fit."
"We'll deal with it," said Michael, trying to be comforting. "Maybe we can clean it off. Let's see if we can find a bathroom somewhere."
A brief exploration found a small general store that looked well-lit and trustworthy, so they darted inside and inquired about the location of restrooms. Mimi headed directly for the ladies' room, and Michael and the Digimon stood guard outside, leaning against a nearby wall and listening to the sounds of running water inside.
*Poor Mimi,* he thought, feeling a stab of sympathy. *The one thing she hates most is to be dirty and badly dressed, and now she's both. She's never going to want to do this again. Maybe it would have been better to stay home and watch movies, after all.*
After a while, the running water noises stopped, and then there was a long silence. Michael waited a few moments longer, expecting his friend to return at any moment, but nothing happened. Feeling a bit embarrassed, he pressed his ear to the door and listened. He could hear a sort of shuffling inside, as of dragging feet. They didn't sound at all like the clicking heels of Mimi's shoes. He felt a stab of concern as a dozen urban legends and Halloween scare-stories ran through his mind.
"She's been in there a while," he said to the Digimon.
"Do you think she fell in?" asked Betamon.
"Very funny," Michael retorted.
Palmon shrugged. "Maybe she's just drying off."
"Maybe," Michael agreed. "Still, how long does that take?"
There was another moment of silence. The Digimon shuffled their feet.
"Maybe we should look?" Betamon suggested.
"We can't look in there!" Michael protested. "That's the ladies' room!"
"Just open the door a crack and take a peek," said Betamon. "You don't have to go in."
"Why does it have to be me?" muttered Michael.
Still, he did as he was told. He pushed the door open a crack and peered inside, but the limited view only showed him a bathroom wall. Steeling himself, he pushed it the rest of the way open. His blood froze as his gaze fell on
(Go to 2.4)
"Hey, it's not a death sentence," said Shuu. "Our parents know we're out here. When we don't come home, they'll send someone to look for us. We probably won't have to stay here long."
"Oh, good," said Jun, giving a sigh of relief. "You had me scared for a minute there."
"Sorry," Shuu replied. "Just wanted you to know where we stand. Anyway... we might as well get comfortable. Something tells me we'll be sitting here for a while."
"You're probably right," she replied. She looked around the great empty hall. "I can't imagine being comfortable here, though. Can't we go somewhere else?"
"We probably should stay here," Shuu replied. "If we wander off, nobody will be able to find us."
"You said yourself they probably wouldn't be here for a while," said Jun. "We probably have time to look around at least a little before they'll get here, right?"
"Well..." said Shuu, obviously torn between his innate good sense and his desire to continue prowling around the museum. His scholarly side won out; there were few things that could tempt him more than a combination of unlimited access to a museum and time alone in the dark with Jun. "All right. But only for a little while. Then we've got to go back."
"Anything to get away from here," she said. "Where should we go?"
"Umm..." said Shuu, trying to think of something they could look at without boring Jun to death. "How about the geological exhibit? That's where they keep all the jewels and things."
"Ooh!" Jun squealed, and Shuu grinned.
"Okay, where is it?" he said, more to himself than to her. He looked around the room, but the passages that were confusing even in broad daylight were even more difficult at night. It took a lot of squinting into the shadows before he finally saw the correct passageway. Keeping close together, they walked slowly up the hallway, keeping their eyes peeled for trouble or wrong turns. The hallway they were walking through didn't even have the advantage of skylights to keep them lit, and Shuu found himself finding his way by touch and memory alone.
*I've had cleverer ideas,* he mused, adjusting his glasses as if he though they might be at fault for his blindness. He had never though he would feel out of place in a museum, but the truth was, the all-encompassing darkness and silence was beginning to get to him. He studied ghosts and monsters at school and believed in them as firmly as he believed the earth was round. What might not come out in this place where the artifacts of a million years and more of life had been stored? There was a theory that people left psychic impressions on their belongings and surroundings, which in turn precipitated the appearances of ghosts. Did the owners of these ancient objects come back to watch over their belongings? Were they angry at the curious people who had stolen them? He had always thought he'd like to see a ghost, but here, in this echoing dark place, the idea didn't appeal to him one bit.
Suddenly, he felt a tug on his hand, and he realized that Jun had stopped walking. She was standing stock-still in the middle of the hallway, and though he stared as hard as he could into the darkness, he couldn't see what it was that held her in its grip.
"Shuu, help me," she said softly. "I can't
(Go to 3.4)
For a split second, Miyako stared into the face, mesmerized by its blank, staring eyes and its rigid, toothy grin. Then she let out a shriek of terror.
"Miyako, what's wrong?" asked Ken, hurrying to her side.
"That-that-that..." she stammered, pointing at the spectral figure.
"Oh, that," said Ken. "Did that frighten you?"
He walked up to the figure, which continued to sit perfectly still. He rapped his knuckles on its side, and there was a faint tapping noise in response.
"Statue," he said gently. "Just a statue, see?"
Miyako felt herself blushing furiously. "I wasn't expecting it - it - it was glowing!"
"It's white marble. It's reflecting the moonlight, that's all," said Ken. "I thought it was kind of pretty, actually."
"Aw, I dunno," said Daisuke, coming over to examine the statue. "It's got a really goofy grin."
"All the statues have different expressions," Ken explained. "Funny thing, though..."
"What?" asked Miyako.
"That's the statue that killed the little boy."
(Go to 1.5)
an angry old woman. She shuffled towards him on unsteady feet, waving a cane as if to batter him to death with it.
"Pervert!" she shrieked in her reedy voice.
"No, really, I wasn't-" Micheal protested
"I know exactly what you were up to!" shouted the old woman. "Don't try to lie to me! You young hooligans are all the same, always up to mischief, can't see a female without tormenting her one way or the other, why, in my day-"
The lecture went on for a while, but Michael didn't pay attention to it, because the woman was augmenting it by whacks with her cane wherever she could find an unprotected area. By the time she was done shouting at him, he was aching from several bruises. The old woman gave a final huff and a, "Let that be a lesson to you," and shuffled off, leaving Michael to rub at his aching head. A few minutes later, Mimi came out of the bathroom.
"Was something going on?" she asked. "I thought I heard shouting."
"Everything is fine," said Micheal, grimacing. "What took you so long?"
"Oh, well, I figured as long as I was in there, I might as well, you know, powder my nose," she answered. "Anyway, the mud won't come off. All I could do was spread it around a little."
"Cities make the worst mud," said Palmon, who considered herself a connoisseur of the stuff. "It's all full of tar and old motor oil."
"I noticed," said Mimi, grimacing down at the ruined dress. "So, now what do I do?"
"Well, you were going to buy a costume, anyway," said Michael reasonably. "You can just buy something that will cover up the mud."
Mimi looked at the stain. It covered the dress from neckline to hem, as well as splattering her legs and shoes.
"That's going to take some doing," she said. "I'm going to have to change clothes. There's no way I can do it and still make it to the party on time."
"Hm," said Michael, thinking furiously. "My house is closer than yours. If we hurry, we can make it there with enough time for you to change and still get there on time."
"Really? You think?" asked Mimi hopefully.
*Poor thing - she really wants to go to this party!* thought Michael. He smiled comfortingly at her.
"Sure," he said. "Hey, maybe you'll even see something you can make a costume out of! My dad's got all kinds of old movie junk lying around - he's got this idea he can use it again for something. That's where I got this costume from."
"Ooh!" Mimi squealed. "I could wear a real movie costume? That would be so cool!"
"Let's hurry, then," said Micheal.
They set out for Michael's house at a swift trot, dodging trick-or-treaters and their parents as they went. There were fewer and fewer of them the longer they walked; not many people wanted to be running around such a large city after dark, even on a holiday like this. Soon, Mimi and Michael were the only ones on the sidewalk. Mimi shivered a little in the cold night air, as wind blew across her damp dress.
"Can we hurry?" she pleaded. "I'm cold."
Michael glanced around. "I don't know. I do know a shortcut, but I'm not sure I want to leave the main streets after dark."
"We'll be safe," Betamon assured him. "What could go wrong with us Digimon around?"
"Good point," said Michael. "All right, this way."
He led her through a gap between a row of buildings, one barely wide enough for the two humans to walk side by side. The Digimon walked before and after them, Palmon standing guard at the front while Betamon watched their backs. It was quiet in the alley, as the walls on either side of them muffled the night noises. In that silence, there was a shuffling noise.
"Do you hear something?" asked Mimi, trying to peer into the shadows.
"It's nothing," Michael said, trying to reassure her. "Just your imagination."
"No, I hear it too!" said Palmon.
Betamon raised his nose to sniff. "I smell something."
Michael stopped and listened. Now he could hear it as well: a clicking and shuffling, a noise no human would make. It put him in mind of a large animal, something very large and panting. He could hear its rasping breath as it rushed toward them, and he turned around just in time to hear Mimi scream as something black and shaggy leaped out of the shadows and slammed into her, knocking her to the ground. The light of a street lamp flashed against its long, sharp teeth as it lowered its head to
(Go to 2.5)
see a thing, and I don't remember where the bathroom is."
"Um," he said, trying to haul his mind from ghosts and specters to more earthly matters. "I think there should be one right at the end of this hall."
"Oh, good. Being out here in the dark makes me so nervous."
They navigated their way safely to the end of the hall, where the skylight in the next open gallery cast enough of a glow to see by, just enough that they could find the discreet sign marked "Restrooms." They hesitated outside the doors.
"Guess we're here," said Shuu. "Now that I think of it, a pit stop doesn't sound like a bad idea."
Jun looked suddenly embarrassed. "Um, this is going to sound a little silly, but... would you mind if I came in, too?"
"I just don't like the idea of splitting up. I know it's dumb, but I have this feeling that if we get separated in the dark, we won't find each other again, and I don't want to be alone in here."
"Oh," he replied. He shrugged. "Well, I guess it doesn't matter. I mean, it's not like there's going to be anyone else in there."
What he didn't say was that he didn't like the idea of splitting up any more than she did. They both went through the same door, the one marked "Gentlemen." To their immense relief, there was a light switch just inside the door, allowing them a blessed escape from the oppressive darkness. Jun looked around and giggled a little.
"This feels weird. I've never been in a boy's bathroom before."
"Not even to peek?" Shuu teased.
Jun looked prim. "What would I want to do that for?"
They disappeared into separate stalls, one at one end of the room and the other on the opposite side, which helped to preserve a feeling of privacy. Shuu finished first and went to the sink to wash his hands, all the while looking at his surroundings and pondering. It really was a relief to be there, after being in the creepy hallways outside. There was nothing spooky or threatening about a bathroom. It was well-lit and clean here, with a faint scent of soap and air freshener that seemed incompatible with the very idea of anything frightening. Faced with the idea of having to go back outside, it was very tempting to suggest that they stay in this bright, familiar place.
In the mirror, he saw the door to Jun's stall opening and the girl herself step out. She looked around a little, as if she was considering the same idea Shuu was. Then her eyes widened in shock, and she pointed.
"Shuu, look behind you!" she called. "It's
(Go to 3.5)
"It is?" asked Daisuke, looking at the statue with renewed respect.
Ken shrugged. "No, not really. Actually, I don't think anyone really knows anymore. One of the older kids once told me it was this one, trying to scare me, but I didn't believe him. He was always making up stories to try to impress people. He tried to convince me that the statue started smiling after it killed the kid, and that it always smiled again just before it was going to take another victim, but since it was always smiling, and it never killed anybody, I felt pretty sure he was lying."
"If it wasn't true, you shouldn't repeat it," said Hawkmon. Miyako, still trying to recover from her fear and embarrassment, gave him a grateful look.
"Sorry," said Ken, looking contrite, "but we are celebrating Halloween. I sort of thought it was my obligation to tell some ghost stories... kind of as a host."
"A host for a ghost!" said Daisuke in a sing-song voice. "Come on, Ken! I didn't come way out here just to look at old statues."
They started moving again. As they traveled up the winding path, they saw several more statues - some sitting on stone benches, some standing in corners and nooks, even a few perched on islands in the middle of the decorative ponds. In the moonlight, the effect of walking around a corner and finding a gleaming white figure staring back at them was unnerving, but they soon got used to it. Gradually, Miyako began to even see why Ken said they were pretty. There was something rather attractive about them, she thought, examining a woman-statue with a placid smile who gazed at her reflection in a pond. She did not, however, enjoy nearly walking into a man-statue wearing a feral snarl. On the whole, it was a good excuse to keep very close to Ken, and Ken, who was a perfect gentleman, knew she had been genuinely frightened by her earlier shock, and therefore let her get away with it. Miyako could almost have enjoyed the walk through the gardens, but her enjoyment was quickly dampened when they came to the house.
It stood on a little knoll, drawn back into a copse of trees like a crouching animal. It had once been a fine structure, but it was now tumbledown and decrepit. Its paint was peeling away in scabby clumps, and loose shutters flapped weakly in the breeze. Moonlight played on the shattered remains of old windows, making them wink like wicked eyes. The front porch was sagging, looking as if it would collapse at the slightest touch; some of its support posts had already fallen down, and there was a large hole on one side. Nevertheless, Ken led the way up the front steps, skirted the hole, and walked up to the door, giving the others no choice but to follow, flinching as the floorboards creaked under their weight. The door opened easily, and Ken pushed it open, revealing the pitch-black space inside. The others fumbled for their flashlights, shining the beams into the darkness. At the sight that greeted them, Miyako gave a little gasp, Ken stared in shock, and Daisuke yelped, "I don't believe it!
(Go to 1.6)
lick her face. Mimi giggled hysterically as the dog gave her his enthusiastic greeting, his whole back end shaking as he furiously wagged his tail. A few moments later, a young man in a sweatsuit came jogging up clutching a broken leash.
"Stormy! Bad dog!" he scolded, grabbing the beast's collar. "Come on, let her go! Heel!"
Meekly, the dog freed Mimi and went to join his owner, sitting obediently at his feet and whimpering an apology. Mimi got up and dusted herself off. Her dress was now muddier than ever, and there were bits of alley trash in her hair, but Michael didn't have the heart to comment on it.
"Are you okay, miss?" asked the dog owner. "Sorry about that. The stupid leash just snapped."
"I'm okay," she said. "He's a nice dog, really."
"Yeah, just very friendly. Tonight's been wild. He can't see a little kid without wanting to play with it, and I've had a job keeping him under control."
Mimi assured him it was quite all right, and the group parted company with the dog owner threatening to trade Stormy in for a goldfish. Somewhat rattled after the encounter, the two remaining humans and their Digimon continued their journey.
Finally, Mimi could see the looming shape of the house. Michael's father, as a successful movie star, could afford the very best, and he had taken it upon himself to display the fact by building a sprawling manor that seemed to have been designed more for size than aesthetics. The children and their partners walked up the path to the front door... and there they hesitated.
When Michael had left his home, it had been brilliantly lit, every window ablaze with light to welcome the young revelers, assuring generous gifts of candy should they chose to knock on its doors. Now it was dark, without so much as a single light showing. Micheal frowned. Stepping forward, he knocked loudly on the door. There was no answer.
"Dad?" he called. "Dad, are you there?"
Staring up at the dark, silent house, he felt a sinking feeling. There was no sign of life within the building, and he groaned as he realized
(Go to 2.6)
Look at all this cool stuff!"
Since there was nothing else to look at, the others looked. Not only was the house still standing unmolested, but all its furnishings were still inside. They were looking into what had once been someone's living room. A sofa sagged against one wall, its fabric dusty and moth- eaten, one leg long ago chewed to bits by termites or other vermin. An equally sad-looking armchair now had a large hole in it, containing the remains of an ancient mouse nest. The wallpaper was peeling from the walls, and an ancient portrait lay slightly cracked on the floor, where it had fallen sometime ages ago, leaving a dark rectangle on the wall where it had once hung. A sagging shelf held a variety of odds and ends, most of them unidentifiable under years' accumulation of dust and cobwebs. Daisuke walked up and started looking at some of them.
"This is really cool," he said, blowing the dust off of what eventually revealed itself to be a brass-bound collapsible telescope, now green and moldy-looking with age. "Wonder if this thing still works?"
"Let me see, let me see!" cried V-mon, bouncing up and down in eagerness and throwing up clouds of dust.
"What's all this stuff doing here?" asked Miyako, staring around in confusion. "I mean, wouldn't they have gotten rid of this stuff by now?"
Ken frowned, trying to remember. "Well, the way I heard it, the man didn't have any living relatives, so there was nobody to take it. Most of the valuable stuff got taken by the government, but as for the furniture and knickknacks... well, they tried to sell it, but nobody wanted the stuff that belonged to a murderer... or a ghost. I didn't really believe it - I mean, you'd think somebody out there would have taken it by now, but..."
"I don't like it here," said Wormmon, squirming on his perch on Ken's shoulder. "Can we go home now? It's creepy and it's dusty."
"What? But we just got here!" Daisuke protested. "Besides, if nobody wants any of this junk, it's free for the taking, right? We can be treasure hunters!"
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" asked Ken. "I mean, even if the owner is dead, it's still stealing..."
"Well, what's he need it for? He's dead," Daisuke pointed out.
"Well..." said Miyako, looking around at all the intriguing half-seen objects. "I guess it wouldn't hurt to explore a little, as long as we're here."
She put out a hand for a lumpy object sitting on the shelf, briskly wiping off dust and cobwebs, as if it were an item on her store shelves that needed sprucing up. Then she gave a squeak and let it fall from her fingers as she realized she was holding a skull.
(Go to 1.7)
Shuu turned around. Sure enough, the door of one stall was standing open, and hanging on its coatrack was an old gray jacket.
"It sure is!" he said in surprise. "I guess I must have hung it there and forgot about it."
"You should be more careful," said Jun. "I lost a purse that way, once. Lucky for me, someone honest found it."
"I should be more careful," Shuu agreed, pulling the jacket on. The oppressive darkness outside made him feel chilled, no matter what the real temperature might be. "I'm getting absent minded, like the professor. If I had been more careful, we wouldn't be in this mess."
"Well, it could be worse," said Jun, ever optimistic. "Now what do we do?"
"I guess we get moving again," Shuu. "Unless we want to stay here all night."
"I wanted to see the jewels," Jun replied.
Shuu sighed a little. He really didn't want to go out again, but he would look like a real coward if he didn't agree. With a small shrug, he took Jun's hand, and they stepped back out into the darkness.
At least from here, the way was easy to find; even the dim light was enough to point them to the exhibits of jewels and rare stones. They looked particularly luminous in the darkness, with every flash from every faceted gem looking somehow twice as bright as it would in full light. They spared a few moments looking at the displays of uncut crystals and unusual rock formations, but both of them were far more interested in the cases further along that held jewelry and other more artistic treasures. Shuu looked with interest at a large jade dragon sitting on its own velvet- covered pedestal, while Jun admired the cases holding priceless necklaces and crowns.
"Don't get too close," Shuu warned her. "These things are going to be under tight security. We don't want to get fingered as jewel thieves."
"I'm just looking," she said. "Look, I'm not even touching the glass."
"All right. Just be careful."
For a while, they were silent. Shuu amused himself by reading the plaques next to the exhibits that described where the items had come from and what their significance was. Jun admired a particularly spectacular ensemble that had once been owned by an empress, and she sighed, imagining what it must be like to wear something like that, as everyone who looked at it stared in awe and envy. Reluctantly, she tore herself away to look at the next display...
But she was not paying attention to her feet, and her foot caught on the carpet, making her stumble. She fell with a solid smack, directly against the plate-glass front of a gem display. Instantly, both young people froze, nerves thrumming. Had she tripped an alarm? Shuu strained to listen, and in the still museum, he could hear
(Go to 3.6)
his father was at a board meeting.
"Rats," he muttered. "I forgot, Dad had to go meet with some movie producers tonight. Good thing I've got a spare key."
He let his friends into the house, flipping on the hall light to bring some cheer to the scene. The inside of the house was moderately pleasant. As the outside had hinted, it was decorated in wall-to-wall money, but someone hadn't been taking much care to clean it. Everything from clothing to assorted old movie props littered every available space. Mimi stepped carefully through the mess, hopscotching her way across a floor strewn with old magazines and other paper scraps.
"Sorry about the mess," said Michael apologetically. "Like I said, Dad's kind of a collector - he never throws anything out, and we're usually not home enough to make it worth the effort to clean."
"It didn't look like this last time I was here," said Mimi.
"I know," Micheal replied. "When we know we're going to be entertaining, we pay someone else to clean. That's a lot less trouble. Anyway, let's see about those costumes."
He led her up a flight of stairs and into a large room that seemed to be a storeroom of some sort. There were tottering piles of crates heaped against the wall, some of them seeming to stay upright more from force of habit than anything else. Several clothes racks held every kind of clothing imaginable. Mimi's expression brightened considerably as she saw the collection.
"I can wear one of these?" she asked eagerly.
"If you can find one that fits," Michael replied. "How about you go through some of these, and I'll poke around and see if we've got anything else useful lying around."
"Okay!" she said brightly, and devoted herself to the inspection of the clothing.
Michael began wandering up the hallway, peering in other rooms. Everything was disorganized, and much of it covered in dust. That was, he mused, the disadvantage of having all the space in the world: you felt compelled to fill it up with things. Of course, part of it was his father's fault; the man was inclined to be eccentric. It was part of what made him such an interesting presence on screen, but it also made him difficult to live with at times. Objectively, Michael really couldn't blame his mother for running off with a hairdresser. He would have to talk to his father very soon about giving this place a good spring cleaning, even if it was nearly winter.
Suddenly, there was a crash and a muffled scream. Michael immediately abandoned what he was doing and dashed back down the hall to where he had left Mimi. Barging into the room, he saw her, bleeding profusely as she struggled to extract herself from the grasp of
(Go to 2.7)
"Careful!" said Ken, making a dive for the falling object. He couldn't move fast enough to catch it, but it landed unharmed on the thick carpet. He picked it up and gave it a brief inspection.
"No damage," he declared. "You should be more careful, Miyako. This thing looks fragile."
"I don't expect the things I pick up to have teeth," said Miyako, wiping a hand on her shirt as if she'd touched something slimy.
Ken gave the skull a brief examination. "Crocodile. Small one. It looks like the last person to live here was a hunter."
He blew some dust off the object that had been sitting next to the crocodile skull, revealing it to be a preserved snapping turtle with glassy eyes. Further exploration revealed a small stuffed owl, a few mounted fish, and a coiled snake that still looked distressingly lifelike despite the dust clinging to its scales.
"Nothing really interesting in here," Daisuke declared, growing bored with the stuffed specimens. "How about we split up and look around? This place isn't so big that we can't hear each other scream if there's trouble."
"Small comfort," said Hawkmon grudgingly.
"Come on. What could happen?" Ken replied, already moving toward a nearby door. "No point in coming out here if we don't explore a little. How bad could it be?"
"Not bad, I guess," Miyako admitted. "Nothing bad has happened yet, anyway."
"Yet," said Wormmon.
"Aw, c'mon, don't be a party pooper," said Daisuke. He pocketed the telescope and began heading for the door on the far side of the room. Ken took the door on the right, while Miyako went to the left. All of them were quickly lost from both sight and sound inside the dark house.
Ken's door opened onto a short hallway, lined with several doors. He walked along slowly, trying each one, and was mostly disappointed. One was only an old linen closet full of moldy old sheets. The one at the far end seemed to lead down to a basement, and even he wasn't bold enough to go down there. The next one he tried was locked. Finally, he found one that opened, and he stepped inside. Then he gasped.
(Go to 1.8)
absolute silence. Apparently it took more than just bumping into the glass to trigger an alarm. The two of them laughed nervously as Jun righted herself.
"Let's get out of here," she said.
"I'm with you," he agreed.
As fast as they could move in the darkness, they hurried away from the gem room and ducked back into the utter black of the hallways. Almost as soon as they had left the gallery, they were plunged into a literal blind alley - neither of them could see so much as their own feet on the floor. Grimly, Shuu led the way, feeling along the walls. The only thing on his mind was to get back to the main entrance, back to where there was at least some light and a glimpse of the outside world, something to give them hope that they could get out soon. Surely someone would see them and realize they needed help.
For the first time, it occurred to him that maybe no one would guess that they were here. The receptionist had seen them leave the building. If someone wanted to check if the two of them had left, she would be the person to ask. She would assure them that Shuu and Jun had indeed left the museum and that she had seen them heading for their car. Anyone searching for them would assume that they had vanished en route back to the university - how could they guess that they would have turned around and walked back into the museum just in time to get locked in? It was too crazy to think of, and they wouldn't, not until they started getting desperate. And what would happen in the meantime? They could get clean water from the bathroom sinks, but what could they eat? Shuu had read that a healthy human being with an adequate water supply could live up to a week without any food, but he wasn't eager to try the experiment.
He stopped walking, and Jun, unable to see, walked into him. They both yelped at the unexpected collision and took a moment to untangle themselves.
"Why did you stop?" she asked, slightly irritated.
"I just realized," he said, "I lost count of the hallways. I don't know where we are anymore."
"You mean we're lost?" she squeaked."
"It's okay," said Shuu quickly. "I just need a minute to get my bearings. I mean, this museum isn't that big; if we wander around enough, we're bound to end up back in somewhere we recognize."
"I don't want to wander around," she said. "It's dark and spooky in here."
"It will be less dark and spooky somewhere else," he reminded her. "You really don't want to sit here in the hallway the rest of the night, do you?"
"No, not really..."
"All right, then. Come on; it won't be that bad. Since we don't know where we are, we'll just pick a direction and see where it takes us."
Jun looked around - an exercise in futility, since all the ways looked the same in the dark. "All right. This way."
They began to walk. Eventually, Jun's outstretched hand found a wall, and they followed it until it led to an open area. As they drew nearer, they were able to see a faint glow, and they walked faster, eager to reach the source of the light, any light. Shuu felt hope rising inside him. Was it possible that, by sheer luck, Jun had selected the right way to take them back to the exit?
No, their luck couldn't be that good. The distant glow they had seen did not come from the outside lights, nor from a skylight, or even from one of the exhibits. As soon as they could clearly see the source of the ghostly blue glow, both of them stopped and stared, for they had come face to face with
(Go to 3.7)
"Achoo! Achoo!" he sneezed loudly. He sniffled and rubbed at his nose. "Look at this, Wormmon. I think the dust of the ages has settled in here."
It was true that the room they had entered was exceedingly dusty, even more so than the one they had seen previously. It was a stuffy, windowless space, which, much to Ken's interest, seemed to be filled with books. Most of them were handsome hardbound copies, bound in cloth worked with designs or leather with ancient gold stenciling. Curiously, he began walking up and down the aisles. This place was as good as a library! In fact, it was even more interesting, because the odds and ends the previous occupant had left behind still adorned the upper shelves. He could make out faded old maps hanging on the wall, showing places he'd never heard of and might not exist, and the shelves held such things as an old globe of the world (so old and brown that the countries were indistinguishable), an ancient compass (now looking rather rusty) and a stuffed fox that glared balefully down at him from one eye, the other apparently having been lost or stolen.
"I wonder what's in all these books?" Ken mused.
He shined his flashlight at them, but the spines were cracked and faded, and the titles could no longer be read. Overcome by curiosity, Ken reached up and pulled a book from a shelf.
Instantly, a gaping void opened up.
(Go to 1.9)
a broken shelf. Palmon was busy digging through the wreckage, trying to help her friend out of the mess. Michael and Betamon waded in and managed to extract her. She had several long scratches on her arms and legs from where bits of the shelf and its contents had fallen on her, and her poor abused dress, never meant for such treatment, had been torn badly.
"What happened?" Micheal asked.
"I saw a crown up on the top shelf," said Mimi, wincing a little as she dabbed at a scratch, "and I thought I could reach it if I just stood on the bottom, but when I did..."
"The whole thing fell down," Micheal finished. "That's it, I'm making Dad clean this junk out. Are you okay?"
"No," she said miserably. "I am not okay! I'm dirty and muddy and I'm hurt and my dress is ruined and everything I try to do goes wrong, and I'm never going to get to this party! This is the worst night of my life!"
She burst into tears of pain and frustration. Michael, unsure what to do, put his arms around her and held her until the storm subsided. Gradually, her sobs turned into hiccups and sniffles. Once she was quiet, he felt it was safe to let her go. Her face was as much of a mess as the rest of her now, her cheeks streaked with tears and smudges of makeup, her eyes ringed with black from her smeared mascara and red with crying.
"Let's give it up," he said gently. "I'll walk you back home. We'll skip the party."
"I don't want to ruin your fun."
"I won't have any fun knowing you're stuck at home being miserable," he replied. "Come on. We'll find something else to do."
"Okay," she said shakily.
They turned off the lights and left the house. Privately, Michael felt awful, though he tried not to let it show. Mimi was so emotional, and she had set her heart on going to this party. Now she looked so sad, and he couldn't help feeling it was in some way his fault. After all, if he hadn't invited her, she wouldn't be in this mess. She'd be at home celebrating and having a wonderful time, not dirty and bloody in a dark street with her hopes shattered.
He was so busy moping that he didn't see the dark figures approaching. Betamon did, though, and he tugged on his partner's pants leg to get his attention. Micheal stopped and turned around to face the three people who were coming up the sidewalk behind him. At first, seeing their dark clothing and gruesome faces, he thought they were just another pack of trick-or- treaters. However, as they drew closer, he saw that he was wrong. These were something far worse than just trick-or-treaters, and he felt himself going pale as he realized they were
(Go to 2.8)
"Yow!" Ken cried.
He jumped backwards just in time to avoid having the crumbling shelf collapse on top of him. Books fell everywhere, showering Ken and his partner with dust, scraps of paper, mouse droppings, and several bugs. Ken gave a yelp as a large hairy spider landed on his chest, and he brushed at it frantically. It fell to the floor with an audible plop and put its multiple legs into motion. Wormmon, moved by a sense of justice on the part of his distant insectioid kin, spat out a line of webbing and wrapped the spider. Ken laughed.
"I think that's a record," he said. "The first time the spider was ever trapped by the bug!"
"Serves him right," said Wormmon. "Those things eat bugs."
"I don't think we're going to find much of interest in here," Ken said, prodding the mangy fox with his foot. "Let's go see if the others have found anything."
"Okay," said Wormmon agreeably, eager to get out of the spooky library.
Meanwhile, Miyako and Hawkmon were conducting their own explorations. The door they'd entered might have been a grand room, a long time ago, but someone appeared to have relegated it to the task of junk room. It was piled from top to bottom with decrepit furniture, shelves full of broken machinery, and yet more hunting trophies.
"Daisuke would love it here," Miyako said, shining her flashlight up at a mounted rhinoceros head on the wall.
"I don't," answered Hawkmon primly. "I'm never going to get all this dust out of my feathers."
"Well, if you don't like it, you can go find somewhere to sit while I look around," Miyako replied.
She heard more than saw her partner drift off into the shadows, but she didn't bother to look where he was going. Her attention had been caught by the machines, and she wandered over to inspect them more closely. There was something she guessed to be an old-fashioned radio, and an even older phonograph, with a record still sitting on it. A number of clocks with cracked faces or missing hands filled another shelf. She picked up the smallest of the lot and turned it over in her hands, wondering if she had the tools at home to fix it. It would, she thought, make an interesting conversation piece, or perhaps a nice Christmas gift for someone. It might even be valuable, if it was antique. She tried to get a better look at it, but she couldn't hold onto her flashlight and devote proper attention to the clock at the same time. Perhaps she'd go ask Hawkmon to hold the light for her while she tinkered with it.
It was then that she realized she had no idea where Hawkmon was. She swung her flashlight around, trying to find him, but he seemed to have vanished into the general chaos of the room.
"Hawkmon?" she called. "Hawkmon, where'd you go?"
There was no answer. Worried, she began walking around the room, peering into shadows. Had he gone back into the front hall? That wasn't like him, to walk off and leave her alone. He had to be here somewhere...
Then, as she turned around, her hand brushed soft feathers, and she relaxed. Here he was, sitting in a chair. Obviously he'd fallen asleep. Well, it was getting late, and unlike Miyako, Hawkmon never stayed up past his bedtime. Of course he'd doze off if you left him alone in a dark, quiet place. She tried to shake him, only to be rewarded by the sound of a thud - a feathery body hitting the floor. Turning shining her light, she saw that the bird was dead.
(Go to 1.10)
his friends, on their way to the party. They recognized him immediately and accosted him.
"Michael! Hey!" greeted the boy in front. "Going to the big bash?"
"Well," he stammered, looking for a way out, "actually I was-"
They didn't bother to listen to the rest. "Great! We'll walk with you!"
Micheal's eyes met Mimi's, and he tried to tell her without words that this really wasn't what he'd had in mind. She looked like she agreed with him, but she was as trapped as he was. It would be rude to walk away now, and that was something neither of them felt capable of being to good friends. Micheal couldn't escape, and Mimi didn't want to walk all the way back home without him. She wasn't even sure she knew the way anymore, with as many detours as they had taken. Resolutely, she fell into step behind the little band.
*This is the weirdest thing,* she thought. *The first time anyone has ever had to drag me to a party against my will!*
Finally, they arrived. Mimi tried to lurk in the shadows, avoiding the light that spilled from the front door. Under other circumstances, she would have found the warm golden glow a welcoming sight, but now the idea of actually being seen by her high-fashion-minded friends in the state she was in was far more terrifying than the taped Halloween noises issuing from within the building. All she wanted was to hide in some dark place where no one would be able to see her.
But it was no use. As the hostess welcomed them all, she caught sight of Mimi. At first, she didn't seem to recognize her. Then her gaze fell on Palmon, and her expression turned to one of puzzlement to utter shock.
"Mimi!" she gasped, "You look
(Go to 2.9)
"Ugh!" said Miyako, wiping her hands on her shirt. The bird on the floor continued to stare up at her from its glassy eyes. She kicked the stuffed falcon, and it skittered across the room and disappeared under an old chair in a flurry of old feathers.
In the corner, there was a chittering snuffle, the sound of a bird who had been sound asleep being startled out of his dreams.
"What? What was that?" he muttered. "Why is it so dark?"
"There you are!" Miyako exclaimed, her voice squeaking with relief. "I wondered where you went!"
"Just resting my eyes," said Hawkmon defensively.
"Yeah, well, you can't rest them here anymore. I'm ready to leave," she replied. "Let's go see what the others have found. There's nothing good in here."
She stepped back into the entry hall and looked around. The house was deathly quiet - she couldn't hear so much as a mouse, much less the movements of humans. How could it be so quiet? She'd never known Daisuke to be this quiet for so long. She wondered what he could be doing.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash. To Miyako, it sounded as if the roof was caving in. Strung up as she was already, her brain gave her no choice but to run, in whatever direction presented itself soonest, and to keep on running until she got to someplace it deemed safe. She leaped into action instantly, sprinting toward the nearest door and darting down it like a rabbit down a rabbit hole. It led to a narrow hallway, long and dark, but she hardly cared at the moment. She had more important things on her mind than the decor... particularly when she collided with something that moved.
For a moment, she was frightened. Then she calmed down as she realized the thing she had run into was warm and alive - a human. At the moment, that was all she cared about, and she clung to whoever it was tightly until her nerves steadied. It was only then that she thought to find out who she had latched onto.
"Ken?" she said hopefully.
She turned her light onto the thing she'd run into. She stared in blank silence for a moment, staring into that face. Then she screamed.
(Go to 1.11)
a snack machine. The two of them stood dumbly before it before breaking out into nervous laughter.
"Well, that solves one of our problems!" said Shuu. "Not that any of this comprises a balanced meal, but at least we won't starve. Do you have any change?"
Jun checked her purse. "A bit. Hungry?"
"Starving. Let's see what I've got."
The two of them checked purses and pockets, coming with a decent-sized pile of coins. They poured a few handfuls of change into the machine, drawing out a collection of candy and chips. Thus equipped, they found a comfortable corner to settle in and enjoy their feast.
"You know, this trip isn't turning out to be so bad," Shuu commented, taking a bite of a chocolate bar. He was seldom allowed junk food in the home of his doctor father - it was no wonder his youngest brother was such a hypochondriac, with the way his parents were constantly trying to guard him from anything unhealthy. "It's not exactly a pleasure trip, but it's not bad. I could almost get used to this place."
"You'd better be kidding," Jun told him.
"What? Aren't you having fun?" he asked, feigning insult. "I would have thought you'd like being alone with me in the dark."
"I do like that!"
"Funny. You aren't acting like it."
"Then let me fix that for you."
She leaned over and kissed him, and he pulled her into her arms, thinking that this was much more like the date he'd wanted. However, the moment only lasted a minute, as an unidentifiable noise sounded through the silent hall. Both of them jumped, all romance forgotten as they stared around the room for the source of the sound. For a moment, they could see nothing.
Then, with a squeak of terror, Jun pointed, and Shuu followed her line of sight. Standing on the other side of the room was a strange figure, ghostly gray from top to bottom, with a flat, glowing gaze. An exhibit? No, it couldn't be... it was moving. It was gliding slowly and silently across the room, moving ever closer toward them. Shuu stared around in panic, looking for an exit, but there was no escape: they were cornered. All he could do was sit and stare as the spectral figure got closer and closer until he could see that it was
(Go to 3.8)
"Aaagh!" she shrieked, jumping backwards. "Ew, ew, ew!"
She did a little hopping dance of disgust, shaking her hands as if to shake off water. Hawkmon, V-mon and Daisuke watched her curiously.
"Boy, you change your mind fast," Daisuke commented.
"I thought you were Ken," said Miyako sulkily.
"If you thought I was Ken, you really need to get your eyes checked again," Daisuke replied.
"What does she want her eyes checked for?" asked V-mon. "I kinda like 'em brown, the way they are."
Miyako stared at him, trying to see if he was joking or not, but it was hard to tell with V- mon sometimes. She was saved from trying to make a reply by the arrival of Ken.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"Just Miyako acting crazy," said Daisuke. "Don't worry about it. So, find anything interesting?"
"Just bugs," Ken replied. "Then a shelf attacked me, so I gave up. How about you, Miyako?"
"I saw some neat old junk, but it was all broken," she replied. "Daisuke?"
"I found some stairs," said Daisuke, pointing. "I was just going to look for you guys so we could climb them."
"Let's go, then," said Ken.
They went up... slowly. Every step they took creaked ominously, and there were times when they could actually feel the ancient, dry-rotted wood bending beneath their feet. At one point, they startled a bat, which flew shrieking through a broken window into the night. Another time Daisuke thought he saw a rat, but it scuttled off before he could get a good look at it. After what seemed like an eternity, they reached the top step and found themselves facing a door. Daisuke, in the lead, pushed it open and walked through it. There was another hallway, and at the end of the hall sat a chair, and in the chair sat a man.
(Go to 1.12)
absolutely fabulous! Everybody, come here, look - you have got to see Mimi's costume!"
A confused Mimi was set upon by her friends and dragged into the party room, where everyone gathered around to inspect her garments.
"Wow, this is great!" someone said, fingering a fold of the now ragged dress. "This must have taken hours to do!"
"This blood looks real! Wonder where she got it?"
"And here I was thinking she'd come dressed as a fairy or something stupid like that, and she's got the scariest costume of all of us!"
"How'd you get your eyes all red like that? Are those contact lenses, or what?"
"Oh, that's a professional secret," said Mimi, managing to regain her composure. "Really, it was nothing at all. Just a little something I threw together at the last minute."
There were envious murmurs. Someone laughed.
"That's our Mimi!" he said. "No matter what, she's always the best dressed of all of us!"
Mimi smiled and winked in Micheal's direction. He grinned back.
"I won't tell if you won't," he whispered.
"It'll be our secret," she replied.
With that, the two of them set about enjoying what was undoubtably their best Halloween party ever.
The children all stopped and stared. Their eyes were not playing tricks on them: there really was a man sitting at the end of the hall. He was ancient - it was easy to tell, even from that distance. His hair hung in grizzled white tufts around his face, which itself was so lined and creased that it was hard to make out his features. His hands, folded loosely on his lap, were twisted and knobbed as from arthritis, and the veins stood out clearly against his pale skin. However, what horrified them most was that he was dressed in the clothes of a gardener: heavy boots, stained and dirty coveralls, and a baggy cap. He was sitting very still.
"He can't be real," said Daisuke after a moment of silence. "It's a fake, like the animals. I mean, what would an old man be doing sitting up here in the middle of the night?"
"The old man," answered a creaky voice, "would like to know the same about you three kids."
Everyone jumped. The man's head had raised, and now he was staring at them all with uncommonly bright eyes. No one could tell what color they were, but they caught the beams of the flashlights and reflected them back with winks of light as sharp as jewels.
"Who are you?" asked Ken bravely.
The old man grinned, showing off a mouth missing most of its teeth.
"I'm the groundskeeper."
(Go to 1.13)
Professor Takenouchi. The man stared down at the two of them with an expression of amusement on his face. Shuu stared back, trying to reorder his thoughts. Up close, he now realized that the spectral effect he'd gotten was only because of his teacher's gray hair and suit, and the way the thin light reflected on his glasses.
"Well, there you are," said the professor. "Don't look so frightened; I'm not going to ask you what you were doing."
"Sorry, Professor," said Shuu, pulling himself to his feet and helping Jun up. "For a minute there, you looked like a ghost."
The professor laughed. "I know I'm getting on in years, but I'm not that decrepit yet."
"What are you doing here?" asked Jun. "I thought the museum was locked up."
"It is," said Professor Takenouchi. "However-"
"Hello?" called a distant voice. "Where are you?"
"Over here!" the professor called back. "It's all right, I've found them!"
A moment later, another man entered the room, a young gentleman dressed in a good suit. He came up to join Professor Takenouchi.
"Shuu, Jun, I'd like you to meet the museum curator, Mr. Kaneda. He used to be a student of mine," said the professor proudly. "When you two didn't come back to the university, I got worried and gave him a call."
"I'm glad you did!" said Shuu gratefully. "We were starting to think we'd be stuck in here all weekend."
"Well, I'm sure you would have managed," the professor replied. "You looked like you were doing just fine when I came in. Still, I think your parents are bound to be getting concerned by now. Come on - let's get you two home."
Within a few minutes, they had been guided out of the dark and mazelike halls of the museum and were safely back in Shuu's car. He drove back to the Motomiya apartment as quickly as he could manage - not difficult, considering how late it was. The big city was never completely without traffic, but he did make good time. It was with a feeling of relief that he arrived on Jun's doorstep.
"Well," he said, "it's been a night, hasn't it?"
"Definitely not what I was expecting," she replied. "I think this is one date I'm never going to forget."
"Same here," Shuu replied. "So, anyway, I was thinking-"
But he never got to say what he was thinking, because just then, the door opened, and Mr. Motomiya appeared, his face set in furious lines.
"There you two are!" he barked. "Do you have any idea how late it is?"
"Please, let me explain," Shuu stammered.
"Don't give me any of that! You two were supposed to be home hours ago! What have you been doing with my daughter?"
"It's not what it looks like!" protested Shuu. "If you'll just listen..."
"I don't want to hear it! I'm going to call your parents, young man, and when they find out about this..."
The rant went on and on, while Shuu and Jun just stared at each other. The look in their eyes told each other they were both thinking the same thing: that just then, both of them would have given a lot to be locked back in that museum.
At the sound of that horrible pronunciation, all of the children let out a gasp of fright. The man glared at them, getting creakily to his feet and striding toward them with surprising agility. All of them were acutely aware that their Digimon seemed to have melted into the shadows. None of them could move, feeling rooted to the spot by the weight of the man's anger.
"Not that groundskeeper, you little twits," he growled.
"Huh?" said Daisuke.
The old man shook his head. "You've been listening to those old stories, haven't you? Tales that this house is haunted by the ghost of the old groundskeeper, isn't that right?"
Stunned, the children could only nod timidly.
"Thought so," said the old man. "Happens all the time, kids sneaking in here, adventuring, getting in trouble. I had a hunch that's what you three were up to."
"We didn't mean any-" Ken began, but the old man held up a hand and cut him off.
"Listen," he said. "I am the groundskeeper here - somebody has to keep the grass cut and the fish fed, right? I'm not going to bite your heads off, or whatever it is they say the old ghost does. I just live in a house up the road from here, and saw you three sneaking past, so I crept in here through the back door to teach you three a lesson. You say you didn't mean any harm, do you? Didn't stop to think maybe harm would come to you, did you? This old house isn't safe these days. Any of these old boards could give at any time. Didn't I hear a crash a minute ago?"
"That was me, sir," said Ken quietly. "A - a shelf fell down." At a surreptitious nudge from Wormmon, he added, "I might have helped it a little."
"And you're lucky you didn't help it fall on your head," the old man retorted. "You listen to me. This house ain't a safe place for kids to play. Years and years ago, nobody watched this place after dark, and kids got in trouble. One of them was climbing on a statue and it fell on him, just like that shelf almost fell on you. Another little boy came here on a dare - his friends bet he couldn't snatch a fish from the ponds. They didn't know or care that he couldn't swim. And now maybe three little kids want to add to the story by falling down these rickety old steps. Huh, they'd probably say the ghost did that, too. Nah, they need me here to watch out for you kids, to keep you out of trouble." He gave Ken a long, piercing look. "You look familiar. Aren't you the Ichijouji boy? Kenta, Kenji, whatever they called him?"
"Just Ken, sir," Ken replied.
"Yeah, right. Knew it was something like that. You look a lot like your brother. Good kid, your brother. Very smart... but you don't want to join him too soon, eh?"
Ken didn't know what to say, so he just nodded politely.
"Anyway, you need to get out of here. Take my advice, kids, and stay away from places like this... especially on Halloween," he added, showing off his gap-toothed grin. "Never know what might be lurking out there."
The children agreed that this was definitely not the best place to be after dark. They bid the old man the most polite goodbyes they could manage before picking their way back down the steps and hurrying out of the old building.
"That was pretty creepy, huh?" said Daisuke, shaking himself as if even he had been scared for a minute there.
"Yeah," said Ken quietly. He was thinking. His brother had told him that he'd never made it into the old house, had only gotten partway up the path before his parents had intercepted him. he had never mentioned anything about meeting a strange old man. How, then, had the man known about him? After a moment of reflection, he finally settled on the obvious conclusion: that the old man, like apparently everyone else in the world, had simply known of Osamu as the brilliant child-genius, just as Ken had been known as a genius and now as a Chosen Child. That was the best explanation.
What he did not know was that inside the house, a dark-haired and bespectacled boy walked quietly through a wall to stand beside the old man.
"Thanks, old friend," he said, smiling at him.
"Any time, Osamu," the old groundskeeper replied. "After all, it's my duty to look after the grounds, and somebody's got to watch this place after nightfall."
"I'm glad I could count on you. I don't think Ken would have taken well to seeing me again," Osamu replied.
The groundskeeper grinned wickedly. "And why not? After all, he knows perfectly well what kind of things come out on Halloween."
Osamu laughed. "That's true." He stared out the window. "Not for much longer, though. Shall we go?"
The old man nodded. "Might as well. This running around at night is hard on the old bones... even when you haven't got any. Heheheheh."
With that, he and the pale boy quietly vanished without a trace.
That's all! Hope you had fun, and Happy Halloween!