This is Bloodsworth Bayou, an online gamebook.

To start the game, go to the post below this one. But if you’re new, have a look at the pages above marked ‘About’ and ‘Game Rules’ first so you know how to play.

By Cian Gill

She didn’t look like trouble. But then, they never do.

Frenchman Street had been decked with lanterns last night, and the jazz clubs thronged with revellers, their faces made oddly skull-like by the half-lights. A bottle of Restoration Ale firmly in hand, you accidentally trod on somebody’s foot when exiting the Black Cat. You turned around, and were instantly transfixed by a pair of brown eyes. The girl was Creole, and young, and startlingly beautiful. Of course, if only you’d known then what you know now… You begged her forgiveness, but her mouth twisted into a snarl, and she muttered something under her breath.

A careless phrase.

Though a little perturbed, you thought nothing of it until the next morning, when you awoke in your room to the sounds of someone whispering in your ear. Strange, you didn’t recall the night ending that way… Rolling over, you saw that there was nobody else in the room. Your heart squeezed as you realised that the voice was not coming from anyone you could see. Sitting up dead straight in bed, you reached a trembling hand for the packet of Victory cigarettes beside you. Barely able to spark up, you inhaled deeply as your eyes scanned the room. Early morning light was spreading golden fingers through the slats across the bedsheets. You waited in silence for a moment, your breath held.

‘Bloodsworth’. It hissed the name over and over again.

A curse. You were familiar with curses, of course, having grown up in New Orleans. To most people, curses were just another part of the Big Easy’s tourist trade, along with factory-made stick-pin dolls and little bags of gris-gris for Northeners to bring home to their friends. But you’ve known people who, while seemingly rational by day, nonetheless check their pillows for the charms or fetish of an enemy before sleeping at night, and burn whatever they occasionally may find, along with the pillow. In such ways does superstition still grip peoples’ minds in the Crescent City.

You knew, too, what the voice meant by ‘Bloodsworth.’ A cabin in the swamps south of the city, beyond the places where even the tourist boats go. You’d never been there, of course. Too many strange stories were told about it, tales that made you curl up your toes in delicious fear on rainy nights as a child. Even as an adult, some remnant of that fear has kept the place taboo. There was no way you were going to Bloodsworth’s.

By six o’clock, the voices had grown louder, and you had changed your tune. No-one else seemed to hear them, but they burst like firecrackers in your skull even when you tried to talk to other people, making normal conversation impossible. After taking the highway out of the city, the voices at last grew quiet as you drove past the still-ruined Ninth Ward district. Battered by Katrina years ago, the brightly-coloured buildings now lay shrouded in ferns and sub-tropical vegetation as the jungle slowly reclaimed its own. The voices in your head hushed, as if in sympathy with the human suffering that had taken place here.

They chattered more as the suburbs passed you by, you remember, chanting that hated name with increased urgency. You couldn’t get to Bloodsworth’s fast enough now. The road rose above the beginnings of swamp country, its foundations mired in a yellow-green sludge that stretched to the horizon. The cypress trees began to crowd your vision on both sides as the road grew narrow, each seeming to bend and moan under its weight of Spanish moss. You began to wonder how your ancestors had ever eked out a living in this inhospitable environment.

Ramsay’s bridge was out- a colossal rusting hulk that towered over you as you parked your car at the dead-end chicane. It didn’t matter. There was no way to get to where you were going now except by boat, and since childhood you had known where the Cajun fishermen kept theirs on this river. The sun, a bloated and swollen egg, drifted below the pines as you uncoupled the little fishing craft, turning the woods and river a deep red. You cursed yourself a fool- why had you left it so late to undertake this mad odyssey? But there was no turning back now.

The boat drifted away from the shore, into Deadnettle Swamp. Bloodsworth Bayou was somewhere ahead. The chattering of the voices was now becoming intolerable. You felt as though your head was going to explode. When the solid, wooded shore appeared before you, you grabbed your leather satchel and ran hell-for-leather through the trees in almost perfect darkness.


By the time the cabin came into view, you were capable of little more than collapsing in a shivering pile over the threshold. Sleep overcame you almost immediately. Go to 1.

You awake to a cacophony of sounds- but the hated voices are not among them. Instead, the calls and cries of every kind of bird fill the air. You feel an incredible peace. Thanking whatever God (or Gods?) there may be, you pull yourself to your feet and grab your bag. Because of the rush in which you left New Orleans, you didn’t exactly pack very thoroughly. Inside your pack, you have 3 MEALS that may be eaten whenever you like (except during combat) to restore up to 3 STAMINA points each. You also have a thick and sturdy TWO-BY-FOUR. You’re not sure why you packed it, and you haven’t swung it since the last time a fight broke out at the Black Cat, but if you get into any trouble out here, it might come in handy. There is also a LIGHTER. It is with some relief that you close the bag, and take a look at your surroundings. Turn to 27.

If only you could dispatch this creature quickly- as you struggle, other zombi raise their heads from work. One zombi, in tattered overalls and a straw hat, approaches you. When you have destroyed the first zombie, you must fight this one too.


If you win, turn to 40.

The sun is now low in the sky, and the shadows of the trees are growing long. A low chirruping of crickets begins. You have always found it a relaxing sound, but now it feels like the heartbeat of this despicable swamp itself, as if you were journeying into the black heart of some gigantic organism. More and more trees seem to be rotting, jutting from the water like twisted limbs. The smell of decay is everywhere. And by the time the light fails, another sound begins- so low at first that you don’t notice it, but gradually growing.

The sound of drums.

Add 1 FEAR point. Who else is in this swamp with you? The path grows wetter, and eventually disappears. Where will you go now? To continue north may result in you becoming hopelessly lost. But wait- you see a light to the west. It’s moving slightly, silhouetting the trees.

To follow the light, turn to 76. To continue north, turn to 25.

You refuse to compromise your ideals, even to a ghost.

‘Whatever the faults of the North, the South’s way of life was built on a system that any decent man should find reprehensible.’

The Confederate scowls. The Yankee shade, his buttons shining in his blue coat, now speaks up.

‘And we were right to tear down their entire rotten structure.’

‘You see how the North provokes us, even now?’ the Confederate says.
He looks at you eagerly. How will you answer?

To say ‘Nevertheless, states’ rights ought to have been respected. The Southern states had to fight for their right to secede,’ turn to 60.
To say ‘The North did not directly mess with the affairs of the South,’ turn to 87.

A far-off bolt of lightning causes the white bottle to glint as you pull it from your bag. The Baron’s eye gleams too, and before you know what’s happened, he has plucked the rum from your hand.

‘Man oh man, it’s thirsty work catering for the needs of the dead,’ he says, between swigs, ‘How ever did you know my favourite tipple?’ As he downs the clear, sweet liquid, you can see it cascading through holes in his throat. When the bottle is empty, he wipes his lips with an outrageous flourish, and lights an enormous cigar.

‘Well then my man, lets get down to business. But first thing’s first- do you smoke?’ He offers you the cigar. If you wish to smoke it, turn to 43. If not, turn to 86.

Someone has tried to lock this door- probably back before you were allowed to drink. You rattle the brass doorknob and it turns easily enough. Splinters of wood fall to the blackened rug as you push open the door. The light from outside barely reaches into this dismal little hole… You can just about make out a sink that’s covered with limescale, as well as something darker…

Is it blood? You’ll have to open the door fully and enter the room to see for sure. If you want to do this, turn to 47. Otherwise, return to 27 and make a different choice.

Wincing, you thrust your hand into the slot. The stone inside is cool to the touch. Test your luck.

If you are lucky, turn to 33.

If you are unlucky, turn to 56.

Eventually, you clear a steep incline and pull yourself out of the dry creek-bed, and there it is in front of you- white paint peeling, black windows like eyes: the church. What were once white-picket fences surround its pathetic little plot. You are high above the swamplands now; they have turned red-brown in the dying day. What is the source of the strangeness that infects this place? It seems so peaceful now as you look down.

A sudden voice shatters the silence. You whirl around. Two men are standing behind you. You are certain they were not there a second ago. Add 1 FEAR point. You rub your eyes; they are dressed in the uniforms of a Yankee and a Confederate from the Civil War. The Confederate approaches you.

If you want to attempt to attack him, turn to 32. If you want to attack him and you have a gaslamp, turn to 23. Otherwise, turn to 78.

The Baron’s eyes widen in anticipation, but when you do nothing, his face gradually drops in disappointment. He sighs heavily.

‘Go on, my son, get out of here,’ he says, ‘but tread cautiously, for things are not what they seem in this land.’ He turns and strides away from you across the ochre-coloured mud, until he is lost among the twists and turns of the gorge. Now you are alone, and there is no sound except for the whistling of the wind and the far-off moans of tortured souls. Unsure whether or not you have escaped some grim fate, you decide to press on and explore this realm. Turn to 54.

The Magic Island is a small tome, clothed in leather and covered in dust. It appears to be an original edition from the 1930’s. Though the style is antiquated, you find it a fascinating read. It’s a study of the history and lore of voodou in Haiti. Opening a random page, you find a description of a deity known as Baron Samedi.

‘In voodoo religion, the Baron is the Lord of the Dead. Like Hades in Greek mythology, Samedi is not necessarily an evil character, but more a man who does a necessary, if unenviable, task. As such, he can be friend or foe. Often depicted as a raucous, good-time spirit with a fondness for cruel humour, Baron Samedi also has a weakness for many of the commoner human vices.’

As you read, a small red leather bookmark falls from the pages. To read the marked chapter, turn to 67.

If you haven’t already, you can read The Serpent and the Rainbow by turning to 34.

To go back downstairs, return to 27 and make another choice.

Fear drives you to caution- you don’t want the gators to pay any more attention to you. And for a moment, this seems to work- until you feel a blinding pain in your arm. A pair of jaws has clamped down on your hand and is wrenching it free from you. Blood mixes with the brown water. In horror and disbelief, you watch as the gators remove your hand and toss it between themselves, not as something to be eaten, but as a trophy or charm to be kept. Losing blood rapidly, you sink gratefully into the cool waters of Bloodsworth Bayou for the last time.

Your adventure ends here.

With an ungainly lurch, you plunge through the stairs up to your waist. Lose 2 STAMINA points. After the pain subsides, you figure that you owe at least something to the many beers you’ve downed at the Black Cat for preventing you from falling any further. But this thought of the city makes you acutely aware of your loneliness now.
And just what was that sound from upstairs? As you pull yourself to your feet, you have to decide whether or not you really want to find out.

To press on upstairs, turn to 30.

To go back downstairs, return to 27 and make another choice.

You continue east along the boardwalk for some time, and the vegetation thickens about you, eventually blocking off the light. Now you are among the tall trees of the swamp; it is like being in a vast cathedral with a roof high above your head. The buzzing of thousands of insects is now dimly audible as a constant hum, unsettling you somewhat. The path slowly curves north.

Amidst this gloom, you abruptly find your path blocked by something that moves across the boardwalk like a carpet. In this haunted place, it could be almost anything, so you pull your two-by-four from your pack, ready for a fight. But then you see that it will be useless, for the path is being swallowed up by a colony of fire ants. As they approach, you see that there are giant ants, as big as your thumb, moving like tanks amongst their smaller brethren.
Your feet are swallowed by the swarm, leaving you off-balance. And then they begin to cling and bite. You will have to stamp on them to survive.


If you win, turn to 45.

The ghostly soldier begins to shake uncontrollably. An unearthly light fills his eyes and pours from his mouth as he screams silently. The beams pierce his body from all angles, and there is an intense flash. When you look again, he is gone. His companion seems to have vanished too.

Again there is silence, and then an owl hoots in the darkness. You want to leave this cursed place, so you follow the only other path down until the church on the hill is far behind you. Turn to 46.

You had hoped that it was just your imagination, but now you watch in horror as the empty chair rocks back and forth in long, slow movements, though there is not a breath of wind. Add 1 FEAR point. As you unconsciously back towards the doorway, you hear a man’s deep laughter rolling through the night air, followed by three notes being played on a banjo. The laughter fades. Shaken, you enter the house. Turn to 57.

The path becomes increasingly unclear as you move slightly west of the reedbed. Your boots sink more and more into soft, wet earth. And then you catch sight of something moving behind a tree as you turn your head- something like the figure of a man wearing a tall hat. You shiver- and then almost fall backwards as the earth opens up before you. You catch a glimpse of a cold, reptilian eye, and realize that you have awoken an enormous alligator! Your weapon will make little impact against its tough hide, but it maneuvers its squat body to face you and opens its jaws wide, so you will have to fight.

Every three attack rounds, roll an extra dice. If it lands on a 4, 5 or 6, the alligator has grabbed you and will attempt to pull you into a death roll, and you will lose an extra 2 STAMINA points. If your STAMINA drops below 3, turn to 44.

ALLIGATOR Skill 7 Stamina 10.

If you win, turn to 3.

The trek north is slow, and you must eat one meal from your pack or else lose 3 stamina points. It has now become almost pitch dark, and there is a faint thump of drums on the wind, though you are sure that it is just your imagination. Eventually you must stop, as a vicious pain in your ankle has now become unendurable. You remove your boot only to find that it has an occupant- a fire ant.

The dead cultist you found south of here creeps back into your mind. Could there have been something about his death you overlooked? After struggling to replace your boot in the darkness, you decide to strike your lighter.

In the pool of light you have created, you see that you are completely surrounded by hordes of fire ants.

Thousands of black eyes are reflected in the glow of your lighter. Their circle closes around you, and you must fight them by stamping on them. Every third round, throw an extra dice. If it lands on a 1 or a 2, then your lighter has gone out during the fight, and you must lose 2 STAMINA points as you try to relight it.

FIRE ANTS Skill 8 Stamina 12

If you win, turn to 31 to continue north.

You spin frantically, this way and that, as you try to make your way north once again. In the darkness, every tree looks the same, and every black waterway looks the same. By the time you reach a clearing and figured out which way north is, several hours have passed, and you have lost 2 STAMINA points, as well as I item from your pack (cross it off your list). Turn to 25 to continue north.

The ghosts grab you. The Yankee produces a barrel. Teeth bared, he enjoys showing you that many rusty nails have been driven into the side of the barrel, their cruel ends protruding on the inside.

‘Get inside,’ he says. With mounting horror, you realize that they intend to roll you down the hill inside the barrel. You struggle, but they are too strong for you. You can feel them moving the barrel into place- they are about to push. There is one thing you could try- but it’s so terrible as to be almost beyond belief.

If you want to attempt to impale your hands and feet on the nails to minimize the damage as the barrel rolls, turn to 68. If you want to risk a free-roll, turn to 28.

Bent over to stay in cover, you move slowly around the perimeter of the field, the white fence to your side. Twice, a choking smell of decay makes you freeze: undead workers, passing somewhere nearby amongst the rows. Rays of moonlight occasionally illuminate your goal, and it is with cautious satisfaction that you observe the house growing closer.
You are halfway there when something looms out of the leaves- the silhouette of a tall man in a top hat.

Test your LUCK. If you are lucky, turn to 89. If you are unlucky, turn to 65.

Stepping through the front door, you almost trip over something on the threshold. It’s a pair of battered LEATHER SHOES. Vague stories, heard years ago, about shoes left outside homes to keep bad spirits out, surface dimly in your mind. If you want to take the shoes, mark them on your notes.

You straighten, and stand squinting in the light. The front of the cabin, facing south, has an awning that’s propped up by several rotten wooden shafts, as if in pathetic imitation of the grand plantation mansions that crowd the banks of the Mississippi north of here. All around you, ranks of cypress and live-oak trees with late-autumn leaves turn the morning yellow-gold. Spanish moss hangs like a shroud from every branch. The sweet smell of pine fills your nostrils. As you take a step forward, there’s a sudden rustle as several birds take flight from a nearby tree. You’re jumpy.

There’s no way you’re going south again; you’re not leaving this swamp until you find out what it was that drove you here. The cabin is built on a raised wooden platform, for the ground is waterlogged. The platform extends to the east as a walkway above the murky liquid. To the north, at the far side of the cabin, the ground becomes more solid, though the trees make it difficult to see what lies that way. To the west, the ground rises, and you can see that far away the path turns to a dry riverbed.

To travel east along the walkway, turn to 62. To travel north on solid ground, turn to 41. To travel west towards the riverbed, turn to 70.

It seems that nothing you can do will prevent this confrontation, so you reach for your weapon.


If the fight goes on longer than 6 attack rounds, turn to 2. If you win, turn to 40.

The spectral Confederate’s eyes blaze with an unholy fire. He unsheaths a blade from his waist and brandishes it. Desperately, you grab your two-by-four from your satchel and swipe it at the ghost.

It passes straight through him.

He grabs you with grubby fingers, but his sneer disappears when something tumbles from your backpack: the gaslamp. Against all odds, the flint inside catches fire, and warm yellow light streams out. Where it touches the ghost, his grey uniform appears to grow solid. You may now fight him.


If you win, turn to 14.

The glass wobbles like jelly as you pass through. You feel it fill your nostrils as though you are drowning, and then-

And then the mansion is gone. Instead, you are standing in a lurid landscape like something out of a nightmare: the earth is dry and cracked, and a blood-red sky boils angrily overhead. On either side of you, mud walls rise, and black vegetation hangs from their tops- it is as if you are in a fever-dream version of the swamplands that surround the mansion. A low moan echoes from somewhere nearby.

A manic laugh cuts through the unearthly chill of this world. It is coming from behind you. Like in a dream, you seem to know who it is that is behind you before you even turn around.

Turn to 77.

The drumming becomes more and more intense, until you come to believe that there must be scores of hidden madmen surrounding you as you splash through the gloom. Brushing past low-hanging branches covered with moss, you think about the various peoples who have sought shelter in these bayous- renegade Frenchmen from Arcadia, escaped slaves, Civil War soldiers. You shudder as you wonder how many of their ghosts now haunt the waters.

And with that, you notice a figure standing before you in complete silence. It’s a black man wearing tattered clothes, his head slumped down. Looking down yourself, you gasp as you see that he has no feet- his spindly legs end in bloody stumps, and he is floating an inch above the water! Add 1 FEAR point. You now know that you are dealing with some manner of supernatural being. You attempt to walk around this creature, but without raising its head, it turns to block your way.

If you want to throw an item at this thing, make a note of what item it is. Either way, turn to 81.

In a last-ditch effort to stave off a terrible end, you light the gaslamp. Instantly the circle of encroaching insects widens. They fear the light.

You make your way through the exit, but trip on an electrical lead. The world spins crazily, and your head thumps heavily against the floorboards. There is a smash, and a moment later flames begin to lick the rotten wooden walls of the inn. Somewhere, a jukebox begins playing a Lynyrd Skynyrd tune. You scramble to your feet and run through the exit, now clear of ants. You splash as far as the boat, which has now been cut loose from its moorings. You haul your body onto its deck as it drifts slowly away.

Behind you, Leroi’s Swamp Inn burns as the strains of Gimme Back My Bullets fill the night air. You are pretty sure that you can see the figures of two cowboys standing outside on the verandah as the ants flee and the building collapses, but it might be just your imagination.

The boat drifts for some time before the creek becomes too shallow for it, and you must walk again. Turn to 31 to continue north.

So this is the Bloodsworth cabin- a miserable wooden swamp-hut. There are two storeys, but the rotten staircase before you doesn’t much look as if it will take your weight. Downstairs, there’s only the main room, full of damp furniture that you’d rather not sit on. But towards the back of the room, there’s a small door. It’s probably just a toilet or something. What will you do now?

To try the stairs, turn to 39.

To try the small door, turn to 6.

To leave the cabin, turn to 21.

You can’t bring yourself to press your flesh against the nails. Just as you are wondering whether you’ve made the right choice, the barrel starts to roll. You can hear the ghostly soldiers hooting from somewhere far away, but that soon becomes the last thing on your mind as you are cut to ribbons by the nails.

Your adventure ends here.

You have no desire to listen to the girl’s weasel-words, lest she somehow cast another curse upon you. You reach for the mirror the Baron gave you. As you pull it from your bag, it becomes so heavy that it drops from your grasp. To your amazement, a figure pulls itself out of the glass- an exact double of yourself, though larger and more agitated than you. It makes directly for you, and suddenly you’re blinded as the two of you merge. Your body is flooded with rage, and you turn to face your aggressor with a new source of strength.
You have become one with your anger, and though it will make you strong, it is a small-minded and short-lived effect. For the duration of this fight you can add 3 to your SKILL points even if that exceeds your original skill level, but you must defeat the witch within 6 attack rounds. If you fail to do this, turn to 61.

ISABELLE LAFITTE Skill 11 Stamina 12

If you win, turn to 90.

There is nothing atop the stairs except a door. It’s an enormous, gnarled piece that appears to be made from the live-oak that populates the swamps. You give the door a gentle push, and as soon as it moves, something rattles inside the room.
The door swings open. Inside is a cramped library, and whizzing around the walls is a black blur. It scuttles along the floor towards you, and when it stops moving you get a good look at it. A more bizarre creature you have never come across: it has the front end of a cat, with green eyes and a snarling mouth, but only one pair of limbs. Its hindquarters are those of a gigantic snake or worm, though covered with fur. As this extraordinary beast crouches and begins to hiss, you reach for your two-by-four. Then it leaps straight for your neck, and you must fight it.

TATZELWURM Skill 7 Stamina 10

If you win, turn to 49.

The edge of the swamp is in sight- ahead you can see a break in the trees, with the moonlight shimmering on fields and some sort of dwelling. But a buzzing that has been building in your ears suddenly increases.


All around you. You know now that they have been somehow infected by the evil that pervades this place. You strike your lighter, and sure enough, there are thousands of tiny bodies scrabbling at your feet. Ants don’t buzz, it should be impossible that you can hear them chattering and humming. And yet…

A figure rises before you. It is the source of the unearthly sound. A figure made of a million insects, each wriggling obscenely in and out of the impossible body. A human shape made of ants. To fight it, you must dash it to pieces, and then smash each of those pieces and stamp on them until its constitual beings can no longer crawl towards you. Gain 1 FEAR point for facing this horror.

ANT MAN Skill 8 Stamina 12

If you win, turn to 46.

The spectral Confederate’s eyes blaze with an unholy fire. He unsheaths a blade from his waist and brandishes it. Desperately, you grab your two-by-four from your satchel and swipe it at the ghost.

It passes straight through him.

He grabs you with grubby fingers, and they are as icy as a mountain tarn on a January morning. He sneers, and whirls you towards his Yankee companion.
‘Seems the mistakes of the past are doomed to be repeated,’ he says in a deep, unearthly voice. You cannot reply; you feel as though something vital is being ripped out of your body. Every nerve is screaming in white-hot pain. It is your soul the ghosts are taking. You will spend the next hundred years with them atop this hill- plenty of time to learn about their history.

Your adventure ends here.

Your fingers grip something cold and dry. Fingers trembling, you withdraw them from the shrine. In your hand there is a shrivelled and scaly ALLIGATOR CLAW. You aren’t sure what use it may be, but in this strange place, anything is possible, so mark it on your notes if you want to keep it.

Turn to 72 to continue north.

The Serpent and the Rainbow claims to be a chronicle of the author’s experiences investigating the voodou religion in Haiti, but after perusing only a few pages, you find it somewhat sensationalist. There are many references to zombi, corpses supposedly re-animated by the black magic of a Hounan, or voodoo priest. Though the author recognizes that the condition is probably brought about by a combination of powerful drugs and social context, you quickly anger at his treatment of the phenomenon. Anyone would think that creating zombies was a crucial, integral part of voodou, and not just an accompanying folktale!

Nonetheless, aspects of the book begin to affect you. The author visited Haiti while it was suffering under a thirty-year reign of brutal dictatorship. Papa Doc Duvalier, the president-for-life, frequently played up the grislier aspects of voodoo, and held the populace in terror that their loved ones would rise from the grave as unthinking automatons. Something of their sorrow begins to seep into your head. You look out the window into the receding pines, and suddenly feel that the sorrows of that island are here too. Gain 1 FEAR point.
You shut the book, but as you do, something pricks your thumb, drawing blood. You drop the book in surprise. A small pin that rose from the spine as you slammed the covers now glints innocently on the carpet. Mark an ‘X’ in your notes.

If you want to have a look at The Magic Island by W. B. Seabrook, turn to 10. To go back downstairs, return to 27 and make another choice.

You pulp the zombie until he’s a bloody mess that stains the grass, then you jump over the fence. Among the tall rows of sugar plants, you attempt to formulate a plan. There’s nowhere else to go except the plantation house, and you hope that whatever has driven you here resides there. You freeze as a figure shuffles past in the row next to you- another zombi. Gain 1 FEAR point as you realize that the entire plantation is being worked by these unholy creations of black magic. Above the level of the plants, heads slowly rise and fall in silence as they work. They seem not to have noticed your scuffle at the fence, but how will you make your way safely to the house?

To move in a wide circle around the perimeter, turn to 20. To march straight along the row towards the house, turn to 71.

The Tonton Macoute howls one last time and crashes to the red earth, shattering into a cloud of grey dust that fills your nostrils and makes your mouth water. A fit of coughing overcomes you. Eventually you notice that the Baron is giving you an exaggerated slow-hand clap.

‘Hey, not bad! I had you figured all wrong, you know. When I saw that alligator loa, I thought you were in with the wrong crowd. But now I see that you’re tough, like me. But to get through what’s ahead of you, you’ll need to get in touch with your inner nastiness.’ He grins a grin that makes you instantly distrust him. He puts his hand into the fallen giant’s gunnysack, and removes an intricately carved mirror.

‘Here,’ he says, ‘have a look.’ You stare into the cracked glass- and recoil in horror. The version of yourself that you see inside is bigger and stronger than you are, but there is a meanness in its eyes that you don’t recognize. Like a shadow, it flits from side to side in its little prison, as if struggling to get out. You sense its anger and frustration.

‘Use this,’ the Baron says slowly, ‘but know that all power comes with a price.’ Then he throws back his head and cackles to the red sky. And then his outline grows hazy, and he disappears. Mark the MIRROR in your notes. When you come across a paragraph that begins with the phrase ‘I wish to affect’, then remove 45 from the paragraph you are on and turn to that number. Now turn to 54.

The light is getting bigger- you are getting closer. It’s a luminous globe, surely marking some swamp-dweller’s hut, or even a remote inn. Too late do you notice that it’s not attached to anything. The ground beneath you turns to liquid, and you sink deep into the murk. Have you never heard the legend of the Will O’ the Wisp, the spirit that leads unwary travellers from the true path?

Your adventure ends here.

Ants begin to crawl up your leg. You shake and shudder as their tiny bodies chew into your flesh. Mandibles click, blood drips. The pain becomes too intense, and you feel faint. As you collapse, you notice several men enter the inn. They are dressed in feathers and bright colours, and the ants give them a wide berth. The last thing you recall before you pass out is one of them being startled by the sight of a ghostly cowboy appearing behind them…

You come to somewhere in the swamp. Your head is thumping and you have some ragged scars on your legs, but apart from that you’re okay. Your satchel is sodden and empty, though.

It seems that the cultists managed to steal everything they could from you before the ghosts could get you to safety. Remove all items from your notes, and turn to 31 to trudge north.

You rest a hand on the rickety white bannister. It creaks horribly. You take a few careful steps, and the wood seems as if it will hold. You take one more tentative step, and then a sudden unholy banging from upstairs surprises you. A foot lands awkwardly, and the rotten step suddenly disintegrates. You struggle to keep your balance. Test your LUCK. If you are lucky, turn to 55. If you are UNLUCKY, turn to 12.

The house looms before you. Once it must have been an elegant example of antebellum architecture: its Greek-revival columns and widely-gabled roof are still impressive. But it has clearly been in disrepair for some time. Smashed windows gape like missing teeth, and Spanish moss hangs from the eaves and gables. You step up onto the porch. Two ancient rocking chairs are on either side of you. As you walk past, one of them creaks loudly.

If you want to investigate, turn to 15. To enter the house, turn to 57.

Tupelo gum–trees, their bark as white as ghosts, crowd your view as you trudge north. A sweet smell of honey lightens your mood, and you find the humming and buzzing of a thousand unseen critters puts you at ease. After you have been walking for some time, you begin to feel hungry. You must eat 1 meal or lose 3 STAMINA points. Sitting at the base of a swamp cypress, you catch a few minutes’ rest. The sun is high in the sky now- it is almost certainly past noon. Its rays filter down to you through the crowns of the trees. You feel almost sleepy- until something catches your eye. Is there something moving in the trees? You look again, but there is nothing there.

From here, a waterlogged patch of reeds blocks your path, and you can turn left (16) or right (51) around it.

Cautiously, you tip a little of the drink onto your tongue. Both soldiers are watching you eagerly. It tastes allright. You drink a little more to satisfy them, and then hand the phial back with some relief. Nothing seems to have happened, but mark a ‘Y’ on your notes. The ghosts turn towards the church and vanish. You are anxious to leave this place, so you quickly turn down the far path that leads away from the hill, happy to have left the ghosts of war behind you. The night air now carries something of a chill. Turn to 46.

Nervously, you pull on the cigar. Baron Samedi is watching you attentively, his eyes growing wide, so you inhale deeply. You cough harshly- it feels as though your lungs are filling with something other than tobacco. Mark a ‘Z’ in your notes. If you now have an X, a Y and a Z marked, turn to 59. Otherwise, turn to 86.

A red haze seems to colour your view, and you can hear your pulse pounding in your ear. The ’gator has your leg between its jaws, and you know that you can’t continue fighting much longer. A thick, scaly tail thrashes beside you, splattering mud into your face. Shapes emerge from the trees, their bodies low against the muddy bayou. More gators.
They glide noiselessly towards you, floating like logs. One turns to another. In your weakened state, it almost seems as if they are communicating. And then one opens its jaws, and you distinctively hear a language of some sort issuing from its mouth. It’s harsh and guttural, but there’s no mistaking it. Add I FEAR point. If you decide to shout to them, turn to 50. If you remain quiet, turn to 11.

The wooden path is barely clear of the water in this section of the swamp. Just ahead is a single-storey stone building. As you approach, you see that it is a shrine, shaped like the grand crypts that fill the famous graveyards of New Orleans. Your heart pangs at the thought of home…

The shrine is covered with carvings of hideous voodou loa: some skeletal, dressed in evening wear, some man-like but wearing the faces of goats and alligators. Flowers and feathers are scattered about the ground here, as though the shrine had been recently in use. Though the entrance is well-sealed, there is a letterbox-sized opening above it, through which you could just about squeeze your hand. You look through, but can’t see anything, and feeling around the edges reveals nothing. You will have to thrust your hand in to discover if anything useful is inside.

If you want to put your hand into the slot, turn to 7.

If you want to ignore the shrine and continue north, turn to 72.

You enter a clearing. Before you is a fence, and beyond the fence, fronds of sugar cane stretch out across a wide field: it is a plantation. Figures are shuffling here and there amongst the rows of plants, but they are too far away to see clearly in the gloom.
Clouds part, and the moon throws a ghostly ray of silver. In its light, you see the dim white shape of a plantation mansion at the far end of the field. You gasp, and take a sudden step backwards. A twig snaps.

Several heads turn towards you. You hold your breath for several moments, but nobody moves. The workers go back to their duty.

You approach the fence and place a hand on its whitewashed timbers and prepare to jump over. Another hand, a thin, dark-skinned shape, appears on top of yours. It is cold, and horribly solid. You look up- straight into a face out of a nightmare. The man’s eyes are blank, as if rolled back, and horribly white against his skin, which is blotched with purple. A bloody gash mars his forehead, and his loose robes reveal glimpses of white bone protruding from his side. There is no mistaking it- the man is a cadaver! And yet, despite all the laws of nature, his rotting corpse has been granted motion. He shuffles his limbs as though unused to using them, but his gnarled fingers grip yours like a vice. With your free hand, you reach for your weapon. His flesh will yield to your blows, but you will have to dash him into pieces too small to reanimate. It is a sickening realization. You must fight that most feared of voodou creations- the zombi.


If you win, turn to 35.

Your mouth dry and your stomach heaving, you slowly push open the door. Nothing horrible leaps out at you from within. Instead, the daylight shows that the body of a hen has been stuffed into the sink. Its blood has overflowed the small bowl, and is dripping down the side of the sink.

Fresh blood. It’s still bright red. You shiver as you realize that something killed this hen recently. Something that may be still around.

Steeling yourself, you look a little closer. The blood has come from the slit throat of the hen; it was sacrificed. And on the cracked mirror above the sink, somebody has drawn a symbol in charcoal. It’s a complex symbol, and you gasp as you recognize the cross-shape surrounded by two stylized coffins: it is a veve, a beacon used to summon the loa, or intermediate deities of voodou. Add I FEAR point. This veve is the particular symbol of Baron Samedi, the Lord of the Dead.

Outside, the wind whistles innocently in the morning sunshine.

Return to 27 and make another choice.

Nervously, you pluck a string on the banjo. Its trill seems to waft through the air of this strange place. The Baron turns his head in surprise- and then beams a broad grin. You play three notes over and over in a roll, and he begins to laugh heartily. He slaps his thin fingers against his leg and taps his foot. And then some wizardry takes over your fingers, and a lively rag-time tune comes from the tinny strings. It might be your imagination, but you think you see the hazy figure of a well-dressed black man beaming at you as you play, but as you squint to see better, he vanishes.

‘Mighty good, my man!’ the Baron says when you have finished. ‘How did you know I love a good tune? My, it’s been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed such a thing.’ He giggles almost childishly. ‘In fact, the last man I knew who could play like that was someone I did a favour for, a long long time ago…’ His blackened sockets stare wistfully into space, and then, as if sensing that he has already said too much, he snaps to attention once again.

‘Well then, my man, lets get down to business. But first thing’s first- do you smoke?’ He offers you a cigar. If you wish to smoke it, turn to 43. If not, turn to 86.

The wooden stick makes a sickening crunch as you deal the final blow to the Tatzelwurm’s skull. Its fur now slick with blood, it mews pathetically and collapses on the rotten boards. Its leg scratches at the floor for a few moments, and then you know it’s dead.

What manner of place is this? Your head is spinning. After a time, you tear your attention from the beast and examine the room. The library is crammed with shelves. On a desk facing the window, there’s a GASLAMP that you can take if you want. There’s a small bar on the desk; the only bottle not smashed is a white one. Examining the label, you find that it’s MALIBU, a Caribbean rum. You can take the bottle as well. Otherwise, there’s not much to do unless you want to do some reading. On the desk are a couple of books.

If you want to have a look at The Magic Island by W. B. Seabrook, turn to 10.

If you want to read The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis, turn to 34.

To go back downstairs, return to 27 and make another choice.

You scream obscenities at the foul reptiles. A bunch of scaly heads turn to look at you. Heart in your mouth, you fall silent. A moment passes- and then another. Their yellow eyes are fixed; unblinking. After an eternity, they slink away into the labyrinth of trees. You are almost too surprised to notice the tall, black figure that moves silently from behind a cypress and follows them. Floating in the water in front of you is a token of your battle with the denizens of the swamp- a single ALLIGATOR PAW. If you want to keep it, mark it in your notes. Turn to 3.

The path right of the reeds quickly leads you into wetter terrain. Your feet squelch in foul-smelling mud as you strain your eyes to see whether the path ahead gets any better.

And then you notice the body that’s lying half-covered by fetid water and strangling vegetation.

You splash towards him, and shake the man roughly. He’s definitely dead. But he’s still warm; he died extremely recently. A few fire ants have gathered about his corpse, but there is no clue as to what killed him. You brush them aside and rustle through his clothes. Inside his sodden tweed jacket, the man was carrying a bloody knife. You also find other strange traces on his clothing: feathers, and what appears to be human hair. Your blood turns to ice: could it be that this man was some kind of cultist? Nervously, you scan the surrounding woods, suddenly fearing them to be filled with knife-wielding maniacs.

But there is nothing but the whistling of the wind in the trees.

From here, you can continue north through the deepening swamplands (turn to 17) or head east, where you can see a raised wooden track and some sort of stone building (turn to 45).

Who knows what makes you do it- perhaps a remnant of some legend told to you on a boozy, long-ago night in the Black Cat resurfaced in your mind at this critical moment. For whatever reason, you grab the brown burlap sack in your hands and fling the contents at the creature.

Its reaction is immediate. All its movements cease. Its face is now covered in a white dusting of salt, some of which is now trickling into its mouth. Its eye stops moving furtively and settles on you, but now its rotting face is in a state of shock. A bony jaw drops, and a pitiful wail escapes from its mouth; you somehow sense that it has realized the horror of being a walking corpse. The being gives you a last baleful stare, and then slowly turns and trudges into the darkness behind the mansion, and you realize that you have been holding your breath. Has it left to find its grave and return to the peace of eternal slumber? You aren’t sticking around to find out.

A sound behind you catches your ear, and you turn to see something that freezes your blood: five more zombi have gathered behind you. But they are on their hands and knees, gathering the salt from the ground and putting it to their mouths. If their reactions are the same as the first, then the field will soon resound to a chorus of horrible wails.

You decide to move on. Turn to 40.

Something hoots as you approach the boat, and you jump. It’s nothing- just a bird or a frog, and you curse your nervousness. Until, that is, you see what’s nailed to the side of the rotting boat: a clump of hair wrapped around a watch, crudely tied to the head of a black cockerel. Its dead eyes regard you without emotion.

It looks like your hair.

You grasp your wrist- it’s your watch, too.

Who could have done this? It must have happened while you were asleep at the Bloodsworth cabin. Add 1 FEAR point. You know well that in voodou, possessing someone’s personal items can give others great power over them. They’re generally used for love charms, and other harmless purposes, but in this situation…
A low crooning fills the air. You cast your head up, and see a black figure silhouetted against the yellowing sky, sitting atop the boat cabin. He wasn’t there a moment ago.

If you want to approach the figure, turn to 73. If you want to run away and follow the path, turn to 64.

After some time walking alone, you come to a section of the ravine where the walls have crumbled, allowing you to scramble up to the top. And when you reach the top, you scan around you, and you see the true extend of this nether-realm.

A flat, dry plain stretches in every direction and mountains dot the horizon. Straggly grass clings to the ground and weird, leafless trees claw at the sky in seemingly gravity-defying positions. Directly north is an enormous temple with many minaret-like towers. Carved symbols and ornate patterns decorate the front of the building- some are familiar to you; they are the veve used to summon various loa. But the building is in a state of crumbling beauty. Staircases wind uselessly into thin air where turrets have collapsed, windows gape empty where intricate glass once glowed. What has happened here?

Two titanic curved staircases lead up to the front entrance, but when you are halfway up, something catches your eye in the air- something is moving through the stormy but silent skies. It is a large object being carried by two oversize crows: a coffin! Bigger and bigger it gets as they bring their burden close to you. The wooden box lands before you gently as the birds descend. They are each as tall as your waist.

The door of the coffin opens, and from the plush interior steps a being that makes your breath catch in your throat- the girl from Frenchman street! Though still a pretty creole girl, she no longer looks like someone who would pass unnoticed through the streets of even a city like New Orleans. Here, she has been transformed into a voodou queen- her slight frame seems to crackle with unseen energy and she holds her self with a new dignity and regality. Intricate henna patterns cover almost every inch of visible skin; swirls and cobwebbed patterns that pulse with a dull glow.

The blackest of nights would seem cheerful compared to the vibe that oozes from this girl in this place. She smiles coldly at you.

‘We meet again. I knew when I met you that I had found just the person I needed. I am Isabelle Lafitte.’

Turn to 74.

Though you end up looking somewhat foolish, you manage to wrap yourself around the bannister as the step collapses. You carefully shimmy around the now-gaping hole, and pull yourself up onto the door atop the stairs. Turn to 30.

Wincing, you fumble around inside the opening, waiting for something terrible to happen.

But nothing does. You realise that you have been holding your breath.

And then something crunches hard on your hand. Your fingers explode with unbelievable pain.

You withdraw your hand, but it is too late. The flesh has been stripped from your fingers. Your hand will now be useless for combat, so you must deduct 1 point from your SKILL score for the rest of the adventure, unless told otherwise.

Turn to 72 to continue north.

The house is dark and almost perfectly silent. You flick your lighter to create a pool of visibility. Rotten wooden boards stretch to the far corners of the ground floor, where a double-sided staircase rises to the floors above.

But you won’t be going anywhere near that: the area immediately around the entrance is blocked by two full-length mirrors. You take a look in one and nearly shout with surprise: instead of your own reflection, you see an image of the girl from Frenchman Street. She smiles, and her teeth glint white against her coffee-coloured skin. It’s all her fault that I’m in this mess. Such is your anger that you can’t prevent your hand from reaching out to grab her- and your fist passes through the glass as thought it were water.

Ripples move across the medium as you pull your hand back out. Is seems as though, by some enchantment, you can enter the worlds of the mirrors.

You take a look at the other mirror, and again gasp: it contains the familiar but mysterious image of a tall dark man in a top hat. You peek behind the mirrors, but there is no trick, and no traps.

To enter the mirror with the girl, turn to 79. To enter the mirror with the man, turn to 24.

The ghostly man finally raises his head as the bottle smashes against his chest. His eyes are sockets that gape horribly. With a quick flick of your lighter, you send him up in flames. His mouth twists into a scowl as tongues of fire caress his mottled flesh, but no sound erupts. His flesh cooks and falls off until only a pile of blackened bones is sinking into the murk. You have destroyed the jumbee. Cross the bottle of MALIBU off your notes and turn to 46 to continue north.

Something clouds your lungs- you cannot stop coughing. The Baron’s face is a mask of shock, as if he hadn’t expected this result. But a moment later, he sees the funny side of your agony, and begins to chortle to himself. The cocktail of chemicals now in your bloodstream has had an unexpected result. Unknown to you, it is the same deadly mix that is used by bokors to create the living dead- the zombi. You sink to your knees as white-hot needles seem to be penetrating your skull. When the pain gets too great, you mercifully pass out…

When you wake up, you are no longer in the Baron’s dream-world. Not that you do wake up, exactly. Zombi aren’t truly asleep or awake. Regardless, you will roam the waterways of the swamp until your re-animated bones no longer carry any of your rotting flesh; just another of the horrors that still stalks Bloodsworth Bayou.

Your adventure ends here.

‘The South had a right to secede,’ you say, ‘State’s rights were not being respected.’
‘A common apologist claim,’ wheezes the Yankee, ‘Secession was illegal under the constitution. The North banned the spread of slavery in newly acquired territory, but not in the Southern cotton states themselves. They wanted slavery to wither and die, without war, and without direct meddling in the Southern states.’

They both seem disappointed in you. Turn to 19.

Again and again you batter the witch with your weapon, but the fight is taking too long, and your rage is rapidly draining. Eventually, she catches you off-guard and knocks you off your feet. She stands above you, seemingly larger-than-life. You scrabble about on the ground, but even the stairs seem to have grown, and the edge of the next step seems very far away. Come to think of it, the hand with which you’re reaching doesn’t seem like your own- it seems like something woollen, with bright red stitches…

And then the world around you grows dark. Your next memory is of being placed on a shelf next to many other voodou dolls. You’re back in New Orleans, but you’re not on the streets, you’re on display in one of those slightly cheesy voodou tourist shops. An endless cavalcade of hippies, mystics and new-age travellers will file past you, grumbling about the price and muttering about how they’re hoping to find the ‘real’ New Orleans. Perhaps, eventually, one of them will buy you- and that may be the witch’s final revenge.

Your adventure ends here.

Close to the cabin, the track is made of wood that is in quite good condition. The early morning sun warms your neck as you follow the track across the clearing. Painterly splotches of green and brown dot the woods, and even the murky water glistens on both sides of the boardwalk. You’re actually feeling as if this might not be such a bad day-

-and then you see the dead man sprawled across the boards ahead of you. Nervously, you approach him, hoping that he is perhaps only sleeping or drunk. But there is no mistaking the smell that wafts in your direction when the wind changes- it is the stinging scent of decay.

You examine the corpse. It is a young man, clothed in denim. His eyes and mouth are screwed up as tight as a drum, but there is no other evidence of the cause of death. You wheel about, casting your eyes to the silent pines and the blue skies. No clues are forthcoming. You are just about to move on when…

The corpse moves. Its mouth is twisting slowly as though trying to talk. Stories of voodou and of zombi immediately fill your head. To continue east and leave this twitching corpse, turn to 13. To investigate the corpse further, turn to 82.

The footless beast reacts very strangely as you throw the shoes at it- its sightless eyes widen and its skeletal jaw drops. Then it bends over, greedily scooping up the shoes. To your amazement, it tries fruitlessly to jam its footless stumps into the shoes. It shoves them in so hard that pieces of gristle tear and hang from its ankles, but it can’t get the shoes to stay on. Shocked at your good fortune, you steal past the frustrated jumbee and continue north. Turn to 46.

The path begins to curve upwards and northwards as the sun sets. The spire of the church appears on the horizon every time you clear another bump in the road, getting bigger and bigger. A thin path, at right angles to the one you’re following, cuts through the mud walls. To the west, it’s choked by weeds and brambles, but to the east it looks clear. Far away in that direction, you can see that the path leads back into the swamp.

If you wish to follow this path, turn to 85. Otherwise, turn to 8 to continue towards the church.

You cannot suppress a shriek. Immediately there is a rustling of leaves all around you. The zombi know you are here, but their senses are dulled. The thrashing gets more frantic as they search for you among the plants. Panicking, you break into a run for the house. The sugarcane and the darkness hide you well.

Crashing through the rows, you walk headlong into a zombi. He is skeleton-thin, and clad in rags. Where his face has once been, there are now only slivers of crushed gristle and shreds of torn flesh. That such remnants of a man could become animated fills you with revulsion. He stiffly waves a crushed hand at you, and naked bone glints in the moonlight.
If you have an item you wish to use against the zombie, turn to 80. Otherwise, turn to 22.

The boat is sitting near enough to the entrance, so with a grunt you leap over to it. Below you, the water and earth churns with voracious ants. The boat is an ancient tub that’s probably been here since Captain Morgan was young, but its rotten boards hold your weight. You place the SILVER KEY in the lock and with some frantic twisting, it turns in the lock.

A small panel opens up. Your jaw drops. You don’t know what you were hoping for, but it was something more useful than this. Inside, there’s a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon and some cereal bars. If you like, you can take them. You can consume them at any time except during combat, and they will restore up to 3 STAMINA points.

The deck creaks beneath you, and you leap back to the exit of Leroi’s Swamp Inn. The ants are still surrounding the building: what will you do?

If you have a GASLAMP and want to use it, turn to 26.

Otherwise, turn to 38.

The chapter marked describes the Bois Caiman ceremony, a massive voodoo ritual that preceded the Haitian Revolution. The book describes how the downtrodden slaves used their religion as a powerful force to catalyze rebellion among the masses. As you turn the pages, however, a sudden scratching behind you makes you jump. You turn your head.
Has the Tatzelwurm moved? It is as still as the grave now.

And then, impossibly, it raises its smashed cranium, blood now hardening about its jaws, brains dripping, and its eyes glow dimly in the mid-morning sun, as real as the bookcases that line the walls. Add 1 FEAR point. Your hands shaking, you grab your wooden weapon once again.

TATZELWURM REBORN Skill 6 Stamina 10

If you win, you smash its body into nuggets of gore, hopefully too small to respawn. Slam the door, run downstairs and return to 27.

You can’t believe you’re about to do this. You screw up your eyes and push your soft palms against the rusty metal. Pain explodes through your body. Blood drips into the barrel. You can barely keep from passing out. Somehow, you find the strength to pierce your feet too. The world becomes hazy, and you barely register that the barrel has begun rolling. You survive the fall, but by the time the barrel comes to a halt, you will be in no state to discover the secret of Bloodsworth Bayou.

Your adventure ends here.

You reach into your sack for the alligator paw. Something inside is wriggling. You turn the sack upside down and what falls out is an abomination: the claw has grown tiny limbs of its own and is scuttling about like a scorpion. The Baron shrieks and steps back several metres. A misty form begins to take shape before you- a silhouette of a man with the head of an alligator. Perhaps this loa is some rival of Baron Samedi.

The baron snarls and produces a bag from his person- you look closer and see that it is a gunnysack, the kind made for transporting grain. He holds it up above his head- and then another shape materializes. Your heart plummets to the bottom of your stomach: it is a giant humanoid, several feet taller than the Baron, with wrinkled grey skin and tiny, shriveled eyes. Its lower jaw unhinges and opens at an impossible angle, revealing teeth like steak knives. Voodou symbols are carved in its chest. The gunnysack is clutched in its left hand. It is the Tonton Macoute- the Haitian bogeyman who comes in the night to abduct children and lost travellers. This terrifying being takes a step towards you. You must fight it, and the alligator loa is nowhere to be seen…

TONTON MACOUTE Skill 9 Stamina 10

If you win, turn to 36.

The path west is swampy and wet, but you trudge on, having seen a clearer landscape on the horizon.

The birds are still twittering when you emerge from the woods several hours later. The warm sunlight makes your skin tingle, and you are glad to have left the gloominess of the trees behind. But you are weary and very hungry- you sit down by the tangled roots of a cypress tree. You must eat one meal, or else lose 3 STAMINA points. A very different kind of wetland stretches out before you: one dominated by short, bright-green sedges, with no high vegetation. The sky is a brilliant blue, and the landscape is criss-crossed by deeper streams. But it has been a dry year, and the path directly before you leads into a dry creek-bed.

When you have finished eating, turn to 88 to move on.

Perhaps showing no fear is the best strategy to use against these walking abominations- too bad you don’t really feel as bold as you’re trying to look! Suppressing a shudder, you stride on shaky legs straight through the center of the field. One or two dark figures stiffly raise their heads from the rows of sugar plants as you pass, but they react so slowly that you are gone before they even turn to look. Nonetheless, their awkward movements and pungent stench fill you with revulsion. Such things should never have been granted animation! Again, you hope that whatever is responsible for this evil resides in the mansion ahead. The porch, with its gaudy pillars- bone-white in the moonlight- is just several tens of feet away.

And then your heart sinks- there is a zombi directly in your path. Its face is almost entirely decayed; strings of gristle flap from where its nose should be as its jaw clacks and its single eye rolls in your direction.

If you have an item you wish to use against the zombie, turn to 80. Otherwise, turn to 22.

There is a hazy light up ahead struggling through the trunks. You approach it warily- you’ve heard too many stories of will o’ the wisps. It’s a long walk, and the wooden path is flooded in places, so you must eat one meal or else lose 3 STAMINA points.

Eventually you find the source of the light. Thank God: it’s an inn! ‘Leroi’s Swamp Inn’, the rusty sign proudly proclaims as its ancient headlights struggle to pierce the gloom. The wooden building is on stilts above the swamp. You gratefully step inside the rickety structure.

There’s no one inside. You’re desperately disappointed. There’s a bar and some tables, and even some half-finished bottles of beer, but that only serves to increase your loneliness. Is there nobody else alive in this wretched swamp besides you?

‘Hey stranger.’ The voice comes from behind you. You turn and see two men dressed as cowboys, one of them wearing a huge white Stetson hat. Through their bodies you can see the wooden slats on the walls.

‘Anything we can do for you?’ asks the ghost with the hat.

With a stammer, you ask what exactly is going on in Bloodsworth Bayou.

The second ghost smiles. ‘Something bad, that’s what. Me and Slim here ran this place once, but that was a long time ago. We shouldn’t be back here. But somebody’s been messing with the veil between the worlds. There are things abroad now in this here swamp that jest shouldn’t be. You know what I mean? Things comin’ through from the other side. Worse things than Slim and me, even.’

Slim nods darkly. ‘There’s been people moving about in the swamps lately. A cult of some sort. Damned if I know what they’re up to, but I reckon it’s the wrong sort of voodou. Could be that they’re worshippin’ some bad loa, or even some great voodou leader from past times.’

The first ghost looks about, and says ‘You’d better get on out of here. There’s trouble comin’.’ The two of them look wistfully at you and then disappear.

When they are gone, you notice that a column of ants is pouring into the building. You’ve got to get out of here.

Shaken, you run for the back door. It’s off its hinges, so you push your way through. In the backyard there is a rotting boat with a huge silver lock on it. But a festering wave of ants is blocking your way.

If you have a SILVER KEY and want to use it, turn to 66.

If you have a GASLAMP and want to use it, turn to 26.

Otherwise, Turn to 38.

You steel your nerves and shout up at the figure. It turns around, and beams a wide, genial grin. It appears to be a dark-skinned man, wearing a grey suit and a pork-pie hat.
‘You lost, son?’ he says in a deep Southern drawl. The shock on your face evidently speaks volumes, and he continues. ‘Wonderin’ why I’m here? It’s cos of a deal I made, right here, many years ago.’ He smiles again, and you notice that you can see passing birds through his body. ‘Yep- many years ago.’

You ask him if he made a deal with the devil, and he tells you to join him atop the boat. You clamber on up, and sitting beside him, you can see that there is another dry mud-path crossing this one at right angles.

‘See, this here is a cross-roads, boy. And it wasn’t the devil I dealt with here, no sir. Leastways, not in the manner you Christians know him. No, it was the Baron Samedi who spared me from the afterlife, and in return, he fixed it so that I could play this-here guitar real good.’ He produces a beaten guitar with silver strings, and begins to pick a melody with his fingers, first fast and lively, then slow and mournful.

‘S’just, where has a soul to go to when it can’t get to heaven?’ He smiles sadly. ‘The Baron, he likes a deal, he does. And he always keeps his word. He’ll help you, if you do right by him.’ He drops his head, and to your horror, his outline begins to grow hazy. The ghost of the bluesman fades from sight. Where he was sitting, there is now a small cloth bag. Looking inside, you see that it’s full of SALT. You may take the bag if you wish- write it into your notes.

To continue west along the track, turn to 64.

‘Why me?’ you ask.

‘Oh, no reason,’ she says, distantly. ‘You could have been anyone, really. An innocent is what I needed.’ Your anger is growing- if she hung around the Black Cat more often she might not think you an ‘innocent’!

‘I wish to affect an entrance into the mortal world. At present I can only visit temporarily, though as you’ve seen, my influence is growing in the swamplands that surround Bloodsworth Bayou. Only in a place so tainted with a history of cruelty and human suffering could I focus the power I need. I have servants there who conduct sacrifices to me and my loa. Perhaps you have seen evidence of them. But now I shall perform the final ritual, and bring my very being into your world for good. Of course, you won’t live to see it…’

She smiles- and you experience such pain that words cannot do justice to the reality. Suffice it to say that by the time she has had her way with you, all that remains of your battered psyche is a shattered and pathetic shade that meanders amongst the pines and live-oaks, appearing occasionally to travellers, gibbering and crying. Of course, by that time, the witch has crossed over herself, bringing her army of dark loa, and you are far from being the most frightening thing that stalks Bloodsworth Bayou.

Your adventure ends here.

You drop to your knees. The litany of horrors that you have experienced has finally become too much, and your brain has given up. Shaking uncontrollably, you let a howl that echoes throughout the swamps; more the sound of a beast than a man. You have seen beyond the veil, and know now that what we ordinarily think of as ‘real life’ is nothing but a thin covering that masks a world older and darker.

Occasionally, people will encounter your frail, ragged person on some moonless bayou night. Perhaps you were swimming through inky rivers, catching catfish with your teeth. Perhaps your teeth glinted in the darkness as you clung to the cypress trees above them. They will shudder, and whisper about you in hushed tones around campfires. You have become as much a legend as any other horror that inhabits Bloodsworth Bayou.

Your adventure ends here.

You splash through the darkness. The light always seems to keep ahead of you. After several minutes, you are unsure if you will be able to find your way back to the original path. If you wish to try, turn to 18. If you want to continue making for the light, turn to 37.

The figure that stands before you seems horribly familiar: a dark-skinned man, clad in a black suit-jacket. He is so tall that he towers over you, and his top-hat makes him appear even bigger still. When he lifts his head you almost collapse with fear- his face is that of a skull, his eyes rolling horribly in their bony sockets. Add 1 FEAR point.

‘Weeeeeell,’ he drawls, and as he talks, his body throws itself about you with supernatural agility. ‘It seems that you’ve found me out, stranger!’ He speaks with a thick Caribbean accent. ‘Have you come to join the other souls who dwell with me here? Land of the living getting you down?’ The background moaning suddenly grows louder, and a multitude of rotting corpses spring from the dry mud behind him. They bare their teeth at you and scream. Annoyed, the tall man swings his arm with a wild gesture and they instantly retreat.

‘Let me introduce myself, child- I am the Baron Samedi, and here, you play by MY rules!’ He begins to laugh hysterically.

You have a brief moment to think about your next move. If you have a bottle of MALIBU and wish to use it, turn to 5. If you have a BANJO and wish to use it, turn to 48. If you have an ALLIGATOR PAW and wish to use it, turn to 69. If you have none of these items, turn to 9.

‘Well, what are you boy? A secessionist?’ The spectral Confederate approaches you. He looks as though he died young. White straps are crossed on his grey coat, and his flat-top hat is sagging. You can see the rotting boards of the church through his body.

‘Are you gonna let these bullying Northerners tell us what to do? We’ve been living the way we do in these here hills for as long as Moses was alive, and we’re good country people. The north wants to destroy our way of life economically, so that we’ll become like them- industrial factory folk. We were right to secede from the Union.’

It’s clear that he wants you to respond. What will you say?

To reply ‘I agree- the South has a right to protect its way of life, by force if necessary,’ turn to 83.

To reply ‘I disagree- the economics of the South ware based on an immoral system, so any attack on it was just,’ turn to 4.

Cautiously, you push one hand through the surface of the mirror. The glass wobbles like liquid. Closing your eyes, you push your entire body through. There is a momentary sensation of drowning in jelly, and then you are free. You open your eyes and look around.
You are in a twisted version of the swamplands that surround the mansion- huge mud-walls tower about you and an angry red sky swirls silently above you. The ground is cracked and dry, and the air is muggy and thick with the far-off sounds of moaning. It is as if all the tormented souls of the universe have gathered here, just out of sight, in order to send ripples of unease down your spine.

But above all, the loneliness is more intense here than in the real world. As you begin to walk, rotting hands limply push up from the earth, pathetically trying to get your attention. And there is not a living soul in sight. So on you walk. Turn to 54.

If you used a bag of SALT, turn to 52. Otherwise, turn to 22.

If you threw a bottle of MALIBU at the creature, turn to 58. If you threw a pair of LEATHER SHOES, turn to 63. Otherwise, you must fight it. It suddenly snaps into action, grabbing you with stiff fingers that cleave into your shoulders with abnormal strength.

JUMBEE Skill 9 Stamina 8

If you win, turn to 46.

With a shaking hand, you touch the corpse’s mouth just as it bursts open. You stagger backwards in horror as an oversized fire ant, as big as your thumb, squeezes through the cold lips and drops onto the wooden boards. Another follows, then more and more climb from the man’s mouth.
There is no longer any doubt about what killed this man: he has been filled with a small army of fire ants. Who would do such a thing? Add 1 FEAR point.

Another thing catches your attention- a small SILVER KEY has dropped from the man’s mouth also, pushed out by the exodus of the insects. If you choose to take it, mark it on your notes. Turn to 13 to hurry away from this horror.

You tell the ghost that you agree the South ought to be able to defend its way of life. He smiles a smile that has no warmth in it, and picks his teeth with a bone-toothpick.
‘Well, boy. So you agree that the South had a good and true way of living? That economics were at the heart of the war?’ Nervously, you agree.

The blue-coated Yankee approaches, his face a darkened scowl. ‘Then you are a shill and an apologist,’ he says in a thick Boston accent, ‘and you have learned nothing from history. That “economy” was built by treating people like cattle. Real people! Look at it any way you please, but that central moral issue overrides all others!’

Incredibly, the Southerner is now nodding his head in agreement. Turn to 19.

‘Why me?’ you ask.

‘Oh, no reason,’ she says, distantly. ‘You could have been anyone, really. An innocent is what I needed.’ Your anger is growing- if she hung around the Black Cat more often she might not think you an ‘innocent’!

‘I wish to affect an entrance into the mortal world. At present I can only visit temporarily, though as you’ve seen, my influence is growing in the swamplands that surround Bloodsworth Bayou. Only in a place so tainted with a history of cruelty and human suffering could I focus the power I need. I have servants who conduct sacrifices to me and my loa. Perhaps you have seen evidence of them. But now, I shall perform the final ritual, and bring my very being into your world for good. Of course, you won’t live to see it…’

She raises her arms to cast some new curse, but before she can utter a single word, her attitude becomes one of fear, and you sense that something new has appeared behind you. You spin around: it is a giant humanoid, several feet taller than you, with wrinkled grey skin and tiny, shriveled eyes. Its lower jaw unhinges and opens at an impossible angle, revealing teeth like steak knives. A gunnysack is clutched in its left hand. It is the Tonton Macoute- the Haitian bogeyman who comes in the night to abduct children and lost travellers. This terrifying being takes a step towards her. She shrieks, and from somewhere far-away you hear the laugh of Baron Samedi.

The giant swings its fist at the witch, and smashes her face with a sickening crunch of gristle. She collapses, but as she falls her lips mutter a curse. The Tonton Macoute turns to you with a question in its eyes, but you know not how to help. He trembles and shakes, then explodes into a cloud of dust. The witch pulls herself to her feet. Her face is now a bloody pulp, but though badly shaken, she still aims to finish you off and complete her ritual.

ISABELLE LAFITTE Skill 9 Stamina 12

If you win, turn to 90.

This new path is narrower than the main path. At times, you have to squeeze through the dry creek-banks. Lizards squirm in the dark pools as you carefully tread. Above, the first stars are peeking through the purpling sky. A strange sound seems to be in the air- the twang of a banjo. You hope that it’s just paranoia setting in- you’ve been in this strange place far too long, and seen too many inexplicable things already.

Twang. Just three notes, in a minor key, repeating.

As you round another bend, you almost trip over something in the mud- a banjo, sitting innocently in a shallow pool. Blood rushes to your head; what was it that was playing this just a moment ago? You glance quickly up and down the channel. You are completely alone in the gathering gloom. If you want to take the BANJO, mark it on your notes. A few minutes later, and the trees are starting to thicken around you. Soon the walls fall around you, and you are back in the swamp. Turn to 18.

The Baron seems disappointed. Mournfully, he clicks his fingers and a stinking body rises out of the ground for him to sit on. For a time he seems lost in thought, but then he raises his skull-head and smiles at you.

‘Well then. Is there anything Baron Samedi can do for you? So many people address their prayers to the Bon Dieu- the good God. But he doesn’t care. No more than the head of a plantation cares for the people who work in his fields.’ He bursts into laughter, and God does feel pretty distant and uncaring right then. ‘No, you want to ask me, I’ll help you.’
In this setting it seems absurd, but you tell this strange creature about the mysterious girl and the curse she put upon you. He nods sagely as you finish the tale, and then sighs.
‘So many people misuse the voodoo. That girl’s name is Isabelle Lafitte, and she was a Creole who lived on the Bayou almost two hundred years ago. She was punished for dabbling in voodou by the other loa, but her wrongful ways have cursed the entire area. The zombi, the spirits crossing over- none of this is normally allowed to happen. You must confront her. So what say I help you out, eh?’ He grins as only a skull can. If you come across a paragraph that begins with the words ‘The blackest of nights…’ then add 30 to the number of the paragraph you are on and turn immediately to that paragraph.

The Baron stands and strolls away, his outline becoming faded until you can no longer see him. Turn to 54.

‘While Lincoln and the North clearly hoped that their policies would cause slavery to eventually wither and die, they did not actively prevent or even threaten the legality of slavery in the Southern states. The South’s secession was technically illegal, and having done so, they truly began the war by attacking Fort Sumter.’ Perhaps you owe your old history teacher a postcard.

Both ghosts remain silent for a moment.
‘You know your history,’ says the Yankee. The Confederate seems troubled, but he remains silent.

‘Perhaps we shall allow you passage through here,’ he says eventually, ‘but before you do, I must insist that you drink with us.’ He produces a small phial. His hand is on his scabbard- if you don’t drink, you will have to fight him.

If you agree to drink it, turn to 42. Otherwise, turn to 23 if you have a GASLAMP, or turn to 32 if you don’t.

High mud-walls rise above you as you descend into the dry stream-bed. The creek that carved this half-pipe has shrunk to a muddy puddle that runs along the middle of the track. Water-birds, with long beaks like herons, fly overhead, occasionally landing amongst the grasses. On the horizon, the landscape rises gently, and atop the furthest hill you spot the spire of a rickety clapperboard church.

You splash through this meandering tunnel of brown until the sun begins to set. Just as the sky turns to a muddy yellow, you pass by a small boat stranded in the bed.

To investigate the boat, turn to 53. To continue along the track, turn to 64.

Huddled in a quivering heap with your fist jammed in your mouth, you manage to remain silent. The mysterious man disappears back into the sugar-cane. A faint sound of laughter reaches you on the cool night wind. None of the zombi have noticed you. With a deep breath, you pull yourself to your feet and carry on. Eventually, you approach the front of the house. Turn to 40.

The witch falls to her knees, her mouth opening and closing like a fish. Perhaps she is trying to beg for mercy? You show her none, plowing your trusty two-by-four right through her now-rotting maw. Don’t feel any remorse- there are plenty of other girls in New Orleans, and most of them don’t come with as much baggage as this one. So you push the stick home, and with a squelch, rip one of her eyeballs out of her head and fling it to the alien sky. It whizzes off towards the horizon like a baseball.

You stare up at the crumbling temple, half-expecting its façade to come down on your shoulders, but it stays resolutely put. You drop the bloody stick and it clatters on the staircase. The world around you is growing hazy; shimmering like a desert mirage…


…and then you’re back in the swamp. You’re not sure exactly where you are, but the live-oak trees and Spanish moss seem somewhat familiar, and in your good mood you feel fairly confident that you’ll be able to find your way back to the Bloodsworth cabin and your boat. Your bag is lying beside you- a quick inspection reveals a white bottle of rum within. A gift from someone on the other side? You grin and take a swig. Though there are sure to be no further spirits or zombi about, perhaps there will be a few more adventures for you before you reach Frenchman Street tonight.

Humming a Skynyrd tune, you turn and march off through Bloodsworth Bayou.