Scarlet Hollow

Traveling Down the Dark Paths of Scarlet Hollow from a Queer Point-of-View: Part 3

A moment of bonding, an awkward dinner party, and a terrifying supernatural encounter cap off our coverage of Scarlet Hollow — for now! The next chapter is tentatively slated for a late 2022 release, and we’ll be returning to this dark and compelling piece of interactive fiction as it releases. For now, though, it’s time for another trip down the terrifying paths of Scarlet Hollow

To start my next day in Scarlet Hollow, I meet up with Oscar, the hunky teddy bear of a librarian whose daughter was injured the night before in a mining collapse. Oscar is rushing to prepare his home for his daughter, whose foot had to be amputated, and he’s a sweaty mess in his tank top. We talk and I tell him he’s a good father, and we begin to bond past talks of haunted houses and tragedy. Is Oscar gay? Bi? Queer? I hope so.

In a moment of small town levity, I meet the mayor of the titular town and am shocked to learn he’s a dog! All small towns have their quirks, but this is a welcome surprise. I talk with the dog (remember, I can speak to animals) and begin to feel more at home in Scarlet Hollow. Perhaps I could make a life here. Everyone’s friendly, aside from the monsters in the woods, and it seems like being queer isn’t necessarily frowned upon. Avery, the nonbinary waiter, seems to be accepted by the community, Kaneeka and her family are people of color and not treated diffderently (so far). 

Things take a slightly darker turn when I get to the Kelly household for dinner with Kaneeka and Stella. Dr. Kelly isn’t happy we’re there, as Reese, her son, is ill. I meet Reese, who is the very portrait of a tortured young artist, and learn that his condition doesn’t have a diagnosis — he can’t keep his food down, he feels like his skin is crawling at all times and he constantly feels sick. I have a moment of flirtation with Reese when I offer to pose for him sometime for his art and feel guilty. I thought I liked Oscar. The flirtation is short-lived when Reese gets sick and Dr. Kelly kicks us out. 

Scarlet Hollow’s third chapter leads to a crescendo of terror when we head to Oscar’s house to go ghost-hunting. Underneath Oscar’s carpet is a hatch. What could be down there? I find out too late. As soon as the hatch is opened, all my friends — Stella, Oscar, Kaneeka, Avery — are contorted, the world around me warps and everyone starts acting out a terrifying scene from the past. I am confronted by Wayne, the missing miner, and learn he’s trying to help me. The Scarlets, my family, are a group of sinners, coming by their wealth through ill-gotten gains. I learn that to absolve some of those sins, I have to make a sacrifice. That sacrifice? 

Scarlet Hollow’s third chapter reaches a terrifying end.

My age. I manage to rescue everyone by aging. 

I should be worried about this clearly cursed town. I should be devastated that my family committed atrocities against innocents for generations. I should be terrified for my friends. But I’m mostly scared that my hotness has decreased.

Okay, for real —as a gay man in my 30s, I am constantly told that age matters in our community. That I’m not attractive past a certain age. I know in my heart that’s not true, but will that prove to be the case in Scarlet Hollow?

In Scarlet Hollow, the horror is personal.