Disclaimer: The images created by artificial intelligence have been produced purely for entertainment purposes and are an artistic adaptation.
Always stay up to date
Innovative mobility, exciting trends for the future and high RPMs: Subscribe now to get notified of new content.
Subscription failed. If you need help follow the link for support.
A year has passed since Joy and Forever escaped by the skin of their teeth from their Halloween scare (➜ Read also: Halloween comic: when fear turns into joy) – thanks to the help of a mysterious saviour in the shape of a BMW i4. Their destination: Las Vegas. They were both on a quest for happiness in the city in the desert. Halloween – this time the day should just be a reason for joy. They visit an innovative digital multimedia show together in a new high-tech location in the city. It is an oversized sphere shape and is made up of a shell of gigantic LED screens both outside and in.
When the couple seeks their fortune in Las Vegas, they are haunted by a misfortune from the past.
“And don’t dare to mention the date today! It’s been a whole year now, and I just want to put it behind me,” Joy says as they park and lock their car in the sprawling, winding underground garage. Suddenly there’s an explosion. In the dark corner behind them, a car flashes at strange intervals. It’s so dark that all you can make out are the lights and the kidney grille of a BMW. “Is that what a BMW usually does?” “Did you see that, too? There’s a shadow moving across the bonnet ...”, Joy whispers anxiously. “Don’t be daft. Come on, the show’s about to start.”
The first few seconds of the multimedia experience make both of them forget everything else around them. The hypnotic world of digital images, light and sound keeps the whole audience enthralled. Suddenly the LEDs go out and everything is plunged into pitch blackness. No one can see a thing. Voices, louder snippets of conversation, shouting. Then: absolute silence.
“Is this still part of the show?” asks Joy. “I’ve got a bad feeling. You know what day it is!” “You’re right.” “Let’s get out of here,” says Forever. Both run to the door, the emergency exit signal lighting up on the LED wall at the bottom of the stage. The thought races through their minds: Where are the other visitors? Handle down, nearly safe. Then the door slams shut behind them. They exchange perplexed glances. Instinctively, they both rattle the doorknob, trying to go back. No good. What now?
Both look at each other as the frightening feeling dawns on them: “We’re trapped!” Joy and Forever find themselves in a dark, claustrophobic room. Light suddenly flickers from the ceiling. They look around frantically, scan the walls in panic. No doors. “What’s going on?” In the flickering light, they recognise walls festooned with old film posters and lettering. Old computers and corded telephones are piled up against one wall. On the opposite wall, graffiti, different coloured writing.
Joy spells it out slowly: “Joy is the key...” On the ceiling they decipher: standing still is progress. But it is nothing more than a snapshot. The posters and images flicker, distort, reappear elsewhere. There are screens everywhere. Everything is digital. Joy gets more and more panic-stricken as she hammers against the shimmering glass of the monitors. “Are we in the canvas? Between the screens? In the screens? What’s going on?”
“I know what it is,” says Forever, almost with a lump in his throat. “This is an Escape Room. I’ve played this game before. We have to solve puzzles to find an exit.” “An exit? Really? I wouldn't have thought of this, Forever. But why does it all seem so digital here? This isn’t real, right? Or is it?”
Before Forever can answer, a crunching breaks the silence. Suddenly the walls move in, the room transforms into an increasingly narrow prison. The colours become gloomier, the faces of the film posters on the screens contort into evil grimaces. Characters blur into numbers, a countdown runs down in red flashing digits. “What do they mean by standing still?” “Is this the end of us? Is this something we’re not going to survive?!”
The same terrifying thought lies in their frozen gazes: Halloween has caught up with them. Caught up with them again. Joy slumps to the floor. The countdown ticks relentlessly. “Wait!” shouts Forever. “The LED surface next to you is staying the same, there’s an image error. Maybe that means something.” They both scrutinise the monitor panel. The seconds flash in red. 7, 6, 5, 4... “There’s something different. We don’t have a choice. Let’s stand on it. Maybe there’s a pressure trigger? Don’t move!”
Suddenly the surface of the screen tilts, a trapdoor opens in the floor. Both slide down a short, deep black shaft into the unknown depths. And land unexpectedly gently – on a car seat. “What’s that?” yells Joy. “A car?”
Complete darkness. They feel around, touch things. “Yes, it’s a car,” shouts Forever euphorically. “Here, feel the steering wheel.” Confused, they both try to find their way in the darkness. Are they free? Or have they just landed in another room? It quickly dawns on them: there’s still a puzzle for them to solve. They can’t feel a gear lever, the start button won’t press. Panic. Little by little, lights go on around them. Both recognise in the headlights: they are standing on a frozen lake. It’s bitterly cold. Around them, a few metres away, rises a gloomy forest of dark, barren trees, some of them dead – like an army of silhouettes. They desperately tug at the door handles. It’s no use. The car remains locked.
“Oh no, not again!” exclaims Forever, pointing to the display. A digital countdown starts on the screen. Five minutes. More lights go on. “I’ve got a very bad feeling. What can we do?” A crackling sound startles them, a crack shatters the ice in the distance, and comes crunching closer. The more the headlights shine, the faster the ice melts. “We have to go there – do you see the tunnel?” says Joy, pointing to a black, distorted area in the wall about 30 metres ahead of them. But how? “We have to make this car work. It’s the only chance, otherwise we’ll go under. But how?”
They touch and squeeze everything around them with trembling hands, until they hear a distinctive sound. “Wait, did you hear that?” asks Joy, grabbing Forever’s hand behind the wheel. “When you touch different spots on the coloured trim strip in the cockpit, you get different sounds. And a different colour appears. Yes: it must have to do with these colours and tones!" The countdown shows a blood-red 55 seconds.
Forever looks around hastily: “Hurry up, or we'll sink in the ice. Is this really all real?” “After last year, this is most definitely real!” says Joy with resignation, and has an idea. “Do you remember the writing in the first room? Joy was written in blue, red and yellow. We have to press the sounds in the right sequence. Push!” The crack in the ice comes towards them faster and faster, ice floes break off, the light shines brighter and brighter, the countdown ticks down mercilessly. 11, 10, 9, 8…
Then: the start button suddenly lights up. A sound sequence is heard. It’s now or never. The BMW starts up. As if suddenly sparked into life, they shoot off towards the dark tunnel entrance, fleeing away from the breaking ice. The surroundings begin to blur. “Either there’s an exit behind the darkness or it’s something really bad. But it’s our only chance!” The jet-black tunnel entrance is coming up fast. Both brace themselves for an impact into the unknown. 3, 2, 1... silence.
The darkness disappears as if swept away, bathing the vehicle in dazzling light. Large billboards on the left and right, palm trees, skyscrapers – the Las Vegas Strip. “We're out!” screams Joy, grabbing Forever with both hands, trembling with joy. “We did it. Halloween can’t beat us!”
They both drive towards the sunrise in the BMW, smiling. The casinos, skyscrapers and neon signs fly past them. But strange thoughts are running through Joy’s head. Is this really reality now? After all that? After Halloween repeated itself? Suddenly, a huge LED screen crashes into the ditch next to them with a thunderous noise. They look up – there is a black gap in the blood-red sky…
Author: Markus Löblein; Art: Shin Miura & Madita O'Sullivan; Animations & Illustrations: The Traveler Ai Art