> interactive fiction & e-lit

Winchester's Nightmare: A Novel Machine By Nick Montfort

→ Play/Read/Explore Winchester’s Nightmare in your browser! ←

Winchester's Nightmare is available in hardback: a 386 laptop computer, with power adapter, running the interactive text. Ten numbered hardbacks have been manufactured, and some are still available. You can purchase one for $300. That price includes domestic (US) shipping. Email me at if you wish to purchase a hardback. My email address is my first name followed by my last initial.

Winchester's Nightmare hardback: parchment cover and spine mounted on a 386 laptop.

"Softback" Step 1 of 2: Download the Story File

Download winchest.z8, the story file. Right-click (or ctrl-click with a one-button Mac mouse) and choose the appropriate option to save the linked file.

"Softback" Step 2 of 2: Install and Run an Interpreter

Just as you need a Flash player to play Flash files and a Web browser to browse Web pages, you need an interpreter (specifically, a "Z-Machine" interpreter) to run Winchester's Nightmare. More recent versions of these interpreters are available by now, as are new and better interpreters, but here are the links I've offered for about a decade...

Windows Windows Frotz 2002
Debian GNU/Linux sudo apt-get install frotz
Red Hat Linux Frotz
Mac OS X Zoom
Mac System 9 Nitfol or MaxZip
RISC OS Zip2000 or Frotz
Palm Frobnitz
PocketPC Pocket Frotz

After you have installed an interpreter, simply drag winchest.z8 onto it, or run the interpreter and open winchest.z8 in it.

Editions & Instructions

The softback edition avaiable here contains the complete text of the hardback edition.

A description of Winchester's Nightmare is also here online, along with an instruction sheet that has information both for text-adventure veterans and those new to the interface.

Winchester's Nightmare description.
Winchester's Nightmare instruction sheet.

Release Notes

Release 5 of 31 Jan 2002 contains two significant changes: an option to allow abbreviated commands ("abbr") and an adaptive hint system accessed by typing "hint". Details are on the instruction sheet.

I made release 3 available as an executable for Windows (zip, exe) and Mac System 9. The current release is not available in this format. Creating stand-alone executables out of z-code is an elaborate and crufty process, and the result limits the player to using a single bound-in interpreter. Nevertheless, I'll keep these obsolete files in place.

Interact with Winchester’s Nightmare on the Web

As mentioned above, a Web edition of Winchester’s Nightmare is available, too.