"Why did you do it?" Indometus asked. "Why’d you betray us?"
In a voice that was barely a whisper, Doomsayer responded with, "I’ve always worked for Zorax. I was created specifically for this plan. Specifically to hurt him," Doomsayer pointed a finger at Dorkpool, and raised his voice. "tHe FaIlUrE."
"Aren’t you a proxy? And doesn’t the Operator hate Zorax?" Dorkpool asked, nonplussed by Doomsayer’s insult.
"tHe OpErAtOr Is EaSiLy FoOlEd. I sImPlY rEpLaCeD tHe OrIgInAl DoOmSaYeR."
"And this is part of Zorax’s rinky-dinky plan?"
"And what is his plan?"
Doomsayer laughed. "YoU’Ll FiNd OuT sOoN. wE’rE aLmOsT tO tHe NeBuLa." Doomsayer laughed once more.
Dorkpool turned to his alternate universe counterpart and his girlfriend, and said, "Put him in the brig. And make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid, like kill himself. He might be useful in the coming battle."
Dorkpool: You know, it’s not often that I’ve dealt with purple prose in this line of work. Which is actually kind of surprising. Seriously, I think the only time I’ve dealt with it was in that craptastic Jungle Book Creepypasta story. Go figure.
Mirror: And I really haven’t dealt with it at all.
Dorkpool: Well, you will today.
Dorkpool: This story has quite a bit of it. Also, it was a Riffquest from Azu, so thank you for this. Anyway, let’s play board games and Riff this bitch.
"It has often been observed on some website or another devoted to what are commonly called the 'geeky pursuits' that the mind of the average American geek, despite its usual flair for the new, advanced and technologically ingenious, cannot help being a little retrograde with respect to at least one area of life: That is, its outsized taste for board games.
Dorkpool: If anyone asks me what purple prose is, I’ll just show them this quote.
"Whereas, the entertainments of whatever console of whatever generation is current provide only a very shallow level of pleasure to the soul of a geek.
Mirror: Well, that’s why geeks read comics.
Yet, give him a few sheets of cardboard inscribed with runic letters and false mountains or whatever you like, and he will shortly have filled in the gaps to immersion with his own imagination so thoroughly, that it's doubtful any game designer could replicate the trappings only he can see."
Dorkpool: I don’t think you want to see any trappings from "Strip Dungeons & Dragons."
A voice interposes here.
Dorkpool: Does this story know that we’re Riffing it?
"Do I like board games? Zut,
Mirror: Zut? What the hell? Did this guy suddenly become German or something?
no, Graham. I am merely describing what has been written of them."
Further interruption occurs.
Dorkpool: Holy crap, this story knows it’s being Riffed.
"You want to know why? Now really, why should my preferences be relevant when we are discussing a general trend? Oh, really, Graham, idle curiosity is one of your worst traits, especially when it distracts you from a scholarly conversation. In fact, it was your worst quality at Yale, too, if you don't mind my saying."
Mirror: Oh, snap.
Insistence is made, and voices are raised for a few moments before subsiding.
"Alright, alright! If you really must know, I've had some disagreeable experiences with the things. Will that satisfy your curiosity?"
Dorkpool: Find out the answer next time on "Tales of Purple Prose."
"No? Oh very well. Though I can't see why you should care what happened to make me dislike them. I certainly don't care why you refuse to shave that silly thing.
Mirror: Hey, some guys don’t like shaving their pubes. It’s perfectly fine.
But if I must answer your questions, then I must, and then I hope we shall be able to get back to the larger sociological point. But until that point, I suppose there's no reason to waste time.
Dorkpool: Really? Because this story’s been doing a good of that so far.
You will recall that some years back I was left precipitously without an employment situation, which required my eventual return to these locales.
Mirror: You know, I think this guy is incapable of speaking like a normal human being. The poor bastard can only talk in purple prose.
Dorkpool: What a terrible way to live.
If you will recall, I was (and still am) exceedingly relieved at this prospect, though I rather think my relief has dimmed in view of what happened shortly after I got back."
A brief interruption. The speaker sighs dramatically.
Dorkpool: (Narrator): The writing is overly dramatic.
"That is what I am going to tell you!
Mirror: (Person): Hail Hydra!
Now, do hush. Where was I? Oh yes, what happened. Well, you will remember that at the time I had something of an infatuation—yes, call it that if you like, but I stand by my phrasing—with a man you probably don't recall, or if you do, it's not with much fondness."
Dorkpool: (Narrator): His name was Joseph Stalin, and he was my lover.
A snide question.
Mirror: (Questioner): Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?
"Yes, I mean Matthew, and please don't say another word about it. I know your opinions and don't find them reasonable at all.
Dorkpool: (Person): I’m sorry, but I don’t think that a belief in an eight breasted chicken girl named Janice who runs the government with the help of hyper-evolved spider monkeys is a reasonable opinion.
In any case, he's not available for me now, poor devil, and that's rather due to what we were discussing. Now hush!
As I was saying—he and I had a bit of a mutual infatuation with each other at the time, and as part of that, I used to go over to his apartment by turns, with a view to enjoying his company. Well, of course, it wasn't always just the two of us alone,
Mirror: (Person): …which made it hard for me to get into his pants.
for we both had a social circle, and I am quite sure you know very well what sort of people they would have been.
Dorkpool: (Person): Rednecks.
I mean the geeky sort. And as with my first observation, they seemed to positively adore passing their time clustered around some old piece of glossy cardboard, or another shifting little plastic discs, or pyramids, or figurines, or whatever other shape you like, around them in search of points. I never saw much of the appeal, but I mostly enjoyed his company so much that I didn't particularly care if he spent it exercising his strategic faculties on trivialities like who took which territory with the Flaming Fairies last turn.
In any case, along with being enthusiasts for the board games they regularly played, these friends I speak of were also greatly interested in
Mirror: (Person): …children’s card games that seem to decide most everything.
constantly collecting new ones. Not that they needed them, mind you, they had a pile some four stacks thick, and working on a fifth, which took up the better part of an entire wall to keep in one place, yet they were constantly looking for new games to add to it. And these weren't your Monopolies or Scrabbles or checkers they were collecting, either.
Dorkpool: (Person): No, it was more of your Jumanjis or Zathuras.
Those were far too simple, and too given to chance, for this lot to grant them any appreciation. No, what they sought were games where almost nothing was left to chance, and where rapid digestion of an often needlessly byzantine rules set was the main skill required for success. And I must say, I still find it very impressive how they got on learning so many of those rules sets every week.
Mirror: (Person): Impressive, and pathetic.
In any case, when they weren't spending their time scouring Amazon for new deals, this assemblage of strategic omnivores liked nothing better than to discover some out-of-the-way establishment dedicated to selling their preferment, where they could spend ages looking at all sorts of the most delightfully strange, archaic and obscure board games; some of which (with a due validation on BoardGameGeek), they would purchase.
Dorkpool: (Person): Others, they would burn.
It was while visiting one of these with them that my gentleman caller and his friends discovered the object which has forever soured me on the art of board gaming.
Mirror: (Person): Pulling a "go to jail" card.
The visit occurred on a chilly afternoon in mid-November, in the midst of a long drive between Matthew's apartment and whatever renowned but rural purveyor of comfort food he and his friends had decided to visit that particular weekend.
While driving along a winding residential country road, which Google Maps had indicated led to the highway,
Dorkpool: (Person): …but instead led to an IKEA.
Matthew's friend Lexington (or as everyone called him, Lex),
Mirror: The true origin of Lex Luthor.
pointed immediately at a small, single-story building at the side of the road and yelled out, "Game store at three o'clock!"
Candace, another of Matthew's friends whose car we happened to be occupying, immediately braked in a manner that probably should have caused an accident if anyone bothered to use the road in question, and then proceeded to pull into the dusty parking lot next to the building. A cracked sign, with its paint peeling, but which seemed to have been carved to look vaguely like a dragon's head hung outside the building, inscribed with the words, "THE BLACK WYRM'S LAIR."
Dorkpool: Because poor literacy is kewl.
Mirror: Linkara’s going to sue your ass, you know.
Dorkpool: But the joke works so well.
This was the standard sort of name you got with these gaming places, perhaps to try to convince those entering them that they were adventurers seeking a dragon's riches rather than simply idlers parting with their riches in exchange for useless bits of plastic and cardboard.
Mirror: Hey, they’re not useless. You can use the board as a hat.
... Oh, alright, not useless, but you know what I mean.
In any case, we went into this shop together, and I must tell you, even I was surprised at how well stocked they were, for being so out of the way. Of course, most of the games they had were either ones that Matthew already owned in a more recent edition, or that were too banal to be worth playing. But alas, not all that was there fit these two descriptions.
Dorkpool: (Person): Some of them were lewd beyond belief.
There was one box—the only one of its kind in the store—that we at first mistook for something that had escaped from the trash by mistake. But as we looked closer, we saw that it
Mirror: (Person): …it was alive and had, in fact, escaped from the trash.
was inscribed with lettering of a very faded kind. We could barely make it out. All we could see was the first letter of the game’s title, a bit of German, and numbers indicating that it was for two to six players."
An excited question.
"Oh, I certainly remember it. I can’t forget after what happened. The first letter was ‘E’, which was significant for other reasons as well, as we’d soon find out. I believe the German simply said ‘Ein Brettspiel,’ or some such.
Dorkpool: It actually said something about Der Ritter.
And it was the latter inscription that excited Matthew et al a great deal, as you may imagine, for it indicated that they had found one of the more rare items in any board gamer's aspired-to treasure trove:
Mirror: (Person): A game played by Nazis.
A game from Europe (or ‘eurogame’ as such enthusiasts call them) that was so obscure that no one had bothered to translate it.
A subsequent Googling on several iPhones at once only heightened this impression: Not only was the game untranslated, and everything under ‘E’ on Boardgamegeek had box art, whereas this box was just a dark muddy brown with no decoration at all other than the letters.
Dorkpool: So this game is a fake.
I believe this combination of factors is what sealed the decision to purchase the game. Yet when it was brought up to the counter, those who had resolved to purchase it experienced the first of what I can only regard in retrospect as clear warnings that something was wrong.
Mirror: Being in a Creepypasta is a pretty good sign.
Which is to say, the owner of the shop—one of those snake-like oil salesman, rural sorts whose false congeniality is almost as thick as their accent, suddenly began to behave very differently indeed from how someone who had just had several well-dressed young people with disposable accent walk into their store generally would behave.
Dorkpool: (Person): He started talking about needing scissors, and 61.
"What're you buying that piece of junk for?" He asked sharply when Matthew put it on the counter.
This provoked a few nervous laughs, with the apparent expectation that the shop owner was joking. An awkward silence followed the realization that he wasn't.
Both: We are!
"Er... because it's rare?" Matthew asked uncertainly. "And we thought it would be cool to have something so rare no one's heard of it?"
The shopkeeper looked down at the game, then stared at Matthew again. "It's not in English," he said.
Mirror: (Matthew): You’re right. However, it’s in Klingon, so we can read it.
"No," said Matthew, whose friendliness, as I think you know, did not extend to the hired help of any establishment arguing with him. "But I don't give a fuck.
Dorkpool: Neither did the writer of "Jeff the Killer."
No one's bothered to translate it yet, which means it's even more rare. And maybe we can translate it. What does it matter to y-"
"You speak German?" The shopkeeper snapped, and the look in his eyes was so fierce as he said this that I'd be very surprised if even Matthew wasn't a little unsettled.
Mirror: (Matthew): Ja!
He shrugged. "Not well enough to translate a rulebook, no."
"Then why do you want to buy a game you can't play?"
Dorkpool: (Matthew): Because I’m a nerdy guy with a disposable income.
"Because we do, and we have money, and it's none of your business unless you're refusing to sell it to us," Matthew barked and a few of our friends rolled their eyes knowingly. "Well? Are you?"
The shopkeeper gave a wry chuckle at this. "Oh, you've got money?" he said coldly.
Dorkpool: (Matthew): Well, I’ve got moxy.
"Why didn't you say you'd got money? Here I thought you were going to buy this with something else. But since you ask, no, I won't sell this to you. I'm not taking any of that money you've got.
Mirror: (Shopkeeper): I’ll take a blowjob though. Hey, you’re probably not going to lose your virginity any other way.
Not for this. You want it, take it. But just you remember, I won't take it back."
I wanted to ask why, and was on the point of doing so, but Matthew's pride was apparently too piqued to hear any further controversy from a man who, as far as he was probably concerned, was meant to act like a human cash register, not to have opinions.
Dorkpool: Yeah, Matthew’s dead.
Wordlessly, he had already snatched the game off the counter and stalked out. I and the others followed.
Mirror: Apparently Mr. Purple Prose sucks at proper grammar.
There was a bit of awkwardness in the car over Matthew's rudeness, and I'm sorry to say that a few less than pleasant words may have been exchanged,
Dorkpool: (Person): Words like "SWAG", and "YOLO", and "hyper-realistic."
and about a half an hour of awkward silence ensued. This dissipated as we neared the apartment, at which point conversation resumed, this time oriented around the game they had just purchased, and the prospects of possibly looking at its pieces, and trying to use whatever tools they could to translate its rules, in case it was worth importing, after all.
Mirror: Yeah, but you totally ignore the part where the guy was being a pain in the ass when it came to buying the game. You guys aren’t very bright, are you?
I think even a few mentions of a possible kick-starter to help mass produce the game if it was any good were bandied about. I am profoundly thankful that this particular bit of speculation never proceeded further than the car.
Once we had found a parking spot and all gotten out of the car, the game with us, we proceeded up to Matthew's apartment, where a table was swiftly procured and ‘E-----" was unboxed.
Dorkpool: Really, the name of the game is called "E----"? That is a stupid name.
The box itself was a complete wreck, and I believe it was a miracle that it hadn't fallen apart in the car, for this it certainly did as soon as it was opened. As a result, the contents took some sorting, and it was only after about fifteen minutes of this that we were able to get a look at what the game must be like.
Mirror: (Person): Incredibly crappy.
Its components were as follows:
Roughly one hundred and fifty small, plastic cubes, in black, white, light brown, yellow and red, with an equal amount of cubes distributed to each. Twenty round, dome-like markers, of the same colors as the cubes, also equally distributed. Three-hundred cards, two-hundred of which were inscribed with the word "Vergewaltigung," eighty of which were inscribed with the word "Umbringen," and twenty of which were inscribed with the "Barmherzigkeit." Dorkpool: In case you forgot that this game was in German.
Google Translate identified the first of these words as meaning "rape," the second as meaning "kill," and the third as meaning "mercy." One board, about three feet by one foot in size About this last, I have a great deal more to say. It was one of the more unnerving boards I have ever seen any board game use.
Mirror: (Person): And I’ve seen a lot of weird boards.
It represented simply a succession of 6 portraits of the human form, beginning with a pair of perfectly healthy looking people, one male and one female, on the left side of the board. However, as you went further, the images became more distorted. The second pair, for instance, clearly had bags under their eyes from lack of sleep, and had unpleasantly noticeable scars along their arms.
Dorkpool: Wow, it’s a before and after of playing Monopoly.
The third, meanwhile, had eyes that were bloodshot, with pervasive scarring along the arms and legs. The fourth had staring, vacant expressions, with deeper and more obvious scarring all over their bodies, as well as clear evidence of blood on their hands.
Mirror: In their defense, they were finger painting with blood.
The fifth had blood running all the way up to their elbows, and appeared to be in the midst of both laughing and weeping.
Dorkpool: Hey, it’s an accurate representation of watching "Batman and Robin."
And lastly, the sixth pair were caked with dried blood, were hunched down in a physical shape more ape-like than human, and were smiling up at the players with undisguised malevolence.
Mirror: Because it’s not Creepypasta without a creepy smile.
Along the board beneath the feet of the figures ran fifty small grooves, and at three of the four corners were a series of five blank white circles marked with a word--
Grausamkeit ("Cruelty") at the Northwest corner, Trauma (Self-explanatory) at the Northeast corner, and another instance of whatever the game’s title was, which was also faded beyond reading except for its first letter, the eponymous "E------", at the Southeast. At the Southwest were what we thought were just scratches, but I think may have been hand-written initials. Though who would want to put their name to this I can’t imagine.
Naturally, the game’s macabre image did not deter the mostly male players
Dorkpool: (Guys) We are men! –punch-
Mirror: You’re just asking to get sued by Linkara at this point.
from demanding to understand how the game was played, and thus the rulebook was extracted from the ruins of the box, in hopes of looking through it with the aid of Google Translate could give some clue.
Mirror: Probably better than Bing translate could.
You can imagine what our surprise must have been when this latter proved to be absolutely unnecessary, as the rulebook was written entirely in English! And when I say "written," I do mean literally. This was not a printed rulebook.
It gave every appearance of having been written—in a very messy script—by hand.
Dorkpool: It can’t be worse than my handwriting.
Why a German game whose box had been left untranslated should have been equipped with a handwritten English rulebook was beyond all our imaginations, and probably should have served as another warning, but
Mirror: (Person): …we’re kind of morons, and couldn’t take a hint.
nevertheless, the rules were read and the game understood.
However, this was more difficult than it might sound, because the manual clearly hadn't been written by someone who spoke English fluently, and there were mistranslations and grammatically incoherent sentences everywhere.
Dorkpool: So this is what the writer of "White the Killer" has been up to.
The author also apparently had had a rather limited vocabulary, since the more difficult words were left in German, and we had to resort to Google translate after all. Nevertheless, we managed to piece it together.
I think that even if nothing more had happened from that point on, I should still have been profoundly thankful that this particular game had never been heard of by anyone. It was an absolutely horrific concept.
Mirror: Unless it involves Slender Man sticking his tentacles up Jeff the Killer’s unsanitary orifices, then it can’t be that bad.
Each player assumed the role of a human ethnicity (hence the odd colors of the cubes), and the goal of the game was to keep that ethnicity as civilized as possible over the course of the game.
Dorkpool: There are so many jokes I could make, but as I try and stay far away from racist humor, I won’t.
This was done by betting cubes (Which were meant to stand for members of that race) in whatever increments a player wanted. If a player lost on his turn, then he moved one of his domed markers as many grooves toward the end of the board (the dried blood caked monster) as he'd bet cubes.
How did a player win or lose around? That was where the cards came in.
Mirror: So this is the beta version of Cards Against Humanity?
Each round of the game resembled a particularly unpleasant game of Poker, where players would compete to see who could draw the least pleasant atrocities (rape was considered inferior to murder).
Dorkpool: Not in my book. Remember, kids, rape is bad.
If every player drew the same ones (as was likely, given the distribution of the cards), then all they were treated as if they had all lost, which meant that a move toward the barbarous end of the board was practically inevitable.
Mirror: So this is a game that practically forces you to lose?
Dorkpool: Seems that way.
Mirror: I take back my earlier statement. This game is the beta version of Dark Souls.
Only the "Barmherzigkeit," or "Mercy" cards could reverse this process, as any player who played one of these was allowed to move himself backwards on the board by as many notches as he had non-mercy cards in his hand.
If a player wanted to slow this process down, he could choose to instead count up to five of his cubes toward a move down the "Trauma" track, but this meant that the next time he lost, every cube he lost by would count for two, instead of one, and if he used the same trick after that, the next time each would count by three (the absolute maximum number of spaces down the trauma track a player could go was ten).
Dorkpool: And I thought fizzbin has confusing rules.
Similarly, if a player was doing particularly well relative to his fellows and wanted to maximize the damage he could do if he won, then he could move his piece forward toward barbarism by up to five spaces on his turn, and this would earn him a move up the "Grausamkeit" track, which meant that every time he won, all other players would treat each cube they had bet as if it was two.
Dorkpool: (Person): And the second card is turned up, except on Tuesdays.
There was no indicator whatsoever of how the game was supposed to end, nor were there any rules mentioned for the mysterious third "E-----" track.
Mirror: (Person): I guess it was there because the maker of the game hated things being asymmetrical.
In the absence of further information, we assumed that this must be some sort of turn marker, although I was frankly too disgusted with the game to pay it much mind. I don't think I need to tell you that I refused point blank to play it,
Dorkpool: (Person): …but I still will.
and almost refused to even be in the room while they did so. However, perhaps out of morbid fascination, or just because I didn't want to leave Matthew alone with it, I agreed to sit and read while they tried it out.
The various pieces were duly affixed to the board, and the game began.
Mirror: (Person): The Hunger Games, that is.
At first, having been weaned on rather less-than-savory games like Cards Against Humanity, the players seemed to view the whole thing as a bit of a black joke, and witticisms of the most lurid kind were swapped about each hand ("I've got five rapes, that sounds like an average night in Detroit!").
Mirror: Or an average night for Bill Cosby.
Yet once the winner of the first round had been declared, something happened that immediately brought a hush over the group: The marker on the "E-----" track, which had been reposing in the first slot placidly, shot over to the second slot entirely of its own accord.
Dorkpool: It wasn’t of its own accord. It was through the power of plot.
Immediately, all eyes were drawn to it, and each player endeavored to pry it from its position, only to find that it was quite immovable. There was some speculation as to whether part of the board had been magnetized, and while this was readily agreed upon as a reasonable explanation at the time, I do not think it was the right one in retrospect.
Mirror: (Person): Looking back, I realized that a wizard did it.
Nevertheless, play continued, only this time with less joking and laughter. The reason for this was that an element of tension appeared to have been introduced into the game that had not been there before,
Dorkpool: (Person): …since now there was a card that said "Tension."
and that no one could account for. In fact, when the next round of cards was laid down, and a winner declared, I think I noticed brief expressions of discomfort and even painful humiliation on the faces of the defeated players as their markers were moved along the path.
Mirror: These are probably the same people who rage at video games.
However, the E marker remained in its place, and so there was no further shock.
This temporary abeyance, as it turned out, was only to last another round. Lex, who had been doing fairly well compared with the other players, decided to risk five slots toward barbarism in order to place himself one step forward on the cruelty track, which meant that when he won the next round,
Dorkpool: (Person): …and he got a full fizzbin!
the other players were forced to behave as though they had bet twice the amount of cubes they had bet. When this operation was completed, to everyone's alarm, the "E" marker moved again, and was once more discovered immovable. The tension, also, thickened so noticeably that I put down my book and began to feel very fretful.
But if I was upset, it was nothing to the players.
Mirror: (Person): They were eating each other.
When the next round of cards was laid down, horrified expressions of disbelief, and even defensive shielding of the face, occurred amongst the losing players. Matthew, who had lost by the greatest amount, began to shudder violently and mutter as his marker was moved down the track.
Dorkpool: I think we have a serial killer in the making.
I put my hand on his shoulder, and was terribly and unpleasantly surprised when he pulled away from it and gave me such a feral look of hostility as could only have come from a wild animal.
I decided to keep my distance from that point on, though the more the game proceeded, the more worried I became. This time, it took three rounds for the "E" marker to move again, and when play resumed, it was like no game I had ever seen this group play.
Mirror: (Person): Now they were talking about summoning Cthulu.
Normally, cordiality reigned except when rules questions arose, but now, there was nothing but the deepest sullen rage in every player.
Lex, who was still winning, had taken to emitting a callous, bestial laugh whenever he bet his cubes,
Dorkpool: (Person): …which got really annoying pretty quick.
which seemed to only coarsen the more the game went on and the further he willingly placed himself down the Cruelty track. The other players, meanwhile, were shrinking from him, almost as if they could feel the imaginary horrors which his winning hands produced.
However, his luck ran out, and he did not win that next round, and it was perhaps because of that that I had the presence of mind to stop the game. For when Matthew was revealed to have a hand made up entirely of "Kill" cards, making him effectively unbeatable in terms of raw power,
Mirror: HE HAS THE POWER!
Lex leapt upon him and began striking him across the face, roaring that he wouldn't let Matthew kill 'his' people, the filthy sniveling... well, I daren't repeat the rest.
It was at this point that I resolved that this had to stop, and so before I pulled Lex off, I seized both ends of the board and clapped it shut abruptly, knocking all the pieces off except the apparently magnetized "E" marker.
This seemed to transfix the entire room for a few very uncomfortable seconds, before Matthew, who had just moments before been laughing maniacally through Lex's blows, began to laugh with such relief you would think he had just been pulled from out of the path of a tidal wave. Lex, for his part, had jumped off Matthew and begun apologizing profusely, saying he didn't know what had come over him, and he never wanted it to happen again, and that thank heaven I'd had the presence of mind to upend the board.
Mirror: Thank heaven the person narrating this story isn’t a moron.
I still very much grudged him his behavior, but did my best to stay rational about it, since he had run in very different circles from me at Yale, and hadn't had quite the experience with unknowable mysteries that you and I do, Graham.
Dorkpool: Seriously, who in the hell is Graham?
Mercifully, it was resolved after that that the game itself would never be played again, but would instead only be kept as a conversation piece. The rules, moreover, would be thrown in the trash, never spoken of and, if at all possible, promptly forgotten.
Mirror: Much like this story.
This operation was completed, and I decided to stay the night to keep Matthew company, as he was still looking extremely unsettled, and well, I suppose girlfriends have to be involved with such things.
Both: The person narrating this was female?!
Dorkpool: Plot twist.
Mirror: People are going to call us sexist, aren’t they?
Dorkpool: I hope not.
But the story is not over. I wish it was.
Mirror: So do I. It’s so damn long.
But unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. To begin with, you cannot imagine the difficulty Matthew had sleeping, and even preparing to sleep, that night. I like to think I was a comforting presence for him, but
Dorkpool: (Person): I really wasn’t.
every time I touched him he flinched into a fetal position, as if I'd stung him.
Several times through the night he cried out something to the effect of, "No, please, get off me,"
Mirror: (Person): …or, "No, Father, not the nipple tazers."
in his sleep, and had to be woken up and reassured through tears that whatever it was he'd been dreaming of wasn't real. Of this, he mysteriously never seemed to be convinced, though that didn't stop him from rocking in my arms and saying, plaintively, "I wish you were right, Rachel."
Dorkpool: We’re almost done with the story, and we finally get the name of the main character. Took long enough.
Nor did this instability only last the night, for Matthew grew more and more non-communicative, withdrawn and tense the longer things went on, until he ceased seeing me altogether and seemed to shrink from all human contact as if a single touch or word was a blow.
Mirror: So he basically acted like a stereotypical nerd?
He took to stealing food, or dumpster diving, and when I tried to approach him, he would shriek and run back into his apartment, and lock the door.
Mirror: Correction: stereotypical crazy nerd.
His landlords threatened to evict him more than once, and perhaps they would have if he'd lasted a month. I don't know how it didn't occur to me to examine the game further, but after what had happened, I wanted to avoid it as much as possible. You'll excuse me using the Lord's name in vain, I'm sure, Graham, but good God I was a fool.
Dorkpool: Not really. You were the only smart one of the group.
If I'd done that, maybe I could have done something to stop what happened.
You know, of course, what Matthew eventually did, and what happened to him. It was all over the papers,
Mirror: People still read newspapers?
and though they did their best to keep the photos of the bodies from the public, you no doubt will have seen what the tabloids dug up.
I can't tell you how terrible it was when I heard about it, and when the police tried to get me to speculate on what poor Matthew's motive might have been for killing four of his friends so gruesomely, and then hanging himself with no explanation. What was I supposed to tell them?
Dorkpool: That the power of plot compelled them.
That he and those four people had played a sick board game and gotten too involved in it? That would probably spark the kind of witch hunt that had been instigated over Dungeons and Dragons, and besides, it wouldn't have captured the problem at all.
Mirror: (Rachel): Dungeons and Dragons isn’t the real evil. Ticket to Ride is.
But I believe I do know what made Matthew do it. I know only too well.
You see, I opened the game after he died, meaning to burn it. I did, but not before looking more closely at the two pieces had remained stuck to the board even after I'd up-ended it. One, as I've already told you, was the "E" marker. But—and you may not believe me, Graham, but I swear it—it was not where it was when we had put the game away. Instead, it was frozen at the very end of the "E" track.
Both: DUN DUN DUNNN!
The other piece, as you probably have guessed, was the marker Matthew had used to denote his place on the board, which was also stuck at the very end of the barbarous part of the board. I think you may believe me when I say I tried to dislodge both of them, but that nothing—not even a hammer blow—could do it.
Dorkpool: Well, you should’ve used Mjolnir.
Eventually, I smashed up the board around them, and while what came out was no magnet,
Mirror: (Rachel): It was duct tape!
I think it explained everything pretty well, for all that.
For, underneath the "E" track, my hammer revealed a very thin layer of desiccated human skin."
A silence, then another interruption.
"An explanation? Well, now you mention it, I have since sought out the store where we bought the game and questioned the owner.
Dorkpool: (Rachel): I had to beat the answers out of him.
He was a much nicer person than he let on, though I think I frightened him a bit when I told him what happened when we'd played the game."
Two hurried questions.
"I can't imagine he knew what it did. But he knew it wasn’t normal. And as to why he left it out, I don’t think he ever expected anyone to want to buy it, or even notice it, with the condition it was in.
Mirror: Clearly, he underestimated the standards of nerds.
But do you want to hear the explanation or not?"
"Good, because it seems a properly dramatic way to end the story, and if it’s bad taste to want to end a story this painful with drama, I don’t care.
Dorkpool: (Rachel): The story’s almost done, so deal with it.
It’s cathartic. Now where was I? Oh yes, the game’s origin.
Mirror: (Rachel): The game’s parents were shot by a mugger in an alleyway.
Well, by way of preface, the store owner told me that board games were something special in his family. Both his father and grandfather had worked in the mail room at Milton Bradley back before it was bought out by Hasbro.
Anyway, you might not believe this, but apparently Milton Bradley used to get all sorts of ideas for board games sent to them by amateur developers.
Dorkpool: (Rachel): Most of them were pretty stupid.
Some of them even built prototype copies and sent those. All of them were probably junk, because neither the father nor the grandfather ever saw anything he recognized from the mail room in a toy or game store, or heard anything about the prototypes after they sent them up, except to be told to repackage them and send them back with pre-written rejection letters.
Mirror: I love how the rejection letters are pre-written. They already know that the idea is going to suck.
"Except for this game. This game had stuck with the father so much that he’d kept it as a curiosity. To begin with, the package it had come in hadn't listed a return address, which was odd, because usually people who sent games in did it in order to try and sell the rights. Whoever had designed this apparently hadn't cared about being compensated, but had just wanted to see it published.
"Either way, they sent it up to the testing department all the same. Well, weeks went by and they didn’t hear anything about it, and then sure enough, the game came back down to be rejected. But there wasn’t a rejection letter with it. Just a single cover sheet with two words scrawled on it.
Dorkpool: (Cover Sheet): I’m Batman.
It said, ‘Burn this.’"
An incredulous interruption.
"Oh really, Graham, why would I embellish a story this difficult to tell?
Mirror: Seriously, right? I mean, your overuse of purple prose totally doesn’t make it seem like you’re embellishing things at all.
I saw the note myself. The store owner had it in a drawer with a few other of his father’s old belongings. He would’ve showed it to us when we bought the game, only Matthew was such an ass that he thought that he deserved a good scare.
Dorkpool: Remember, kids, if you’re an asshole to a game store owner, he’ll give you a game for free that will drive you insane, and make you commit a mutli-murder suicide.
As I said, I don’t think he realized the game could actually hurt anyone. His father had been too unnerved to bother reading the rules, but had been fascinated enough by the response that he’d kept the game as a curiosity to show people and tell them the story."
A final interruption.
"Oh yes, he knew what it was originally called, and what the ‘E’ on the ‘E’ track stood for. I'm surprised you haven't guessed:
Mirror: (Rachel): Enema.
Mirror: (grumbling): I like mine better.
Dorkpool: This story…doesn’t suck very much actually. It’s not very good, but it’s not awful.
Mirror: I have to agree. However, it has quite a few flaws. For example, it’s littered with purple prose, which makes things unnecessarily confusing and complex. Despite the purple prose, there are still some spelling and grammar errors. However, that’s not surprising considering how long this damn thing is. It’s perfectly fine for a story to be long, as long as its length is warranted. Yeah, the length isn’t warranted in this case, making it a pain in the ass to read and Riff. I should also note that the plot feels cliché. I’m sure it’s been done before, somewhere. Not sure where though
Dorkpool: Despite all that, there are some good things. The main character, despite not knowing her name or gender until the end, isn’t terrible, and actually seems intelligent. The plot, while it probably has been done, doesn’t feel very cliché, and does have some interesting ideas. And while the purple prose can be annoying, it doesn’t really hurt comprehension of the story for the most part. So, all in all, this story isn’t terrible, but it isn’t very good either. But that’s what we think. What do you guys think? Was the story good? Was the Riff good? Do you wish we’d play the Empathy game? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Dorkpool sat on the bridge of the Cheese Doodle (which was intentionally designed to look like the bridge of the original Enterprise), with Inodmetus at weapons and his mirror universe counterpart manning navigation (this was to much argument, as Mirror Dorkpool felt that since he was a conqueror and ruler of an empire, he should be in the captain’s chair. However, Dorkpool told him, "My ship, my rules, my captain’s chair.")
"MAGEL," Dorkpool said to the computer, "send a hail to Mirror Poison. Ask her if she’s ready to go."
Over the few days she’d been in this universe, Mirror Poison has assembled an army from her universe, and somehow gotten a hold of quite a few ships, which she’s called the "Mirror Armada."
"Poison says that she’s ready when you are," the computer responded.
"Alrighty then." Dorkpool said. "Engage."
The Cheese Doodle and the Mirror Armada entered the Mutara Nebula for the final battle.