Chat-your-own-Adventure #23: Greasepin’s Hard Bargain

Author’s Note: This story was written live on stream with the audience bidding tokens (earned while watching) to determine the path of the story.  The underlined phrases in the choice of three were the winning pathways.  Stop by if you’d ever like to participate in our interactive fiction.

Tusked Hog Mask             Slobbering Mantis Mask              Shark-Hound Mask

For five days my body has not been my own. I don’t suspect it will ever be returned to me. Every human has a natural instinct to avoid housekeeping. I was very good at avoiding it, especially since I lived alone in a house I inherited from my parents. The living area was sanitary enough, with no visible layers of dust as long as you didn’t check between the cupboards or under the couch.

I never cleaned the basement though. I probably never would have, if not for the odor. I knew there was nothing of value down there. My parents loved antique stores, but they had exceptionally bad taste, often purchasing mass-produced things that weren’t even old enough to be called vintage. I remember wondering what on Earth they had purchased that had gone so bad as to smell like that.

It was the worst stench imaginable, somewhere between green eggs and black cheese, with hints of burnt hair and scorched fabric. It hit all at once too; it didn’t creep in. That meant it couldn’t be rot. It was like a home invader bludgeoning my head from behind. I was minding my own business, watching a late night talk show that I didn’t really enjoy. Yes, I know. Enough free time to watch things I hate, but apparently not enough to keep things tidy. Trust me, I’m paying for it.

With one hand pinching my nostrils shut and the other holding a flashlight, I descended into the basement in search of the odor’s source. I found it under a pile of hideous quilts too ugly for the moths to eat. It was a small plain box made of reddish wood. It had a tiny padlock on it, but it was just decorative plastic. I couldn’t place the object in time or style, and in that moment my stupid curiosity got the better of me.

It opened easily enough. I had time to see there was nothing inside before it struck me. There was something; I just couldn’t see it. It hit in much the same way the smell it generated did. It felt like I was bludgeoned, like my brain was instantly bruised and swollen. A moment later my mind felt like a cracking glass full of small icy rocks. My soul tumbled down in the wet spaces between those stones and I lost consciousness.

When I awoke, my body was busying itself with my wardrobe, assembling an outfit I would never wear. I tried to regain control, but I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t even hear, though I assume my body’s ears still worked properly; they were being used by someone else. I had moderate access to the eyes, although everything looked like I was viewing it through a thin skin of lake ice.

I won’t trouble you with the details, as I suspect you know much about the process. As the entity prepared to use me, I eventually discerned its nature as demonic. I now know that demons are legion, with all their minds connected. Thus I can speak to you, all the other demons in the void. I can try to convince you to help me.

The demon inside me has one clear goal: shadowy undetectable mass murder. It went about purchasing all manner of knives almost immediately, with money I had set aside for a new grill. It visited a Halloween store, as the season is rapidly approaching, and examined many masks, eventually settling on one that looked like a wild boar with twisted tusks. To me that says something about its personality. It’s aggressive, but perhaps it thinks it’s defending itself at the same time, as it did not choose one of the many predators available.

Cereal Factory                                     Toy Store                                 Run-Down Zoo

If any of you other demons, I can feel your gray foggy eyes behind me, wish to speak up, to make an offer, do let me know. Otherwise I will continue with this retelling of the horrible things I was forced to do.

I know now exactly what it’s like to be a slasher from a bad eighties horror film. It’s rather like the monster-eye-view camera those films sometimes employ. I shouted at people to avoid their stupid decisions, closing certain doors, making love in certain places, getting drunk, but of course they couldn’t hear.

The first night we went out was to a cereal factory, closed for the night. We had earlier opportunities, but my driver seemed nervous. It took two days to work up the courage to actually hide all those knives in our waistband and don the hog mask. We followed people in the darkness once or twice before, but the demon always gave up before getting too close. Obviously I’m glad nobody died, but I get the feeling some of you others don’t approve of this one’s slowness. I can hear your fangs grinding at the thought of it.

The factory produced a brown mess of oats and chocolate called Goaty Oats; their mascot, a dark chocolate goat with white chocolate spiraling horns, was painted on the front of the factory. We broke through a door directly below its dead eyes with our shoulder and strength I did not previously have.

We stalked the dark hallways for half an hour, slowly gathering information about the patrollign security guards, of which there were two. They had guns. Despite our new strength, I was not confident we could survive direct gunfire. Perhaps it was the way the demon made my body quake nervously.

Still, it had murder on its mind. In order to distract them it turned some of the machinery on. The lights went up and several conveyor belts and grain spinners groaned to life. We hid under one of the belts, as a blanket of flakes went by overhead. The demon licked my lips, not realizing it had failed to feed my body in more than a day and a half. It was forced to endure the same daydream of fish tacos that I was.

That’s what had us distracted when one of the guards walked by. We could only see him below the knee, but we had sight of the tip of his weapon holster. He hadn’t drawn it. The demon pushed us forward, like a pouncing cat, and we knocked him to the ground. It tried to bite him before realizing the mask was in the way.

It turned into an actual fight, with the guard screaming for help that would undoubtedly arrive soon. I rooted for our victim, even shouting for him to shoot us. I wish I’d had a little flag with his name on it to wave around. Eventually the demon picked him up by the shirt and threw him onto the conveyor belt, crunching three boxes worth of Goaty Oats. We were pulled on as well, and fought as another machine rained tiny curls of chocolate over us.

Demon Injured                     Guard Killed                    Second Demon Interferes

We pulled out our most wicked knife, which was very curved as well as covered in unnecessary decorative spikes. I imagine you demons just have a type when it comes to your weapons. It attempted to slash the man’s throat, and it should’ve been able to with its impressive strength, but something pulled it back.

Even in that blank icy space where I was stored, I could feel something move by me suddenly, like a giant arm reaching out, nearly striking me. I didn’t understand immediately, but when I had a chance to dwell on it I finally recognized all the eyes I had felt behind me for what they were, for what you were… other demons.

One of you intervened, stayed the hand and knife. I appreciate that you saved the man’s life, though I imagine you had your own reasons beyond sympathy. You gave the guard enough time to throw us off the conveyor belt. That was when the second guard arrived and began taking shots at us. They all missed. I hate to blame people who are obviously terrified, but if he hadn’t missed this mess would’ve ended.

As it stands we escaped, even grabbing our mask on the way out. The demon, voluntary or not, cried through my eyes. I see the creature as pathetic, and I hope you do as well. We’ve come to the point where I need to push this whole ‘deal’ angle. The demon has since taken us out once more and killed an innocent woman merely walking her dog. None of you spoke up then. I know I cursed you at the time, but I think desperation has bound us closer, like two insects wrapped in the same spider’s silk, forced to stare into each other’s eyes until the leftovers actually get eaten.

So, here’s my official offer. The demon in my body has made a plan to attack trick-or-treaters come Halloween. Its goal appears to be at least five dead. I will do almost anything to prevent that from happening. That’s where all of you come in. At least one of you has intervened already, and I suspect many of you are capable. I’m offering my help, for what it’s worth, in taking over this body if you can convince me that you intend less harm than its current host.

Well, don’t all speak up at once. Come on ladies and gentlemen, toys and squirrels, whatever you are gender-wise. You’re demons. You’re famous for making deals. Your cover is blown. I can hear you breathing: anxious and frustrated hisses escaping you. Many of you want to speak.

Oh! Come on. I heard that. A growl. Who was it? First to speak wins! First come, first serve! One fresh body here, only moderately used. It hasn’t even reached middle-age yet! It doesn’t need glasses and its bad ankle really isn’t that bad. There’s love in it as well. It’s had several relationships, felt plenty of kisses upon its lips. Do any of you even know what it’s like to have lips that have been kissed? They’re never the same after…

The lovey-dovey talk doesn’t do it for you? Fine. You saw the power. It can break down a door in one charge. It ran track in high school and I assure you that speed has been kept up. Last call. I’m officially rescinding my offer in five, four, three two…

Arguments                                             Whispers                                           An Offer

You humans have no patience!

O-ho! One of you speaks! You can speak! You certainly took your sweet time Mr. or Ms. Demon. And what should I call you? I didn’t even bother with a name for the other one, but if we’re going to be partners I will show you a little more respect, provided you show some in turn.

You can call me Greasepin.

Greasepin huh? Okay Greasepin. What do you have to say? Are you the one who reached in earlier and saved that guard’s life?

No, that was Sizzleblister. They have gone, off to be punished for their transgression. They did not have the authority to act as they did, but I do. I have plenty of authority.

Why was the guard saved at all?

The demon inhabiting you, ignoring you and thus this conversation, is named Skinslave. Long have they vied for a chance at possession, but it is only nepotism that placed Skinslave inside your breast.

Demonic nepotism? Do you… have families? As in actual blood relation? Is that how you work?

Blood? No… It’s much worse than that, much more incestuous. We demons are born from the great slimy ball of thoughts that god himself is ashamed of. Yes, even god has shame. The more they ignore us, the more we multiply, splitting into little bits like cackling greasy tadpoles…

Okay I get it… but that still doesn’t explain the nepotism.

Skinslave split from a very powerful tadpole. Bigger than most. They go by the name of Bodymelt. Bodymelt threw Skinslave to the front of the blob, the front of the possession line, just as you opened the box where our curse was stored. I was close to the front. I had a decent chance. This should be my body. Mine!

If we’re being technical, it should be mine, but I can see why you’re upset. So what’s the deal Greasepin? Do you have an offer for me?

I do. Your only requirement is that I do less harm than Skinslave would, yes?

Yes. The less the better. The less, the more cooperation you’ll get from me.

Your cooperation could come in handy when we get to making some improvements. I’d like to grow some horns instead of just pretending with the tusks on that stupid mask, but I’m getting ahead of myself. All of you shut up! I’m going to get what I deserve. There’s no reason not to bargain with the human. Alright, so…

Rationed Murder                       White Collar Crime                    Transformation

Skinslave and I have very different goals. If we were humans, I would describe us as having different astrological signs. Skinslave is a coward, but thirsty for blood and fame. Me? I seek power. Slow natural power, the kind that could eventually put me in a body of my own, without any of this borrowing business. I find it undignified frankly.

I agree Greasepin. Look at us, fast friends already. So, what kind of demon are you? I’m hoping you just like practical jokes or something.

It’s more involved than that I’m afraid, but I can guarantee you it will involve no human murder, or even mauling, for a minimum of one hundred years.

How do you plan on holding back the impulse? I can feel you guys behind me, biting your imaginary lips whenever somebody is near. You all want to tear throats out. No offense, just stating a fact. Being inside my own head like this makes it very easy to detach. I do enjoy certain aspects of it…

And you can continue to enjoy it while I helm the body. I seek an understanding of the natural world, separate from our realm of gooey shame. I want to tear throats out the proper way, with fangs and a long tongue. I want to roar or bark or whatever… I want to transform your body from human to animal.

I don’t see how this stops you from murdering. Sure, there will be a lack of thumbs, but you probably have enough ingenuity to get around that.

Transformation and natural knowledge are complex and nuanced. I wouldn’t expect these other babblers I was spawned from to understand. I must get perspective on all levels of nature. I must survive it all, and I must start at the bottom. With vermin. I think a leech or a tick would be the best place. Onc I have mastered stealthy parasitism I can transform us again, into something a little bigger and meaner.

So you’re going to take my body and turn it into a worm? A largely harmless worm? Okay. That does seem like less harm. What happens to me?

You’ll just sit there, as you are now. You can… enjoy not being a murderer. Maybe you’ll like being an animal. You and I don’t need to argue until I reach the form a large predator, a bear or something. That will be decades, if I even make it that far without getting us eaten… which is a significant risk, especially early on.

And you’re doing all this for knowledge? You’re an academic demon? I don’t quite buy it.

Knowledge to an end, I admit. After becoming the ultimate predator, I think I cam manage an even greater form. A god of nature. At that point, yes there would likely be lots of murder. This is your choice human. Murder now, or more murder later should I succeed. Who knows, maybe you even have a chance of besting me at some point. It is your mind after all. You might figure out how to take it back.

Leech                                                          Tick                                                 Mosquito

Do I get a say in any of this? If we’re going to do this we should at least start off friendly.

Sure, pal, buddy, chum, friendo. I’m so excited about this partnership that I’ll let you choose our bottom-of-the-food-chain form. Go ahead. Any little slimy crawly thing you wish, but no leaf-munchers. That I cannot abide. I won’t be stuck eating salad for a hundred years. You understand.

For once I do. I wouldn’t want that either. I don’t think a dump truck full of Italian dressing could make that tolerable. Alright then… You said a leech. That sounds good. I could go for a swim.

Perfect. Now just say it with me. Combine your spirit with mine. Together we’ll have the power to pull Skinslave back and throw him to the back of the glob where he belongs. I, with power and crulety, cast myself as curse and swear! This is mine now and forever!

I, with power and cruelty, cast myself as curse and swear! This is mine now and forever!

Perfect. Here we go. I look forward to sucking blood with you.

I’m already used to it. I’m a lawyer.

Oh… great…

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