Chat-your-own-Adventure #28: Mixing Soda and Stock

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.

Death Combat                              Slime Culture                              Expiration Date

The palace wibbled and wobbled as the thousand guests rolled and slithered into the exhibition hall. It used to be the ballroom until the slimedom collectively realized they could not dance, at least not by the standards of the solid beings in the neighboring lands.

All ten flavors were gathered for the evening, with each flavor’s greatest talents on display, to be judged by the Supremely Swollen Droplet. She was of the flavor grape, but showed no favoritism. The others milling about, giving her plenty of room to wibble or wobble, whatever she preferred, were as follows: orange, lemon, blueberry, watermelon, bubblegum, black licorice, cherry, and cream soda.

They could not help but notice that the Supremely Swollen Droplet was crying. All slimes had the tiniest of eyes, just specks like peppercorns, but they were the most vulnerable spot in their whole being. Any bites taken could be regrown, but not the eyes. Any tear from them was a new slime, so whenever one rolled down her purple side it became a new citizen in need of love and attention. The Droplet needed to be comforted before the slimedom drowned in its own people.

My droplet,” pleaded her cream soda attendant, a layer of dust from the festivities already thick on his surface. “What troubles you? All of us are here today to audition. It should be a happy time. We’ll convince the world we’re not just ingredients yet! But we need your help and your clear eyes.” A purple tear, loudly crying itself, bounced off his head and nearly toppled his jellied hat. “Take a look at this fine blob of watermelon.”

He led her over to a cleared section of the jellied floor: a circle of red, white, and green. Even though the designation had changed from ballroom to exhibition hall, that piece of watermelon had never given up the art. He’d stopped tyring to mimic the shape of human legs and instead created a new school of slime dancing. He spun faster and faster, to the crowd’s wonder, eventually morphing into the shape of a tornado. His eyes were lost in the spin; the music could hardly keep up with him.

The music was, in fact, the talent on display from the black licorice flavor. There was nothing so… plunky as the sound of a slime harp. Its jellied strings often snapped on the third or fourth note, so another slime had to stand by and replace them mid-song. It took an awful lot of coordination, especially from beings without hands, but the sound of the rhythm failed to calm the Droplet. Her new children scurried everywhere, forcing her guests to watch where they rolled lest they squish one. She was raining a sour mood on the whole affair; even the lemon flavor was not enjoying it.

It’s no use,” the Droplet blubbered. “Every time we send someone talented they never come back. Those humans put them in candies and soups and I can’t bear to see it any longer. We must stop the auditions!” The exhibition hall quieted. The dancer was thrown off balance and splatted against the back wall. The auditions were so much fun that surely they were worth a sacrifice every now and again.

What would you suggest, my Droplet?” her cream soda attendant asked.

Pilgrimage                                         Burrowing                                         Diplomacy

A pilgrimage!” the Droplet declared, spraying children everywhere. “We must leave this place, go far away so those human hunters never shove us in those slime-proof bags again. We’ll follow the sun into the desert; they’ll never follow us there.”

Murmurs spread through the crowd. The attendant, who often had the job of making her declarations seem more reasonable, didn’t know quite what what to do with that one. His creamy quality made him quite fast, so he slithered to the doors and opened them, letting the rumors swirl in some fresh air. He wanted everyone to stay calm, at least until he could refine her emotional nonsense into an actual nugget of a plan.

We can’t leave my Droplet. There’s a reason slimes don’t go into the desert as well. You might not know, because you’ve never been out of town, but it’s very hot there. We could dry out and evaporate. In fact, it’s actually far more dangerous for us than the humans.”

I don’t care!” she cried, bouncing up an down, forcing her guests to squish against the walls and bend their amber jelly outward. “Danger is not as bad as certain doom.” There was some bouncing in agreement, but mostly from her newborn children. “We’re leaving and that’s final. Everybody go and grab your things. We’ll take to the sands: a thing that no tongue ever wants to touch.” Without waiting for the attendant’s interpretation, the various flavors made their exit in a great wave. They would never disobey their Droplet, as she was far fatter than any of them. Any slime that was five times the regular size had to be five times smarter.

Once the hall was empty the Droplet rolled toward her personal chambers, through a hallway barely wide enough for her to squeeze. It was especially uncomfortable for the attendant, who had to squeeze between the two of them just to speak with her. He found he couldn’t manipulate the air into sound thanks to the immense compression, so his appeal tumbled out of him once he popped between them and into her bedchamber.

I see there’s no changing your mind,” the attendant said as his charge took up a tortoiseshell comb and began combing lovely lines into the top of her swell, like plowing a field. “Do you know what a pilgrimage means?”

Of course! We become pilgrims. We move. Then, when we’re done moving, we’re not pilgrims anymore. It’s so simple a tear fresh from my eye could’ve come up with it.”

Moving takes a lot of effort,” the cream soda slime warned. “We can only take what we can carry or drag. We can’t carry or drag the palace.” The Droplet stopped her combing. She released her grip on the object, letting it slowly sink to her center.

I hadn’t thought of that,” she admitted. “I’ve been here so long it feels like part of me…” She stared into her mirror for a silent moment as if her eyes might dive out of her gelatinous body and splash into the pool of glass. “I remember something the last Droplet told me, before he got all small and pathetic. We made all the wibbly parts of this palace, but there’s an old stone base. Somebody else made that. He told me a story about the palace moving. Be a good little bloop and find the part that makes it move. Then we can take it with us. Off with you now.”

Aging Cellar                                           Stables                                      Shame Closet

The Supremely Swollen Droplet, despite her girth, didn’t have much room for memory, so the attendant didn’t believe he would find anything. Still, he took his oath very seriously, still kept the bubble with the words in it on his mantle, so he would search the palace for this ‘movement mechanism’. She talked of the old stone base, so the first place to check was the lowest.

The slimes had no use for stairs, hopping down them only disturbed any swirls of color they’d bothered to arrange in their forms, so it was a series of twisting slides that the attendant used to descend into the lower levels. They were supposed to be fun, taking all sorts of unnecessary twists and turns, but the attendant couldn’t enjoy himself. That silliness was the sort of thing that made the humans judge them as stupid.

The attendant wanted to meet a human one day and point out they were the stupid ones for trying to put magic into food just for more hedonistic gluttony. They were the ones who cursed their soups and jellies, creating the Appetizer Slimes: the progenitors of the whole gooey race. The poor little cream soda couldn’t even maintain a fantasy of anger, as he pictured himself pinched between two fingers and dropped into an open mouth. Just then the last slide dropped him into the aging cellar.

The space was dark and the walls stone. The foundation blue slime of the palace trickled between the edges of each rock. There were cobwebs dotted with rainbow dew and spiders entombed in similarly-colored jelly. The attendant only knew it was the aging cellar because of the dingy sign hanging from two rusty chains. There were six rows of giant casks, each almost as big as the Droplet herself.

The attendant moved between them, picking up dirt from the earthen floor. He thought he was being silent, but things inside the casks shifted in his direction. The wood moaned. He morphed into a mushroom shape and used his cap to wipe the dust off the front of the cask that moved the most. It practically rocked on its base. Words were revealed: Noble Slime – to be fermented until strength is needed. Beef stock flavor. Date of interment – 516 P.M.

The cream soda could hardly believe his eyes. He rolled them all the way around just to re-center them and see if he read correctly. ‘P.M.’ was post-meal. It was the basis of slime-time. The current year was 1344! That meant slimes had been living in these casks longer than there had even been Supremely Swollen Droplets! One of them had to know how to move the palace, assuming all that rocking wasn’t just vermin feasting on their corpses.

There was a faucet on the front of the cask. The attendant wrapped an extension around it, but thought twice about twisting. Were old slimes even nice? Perhaps fermentation had turned them evil. He had no way of judging; even the flavor listed was extremely foreign to him. Beef stock. The only time he’d ever seen a cow he had attempted to communicate with something it sneezed out. The cask seemed to make the decision for him, rocking suddenly and forcing him to hold the faucet tightly. That turned it a little.

Belligerent                                             Buoyant                                    Blasphemous

The attendant recoiled, nearly running into another faucent from the back row. He’d lived a sheltered life in and around the palace, so the strike of fear, like lightning in his eyes, was quite new to him. It was different from the dread caused by stories of giant wandering humans and their collection sacks, stories of being dropped into boiling water or spread via butter knife over the flayed meat of a lobster. This was present fear; it took his words and robbed him of solidity. He was practically a puddle before anything even emerged.

The faucet spun on its own, squeaking as it sped up. Out came a burgundy swell. It grew, spherical rather than droplet shaped. One peppercorn of an eye dropped out of the faucet and bounced on the bottom of the swell. This slime was an actual bubble rather than a blob. Perhaps it had been fermenting gas this whole time. The loose eye turned to the attendant. It stared for a moment, and then the bubble started to laugh.

Auwuahuahuahuahuah!” it boomed, wood of the cask vibrating and creaking. “So this is the future! Ye look so pale, little one. Do not fear. Beef stock is here to save ye. What is this? What are we doing? Which direction should I aim? Answer me, ye whitish blobule!” The burgundy bubble continued to grow, lifting the cask off the ground once it struck dirt.

I’m an attendant to the Supremely Swollen Droplet,” the little slime stammered. “I’ve been told there’s a way to move the palace. I’m sorry for disturbing your rest…”

Fermentation, not rest!” the bubble said with a bounce. His other peppercorn eye dropped into view and bounced around inside with its partner. “I’ve been growing this bubble, becoming the most buoyant beauty ever to bluster and bounce! I am your way to move. Just tell me where we’re going, quickly now, before we take off and the trade winds get to us. I assume they’re the same bastards they’ve always been. Uawhh!”

There’s a desert…” the attendant started to explain, but he was forced to recoil once more. Beef stock was still growing. His cask exploded, letting his reddish body fill the cellar. “It’s east of here!” the attendant yelled as the side of the bubble pushed him up against the stone wall. Beef stock was saying something else, but the attendant couldn’t make it out over the crumbling of the cellar itself. This fellow hadn’t seen another slime in centuries. He likely had little concern for the cream soda’s life.

He squeezed himself back toward the slides, fighting the mounting pressure. Beef stock’s substance was full of salt! Newer slimes didn’t have the fortitude for such caustic substances, and it burned the poor attendant’s side. He found the base of the slide at the last possible moment, squeezed out by the bubble. He climbed it swiftly, calling out, trying to warn the grape Droplet.

He only made it as far as the exhibition hall when the floor beneath him bulged. The entire palace wibbled and wobbled. He couldn’t tell if it would stay in one piece. There was a thundering crack of stone, and then everything tilted to the side.

Oooooaaaahhh!” the Droplet yelled as she was rolled down a hallway and into sight. “Creamy, what is this? Are we pilgrims already?”

I have no idea my Droplet,” he answered. “It’s all up to Beef stock now!”

Bombing Run                       Crossing the Desert                     Battle Trade winds

Auwuahahuah!” they heard the ancient slime declare from an open window. The palace shifted again, rolling them onto the ceiling. The whole building was upside down, meaning Beef stock was buoyant enough to turn the whole thing into a hot air balloon! They couldn’t leave yet; none of the people had been corralled back inside! The attendant threw himself toward the window, bouncing off the Droplet and apologizing as he did so. He stuck firm against the sill and leaned his eyes out as far as they would go.

Beef stock!” he yelled at the burgundy swelling. The attendant turned one eye down and saw they were rising. The people of the slimedom were gathered below, already looking like confetti from that height. “We can’t go yet! The people! They must join us in our trek across the desert!”

Desert? We’re not going to the desert!” the balloon declared. Salt crystals grew around his eyes, like the furrowing of a brow in determination. “I’ve got a score to settle with the trade winds! We’ll deal with that desert later. Here we go!” The balloon leaned into a sudden breeze. It shook the jelly of the palace violently, throwing the attendant off the window and back inside.

You did it!” the Droplet shouted at him as both of them were bounced around. “How come you were never in the talent exhibition?” she asked. “You can move a whole palace!”

Take that you daft easterly!” Beef stock boomed. The palace quivered again.

No, I’ve failed my Droplet!” the attendant insisted. “I’ve gotten you in a fight with the wind itself! It’s all this fear inside me. I need to be rid of it! I need to shut myself in a dark cask and ferment it out. I need to…” Beef stock clashed with the wind again, causing a tremor so powerful that the attendant was thrown through the wall. His home was gone. It was nothing but rushing air for what felt like an eternity as he fell.

Something caught him in a pair of giant hands. The slime composed himself and looked up into the face of a young human girl.

Oh boy, candy!” she exclaimed, opening her mouth wide. It looked far worse than the dark cellar. Moist. Red. Missing teeth like gaps in a fence. The fear froze him, but that didn’t stop her. She dropped him right onto her tongue and rolled him around, threatening to squish him against her palate. “Wha… eeugh!”

A moment later he was spat out, left in the dirt between two dandelions. She left without a word. He looked up and saw the burgundy dot of Beef stock’s balloon being carried off by the wind. He would have to go after her, it was his responsibility, but he knew he could do it now. The fear was gone. He quivered and laughed, raising himself as high as he could, feeling the sun dry the girl’s saliva.

I’m… I’m disgusting!” he proclaimed. “Cream soda is disgusting! I will disgust all of humanity! We will send them across the sands! Glory to the disgusting!”

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