21st May 2020, 7:05 PM
Return to the Back Room

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Return to the Back Room
After a brief getting-your-shit-together period, the three of you head to the bus stop.

"So," you begin, "I do think we should take a stab at the old library while we're all together and it's still daylight. ...Buuut I might have a cell phone and a magic ring waiting for me at the Back Room. ...And we should probably eat before we go fight giant animals or ghosts or... whatever."

"You do need a cell phone," Kate remarks.

"It's before 10," says Cici. "All the convenience stores should still have breakfast pizza."

"Cici," replies Kate, shaking her head and putting a hand on the larger lady's shoulder, "there's more to life than pizza. The place next to the Back Room has breakfast burgers."

"Holy shit," you blurt out. A breakfast burger? Is there no limit to man's hubris? Cici's face similarly lights up, as though someone just revealed the secrets of the universe to her.

"We can hit up the Back Room first," Kate concludes, "since it's like... right there."



The bus pulls up, and you all board. Kate pays for Cici's ride.

"It's good to see you all getting along so well," the bus comments. ...But Cici doesn't usually take the bus, so the bus probably doesn't know her. What the bus actually means, you imagine, is it's good to see you making friends Plaire but it'd be weird to single you out like that.

You take your usual seat. You're still thinking about the whole...

leader thing.

You're not a leader. You're like... the opposite of a leader. You're the person that either doesn't want to be in a group in the first place, or does but then proceeds to accidentally fuck everything up for everyone else somehow. You are not a go-getter. You do not take charge. Even when it came to dating Lora, she was basically coaching you until you finally got internet access and could research how lesbians work.

Kate's better at getting shit done. Cici has her life together better.

You're just... the dumbass who owns the house.

...But you ARE the dumbass who owns the house, and that isn't changing any time soon (or at least, you hope not).

You're not in any condition to lead this whole stupid thing. Maybe you should change that.

"I need to start thinking about the long term," you finally force yourself to say.

Cici raises an eyebrow. "What, like planning routes and stuff?"

"Oh, geez, no," you reply. "I mean like getting in better shape. ...Physically AND mentally."

"Yeah," Kate says, "I like the current shoot-from-the-hip approach you're taking to the dirty deed but if what I saw really does represent your brain... girl, you need help."

"The dirty deed...?," you mumble, but Kate continues undeterred.

"Like--the chain things. What the fuck were the chain things?"

You think about it, but not for very long. "Cocoons... people that never finished developing. They settled in halfway, gave up on reaching their potential--wrapped themselves in the binds the system gave them, dressed themselves in the chains. ...Now they lash out at everyone else for not submitting like they did. If you just work hard and commit yourself to a real job, really put your heart into it, you could go places, you just don't take it seriously enough. ...When all they've really accomplished in like forty years of being alive is the lofty heights of assistant manager for a fast food place, recently divorced. I'm the idiot for not walking in those footsteps."

"God damn," says Kate, after a brief silence.

"That's awfully specific," Cici points out.

You shrug. "That guy was the first to pop into my head, but I've dealt with dozens more just like him. My parents, too; even when they started to struggle with medical bills or paying cops to find out who robbed us or whatever, even when they had to do shady shit to keep living comfortably... the system works. Everything's fine. We live in the greatest country in the world.

Pretty much any time I even mentioned the idea of free healthcare, or a non-privatized police force, or how regulation would clean up the water supply... it ended in yelling, and me shutting the fuck up for another month. My parents are well off and they STILL get screwed, over and over, and they NEVER think about how much worse it has to be for people that aren't as lucky as they've been."

"You said your dad looked like a big wall," Cici mentions. "In the other place."

"Yeah," you reply. "Which fits. He's like talking to a wall. He wanted to be a preacher--and could have been, probably, but he also loves gambling and everybody knows it, and everybody talks. He knows he could be a preacher, though, so he acts like he has some divine authority anyway. I can't even talk to him about Bible shit--he acts like I know absolutely nothing, even though HE made the decision to send me to a fucking church school where that's basically all we learned.

The fight's in a big church looking room, and he constantly smashes through all the pews the way he helped decimate my opinion of holy men with stupid titles. YES, arguably, depending on how you translate and read the text Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed in PART for vague sexual deviancy but Lot and his family weren't spared for being STRAIGHT they were spared for BEING GOOD FUCKING NEIGHBORS EVEN TO PEOPLE THEY THOUGHT WERE STRANGE! UGH--"

"Plaire," says Cici.

"Let her go," Kate says softly, trying not to grin. "It's not like the bus hasn't seen someone totally lose their shit before."

"It's fine," confirms the bus, "as long as you don't break anything."


You take a moment to breathe. "I think that's it. I don't even remember what I was talking about."

"Getting in better shape," Kate says, finally letting the grin happen. "I know who to talk to about the mental part. Cici, can you teach her how to exercise? I know you and your jank ass metabolism can't teach her about diet, but--"

"The last time I tried to train somebody I think they almost died," Cici says bluntly. "I work out for fun, I don't wanna hurt her. ...Bebe takes it a little lighter, maybe I could call her?"

Kate shakes her head. "Bebe doesn't work out, that's why I hate your metabolism. And the gym's a no go."

"What's wrong with the gym?," Cici asks.

You and Kate both just... stare at her. "There's people there," you finally reply.

"Oh," says Cici. "Yeah. Hmm. I'll ask around! I'll figure something out."


You arrive at the Back Room.



Inside, Afu is having a... spirited argument with a man in a bathrobe.

"Young Afu," begins the older man, "you know that you're like a son to me--"

"I'm not. You've never said that," interjects Afu,

"--but I'm putting my foot down," he continues. "Your taste in kaiju filmography is frankly juvenile. Taken within the context of the entire franchise, a single film focusing on the perspective of the surviving human cast is ambitious, a truly--"

"Bro. I don't care about the surviving human cast," Afu interrupts, "I paid to see monsters fight. Movie's named Son of Nukasaurus X, not Survivors of Nukasaurus X."

The man in the bathrobe moves... dramatically. The way he sways and motions his arms as he speaks, it's easy to forget that it is in fact a bathrobe, and that he is not a wizard. "The titular son would make for a weak plot otherwise! He's Nukasaurus X, only smaller. No one wants to sit through two hours of... of that."

"I did," says Afu. "If the critic ratings mean anything, everybody wanted to sit through that."

"Bah!," exclaims the wizard with a great sweep of his hand, "No kaiju film gets its critical dues in this country. They've sacrificed the noble art of rubber suit choreography, and to what end? For what gain?! For CGI abominations and an additional 6% on MovieBalls Dot Com?! It is a TRAGEDY, an INJUSTICE and--!"

As he dramatically turns, he spies you, Kate, and Cici standing at the door.

Without missing a beat, he completely switches demeanor. "Oh! Welcome, ladies, to THE BACK ROOM, the world's foremost purveyor of misfit toys--"

"We've all heard the thing already," interjects Kate. "You can skip it, Ezra."

"Damn you, Kate," says Ezra with a shaken fist, "villain that you are! Could you not have mercifully let me continue? Is it not in your black heart to let me perform in blissful ignorance? I'm old. I'm withering away. Let me have this."

"Nah," replies Kate bluntly, "we got shit to do. Plaire's the small one, Cici's the big one, Ezra's the decrepit warlock. Intros are done and you're all welcome."

"Plaire," states Afu, "kaiju movies. Go."

You shake your head. "The only one I've seen is... uh... the one where the speedo guy fights the big pollution monster." It was Massive Wrestler Versus Sumogu, but if you act like you're too cool to remember the name it'll curve the impact of you not knowing shit about kaiju movies. "It was alright."

Ezra is immediately suspicious. "Was it in black and white, or was it in color?"

"Color," you reply.

He gasps, and slightly recoils. "The remake. Ye gods, you poor creature. You really should watch another should you find the time; if you managed to claw some hint of enjoyment out of the Massive Wrestler Versus Sumogu remake, I imagine you must have a taste for the genre."

"Any... recommendations...?," you ask.

"Any of them," Afu says. "Bro. You watched like, the worst one."

"Dorks. Please," interrupts Kate. "This is not what we came here for."

"This place is amazing and I am afraid to touch anything," Cici whispers to no one in particular.

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21st May 2020, 7:16 PM
21st May 2020, 8:45 PM
Frission
Yes but she's our dork <3
21st May 2020, 7:18 PM
I kinda wanna see where this is going, but first let's get that phone and inquire about those rings. Maybe later we can also pick up a breakfast burger with Plaire's Little Bit Of Money As A Treat, if enough of it remains.
21st May 2020, 7:18 PM
I like Ezra the bathrobe warlock. He could very well be a source of unusual information. Maybe ask him if he's ever heard about something called a Demonshell? If he asks where you heard of them, say you were bored, had access to the internet, and wandered somewhere odd.
21st May 2020, 7:54 PM
Snervalton
+1. Be sure to also ask him what he knows about the spooky house and the vampire mayor.
21st May 2020, 10:28 PM
Lunar Waffles
+1 demonshells seem like they might be important x:
22nd May 2020, 1:39 AM
+1 And don't forget to ask about the ring.
21st May 2020, 7:18 PM
Anotherdamntimeclone
We should ask about that phone and the ring, look into how it could help us in the dream world and how to get more demonshells.
21st May 2020, 7:19 PM
We do have business here, but it occurs to me that everyone could probably benefit from shooting the shit for a while.

We aren't that strapped for time, and movie suggestions and the like might provide good non-my-house-is-trying-to-murder-me activities.
21st May 2020, 7:21 PM
undeadDreamer
"Oh wizened one we have come in search of a ring of dreams."
21st May 2020, 7:56 PM
Snervalton
Hmm, yes, indulge him in his theatrics and wizardly posturing and he may be more inclined to be generous in regard to the price of the ring.
21st May 2020, 7:45 PM
“We need a dream ring and more demonshells, and those may or may not be the same thing. Also a phone. And to know which games companies aside from MASAMOON, Toward Software, and Yamauchi might have been slipping occult dream shit into their games under the radar.” That should give the denizens of the Back Room plenty to think about while we pick up the stuff we need lol

Also, I would like to point out that one of the Major Arcana in the Tarot is The Magician. I’d be willing to bet that Bathrobe Warlock (which is, incidentally, a good band name) here might well be represented by that card. Not that we necessarily need to do anything with that information just yet, but it’s something to keep in mind.
21st May 2020, 9:30 PM
Limrix
Oh yeah, we should ask Afu if he has a phone for us. +1 to this stuff.
22nd May 2020, 1:49 AM
Hari_Seldon
+1 buy a dream ring and a game
22nd May 2020, 6:41 PM
Snervalton
Make sure the game has dream properties!
21st May 2020, 7:53 PM
So, we know the nature of the Right-To-Know, and of the Chain Maws (at least, Player's take on them, which we can assume is authoritative). How about the Worm Corpses? And Shadow Player?

Examining Shadow Player might be a bit scary for her, though. Kate doesn't know about it, so she can't ask. Would Player avoid looking at it for fear of her own analysis?

Also, anti-capitalist rant, hahaha.
21st May 2020, 8:47 PM
Frission
An interesting plan! I approve. :3
22nd May 2020, 7:27 AM
For the sake of... Whatever, just set the name in your T9, please.
22nd May 2020, 12:36 PM
You know, thinking about it, Player's already told us the nature of Shadow Player. A game mechanic that, in practice, punishes the player for dying.

So, the Shadow Player is a manifestation of her self-punishing tendencies; she feels that she deserves punishment when she tries and fails, so she punishes herself, now that her Dad and Addersfield aren't around to punish her. In the real world, this manifests as anxiety- self-inflicted emotional punishment for her powerlessness. She even said this, back in ( http://mda.thecomicseries.com/comics/13 ).

At first, I figured it was just a mechanic from Crush Souls. She played it the first night, then died the first night, so the Crush Souls mechanic kicked in. If, in fact, the games deliberately included dream-buffing, then this was probably wrong; the developers wouldn't include this kind of thing in their code if they were trying to help.

A save for that thesis would be that the games can't help with positive game mechanics without including a few negative mechanics. Some kind of trade-off they had to work around. I consider this revised thesis unlikely, because the Magic Mustachio night didn't reveal any negative mechanics, unless the bottomless pit was one (so if the pit is missing on nights we don't play Mustachio, this thesis may still be valid).

--------

@Sulferon Actually, the default "no name" is Guest, if I'm not mistaken. You can rest assured that I am not leaving some field blank.
21st May 2020, 8:01 PM
Snervalton
Ask if Marlow is in today. If he is, invite him over to the spooky house tonight to give it the once-over with his ghost-finding equipment. He may not detect any actual ghosts but who knows what else he may find?
22nd May 2020, 12:40 AM
21st May 2020, 8:24 PM
pkrankow
Small talk then ask about the ring and phone.

Small talk includes games and studios.
21st May 2020, 9:27 PM
Limrix
Demonshells, dream rings, little red spiky things, awful dreams, secret memes, a house that just won't die

Mondol screwing eveyone, choose the devil or the sun, making vods, fighting gods, getting beach volleyball bods

Nothing hurts like losing trust, family turned their backs on us, good ol' games with real life hacks, drifting across all the tracks, ditching cops, doing things, who knows what next day might bring, mayor says it’s over our head and we could end up real dead.
21st May 2020, 10:06 PM
Do you recall the Liar?
We do not forget so we DO NOT RESET!
Do you recall the Liar?
Etched into the blade, where we once did fade!
21st May 2020, 10:29 PM
Limrix
Oh good sir, we come seeking the rings of old, the games of old, for it is foretold those are the mediums which do encode the backdoors to the mind and soul.

Oh wise scholar, we come seeking legends bygone, this town of nine, of literacy fine, upon an old decaying mine. Which now has fallen to decline, although the embers glow.

Regale us now so we may see what protects you and protects me, laid under the hanging tree inside our pillow fort.
22nd May 2020, 5:58 AM
Breakfast pizza: A single slice of cold pizza served in a large cardboard box.
22nd May 2020, 9:59 AM
Snervalton
Ah yes! The most depressing meal on earth. I've eaten it, accompanied by a hangover, far too many times...
22nd May 2020, 8:24 PM
pkrankow
Without the hangover it is rather pleasent and somewhat chewy.
22nd May 2020, 10:27 PM
Snervalton
I dunno, personally I'm only interested in pizza when I'm drunk and once I sober up I wonder what the hell I ever saw in it...