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Tomb Time by J.H. Brennan
Your head aches. Your mouth tastes like cat litter. Your feet hurt. Your nose smells. The skin is peeling off your face. One of your fingers itches (third one, left hand). There is brown sludge oozing from your ears. You're cold all over. Your muscles quiver and convulse. It feels as if you're sitting on a wet sponge. What was in that cappuccino? Your eyes make a rasping, tearing sound when you try to open them, but you persevere. Much good it does you. Even with them open you can still see nothing. You're either in total darkness or you've just gone blind.
*** So which is it?
If you're in total darkness go to 12.
If you've just gone blind, try 6.
Swiftly you hurl yourself to your chosen exit, firmly expecting the monster to step aside, but instead it moves to block your path. As it does so, all seventy-seven other monsters stroll across to back it up. "Not so fast, poony hooming," it growls. "You need luck as well as skill to get out of a game-book." So saying, it hands you a golden coin. "Toss this!" it commands. ***Poony hooming? What's a poony hooming? But never mind that now. Since you're not about to fight seventy-eight monsters, your only hope of getting out of here is to toss that coin.
If it comes up heads, go to 8.
If it comes up tails, go to 10
If it stands on edge, go to 4
"Kind sir," you exclaim, "I would trust you with my life, my friends' lives, the life of my special friend of the opposite sex, you know what I mean nudge-nudge, wink-wink. I would trust you with my most precious possessions. I would trust you with the sun, the moon, the stars, the -" "Okay, okay, I get the message," says the little man. "So you'll help me?" you ask eagerly, panting a little."Didn't I say I would? "Well, not exactly," you tell him pedantically. "You actually just said you were the only one who could tell me which exit to take to get out of here. I mean, the implication might be that you would help me, but there's no way to be absolutely certain that -" "Do you always go on like this?" he asks you impatiently. "No wonder you spend your life wandering about in dumb adventures. Of course I'll help you. There's just one problem ...""I thought there might be," you say sourly. "Since this is a game-book," he goes on, ignoring you, "I can't just point you to the proper exit like any normal human being. Instead, I have first to ask you to solve a stupid puzzle. Are you willing to have a go?"
*** You don't want to waste time messing about with some stupid puzzle, do you?
You do? Well, if you must, go to 7.
You don't. There's sensible. Go to 5
Oh come on, who do you think you're fooling? Go back to 2 and toss again.
"Not much good at that sort of thing," you mumble. "More the monster-fighter me. Out with the old dice, you know. Hack hack, slay slay. Puzzles give me a headache.""Suit yourself," says the little man and disappears.
***Leaving you to battle single-handed with the seventy-eight monsters who have hurled themselves upon you, snarling and ravening.
If you survive the monsters, go to http://homepage.tinet.ie/~herbie.
If you don't, go to 13.
"Eyaaaah!" you wail. "I'm blind! My eyes have dimmed. O me miserum! Ehu!" you add, lapsing into Latin in your panic. "What shall I do? Who shall save me? What have I done to deserve this? How -" "Oh, shut up, duckie," snaps a voice in your ear (the left one). And abruptly the blindfold is snatched away, allowing you to see again. You are standing in an immense stone-flagged, stone-walled chamber out of which run seventy-eight exit corridors, each one guarded by the most fearsome monster you have ever seen. (That's seventy-eight separate monsters, you appreciate, not just one monster racing around trying to guard the lot.) Beside you is a broadsword gleaming with a hint of magic, a golden key, a parchment headed 'Quests' and a small blue bottle half full of liquid. There is no sign of any armour. Your blood runs cold as you realise where you are. This is the worst thing that could possibly have happened to you. You are trapped inside a game-book!
*** If the shock of this realisation kills you, go to 13.
But if you're cool, try 9.
"The puzzle is this," smiles the little man, clearly pleased by your decision. "Kh aqw ecp wpfgtuvcpf c yqtf K'o ucakpi, jwtn aqwtugnh vq vyq." You blink. "Pardon?"
The monster looks down at the result. "Wow," it growls, "what dumb luck. Let's duff up this poony hooming, boys!" With which all seventy-eight monsters fall on you like an avalanche.
*** Dig yourself out from under them at 13.
"Brrr!" you shiver. "Cool in here." "Never mind that now," says the voice in your ear (the left one). "Only I can tell you which of the seventy-eight exits will get you out of this mess safely. Will you trust me?" You turn (to your left) and discover your companion is a tiny wizened little man with a bushy moustache, dark glasses and a badge on his jacket that says 'Alf's Second Hand Car Sales. Old Bangers a Speciality'. He smiles at you and the light glints on a gold tooth. "Will you?" he asks again.
*** Well, do you think you should trust this clown?
If so, move swiftly on to 3.
If not go to 11.
The monster looks down at the result. "Wow," it growls, "what dumb luck. Let's get this poony hooming out of here, boys!" With which all seventy-eight monsters escort you from the game-book back to your computer .
*** After which you win the Lotto, meet the partner of your dreams and get offered the supreme dictatorship of the planet. Not bad just for finding your way out of a stupid game, don't you think?
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"Trust you?" you ask. "Trust a four-eyed little tort-feasor with a dead rat under his nose? Trust a used car salesman who smells like a rotted octopus with diahorrea? I'd say you were out of your tiny mind if I thought for a minute you were intelligent enough to have one." At which the little man picks up the broadsword and strikes you dead with it.
*** That'll teach you to keep a civil tongue in your head. Go to 13.
Cautiously you stand up. Cautiously you fumble your way forward. Cautiously you fall over a cliff.
***Keep falling until you reach 13.
Tomb time. You're dead, deceased, passed on. You've turned your toes up, fallen off your perch, gone over to the other side, ceased to be, bought the farm. You're an ex-parrot. If you believe in reincarnation (or it's Groundhog Day) go to 1. If not, go home.
Copyright ©1999 J. H. Brennan.