Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
START HERE

The moon oozes into a starless black above the peaked and jutting roof of the place, the inky-windowed bulk of it squatting in the mist, leaning almost imperceptibly away, as if gathering itself to strike. It's not quite what you expected, being so much more. Like something out of a bad mid-century horror comic, dilapidated even then, but with 70 more years of decay on top of that. Gables and gambrels and garrets, sagging shit Lovecraft would have recognized as the parts of a place people once lived, but now only where something Beyond Evil lurks. A wrought-iron-prickled container for Things That Should Not Be, looking for all the world like the frozen head of Walt Disney sucked off the French Quarter.

They said not to come, everyone knows better than to come, but having finished that awful business with the vibrating mummy—God rest the souls of the fallen—here you are. Recovered, mostly, except for a slight limp and the odd blackout moment, but full again with hate and a terrible resolve.

You grimace and make a crackling fist. A rivulet of blood drips from your knuckles.

It ends tonight—the Mystery House is done.


Inventory

slight limp
hate
terrible resolve
witch-hunting kit


Do you:

WALK UP STEPS
or
CHECK AROUND BACK
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

WALK UP STEPS

This is the kind of protesting, rotten-wood portico that could snap an ankle upon hasty retreat—just the sort of non-diabolical hero-killer that witches aren't known for, but should be. You'd imagine it's all black magic and demon familiars and hideous transformations but it's much more likely to be shit like this, a Halloween prop shaken vigorously in the face, the backpedaling, the snapped ankle and then a quotidian monkey shanking. Or, like that one time in Prague, an electrified bed frame suspended over a window, a bit of real-world magic that kills one and shatters the minds of everyone else within screaming and smelling distance. You make a mental note to jump the steps should it come to that.

You take a step or two toward the door—a mildly luminescing tangle of angles that seems interested in meeting you halfway—your hand is on the baroque knocker before you realize what you've done.


Inventory

slight limp
hate
terrible resolve
witch-hunting kit
mental note


Do you:

KNOCK
or
GO TO LIQUOR STORE FOR TEQUILA AND COUGH SYRUP
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

GO TO LIQUOR STORE FOR TEQUILA AND COUGH SYRUP

It's a well-lit and suspicious place, midnight stragglers hustling personal demons, furtive, judged and judgmental. No real eye contact, just lots of glances. The dude by the dumpster makes your hand itch for the Glock in your witch-hunting kit—you did remember the Glock, right? Or was it the sawed-off? Or was the sawed-off just the truncheon, similar in the hand and mind? Shit shit shit. You stand between the aisles of stuff shaped like want-holes, frozen, and what you want is to rummage the duffel and put that itchy hand on the Glock or the sawed-off and not the truncheon but there are at least six eyes glancing past you repeatedly, slashing at your equanimity, and an array of CCTV cameras that can probably see your thoughts like closed-captioning. You take a breath and a swig of cough syrup.

"Hey, man," says the cashier, "You gonna pay for that?"

"I always do," you reply.


Inventory

slight limp
hate
terrible resolve
witch-hunting kit
tequila
cough syrup


Do you:

TALK TO CASHIER
or
GET ON WITH IT ALREADY
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

TALK TO CASHIER

The look on his face is one you've seen before, too often, so you hit him again. He goes down, taking the folding chair he's duct-taped to with him to the cracked basement floor. He coughs teeth and wails. "I told you I don't know anything!"

"So you admit you're a mindless pawn."

"What? What pawn?!"

You give him an extra-hard boot to the tummy. Rookie move—it's gonna take him a few minutes to recover, and in the meantime you'll get nothing useful out of him. Just sobs and fluids. The single bare bulb is swinging—must've bumped it with your head—making shadows lurch and pounce. Furniture and old machines, some covered with ghost-shrouds, some naked, a mirror framed in light wood carved like bones, your face, hovering there, in terrible recognition—you've been here before. So many times, before.

You grab him by the hair and yank him upright. The chair's fucked, not rated for this, won't sit up straight. "The house," you hiss, "and the witch."

The bulb gutters like flame.

His face twists. "This place? You're the one who brought me here!"


Inventory

slight limp
witch-hunting kit
horrible realization


Do you:

GET THE FUCK OUT
or
GET ON WITH IT ALREADY
20 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

GET THE FUCK OUT

The hallways are long and dark and full of senseless furniture that's only good for architectural spreads that never show people—or for tripping intruders. The passages twist, but not in the usual way, everything's turning on its long axis. Three steps on the floor, a weird hop to the wall, careful not to put a leg through any doorways, then bootprints on the ceiling while dodging dead light fixtures. You hit the front door floorwise at full steam, knocking it open and hurtle onto the porch, where you put a boot right through the middle step.

You wake on the damp ground, nightsounds all around, having pissed yourself. Your head and ankle throb in synchrony. The house squats, immobile, front door hanging open like a dumb mouth.


Inventory

pronounced limp
witch-hunting kit


Do you:

GET ON WITH IT ALREADY
or
GO TO BARCELONA
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

GO TO BARCELONA

Of course, you don't really intend to go to Barcelona. That's just code for a broken arrow situation gone FUBAR, an emergency exfil to a safehouse, probably somewhere in the Balkans. And then a general call for reinforcements.

The flight, while at the marginal safety of 35,000 feet, does nothing to calm your nerves. You're gonna need something to keep your head in the clouds.


Inventory

pronounced limp
jangled nerves
keister-stashed fiberglass shiv


Do you:

TROUBLE STEWARDESS FOR SLEEPING AID
or
HIJACK PLANE
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

TROUBLE STEWARDESS FOR SLEEPING AID

Dear Penthouse Letters,

I never thought it could happen to me, but it did. Airplane lavatories are tiny and you'd swear there wasn't enough room to cram two people together in there—let alone have enough space to disrobe sufficiently to snizzle—but you'd be surprised. It probably has something to do with the unconscious needs of evolutionary pressure and how we're genetically inhibited from making a public space where two people can't fuck or designing pants that can't be popped, flopped or twisted quickly into a configuration that allows for genital contact. No matter how hard we try, the ur-chemistry in our blood will always steer us back to a bang-closet and long zippers. Even the most devout ascetic in his "don't touch it" closet, dingwallace safely mortified in a chastity belt, can get shocked erect when a servant of indeterminate gender wriggles into the space buck naked with the key. Turns out in the deepest, darkest sub-basement of the soul there's always water on the floor, seeping, seeping. Her hands on mine, she showed me what she liked, so we did a bunch of that. It didn't make me as sleepy as cough syrup, which would have been nice, but it did make her wink at me for the rest of the flight.

Sincerely,

Name Withheld By Request


Inventory

pronounced limp
keister-stashed fiberglass shiv
mile-high club membership
chlamydia


Do you:

RIDE IT OUT
or
NO, REALLY—LET'S HIJACK THIS MOTHERFUCKER
22 
 Thumb up
2.04
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

RIDE IT OUT

After three confusing weeks in Barcelona, you're back.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
plucky sidekick


Do you:

GET ON WITH IT ALREADY
or
TRAIN SIDEKICK
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

GET ON WITH IT ALREADY

You stand before the night-house in the semi-protective glow of the full moon, panting and wiping the plucky sidekick's blood from your eyes. You told him to run. You told him to run but he had to turn and look. They always do. Unless you train them not to.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
dented shovel


Do you:

WALK UP STEPS
or
CHECK AROUND BACK
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

ENTER GRAVEYARD

You're only halfway down, like three feet under the headstone, when the shovel hits a lead plug with an inscription.

THINK ABOUT IT, it says.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
dented shovel
doubt


Do you:

DIG IT UP
or
JESUS CHRIST DO WHAT THE PLUG SAYS
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

DIG IT UP

Fuck plugs. Besides, the grave contains some dude buried head-down with a baby-skull wedged in his mouth.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
dented shovel


Do you:

REMOVE SKULL
or
NO NO NO DON'T TOUCH IT
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

REMOVE SKULL

You could sell this shit on eBay—the plug, the bound bones, the baby skull, hell, even your underwear "worn by a grave robber during an actual grave robbery; cleaned to eBay standards".


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
dented shovel
bundle of bones
baby skull


Do you:

SELL ON EBAY
or
CALL IT A NIGHT
20 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

SELL ON EBAY

Your roommate's home—still hasn't done the dishes—says he called the police.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
bundle of bones
baby skull
rage


Do you:

WAIT FOR POLICE
or
CASTIGATE ROOMMATE
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

CASTIGATE ROOMMATE

No matter how hard you look, you can't find the parasite. Probably shoulda laid down some plastic first. Red and blue lights dance through the thin curtains.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
parasite


Do you:

KICK THE DOOR BEFORE THEY DO
or
FEIGN INNOCENCE
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

KICK THE DOOR BEFORE THEY DO

You gun the engine of the Rhino Industries Trampler XL police vehicle and three of the six South African riot tires get air off a startled Prius, neatly crimping it in a cloud of sparkling glass. It handles like a pig, the driver-side door is missing—which is annoying—and the radio doesn't get anything but some weird, right-wing talkshow about places you've just been.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
tomahawk
parasite
police hat
sucking chest wound


Do you:

TAKE A LEFT ON EUCLID
or
HOLY SHIT VIBRATING MUMMY
21 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

TAKE A LEFT ON EUCLID

More than anything you want that hard left, away, away from what is, impossibly, him. Popping and locking and doing his weird vibrating dance across the street, his millennia-wormed vestments snap-fluttering in a cloud behind him. In that awful, sickening moment you realize that all those months of investigation and globetrotting, that burning swath of ruined lives you wiped from the map like so much dust, all culminating in that single, hard night beneath the pyramids, Inishka whispering in your ear "Make it count," and then she was gone, no time to scream, Doc Ambrose rising then, pages of the Book of the Dead in his fist as he barked impossible syllables you could feel in your guts and nuts to bring the whole mass of centuries down upon the Dread Pharaoh's head—all of it, all of it a monumental waste.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
parasite
sucking chest wound
regret


Do you:

SWERVE
or
THROW TOMAHA—AW SHIT IT'S GONE
21 
 Thumb up
0.05
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

SWERVE

You haul on the wheel hand-over-hand and the beast groans with inertia as the shocks on one whole side compress, tires fattening with the load but keeping the road as you punch it again and bear down on the flickering thing pinned in the banks of blinding lights. Seconds are sectioned as they swell, the ticking of every clock let out logarithmically long–longer—and then into the silence between worlds where the vibrating mummy dances his blasphemous dance. He steps—and is gone. He steps—

—and the grille has him for lunch, then vomits the other half into the hungry wheels where he pops into a cloud of spicy dust.


Inventory

slight limp
mile-high club membership
parasite
sucking chest wound


Do you:

DRIVE UNTIL THE SNIPER TAKES THE SHOT
or
DRIVE THE BREACHING VEHICLE TO THE MYSTERY HOUSE
21 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
You have chosen:

DRIVE THE BREACHING VEHICLE TO THE MYSTERY HOUSE

In the glare of the 18 halogens it looks like the kind of place kids go to drink and have formative experiences that'll color their first marriage, the kind of place heroin addicts go to get found dead. Light washes evil to banality, and you realize you just shoulda burned the place down in the first paragraph. But your reflexes are failing you—the last thing that always happens just before the end.

There are no brakes, just an aching right foot holding pedal to the metal, and at least one of choppers tethered to you by silver spotlights is live news—and man, are they ever gonna see something when you kick this hive over. You got what you couldn't get in Barcelona, an entire sting-crazy and heavily armed cavalry riding in your wake. Whatever boils out of that house will go straight into their teeth. It might get you first, but what the hell, that's the end that was destined for you when you first stepped upon the path.

The light makes the whole façade a million shades of gray, everything dull but for the yawning black mouth of the doorway, an undulating deadspace that seems to shift with every jounce of the Trampler's riot-worn shocks. The engine roars—and the house answers—slapping your blood cold, the steering wheel like ice in your fists. Eyes frozen wide you hit the portico at speed, disintegrating it into a twin-tailed fountain of wet kindling as you plunge into the heart of the house and the darkness folds over you like a thousand nights up to no good. No good at all.

And now you know the door was never the way in—it was the way out the whole time.


THE END
25 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rusty McFisticuffs
United States
Arcata
California
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
HiveGod wrote:
Do you:

WALK UP STEPS
or
CHECK AROUND BACK

I was going to complain that there's no real choice, but when a chain of events is viewed from the other end, you see that of course there isn't.
16 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Richard Hedke
United States
Gibraltar
Michigan
flag msg tools
What's that spraying out my ass? Oh, it's sunshine!
mbmbmbmbmb
The love interest angle was kinda weak, but otherwise a ripping yarn.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
(The Majestic Tale of) An Idiot With a Box
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
flag msg tools
Whatever you do: DO NOT QUESTION THE BICYCLE PEOPLE! They don't like it.
badge
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
mbmbmbmbmb
12 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
¡dn ʇǝƃ ʇ,uɐɔ ı puɐ uǝllɐɟ ǝʌ,ı
Canada
Chestermere
Alberta
flag msg tools
There are 10 kinds of people who understand binary: Those who do, and those who don't.
mbmbmbmbmb
Spooky! It's as if Dr. Seuss is still among us.
My 3 year-old wants me to read this to her every night, now.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Celina
United States
University City
MO
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The right wing talk show is going to make me laugh all day. Thank you.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
flag msg tools
SWEEP THE GODDAMN LEG
mbmbmbmbmb
Really glad to hear you all enjoyed this Halloween rock in your pillowcase!

Your feedback has actually helped me figure out what to do with the thing. I originally presented it live at an event with an audience that contained exactly one person who even knew what a choose-your-own-adventure story was; his bellowing enthusiasm was disturbing to the rest, though on balance they enjoyed my efforts—declaimed emphatically like a poetry slam—even if they had no idea what was going on. Though at least one of the uninitiated appreciated the subtlety of the inventory items.

I originally set out to do a full-fledged version with real choices, but man, does that ever get complicated fast. Now, I'm more than game, but the issue was spending the time and maintaining the reader's interest. See, I got this novel I'm trying to finish—as Joe Gola jeers at me from beyond the broken tape, the Argentinian beauty queens on his arms showering him with champagne foam as they laugh and laugh—and the danger always is one of distraction. I know where my efforts need to go, and it's not into papering my walls with yarn-linked Post-it notes like a crazy person.

So while some of the words need massaging (welcome to the "infinite drafts" of the Information Age) I'm done with this. In celebration I'm going to work up a PDF version and make it available to anyone who would like a copy.

Thanks again for the motivation and clarity. If you thought this throwaway tale was good, wait'll you get a load of what's next...
23 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Norris
United States
Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
...and J-Pop too!!!!
badge
Raina rocks!!!!!
mbmbmbmbmb
HiveGod wrote:
You have chosen:

GET THE FUCK OUT


My choice every saturday morning by 6am before she wakes up.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.