Sunday, June 15, 2008

017: The Frog of Chaos

Hey, it's the author here. Sorry to get all meta on you, but before we begin with today's session, I'd like to know something. How many of you checked the comments for the previous session?

The reason I ask, see, is because I played a bit of a trick on you. Very unethical and a bit unfair, I know, but I was feeling very mischievous last time. What I did was finish off the last session and give the actual choices for this session in the comments section. You can still go back and read it, if you like, and it wasn't a life-altering choice.

Oh, and for what it's worth, Charleston did end up eating the turkey Lunchable, which was the false choice A. Now, on with this week's session!
Choice A (Find the plopper): 4 votes
Choice B (Investigate the cabin): 3 votes
Choice C (Take a rest): 2 votes
There was another plop. Charleston stood up, clapped his hands once, and said, "Let's find that phantom plopper!"

He held out his hand to Edolie, to help her up, and she said, "That is a ridiculous name." She brushed her hair from her face, and Charleston marveled at how it seemed to shift its color depending on how the light hit it. He wondered why he hadn't noticed it before.

He smiled at her, tipped his hat, and replied, "Then let's find it and give it a proper one, eh?" He twirled his cane, surprised at how cheerful he was. After all, he was basically trapped around what appeared to be a man-made lake with something large, separated by things from a disturbing netherworld by nothing more than a music puzzle. On the other hand, he was trapped with an attractive young woman in a skin-tight suit. Granted, with Charleston's track record, she would end up dead or otherwise taken out of the picture by the end of this adventure. He was mildly surprised it hadn't happened already.

"How do you intend to catch the creature?" said Edolie, looking pensive.

Charleston paused. Right now, catching the creature was fairly impossible. They had no equipment, and unless Charleston wanted to wrestle it to the ground and hog-tie it with vines, there was pretty much no way it could stay caught. Then he pulled the spare Lunchable out of his coat and tore it open. He tossed the dessert and drink to Edolie, and started placing a trail of meat, cheese, and crackers. As he placed the crackers carefully on the water, he motioned for Edolie to step back. She had eaten the dessert and drank the drink. They both hid in some convenient bushes, and watched the crackers.

Several yards from the shore, two bulbous eyes broke the surface of the lake, staring in the direction of the scattered Lunchable. They moved quickly towards the crackers, and the giant frog broke erupted from the lake, devouring the crackers. It began to try to eat the salami and American cheese, but was unable to get them off the ground.

Charleston crawled to a slice of salami, and held it up. The giant frog stared at him, and moved toward him carefully. It opened its mouth, and Charleston tossed it the salami. The tongue came out, snatching the salami in mid-air, and the frog looked expectantly at him. It looked like the same frog Charleston had encountered some months ago, but there was a subtle feeling of wrongness about it. In fact, this entire area was wrong. The colors were much too vibrant, the water was much too pure. Now that he looked at it closely, this entire area was too symmetrical. And in the middle of it, a cabin. He felt Edolie's hand on his shoulder, and felt her breath on his ear as she whispered. It made him shudder.

"What do we do now?"

The frog was still staring at him.

What should have been a routine cryptozoological mission had turned into something that had forced Charleston and Land Captain to deal with aliens, mad scientists, unstable terrain, and nether-creatures from a disturbing beyond. And in the middle of it all, an oasis of something which was all too perfect, some sort of high-definition reality. Except there was a slight blurriness to everything as well, everything except Edolie and the frog. Charleston looked at his hand, and it was as clear as Edolie.

"I think I know what's going on," said Charleston, softly, "I think I've figured it out. We need to get to that cabin, though, and our amphibian friend is going to help us."

Edolie nodded. Charleston knelt down as well as he could and picked up some more meat and cheese.

"Try to get on the frog while I feed it," said Charleston, "It's going to take us to that cabin."

Charleston looked at the cabin, and began stepping back. The frog followed him, showing an amazing affinity to processed meat and cheese. It hardly noticed as Edolie climbed onto its back. Once they were back enough, Charleston carefully turned the frog around. He hurled the cheese and meat into the air, and crawled on top of the frog while it snatched each piece from the air. He carefully wrapped his arms around Edolie, taking care to be gentlemanly about it. He noticed she was blushing.

"Hold on tight, Miss DePrit," said Charleston, "We're going to go on a wild ride."

He removed one of his arms, and raised his cane. He brought it down hard on the frog's backside, and quickly held onto Edolie again. The frog croaked, reared, and leapt through the air, landing in the water several yards from the island the cabin was on. It was at this point that Charleston discovered that his bionic leg had not been modified for aquatics. He began to sink, and while he was sinking, he noticed that the island was anchored by several cables. He hardly had time to think about this when Edolie grabbed his jacket and pulled him to the island's shore, such as it was. He gasped for breath.

"Do you need the kiss of life?" said Edolie, kneeling in front of him. She looked quite concerned.

Charleston spat out water, and held up his hand. Once he had enough air in his system again, he smiled and said, "I'm fine. I'm fine." In the back of his mind, he reminded himself about his girlfriend, the one who had been seduced by a vampire cult.

It was a small island, really, about the size and shape of a moderately sized above-ground pool. The cabin was also quite small, perhaps as big as a four vending machines. Charleston used his cane to help himself up, and he walked over to a tree. Or, what looked like a tree. The bark was too smooth, and the leaves were actually a jumbled mass of green. He pulled out his tape recorder, and began documenting all he knew about this island.

Edolie poked at the other tree, which was exactly like the one Charleston was by, and said, "Why is it humming?"

Charleston paused, and listened. The island was, indeed, humming. Facts were congregating in Charleston's head, and all he had to do was sort them out. He walked over to the fake cabin, and saw that it was not a cabin at all. It was simply some sort of box painted to look like a cabin from far away. It, too, was humming.

"I think I know what's going on here," said Charleston.

"What is it?" said Edolie.

Charleston took a deep breath, and smiled. He liked doing this.

"I don't think this lake is man-made. I think those Alogrins made it."

Edolie gasped, "Why?"

"Well, Land Captain said that they had found a way to hang out in-between dimensions. Something like that would require either a massive power source, or some sort of thing causing the fabric of time and space to weaken. I think this island is that thing."

"Why the lake?"

"Well, remember what I said about water not being affected by things like unstable terrain? They made the lake to be a sort of buffer, as they didn't want to totally obliterate the planet just yet. This island is just floating, tethered to the bottom by cables. I don't think they wanted to create all this unstable terrain, however. I think a common frog made it to this island and was somehow transformed into a giant frog, some sort of frog of chaos. Wherever it went, it caused some form of chaos. Since it lives here, the chaos field emanated from it, creating the unstable terrain."

Edolie thought about this for a minute. "Shouldn't we be affected by it as well?"

Charleston chuckled, and said, "We already are being affected by it. Your hair was red before, wasn't it?"

She nodded.

"It changes with the light, now. It looks quite nice, I'm just worried about the effects it'll have on reality."

"What about you?"

Charleston shrugged, "It's affecting my mind. I'm becoming more and more obscenely cheerful as time goes on. I know how to fix things, though. Or at least, stop them from getting much worse."


"I need you to get back to shore. I'm going to implode this thing," he said with a laugh.

"How are you going to do this?"

"I'll just shock it with my cane," said Charleston, "These things are pretty delicate."

"How will you get back to shore?" she said, staring at him. She paused for a moment, and added, "Will you be able to get back?"

He smiled, and then he was chuckling, with tears in his eyes. He was looking at her, and then he doubled over, laughing more and more. He dropped his cane, and said, "There's really no choice here. I have to do this, otherwise the unreality is going to spread farther and farther. Those tunnel things, they'll take over the world." He laughed more and more.

"Go and win back the woman you love, Charleston Charge. I will come back to help you with your task. This I swear," said Edolie as she knelt down to pick up the cane, and then she brought it down heavily on Charleston's head. "You are wrong, Charleston. There is a choice, and it is mine," she said, as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Edolie had been trained by the French secret service, yes, but she originally been a champion tri-athlete. She pulled Charleston into the water and swam across the lake to the other store. She breathed heavily for a minute, grabbed Charleston's cane, and swam back across. She looked at the cane for a moment, and pointed it at the pseudo-cabin.

Charleston woke up at this point, and was just in time to see the blinding flash of the cabin imploding upon itself. He shielded his eyes from the blast, and then braced himself as reality righted itself with a wave of force. The tunnels and their things were gone, as were the musical trees. The unstable terrain stabilized, everything became a bit more real, and the gap between universes closed in upon itself.

"Edolie?" whispered Charleston, with tears in his eyes once again, and then he passed out once again, wondering if there was some way she could have survived. He could not think of one.

Charleston woke up in the back of Ishmael, Land Captain's car. It was remarkably comfortable. What was more, someone had changed his clothes and mended his wounds. He no longer felt obscenely cheerful, but rather quite melancholic. The feeling worsened as he recalled what had happened to Edolie.

Land Captain seemed to materialize out of nowhere, and handed Charleston a mug of hot cocoa.

"Liana is using her fish to try and find Miss DePrit," said Land Captain, "Want to tell me what happened?"

"We had to save the world, and she decided to kill herself to do it," said Charleston, sipping the cocoa, "I was going to do that."

"Are you jealous?"

"No. I just can't imagine why anyone would give their life for mine. This is about the fourth or fifth partner I've lost, Land Captain."

"I know how it is. Way back when, I was flying around in space. I had a space car, and right by my side was a woman named Maria. She was everything I had ever hoped for in a woman, in a partner. Then, one day, we had to make a difficult choice. I was all set to give my life for the universe, but really, I just wanted to save Maria. She had the same idea, though, only she wanted to save me. So I know how it is."

Charleston and Land Captain stared at the horizon for a minute, with the silence being broken only by Charleston sipping his cocoa.

Charleston broke the silence: "A space car? Seriously?"

"That's right," said Land Captain, "Just wanted to let you know you have a sympathetic ear."

"I appreciate it. You have one too, if you ever need it."

Land Captain smiled, and gave Charleston a salute. Charleston returned it, and gave him a weak smile. At that point, he dropped his cocoa on the ground. The reason for this was clear: a giant frog had just come tearing through the trees and landed in front of him. It stared at him, and when no lunchmeat was forthcoming, it croaked, and leapt back through the trees.

"Looks like you've made a friend," said Land Captain, standing up. The frog had knocked him down.

Charleston nodded, "That frog shouldn't exist anymore. It should have gone back to being a regular frog."

Land Captain shrugged, and then waved at the returning Liana. The flock of freak-fish followed her.

"Any luck?" said Land Captain.

"No," said Liana, "There wasn't a trace of her."

Charleston was still staring at the gap the frog had made in the trees. Edolie had promised she would help him, after all. He only wondered how she would manage it. Besides, there was no body.

"What next, Charleston?"

"The woman I love is out there somewhere," said Charleston, "And the only way I'm going to find her is by kicking some vampire butt. There's no doubt about that, the only question is, what route should I take?"

Land Captain smiled, and said, "That's the spirit!"

Charleston smiled back, "I can either go to where I last saw her silly little cult, hook up with a group of hunters and kick vampire backside until we find who I'm looking for, or I can solo it and hope for the best. What do you think I should do, Land Captain?"

"I'd join a group, but it's really up to you, isn't it?"

Charleston nodded. It was always up to him.

CHOICE A (Investigate the last place he saw the vampire cult)
CHOICE B (Hook up with a group of hunters)
CHOICE C (Solo it and hope for the best)


Paul said...

Late to the party, but I'll admit your trick got me.

That said, I still probably would've chosen B anyway...though in retrospect, I like A.

Even with Edolie dying (?), JERK.

Mike P said...

Remember: lack of a body is lack of evidence.