25th Feb 2020, 12:50 PM
Gently guide the conversation to spooky house

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Gently guide the conversation to spooky house
You take a closer look at the ring.

It looks... white? Almost a faint amber or gold. It's not plastic, on closer inspection.

You don't see any inscriptions or writing on it, just... kind of an odd stain.

You're not sure what it's made of. The ring, or the stain.

"...I think I might wait," you finally say.

"Trust me, I get it," Marlow replies. He gently closes the box. "Ezra's got stories. Come back tomorrow, he'll have you convinced this thing cures cancer or something."

"If he doesn't get sidetracked talking about the state of malls in the 70s or whatever," adds Afu with a small chuckle.

Aside from your hesitance to blow real money on something that might be a toy, you're already planning on having people over tonight--the ring would just further confuse the results. You need control in your experiments. You've gone in by yourself; you need to try going in with plural individuals, see what that does, then add the ring.

That way, you'll know exactly what the ring does and doesn't contribute, if anything.

You idly browse the store for a little while, but not too long. You don't want to seem like you rolled up here with secrets and an agenda, but you definitely have questions you still want to ask the staff of this store.

"So..." you begin, while examining a line of very old roleplaying books, "where's all the weird shit in this town?"

"Hoo, buddy," declares Marlow, "you don't have to go far. Northside, parts of the east side... the woods are spook central, too."

"The old library," suggests Afu. "The mines. The spooky house."

"Hey," interjects Marlow, holding up a hand, "what did I say? Don't lead with the heavy stuff."

"Well," you say as you manage to keep from smiling too wide, "now I have to ask about those."

Marlow gives a small sigh. "Well. Ninelives started as a mining town, so there's still a bunch of shut down and closed off mine shafts and underground tunnels running all over the place. Poorly documented, pretty much no maps left to speak of, all kinds of weird colors and noises comin' out of 'em all throughout the year. A lot of people think they see or hear ghosts, but it turns out to be the mines acting up."

Afu grins. "The old library's totally haunted, though."

Marlow clears his throat. "Now--I did a full work up of a section of the ground floor of that library. I ran multi-spectrum audio, I had my EDI meter--"

"--And that one reads EMFs too, right?," asks Afu.

"Yeah," Marlow continues, "Yeah I had the whole nine. I went full ghost hunter on... part of the building."

"And?" you ask, "is it totally haunted?"

Marlow breathes in slow before he replies calmly.

"Haunted isn't strong enough a word. I haven't gone back."

"I made it to the door," Afu declares. "Twice. Still can't go in."

Marlow nods. "I'm kinda cynical when it comes to apparitional phenomena and that library still gives me the willies." He turns to you, specifically. "Whoever ran the place last was putting in some work. I don't mean dream rings and ouija boards, I mean serious. Occult. Bullshit. I mean contacting outsiders and the like. Whatever they were involved in, it's pretty much oozing off that building now."

"Whoever ran the place?," you ask. "There's no way to figure that out? Whoever was in charge of the library had to have had a name, right...?"

You see Marlow's face light up

and when Afu sees it, his face lights up as well. "Oh, bro, you got him going."

"As a matter of fact," Marlow winds up, "the last librarian's name should be on record and it should be possible to corroborate it with people who knew her or knew how the library worked. Guess what?"

His fingertips provide you a little razzle dazzle.

"Nothing," he says.

"Zero. Zip. No records, no names, no witnesses. Wiped squeaky clean, utterly immaculate. Friends? None. Family? Never. Her boss? Her bank teller? Her mailman? All silently turned me away. The. Previous. Librarian. Has been unpersoned and replaced with a genetically engineered BY THE GOVERNMENT individual."

Holy shit.



You don't think Cici's involved in anything nefarious, though.

"...Which brings me to the Misuschaqua Wildlife Resources Act."

the fucking what

Marlow continues, as if you didn't need a seatbelt for that sentence. "The Misuschaqua Wildlife Resources Act approved the engineering and distribution of twenty six (26) bodies (see: "genetically engineered individuals") for the purpose of staffing animal control services across the state of Misuschaqua."

Afu is still grinning wide.

Marlow leans into the counter. "In other words: 26 tube cops, all over the state. People that can pull the door off the side of a car, for animal control. Twenty six. The whole state. Tell me every part of that doesn't sound bizarre."

You squint.

He makes some interesting points--but most of them can be dismissed with the assumption that the 26 are an initial test for further use of genetically engineered people in animal control but also other police services. Misuschaqua's been (notoriously) a little slow in embracing the idea of genetic engineering; in many of The States, all state and city contracted police are already being grown in a vat. Misuschaqua was one of the last states to legalize genetic engineering period.

If you think of the 'just 26, and only in animal control' as a test run, it makes a lot more sense. Politicians are frightened, both of change and their constituents' reactions to change. Sometimes you have to slip in big changes a little at a time.

...What doesn't make sense is

if the 26 were distributed all across the state

and he's gotta be talking about Cici and... the rest, right?


...How did Ninelives end up with 3 of the pack? (And you're at 3, right? Bebe, Cici, and Deedee who you haven't met yet) Your gut says it's nicer to send them in groups so they'll have each other but your brain says that's not how state legislation typically gets enacted. It's ... puzzling, not necessarily sinister, that the 26 genetically engineered by the state weren't sent to 26 separate towns.

Marlow continues. "While the agreement to make and send out the 26 is public record, the actual contract those girls are under isn't, not even to them. Even the version those women get to see with their own eyes has redactions."

"Pretty sure that's illegal," you point out.

"It is, absolutely," Marlow confirms. "Find somebody that wants to sue about it. Anybody that knows, knows better than to talk. Nobody wants to fight the bureaucracy. I don't even wanna fight the bureaucracy, at least not on their terms."

Well, now you're just curious. "So what are the 26 for, if it's not really... uh... puppy patrol?"

Marlow leans deeper into the counter.

Afu's grin, somehow, grows wider. "Here we go."

"This is my theory--", Marlow begins,

"Here we gooo" shouts Afu

"--Secret police. Nothing against the girls themselves--they're sweet, Bebe helped me find my dog. But," Marlow says, holding his hands out, "the government's gettin' real big back into stuff like subliminal control and mental programming. On paper, how huge a military they can build and move in on residential areas is limited. ...But then your mailman, your street cleaner, and your census guy are all ripped government officials that could be switched into a fascist killforce at any time. One phrase or radio signal or whatever it is they use now... and boom. Instant army, right where we live. Ninelives' animal control department is a sleeper cell, and they don't even realize it."

"Why..." You look at Afu for help, but he's already fighting back the laughter. Okay. One thought at a time. "Why does the government need to guerrilla ops us? Like, at all?"

Marlow nods sagely. "Mostly because the government's losing its grip at all levels. States sapped power from the president, cities have started eating up all the power of the state. Combined with the wealth disparity, cultural differences, and how media works these days... well, if the national government doesn't start reeling it in, it's gonna get weird. Where the feds can reach is still limited, but they've got... insane resources for reaching those outlets. So... genetically engineered sleeper agents, slipped in as oblivious animal control specialists. Knights disguised as pawns."

Okay.

Focus.

You are getting very side tracked.

You return to the counter.

You put your hands on the counter.

You say it like you're not used to hearing it yet.

"The spooky house."

Marlow straightens back up.

Afu shakes his head. "Bruh. Gonna ask him about Spooky House and not even buy anything."

"I'm buying the ring tomorrow!," you insist. "Probably?"

"So--" you and Afu both fall silent as Marlow begins to speak, "a person or persons died in Spooky House. Men in black rolled in--and I mean they rolled in, glossy vans, suits, the whole shebang, wiped the place spotless. Nobody knows who originally lived there, nobody knows what happened, nobody wants to talk. Even the news shut up about it... and if you've seen our local news, you know that means it's gotta be the real deal."

Hmm. "There sure is a lot of all the records getting wiped in this town."

Marlow points at you. "And that--"

Afu grins anew. "Here he goes."

"--is why I think it's the same person. The timelines match up. My theory: Spooky House is spooky because it was partially lived in by the old librarian. Whatever she did, it might've worked, and the feds had to clean up after."

...Huh.

The mysteries being connected would at least make... fewer mysteries.

But one thing has continued to pester you:

"You said person or persons."

Marlow nods. "The old librarian got her mail sent to the library, and there's... uh... sleeping arrangements left over in the old building. So officially, she lived at the library and likely didn't own the deed to Spooky House. Buuut what I think..." He taps his fingers on the counter. "Is that she had a friend, roommate... sister, wife, whatever that gave her a second address. People that lived around the block from Spooky House said the owner was a shut-in, but someone else would come and go at night. I think that someone was the librarian."

"Wait--" hold up "--You've talked to the spooky house's neighbors?"

"Oh yeah," Marlow says bluntly, nodding. "I might do a documentary someday. Anyway, both Spooky House and the old library share stories of people coming and going at weird hours. The times about even up. There's a separate individual that rarely--if ever--physically left Spooky House, though."

Mmnot a fan of that phrasing

"And nobody knows any of these peoples' names...?"

Marlow looks you square in the eye. "That might be the worst part. For me, anyway. I've been around long enough... I went to that library before it fell apart. Like, a lot, at least once every couple of months. I had whole conversations with that librarian when she was still alive." He steadily shakes his head. "...But I never caught her name. Not once, and I guess nobody else did, either. Anybody that knows, anybody who's job it was to know--well, like I said. They don't talk. Whoever their associate was that stayed in the house... well, they're a total ghost. Nobody knows anything."

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25th Feb 2020, 1:31 PM
Well, him having met the librarian in person might explain how he's so certain it's a she. Wondering why he's certain the other person in the house is also female, though.
Also, ask if he has any rumours about the mayor? 'Cause we've heard she's a vampire and that just sounds too ridiculous to not have a good story behind it.
25th Feb 2020, 1:38 PM
+1, let's ask about the spooky vampire mayor.
25th Feb 2020, 1:42 PM
let's also ask about the secretary cause I feel her taking down a government goon kinda has its own conspiracy theory in there too
25th Feb 2020, 6:11 PM
Limrix
+1, we should casually mention that she had some weird electricity powers, and if we're asked why we were there, just be like "it was a thing".
25th Feb 2020, 10:58 PM
Snervalton
+1 to asking about the vampire mayor
26th Feb 2020, 8:17 AM
pkrankow
Mayor and secretary and needing asked about indeed. There is a real pair
26th Feb 2020, 10:14 AM
+1 Yeah I want Marlow to explain that vampire part too.
25th Feb 2020, 1:32 PM
Still think we should ask about the Satan Books at some point. Especially now that there's an extra weird librarian in the mix.
25th Feb 2020, 1:33 PM
you know thinking about it. playing the games the guys have since they are pretty obscure would be pretty good for the channle. maybe. I mean your playing rare games few people would have seen. thus more trafic thus more money
25th Feb 2020, 3:16 PM
Yeah, could do some documentation of old obscure games and maybe even show the cartridge and the game running on the console.
25th Feb 2020, 2:15 PM
Well... I'm seeing a very clear next step in the investigation aside from the dreamscape experiments and dealing with anxiety.
The old library just might harbour the ghost of the previous tenant, whoever she was.

Or maybe ask the Mayor about all that in exchange for cooperation... The one going around at night might have been her.
25th Feb 2020, 3:14 PM
We need to do some investigation into that SpOoKy GhOsT.
25th Feb 2020, 3:41 PM
Identities being erased sounds kinda like a nil sort of thing. Wonder why the gender of the person didn't get erased as well?
25th Feb 2020, 6:21 PM
Limrix
This seems more of a Government style erasure than Nil. After all, she wasn't redacted from the timeline or anything, people still remember her. Men in suits came and cleaned up everything. That probably includes any record of who she was or what she was doing. People always make mistakes, though.
25th Feb 2020, 10:06 PM
How come nobody can remember her name? It seems possible that the occult shit she was doing was nil shit, and that she used it to remove all traces of her disclosing her name, meaning erasing any memory of events or modifying memories of those events to remove disclosure of her name. I might be making a stretch here though, so idk.
25th Feb 2020, 10:33 PM
YetAnother
If government has resources to deliver mindwipes to every single person without magic, they don't need slipped in animal control.
But a very precise, very targeted Nil ritual aimed at name and name only... Or, conversely, an amateurish bothched attempt to hide ended librarian's life. She erased records on her, and it didn't go unnoticed.
25th Feb 2020, 3:45 PM
If we need to start flashing cash for more info, putting down a deposit (if that's the term) on the dream ring might be a good idea. It'd help make sure the mayor or some other group (hopefully) doesn't snatch it up before we can come back to get it tomorrow.
25th Feb 2020, 10:35 PM
26th Feb 2020, 8:36 AM
pkrankow
Putting a deposit on the ring would be good. 10% is usual and customary to reserve an item. The refundability if the deal sours from our side is probably nonexistent. If the seller is uninterested then we get our money back.

Plonk down $20 or something. It should be good enough for a proper conversation with the owner tomorrow.
25th Feb 2020, 6:12 PM
Limrix
We should see if they have any of the games The First Lie guys told us about, or anything that seems like it would have powerful abilities in-dream. We can definitly talk about that for ages, and I think both sides would enjoy the conversation. Maybe bring up a dullahan waifu again?
25th Feb 2020, 11:04 PM
26th Feb 2020, 12:57 PM
Hari_Seldon
+1 we should buy something so long as we save enough money to buy the dream ring tomorrow
25th Feb 2020, 6:39 PM
Frission
Odds are good that ring is made of ivory. But is it elephant ivory, or something of... spoopier origins? :o
26th Feb 2020, 8:31 AM
pkrankow
Bone is a more common jewlery material than ivory. Much easier (in today's world with endangered species and material transportation laws) to get good quality bone than ivory. Bone from a vast number of animals is very easy to prepare. Rings are not large so there are a number of bone sections in moderately large animals that should work.

This of course is potentially creepier than elephant, or any other type, of ivory. Human bone would in principle be prepared the same way as cow, pig, camel, or any other type of bone.
25th Feb 2020, 11:37 PM
So a tradesmen ritual gone wrong, or very right depending on what the intended result, and price, was. Ask if they know of our internet commentors and if there have been any new laws or related put in place by the new mayor.
25th Feb 2020, 11:46 PM
We've been using "the spooky house" like a description but Marlow says "Spooky House" like it's an actual name.