Sunday, October 27, 2019

Writing Prompt: You’ve just left the doctor’s office in the early morning to find a folded piece of paper left on the bench in the hall. Picking it up, it reads “You’ve been chosen as our next candidate, ! By touching this paper, you have agreed to accept the terms of the unbreakable contract.”

Writing Prompt: You’ve just left the doctor’s office in the early morning to find a folded piece of paper left on the bench in the hall. Picking it up, it reads “You’ve been chosen as our next candidate, <your full name>! By touching this paper, you have agreed to accept the terms of the unbreakable contract.”

"It's not legally binding." I protested.

The dark-robed man chuckled most sinisterly, caressing the heavy book in his hands whose heavy cover was stitched together from what looked to be human skin scraps sewn together. There was also an eyeball, which rolled at the dark sorcerer began to speak.

"Fool! Your mere caress across one of its torn out, hallowed pages legally binds you to work in the Necromantic Business Mines of the Greater Beaurucratic Empire of Bibliotopia! You have touched them, now you must abide by the Tomes of Service!"

"THE TOMES OF SERVICE! THE TOMES OF SERVICE!" a multitude of voices cried out, hooded figures emerging from the shadows.

One of them fell to the floor, foaming at the mouth as legalistic-sounding gibberish about gold fringe and admiralty flags gushed forth from his mouth.

"He speaks, brothers!" one of the multitude cried, "He speaks in the Tongues of Service!"


I stared down at the foam-spewing fellow, "Do... do you all have some kind of medical station or a nurse you can take this guy to see? I wouldn't want him to bite off his tongue and, you know, be unable to speak those Tongues of Service anymore."

"THE TONGUES OF SERVICE!" the chorus repeated as they hefted up their babbling associate.

"So, anyway! Standard otherworldly terms of conscription, daily provided rations of gruel, 18 hour workdays in the Business Mines in exchange for curing all your earthly and mundane maladies, and an agreement to heal any illness or injury that occurs during your eternity spent working with us..."

"Is there dental?"

"There is not, in fact, dental. Thus the gruel, which teeth are not needed to consume."

"Can I see where all this is written down? I can't exactly take your word for it. That's the number one rule of legal matters: don't listen to the legal advice your opponent gives you."

The man slammed his tome on the table, drawing an annoyed squeak from it and a death glare from the book's one eye.

"The Tomes of Service are contained in their entirity within a single extradimensional volume, their bulk and verbiage added to by dozens of infernal legal experts binding the chains of law tighter and tighter around those that blunder into carrying out the Tome's unholy will!" he grinned rather like he was about to take a bite, painful bite out of a seal (or a paddling surferboarder) and flipped the front cover open.

"You will have the legally mandated five minutes to browse."

I gave him a thumbs up. "Fantastic. Um... is there some scrap paper that I could use to take notes?"

I withdrew the pen with the name and address of the doctor's office from which I had been unceremoniously snatched. If I ever managed to get back to my world they were going to receive the mother of all strongly worded Yelp reviews.

"Oh, just tell the book to flip to the back and tear out some blank pages. The Tomes of Service are infinite in scale and are filled with pages yet to be written. That's what I do."

The cultist pushed to tome towards me as he stood up. He reached in his pocket and pulled out some small, ominously glowing marbles.

"I'm going to hit the vending machines while you get to work here. You want anything?"

"Um... anything lemon-lime will be fine," I said as I pulled the Tomes of Service closer to me.

The cultist nodded and headed off.


"So I've managed to find a few relevant points..." I began once he'd returned with a packet of cookies and my lemon-lime soda.

I took a sip and pushed a folded note across the table.

He laughed, "That's a nice attempt, but I am wise to the ways of Tome-Foolery. You will not bind me with the same methods I have used to bind you!"

The hooded man snapped his fingers, the page incinerating to ashes in a moment, and then promptly caught the scarred and battered table on fire. Thankfully a suddenly spit mouthful of soda was enough to extinguish the blaze. The table looked like it endured this sort of thing regularly.

"Great!" I said pleasantly, "By destroying that paper you have agreed to the terms specified in the third paragraph."

"WHAT!" the cultist cried, "That's not how it works!"

"Are you absolutely sure? Because you've just agreed to hand your position over to me and work as a fragrence tester for the Eternal Stench Divison of Fartmongler LLC."

"No! You can't make somebody agree to terms they've never read on a piece of paper that they've never touched. Especially not on behalf of another company that you've literally just made up on the spot!"

I flipped open the Tomes of Service to just inside the front cover, where I'd written "Yes, I can."

The floor shuddered and cracked, and a horrendous blatty sound emerged that was as if someone had made a Godzilla-sized construct entirely of tubas, and then proceded to feed them nothing but Taco Bell and pickled eggs for a century.

Smelled that way too.

Translucent green chains formed from the stench, dragging my tormentor down into the depths of whatever otherworldly hell Fartmongler LLC occupied, and then sealed shut, leaving the worn orange astroturf-y carpet slightly cleaner than it had been moments before.

I was broken out of my trance of staring at the floor by a few soft crunches followed by a noisy slurp of soda.

I turned to look at the Tomes of Service, who had used its bookmark tongue to guzzle down my can of soda and finish off the packet of cookies.

It let out a contented belch, "Man, I hated that guy. He was a dick." said the Tome.

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