By Jack and Alexandra



First Publication: September 25th, 2015

Word Count: ~1,100


It had taken him months, but he had all but succeeded.

The weeks he’d spent gaining the trust of the members of various gaming boards had been fruitless. No one had been willing to talk about the obvious satanic roots of their so-called “fantasy games”, even with a fellow practitioner… or as they called them, “players”.

He had quickly realized that the truth was so artfully concealed that even those caught in the web of demonic lies did not know it. They mindlessly re-enacted the evil eldritch rituals encoded in the grimoires disguised as mere rulebooks–as if any mere game could require hundreds of pages of arcane rules and tables that detailed actual occult spells and practices in a level of detail that rivaled the descriptions of ancient life found in the Bible itself!

So he had gone straight to the source, bypassing the sugar-coated and watered-down forbidden lore peddled by the toy companies and the book publishers. He had tracked down actual lost volumes of occult secrets, learned the rituals that formed the basis for these so-called games. He had practiced the rites, made the circle, drew the symbols, placed at each of the points of the star one of the bestial graven images used as pawns in the insidious ritual gameplay. He had called to the forgotten powers that he knew they represented, bound them to his will, bid them to come forth, to speak, to reveal their secrets to him and the world.

And he had succeeded, almost! He was so close to revealing the truth about the “master of the dungeon” who had cast his dark spell over the minds of America’s youth for three decades and counting.

There was only one problem.

“I say,” the cloven-hoofed satyr figure said. “Who is this ‘Satan’ chap you speak so knowingly of? Friend of yours? I could get off the line and let you try again.”

“No!” the investigator said. “I will not fall for your tricks.” He jabbed a stubby finger at the miniature minotaur, who mewed in confusion. “You! You are the very semblance of the beast himself! How many souls have you torn asunder?”

The minotaur mooed, heaving a massive shrug of its massive shoulders.

“Not much of a talker, that one,” the satyr said. “Look, I don’t know what you want from us.”

“I want the truth! I’ve promised my producer! I’ve promised the viewers!” he said. “In twenty-four hours, I must go live with the most explosive expose the world has ever seen. You must proclaim that Dungeons & Dragons is a satanic snare for the hearts and souls of the fools who play it!”

“You’re talking out of both sides of your face, fella,” said a two-headed giant. “Do you want the truth, or do you want us to repeat your fancy lie?”

“Maybe it’s not a lie,” said a floating orb covered with eyes on writhing stalks. “Maybe it’s all a matter of perspective?”

“Well, sure, there are two sides to every story,” the other head of the giant said. “But even if it’s not a load of guff, we don’t know anything about it.”

“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, mate,” said a leafy, lumbering hulk with skin like bark.

“Not that we’re not grateful for the attention, mind you,” the satyr said. “Very few people bother to call us up these days. It’s nice to stretch the old ectoplasm.”

“Liars! Liars! You are called upon every day in basements and dining rooms and even schools all around the country!” the reporter said. “I know you are! I’ve watched the enthralled move you around their obscene diagrams as they plot death and destruction.”

“Oh, I see where you’re confused,” the satyr said, gesturing down at the goat-like legs connected to the square base. “These bits of plastic aren’t us. They aren’t anything. They’re just, toys, I guess? You were able to bind them to us because they bear a certain resemblance to certain aspects of ourselves, as it were, but without you and your ritual, they are as harmless as a child’s doll or a toy soldier.”

The other four figures on the points of the star nodded in agreement, muttering things like, “Yep, that’s be it.” and “Stands to reason.” and “Moo.”

Finally, in desperation, the reporter turned his attention on the one figure that had remained silent: the massive, bat-winged, ram-horned and unmistakably demonic creature that towered over the others, in the center of the pentagram.

“How about you?” he said. “Are you going to be so bold as to claim you’re not a demon?”

“Obviously I am,” the figure said, its voice a deep bass rumble that seemed to come from everywhere except the center of the pentagram.

“I knew it!” the man said. “So the rest of you might as well fess up, too.”

“Oh,” the demon said. “Oh, no. These paltry pagan pests? These primal eidolons? They are lesser beings only, no kin to demons.”

“They’re no angels,” the man said. “So what exactly is the difference between these pagan spirits and demons?”

“For one thing, they are much easier to coerce into this world,” the demon said. “It did not matter so much if they were willing or not. They came when you called them.”

“So did you,” the man said.

“For another, they were far easier for a shaky-handed amateur to bind in a crude circle copied from a degraded copy of a faded book.”

“And yet, you’re still here,” the man said. “And all I have to do is put a camera on you and it doesn’t matter what you say or don’t say, or if you say anything at all. All of America is going to see that I was right. I’m going to be vindicated on national television.”

“I think not,” the demon said.

“Oh? And what exactly are you going to do about it?”

Smiling, the demon vanished.

The man let out an anguished howl of despair, but then he collected himself enough to check the child crumpled in the corner. It wouldn’t do. He would need another, but the other materials were not hard to come by. And after all, he had a whole box full of the damned miniatures left. There had to be at least one obviously demonic creature in there for him to summon. He knew how easy it was, and he knew the circle could be tricky.

He’d have his proof, if he could just stomach dealing with such evil instruments for a little while longer…

Tales We Tell Each Other is a special version of my usual Thing of the Day. These are ficlets that I write from a random plot generator as a collaborative writing exercise with my partner Jack Ralls.