DeepSeaElkFish

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12. Oubliette

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“What the hell is an oubliette?” shouted Steve.

“It’s like a dungeon, but where the only entrance is in the ceiling,” answered Davy.

“So when I said, ‘Hey, where are we?’ why couldn’t you just say, ‘Oh, looks like some kind of dungeon?'” asked Steve. “Why’d you have to say, ‘Oh, we’re in an oubliette!’?”

“It’s a fun word to say, and it’s not like it comes up in everyday speech often,” replied Davy. “No one says, ‘Oh, I gotta stop by the oubliette on the way home from work.’ This is like the one time in my life when the word will ever actually be relevant. I wanted to take advantage of it.”

To Davy’s credit, he and Steve were walking through an actual oubliette. The door in the forest brought them to a small room with stone walls and a single hole in the floor. Steve had jumped through the hole with no hesitation and yelped in pain as he landed a few feet below on something hard attached to the seat of his paints. Davy approached the hole very much with hesitation and saw there was a ladder.

The oubliette was deep and circular. The hole had brought them to a platform jutting from the wall at the top of the room. The platform narrowed into a ramp that spiraled along the round wall of the room and into the abyss below. Davy and Steve had been following the ramp down into the darkness. Neither of them could see how far down the ramp would go.

“Okay, so we’re in an oubliette,” Steve ultimately conceded. Are we going to see some spooky dungeon stuff? Creepy torture devices? Rats and other assorted vermin? A fat, dopey prison guard with a British accent whose keys are stolen by a prisoner with a long stick while he’s asleep?”

“I dunno, man,” Davy said, looking over the edge of the ramp. “I’m not an oubliette expert.”

“Oubliette expert?” Steve chimed. “You mean oubliexpert?”

“Oubliexpert?” Davy was momentarily silent. “Heh.”

Steve noticed there were faces in the walls. They were human faces, embedded in the stone. Their expressions conveyed various forms of agony. He nudged Davy as they continued walking down the ramp. “Hey, Davy. Did you notice this?” he asked pointing at the nearest face.

Davy stopped walking for a second. He looked at the face. It was a man’s face; his eyes were closed, but his mouth was wide open as if he had paused in the middle of a scream.

“Huh,” Davy grunted. “Has it been like this the whole time?”

They both looked behind them. The wall was littered with these faces. They were all considerably discernible now that Davy and Steve knew they were there.

They continued walking.

“Like, I know I’ve been talking smack about this place since the beginning,” Steve said. “But really, I think this one’s more on us. Faces in the wall? That’s something we should probably have picked up on sooner, you know?”

“I mean, I guess it’s kind of cool,” Davy answered. “It’s subtle, I guess. The fact that you aren’t beaten over the head with it and that you are left to discover it on your own. That can be scary.”

“But not here, though,” Steve replied. “There needs to be some kind of payoff when you do discover it. There’s nothing going on here.”

Suddenly, all of the faces in oubliette began screaming.

“Well, shoot,” Steve said.

Davy looked at the faces as they continued moving. Each face was contorting itself into a different ghastly position. Every one of them sounded like they were in absolute torment.

He turned to Steve. “Didn’t we already get this with the spooky ghost hallway? The shrieking and all that?”

“What!?” Steve shouted. “I can’t hear you over the screaming faces!”

“Didn’t the ghost hall already do this!? The bugs too!?” Davy shouted back.

“Yeah, they did, right? There’s got to be a new angle or something.”

“What!?” Davy shouted.

“SIN!” the nearest face began to wail. “This is my eternal fate!”

“Okay, there it is,” Steve said.

“I have sinned in life, and I have met my just reward!” screamed another nearby face.

The remaining faces began to follow suit, screaming variations of this phrase.

“Yeah. That’s the new angle,” Steve tried to explain over the collective wails of the faces around him.

“What!?” Davy shouted. “I can’t hear you!”

“I SAID, I THINK I—hold on a second,” Steve said. He turned, facing the center of the dungeon. “PLEASE SHUT UP,” he screamed as loud as he possibly could.

The faces did not shut up.

Incredulously irritated, Steve turned towards the nearest face and flicked him in the nose.

The faces fell silent at once.

“Hey buddy, what’s your problem!?” shouted the face whose nose Steve had flicked. It was a middle-aged man with chubby cheeks and a mustache.

“Hey, what’s my problem?” Steve yelled. “You’re the one with the problem, guy. I was trying to have a conversation and all you faces wouldn’t shut up!”

“Well hey loser, maybe you need to learn to appreciate the gravity of your situation,” the mustached face retorted, over-enunciating the word gravity. “It’s all eternal damnation up in here. You should be taking this more seriously.”

“Eternal damnation?” Davy asked. “Didn’t we specifically ask Barnaby about that? This is something we were told would not be an issue for us.”

“Ooooh, no, you’re wrong,” the face haphazardly bellowed. “My fate is also your fate! Anguish until the end of time! Ooooh!”

“No, you’re right,” Steve answered, ignoring the mustached face. “He’s probably just trying to get us all spooked up and stuff, but we should be fine if we keep moving.”

The face looked back at Steve. “Well look at Mister Big Man here! That’s some Grade A Pride you’ve got there. That’s one of the big ones, you know. Let me show you how we treat prideful jerks like you down here—”

Steve laughed. “Oh yeah, what are you going to do about it? Hope I lean against the wall so you can bite me?”

The face gritted its teeth. “Yeah, maybe I will! You don’t know who you’re talking to! When I get my hands on you, I’ll—”

Steve flicked him on the nose again. A brown chunk of filth from the forest came off Steve’s finger and got stuck right below the mustached face’s nose.

“Augh! What is that smell! That’s awful. What the hell have you been into!?”

Davy looked around. The other faces were whispering among themselves. Another face—that of an older woman who was slightly to the right and slightly above the mustached face—cleared her throat.

“Excuse me sirs,” she began, speaking in a dignified, aristocratic voice but with a nervous look on her face. “We have just discussed the matter among ourselves, and we have decided that it is in everyone’s best interests if we cease the tormented wailing.” She anxiously looked down at the mustached face who was still struggling with the filth below his nose.

Davy awkwardly waved at the aristocratic face. “Hey, uh, we appreciate it,” he said. “Have a good day,” he said to the trapped souls who had been cursed to eternal torment.

Davy and Steve began to continue walking down the ramp. The mustached face saw this and began cursing out Steve again. “Yeah, walk away, you big coward. Knew you didn’t have what it takes to mess with me!”

“Hold on a second,” Steve said. He walked back up to the mustached face. He scooped up as much of the brown muck on his body as he could into both of his hands. He then smeared the muck all over the mustached face.

“Oh no, come on! Why!” The mustached face struggled to no avail to cope with the smell. “This is—ack!—this is so disgusting! I know I’ve already been suffering eternal anguish, but this is just so, so much worse.”

Steve ran ahead and caught back up with Davy. “I’m sure there’s a rule somewhere saying you’re not supposed to harass the damned like that,” Davy said.

Steve wiped his hands on his pants as they both ventured further into the depths ofthe oubliette. “Hey, just because you’re suffering eternal damnation, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to be a total turd,” he retorted.

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