Pick Your Own YA Fantasy: Part 12

PYO-Logo[Welcome to part twelve of my continuing blog series. I write the book, you pick the plot. For earlier parts, see part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7part 8part 9part 10, and part 11.]

John looked at the Tome of Ra, looked at Liese, checked the electrified door one more time, then said, “You know what? I think we should get out of here.”

Liese blinked, startled. “What?”

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he explained. “I went to bed last night just having a normal life. I woke up in the middle of a dream by the sounds of a djinn raiding my fridge, and the next thing I knew, I was trying to get this stupid book into some dumb library. Why am I even doing this? What’s the big deal if the book doesn’t make it there?”

Liese folded her arms across her chest. “You can’t just give up.”

“Why not?”

She sputtered as she tried to find a reason. “There’s no way out, that’s why not.”

John shrugged. “We don’t know that. All I’m saying is that I want to try giving up before I try that doorknob, because you can’t tell me anyone who touches that isn’t going to turn a little Kentucky Fried Chicken. Electrified doorknobs? That’s like textbook ‘don’t touch’ territory. I don’t think anyone really cares if this tome makes it back to its library or not. I certainly don’t. It seemed important at first, but now that I’m looking at it, I could really go with a nice game of Monopoly right now, instead. Or maybe slamming my fingers in the door. That sounds better than this too.”

Liese checked the door as well, then nodded. “When you put it that way . . .”

The two of them turned to leave the room, then jumped in surprise when they saw the Sphinx had come to stand behind them. For a thing that massive, it was pretty light on its toes.

“Seriously?” it said in its low, booming voice.

“What?” John asked.

The Sphinx shook its head. “I stand guard here for thousands of years, and you two are the first two humans to waltz down here in like nine centuries, and you’re not even going to try to go through the door?”

It didn’t sound nearly as somber and majestic as it had before. In fact, it sounded more than a little put out. “We just–” John began.

The Sphinx interrupted him. “I mean, I even worked on some new riddles for this. I worked hard, dang it. When the knight came through nine hundred years ago, he didn’t even let me finish my riddle. So I worked and worked on that thing, and then the two of you got it without blinking. Not only that, but you figured out my other riddle, so you didn’t end up getting devoured by the mummy crocodile. Do you know how disappointing that is to Harvey?”

“Harvey?” Liese asked.

A rotting crocodile poked its head through the Sphinx’s front paws. “Hey guys,” it said, sounding more than a little disappointed. A bit of its nose dropped to the floor to accentuate the effect.

“Not now, Harv,” the Sphinx said. “I’m yelling at them. Where was I?”

“Harvey?” This time John was the one to ask.

“Right,” the Sphinx said. “Harvey. He’d been looking forward to a good devouring ever since the wicked priests put him down here with me. He missed out on the last one.”

“I can only run so fast,” the crocodile explained. “I’ve got bunions.”

“Bunions?” John asked. “Crocodiles don’t get bunions.”

“Tell that to my feet,” Harvey said.

“Stop!” Liese yelled out, holding her arms up for extra emphasis. “Hold on a minute. What’s going on?”

Everyone took a moment to think things through, staring at everyone else as if to make sure this was really happening. “I think,” Harvey said after a moment, “that the two of you are either going through that door right there right now, or . . . ”

“Or you’re volunteering to let Harvey devour you,” the Sphinx finished. “He might be slow, but I’ll hold you down so he can catch you.”

And when you’re faced with a decision like that, what other option do you have, really? John took a look at Harvey’s rotting mouth and wicked smile. The thought of having that thing chomp down on his head was enough to make him sick to his stomach. “Fine,” he said. “We’ll go with the door.”

Liese nodded in agreement.

Harvey sniffled a few times, clearly saddened by this choice. “It’s okay, Harv,” the Sphinx said. “I think they might have left the door to up above open. Maybe we could sneak a tourist or two, just like in the old days.”

“Really, Marvin?” the crocodile asked.

“No one would notice,” the Sphinx continued. “There are so many of them these days, and–”

“Stop!” Now it was John’s turn to hold his hands in the air dramatically. “Wait a minute.”

Everyone looked at him. He stared at the Sphinx. “Your name is Marvin?”

The crocodile and Sphinx both growled in response, and John lowered his arms. It’s important to know when you have to stop talking and start going through electrified doors, after all. “Fine,” John said. “We’re going.”

He and Liese stepped up to the door and paused in front of it. This close, he could feel the hairs on his skin standing on end, and the air practically hummed with energy. The doorknob had hints of purple lightning just under the surface. Touching it was going to be one of the worst choices John had ever made. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that only other option (getting devoured by mummy crocodile) was standing right behind him with an impatient look in its eye and blocking the only way out of the chamber, he might have still made a break for it and hoped for the best.

As it was? He took a deep breath, reached out his hand, and turned the door knob.

Make a Suggestion

Have any ideas for what happens next? Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves and reach a consensus. Otherwise you end up with whatever comes to me. Thanks for playing!

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