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"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," you say with a practiced smile on your face. "Boddy, Mr. Boddy, is my name. Welcome to my home, Boddy Manor." The opening spiel is simple enough. You don't enjoy this part very much, but after doing it so many times, you find it difficult to be afraid this early in the game. Dread starts building in the pit of your stomach, but that's so regular as to be barely noticeable. Besides, what's the worst stress can do? Kill you?


It's never that bad, at the beginning of a game. You have to be...cruel, but not terrible. Bad enough that they all want to kill you. That's the way the narrative makes sense. (You can twist the narrative, become selectively invisible, and, you discovered on one disturbing occasion, use mind control. But you can't stop the story. No one can.)

Professor Plum helps. He's there to make jokes, and you engage in minor prank wars, which gives you something fun to do while dead. He's quite clever, which is a rarity in the box. One time, after the cards have been revealed and you're visible to the players again, he asks, "What's it like to be dead?" which is something that no one had ever asked before.

You pause a moment, figuring out how to put it in words. You'd never had occasion to talk to someone else about it, even an audience member. "It is rather relaxing, for brief periods," you decide to say. "I wouldn't suggest it for more than a week. Even with someone to play with, it begins to be rather boring at that point. But the first few hours are a nice break."

Plum nods, then pauses, as if considering his phrasing. "And the dying?"

Your jaw tightens briefly. "Unpleasant. But," you swallow. "Acceptable. I usually pass out fairly quickly, even with the rope." You don't realize you've turned away from him until he puts his hand on your shoulder and you turn your head to face him. So many pauses in this conversation, but you suppose that makes sense. He understands that this hurts you. Apparently, the others don't. Somehow.

"You can do...personality edits. Yes?"

You nod.

"Can you edit yourself?"

"I don't see why not," you say lightly, not letting the thought do more than skim over your mind. Personality edits are a terrifying invasion of privacy, of self. "Why? Do I have an annoying habit I haven't noticed?" You smile tightly.

"Not to me, but perhaps to you," Plum says. You would probably have figured it out; you always think it was terribly obvious what he was going to say, looking back. It was only because you were so foolish back then that you didn't. "Couldn't you make it more, ah, fun for you?"

Pause. Blink. "Pardon?"

"Dying," Plum says. "It is meant to be not-fun for reasons of self-preservation, but since you come back whever the cards are revealed and nothing can stop that, it's rather useless to you. Since you're going to die anyway, why not make it fun?"

You nod, slowly.


"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," you say with a genuine smile. "Boddy, Mr. Boddy is my name. Welcome to my home, Boddy Manor. Of tonight's event I am the planner--this fun and folly know as a game." You sing, and for once your heart is in it. The game is genuinely fun now. Even when you need to be a little cruel, such things are hardly worse than a prank or two.


"It worked, then," Plum says.

You turn to him. "Splendidly. Thank you." You laugh. "The game was excellent fun. You might try killing me one night."

"I...don't think so," he says, caught off-guard. "I still don't like seeing you dead."

"Oh? Here, let me fix that."

"Wai--"

What you did on yourself was a simple edit--the game doesn't much care whether you enjoy it, only that you appear to--but this requires some new memories, for the sake of the story making some facsimile of sense. Even with all that, it's still a simple shift of perspective: prank wars become more serious; a few slights less easily laughed off, and...hm. He still doesn't like the idea of killing you. He's been spectator too long, and hasn't been a primary suspect in even longer. Plum needs an exceptional reason to kill, or something that feels exceptional.

A converations comes to mind: "My mother made me learn, but I never really enjoyed it." Add a bit more intensity to that, a bit of patronizing, and...

"Piano player?!" he shouts. "How dare you; I can play the game as well as any of them!"

You grin.


"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," you say, looking forward to a more sincere prank war with your favorite partner. "Boddy, Mr. Boddy is my name. Welcome to my home, Boddy Manor. Of tonight's event I am the planner"--and that's true, true enough that you grin widely enough to show canines without a thought towards acting--"This fun and folly known as a game."