Quick notes: This is a Choose Your Own Adventure Type story. If you want to read this story from the beginning, you’ll need to read Chapter 1. There you can also find more info about how to play along. As for everyone who’s caught up, enjoy!
Chapter 2: Hearing Out (AKA Naming Chapters is Hard)
James decided to hear hear the old woman out. After all, what did he have to lose? You know, other than potentially his life? Although after the day he’d had, he wasn’t sure that wouldn’t be for the best.
“Okay. How?” he asked.
The old woman grinned mischievously and replied, “By starting over.”
“Starting over?” James repeated, not sure what the old woman meant. “Starting over how?”
The old woman chuckled to herself and reached into her rotting carpet robes. A few moments passed by before the look on her face shifted from a mischievous grin, to confusion, to frustration. Finally she took her gaze off of James and started peering into her robes. Her eyes darted inside the makeshift robes back and forth. She stopped looking in her robes and started searching the ground around her. “Shit,” she muttered, “I didn't drop it did I?” After a few minutes she stopped searching, the look on her face suddenly turned to mild embarrassment as she said, “Well, this is awkward. Um…can you just stay here for a bit?”
James nodded his head and the old woman turned away, heading for a gross, moldy old cardboard box. She reached inside and pulled out a pile of carpet robes, each a different color. There were even a few shag carpets. She reached into each one, searching away. After she searched through each one she would mutter a different swear.
“Damn. Fuck. Shit. Tits. Mother of…”
James watched the display in morbid fascination. Each time the old woman rifled through the robes the tension grew. Would she find whatever she was looking for? What was she looking for? Should he have questioned the crazy old crone? Should he have just fucked off? Was it really a good use of his time to be sitting here, pondering what could have been? I mean, in the grand scheme of things-
“AH HAH!” the old woman screeched, shocking James out of his rambling mind space. Her hand was elbow deep in a particularly rotten looking robe, that he believed may have been white…at some point. She cackled to herself, quite pleased that her long search was now over. She turned to face James and said, in a tone that contained an eery, almost unearthly feel, “Starting over how? With this!”
She pulled her hand out of the robe and held it up high in the air. Clasped in her old, leathery claws was…
A double ended dildo.
A silence filled the air. The old crone’s eyes suddenly widened. She quickly thrust her hand and the double ended marital aid back into the robe. Her face was a beet red as she stuttered, “Oh m-my. Ahem. That was n-not what I thought it was.” She paused before saying, “You know it gets quite lonely out here, and I’m far to busy to be looking for dates, and-“
“No I understand,” James interrupted, hoping to not hear anymore. “You don’t need to explain yourself to me. You’re an adult.”
“Right,” the old woman replied as she resumed her search, both she and James pretending the last few moments hadn’t happened. She searched for a minute more in silence before finally finding what she was looking for.
She checked to make sure she had the right thing this time. When she was sure it was, she breathed a sigh of relief and then hurried back to James.
“Here,” she said holding out her hand. The moment was ruined for a grand reveal apparently. James looked into her outstretched wrinkly hand. In her palm was a ring. It was a deep black color with small red cracks in it. It looked old and mysterious. Like something out of a Harry Potter book. Maybe a cursed ring that someone would wear, and Harry would notice it while playing Quidditch. Or while sneaking through the castle with Ron and Hermione. Man Hermione. Harry clearly picked the wrong girl, you know. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the actress that played Ginny was pretty, but she’s no Emma Watson. And don’t get me started on how weird it is for her to go with Ron. He looks like a ginger Cillian Murphy. I mean-
Like this, but the cracks would be red.
“You taking the ring or what?” the old woman asked loudly, clearly annoyed. James snapped back to reality and took the ring from the old woman’s outstretched hand. He examined it some more before saying, “A ring. How does this help me ‘start over?’”
The old woman smirked and said, “Put it on and find out.”
James held the ring in his hand. It suddenly felt very heavy. He still wasn’t sure he could trust the old woman. He responded, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
James tried to hand the ring back to the old woman. Instead she shook her head and coyly replied, “Why don’t you think it over?”
“Think what over?” James said, confused.
“Your options,” she replied, the mischievous smile returning to her lips.
James stared blankly before loudly replying, “What options?”
The old woman seemed confused. She scratched her head before stating, “You know. The options. Putting on the ring…not…putting on the ring. It’s not that complicated.”
James felt annoyed. He didn’t like the old woman’s vagueness. He finally just said, “As far as I’m concerned, so long as I don’t know what the ring does, I only have one option. And that’s handing it back over and leaving.”
He held the ring out again, but the woman refused to take it back. James felt his anger rise again. To spite the old witch he shrugged, said, “Have it your way,” and dropped the ring on the ground. The ring bounced once and landed at the old woman’s foot. James turned to walk away.
The old woman quickly snatched the ring off the ground. As she watched James start to walk away she fidgeted in place. The farther he got from her, the more she fidgeted. She started to bite her nails in frustration. Sweat beaded down her neck. As he was about to leave the alleyway she screeched, “Wait!”
James stopped. He turned to face the old woman who had a sour expression on her face. She sighed and reluctantly said, “Fine. I’ll tell you what it does.”
James walked back to the woman slowly. As he walked he asked, “What it does? It does something?”
The old woman sighed again and defeatedly replied, “Yeah. It…it turns back time.”
James stopped walking. “What did you just say?” he asked impulsively.
The old woman said, “Time. It turns it back. You know like, time travel or, you know what, fuck it. You put the ring on, you think about when you want to go back to, and then you do. Here!”
The old woman lobbed the ring to James who just barely caught it. He looked at the ring again. It didn't look like some sort of magical time traveling ring. Although it suddenly occurred to him that he didn't know what a time traveling rings should like like. But even so, could it really let him travel back in time?
James was about to ask the old woman what the catch was, but when he looked up she was gone. James looked around the alley, but there was no trace of her. Confused, James continued out of the alley, examining the ring as he walked.
As he walked past the box the old woman had pulled the robes out of she burst out the top and pointed her gnarled finger right in his face. The shock stopped James dead in his tracks. The old woman looked angry, her face red and her eyes bulging. Her nostrils flared wildly. James was sure he was dead. She exclaimed, “You know, I put a lot of work into these things!”
James was confused. Without thinking he blurted out, “Huh?”
The old woman rambled, “It’s not easy, you know? Building up tension. Being mysterious. Cryptic and sinister undertones. I really have to work hard at this shit.”
James had no idea what the old woman was on about, but tried to be polite. “I’m sure,” he answered, “I, uh, can’t even imagine the amount of work it takes.”
“No, you can’t!” she shot back, “I spent years perfecting my craft! You think I like dressing like this? No! But I do, because it’s what works. This shit smells awful and it itches all over. I tried making different ones to shake things up, you know, keep it ‘fresh’. But all that does is make me forget which mystical item is in which robe.”
“Wait. Was the dildo as mystical item too?” James asked as he cursed himself for bringing the topic back up.
The old woman froze for a moment before awkwardly answering, “Um…yes? Yeah. Sure.”
The old woman started to ramble again, but she was clearly running out of steam. Finally she sighed and said, “Look, whatever. Just take the ring and go. I don’t even care anymore. I have to get home and feed my platypus.” Then she hopped out of the box carrying the robe that contained the double ended dildo inside. She turned to face him one last time and said, "You know it's not usually like this. Usually things go smoothly. But, and I don't know why, but you throw me off my rhythm."
As the old woman shambled away the only thing James thought was, “I really hope platypus isn’t a euphemism.”
After the old woman was gone, James walked out of the alleyway. In his hand was the ring. The ring that could apparently turn back time. James thought about it for a good while. His day had been going rotten since this morning. Could he really change it?
Hell his life hadn’t been great either. Could he change that too? The old woman hadn’t told him of any limitations after all? But did that mean there weren’t any? Was it even his place to change time at all?
James was conflicted. In front of him laid many options. He would have to proceed carefully.
END OF CHAPTER TWO. CHOOSE ONE OF THE SCENARIOS BELOW TO CONTINUE THE STORY.
1 - This day has been a big disaster. The old woman said the ring could change that. Perhaps James should just start this day over.
2 - This ring may not even work. I mean, the old woman was hardly a reliable source of information. Perhaps James should just try to turn back time a little. Say, before he got lunch?
3 - This whole day has been weird. Does James really want it to be weirder? Perhaps James should just forget about it and move on with the rest of the day. He is late to meet his dad after all.
4 - The old woman didn’t mention any limits, right? James’s day has been so shitty he could use a break from it. Perhaps James should try traveling back to a better time? His birthday was just a couple of days ago…
5 - Fuck James. Dude's a loser. What's that crazy old lady up to? I'm dying to know!
Congrats to Wes Russow for winning the last chapter's improv suggestion “contest”. If you’d like to join in I’ll be needing the following suggestions for Chapter 3: a job, a type of candy, a movie, and something disgusting. Just like before, feel free to suggest whatever. I will figure out a way to use whatever you suggest. Hope to see you next Chapter!