Quick Notes: This is a little, bonus side story to the rest of this CYOA series. It's meant to just be a fun little story, showing what the strange old woman did after meeting James. It contains no improv prompts, and has no multiple endings. It probably won't effect the rest of the chapters too. It would help to understand this story if you've read chapters 1 and 2, which you can do here and also here. With all that said, I hope you enjoy this bonus chapter. Chapter 4 should be coming soon. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 2.5: Feed the Platypus
The old lady walked out of the alleyway behind the Arby’s, carrying an old rotting carpet robe behind her. Behind her a young man that made her absolutely disgusted. In all her years doing this job she had never met someone that threw off her game so much. Half the time he just stood there, staring off into space and drooling. Well, okay, not drooling, but still.
She sighed heavily to herself as she crossed the street, toward a public park. For ten years that routine had worked without a hitch. She’d tried so many different combinations before this. Some of them worked. Most of them didn’t. But this one had been the strongest yet. It had never failed until today. And now she had no choice but to doubt herself and her methods.
The old woman was now in the middle of the park. She was heading toward a sea of trees surrounded by a ring of bushes. She took a moment from her moping to check her perimeter. She looked left. She looked right. Up. Down. All clear.
Quickly she dove headfirst into the bushes in a matter befitting a woman much, much younger. Like an Olympic athlete. Once inside the wooded area she headed for an old, gnarled willow tree ahead of her. It was twisted and black. It was shorter than the trees surrounding it, but also far wider. It sat in the middle of a small pond.
The old woman walked toward the edge of the pond. When she reached the edge of the water she knelt down and looked into the pool of water. Squinting her eyes she cursed to herself, “Fuck me. Did they move it again. Too old for this - oh, never mind.”
She reached into the water and grabbed onto a branch. It was a strange, unnatural “T” shape. She pulled hard on it. A splashing sound was soon heard as several large stones rose up out of the water. Together they formed a path to the tree. The old woman got off her knees and groaned as her old bones ached. She stretched her legs and then hopped across the pond, stone to stone with the grace of a gazelle.
Once on the other side, she returned to a slower gait, massaging her aching back. She cursed to herself again, wondering why things had to be so physical. She approached the ancient looking tree and began searching it’s surface. Her leathery old hands feeling the bark under them, looking for something. She soon found it. Her decrepit, filthy hands pulled open a secret door. A soft glow came out of the newly opened doorway.
The old lady leapt down into the light. She fell for what felt like minutes. After the first few minutes she pulled a crosswords out of her carpet-y robes. She needed a six letter word for “a jelly-filled baked good” that contained the letters “f”, “m”, and “x”. She frowned at the paper as she realized that she’d probably made a few mistakes on this one. But before she could re-evaluate her crossword her journey had stopped.
She had arrived inside a giant cave. It was circular with a pit in the middle. Light glowed up from the pit.
Her ragged, old body smacked onto the ground with a thud. She picked herself up, cursing herself for misjudging the timing. Dusting off her robes, she gathered up her things and began to walk forward. All around her were other strange old ladies, each walking toward the pit, each with their own bizarre attire. Some smiled at her, most just avoided eye contact. She didn’t care, she was tired.
At the edge of the pit, she walked toward a staircase that was labeled “A”. She walked down the stairs, past many lit up doorways. One after another until she reached the one she was looking for. A name was sketched above the doorway. Minerva.
“Home sweet home,” Minerva said sarcastically to herself.
Minerva walked through the glowing doorway into her home. It was a small apartment-like complex. She was in a small hallway. She took off her carpet robe and hung it up. Then she grabbed a housecoat and slipped it on. The rotting robe where she kept her personal items got tossed in a box near the door. After a quick yawn, Minerva walked into her kitchen. On the floor, near a bowl was a platypus. Minerva walked past it saying, “I know, I know. Just wait a damn minute.”
Minerva went to the counter and opened a cupboard. She pulled out a box of food with a platypus on the cover. Bending over she poured the bowl half full of the kibble. The platypus stared at it, then at her, then at the food again, then her again. She looked right back at it and said, “That’s all your getting.” The platypus stared at her again briefly and then began eating.
Minerva sighed and went to the fridge. After looking inside for a while she pulled out a small plastic container, filled with some kind of stew. With another sigh, she placed it in the microwave. Fifty seconds later, her meal was ready.
From the kitchen she headed to the living room. Over to the couch she went, setting her food down on the coffee table first. She sat down, slowly. Her back was still aching. As she lay back in the comfy couch she left out a relieved moan. She smiled to herself, the day was over. She was home. The rest of the day did not matter anymore.
Grabbing the remote she turned on the television. She flipped the channels until she found a show that looked okay. After that she started to dig into her stew. The whole mess of this day was melting away for her. She was forgetting all about James, and the ring, and his father and…
Suddenly she stopped eating. A question had entered her mind. Did she tell him about the consequences of using the ring?
She stopped and racked her brain. Had she? She couldn’t remember. Minerva started to panic. Could that boy have really thrown her off that much?
And then it hit her. He had. She forgot to tell him everything about the ring.
Minerva jumped off the couch and ran for door, cursing all the way. Her hand reached out and grabbed her carpet robe. Throwing it on over her housecoat she disappeared out the doorway.
The platypus stared at the door for a few minutes and then climbed onto the couch. It changed the channel to Skinemax, and picked up the spoon for Minerva’s stew and began eating. “Wonder what that was about?” it asked itself. Then it laid back on the couch, stew in one front foot, the remote in the other.
END OF BONUS CHAPTER 2.5.