EMAG OF EFIL: NOT A ZOMBIE

WOTF-3DbookWe decided to be exceptionally foolish and release another chapter from the Emag of Efil series.  Mostly because the previously released chapter of Book I, Emag of Efil,  was feeling  lonely and wanted some company.  This particular selection is from Book II, Way of the Foole, which is a rousing adventure about killer robots, lunatic spies, psychic rats, a holy cow, faeries, trolles, and zombies.  It is not a thinly veiled hacker’s guide to the Game of Life.  Unless you’re NOT A ZOMBIE.  Then perhaps it has some hidden secrets…

WAY OF THE FOOLE

CHAPTER 1.0

NOT A ZOMBIE

         My best friend has been turned into a zombie and it’s all my fault.  If only I had arrived sooner.  If only I had realized what the Icks would do to her.  If only I had been a better agent.

Fred had embarked on a hazardous journey through the If Only Minefield.  He was so upset seeing Sofee lying motionless on the hospital bed that he didn’t even bother dodging the relentless bombardment of Guilt Grenades.  Like many contenders before him, Fred found the Blame Game to be a mighty challenge for a solo player.  He took all the hits and they were brutal. Sofee was supposed to be his partner and he had let her down.  The Icks had captured her and changed her into a zombie.  If only Fred had seen it coming. But how could he have known the Icks would do such a despicable thing?  Second guessing was a pointless pursuit.  Even a third, fourth or fifth guess wouldn’t have helped Fred figure out the Icks’ pernicious plan.

Like most players in the Game, Fred had the power of hindsight.  It was easy to see what he should have done—protect Sofee from being captured by the Icks and zombified.  What Fred lacked was foresight.  That kind of ability required serious leveling up.  A low-level foole like Fred couldn’t possibly be able to see into the future.  The TCJ hadn’t trained him to do such things.  In fact, they hadn’t trained him to do much.

It had been a year since Fred and Sofee discovered the Game Manual, learned about the Mega Game, traveled to Australia and were recruited as secret agents for the Temple of the Cosmic Joke.  They were sent home, told to resume their ordinary lives and remain undercover until they were contacted.  Fred had quietly returned to his tedious public school and distracted himself playing vidgames, easily flying under the radar as he always had.  Sofee hadn’t quite grasped that being undercover required blending in.  She stood out like a sore thumb.  A sore thumb that couldn’t stop talking, that is.  Sofee had found the funny and couldn’t let go.  The reclusive bookworm became the class clown and scandalized her elite private school—laughing, cracking jokes, defying authority.  The last bit is what sealed her fate.  Sofee had been deemed uncontrollable and committed to the Institute For Emotional Adjustment & Reeducation.

IFEAR was the place that forced unruly young people to behave properly.  Fred had heard rumors that those who entered IFEAR were never the same when they came out.  It was like something was sucked out of them.  Now Fred knew the truth.  IFEAR was turning people into zombies!

Fred had come to IFEAR pretending to visit Sofee but he was really there to rescue her.  The flowers in his hand were a clever ruse to make it look like he was paying a visit instead of helping his friend escape to freedom.  Sofee didn’t belong in a mental institution.  She didn’t need readjusting.  She was just fine.  A bit strange sometimes but who wasn’t?  Most of the time, Sofee was just about the best friend anyone could ask for.  Well, she used to be, before the Icks turned her into a zombie.

With a sigh, Fred stuck the daisies in a glass by the bed.  The flowers seemed too cheerful for the circumstance but they were her favorite.  Poor Sofee was so pale and frozen, she looked like she’d be pushing up her own daisies soon enough.  How could this be all that remained of his best friend?  Or former best friend.  Did zombification affect friend status?

Wait.  Did her eyelids just flutter or was it Fred’s imagination?  He leaned over the bed and peered at Sofee’s face.  She appeared to be asleep but her chest was completely still.  Not breathing was generally a bad sign.  How could Fred know for sure if Sofee’s Health Gauge really had plummeted to zero?  There weren’t any beeping machines like on TV and in the movies to make dull scenes of people lying in hospital beds seem more dramatic.  Having his best friend turn into a zombie was dramatic enough for Fred.

Was Sofee still alive?  Was she still in the Game?  Had Sofee’s heart flat­lined or was it still zigzagging like a primordial game of Pong?

Then it occurred to Fred that there was one sure­fire way to tell the status of his friend.  He could poke her.  Fred had an uneasy feeling that poking bodies was frowned upon.  Not only was it dangerous because zombies could quickly shift from immobile to attack mode but it was also considered rather rude.

So Fred refrained from using the poke test.  And he lasted for a full ten seconds.  Probably a record if anyone has ever kept track.  Maybe just a little poke was acceptable.  In case Sofee was still alive and paralyzed and trying to communicate with coded eye movements.

Slowly reaching his fingers towards Sofee’s shoulder, Fred anticipated the impact of cold, hardened flesh and cringed.

Then Sofee’s eyes snapped open.

“Ahhhh!”  Fred leapt back.  Sofee had returned to the Game.  But there was something wrong with her eyes.  They were staring straight ahead without blinking. There could only be one explanation.  This was no longer his best friend.  This was a zombie and she was about to attack.

Now here was a game that Fred knew something about.  Battling zombies was his specialty.  Fred had racked up billions of points splattering zombie brains, though this was the first time he’d personally known a zombie.  The current goal was to save Sofee’s brain, not splatter it.  But was it too late?  Had the Icks dealt permanent damage?

Icks.  The only monsters worse than zombies.  Fred’s Disgust Level rose whenever he thought about them.  Why had they done this to Sofee?  How could one foolish girl have posed a threat to their Global Domination Game?  Had Sofee stumbled upon the Icks’ devious plan to turn all the other players into zombies?  Had they fried her brain to keep her from revealing the truth?

The Icks had to be stopped before they fried, boiled or baked any more brains.  It was up to Fred to stop the Icks and avenge the zombification of his friend.  The time had come to play the Revenge Game.  He’d take on the role of the mad avenger and wear a leather jacket and ride a motorcycle and kick some serious Ick butt.  Technically, Fred was too young to ride a motorcycle but bitter anti­heroes were supposed to do that sort of thing.  They were also supposed to seek revenge by any means necessary.  This usually involved a great deal of violence and gore.

But Fred had renounced violence.  He was a TCJ agent and the Temple of the Cosmic Joke insisted that all operatives renounce violence.  It was considered too Icky.  And if an Ah behaved like an Ick then he risked becoming one.  Made sense.  But how was Fred supposed to battle zombies and Icks without resorting to violence?

The TCJ hadn’t bothered to mention that crucial detail before sending their young agents off into the field.  What kind of crazy operation was this?  Where had the TCJ been when Sofee was captured and subjected to whatever kind of torture transformed her into a flesh-eating fiend?  Why hadn’t Fred and Sofee been contacted?  Had the TCJ just abandoned their agents?

It sure seemed that way.  Fred was on his own and it was up to him to avenge the zombifying of his best friend.  Or former best friend and now his possible mortal enemy, depending on whether Sofee had become one of the flesh-eating types.  Could you still maintain a friendship with a monster?  Conversations would undoubtedly be one-sided but at least Fred would finally get a word in edgewise now that Sofee was a zombie.

Bad Fred.  Shouldn’t speak ill of the undead.  Or did it matter?  Did social etiquette still apply when discussing a mutant freak?  Or were the rules of proper behavior only meant for normal, living players?  It didn’t matter.  Even if Sofee had become an odious fiend with an unnatural desire to feed on Fred’s liver, it wasn’t her fault.  Someone had done this to her.  Sofee’s honor needed to be restored, even if it was too late to restore her pulse.

Unless…

Maybe Fred could restore his friend to her preputrefied self.  Think.  Fred scanned his memory bank trying to access the appropriate files.  Was it a done deal or could you somehow reverse the brain wipe?  How long had Sofee been in this condition?  Maybe there was still time to reach her before she transitioned into cannibal mode and tried to munch on his entrails.  Was it cannibalism if the thing doing the munching wasn’t human?  Were zombies still human?  How much time did he have before Sofee would need to feed?  And why did zombies need to feed anyway?  The whole undead compulsive eater thing made absolutely no sense.  Dead people didn’t feel hunger and their digestive systems didn’t work.  So what happened to all that human flesh they consumed?  Why didn’t zombies get fat?  Was it the pure protein diet?  Did it pass through their bodies?  Nah.  Dead people don’t crap.

         Focus.

The thought popped into his head.  Fred wasn’t sure where it came from but he often had thoughts that seemed to randomly appear.  He usually ignored them.  This time Fred decided to follow the advice.

There was clearly a lot he didn’t know about zombies but what did he know?  Enough to hold the high-score in Zombie Death Squad.  There had to be something his hours of battling the undead had taught him.  The game involved dispatching the mutants faster than they could respawn with the use of an impressively large, shoulder-launched blaster.  Direct hits to the head were the only way to take them out.

Yeah, that wasn’t much help.  Blowing his buddy’s brains out would not reanimate her.  Then again, maybe there was something to it.  Didn’t they use shock treatment in loony bins to make people behave normally?  What if a shock could reboot Sofee’s brain?  Fred wasn’t about to electrocute his friend but maybe there was another way to bring her back.

Just as Fred thought it, the object appeared.  A perfectly placed pitcher of water sat on the table next to the flowers.  Fred tested the water.  Cold.  Recently iced.  Perfect.  On the count of three.  1—2—

Fred threw the water, too impatient to wait for his own countdown.  Sofee’s eyes widened as the water dripped from their lids.  Fred noticed her index finger curl.  She seemed to be gesturing to him to move closer as if she wanted to say something.  Was it a trick?  Had Fred totally pissed off a zombie and she would chomp off his face as payback?  There was only one way to find out.  Fred leaned down towards Sofee’s lips fully prepared to spring back should she attack.  Since zombies tended to move in slo-mo, he’d have sufficient time to retreat.

“Are you insane?” seethed Sofee.

“Sofe!” exclaimed Fred, delighted that his friend had re-entered the Game.  And also incredibly relieved that he wasn’t going to have to go head-to-head with a wacked out mutant.

“Shut-up,” snapped Sofee.  “They’re watching.  And listening.”

Fred chuckled.  It was a good thing Sofee wasn’t a zombie because she sounded like she could have bitten his head off.  How had he managed to forget her uncanny staring ability?  Sofee won every staring contest they’d ever had.  And then there were the astounding breath-holding records.  She had been the undisputed champion in both events since they were little.  Fred’s Concern Meter lowered to Relieved as he realized it had all been a ruse.

“I thought you were a zombie.”

“What inspired that moronic idea?”

Fred launched into his explanation.  “Well, I figured that the Icks had tortured you to get a hold of the Game Manual because they somehow knew that the only copy had not been destroyed even though it was supposed to have been incinerated at the airport by Customs when we came back from Australia.  The Icks still believe there is only one copy of the Book.  Kind of a dumb assumption on their part since everything is mass produced these days.”

“Fred, they never asked me about the Book.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Just let me finish.”  Fred was so fired up, he launched into the following at high speed.  “The Icks can’t access the Game Manual because the TCJ encrypted it in a secret code known as META-4.  Only a bookworm can understand META-4 and access the hidden meaning of the Book.  That’s why the Icks captured you.  They want you to decipher it for them like the brains at the Think Tank did.  They believe the Game Manual will help them win the Mega Game.  But there’s no way to win the Mega Game.  That’s part of the Cosmic Joke.  The Icks are so desperate to win that they’ve prevented most of the other players from even realizing they’re playing the Mega Game.  That’s another part of the Joke.  These clueless players are called Ughs.  The Ughs haven’t reached Game Awareness like us so they don’t know they’re playing on the Icks’ Bogus team and could be playing on the Ahs’ Most Excellent team.  The TCJ are Most Excellent and they recruited us to help prevent the Icks from playing their Global Domination Game so—”

Sofee cut him off.  “Fred, why are you telling me things I already know?”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s like you’re obviously recapping everything that’s happened until now.”

“I am not.  I’m sharing crucial information.”

Sofee sighed  “Oh, no.”

“What’s the matter?”

“When someone reviews events that have previously happened and explains things that the other character should already know, what is it a sign of?”

“Being helpful?”

“What else?”

Fred considered the query.  “Hmmmm… I don’t know about stories but in games it’s usually a sign of a sequel.”

“Exactly.”

Fred wasn’t following.  “What’s your point?”

Sofee lowered her voice to a whisper.  “I think we’ve somehow entered a sequel.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Well, we are trapped inside a ridiculous story.”

“This is a game, not a story.”

“Oh Fred, don’t start that again.  It’s a story and a game.”

Fred wasn’t prepared to concede the point.  “If we’re in a sequel then the game should completely change.”

“Wrong,” countered Sofee.  “If we’re in a sequel then everything will stay the same.  Same basic story.  Same basic characters.  That’s what happens in book sequels.”

Fred shook his head.  “Not in game sequels.  They’re completely different.”

“Well, I’m the same.  You’re the same.  I guess this isn’t a game sequel.”

“Sofe, you’re not the same.  You’re a zombie.”

“I am not a zombie.”

Fred smiled.  “If this is a sequel then I must be the hero because I’ve come to rescue you.”

“Really?  What’s your rescue plan?”  Sofee was not impressed.

“The plan is to get into your room and…and…”  Fred floundered.  “Get you out of your room.”

Sofee snorted.  “Great.  Super plan, Fred.  Clearly they broke the hero mold before you were created.”

“Well, zombies can’t be heroes,” snipped Fred.

“I AM NOT A ZOMBIE!”

The door to Sofee’s room creaked, signaling that someone else had entered the scene.  Sofee fell back onto the bed and assumed her previous unmoving state.  An angry woman’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“What is that little trouble-maker doing here?  I thought there were explicit instructions not to admit him.”

It was Sofee’s vile mother.  She’d invaded the space and established control in two sentences.  Of course, she’d been known to do it with one word.  Or a carefully timed look.  The ex-model had an expert gaze.  She could shoot lasers out of her eyes without breaking a sweat.  Sofee’s mother was a powerful player.  Far too powerful for Fred to take on alone.  He could rush attack but she was blocking the exit and he’d end up a meatshield.  Sofee had reverted to zombie state so even if Fred sacrificed himself, his friend was unlikely to exit this map on her own.

“Hi, Mrs. Renard.”  Fred attempted to frag her with friendliness.  The pathetic ploy was met with a crisp clip-clop of sharp heels on cold linoleum.

“Visiting hours are over, young man.  Permanently in your case.  Now I suggest you leave before I call security.”

Boom.  Head shot.  Mrs. Renard had squeezed off a fast one and disarmed Fred before he could even raise his defenses.  And she was threatening to call backup.  Fred wasn’t equipped for a mass attack.  His rescue plan had just been junked.  Not that he’d really had a plan.  He was just hoping to wing it.  There was no way Fred was going to spring Sofee from the nut house now.  Abort mission.

So Fred made a hasty and unheroic retreat.  He would be back, though.  There was no way he was going to leave his best friend trapped in this chamber of horrors.  Sofee had escaped being changed into a zombie this time but she might not be so lucky when the Icks made their next attempt.

(c) 2010 T.C. Jester

***************************

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN….

GET THE BOOK         PLAY THE GAME

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EMAG OF EFIL: JUST ASK

EOE-3Dbook In honor of Independence Day, we’re releasing Chapter 5 of Emag of Efil.  In this excerpt from Book I, Sofee begins to discover the meaning of freedom.  And why it is important to JUST ASK…

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     EMAG OF EFIL

CHAPTER 5

JUST ASK

     When Headmaster had finished comparing Sofee to a hunk of clay and a horse, he had moved on to a tropical storm, a gnat, and a piece of gristle stuck between his teeth.  Then he had banished her to the library.  Since she was the one student who did not consider that a punishment, Sofee’s Happiness escalated.

     In the library, questions were the currency and Sofee was filthy rich.  She learned more in book world than in the classroom.  In the library she was free to ask the questions and discover the answers.  She was in control.  Her thirst for knowledge was unquenchable but there was plenty to drink.

The library was safe base.  No popular kids zone.  They feared it was like the Bermuda Triangle—those who entered would never return, lost in a vortex of unspeakable horror.  For some reason, the other students believed they would lose control of their minds if they actually used them.  Refusing to learn was their way of rebelling.

This struck Sofee as a short-sighted strategy.  She’d read enough history to know that knowledge is power.  Not only does it not numb your brain, it’s the best game plan.  Becoming smarter than the adults around you is the only way to beat them.

Not that Sofee thought of it as a game plan.  She wasn’t really a fan of games.  Okay, she hated them.  That’s why Sofee tried her best to avoid playing them.  This proved to be virtually impossible because everywhere she turned, she encountered the games people play.  Not just vidgames—those were easy to avoid.  Except when Fred insisted on showing her the latest one he was obsessed with.

It was the other games that boggled Sofee’s mind.  She’d pick up a paper, flip on the TV, or log onto a website and she’d find references to War Games, Political Games, Money Games, Corporate Games, Social Games and even the Game of Love.  Adults claimed that games were for kids but they seemed to play even more of them.  They talked about them all the time and didn’t seem to have much fun playing them.  And they all repeated the same thing.

“You need to learn how to play the game.”

What game?  And why did she have to play it?

Sofee tried to concentrate on her French homework but it was impossible.  Her head was flooded with questions.

Pourquoi?  Pourquoi?  Pourquoi?

As she shut her notebook, Sofee’s eye caught two words carved into the cubicle.

JUST ASK

What was that supposed to mean?

Sofee always enjoyed the messages scrawled on the school walls.  They were hidden so only students would see them.  Her favorite was:

THEY CAN CALL YOU CRAZY

BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE NOT.

Was everyone crazy?  Why did the world seem so insane?

Needing to take a break from the barrage of questions, Sofee decided to play Book Game.   No, not game.  Activity.  Sofee did not play games.  The rules of this ‘activity’ were really quite simple.  You picked three numbers—one for the shelf, the second for the row and the third for the book.   No matter what the book turned out to be, you had to read it.  Sofee’s random selections had included Wishful Thinking For Dummies, Magical Stories of Misery and Woe, and The History of Bad Ideas.

Actually, they weren’t in the least bit random but Sofee wasn’t ready to see that.  Nor was she ready to see the significance when 1-0-1 popped into her head.  Sofee was already headed towards the first shelf, top row and first book in.

As she neared the stacks, Sofee inhaled the familiar book smell.  It smelled like a forest of everlasting possibility.  Nah, it smelled like paper.  Nevertheless, there was something about the scent that all the technology in the world couldn’t replace.

Sofee loved this place where anything was possible and no idea was too crazy.  In book world, Sofee and her crazy ideas felt right at home.  They could escape from their dreary reality and visit other domains where they were made to feel like one of the family.  And not just the loony cousin who’s kept in the attic.  Domains where smart kids who asked a lot of questions were heroes and never got hit in the head.  Unless it was during an exceptional act of bravery whilst defending the elvan kingdom of Drittlesgaerd from the invasion of demon imps ordered by the diabolical sorcerer Soranaranonin who sought to capture the elvan chalice of infinite power.  In book world, people said things like “chalice of infinite power” and “forest of everlasting possibility” and didn’t sound foolish.  Or feel foolish.

Having spent most of her life feeling like a foole, Sofee longed to be the girl in the fantasy story with extraordinary abilities who’d fulfill an ancient prophecy and save the world.  She’d have mysterious parentage, a spunky sidekick, and a chalice of infinite power.  Well, maybe not a chalice.  Make it a stone or a sword or a very special pen.  And by possessing this object everyone would know that she was “the one” and would succeed where others had failed.  And she would never ever slip on a banana peel.

Yeah, as if that would ever happen.  Sofee knew for a fact that it wouldn’t because she’d tried and had failed miserably.  Indeed, Sofee spent much of her childhood trying to find a secret portal to a parallel universe.  Yet no matter how many cupboards, cabinets, closets, and clothes hampers, she climbed into, Sofee never found a portal.  She’d bumped her nose on far too many mirrors and never been able to get through to the other side.  She’d tried to walk through wardrobes but only banged her head on the hangers.  She’d scratched her arms plunging into a hedge and bruised her knee scaling the wall of a secret garden that turned out to be nothing more than a parking lot.   Heck, she’d even tried to climb down a rabbit hole and was bitten on the ankle by an angry cottontail.  It wasn’t fair.  Alice’s curiosity was rewarded with an amazing adventure in Wonderland.  The white rabbit did not try to chomp off her leg.

Sofee was stuck in reality.  There was no fantastic destiny awaiting her.  Just her exasperating existence.  Now that she was older, Sofee had given up looking for secret passageways.  The alternate dimensions in her books didn’t exist.  She knew book 101 couldn’t possibly be an enchanted artifact that would alter her existence.  But maybe it would have a story about one.

Striding purposefully toward the shelf, Sofee didn’t notice Miss Crone, the librarian, watching her.  It was hard not to spot the quirky Australian with the orange hair, blue dress and pink cowboy boots.  She was the substitute librarian.  The regular shusher and shelver was on extended sick leave with a severe case of frazzled nerves.

“G’day, Sofee.  Playing Book Game, I see,” noted Miss Crone.  “Whenever someone walks to a shelf with such determination, they’re either in another world or playing the game.  Sometimes both.”  She chuckled to herself as she slid a book onto the shelf.

Sofee was surprised that her secret game was not so secret.

“How do you know about Book Game?”

“It’s a ripper.”  Miss Crone smiled and her eyes sparkled.  “What’s your number?”

“One-zero-one.”

“Oh yeah?  That’s full on.  What book is it?”

Sofee noticed with dismay that the first space on the first shelf was empty.  “There’s nothing there.”

“You’re well and truly looking in the wrong spot.  Row zed is above the first row.”  Miss Crone pushed her cart away.

Sofee stood on her tip-toes and stretched her head back but still couldn’t see the top of the shelf.  After jumping up and down a few times, she decided it was best to find a stool.  This enabled her to peer above the shelf and make the earth-shattering discovery of…

Absolutely nothing.  Darn it!  This was the worst round of Book Game.  Why did she pick such a stupid number?

“How are you going?”  Miss Crone was back with her empty cart.  She certainly was fast.

“Nothing.”  Sofee’s Excitement Level fell to Disheartened.  It was the first time she’d ended up without a book.

The Librarian chuckled.  “That’s not the first shelf.  Shelf one is in the Special Reading Room.”

Ah, the Special Reading Room.  That would be the special room where they kept a special collection of special books donated to St. Joan’s over the years.  Far too special for anyone to actually read, they were locked away.

“Of course, you’d have to join Book Club in order to enter the Special Reading Room.”  Miss Crone placed a book on her head.

Join Book Club?  Never!  It was the nerd card of social death.  Not even Sofee would pick that one.  Book Club was for outcasts who couldn’t make the cut for any other club or sport.  It wasn’t that Sofee couldn’t join any activities, she simply chose not to.  Teams weren’t her thing.

“Book Club meets on Thursdays at 5pm sharp, mate.  Maybe you should give this team a go.”  With the book still atop her head, Miss Crone slowly pushed her cart away then broke into a jog, dodging and weaving between the aisles.

That was weird.  The librarian mentioned teams as soon as Sofee thought of it.  Had to be a coincidence.  So was the fact that it was Thursday and it was  4:58pm.  Book Club was meeting in a couple minutes.  Sofee was already there.  And there was nowhere she had to be.  Maybe she could just stop by the meeting and find out what was so special about the Special Reading Room.  And she could have a quick look for book 101.

Anyway, didn’t she already hold the nerd card of social death?  Could a pair make her social ranking any worse?

Following Miss Crone back to the front desk, Sofee observed her driving the cart while making train noises.  She wondered if the librarian’s lunacy predated her work at St. Joan’s or the dreariness had driven her to it.  When the cart was parked by the front desk with an abrupt turn to the left and a screeching brake sound effect, Sofee decided Miss Crone’s quirkiness was nothing new.  She must have had a lot of practice to achieve such an effortless level.

“We’re chuffed you could join us, Sofee.”  Miss Crone removed the book from her head as if it was a hat and bowed.  Then she flung the book over her right shoulder.  Sofee was shocked to see a librarian flinging books—even an oddball like Miss Crone.  Wasn’t there a rule against that sort of thing?

The book didn’t seem to think so as it soared through the air, executed a double somersault with a half twist, and then slid perfectly into place on the shelf behind Miss Crone.  It was a highly irrational occurrence which Sofee’s brain immediately dismissed in order to focus on more sensible things.

“Where are the other club members?’

“Our Book Club chapter may be small but our holiday parties are heaps of fun.”  Miss Crone tilted her head and gazed at Sofee.  “So why do you reckon you’re Book Club material?”

Sofee wasn’t expecting to have to prove her worthiness.  “Um…I like books.”

“Ace!  Can you keep a secret?”

“Yes.”  Sofee kept lots of secrets.  Mostly her own.

“Beaut!”  Miss Crone’s voice lowered.  “Because if you repeat anything to anyone about Book Club or its secret rituals, you will be pulped.”  A sly smile.

Sofee’s eyes widened.  Was Miss Crone completely mad?

“No worries.  It’s just a joke.”  The librarian laughed.  “We do prefer to keep everything under cover, though.”  Another chuckle.

Sofee’s tension level lowered significantly.  She was still concerned about Miss Crone’s mental state but librarians rarely turned out to be psychos.  Although there was a risk that one too many overdue books could induce murderous rage, Sofee always returned her books on time.  She figured she was safe.

“Hang on a tick, I have to clear my desk before we begin.”  With a brisk hand movement, Miss Crone brushed everything off her desk onto the floor.  Then she effortlessly leapt onto the desk and reached for a volume in the middle of the tall shelf behind it.  As she pulled out the book with one hand, the other searched the empty space and located a small key.  It was tossed down to Sofee.

“Now that you’re an official member, you can go open the Special Reading Room.”  Miss Crone replaced the book.  Then she stepped off the desk, hovered for a moment and shifted her weight as if she was surfing, then floated back down to the floor.

Wait a minute.  She hovered?  Miss Crone couldn’t possibly have done that.  Sofee wasn’t remembering correctly.   In fact, she hadn’t really been paying attention.  Sofee was too busy trying to figure out where the Special Reading Room was located.  She only knew it existed because of a circulating story that a student once got locked in and died of boredom before anyone could rescue her.

“Off you go.”  Miss Crone waved her hand towards the stacks.

“But I don’t know where it is.”

“Now Sofee, if you can’t suss out where the Special Reading Room is then you aren’t really Book Club material, are you?”  Miss Crone chuckled.

Then a thought walloped Sofee in the head like the basketball in gym class.

This is a game.

Sofee sighed.  “Okay.”  Miss Crone was playing a game with her.  It seemed foolish but Sofee decided to be a good sport and play along.

As she walked away from the front desk, Sofee examined the key.  It was the long, solid, old-fashioned kind and appeared to be made of gold.  Which it wasn’t.  The Special Reading Room couldn’t possibly be that special.  It was the kind of key you used to open a heavy, wooden door.  An old door that was protecting something very special.

But there weren’t any old doors in the library.  Everything was newly rebuilt after a fire had destroyed it five years earlier.  Wait, that wasn’t entirely true.  Part of the original structure had remained standing and was incorporated into the new design.  It was the reading area where Sofee usually sat behind the shelves near the windows.  What a coincidence.

When she reached her cubicle, Sofee was befuddled.  There were no doors nearby—only windows along the wall.  Then she noticed her notebook had fallen to the floor.  Bending over to pick it up, Sofee spied something metal near her foot.  A coin perhaps?  Nope.

Sofee crouched down to get a closer look and discovered a lock.  There was nothing else to do but try the key.  Much to Sofee’s surprise, the key not only fit, it opened up a trapdoor in the floor.  She had been sitting on top of the Special Reading Room the entire time.  What a coincidence.  Or was it?

Peering into the hole in the floor, Sofee discovered nothing more than dust and cobwebs.  It was too dark to see if there was anything else in there.  Hoping there were no spiders, she stuck her head in to have a closer look.

“Having a go at the floor, mate?”

Sofee jerked up her head to see Miss Crone looking down with a curious expression.

Sofee instantly felt foolish.  “There was a lock…the key fit…” She stammered.  “Isn’t that the Special Reading Room down there?”

“Crikey, that’s just an old bomb shelter.”

“So where is the…” Sofee noticed Miss Crone’s twinkling eyes.  “This is it, isn’t it?”

“What do you think?”

“I think no one has been down there in years which means that there is no Book Club.”

“I reckon there is now.”  Miss Crone peered into the hole.  “It’s a bit dodgy down there.  Looks like you could use a torch.”

A torch?  Why would Sofee need a flaming stick?  What was down there?  Some sort of deranged monster that demanded student sacrifice?  Had Miss Crone set her up?  Sofee’s imagination was running away at top speed and she was ready to follow.

Until Miss Crone handed her a flashlight and walked away without a word.

Oh.

Sofee shined the light into the hole but didn’t know why she bothered.  The dusty beam of light revealed nothing but an empty crawlspace.  It wasn’t much of a room and it wasn’t particularly special and it certainly wasn’t intended for reading.  Once again, Sofee felt foolish.  She had actually hoped to uncover a hidden chamber filled with ancient books from floor to ceiling.  The kind of mysterious chamber that heroes just happened to stumble upon during their adventures.  The kind that just happened to hold the secrets of the universe.

But the only thing that Sofee ever stumbled upon was her shoelaces.  No magical mystical wisdom books for her.  Nope.  That kind of thing only happened in stories.  It would never happen to Sofee.  Why had she thought it would be any different this time?

The hole in the floor held nothing but dust.  And it was not faerie dust.  It was get-in-your-nose-and-make-you-sneeze dust.  There was even a pile of it in the far corner.  A rectangular shaped pile.

Now Sofee was no expert in Physics but she presumed random clumps of dust did not form rectangular shapes.  That meant that something was hiding in the corner.  A-ha!

Carefully stretching her arm into the hole, Sofee grabbed a hold of the object.  But the object resisted.  Sofee yanked but the rectangular object refused to yield.  And that’s when Sofee’s Curiosity Gauge rose significantly.  Whatever that thing was, she was determined to get a hold of it.

“Come on,” said Sofee.  “I won’t hurt you.”  It was a strange thing to say to an unidentified object but it seemed to work.  The object stopped resisting and allowed Sofee to free it from the floor.

And in that awesome moment, Sofee discovered the long lost box of limitless energy that everyone in the galaxy was after and she became the greatest hero who’s ever existed.

No, not really.  It was just a book covered with crud.  Sofee blew, sneezed, and blew again.  Wiping away the last specks of dirt, she examined the aged green leather cover and saw there was something printed on it.

EMAG OF EFIL

The fading sun from the window illuminated the letters producing a dancing ray of gold.  Foole’s gold thought Sofee.  She suspected the story would be stale.  It sounded like one of those over-the-top fantasies where the inhabitants of the land of goodness are outnumbered by evildoers who want to take over the world.  They’d bitch and moan about their fate but then they’d get it together in the end and beat the baddies.

Emag.  Sounded like your basic brutal dictator.  The kind with a loudmouth guard who’d bellow: “The Great and Powerful Emag will see you now.”

As if anyone really wants to have a private audience with an Emag.  It never ends nicely.  There are usually dungeons and torture and other undesirable consequences.  Why is there always a madman who wants super duper power?   Why does the hero have to confront him?  Couldn’t she just stop the madman from fulfilling his evil plans from afar?  Wouldn’t that be slightly safer?

Sure it would.  But a true hero scoffs at safety.  Then sneers at it just to show how fearless she really is.  A hero marches straight into  the towering fortress down the hall lit by torches—the flaming stick kind—past the suit of armor and eerie paintings with moving eyes and through the heavy wooden doors that make an unexpectedly loud creaking noise.  It’s at that point our hero realizes it’ll be impossible to sneak through the castle but she doesn’t care because her bravery knows no limits.  She’ll see that Emag and raise him a fearless fist.

Efil.  It even sounded like evil.  Only a one-letter difference which isn’t much when you think about it.  If you think about things like that.

Sofee did.  She spent a lot of time pondering such things.  Most people did not.  They said that pondering in general was a complete waste of time.  Sofee never knew what it meant to waste time.  Was there a proper purpose for time?  If it didn’t include thinking then what did it include?  No one ever said.  They talked about it as if it was a precious resource and invented devices to save it.  But these devices always took up more time.  It was puzzling.  Sofee wondered if you could actually conserve time instead of wasting it and store the extra somewhere.  Maybe in a box of limitless energy.

Oh, what was the point of bothering with this book when Sofee already knew what would happen?  She’d read, digested and dismissed the entire thing without even opening it.  Why read it?

Because that was the number one rule of Book Game—no matter what you picked, you had to read it.  And Sofee always played by the rules.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Miss Crone was back.  She really did have impeccable timing.   “I see you found it.”

“Is it any good?” asked Sofee.

“Some people find it quite powerful.”

“Can I borrow it?”

“Does it want you to read it?”

“I think it does.”  Sofee surprised herself by so easily responding to such an incredibly odd question.  But the book had jumped into her hands.  At least, that’s the way it felt.

“It’s best to trust a book that wants to be read.   It must have something to tell you.”  Miss Crone turned to go then pivoted back.

“Sofee, there’s one thing I should probably warn you about.  Some people who read this book go a bit funny in the head.”

“Some?”

“Only the ones who understand it.”  Miss Crone chuckled.  “Do you have the key?”

Sofee returned the golden key.

The librarian glanced at her wrist. She wasn’t wearing a watch.  “Time for me to disappear.  Cheers, Sofee.”

Miss Crone reached out her arm and seemed to grab something invisible with her hand.  She turned her hand to the right, pulled her hand towards her, then stepped forward.   She reached back and took a hold of something and pulled it to her.  Then she was gone.  It looked as though she’d walked through an invisible door.

Sofee’s brain attempted to process this but kept popping up the same message.  Does not make sense.  Invisible doors are not real.  Disregard information.

Her brain finally decided it was her OASIS acting up.  Sofee had Over-Active Sensitivity and Imagination Syndrome.  An expert said so.  He’d prescribed less reading and more television. Upon hearing the diagnosis, the Mother had demanded drugs.  The doctor had said drugs weren’t necessary.  Until the Mother explained they weren’t for Sofee, they were to calm her nerves.

Sofee’s brain was distracted from the memory by a noise.  Her brain immediately concluded that Miss Crone was still there and had never actually disappeared.  The rational part of her brain was once again relieved to blame everything on her imagination.

“Miss Crone,” called Sofee.  “What do you mean by funny—”  She stopped herself realizing the noise wasn’t made by the librarian.  It was the janitor emptying wastepaper bins.

“Library’s closed,” he grunted.  Detecting a student in his path lowered his Pleasure Gauge.  Working after hours was the janitor’s way of avoiding the little vermin.

“I was just leaving,” replied Sofee as she quickly shut the trapdoor and concealed it with a chair.  Her intuition had told her to.  She rarely paid attention to the messages that popped into her head since they usually told her that she was a foole.  This time the message was particularly insistent that she hide the book.  In her haste to shove the book in her bag, Sofee dropped it on the floor.  Bending over to pick it up, she banged her head on the desk.

Sofee was rubbing her head when she noticed the janitor staring at her.

“What’re ya reading there, kid?”

“Nothing,” said Sofee.  It was the truth.  She hadn’t read it yet.

“Can I see it?”  The janitor reached for the book.  He was never friendly.  This was totally creepy.

“Uh…I gotta go.”   Sofee shoved the book in the bag and hurried towards the exit.  Upon leaving the library, she felt a strong sense of relief which rapidly changed to horror.  She hadn’t checked out the book.  Sofee had stolen the Emag of Efil.  She’d be thrown out of Book Club for sure.

(c) 2008 T.C. Jester

***************************

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN…

GET THE BOOK         PLAY THE GAME

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How to Win Trust

Trust is one of the fundamental games in Life.  We all play.  Not just humans but every animal on the planet.  That’s because it’s part of Survival.  Those who know when to trust and when to flee, win the Survival Game.  Some say Trust is the most important mini-game in the Game of Life.  Let’s just say that if you don’t excel at Trust, you won’t have much of a Life.

How does it work?

Trust is played whenever one animal interacts with another.  Each player must decide if the other is friend or foe.  The game is really that simple.  One little question with big consequences:  Will this creature harm me?  If you choose correctly, you win the round.  If you don’t, you lose.  It’s a zero sum game.  There are no degrees or points.  You either trust and you survive…or you don’t and you get hurt…or worse.

For many animals, Trust must be won because it’s a matter of life or death.  If you trust your opponent and he turns out to be a predator, you’re dead meat.  Literally.  That’s considered an Epic Loss.  However, if you choose not to trust the lion creeping stealthily towards you and run, you win.  (Though it should be noted, if you don’t actually escape, your win will feel much like an Epic Loss.  Winning at Trust does not guarantee that you win at Survival. This is part of the Cosmic Joke.)

Like other animals, humans constantly play Trust.  We initiate a round every time we encounter another animal.  Is this dog friendly?   Will that snake bite?  Can I be sure the pigeon won’t poop on my head?  However, it’s when we play with other humans that Trust moves to a whole new level.

Every day we’re assessing whether others are dangerous or safe, real or fake, genuine or lying by asking questions like: Can I be sure that driver won’t hit me?  Is this stranger I’ve just met telling me the truth?  Should I vote for that candidate?

Unlike other animals that can judge based on fangs and snarling, humans often must rely on subtle clues.  Deciding whether someone is friend or foe can be difficult.  Some players have good intentions while others are motivated by total self-interest.

What are the strategies for winning Trust?

There are are three basic strategies for winning Trust. They can be used individually or in combination.

Strategy #1: Instinct

The first is the one all animals are born with – instinct.  When you sense a predator approaching, you run like hell.  It requires no thought.  You just trust your gut and go.

But when you sense that the other player is harmless, you stay and possibly befriend her.  If this harmless player is also attractive, you might play the Mating Game.  And if she completely wins Trust and makes you feel safe, you may even find Love.  Love is a grand prize and a tremendous power-up for humans.  That’s why it’s a major quest for so many players.

Strategy #2: Oldest Trick in the Book

The second strategy is also known as the Oldest Trick in the Book (OTB).  This trick is used by many animals – even if they’ve never read the Book.  They just fake it.  Some animals play dead, others camouflage, feign disinterest, or pretend to be harmless.  The OTB can be used to convince predators that you’re not particularly delicious.  It  can also be used to convince predators that you are even more ferocious.

Be aware, predators can use the OTB to convince you that they’re not a threat.  In the human version of Trust, these players are known as sociopaths and con artists.  We call them Icks.  They can be ever so charming and friendly.  And they know how to manipulate you into overriding your natural instinct.

Strategy #3: Caution

The third strategy is used by those who can’t decide whether to stay, run or fight.  They proceed with caution.  Caution is a proven strategy for making sure you don’t become an Epic Loser.  Caution is often used by those who are unsure of their own instinct because they are dealing with an opponent using the OTB.

Do I have trust issues?

One of the clever ways that advanced Trust players manipulate lower level players is by convincing them that they are terrible at playing the game.  They tell them that they have “trust issues” and something is wrong with them for not trusting.  You can recognize these dangerous players when they reveal themselves with two telling words: TRUST ME.  If there’s one thing to remember about playing Trust, it’s this – Never trust a player who says: “trust me.”  If you’re feeling hesitant that’s because your Trust-o-Meter is telling you to be cautious and base your decision on careful observation.  Is the other player consistent?  Do his actions match his words?  Is she too good to be true?

This is why caution is an effective strategy.   A trustworthy person will never demand your trust.  She will be happy to earn it. Only someone eager to win Trust will try to force you to make a decision before you’re ready.

Who can you trust?

The good news is that you can actually trust most people.  There’s only about 4% of the human population that absolutely can’t be trusted.  So there are far more potential friends out there than foes.

The most important game of Trust is the one you play with yourself.  If you trust your instinct, you will win.  Most of the time.  No matter how cautious you are, you will encounter those high-level players who know how to make you doubt your instinct and trust them instead of yourself.  And you will feel foolish for letting them win Trust.  But just award yourself some Foole Points and accept that Trust is a part of Life.   And you may just get lucky and find Love.

Which strategy do you use when you play Trust?  Has it ever made you feel foolish?

Categories: mini-games | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Status Game

No one knows when the Status Game started but it’s been played for thousands of years.  Possibly tens of thousands.  Humans are not the only animals who play Status but they’ve modified it and taken the game to a peculiar new level.

Status can be played as an individual or a family or a community.  The game varies  depending on the location and the player characters.  It can be a very intense game for diehard players.  And it is particularly challenging because Status is one of the vaguest mini-games in the Game of Life.

Status has no official rules.  Players claim to know what it takes to gain or lose Status Points but no one actually knows.  Also, there is no way to win at the Status Game.  You can only gain points or lose them.  Since there is no leaderboard, no one really knows how many Status Points they have or how many points other players have.

The strangest part of the game is that many players focus more on the loss of points than on gaining them.  It is assumed that everyone has a certain number of points – again, no one knows how many – so the goal is to not lose your points.  If you lose points, your ranking goes down.  The challenge is that you never know if you’ve lost points or how many points you’ve lost so even the possibility of losing points can drive players mad.

Some men are so desperate to not lose points in the Status Game, they will murder their own daughters, sisters, and wives.  They call it “Honor Killing” because these men believe that their female relatives have the power to drastically reduce their Status Points and the only way to restore those points is murdering them.  Tragically, these “Honor Killings” only result in dead relatives and don’t restore Status Points.  It’s a sad and useless strategy but many men believe it is the only way to play the game.

This bizarre belief that Status Points can be restored by killing people has existed for a very long time.  It pre-dates religion so anyone who says that this is a religious practice doesn’t know the history of the Status Game.

Here’s an old story I discovered about the game…

‘There once was a village known as Follie that was ruled by a Great Leader.  The Great Leader had nothing else to do all day but issue decrees on how people should live their lives.  The people of Follie took those decrees very seriously.  They were issued by the Great Leader after all and no one dared question the Great Leader.

One of the most important decrees was that honor must be protected above all things.  Those who were dishonored would no longer be considered upstanding citizens of Follie and they would be shunned.  The decree was so draconian that people became obsessed with their honor.  They were willing to do anything to maintain it.  Anything to avoid the horror of being shunned.

One day, a farmer decided that his daughter had dishonored him and must die.  The villagers gathered in the town square to watch the man dispose of his daughter.  Just as the farmer was about to dispatch his daughter, the village fool happened to walk past.

“Greetings, sir,” said the fool.  “What are you doing?”

“I’m killing my daughter,” replied the farmer.

“Why would you do such a thing?” asked the fool.

“Because she has disobeyed me,” explained the farmer.  “She refuses to marry the man I have chosen for her.  She has dishonored me.”

“Ah,” said the fool.  “Well, that does sound bad.  You should certainly get rid of her.  But can I ask you a few questions first?”

“Yes,” said the farmer.  “But make it quick.  I have to get back to the farm and milk the cows.”

“Do those cows always produce milk?” inquired the fool.

“Oh no,” said the farmer.  “Sometimes they refuse to give me any milk.”

“That’s terrible,” said the fool.  “Those cows dishonor you.  You should kill them.”

The farmer was incredulous.  “I can’t kill my cows.  I need them.”

“How about your chickens?  Do they always give you eggs?” asked the fool.

The farmer shook his head.  “No.  They only give me eggs when they want to.  I can’t control those chickens.”

“Really?!!” exclaimed the fool.  “That is most disobedient.  The chickens dishonor you too.  You should kill them.”

“I can’t kill the chickens.  They are far too valuable,” scoffed the farmer.

The fool scratched his head.  “Well, what about your horse?  When you try to mate your mare, does she always accept the stallion?”

“Of course not,” said the farmer.  “Mares are very fickle and only accept certain stallions.”

“Kill her,” announced the fool.  “She is disobedient and dishonors you.”

“Now that is just ridiculous,” said the farmer.  “I need that mare.  She is my prized possession.”

“What about your lemon tree?  Does it always give you fruit?” demanded the fool.

“No. That lemon tree only gives me fruit every other year,” admitted the farmer.  “I can’t control it at all.”

“How about your crops?  Do they grow exactly the way you’d like?”

The farmer sighed.  “Never.  I wish I could make the crops do what I want but I don’t have any power over nature or the weather.”

“Kill them all!” declared the fool.  “Slaughter the cows and the chickens and the horse.  Kill the tree and the crops.  All of them.  They have disobeyed your wishes.  They bring you dishonor.  You must destroy them all.”

The farmer’s eyes widened.  “But if I destroy all my livestock and my crops, I will have nothing left.  I will lose everything that is valuable to me.”

“You will still have your honor,” said the fool.

The farmer laughed.  Then he hugged his daughter.  And they walked home together.

The Great Leader issued a new decree to the people of Follie shortly thereafter.  It proclaimed that love was more important than honor.

The thing to remember about mini-games like Status is that just because people believe they’re important, it doesn’t make them any less absurd.

What do you think of the Status Game?  Did it ever make you feel foolish?

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Can People Change?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s that time again to make resolutions.  And promptly ignore them.  Why?  Why do people go through this routine every year?  Why are New Year’s Resolutions such a joke?

Well, it’s not the resolutions that are the joke.  They’re usually made with the best of intentions.  Whatever it is – lose weight; join a gym;  ace Algebra;  get a new job;  stop dating people who aren’t into you;  be kinder;  be braver;  be successful – these are reasonable goals.

It’s not that people can’t achieve their goals.  The problem is that they don’t believe they can.  You see, there is a common assumption that people can’t change.

No one knows where this strange idea came from.   Thousands of years ago, Heraclitus explained that: “There is nothing permanent except change.”  And Siddhartha Gautama was even more succinct: “Everything changes.”  We could list countless examples of knowledgeable players who have noted that change is an essential aspect of the Game of Life.

Yet somehow a lot people manage to ignore this important Game guidance.  Not only do they insist that people don’t change, they claim that nothing ever changes.  If you try to tell them otherwise, they just sigh and scoff and sputter that you can’t change the world and only a foole would try.

That is just nonsense.  All lifeforms change and evolve.  We all know from personal experience that we change.  We grow.  We learn.  We age.  We get muscles.  We lose them.  We get happy.  We get sad.  We move to a new city.  We learn ballroom dancing.  We suddenly like brussel sprouts (but only if they’re roasted).  Dictators get overthrown.  Icebergs melt.  We’re always changing.  And so is the world.

Now the even stranger thing is that the same players who say that people can’t change, also complain that people change too much.  They bitch about the fact that the person who was their best friend is now totally ignoring them.  The person of their dreams was madly in love with them yesterday but today, not so much.  And once they get started, they’ll rattle on about how the world’s changed and things used to be much better before. 

This is the essence of the Change Conundrum.  People can’t change and they change when you don’t want them to.  The world won’t change but then suddenly it does.  The Change Conundrum seems perplexing until you realize that it’s part of the Cosmic Joke.  We live in an unpredictable world and we can’t control it.  People do change but they only do it when and if they want to.  We can’t control other players in the Game of Life.  We can’t make them change and we can’t prevent them from changing.

Is it any wonder with players so utterly confused about the nature of the Game, that no one can stick to a simple New Year’s Resolution?!!

If there is one key thing about the Game of Life that you need to know, it is this:

CHANGE HAPPENS

Whether you’re ready or not.  Change will happen.  And your challenge is to face it.  (Or as some Game gurus like to say: Shit happens, deal with it.)

The big questions are: Can we change our characters?  Can we change the Game?  Is there a secret way to influence the outcome of the Game?  Can we be happy playing the Game?

And the answer is:

IF YOU ARE FOOLISH ENOUGH TO BELIEVE YOU CAN

That is why the Game of Life is a tremendous adventure.  You can change your character and level up.  You can change your Life and make it more meaningful and happy.  And you can change the Game by leading and inspiring others.

So Happy New Year to all the wise fooles who know change is possible and dare to aim high.  Rest assured, the rewards are great.  As Confucious advised: “They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”

Fooles Group has resolved to inspire more people around the world to play EMAG OF EFIL in 2013! We hope you’ll join us!

What is your resolution?

Categories: Discover, Foolish Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Playing It Cool

Some people think that “cool” is a separate game but it’s really a strategy for playing Rejection Roulette.  This strategy involves feigning indifference to the outcome of the game.  People tend to play it cool because they fear the odds are not in their favor.  These players are scarred by the wounds of past rejection and want to avoid getting hurt at all costs.  So they turn down the heat of their emotions to a tepid cool and pretend to not care.  Playing it cool is like emotional armor, a deflector shield to repel the pain of rejection.   Those who employ the strategy also believe that it increases their likelihood of being accepted and use it as a sort of mental jujitsu. Although people who play it cool seem like they just don’t care, rest assured that they do. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother playing Rejection Roulette.  They’d pop off for a nice game of squash instead.

How do you play it cool?

Basically, you try to manipulate the person with the power to accept or reject you.  You try to beat the odds to ensure you won’t be rejected by lying about what you actually think and feel.  You may care desperately that you are accepted but your actions and words must appear casual, unconcerned, distracted, disinterested, fearless, and relaxed. You must seem strong, confident and in control.  Because that is the essence of the cool strategy – control.  You control the situation by appearing indifferent.  You must not let an employer or love interest or other potential acceptor know how badly you want to be accepted.  That would incur a major loss of Cool Points.   No, you must never appear over-eager, needy, desperate, desirous, soft, nice, open, or available.  You don’t return messages right away.  You always appear terribly busy.  You project the image that you are already over-flowing with acceptance.  One measly game of Rejection Roulette doesn’t make a difference. You don’t need anything or anyone because you are armed with the power of cool.  In fact, you’re so cool, you’re the one who’s doing the accepting.  And for a high-level cool player, the trick is in turning the tables.  You actually convince others that you are the acceptor.

Why do so many people play it cool?

The growth of the cool strategy is mainly due to the many guides out there that insist it is the only way to master Rejection Roulette.  There are countless websites and books that profess that playing hard to get helps you avoid rejection and ensure acceptance.  They tell players that having needs or desires is a ghastly affliction that will horrify a potential acceptor.  It doesn’t matter that the acceptor likely has needs and desires as well.  The advocates of the cool strategy advise players to fake it.  Honesty is for losers in the game of Rejection Roulette.

Why does the cool strategy seem so absurd?

Players can become so consumed with scoring Cool Points that they don’t just play hard to get – they play impossible to get.  They’re not just cool – they’re downright cold.  These high-level cool players manage to turn a simple game of Rejection Roulette into an intense role-playing power game and forget the whole point was to get accepted.  They so relish their reversed role as acceptor that they end up rejecting everything.  And they wonder why they find themselves alone once again.   You see, the absurdity of playing it cool is that it can actually increase your odds of being rejected.   It’s not a particularly effective strategy if you’re looking to be accepted by a warm, sensible person who seeks sincerity and honesty.  Not all people want what they can’t have. Cool players attract other cool players and those who play mind games rarely achieve happily ever afters.

How do I deal with someone who is playing it cool?

The key thing to remember is that when someone is playing it cool, this person is quite scared indeed.  It’s likely this player has suffered from a lot of rejection and never healed properly.  Now that doesn’t mean you should necessarily stick around if you’re being treated with disrespect.  Nor should you embrace a cool player when s/he vanishes and reappears with some lame excuse about being busy.  For some people, cool is really an excuse for being rude.   “Playing it kind” is a far better strategy than “playing it cool.”   It means you are gracious toward the person you are playing Rejection Roulette with and accept that s/he has a different perspective than you.  So even if you are convinced that you would be perfect for the job, relationship, team, or role, try to remember that you are not the only one playing the game.  It’s not all about you and what you want.  It’s silly to get angry at someone for deciding for whatever reason to reject you.  We’re all free to choose.  That’s part of the game.

And when you realize that rejection is just part of life and you can’t avoid it by playing cool, you’ll be able to find the funny, have fun and look forward to the next round of Rejection Roulette.   Have you ever played it cool?  Did it help you get accepted or rejected?

Categories: Discover, mini-games | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How to Play Rejection Roulette

Have you ever asked someone out? Attempted to join a club or a clique? Applied to a school? ? Tried out for a team? Interviewed for a job? Pitched an idea? Tried to win a contest?

…And then been rejected?

Of course you have. We’ve all been rejected at some point. We’ve all hoped for that acceptance letter, job offer, second date, club membership or blue ribbon.

…And then been dumped, denied, and dismissed.

Why does it feel like a ridiculous game?

Because it is. The game is called “Rejection Roulette.” It’s one of the many mini-games that we play in the Game of Life.

How does it work? Well, basically you submit yourself to others for approval and they can either accept or reject. If they accept, you feel awesome. If they reject, you feel awful.

It’s not a particularly fun game. 

The odds are always 50/50 that you will be accepted or rejected. However, there are players who claim that they can help you beat the odds. They say that there are tricks to the game and if you buy their book/ video/ seminar, they will teach you how to cheat. They call these complex instructions “rules” but this is bogus. The rules to Rejection Roulette are super simple. Submit yourself for approval then wait to see if you get rejected. The cheater guides claim to help you guarantee acceptance. They tell you to lie and pretend to be someone else so you can manipulate the outcome of the game. But lying to control the outcome is bogus. The goal of Rejection Roulette is for you to be accepted so if you’re pretending to be someone else, you’re not really being accepted. Some pseudo-you is being accepted. And unless you intend to pretend indefinitely, it’s going to be obvious to the approver soon enough that you cheated at the game. Then you’ll find that you merely delayed rejection.

The truth is that you do not solely determine the outcome of the game. Whoever has the power to reject also determines the outcome. No matter what you do, the odds are always 50/50. People may think that just because they’ve been rejected before, they’ll be rejected again but each time you play, the odds are the same.

Then why does it seem like rejection happens more often than acceptance? Because people tend to focus on it. And why is it so painful? Because people believe rejection lowers their value and ranking in the Game of Life. This is silly because rejection happens just as often as acceptance. Mini-games don’t determine our value. We do.

That’s why the real secret to playing Rejection Roulette is letting go of your fear of rejection. Stop seeing it as losing and accept it as part of the game. Some suggest that you play to deliberately get rejected because it empowers you in the Game of Life. Rejection helps you learn and grow. And that is the only way to level up in the Game of Life.

Do you have a secret strategy for playing Rejection Roulette? How do you deal with rejection?

Categories: mini-games | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Emag of Efil Mission: Get a Clue

“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes,” said Johann von Goethe.  It is one of the great absurdities of the Game of Life that we search for answers but often overlook them when they appear.  That’s because answers rarely appear all in one place.  They tend to pop up as pieces and it is our task to put the puzzle together.

Henry David Thoreau explained: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  Some spend their whole lives looking and never see what is in front of them.  They wonder why the Game of Life is so terribly hard and distressing.

 

They wish they could get some help. Well, help is not only on the way , it’s already here.  All around you.  You just have to look.  And see.

One of the wonderful things about the Game of Life is that everyone is playing.  And those who are awake and aware offer assistance to players who are struggling to figure out how it all works.  These helpful hints can appear anywhere — sidewalks, street corners, billboards, and lamp posts.  There tend to be more of them in cities because there are more players.  Some are scribbled.  Some are painted.  And some are posted.  These “street tweets” are all around you in a vast offline social network of players. Once you become aware of them, you’ll see that there are messages everywhere.

And they can be quite helpful indeed. That’s why we call them HOCs which is short for Helpful Occurring Clues.

Sometimes HOCs are in the eye of the beholder.  A well-timed street sign can spark an insight about how to play the Game of Life as well as something randomly discarded or a not-so-very random message on the wall

This brings us to your Bonus Mission which is worth Bonus #foolepoints: GET A CLUE.

Go outside and find a Helpful Occurring Clue.  Take a photo and submit your Mission Report on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter with #emagofefil #foolepoints #8missions

For extra ++Bonus Points, grab a piece of chalk and create your own HOC.  Keep it positive. Snap a photo and submit on social media per the above instructions.  Make sure your Mission Report states that you created the HOC.  If anyone submits a photo of your HOC, you get +++Bonus Points.

Have you ever noticed the HOCs?  Do you see messages where others do not?  Tell us about it. Then go find some more HOCs to complete your mission!  Happy Hunting!

 

 

Categories: Discover, Emag of Efil Missions, Play Emag of Efil | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Emag of Efil Mission: Be a Teller of Truths

“Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught in falsehoods school. And the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and foole.”

Plato wrote this about 2500 years ago.  And times are no less strange today.  We’re still calling truth-tellers lunatics and fooles.

Why are people so full of falsehoods?  Because they do not dare to tell the truth.  They are too full of fear. They lie to themselves and to others.  And they wonder why happiness eludes them.

“Honesty is the first chapter in the Book of Wisdom,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.  Well, the second chapter in the Book of Wisdom is even better.  It says that the truth will set you free.  But the third chapter in the Book of Wisdom says that humans can’t handle the truth. That’s part of the Cosmic Joke.  Humans desire to be free but enslave themselves with lies.

“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act,” wrote George Orwell.  You see, honesty is an act of bravery.  Only a hero dares to tell the truth.

This brings us to your Bonus Mission which is worth extra #foolepoints.  It’s quite simple really.  Tell the truth. And share your truth. Did you feel brave?  Did you feel foolish?  Did you feel free? Post your Mission Report with details on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter with #emagofefil #foolepoints #8missions.

May the foolishness be ever in your favor!

Categories: Discover, Emag of Efil Missions, Play Emag of Efil | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Happy Foolish Independence Day

May you be free today (and every day) of anything and anyone that oppresses you.  It starts by over-throwing the tyranny that is inside your own mind.  The ruler who says ‘this you cannot do or say or be.’  Declare your independence from that dictator and you are well on your way to freedom.  Be the jester in the court of your mind and make a mockery of those self-imposed rules.  Be foolish and be free.

Speaking of free, we’re enjoying this stunning video of Andrey Moraru.  For anyone who’s wondered if the TCJ is real, we most certainly are.  And we do make a mockery of the so-called rules and laws of the Game of Life…including gravity.

 

 

 

Categories: Discover, Foolish Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments