Cthulhu Dice: Rather Maddening.

Two Saturdays ago, or thereabouts, I was waiting in queue at the local game shoppe. What I had gone that day to purchase seems inconsequential after the events following that fateful afternoon. Let it suffice to say that I had gone there to purchase something and whilst awaiting my turn to exchange coin for product something in the corner of my eye begged for my attention. With nothing else requiring my attention at the moment, I turned my focus to the steel rack just to the side of the queue.

There, nestled in between rows of metal teeth that pierced the packaging of so many other toys, sat something called Cthulhu Dice. As I lay my gaze upon the packet which had attracted it, I realized what had drawn my attention in the first place. Sitting atop the packet was the leering face of some ages old monster. I felt, even though I knew that it was not, could not, be alive I felt as if it were mocking me. Like it was daring me to buy it and pursue its dark mysteries. I tasted the name “Cthulhu” on my tongue as I looked at the little game. Each repetition of the word Cthulhu was like an arcane spell urging me to take this game.

I don’t know how long I stood there pondering the eerily green dice. It must have been quite some time as my thoughts were interrupted by a customer waiting behind me. Startled, I looked around and realized that the people waiting in front of me had long since made their transactions and left and that I was now holding everyone else up. Embarrassed as I was I picked up the Cthulhu Dice and bought them along with everyone else. I don’t remember ever consciously making the decision to buy the dice. To this day I think that some dark force guided actions that day, still, I thought nothing of it at the time. Woe that I hadn’t been stronger or more aware. Perhaps If I had been the events of that night would never have occurred.

Later that evening I, and some of my close companions, sat gathered around my large oaken table. A fire lay at one end of the room, the flames of which cast mysterious shadows on the faces of my friends. We had gathered that night, as we do every Saturday, to have a gentleman’s evening of games.We had just finished playing a German game of some kind. I never could get the hang of the names, but it was a thrilling game of power plant tycoonery. Since the game had ended it was time to select another one and the task lay upon me this round. I could almost hear the Cthulhu Dice calling to me from their place in the cabinet. Woodenly I walked towards them and with each step the shadows in the room seemed to deepen and the beckoning whispers grew louder and more urgent. The whispers turned to a roar as I grasped the dice, but when I set it down on the table and opened the package they turned silent. I should have recognized these events as an omen for what was to come, but instead I dismissed them as fantasies of an inebriated mind.

We read the rules aloud. Each player was to get several green stones to represent our sanity and we would then take turns rolling the Cthulhu dice and follow the directions it rolled upon. It was simple enough and were rolling away in no time.

With each roll time seemed to slow. I rolled a tentacle, the next play a yellow sign, and the one after that and elder sign. And so it continued, each roll making us further removed from the world, as if we were playing underwater and then within ice. Green beads passed between players and soon lost significance as the die rolled again and again. The faces of my companions became strained. Each of us trying to end this game that would not end, that dragged on for eternity.

I looked at the clock and found that the minute hand had not even moved since we began our game. I broke out into a cold sweat after seeing this. I knew that we had been at it for longer than that. At least a few hours by now. We had become trapped by the game. It had sucked us into its flow and bent time around us. I fantasied that I heard mocking laughter, otherworldly in its timbre, with each roll of the die. My vision began to blur and swirl and soon I felt as if I was trapped within the die. I cried out in fear and horror, but the tumbling and laughter would not end. The game would not end.

The die passed to me and, somehow despite the nauseous tumbling and slow motion movement, I changed my toss of the die so as it was flung into the crackling fire which warmed the room. I could not believe what I had done, I still do not know how I had the willpower remaining to do such a thing. John, one of my companions dived after it. He had been consumed by the game and he scrambled madly in the flames searching for the hellish polyhedral. It took all of us remaining to drag him to safety, but the scars from the flames will mark his hands for the rest of his life.

Even weeks later I can smell the acrid fumes which had filled the room as the Cthulhu dice burned. I may have survived the ordeal intact, unlike poor John, but my heart is gripped with icy fear each time I lay my eyes upon dice. An affliction which has ended our Saturday gatherings. Not that any of us want to set foot in that room again as long as we live. I’ve already put my home up for sale. I write this tale here as a warning to you and others like you. If a package of Cthulhu dice catches your eye whilst you are out at the game store I implore you not to pick them up. Even if you can survive the descent into madness caused by the game, you won’t want to play with dice ever again.

[tags]dice, games, board games, cthulhu, steve jackson, lovecraft[/tags]

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