WTF, D&D: Cthulhu ’90s Solo Project – Serving the Servants
The year is still 1993. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes is about to discover the Tone Out of Space, Eazy-E and Station are in Egypt investigating a meteor, and Kurt Cobain has gone missing. But has he really gone missing or is he finding himself? Struggling with the double nightmares of fame and mythos knowledge, Cobain has decided to go on a vision quest in the desert of southern California. Unbeknownst to Cobain, evil is afoot in Santa Rosa, as cultists of one of the ultimate malign forces in the cosmos seek to destroy a prophesied savior of mankind.
Steve: Alright, dude, you ready?
Zack: You act like this is a pick up basketball game. Just start.
Steve: I’m just trying to be nice!
Zack: I have been listening to Nirvana and thinking about that time the dentist gave me a shitload of Vicodin. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.
Steve: So Kurt has been feeling down in the dumps. Incesticide wasn’t like a classic Nirvana album and he’s sort of distracted by all the fame and being a dad and also realizing the universe is populated by incomprehensible evil forces that want to destroy or enslave humanity. So Kurt decides to get away. He hears about this spiritual retreat in Santa Rosa, California, where you sign up and you go on a vision quest.
Zack: Sounds dangerous. And I don’t mean old white people overheating in a sweat lodge dangerous.
Steve: There’s no sign or anything for this place. You just have an address that turns out to be out in this rocky canyon area in the desert. You drive up a dirt road to an old Airstream camper and a couple of parked cars. There are some creepy old rusty sculptures of like Native American spirits made out of car parts and other junk.
Zack: Do I have my tonfas?
Steve: In the trunk.
Steve: It’s evening when you drive up. Dust swirls in the beams of your headlights and there is a dog on a chain barking. A tanned old man gets up from one of those metal rocking chairs and walks over to the car.
Zack: “Yeah, uh, I think I’m a little lost. I’m looking for a cool vision quest tent and this looks like a garbage recycling center or something.”
Steve: The guy sort of grumbles and says, “Ricky’s out back with the other tourists.”
Steve: He slowly limps over and sits back down in his rocking chair.
Zack: I would be annoyed by this dude personally, but I’m guessing Kurt likes the cold shoulder. Fame is such a bummer.
Zack: Getting out of the car to head around back and look for Ricky.
Steve: You find a campfire with four figures seated around it. Two look like college frat boys wearing UC San Diego shirts, one is a fat dad dude with a stooped posture, and then there’s this skinny guy with long wispy hair and a jean jacket. He looks related to the old man that greeted you.
Zack: “Hey, Ricky?” Holding out my hand to shake.
Steve: “Ricky Skywalker, pleased to meet you. Man, you must be Kurt. I dig your music. Did you bring your guitar?” He cracks up. “No, man, don’t worry. I’ve got mine.”
Zack: Great. Maybe you can also change music for an entire decade.
Steve: “So you want to take the trip, man. Good timing. I’m just cooking up the spirit brew. This is real Native American stuff. I am 1/7th Peyote Indian.”
Steve: “Have you ever heard of Ayahuasca?”
Zack: “Just from reading the Erowid BBS. And the nine times I took it. But I was always doubled on heroin and phenobarbital or ketamine by the time I got to the psychedelics. Mostly, I’ve turned to LSD, mushrooms or DMT, but I’ve had some good experiences with Sativa and there’s this Peruvian spider that you can buy that you put on your wrist and… uh… what was the original question?”
Steve: He smiles and nods and stirs a little cauldron of liquid.
Zack: Guess I’ll sit down by the fire.
Steve: The frat boys are whispering to each other like maybe they recognize you. They’re drinking cans of Natural Light out of a big cooler. The dad dude sitting next to you holds out his hand. “Gil Kind, how are you doing?”
Zack: “Kurt. I’m trying to see through writer’s block and endless nightmare of the death of all mankind to create another epic album.”
Steve: “Oh, well, I can sympathize,” says Gil. “I caught my wife cheating on me with one of the exterminators who was spraying for termites and, you know, it was either blow my brains out or this. And I don’t believe in guns. I mean, I believe in them, they’re real, I just think the second amendment wasn’t intended for these rapid fire guns you see in the modern era. Maybe if I could get a musket and figure out how that works, well, suicide isn’t the answer. That’s what I say.”
Zack: “This is getting pretty dark, Gil.”
Steve: “Sorry, I’m a pessimist. I always find the down side of things. Maybe that’s why my wife was sleeping with the exterminator. The tank was right there in the room, Kurt. It smelled awful. Did she care? I don’t think so. It didn’t sound like it.”
Zack: Kurt is going to tough this one out. He has seen through a portal to Carcosa, fought ghouls, and had a kid with Courtney Love. Hearing Gil’s sad story barely registers.
Steve: After a few minutes, Randy passes around wooden cups full of steaming liquid. It smells real bad. He has everyone drink it all and then he walks around and ties big silver mylar helium balloons to everyone’s wrist. He says, “So I don’t lose you guys if you wander off.” Kurt’s balloon says, “It’s a Boy!”
Steve: Randy starts chanting and banging on one of those Native American hand drums. Everything around you takes on a rubbery, bendy appearance. Then it starts melting until you are standing on a dusty purple plain with distant mountains and a moon that is staring at you with a single bloodshot eye.
Zack: Not cool.
Steve: A golden pathway forms through the desert and a disembodied, blackened fetus appears hanging in the air. “This way, Kurt.”
Zack: My spirit animal is a dead fetus?
Steve: Yeah. Messed up, right? Buckle up, dude. You see crosses hung with the bodies of your friends and you. Not the band, but Eazy-E, Left Eye, and you, all crucified and surrounded by a field of red poppies.
Zack: Hey… wait… I got a new complaint…
Steve: Past the crosses you see a glowing scroll floating in the air atop a hill.
Zack: I’ll walk up the hill and have a look at the scroll.
Steve: As you walk past your dead doppelganger you see its eyes have been pecked out by bird. It tilts its head and even though the sockets are empty you can tell it is watching you.
Zack: Going to walk a little faster.
Steve: You climb up the hill and reach the glowing scroll. You realize you are looking out on the ruins of a city. It’s Seattle! Now it has crumbled and burned and Puget Sound has turned red with blood. The surface reflects the eye that watches from the moon.
Zack: Alright, alright, this is good. Lyrics are coming. Kurt is going to read the scroll.
Steve: You cannot decipher the strange symbols on the scroll, but the growling voice of the dead fetus begins to translate. “A man with a dark mustache will seal the fate of human blood, for power, ashes will be fed to generations. The Stalker of the Stars watches and promises, so much, delivering more. The fields will open the way within. Chaos will come and man will destroy itself on the altar of the ancient gods. Unless the three minstrels unite and deny the ravens their feast.”
Zack: A prophecy? You’re supposed to help me, dead baby, not give me riddles.
Steve: Two figures with shadow faces approach you across the hills. One has a knife. He swings it and slices the umbilical cord that was connecting the dead fetus to your wrist. The fetus goes drifting up into the sky and the stars become a million hungry mouths waiting to devour it.
Zack: Can I fight these shadow dudes off?
Steve: You try, but your arms don’t seem to be working properly. One of them stabs his knife into Kurt’s belly. You double over as you feel them begin to drag you through the desert.
Zack: Kurt Cobain is the only Cthulhu character who could get murdered in a dream sequence.
Zack: Wait, scratch that, dream sequences can be super dangerous in Call of Cthulhu.
Steve: This wasn’t even a dream though, just hallucinations. But you’re not dead. Kurt wakes up alone and extremely thirsty, standing on a huge expanse of desert. His shirt is soaked with blood and he has definitely been stabbed, though the bleeding seems to have stopped. A hot sun beats down on you.
Zack: Do I see any roads or any houses in the distance?
Steve: No roads. There’s a completely dry creek bed nearby. In one direction you see a building like a collapsed grain silo. In almost the opposite direction you see some smoke on the horizon.
Zack: Will I make it?
Steve: Hard to say, but in this heat, with your wounded and dehydrated condition, you can probably make it to one of the two, but not both.
Zack: Well, as they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, or at least one of those magician smoke bombs. Which I guess qualify as a fire.
Steve: You spend hours staggering across the merciless desert. Vultures begin to circle. You realize you are approaching the Skywalker ranch.
Zack: Aunt Beru! Uncle Owen!
Steve: Yes, much like the moisture farmers of old, Ray Skywalker and his father have been torched. Their charred remains are strewn through the fire-gutted camper. The dog lies dead from a gunshot wound.
Zack: What about Gil and the frat boys?
Steve: No sign of them. There are three vehicles missing: yours, Gil’s, and a Toyota Corolla you assume belonged to the frat boys. The Skywalker’s truck is still there. It’s torched too.
Zack: Well, I think I am probably going to die of dehydration unless there is some water.
Steve: You actually do find a little water left in a gallon jug that Randy had mixed with the Ayahuasca.
Zack: It’s not mixed with it, is it? Kurt can’t handle another trip like that.
Steve: No, the water is that grocery store distilled water they sell by the gallon. There’s about a cup’s worth. Enough to keep you going a little longer.
Zack: Drink it as slowly as I can stand and I am going to try to retrace my steps up the dirt road.
Steve: It’s at least ten miles to the highway.
Zack: Keep walking.
Steve: The sun passes its apex and continues into a sweltering afternoon. You are about to give up when you see the dust of an approaching vehicle from the trackless desert. To your shock and relief, you see Gil in a sand-blasted minivan approaching out of the desert.
Zack: Wave to him hoping he is not the guy who started the fire.
Steve: The minivan rattles to a halt next to you. Gil rolls down the window. He’s wearing one of those golf visors and his balding head is all sunburned.
Steve: “Hey, Kurt, what happened? You don’t look so good?”
Zack: Somebody stabbed me. I think it was those frat boys.
Steve: Oh, well, get in. I’ll drive you to the hospital. Kurt, this is Django. He’s my spirit bear.
Steve: Gil gestures to the empty passenger seat. “Oh, that’s very nice of you, Django. Kurt, he’ll move in back so you can sit here.”
Zack: “Gil, buddy, first do you have any water and second we have to follow those tire tracks. These punks stole my tonfas.”
Steve: “I have some hot bottles of root beer in the back. Sorry, they sat in the van while I was wandering around the desert. As for part two, okay! I don’t know what a tonfa is, but I’m on board.”
Zack: Kurt is totally chugging hot root beers until he feels like he is going to puke.
Steve: Have you ever had a hot bottle of root beer?
Steve: About one. That’s how many you can chug before you feel like puking.
Zack: One it is! Really, so long as Kurt is no longer actively dying from dehydration, he is going to focus on finding his car.
Steve: That’s easier than you’d think. All you have to do is follow the tracks while you listen to Gil enthusiastically describe his vision quest that told him he should open a restaurant called 100 Spaghettis.
Zack: That doesn’t sound so easy.
Steve: “You can have it al dente, you can have it over cooked if you like it soft, you can have it regular. However you like. Then there will be 100 different sauces.”
Zack: Why not offer different pasta dishes?
Steve: “No, no, you don’t get it. This is about spaghetti. All spaghetti.”
Zack: That’s the easiest meal to make. Probably 30 million people make that meal every night.
Steve: “Yeah, but what about the other 270 million people? Huh? Cook’s night off. Time to have some spaghetti delivered.”
Zack: I can’t even come up with a good song about cooks… servants… serving servants. Serve the Servants!
Steve: Just as you’re having your breakthrough, the dirt road exits onto the highway and you see the Waffle Tyrant restaurant you passed on the way here. Your car and the Toyota Corolla are both in the parking lot.
Zack: “Pull in there Gil! Those assholes stole my car!”
Steve: He pulls in and almost wrecks into another car. He jumps out, fists raised to throw some punches.
Zack: Did they leave me my keys?
Steve: No, they took them.
Zack: I’m going to walk into the restaurant and break the legs off a chair with the cross bar attached so I can use two of the legs like my tonfas.
Steve: It takes a couple stomps on the chair to break the legs off. By the time you have your tonfas, the waitress and one of the cooks are yelling at you. The two frat boys stand up. They’re coming towards you.
Zack: “Those pieces of shit stole my car!”
Steve: One of the frat boys starts chanting and raises a hand. The other one comes forward with a dagger drawn from his pocket. You’re hurting from your stomach wound so you are going to be at a disadvantage.
Zack: Keep in mind, Kurt has spent his life studying krabi-krabong and is one of the most skilled masters of this martial art in the Americas.
Steve: The frat boy with the knife snarls, “All hail the Stalker of the Stars! I will open the way with your blood!”
Zack: Letting him make his knife attack, deflecting it, and hitting him in the temple with my improvised tonfa.
Steve: You catch his arm and knock the dagger out of his grip. You follow through with a strike that cracks against his temple. His eyes roll back in his head and he slumps, dead, to the ground.
Zack: Turning to the chanting guy.
Steve: Before you can, the big cook comes up behind you and grabs your arms. “Crazy asshole, smashing up my chairs!”
Zack: Let go of me! These people are murderers!
Steve: Before you can break free of the cook, the other frat boys slices open his palm and his blood begins to flow out in a stream of black towards your face.
Zack: Oh shit. Can I turn and get the cook between me and the stream of death?
Steve: No, he’s too burly. However, as the spell is about to strike you, Gil shouts, “Kurt, look out! It’s the bad spaghetti!” He throws himself into the path of the spell. Instantly his body begins to deform horribly. His skin goes ash white and his capillaries blacken. His veins rupture through his skin and his flesh peels back from bone, sliding fat, and muscle. He dies screaming, his bones breaking and contorting as he hits the ground.
Zack: Nooooooo! Gillllllll!
Steve: The cook lets go of you and backs away. Make a sanity check.
Steve: You lose 5. A homicidal rage comes over you.
Zack: I’m killing this other frat boy. A lot of times. He’s going to pay for what he did to Gil.
Steve: He tries to stab you and you deflect the blade by letting him stab you in the arm. You wrap your hands around his throat. You don’t come out of your homicidal rage until you realize you are strangling a lifeless corpse on a table at the Waffle Tyrant. Other than the other dead frat boy and poor Gil, the restaurant is empty. Everyone else has fled.
Zack: I hope nobody called the cops and I start searching these two frat boys.
Steve: You find your car keys, some money, car rental information for the Toyota, which was rented in San Diego. You also find a road map on the table they were sitting at. On the map you see two locations marked. One is Randy’s camper, the other is a location in Waxahachie, Texas.
Zack: Searching their cars.
Steve: You find a bunch of UC Sandiego clothes, price tags torn off and left in the car, and a couple of cheap guns. They look to be 12-gauge shotguns.
Zack: I’ll grab any sort of first aid stuff I can find in the restaurant, take the map, the shotgun, the cash, and getting in my car. Destination: Waxahachie.
Steve: To be continued!