The Disorienting Express

Chatterbox: Pudding's Place

The Disorienting Express

The Disorienting Express – The Return of RMS Tiny

You drink the last dregs of your tea, and then hand the teacup back to the fortuneteller. Her head bobs, and her frizzy red hair shakes as she examines the tea leaves. Suddenly, she gasps, and the cup drops from her fingers and SMASH!, breaks against the floor. "My best antique teacup! No! This is a calamity!"

You look at her, confused. "What did you see in my future that was so shocking?"

Her lips shook. "An invitation. An exclusive invitation, to any Cber who happens to recieve it, from The Ominous, that strange, hoodied captain of the RMS Tiny and the RMS Humbug, whose past adventures with CBers were chronicled here: "

"What's so shocking about that?"

"Well, I've heard of the RMS Tiny, and the story I heard had THE END at the end of it, so I thought that was the end of it all. Not to mention that sequels are often never as good as the original, and the story ended with The Ominous trying to dig the RMS Tiny out of the middle of a desert! Now that's what I call writing yourself into a corner!"

"Hmm. Perhaps they had a sledgehammer on them, and they escaped through the fourth wall."

The fortuneteller frowns for a moment, and then nods. "I suppose that's possible. Do you want to hear what the invitation will be?"

"Yes please."

"The adventure of a lifetime! Boundless fun! An express ride to anti-polar regions, aboard a ship aboard a train, surrounded by the most colourful of characters! You are hereby invited to the first railway passage from the Sahara to a handy mountain range (the location of which we cannot divulge at this time), and you'll have lots of fun!"

*  *  *

You leave the fortuneteller's tent, and go home. On your doorstep is a large package, wrapped in brown paper and tied with red and white striped string with purple fuzzy bits. You rip open the paper, and a puff of dark brown powder explodes in your face, permeating the air with a chocolatey flavour. Your eyes sting with the bitterness of the pure cocoa.

We would like to take a moment to thank our sponsors, the makers of pure, high-octane cocoa, made from fresh nyad springs on the plains of Latteland. Their only purpose in life is to make your day better – wait, nevermind, sorry, actually their only purpose in life is to make some money. And find enlightenment.

By your feet there is now a pile of cocoa powder, and in the middle of it lies a letter. You pick up, open it, and read the letter:

Dear CBer, the ticket enclosed in this letter will grant you passage aboard the last 13 coaches of the Disorienting Express, the train that will carry my dear ship, the RMS Tiny, on my journey to repair her. It is my wish that you would come along with me, as I believe CBers like adventures, and adventure seems to follow me everywhere. I give you my word, as a slightly shady individual who likes to lurk in alleyways waiting for my morning coffee to be delivered by vampire bat, that I will not let any of you murder each other, and the most dubious and sinister people of my acquaintance are not invited. Should they arrive, I'm sure your abilities of deducton will be able to be well used in apprehending them, as doubtless they will leave clues to their actions. Of course, if you accuse someone who is innocent, the actual murderer will likely choose you as their next target.

Anyways, here's some more words to convince you to come, thanks to my advertising agents, the Fortunetellers of Aura Alley: The adventure of a lifetime! Boundless fun! An express ride to anti-polar regions, aboard a ship aboard a train, surrounded by the most colourful of characters! You are hereby invited to the first railway passage from the Sahara to a handy mountain range (the location of which we cannot divulge at this time), and you'll have lots of fun!

- The Ominous

A NOTE: This is a murder mystery inspired by T.O.N's Ski Lodge and its various spin-offs, and it's sort of a continuation of the story of The Ominous and RMS Tiny detailed in the link above. However, for this we've changed some things about how it works so it's a bit more game-like, inspired (of course) by Clue.

A roll of the Die of Doom will determine how many people are killed each day, and their names will be drawn from Pandora's Fedora. The first death will occur on the third day.

All of you are innocent (at least as innocent as you can be, being yourselves), and you need to work together to discover which of the non-CBer characters aboard the Disorienting Express is the murderer.

Starting on the third day, there will be a few codes (think morse, first-letter codes, Sebald code, number codes) hidden (or not-so-hidden) in each day. The first person to find and decode each code will be granted, according to the Die of Doom, either immunity from death the next day or a clue in the form of a story snippet. Obviously, clues are given to everyone, while immunity is person-specific.

If you think you know who the murderer is, post your guess and tell us that it's an in-story accusation (we really want your input/interaction, so don't worry about us mistaking suspicious musings for in-story accusations, we'll double-check with you before making story-you accuse anyone). In the next day, the results of your confronting and accusing your suspect will occur. A Warning: Accusations of innocents will make the murder worry about your suspicions, and you will likely die (immunity will not necessarily help you here). However, accussations of innocents are still helpful because you now know the one you accused is innocent. Also, ghosts can totally help the other CBers guess and point out clues or codes they spot – and if they get immunity by spotting things, they can give it to someone who's alive.

The Disorienting Express starts its journey on January 20th. Sign up with a quote that you could be heard saying, and your packing list if you so wish. Any latecomers will be forced to walk.

Any complaints should be directed to The Ominous's editor and secretary, who will direct the complaints to John F.Q. and Pied Piper, along with all the other rubbish they send them.

*  *  *

You sneeze cocoa powder from your nose, and wonder if it's wise to trust this Ominous person. Will you accept the invitation? And if you do, how will you find this train? You wonder, and then a question mark falls on your head.

Then a comma hits the sidewalk, and you look up at the sudden rain of punctuation. A bracket and a quotation mark land in the cocoa powder, sending up a huge cloud of powder that seems tinted green in the sudden strange light. And then the King and Queen of punctuation, the interrobang & the ampersand arrive‽

Resplendent in their inky black armour and spiky crowns of accent marks, their presence announced by exclamation marks blaring trumpets, they walk towards you. The King waves, his infinity-sign moustache looking glorious. The Queen holds up her sceptre, mounted with a shining asterisk. They stop before you, and the King clears his throat.

A moment of silence.

The King coughs again, pointedly, and then two small tuxedo-wearing, upwards-pointing arrows run forward. The Shift keys. They carry a large suitcase that is a beautiful shining black - but not a boring black, this is the kind of black that galaxies are born in, the colour of a raven's feather, or of letterpress ink, holding all the possibilities of every written word. The King and Queen lift it from the hands of the Shift keys, which cling to it for a moment before dropping to the ground with small squeaks of dismay.

"Without hesitation, deprivation, aggravation, or mortification, we present you with this gift. Use it well." They pass the suitcase to you, and you stare at it for a moment. A hush falls over – or rather, into – the crowd (Aaaaah! THUMP! "sorry, sorry, shhh.")

With trembling hands, you lift the lid, and inside lies . . . your favourite pair of socks, folded perfectly. Beneath it a bunch of your other clothes are packed, and all sorts of travelling supplies.

"Oh yes – and I made you a nice warm drink." The King passes you a large thermos, and then blows his nose into his handkerchief. "We'll miss you, dear!"

The Queen pats your shoulder. "You're ready now, off you go. Goodbye, good luck, and have fun!"

submitted by The Ominous, age unknown, stranded in the desert
(January 6, 2018 - 6:28 pm)

I am in consensus. Amazing! :D

submitted by Somebody, age Who Cares, Various Places
(February 8, 2018 - 12:58 am)

Amazing writing, Ommy!

submitted by Quill
(February 10, 2018 - 10:08 am)

Wow. Just wow. Haha, you know now that we are all going to call you Ommy forever!  You telling us not to just prompted us more XDXD

submitted by Vyolette
(February 7, 2018 - 12:15 pm)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(February 10, 2018 - 10:02 am)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(February 11, 2018 - 2:01 pm)
submitted by TOP hat
(February 11, 2018 - 9:21 pm)

Nice! Note's isn't really for world domination though.

If only you knew..... my plans for the world are much more grandoise than just world domination. Anyone can have the biggest stick, but the true power is much, much more than that.....

Uh, no it's not. Having the biggest stick has been perfected, and the art of grabbing it, until the true art has been distilled into the simple word "Politics". 

Yes. But having the biggest stick in itself is brutal dominance. Politics is just a stuffy word for it. What I have in mind is much, much better..... *Smiles mysteriously*

Uh, okay. If you say so.

But I do say so, I do..... *Vanishes mysteriously while leaving a faint smell of mystery in the air with rapidly vanshing mysterious smoke disapears*

Geeze, why not just tattoo "I'M TOTALLY MYSTERIOUS" to your forhead while you're at it. *Faint whisper* I did..... on your forehead.....

WHAT?! YOU I ARGH AAAGH, YOU LITTLE-*Soft mysterious laughter* Heh heh heh....... 


submitted by Chinchilla
(February 13, 2018 - 7:24 pm)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(February 15, 2018 - 3:36 pm)


submitted by Leaftop!, age Top-teen, The TOP of the forest
(February 16, 2018 - 4:27 pm)

Sorry for the delay, and thank you all so so much for your enthusiasm! One half of us reacted as follows:

*rolls around on floor squeeing from all the feels* people think it's good and we're not the only ones who've seen the librarians and we're on brooklyn newsie's favourite ski lodge list and an admin likes the title and our writing is making people happy aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah *squeals uncontrollably*

The other half reacted like this:

What the heck are you doing? You're cracking our persona, our mysterious aura, you're revealing that we're multiple people, stoppit! We're becoming a multi-faceted organism, agh! Stop squeeing - if you want to be treated like a guinea pig, you have to give me a guinea, and let me remind you which one of us has all the good ideas around here! Also, thank you, awesome CBers, for your compliments.

As a bonus thingamajig, here is our original brainstorming list of title ideas:

the Orient Espresso

the Anti-Arctica Express

the Africa Express Package Tour

the Ominous Express

the Train We Couldn't Think Of A Name For

Anyways, on to the next part:

*  *  *

Day 1 Part 2 – The Unusual Suspects

Light glinted as the revolver hit the ground, spinning like a top. Hans gaped “I didn't mean to – I'm not a death machine, I mean, not a machine, I mean, I didn't want to kill it, didn't think it would work, silver bullets are for werewolves, aren't they . . .” He trailed off into shocked silence, and then his head snapped up. “That lurch! The train has stopped!”

The CBers picked themselves up and stared at the dead – well, more dead now – mummy. It lay unmoving on the floor, stray bandages strewn around it.

Shoshannah frowned. “I thought this was supposed to be a no-murders adventure!”

Somebody looked down at the mummy and crossed her arms. “But does this count as a murder? It was technically already dead.”

SopranoTwo prodded the bandages gingerly with her foot, and then jumped back just in case it moved.“Yeah, how did that happen? If a mummy is undead, how can shooting it kill it?”

Vyolette pulled out her fingerprint detection kit and brushed some dust onto the roman sword – revealing nothing but the faint marks of the mummy's linen bandages. “Hmm, none of us died, so maybe it wasn't actually a threat – maybe it was just a sort of entertainment thing, like a scare actor at a scary fair house?”

Danie pulled a huge magnifying glass out of her pocket and peered through it at the surrounding CBers. “Or perhaps it's Moriarty! We can't eliminate any possibilities.” She glared at Squeak, distorted through the glass. “Aha! I thought your speech-making skills were out of character!”

Squeak spluttered indignantly - “I didn't do anything! Don't look at me, Holmes! Maybe you're overthinking the whole thing.”

Hans interrupted. “It's dead now, that's what matters. And no, it wasn't supposed to happen, but the train wasn't supposed to stop either! I think that's a bit more pressing problem at the moment! Nothing's going according to the instruction manual now! Oh, what will the Ominous say?”

“WHY HAS THE TRAIN STOPPED?” Thundered the Ominous, bursting in through the door behind Hans.

In the ominous silence that followed, no one answered.

Finally, Hans whispered, “If it's any help, it hasn't got anything to do with those tap-dancing waiters from Culinary Caperers from Can-Canning Coach Caterering. The ones with the feeble excuse of wanting to serve hot chocolate and tell the kids they were on the way to see Santa...”

The Ominous frowned and glanced out the window, and then he stiffened, pressed himself to the wall away from the window, and pulled a bushy brown beard from a pocket and put it on. In a quiet voice, he said, “Hans, secure the engine room.”

Hans rushed off, and The Ominous turned to the CBers. “I have a feeling that, despite all my efforts to the contrary, you may have to help someone with his luggage...”

*  *  *

Outside there lay a sandstone train platform very similar to the one the CBers had just left. The main difference was the large and colourful posters of travel destinations (“Experience the True Meaning of Sand in the Sandy Canyon! Don't Forget Your Complimentary Hazmat Suits!”, “Deserted Desert Bluffs – No Jets, Perfect Picnic Location!”, and “Come to Carnivorous Cactus City and Get the Deadly Acupuncture Treatment You've Always Dreamed of!”), and a small travel brochure shop.

A large man stood on the platform, dressed in an impeccably tailored purple suit, surrounded by a huge pile of crates, boxes, and suitcases.  His face looks like it would have been familiar if he had been standing in the shadows. Beside him stood a statue of a woman wearing cats-eye glasses and a blue pinstripe suit – wait, no, she blinked! I guess she was just standing perfectly still. Shows how unreliable I am... She's holding a clipboard under her arm and gazing at the train with sharp eyes. “It's right on time, Mr. Gold.”

Mr. Gold smiled, and his teeth glinted in the sun. “As expected, Miss Pierce. One doesn't call up the Secret Police for nothing.”


Mr. Gold strode towards the train, but was stopped by a strangely firm hand on his shoulder. He swivelled, and looked up into the fierce eyes of an old man with a long beard. “This is not your train!”

“Actually, it is. You don't think I'd go to all the trouble of stopping the wrong train, do you?” Mr. Gold waved casually towards the tracks.

There, at the front of the train, there definitely was not a man tied to the tracks. Nor were there several Stetson-wearing individuals with shades untying him from the tracks. You do not care about that man, you do not care about any of these people. They are not a part of this story, they are not a part of your life, and you definitely don't have to pay them taxes – although a small fee to nobody would be very much advised. You will now forget the complete shift in tone of this story, and this paragraph did not happen. Thank you for your cooperation.

The old man raised a bushy eyebrow. “Perhaps this is the wrong right train. I would not advise getting on board.”

Mr. Gold frowned, exasperated. “But perhaps it is the right right train. Now let me pass.” There was something in his tone that implied that not letting him pass would incur a very large fine, if not jail time and the redaction of one's memories.

Miss Pierce checked her watch, and said “We really must be going, Mr. Gold.”

Mr. Gold brushed the old man aside briskly, and turned towards the train again – just as the great doors to The Ominous's luggage coach swung open. “I concur entirely,” said a bearded individual in the doorway, “you should be going – away.”

Mr. Gold grinned. His teeth flashed all the colours of the rainbow. “Hello, little brother.” He reached up and pulled the beard clean off, to reveal a frowning Ominous. “You owe me $204,000 plus expenses for accommodation and losses incurred before the start of your last little adventure. I have to inform you that small plastic rings engraved with the words 'one ring to rule them all, and in the darkness pay them' are no longer valid currency.”

The Ominous said nothing, only frowned more deeply. Miss Pierce busied herself with counting Mr. Gold's crates of luggage. They were all there, just like the last time she had counted, and the time before that, and the time before that. Everything was going just fine, exactly according to plan. You couldn't be too careful. There were no extra crates. Definitely. None at all.

The CBers crowded around the door of the luggage coach, looking out at the scene curiously. They were the only ones who noticed the four figures slinking out from behind the brochure booth, until -

“Hello! I'm Larry! Pleased to meet you!”

The Ominous whirled around.

“Smile for the birdie!” There was flash of light from an old-fashioned camera on a tripod. “We haven't got the tweeting installed yet, but we'll get there eventually! Don't you worry, guv'nor, we've all got our faces in books!”

The Ominous threw a hand over his face and blinked furiously. “What is going on!” He blinked again, and then looked into the smiling faces of four tall, blond, and swooshy-haired men. He sighed. “And I thought this day couldn't get any worse...”

Evergreen and elementgirl jumped down onto the platform, and the rest of the CBers followed.

The one with a dark blue tie and matching eyes stepped up and shook Tux's hand enthusiastically. “Hello, I'm Mr. Yearly, the host of Larry Incorporated Radio Broadcasting! But please, just call me Larry!”

The second man looked the same as the first, only his tie was green, and so were his eyes. He shook xp's hand, also enthusiastically. “Like I said, my name's Larry! My last name also happens to be Yearly! I'm the photographer and field reporter.”

The third man was, of course, just like the other two, only his eyes and tie were red. His eyes weren't creepy red though, don't you worry, he just looked very sleep-deprived. He gave a shy wave. “Yearly, Larry Yearly. I'm the weather reporter!”

The Ominous rolled his eyes at all the excitement over the reporters, and he offered a hand to the fourth man, who had a pale blue tie and pale, watery eyes. “And you must also be a Mr. Yearly?”

“No, Larry Smith. But nice to meet you all the same!” He shook the Ominous's hand firmly. “I'm the news updater for LIRB.”

“Are you all related?” asked UniCat.

“No!” They all said at once.

Larry Smith added, in a tone that suggested he'd said this many times before, “We just happen to be all named Larry, and it's absolutely a complete and utter coincidence that three of us have the same last name.”

The weather Larry said, “It's actually pronounced differently, you know!” He adjusted his hold on a thick book under his arm. “Mine comes from Welsh, and is pronounced Yearly, while his is pronounced Yearly and comes from the Latin root, and his is pronounced Yearly and is derived from Old Persian. Isn't that fascinating?”

“Oh. Ok. Yeah, I suppose that's pretty cool.” said UniCat. None of the CBers could hear a difference in the pronunciations.

The Ominous glared at all the unwanted visitors, and said, “Now that you're all done introducing yourselves, you can all please leave.”

Everyone looked at him, surprised. He continued, “I didn't invite any of you, you're all very annoying, and I don't want to put my passengers in any more risk than they already are.”

The host Larry grinned awkwardly. “Well, actually, we can't leave even if we wanted to. You see, Larry here -” he pointed to the field reporter, who was packing the camera into his large wheely suitcase, “- was unreliable as usual, and forgot to book the return tickets.”

Field Larry zipped up his suitcase, and grinned, looking not at all sorry about this turn of events. “So we're sticking with this scoop, even if we didn't want icecream! Maybe we'll even get a shot of your face without your hand over it!”

The Ominous pulled up his hood, and glared at them even more.

Mr. Gold spread his hands placatingly. “Come on now, I'm family! I went to quite a lot of effort to stop this train, you know. Hey, you don't even have to pay that fine, I suppose we are brothers, after all. I just want to come along for the ride, and maybe I'll get some good business deals out of it.” He emphasized the words “family” and “brother” so well that even the CBers suddenly felt as if they must have been related to him, and since they'd known him so long he must be trustworthy – family, after all, is important.

The Ominous sighed, and he seemed to deflate beneath the hoodie. “Very well. Hurry up so we can get the train moving again.” He turned to go back into the train, and then stopped and added sternly, “But there will be NO interviews, business deals, or intrusions into my private quarters. And CBers, I am afraid that I can no longer confirm your absolute safety on this trip. You may leave if you wish.”

The CBers all looked at each other, and then around at the smiling Larry's, the jewelled grin of Mr. Gold, and the serious eyes of Miss Pierce.

“They don't seem that dangerous.” Pepper shrugged.

orangelemon added, “The Larry's seem like nice people.”

St. Owl nodded. “And we can take care of ourselves if there's trouble.”

“We can probably get off the train if we need to – we'll leave at the first sign of trouble.” Rose bud said.

Evergreen said, “We spent all that effort to get here, why leave now?”

elementgirl and Shoshannah nodded in agreement.

T.S. added, “I've been written down everything they said, so if anything doesn't match up we can figure it out before anything bad happens.”

Brooklyn Newsie grinned. “We can handle this!”

The CBers nodded at each other, reassuring themselves, and then turned to The Ominous. Vyolette stepped forward and said what they were all thinking: “We'll stay, Ommy.”

One of The Ominous's eyes twitched, but he just nodded. “I'm glad. Your help may be needed in the coming days.” He swivelled on his toes and disappeared into the gloom of the luggage coach.

Field Larry's eyes widened. “Oooooh! I just love that, such an ominous proclamation... What a signature move!” He pulled out a notebook and scribbled furiously.

Mr. Gold grinned, and clapped his hands. “Capital! You can all help Miss Pierce with the luggage.” He leaned against the train and lit his cigarette.

What happened next is hard to explain, it happened so fast that several CBers weren't even sure it happened at all – it was like the start of an explosion, a BOO! without the OOOM!, the start of a smoke cloud and a glow of fire, but it never got bigger than that because Miss Pierce's reaction was faster than lightning – in a blink the cigarette was knocked to the ground and crushed to a pulp beneath a fashionable shoe, and Miss Pierce was offering Mr. Gold another one. Mr. Gold blinked, and then grinned and took the new cigarette. “Thank you, Miss Pierce. You truly are an exceptional secretary!”

“Think nothing of it. I merely graduated Calculating Clerk College like all the others.”

The Larry's clapped appreciatively, and Field Larry grabbed some postcards from a nearby stand and began to write even more furiously.

“Oh well, can't stand around all day – let's find somewhere to put the recording studio.” Host Larry held up a large suitcase, and he and the other Larry's boarded the luggage coach.

The CBers looked at each other, and then shrugged and helped Miss Pierce and Mr. Gold put all the crates on board.

“What is even in these things?” Brookeira asked, sweating under the weight of a large crate that she was carrying with the help of Leeli, who added, “Yeah, the others seemed impossibly light, and this one is ridiculously heavy! You'd think there were people in here or something!”

“Oh, just lots of clothes, styrofoam packing peanuts, typewriters, business papers, nothing out of the ordinary.” Miss Pierce said, “Trust me, if there were any people in there, I'd know.”

The crates were quickly loaded on, and Miss Pierce and Mr. Gold disappeared to find their rooms. Quill looked out at the empty and deserted station one last time, and noticed a long, mop-shaped package that must have been forgotten. She jumped down, grabbed it, and -


The train's whistle sounded, and Quill ran back to the luggage coach doors just in time to jump on before the train began to chug out of the station. The great double doors closed, and the CBers looked at each other in the dusty twilight of the windowless coach. Their adventure had begun in earnest!

Stay tuned for the next stunning instalment of the Disorienting Express!


*  *  *

Note: We're trying to give everybody screen time every day, but there are a lot of you, so if you notice that you didn't say anything in a day, just say so and we'll give you a bigger part in the next.

submitted by The Ominous, age unknown, not having a good day
(February 18, 2018 - 7:35 pm)

Definitely no people in those crates, hmm?

Great job, Ommy! Can't wait for the next bit.

submitted by St.Owl, age Recarnated, Everywhere
(February 19, 2018 - 5:09 pm)

What a beautiful start to the adventure! Sadly, my velvet ears drooped considerably because of the desert heat, but sitting in the walk-in fridge to enjoy my 47nth afternoon-ish coffee can fix that! I can't wait to see the next installment! 

But with how the Ominous seems to adore the concealment of his identity, I wonder if his wardrobe is filled with a variety of black cloaks..... 

submitted by HipsterUnicornCat, Y'all know the rest
(February 19, 2018 - 7:53 pm)

Totally a complete and utter coincidence that three of them have the same last name. And there couldn't possibly be anything out of the ordinary in those crates.

submitted by Leafpool, age Finite, This side of reality
(February 20, 2018 - 10:29 am)

Oh, I feel ya, trying to include everyone when writing a Ski Lodge. It's tough. I, however, feel like I was adequately displayed! Once again, I cannot wait for the next part!

submitted by Vyolette
(February 19, 2018 - 5:06 pm)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(February 21, 2018 - 3:50 pm)