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)

Hey UniCat, can I join you in that walk-in fridge? Yes, pepper was nicely desplayed.


submitted by Chinchilla
(February 25, 2018 - 7:26 pm)

Top! Ominous, are we allowed to guess you?

submitted by Leaftop!, age Top-teen, The TOP of the forest
(March 4, 2018 - 1:17 pm)

Oh dear, so sorry for the ridiculously long wait! The next day is coming along shortly, and in the meantime, some answers to questions.

To Leafpool: You may absolutely guess our identities, although we're pretty sure we revealed them in the invitation!

To SopranoTwo: You spotted it! However, the conclusion you drew from this small clue is, while most logical, incorrect. As someone aboard the Disorienting Express might say: Close, but no cigar! Gester M. Norn is not Count Rugen, but let us just say, authors are often more like their characters than you might think...

And that reminds me: it turns out we lied - there are some codes before day 3. They are in minisode 1, giving hints to two characters' identities. SopranoTwo picked up on the fact that Gester M. Norn may not be who he claims to be, and you may want to look closely at the names of other characters in that minisode for hints. Deciphering these codes won't get you anything extra, but the deciphering in and of itself may give you clues towards who is who and what is what in this ski lodge...

submitted by The Ominous, age unknown, stranded in time
(March 11, 2018 - 5:29 pm)

Well, I just re-read the invitation and it appears that I missed some things. However, I'm usually completely clueless (ha-ha) about a) very hidden clues, b) subtle tricksy clever clues, and c) plain-in-your-face-and-right-in-front-of-you clues that are right there, and very obvious. But are you John F. Q., Pied Piper, or John F. Q. and Pied Piper? (Wow, I'm smart.)

Hazel says hehu. Don't mock me, Hazel.

I'm going to have to re-read minisode 1 now..... 

submitted by Leafpool, age Finite, This side of reality
(March 12, 2018 - 10:55 am)

So after reading The Ominous's comment about looking more closely at the names, I spent quite a while yesterday reading and re-reading minisode one and studying the names. After a bit, it suddenly occurred to me that they could be those things--of course, I forget what they're called and my sister took the only Redwall book that I need with her to college--those things where you scramble up a word or clue or something into another word or clue---oh, hang on. *Dashes off* *Returns, paging through Doomwyte* An anagram. I thought I needed High Rhulain but it's in this one, too. 

--An anagram. So I was reading the names over and over again, and then suddenly I thought of Redwall, because it's full of riddles, and then suddenly I thought of anagrams, even though I couldn't remember the term for it. So I got super excited and started writing the letters of the names in circles, and trying to descramble them. I spent literally hours doing this, without even being completely sure that they were anagrams. I still don't know, because mostly I couldn't descramble them. (Or maybe I didn't at all.) However, Remi Spices rearranges into "pieces, sir" and that made me freak out. But I still don't know if I'm on the right track. I also thought of combining all the letters and trying to descramble a message from them, but that was too long. However, I'm going to keep at it and anyone else who wants to try can do it too. Or maybe The Ominous can just laugh creepily at us.

*Yes, you can attribute this all to Redwall. 

submitted by Leafpool, age Finite, This side of reality
(March 13, 2018 - 11:29 am)

Do I detect some Once Upon a Time references?

submitted by Brooklyn Newsie
(March 14, 2018 - 12:02 pm)
submitted by TOP hat
(March 15, 2018 - 6:13 pm)

I just watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail yesterday and all of a sudden I realized The Ominous's (via Squeak's) reference. It's like I'm seeing through new eyes. Or reading through new eyes? Possibly both.

submitted by Leafpool, age Finite, This side of reality
(March 18, 2018 - 5:35 pm)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(March 25, 2018 - 10:23 am)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(April 8, 2018 - 1:44 pm)


submitted by Top, age Top, Top
(April 17, 2018 - 3:02 pm)

Aha! (TOP) And I think I found a Princess Bride allusion--six fingers on his right hand, huh?


(Am I supposed to be gone now? Probably, but maybe I'll keep track of this thread) 

submitted by Leaftop!, age Top-teen, The TOP of the forest
(April 19, 2018 - 10:20 am)

Hey there, sorry again... Thanks so much for not giving up on us. This day was weird to write because our plan for it was just 'foreshadowing and references', but foreshadowing requires non-randomness while references requires a lot of randomness, so the two go together like oil and water. We were attempting to create watery oil, and ended up with something more like a lava lamp, only a bit less glowy. But lava lamps are cool, so it's all working out. Anyways, on to some answers:

Leafpool! We applaud your dedication, and thank you for it! For someone who claims to be clueless, you were spot on in your deduction that the names in Minisode 1 are anagrams! (and Redwall is an awesome inspiration for puzzles, I shall have to reread the series now...) A hint for everyone: While the idea of having them all be one big anagram is super cool, and we may use it in the future now, each name is a separate anagram. Sigus Ide, Nate G., and Duney Mops each rearrange into words that were merely meant to put you on the right path in your deductions, while Remi Spices and Gester M. Norn rearrange into their true identities. 'pieces, sir' has several letters in the right order, but it's missing the m in Remi Spices. Don't stop!

To Brooklyn Newsie: Yes, I believe you do! Mr. Gold's name is indeed an allusion to the greasy-haired, acne-prone character from the Enchanted Forest!

Also, to all: we're super glad you're catching so many references! The Princess Bride is, at the moment, the biggest piece of info you have about who Gester M. Norn really is - we're planting a few more things in the coming days...

And yes: I am Pied Piper, the typist, puzzle-lover, and crafter of all the beautiful sentences and descriptions (and the not-so-beautiful, ungainly, awkward ones too), and John F.Q. is the main supplier of dialogue and funny situations. We come up with everything else together, which is fun but tends to take a while...

Alright, this got long so we'll post Day 2 in a moment! Drumroll, please...

submitted by The Ominous, age unknown, out of breath
(April 23, 2018 - 2:49 pm)

Day 2 Part 1 – Culinary Conspiracies

They are watching us. They are watching us every second of every day. They are watching us as we go to work and as we go out to play. They are watching us. At least, that's what the conspiracy theorists say.

- The Ominous

The morning sun poured across the great expanse of sand, glinting off the long railroad tracks stretching from the horizon. The sky was a blinding blue, cheerful as a robin's egg but nine times as dangerous. Then, chuffing and chugging and puffing white smoke, the Disorienting Express raced on across the desert.

When the CBers woke up that morning, they found that the train carriages had moved around in the night.

Kid waved his hands in the air. “I swear, there was a library there yesterday! Being chased by a mummy through a maze of bookshelves kinda makes a place stick in your mind! Why would I make it up?”

UniCat shrugged. “I don't know. I mean, I hallucinate bookshelves all the time.”

Rose bud ran into the room from the other carriage just in time to overhear the conversation, and said, “Well, whatever was there yesterday isn't there today. Now there's a stage and a huge ballroom with a suspicious chandelier where the Wreck Room used to be!”

Tux added, “Yeah, and where the library was, there's a forest!”

“Wait, really?” xp ran through the accordion connector and opened the door the mummy had come through. “Wow! Come see, everyone!”

Up a few stairs to get to the carriage floor, the carriage was filled with green-dappled light. Like a huge greenhouse, the walls and high curved ceiling were paned with glass, which made it a bit disorienting to watch the desert whisk by. Nearly the whole floor was crowded with plant pots – huge brown clay pots contained tall trees that seemed too big to fit, tiny white plastic pots on shelves, filled with a million varieties of little flowers, wide shallow pots filled with sand from which huge palm trees grew – it was an indoor forest.

“You call this a forest? I've made better forests! AND I had the decency to stock them with bloodthirsty monsters!” Said Pepper, glaring accusingly at some innocent-looking petunias.

orangelemon wandered through what seemed to be a path between the plants, enchanted by the colourful leaves and huge, elaborate flowers. She felt a drip of water on her head, and looked up, but couldn't see the sprinkler system for all the mist above her.

Evergreen stared up at a coconut growing from one of the trees in the sandbox, gauging the distance. “This is cool and all, but what about breakfast? Do you think we're supposed to eat off all the fruit trees here?”

“Actually... I don't think that's a good idea.” Kitten said, looking up at something the others couldn't see.

“Why?” asked Chinchilla, who had just picked a polka-dotted apple from a bright orange tree.

“Come read the sign.” They all crowded around the sign, which was written in curling script and said:

Welcome to the Conservatory Carriage! Please do not eat anything unless it is offered to you by a creepy old woman who might be your stepmother. She doesn't exist, so you really shouldn't eat anything at all. Many of these plants are experimental hybrids, so they could be poisonous, venomous, or otherwise dangerous! You are currently in the Arboretum section of the Conservatory – to get to the Hibernaculum, which lies below your feet, you'll have to find the trapdoor. Thank you for reading this sign, which was brought to you by the Long-Winded Sign Corporation of Ursa Minor. You can stop reading the sign now. Seriously. We'll just stop writing now, okay? Okay.

orangelemon gasped. “Oh no, what if that drip I felt was carnivorous tree venom!”

Suddenly, far above, the sprinkler system turned on at full force, and Brooklyn Newsie's cap was soaked in a moment. Water – or was it venom? - dripped down everyone's necks.

Everyone screamed and ran for the accordion hallway.

Crowded in the hallway, damp from the sudden soaking, the Cbers looked at each other.

“Is everyone okay?” Rose bud yelled.

There was a chorus of “yes”s, except for Squeak, who said, “ think I might be dead.”

Danie sighed. “Can you feel a pulse?”

“Pulse! What pulse?”

Danie reached over and pressed her finger against Squeak's neck. “You're alive. You should have known to do that, Watson, you're the doctor, for crying out loud! I've told you three thousand twenty-seven times that you need to think before you react, and all you ever do is reply 'Great Scott, you're a genius, Holmes!' Which I am, but that's beside the point.”

“No I'm not, I'm only a doctor! And to be frank, I stopped following what you said after our first case – none of it ever makes any sense to me, because Great Scott Holmes, you're a genius!”

Vyolette sighed and rolled her eyes. “That's enough of your melodramatics, let's get down to the logic. We all got wet, and we all seem to be fine. Logically, that was probably just a sprinkler system or something. There's nothing to worry about, let's go find our breakfast!”

Danie glared at Vyolette, who started back into the Arboretum. But before she got far, Quill gulped. “But, what if there's something in the rain that's supposed to help the plants, but if we get enough of it, it'll turn us into mutant radioactive monsters!”

T.S., who had been about to follow Vyolette, frowned. “Can't say I've had much experience with those – but if I had, I'm sure I'd be able to tie you to a tree and concoct an antidote in no time!”

elementgirl frowned at T.S. “Who are you, anyways?”

T.S. shrugged. “I'm just T.S.”

elementgirl frowned deeper. “Very well then, if you won't answer, I'll figure out what your initials stand for on my own! Hmmm... Taylor Sebald? Terry Swift? Tuesday Soon? Tennessee Sadly? Theo Slartibartfast? Am I getting close?”

“Getting close to what?” elementgirl spun around to see one of the Larrys standing in the hallway, holding an umbrella. “Because I'm just about ready to be close to the dining carriage! I'm afraid I'm lost as well as sleep-deprived, all the carriages seem to have been moved around in the night. The Ballroom Carriage where we set up our studio used to be between the Library and a carriage with a swimming pool! I'm guessing it was caused by some sort of centrifugal force effect from the movement of the train, or the mystery of the Ominous. Hmmm, perhaps that's what caused the strange dreams as well...”

Kitten raised an eyebrow. “Strange dreams? I didn't have any strange dreams.”

Shoshannah's eyes widened. “Me neither!”

Somebody frowned. “Same here! And I usually have strange dreams, so that's strange...”

Leafpool turned to the Larry. “Which Larry are you? And you can't possibly think we'd believe that all of you share first and last names, are identical, and aren't related, can you?”

“I didn't ask you to believe it, but it's true! Like I said, they're all pronounced differently. I'm the Weather Larry, which is why I was carrying this umbrella, but judging by your dripping appearances I may be needing it in the future. What sort of carriage is ahead, the pool?”

Wren answered, “The Conservatory. We think it has either a sprinkler system, or a lot of venom-dripping plants in the ceiling.”

xp grinned and said, “Hey, we can use your umbrella to get through the room without potentially getting turned into radioactive mutants! This is great!”

“Oh, well, that would be good. I do hope breakfast is somewhere on the other side – it would be a ridiculous shame to have finally found The Ominous and then starve because he neglected to properly provision his train.” He smiled, and opened his umbrella.

And with that, they set out. The umbrella, though large and sensible, could only shelter three people at once, so it worked out like that puzzle with the man and his boat, goat, cabbage, and wolf. Except it was rather longer because there were many CBers, and rather less complicated because thankfully no one had brought a wolf on board. Does anyone know why that man would want to buy a wolf anyways?

And then, suddenly, blood-crazed velociraptors flew down from the ceiling! At least, that's what Crypto wished was happening. Having to wait this long for breakfast was boring and undignified.

Finally, everyone was umbrella-ferried to the other side of the Conservatory carriage. Through the next accordion hallway, and into a normal-sized carriage furnished like a retro diner, with a small kitchen behind a counter at the far end, jukeboxes on the walls, silvery-chrome tables and plastic-upholstered nooks, and tall swivelly bar stools at the gleaming counter. The other three Larrys sat together in a breakfast nook, reading the menus, and Miss Pierce looked out the window while The Ominous and Mr. Gold sat at the counter, ignoring each other.

As the CBers crowded in, Mr. Gold glowered over the top of his newspaper. “When will the chef get here? This is outrageous!”

The Ominous crossed his arms. “Actually, I don't have a chef. My last one, Aldo Brandino, ran away with Glennis Decke, the maid.”

Mr. Gold put down his paper and gave his cigar a puff. “Hmph. I suppose that's what you get for hiring a secret agent as a chef. I would never hire anyone who's part of a secret organization – unless they're trained by the FBI, those chaps know where they stand with their initials, they don't go changing what FBI stands for to cover up their secrets. When they knock down your door in the middle of the night to look for smuggled Aztec gold, they do just that, they don't complicate things by dressing up in clown costumes and speaking in absurd code.”

The Ominous shrugged. “As you like. I trusted Aldo, even if he did like to disguise himself a lot – after all, his familiar nose always gave him away. And if you're referring to his mysterious past, there's no proof that Aldo was behind the tragic accident with the large wall-ornament in the green mansion in the Alps. I think the authorities' main suspect was someone named Simon M., but then they caught a tap-dancing waiter hacking into a faulty communications tower and arrested him instead.”

Mr. Gold raised his eyebrows. “Inconceivable! Although, on second thought, the authorities always do arrest the wrong people and ask all the wrong questions. But it's probably for the best, anyone who can dance is suspicious.”

St. Owl looked at the empty kitchen behind the counter. “So... Does anyone know how to cook?”

Mr. Gold noticed the CBers at that moment. “Ah! Miss Pierce, you can cook, can't you? Why don't you whip up something for us all!”

Miss Pierce looked flustered, for possibly the first time since the CBers had first seen her. “Me? Why, I can't even boil water!”

Mr. Gold winked at the CBers. “Ah, but she can make a mean mean salad, isn't that right?”

“Well. Yes, I suppose I can.” Miss Pierce sounded unconvinced, but she walked purposefully into the kitchen nonetheless.

Leafpool frowned. “Wait, don't you mean a mean salad, as in she makes a salad well? Why did you say mean twice there?”

“You'll have to wait and find out, just as I once had to wait to find out that someone in my employ was double-crossing me – unlike Miss Pierce, who is as loyal as they come. Although she does take occasional unexplained sabbaticals that I never remember approving...”

A pot banged in the kitchen.

The salad was carried out a moment later, and it glared at the CBers as it passed. “You lookin' at me, kid? You got a problem with my lettuce? You there, you must have a horrible dressing sense! What ugly salads you would all make! And you, why, you're nothing but a soggy crouton!”

“Don't worry, I have fruit self-defence training! I'll protect you all!” yelled Leafpool, jumping into a ninja stance. But the salad fended her off with a stinging insult, and then continued to dress down everyone in the room for everything from their hairstyles to their shoelace choices. CBers stared at the mean, well-made salad in shock. The Larrys, who had finally accepted that there was nothing on the menu, looked at the salad with interest. The mood in the room had gone down considerably before Miss Pierce managed to slam a large pot lid over the salad bowl with expert precision. The salad's mean, horrible remarks were muffled, and all the CBers suddenly felt much better. It was odd how quickly it had made them feel bad, even...guilty.

SopranoTwo recovered first. “We can't eat that! It's too mean!”

xp stared at the muffled salad in fear. “Can't you make anything else?”

“No, I am completely incapable of any culinary art whatsoever. Absolutely. I'm very sorry, I didn't realize this wasn't a salad occasion.” Miss Pierce expertly whipped the muffled mean salad away and stored it in the fridge for a later date when it might possibly be useful.

Field Reporter Larry (of the green tie and eyes) stood up. “Just a moment, what's this in my pocketses?” He fished in a pocket, and brought out a suspicious package wrapped in aluminum foil. I say suspicious, because it was quite large, and the pocket Larry had pulled it from was quite small. Larry unwrapped the foil, and grinned. “Why, it's a minstrel pie!”

So the CBers ate the minstrel pie, and there was much rejoicing.


submitted by The Ominous, age unknown, aboard the express
(April 23, 2018 - 3:33 pm)

Okay is the thing about the FBI not changing what their initials stand for a Series of Unfortunate Events reference? Like how VFD has so many different initial meanings?

submitted by Brooklyn Newsie
(April 25, 2018 - 9:22 am)