S1E15 - Beat the Devil Good
Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Broadcast, monthly updates from the Newton’s Dark Room collective. Like what tends to be the case this time of year, we had quite the run in of a supernatural variety. We’ll get right into that, but first I want to tell you about A Ninth World Journal.
A Ninth World Journal is an audio drama by David S. Dear and it takes place in the world of Numenara. Now, normally Numenara is a tabletop RPG, but David has taken it and turned it into a fully immersive, scripted narrative adventure. The show fallows Januae, a nano who’s jaunts transport him to the far reaches of the world. It’s imaginative, well written, and a perfect way to dive into the world of Numenara. We’ll be playing a trailer for A Ninth World Journal after the show, so be sure to stick around for that. Ok, back to the broadcast!
Jack, A Dull Boy is our intern, and a rather uninteresting one at that. Sometimes, you get an intern who is creative and exciting! Someone who likes exciting things, like Game of Thrones or throwing rocks into the ocean! Jack, A Dull Boy, is not this person. Jack is boring. He likes things like fonts, corporate drama, and proper grammar. He can be a real stick in the mud. That’s why we call him Jack, A Dull Boy.
Jack is so boring, that he even managed to ruin pinball. That’s right, pinball. Do you remember that machine that we bought back in January? The one with the dummy and the lights and the hand? Pretty exciting stuff, right? Well Jack, a Dull Boy comes along and he starts talking about fixing it! He’s gushing about the mechanical intricacies of pinball and how everyone of them is a work of art and yada yada yada. I told him, Look. You can try to fix the machine if you want, just don’t burn the house down. I don’t trust that thing, but go wild.
He spent the rest of the weekend down there fiddling with it, cleaning parts, asking us which wrench he should use? I don’t know, he can do what he wants in his free time. After working on it all weekend, he told everyone that it was done. He said he fixed the issue that caused the spiraling lights and all that jazz and that it should be good to play. He planned a grand opening kind of thing but no one aside from me showed up. I was only there because I felt guilty not going as the curator but trust me, I was looking for the first opportunity to bounce.
Jack a Dull Boy plugged it in, and booted it up. It was working great, binging and chiming and racketing along, nothing was weird. Until Jack reached 666 points. As soon as he did all of the lights on the machine, the room, the building, all of it turned a bright red. This was spooky enough, but soon the lights started getting a darker red. Then darker. Darker and darker until what was once a red now felt like a bright black. I went to the basement’s cellar door to try to open it and let in some sunlight, but the sun was dark too. The machine was he only light we could see. It shook, rocking back and forth, causing a racket, and pouring smoke from inside. The smoke was filling the room, we were hacking, trying to find some clean air to breathe. Jack fumbled around in the dark for quite some time before he was able to unplug the machine from the wall. Just like that, the lights went back to normal. I was blinded by the sun’s light and waved away the smoke in front of me.
Jack apologized, saying that he really thought he fixed it. Sumpra Pepnia appeared at the top of the cellar door, asking us if we were alright and assisting us up the ladder and out of the smokey room.
After the debacle, we sat outside on the beach, watching the sunset. Except, it wasn’t setting. But it wasn’t rising either. It was getting larger. The low red sun was getting closer and closer, you could feel the heat of the air against your skin. We all stood to go back inside when Jack, A Dull Boy, pointed something out. There was something hanging from the sun. At first, it was just a small speck in the sky, but as the sun got closer, we could start to make out the details..
After the debacle, we sat outside on the beach, watching the sunset. Except, it wasn’t setting. But it wasn’t rising either. It was getting larger. The low red sun was getting closer and closer, you could feel the heat of the air against your skin. We all stood to go back inside when Jack, A Dull Boy, pointed something out. There was something hanging from the sun. At first it was just a small speck in the sky, but as the sun got closer, we could start to make out the details.
This floating steam room dangled from the sun as it approached, like some strange hot air balloon basket. We weren’t sure what to do, it was coming right for us but none of us felt scared. For some reason, we were certain it wouldn’t hurt us. It all seemed controlled, and gentle. Imposing, sure, but not scary. We all stared at the little box as the sky was filled with the approaching sun.
It was massive above us. You know how when the sun sets, the entire horizon becomes this glowing red extension of the sun? Now picture if all of those colors were the sun. That was how our evening started.
The steamed box was hanging above the beach. It swung back and forth just a little as it lowered to the ground. It pudded into the sand with a soft psh, and the sun continued to hang above it.
We were motionless, frozen and vastly unprepared. We have never had the sun land at our feet before. After a moment of silence, the sledding glass door shhhhhhhed itself open. Steam began pouring out. It was hot and sticking to our skin. I had to take off my glasses to clear them off and by the time I put them back on, there was a figure in the doorway.
He was tall, taller than anyone I’ve seen. His head was a foot or so from the top of the sauna, but the horns helped close the gap. They curved off the top of his head like a ram before coming to a point beneath his cheek bones. His skin was red, a bright red. The same red as the lights. It simultaneously cut through the hazy steam and radiated against the dark mahogany. In one hand, he held a simple red pen with a loose grip. In the other, a stack of papers 3-hole punched and hastily bound with brass fasteners. The first 20 pages or so were folded back around itslef, like someone reading a magazine with one hand while brushing their teeth. There was some kind of text printed on the page in black and thought-out red scribbles in the margins. It was impossible to read what they said. The moist air of the steam room caused all the ink to run and blend together in long streaks down the page.
The man was naked except for a towel wrapped around his waist a pair of horn rimmed glasses that were surprisingly clear of steam. He took them off in exasperation.
“Excuse me, I was in the middle of something.”
“Who are you?” I asked, feeling completely justified in my confusion. Someone did land the sun on our beach after all.
“Oh, is it not obvious? I’m the devil.”
We all let out a loud gasp. The Devil! In our neighborhood?
“I was working on editing this story when you so rudely summoned me.”
“You’re… an editor?”
“Well yeah. God creates and I edit their work. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they write some pretty boring stuff. I like to make it a little more… exciting.”
Jack, a Dull Boy, stepped forward.
“Hey, I take personal offense to that! Just because everyone calls me a dull boy doesn’t mean I’m not exciting. Boring things can be exciting too! Like fonts, or public transportation, or—“
The devil slashed his red pen across the page, crossing off some of the printed text. Jack stopped his word mid-sentence, grabbing at his chest and collapsing to the floor.
“There, see? Far more exciting.”
Jack was on the ground, gasping for air. We all huddled around him. He reached out, grabbing onto my collar, trying to pull himself up, but he was too weak. As he inhaled his short, sharp breaths, he looked into my eyes and mouthed out an “I’m sorry”
“Ooh, yeah, I like this. The stakes are much higher now, much more compelling.”
“You’re a monster.”
“Yeah, I’m the devil.”
We all cried over Jack’s body. He may have been boring, but wee loved him. He was one of us and a stellar intern. Now, who would make the tea? We wept, for we did not know.
“What do you want with us?”
“What do-, you summoned me here! *sigh* A bunch of amateurs.”
“The pinball machine,” Julia Sawbone muttered to herself. She said it a little louder so we all could hear.
“The pinball machine, the one from Seattle. I knew the way it affected the house wasn’t some technical glitch. This was supernatural. It must be some kind of modern ritual device.”
“Bing Bing Bing! You got it! And now that you summoned me, the devil, to your home, I’m going to destroy it and everything that you love. That’ll teach you mortals to summon me willy nilly.”
“wait!” It was Tommy B shouting from the crowd.
“If you get summoned by the pinball machine, that must mean you’re pretty good at it, huh?”
“I’m not just pretty good, I’m the best.”
“Ok, well what If I beat you?”
“You beat me at pinball. HA! Ok, I like a good underdog story. I’ll tell you what, if you can beat me at pinball, I’ll leave instead of sinking your island into a sea of blood.”
Without a moment of hesitation, Tommy B said “Deal!”
As we walked down towards the basement with the machine, we huddled around Tommy B. He had never had any worldly possessions before, that’s kind of his schtick, a real live in the moment kind of guy. We never thought he’d be good at anything as permanent as a pinball machine. As we walked down, I asked him if he thought I could pull if off.
“Talon,” he said, “I’ve never owned an object in my life, so I didn’t play video games in my free time growing up. Instead, I would go out to the pizza parlor, scrape quarters off the ground, and played pinball till Ol’ Pizza Pops himself would come kick me out. I’m not just good at pinball, I’m beat-the-devil good.”
While I wasn’t entirely confident in Tommy B’s abilities, I knew he was probably the best chance we had. After all, none of us had any ideas for dealing with the devil. At the very least, it’ll be a spectacle before we all die a horrible death.
I opened up the cellar door into the basement and we began the one-by-one descent down the ladder. When we walked into the room with the pinball machine, the devil was already there.
“Nice of you to show up!”
Tommy B cracked his knuckles. “Yeah, let’s get this over with.”
Tommy B fished around for a quarter but found nothing. With pockets hanging limp outside his pants, he turned to the devil with a sheepish grin.
The devil sighed, pulled out a quarter, and turned to Tommy B.
“Take the devil’s quarter, sure, but but lumber low and —
“Cool thanks.” Tommy B snatched the quarter and plopped into the machine.
“But, you didn’t even get to see how George Washington was replaced by my face and it was laughing and wailing and pouring goats blood onto your fingertips.”
Tommy B wiped the blood onto his paint stained pants. “Eh.”
The game lit up and he pulled the plunger, launching the mirrored ball into the world of the machine. The first few minutes were going great! Tommy B was smacking the ball around, working the flippers with such finesse you’d’ve thought he was the dolphin from the movie flipper! He locked one ball, two balls, and he was getting ready to lock in the third unleashing a multi-ball bonanza! This was when the Devil started chuckling.
“You fool, you said if you beat me I would leave, but you never said I couldn’t disrupt your game!”
The Devil turned to his script and began scribbling furiously.
“Let’s see how you all like… carnivorous roombas!”
Just then the cellar door burst open and roombas began pouring down into the room! Their underside, once a soft swooping little brush, was no replaced with teeth and flesh! The teeth dragged against the concrete as they spun, causing a incessant screeching sound. They looked hungry, and they were headed straight for Tommy B!
“Don’t worry, we’ll hold them off!” Sophia Rivera shouted as she punted a toothed Roomba into a wall.
We all grabbed whatever was closest to us, an old bat, some plywood, a rubber hose, and we started swinging. The Roombas were not easy to fend off, they outnumbered us by quite a bit. Plus, they were our pets. There was a difficult emotional burden attached to curb-stomping the little buddy you fed crushed corn flakes too. Luckily, Roombas are sturdy things. We were hoping we could incapacitate them enough for Tommy B. to win while also leaving them well enough for later repair.
Although, we weren’t sure how we were going to repair the addition of teeth, but that’s a later us problem.
While we smacked the Roombas, Tommy B smacked the flippers and locked in the final ball! The demonic machine shook and screeched with the torment of a thousand woeful sounds, signifying that Tommy B had unlocked the multiball. 3 more metallic pinballs joined the mix and soon, Tommy was racking up all kinds of points.
“What? No!” The devil looked worried, his plan was failing.
The Devil shouted and the whole island shook. The pinball machine interpreted this as Tommy B purposefully shaking it to influence the ball, and it shut down. His score was locked on the screen as the flipper froze up and ball after ball fell down between them.
“There, you just finished your game. That’s your score, one billion, two hundred and twenty three million, three hundred and fifty eight thousand, four hundred and ninety.(1,223,358,490) That’s chump change. Step out of the way and let a real pro show you how it’s done.”
Now, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that Devil is VERY good at pinball. Have you ever seen a flipper become a hand that reached out and grabbed the ball to keep it from falling in? That’s the kind of witchcraft and skill that the devil was bringing to the table here. He quickly reached 500,000,000 points!
Tommy B was looking worried. He knew the devil was going to beat his score. He tried to walk up and bump the machine, the same way the Devil had, but it was no use. The devil saw him coming with the crying eye that was protruding out of the back of his head and he summoned little imps to smack Tommy’s hands away.
“Hahahahaha! Say goodbye to your island!”
“Not on my watch.”
We all turned to the cellar door. There, doused in sunlight, was Jack, A Dull Boy. Or actually the ghost of Jack, a Dull Boy.
“That’s right”, he said. “You killed me but now I’m a ghost, cuz that’s what happens when you have unfinished business. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some business to finish.”
Jack ran— er, floated really fast? — up to the devil and punched him right in the spine.
Unfortunately, he was a ghost so his hand just went right through and didn’t do anything.
“The ball!” Jack turned around. Julia Sawbone was shouting at him.
“Touch the ball! You’re a ghost, you can influence reflective things! Grab the ball and throw it in the gutter!”
Jack reached inside and grabbed the ball. Just as Julia said, he could stop it. Jack smiled, and moved the ball down between the flippers.
Jack laughed and did it again. And again. And again until all of the devils pinballs were used up!
“No, no, no!!!”
The screen flashed the final score. 1,223,358,480, 10 less than Tommy B. We all cheered! Somehow, through hard-work, miracles, and teamwork, we defeated the Devil!
“You’ll all pay for this, you’ll pay!”
The machine glowed red and started wailing once again. A horde of hands reached out from the score screen, grabbing the Devil by his horns and shoulders, dragging him into an opening portal to hell.
“I’ll get you Newton’s Dark Room! You haven’t seen the last of the Devil! You watch yourselves! I’ll get yoooooooouuuuu….”
The portal opened in a roar and shut as the Devil’s voice finished it’s echo. The room was dark, all the lights blown from the hellish energy. Then, after a moment, the pinball machine started it’s idle tempting animations and sounds, begging passerby’s to come give it a try. We all let out a big relieved sigh as the Calisland Caretakers threw a sheet over the machine.
We had done it. We defeated the Devil not as individuals, but as a collective. Now we could rest easy.
“Um, guys?” We all looked over to the ghostly form of Jack, A Dull Boy.
“My business wasn’t finished, but I banished the devil. I think my job here is done. I- I think this is good bye.”
We all huddled around the young intern. The individual who got us coffee or who rolled up mic-cables or who got us more coffee. He was always such a helpful lad, even if he was boring. We cried as we said our goodbyes.
“Ok, I should be fading away now. Good bye everyone. Goodbye! So Long! Au Revoir!”
We all kissed good bye and said goodbye and hugged him again… but he didn’t disappear. Not even a little bit.
After the debacle, we sat outside on the beach, watching the sunset. Except, it wasn’t setting. But it wasn’t rising either. It was getting larger. The low red sun was getting closer and closer, you could feel the heat of the air against your skin. We all stood to go back inside when Jack, A Dull Boy, pointed something out. There was something hanging from the sun. At first, it was just a small speck in the sky, but as the sun got closer, we could start to make out the details. the curator but trust me, I was looking for the first opportunity to bounce.ly light we could see. It shook, rocking back and forth, causing a racket, and pouring smoke from inside. The smoke was filling the room, we were hacking, trying to find some clean air to breathe. Jack fumbled around in the dark for quite some time before he was able to unplug the machine from the wall. Just like that, the lights went back to normal. I was blinded by the sun’s light and waved away the smoke in front of me.
After nearly a half hour of this we realized that he wasn’t going away. Apparently, his unfinished business was not about the devil.
After nearly a half-hour of this we realized that he wasn’t going away. Apparently, his unfinished business was not about the devil.
We were all surprised. Wait, you, Jack a Dull Boy, writes stories?
“Yeah, what did you think I was doing with that notebook for the last year and half?”
I don’t know. I assumed you were just using it to take down coffee orders or something.
“Nope, I was writing stories.”
Huh, who knew.
“Oh trust me, there is a lot you don’t know about me.”
At that cryptic message, we all laughed and laughed about the day’s hijinks as the camera panned up to show the sun in its rightful place far away in the sky. As the screen fades to black, you can hear someone faintly asking Jack for a coffee run.
At that cryptic message we all laughed and laughed about the day’s hijinks as the camera panned up to show the sun in its rightful place far away in the sky. As the screen fades to black, you can hear someone faintly asking Jack for a coffee run.