The mossy scent of the inner garden evokes a memory of your grandmother. You can see her working the garden, digging shallow trenches, whistling quietly to herself. You are five and happy, snacking on a sandwich you snuck from her basket. Salty tears well in your eyes. Two thoughts occur to you.\n\n[[You miss your grandma|GM]]\n[[You are hungry|E3]]\n
[[Written for the Choosatron|http://choosatron.com/stories-to-play/]]
The moist moss squishes beneath your feet. Squish, squish, squish. Wait. That wasn't moss. You lift your foot and find, oozing between your toes, the remains of a garden slug.\n\n[[This means war|1B]]\n[[How lucky! Collect the slug juice|T4]]\n
You see the reflection of your smile in the window as you look out over your garden. It is lush with fresh spring rain.\n[[Go for a barefoot walk|1A]]\n[[Grab your gear and get to work|1B]]\n[[Make toast|1C]]
While your bread is toasting, you go to the pantry to retrieve something to spread. The pantry is quite bare, but you see three jars on the bottom shelf.\n\n[[Butter|PA]]\n[[Raspberry jam|PB]]\n[[Slug juice|PC]]\n
You grab a hand shovel, small rake, glass jar and gardening gloves. You pull on a pair of shin-high yellow waders, roll up your sleeves, and enter the garden. On a bed of rosemary, you see the flattened remains of a fat garden slug.\n\n[[Use the shovel|T1]]\n[[Use the rake|T2]]\n[[Use your gloves|T3]]\n
The slug-filled jar sails through the air like a diving robin. Your aim is true. The jar disappears through the window and you hear a loud crash, followed by an even louder shout. A door slams. You hear footsteps. But there is still a satisfied smile on your face as Eddie swings his fist and hits you hard in the arm. "What the slug?" He yells.
You pick up the jar labeled "Raspberry Preserves - 09/82." This is an unfamiliar labeling system. Is that the date is was processed? You scratch your chin, but that doesn't help.\n[[Open the jar anyway|E2]]\n[[Maybe slug juice would be okay|PC]]\n
It surprises you how easily the lid unscrews, as if this jar has been used frequently. You scrape a butterknife along the edge of the darkened glass but feel no resistance. Stepping into the light, you find that your slug juice jar is empty. \n[[Time to gather more|1B]]\n[[Eat your toast dry|E1]]\n
Something doesn't look right with the butter. Isn't it supposed to be yellow? And is that fur?\n[[Open the jar anyway|E2]]\n[[Grab the raspberry jam instead|PB]]\n[[Don't slugs taste like butter?|PC]]\n
You walk the garden in a winding circle, collecting as much slug juice as you can carry. When you reach the center of your garden, you see the bench you had inherited from your grandmother. It glistens with rain, but there is a dry spot at the edge where the sun shines.\n\n[[Have a seat|S1]]\n[[Return to the kitchen|E3]]\n
The intoxicating smell causes you to gag. The ooze slips through your hands when you lurch forward. Your sick combines with the ooze, which causes a violent chemical reaction. A deep hole forms in the garden. You slip on the edge of the hole. It is a long way down and you are falling head first. The last sound you hear is a crunch.
Are you going crazy? Probably not. People who go crazy don't ask themselves if they're going crazy. Right? But then, who is humming that song? And why has the sky turned a grayish shade of green? Your sleep is deep and fat with bizarre dreams. When you wake three hours later, you remember nothing. When you press your hands into the earth to stand, you notice that your jar is full to the top with bright yellow banana slug juice.
While you were distracted in the pantry, your toast burned. You are hungry, though, so you eat the toast anyway. It tastes like asphalt. \nAbout halfway through your second slice, you inhale a stray particle of ash and begin to cough uncontrollably. The lack of oxygen causes you to black out. You don't wake again until the evening, missing out on a glorious day in your garden.
You return to the kitchen, your hands full of slug. That, and two slices of toast will make for a wonderful start to your day.\n
You unscrew the cap. The stench is overwhelming. Several hours later, you wake up on the floor. You have a headache and a bump at the base of your skull the size of a plum.
Since you have no tools or storage containers, you scoop the slug slime into your bare hands. The viscous ooze is bright yellow, indicating that this slug happens to have been a banana slug, most likely an ariolimax columbianus. It is common knowledge that the columbianus species is most often found on the forest floors along the Pacific coast. It is less commonly known that banana slugs, columianus in particular, make good jam.\n[[Yum.|C1]]\n[[Gross.|C2]]\n
For some strange reason, you decide to use a rake to collect the slug. In your eagerness, you must have forgotten how fragile the body of a slug is. Your selected tool is ineffectual. You rake and rake, but all you do is slice the slug into pieces. It is like digging a hole with a toothpick. Five minutes later you return to your house, despondent and slugless.
Your gloves are old and smell of mildew. As you slip them on your hands, you are overcome with a feeling of malaise. Instead of continuing your slug hunt, you cross your legs and sit down in the middle of the path. Slugs slowly slide past you, but you are too unsettled to care. Your bottom lip quivers. Your eyes dart back and forth.\n\n[[Continue|NR]]\n
You easily scoop the unsuspecting banana slug into the jar with your shovel. Your success elicits a cheer. Hurray. \n\nYour neighbor, Eddie, opens his bedroom window and yells to be quiet. You've never liked Eddie.\n\n[[Throw the jar|TW]]\n[[Go make some toast|E3]]\n
Slugfest
You raise your slime-covered hand in homage to your late grandma, who always hated slugs. You both enjoy killing them, in your own way. You had at least that much in common. Cheers, Grandmama. This slug's for you.
It's your lucky day. Many people content that the flavor of slug is revolting, even when the slug is fed a corn-bread and vinegar diet and pampered with massages of coconut oil. You are not one of those people. And you prefer your ariolimax raw. With your hands, you scoop what's left of the slime from your bare foot and the bed of rosemary.\n\n[[Go to the kitchen to make toast|E3]]\n[[Collect more slugs|C3]]\n
Alex Barrett