[[Written for the Choosatron|http://choosatron.com/stories-to-play/]]
You arrive at the library five minutes early to find your new boss, Mr. Catchpole, feeding the library's guard-dog in the vestibule. Following him inside, he swiftly shows you around and tells you that on no account are you to leave the front desk unattended, and then he goes on to explain the library's unique filing system.\n[[Pay close attention and make notes.|1B]]\n[[Don't worry too much, it's your first day.|2B]]\n\n
Congratulations! It's the first day of your new job as trainee assistant librarian at Miskatonic University, Arkham. As you stroll to work down College Street, the Autumn sun glitters through the golden trees that line the road. Students hurry by on their way to class and the crisp air lifts your spirits.\n[[Enjoy the walk...|2A]]\n[[... or take a shortcut past the old witch-house.|1A]]\n\n
Oh happiest of happy endings! You gazed on the Necronomicon, and now you are the greatest librarian who ever lived! You are such a good librarian they had to inject you with sedatives, put you in a straightjacket and give you your very own library at Arkham Sanitarium with lovely, soft padded walls. Being a librarian is wonderful. You love being a librarian. And if anyone gets close enough, you'll bite their face off.\n\nShhhh! No talking in the library...
Someone from the Anthropology Department calls Mr. Catchpole away at short notice, leaving you in charge of the library. He gives you the key to the occult books cupboard and warns you to guard it closely.\n[[Put the key safely in your pocket.|1C]]\n[[Use it to unlock the occult books cupboard and see what all the fuss is about.|3C]]\n
The oddly piscene freshman thanks you and heads off to the relevant aisle.\n[[Pat yourself on the back, librarian!|1G]]\n[[Reward yourself with a sly glance at the Necronomicon.|3F]]\n
The chief librarian, Dr. Henry Armitage himself, turns up, having overheard your exchange with the frog-faced student, and asks with a twinkle in his eye why Mr. Catchpole isn't supervising you. You can either:\n[[Tell him Mr. Catchpole was called away at short notice.|1H]]\n[[Attempt to get the guy into trouble.|2H]]\n
You amble back with the book to find the door to the occult cupboard wide open! The Necronomicon has gone!\n[[Re-lock the door, replace the key and hope nobody notices.|2G]]\n[[Wait for Mr Catchpole to return and tell him what's happened.|3G]]\n
As lunchtime approaches, you hear the library's white-fanged guard-dog bark furiously outside, and then a stranger in old-fashioned garb approaches the desk and tells you that Mr. Catchpole has arranged to let him view the Necronomicon, one of the volumes in the occult books cupboard.\n[[Fetch him the book, as requested.|2J]]\n[[Ask him to wait for Mr. Catchpole.|1J]]\n
Old Man Armitage chuckles, saying that Catchpole is a silly duffer and that the place has needed some new blood for quite some time. He goes on to tell you all about the infamous 'Whately Affair' of 1929, warning you that as a Miskatonic librarian you must be ever vigiliant against (a) diabolists seeking to gain access to forbidden lore and (b) the late return of books.\n[[Well, at least the boss's boss seems to like you!|1I]]\n[[Once he's gone, take a look at the Necronomicon. It could be useful to a smart guy like you!|3I]]\n
You unlock the occult cupboard and peer inside. There are lots of old books in there, including a tattered volume entitled 'Unaussprechlichen Kulten' by Friedrich von Junzt and some loose pages bound with twine which you recognise as the fragmentary 'Book of Eibon'. In pride of place, however, is a leather-bound grimoire held shut with large metal clasps... the dreaded Necronomicon by the mad arab, Abdul Alhazred!\n[[Do you heed your nagging fear and hurry back to the front desk...|1C]]\n[[... or will you have a quick glance at the Necronomicon?|5C]]\n
The stranger's eyes blaze for a moment, but then he smiles and tells you he cannot wait and must be given access to the Necronomicon immediately. If you didn't know better you'd say there was steam coming out of his collar. He lays out ten hundred-dollar bills on the desk, and asks again for the book.\n[[Tell the stranger to leave.|1K]]\n[[Take his bribe.|2K]]\n
You tell Mr Catchpole everything and he fires you on the spot. You hurry home in tears. But don't worry; a few days later the town is ravaged by a swarm of seething Shoggoths, which soon puts you out of your misery.
You take the forbidden volume from the occult books cupboard and study it's yellowing pages. The words of the Necronomicon are weird and obscure, but you're skilled enough to wrap your tongue around one of the simpler incantations and say a few lines out loud. In the next moment, you conjur a vast and bubbling Shoggoth into the middle of the reading-room and it digests you rapidly through its foaming outer membranes. Nasty...
Reading from the Necronomicon, you realise that your entire existence is a just one meaningless moment in endless, strange aeons of cosmic horror and despair. You run screaming from the library and hurl yourself under the wheels of a passing milk truck.
Leaving the desk unmanned, you search for that bug-eyed student's book - 'Ways of the Coelacanth' by Dr. Finley Gilchrist - amongst the dusty aisles at the far end of the library.\n[[Take your time and explore. Catchpole will be away all morning.|1F]]\n[[Find the book and hurry back as fast as you can.|2F]]\n\n
You unlock the occult cupboard and peer inside. There are lots of old books in there, including a tattered volume entitled 'Unaussprechlichen Kulten' by Friedrich von Junzt and some loose pages bound with twine which you recognise as the fragmentary 'Book of Eibon'. In pride of place, however, is a leather-bound grimoire held shut with large metal clasps... the dreaded Necronomicon by the mad arab, Abdul Alhazred!\n[[Do you heed your nagging fear and hurry back to the front desk...|2C]]\n[[... or will you have a quick glance at the Necronomicon?|5C]]\n
The Librarian's Apprentice
The strangely ichthyic freshman tells you croakily that he's going to complain about this to Mr. Catchpole and waddles off to look for it himself.\n[[You resist the urge to throw a book at the kid, and resolve to pay more attention to the boss in future.|2I]]\n[[Sick of Catchpole's stupid rules, you decide to look in the occult books cupboard.|4F]]\n
Hurrying back with the student's book, you find the chief librarian, Old Man Armitage, standing red-faced by the adandoned desk!\n[[Think of a really good excuse that shifts the blame to Mr. Cattermole.|2H]]\n
You successfully hide the fact that the Necronomicon was stolen, and no one seems to notice! But a few days later the town is invaded by a plague of squamous Deep Ones from the briny depths... and you're pretty darn sure it's your fault.\n
You arrive late! Your new boss, Mr. Catchpole, is clearly annoyed but has no time to reprimand you as he's suddenly needed on the other side of campus. He quickly tells you not to leave the front desk for any reason whatsoever, and not to lose the key to the occult books cupboard.\n\n[[Make yourself comfortable at the desk...|2C]]\n[[...or take a look in the occult books cupboard.|4C]]\n
Professor Freeborn telephones and calls Mr. Catchpole away at short notice, leaving you in charge of the library. He gives you the key to the occult books cupboard and warns you to look after it.\n[[Put the key safely in your pocket.|2C]]\n[[Use it to unlock the occult books cupboard and see what all the fuss is about.|4C]]\n
Before long, a fishy-looking student comes to you with a request for a book he can't find, and asks you to help him find it.\n[[Tell him you can't leave the desk.|2D]]\n[[You go to look for the book yourself.|3D]]\n
As you decipher the forbidden Necromicon's secrets, you learn the true nature of the universe and exalt in the power of Dead Cthulhu in his house at R'yleh. With access to this forbidden lore, you realize that you have the power to become His greatest accolyte, and begin your plans to liberate the Old Ones and learn new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy yourself, and all the earth will flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom! PH'NGLUI MGLW'NAFH CTHULHU R'LYEH WGAH'NAGL FHTAGN!
Old Man Armitage frowns at your attempt to make Mr. Catchpole look bad and hobbles off, muttering to himself about the alarming deficiency of character in the young these days. You're left with the strongest impression that he doesn't like you very much...\n\n[[You vow to stop getting in trouble with people, and pray for lunchtime.|2I]]\n
It's almost lunchtime and the sound of the library guard-dog's barking is really starting to annoy you. A man approaches with permission from Mr. Catchpole to take the Necronomicon out for study in the genealogical reading-room.\n\n[[Fetch him the book as instructed.|3J]]\n[[Tell him to wait half an hour and let Mr. Cattermole take care of it.|1J]]\n
You gave the book to the stranger and you saw neither him nor the Necronomicon ever again. You lost your job as trainee assistant librarian that same morning, but one week later, as eldritch abominations roar and gibber through the burning streets, you realise it's the least of your problems...
You gave the book to the stranger and you never saw neither him nor the Necronomicon ever again. You lost your job as trainee assistant librarian that same morning, and found yourself arrested as an accessory to theft that afternoon. The lawyer they provided for you assured you that the charges will be dropped, but as you cower in your prison cell, watching from the window as eldritch abominations roar and gibber through the burning streets, you realise it's the least of your problems. If you guard is a decent fellow, he might shoot you and himself before they get inside...\n
You check the book out swiftly and efficiently, and the man congratulates you on your professionalism. Feeling proud of yourself, when Mr. Cattermole returns you tell him that you gave the gentleman the Necronomicon as he instructed. Cattermole's face goes pale and then he cackles dementedly. He didn't stop laughing even when the people from the sanitarium came and took him away. And now, one week later as you run screaming from the ravaging, roaring Nightgaunts that are tearing up the town, you understand why Cattermole chose madness over this terrible fate...
The stranger shoots you a look of pure malevolence and you watch as he lurches off out of the library looking fearful and desperate, his bodily frame somehow bulging under his ever-tightening frock-coat. Mr. Catchpole returns and as you tell him about your encounter, you both hear a distant explosion. It's only later when you overhear Dr. Halsey and Prof. Atwood discussing the theory of spontaneous human combustion that you realise that it must have been the stranger who spontaneously combusted...\nThankfully, the rest of the afternoon passes uneventfully. As you walk home through the pale mist, you wonder if maybe - just maybe - you saved the world from horrors beyond imagination on your very first day as assistant librarian. Either way, Mr. Catchpole expects you back tomorrow... and tomorrow's another day.
Some time later, a fishy-looking student comes to you with a request for a book he can't find, and asks you where it's kept.\nYou explain the library's filing system to the student.\n[[1D]]\n
Robert Valentine