I found this weird pin on the ground one day. I thought I’d heard someone say my name from somewhere around ground level, but when I looked, the only thing there was this pin that said “GEEDIS” on it. At the time, it seemed like a mildly interesting find, and the figure labeled “GEEDIS” looked friendly in a Dr. Eggman-fursona kind of way, so I picked the thing up.

This turned out to be a mistake.

I never caught the thing moving, but I swear it would whisper to me at night from my bedside table. It kept telling me to find the “lost scepter of Ta,” whatever that meant. And one morning, this t-shirt showed up in my drawer. I’d never seen it before. It said “GEEDIS LOVES YOU” on it, but somehow it felt like a threat.

A week later, my alarm went off in the middle of the night. I looked at the time, but the clock must have been broken, because it was 3:71 a.m. As my eyes adjusted to the dim, I realized that I wasn’t where I had been when I went to sleep. Someone had moved my bed to the middle of a forest.

There was a low growling sound coming from the trees.

I stepped onto the forest floor, my footsteps muffled by a soft layer of decay. “Hello?” I said — stupidly, stupidly, because something spoke back. But I don’t remember what it said. I only remember a sudden, harsh-toned yelling, and then I woke up. 7:00 a.m. When I rolled over, however, I found a mess of pine needles in the bed.

It went on for weeks. Every night, Geedis would whisper me to sleep, and every night I would creep a little farther into the dark forest. But the things I saw in the forest haunted me, and I tried to get rid of Geedis. I tried dropping him on the ground on my way to class. I tried throwing him in the river. Finally I threw him into the Jackson Court fireplace, lit the fire, and shut the gate. But all the same, I returned to my room and found him sitting on my nightstand, perfectly intact. That night was the first and only time I ever heard Geedis whisper a threat, for all that I felt threatened by him already. I got the message.

Faced with everything, I decided the only thing I could do was find the lost scepter of Ta. It seemed to me that the only way to make Geedis leave me alone was to do his bidding, whatever the consequences.

3:71 a.m. The next night, when I awoke in the forest, I got to work. I met the man with the falcon’s face and stayed out of sight of the plant with five hundred eyes, as I had done so many nights before. I drank from the birdbath of night and opened the temple of Shimra, where I dodged traps and crawled dungeons. At last I made it to the room where my most recent foray had ended.

I knew now that the floor in this room couldn’t be trusted. You couldn’t trust most floors in the temple. But this one was more devious than the others. I had gotten used to carrying around rocks and other loose objects to test every tile for hair-trigger traps before stepping on them myself, but you couldn’t test the floor in this room. A single wrong move wouldn’t just drop the offending tile into a dark pit or stab you through your foot with spikes. It would assault the entire chamber in a burst of arrows — which was what had ended my last excursion. I always woke up just before I died.

There was one promising thing about the room, however. At the far end, there was a golden statue of the amphibian goddess Shimra, with a deep archway carved into the center. Through the arch there was the faint notion of light from outside.

As I sat and contemplated how best to proceed, a sudden sound echoed through the chamber. It was a ribbit.

I looked up and saw a lone frog sitting inside the archway. It ribbited again, then hopped forward — right onto the trapped floor. I braced myself for arrows, but none came. The frog had landed on a safe tile!

The frog leaped forward again, and I shut my eyes tight. Nothing happened.

And then it dawned on me. This frog was showing me the way to safety. Was it a sign of blessing from Shimra?

I kept a careful eye on the frog’s movements, memorizing its steps as it crossed the room tile by tile, one hop at a time. At last it made its way to where I stood watching and hopped past me, deeper into the temple, without a care.

“Goodbye, little frog,” I said to myself. Then I stepped out onto the floor.

I retraced the frog’s movements with ease, reaching the archway in no time. I followed the light of day up a short dirt path, finding myself in a bright clearing surrounded by high stone walls. What really caught my eye, however, was a golden scepter in the center of the clearing, standing upright at the top of a grassy mound. I knew immediately that this was the lost scepter of Ta.

Well, time to get this over with. I approached the mound and pulled the scepter free, and all at once I felt an excruciating pain running throughout my body.

It felt like my bones were stretching, like something was pushing its way out of my forehead, like my eyes were being grasped by invisible hands and forced into a different mold. And as all this was happening, I saw through tear-blurred vision a figure with a familiar shape approaching. It was big, and furry, and had penetrating round eyes.

Geedis.

“Geedis,” I screamed. “What is happening to me?”

“It will all be over in a minute, child,” said Geedis. “Pain is only a temporary thing.”

To my shock and surprise, Geedis was telling the truth. I felt my bones stop stretching as I settled into my shape.

“What have you done to me?” I demanded.

“It was said that the one who is fit to rule the Land of Ta must be unlovely in form,” said Geedis, “else vanity strike, and lose him the wisdom of his mind.”

A sudden dread took me. What had I turned into?

Geedis spoke as if reading my thoughts. “Turn around. Look into the reflecting pool.”

I did.

It was worse than I could have imagined. I had two giant, monochrome eyes. There were two black antennae attached to my skull, and my face was contorted into a permanent grimace. There were wings on my back, but I could not fly.

I had turned into Rocky, the University mascot. The ugliest mug. The uncuddliest of them all. The affront to nature. The abomination.

Enraged, I took the scepter in my ugly hands and stabbed it with all my might into the place I imagined Geedis’s heart would be, if such a creature could be said to have one. He let out an enormous wail and collapsed beside me. I cast aside the scepter. I watched Geedis beg for mercy, for an end to his suffering, and I gave him none. I watched Geedis die. And I relished it.

And then I woke up.

I looked at my hands. They were human hands. They searched the bedside table for the familiar shape of the Geedis pin, but found nothing. I looked at the table, newly bare, in astonishment. I checked the mirror and saw my own face in it. I checked the drawer and found that there was no shirt that said “GEEDIS LOVES YOU.”

I couldn’t believe my luck.

I had done it. I had beaten Geedis.

I am free.



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