Title: No Such Thing as Ghosts
Fandom: Super Mario Bros: The original gangsta of video games, Mario and his brother Luigi take on King Bowser and his army of Koopas, Goombas, and other assorted oddities in order to rescue Princess Peach from his reptilian claws. Again. I OWN NOTHING!
Wordcount: 1618 words
Taunt: I'm sorry, but my fandom is in another castle.
Once upon a time, in the Mushroom Kingdom, there lived a little Toad.
Now, this particular Toad had to be the best at everything. The blue spots on his hat were the bluest, his vest was the newest, and he was the bravest, the most talented, and the most fashionable. It was something of an annoyance to those around him, and led to some arguments between him and his acquaintances and classmates.
It was because of this that one of his classmates decided to try and teach the Toad a lesson. But how? She thought, and she thought, and eventually she came up with a plan. The little Toad claimed to be the bravest, afraid of nothing. So why not prove him wrong by challenging him to do something scary and sitting back to watch the fireworks?
The day after she hit upon this brilliant plan, she issued her challenge to the little Toad in front of many of their schoolmates. She planned this for a reason – if she threw the gauntlet while there was no one else around, he might try to wiggle out of it. But if the challenge was offered while there were witnesses, then the Toad would have no choice. He would either have to put up or shut up.
To the surprise of no one, he put up. He claimed that nothing frightened him, so she could do her worst.
So her worst was exactly what she offered up.
There was a Ghost House on the edge of town. Rumor held that it was haunted by Boos, ghosts that loved to play jokes and toy with anyone who wandered within their reach before taking the unfortunate victim away with them to the Spirit World, never to be seen again. It was a dismal place, old and dilapidated, and most of the Toads in the village tried to steer clear and avoid it.
Her challenge to the little Toad was to go into the Ghost House and stay there for one hour. This, she proposed, would prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was truly the bravest Toad in the village.
The little Toad's face went pale beneath his blue and white cap, but he recovered quickly and announced that of course he would do it. Why not? It was just a stupid old legend. There was no such things as ghosts, and certainly not ones that would carry off unwitting intruders. How silly. Name the day, and he would be there.
It was three days later that the little Toad met with his classmates outside the worn old fence that lined the property on which the Ghost House stood. One of them offered to keep time. The rules were simple: one hour inside the Ghost House. The timer would start as soon as the Toad was inside. The others would stand guard around the house to make sure there was no cheating involved. When the Toad's own timer went off, he was free to leave, boasting rights and all.
There was no mistaking that the little Toad's face was several shades paler than normal, but he offered no sign of backing down. Watch and learn, he told them. He would show them how it was done.
So he went into the Ghost House, slipping in through a side window that had been broken for as long as anyone in the village could remember.
Once inside, he glanced around. The room seemed like a simple parlor – shredded furniture falling to bits, books on the shelves rotting apart, and holes in the hardwood floors that offered a true peril to anyone attempting to do something as bold as walking across the room. The door opposite the window was hanging loose off one hinge.
For a moment, the little Toad contemplated simply sitting by the window and waiting it out. But that was no good, he ultimately decided. He needed to have stories to tell the others when his time was up, and he would have nothing suitable to boast about if he just spent the hour huddled beneath the window. So he carefully tiptoed across the crumbling floor and peered out through the door before stepping through it.
Now he was in an enormous foyer. The ceiling reached the full height of the house, like a cathedral. A grand staircase led up to the second floor, covered by a long, fancy rug that had probably once been a rich burgundy but had clearly seen better days. There were several other doors visible, scattered around the ground level, and he could see a few doors on the second floor, along with what looked like two hallways spanning off on opposite sides of the second floor.
And so far, not a Boo in sight.
By now, the little Toad was scoffing. How ridiculous, that everyone was so frightened of this place. He would show them all, and prove once and for all that he was the bravest Toad in town.
Emboldened, he chose a door at random and peeked in. A formal dining room, with a long table and several chairs in various stages of disrepair. The table was still covered by a runner that was little more than a cluster of threads by this point. A filthy centerpiece stood on the table, rising amidst the dust in all its glory. A hutch in the corner had a broken glass pane in its door.
Nothing too spectacular here.
He crept upstairs, careful so as not to risk falling through the stairs. He chose a room – this one was a bedroom, probably for a little girl if the color was any indication. It was very pink. Perhaps it had been a Toad who had lived there, long ago.
This was boring, the Toad decided. What a joke. Well, he might as well go back to the room and wait for the time to be up. A glance at his timepiece told him that he had been in here for a whole fifteen minutes. A quarter of the way through, then. Only forty-five more minutes until he could go back outside and face his schoolmates in glory.
He made his way back down the stairs and was heading back towards the parlor where he had first entered the building when he heard a sound – a solid thump. It sounded like it was coming from the dining room. The Toad studied the door warily, waiting to see if the noise came again.
Nothing. There was silence.
Shaking his head at his own silliness, the little Toad again headed towards the parlor. But no sooner had he ducked through the gap in the door did he hear another sound – the clear sound of a door opening. Ducking behind the hanging parlor door, he peered out to see what was happening.
…was that Mario?
…it was! Mario himself! The famous one!
What in the world was he doing here?
And what was he running from?
Mario didn't get too far across the foyer – a Boo came flying at him through the wall and caught him in the back. While the little Toad watched in horror, Mario succumbed to the Boo's power, and ceased to move, laying still on the floor.
For a moment, nothing happened. There was no movement, no sound. Then something appeared – floating up from Mario's unmoving form. The white mist eventually took the shape of…
Mario had died, and become a Boo.
…oh sweet merciful Peach.
When the hour was up, the classmates were still outside. They assumed that the little Toad would come out within the next moment or two, and immediately assume his bragging rights. But the little Toad did not appear. Minutes passed, and they waited.
Finally, two of the others, both of whom were braver than the average Toad, screwed up their courage and approached the house. They crawled carefully in through the window that the Toad had gone through to conduct a quick search for him.
They found him almost immediately.
The little Toad was huddled on the floor directly beneath the window. He was shaking like a leaf, pale and drawn, and muttering to himself. It took both his classmates to pull him to his feet and get him out the window to safety. They guided him carefully towards the fence, past it, away from the Ghost House. He continued to tremble, and seemed incapable of answering any questions.
As they approached the rest of the group, they had apparently missed something – there was a hero in town, and they had just seen him. It was the famous Mario! He had come to their little village on a mission from Princess Peach. Wasn't that exciting?
The Toad screamed.
PS. This is a crack fic cleverly designed as a horror story. I was on a break at work, and I randomly started thinking about video games. Which led me to think about the Mario games. Which for some reason made me think of Boos. Then I wondered where Boos came from. And suddenly, it hit me.
BOOS ARE ACTUALLY THE GHOSTS OF ALL THE LIVES MARIO HAS LOST IN THE PLAYING OF THE GAME.
Head canon. I has it. Hope you enjoyed this, strange as it was. Much love, everyone!