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· 18 min read

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Want some cool music that vibes with these parts of the story? Who knows, you may find some clues in the lyrics ; )

Chapter 2: T.hanks - All the boys I know

Chapter 3: Arctic Monkeys - Snap out of it

Chapter 2

bananalisa:     hey

J_Holzer:    oh hey how are you?

bananalisa:    just hangin

J_Holzer:    same.. hey did you check out any of those books i told you about?

bananalisa:    no not yet

J_Holzer:    oh its okay i was just curious

bananalisa:    hey i need to get some liquor, can u help me?

J_Holzer:    oh yeah sure i’d love to

bananalisa:    i dont have a car so i cant get any

J_Holzer:    np ill pick u up, just text me the address

bananalisa:    k

It was 10:30 at night and Joseph was tired. He’d gotten up early that morning for a double-shift at Warcoitalia. He was about to go to sleep when the message arrived.

Yet the idea of being called on for help from Bananalisa was an honor for Joseph. He had checked her online status consistently for many days to try to catch her. When she signed on that night he’d already started writing her a message before that innocent ‘hey’ popped up. He felt like she’d already chosen him above everyone else in her (he assumed) dense friend-list. He felt blessed.

When talk became of helping to acquire liquor he was thrilled. He’d in fact hardly ever drank liquor before and didn’t care for it, but he knew that it was something adults did and that it showed friendship and a deep mutual understanding between two people. He was hoping to achieve just such a connection with Bananalisa and felt, as he would later rationalize, that her initiation of such a request could only mean that the feeling was mutual.

The address, a foreign street he’d never heard of, was in a neighborhood he’d heard about often before. It was actually a well-known neighborhood because almost everybody who commutes in town uses it as a shortcut. Many people drive through it but very few live there; in fact, this was the first time that he’d driven with it in mind as the destination. He was excited as he neared it and as he got further in he noticed that the streets all seemed to wind around each other, so much so that one couldn’t drive more than a few hundred feet without an intersection with signs that lurked in the dark—signs one only saw at the last minute but then, as if they’d been visible all along, presented themselves brightly with huge block letters alternating between “STOP” and “YIELD” intermittently.

Finally he reached the house number; it was right after the last stop sign in a deflated part of the hill near the top. It struck him as a quaint little alcove, certainly an ideal place to live: safe on all sides by a barrier of houses and hillside. As he waited for her to come out he imagined himself living in such a place in the future; the thought gave him a great deal of comfort. He often felt like his apartment was tiny and cramped and more of an incubator than anything else. Joseph remembered something Michael had once told him: that apartments were a lot like chicken-coops – except it was people, not chickens, that were crammed together in nice little squares. If his apartment complex was a chicken coop and he was a chicken (or perhaps even a lowly egg) in that coop, he thought, then this place was an eagle’s nest in a wild and deep forest.

He was nervous as he waited for her. He’d never had a girl in his car and didn’t quite know what to do. He wondered whether he should open the door for her or what to say to greet her, but before he could make up his mind it was too late. A knock on the glass and, startled as if he’d seen a ghost, he shot up before quickly fumbling across the interior of the car to unlatch the passenger door lock.

“Whew, sorry about that, you kind of scared me,” he fumbled out as she got in and he caught his breath, “Where did you come from?”

“Oh just there, in front of you, the house with the old Skylark parked in the driveway.”

“Oh yeah? I didn’t even see you come out… I had my eye on the door—”

“Yeah it’s dark out this time of night. Thanks for helping me.”

“Oh no problem, that’s what friends are for. Just tell me where to go. I’ve never been in this neighborhood, I mean never this far anyway.”

She began directing him from the passenger seat, telling him where to turn, where to go straight and where to stop as they made their way back down the hillside.

“You know it’s funny,” he began, “On the way up here I’d never seen so many stop-signs, but now I hardly see any at all.”

“Oh it’s just the neighborhood; you know everyone rushes through here so the community put in a bunch of stop signs, but we locals know how to avoid them.”

“Craft crafty,” said Joseph, impressed by the idea that Bananalisa was so keen with directions, “Hey, are you alright?”

He had been sneaking glances at her the entire ride. As they were about halfway down the hill he noticed her head start to droop and bob, as if she barely had enough strength to keep it up for the car ride. He tried to go extra slow over bumps so as not to worsen it. When he asked her how she was feeling she snapped up and appeared alert.

“Oh I’m fine, sorry about that, I’ve just been tired lately.”

“Oh me too, I had to work a double-shift today and I didn’t get to any reading all day.”

“Turn right here on this corner, the store there,” she mumbled out.

He pulled into the local liquor store parking lot and parked. As the two walked in he asked her if she felt at all hungry (he had started feeling peckish after he picked her up). He offered to get her some potato chips or donuts, but she told him she was a picky eater and only in the habit of eating unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts. He felt somewhat guilty knowing that he, too, should eat foods like that and had in fact tried several times in the past to adjust to a healthier lifestyle.

As they neared the liquor section she tried to pick up a big bottle of whiskey but seemed too weak to lift it. Joseph, seeing this, rushed to her side all the while wondering what the purpose of such a huge bottle was for just the two of them. He helped her, carrying it to the counter. The clerk rang it up and it totaled $43.86. As Joseph began reaching for his wallet Bananalisa told him that she would pay but he, being ever the gentleman, would hear nothing of it.

They went back to the car, Joseph carrying the bottle the whole way. As they sat down he placed it between his legs and went to start the car. Before he could turn the key, however, she had reached across the seat and firmly clasped it with her hand.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Oh I just thought we should have a drink.”

“But I don’t even know where we’re going yet,” he responded, now holding the bottle at the base just beneath her hand, keeping her from taking it.

“Oh, no, sorry, we’re not going anywhere, I just needed to pick up the alcohol, and I actually needed to go see some friends tonight, that’s why I didn’t want you to pay…”

“Oh you mean, but I thought we were drinking... weren’t we?”

“No, I mean I wanted to have one now— with you— but then I have to go.”

He had assumed that they would both be going somewhere together and couldn’t understand why two people could possibly need so much alcohol between them. As he realized that the alcohol was in fact not intended for a rendezvous between the two of them his face, which until now had been contorted in a nervous attempt to look relaxed, eased with an abject feeling of regret and shame.

His hand relaxed and she pulled the bottle over across the interior of the car to her lap.

“Sorry, I can still pay you for the bottle, though.”

“No no, that’s fine I guess, don’t worry about it. Where does your friend live?”

“I’ll show you the way but let’s at least have one drink together, before we go.”

“Okay,” he began, now feeling a bit nervous again. He hardly drank anything aside from an occasional beer and didn’t have the slightest clue how to drink whiskey.

“Don’t we need glasses or something?”

“I’ve got them here,” she began, pulling out two small, thin and metallic shot glasses from her purse. “Here, take this one and then just gulp it down whole. It’s always better if you gulp it whole.”

“I know! I’ve had whiskey before!” he blurted out, feeling childish for being lectured on how to drink whiskey by somebody who could well have been much younger than he.

“Okay, cheers!”

And in one motion she gulped down the entire shot, jerking her head back with the little metal glass until it was completely empty. As her head lunged back down she let out an audible gasp, the kind of gasp a person does who’s just surfaced after staying underwater for too long. Her face, which previously was quite pale, began to take color as the sweet nectar worked its way through her system.

He, watching her closely, followed her motions exactly in a remarkable display of mimicry except that his gasp was unconvincing to the utmost. All he felt was a burning down his throat and in his mouth, a feeling so painful and disgusting that he had to concentrate not to vomit in the moments after.

Joseph, horrible taste of whiskey still in his mouth, now drove Bananalisa to the house of her friends. He told her many things of the fantasy book he had been reading and was surprised at her level of interest. Unlike the ride down to the liquor store she now seemed active and engaged and attentive as he told her about the stories he’d been reading. She directed him up another street toward the base of the hillside neighborhood where he’d previously picked her up.

“Just here, the house with all the bird feeders out front,” she said.

“This one? Are you sure? There’s a bunch of people out front and music… is this where your friend lives?”

“Yeah, my friends live here; those guys are friends too, they’re just having a get-together.”

Before he could ask more she blurted out “Thanks for everything, you’re the greatest!” and rushed from the car. He saw her walking—almost skipping—up the lawn, whiskey firmly clasped in her left hand, passed the several people out front. They were strange people: all men, long and wiry and dressed in black, many with long hair. They seemed to just hover there, near the yard, some smoking but some just standing. He could here the death metal blasting from the house all the way to where he was in the car by the sidewalk.

As they saw Bananalisa walk up they didn’t seem to wave or call to her. The only reactions he could make out from them, in fact, were the whites of their eyes as they tracked her body move across the lawn, up the walkway and into the house. Once she went through the door the rest of them followed, one after the other, into the house, the last closing the door firmly behind them.

Joseph drove off. He had a bit of a drive ahead of him and intended to stop at a local gas station to get a drink and maybe a snack to sober up, but as he left the house he felt like the whiskey had worn off. He could no longer taste it in his mouth and the nauseous inebriation he had felt before had seemingly dissipated. He made it home safe and spent the evening thinking about the events of the night, replaying and reworking many of them in his memory until succumbing to sleep.

Chapter 3

“I’m just saying that Ireland would work too,” a passive aggressive Gabriel interrupted.

“Well well, while we’re at it lets just forget all of it and go to Thailand! I’m sure their Celtic ruins are breathtaking!” snapped Michael sarcastically.

“Come on guys, settle down. I’ve written down most of our itinerary and we all agreed on it and it’s Scotland, there’s no need to change that now.”

“And who made you the secretary, James? Why do you always try to document everything? I’m starting to think that this trip is less about Scotland and more about some kind of record you’re trying to keep for posterity!”

“Yeah!” added Michael.

James’ face froze in an expression that could at once be interpreted as nervous guilt or intense anguish. Whatever it was it was enough to stop the other two in their tracks. They both looked down at the table for a moment before Gabriel began speaking again, this time in a much softer voice.

“I’m sorry, James—“

“Me too,” interrupted Michael.

“—for saying that. I know we’ve all had long days and I guess the anticipation for the trip is just getting us worked up. Of course I’m on-board with Scotland. As long as we get some Celtic ruins and old castles and stuff like that I’m happy.”

“Thanks, Gabriel, you’re right, we’re just getting worked up for nothing. What this is all really about is the ruins.”

The heavy and awkward moment was lifted as they all reminisced, at first internally but then as a topic of conversation, about those vague and amazing ruins that seemed to provide endless discussion for them. Joseph, all the while also at the table, had been taking in the talking points of the discussion peripherally; it was clear that his mind was elsewhere.

“I don’t know what it is about ruins, but I’ve always wanted to see some, ever since I was a little boy,” began Michael.

“Me too. I think there’s something about the destruction that I liked about it. Like when you see something that’s been through hell and you want to know what happened to it,” responded an unusually reflective James.

“Yeah, like what did it look like before it got destroyed, you know? And exactly how did it get destroyed? Was it just time, was it a big battle, a siege? Or was it hundreds of little battles that just broke it down—you know, bit by bit. It could be anything, I think that’s why I like them so much. It’s like a fantasy book – it could be anything that you imagine.”

“Anything that grabs hold of you strong enough,” responded James again.

A few moments of silence passed as the four drifted in their own thoughts.

“Well I’m glad we didn’t have to rename our swear jar!” an innocent Gabriel blurted out to the laughter of the other three.

“Yeah, we can’t have that,” began Michael, taking the opportunity of levity to change the subject to something less awkward, “Well what’s new with you, Joseph? We haven’t seen you for a while. Anything happen with that chick?”

“She’s not a ‘chick’, guys, come on. I told you her name is Bananalisa.”

“Oh I’m so sorry,” interrupted Gabriel, “How’s your precious Bananalisa from the Forests of Aar, as you so eloquently put it?” The others laughed.

“She’s doing great, we went out last week. It was a lot of fun!”

“Awesome!” exclaimed James, “Good for you, Joseph! Where’d you guys go?”

“Oh it was late at night and we were DMing when she told me she wanted to pick up some alcohol ‘cause she was going to see some friends, so I went to pick her up and we got some alcohol and then we drank together too.”

“Sounds cool – where did you guys go to drink?”

“We just stayed in the car, I was really tired that night and I didn’t want to keep her up either.”

“But wasn’t she going to see friends?” asked Gabriel.

“Yeah, I mean I didn’t want to keep her from her friends. But we had a great time, we were chatting in the car all about her neighborhood and how the locals are there and everything, I feel like we really had a connection.”

“That sounds great! Where does she live, anyway?”

“Over in the hills – you know, the place everyone speeds through on their commute – some avenue up there.”

“All the way out there? That’s pretty far. Why didn’t you guys just meet somewhere closer to here?” Gabriel interjected.

“I guess she doesn’t have a car and I think she probably doesn’t even have a license. I thought it was strange, too, I mean that she would trust me to pick her up so late at night, somebody she only met once before. I’m assuming she must feel pretty comfortable around me to have asked me to do that.”

The other friends exchanged glances before Gabriel continued.

“No I meant for you, it’s a long way to drive so late at night. Where did her friend live?”

“In a similar area... I should say friends since it seemed like a group of people, kind of a get-together she had to go to. I’m glad I didn’t go since I was so tired that night. You know what she told me when she got out of the car?”

The others looked at him quizzically.

“She said I was the greatest and smiled,” he began, now overcome with a sense of comfort, “I don’t really know and I don’t want to rush into anything but I really felt like I could feel some kind of connection there, like we really get each other.”

“Maybe, I don’t know, but I still don’t understand why you went all the way out there in the first place if you were so tired,” started Gabriel, this time a bit more aggressively.

“Like I said we were hanging out,” began Joseph, “and drinking.”

“I don’t think hanging out is when somebody asks you for something and you do it, Joseph. That’s called doing somebody a favor,” Gabriel snapped back before the other two intervened.

“Hey, no worries, it sounds like he’s just happy to have spent some time with such a cute girl, I mean which one of us wouldn’t, right Michael?”

“Oh of course I would,” he added, though Gabriel still seemed off-put by the entire conversation. Joseph, for his part, barely seemed to realize that Gabriel was even slightly annoyed.

“I just don’t want to see you get taken advantage of, Joseph, and I feel like you’ve fallen kind of hard for somebody you’ve only seen once before, and even then it seems like it wasn’t really that much about you guys anyway,” Gabriel continued, this time a bit more subdued.

“Well first of all it’s twice that I’ve seen her if you count the first time when she asked me for a light, and second I’m not the one pushing the relationship or anything like that, she contacted me and that shows that there’s some interest there and I’m really happy about that, so I’m going to see where it goes because I care for her I mean at least as a friend, no matter what I consider myself a friend of hers.”

Gabriel didn’t even respond to this second outpouring of emotion. He let out a sigh that came up from deep in his chest and seemed to fill the entire room with an atmosphere of frustration. Michael broke the silence with that proverbial “Well, it’s getting late,” a line he kind of threw out there not only as an escape path for himself but also as a lifeline to escape for the other two. They leapt at it in a heartbeat.

On the way out James, passing the swear jar, dropped in $5 with the mutter “Almost there, guys!” while Joseph, starting toward the door in a vain attempt to keep the charity-money to a minimum (he was about to launch into his “you guys are helping me out but please let me at least take care of the swear jar fund” lecture), was interrupted by a lackluster Gabriel who muttered “fuck” five times as he traipsed down the hall.

· 17 min read

New around here? Check out contest rules and tips!

Want some cool music that vibes with these parts of the story? Who knows, you may find some clues in the lyrics ; )

Chapter 4: Timber Timbre - Black Water

Chapter 5: Man Man - Spooky Jookie

Chapter 4

Warcoitalia was a small store in a strip mall, right between a Chick-fil-A and a liquor store. It made, like most stores specializing in fantasy novels and Warhammer kits, barely enough money to stay open. The store itself was almost always empty save for the few times that a major new novel with a good amount of PR behind it was released. Such was the case recently when ‘Lil Sids, an avid fantasy reader and successful rapper who grew up in the rough part of town, released his debut-novel Thorjeezee and the Bitches of Helsinki. The book was revolutionary not only for the genre but also for the ambitious reader base it hoped to court as it attempted to bridge aspects of the gangsta rap lifestyle with fantasy themes. It received mixed reviews from the fantasy side of the target audience but the other half, the gangsta rap enthusiasts, absolutely loved it. Stories about a massive and powerful hero like Thorjeezee making the bitches pay up in Helsinki for his protecting them from dragons and invading Viking packs found a home in the rap culture, exposing many young kids to the genre of fantasy as a whole.

As a result of this new clientele and the wildly popular book, Warcoitalia was also experiencing a higher rate of shoplifting than ever before. Therefore it became absolutely crucial that inventory be checked more regularly by manual counting and also through a computer database. Joseph, who despite having grown up around computers, was rather poor at adapting to new technology and therefore had to be trained by a newer employee who had already picked up the ins and outs of the system.

“Okay so Thorjeezee, for instance, let’s say we want to see how many copies we had last week and how many are left today, right? So you gotta do a manual count, which you did, and how many did you come up with last week?”   

“Last week we had 86,” responded Joseph.

“Alright, and how many do we have today?”

“Today it’s 75.”

“Okay and it’s only 11:30, so that means we’re not even at the end of the day. You paying attention? I’m not going to go over this again, three times is where I draw the limit.”

“Yeah I’m paying attention.”

“Okay so 86 last week, 75 today. That means we sold 11 in that time period, right?”


“Okay now log into the computer, you see when I look up the title?”

“Wait how do you look up the title?”

“Jesus Joseph, do you never learn!? I showed you this already, you go to the first page we were at and put in the entire name of the book, so in this case Thorjeezee and the Bitches of Helsinki, find it in the registry— you see the computer filed it under “Jeezee_bitches”— and then select it and look under the ‘Inventory’ tab. You see that?”


“Okay, it says 79. You see the 79 there? That means that our system thinks we have 79, even though we actually have 75. That means that four are missing. That means, to make it perfectly clear, that between the end of last week when you counted 86 and today, right now, we’ve lost four copies of Thorjeezee and the Bitches of Helsinki. So what you have to do is document this for all major titles every week. Alright?”

“Okay, I got it this time.”

“Alright, then try a trial run with Legends Galatian Brethren. We have the chart here with the numbers from last week, so do a manual count now and then check it against the system and let Rip know if any turn out missing—and preferably at the end of the shift because you know how he gets. We’re doing this all for him, not for each other. I don’t care if you find some missing, don’t tell me about it, if you have questions that’s fine but anything else go to Rip. Alright?”

“Okay I got it, thanks.”

Joseph, already embarrassed at having been lectured and scolded by a young kid with a nose ring (which for Joseph was tantamount to being a felon), now made his way through Warcoitalia with his paper and pen counting up each copy of Legends Galatian Brethren he could find. Most of them were, fortunately, in their proper place but he had to make sure to get them all (and customers often just shove them into random places) which meant, unfortunately, having to go through pretty much the entire section of the store that had books in it which was, in the case of Warcoitia, a huge amount of books. He began to count up the section where he knew the most copies to be and decided to work his way through the store from beginning to end after that.

It was a bit after 12:00 when he heard the familiar ring that accompanied the Warcoitalia door opening. As he looked over his shoulder and saw Bananalisa standing, the door shutting automatically behind her; he instantly lost count of his books and rushed toward her.

“Hey Bananalisa! It’s cool that you came here, I haven’t seen you around at all online, what brings you here?”

“Hi Joseph, I’ve come to say hello. I was in the neighborhood and I thought maybe you could help me get some cigarettes, I’m fresh out and you’re the only person I know in this area.”

“Cigarettes? There’s a liquor store just next to us, I’m sure you must have seen it, they have—“

“No, they don’t have my brand, I checked that one already.”

“Oh, well I’m working now, but I do have a 15 minute break I can take. I just don’t know if I’d get back in time and you know my boss is pretty picky, but later I have a lunch break where I get 45 minutes—“

“Please don’t worry, you know the store where we were the other day, it’s just around the corner, we’d be back in no time.” Her voice was gentle and soothing.

“That store? But that was weeks ago and I remember that was all the way near your house, that would take too long…”

“Oh don’t be silly, Joseph, you were just,” she began as she leaned in close to his ear, “a little drunk that night. It’s actually right around the corner from here.”

As she leaned in close to him her voice, now almost a whisper, became louder than he’d ever heard creating a peculiar effect on Joseph. She was so close to his ear that he felt like her voice was his own. He blushed as he felt the breath of each word she uttered brush up against the base of his neck and cheeks and linger there in small warm pockets, a feeling he enjoyed so much in the moment that he didn’t move an inch for fear of losing it. For the first time he felt in the presence of her body in a way he’d never felt before of any woman.

“If it’s not too far,” he began in a stupefied tone, “Then I guess it’s no problem.”

Bananalisa gently moved back and started walking out while Joseph, who now seemed to snap back into full consciousness, went over to the register where his coworker was.

“I’m taking my 15, I’ll count the stuff later don’t worry.”

Chapter 5

As they walked to the car he noticed that she was sporting an unusually sparkly purse that day. He told her that it looked nice and she said it wasn’t new but that she only took it out on special occasion as it was considerably valuable. It was a red sequin purse that she claimed she had as long as she could remember; the only thing she seemed to know about it is that it was very rare and came from the prized Jocasta line that had existed in Greece for a very long time. Joseph found her knowledge of purses impressive and enjoyed the conversation very much. Once they’d gotten into the car Joseph, now with a renewed sense of confidence, began to speak.

“You know Bananalisa—“

“Please, call me Analia. That’s what my friends usually call me.”

“Oh okay, sorry, I mean Analia, so I’m glad to see you, you know it’s been a few weeks so I can’t really remember where the store was, you said it was close by—“

“Yes, I’ll guide you.”

“Okay thanks. So how’d you get down to this end of the neighborhood today? It’s kind of far from your house and there aren’t really bus routes…”

“Travel usually isn’t a problem, it seems that when I need to I can get to most places without a problem,” she said with a smile.

“Haha, yeah I guess so. Left here? Really? That’s much closer than I remember… What street is this?”

“I don’t know, I always just find my way here from memory.”

“I can’t believe I was so close to my work that day, I felt like the drive home was much longer,” he said as he checked the clock, “It hasn’t even been five minutes. I’ll have to remember this place.”

As they got out she asked him if he could get her a pack of her cigarettes. She told him she felt bad for the alcohol and still wanted to pay him back but, at the time, had no money with her to buy the cigarettes herself. Joseph obliged without hesitation, asking her for the brand and telling her not to worry about the alcohol. He opened the door for her to enter the store and was pleased when she walked through it with a smile that acknowledged the courtesy.

Joseph bought two packs, one for himself to try (since he’d never heard of that brand before) and one for Analia. He felt a strange vibe coming off the clerk, a rather old gentleman, who had already started reaching for the cigarettes before Joseph was even finished asking for them. When Joseph specified that he needed two packs the clerk merely held up his hand revealing the two packs already in it and set them down on the counter. Joseph, taken aback and short on time, promptly paid the clerk for the packs with the intention of leaving as soon as possible.

As he took his change and the two packs of cigarettes, however, he heard Analia boisterously call out “Hey you!” and, turning around, saw her run across the store toward the back to a man standing there. Joseph remembered the man from the first day he saw Analia: it was the same man who had brought her to the store and then left to go buy cigarettes and who he thought was Analia’s brother. Not wanting to interrupt, he waited for a couple minutes by the counter with the clerk who, for his part, seemed completely disinterested in anything going on in the store. As Joseph observed them he could make out every few words, but not well enough to understand what they were speaking about.

The man was wiry and dressed in dark clothing, much like the men that one night when he took Analia to the house (he may have even been one of them, he thought). The only difference is that this man was rather tall and broad shouldered, almost like a character from one of Joseph’s fantasy novels.

Joseph walked over to Analia and the man, both of whom seemed to completely ignore him for a few moments.

“Hey Analia, I’ve got your cigarettes—“

“Thanks Joseph! I know you’re short on time, it will only be a couple minutes, this is an old friend of mine and we’re just catching up,” she said, not losing eye contact with the man all the while.

Joseph watched on as Analia and the man giggled and smiled and how she, leaning in very close to him and on her tiptoes, gently rested her hand on his chest and whispered into his ear. He could see a rather large and mischievous grin form on the man’s face as he reached around her waist and gently held the small of her back.

Joseph froze and whatever life existed behind his eyes that helped him process the real world simply went out, like a bird whose cage you drape a heavy blanket over. He dropped his head somewhat down and looked toward the Jocasta purse which, glittering in all directions, had caught his attention and served as a suitable distraction. His eyes glossed over and his mouth slightly open, the only signs of movement on him were the glittering white dots coming off the intense red sequins as they gently swayed on Analia’s arm.

What seemed like a moment or two later he heard the voices of Analia and the man and saw only the general outline of the two in front of him; his vision was distorted as he was bombarded several times each second with the blinding light reflecting off the sequins, making him feel as if he were standing in front of a strobe light that had lost its timing.

“I’m glad you’re holding up okay,” Analia said to the man as she let her hand slide down the side of his neck and chest. He pulled her closer, pressing her waist against his.

“You know everyone is at the house today, they’ve been waiting for you since last time.”

“Oh really?” she began, feigning a sweet kind of innocence and she teased out the words, “And what do you think we should do about it?”

“I think you should come with me.”

Joseph snapped back with a stumble, having become disoriented to a point of dizziness. He didn’t realize momentarily what was going on and, turning to Analia, realized that in fact that man actually was still standing there except that they weren’t locked in the embrace he’d previously thought he’d seen. He looked down on his watch and saw that 20 minutes had passed.

“Analia I really have to get to work, I just realized I’m super late already.”

Analia, without turning toward Joseph, put her hand out toward him and he, without thinking much, instinctively reached out and clasped it with his.

“Thanks so much for bringing me here, Joseph. I’m going to stay with my friend, he’s going to give me a ride. Please go.”

She released his hand while continuing to look into the eyes of the other man. Joseph, now fully conscious, half-stormed out of the place and got to his car as soon as possible. He rushed back to work but got lost along the way, having to resort to asking for directions from strangers. By the time he made it back to Warcoitalia another 30 minutes had passed.

“Jesus Christ, Holzer, what’s the matter with you!?” a furious Rip bellowed out as Joseph came through the door. He was the new store manager and a real hard ass, one of those guys that would get into screaming matches over what cape a hero in a certain fantasy work should have worn and why the author was a “bozo” for not having caught that mistake because “Good fantasy needs to have its shit together, the details, what do they think we are? A bunch of losers or something?” It was a line he said often in one iteration or another, the obvious irony completely lost on him. Rip was a very appropriate name.

“Sorry, Rip—”

“Oh you should be, you should be very, very sorry! I’m trying to run an establishment here and it’s our job to keep up a level of professionalism. Fantasy readers are among the most discerning readers out there, every bozo knows that. We can’t be short-staffed or we’ll get mobbed, damnit!” The words almost echoed through the empty store.

That he had been screaming all this wasn’t particularly surprising, but that last bit, the “… mobbed, damnit!” he had screamed at such a high pitch (almost as if his voice cracked) that both Joseph and the other worker (Tom, the felon with the nose ring) had brought their hands up over their ears momentarily.

“I know Rip—”

“You don’t tell me you know anything, Holzer! If you don’t get it together you’re gonna be old news soon, you lousy good-for-nothing. You may have been cozy with the old manager, but let me just tell you: there’s a reason I’m here now and he’s not!”

Tom left the room at this point not because the situation was awkward but because he knew he couldn’t keep from laughing. He felt empathetic to Joseph’s situation, sure, but seeing a 40+ year old Warhammer and fantasy fanatic talk about himself as a working professional because he manages a kid and basically an overgrown infant like Joseph was too much for him.

“Rip I’m sorry, I had a friend that had an emergency and I really had to stay out,” Joseph blurted out in a vain attempt to curtail the onslaught.

He saw Rip standing across from him toward the back of the store where the display kits for all the Warhammer set-figures were neatly laid out. It gave one the impression that either Rip was some kind of omnipotent giant or that he was a regular sized man with an army of little killing-machines at his disposal. Regardless of how he tried to think of it both images scared the Christ out of Joseph enough to say anything to duck the situation.

“Emergency!?” Rip sneered while still in his screaming voice, “Running around town with little tramps is hardly an emergency, I’d say!”

Joseph became upset, if only because he felt that labeling Analia anything even close to a tramp was a grave insult that not only was directed at her but also at what he considered his friendship with her.

“Hey leave me alone you old fart! I know I came late and I’m sorry and you can write me up if you want, but I’ve never been written up before so no matter what I don’t think you can just fire me. So just leave me alone and let me finish my shift and don’t say mean things about my friends!” he yelled, lightly stomping his feet and jerking his arms up and down repeatedly like a fledgling failing miserably in its attempts at flight.

“Oh yes you will get written up, you can count on that. I don’t want to see this kind of behavior again, whoever you choose to go out with. Every minute we have less people on the floor I’m losing copies of Thorjeezee to these little punks that don’t know a damn thing about fantasy to begin with! Do you know how much that hurts? The only reason I put up with this crap is because the book sells so damn well but guess what!?—if they’re stealing our copies because my goon-squad isn’t doing their job then who’s making money? Nobody. I’m not shelling out bucks for my Thorjeezee to just get stolen, you know!”

Joseph just ignored him and started doing the inventory for Legends Galatian Brethren again from the beginning. Once Rip had calmed down he came and apologized for being so hard on Joseph, explaining that just moments prior he had heard the news from Tom about the four missing Thorjeezee and hadn’t recovered from the anger by the time Joseph arrived. Joseph, for his part, offered to skip his lunch break to make up for the lost time and Rip, finding the offer admirable, told him he wouldn’t write him up after all and to just try not to be late in the future.

· 20 min read

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Want some cool music that vibes with these parts of the story? Who knows, you may find some clues in the lyrics ; )

Prologue: Beats Antique - Oriental Uno

Chapter 1: Asagaya - Elusive Delusive


Then the poor maid went to the altar with great love and with an open soul. Then Saint John took the white lamb with its red wounds and laid it in the jaws of her mouth. Then the pure lamb laid itself on its own image in her stall and suckled on her heart with its sweet mouth. The more it suckled, the more she gave it.” - Das fließende Licht der Gottheit

“What did you think about Bacchusia and the Cuckoo?”

“Oh it was awful! Horrible! I don't remember the last time I read something so bad. I wish I could get my time back on that one,” responded James.

“Yeah it was awful, horrible. I didn't like it either,” returned Joseph.

“Bacchusia and the what?” “What and the Cuckoo?” exclaimed Gabriel and Michael together.

“You haven't heard of it yet?” asked James. “It's a new author, a guy nobody's heard of. They're selling it in Joseph's store; it's kind of like fantasy or mythology, or at least it's trying to be that, but it's just stupid and pointless.”

“What makes it so bad? Doesn't it have enough magic in it or big armies or spells?” asked Gabriel innocently.

“Hardly any!” countered James amid audible gasps. “There's a couple fighting scenes but most of it is just about some guy traveling between these different worlds to find a chick he fell in love with, but the guy’s not even that shredded and the hot chick is actually the villain and the chick he's after is actually the uglier one of the two; it's a total head spin. I didn't think it made any sense at all.”

“I didn't think it made any sense either,” added Joseph.

Gabriel was still too shell-shocked from the purported lack of magic and spells to respond. Michael's curiosity, however, was not to be quashed so easily.

“So what's the story about, actually?” he asked Joseph and James.

“Ugh! Where to begin!? It's really mainly in the last scene where the book falls to pieces... Joseph, do you want to tell it?”

“No, I'd rather let you tell it.”

“Okay, well let me see… so by the end of the book Stur, the hero, is on a quest to reach the world Bacchusia 'cause he wants to rescue Engelka, the woman he loves and the symbol of pure innocence in the world of Sinn which is the where Stur lives too. To get to Bacchusia Stur must pass through many other worlds and has many battles along the way. Bacchusia is the last world on this quest and it is also ruled by two powerful gods named Traumina and Glaubus who are daughter and father. Traumina is a beautiful and seductive goddess and Glaubus is known for his unmatched physical power and his ability to cast potent spells. They both, as rulers of Bacchusia, want to capture and kill Engelka because she is the last totally pure figure in the world of Sinn which is itself the last stable or pure world out there; however, they themselves cannot kill her because of the very fact that she is the purest being in the world—one of those ‘only the corruptible can be corrupted’ kinds of things.

“Traumina and Glaubus kidnap Engelka causing Stur to set out on his journey for her— he fell in love with her earlier in the book in their home-world Sinn— however Stur, on his way through the various levels of reality to Bacchusia, falls under a spell of Glaubus' which makes him believe that it is Engelka who is actually the ruler of Bacchusia and that she is actually holding both Traumina and Glaubus hostage. This curse also makes Stur fall into a deep love-spell for Traumina and makes him believe that Glaubus, her father, is being poisoned by Engelka and is therefore very ill and weak. In actuality it is Engelka’s purity that is causing pain to Traumina and Glaubus and also causing Glaubus to become sick and frail. Traumina and Glaubus appear to Stur in a vision as he nears Bacchusia and tell him he must slay Engelka soon because they are ill and near death.

“When Stur finally reaches Bacchusia he is weak. He has fought many battles and his sword has become brittle and his eyesight blurry. He sees Engelka immediately who calls to him in distress; she tells him that Traumina and Glaubus are not only daughter and father but also lovers and that Traumina is the bride of Glaubus. Stur, who at this point has thoroughly fallen in love with Traumina from the spell and who sees the old ailing Glaubus near death, becomes only more suspicious of Engelka as she tells him this. She tells him, also, that Glaubus is one of the most powerful gods and that he needs to be slain immediately—that is, while he is weak—in order to spare the worlds of his impending wrath.

“Stur sees Traumina and Glaubus and still believes them to be hostages of Engelka. He sees Glaubus as an extremely frail and old man, barely able to stand. Engelka's attempts to explain that Traumina and Glaubus have cast a spell on him only infuriate Stur. In a fit of rage he attempts to run Engelka through with his broadsword but the sword breaks off inside her. Startled and without weapon he lunges at her wildly, pushes her down and stomps on the top and side of her head with his boot until he collapses her skull into her brain, killing her.

“As he dislodges his boot from her skull he looks toward Traumina and Glaubus. Glaubus has transformed and no longer appears as a small frail old man. He is big—much larger than Stur—and his skin is tight across his body revealing a powerfully muscular and virile figure. At the same time Traumina, who before seemed to be hunched over and weak and distressed, now appears as a highly sexual goddess of beauty; she smiles seductively and condescendingly toward Stur. Traumina and Glaubus then start undressing each other and, in front of Stur, begin to fornicate and sodomize each other. As this occurs Traumina keeps her glance fixated on Stur who, after several moments of shock and disbelief, starts to vomit profusely before falling into insane raving. In the midst of his raving he claws both of his eyes out and collapses in exhaustion over the corpse of Engelka.

“In the last chapter of the book we learn that Traumina and Glaubus feed Stur lotus-leaves which are said to keep him in a vegetative and obedient state. They also shackle his feet with chains so that he can't escape even if he were to try. Traumina and Glaubus now rule Bacchusia as husband and bride and keep the now-blind Stur as an eternal man-servant to their rule.”

“Ugh, that really is horrible! How disgusting!” exclaimed Gabriel.

“I'll say. Incest, I mean that's just nasty. Father with daughter? That shouldn't be in books; it's basically just like porno.”

“Look who's talking, Mr. Porno-King on his secret hard drive!”

“Hey come on, it's different when you're watching it, but nobody should ever read it,” defended Michael.

“But for somebody who hated it you sure know the story pretty well!” jabbed Gabriel.

“Shut up, man, I only know it so well because it was too confusing on the first read-through. And anyway it's one of those stories that sticks with you... unfortunately.”

“Yeah I regret reading it too,” added Joseph, “I think it's just trying to be shocking because the guy can't write or can't think up good armies or spells.”

“I agree, it's way too simplistic; you know it's hard to think up really cool armies or all those cool names they use for forests and talking trees and stuff— I mean this one didn't have one talking tree in the whole fucking—”

“Swear Jar!” all three exclaimed with gusto.

“Again? I'm the only one feeding this damn—“

“Swear Ja—”

“Hey hey hey, NO: I'm going to put one dollar in for the f-word, but 'damn' doesn't count okay guys? It's not fair to include damn because I never call any of you guys on it,” a worked up James objected before taking a dollar out of his pocket, standing up, walking across the room and putting it into a jar marked Ye Olde Scottish Ale Reserve. The others laughed as he returned from across the small living-room of Joseph’s apartment, feigning an expression of shame.

They almost always met at Joseph's. The place became somewhat of a nest for the four friends, littered with old fantasy books and internet print-outs of Tolkien genealogies that found themselves arranged in messy concentric circles around the living room table where they regularly sat. Two of the others were still living at home with parents and James, the only other friend who had moved out, actually had a much larger apartment and would have enjoyed to entertain the friends more often; but Joseph was always quite insistent because (this he once admitted in a moment of inebriation) he felt alien visiting people elsewhere and liked the natural warmth of his apartment over other apartments.

To make up for Joseph always hosting them (whether selfishly or otherwise) the others were in the habit of bringing by the dinner. Joseph's tastes in food were quite bland and he was an easy person to shop for. Potato chips, candy or pastries, ground beef, pretty much any kind of processed food that went down easy and gave one a comforting feeling after a good gorge was ideal for him. Gabriel mused once that the real appeal of processed foods is that it's like they've been chewed once already (making it that much easier for the consumer), a remark Joseph found a certain degree of truth in (despite the fact that he would never admit as much).

To repay them for always feeding him, Joseph would get them discounts on the latest releases of Warhammer sets and fantasy novels through his employee discount at Warcoitalia. Joseph had had a dry-spell of work and was even in peril of losing his apartment before securing, through the recommendation of the manager who he had an acquaintanceship with, the slightly-above minimum wage job. The last several months had been spent paying back debt accumulated during the unemployment spell (and he was proud to say that he would be finished with that debt within the next two months) as well as putting $100 aside per month as part of a travel fund the friends had agreed on about a half-year prior. In fact Joseph got off easy since the other three, all having jobs paying better than Joseph (despite two of whom still lived at home) offered to put aside $200 per month for the same purpose. Once they reached $6,000 (they were already over half-way there) they would take a flight to Scotland to see their favorite ruins and had promised to Joseph, in a moment of admirable magnanimity, that the money would be divided equally despite their increased contribution.

“How much do we have in there, anyway?” asked Michael.

“I don't know; but if we just go by how many times I've dropped an f-bomb in here it's got to be at least 20 dollars!”

“Haha, yeah you're pretty foul-mouthed,” began Joseph, “I counted a few weeks ago and we were up to around $150, but you know I found a lot of five's in there too.”

“Of course,” started Gabriel, “If we only put a dollar every time we'd barely be able to afford a round of beers when we get to Scotland. We all know that Ale is the fuel of any true warrior; so what if we put a fiver every few days?”

“True I guess, but I don't want you guys spending so much money; you're already helping me out so much with the trip that I'd at least like to put extra in somewhere else.”

“We're not doing it to rub anything in, obviously,” interjected Michael, “But you know we all don't really have a lot of money problems and we're happy to share it; that's what friends are for. If I had debt and was scraping by I would expect the rest of you to do the same.”

“Thanks for taking care of me.”

A moment of awkward silence ensued where nobody present knew exactly what to say. The topic of Scotland was always a subject that everyone knew Joseph had clear insecurities about. He knew that his contribution to the travel fund was very small and didn't quite know how to internalize that reality. His drink-jar, an idea that he came up with and that he hoped he could secretly build (since who lived in his apartment more than he did, after all) had now also become what he felt was a charity case.

Chapter 1

“Well anyway, Joseph, to change the subject, are you doing alright?”


“You seem a little out of it today; is everything okay at work?”

“Oh yeah, actually there is something I wanted to tell you guys about, I just got sidetracked on finishing that dumb story and now the talk of the Scotland and the ruins…” he trailed off. “I met a girl today, actually, came into the store. Really beautiful, her name is Bananalisa.”

“Hahaha! Oh yes, and then you woke up, did you? Where exactly did you meet this beautiful maiden 'Bananalisa'?”

“Hey shut up, I know it sounds made-up but that's really her name. She came in sometime in the afternoon with another guy, but he left without her after a couple minutes—I found out later he'd gone to get cigarettes while she shopped—anyway she was really gorgeous, like remember in Pious Meadows of Forgotten Lore? Remember Aviana from the Forests of Aar? Just like that!”

“Alright alright, stop trying to give us massive boners and get to the part where you ‘met’ her. I mean you did actually talk to her, I hope?”

“Yes, well, I mean not at the beginning, I was in awe. She had come in right as Tom—you know that young guy with the nose ring,” he clarified with a tone of distaste, as if nose-rings signified some kind of self sacrifice (and self-sacrifice was an idea he always found rather pointless), “was showing me how to do something in the store's computer system. I was so distracted when she came in that I took a tenner to go have a cigarette.”

“Wait a minute, before you go on, what was a chick like this even doing in your store? And why wasn't she getting swarmed by an army of us?”

“The store was pretty empty, as usual; she came in asking for 'lit,' and I didn't know what she meant but I guessed it was books; we pointed her to the wall with the new releases of fantasy and she kinda stood there a few minutes looking over them. Like I said I went outside to smoke and, right after I light my cigarette, I turn around and she's standing right in front of me.”


“I know! She asks me politely for a cigarette – I thought I was going to drop my pack of smokes I was so nervous – and after I lit her cigarette (she even cupped my hand in her hands) she actually talks to me!”


“She told me something about how she's studying literature but that she couldn't find any at the store. I could barely understand since I was so nervous. I mentioned that we just got Gandor's Realm of Narshit but she said she was only into, ugh I can't remember, I think she just kept using that word 'literature' to describe it. I asked her what she liked to read and she was talking about books that were socially challenging… or what was it… I can't remember the terms she used but it was stuff like Hunger Games and Twilight.”

“Hunger Games? You know I don't really know anything about fancy-schmancy 'literature' either but I don't think that Hunger Games is part of it.”

“Whatever it was I can't remember I was nervous; I'm sure she's got a good reason, after all she was really nice and she's the one studying this stuff. She seems to be really into fantasy too, though.”

“What do you mean? Didn't you just say she wasn't happy with the stuff in the store?”

“I mean yeah, I guess, but we talked for like ten minutes about fantasy and she really seemed interested in the conversation; she was nodding and everything. She had to go because the guy was back to pick her up—I'm guessing he was her brother—but she gave me her name and friended me on Meta.”

“Oh damn, bust out the computer pronto. I've been on half-autopilot assuming you just had a stroke from eating so much junk food and made up an elaborate story to cover that up but now you say there are pics?”

Unfortunately James' joke, which contained more than a kernel of jealously after hearing of Joseph's amazing luck, fell flat. Nevertheless they waited patiently as Joseph pulled up her Meta profile on his phone, all the while repeating what he thought to be the most salient aspects of his meeting with her including, but not limited to, his thoughts (ad nauseum) when he first laid eyes on her, his regret at not acting more suave when she, like a level-10 water-nymph from some Liberian orgy, asked nonchalantly for the 'lit' in the store, as well as his amazement at her engagement over topics of fantasy-literature with him as they were smoking and, finally (he really wouldn't stop on this one), the manner of her nod which seemed to tell him, for whatever reason, that she was truly “in-sync” with the conversation and really “got him.” He had not only approached but also thoroughly ravaged these topics at least six times before the Meta logo finally interrupted his speech, prompting him to look desperately for her in his friend-list.

“There she is! Beautiful! Beautiful!” he chirped and pulled up some photos of her. His friends now stood up and circled around the table and over the phone like vultures greedily jockeying for position over an old carcass. They subconsciously enjoyed the fact that a specimen like Bananalisa could be summoned and brought before a table of men without the slightest air of impropriety. Joseph, in his attempt to give proof for his encounter, was in fact serving up the likes of a human being. They were ready to consume her.

And they were not disappointed. She was indeed quite attractive, though not nearly at the level that Joseph had previously claimed. She appeared like someone who had an excellent chance at being beautiful but who squandered it; her face, even for someone that couldn't have been older than 25, seemed weathered and used. Yet despite it all there was a fair and beautiful simplicity to her look, a kind of unassuming expression that contrasted heavily with a deep and far expanse of pleasure, pain and mutilation that seemed to rumble quietly behind her eyes. She seemed attractive not despite but because of these shortcomings— something in her face, whether it was that deep well of raw emotion behind the eyes or the way she never appeared in a picture without smiling, was hard to pin down: indeed Michael, Gabriel and James were ensnared by it, if only for a moment.

Whatever it was that was so hard to put ones finger on there was something from these pictures that was abundantly clear: there was no way that somebody like Joseph and Bananalisa could ever have a relationship. Bananalisa liked to party: that was more than clear from the pictures. In all the photos they saw almost none that didn't have Bananalisa with at least two or three other men dressed in death metal band shirts, holding at least one bottle of liquor between them and generally looking wasted out of their minds. In short they were almost as opposite as one could get to Joseph and his friends.

And that brings us to Joseph, our anti-hero who, it must be noted, was himself almost a physical polar opposite to Bananalisa. While not terribly unattractive his demeanor was anything but cool. He was prone to profound nervousness (which would cause him to blabber on uncontrollably about fantasy novels and other topics he felt safe discussing), he very rarely was able to lead a conversation regardless of what topic was being discussed and, on top of all that, seemed always a bit high strung so that, if ever he were made to endure a surprise party, the idea that his startled response could be a vertical leap several feet into the air resulting in his clinging to ceiling wouldn't be unbelievable by any stretch. Furthermore his pasty white skin and skittish nature gave one the impression that they were in fact dealing with some humanoid creature that retained (or didn't develop past) certain embryonic features and tendencies. Even his hair, thinning already at such a young age, gave one the impression that perhaps it had never even started to grow; the kind of impression one gets at times looking at the hair of infants.

Compounded atop all this was a naïve and vain semblance of self-awareness that Joseph would never admit to anybody but that he most certainly had. It was as if he had another voice, a personal narrator, that directed him and moved him and told him constantly of the perspectives of the others. He was a in a cycle of existence where he narrated his actions and those actions in turn led to more narration, a back and fourth that can keep a person idly busy, even ferociously at work, and still leave one empty handed at the end of a long life.

James, Gabriel and Michael told Joseph that Bananalisa looked like a nice girl. They used very nice euphemisms like that she appeared very “free-spirited” and “active” and “outgoing” because they sensed quite clearly that their friend had fallen hard for her. They told him that they should all hang out together some time and listened intently to his reiterations of his experiences that day, each time more than the next agreeing with him that he certainly had a chance with this girl. After all, everyone always has a chance.

· 4 min read

Parts published so far:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


Think you have what it takes to decipher a story that seems oh-too-easy at first glance?

If you can unlock the message within the story, it will lead you to twelve words. These twelve words will make up a seed phrase, which is your ticket to accessing funds in a crypto wallet. The wallet address is: 0xf9d30330Af73687cDA29Dfe51479D0EAa05a30Fe.

The wallet currently has 1.2 ETH (roughly $1400 at time of publication), as well as some cool NFTs that have some value as well. All of the wallet’s contents are up for grabs to the first person who cracks the code of the story. The story is totally free and anybody can join the hunt for the 12 words.

The first part of the story debuts on Thanksgiving and will be linked above. The second part will debut Monday, November 28th, and will continue to debut each Monday until finished. Read on to learn some tips to help give you the edge in deciphering the story.

How it works

Each Monday, one part of the story will be released right here on the juicebox blog. The story has 5 parts, and only readers who thoroughly understand the story (and all its allusions, symbolism and literary devices) will have a chance at unlocking the 12 words needed to access the wallet.

Each Tuesday at 12:30pm (Pacific USA), a critical analysis session will be held in the Juicebox discord server in the #Lime Station channel. Written discussions and questions will take place in the #bannyverse channel. The server is free to join, and the sessions are free to join as well. They are designed to help guide those of you who have limited experience analyzing literary content. Your chances of solving the code will be much greater if you attend these sessions, but they are not mandatory.

After all the story segments have been published, a final poem will be published on the juicebox blog. This poem will make zero sense unless you have read and fully understand the story. If you do understand the story, the poem will be the final key to deciphering the 12 word phrase.

Tips and Tricks

There are resources for you as well as some places where clues will be released. Attending the weekly analysis sessions on Tuesdays at 12:30pm (Pacific USA) will be a huge help. Following the twitter account bannyjbm, which is the juicebox mascot, would also be wise. Following the bannyverse twitter account, which tweets all things banny, will also help. Felixander’s (the author) twitter would also be prudent to follow. And finally, it never hurts to follow the official juicebox twitter.

I’m new to all things crypto and Discord. Help me!

Here’s some fast facts. A crypto wallet is an online account that holds assets. The wallet for this treasure hunt is currently worth about $1400, which means that if you get access to it first by cracking the code, you will be able to keep that $1400 and transfer it to your own account or your bank account.

Discord is a messaging and coordination app that is free to use. It works by using channels, which are all the subjects on the left side of the screen. For this treasure hunt, you can always ask questions in the channel titled “bannyverse”. And for the weekly calls where we’ll talk about the story (not mandatory, but helpful), you can come to the “Lime Station” at 12:30pm Pacific USA time every Tuesday. Every Monday, a new part of the story will be published on the juicebox blog, so keep an eye out!

This competition is winner-take-all. The first person to unlock the code will get all the contents of the online wallet. Further instructions to follow, but for now the best you can do is read the story and analyze it as much as possible, and also follow the pertinent twitter accounts (linked above) which will occasionally give you some tips for deciphering the story. Also the calls on Tuesdays will allow you to ask questions/brainstorm with other competitors, if you so choose.

Good luck!