Not Torquemada

Alistair,

My spaniel Samuel is speaking Spanish. He does not woof, growl, or bark. When I call for him, he says “si senor” and then comes running. He also shows signs of holding an Inquisition among the other dogs of the neighborhood.

What is wrong with him?

Not Torquemada in Kitchissippi


Not Torquemada,

Animals don’t generally stray into human language. There are three possible solutions that present themselves.

You’ve most likely got a straightforward possession on your hands. Just throw some salt around the dog and chant in Latin. If that doesn’t work, throw salt around yourself, then remind the spirit that it is residing in a dog; that is, one of the foremost unclean animals. It’s pretty important that you first build your defensive salt circle, otherwise the spirit may immediately find a more suitable host…a host less unclean… more to its liking… less Spaniel, more Spaniard… what I’m trying to convey is that it will possess you.

It’s also possible that somebody has been doing experiments with your animal, a la Dr. Moreau. Check for surgical scars about his head, throat and the roof of his mouth.

If neither of those options bear fruit, consider the possibility that he may not be a dog. Or at least, he is a dog, but may be more essentially jinn. If this is the case, I recommend explaining to your dog that you must kill him because you think he is possessed. Proceed as if you’re really going to do it – getting out some instrument of execution and fondly preparing him a final meal. If jinn, he will probably reveal his true identity just before you would off him and beg for his life. Or unveil his true form, leaving you blinded by horror.

Alistair

Developing

Alistair,

I keep finding bodies. More accurately, I keep finding the same body on different occasions. It’s the corpse of a middle-aged, well dressed man with a long, narrow, grey, horizontally-waxed mustache. He is always smiling and always dead. He usually shows up in public washrooms, the back seat of my car or the fire escape of my tenth-storey apartment. Alarmingly, nobody believes me because he always disappears moments before anybody else can come see. I know that he’s real (and dead) because I almost always immediately check his pulse. Two questions: What is going on here? How do I make it stop?

Developing Necrophobia in Alexandria


Developing,

Typical case of post-mortem stalking. First things first, try and recall if you killed him. If you did, that answers what he wants (revenge) and what you need to do: appease him – probably by helping him seek revenge (on yourself, obviously). 

If not, he’s probably just looking for a friend or patsy. The dead are notorious for a lack of social skills. Having taken his pulse so regularly, he likely assumes that you consider him a familiar acquaintance at least, so ignoring him will just offend the spirit. Don’t bother trying to explain the situation, just give him plenty of opportunity to communicate with you in a ghostly fashion: take hot showers that fog up the mirrors, eat plenty of alphabet soup, and pay attention to small children with a penchant for staring into the middle distance. He should communicate his desires quickly, once you start listening. If he wants something, try to oblige. If he doesn’t, you may just have yourself an awkward new friend for life. On the plus side, there will be a familiar face there to offer orientation when you pass on.

Alistair

Wants

Alistair,

I found out that my neighbor is a closet millionaire. He has only one daughter.

What does your gut say? Kidnap or marry?

Thanks,

Wants to be a Millionaire in Colorado


Wants,

Those are the choices? Hold the daughter for ransom or marry her for inheritance? Quite honestly, there are lots of easier ways to make this millionaire’s money your own. Off the top of my head, I might suggest that you simply ask him for it, or maybe create and substitute a complicated fake will.

But no. You insist on involving his daughter. This makes me think that your motives aren’t as exclusively monetary as you make them seem. This may be alien to you, as I suspect that someone whose first thoughts match yours is only passingly acquainted with human thought processes; I suggest bearing that in mind in the future.

So I vote Marry, because that way you get both woman and mammon. You run the risk of his not leaving everything to her, but if you go the kidnapping route, there’s a good chance that you won’t earn a cent and Stockholm Syndrome is not guaranteed. So. Play the odds, boyo.

Alistair

Budget

Alistair,

I am attempting to combat crime in my city. I have mastered several martial arts, tried my hand at crime in other cities to get a sense for the underworld, have become a forensic scientist/cyber crime expert/etc and even perfected a gruff, unrecognizable voice.

I have one problem:

How does one become a billionaire?

On a Budget in Candem, NJ


Budget,

Normally, people acquire unfathomable wealth by marrying well, devoting their lives to business, inventing social networking mediums… or by becoming professional criminals. As it happens, your studies in martial arts, crime and intimidating vocals make you uniquely qualified for one of those pursuits in particular. Try this out:

1. Go to Bosnia, or maybe Detroit, and become disgustingly rich by despicable means.

2. Undergo a character transformation filled with regret and horror as you realize that you’re the bad guy you set out to defeat in the first place.

3. Dissolve your criminal empire with brutal finality, move back to your home city and spend the rest of your days (and your billions) trying to make up for your checkered past.

Alistair

Backwards

Alistair,

My reflection just blinked. Do I do something?

Backwards in NH


Backwards,

Your mirror is apparently suffering some latency. Try covering the mirror in a heavy cloth, waiting several seconds and then uncovering it. If the problem persists, try operating it in better light. If the latency remains, dispose of the mirror in a safe, hazard-free way (avoiding breaking it at all costs, for obvious reasons) and purchase a new one.

Alistair

Father of Two

Alistair,

I was tucking my kid in last night, and he told me there was a monster under the bed. I checked, and my kid was under the bed. He told me that there was something on top of the bed. How do I pick which one to keep?

Father of Two in New Orleans


Father of Two,

You currently have two identical children. There are a couple possibilities to consider:

A. Go back to your child’s baby pictures and double-check that you only have one child. Maybe you have two, and one of them has been living under the bed for a while, telling the other that he’s a monster.

OR

B. Not A.

In the case of the latter being true, you should know that for all intents and purposes, they’re just like identical twins; the only difference is that one of them is most likely a spirit taking the form of your child for its own purposes. Worrying? Maybe. Depends on what the spirit’s purposes are. Either way, there’s no way to tell what’s up until one of them suddenly admits to being the fraudulent offspring.

Side note: Check the closet; you may be Father of Three.

Alistair

Human

Alistair,

I have found an interdimensional portal. The other side is in the middle of a great war between the Dwarves and the Trolls, with the Elves sort of not sure which side to join. As the only human, they decided I’d make a good diplomat. I know politics isn’t really your area, but have you got any advice?

The Human between Arendyl and Alberta


Human,

In my experience, stopping a fight is best accomplished by helping the warring parties find a common enemy. Clearly you need to urge Trolls and Dwarves to unite under a banner reading “Death to Elves”. Problem solved.

Alistair

Not a Fan

Alistair,

I think I’m being stalked. I keep seeing clowns, even in places where you’d never expect to see one. They’ll walk by the door when I’m having a meeting or in the audience when I go to my daughter’s recital; there was even a time when I might have seen one outside my bedroom window. What do I do, Alistair?

Not A Fan of Bonzo in Virginia


Not a Fan,

Time to confront the clown. Place yourself in a situation where there cannot possibly be another clown (say, a monastery) and wait. Then, when you do see a clown, you know for sure that you’re being stalked by him. You’ll have the speed advantage, as your shoes are (presumably) more practical. Kill him immediately; it’s the only sure way to rid yourself of a clown stalker. They are remarkably tenacious.

Alistair

Devoted

Alistair, 

Granddad passed away a month ago. The funeral was two weeks ago. During the  funeral, he woke up. We were all surprised. For a while, everyone was happy that he’s back but… I’ve started noticing a few things – tics he didn’t have before; he never, ever sleeps; he doesn’t eat, he just pretends to; he orders weird stuff online, then takes it into the  basement and locks the door; animals run away and babies cry whenever he’s around. 

So, do I just buy him a welcome-home/birthday gift kind of deal, or what? 

Devoted Grandson in Dudley 


Devoted, 

Congratulations. You have been honoured with meeting the first of the next-gen zombie prototypes. As you can see, he is far less obvious and stupid than any zombie created to date. This has been accomplished by infecting him with a genetically-engineered zombie virus prior to his death that politely lies dormant until the host body has ceased to possess original life and does not immediately require feeding. Do not kill Granddad, or everybody will think you a sick, heinous murderer and you will be executed for your trouble. While you no doubt have a plenitude of questions at this point, I will merely answer the one question you have already provided: Unlike with the truly living, the thought is not what counts with the zombic. If it’s not something he can eat or otherwise enjoy, do not bother. Strictly sentimental gifts will not impact him the way that they’re intended to. As with most creatures of the Granddad variety, a selection of woodworking tools is your best bet.

Alistair

Suburban

Alistair, 

My next-door neighbor is a mad scientist. He’s nice and all, keeps to himself, friendly, good neighbor material. It’s just that his experiments are getting annoying. He’s had my weed-eater for six months, he keeps borrowing my car battery, and he’s severed all the power in the neighborhood five or six times. I don’t feel like I know the guy well enough to confront him, but somebody’s got to, you know? What’s the best way to ask him to shape up? 

Suburban Dad in Abington 


Suburban, 

My initial response would normally be “burn his house down” but given that he still has your weed-eater and has an apparent need for enormous quantities of electricity, he very likely has a you-know-what in his basement. As such, do not add fire. Instead, whenever he borrows something or cuts the power, just go over to his garage (mad scientists aren’t good about security) and take something. Sooner or later, he will confront you on this subject at which point you can simply say “Sorry! I thought that we had a mutually assumed relationship of randomly inconveniencing each other! My mistake!” and he will take the hint – especially when he sees that you’re not even using his atomic distillation unit. 

Alistair