Eric! Thanks so much for playing Guess Who? with me again. Do you have your Mystery Character selected? Awesome. I should warn you. I may have gotten a tiny bit better since we last played.

Would you like some cheese puffs?

You know, it truly is amazing how good you can get at a game by spending hundreds of hours pouring over strategy guides, harassing Hasbro employees for the game’s secrets, and developing an AI to play Guess Who?—over and over and over again.

I guess you could say that I’ve used game theory to optimize all my decisions to perfection. I suppose you could also say that every guess has been honed to a razor's edge before the game even began.

Did you know that exactly 12.5% of the characters are frowning? Or that 20.8% have rosy cheeks?

I did.

And that’s just the smallest, succulent taste of my knowledge.

You beat me last time. I congratulate you for that. A game well won. But the 30-year-old man you played then was a fool. Now, I have been given the fire of truth. And I will use it to scald you until your game tray is nothing but ash.

Go ahead. Take the first move. You’re probably about to open with a pathetic question like “Does your person have a big nose?” Not knowing that you’ve thoughtlessly eliminated 3.8% of characters. The least amount possible.

From there, I will chip away at you like Michelangelo with his chisel. Slowly and methodically revealing your defeat. My greatest masterpiece.

You may think you’re near to guessing my character. But they will be as a whisper in a dream to you. Close. But just out of reach. I’ll have you blindly sprinting through the feverish hallways of my plan, when your eyes snap open you’ll be drenched in sweat, but you won’t be snuggled tight in your cozy bed.

You’ll be stuck. In hell. With me.

I have analyzed your Meyers Briggs type. Interviewed your friends, your parents, your preschool teacher. I know you better than you could ever know yourself.

I know your greatest hopes, your deepest fears. I know that your favorite sound is rain on a cool, spring day. And I know you brush your hair to the right when you’re lying.

There is a woman in your life named Claire, yes? Your obvious, obsessive crush on her will have led you to pick Susan. The middle-aged, blonde woman. You were all too easy to figure out. And all too weak.

Me on the other hand? I am a ghost. I erased my social media, burned my birth certificate, sent my wife on a four-week trip to Buenos Aires. All to stop you from learning anything you could use against me.

Relax. Enjoy yourself! Have some 7-UP. You do have the first move after all. Yet, like a lamb to the slaughter, I drew you here. Plump and fat from your days of excess. Working, spending time with your family, going outdoors. That was your mistake.

I have done nothing but study and plan your demise for weeks.

Am I okay?

Eric. Sweet, innocent, Eric.

I am more alive than I have ever been.

It matters not that you’re my nephew, nor that you’re ten years old. I will crush you between my jaws with the ferocity of 10,000 timberwolves.

Like Eve in God’s great garden, I’ve tasted the fruit of knowledge. But it won’t be me cast out into the cold, unforgiving world. No. It will be you watching everything you love destroyed in an instant.

So go ahead, Eric. What’s your first question?

…Yes, my character is Bernard.