The news came on July 16, the day you were due to fly. It was hardly a surprise, for he had been sick for almost a year. His last three months had been spent in the nursing home. The nurses never wanted to say how long he had had left, though, so the timing of your flight was fortituous.
[[you were never close to him.|relationship-distant]]
[[your parents never liked him.|relationship-strained]](set: $alacrity to 50, $frankness to 50, $guile to 50)
(set: $relationship to "distant")You don't think he knows your name, even. He was just a person you saw for maybe one or two days a year, during Chinese New Year.
He sometimes called your house, and if you answered, you
In recent years, after you'd got into medical school (and when you were applying for medical school), he would call and ask about various health problems. And insult his polyclinic, his GP, his nurses and so on.
But you have to go to the funeral anyway. It's [[duty]].
(set: $relationship to "strained")In his youth, he (link-reveal:"never trusted his children.")[When your mother first started working, he demanded that your mother transfer her salary to his bank account. ((link-reveal:"And...")[he only gave his blessing for your mother's marriage because she threatened to cut off his allowance and close their joint account.])] In his old age, he still thought the world of his absentee eldest son.
But you have to go to the funeral anyway. It's your [[duty]].
The wreaths are the standard design: white chrysanthemums surrounding a laminated card. Variations on a theme. Sorry for your loss. With condolences.
One of them has been wedged at the back. It reads, "Our Heartfelt Condolences on the Loss Of Your Beloved RELATION_NAME". Ooh, that must have been embarrassing.
This open space on the ground floor opens to the [[communal playground|location playground]]. You could also wander over to the [[casket|location casket]].
There is a [[table near the playground|location table-playground]], a [[table near the cashbox|location cashbox]] and a [[table right in front of the buffet|location table-buffet]].
(if: (history:)'s last is "oops-1")[(set: $know_him to 2)]
This table near the [[cashbox]] is where the relatives usually sit. There's a [[Toyogo box of supplies]] here.
[[Move to the central space|location void deck]]
[[Move to the casket|location casket]]
The wind makes the plastic tablecloth flap and snap in the wind. Where there was once a [[buffet dinner|location buffet]] for the funeral guests, there is now only a splintery table(if: $cup is 0)[ and a [[discarded plastic cup|cup]]. How impolite].
[[Go back to the central space.|location void deck]]
Where there was food earlier in the evening, now there is only the (link-reveal:"bare wooden table.")[
You crouch down to look under it. (if: $candle is 0)[What's [[this?|candle]]](else:)[Unfortunately, nothing else interesting has appeared in the time you weren't looking.]]
It's a wonder the food warmers still worked, with the wind that's been blowing through the whole night.
[[Go to the nearest table|location table-buffet]]
[[Go to another table|location void deck]].
This table looks out on the [[playground|location playground]] and the blocks of flats opposite. A number of windows glow red with shrines. It's late.
[[Move to the central space|location void deck]]
Most HDBs come with outdoor playgrounds, ranging in complexity from a slide and a set of swings to something seriously resembling a gym: tunnels to crawl through, poles to slide down from, rides on springs - it's great.
This one's a bit lacking, but at least there's a slide and a set of swings. From here you can [[see the stars|stargazing]].
It's near the [[rubbish dump|location dumpster]].
[[Go back to the central space.|location void deck]]
Inspired obliquely by Astrid Dalmady's Cactus Blue Motel and Abigail Corfman's games.
Started for Ectocomp 2016 (the Grand Guignol section).
Your last tuition job ended at 5pm, leaving you with just enough
"Oh, you're back!" Your mum has a sheaf of receipts in her hand and a lockable cashbox for the <i>pek kim</i>. (set: $time to 0)
The casket lies here, sheltered from the wind by tarps. Your grandfather's face peeks out from a swirl of silk. The funeral parlour have done a good job making his face look as life-like as possible, although you feel like they might have gone overboard with the lip gloss.
[[Wreaths|wreaths]] perch on tripods beside the casket. The table in front of the casket has a condolence book. It's probably your aunt who put the plate of biscuits and cup of Coke there, on the table.
[[Move back to the centre of the space|location void deck]]
[[Move to the nearest table|location cashbox]]
(if: $candle is 1 and $water is 1 and $cup is 1 and $string is 1 and $lighter is 1 and $candle_lit is 1)[(link: "Perform the ritual")[(set: $know_him to 0)(goto: "ritual")]]
(for complete game: time-based = people come and go; at 11pm, people start trickling off)
(locations = different tables, casket, void deck in general)
(side quests: some gangsters want ???, )
(the key horror thing: you summon another self to help you do work? for companionship? summoning and banishing helps you relax → but you don't always have time to banish? HOW DOES IT GO WRONG?)
homg you're summoning an angmoh ghost no no can we have body horror
(if: $know_him is 2)[
<div class = "inventory">(link-replace:"What do I need?")[The ritual requires a candle, a piece of string, and a cup of water.] (link-reveal:"You have:")[
(if: $candle is 1)[(if: $lighter is 1)[[[a candle|use candle]]](else:)[a candle](if: $candle_lit is 1)[a lit candle]](if: $string is 1)[
a piece of string](if: $cup is 1 and $water is 0)[
an empty cup](elseif: $cup is 1 and $water is 1)[a cup of water](if: $lighter is 1)[
//He// isn't a human being, but he helps you cope with... stress, and things. Because med school is stressful, right?
(if: (history:) contains "him")[You $origin [[him|nightly]].
](else:)[(link:"You created him.")[(set: $know_him to 1, $origin to "created")(goto: "him")]
(link:"You summoned him.")[(set: $know_him to 1, $origin to "summoned")(goto: "him")]
(link: "You met him.")[(set: $know_him to 1, $origin to "met")(goto: "him")]
Even if the state of your grandfather's eternal soul was uncertain, your parents were paying for most of the funeral, so this was a Christian affair. No incense, no chanting monks, no crashing cymbals or professional mourners. That much your aunt and uncle could accept. But what was unnegotiable was what you called the (link-reveal: "night watch.")[
Someone from the family must keep watch over the casket for every night the funeral is held.
[[You volunteered to take the first night.|volunteered]]
[[Your mum volunteered you to take the first night.|been volunteered]]]
"She can stay awake through the night! She's done shadowing on night shift before, right?" your mum turns to you with a meaningful look.
This was not strictly true,
(link: "and you protested")[(goto: "evening")(set: $attitude to "self")]
(link: "but you acquiesced")[(goto: "evening")(set: $attitude to "family")]
Your mum's going to be tired from all the organisation; she was the one who liaised with the funeral parlour and the church and the hospital and the crematorium. You know your dad normally doesn't sleep well, and he has to go to work tomorrow.
Your cousin promises to drop by, but you'll be fine. You'll be jet-lagged from the 12 hour flight, actually, so all the better.
You didn't tell anyone (how could you?), but you can (link:"hear him calling")[(set: $know_him to 0)(goto: "him")].
(if: $attitude is "family")[You don't mind an evening away from the incessant questions about life overseas and school and cooking for yourself.](else:)[To be fair, you're jet-lagged, which means you probably won't get to sleep until at least 3 am. It's no great ordeal to stay up a few more hours before someone else from the family can take over.]
There's also something you can't tell anyone: you're (link:"expecting him")[(set: $know_him to 0)(goto: "him")].
(if: $origin is "summoned")[This, you do in the evenings.
The ritual was predictable. That was what calmed you at first, grounded you after a hectic day.
Then he started talking to you. That became comforting... ](if: $origin is "met")[He comes to you most evenings, after your dinner. His speech - slow, quiet - calmed you at first. It was like white noise. A TV in the background. Soothing...](if: $origin is "created")[An imaginary friend of imaginary friends. You'd read about companions like this, and you thought it (he) would be a good idea...](link-reveal:"at first.")[
Then he started demanding (link-reveal:"things.")[ Small things, like a bead (what could he do with it?), but sometimes food (can something without a body eat?) and, once, your [[blood|oops]].]]
You've always had trouble saying no. Heck, it's probably how you got such an illustrious, and more to the point, med school-friendly, CV.
Maybe you should have opted to talk to human friends. Maybe you should have started volunteering. Maybe you should have joined a club or soc-
<p class = "muffled">Where are you?</p>
[["You're late."|time zones]]
You greet him politely, but you don't hear his voice, only a dull pressure in your head. It's [[time|location void deck]] for the ritual.
"You're l-" you begin, but remember - time zones.
(live: 1s)[<p class = "muffled">Let me out</p>(stop:)]
(live: 2.5s)[<p class = "muffled">I've been waiting so long</p>(stop:)]
(live: 3s)[<p class = "muffled">I'm bored</p>(stop:)]
(live: 5s)[(transition: "shudder")[<p class = "muffled">(link: "LET ME OUT")[(set: $know_him to 2)(goto: "location void deck")]</p>](stop:)
Looks like it's time to begin the ritual.]
All the paraphernalia required to run a funeral successfully, it seems. Extra paper plates. Bits of [[red string]]. (if: $lighter is 0)[A [[lighter]], for some reason. Maybe to burn incense paper, of which there is, inexplicably some, despite this being a Christian funeral.](else:)
[[Back to the table|location cashbox]]
(if: $string is 0)[Usually used to ward off bad luck.
(link: "Take it")[(set: $string to 1)(goto: "Toyogo box of supplies")]](else:)[You already have a bit of string.]
[[Leave it|Toyogo box of supplies]]
Here is where the huge green dumpsters are rolled out and washed out. In the day, clusters of mynahs would congregate to eat scraps from the dumpsters. There's [[a spigot]] here.
[[Back to the playground.|location playground]]
This is a tap sticking out of the ground, from which you can get water.
(if: $cup is 1)[(link:"Fill the cup.")[(set: $water to 1)(goto: "location dumpster")]](elseif: $cup is 1 and $water is 1)[The cup is already full.](else:)[<s>Fill the cup.</s>]
(link-replace:"Wash your hands.")[You splash your hands under the stream.]
[[Go back to the dumpster.|location dumpster]]
A tea candle has rolled out from one of the food warmers, presumably from when the caterer was taking them back.
(if: $candle is 0)[(link: "Take it.")[(set: $candle to 1)(goto: "location buffet")]]
[[Back to the bare tables.|location buffet]]
A thin plastic cup, easily crushed.
(link:"Take it.")[(set: $cup to 1)(goto: "location table-buffet")]
A cheap lighter, identical to that which you would find in a mama shop in any HDB estate.
(link: "Take it.")[(set: $lighter to 1)(goto: "Toyogo box of supplies")]
(if: (history:)'s last is "location casket")[You flick the ring of the lighter - ugh, it's all stiff - and finally produce enough of a flame to light the candle. (set: $candle_lit to 1)](else:)[You flick the ring of the lighter - it's so stiff! But the wind whips the flame away. You'll need somewhere sheltered from the wind.]
(link: "Back")[(goto: (history:)'s last)]
(set: $lighter to 1, $candle to 1, $know_him to 2)[[and then leh]]
Double-click this passage to edit it.
It's muscle memory by now. You usually do this on the ceiling of your dorm, since you don't want to set off the smoke alarms. Under the clinical fluorescents, though, everything looks different. Starker. (if: (history:) contains "volunteered")[For once, you're thankful your cousin is so bad at keeping promises.]
(link-replace:"You set the candle in front of you.")[(link-replace: "You wave the cup of water over the candle, chanting, 'Come, friend, to light my way; come, friend, to shape my day. Come, friend, come now and, for a while, stay.'.")[(link-replace: "You place the string in the flame and close your eyes.")[(link-replace:"When the heat touches your fingers, you drink the water.")[[[He's here.|ritual-finish]]]]]]
<p class = "voice">Hᴇʟʟᴏ, ᴄʜɪʟᴅ</p>
You used to be in the astronomy club in school. Sometimes you miss going out into the field with a telescope and w-
(live: 1s)[<p class = "muffled">WHERE ARE YOU where are you where are you where are you </p>
[[Better get back.|location playground]]]
There's a custom to give what is known as //pek kim//, 'white gold' (or money) at funerals. You don't know much about it, but it's probably to do with luck and helping to defray the costs of the funeral.