Grass crunches under your feet as you move closer to the Beast's sacred den. [[Your sword|your sword]], heavy from the absorbed blood and sweat of other fallen would-be monster slayers, drags behind you ploughing a trail in the murky earth and slicing the moss that creeps into the forest path from its edges. You feel [[a thousand pairs of eyes|eyes]] watch you as you become the only noise-maker: the true artificial force in the ancient wood.\n\nThe acoustic sound of your [[armour|armor]] joins the hoof-like footsteps you make as more and more pebbles dominate the [[road ahead.|1]]
Ending 1\n\n[[I screwed up, take me back!|new4]]
You lift the weary sword and begin to walk toward the centre of the dome, its light ushering away the darkness, inch-by-inch as [[you tread carefully forward|right21]].\n\n
You have landed in the corner (?) of a colossal underground dome. Shafts of purple light beam down from the ceiling, illuminating the tiny specks of rubble you just disturbed.\n\nYou feel as though you are inside the top of an enormous salt-shaker....mixed with a rave.\n\nWhile the disco shades of fucshia are helpful, most of what you see is being lit by your sword, which is now glowing an [[electric blue|right19]].
The Beast is [[near|right20]]
Your vertical speed has reached zero.\n\nYou have landed in a pile of bones and kicked up the dust of your decaying predecessors.\n\n[[The Beast is near|right18]].
Is there a bottom?\n\nAre you cursed to fall for eternity?\nWould that matter to you? Before now you were merely an insignificant speck clinging on to a rock hurtling around in space, its only destination; oblivion, and your only goal; death.\n\nWould it matter if you struck the floor of the universe? Would it really hurt to be splattered against the edge of reality at the speed of light? Would the universe be doing [[you and your sword|right15]] a favour?
Your knees fail you.\n\nThe impact of you hitting the road bends it like the horizon carressing the edge of the earth.\n\nInstead of stretching off into infinity, the road now curves down into blackness. [[You tumble down the slope|right13]], gaining speed with every cracked rib.
The road has now curved so much that it is no longer beneath you. There is no road, there is no purle sky and silhouetted trees.\n\n[[What will happen to you when you hit the bottom?|right14]]
The car is upon you now, and you still feel sixteen.\n\nOne step off this curb. Into the road. You could do it.\n\n[[Do it.|death by car]]\n[[Stay put. Frozen. Like the coward you are.|right11]]
Wind whips your clothes as the mechanical millipede passes you, its sound fading as it drives further into the night.\n\nYou are reminded that it's just you out here.\n\n[[Loneliness consumes you|right12]].
You know there is no gold to be found here. The text will end one day and then it's on to more text, as your job requires of you. \n\nYou don't desire a reward so simple. What you needed you have already got from me.\n\nI've given you a taste of the [[unexpected.|gold2]]
It's time to pick up your kids.\n\nYou love them dearly but not a week goes by where you don't think about the slightly bigger house or convertible you could have owned if not for the rooms of your house you renovated, only to become coated in snot and jam.\n\nWith kids like these, it's no wonder you selected 'old hat'. You, while refusing to admit it, crave the security of the world you used to know: The one with books, and stories and most importantly; predictability.\n\nYou will live a happy, slightly-above-average life and [[die before you are ready.|rip]]
Bones litter the perfectly square entrance and descending stairs into the pyramid. Before entering, you stand motionless for a few moments and observe those that came and fell before you. \n\nThe sword feels thin and sick. It remembers everyone in the pile of bones before you, and the sword knows you may soon join them. You pat the rock-blade firmly; hoping that it will put the sword at ease.\n\nBefore you enter, there is time to do a few things.\n[[Hear about the Beast.|hear about beast]]\n[[Look at photographs of ex-boyfriend.|photographs]]\n[[Enter Pyramid.|5]]
Oh, you did want to hear something new?\n\n[[Yes!|new]]
(I am allowing you to go back because it would be inconvenient for you, the reader, to start over again. It should be noted, however, that should you be whisked away to a purple and black dreamscape with a highway and an approaching car IN REAL LIFE, and the positively moronic idea of jumping in front of said car consumes you, [[there is no back button|right6]]).
Slaying the Beast
Does it hurt\n[[hearing|hurt1]] him\nforget you?\n\n[[Yes|5]]\n[[No|5]]
That's right reader. I've got the love of your life and if you don't do as I say it's bye bye.\n\n[[Oh god, I'll do every thing you say!|comply1]]\n[[I'm not afraid of you|argue1]]
You don't have to be scared. I have my ways?\n\n[[Ways?|argue2]]
Yes. I will destroy you.\n\nThink about your breathing. breathe in... and out. \n\n[[No...please...stop!|argue3]]
It's too late now, you're breathing manually! Now co-operate, or I'll tell you about how your tongue can't find a comfortable position.\n\n[[I'll comply!|comply1]]
It is disturbing to see a shape so uniform in the land of vines and water streams. \n\nYou have lived your life in the natural, the hollowed tree stumps and the vine hammocks. \n\nThe straight lines of the pyramid are wounds in [[the curves and crevasses of the forest.|3]]
Because the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we want the new and [[revolutionary|m11]], the radical and never-before-seen. But in reality we all know that we want ham + cheese sandwiches, white family sedans, blue skies peppered with a few clouds, and vanilla ice cream.
When people hear that you cut your own hair, they turn their heads with disgust. 'Won't it look bad?' they say. 'What, don't you like going to the hairdresser?'\n\nIn spite of the judgement, you cherish this time in the pyramid's shower in a way that is hard to explain. The alone time with your body as you trim it clean is something you would never give up for a fancy salon cut.\n\n[[Snip.|left5]]
You look [[hot.|left6]]
Although, you could definitely go shorter...\n\n[[Trim right down until the blades graze your skin|short1]]\n[[leave it at a slightly short short-medium. A short-shorter if you will.|long1]]
The stone path is a road now. Perhaps it was a road to begin with? it's all just concrete that takes you places, isn't it?\n\nThat's assuming this path-road takes you places.\n\nYou notice the walls of the pyramid are now gone and replaced with the night. Are you outdoors? Are you in a dream? It's these sort of quandaries you need to worry less about when you're miles underground with a snazzy new haircut and the walls have just become stars and mountains.\n\n[[Shut the hell up and tell me what happens next|right6]].
Are you sure?\n\n[[Yes|left2]]\n[[No|8]]\n[[All of my efforts will one day become dust|left2]]
In the elbow of the pyramid's left-heading passage, a black veil conceals what lies ahead. You know you can pass through, but who knows what lies in the beyond?\n\n[[Press through the veil|left3]]\n[[Go back|8]]
It's a bathroom. Tiny square tiles in masses so large you can't make out the joins in the tiles on the opposite side of the bathroom. It's a domestic place, but it's clear nobody lives here; no squishy shower-rugs or towels occupy the floor. \n\nIn fact, the only accessories in the room are a pristine, white, folded towel and a pair of glistening scissors resting on top of said towel's fluff.\n\n[[Trial by haircut.|left4]]
[[I am being chased by a bear.|scared4]]
As humans, we've done away with most survival tactics. But I'm yet to see a man wear a grey suit and calmly discuss the weather while [[being chased by a bear.|scared3]]
I've shown you this radical new medium of literature, and while I'm yet to forge something meaningful with it, he has you addicted to the [[click.|new9]]
You long for the [[click|new10]]
It's not an active fear, like the poor businessman I mentioned earlier; who, by the way, is a real person and if you giggled at his plight you should be ashamed.\n\nBut a passive one, for just as you continue to click, I continue to write and get dressed and go to class and the many other tasks I perform automatically, not only with effeciency but with a [[confidence|scared8]] that I'm told others admire.
Someone who talks a big game but can barely deliver more than a [[limerick scrawled on a napkin.|scared7]]
Or maybe I'm not capable of anything as final, definite or complete as 'failure'\n\nI've never used the term, but I believe [['bomb-out'|scared6]] would be more applicable.
Despite many talents and a few friends who care about me, there is a chance that I'll be a [[failure.|scared5]]
Here I am, telling you about how great the new is, and I convince you to actually request [[said new|new3]], and I find myself stumped.
In a way, what you are doing right now is newish. [[click click|new4]]
It appears I've [[challenged|new2]] even myself.
[[Not|new7]] a fancy mouse with all the buttons on the side; just a standard, boring, unexciting model with two buttons and a scroll.
You find the [[medium exciting|new8]] though.
clicking away on that [[boring mouse|new6]]
How fitting, that the thing that will protect the slayer of the beast is stitched from the pelts of lesser beasts.\n\nIt's as if the food chain itself exists to serve your mission.\n\n[[Back|start of the hunt]]
Granted, you expect that it's going to be at least some form of self-indulgent drivel that goes nowhere, but there's hope that it could be [[something else.|gold4]]
It is thrilling to you to know that there could be anything on the other side of that [[link|gold3]]
You brush a few stray strands of [[fringe|fringe]] out of your eyes and adjust your scarf so that it covers your neck more effectively. Night fell on the forest hours ago, but the air gets ever colder.\n\n[[A few more steps to the blood-stained entrance of the pyramid.|4]]
The entryway descends and splits in two.\n\n[[How cliché|8]]
Well it's no use dear reader, it won't get your spouse back.\n\n[[Excuse me?|gold5]]
END\n\nThe boy/girl/other realises they really did love their best friend all along, they slay the dragon and someone dies but you aren't too shocked because it was telegraphed from a mile off.\n\nYou close the book and breathe a sigh of relief because you can finally put it on your shelf and add 500 grams to the weight that will eventually crush your house and trap all your other once-used, never-enjoyed possessions in a mountain of rubble.\n\nAnd you can leave it at that. You could stop there. You read a book, and have therefore, in one way or another, read every book that will ever be written. because you are a foolish, easily-convinced, sheep of a human being who was given the choice to [[hear something new|take me back]] and instead selected 'old hat.' You could theoretically never read a book again, but you always do, don't you? You always read another book. Desperate to become that person again. The person that sits down with a mug of beverage and lies motionless for hours getting invested in a world that ceases to exist the moment you close the cover because it's [[time for the news|time for the news]] or [[time to pick up the kids from school|pick up the kids]]
You enjoy having the news read to you by the kind-faced man on the television. It is comforting to know that this method of news delivery will never change.\n\nYou enjoy having the content you watch decided by someone else. You enjoy being a slave to someone else's timetable. You enjoy unendingly sitting down at six o'clock to hear about wars in other countries, and sporting events in your own.\n\nAssuming you make it to 70, (and that's really pushing it) you'll spend twenty-five thousand, five-hundred and fifty hours doing this, and you will [[die immediately|rip]] after those 25,550 hours are up.
Same old hat, eh? You think you're challenging me? Driving me to the best of my ability? With due respect, please don't make me laugh. I can give you old hat with ease if old hat's what you want.\n\n[[I want old hat|beginning]]\n[[No! you're right! I was foolish, take me back!|take me back]]
BEGINNING\n\nCharacters sit around and the author sneakily tells you all about their names and relationships by constructing awkwardly-put-together sentences that would never occur in the flesh-realm.\n\nDon't believe me? Ever heard something like \n"Please pass the toast, BEN"\n"With please, LITTLE SISTER BETHANY"\n\nThis is the part of the story for that\n\n[[->|middle]]
Your hair is a short-medium and you've been keeping it that way with the sharp edge of the stone blade you now hold. The ends are split and the blonde is tinted a faded pink from where you dyed it years ago.\n[[Back|3]]
Thousands have tried and failed to slay the monster that lies within this pyramid. It is said that the beast can kill you with a thought and bury you with a single swipe of its hoof. Maybe you are crazy, or maybe you can legitimately hear it breathing from the entrance.\n\n[[Back|4]]
The last echoes of the big bang have rung out in this place. The trees and rocks have absorbed the vibrations of the first colossal universe-roar and now nothing remains but that which is created by intruders.\n\n[[Back|1]]
With the heat lamps on, the metal of the scissors is the coldest thing in the room. Taking long, sweeping cuts on the sides of your head, you feel the blades lower the blood temperature in your brain.\n\n[[Leave bathroom|left7]]
Despite this, we'll tell anyone whose opinion of us is valuable that we want something [[fresh.|m12]]
Click to [[start.|m1]]
But you're not people, you're a person. You're unique. Maybe YOU really DO want to hear something [[new|take me back]]. Or perhaps, like the others, you'd rather hear the [[same old hat.|same old hat]]
The meal goes well. \n\nThis space confuses you. This building is shabby and devoid of customers; a tiny building serving only its snaking, asphalt master. You didn't expect astronauts from your friends, but you didn't expect aspirations as small as this cramped roadside cafe.\n\nYet, you see smiling faces sipping tea across the table from you. Perhaps you see given-up-on hopes and dreams, but they see modest happiness.\n\n[[Woah|right5]]
You say goodbye\n\nDoors close\n\n...and you are cast back out [[into the night|right6]].
The air freezes some of the moisture in your eyes.\n\nA sheet of freezing air whips down the highway and collides with you, swatting your hair out of order. Through some of the gaps in your new, messier haircut you see [[a pair of lights in the distance|right7]].
Two\ntwo lights\na pair\na couple\nan old marriage\nof two things perfect for each other\ndo the lights fight?\nis their marriage a happy one?\nperhaps the lights embrace their imprisonment\ntwinkling bugs on the hood of some truck\nslaves to keeping someone else\nsafe.\n\n[[Deep|right8]].
The stones dissolve to dust under your toes as the pyramid's path becomes an infinite stretch of jet-black tarmac. The surrounding hills cast silhouettes on the deep purple midnight sky.\n\nCrickets chirp. Dogs bark in far off places.\n\n[[Walk the tarmac|right2]]
You arrive at your destination: A gas station a little to the right of the road. Turning to face this place frustrates you as the double-yellow-lines you were previously walking were straight, uniform, and infinite. Leaving them for the comparatively jagged edges of the decaying truckstop fills you with dread. \n\nWith the highway, the lines remain the same.\nWith the gas station, who can tell what will be different?\n\n[[Walk through big slidey doors go swoosh-swoosh.|right3]]
You've arranged a meal with your oldest friends, who now run this tiny business on the side of the freeway; scones, tea, biscuits.\n\n[[Quaint|right4]]
The lights are closer now. The sound of their master gets louder as they approach.\n\nSuddenly you feel the wet sadness of high school.\n\n[[That's odd|right9]].
Your parents could have driven you.\nBut you walked. You struggled.\n\nBecause you thought\nthat maybe\nlights like these would [[smite|right10]] you\nand you wouldn't struggle any more.
Remove all other stimuli, shut off your music, find a chair more comfortable. I don't care if it's plastic, as long as it isn't one of those blasted [[squeaky|m6]] spinny-roundy computer chairs we seem to all be plagued with.
It takes your full attention to [[properly appreciate.|m5]]
Squeaky, like an old bicycle or every moving piece in your grandmother's house, not squeaky clean like this [[story.|m7]]
You are about to begin, or technically speaking, have already begun reading my latest story. Please try to [[relax|m2]]
But this work is [[different.|m4]]
Big steps\n\nSweaty face\n\nYellow stone\n\n[[Metallic taste.|7]]
Whatever this is, it's definitely [[different|m10]], in a way I hope you can understand.
You're damn right you'll do everything I say, because i need a favour.\n\n[[A favour? You've kidnapped my significant other!|comply2]]\n[[What can I do for you?|comply2]]
The residents of this wood have seen many a traveller walk the path you do. You wonder if the bugs and lizards have faith in you, or if they have become indifferent to whether you live or die after centuries of failed attempts to slay the beast.\n\nPerhaps your presence is a nuisance.\n\n[[Back|start of the hunt]]
And when I say relax, I really do mean it dear. No doubt your eyes are weary from staring into the almost-endless void of your computer screen reading other students' [[work.|m3]]
You choose now to disobey? [[You think you have a choice now?|right28]]\n
What's stopping you? [[KILL IT|kill it]]\n\nWhy must you [[resist?|right27]]
[[Kill it|kill it]]\n\n[[Hesitate|right26]]
Your arms ache. They feel stretched and limp.\nBut they lift the sword.\n\nHigher and higher, the innermost fuchsia ceiling beam bounces off the sword's [[sharp apex|right25]].
Heaving the stone blade from dragging behind you to in front of your body, its light dances over the hairs and muscles of the [[set of legs|right23]] before you.
You are so close to the centre, and so far from the walls that all you see around you is blackness.\n\nThen, the sword's field of blue light reveals [[a hoof|right22]] at its circumference.
[[Take the path left?|left1]]\n\n[[Take the path right.|right1]]
The choices I gave you were a privelidge not a [[right|right30]].
You never had a [[choice|right29]].
You are not the first to wield the holy chunk of stone, bigger than you are, and considerably heavier. The previous owner was so fond of the rocky blade that his hand-groove remains in the thin and tightly-leather-wrapped handle. It was so recently that this maniac held the blade that those who knew him are still around to tell stories of him. How he refused to let it go. How he slept in a remote cabin to prevent its theft. How he had spoken of slaying the beast being only one of the sword's uses.\n\nBut the stone triangle was forged before man was, and it did not take to being merely a trophy. They found him cleaved in half in a pool of blood, all his windows and doors locked tight, and the sword's display case smashed.\n\n[[Back|start of the hunt]]
True, [[fear is the greatest motivation for getting things done.|scared2]]
Look buddy, I'm a writer now. I need you to go into a fantasy realm and slay this monster and save the world and junk, you get me?\n\n[[I mean, kind of? Don't throw me right into the narrative though|start of the hunt]]
Does it hurt\n[[sensing|hurt2]] him\nforget you?\n\n[[Yes|5]]\n[[No|5]]
Does it hurt\nfeeling him\nforget you?\n\n[[Yes|5]]\n[[No|5]]
Rest In Peace,\nReader of this writing.\n\n19?? - 2014\n\nSelect one:\n[[Will be remembered forever|m10]] / [[Touched the lives of everyone they knew|m10]] / [[Dearly loved, never forgotten|m10]] / [[Sponsored by KFC Funeral services.|m10]]
MIDDLE\n\nHere, some conflict arises, usually, but not always; accompanied by more, slightly smaller conflicts often involving two blank, cut-out people who fall in love. These characters are the least-well-described because secretly you like to imagine that you are them, or in some more extreme cases, that they are you.\n\n[[->|END]]
You honesly think you can choose?\n\n[[Slice the creature open through|kill it]] its mane\n\nor [[face oblivion|right31]]?
And like you, I'll be this way to the moment [[I'm gone forever.|ending 1]]
Look at you, sitting there clicking. Where are you going? What will [[that click|new11]] gain you?
Perhaps you expect there to be some resolution to the clicking. Some form of [[clicking pot of clicking gold|gold1]] at the end of the clicking rainbow.\n\nPerhaps [[you feel scared.|scared1]]
[[The silence|silence]] makes you aware of the noise you now make. Clop. Clop. Clop. Like some bizarre two-legged horse clumsily trotting to his doom. If the birds sang or the grass breathed, perhaps you wouldn't feel so self-aware.\n\nThe stones at your feet were placed long ago by a people who lived in the wood. The deeper you get into this part of the forest the more structures you see, reminders of the fragility of order.\n\n[[Ahead, you see the pyramid.|2]]
It is time.\n\nEnter the pyramid?\n\n[[Fuck yeah|6]]
Why be radical when we can remain secure?\n\n[[Leave bathroom|left7]]
Fin.\n\n[[I screwed up, take me back!|car explain]]