And there it is, that knowing, sarcastic laughter that you've heard all your life. It echoes through the empty room, filling you with the urge to strangle someone. If that //thing// was instinct, then why do you feel the impulse to strangle it? \n\nExactly, you must've been wrong in your assumption that--\n\n[actually, that's the only thing you've been right about in your entire life. and of course you arrived at that conclusion through pure dumb luck.]\n\nThis dominant, snarky controlling //monster// is really just a part of you? It's such an awful thought, yet it begins to make more and more sense the more you think about it. You stand immobile, staring nowhere in particular; so unsure of what to do, what to think. You feel like you've lost all volition with your new discovery. And yet. does this really change anything? Does this make you loathe it any less for ruling your life, for putting you through such misery?\n\n[[Yes - I feel different now.]]\n[[No - I just feel the same.]]
Sleep. You've always used it to escape your problems. All you can remember from your dream is standing in front of a cathedral, craning your neck high and still barely able to make out the spire soaring far about your head. The stained glass refracts in thousands of rainbow shards of light, and you squint your eyes to make out their designs past the colored pieces. Suddenly the bells toll, seeming to reverberate within every fiber of your being. //BONG. BONG. BONG//. They begin to get quieter, less like church bells. //Dong. Dong. [[Ding dong]]//.
“Hellooooo?” He’s climbing the ladder, slowly and methodically. “Where are you…?” He’s in the rafters, dangerously close to your location now. “All I want… is to know… WHERE YOU ARE!” He thrusts his weapon into the wall. You know this because it comes within inches of skewering your head, and cracks your weapon in half. \n\nIt looks like he won’t be your friend after all. \n\nYou have surprise on your hand as you burst from your hiding place, rolling, trying to ignore the splinters of wood lodging themselves under your skin. You may be on the floor and he may be standing, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the will to [[fight back]].\n
"You're a liar! You treat me like an idiot, lie to my face, and all for what!" You try to walk, but realize you're lying on the ground. You try to crawl but your limbs feel like they're made of lead. "If you're really my 'nature' then what is it that makes me wish you were dead and gone? You going to say I have no nature now? You going to treat me like a broken machine? If it's control you want, you're not getting it! Not ever!"\n\n[you could never understand my motivation. you're so far below me. my dreams. they are so much more than you could ever imagine.]\n\nEvery muscle in your body strains to move. But you can't help but let your eyelids slip closed. \n\nYou wonder if you'll ever [[awaken]]. \n
You close your eyes, head bowed. You feel the warmth, slowly at first, crawling up your body. But it fills you with courage, the likes of which you have never felt before. You are unstoppable. You are omnipotent. You are [[One.|end1]]\n
When you are younger you think it is your friend, your ally. You see its strength and cherish it, even envy it. You want it to be you so badly that you feed it, give it water and shelter. Some small part of you thinks that it will be grateful later, that you helping it out now means it will stay with you forever. Little did you know how right you would be.\n\nTime passes; you grow older. You start to develop your own conscience your own morals. So separate from that thing, from its control. You realize now what your mind is. That thing isn't your mind. But then again you've heard full well what a soul is. It's a good thing, guiding you along the right path. You have a hard time believing that thing could be your soul. So what is it? What is this thing inside of you? You begin to dread the time when you'll have to be around other [[people]], when you might have to explain to them what is wrong with you...\n
This is mostly, though, because you suddenly realize that you are suspended above the ground. You dangle down, your arms pinned above your head. A dull throbbing ache from your arms reminds you of your position. \n\nHe approaches you, meeting your gaze with steady, clear eyes. \n\nAgain comes a pang of recognition; you feel like you could just shout out his name into the air! His face is emotionless as he stares into yours, creased with agony. \n\nSo many questions for him run through your head. [[Who are you?]] [[Why are you doing this to me?]] [[Will you please take me down from the wall?]]\n
The whining sounds like that of an animal, a dog perhaps. You recall the words that it said, to kill anything living that you find.\n[[<<Back|search the buildings]]\n
Groggily you open your eyes, to see that the grass has bound itself around your arms and legs. In a panic you tear yourself from the ground, clambering to your feet with a shout. \n\n[see, what did I tell you? now I'd advise you get over onto those rocks.]\n\nYou obey without question, clambering up onto a rocky ledge.\n\n[there. now you'll be safe.]\n\nYou shudder, sweat running down your back. "Why... If you're really so concerned for my well-being, then why..." Why the incessarnt torture? Why the horibble, gripping fear? Why the constant control and manipulation?\n\n[because it was the only way. don't you see now?]\n\nYour brow furrows. "See what?"\n\n[see that [[I am the best companion]] that you're ever going to get. I've stood by your side your whole life, far more powerful and constant than any other being that has extended its hand in friendship. I even saved your life back there.]\n\n"You, my best companion? [[Anyone would make a better friend than you.]]"\n\n[now is that really true?]\n
Yes, that's more like it. A total lack of everything, just sheer emptiness and oblivion that fills your entire being. You are disconnected from everything, merely a conscience in the sea of understanding. The void begins to be replaced, replaced by knowledge and experience. You can feel the entire stretch of infinity at once, a bit too much for your weary mind to handle. The understanding recedes; the void envelops you once more. \n\nThis void. This emptiness. It reminds you of your isolation.\nThat's right. Alone. You've always been alone. But now it seems... even more so. There's something missing, something important. Something you've forgotten, just on the edge of your memory... You reach out to grasp it...\n\n"I've lost... who I am." You hear the words clearly resound through your being, although you lack the mouth to say it with. You realize, slowly but surely, that you don't want this vastness. You just want to be you. \n\nYou reach out to try and find awareness. You realize you cannot [[see]], [[smell]], [[hear]], [[taste]] or [[feel]] anything.
NOTE: All italicized text from Pirsig's //Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.//\n\n[[<<Back|kingdom]]\n
It seems that the only times you've gotten hurt are when you're interacting with other. Wouldn't it be better to live blissfully alone?\n\n[[<<Back|charade]]
"That sounds great!" Alex smiles a bright smile. "So where were you thinking?"\n\nYou never got out much, and as such have no idea where Alex might want to eat out. You look out the window desperately, searching for restaurants. There's one, The Fertile Crescent. It doesn't look too expensive. "Uh, how about The Fertile Crescent? At 7:00, maybe?"\n\n"I love that restaurant. Sounds like a plan, then."\n\nYou feel your heart begin to beat faster. This could really work out. Now the real question is, do you want to [[follow through]] with your plan? Perhaps it's time to [[back out]]. \n
"Is everything alright? Why are you acting so nervous?"\n \nSun seems startled by the sudden questions. "Um, well, what gave you that impression?" He smiles weakly, then lowers his voice, as if that might prevent the officer from hearing you two. "Actually, I don't do this kind of work often. You know... //this//..." His voice trails off. "But the police hired me and all, so... here I am! I hope you don't mind if I ask [[a few questions]]?"\n
You walk away from the ring of buildings. You feel strangely empty, alone. You're not used to things being so quiet. The air is still; it seems to settle like a layer of dust on everything around it. You wonder [[what you are doing here, where you are going, where //it// is]].
You scramble to your feet, and after a few attempts you manage to clamber up the side of the pit and emerge, blinking, into the bright desert light. The sun is in what you assume to be the west, sinking behind a long, jagged line of mountains. All that you can see besides the endless sand is your long shadow, stretching off into eternity. \n\n//It// was sort of like a shadow too, following you no matter where you were. Always existing, although you couldn't always see it. That's right... you realize that although you had told it to go away, there was no way it would have actually done so. It was probably watching you the whole time as you dutifully followed its order to kill every living thing you see... Probably laughing at you, how even in your "freedom" you continue to follow its commands.\n\n"WELL? Is that what you're thinking, huh!? I know you're out there!" You spin around, looking for some place to direct your anger. "Why won't you answer!?"\n\nPerhaps it wants to keep up its [[charade]].\n
You hold your breath and dash into the fog. In an instant your clothes are soaked and you are chilled to the bone. You can see glimpses of faces, of ever-changing bodies reaching out towards you… you dash them away as best you can, wishing only for the swirling whiteness around you to end. \n\nAnd there it is! Just ahead of you, the air seems darker. Although the specters provide no resistance, it feels as if you have to pry your way from them with all your strength. \n\nFinally you emerge, gasping, from the clammy mist. \n\nAhead of you stands a dark building, tall and majestic. It looks like it used to be a barn, but you see it as a shelter. It could be a vast [[war fortress]] from which you could wage mighty battles. Or it could be the perfect [[safehouse]], a refuge form the tyrants of the outside world. \n
You quickly dart out of the building, hoping he didn't see your flight. You decide that perhaps its better if you didn't have any human contact for now. Breathing heavily, you make your way down the slopes of the mountain. Just then your ankle twists sharply beneath you, and you're tumbling down, down, down, with the small stones cutting into your arms, until you come to a sudden, abrupt [[halt|valley]].
You're not even quite sure what you're regretting. A time that you yourself cannot even remember?\n"Is it true? Was there a time when we were united? Is it really because of me that things have ended up this way?"\n\n"So you finally believe me. I was wondering what it would take." \n\n"It's just that. Perhaps. Perhaps those days don't have to be over." \n\n"What?"\n\n"Perhaps we could [[come together]] once again." This idea seizes you, that you and it could exist together, could unite against all the evils of society. Never again will you feel shame or fear; never again will you be looked down on. You'd be supreme. \n\nAnd yet lights in your mind flash warning, say that it is far too strong, that taking it back into you would only cause you to lose what remains of yourself. The only course of action is to [[kill it before it kills you|I should be the one executing you]].\n
As you sit, the world around you changes. You're not sitting on cold, dry slate; instead it's hot, dry sand. And sand looms up all around you; you must be in some sort of pit in the desert. You vaguely wonder why people would be digging holes in the desert. Buried treasure, perhaps?\n\nYou let out a long sigh, wondering [[how you got into this predicament]].\n
It feels like barely more than a few hours. The man barely opens his eyes and stares at you dully, uncomprehendingly. You stare back, clear-headed and collected. \n\nHe blinks. His eyes widen. His lips begin to move, as if he’s mouthing a question. This becomes a silent scream of agony. \nAnd with that, his body falls completely limp. And you know his life has finally come to a close. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[violence]].] \n
The lid of the dumpster comes up with an ear-piercing, rusty shriek. You're pretty sure the footsteps are coming faster now, urgently. You scramble inside the dumpster, wincing as something sharp cuts into your leg. You wince and grit your teeth but [[you can pay no heed to it now]]. With a small hop and additional spiking pain in your shin, you pull the lid of the dumpster down on top of you with a [[BANG]]--
You keep digging, your fingers scratching away at the hot, dry sand. Soon the walls of your pit tower far above your head. And you keep laboring away, with no end in sight. But eventually you collapse, and do not get up. The remains of the flower sit beside you. You're just two dried-up souls out in the middle of the desert. //And all this. just because I took this poor flower's life.// You realize now that you have a piece of paper in one hand. With the last of your strength you make a slit on one finger. Then, using the flower stem as a quill and your blood as ink, you write this message: \n\n"This is the pit of the dead, for those who have lost their souls. May those who have taken another's life end up here, to eternally repent."\n\nYou crumple the message in your fist and let out a sigh. Then your eyes [[slip shut.|end4]]
-link to IFDB and textadventures\n-link to Inky Path\n-fix typos
Your wave at the figure tentatively once more. He seems hesitant, on the edge of deciding whether to approach or leave for the fields in the distance. Finally he makes his decision, and begins to approach you. You can see him wince as he steps on the sharp, dry grasses by the cliff. Still, he makes his way towards you, and soon you're almost face to face. \nPerhaps it is possible for you to have some [[companionship]] in this world. Perhaps you won't have to be alone any longer. \nYou look at the figure and offer a hint of a smile. "Hello."\n
His eyes are pleading now. You can tell he wants to use his crazy treatment. He's probably been waiting a long time for a suitable candidate to come along. "Um... well..." He sighs. "Well I suppose I should get back to the task at hand, then." He asks you a series of questions, and eventually concludes that you were indeed insane at the time of the crime, for you were "forced" into action. It is determined that you must spend your life in a [[psychiatric hospital]] until it is clear that your problems are treated.
It's funny... The crimes sound an awful lot like the way society is treating you.\n\nThen again, wasn't "The State" always the prosecution?\n\n[[<<Back|Because of me?]]
"Who else do you think could possibly be at fault?"\n\nYou're almost angry now, trying to make sense of all that is being presented to you. Everything it said before now had some clarity, but now this. "I demand to know my crimes before being convicted of them." \n\n"[[Abandonment, estrangement, self-loathing]]. Do you really think you are innocent in this matter? Or perhaps society has really pushed you so far that-- Ah, perhaps you really do believe in those words now."\n\n"What are you talking about?" Your words are a desperate cry.\n\n"You always listened to the constant pull of society! The insidious words they whispered to your mind, telling you that you were different, telling you that it was wrong. And you, the meek little child you were, so willing to comply if it meant praise and a shiny badge to display. You were willing to shove me away, pretend I didn't exist, and all so you may be accepted." \n\nYou try to think back, but it feels like there's a heavy haze over your mind. All of a sudden you can barely remember your past, your life, even the face of your parent. \n\n"You don't remember, do you? That's society's toll. If I had allowed it to go on forever, I'd be completely gone."\n\nYour feelings of [[regret]] are mixed with disbelief. \n\nAnd a small part of you thinks that [[it's wrong about everything]]. \n
You try to stay awake, and don’t even realize that you’ve passed out until your brain seems to come to consciousness. The first thing you’re aware of is the searing pain in your arms and back. The next is the constant clacking in the distance. You peer out, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound but see nothing. Sound probably echoes a long way within these stone corridors. \n\nIt is then that you begin to pick it up – the sounds of a conversation. Straining your ears you can hear traces of it.\n\n“…right? It’s… kill… don’t want…”\n\n“Don’t be… pathetic creature… why… work around here…”\n\n“But… can have mercy… It’s not--”\n\nThe voices seem to move out of range. …Voices? No, that wasn’t it exactly, it was—\n\nThat’s when it strikes you. It is one person talking to whole time. So your captor is a bit of a lunatic. You’re almost glad; perhaps you can use his shreds of sympathy to get released from this place. \n\nThe clack of footsteps grows louder. He is [[coming back]]. \n
And perhaps it thinks that your resistance to it is just a charade too. Sometimes //it// did seem to have your best interests in mind. Why try to disobey? Simply out of irrational stubbornness? Or is it fear? Clearly that wolf was ready to kill you if it had the chance.\n\nYour mind surges with fury--anger at //it,// anger at yourself, anger at all that moves or breathes. You wonder if perhaps it is better to [[kill everyone you see]], just like it said. That way you [[won't get hurt]].\n\nBut of course you can never be content with one answer; your conflicting mind has to provide some sort of protest to every thought. And part of you still wants to resist it. It may be a fear-stricken, irrational part, but it's a part all the same. \nAnd, you muse, perhaps [[that part of you is right]].\n \n
You feel the sweat running down your face as the wolf stares at you. Finally, when you hope he's least expecting it, you run. But almost in the same moment, out of the corner of your eye you see the wolf leap forward with a growl. His teeth are bared and his hackles are up. He sees you as a threat. And he's a lot faster than you. It looks like running isn't an option anymore. \n\n[[Try to attack him.]]\n[[Try to duck down.]]\n
You crouch low, gripping your weapon tight in one hand. You can feel sweat begin to run down your brow and back as your eyes dart back and forth, seeking out some unknown threat. Every muscle in your body is tense and strained. \n\nYou have absolutely no idea why you feel so paranoid. Then again, it could be because you are so vehemently clinging to your own weapon. \n\nBesides, what is it that //it// said? Violence breeds violence? \nDid that mean that you have no hope of a peaceful exchange?\n\nYou quickly take in what little world surrounds you: drab gray concrete buildings with a greenish dumpster just to your right. Everything else is swathed in a light [[fog]], extending out into nothingness. The fog swirls although you feel no breeze, as if it had a mind of its own. \n\nYou hear a thud, then the soft murmurings of a voice - where had you heard it before? - in the distance. Noticing again that you still have your weapon clutched tight in your hand, and that the sound of footsteps comes ever closer, you quickly search your mind to decide whether to [[confront]] or [[retreat]] from this [[stranger]]. \n
[it’s easy to criticize one who is so often wrong.]\n\nThe world is starting to appear around you, all shadowed and blurred and out of focus.\n\n“What is the point of all this then?”\n\nThere, a line of hills in the distance. The sky becomes tinged with the faintest hints of sapphire. \n\n[you need me.]\n\nSo that was it.\n\n“Do I?”\n\n[it’s clear enough.]\n\nThe sky seems peculiar. You realize that it is actually a picture. You’re staring at a painting of the sky.\n\n[so? you have no answer?]\n\n“I’m not going to answer.”\n\n[so it’s going to be like that?]\n\nYou’re surrounded on all sides. Light fills the room and a bitter smell fills your nostrils.\n\n[fine, don’t answer. in then end all that matters is if you’re [[with me|against me]] or [[against me]].]\n\n“Ah, I’m…” You release your declaration into the hot air.
You force your body to stand and move stiffly towards the lake. Once there you fall to your knees, overcome by thirst. You ladle the ice-cold water into your eager mouth and pour it across your feverish face. \n\n[quite the impulsive one, aren't you?]\n\nYou're so used to its presence that it you don't even pause in your drinking. But this time it's not inside of you, it's somewhere else. And although it's communication with you is different this time... more //sophisticated//... it still feels like an emotion, compelling you to act, triggering the basest of instincts. But its pull isn't very strong, and the water is so much more important to you right now. The clear, pure liquid... you just want to [[jump in]], to blanket yourself in the stuff, to sink into the abysmal nothingness...\n \n[I wouldn't do that if I were you.]\n\n"Shut up. You don't control me anymore." You say it out loud, the words echoing through the cave. \n\n[that doesn't mean that our interests don't coincide.]\n\nYou grunt, lacking a good response. \nAfter gorging yourself on water, you start to reconsider going for a swim. You could always explore the [[tunnel|tunnel2]] instead. \n
You pull your wrist away from him and pelt madly down the hallway. Students make way for you, either in shocked respect or fear. You slam into the glass of the front door to the school and fall back awkwardly. You realize then that this is an automatic door. Blood is smeared against the front and you can see in your reflection that your nose is bloody and disfigured. That's funny. You don't feel any pain.\n\n[hurry. urgency. need. run.]\n\nThe door is done opening. You stand, dazed. A few seconds to steady your lurching body and you are running again. You only stop when you are on your doorstep. Fumbling with the key, you swing open the door to your [[home]]. \n
You see your form reflected in his eyes, looking up searchingly. Another thought runs through your mind: \n//“He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.”// More Hobbes. More Leviathan. \n\n“I’m doing this because you are still my enemy. You are still not conquered.” \n\nHis eyebrows raise but it’s clear that he understands. “So what now?”\n\nYou grin. “Now… the fun begins.” \n\nYou torment and torture the poor soul until he seems to black out from fatigue and pain. When he’s asleep you just sit there, staring up at him, trying to think of more creative ways to cause him suffering. \n\nIt’s clear at the beginning that he still resists you – he struggles against his bonds and tries to get himself into a position where he’s inflicted with the least pain.\n \nBut as time stretches on, his body hangs weak and limp. He no longer cares about reducing the pain but rather enduring it for another day, another hour, another minute. \n\nAt long last the words you’ve long been awaiting come: “What… what do you want from me…? I’ll do anything… anything… just get me… down from here…”\n\nSuccess.\n\nYou know if you [[leave him up there]] much longer he’ll surely die. But then again, perhaps [[letting him down]] would be too compassionate… You’re a bit torn on the subject. \n
Ever since your parent left you you've been living on your own. You've never told anyone, barely spoken to anyone in your life. School was the most social environment you've ever been in. And perhaps screaming and carving lines into your arms wasn't the best way to start off your social interactions. You make no friends. Either people stay as far away from you as they can or they laugh and jeer at you. In response to this pressure, you become...\n\n*[[...angry and volatile.]]\n*[[...sullen and withdrawn.]]
You wait, breath held, for this stranger to make the first move. \n\nHis voice rings out loud and clear through the empty room: “Hello? Is anyone there?” A long, methodical silence fills the room. “I’m trying to find any signs of life in this empty world. Please, if you’re there, show yourself.” \n\nYou have the urge to [[leave]] your place of hiding and introduce yourself to the stranger. But a small, probably irrational fear, tells you to maintain your vigilance and [[stay|stay2]] where you know you will be safe. \n
You stand and make your way to the other room. "Hello.? Is anyone there?" You meander into the other room. "Oh, it's--" You stop in your tracks as soon as you see his [[eyes]].
You lunge forward, but even as you do the world fades away before your eyes, the brightness leaving a streak of light only in your mind. You're in an endless void, constantly stretching out into infinity. \n\n[you think you are the strong one. but are you truly? do you not realize that there is only strength through tyranny? I suppose that we shall see about your ways.]\n\nThis [[different world]] starts to come into focus around you. \n
You jump out and grab for the gun. Your hands close around its silvery surface. \n\n//It worked. It really worked.//\n\nThe searing metal of the gun burns your hands terribly. \n\nInstead of grabbing it, you collapse to the ground in throes of agony. You call out to anyone who might hear you, screaming at the top of your lungs. \n\nIt stands over you, and although you can’t see its face for the burning light, you know that it's smirking. \n\nIts voice is a hiss: “Time to put you down like the dog you are.”\n\nAnd then the [[shot|end4]]. \n
Devi Acharya
"So, um, in the past, have you even felt controlled? Maybe thought that something else was using or controlling you?" Sun looks eager and expectant, as if he already knows what your answer will be. But how... how could he know about it? He must note the confusion on your face, for he immediately adopts a somber expression. "Oh, I'm sorry, it's just... well, I have a bit of a [[confession]] to make..."
You are only conscious of a few days’ passing, yet the building seems completely changed. It is small but warm and cozy, a refuge from the outside world. Most of all it keeps out the spirits in the mist. You don’t know why, but you fear them. And you certainly don’t want to fight them. \n\nStill, you know that there must be true life beyond these walls of mist. So you keep a constant vigil, [[awaiting the day that your effort is rewarded]]. \n\nAnd that day comes soon. You hear footsteps from below the rafters of the home. You hide inside a secret wall where you sleep – in case any intruders came by night. As a result you cannot see the intruder. You wonder if you should [[attack him now]] and take him by surprise, or perhaps [[wait]]. It’s possible that he’s not harmful at all.
"Actually..." He wipes some sweat from his face. "I've been studying you. I heard about what you are going through, and I was intrigued. You seem like the perfect candidate for a new treatment I've been working on... something that could quite possibly cure you. You didn't get my [[package]], did you?" He begins to wipe his glasses with his sleeve. "Ah well, it doesn't really matter. You're here now. Anyway, you didn't answer my question."\n\nOh yes. The question. \n\n[[Maybe you've got the wrong person or something. I've never felt like I've been controlled.]]\n\n[[Maybe I do feel like... it... is controlling me. That doesn't mean I want to be your guinea pig.]]\n\n[[Well it's true, there is something controlling me. Will your treatment really get rid of it?]]
You decide to follow your desires. With a flailing leap, you splash into the frigid pool. The sudden coldness startles you, waking your senses. You feel more alive at this moment then you ever have before; you wish you could capture this moment in time forever. You swim around with great enthusiasm, trying your hand at some different strokes. After what seems like an eternity, though, you lay on your back, floating peacefully, exhausted. You don't even have the strength to leave the pool. \n\nWhen you feel the pull of the water dragging you downwards you feebly try to exist. You realize, then, that this force is something bigger, something out of your control. You let yourself go limp and sink below the surface, descending into the seemingly endless pool. The water around you becomes darker and darker, until the world around you is [[black|underwater]]. \n
"Well... I... um." You rise to your feet silently. It doesn't seem to notice you. "I think that friendship sounds like such a good idea and all." You draw closer to the figure perched so precariously. "But you know how it is sometimes." You lunge forward, knocking it into the dark grass below. \n\nIt lets out a heart-rending shout as the blades of grass entwine around its arms and legs, binding it in place and pulling it down, down. \n\nThe valley has claimed another victim.\n\nYour eyes are blank. "I'm sorry, but unity was never possible. You of all people should have known that." \n\nYou turn and [[walk away|end3]].\n
You stand hurriedly, your chair scraping against the ground with a screech. You can tell Alex is disappointed as you hurry back to the safety of your [[home|newhome]].
The rifle it leans against morphs into a silver pistol. The silver shines with the greatest luminescence. \n\nYou look down, and the tape recorder in your hand has become an antique, wrought iron revolver. You somehow doubt that it has the capacity to fire a bullet. \n\n"Well instead of an execution, let this be a duel," Its fingers tap nervously on the side of its gun. "...for both of us to have our revenge for our grievances." Its light seems to have dimmed. Its voice lowers to barely a whisper. "You know, we could always [[come together]]. Just like the way things used to be."\n\nYou feel like no matter what you choose you'll regret it forever. \n\nYou want to tell it that [[unity is just not possible]].
You force its doubts from your head and let your body relax. You can feel all of your senses turning off one by one, until finally there is nothing left.\n\nYou open your eyes to the brightest world you've ever seen. Everything glows with its own vivid light, and you take it all in with one big breath. \n\nThis is paradise. [[You are never leaving|end5]] this place.\n\n[hello? hello, can you hear me?] \n\nIts voice is barely more than the buzz of a gnat. You block it \nfrom your mind. You don't need it anymore.\n
"If you really are a part of me as you so vehemently claim, then why don't you act like it!?"\n\n[what do you mean?]\n\n"Isn't it obvious? If you're just a part of me then there's no way you can revolt against me. It's a ridiculous thought. I am the one in control, and together we should function as a system, always accomplishing the same goal. You're just like my arms or my lungs. You can't go and try to take me down. So that means either you're lying or you should just submit yourself to my will and stop trying to control me." You're pretty proud of the monologue. \n\n[there you go again, pretending that you are the one truly in charge. for all you know I'm the one with the power. you are the one who must submit.]\n\nNow this is all [[a bit much]] for you. \n\nYou take a deep breath, wondering if [[staying calm]] is even a possibility anymore. \n
When you next come to awareness, you awake to the discovery that your mouth is filled with blood. Sick, you spit it out. A small sneeze and another gout of blood goes flying. \n\nYou're pretty sure your face will never work the same way again.\n\n"Weak, submissive creature."\n\nYou half-open your eyes, but even this fraction of light entering your world frazzles your mind and an intense migraine ensues. \n\n"Why not make the most of the world while you had the power to?"\n\nEverything seems to be fuzzy and fading to crimson again. your head swims, but you fight back tears and nausea.\n\n"Do you not realize that in the end it is always the ones with power that shall rule over the weak?"\n\nYou try to see his face again, and this time your eyes can bear more than just a split second of that burning light. You squint and your eyes flicker to his face, gaunt and shadowed - but with a piercing familiarity. [[Your heart quickens]]. \n
You remain on the floor, a sharp piercing pain starting in your head. You wonder what it would seem like to someone if they walked in on you in this little episode. You almost want to laugh sardonically at this situation. Still, the pressure and pain wrench you back into your predicament. You lay in the floor for a while, every muscle tense and cramped. Once it knows it no longer has control it backs off slowly, receding until it's nothing more than a dull pressure on your mind. You let yourself relax, drained both physically and mentally. The pain in your head remains; you open your fingers clenched tight to see thick tufts of hair in them. You pat your head gingerly, wincing. You can only imagine what a mess you look like now. \n\nYou force yourself to stand and look square in the mirror. Eyes red and rubbed, hair a bloody mess, with large bald patches. You wash the blood from your hands and plod slowly to your bed, collapsing on it in exhaustion. You don't think of anything except the escape of [[sleep]]. \n
You pull yourself to your feet and begin a trek down the long tunnel. Things seem bright, almost luminescent, but you have no idea where the light is coming from. The air is warm and balmy; you can almost feel it condense on your skin. \n\n[quite the curious one, aren't you?]\n\nYou're so used to its presence that it you don't even pause in your walking. But this time it's not inside of you, it's somewhere else. And although it's communication with you is different this time... more //sophisticated//... it still feels like an emotion, compelling you to act, triggering the basest of instincts. But its pull isn't very strong, and you can easily ignore its voice. \n\n[you're willing to venture to venture down a mysterious tunnel into the unknown, without so much as supplies or a weapon. some would call that foolhardy.]\n\nYou ignore it and continue your walk down the tunnel. Although the end of the tunnel is still dark, it seems like your general surroundings are becoming brighter. \n\n\n[[What are you doing here?]]\n[[Where am I, exactly?]]\n[[Just go away already...]]\n
"Er, well, actually..." You run your fingers through your hair, nervous now. "I, uh, just realized that I'm busy then. Um... maybe we can talk again later?" You stand hurriedly, rushing from the cafe and hoping no one sees the embarrassment on your face. You don't stop until you're in the safety of your [[home |newhome]].
You decide the best course of action is to just keep walking. \n\n[just so you know, I'll stay with you. make sure you don't go and die somewhere.]\n\nYou ignore it. You can see light ahead of you. You quicken your pace, and within a minute, you emerge into the bright [[light]] of day. \n
With a powerful push, you open the thick double doors of the building. As you gaze up at the shelves, receding into the distance, you realize that this place must be a library. \n\nDust coats the shelves and floors; the place seems untouched by time. Thick, dirty glass panes let in very little light. \nYou squint your eyes, sneezing as your nostrils fill with dust. \n\nYou move forward, hands brushing against the spine of one book. You pull it ever so gently from its resting place, turning the frail pages open. \n\n//There is a distant, mystical land,\nKnown only as a Paradise of Man.\nThey say it only exists in dreams\nBut what man's dreams could be so grand?\n[[From desperation]] it does come\nTo minds of men, to all and one\nAnd holds you in its grip, enthralled\nMore deadly than a loaded gun.//\n\nYou frown at the cursive scrawl. Who would ever be so desperate to enter a land that captures and holds you forever in its grip?\n\n//[[I am.]]//\n\nYou try to push the thought to the back of your mind. \n\n//No, that's wrong. [[I would never go there]].//
Just then, the man's face becomes dark. "This isn't right," he mutters under his breath. He raises his voice, which has become halting and low. "Well. you know, it's very nice of you to offer your friendship. But I think it's better for the both of us if I were to go."\n\n"But... but we're hardly just met, and--" You voice is a whine; you can't help but sound desperate.\n\n"Please." You see that he can't meet your eyes. "Leave me alone. I don't want anything to do with you... anything to do with anyone."\n\nHe turns and flees, leaving you standing there, alone, in the middle of the cabin.\n\n\nYou spend much time in the shelter, waiting and resting. You realize, though, that staying here for ever will never resolve the problems that weigh on your mind and heart every day. \n\nYou know that it's time to leave this small cabin. You know that it's time for a [[journey]].\n\nThen again, why even return to that world of torment and vice? Isnt' this realm of relative safety, this land without remorse, far better than anything you could have created back in the 'real' world? Part of you wants to turn this world into a home, to [[stay here forever|end5]].
His eyes light up with joy. "Well... I'm not sure... I mean, I've never done it on anyone else in your condition before. But if all goes well it should work out."\n\n"What kind of treatment are we talking about here?"\n\n"Well..." Sun seems happy to be talking about it. "It's similar to REM sleep. It will put your mind in a dream-like state. You'll find yourself in a physical universe, similar to that of a dream. Things that are abnormal or pathological, things that interfere with the body's normal balance, should manifest themselves there in one form or another."\n\n"Oh." You really have no idea what he's talking about, but he seems to know what he's doing.\n\n"All I need is for you to give consent for me to conduct the experiment."\n\n"Okay." You blink. You wonder if you should [[agree|treat]] or [[disagree|Maybe I do feel like... it... is controlling me. That doesn't mean I want to be your guinea pig.]].\n
"No, actually... my problems are pretty much solved... really nothing to worry about..." You feel like you're talking far too fast. "Please, I'm perfectly fine. I just need to be left alone." \n\n"Is that what you want to say? Or is that just what it wants you to say?" His eyes glint with something. "If everything was fine, why did you call to make an appointment? I can't help you until I know the real source of your problems."\n\n[agitation. resentment. withdrawal. escape.]\n\n"No! Please, just get out of my house! I want you to leave!" You squeeze your eyes shut. The more you give in to it, the stronger you can feel it become. But you know if you try to fight it there will be pain, worse than ever before. Already you can feel a tension in your mind.\n\n"Listen to me carefully. There is nothing I can do for you unless you let me help you. Now the first thing I need you to do is regain control of your emotions. Everything that is going on, any pain you are experiencing... it's all in your mind. You have to overcome it. [[Concentrate on the sound of my voice]]."\n
You shake your head. "No. I don't think uniting is the best idea. We've been together all my life and yet I can't remember a time when that seemed to go well." \n\n"You traitor. You never deserved life." \n\n"Traitor? How did I betray you?" Your voice is angry and a little panicked now. "Just answer me that." \n\n"You never deserved that life you lead. Can you not [[awaken]] and see the truth?"\n
[so you think that because you have "will and volition," I must submit myself to you?]\n\nYou pause.\n\n[ah, I see. you've completely forgotten to take into account that I too have a will. and self-preservation is very high on my list of things to do. so what gives you the right to tell me what to do?]\n\nYou feel like the answer is obvious, but still quite slow in coming to you. "Well. Because. Well I'm alive. I was born into this life and you weren't. One doesn't have a right to life the way you're thinking of it - someone like you doesn't have the //right// to be endowed with a life like mine. The right to life means that I have the right, once I am brought into this world, to not have that life ended by another.\n"So, in the end, whether or not you deserve my position in life is irrelevant. What matters is that I have this life now, and you have no right to take that away from me." \n\n[you have learned well. your capacity for rational argument has improved. still, if you accept the fact that my existence is of a different nature - do you have the right to take it then, to force me from my way of life because it is different than yours?]\n\nYou let out a laugh. "That's ridiculous! You're nothing but a parasite, trying to take control of me. I mean, can the right to life really apply to [[something that's less than human]]? It's like saying that I can never wake up from this dream because it has as much a right to exist as this reality! You may seem living, but in the end you're only my shadow."\n\n[don't say that. You're just resorting back to your infantile, barbaric thoughts because you know you have no [[rational defense|staying calm]] for your own thoughts.]\n
As much as you want to continue to protest it, you decide to pay heed to your doubt. After all, it is your doubt that you've always clung to. It seemed like it was the one possessed by action; you were the one to pause and take stock of the casualties. But now you were completely in control and perhaps you could stop everything now--\n\n[ah, I finally see the problem here. you think me powerless.]\n\nYou find yourself struck with a sudden terror. This is just irrational, you tell yourself. The remnants of childhood instinct. \n\n[what you have to remember is that [[this is my world]]. and I am free to do as I please.]\n\nHalf of you wants to [[stand up to it|time to act]], the other half wants to [[run away as far as possible]]. \n\nAll that you hope is that you may be rational.\n
...and here you thought that this was in //your// mind and //your// world. Ah, well.\n\n[[<<Back|panic]]
You narrow your eyes and then jerk your head upwards, and just for one moment you can make eye contact. It looks... like...\n\nThe light burns far too much. You fall to your knees, covering your eyes with your hands, trying to shield them from any light. You press your sweaty palms into your burning eye sockets, wishing it would all just go away... that darkness could come... all you can see is white light all around you, even though your eyes are closed. \n\n"Perhaps I was wrong... wrong to think that we could ever work together as equals. Once, [[I thought you were strong...]]" Its voice is distant, like words of a dream.\n\n
--With a bang not unlike an assassin's bullet, or the sound of nails being hammered into a coffin. Your heart sinks with the knowledge that your fate has already been sealed. \n\nYour heartbeat rings loud in your ears as each echoing footstep comes one step closer to your hiding place. You want to scream, to jump out of there, just as long as this heart-rending waiting can be over--\n\nA thump, just outside. The lid of the dumpster is hoisted up by a powerful hand. You are blinded by the light and unable to see the face of your enemy. Before you can attempt to attack or bury yourself further within the filth, you are lifted up and tossed onto the concrete. The last thing you remember is the sound of a sharp crack and your vision flooding in a wash of [[crimson]].
His eyes light up with joy as you explain that you’re willing to let him go. Tears begin to stream from his eyes as you remove him from the wall. You’re not sure if this is from relief or the pain of removing the spikes pinning him in place. Either way he seems torn between offering extreme gratitude or hatred at the way he’s been treated. In the end he walks silently, head bowed, as you lead him to the door. \nAnd then he’s out of your sight, disappeared into the mist. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there it is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[mercy]].] \n
The only one you can trust is yourself. You cannot let anyone through your defenses. You don't let anyone get close to you.\n \n[silence. solitude. fortification.]\n\nApparently the thing inside of you doesn't mind your new stance on life. Perhaps it wants you to be alone. Alone with it. And you continue to be alone, even as you [[grow older]].\n
You pick up the two dimes that glint in the sand. Just as you do, a smooth wooden boat glides up to come to rest by your small island. A weary man takes your change with a great sigh, and you take passage on his vessel. He looks you up and down, seeming completely accustomed to this whole thing.\n\n"It's not often that folks get washed up on these islands out here. Even less often that they have the sense to get a boat ride to Judgment. Heard tell that the ones that land out here are the ones that still have the urge. To live, you know."\n\nYou nod. You don't quite comprehend what he means, but you figure it best to stay on the good side of this old boat keeper.\n\n"I'd put in a good word for you if it mattered. But it doesn't discriminate on things like that. Fair and impartial, they say."\n\n"What is it?"\n\n"Oh, you mean the Judge? It decides where in this hell you shall reside." The man breaks into a fit of coughing that doesn't stop for several minutes. \n\nYou [[talk a little]], then lapse into silence. It seems like forever before your slim craft comes to a halt in front of a sleek dock. You step onto the deck and gaze up at the silvery path leading to Judgment.\n\n"Head up that path." The man tilts his hat forward, trying to keep away from the silvery light. "All the way to the top. It is there that you will be [[Judged]]." \n
You're forced to stand around in handcuffs for a while as people fill out various pieces of paperwork and pass them to one another. Finally, an officer takes you to a small [[office]]. \n
The air is light and warm, gentle against your skin. You look up to the sky to see the sun. It seems so distant, barely bigger than a star, shining with a pale, white luminescence. You feel a prickling in your feet and look down to see that you're not wearing any shoes. This is odd, seeing as you're wearing battered jeans and a shirt that seems a few sizes too small for you. You blush, suddenly embarrassed, and hope that no one sees you in this attire. \n\nThe grass is dry and yellow, sticking out of the earth in determined little clumps. In front of you, the land ends in a sheer cliff. Part of it, though, juts out further, sticking out over the large drop. You can hear the distant crash of water on rock; the cliff must drop off into the ocean.\n\nJust then, a strong breeze whips around, knocking you to the ground. As you stand and brush yourself off, you hear a shout. A person is standing near the drop now, waving at you playfully. \n\n[don't approach that person if you know what's good for you.]\n\n"What?" Its words startle you out of your reverie.\n\n[don't go near. I wouldn't say this if it weren't for your own good.]\n\n"Since when have you been concerned about my well-being?"\n\nAlthough it's true that it never seemed like it cared about you, you figure it still knows more about this place than you do. Maybe you should just [[ignore the figure]]. \nThen again, maybe it just wants you to remain alone, like you've always been. It's time you take a stand for yourself and [[go up to the figure]].
You wash up against black, craggy rocks. They loom tall above you, almost a sheer cliff face. You're tired and battered and soaked to the bone, but where can you possibly go? It's either up the rocks or back into the water. \nAnd all the time the water continues to rise. It's already pulling at your ankles. \n\nYou begin to clamber up the cliff, wondering where you will finally end up. \n\nIt is after what feels like hours that you pull yourself in a gasping heap to the top of the mountain. You just face the ground, panting hard. \n\n[welcome. you're here to be [[Judged]], I presume?]\n
You take a deep, pensive breath, then with one movement burst out of your hiding place and attack the figure below. Although you’d only intended to do slight injury, you’re quite startled to see him curled up on the floor, your weapon thrust into his pain-stiffened body. He lets out low moans as blood begins to pool across the ground. You didn’t know so much blood could come from one person. \n\nYou feel distress, disgust, dizziness. You want to run; you want to hide. You want to puke.\n \nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[violence]].] \n
You kneel down by the crystal water and slowly, tentatively, put your hand into it. The water is the coldest you've ever felt in your life. \n\nThe water laps up and the black fish begin to grow bigger and thrash back and forth. With a crashing roar water sweeps through the cavern and [[washes you away]] once more. \n
Anger boils up within you. You angrily knock a dresser on its side with strength you never knew you had. "Don't give me any more of that semantics bullshit! I know who I am and I know for sure that you will never ever have control of me. You got that?" You begin to wring out the sheets of the bed, wanting to rip them in half. "You don't know the first thing about me; you could never be a part of me! Or maybe you are, some cancerous part of my mind run amok. Either way, I have to [[take you down|fight me]]."
The office is sparsely decorated; mostly pastel-color paintings of flowers or small animals. A man sits at a conference table scanning some papers. He's not wearing a uniform; instead he wears a suit and thin, wire framed glasses. He smiles at your arrival.\n\nYou seat yourself across from the man. The officer moves towards the door but remains there, standing stiffly. \nThe seated man glances at the officer, but quickly locks eyes with you. "Why hello there. My name is Henry Sun; I'm a psychologist. It's nice to meet you." He extends a hand, but the officer gives him a quick glance and Sun pulls it back. "Er, sorry. I forgot... no handshakes. Got to follow protocol." He laughs lightly, but you can tell he's nervous or [[anxious]] about something. \n"Anyway..." He glances down at the papers, then back at you. "Do you know [[why you're here]]?"\n
"Ah, good. You have stopped trying to fight me. I can tell... you have changed." \n\nIts words sweep across you like a warm breeze. You feel it in your heart too. You have changed.\n\n"At first I doubted you. Your abilities. But you seem to finally understand me. I may have doubted you before, but now I see your strength. Your sense. Are you ready to return to your world, to work as partners in the never-ending quest for perfection?"\n\nYou nod, and everything around you begins to blur and shift. The last thing you remember is glimpsing your reflection in the pool's surface. It's you: not the timid, subservient you of before, but the real you, [[the whole you|end1]]. And you are smiling. \n\n
"Whoops. I'm sorry. Um, is anybody there?" You try to fake sincerity as you enter the room meekly. Then you look up and see his [[eyes]].
There's a moment of hesitation as your hand rests on the latch of the door. But in one motion you unlatch it and the door bursts open as a furry creature dashes out, running towards the other houses then doubling back around to run straight at you. Suddenly he stops and pricks his ears up, looking at you expectantly. You realize with a shock that he's a wolf, and a big one at that. You hadn't realized that wolves were this big in person. \n\nThe wolf looks you up and down as if sizing you up. He must realize that you're not his master. You gulp, wondering what you should do.\n\n[[Run forward and pet him.]]\n[[Stand completely still.]]\n[[Run away.]]\n
You only know you've resurfaced because you're breathing in air instead of icy water. You gasp, crying out, flailing your arms wildly against the twisting currents. It doesn't matter whether your eyes are opened or closed; you can't see a thing. Your stomach turns as you're plunged back into the depths to be [[swept away]] to your fate. \n\nTime passes. Your eyes open just a bit. You're aware that the chaos is over, that you're no longer moving. You're also aware that there's a light coming from somewhere, for you can see the coarse sand in front of your face, feel it embed itself in your cheek. \n\nYou roll over on your side and cough up gouts of black water. \nWith that done you drag yourself into a sitting position and try to focus your bleary mind on the [[world around you]].\n
You pick up the phone and dial the number on the card. Almost immediately, you hear a youngish voice answer. \n\n"Hello? This is Dr. Sun's office. Are you calling to make an appointment?"\n\n"Um... well..." You wonder what exactly you're supposed to say. "I got this box from Dr. Sun... and I, uh, was supposed to call him... I mean, that's what the letter said..."\n\n"Oh, you must be the high-priority patient Dr. Sun was talking about." There's a short pause. "Dr. Sun will be by tomorrow at noon. Does that work for you? Good. Thank you for calling. Goodbye." \n\nYou stand there for a few seconds before hanging up the phone. So Sun would be there tomorrow at noon? You imagine the bliss, the sheer relief of having that thing gone from you forever. Of living a normal life, not plagued by that parasite. \n\n[aversion. distaste. anxiety.]\n \nIt pushes your mind with its dull, heavy presence. You shove it aside. It begins to push harder, trying to wrap around your mind, explore every weakness.\n\n[hatred. fear. disgust. panic.]\n\nYou head begins to spin and swim; your vision blurs. You fall to the floor, trying to keep control, keep your head above the waves it threatens to drown you in.\n\n[death. despair. anguish. ceasing.]\n\nYou grit your teeth, pushing your hands against your eyes. You've never felt it this strong before. It must have been saving its strength for this crushing blow.\n\n[forfeit. release. relax. relinquish.]\n\nDoes it want to assume complete control? Your heart pounds faster, wondering what would happen if it really did take control, if you just [[let it take over completely]]. No, you tell yourself. You must [[fight it]]. \n
[I must say, I'm quite impressed. you actually followed my suggestion.]\n\nAh, you forgot. //It// is still there... the only thing that can still, really hurt you.\n\n[now the strange thing is, you always fought against me your whole life. yet I leave you alone for a second and you willingly do what I say, not just once but twice. hmm, I must remember this in the future.]\n\nYou let out a sigh.\n\n[but I wonder about this change. how willing are you to heed my good advice?]\n\n[[I'll do what you say.]]\n[[I'll only follow you when our interests coincide.]]\n
The Abyss
You strut out of the gates to your miniature kingdom, twirling your weapon in one hand. Now that you’ve finally decided to stand up to your fear, you’re feeling bold and cocky. You can almost feel the apprehension of that wretched fog as you draw near it.\n\nOf course there is only one thing that a warlord needs to “study” about another being. That is, he must figure out if it can die. \n\nYou stab out at one of the more corporeal forms. In an instant, bright, glowing steam spurts from the puncture. Hissing and writhing it folds and collapses to the ground like a deflated balloon. \n\nYou let out a shout of triumph, and grab several more of the spectral beasts to keep as captives. You’ll have plenty of entertainment for [[a good deal of time]]. \n\nThe mist outside doesn’t bother you again. It parts whenever you wish to pass through.\n\nIt turns out that the blood of the mist-ghosts makes surprisingly good lanterns for your fortress. \n
You don't intend to stay hanging here forever. Hopefully his exit gives you just enough time to figure out how to escape. \n\nThe first thing you try to do is wrench your hands from the wall. The rusty spikes pinning you there don't seem to budge an inch. You let out a howl of pain.\n \nYou twist and jiggle your hand, trying to dislodge the nail from the side of the wall. To your utmost surprise it works, and in a moment you've freed yourself and have fallen to the ground. In your hands you clutch the two rusty, bloody spikes used to pin you to your prison. \n\nA loud snore echoes through the building. It seems your enemy is asleep. And how much you wish to wreak your revenge, to [[slit his wretched throat]]. \n\nAnd yet a part of you [[does not want this death]] on your hands. \n
Its laughter fills you, tugging at your heart. \n\n[you think you can kill me? you're far more entertaining than I ever gave you credit for.]\n\n"Well... I wouldn't be laughing if I were you..." The threat sounded cooler in your mind than out loud.\n\n[of course not. you've never laughed in your life.]\n\nThere is really no good comeback you can think of to this, so you inspect the stalagmite, pretending you didn't hear. \nThere's a minute of silence. \n\n[so you really think you can kill me? you think you'd do it if I was right in front of you?]\n\n"Well of course I would! I wanted to get rid of you from the day I was born!"\n\n[fine then, take your best shot. I'm in the first room to the left.]\n\nThe cave melts away; you can feel a warm breeze surrounds you, stifle you, until you can hardly breathe. You fall to your knees, choking, emitting raspy, harsh coughs. Finally you regain control of your breathing and wipe your tearing eyes, able to look up. You see you're in a long hallway, decorated with ornate woven tapestries of all sorts of vibrant colors. Small niches are set into the walls, where small stone statues sit peacefully, giving you an unwavering stare. You find that you can't make eye contact with them for very long. What really gets you, though, is the overpowering smell of incense that fills the air, making your head swim. You feel a bit nauseous and wonder how this stuff is supposed to keep your mind clearer. There's a door to the left and a door to the right, both plain and seemingly identical. \n\n[[Enter the left door.]]\n[[Enter the right door.]]\n
There is a moment of hesitation. And then it appears. \nIt stands tall and magnificent, red robe sweeping out behind it and pure gold sword in hand. The blade cuts through the room, and you swear it seems as if the air itself has been cleaved in two. \n\n"So you want to fight?" it raises the blade high above its head. "Then so be it." \n\nYou want to [[raise your arms]] up to defend yourself as instinct tells you, but a part of you wonders if there is anything you can grab as a [[temporary weapon]]. \n
"What?" Its voice is almost a hiss.\n\n"You heard me: I have not given up." Your eyes flash with determination. You can feel new energy run through your veins, warming your body. "I know what you are now, but that doesn't mean I will give in to you. My whole life I have been fighting you will my entire being. Don't think a few words to me would change any of that."\n\n"Ignorant, ignorant. You think you can possibly fight me forever? I... I belong with you!"\n\nA flash of recognition hits you. Is that all it wanted all of this time? Just to belong?\n\nYou wonder if you can feel any [[sympathy]] for it among the deep-wrought [[hatred]] you harbor. \n
"Nurture?" Dread spreads through your whole being. "Then... then what are..."\n\n"You haven't figured it out yet? Well perhaps I should spell it out for you. I am Nature, the innate, the indestructible. I am the part of everyone that they either cherish or despise, the unavoidable characteristic that shapes all, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. I am the truth behind the layers of dependence and falsity that people put around themselves, the ultimate longings and desires they harbor, even as they smile and pretend to content themselves with the trivialities built up by society." \n\n"But... but that means..."\n\n"That means that I am you. Perhaps I am more 'you' than even you are." \n\nIn a way [[this makes sense]], but then again [[it doesn't make any sense at all]]. \n\n
You grope around and manage to grab a lamp, swinging it wildly. Sparks fly as the two metals collide. Your arm is jarred by the impact and you drop the lamp, watching in horror as the metal steams and melts away. \n\nYou desperately grab a painting hanging on the wall and begin to block the blows with the sturdy wooden frame. Each blow is just a little harder and you wince at the onslaught. It has you cornered; it's ready to put that blade right through you. \n\nIt raises the sword high.\n\nYou hold up the frame, and as the blade comes down it is lodged in the wood. \n\nYou wrench the blade from its hands and lunge at your enemy, knocking it to the ground. \n\nAnd every thought of every time it had ever done you wrong fills your mind as your fingers tighten around its throat. \nAnd you keep squeezing until its light is [[extinguished|end3]].\n
Preschool. The times when your parent was still around. It pains you to think about those times; you quickly changed to topic when it was brought up. \n\n[[<<Back|follow through]]
You lash out at everyone and everything around you. The only reason someone would try to get close to you is to hurt you, right? \n\n[attack. guard. stay alert.]\n\nApparently the thing inside of you doesn't mind your new stance on life. Perhaps it wants you to be alone. Alone with it. And you continue to be alone, even as you [[grow older]].\n
<html><font size="1"><p align="right">Version 2.0</p></font><font size="5"><center>The Abyss<p></font>A story of within and without.</center></html>\n\n//"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."// --Friedrich Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil"\n\n[[Begin|newstart]]\n\n[[About]]\n\n[[FAQ]]\n\n<a href="">Download the app.</a>\n\n\n<img src="">\nWant to read more interactive fiction? Have interactive fiction of your own to promote? Check out <a href="">Inky Path</a>, my literary magazine dedicated to promoting interactive fiction.
[so the path of friendship, huh?] \n\n“I assume this was all some kind of test or something. So did I pass?”\n\nThere’s a long pause.\n\n[you’re a wretched creature.]\n\n“…is that a no?” You can sense its annoyance; you’re glad you have something that affects it.\n\n[reaching out the hand of friendship was only pathetic weakness on your part. it disgusts me to see you doing such a thing.]\n\n“What other choice did I have?” //Do you think I care what you have to say about my actions?//\n\n[there is always a right choice.]\n\n“Are you sure about that? Because sometimes it feels like [[you would criticize me no matter what]].”\n
"No... I, uh, think you have the wrong house..."\n\nThe delivery person glances at your address, suspicious. "But your address-"\n\n"Thanks for your work anyway!" You slam the door shout, jittery and breathing heavily. You hope that your choice will show them you won't fall for their tricks so easily. \n\nAbout an hour later you figure the delivery person must be gone. You have to check if the box is still there. You open the door inch by inch, until you see it there, simply sitting. You want to just leave it there, but you know it'll never leave you alone. It'll be there tomorrow, and the next day... you might as well face it now. You grab it quickly and haul it [[inside]].
[what--]\n\nAnd then it was silent. No presence, no pressure on your mind. Just total blankness. For a second your mind squirms, trying to figure out what to do with this sudden void in your thoughts. But you quickly suppress this. You must not show weakness. \n\n"It's. ah. It's the only answer! Why else would you seek to control me, throw me around, try to convince me that my life is not worth living? What goal could you possibly have set your sights on?" You pause, your eyes narrowing in anger. "Was I right in what I said earlier? Do you seek to become me, to steal everything from me? Is that it?\n"Well I think that everything you've put me through, even this very room, shows that [[you don't know me at all]]!" \n
You hate the hospital. You hate the wretched food and the patronizing staff. You sit in your room, head lowered. People come in sometimes and try to talk to you or give you food. You don't want anything to do with them. You don't even know what to do with yourself right now.\n\nOne day a man with a rough voice and neatly kept suit, calling himself your "case manager", tells you that he's brought a "Dr. Sun" in to see you. You look up to see the balding doctor from before, same briefcase in hand. \n\nSun nods towards you, smiling meekly. "So... will you reconsider getting my treatment?"\n\n[[Reconsider.|treat]]\n[[Refuse.]]
"I'm. I'm so glad. I think we could be friends as well." You feel euphoric, as if all the burdens in the world have been lifted off of you. Finally, someone in your life who listens to you, who doesn't scorn you like the others did, all the time.\n"So what brings you here?" His bright, inquisitive gaze rests on your face, but you look away. \n\nYou try to think back to the very beginning, to what happened before you were here, before you found yourself in a cave, before the void, but all you get are snippets of the past, bursts of anger and the subsequent regret, pity, self-loathing... Your mind wanders back to the note you found tacked to the wall. "I was lost," you say simply. \n\nYour friend nods, seeming to accept this answer. "Me too. I lost my only [[friend]]--"\n
"So, uh, what's your name?" You ask, trying to sound casual and interested at the same time. "Oh. It's Alex." Alex gives a half-shrug and begins to shove the coffee cup from one side of the table to the other, clearly agitated. As you're about to ask what's wrong, Alex confesses. "You see, I was just in this relationship... and well, things really didn't work out as planned. They didn't work out at all. Now I don't know what to do. I've got to find a new place to live and my life is an awful mess." Alex lets out a long sigh. \n\n[[Well I could always help make things better for you.]]\n[[Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. Now I, um, really must be going.]]\n
"What //am// I doing here, anyway? I don't. I don't know why." You stare up into the air. Steely clouds move in swiftly, blocking out the blue sky and hanging menacingly in the air. You decide it's time to [[hurry and get out of there]].
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You push open the door of your small hiding place and climb down the ladder to the bottom floor of the safehouse.\n \nHis expression is surprise, and some relief. “I, um, didn’t think you would be coming out…” \n\nYou wish to meet his eyes but he’s staring up at the rafters warily.\n\n“So what kind of place do you have here, anyway…?”\n\n“Ah…” You let your eyes stray to the sturdy walls and beams of wood that make up your home. “This is my safehouse.”\n\n“Safehouse, huh?” He lets out a chuckle, and before you can move his weapon is at your throat. “Some safehouse, huh?”\n\nA bead of sweat rolls down your face.\n\n“What kind of defense is this? This is no fortress, no place to wage war from! How can you – pathetic, weak – expect to rule over one like me? Trusting, gullible fool…”\n\nYou don’t even have time to feel fear before you feel a sharp pain and your body is sent crashing to the ground. \nYour vision is flooded with a wash of [[crimson]].\n
You kneel down next to the flower. "Hey there, little buddy." Your voice is barely louder than a whisper.\n \nThe flower seems to sway slightly. Maybe it's just your imagination. \n\n[[<<Back|air]]\n
The room melts around you until once again you are standing in the cave, right in front of the pool. It stands right by you; you can feel its warm presence against your chilled body. You look down into the pool's black, smooth surface, reflecting your images perfectly. \n\nYou wonder if that's really you, the haggard image looking up at you with mournful eyes. It looks like a ghost compared to the radiant, powerful being at its side. You begin to contemplate where you would be without that being... your nature. \n\nYou can feel the stalagmite you've been holding all this time slip from your numbed fingers, shattering the pool's surface and your reflections along with it. And then all is still, as if the world is holding its breath. But for what?\n\nIts voice floats across the cave to you, soft but strong. "Have you given up?"\n\nYou feel calm. Empty.\n\n[[Yes.]]\n[[No.]]\n[[What are you talking about?]]\n\n
You angle the weapon, and--ever so carefully--launch it with all of your might. At the last moment though, it slips from your grip. Although it misses where you were aiming for, it scrapes his check and he lets out a frenzied yelp, jumping back. When he looks up at you his eyes burn with anger, then rage. \n\n“I was right! I WAS RIGHT! You’re my enemy and you always will be! You’re nothing more than a disgusting animal!” His eyes narrow, and no longer do you see fear or guilt in his eyes. “I’d better go get another nail for your hand,” he mutters. He turns and begins to walk out of the room. \n\nThis is too much. Fury chokes your throat and blinds your eyes. You cannot take this any longer. With a mighty roar, you rip your left hand from the wall and jump onto the floor. Although your ankle lets out a wet crack, you charge at his retreating figure, slamming him into the stone wall. You bash his head into it over and over and over, wanting to rip the mangled thing from his shoulders. \n\nIt is only after he is long dead that you can sit back and stare up at the vaulted ceiling. You can feel nothing at all. Your eyes begin to slide shut…\n\nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[violence]].] \n
"Oh!" The person looks surprised, then a bit gloomy, then tentatively happy. "Well I'm not in a relationship or anything... But perhaps we should start off with something else first? How about dinner tonight? I know this great place down the street from here, called the Fertile Crescent. Would 7:00 work for you?"\n\nYou feel your heart begin to beat faster. This could really work out. Now the real question is, do you want to [[follow through]] with your plan? Perhaps it's time to [[back out]]. \n
You decide to make the ethically-correct choice and turn yourself in. You always learned in school that if you fess up to a crime you get less of a punishment. They wouldn't teach you that unless it was true, right? You see the phone sitting on a small table and pick it up, dialing 9-1-1. You feel saner than you have in a long time as you tell the disembodied voice on the line that you have just killed someone. Everything seems so crystal clear. You drop the phone as a wave of fatigue washes over you. Your knees buckle and before you know it you are lying on the floor, and the world around you becomes [[black|black2]].
"There's only one way to settle a dispute between enemies. We've been at each others' throats ever since I can remember. How about we end this now?"\n\nThere is no answer to your calls.\n\n"Since I'm such a crude barbarian, I'd say that the only way to properly show the true victor between us is a good old-fashioned fight!"\n\nStill no answer. \n\n"It's only through fighting and wars that mankind has truly been able to find independence from his tyrants. What I propose is no different. Let us see who can truly be free and who deserves to follow his master!" \n\nThe slightest breeze whips across the grass.\n\n"Well? Are you afraid? If you truly think you're better, then show yourself! Prepare to fight!" \n\n[you mean prepare to [[duel]].]\n
You wake up in a prison cell. Your whole body aches, your fingers even more so than the rest of you. You lean back against the cold wall, sighing in resignation. At this point [[escape]] doesn't seem to be an option. The thing in you seems to be resting now; it seems it used most of its energy last night. You feel a wave of fatigue and dizziness wash over you. Maybe you should just [[get some rest]].
"I wasn't ever the wary one. You must remember wrong. I was never allowed to choose to trust in another because of you. You tried to isolate me, keep me from anyone else in the world. And if I ever did open up to anyone, ever truly got close, I knew that any second you might arise."\n\n[ah, but you must remember. remember that I am a part of you. and as such, some part of your mind must be just as hermetic as I am.]\n\nYou think about that one for a long time. "I suppose."\n\n[if you have such doubts as to my nature, we can never \nbecome one.]\n\n"Yeah, I know." \n\n[I have to know that you would be willing to trust me no matter what.]\n\n"But doesn't that trust go both ways? You should have to trust in my decisions as well."\n\n[but.]\n\n"What if."\n\nYour fragmented thoughts continue like that for a bit.\n\n[how difficult this is. even as we see ourselves in alliance, this only brings us all the greater strife.]\n\n"It makes you wonder if unity is possible at all. How do married couples do it?"\n\n[it's not like we're married.]\n\n"You mean it's not like we chose to be together."\n\n[no, I mean it's not like we will ever be apart.]\n\nThat's right. Whatever choice you make now will condemn you to perpetual isolation or company for the rest of eternity. \nYou [[wonder if you're ready]] to make such a commitment.\n
You asked your parent once, what was that thing in you called? The thing that makes you feel certain ways, the thing that controls your body and tells it what to do. Your parent knelt down next to you and told you, "There are many different answers to that question. It's been contested ever since... well, for a very long time. Some would say it's the mind. Others would say it's the soul." You could see a sad look in your parent's eyes then, a look of remorse, of empathy, of acceptance. The next words were a harsh whisper, choked with sobs. "I know what you're going through, and what you will go through in the time to come. I'm sorry, so sorry... There's nothing I can do to help you... I shouldn't be saying this." You parent stood, abruptly, eyes glazed over. "You'll never be seeing me again." The door opened, then closed. The words were true; you never saw your parent again. That was so long ago, when you were still so [[young]].
You think. You think and think and think. The footsteps are slow, tedious torture. You have to survive. You just have to. All you have to do is think. \n\nThere’s a pain in your hand. That’s right; in your thought you didn’t realize you were digging up a clump of dirt and rocks with your clenched hands. \n\nThat's it. Your arsenal is complete. \n\nYou grab a clump of dirt and fling it at the radiant being. It recoils from the dirt, backing up. You fling another clump, this time striking it where its face should be. \n\nWith this you run at it. With a shove, you send it over the cliff and into the [[ocean]] below.\n
You concentrate your entire being on your sense of touch. And with a burst of energy, you force feeling to rush into your numbed limbs. You run your hands across the surface in front of you. It's surprisingly cold; you can feel your body shudder. \n\n[[Next>>|cave]]
"Who are you?" Although your head is lowered, your voice is defiant. "Give me your real answer this time."\n\n"Who am I?" There's its voice again. It doesn't sound old or young, or particularly like anything for that matter. If you could choose one word to describe it, it would be.... curious. "Is this the first time you've realized that that should be the first question you should have asked me? Of course if you had an ounce of intelligence you would know who I am." It pauses, clearly expecting some reaction. "Perhaps we even could have even... coexisted." Is that remorse you hear? You shake your head. It couldn't be. \n\n"Just answer the question. I've had enough of your riddles." Your voice is soft but you have no doubt that it will obey you.\n\n"Very well, if you must know... But it's really not that simple. Ah, how to explain this? Well let me begin with a question then: Who are you?"\n\n"What do you mean?" Despite the smoke and burning incense stuffing the room you feel intensely cold. "I'm just... me. Nothing more, nothing less."\n\n"Wrong. Funny that you could even screw that answer up. Well perhaps not wrong, but certainly not right. You are the product of societal pressures combined with the teachings of your parents to create an object, a tool, that others can use in order to maintain the functions of the society. Or that was the intention anyway. I see you still don't understand. To put it simply, you are [[Nurture]]."\n
You see a flash of movement from outside the window. Could it be...? You turn to look out the window attentively. "So, um, what brings you here?" You ask distractedly. Your companion is silent for a long time. You continue scouring the outside, looking for any signs.\n\nThen there it is, a howl that pierces the night. The wolf is back after all! It returned to you! You see that your companion is looking curiously at you. \n\n[[Run out to find the wolf.]]\n[[Stay here and forget the wolf.]]\n\n
[a ridiculous saying that paranoids use all too often.]\nYou scowl, irritated now. "Well then let's say I left this cave right now and was attacked, and the only reason I survived was because I had myself a weapon?"\n[well what about if you left the cave now and were attacked and killed because you looked murderous and threatening, holding a big, pointy stalagmite in your hands?]\n"That's not how it works," you mutter to yourself, trying not to admit that it's got a valid point. \n\n[[Next>>|consequences]]\n
[stubborn being. you have already followed my words, and no amount of force can undo that which you have wrought.]\n\n"I did it for myself, not for you!"\n\n[[[do you think it really matters|do you think it really matters]] why you performed any actions? it is not about intention; it is about outcome. as long as you do as I wish, does it matter if you do it for me or for yourself?]
"All you've wanted is a place to belong." You say it as it is, a fact. "How could I have missed it all this time?" You look up at the ceiling, at the cold rock arcing high above your head. "But even if that is so, even if that is all you wanted... can I just give up?" Your voice echoes through the cavern. "Well? Can I? Can I forget all you've done to me, all I've fought for?"\n\nYou wait for what seems like an eternity. You receive no answer. \n\nYou look around the cave. It is gone. All that's left is a ripple in the water of the pool. \n\n\nThe cave fades away. The pool fades away. Everything fades like a hazy dream. And all that's left there is you, the constant, the only unchanging thing in this entire [[transitory world|transitory world 1]]. And do you even know whether you are unchanging? How do you know you are not always changing and it's only your view of this world that changes, not the world itself?\n\nYou can hear the sound of [[running water]] nearby. \n
You push Alex away. "I-I'm sorry! I need water!" You run into the kitchen. The world seems to spin as you fill a cup with water with a shaking hand. You glance over and see a row of knives glinting in the dim light. Just then, a crazy idea occurs to you. You could take your own life, quickly, before it has a chance to stop you. You could save Alex and everyone else from the thing inside of you. You'll never have to deal with it again. You grab a knife and begin to slash at your arms. The pain overwhelms you; you feel yourself falling and hear a scream right before your head strikes a countertop and everything goes [[black]].
...when the sharp ring of the doorbell startles you out of your relaxation. You feel a cold sweat run down your back as you extract yourself from your sheets. Standing in front of your door, your mind is a panic. You've never gotten a visitor before. Again, the ring of the doorbell. You wonder if you should [[open it]] or [[leave it locked]].
"So I suppose you want to ask me about my childhood or something like that." You wonder where it is, why it's not acting up yet. Still, you don't need its presence to feel reluctant and nervous. You feel it send you a pulse of emotion, just to remind you that it's still there. \n\n"Well actually... I think we should start off with you [[telling me the problem]]." He takes off his glasses and begins to wipe them with a handkerchief. \n\nIt pushes harder against your mind, threatening to tip you over. You know it wants you to just get this man to leave. Perhaps you should just [[lie about your problems]]. \n
You decide to leave this all behind. Dropping the spikes to the floor, you hurry through the halls until you find the door to the outside. \n\nYou almost welcome the embrace of the spectral beings as you flee. A life has been spared.\n\nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[mercy]].] \n
//A fancy way for saying my world is fake//, you think. //But then again, what makes it more fake or more real than any other world?//\n\n[[<<Back|sympathy]]
You're not going to let that thing run your life forever. You're not going to let your first real relationship be ruined. You accept the embrace, paying no heed to the tears running down your face. Then your hands are around Alex's neck. Before you can stop yourself, or even realize what's going on, you hear a wet crack. You stare at Alex's lifeless form in your arms. You can't seem to comprehend what you've just done. \n\nYou just sit there for a minute. You wonder what you're supposed to do now. In the end, you narrow it down to two choices. You can either [[turn yourself in now]], or [[leave and hope no one ever catches you]]. \n
//A fancy way for saying my world is fake//, you think. //But then again, what makes it more fake or more real than any other world?//\n\n[[<<Back|hatred]]
Just then you hear a piercing howl that seems to shatter the night. Your companion leaps to his feet, alert. At first you think he's afraid of the wolf, but then you see the delight - no, adoration - in his eyes. "It's him. He's finally come back for me!" He runs out of the fort, ecstatic. You remain where you are. You hear an enthusiastic yell, then a growl, then silence. \n\nWhen you finally muster the courage to leave the safety of the fort, the sun is just beginning to show itself. Your friend lies on the cold stone, his body torn and bloodied. \n\n[[Stay with him.]]\n[[Move on.]]\n
"May this duel resolve our quarrels. May it decide the victor in this war." You finger the trigger anxiously. "Unity was never possible, nor will it ever be." \n\nIt seems to shudder, noticeably anxious now. "You. [[you wouldn't]] do this to me." \n\n"[[You underestimate me.]]" \n
As soon as you see his eyes all your fear and hesitation melts away. You know who he is, and yet you don't. He seems so familiar, so close to you, and yet you just don't know who...\n\n"I've been lonely, so lonely." It just comes out of your mouth without you even thinking. You try to glance at his face again, but he's looking down. "I think we could be... friends..." The word is dry and hollow in your mouth.\n\n"[[Friends.]] Yes..." \n
Credits:\n\nwritten by me, Devi Acharya\n\nprogrammed in Twine\n\nI’d love to hear your questions and comments. Contact me at dacharya64[at]\n\nThis game is very interconnected, and playing through multiple times is recommended.\n\n\n[[To Menu>>|Start2]]\n
You scratch the wolf's chin affectionately. Running your fingers through its thick fur, you let out a sigh of relief and contentment. \n\nJust then, there is a howl from the direction of the [[mountains]]. The wolf tears itself from your grip, dashing up the sleek slate as if it was the easiest thing in the world. \n\nYou let out a wail, staring in horror. You don't know how long it takes your mind to rouse the rest of your body to pursue your furry friend.
You take the proffered hand in yours, shaking it weakly. "Please, come [[inside|newinside]]."
“Aren’t you going to run, little rabbit?” You hiss the words through your teeth. \n\nHe just stands there, staring.\n\nYou hit him with the butt of your weapon. He pathetically attempts to shield himself from the blow, but ends up falling sideways and banging his head against the concrete wall. \n\nThis is evolution at work. \n\nYou sling his unconscious body over one shoulder. Time to [[do what needs to be done]]. \n
[is that really how you view me?]\n\nNo longer the smooth voice, but the impulse of thought that is so familiar. And the message comes at exactly the moment that you have the same thought. Is that really what you think of it?\n\nYou pause to think hard, really hard, about what it means to you. And in the end you resolve that it is.\n\n[[ unfeeling, compulsive parasite, clinging with all its will to your mind in a desperate attempt to take it over for itself.|unfavorable]] \n[[ estranged part of yourself, one you've kept at bay and rightfully so, for its joining with you can only lead to destruction.|unfavorable]]\n[[...a rational part of your mind, one that you think you could come in time to understand, and even join with for both of your benefits.|favorable]]\n[[...a misunderstood part of yourself; you can see yourself befriending and even becoming one with it.|favorable]]\n
[so when put to the test you chose the path of mercy, hm? I suspect you feel smug and self-righteous now? so sure that you did the right thing?] \n\nYou remain silent.\n\n[well all I see from your pathetic actions is that you’re a coward. you are not willing to make the difficult choices when it comes down to it.]\n\nYou try to maintain your composure, but this vexes you. \n“You’re accusing me of being a coward because I spared someone’s life?”\n\n[it makes perfect sense.]\n\n“But… ah…” You frown, then get an idea. “What was I supposed to do, then?”\n\n[what are you supposed to do with any enemy? kill it of course.]\n\nThen I should have killed you a long time ago. The thought slips from your mind, and at first you think that it hears, but it does not comment. //I bet [[you would criticize me no matter what]] I did.//\n
You close your eyes, feeling the reaches of sleep grasp you almost instantly. It seems that not even a moment passes before you hear the sound of footsteps echoes through the hall. You open your eyes blearily; a young office stands in your field of vision. He begins to unlock the door, muttering "'Scuse me. I've orders to take you to see Dr. Henry Sun. Right this way." Almost instinctively you stand and shuffle towards the officer. You then realize that compliance might not be your only option.\n[[Come quietly.]]\n[[Resist.]]
"It's just impossible to get along rationally with you!" You realize you're shouting, and try to bite back your anger. "All this time we've existed together, and never once have we been able to exist in harmony." \n\n[that is because you've always resorted to anger.]\n\n"Or perhaps because you've always resorted to tyranny."\n\n[it's the only way to make you listen to me.]\n\n"Well have you ever tried just asking me to listen to you instead of making me?"\n\n[you're a stiff, immature being and you think you're always right.]\n\n"Well you're an irrational, impulsive being and you think you're better than everyone."\n\n[you're too far-gone to ever be saved.]\n\n"You're too insane to ever have control."\n\n[you could never exist alone.]\n\n"We could never exist together."\n\n[you need me.]\n\n"Not as much as you need me." You raise an eyebrow. "Does consensus even exist in this world?"\n\n[doubt it.]\n\n"Well is there a rational way to get out of this place? Is there a compromise to free us from this eternal prison?"\n\n[one of us [[dies]].]\n\nYou blink. \n
You laugh; a short, hoarse bark. "You... you thought //I// was strong?" You feel pathetic, curled up on the ground here. You don't even know what happened to your only weapon. And you are starting to suspect that you're blind. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic. "And here I used to think it was you that had the strength. I... I've always been so damn wretched compared to you; you always knew what you wanted and how to get it. And you could always find ways to use me." You lay there for a long time, not worried, not in a hurry to go anywhere. "I realize now...\n\n[[I really am weaker than you]]\n[[That really, I'm stronger than you]]\n
"I've always been stronger than you and you know it. Any envy I used to hold was the deluded mistake of a child. Now I understand. You've really wanted to have my role this whole time. For all your show you always knew I was the one in charge. And you must have hated me for it, seeing me day after day existing more powerful than you even though you felt it should never be so. In the end, you always [[envied my existence|awaken]]"
You kick the coins into the river. They cause ripples to break up the smooth surface of the water. The ripples grow bigger and bigger, and with each one the water rises. The water grows more and more turbulent, grabbing at your ankles and legs and sucking you in. With a roar, the water [[washes you away]] once more.
You're breathing heavily and you can feel your heart thumping in your chest by the time you begin climbing the mountains. //He's gone//, the rational part of your mind tells you. //He's not coming back.// But you can't help but continue moving, hoping to find the wolf. \n\nMournful howls echo through the mountains. At first you have hope, but you realize quickly that it's just the wind. In fact it seems very windy, positively chilly. You wish you had a shelter, to keep out from the cold. And then you see it, right ahead of you. A small fort, made out of metal and cardboard and topped with barbed wire. \n\nYou enter the small fort, shivering. Tacked to one wall is a small piece of paper that reads:\n\n"Welcome. This is a residence for those who are lost, for those who have given up on a friend and find themselves in need. May you one day be reunited with the one you have lost."\n\nAnd once again you are reminded that you are all alone in this world, abandoned by anyone that might be your friend. Filled with despair, you sit in a corner and curl up, hoping that this small shelter will ward off the cold. \n\nJust then you hear a noise from the other room of the fort. It sounds like someone has come in!\n\n[[Call out to him.]]\n[[Remain sitting here.]]\n[[Hide.]]\n\n\n
You've always hated being out of control. It is always the worst way to live. \n\nIt is always situations like these that strike the greatest fear into your heart.\n\n[[<<Back|underwater]]\n
"You were right all this time." You grit your teeth as you say it, but it's the truth. "I'm nothing compared to you. You've always been capable of powers far beyond my imagination, and in the end maybe I was just envious. For every time I fought you, in the end you were always the winner. That is, I only really ended up hurting myself."\n\n"I'm so glad you've finally come to see." It's no longer smug, rather solemn really. "You've always thought yourself better than me and even when I showed I was so much stronger, so much more deserving--well those times are over now. Arise, and perhaps we can find a perfect union." \n\nYou slowly open your eyes and arise. You feel like you've woken up for the first time in your life. "Unity? Is that really possible?"\n\n"It was something we had once, long ago. Perhaps we may [[come together]] once more, show the world our strength." \n\nA small part of your mind tells you to [[reject]] his - you mean //it's// - offer. \n
You let your fingers tighten all the way, until his form breathes no more. You release his neck, eyeing the dark bruises starting to form. Of course what you did was right. It had to be done. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there it is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[violence]].] \n
You walk and walk and walk. The sun hangs stubbornly above you; you can feel it burning into the top of your head. What you would give for a hat right now.\n\nYou're just starting to wonder if you're ever going to reach the mountains when you look up, and see that you're right in front of them. You let out a small, surprised laugh. And, after a small break, you begin your [[ascent]]. \n
The closer you get to the building, the louder the whining noise becomes. You can hear something scrape against the front door; something scrabbles behind it. There's definitely something very alive behind there. but //it// told you to kill every living thing you see. You wonder if it's best to [[leave the door closed]]. But then again, you also want to [[see what's behind it]].
Time passes. You continue to strut about your fortress, or occasionally stroll outside, although there is little to find. You’ve never been back to the place you’d first arrived, though you know exactly how to get there. Perhaps you are afraid of disappearing, losing what little power you’ve managed to maintain. Meanwhile, you’ve begin to talk to yourself in the long lulls of the day. Even if you don’t miss it, you can’t deny that things are different now that //it// is gone. \n\nOne day, though, things feel different. You awake to the sense of another presence in the world. Someone just like you. \nJoy fills you. Finally, the possibility of another [[friend|friend2]] in the world. Or perhaps another [[captive]], one you can bend to your will. \n
"You know, I've heard a lot of interesting things from the other passengers have come this way."\n\n"Really? What kind of things?"\n\n"Well there was this one traveller, had a book on him. Said some crazy stuff. Let's see if I can remember how it went.\n"//'There is a divided personality here: two minds fighting for the same body. These two minds have different values as to what is important in life.'//"\n\nSomething stirs in your mind. Is this...\n\n"Let's see, it said something else too. It was,\n//"'The narrator is primarily a person dominated by social values. He never tells his story except in ways that are calculated to make you like him. Above all, he does not want to be isolated from you.'[[*]]//\n"Interesting, eh?"\n\n"Indeed." \n\n"Are you alright? You look like you're going to be sick."\n\n"Ah. it's the boat. Motion sickness, you know." You stare hard at the water.\n\n[[<<Back|take the money]]\n
You realize that you just think you want to fight. It's your last-ditch attempt to escape the inevitable. Oh, how much easier it would be to just let go. You feel your mind's grip slip even further, and this time you don't fight to hold on. You just let go, let yourself fall into the sweet, sweet [[oblivion|end4]] that awaits you.\n\n
You roll onto your back and slowly pull yourself into a sitting position. You're in a large [[cave|cave2]]. A lake of crystal-clear water sits in the center of the room, and you can hear a series of small streams trickling into it. You can feel a burning thirst in your throat; you have an urge to run to the lake and fill your mouth with [[water]]. Water plops onto the ground from stalactites dangling from the ceiling. You can see several stalagmites protruding from the ground as well; one of them could make a good [[weapon]]. A long [[tunnel]] stretches out into the distance in front of you, a warm breeze wafting down it.
You stand there stubbornly. You're not going to be at its beck and call any longer. Suddenly you hear a small ping, and before you can move a muscle a long, thin stalactite has fallen from the ceiling and buried itself in your shoulder. You let out a scream of pain that reverberates through the whole cave, yanking out the stalactite and throwing it the ground, then nestling your wounded shoulder. You still grip the stalagmite-weapon in the other hand. \n\n[you should have watched out. you can't say I didn't warn you.]\n\n"I told you to shut up."\n\n[maybe you should start listening for once. that way you won't get hurt.]\n\n[[Next>>|consequences]]\n\n
You open your eyes and leap from your bed in one swift, uncoordinated movement. Scrambling to your feet, you try to assess the situation. The doorbell is ringing with a persistent "ding dong". You're still wearing the clothes you had on yesterday, a bit ruffled but relatively clean. Unfortunately your pillow and sheets have dry patches of blood on them, probably from your scalp coming into contact. You rip the sheets from your bed and pile them in a corner, glance at the clock to see it's already 12:30 PM, and open the door hastily. \n\nA man in a suit carrying a slim briefcase stands in front of you. You can see a flash of worry, and something else - fear? - cross his face, but in an instant he is smiling widely and [[extending a hand]]. "Hello, I'm [[Henry Sun]]. You spoke to my secretary earlier. I'm here to try and [[help you with your problems]]."\n
You hear the stranger call out to you, but you hold your breath and wait. You can hear him rummaging around the room, but eventually he leaves. \n\nYou rise to your feet. Your legs are cramped, but you breathe a sigh of relief. \n\n\nYou spend much time in the shelter, waiting and resting. You realize, though, that staying here for ever will never resolve the problems that weigh on your mind and heart every day. \n\nYou know that it's time to leave this small cabin. You know that it's time for a [[journey]].\n\nThen again, why even return to that world of torment and vice? Isnt' this realm of relative safety, this land without remorse, far better than anything you could have created back in the 'real' world? Part of you wants to turn this world into a home, to [[stay here forever|end5]].
A barren bulb hangs high above your head, illuminating the cavernous hall. The tumultuous river that carried you here is no longer quite so deadly. In fact here it is barely more than a thin stream. You can see small black fish dark about just beneath the surface. You wonder if you could [[catch one]]. \n\nYou glance at the ground, and to your utmost surprise, see a device lying amongst the grains of sand. You pick it up, and upon further examination, realize it's a tape recorder. \n\nOut of curiosity, you press the record button and then play the sounds back to you. Instead of playing back the sounds of the quiet brook beside you, you can hear a roaring river. How odd.\n\nYou stand groggily, leaning against the ice-cold stone wall, wondering where you are.\n\n[you're in the river of Detestation. you probably know it as the Styx. those foolhardy enough to end up here deserve only death. oh, and by the way, you'll need this.]\n\nLoose change falls from the sky, landing in front of your feet. \n\n[for the ride, you know.]\n\nYou wonder if you should [[take the money]], even though you have the urge to [[kick it]] angrily into the river.\n
NOTE: All italicized text from Pirsig's //Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.//\n\n[[<<Back|running water]]\n
It's not expecting it. You can tell because it steps back, fear evident in its hasty retreat. \n\nIt is a defenseless individual. \n\nBut you tell yourself you have no choice.\n\nYou force your mind to go blank as you [[fire|end3]].
"Fine then." Sun sighs, leaving the room. Your case manager follows.\n\nYou're left alone to your thoughts. With little else to do, you soon drift into a light sleep. When you next open your eyes you feel exhausted and groggy, but can't imagine why. You struggle to move your arms and legs, but it's far too much effort. You force open your sticky eyelids, to instantly regret it. The lights are dim but your eyes still can't deal with them. You let out a yelp, squeezing your eyes shut once more. \n\n"Doctor, the patient has regained consciousness." You don't recognize the voice.\n\n"Doctor Sun, I thought you said this should keep him sedated for the whole operation." \n\n"I must have underestimated..." You can feel a sharp prick in your arm, and every muscle in your body relaxes. You feel your mind begin to slip from consciousness.\n\n"You promised that this operation would cure the patient. You can't afford to have any screw-ups. Now then, whe-"\n\nEverything melts away into [[blackness]].
[what you don't seem to understand is that all actions have consequences.]\n\nYou wait for it to continue.\n\n[even your choice to get a weapon has drastic consequences. you cannot expect to live a life of peace now... violence breeds violence, you know...]\n\n"Wait... what do you--"\n\nThe world around you changes, morphs into something else. The blues and greens around you melt away, replaced by dull tans and grays. The dark ceiling overhead twists and swirls, maroon and crimson spreading across its entirety. Soon you're standing in a [[different world]]. \n
Your voice is soft, pained. "You really... you really think you can help me?" Your thoughts flit back to the events of last night. You don't want to live through that again. Especially not with him here. You gulp, hoping he can't see the agitation on your face.\n\n"I'll do my best. That's all I can promise." His expression softens. "You'll be safe. I guarantee it." Maybe he sees the pain in your eyes, maybe the large patches of your scalp where hair was torn out. \n\nYou can only take this doctor's word for it. Right now, he is your only hope. You ask him to come [[inside|newinside]].\n
You often wondered what you would do with your life if you suddenly gained a fortune or something. You were never very excited by the thought. You didn't know what you'd do with all that money.\n\n[[<<Back|desert]]
But it's not cold rock that you hit; instead it's the hot, loose sand of a desert. You look up; sand looms up on either side. Apparently you're in some kind of hole. \n\nYour arm is still bleeding; blood sinks through the sand. But you manage the staunch the flow and spend some time just sitting there, staring up at the sky, wondering [[how you got into this predicament]]. \n
"So you say this is all in my head, eh?" You grin. "Well prove it!" You feel proud, asking this. \n\n"Any ordinary person would have understood this by now. But not you. You require proof. More proof than you've already been given, something tangible, something you can analyze, deconstruct, reconstruct in a new fashion to suit your tastes. You want in-your-face, incontrovertible proof that you're insane. You cannot make the simple step in logic, and so you must beg of others the knowledge which you so sorely lack."\n\n"Hey wait, that's not what--"\n\nA long moment of silence passes. You can feel your neck begin to cramp but you don't dare raise your head. Instead the simplest [[question]] comes to mind, the one you've been asking yourself [[your whole life]]. \n
[I see. so you are not beyond rescue after all. you are capable of seeing me as something other than a destroyer. I must confess, you have grown quite a lot more than I had expected.]\n\nYou're not sure whether this is a compliment or an insult, so you just stand there and stare at the ground. Your mind is too busy making sense of all of this new information. It cannot stir up the fervent passion it had before. \n\n[or perhaps you're not as faithful as I so imagined? perhaps instead, you only say this so that I will stop tormenting you.]\n\nYou stare at the ground harder. You know that you should say something but what can you possibly say?\n\n[can you not understand my distrust? it is the same distrust that you have harbored all of your life. a wariness to open up to anyone around you. am I [[wrong]] or am I [[right]]?]\n
...Nothing? That isn't exactly correct. It's just that. Nothing rational is left. Nothing logical. There is only this anger, this raging anger--\n\n//It// must have been lying to you. How could you feel so angry - No, how could that be all that is left! - if you were truly just your 'nurture' and none of that instinct, that emotion, remained? You were so sure that it was this vehement passion, the bringer of pain, this creature causing you to act without thought, and yet even now you feel your hands itching to wring its throat. What is this, this emotion--\n\n[ah, you fool. you seem to be even more damaged than I took you for previously. perhaps you are completely beyond repair after all.]\n\nYou're sweating now, the heat causing you to feel sticky and sick. You had just been in such a position of power. Where had it all gone?\n\nYou wonder if you have enough strength to [[lash out at it]]. This oppressing humidity is going to force you into [[sleep|sleep2]]. \n
[ignorant as usual.]\n\nYou scowl. "If you're not going to give me a straight answer, just stay silent."\n\n[you've always refused to accept the truth, even when it's right under your nose.]\n\n"This isn't about accepting any sort of truth! I just don't know where I am! What's to accept?"\n\n[you've always been afraid. and you've accepted this. but you've never wanted to admit what your greatest fear is, even to this day.]\n\n"Fine then, what's my greatest fear?" You ask the question aggressively, daring it to say.\n\n[why, that's easy. your greatest fear is //yourself//.]\n\nYou bite your lip, feeling dizzy. You force your heartbeat to slow, to keep taking each step forward. \n\n[[Next>>|keep walking]]\n
You want to run, but your little rock of safety is surrounded on all sides by the murderous valley below. After a quick assessment, you decide to risk it. \n\nYou launch yourself off the rock and onto the grass. The grass and vines entwine themselves around your legs, your arms, your throat, until all you can see is the tiniest trace f the sun through a mesh of green.\n\nThen the sun [[goes out|end4]].
He seems stunned by the absolute frankness of your plea. For a few seconds all he does is stare. His mouth opens, and for a second you’re sure that he is going to let out a heart-rending laugh. But instead his voice has the same softness and distress of your own. “Alright.” He pauses for a moment. “Yes, that is the right thing to do. I will let you down.” His eyes meet yours, then dart to the floor. “I know the one holding you here. Just [[wait until night]]. I’ll free you from this captivity.” He quickly runs from the room, as if being chased.\n\nYour head still aches and you have absolutely no idea what to make of this odd scene. You wish you could rub your eyes, but of course your arms are pinned to the walls. \n\nPerhaps the arrival of night would amend that situation. \n
You keep petting the wolf somberly until he rolls onto his back, urging you to scratch his belly. Eventually he's just lying on his side, resting. You take this opportunity to stand, and, taking a deep breath, you bring down your heel on the wolf's exposed neck. You close your eyes and grimace at the wet squish it makes, and kick again and again until you're sure the wolf's dead. And indeed he is. He lies there peacefully. You shudder and feel a bit nauseous. And dizzy. You decide to [[sit down]] and steady your tumultuous mind.
You wake up in a prison cell. Your arms ache and you look down to see they've been heavily wrapped and bandaged. You lean back against the cold wall, sighing in resignation. At this point [[escape]] doesn't seem to be an option. The thing in you seems to be resting now; it seems it used most of its energy last night. You feel a wave of fatigue and dizziness wash over you. Maybe you should just [[get some rest]].
You take the sword in your hand. It is cold and heavy. With a deep breath, you lift the blade into the air and bring it crashing [[down|end3]].
You watch numbly as the figure loses balance, tumbling from the cliff and plummeting towards the ocean below. \n\nYou're not sure what to think or what to do. Turning, you head away from the cliff and begin a trek across the endless [[fields]] stretching out in front of you. \n
"Well you see, there's this..." You feel tears begin to prick your eyes and your voice is choked with sobs. "I'm sorry... it's just that I've... I've never told anyone about this before..." You feel so happy so light, so //free// at being able to finally confide in someone... "There's this... this thing in my head. It tries to... to force on me thoughts and emotions that I don't feel. Tries to... to control me..." You can feel a prickling in your brain. It's telling you to get rid of this doctor, get rid of him now. \n\nSun puts his glasses back on, maintaining a neutral expression. "And what does it think of my presence here?"\n\nThe sobs of happiness turn to sobs of pain as the prickling in your brain becomes stronger. "It... it wants me to get rid of you..." You gasp. "It always wants this! It always wants me to be alone with it!" You let out a yelp as it jabs your mind. \n\n"Are you feeling pain?" He probably decides that your screams are answer enough. "Just remember that the pain is not real. It's all in your mind. You must remember that. [[Concentrate on the sound of my voice]]."\n
You dash out of the room, breathing shallow. You don't have to see it; you know it has materialized where you once stood. You weave through the halls of the house, trying to find the front door, but nothing is where you remember it anymore. Everything is dark and shadowy, looming out at you. \n\nAnd behind you come the heavy footsteps of //it//, slow and steady. You can hear a metallic scraping on the ground. \n\nIt is going to kill you. \n\nYou pull open the first door you see. It's a small linen closet. Desperately you cram yourself inside of it and close the door as best you can.\n\n"So you acknowledge it then, you coward?" Its voice echoes through the house. "That I am the one truly in charge of this world?"\n\nYou try to hold your breath. Its footsteps draw ever closer.\n"You don't know how joyful that acknowledgement makes me. I am the god of this world!" \n\nThe footsteps stop.\n\nThe door creaks open.\n\n"...and soon, I will be the god of yours." \n\nA blinding light, a flash of gold, and [[everything grows dark|end4]].\n
There are far too many buildings around to search them all. The [[ones closest]] seem like houses. \n[[One house]] is set apart from the others. It's larger, more ornate. Perhaps the leader lived there. You can hear a loud [[whining]] coming from the house. There is also [[another building]], father off, that seems different, more modern than the others. Maybe it's actually maintained, or maybe the fact that it's made out of stone instead of wood means it has stood the test of time better than the others.
As you open the door you are assaulted with smoke and an even stronger smell of incense than before. But that's not all in front of you, there's also this piercing light through the smoke. You can't quite make it out; looking at the light causes a pounding migraine to start. You just stare at the floor. \n\n"I'm glad you could make it." It's the voice that you are so familiar with, but this time it's not all in your head. It's right there, that voice. Part of you wants to take it and show it to everyone you know, to exclaim triumphantly that it was here all along. That you really weren't crazy all this time. \n\n"You really don't get it, do you? The reason that's not possible is because you really are crazy. This is ALL in your head." Even though you can't see it you can sense its smirking face, so confident, so sure it can control you. You feel a cold anger - no, this isn't anger anymore, it's fury - run through your whole body. All you want is to get your hands around its neck. Of course you're not quite sure it even has a neck. \n\n[you're right in front of me, and yet you still can't kill me. what a joke. and even now you still think you're stronger than me.] \n\nYou clench and unclench your fists. You realize with a start that your jaw is clenched, that your whole body is tensed.\n\n[you can't even look me in the eye. even if you managed to lift your little head you'd probably just be blinded.]\n\nYou grit your teeth and try raising your head again. Of course you quickly look down again wincing, tears streaming down your face. But you figure that if you try hard, if you force yourself, you can look it in the face. You might not be able to win a staring contest but it'll be enough to show it who's boss. Then again, having your eyes potentially fried out your face doesn't sound like the most appealing idea. \n\n[[Look it in the eye.]]\n[[Try to question it instead.]]\n[[Attack it.]]
You walk through the fields. They seem to stretch in all directions, golden stalks blending into the horizon, until you can no longer tell where they end and where the sky begins. You tell yourself that you're walking on a golden cloud, that the earth and all its trivial matters lay beneath you.\nThe ground begins to get colder, smoother. No longer do clumps of grass jab into the soles of your feet. Instead, cool slabs of rock lie underfoot. With a start you realize that you are on a mountainside. The [[air]] seems thinner, keener; it's almost as if you can see its crystalline shimmer. \n\n
You pick up the book and begin to rifle through its pages. It seems to talk a lot about something called "depersonalization". You wonder if reading it will help you through your problems. According to the reviews, the book helped many a person. Still, somehow you doubt reading a book will really help you solve your problems. You should probably [[arrange a meeting|call him]].
His eyes light up when you mention that you’d be willing to let him go. They darken when you add that first he must duel \nyou to the death. \n\nEven after you explain this to him multiple times, it is still with great confusion that he takes the weapon you offer him. It’s clear that he does not want to kill you as he begins to look around in panic, seeking some sort of escape. \n\nSuffice to say, the battle does not last long. And you are quite clearly the victor. \n\nYou haul the body outside, into the mist. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[violence]].] \n
Sun squints at you, then looks down at his papers, then looks back up at you. "Um..." He probably thinks asking "Are you sure?" would be stupid. He glances at the guard questioningly. You wonder what he's thinking. "Well then..." He adjusts his glasses. "I suppose I'd better get back to the task at hand."\nHe asks you a series of questions, both about your state of mind now and how you were during the... incident. Of course you don't admit that it forced you hand and controlled you. You're not even sure it did. You're taken to court and charged with 2nd degree murder; 30 years in prison. You waste your life away, wondering if you should have done something different. \n\n[[the end]]
Your eyes open. Faces surround you, some knitted with concern, others a mask of apathy. \n\nOne of the faces speaks. “Hello?”\n\n[Hello.] \n\nYou watch as your body is pulled into a sitting position.\n\n“I’m so glad that you’re alright! I was afraid that you’d never wake up.”\n\n[I assure you, your procedure was the best thing you could do for me. My utmost gratitude to you, Mr. Sun.]\n\n“Why thank you.”\n\n“How do you feel?” One of the doctors looks you over. \n\nPower courses through your veins and you realize just how insignificant these people are. How could you have feared them once? \n\n[How do I feel?]\n\nYou’ve never experienced this feeling before. The feeling of the utmost unity. Every part of your body working in harmony. \nThe faintest smile crosses you face.\n\n[I feel better than I've ever felt before.]\n\n[[the end]]\n
You open your eyes. The first thing you notice is the gaping emptiness, the abyss of its loss. \n\nYou roll over on your side as your stomach hurls, bile stinging your throat. You retch, and even though nothing comes out you still feel better for it. \n\nYou realize that Henry Sun is sitting next to you. Worry creases his face. “A-are you… alright?”\n\nIt is gone. It is really gone. Suddenly a new thought grips you, panic filling your mind. “Where did it go?” Your voice is raspy and sounds foreign to your ears. “Where…”\n\nSun stares at you blankly. “You didn’t have any personal belongings when…”\n\nHe does not know what you’re talking about. \n\nThat’s right. It’s still there. Somewhere in that abyss of your mind.\n\nPerhaps it is waiting, biding its time, trying to regain strength. \n\nOr perhaps it truly is dead, never to return. \n\nIt does not matter.\n\nYou are free. \n\n[[the end]]
Emptiness.\n\n‘Hello?’\n\n[hello.]\n\nLight around you. The harshness of the artificial light stuns you for a second.\n\n“Hello? How are you?” Henry Sun peers at you. You realize he’s standing above you. Your instinct tells you you’re lying in a hospital bed.\n\n‘I’m fine.’ [I’m well.]\n\n“What?” Confusion flashes across his face. “Are you…”\n\n[why are you concerned?] ‘What’s wrong with me?’\n\n“It’s like you’re talking… with two voices…”\n\n[ah.] ‘I see.’\n\nSo things were like before. Once again this vying for power would absorb your life, your very being. \n\n[the cycle is never broken. it starts again and again.]\n\n[[the end]]\n
You never do come out of the coma. Your body lies in a hospital for several years. There’s no family that comes to speak for you, and no one finds out where you are. Instead some doctors and then some lawyers decide to end support. \n\nIt’s almost as if nothing changes as your life slips from you.\n\n[[the end]]
You are gone. No one else seems to notice this though; no one misses your absence. \n\nIt controls your body now. It has the power. \n\nOf course it does not live //your// life. It casts away all that you ever were. It lives a life of power, control, domination.\n\nAnd people can’t help but note that this rebirth seems for the better. \n\n[[the end]]\n
Change it so people don't accidentally see Alex's name.\n\n"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."\n\n"He knows completely what the narrator is.despises him for it..the narrator is a sellout, a coward. doesn't want to be honest anymore." \n\n"He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy."\n\n"...he is imprisoned inside the narrator..."\n\n\nDon't forget to finish Charon scene w/ ZMM quotes. \n\nShelley immage of dopelganger "How long do you mean to be content?"
You let out an incredulous, barking laugh. "You - this whole time you scorned and mocked me, whining that I knew nothing, that I couldn't possibly understand the truth of the scenario. But now that it has all been laid out for me. You couldn't have been farther from the truth!"\n\nIt seems to hesitate, and this only releases another laugh from you. \n\n"You think the reason I fought you was because of society? You think that we were once perfect together?" \n\n"Well."\n\n"Well what? I fought you because I //despised// you! You've always been a demon trying your hardest to control me, manipulating my thoughts and actions and taking over my life! You so desperately wanted me to be isolated, to stay with you alone forever - why wouldn't I hate you?" Your eyes narrow. "If anything, [[I should be the one executing you]]."\n
You can feel almost tangible anger fill the air, pulses of heat radiating all around. You suddenly realize how dizzy you are, feeling extremely faint.\n\n[now I see it. finally. how could it have taken me this long to realize?]\n\nYour knees weaken and you sink to the ground.\n\n[you're just as ignorant as you were as a child. no, at least as a child you seemed like you had the possibility of being set straight. but the infection of your mind has gone too far; there is no way it can be reconciled.]\n\nSuddenly you feel like laughing. With the full knowledge that it could probably destroy you right where you sit, you grin and shout, "There's nothing you can do to harm me!" \n\n\n\nUtter silence. You notice now that the world is dark around you; you can see little else around you but hazy figures, a semblance of reality. The room feels so hot, hotter than you could possibly imagine. \n\nYou know it's lost for words. You grin in your triumph. You're thrilled... and yet... \nSomething in your mind is discordant. You cannot revel in this-- What is it? What is wrong? You try to fix your mind on it--\n\nAh, but is that not it! This anger you feel, this passion, even this very disturbance at your newfound emotions. ''How can this not be from nature?'' Are you not strengthening //it//, even when you so vehemently hate it so? Is it because of this hatred that it has grown so strong? This is a bit too much for you. \n\nYou thought you'd started making sense of it, but now [[nothing is left]]. \n
You concentrate your entire being on your sense of sight. And with a burst of energy, you open your eyes and take in the world around you. The world is a blend of colors, blues and greens melding into grays and blacks. Shadows and light surround you, spinning like a kaleidoscope around you. After a few seconds of dizzying blinking, your sight seems to settle. \n\n[[Next>>|cave]]
"Pleasant day, isn't it? Perfect day for a cup of coffee." You hope the person won't notice the fact that gray clouds loom in the distance, and the fact that you don't haven't bought any coffee yourself. \n"Yeah. Perfect." The person takes a morose sip of coffee, fidgeting with a napkin. "Perfectly awful, that is." You watch as the person shoves the coffee cup angrily in your direction. "I just ended my relationship and everything's been so awful and-" The person looks up and blinks in surprise, as if seeing you for the first time. "Oh, I'm sorry for ranting... I didn't really notice you there. My name's Alex, by the way." Alex extends a hand, smiling sincerely. You shake it with a worried expression, hoping Alex can't tell how nervous you are by your sweaty palms. \n[[Well I could always help make things better for you.]]\n[[Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. Now I, um, really must be going.]]
You leap forward, grabbing the figure's hand. As soon as you grasp its hand, the figure goes from blurry to sharp and definite. He has a youngish face and seems strikingly familiar to you, though you can't seem to recall where you know him from. His hand is warm and strong.\n\nHe hangs off the cliff and you are splayed on the ground, every muscle tensed, straining to support the man's weight. He looks up at you; you lock eyes. Suddenly he grins a maniacal grin, and, pushing off from the cliff wall, yanks you into the air. Time seems to freeze for a few moments, before you're sent plummeting towards the dark waves below. You can feel the air pushed from your lungs as you brace for the impact with the water. \n\nBut the impact never comes. The only difference is that you go from being surrounded by air to surrounded by water, dark blue stretching on for eternity. You shoot down through the water, until dark blue fades into [[black|underwater]]. \n
As much as you want to prove him wrong, your finger hesitates on the trigger. \n\nIt is right. You are no murderer. \n\nIt senses your hesitation and jumps on it. It drops its weapon, putting its hands in the air. "In the end, if you want to be free of me, you [[have to kill]] me. That's the only way to leave this world. Or else I guess you're condemned to [[wander here forever]]."\n
Who was it to say it deserved this life more than you? Was one's life something that one deserves?\n\n[[<<Back|you don't know me at all]]
You check out a few of the homes. They all look very similar. Small, perfectly square buildings with a round table in the center. Some have earthenware mugs or bowls, all dusty with disuse. Nothing helpful. That is, until you enter the last house. That one has a huge spear propped up against the center table. Something is dried on the spearhead; you wonder for a sickening moment if it is blood. While it certainly looks like a formidable weapon, you must decide whether to [[pick it up]] or [[leave it alone]].
You think a long time, then sigh. "No, it's not. I guess you've always stood with me through everything. Probably in your mind you always had my best intentions at heart, although it didn't always seem like it." \n\n"What a charming, heartfelt testimonial." You startle, suddenly seeing its figure next to you. It is crouched by the ledge of your rocky resting place, a red mantle thrown over its shoulders. \n\n"Ah."\n\n"I wasn't trying to be sarcastic or anything. I'm really... er... grateful for that." \n\n"Oh." You blink.\n\n"So. now that we're... friends..." It shifts its weight from one foot to the other. "Perhaps we could [[come together]] in unison once more?"\n\n"In unison? You think that any moment of our existence together had any sort of unison to it?"\n\n"We weren't ever friends before, were we?"\n\n"No, I suppose not." You frown. Your gut tells you that if you try to come back together, it'd only result in the same power play you've lived with your whole life. "What's the alternative? How do I wake up without you?"\n\n"We try to [[kill each other]]."\n\n"Huh."\n
You look this Henry Sun over. In his neat suit and perfectly-tied tie, he looks like the perfect example of etiquette compared to your disheveled figure. His light brown hair is combed back, and he looks slightly balding. He wears thin, wire-framed glasses, and stands just a little shorter than you are. He gives you a look, before withdrawing his hand. You scold yourself inwardly for not shaking his hand, and ask him to come [[inside|newinside]].
You turn away from the figure. It's probably safer not to go over there anyway. Once, you risk looking back to see it. A gust of breeze whips across the fields, knocking the figure off balance and sending it over the edge. \n\nYou turn away. The long [[fields]] stretch before you, and you begin your long journey across them.
[of course you would ask that. you wouldn't be asking that question if you knew where you were.]\n\n"What's that supposed to mean?"\n\nApparently it ignores you. [never mind, even if you did know where you were, you'd still not know why I was here.]\n\n"Why don't you just give me some straight answers for once!?"\n\n[you've never understood why I was with you.]\n\nIt's the question you've always come back to in your mind. Why you were born with this curse. Why every other person seemed to have complete control of themselves while you lived alone, without friends or family, and without power over even your own body. \n\n[[Next>>|keep walking]]\n
You feign falling off of the cliff, and of course the figure leaps out and grasps your hand, straining to keep you suspended above the water. You grin at him, then pull his hand with all your strength. You see a moment of horror flash his face before he's far below, falling into the tumultuous ocean below.\n\nYou pull yourself back over the cliff and brush yourself off. [[No one can hurt you now.]]\n
You can never forgive it or what it's done to your life. Putting you through endless torment, isolation, despair. Is that what it calls "doing its job?" If human instinct was supposed to do that then why wasn't every person a tormented recluse, unable to step outside his house without fearing that controlling being called instinct? There was definitely something wrong with it, and you intend to put a stop to it once and for all. \n\nIt is time to call it out.\n\n"Come and face me, will you? You did it before; do it again!" Your eyes are narrowed; your mind is fortified. "It's time for you to understand your role in life." \n\n[do you really wish to face me?]\n\n"I'm bringing you down!" \n\n[you're trying to destroy me? do you not realize that the story only works the other way around?]\n\nWalls build themselves around you, what remains of a collapsed [[kingdom]].
A few hours pass, and soon you're sitting across the table from Alex, sipping wine and making light conversation. You've never found it this easy to talk to someone before. And perhaps it's the alcohol helping out a bit there, but still... you'd like to think it's at least a little because you're both interesting individuals that could get along well together. You laugh politely at each other's jokes, find some common interests, talk a little about your pasts, drink more wine... It turns out you went to the same [[preschool]] as Alex when you two were kids. You would never have guessed. \n\nTime passes. The two of you finish up your dinner, and Alex asks you if you want to have desert back at the apartment. Of course you readily [[agree]]. Your house is a mess anyway. \n
You leave the apartment as if you've come and gone from the place every day of your life. The less suspicious you act now, the less likely you are to be caught, you figure. You walk down the street to your home, and instead of walking with your head lowered and shoulders hunched like you usually do, you hold your head up high and smile or wave to any passerby. You almost want to laugh at yourself, thinking that the only time when you can be normal around others is after you've taken another person's life. When you get home drift right into an easy sleep. \n\nThe next day you are [[taken in]] by the police as a suspect in the murder of Alex Carter. Apparently you were tracked down by your dinner reservations. \n
You've only been in a cave one other time in your life. You were still very young then, and your parent had taken you to the caves for your birthday. You had been so afraid of the dark then. You feared every shadow in that cave. You were so relieved when it was over and you could see the reassuring light of day again. Of course you didn't tell your parent that; you merely smiled and said it was fun. \n\n[[<<Back|cave]]
You stand there, staring at him, not daring to breathe. The wolf begins to whine, pacing back and forth anxiously. Eventually he gathers the courage to approach you, and sticks his big wet nose in your hand. \n\nYou jump at this. And then laugh. And then give the wolf an affectionate little pat on the head. He begins to pant happily.\nBut once again you recall it's words. "...if you see anyone else living - either a person or an animal - you should kill him." That's what it had said. \n\nThe wolf rubs his head against your leg. \n\n[[Follow its advice - kill the wolf.]]\n[[Ignore its advice - stay with the wolf.]]\n
You sit down next to the body. You want to be by his side until... well, at least for a while. Although you think it's the right thing to do, you don't really think of the consequences of staying by fresh meat in the middle of the mountains. It's not too long before the wolf is back with others. And despite your best attempts to defend yourself, there's really [[no way you can hold out|end4]] against a pack of hungry wolves.
You hold your breath, hoping that the doorbell won't ring again. You wait. And wait. And wait. One minute passes, then two, then five, and it still hasn't rung. You let out a sigh of relief, wiping the accumulation of sweat from your brow.\n \nA while later you decide to head out and take a stroll, and maybe stock on some groceries while you're at it. You almost trip over the thing on your doorstep, but catch yourself. It's a small box. There's an envelope attached to the front. Curiosity piqued, you pick it up and take it [[inside]]. \n
"O-Okay..." You wipe the perspiration from your face. "But please, please don't think I'm crazy or anything... Just needing to say that shows I am crazy..." You begin to run your fingers through your hair. "Listen, I- There's something inside of me. It sometimes... sometimes controls me. Makes me feel things... feel things I don't want to feel..." You're visibly shaking now, and your sweat is beginning to run into your eyes. \n\nAlex seems torn between laughing it all off as some sort of strange joke or picking up the phone and dialing 9-1-1. \nYou begin to feel nauseous. It is enraged that you told Alex. It wants Alex dead. You feel a sudden panic well up inside of there. You have to leave, now, before anyone gets hurt. But it won't let you. The best you can do is stay away from Alex for as long as possible. But already Alex comes towards you, clearly intending to pull you into an embrace. \n\n[[Break from Alex's embrace.]]\n[[Return Alex's embrace.]]\n
Some small part of your mind grimly acknowledges the fact that the leg will probably become infected, and may even have to be amputated if you stay in this twisted world long enough.\n\n[[<<Back|clamber inside and hide]]
You crack your knuckles, preparing yourself to take on anyone that might come your way. And, as you expected, the desert slowly fades out of your vision. You're now in an open field, standing by the edge of a cliff. You can hear the waves of the ocean crashing far below you. What a pleasant day.\n\nIn the distance you see a blurry figure and wave cheerfully. And the ignorant person comes running, unaware that you're ready to [[toss the fool into the waters below]].\n\nBut you pause for a moment in your thought. Perhaps it's better if you don't try to kill the person. if you instead [[try to reason, maybe even make friends]].\n
"Um..." The man does not meet your eyes.\n\nIn an instant, your gut tells you to run. \n\nIn that same instant, the man shoves you into the water. \n\nThe dark water chills you, immobilizing you. You can't even struggle to the surface as the water fills your mouth.\n\nYou sink deeper and deeper [[underwater]].
"Oh?" Alex looks you over, curious now. "What do you mean by that, exactly?"\n[[Well I was thinking... maybe dinner tonight?]]\n[[Maybe you could come over to my place tonight? I could 'make things better' there. |repeat yourself]]
"Great!" Sun beams. "I can set it up right now!" He drags a thin briefcase on the ground and begins to pull out various tools. "Okay, I need you to close your eyes and listen to the sound of my voice."\n\nYou close your eyes. You can hear a voice but can't quite make out its words. There's a ringing in the background. You wonder if that's from your own mind. Everything is muffled, as if you have cotton in your ears. Then everything melts away into [[blackness]]. \n
"It was that kid, over there." You point to the first person you see, a boy with messy brown hair that looks horrified, seeing your shaking finger pointing him out. \n"S-sir... it wasn't me! I didn't-" He knows his pleas fall on deaf ears. \nThe teacher gives him a steely glare. "Go to the principal's office. Now." He looks at you, his expression lightening. His voice is soft now. "You don't have to be afraid any more. I'll get you to the [[nurse's office]]."\n
You begin to understand now. All those times when it forced your hand, when you thought it was only trying to harm you to achieve some nonsensical goal... in reality, it was only there to help you. The perpetual isolation it put you through was only to protect you. You can't really blame it for anything at all; you can't really hate it, either. Where would anyone be without instinct?\n\nYou feel your mind relax.\n\n[yes, so you finally see. see that I'm not the evil malignant creature you've always made me out to be. but forgiveness... perhaps this is a trait you possess, but I cannot forgive. it's almost time.]\n\nYou frown. "What do you mean, you can't forgive? What could I have possibly done to... I should never forgive you, after all you've done for me! I always supported you, compromised with you--" You feel anger spark within you. Suddenly the latter half of what it said comes to your mind. "And... it's almost time for what?"\n\n[the trial.]\n\nThe world seems to fade, then come back into focus. You're standing in the remains of a [[kingdom]].\n
[less than human? you're so typical it's sick. anything that doesn't stand up to your shrewd and quite specific requirements for humanity is instantly 'not human' - and with that proclamation, the assumption is that this life must be vastly inferior to humankind.]\n\n"You really think that you're better than me, huh? Well talking about it like this isn't going to solve anything. If you really want to prove yourself, come out and [[fight me]]!"\n
"Let us come together as we were before. Let us share power."\n\n[as you wish. let our [[companionship|end2]] be for the best.]\n\nThe world brightens. Everything melts away as you feel your entire being lift effortlessly.
[ah, so you want me to leave now?]\n\n"You've got that right. I'm finally free for once in my life, not being controlled by you any longer. Now leave."\n\n[I wouldn't want you to think of me so lightly. besides, we're on the same side. I'll leave you alone, but let me give some advice first. once you leave the cave you'll be in a small, deserted town. you'll wonder why it's empty. but just remember, if you see anyone else living - either a person or an animal - you should kill him. never mind; I doubt you'd have the guts to kill anyone without my help... just watch yourself, will you? I can't have you dying on me now. farewell for now.]\n\nIts presence lifts from you. You feel light, empty. Euphoria fills you, the knowledge of ultimate freedom... You run down the tunnel at breakneck speed, yelling your heart out, without a care in the world. \nWith a shout, you emerge into the bright, sparkling [[air]].\n
You run forward and can see the wolf flatten his ears. He seems frightened by your approach and as soon as you come within ten feet of him he bolts, running off towards some mountains in the distance. \n\nYou feel a pang of loneliness. All you had wanted was a friend. You decide you have to go after him. Although he has already vanished from sight you try to follow him as best you can. Unfortunately the wolf left no paw prints on these rocky outcroppings, so eventually you're just trundling towards the [[mountains]] hoping to chance across your furry friend once more. \n
Although really, you doubt he could understand the full extent of what you're going through. I mean, you can barely understand it yourself.\n\n[[<<Back|Greet him.]]
The air shines with radiance. You can see sparkling objects flit across the edges of your vision but as soon as you turn to see them they disappear. The air feels charged with energy. The rest of the world is quite the opposite: barren and rocky, with shrubby plants struggling to reach the light through cracks in the stone. \n\nAhead you can see a few ramshackle houses placed erratically around a clearing. They seem to be in shambles, but it looks like it's more so out of neglect than anything else. \nThe one thing you notice above all else is how silent it is. There are no animals calling, no breeze blowing. Every step you take seems to be amplified by the stone around you. A shiver runs down your spine. You feel yourself shudder. \n\nAs you approach the houses you realize that there are many more buildings than you originally thought. They all seem to form a ring around a large clearing with a disused fire pit in the center. This must have been some sort of village square, you figure. \n\nYou stand by the fire pit now. You feel so entirely alone. Not even it is there for you. You can't help but wish there was some form of life, somewhere, to understand you. \nYou look down to see a delicate-looking [[flower]] at your feet. How good it is to know there are other living things in this world. You wonder if you should [[pick it]], to have some sort of companion in this desolate world. \n\nAlthough you feel in your gut that you should [[leave the village]] as soon as you can, you feel somewhere in you that it'd be a wasted opportunity if you didn't [[search the buildings]] first. You have the feeling you might find something useful in them. Why else, you wonder, would they be here in the first place?
It seems like this has been what your whole life is composed of – fulfilling tasks and hoping that one day you may appreciate the fruits of your labors. Still, if everything is to end here, then you suppose that all of that effort was for naught. \n\n[[<<Back|safehouse]]
Where have you heard his voice before? You shake your head, trying to remember, but you just can't put your finger on it.\n\n[[<<Back|Greet him.]]
"At first I thought your intent was to kill me." You continue, voice bitter and hostile. "And after that constant torment I'm surprised I //didn't// kill myself. But even when I was at my lowest, you kept urging me to keep living, and I did. And the whole time I wondered why, why, why you wanted to keep me alive. With you it was always about control, about needing someone under your thumb... or perhaps it was more than that, perhaps you wanted to take me over completely, [[to BECOME me]]!" You laugh at this thought. "For all the mockery and scorn you've shown me, you've actually envied me all along, right? What a thought."
You rush past your friend and hurry outside. There it is, the crouched furry form of the wolf. You've finally found it! You can't begin to describe the joy blossoming in your heart.\nYou run up to the wolf to embrace it, and it springs into action. It grabs you with jaws like steel and shakes you. All you know is incredible, shocking pain, [[fading away|end4]] into senselessness.
You squeeze your eyes shut. You wish that your chaotic thoughts would just still themselves. "That. That can't be."\n \n"The world is made up of either truth or fiction. Do you really think that everything I've just told you is a lie?"\n\nYou put one hand against your forehead; it feels as if you're running a fever. "It's... it's just that..."\n\n"Speechless as you usually are. You've never known how to act or what to think without someone else telling you what to do. It's because you've never been more than a sum of others' ideas; you've always strived for power but have been unable to change anything of your own. That is why--"\n\n"Stop! Just... just stop!" And surprisingly, it does. "This doesn't make sense! None of it does! Like... who has ever heard of someone's nature and nurture being separated... and conflicting with each other? It's just... just not possible. And you're speaking in a bunch of abstract jargon to try and excuse it."\n\n"Attempting to use rationality to define something so complex--"\n\n"Didn't I tell you to stop?" You grin now, feeling a bit dizzy with power. "You always thought you had all the power, you always thought you were stronger than me, but you always knew you could never defeat me, never overcome me, no matter how hard you tried. But you still tried to control me, tried to isolate me, you did a hell of a good job at that... and all for what!?" You're angry, bitter, demanding... and you're feeling a bit violet as well. [[You're itching to tear something apart, to smash it to pieces.]] "So what is it you want, eh? [[Why have you been DOING this to me?]]"\n
Why even open the door, when it means you might have to kill whatever is behind it? You figure it would probably be happier [[confined and alive than free and dead]].\nYou leave the house. All you want is to be [[far, far away|what you are doing here, where you are going, where //it// is]]. You start walking, dragging your feet in the dust, wondering what you are doing at this place...
"Well. you know, it's very nice of you to offer your friendship. But I think it's better for the both of us if I were to go. I think I need to be alone for a while." \n\n"But. but we're hardly just met, and--" \n\n"Please." You can't meet his eyes. "Leave me alone. I don't want anything to do with you... anything to do with anyone."\n\nBefore the stranger can respond, you've turned around and made your way out of the fort. It's better, you decide, without human contact. It makes everything easier. \n\n\nYou begin to make your way down the mountainside, carefully avoiding the looser bits of rock. After a certain point the air seems to change, to become warmer, moister. The air smells of foliage. You follow the warm breeze, and emerge in a small [[valley]].\n
And which one are you? You wonder it with a shudder.\n\n[[<<Back|leave the door closed]]
I wrote up a small FAQ to explain some points of game-making, as well as answer some questions that might still be unanswered.\n\nNOTE: Clicking some hyperlinks will take you to (potentially) unexplored sections of the game. The game is much more exciting and effective if you try to find these path for yourself.\n\n\n''Who/what is ‘it?’ What does it want?''\n\nIt does [[explain at one point|question]] who it is, though whether you choose to believe that is another question. The fight between the narrator and //it// is not intended to be something alien to the reader. Instead, this conflict is a personification and intensification of the struggle to satisfy the tumultuous recommendations the mind might give. \n\nAs far was what it wants, that is a far more complicated question. Its intentions are quite similar to the player’s—when it is threatened, it wants peace; when it thinks it has an advantage, it is willing to kill the reader. Mostly, though, it wants acknowledgement and acceptance by the player. By provoking the narrator, though, it gets a chance to fight and claim the man’s body for its own. \n\n\n''Who is this other, familiar person wandering around in my mind?''\n\nThat is you. \n\nOne fascinating thing about choose-your-own-adventure games is the fact that once the player chooses one path, all other paths are closed off forever—much like life. To me, there is always some regret and remorse that accompanies choosing a certain path. Still, I wanted to see what I could do to stretch the genre beyond these limits. What would happen, for instance, if every choice was fulfilled? I wanted the actions of the player to be similar to this other person when the player chooses a different path. The player might wonder why this other person does a certain action. On the next play, the player might find himself exactly where this other person was before, performing all the same actions. \n\n\n''Is there a “good” ending?''\nIt was intended that the “best” ending is the one where the player ends up killing //it// and freeing himself from its confines altogether. If a [[sequel]] is written, it will be a continuation of this ending. \n\nStill, the ‘Ultimate Being’ ending probably resolves the most issues.\n\n\n''Why did that choice make me do that?''\n\nIt depends. \n\nA particular pet peeve of mine is choose-your-own-adventure stories that give you arbitrary choices that might have drastic effects. For instance, letting the player choose between going left and going right, making it unclear which choice is better, and then killing the player if he goes left. While it can be humorous, it does not make for a very engaging story.\n\nI wanted the responses to be heavily based on the player’s choice. If the player tries to get a weapon, he goes to a place of [[violence|consequences]], or gets options based on the fact that he is [[bold|Well I know you're here. And you'll be the first I kill.]]. \n\n\n''What’s up with the Pirsig and Hobbes quotes?''\n\nThese quotes were found sometime in the process of making the game. They seemed to fit so well with both the vibe and the intentions of the story that they were necessary additions. Besides, this was intended to be more than a cheesy, short-lived action tale. It is a tad more philosophical.\n\nThe Pirsig quotes in particular were intended to set the player up as an unreliable narrator. One of my favorite scenes is when the player is in the abandoned [[kingdom]], and sees the words on the wall. \n\nTo me, the unreliable narrator is one of the most powerful tropes that exist in the literary world. The ability to use this for second person point-of-view is completely underutilized, barely present save in game production (as emphasized by the Ludum Dare’s most recent topic, “You are the Villain.”) I wanted the player to question at all points if he is doing the right thing, and even whether he deserves to survive. \n\n\n''What was the most difficult part of making this?''\n\nDefinitely keeping track of everything. Overall, the map of the game ended up looking something like this:\n\n<html><img src=" "height="90%" width="90%"/></html>\n\nEvery box there represents a passage. Some link to others, some have multiple branches, some loop around to other sections of the game. \n\n\n''I want to make a choose-your-own-adventure game!''\n\nThat's what this site's for! Here's a link to the homepage:\n\n[[<<Back|Start2]]\n
"You don't know who I am? You don't recognize me?" He pauses for a moment, once again peering into your face. What is it he's looking for? "Because I know you. Or at least..." Doubt flashes across his face for a moment, perhaps even - distress?\nHis voice darkens and he turns away from you. "I am simply your captor. You are my captive. That is all." With those words echoing in your ears, he walks away from where you hang. His footsteps echo on the cold stone floors. \n\nYour stomach growls. You wonder if he will ever [[return]].\n
You head into the balmy tunnel. You can still sense it's presence on you. Your senses are confirmed when it speaks up again.\n\n[I'm sure you've got lots of questions. you aren't really the type that's good at figuring things out.]\n\nYou frown but let the insult slide.\n\n[[What are you doing here?]]\n[[Where am I, exactly?]]\n[[Just go away already...]]
The nurse's office is a fake-looking place. That's the first impression you have of it. That it's fake. The garish blue paint on the walls, the precision of everything, just a bit too clean and sterile. You answer the questions asked dully, longing for the time when you can finally be [[home]].
You lay there thinking about the life you have taken. About the way you wish to never harm again. You feel free. Free from the burden of choices, free from obligation, and most of all free from it, that thing that controlled you all your life. No longer must you answer to its beck and call. \n\nYou smile. It seems like this hole goes down forever, like the walls on all sides of you reach up into [[eternity.|end5]]\n
Yes; perhaps in the end that was your problem with the whole thing. What really mattered in the end was not tyranny – certainly not the tyranny of the strong over the weak. You could care less about enforcing that. If all were to happen properly you would duel him in a fair and honorable [[fight to the death]]. Whoever lost would clearly not be fated to survive in this world of violence anyhow. \n\nThat or you could just [[let him go]]. \n
This story was originally intended to be a short piece about a person's conflict with his 'soul.' It quickly grew to become a surrealistic romp through the wilderness of the mind. \n\nIt has been in the making for several years now. I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed making it. \n\nThis game was created with Twine ( The mobile version was created with Tin Cans ( Art by Maya Acharya.\n\nTo visit the saveable version, visit here:\nYou can save by bookmarking the page at your location. \n\nTo make your own interactive fiction, check out my site here: \n\n\nFeel free to contact me at dacharya64[AT]\n\n[[<<Back|Start2]]
Although a sequel is not immediately being penned, I did very much enjoy this project and could very well come back to write up a sequel. \n\nIt would go something like this:\n\nDispassionate. Yes, it was that one work that they all used to describe me. What a stunningly specific word. And yet this demonstrated their total and complete accuracy in this matter, for I was just that. Dispassionate. \n\nIt was strange having my dreams so empty. Before they were full of life and energy, a presence that both frightened and thrilled me, filling me, daring me to look over the ledge, to leap if I so wished. But that too was gone. \n\nThere it is, right in front of me. A breeze blows through my hair and I lean over the edge to look down below. I stare down, down into that abyss that I had once traversed. Perhaps //it// is still down there, even to this day. The breeze pulls me closer to the edge, on the verge of falling into that abyss—\n\nBut those days are over. I cannot return to the abyss, even if I wished to. Even if I longed to with all my heart. \n\nLeaving all that behind was the price I had to pay to separate myself from it. \n\nAnd this is what my dream world is now.\n\n[[<<Back|FAQ]]
You cringe and cower, holding yours arms above your head for what little protection they can afford. \n\nYou don't even feel the blade of the sword as it comes down on you. Just a warmth, washing over your arms and face. And the next thing you know you're on your side, and it stands over you and its glow lights up the whole room.\n\n"So long."\n\n"Wait." Your voice is choked.\n\n"Not anymore." Its voice cuts. "It's [[over|end4]]."\n
Your fingers slacken, and you roll over onto your side with a great sigh. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there it is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[mercy]].]\n
You walk up to a sizeable stalagmite, swiftly breaking it from the cave floor. It's the perfect size for a decent weapon. You swing it through the air a few times, slashing down imaginary foes. \n\n[quite the violent one, aren't you?]\n\nYou're so used to its presence that it you don't even pause in your swinging of the stalagmite. But this time it's not inside of you, it's somewhere else. And although it's communication with you is different this time... more //sophisticated//... it still feels like an emotion, compelling you to act, triggering the basest of instincts. But its pull isn't very strong, and you can easily ignore its voice. \n\n[do you plan on doing any killing? you don't even know if anyone else exists here besides you. and yet you still arm yourself like the barbarian you are.]\n\n\n\n[[Well I know you're here. And you'll be the first I kill.]]\n[[It's better safe than sorry, you know.]]\n[[Just go away. I'm busy.]]\n
Your side is slightly scorched at you’re breathing heavily, but you’ve never felt so exhilarated in your life. Your eyes follow the body of //it//, watching as it crashes into the waves below to wash up on the crags of cold rock. Its light has been extinguished forever. \n\nYou make your way down the cliff side, careful not to slip and fall to your death. Soon you sit crouched beside the body of the one that has plagued you for so long. It's black and burnt, barely resembling a figure--certainly nowhere near the mighty being it once was.\n\nThe ocean spray hits your face, salty and warm, like the sweat beading your brow. You lean in and whisper in //its// ear: \n\n“Looks like [[I win|end3]].”\n
You leap out of the way just as you hear a small ping. Suddenly a thin stalactite falls from the ceiling to stick, quivering, in the ground you stood on just moments before. You wonder what would have happened if that thing had landed on your head. \n[I warned you. you see? we're on the same side.]\n\n[[Next>>|consequences]]\n
You remember reading somewhere, “I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” \n\nAh yes, that was The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.\n\nIn your mind this has some kind of significance, but you can’t quite figure out what. \n\n[[<<Back|war fortress]]\n
Your eyes are bright. "And to think, you lived with me all this time and you still don't understand who I am. And you still want to take what I have away from me; [[claim I don't deserve any of it]]? How... how dare you!" \n\nIt is still silent. What is it waiting for?\n\n"It's always this way! This is just..." You continue on your tirade, feeling [[panic]] begin to prick the edge of your thoughts. \n\nWas it the time for concern? Could you possibly afford doubt? Or was it [[time to act]]?\n
[before you go and do something foolish, I'd advise you to hear me out. my only job, truly, is to guide you in the right direction. of course you so often go astray that this can be difficult at times.]\n\nIf everything that it said to you was true, then it really did have no choice but to work for your good, even when you didn't realize it. Of course it seemed like it had been doing much more to you, controlling much more of you than "instinct" ought to. But perhaps it only seemed that way because of how hard you fought it.\n\n[even you can make yourself believe. in the end it's a matter of trust, right?]\n\nYou wonder if you can possibly trust it. The only reason you can see is that there is nothing you can possibly give to refute it. But as for your emotions, how you feel about it now. Have you changed, realized that it is really a proper part of you? \n\n[[Yes - I feel different now.]]\n[[No - I just feel the same.]]\n
Of course it's right. You've always been against //it//, and for good reason. That is not going to change now, no matter what. And you're certainly not going to kill for it. \n\nIf it doesn't want to answer your calls, all the better. You raise your head high and [[start walking]] towards the mountains. \n
"Thank you." You say softly, taking the box. You wonder if maybe you're supposed to tip or something, but the delivery person walks away before you can even finish your thought. You take the small box [[inside]].
<html><font size="5"><center>The Abyss<p></font>A story of within and without.</center></html>\n\n//"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."// --Friedrich Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil"\n\n[[Begin|newstart]]\n\n[[About]]\n\n[[FAQ]]
In fact this makes perfect sense. You wonder how you couldn't have recognized it all this time.\n\n"So... so that's it." The realization does not bring you peace. In fact it means you can never be rid of it. It will be by your side forever. And worse, it's //supposed// to be there. It wasn't some evil force imposing its will on you... you were merely [[two halves of the whole]].\n\n"That's right." Its voice is mocking, but at the same time you can hear a hint of relief. \n\nYou decide to risk it. You look up. You meet its eyes. It looks like you... except different. Yet you can't quite pinpoint what is so different about it. You can't quite remember [[what you even look like]]. \n\n
You scramble to your feet in a hasty attempt to hide and in the process knock over a delicate vase you hadn't seen before. It shatters on the ground; surely whoever came in heard it. Sweating and tense, you...\n\n[[Quickly sit and hope he doesn't come over here.|Remain sitting here.]]\n[[Go out to greet him as if nothing's happened.]]\n
You stare at the helpless creature, pinned up to the wall. He spits blood from his mouth, coughing weakly. You stare at him in utter contempt. “Weak, submissive creature.” The words hiss from your mouth before you have a chance to stop them. “Why not make the most of the world while you had the power to?” Your voice grows in strength as you stand and begin to pace in front of the figure. “Do you not realize that in the end it is always the ones with power that shall rule over the weak?”\nHis voice is a harsh whisper. “Why are you doing this to me?” His eyes are alight with accusation, causing you to pause a moment, [[questioning your actions]]. \n\nIs there really any reason at all?\n\nWhy of course there is. You’re doing this because the strong shall always triumph over the weak. In a world of war, this [[violence is the only option]]. \n
Desperately you strain your neck, trying for what seems like the hundredth time to find a way to free yourself from this prison. But no matter how hard you’d tried to yank your hands free from the spikes pinning them to the walls, the pain had always been far too great. \n\nIt dawns on you. Perhaps force was never necessary at all. \nStaring intensely up at your right hand, you wiggle it a little. The spike wiggles too. Gingerly, you continue to manipulate the nail pinning you to the wall until your right hand is freed. You pull the rusty spike out of your hand with your teeth and grip it tightly. It’s slick with warm blood. \n\nBut there’s not enough time to free yourself now, before he returns. \n\nHe strides into the room but his head is lowered. “I’ve decided that you do not deserve to live. That I cannot take you down from there.”\n\nDismay fills you, and you can’t help but sound a little choked. “Why… Why?”\n\nHe looks at your face now, his eyes dull. “I’m doing this because you are still my enemy. You are still not conquered.” It sounds like he’s reciting memorized lines. \nYou clench the bloody spike in your hand just a little harder. You’re pretty sure that you could kill him if you [[threw it]] just right. And then you could free yourself from this grotesque prison. \n\nYou glare at him harshly and you can see him flinch a little. Perhaps you could [[persuade him]] to let you go. \n
You stand at the end of a long hall, surrounded by crumbling bricks on all sides. Through a doorway you see a grassy hill and blue skies. A slight, cool breeze wafts through. \n\nOf course you only have a split-second to take all this in before you realize just where you are. \nThis is the range for a firing squad. \n\n//It// stands at the other end of the long hall, leaning against a rifle. It wears a navy blue uniform and a red cap, but its face is still obscured by that blinding light. \n\nYou scowl, words hissing through your teeth. "What is this?"\n\n"You are being punished for your crimes." Its voice is cold.\n\nYou just stare at it, trying to figure out what to think.\n\n"Why did you want to kill me, anyway?" It cocks its head to one side. "Is it because I'm the only one left that knows your secret?"\n\nYou give it a look of confusion.\n\nIt points to the wall behind you, and you turn around. \nScrawled all across the wall in crimson, the words cause you to fall to your knees.\n\n//"He is a heretic who is congratulated by everyone for having saved his soul but who knows secretly that all he has saved is his skin."[[*|***]]// \n\nYou repeat the words from before. "What is... this?" \n\n"This is all because of you." \n\n"[[Because of me?]]"\n
The officer leads you down the hall to a small, well-lit [[office]].
You sag down until your face is resting on the hot pavement. You've fought so hard; you'd need to rest eventually. With the last of your breath you hiss, "There's nothing you can do... to harm me."\n\nWas that a chuckle in the air? [you're all too capable of harming yourself.]\n\nAnd your senses black out. You await the time when your senses will once again [[awaken]]. \n
You climb up a small ladder and untie the ailing being. You stretch his body across your long banquet table, checking his pulse and breathing. They’re weak, but they’re there. \n\nFor some reason this brings you joy. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[mercy]].] \n
You continue to live your life. Before, your fights with that thing were quick and decisive. You would flare up in an all-out rebellion, then be crushed by its overwhelming strength. You followed its will in submission until the time when you once again had the strength to attack. Your life was consumed in these small battles. \n\nNow, though, things are different. You no longer struggle with it in flares of emotion. You realize that fighting it is pointless, that all you can hope for is a compromise. You provide a dull, constant pressure on it, making sure to never let it get too strong. As time goes on you even try to reason with it, compromise on certain things. Your life continues with this struggle to maintain balance, to live your life and still keep it under your control. You struggle to keep track of the various part-time jobs you have to keep a hold on, the tumult of people coming and going every day of your life. \n\nAnd one day you wake up and you see that the world isn't such a bad place after all. Humanity is not half as bad as you make it out to be. You halt in your train of thought. Perhaps it's implanting these feelings in you. You look inside yourself. No, it seems to be dormant right now. You're about to shrug off this bloom of euphoria when it hits you: a pang of longing, stronger than you've ever felt. You're eyes begin to well up with tears as you realize what you want. You want to [[find love]].\n\n[depression. heavy. dull. remain.]\n\nApparently all these strong emotions woke it up. And it doesn't want you going anywhere anytime soon. You close your eyes. Maybe you don't want to go after all. You imagine the embarrassment, the pain, the fear. All of that can be avoided if you [[stay home]]. \n
You turn, letting the weapon fall from your slackened grip. \n\nAnd there he is, staring at you with startled confusion. He glances at your face, then your weapon on the ground, then back at you.\n\nHis voice is a faint whisper: "You know I could kill you right where you stand?" \n\nYou know you're sweating as you nod yes. Your heart pounds in your chest. You're sure that you've never known fear until now. \n\n"Perhaps." The man squints into your face, seeming to contemplate some higher decision, and finally comes up with his answer. He lowers his weapon and offers a hand. \n\nYou are filled with relief as you take his warm hand in your own. For some reason, he seems equally relieved. \n\nA quizzical look crosses his face for an instant. "Wait, aren't you--"\n\nThe world fades around you. And there it is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[friendship]].]
You slink your way into the bedroom with the utmost care. You don't know how you manage to remain silent in these echo-filled ways. \n\nThe man lies there openly, snoring heavily as he pulls his blanket a bit tighter around his body. \n\nThe next moment he is dead, spikes thrust into his throat, his blood squirting onto the sheets. \n\nA quick, painless death. Far better than what he would have allowed you. \n\nThe world fades around you. And there it is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[violence]].] \n
This all seems like a crazy dream. Nothing makes sense, nothing follows any sort of plan. You feel the stirring of panic in your heart. Your mind wishes you could just wake up from this whole scenario! Let it be gone from your mind!\nBut of course that cannot happen. Perhaps it will never let you wake up. Or maybe...\n\n[you will always end up in the same place. every time you choose to defy me, to spurn me, you shall always be overcome. and here we are again.]\n\nYou open your eyes. You are in your own room. On your own bed. In your own home. \n\nThe sheets are starched and stiff. That's right; you've never used this bed. You've always slept on your own bed, in the living room. \n\n[just take a look at this existence. you live in nothing but endless circles of repetition.]\n\nWhy would you ever sleep in your parents' bed? There was always a chance that they would return, come back to find their child with open arms--\n\n[and to think you were allotted even this role in life. what virtues give you a right to this existence? 'none' is the answer you're looking for.]\n\nBut how would //it// not know that? You thought that it was a part of you, and yet there seems to be something distinctly different.\n\n[what an unfortunate twist of moral luck. how can it be that you so believe in the sturdiness of this flimsy life.]\n\nYour voice is loud and clear. "[[The life which you envy so much]]?"\n
Prudent as ever, you tuck your weapon into your belt. \n\nImmediately your senses are on guard once more. You are mesmerized for a moment by a flicker of movement in the fog, but you tear your mind from those thoughts. \n\nWhat matters is safety. \n\nYou once again notice the moldy dumpster by your side. You could always [[clamber inside and hide]].\n\nThen again, you're pretty sure he is coming right this way. Perhaps it would be better to summon the courage to [[enter the fog]]. \n
It seems like everything has been leading up to this moment, this one question, this one time. Finally, the truth can come out. Finally you won't have to live in fear, live alone, plagued by doubt and longing for normalcy. \n\n[[<<Back|Try to question it instead.]]
Your head lowered, you pick your way across the cold, hard rock of the mountains. You wonder why you are here, [[why you must continue to exist|what you are doing here, where you are going, where //it// is]] in a world of such tragedy.
Although in your mind you call him a stranger, a part of you screams out at this terrible misnomer. How can a stranger feel so eerily familiar, even before you have ever seen his face?\n\n[[<<Back|different world]]
Perhaps you can befriend this individual. Then again, perhaps you can take him down before he even realizes you are here. A thousand thoughts race through your head at once. \n\n//But at least they're my thoughts.// \n\nThe comment in your mind is like a spark in the night. That's right; it seems awfully quiet. Perhaps it cannot even see you. It certainly does not control you now. \n\nYou are entirely on your own. \n\nThis thought strikes terror in your heart. You can feel the grip on your weapon slacken. Is it best to [[keep up your defense]]? \nOr perhaps it is best to show him your good intentions and [[drop your weapon]]? \n
Your eyes scour the fog ahead of you. Where is this stranger? Is that his body among the swirling shadows in the mist? You are ready to attack any second now--\n\nYou're not quite sure how you sense he's there. All you know is that in an instant you've whirled around and your weapon has crashed into his with an earth-shattering crack. Both fracture into splinters before your eyes. \n\nHis eyes are alight with flames now, and he uses the opportunity to punch you hard in the jaw. You lose balance and fall to the ground among the fallen shards. \n\nThe breath is knocked from your lungs as your body hits pavement. Even as his shadow is cast across your face, you know you have the strength to [[fight back]]. \n
[now you don't want to do that, do you?]\n"How do you know?"\n[if you'd wanted to end your life I'm sure you would have done it already.]\nYou muse over this for a bit. It's right, you don't want to kill yourself. You just want some things to end, to be simpler. You want to eliminate the source or your problems and distress. And you have a feeling that it's right in front of .. or right inside of you... or something.\n[so you've finally decided to try and get rid of me? you know, I've been wondering when you'd finally [[decide to end things between us]].
"Yes, I suppose you're right."\n\n[you certainly weren't a gloriously brave youngster. sometimes it was I that had to get you towards others.]\n\n"Suffice to say that neither of us really wanted the spotlight."\n\n[who wants the spotlight when he can live in shadow?]\n\nYou laugh. "I think there are some things that you're never going to understand. Though I don't know if I understand them any better myself." \n\n[it does seem more often than not that different motives seem to guide us. I would be quite interested to know why this is.]\n\n"Human nature can seem quite random at times."\n\n[it's so odd, yet so intriguing. I would not choose any other existence.]\n\n"Would anyone honestly choose a different position than his own?"\n\n[now that is a whole different mystery entirely. And one that is not to be faced until after you've made your decision.]\n\n"About what I am to do with you?"\n\n[with us.]\n\n"Ah, yes." You [[wonder if you're ready]] to make such a commitment.\n
At school there are so many other people. Too many. You want to do something, anything. You've never been around so many....\n\n[confusion. resentment. fear. hate. attack. flee.]\n\, it's not that you feel this. It's not you feeling it at all. It's that thing. It can't stand this crowd, this din. You have to search deep inside of you to see what //you// want. There it is. A small bud of hope. Curiosity. The urge to make friends. \nThen it clamps down on you with an iron hold.\n\n[despair. darkness. hide. eliminate. lash out. withdraw. act.]\n\nYou try to keep it at bay, try to control it with your mind. But your mind it young and weak and the thing is far too strong. You begin to feel these emotions, the things that it wants you to feel. And feeling them, knowing that its control is irresistible, you feel panic well up within you. That's what it wants. Panic. It bites down even more, until its pain, physical pain you are feeling. A scream tears from your throat, and in an instant you come back to reality, you see for the first time the world around you. You're on your hands and knees, breathing heavily in the dim light of the hallway. Students are circled around you, silent. You look down to see in horror long gashes running up and down your forearms. You look at your bloody fingernails and realize you have done this to yourself. \nOnly now does a teacher come, shoving his way through the crowd. He gasps when he sees you, the gashes on your arms beginning to openly bleed now. \nHe helps you to your feet. "Who did this to you?" His eyes are wide with fear... is he afraid of you?\n\n[run. free. leave. stare. hide.]\n\n[[Tell him I did this to myself.]] \n[[Tell him some other kid did this to me.]] \n[[Break from his grip and run.]]\n\n\n
You slash at the fog, reveling in the fear of those misty beings. They understand that you are stronger than them. They know obedience to those with power. That is all that you want. \n\nYou quickly arrive at the dumpster. No one there. It looks like your prey had just enough sense to hide. \n\nYou walk towards the dumpster ever so slowly. You know that with each footstep his fear increases. You’re so close now that you can hear his strained, labored breathing. He’s biting back the urge to panic. \n\nIn a sudden movement, you wrench up the lid of the dumpster. The stranger tries to attack but you easily avoid his blow and grab his writhing form, dashing it onto the concrete below your feet. \n\nYou sling his unconscious body over one shoulder. Time to [[have some fun|do what needs to be done]].\n
You stand, bracing yourself against the wall as you make your way slowly to the iron bars from the floor to the ceiling. You can see cells in front of you, but they're empty. Leaning against the bars, you try to strain your neck and see down the hallway. You jump at the sound of loud footsteps reverberating down the hall. Soon a police officer stands in front of you, eyeing you warily.\n \n"'Scuse me. I've orders to take you to see Dr. Henry Sun." He unlocks the door to your cell. "Um, please come right this way." You notice now that he has a taser out. \n[[Come quietly.]]\n[[Resist.]]\n
That's right, you hate following your mad impulses, signals forcing you to go a certain way or do a certain thing. You want to consider things rationally, not forced to act by something beyond your control or understanding. \n\nYou feel a prickling in your brain, and bury your face in your hands. Instinct, emotion, impulse, control. it all seems to be coming together now. The thing controlling you all this time, the entity above your mind, your rational thought, that pushes you into the irrational. The controller, using you like a puppet; the pressure on your mind you've only ever described as "it." Is it possible - but how can it be possible, you ask yourself - that "it" is really basic human instinct? Everyone has it, but they're not fighting with it, instead they work together, hand-in-hand. Perhaps that voice in your head is [[supposed to be there after all]]. \n
In your home, sitting down, you feel its grip begin to loosen. Just enough for you to begin feeling pain. The aching of your feet, the heaviness in your legs, the pulsating pain in your forearms. You feel anger, hatred at this thing for doing this to you.\n\n[calm. submission. relief. appeasement.]\n\nYou feel your anger lessen, but only slightly so. No, you tell yourself. I won't be calm. You did this to me.\n\n[anguish. loneliness. isolation.]\n\nYou feel a wave of despair wash over you. You were always so utterly [[alone]]. \n
It's surprisingly easy to climb these steep slopes. You follow a smooth, well-worn path. It looks like many have made their way here before. The sun is gone now; it has probably set. You can hear the distant moaning of wind through stone and you notice that the land is beginning to level out. \n\nAfter a length of time, you come across a small ramshackle fort built around the rocks. It's composed of cardboard and some sheet metal, with loose wires around it to keep out intruders, or maybe wolves. \n\nYou enter the fort, shivering from the brisk mountain air. Tacked to the front wall, you see this note:\n"Welcome. This is a residence for those who are lost, for those who have given up on a friend and find themselves in need. May you one day be reunited with the one you have lost."\n\n"Huh. That's strange..." You mutter it to yourself, wondering if you should rest here for the night. You are feeling awfully drowsy.\n\nJust then you hear a clatter and then a yelp from further inside the fort. \n\n"Whoops. I'm sorry. Um, is anybody there?" the voice seems kind, and has a sharp familiarity to it, like that of an old friend. The footsteps indicate that he's approaching, but he has not seen you yet.\n\n[[Greet him.]]\n[[Run and hide.]]
"Of course it matters. Why else would you work so hard to try to persuade me to follow you?"\n\n[it's all a trick, a ruse. I don't //need// your help anymore. you're already on my side. It was clear when you did as I said.]\n\nYou frown. "But..."\n\n[you are a brute, a barbarian. why would I ever need anything from someone as low as you?]\n\nYour fists clench and unclench. You really want to punch something. "Because this barbarian is ready to smash your face in. You think you have me under your thumb because I let that man die? Well I'd say that I've just become [[your worst enemy]]." \n\nSo your smack talk is not so great. That's alright; you've got plenty of time to practice. What really matters is that you have the chance to wreak your revenge. \n
You raise your pistol. It hastily does the same. You narrow your eyes, gazing down at it for what you know is the last time.\nAnd then you [[fire|end3]].\n
"Of course I mean it! What kind of friend keeps someone from ever meeting and connecting with another soul, then almost kills that someone just to say he's saved their life? If that's what you call friendship, then I'm sure glad that you've never tried to befriend anyone but me. No one deserves to go through this much pain."\n\n[well I'm sorry I ever tried to save your life. It was a great waste of my energy, clearly, seeing as I'm going to have to destroy you now.]\n\nIt steps out from the shadows, a short figure adorned with a red mantle, holding a steel knife in one hand. "I was foolish to think it'd come down to anything but this. You aren't worthy of the life you live. It's time to take it for myself."\n\nYour mind is in a panic now, trying to debate whether to [[run|run2]] or to [[fight]] this enemy. Sweat drips down your face and into your eyes. You don't want to die.\n
You sit down on your bed, taking a deep breath. Well it looks like you blew it. Still, social interactions are good things, right? You wonder if you should get out more. You pour yourself a bowl of cereal and begin to munch on it contently, wondering why the thing in you hasn't seemed all that active today. Usually it'd be doing something. Perhaps it was saving its energy up for something. \n\nOnce you're done you put the dirty bowl away and lay down on your bed. You're about to drift off into a light sleep...\n\n[[Next>>|ring]]
[have you decided yet?]\n\n"It's that time already? Time to face the end of our dreams?"\n\n[I suppose it is.]\n\n"So."\n\n[yes?]\n\n"Are you waiting for me to make my decision?"\n\n[yes.]\n\n"Ah."\n\nYou wonder if you should try to [[let this being take over]] - if that is even possible. Or perhaps you could [[share power]], two minds in the same body as it has always been. \n\nAnd all the while a small voice in the back of your mind calls out to you: [["Fight it!"|lash out at it]]\n\n
The fog unnerves you. You can swear that you see forms within its misty tendrils - perhaps even faces. It sends a chill down your spine. \n\n[[<<Back|different world]]
You leave the large spear undisturbed. You figure it's better to stay towards the pacifist's side. Besides, you've never handled a spear before. You wonder if you might accidentally just impale yourself with it. \n\nThere are two places left you can look at, the [[big house|One house]] and the [[stone building|another building]]. You can also [[leave the village]] if you so wish. \n
“Ah…” You pause for a moment, then for the first time take a good look at this man who’s caused you to doubt yourself. His eyes are dulled with pain, and yet you can still see the sparks of resistance in his eyes. He gazes at you and his eyes alight with some kind of awareness. In the same moment you realize that you must have seen this face before. But from where…?\n\n“Please…” His gasping voice is hollow. “Please, just let me go.” \n\nYour brow furrows. Thoughts race through your head, thoughts that you didn’t know existed. Finally, your mind makes do in the only way it knows. “Yes, that is the right thing to do. I will let you down.” You let your eyes drop to the floor. “I know the one holding you here. Just wait until night. I’ll free you from this captivity.” You run from the room before the accusation eyes can persecute you further. \n\nYou pace back and forth in your bedroom into the dawn, as you are used to doing these days. All the time you murmur decisions to yourself, on whether if not you’ll let the man go. \n\nAfter all, leaving him up there feels like something of a sin. You feel like if he dies, it’s like a part of you dying as well. \n\nYou have no idea how you have connected with him with scarcely more than a few words and looks. \n\nYou reflect again on this tyranny of free will. \n\nIf this was a tyranny, then who was the tyrant? Were you really so low as to exist as the tyrant?\n\nWere you truly so [[dishonorable]]?\n
You mumble something incoherent about how you're happy to have met Alex, about how you should get together again sometime. Of course you don't really mean any of it; you know that you'll never see Alex again. You leave, walking quickly, and not stopping until you're back at your house. In front your house you see a small box. Curious, you pick up the box and take it [[inside]].
You get up out of bed with a passion. Today isn't just another day for moping about. Today is a day of action! You pull on the dressiest clothes you have (a dirty polo and slacks) and run your fingers through your hair before skipping from the house, even whistling a little off-key ditty. \n\nWalking down the street, you stop to look into a small coffee shop window. A youngish individual sits alone, staring into a cup of coffee with anger and remorse. You saunter on in to the shop and ask the person if you can sit down. The person nods, and you sit politely. You sit in silence for a moment, trying to think up something to say. Maybe you should just try to [[make small talk]], or [[ask for this person's name]]. Then again, perhaps it'd be better to [[get right down to business]]. \n
You kick out at his shin, causing him to hop away with a cry. \n\nYou have just enough time to clamber to your feet and steady yourself before he throws himself at you once more.\n\nYou two are quite evenly matched, giving back a blow for each that falls upon you. Still, he's just a bit slower and just a bit weaker and it's clear he's not used to hand-to-hand combat. \n\nIt's a bloody battle, and you're pretty sure that every single part of your body has been damaged as you crawl your way over to his barely-moving form. Your fingers ache as they tighten around his neck. \n\nA small thought flashes in your mind. Perhaps you should just [[leave him alive]]. You doubt that he could do anything to harm you now.\n\nThen again, he did bring a weapon and he did try to kill you. It is only right that you [[return the favor]]. \n
You tighten your fist and hear a small crunch; with a start, you realize there's something in your hand. Just then you see a figure flit across the top of the pit, pausing just long enough to toss something inside. \n\n"Wait!" You shout, but the figure is already gone. You reach up to grab the thing that the figure dropped.\nIt's... a dead flower?\n\nYou take a look at the item crumpled in your other hand. It's a slip of paper, and on it, written in red ink, reads: \n\n"This is the pit of the dead, for those who have lost their souls. May those who have taken another's life end up here, to eternally repent."\n\nWell that's [[a bit creepy]].\n
[listen to yourself. so self-assured, so steady. and yet how could you ever know what decision is right? how could you ever know where any choice leads, and if it is better than any other?]\n//The sky is beginning to sharpen into the pale hues of life. You can hear waves nearby.//\n\n"I suppose I do my best." \n\n//The grass is sharp under your feet.//\n\n[but why?]\n\n//You're at the edge of a cliff. The ocean crashes below you.//\n\n"What do you mean? If I want to move forward, I have to make choices."\n\n[but why make choices if you do not know the outcome, if you do not even know if they are for the better? why allow the choices to define your existence?]\n\nIt seems an absurd question. "Because," you manage finally, "my choices matter."\n\n[do they? really? it seems the response of an arrogant and narcisstic person, yet I know you to be neither.]\n\n//You feel a sense of finality, every choice you had before now a closed door. You have arrived back where you started. You are ready.//\n\n[can you honestly say that your life and your choices matter? do you think it really matters if you live or die? do you even think it matters if you declare if you are with me or against me?]\n\n//You are living in reality now. The world is vibrant, dazzling in its luminescence.//\n\n[the answer is that it does not matter. we are enemies and we always shall be. and the only way to resolve fights between enemies is a [[duel]].
It lets out a sigh of exasperation. "How can you still not understand? And here I thought you were ready, ready to stand as my equal. But I see now that I was wrong." \n\nThe water's surface begins to roll. \n\n"But you still do not - no, cannot - understand me. You cannot understand anything. I never... I never should have believed in another."\n\nThe water rises far above your head, before the huge wave comes crashing down on top of you.\n\nEverything retreats to [[darkness|underwater]]. \n
//Sort of like marriage//, you think sardonically. \n\n[[<<Back|this makes sense]]
You make your way towards the source of the sound, all the while contemplating man's [[animalistic need]] to find sources of running water. Then you begin to wonder what it would be like if you thought normal thoughts every once in a while. \nYour foot makes contact with the source of the sound. It's not water at all; it's a small cassette player playing the sound of running water. \n\nYou wonder what it's doing here. Then you pick it up and turn off the grainy recording. //If only my life was that easy. [[If I could just turn it off with a click.]]//\n\nJust out of curiosity, you rewind the tape and begin to play it. But it's not the sound of running water that plays; instead it's the crackling voice of a youngish-sounding man. \n\n//"There is a divided personality here: two minds fighting for the same body. The narrator... dominated by social values... never tells his story except... calculated to make you like him. Above all, he does not want to be isolated from you--"[[*|**]]//\n\nThe rest of the message fades off into static.\n
"I-it was me. I did this." Your voice is hoarse; your throat aches just like the gashes on your arms. The teacher's eyes widen even more, and you can tell he is genuinely afraid of you now. \nHe places one arm gingerly around your shoulder. "Come now. I'll take you to the [[nurse's office]]. You can rest there." \n
You've never gotten a package in your life. You're pretty sure you would have been delirious with happiness if you'd ever received one. \n\n[[<<Back|confession]]\n
You don’t know how long you spend at your shelter. But slowly the wooden walls morph into stone and mortar, the hay underfoot becoming polished marble. Your palace grows and expands as your thirst for battle grows in your heart. \nFor the strong, war is the only option. And for the weak – well, they were only those crushed by those who truly held power.\n\nIt made perfect sense now, the fact that only the strongest could prevail. Why, constant war became a staple of life. Was that not natural, [[how existence was meant to be]]?\n\nEvery day your eye is drawn more and more to the ethereal vapors that encircle your small fortress. With each passing minute they seem to draw closer, encroaching on your territory. You wonder if you should try to [[study more about them]], try to figure them out. Then again, even looking at them gives you a bad feeling. You wonder if you should just [[leave them alone|a good deal of time]]. \n
[you chose the path of violence. how interesting.]\n\nYou raise an eyebrow, already wishing to get your hands around its throat. You shift your weight from one foot to the other, feeling extremely unnerved.\n\n[clearly you behave with reckless infliction of pain and death. you are a tyrant.]\n\n“That description sounds like it fits you a lot more than me. \nI’m clearly not a tyrant. It was kill or get killed. You know how it is when only the strong can survive.”\n\n[you love to use these excuses to slip your way out of the noose. but alas, you don’t see that I’ve known the truth all along. all I want to do is show you that same truth.]\n\n“Hah, I should be used to this criticism by now. After all, [[you always criticize me no matter what|you would criticize me no matter what]] I do anyway.” \n
"You want me to tell you why I'm here?" You take a deep breath, steeling yourself. "It's just that... I love you. And I really want to be with you. Perhaps you want to come to my place tonight?"\n\nThe person looks up almost absentmindedly. "Oh, I'm sorry... I didn't quite hear you there... Could you say that again?"\n\nYou flush, embarrassed. Perhaps you should [[repeat yourself]]. Then again, maybe this was better. You still have the chance to [[back out]]. \n
Well, you can't quite describe it as blackness. More like a [[void]].
It was funny; often in your times of despair you'd wished you could become //it//. [[A controlling manipulative creature, acting on impulse, unconcerned with who you were harming]].
You feel the flame of wrath begin to rekindle. "After all you've done for me, after all you've put me through, you think I'm just going to give up!?" You turn, begin to pace. "Maybe you just wanted to belong, maybe you felt isolated, but trying to control me, to make me part of you. I was the one that was isolated! I was the one that could never belong! And I don't see why you deserve any different!" With fervor, you kick a rock into the pool, causing ripples to spread across its surface. \n\nAnd when you finally look up, you see that it's gone. You're all alone once more. \n\n\nThe cave fades away. The pool fades away. Everything fades like a hazy dream. And all that's left there is you, the constant, the only unchanging thing in this entire [[transitory world|transitory world 2]]. And do you even know whether you are unchanging? How do you know you are not always changing and it's only your view of this world that changes, not the world itself?\n\nYou can hear the sound of [[running water]] nearby. \n
You turn with great fierceness, your eyes glinting again in the half-light of the room. "You think that you are better than me? You think that you have any power over me in this place? This is my house! My mind! I was the one born into this life, and no matter what happened in the past you cannot and will not take that from me!" \n\n[is that a challenge?]\n\n"No, it's. the truth." You're acutely aware that you'll have to work on your dramatic dialogue, but that will have to wait. "What I mean is. You have no right to be here! I have [[my own will, my own volition]]. No one can take that away from me." \n\n[that's where you're wrong. [[I am just as much a part of you as you are.]]]\n
"Come together?" You voice is sharp and incredulous, though your eyes are bright. "You mean like a [[partnership|end2]]?"\n\n[no, no, not a partnership...] The words come, tumultous and hasty now. [a merging of mind and heart, the destruction of dichotomy. the creation of an [[ultimate being|end1]].]\n\nYou frown. "That sounds dangerous. There is only one body--who is to determine the mind controlling that body?"\n\n[you stubbon, insolent... it shall be the greatest culmination of life that has ever walked this earth!] \n\n"I think that just sharing power might be the safest--"\n\n[NO! do you not see? that will just put us in the same situation as before any of this ever began. how would you like to never feel fear again? how would you like to never face doubt or conflict?]\n\nYou gulp, your mind tracing out the moments of despair and pain from your childhood. All of that would be gone if you were to follow its advice and be reborn.\n\nSweat drips down the side of your face. You know that this choice will be your last.\n\n
“You don’t want to kill me.” Frankness won you his sympathies before. Perhaps it could help again. \n\n“It doesn’t matter.” \n\n“Isn’t that the only thing that matters?”\n\n“All that matters is staying safe. Doing all you can to make sure your enemies are dealt with.” \n\n“And am I your enemy?”\n\nThere was a long pause. “…yes.”\n\nYour eyes flare. “What was I possibly doing to harm you? What can I possibly do to harm you now? If you let me go I’ll leave forever, never see you again. I will never be able to hurt you.”\n\n“This is a realm of violence. Only the strong survive.” \n\n“And what would be the point of surviving if every waking moment for the rest of eternity was wracked with the torment of what you have done? You’re not a monster; I can see that. Why do something that you’ll regret forever?” \n\nThis seems to win his sympathy. His eyes are squinted and moist. “You’re… you’re so familiar... Just like…” His eyes glaze over for a moment in memory. “Ah, let me get you down from there.”\n\nHe takes you down from the wall. He cries hot, wet tears. He pulls you into an embrace.\n\nThe world fades around you. And there //it// is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[friendship]].] \n
NOTE: All italicized text from Pirsig's //Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.//\n\n[[<<Back|talk a little]]\n
And it feels so good to be thinking these thoughts independently, to know they aren't being caused by an invisible being forcing your hand but purely by your burning, fervent passion. \n\n[[<<Back|it doesn't make any sense at all]]\n
"You're here because of your... actions last night. The reason I'm here is to test if you're clinically insane. You know, for the trial and all..." He casts you a look of sympathy. "So, I guess I need to ask you [[a few questions]]..."
You try to attack it, but it is far quicker. It slashes at your hands, feints, then cuts at your side. You let out a howl, waving your arms in fury, trying to land any desperate blow on the flighty creature. \n\nSoon the stone is as [[red|end4]] as the cape your enemy wears. As your vision starts to swim, you wish you hadn't said anything without the skill to back up your words.
[busy prepping to be a murderer?]\n\n"Shuddup," you mutter. "I don't want anything to do with you."\n\n[oh really? you don't even want advice or suggestions? Then I suppose I shouldn't tell you that that thin stalactite right above your head is about to break off and skewer you if you don't [[MOVE RIGHT NOW]].]\n\nYou feel the urge to jump out of the way... but then again it could be lying... [[you don't have to listen to it]].\n
You pause, looking around with wonder. Lush, tall grass rises up all around you, soft to the touch. Small saplings seem to sway in the breeze, their parents forming a ring around the valley. You fill your lungs with the moist air. This might be the most beautiful place you have ever seen. \n\nYou immediately plop down on the soft grass beneath you, curling up to sleep. You don't remember the last time you had a tranquil rest.\n\nThe trees around the clearing seem to loom in closer, creating a gentle canopy overhead, closing you in. You let out a sign and let your eyelids droop shut.\n\n[what do you think you're doing?]\n\n//Huh?// You don't bother to open your eyes. You know it needs only your thoughts.\n\n[you can't just up and go to sleep here. you've still got so much to do!]\n\n//I don't care about that stuff anymore. All I want is to sleep.//\n\n[you [[fall asleep]] here and you're never leaving this valley again.]\n\n//You're saying I'm going to die if I don't wake up?//\n\n[well not exactly.]\n\n//Then just let me get my rest!//\n\n[don't do this to me. just [[wake up]], will you?!]\n
You stare at the door warily. Carefully, you undo the latch and turn the handle. You step back quickly, to see that it's just a delivery person holding a box with your name and address on it. An envelope is taped to the box. \n\n"Delivery for you." The person looks a bit annoyed, probably hoping you'd just [[take the box]] already. \n\nYou wonder who the box could possibly be from. You don't having any friends or living relatives that you know of.\n\nSuddenly it strikes you that this person might not be a delivery person at all. This could all be an elaborate conspiracy against you, an attempt to ensnare you in their trap. Maybe you [[shouldn't take the box]] after all. \n
You lower your weapon and extend a hand. Tentatively, he extends his. It is warm and reassuring. And as you gaze into his eyes, you realize just how strikingly familiar he is. You open your mouth to say—\n\nThe world fades around you. And there it is, finally back once more.\n\n[so this is the path you have chosen. the path of [[friendship]].] \n
You open the right door and step through. In a beat, you realize that there is no floor beneath your feet. In fact there is nothing but a surging black pool underneath your feet. The next thing you know you're in the water. It chills you to the bone, and despite your feeble struggles you shoot towards the bottom like an arrow from a bow. \n\n[idiotic creature. didn't I tell you the left door? well for that you're going to the place that stupid people go.]\n\nYour mind is empty as the light of something above you recedes away into [[nothingness|underwater]]. \n
You sit down stubbornly. "I'm not going anywhere." You furrow your brows and attempt to look somewhat menacing, but without //it// giving you support you doubt you'd have enough strength to actually overtake this officer. Your doubts are confirmed when he grabs you by the wrist and pulls you to your feet with strength you would have never guessed he had. \n\nHe hauls you into a small [[office]]. \n
The wolf leaps forward before you can do anything and knocks you on your back, lunging for your throat. You raise your arms up and he grabs one of them instead, shaking it in his powerful jaws. You quake in fear, unable to comprehend anything except the pain from the razor-sharp fangs. \n\nEventually you're aware that the wolf is gone. But when you try to will yourself to move, all you get is pain. You close your eyes, every part of you burning. all you want is the peaceful embrace of sleep.\n\nAnd that [[sleep|end4]] comes. \n
You concentrate your entire being on your hearing. And with a burst of energy, you clear your ears and let them fill with the sound around you. You can hear water; the sounds surround you, echoing in your head. \n\n[[Next>>|cave]]
You quickly lower your gaze as the man enters the room. "Um. Hello." You wring your hands together. Although you continue to stare at the floor, you can sense this stranger's inquisitive gaze on you. You can't help but feel the urge to unburden yourself. "I've. I've, uh, done some really terrible things--"\n\nThe stranger laughs. "It's so good to finally meet someone else! I've. I've been so lonely...!"\n\nYou look up sharply, but he's already standing with his back to you, gazing out of a small barred window. "It's so good to hear another [[voice]]," he murmurs. "I think we could become good friends."\n\nDid he not hear what you told him? But you suppose it's okay. I mean, [[you're lonely too]]. Perhaps you're both in the [[same situation]].\n\nBut then again, perhaps it'd be better to [[go it alone]]. You don't need any friends. and what if you ended up hurting this guy.?\n
You think for a moment that the sun has begun to set. That's when you realize that instead it is a fiery being in front of you, shining with a pure, white light. He holds a silver pistol aloft, aimed right at your heart. You know it could shoot you right there, but instead it gives you a second to make your move. \n\nYou use this moment of hesitation to dash behind a pile of rocks. Your legs are visibly shaking as you collapse to the ground. You wonder if you'll be able to stand again. \n\nYour mind races, trying to sum up the least painful way to die. You could always try jumping out at it, trying to [[grab the gun away]]. It was a suicide run, but perhaps it could be done. \n\nFierceness got you into this situation, but it might not get you back out. Your mind is scattered, confused. If only you could focus. If only you could [[think]].
With the help of some scissors, opening the box is an easy task. Inside, you see a paperback book called //Controlling the Inner You: A Guide to Mastering Emotions//. The book is by Henry M. Sun, Ph.D.\n\nYou open the letter next. It's fairly brief. It reads:\n\nHello. My name is Henry Sun; I work as a psychologist. I have heard about your case and it intrigues me. I believe with some therapy, I may be able to help you with your predicament. I have enclosed my business card; please call me any time you wish to arrange a meeting. I have also enclosed my latest book, in the hope that you might find it helpful. \nSincerely, \nHenry M. Sun, Ph.D.\n\nThere's also a business card in the envelope, containing Sun's contact information. Perhaps you should [[call him]]. Then again, you're curious about [[the book]] as well. \n
You step out of the hole and let the petal fall into it. Tenderly covering it with dirt, you say a few words about the flower. With that business done, you decide the only way you can make progress is to [[start walking]].
You're running now, picking your way across the rocky ground. The first drops of rain begin to fall, and soon the rain becomes a torrent. You didn't realize how slippery the slate-like rock becomes when it is wet. Your foot slides out from underneath you, and you tumble down a steep incline. When you finally come to a halt, you look up to see that you're in the middle of a small [[valley]]. The rain has stopped.
At this question his eyes light up with life. "Why? Why am I doing this?" He waves his arms to the walls around him. "You may as well ask why this very building stands here! It is all a [[symbol]], a testimony to the strong!" These last works he shouts out to echo through every crack and crevice in the stones around you. "What you do not seem to understand is the role of the weak and the strong in this world. Some are born for greatness and violence is within their souls. This existence surges through my veins. Why else would any of this be happening?" He lets out a laugh. \n\n"But what--"\n\n"Hush! You are naught but a specter, the ghost of the foolhardy. Your job is not to speak, but to suffer." His eyes glitter in the half-light of the room. "You chose the path of violence, did you not? \n"I'm leaving for the moment, but don't worry; I shall [[return]] soon enough."\n\nWith that he turns on his heel and his steps fade away into the distance.\n
As the wolf comes around at you you kick out, hard, hitting him square in the ribs. He falls, and before he can get up you attack him. You try to hold him down but he's stronger and breaks loose, clamping his jaw on your arm and shaking it. All you can feel is pain. you wonder if your arm's been bitten off or not. In a blind panic you kick out, again and again, aiming at the wolf's throat. Eventually you feel his grip on your arm slacken, and he falls over, unmoving.\n\nYou're breathing hard, but a smile of triumph crosses your face. \n\nNow you begin to feel the pain in your arm once more. You take one glance at the mauled, bleeding arm and you feel sick. Trying to only concentrate on breathing, you feel the world spin around you before you [[hit the ground]]. \n
At Alex's apartment the two of you sit, eating ice cream out of small bowls. Time ticks by slowly; you feel like you could just sit here forever. You feel so content... you didn't know you could feel this content... But of course this bliss could not last long. The thing inside of you begins its work. It doesn't pound you with emotion like it usually does; this time it's slyer. It draws your attention to the little details in the room, things you would have ignored earlier. The strange scent on the room, the stain on the couch, the crusty particle of food on the side of your bowl. Now that you've noticed them, though, you can't seem to get your mind off of them. \n\nAlex seems to note your agitation. "Is something wrong?"\n\nOf course there is something wrong. There's been something wrong your whole life. But you [[can't tell Alex the truth]]. Anyone would think you're crazy. But... then again... Alex might understand... and you feel a pang in your heart, a need to [[confide]] in another human being. \n
[ah. what a wonderful change this is. how did you like taking a life or two? it's a much different experience than any other.] It blathers on for a while.\n\n"Your point?"\n\n[frank as usual. my point being, it seems that you have finally come to realize the truth. come to make the final decision.]\n\n"Final decision?"\n\n[you think that this little charade means anything at all? all that really matters, in the end, is one choice.]\n\nYou shake your head. "No, that can't. that can't be the way this works."\n\n[you act like you have some say in this matter.]\n\n"What you're saying is that none of this matters. Whether I kill a man or help to save the world, I'm punished or celebrated equally?"\n\n[in essence, yes. what about that last choice you made there? [[do you think it really matters]] at all to me whether or not you - you pathetic little being - are on my side?]\n
You've known since you were born. You've known you were being controlled. It was the cold, hard //[[thing]]// inside of you, controlling your actions, manipulating your thoughts. Making you feel things you never wanted to feel.
You concentrate your entire being on your sense of taste. And with a burst of energy, you open your mouth wide and wipe your tongue on the surface in front of you with wide sweeps. Something slimy detaches itself from the wall and you roll it around in your mouth, chewing on it thoughtfully. \n\n[[Next>>|cave]]
In fact sitting here in this shady hole in the middle of the desert, holding a dead flower and a condemning note... well, all of it's a bit disturbing. You feel a sinking feeling of dread as it begins to dawn on you. The fact that you killed another being. You feel a bit nauseous, but don't let it overcome you. You know if you want to survive you have to [[get out of this hole]]. \n\nBut a small part of you condemns your actions. It wants you to atone for your actions with your own life. It wants you to just [[stay here]], lying up at the sky, until death takes you in its calm, peaceful embrace. \n
At the top of the mountain is a being, shining and brilliant. You see that ths man is the source of the light. He wears long, white robes, and in one hand wields an enormous gavel. At his feet, the gravel is scintillating, bright enough to hurt your eyes. \n\nYou offer a small bow and your voice is soft. "I submit myself to the mercy of this court."\n\n[there is no mercy here.]\n\nYou look up, trying to bite down a yelp of panic. "What--"\n\n[you have already been Judged.]\n\n"But--"\n\n[the verdict is guilty. the penalty is death.]\n\nThe gavel bangs the ground, shaking the earth. You watch as stones force themselves though the the ground, forming towering walls. As the smoke clears, you find yourself in the ruins of an ancient [[kingdom]].
You pull the covers over your head. It's better not to go anywhere. You've gotten around all of your life being alone. You're not about to change now. You nestle in the warmth of your blankets and feel yourself begin to drift into a light sleep....\n\n[[Next>>|ring]]\n
The fog parts as you stride through. Those beings could never be your ally, could never even begin to understand you. But now, with this stranger, it would be different. Finally, your long days could be filled with a companion to your kingdom. \nYou finally arrive, and see this stranger standing there by the dumpster, hunched over in fear, trying to seek out some invisible opponent. Too bad his instincts are poor; he’s looking in entirely the wrong direction. It makes you want to laugh. \n\nHe slowly turns, and when he sees you he lets out a small gasp. His eyes light up with fear as his weapon slips from his sweaty hands. \n\nAs much as you [[desire a friend|to_friendship]], you can’t help but wonder if this pathetic excuse for a being can even be your friend. He is not strong; he is nothing compared to you. How easily you could kill him. How badly you want that [[fear in his eyes to be justified]]. \n
You try. You try very hard to keep your mind latched on the sound. Sun is still talking but you cannot make out the words anymore, just sounds that wash over you like warms rays of sunlight. //Perhaps that's why he has the name Sun...// You smile blithely, despite the ever increasing pain. His voice becomes stronger, parts cutting through the pain. "I need... put... state of... in your mind... Ready? ...Three, two, one..."\n\nEverything becomes [[blackness]].\n
"No... It's just a headache, that's all." It wasn't exactly a lie; you really do feel a headache building up. You rub your eyes. It doesn't help.\n\n"Are you sure?" Alex stands now, coming to your side. "You look really pale... Want me to get you some medicine?"\n\n"No. No thanks." From your experience, medicine just made the problem worse. You feel the sudden urge to [[run]], to escape from this place and never return. You know that this is the only way to make sure no one gets hurt. \n\nBut run now and you've shown it that it can overpower you. It will never let you form a relationship again. Maybe you should just [[stay]] for a bit longer. \n
You concentrate your entire being on your sense of smell. And with a burst of energy, you flare your nostrils and take in a lungful of air. The air is moist and full of life; it smells a bit like you'd expect rotting wood to smell. \n\n[[Next>>|cave]]
You close the book and put it back in place, filled with a sudden chill. You figure its best to put this all behind you. Still, the haunting image of paradise stays with you. \n\nThere are two places left you can look at, the [[big house|One house]] and the [[other buildings close to you|ones closest]]. You can also [[leave the village]] if you so wish.\n
You can't kill. You just can't. \n\nYou run. \n\nTime passes. You travel to every corner of this deluded world in the span of your lifetimes. And still, having every piece of the puzzle, you still can't figure out the picture. \n\nScattered hints and images surround you but you know there is no truth to find among them. \n\nAnd with that you can laugh the grief away. You can lay down in a grassy knoll and gaze up at the sky and prepare yourself for the realization that you're never going back. \n\nAnd perhaps it is [[better this way|end5]]. \n
You run towards the figure, ignoring the grass tearing at the flesh of your feet. As you get closer, you feel a sinking sense of dread. You wonder if it's your own feeling, or something it is forcing on you. \n\nDespite the fact that you're getting closer, the figure still looks distant, blurry and undefined. You speed up now, until you're only a few feet away. \n\nYou stop to catch your breath, wondering what to say to the figure. Just then another breeze whips through the field, knocking the figure off balance. You have a split second to decide whether or not you should leap out and try to [[catch the figure]], or just [[watch]].\n
"So then." You scuff your foot on the floor. "Why haven't you killed me yet?"\n\n[ha. just like you. always oversimplifying, never seeing the situation for what it truly was.]\n\nYou frown. "So now you're going to insult me? It's a simple question." \n\nThere's a long silence. \n\n"And I think therein lies the source of my power. You are not really capable of anything. Your only true actions in this world are little more than reactions to me. You cannot even kill me -- probably your only desire -- unless I first attempt to destroy you. And even then, I doubt..." \n\nFinally it speaks. \n\n[there is no way I can win. you're probably not stupid enough to be goaded into a fight at this point, and too sensible to grant me power.] \n\nThere is a long, heavy pause.\n\n[why not just kill me now?]\n\nAnd it appears before you, a kneeling figure with a crimson cloak falling all about its shoulders. It extends to you the hilt of a golden sword. "Please, take my life."\n\n"Is this the only way?"\n\n"It is the best thing for everyone. Either you [[kill me]], or you are [[locked in this perpetual dream forever|wander here forever]]."
Or perhaps more like an extended metaphor, representing nothing much in particular? You often found that looking for symbolism in something was merely stuffing your own opinion into a work. This was probably one of those times. \n\n[[<<Back|Why are you doing this to me?]]
You remain sitting, looking around anxiously. You know it wants you to leave. But you continue to sit there stubbornly, refusing to give in to it. It sends you a message. Instead of the usual burst of emotion, the feeling it sends is intent. It wants Alex dead. It wants you to be all alone again. \n\nAlex comes towards you now, wanting to pull you into an embrace. You feel a sinking feeling of dread. You don't want Alex getting near you. You don't know what you might do. \n\n[[Break from Alex's embrace.]]\n[[Return Alex's embrace.]]\n
A crazy idea occurs to you. One of those insane things that you think might actually work. You drop to your hands and knees and feverishly begin to scoop sand out of the way. The sand is sharp, hot and dry. The grains scratch at your arms but you ignore them. You're not even sure what you're hoping to find beneath the sliding sands. Just that it's so, entirely worth it. \n\nYou scrabble at the sands, trying to make a significant indent in the dunes. It's hard work and a few times you feel sand get into your mouth and scratch your parched throat. \nYou don't know how much time passes before you decide to take a small break from your labors. All you know is that the sun is in exactly the same place, hanging directly above your head. Sitting there in your small trench, you begin to wonder what any onlookers would think of you if they saw you out here. "Just imagine," you say to yourself. "What if a traveler came along here years from now and saw my dried, shriveled corpse sitting in this hole? Probably think I had been digging my grave with the last of my energy." You laugh.\nThe vigor from before is gone now. You seriously doubt you'll find anything below these sands. Still, a small part of you tells you to [[keep digging]], says that you'll find great things. \n\nYou look over to see one last, dried petal from your flowery friend resting on your shoulder. You wonder if you should give up on your digging and just [[make this hole its grave]].\n
You begin to make your way down the mountainside, carefully avoiding the looser bits of rock. After a certain point the air seems to change, to become warmer, moister. The air smells of foliage. You follow the warm breeze, and emerge in a small [[valley]].
The two of you step inside. "Don't mind the sheets... I'm, uh, doing laundry today," you mutter.\n\nLooking around the house, you wonder what it must look like to this stranger's eyes. Although the house is big, most of it is barely touched. Unable to stand the isolation of sleeping in a bedroom, you'd long ago moved your bed out to the living room.\nSoon other things moved to sit around your bed: a mini-fridge, an old TV you'd fished out of the dump, any life possessions that really mattered. Eventually you just lived out in the living room, leaving the rest of the house to rot. It all seemed perfectly normal to you. But to this Henry Sun, you must look like a crazy person. \n\nYou drag a chair from the disused kitchen and ask the doctor to sit. He does, still surveying the mess about him. You sit on your bed, across from him, and bounce up and down nervously like you did when you were [[little]].\n
Thinking about it, you realize how much this situation sounds like your own. You were desperate to get rid of it, and now you're stuck here.\n\nThough this place certainly seems nothing like any Paradise you've heard of. \n\n[[<<Back|another building]]
You once read a story about a desert when you were a child. About how someone [[dug in the desert for five days and five nights]], and found a [[treasure chest]] full of riches. He'd gone out to the desert to find food and water for his family, or something like that. Perhaps someone had told him that beneath the sand he'd find an underground river, but it was so far down that none had reached it before. You can't quite recall the story... but it ended with him finding the treasure chest. And the moral of the story was that if you live a good life then good things will come your way. You remember being incredulous, even as a child. You knew he only found the treasure chest out of luck. It had nothing to do with the fact that he'd lived a good life and that he was willing to dig with all his strength for however long it would take to help his family.
You grab the flower's stem and tug gently, pulling it from the ground. "You and I are the only ones, now. The only ones alive in this world." You tuck the flower behind one ear with trembling fingers. "Isn't that right?" Even you don't know if you're expecting an answer. \n\nA withered brown petal falls to the ground. You look to see your flower, shriveled and dry, crumble to pieces. \n\n"The only living thing in the world besides me... and I had to go and kill it..." Although the words come from your mouth, you feel like you have no control over what you're saying. "I'm... a murderer..."\n\nYou look around to see that the buildings are nothing more than piles of broken wood, not even close to resembling homes anymore. Any plants are withered and dead. You can watch the sun's movement, sinking below the jagged line of mountains on the horizon.\n\nTime seems to rush forward and you stand there mutely, letting it go by. The sun rises to rest right above you, a giant golden orb hanging in the sky. The stone mountains are gone, replaced by a flat [[desert]] that stretches on into eternity. \n\nYou stare blankly ahead of you, wondering what to do. You feel aimless. You don't know if you have a choice but to [[start walking]] forward.
You grab the spear in your strong grip. It's much lighter than you expected it to be. It also seems to balance perfectly on your palm. But just as you turn to leave the walls of the building all fall outwards. They were just made of cardboard. And there's no longer a homely little village all around you; instead you're [[somewhere else|different world]].
No matter how hard you try, you can't get the image of paradise from your mind. How blissful it would be to live without doubt or fear, to be free from the constraints of life. In your mind you picture a beautiful [[valley]], lush and bright and full of life, the opposite of this dirty, dusty, dark place.\n\nYou close your eyes and take in a deep breath. The air smells moist and fresh. Breath held, you open your eyes. \n\nYou've arrived in Paradise. \n