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10011 No. 10011
In loving memory of the Lighthouse CYOA, cut down in the bloom of its youth by a drunken moderator.

You passed through our lives briefly, bringing a wonderful sense of surreality and madness that twisted and warped us in ways we have not felt for ages.

You will be missed.



September 22nd, 2008 - October 8th, 2008

================
Archived copy available at http://www.mediafire.com/?n19j2dmgw25

This thread is created in memory of this fic.
Should the original author wish to resume writing, as we all dearly hope is the case, please use this thread as if it were your own.

>> No. 10012
I... I don't know what to say. I just can't believe that it'd be Lighthouse...

Here was a beautiful thing. Chock full of emotion, of imagery, an acid trip of the highest magnitude; something truly special. And to think it'd be cut down in it's prime...

I'm sorry, I... I just can't do this. It's too cruel a blow.

Goodnight, sweet prince. Rest easy in the nullspace.
>> No. 10013
For the worst of injustices are the ones done as we deliberately turn our heads to allow them...
>> No. 10014
File 122360664445.jpg - (147.70KB , 800x600 , wolf-deer-sartore-513176-sw.jpg ) [iqdb]
10014
I am not a good writer.

But still, I feel like giving this a shot.

Anyway, I already told you that I’m not a good writer. But I’m not a good person, either, in more than one way. I.e.: I’m quite defective. My brain doesn’t stick to things. So, if a plot hole comes up, or someone starts acting out of character, twist and shout. I expect to have to make great use of the retcon button…

---

You stare dispassionately at your monitor.

Having no eyes, it does not deign to stare back at you and instead simply sits there, mocking you with its silence, the cursor on the screen poised above the image of the folder you were so ready to double-click only a bare second ago.

The insides of your insides churn.

The room smells very strongly of lemon--a result of the wasteful spraying of disinfectant that occurred only half an hour ago. You are, as you’ve noted many times before, not the shining example of the impressive coordination between hand and eye that the modern human being is capable of, or even a shining example. Thus, a flyswatter in your hands is more likely to lead to the sound of percussion than the death of any annoying insects.

Takes one to know one, you think to yourself.

The solution had been simple, so you’d decided to complicate it. Instead of standing up and away from your computer and leaving the room, you’d procured a spray bottle of disinfectant and chased the accursed fly about the room with that.

It was, of course, altogether too awkward to make an effective bludgeoning device, so instead you’d pulled back the trigger again and again until a lucky shot had blasted the fly clean out of the air--almost like a flyswatter, you’d noted, a not altogether all together smile upon your face. You’d then proceeded to drown the fly in the bubbling, burning liquid--

---

Bringing you to your point, here.

You stare dispassionately at your monitor, which has remained unchanged since the last time you stared dispassionately at your monitor.

To tell the truth, you’re not entirely sure why you halted in your browsing. You were about to open that folder, you remember, and read that gag manga that you downloaded an age ago, when suddenly, you got a feeling.

Such a vague description! But that’s the only description that fits. It’s not a bad feeling, exactly (which would explain the churning), nor is it a good feeling. But, just as it seems to not be any extreme, it doesn’t seem to hit any kind of median where feeling is concerned, either. There really isn’t any word in the English language that can properly convey the feeling that you’re feeling--or at least no word that you’re aware of.

After all, it’s not as if you’ve studied the dictionary back to front, all the way to “a is for a”. It’s quite possible that there is a word for this sort of situation. Perhaps even simply “scared”.

No, not “scared”. The word floats, almost dreamily, through your mental skyscape before you pick it off with ruthless efficiency, tearing it into freefalling letters, then even further from there to its very phonemes. Frustrated, you move on to the hundreds of defenseless words huddled around it. None of them fit. But surely, somewhere you’ve heard something, somewhere…

---

Your mind scrambles. Your mind has already been scrambled. It finds no trace of survivors from its vantage point off the top of your head, and returns to blase dejection. The copes are littered with gerunds.

You step back from the computer, breathing heavily--you must have kicked back your chair without realizing.

You need to get out of here.

That feeling that you can’t describe--that’s what it’s saying.

[_]
>> No. 10016
File 122360668919.jpg - (110.54KB , 1013x731 , Vulture_19o05.jpg ) [iqdb]
10016
[x] Dissociate

It doesn’t make sense--that’s what you think, still standing, still staring at the screen. If you squint just right, just for the moment in the middle of a blink you can see the eyes of whatever beast it is that inhabits the workings of your computer.

That’s ridiculous, of course--there is no beast, no gremlin, no tiny fellow who turns the light in the refrigerator off when you close the door. It’s all…it’s all stuff. All very scientific, very complicated stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

You stand there still, staring, staring, staring, staring…

You should feel silly, you note, and the moment the realization occurs to you, you do. Leaning away from your computer like this--as if it is some monster readying to leap up from your desk and sever a major artery of yours. Hasn’t your computer been a constant friend through these years? Through thick and thin, through stick and scan, you two have looked out for each other, veritable brothers in this cold, lonely world.

So why, then? Why is it that you want so dearly to bolt? To get away from this terrible, lovely piece of machinery? What is it that has made its comforting glow seem so suddenly threatening?

Your nerves sing, and it is all you can do to keep your feet planted to the floor. There is no voice in your head--no clear warning such as that--but if there was a voice, surely it would be screaming at you right now for being an idiot, for not following its instructions.

---

But there is a retort. Another voice burbles to the surface, the words it speaks winding in a lazy, looping drawl. Up, around the bend, and down again, it flows and thickens, forming a verbal lasso that pulls the strange screaming from the fore of your mind.

The voice of reason, that which chuckles (even it cannot brings itself to laugh too loud) in the face of black cats and four-leaved shamrocks. Why are you even considering this? Running? What are you running from?

The other tries to answer, composes a hideous face, its features purloined from old, half-forgotten memories. The image laughs--and then dissolves in its own absurdity, its inability to hold even for half a minute finally deciding your choice. Elevated above the sounds of weeping, you step closer, and then sit.

See? There’s nothing to be afraid of…but what about all those stories, I wonder?

The voice of reason suddenly undergoes a curious reversal. All those stories, about men and women who felt their skin crawl and crawled away after it--silly, silly, yes of course it’s silly, but they all avoided an unlucky death chasing after the skin of their teeth. It’s silly, silly, silly, silly! What about that? You should really consider that.

It probably wouldn’t do much good, you think, and then stars explode through the back of your skull.

The supernovae explode out your mouth, your nose, your eyes, your ears--every orifice and every pore emits an impossibly blazing light.

---

Light this bright should kill you, you know. There is the sound of somebody screaming, but it is of no concern--neither are the nails scratching at your face and clawing at your eyes. For a moment something foul burns at your throat, but then it torrents violently from your mouth and is gone, no longer of any importance. You read it in a book. Even if it was only a single pinprick, something that bright would kill you.

It was a blue book, light blue, filled with facts and figures but no citations. Your heel is wet, and then slips forwards.

You put it somewhere and never took it out again.

The back of the head hits the corner of your dresser as your body burns away, and the last thing you see as the darkness climbs over the edges of your vision is the pain, concentrated into a single, brilliant point.

[_]
>> No. 10017
File 122360673355.jpg - (87.16KB , 700x467 , Vulture11.jpg ) [iqdb]
10017
[x] Wake up refreshed, rejuvenated, reborn

You drift in and out of nothingness for a while, reaching the shallowest of consciousnesses each time you awake--not nearly enough to realize your circumstances.

I was sleeping, your mind recalls. I am sleeping, it corrects.

The future tense remains unspoken, and your mind takes in its surroundings with dim comprehension. Sunlight--even with your eyes still shut, your mind can sense it leaking through, a molten brightness it tries so hard to ignore without realizing it is ignoring it.

Think of nothing, comes the instruction. Think of nothing.

The effort backfires spectacularly--the mental effort is a beacon of light, and your mind, seeking to escape under the cover of darkness, is instead caught red-handed. It tries desperately to tunnel under the walls, anyway, and in fact almost makes it--

A heel stands fast on its train of thought, and it knows that it’s over. Let in the sunlight, the louder voice commands, and what can your mind do but comply?

And there is light, bright light that stabs at your vision like a thousand tiny knives, and that is because your eyes are open.

Hello.

The light comes in spots, like the colored hair on a dog you once saw. You were standing on the corner of the sidewalk, and it had come by on its own, dragging its leash behind it. The name of the breed soaks on the tip of your tongue before you swallow it back, still forgotten.

Spots. That’s wrong. There is a layer of not-light above you, covering you like a blanket, and it is that layer that is broken, holes torn through to the other side, letting in the light that sifts and sieves down until it reaches your eyes. Yes. It’s the same thing--black and white is white and black--but for some reason, it feels more right, so you ease into it, accept it as your new truth.

There is pressure on you, you realize. Something pressing against your back. The weight of the ground, the entire planet, crushing you. It’s unbearable. Like Atlas, with his globe.

And so, you decide to fall.

You look towards your decent. The light is still there, coming in spots, and you head towards it, ready to burst through that cover--but your feet catch at the last possible moment, as they have a million times before, and you are left with your head tilted back, uselessly staring.

A rustling--a bird passes from branch to branch.

Where are you?

You were there, your normal place, with the hardwood floor and the dusty desk, and then you stood and you thought--

Don’t think about it.

And then here, here, though you have no memory of what “here” is. That chronology is broken, you know, but the missing piece twists and escapes from your grasp, and you suppose it must have a good reason. Looking for a warmer rock to sun itself on. It doesn’t belong here, in this lush green forest. There are snakes in the forest, but this one needs something more. An inferno of energy, instead of this lazy warmth.

---

You walk.

You come across the path--and you can tell it is a path because of the way the grass is beaten and downtrodden--with a distinct feeling of glee. Before, you didn’t know where you were. But here--here is a path. And a path always connects things, like a winding dot-to-dot picture. You didn’t know they were supposed to be straight lines, and drew them in loops and the result was something hideous and horrible that you threw away.

You’re trapped, now. You’re between dots. They all come in sequences, one-two-three-four, and to slip another dot in the middle would only throw things off, make a gentle curve a jagged edge or edge a curve. The time for movement is now.

There are three ways to go, then. You’ve been back--that would be four, but you’ve been back, and there’s no point in leaving if you’re leaving to come back. Left, right, and forwards.

And up.

Your feet leave the ground for a moment, then land again. The dust mites in the hair tumble madly. No.

No. Not up.

[_]
>> No. 10019
File 122360678511.jpg - (73.85KB , 612x480 , Valley_of_the_Shadow_of_Death.jpg ) [iqdb]
10019
[x] Down is probably no good either; best to just keep walking forward.

You survey your choices with an eye most critical.

To your left is a path. It leads to a place you do not know. To your right--the same path, leading instead to a different place you do not know. Or is that right? You can’t see where they go, left or right, after all.

Perhaps it’s a circle. Everything’s a circle. You can’t remember the first time you worked yourself to the bone, scrawling half-smudged words into your notebook, the sides of your feet worn against the insides of your shoes. When you looked up, you found that you were where you started. A whole day wasted.

It was a miracle, you getting out of it afterwards. You still can’t remember what happened that night, other than the feeling of sweat running down your forehead and a thousand crinkled papers--a thousand, a million, more, more, more. You were buried in papers, surely--you remember that. Stacks you tossed into your closet once they had served their respective purposes.

Someday you will go back to that place and give them the funeral they so richly deserve. They were bad people, but they were honorable, at the very least. And that’s alright, in the end.

So left is out, right is out, up is out, and you refuse to dig like some blinded, biting mole. It isn’t dignified. The only direction left is straight, across the path and into the woods.

The woods. You’re expecting those woods to be like these woods, they woods you’ve been stumbling through for the last--but you can’t keep track of time. Has it been an hour? Two hours? A day? No matter. A wood is a forest is trees, trees all around, trees that you can’t tell one from another. That’s alright, then. Even if you walk in circles for the rest of your life, you’ll never know.

That’s happiness.

---

You knew when you made your choice that it would be like this. But still, you can’t help but feel unsettled. This isn’t your world.

The sky is blotted out.

You don’t like that.

If you were inside, that would be okay--that would be your choice, and it’s the privilege of the sentient being to make his own choices. But being forced into a situation where there is only--

You can see it out the windows, but that’s not the point. This trash compactor, this moving sardine can!

You tighten your grip, and the strap stretches, like gum--but it is only your imagination, you know. There are many straps, down the length of the bus, and someone would have noticed, if they really did stretch. Or perhaps they’re meant to stretch.

Every time the bus makes a stop, everything lurches--you have to lean forwards then backwards to keep your balance, and then backwards then forwards as the bus accelerates once again. The strap is a godsend. A godsend! To question it would be--unappreciative.

The thought strikes you--as it has every half-minute for the last ten--that you may have gotten on the wrong bus.

There’s an electronic scrolling marquee near the front of the bus, behind and above the bus driver’s head. It shows the date and time, and then the bus number, and then the date and time again. It would be helpful if not for the fact that you have no idea what the bus number means.

Did you mean I minutes or ten half-minutes?

You can’t keep track of time anyway. Your mind wasn’t built for this. Where did you pull “ten” from in the first place?

You look out the window. You don’t recognize this street at all. There’s too much wildlife--fake wildlife--like the palm trees near the Korean restaurant that might be dying. A newspaper article said something about that. A disease of some sort, perhaps? It wasn’t made for this climate, or this soil, or something.

These trees look alright, but they always look alright until it’s too late. They aren’t palm trees, though. Just…regular ones. Regular trees.

The bus shudders to yet another stop, and you listen to the engine idling as people file past you, all headed towards the bus’ exit. They’re all very indistinct people, you think. Unreal. Like someone made people but forgot to put people in them. Or maybe they made people but never put them in…

Wait a minute. That’s the driver.

The man, dressed smartly in a blue uniform that seems at least one size too big, turns to you before disembarking. “End of the line,” he says, grinning, and his teeth shine in the darkness. No, not his teeth--

“You can stay here if you want--it’ll be going in the other direction, soon.”

And then he bounds down the steps, one-two-three, and disappears from your view.

Hesitantly, you draw closer to the doors and peer outside, hoping to see another passenger, maybe get some directions. At the very least, there should be some building--

But there isn’t. There isn’t even a stop. There isn’t even a road. Only--only --

You’re in a forest. How did you get to a forest, without you noticing?

At least now you know for certain--you did get on the wrong bus, after all.

Out of the corner of your eye, you see a flash of blue, but when you turn your head there is only the wood, dark and silent.

[_]
>> No. 10020
File 122360683751.jpg - (235.40KB , 2054x1345 , sunspot_swedish_c1.jpg ) [iqdb]
10020
[x] That madman just abandoned a perfectly usable bus in a forest! Maybe some disgruntled employee giving one last fuck you to the company? Well, you'll put it to good use; did he leave the keys? If not, you'll have to hot-wire it.

I’m alone, you think.

As if in response to your thoughts, the lights inside the bus go out. Still, you barely react, simply sitting in your seat, staring straight ahead. End of the line, he said. This is the part where the bus turns around and heads back the way it came--but to turn around, someone needs to be driving it, and--

You look out the window, hoping to spot that familiar blue uniform. Not the same person in it, necessarily. Just a blue uniform…but there is only the trees, and the darkness in between.

I’m alone, you think again. It’s a mystery.

A sudden, insane idea grips you. You are alone. What if you were to drive the bus to your destination instead? You’d be the only person who would be in danger, and you wouldn’t have to wait--yes, that’s the important part: you wouldn’t have to wait. You’ve had enough of this queue.

But still, maybe that’s a bad idea. It sounds like the sort of thing that would be illegal. Maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you should just sit here quietly, like a good egg.

Would it be worth it?

Alright, your mind whispers. Alright. If the keys are there, I’ll do it. Having made your decision, you slowly rise from your seat and make your way awkwardly to the front of the bus--the lane between the seats is much too small. How is anyone supposed to maneuver over to the back doors before they close?

There isn’t a key.

You sink into your seat--a different seat, one nearer to the front this time. You feel…free. Thankful. Thank god I didn’t have to steal a bus. Free.

Now you can wait.

---

You wake up.

Your back is stiff. Comes from sleeping outdoors without proper bedding, of course--still, you curse at the you from…

The you from before. Before you slept. The you from before. What an awkward phrase! You were hoping you’d be able to narrow it down more than that--the you from two hours ago, perhaps. The you from yesterday. But you don’t actually know when you slept, or for how long.

Maybe you were only asleep for ten minutes, even! Twenty minutes, like some sort of uberman.

You look towards the trees.

It’s dark, Pitch black dark.

It still doesn’t preclude your twenty minutes, though. Not sure when I slept--and your mind reaches that train of thought once again. Not sure when I slept. Could be missing a day.

Darkness, pitch black darkness. Something buzzes in your brain--a blinking light indicating importance. Hazard lights. Never actually seen them in use. Or one of those red triangular signs, either, that you’re supposed to carry around with you…

Something is important. Pitch black darkness. No moon, either, you realize. No moon, no stars, no tree. Tree? Something else is biting at the edge of your mind, but it isn’t as important as this. No moon, no stars.

Behind you, over your right shoulder, someone giggles.

[_]
>> No. 10021
File 122360686247.jpg - (307.32KB , 1500x1198 , sunprominence_304erupt_crop.jpg ) [iqdb]
10021
[x] Holy shit that is creepy. Crouch down and look around behind you for the source of that giggle, while your hands search the ground for a rock or a stick. Don't make a peep.

You start, shooting out of your seat as if the Finger of God has sudden left your head. You bob to the surface instantly, porous, full of tiny holes that make up every square inch of your skin. Over the hedge.

It isn’t a hedge at all, of course, but with the nonexistent lighting it feels green, felt green when you touched it, fingers gripping the top of the back and leaping over. Green, a deep, dark green that exploded in your eyes for a moment as you gripped the seat (a dead man wrapped in cloth, you thought for a moment), and then was gone again, leaving the black.

Black.

Why did I do that?

Crumpled up across yourself, breathing hard, you navigate the corridors of your thought process, grasping at strings that wrap around corners as you follow the maze of twisty little passages. They’re all alike, you realize suddenly. They’re all the alike because they’re all the same, and they’re all the same because they’re all the same passageway. There is only one passageway, and only one room at the end of it, and you grasp the thing in your hands, tenderly, afraid that it might break into a dozens of pieces.

Why was I scared?

You put your hands to the floor--a useless gesture. You feel only clods of--something, some unknown substance that crumbles between your fingers. A wave of panic turns the inside of your skull cold. I broke it. I broke it!

No, no, no, you didn’t break it, it’s okay.

I broke it! In my hands--

Not these hands, different hands. You didn’t break it, you put it down, you picked it up and then you put it down and it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.

I broke it.

It’s okay. Okay? Okay? Repeat after me. Repeat after me, now. It’s okay. Are you listening to me? Say it. Repeat after me. It’s okay. It’s okay. What is it? It’s…

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

Okay. It’s okay. Okay.

You spread you hands to the side, still feeling the floor, making sure to keep them away from--okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. Nothing. There’s nothing here. It’s all grass and clods.

You turn your head, looking over your shoulder, but you still can’t see anything, so you look back at your hands. Your hands aren’t there. You can feel them, the tips of your fingers against the tips of your fingers, but that doesn’t mean anything. Professional. Didn’t scream as jagged teeth bit into chest. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and didn’t even scream.

I was only a child and they took her legs away, you think. Sure, of course, why not? Sans legs, too. That’s covered under “everything”, isn’t it? Teeth, eyes, taste, and everything!

You’re gone no matter what you do! It’s funny, you think, it’s funny because it’s terrible and you laugh, a great barking wild cry that sputters wheezing into heavy spitting Muttley snickers.

And then after that, after the darkness and the nothing, there is--

Warm breath, against the tip of your ear. Lips. A soft whisper.

“What are you laughing at, I wonder, I wonder?”

[_]
>> No. 10022
File 122360689343.jpg - (32.17KB , 400x300 , stopsign.jpg ) [iqdb]
10022
[x] My madness! My own MADNESS.

The answer comes unbidden, jumping to your throat and out your mouth before you can even process the question and what it means. It’s only a jumble of meaningless syllables in your ears--but some force other than yourself opens your mouth and flaps your tongue in response.

“My madness.”

Because you’re quite mad, you must be mad, because you’ve missed your stop and there will come fierce cries when you finally make it to your destination (if you ever even do) but you can’t manage to care. That bit of you has been erased, wiped clean--no, nothing can ever truly leave, once it enters.

It always leaves itself behind. Relabeled, then. Given a new call number, placed on a shelf far across the aisles. You look in your regular place, a place you’ve visited so many times before, and you cannot find it. It is not there. It is not gone, but it is not there--an unexploded mine, waiting to be tripped by the only unfortunate soul who wanders the dusty halls.

Stand fast! Damn you, stand fast!

Yes.

My own madness.

Sans teeth sans eyes sans taste sans legs sans mind.

The thing in the darkness smiles. You can’t see it, but you can feel it, like grease in the air, like fat burning.

“Is that so?”

You nod. “I will be late.”

“You will be late,” the thing agrees, and its grin becomes wider and for a moment you think you can see beyond the darkness, though it--and an image flashes in your mind (sans mind, you keep reminding yourself) of two rows of sharp teeth. He stood with his hands in his pockets, you think. Never once did he reach for the guidance of--

Breath upon your face.

[_]
>> No. 10023
Hi there, friendly neighborhood mod reporting.
It's my job to clean up the occasional spambot attack that goes on around here. So I'm going around checking the boards, see some spam on /at/, delete that, everything else looks good, check /others/, oh hey it's a single post thread with a random picture of a dog and nonsensical text. Spambot! Nuke.

It seems I was overly hasty and this was in error. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and will be more cautious in the future. Along with that, though, I strongly suggest that people refrain from posting random off-topic threads that look bot-generated. Get or no get.

Cheers and happy writing.
>> No. 10024
This is the point where you believed you were more than you ever could be.

Make a choice.
>> No. 10025
>>10023
>I strongly suggest that people refrain from posting random off-topic threads that look bot-generated.

Why not? Are you saying we can't trust you not to do this again?
>> No. 10027
Say something.
>> No. 10028
[x] Wonder aloud where that pack of deer you were hunting went. Be sure to mention how big of a dinner they would make.

Best I could come up with, and it's not even my idea.
>> No. 10029
[x] Befriend the darkness.
>> No. 10030
[x] "Is that so~?"

Vote recyclan gaems
>> No. 10033
[x] Fly
>> No. 10035
[x] Take Egari-Sensei's lesson

At least, I think that was his name.
>> No. 10038
[x] Get a clue.
>> No. 10039
>>10038

[x] Hear Kanagawa Bancho out.
>> No. 10041
I find it odd, then, that at the moment one hopes for a wagon, there is none to be found. Seven individual answers, all unlike? What kind of die shall I roll to determine this?
>> No. 10042
But hold. The most recent is but a reference.
A six-sided die, then, is found easily.
>> No. 10047
>>10041

[x] Genuflect.

There. Now it's an even eight.
>> No. 10049
>>10023

God damn it, blankfag. Now I hate you.
>> No. 10064
[X] Befriend the darkness.

This is hurting my brain.
>> No. 10065
You'll excuse me if I simply pick the one option that will not end badly.
>> No. 10068
You'll excuse me if I simply pick the one option that will not end badly.
>> No. 10069
>>10065

Which is...?
>> No. 10071
You'll excuse me if I simply pick the one option that will not end badly.
>> No. 10096
File 122370457360.jpg - (155.89KB , 600x800 , Crabs_-_Barbados.jpg ) [iqdb]
10096
[x] Fly

It stinks of meat, you realize suddenly. Her breath is meat and rot and death (doesn’t make sense, you think. We should all stink of--) and you pull away, scurrying backwards on your hands and feet.

You fall into the aisle, twisting, scrambling to your feet. A thousand shrieking things are crawling in your mind as you stumbling forwards, barely avoiding a claw that strikes at the edge of your being.

Rubber at your soles and your soles at the rubber and you take the steps one-two-three in a single bound and--

The driver nods at your back--you can sense it, just as you could sense the smile in the darkness. “Thanks,” he says, and then the doors close behind you with a hiss that hurts your ears and you lay there even as it pulls away and the smell of exhaust rolls over you, making you sick.

Hands and knees are scraped on the sidewalk. A woman passes by, glancing dismissively down at you for a moment before passing. The white shopping bag hangs from her hand, bouncing off the side of her leg to a silent beat.

You wait until your heart matches, long after the woman has turned into a side street, then stand.

That girl, you think. She was--there was something not right, there. A bus rolls by in the opposite direction of the one you disembarked minutes ago. No one waits, so it continues on down the road until it, too, turns a corner and disappears from the world.

Minutes. Ten minutes, five minutes, a clock hand going round and round in the wrong direction. Your digital watch clings to your wrist, afraid to let go. You look downwards at it, expecting the crystal face to be shattered--but it isn’t, of course, and Time strikes you, a reality that was always there, continued on even as you were unaware of it.

You will be late.

Run, run!

The building is in the distance, only a block or two or three at the very most, but space is relative and you know that it could go on for miles and miles and miles. You’ve seen it before, unfolding like a fractal from the palm of your hand. Late, its distinctive roof, isosceles right triangles that lay on their sides, placed there as if by the hand of some overgrown child. It cuts the sky into infinite halves.

It is ahead, right in front of you. You take a step in its direction, nearly fall to the side into the street.

Anger is all you have to look forward to. You know this. It isn’t the first time it happened, though it is the first time it happened in this way.

Don’t be stupid. Everything happens forever for the first time.

A cloud covers the sun, and the world turns into a muted grey. The trees are lighter here, you notice--why would so many people take care of their lawns? Put themselves through back-breaking work day after day, just to keep their grass the same shade of green? You’ve never been able to understand. There’s a lot you don’t understand.

You lean against a stop sign. It isn’t enough. You grip the pole of the sign with one hand, reach out with the other and lean it against the soft bark of a sapling. You shoe slides, just a little, in the dust and moss.

Late.

[_]
>> No. 10098
[x] For a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye...
>> No. 10101
What the hell just happened?
>> No. 10102
File 122373612610.jpg - (44.63KB , 300x741 , EX Rumia.jpg ) [iqdb]
10102
>You lean against a stop sign. It isn’t enough. You grip the pole of the sign with one hand, reach out with the other and lean it against the soft bark of a sapling. You shoe slides, just a little, in the dust and moss.

>Late.

[x] The sign's shadow creeps away from your shoe steadily, snaking out toward the boiling sea of inky black asphalt, far faster than the position of the advancing sun should allow.
[x] You've just noticed: You're holding a familiar red ribbon in your hand.

Receive what cheer you may. / The night is long that never finds the day.
>> No. 10118
I suppose then, between these two choices, I shall pick the first. The other is no choice, but a parasite, determined to wriggle into the story and make it its own. We refuse your offering.
>> No. 10122
>>10118

harsh dude
>> No. 10166
>>10122
Railroading attempts deserve as much. Unless it's just a joke.
>> No. 10214
[x] For a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye...

It's sad to see such an awesome story get so few votes.
>> No. 10224
File 122393414028.jpg - (797.28KB , 2592x1944 , Raven_scavenging_on_a_dead_shark.jpg ) [iqdb]
10224
[x] For a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye...

--you’re late!

The words finally rearrange themselves into something understandable in your mind, and panic compresses the coils of your muscles. You beat it down, grab the edges and pull them out again.

You’re only a block away. One or two or three, and that is your mantra as you walk. One foot in front of the other, heel to toe and toe to heel, one or two or three blocks to go. One or two or three blocks to go.

You don’t look up because you’re being watched.

There are eyes, everywhere, on things that shouldn’t have eyes in the first place, but who are you to say to what is that it isn’t? No. They’re clearly there, and you will not tell them to leave--cannot tell them to leave. That is the truth. The coils again, pushing in on themselves.

The walls and trees and fences have eyes, real eyes that turn in their sockets to follow you as you pretend not to see them, your pace as steady as you can make it. Not at all--your foot jerks in midstep--every midstep--as you find another pair on the taillight of a car or on the underside of a cloud.

You can’t touch me here.

It isn’t true, but it makes you feel a little safer. That’s called denial.

And so on, until you look up, and there is the great glass sliding door which opens as your foot touches the rubber mat, and you breathe a sigh of relief.

The library is a thick, boxed-in place. You are immediately beset upon on all sides by books and videocassettes (and who uses videocassettes, what man, what world stuck in the past would still use videocassettes, you wonder). Shelves to the sides in shelves in the middle that direct you on a cross-cross path over the tiled floor.

One of the check-out ladies, aged and crooked, fixes you with a stare. Does she see you? Does she know you? You don’t know. You’ve never talked to her. Has she talked to me? This week? Last week? From the day I began? You don’t know, so you duck behind the shelf, block her eyes with the wooden panels. Wood has properties. Clean.

Varnish reflects their vision back at them, fixes them with their own gaze. You can’t touch me here.

The main lobby of the library is a place you feel like spending as little time as possible. Where shelves were once your saviors, here they are your enemies, turned inward against the walls. You feel like a target. Books have their own kind of life, and so you duck to the side, missing the dots of their eyes. Stumbling crablike to the counter by the south corridor.

The man there lowers its newspaper, peers over it. You catch your breath and hold it until it lowers it all the way and places it neatly, flat, half-hanging off the counter’s surface, only a couple of fingers from a slip down the back. It does this deliberately, you know, though it shall pick it up again and continue its skimming once it says its sayings.

Same face, you think, and pat yourself on the back inside.

“You’re late.” Flint squints. You think of its name as Flint, because you think of it as Flint, though you would change that if only you had not grabbed onto it like some ironic live preserver when it had on your first day introduced itself. You would give a buck and a half to see its eyelid catch its contact, flip it off its pupil onto the dust countertop. Serves it right. It hurts when it goes back in. In and back again, and it hurts each time, a different kind of hurt than being pricked or breaking your arm (and you have had both, you can remember with a false, burning clarity). In your bones but in a different place than in your bones. The ends and the edges of your nerves, your cells. Fingernails that grow after death become longer each time.

“Bus was…”

Your mouth sags open and you realize suddenly that you don’t know who failed who. You weren’t paying attention. You were paying attention, but you didn’t understand what you were paying attention to. When a snake has a head on each end, which side is the tail? There’s a always a tail, whether you like it or not--

“…off.” You finish inadequately, and if you phrase your claim such that it can be taken differently than the ways your memory screams, that is its fault for misunderstanding.

Flint picks its paper up again, nodding, then nodding back. “The cart’s in one of the aisles,” it says.

You are a man, you think in pointed red arrows that fly in curved paths through the air and stick in its skull like two-dimensional tomahawks, who does not deserved to be called Flint. Too feminine to be called masculine, too masculine to be called feminine. An “it” is the best you can do.

You look towards the place he nodded towards. You see a shelf. Observe it. Another shelf, you know, behind it lies. And those have other shelves behind them--

So proceed ad infinitum.

[_]
>> No. 10226
>You weren’t paying attention. You were paying attention, but you didn’t understand what you were paying attention to.

More relevant than any sentence ever uttered.

[X] Ad infinitum, ad nauseum! Ignore the shelves, lest your already empty stomach empty itself further. The space between, that's something to look at.
>> No. 10266
[X] Ad infinitum, ad nauseum! Ignore the shelves, lest your already empty stomach empty itself further. The space between, that's something to look at.

I refrained from voting for this option at first because 1) I was waiting to see if any other options would show up and 2) I kept reading "lest" as "let" which makes a rather big difference in the meaning.
>> No. 10278
[X] Ad infinitum, ad nauseum! Ignore the shelves, lest your already empty stomach empty itself further. The space between, that's something to look at.

Geh
>> No. 10314
[X] Ad infinitum, ad nauseam! Ignore the shelves, lest your already empty stomach empty itself further. The space between, that's something to look at.

They stand tall, like monoliths burst full-born from the carpeted floor. A thousand angry spines sit on their sides--you do your best to ignore them as you duck between the shelves of the first aisle, even though you know this effort is useless. You cannot look elsewhere, as you could before. They stand stacked together (your fault, your responsibility) on the left--on the right. Even looking at the ceiling or the floor does not help you. You can see their glares at the edges of your vision, as clearly as if you’re looking straight at them.

The cart’s mental handlebar is in your hands, and you take a deep breath.

And then begin.

The siren starts. Behind you are the spinning gears, and the ceiling descends.

You look at the labels on the spines of the books upon the cart. The codes--you squeeze yourself between the cart and one of the shelves as the wood begins to close in over you. Codes, letters and numbers you were never able to understand, even with all you years you played parasite to their nature. They are arbitrary, but no amount of instance will produce their admittance of this fact--

They are placed there arbitrarily, you see and the fact washes upon you like waste from the darkest depths (dark, you think, and that makes you think of other things but you have no time). They are placed there arbitrarily, not only the letters and numbers on the books but the books themselves, placed upon the cart haphazardly--you would do this? There is a Way that must be followed, and someone--and someone--

You pluck the books from the cart as petals from a flower, begin the act of rearrangement as they bite at your fingerprints.

---

Time passes, and the sun moves across the sky, and you are done.

The cart is empty. You look back over your shoulder, back at the shelves all lined up in a row, and then back at the cart again. You expect it to have somehow refilled already--but it remains empty, the stone for now balanced atop the mountain.

Tomorrow you will find it at the bottom of the slope again, and the day after that and the day after that but--

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow you will find it at the bottom of the slope again, and you shall wheel the cart between the shelves and the eyes, and you shall look upon the cart and you shall find again that the books have not been sorted.

The books were not--are not--will not be sorted. You can see it--tunnel vision--a wheel somewhere where no human has ever stepped, marked with the days as it slowly turns, grinds an inch. Hot and cold and hot again and each day without the books sorted, until one day when there is no sun to warm and there is no air to freeze and there are no books to be shelved and reshelved--only then will there be freedom, but you can’t wait that long. You won’t wait that long.

Who was responsible for this?

Someone. Not Flint. It had always placed them in order upon the cart with a meticulousness you almost found strange. It was it who made the habit familiar to you, made you a glutton feeding upon the actions of others. You don’t blame it. You dug yourself into this trough, and you are familiar with this dirt and the muddy water that comes up to your knees, soaks your pants, sticking them to your legs.

Not it, then.

Someone is responsible.

[_]
>> No. 10316
>>10314

[x] They were responsible. You knew who they were but at same time didn't. They were always there.
>> No. 10317
Perhaps I should have made a sort of note.

To assign responsibility is not your only task in this round. Now, you must ask yourself:

What am I going to do about it?
Upon placing the blame, what shall my next action be?
>> No. 10337
So we work in a library reshelving books, and we hate our job.
>> No. 10344
[x] Humanity invented the Dewey Decimal System.
[x] Thus, you must reject humanity.
[x] But how does one willingly become something like human, or possibly, more than human?

I'm really hoping this option doesn't have us walking the path of becoming a ravenous, beastlike youkai. However, I really wanted to use Patchy's line in here because it was so damned relevant.
>> No. 10378
File 122412212726.gif - (345.25KB , 200x190 , DecayingPeachSmall.gif ) [iqdb]
10378
[x] Humanity invented the Dewey Decimal System.
[x] Thus, you must reject humanity.
[x] But how does one willingly become something like human, or possibly, more than human?

It’s their fault, of course, that unspecific they they they they say, they’re saying--and for a moment you see words in white writing, eight fan, charts and charts and charts and prerequisites and in the beginning there was THEY and in the now there is the THEY and there will always be THEY, even after you are dead.

You are but a speck, a dream, a memory of a dream, a dream of a memory.

You see it, beneath your eyelids, even as you realize that it is an impossible image, realize somehow that it is an image that the human mind could never create in a thousand lifetimes and you only have one after all. This is the measure, this is the measure of your place in all of creation, your context. This is how much you count, in the end. It is not just dust and meat and then dust again in the same instant, but the idea multiplied by some great number that goes on forever. You do not even have the satisfaction of being a unique particle in this writhing layer of flesh that rises and falls. You are only a copy, if not in skin then in mind--walking the same routes, seeing the same sights. You went to school when you were very young and continued your schooling until it was time to leave it and then you took a job and soon you will die, just like everybody else.

You must distance yourself.

To be a human being is to be a brief spark--a mayfly--birth, life, death, all grasped in the same hand. There’s no such thing as immortality (that you’ve heard of or seen)--save--

Save for in memory.

The buzzing in your head is barely audible. You’re thinking clearer than you have in a long time.

(Not the way you used to think not the way you used to think listen to me listen)

Stories. Nighttime, blanket to your chin. Mother sat on a chair and read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe until you nodded off into nightmares. One branch can split into two branches, but two branches can’t join into one--can they? You’ve never read up on--apples, you ate them core and all, because you were too lazy to cut them into slices--

(listen listen this is wrong this is wrong listen to me)

You shake your head. Look to the left, look to the right.

The eyes are watching, but for the first time, they look different. Proud. Proud of you. You’ve done something right, haven’t you? You were only angry that I didn’t understand. All this time, I thought you were my enemies, but you were really

(no no no wrong)

Storybooks and men and women who never existed and some who did. Legends. You are no legend, but the infamous are remembered just as well. A woman who bathed in blood. A cross in a halo. Doctor, midwife, nurse and cook.

They are…forever set apart.

Somewhere, a voice cries out for a final time, then falls silent.

You smile.

For the first time in as long as you can remember, everything is alright.
>> No. 10381
File 122412322560.jpg - (20.79KB , 640x480 , 1224117283993.jpg ) [iqdb]
10381
You acted unwisely.

I understand you wish to showcase your intellect, but your problem was one of unsorted books. Philosophy was unnecessary.

Simply assign blame, then behave according to your choice.
>> No. 10383
PHILOSOPHY END

[X] Indeed, someone is responsible. But when it's all said and done, does it really matter who? If it's Flint, the butcher, the fishmonger, the postman, the mayor....It really wouldn't make a difference because in the end, one way or another, the books will still be unsorted.

Feelin' ineffectual~

[X] Finish up and go home, so that the books will unsort themselves again.
>> No. 10442
File 122431412523.jpg - (24.48KB , 200x315 , 2004_2970.jpg ) [iqdb]
10442
Oh, but for a thousand more voters!

---

[X] Indeed, someone is responsible. But when it's all said and done, does it really matter who? If it's Flint, the butcher, the fishmonger, the postman, the mayor....It really wouldn't make a difference because in the end, one way or another, the books will still be unsorted.
[X] Finish up and go home, so that the books will unsort themselves again.

It’s useless.

You could break your answers out of Flint, wring around the collar, color his face black and blue, if only in your waking dreams, but it would solve nothing. The world is a cycle made of cycles of cycles, all going in infinitely inward, patterns repeating themselves as you move closer up and closer in but you never get any closer to the very center, no matter how far you fly.

There is a person you can blame and not unjustly, you know this. You know this because you can feel it, feel the very air displaced by his-her-its movements. Somewhere, in this musty library full of look-but-never-touch people and touch-but-never-look books, someone is pushing a cart of their own. She-it-he leaves the books unsorted, and tomorrow it-she-he will leave the books unsorted, and so life will continue on and on and on and on. You can’t bear it. You’ve never been able to bear it, but it continues anyway, so you’ve had no choice but to.

And perhaps one day (and you know the day will never come, that the moon stands still forever over this world, keeping watch, judging our dreams), perhaps one day, Flint will rise from its desk and pull rank as it never does and the books shall be sorted again, hurrah, hurrah--!

It will never be true, but it makes you feel a little happier. That’s called denial.

“Done,” you say, and Flint looks again over the top of its newspaper, Kilroy clutching a wall. He lowers the printing no further, and you wonder.

Wait for it. Wait for it. Don’t act until the moment you’re sure. A thousand wise men in a thousand unlabeled rooms, with only the walls for companions. What sort of eyes are fixed upon them, I wonder?

But the newspaper is not swept away, and you find no trace of a razor smile.

“Right,” it says. “The other cart then.” and nods towards the north wing--same, exactly, as the southern but for direction. You turn without a word.

(You hope, as you grab the handle of another cart, that you might find it-her-him lurking between the shelves like some terrible lizard king between eons. No such luck. If there is such a monstrosity, he-she-it has disappeared between the second you didn’t see her and the second you almost did.)

And soon your toil is over and Flint informs you that you may leave.

[_]
>> No. 10444
[x] Get thee hence from whence thee came, to the bus stop once again.
[x] If the one responsible for the surreal sidetrip is driving it again, ask him what exactly happened, and if it happens to everyone on that line.
>> No. 10445
[x] Get thee hence from whence thee came, to the bus stop once again.
[x] If the one responsible for the surreal sidetrip is driving it again, ask him what exactly happened, and if it happens to everyone on that line.

Mindfuck inbound?
>> No. 10558
[x] Get thee hence from whence thee came, to the bus stop once again.
[x] If you take the bus in the other direction, do you go there again, but from the other side?

Don't leave me hanging like this.
>> No. 10621
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10621
[x] Get thee hence from whence thee came, to the bus stop once again.
[x] If the one responsible for the surreal sidetrip is driving it again, ask him what exactly happened, and if it happens to everyone on that line.

The sliding glass doors open before you--like the Red Sea parting before Moses, you think, but if Moses were returning to Egypt, offering himself before the gaze of the wicked. Wicked, wicked, hypocrites--all of them walking around like normal people--

But I am a hypocrite, too, aren’t I?

You cannot find up the proof, or even catch it as it flits by--but to know that it flits by is enough. It is a terrible beast, with skin like iron plates and horrendous claws that snap, severing honor and hope and happiness and making meat of man.

To live is to lie.

And just as clawlike, those lovely sliding glass doors close shut behind you, leaving you anathema to the warm.

---

You had questions, questions with answers that didn’t really matter, no, not really, but you felt you had to ask anyway. It was the sort of question a regular person--a normal person--would have asked in your place--a man with your path but none of your experience. It doesn’t make any sense for the path to twist and turn upon itself, he would say. It doesn’t make sense to make a path through such dangerous terrain. Couldn’t we--and he would strike upon it there, though unaware. Not a won’t but can’t, not a wouldn’t but couldn’t.

You are very good at keeping your mouth shut--experience has taught you that if you leave it open, you begin to catch flies, flies that burrow beneath your skin and lay their eggs there. You woke in the middle of the night and saw them squirming and were instantly frozen, in horror and fascination--

The bus pulled up pulls up--what did they say about history and patterns and lessons unlearned? And the door opens before you with the grinding of machinery you look up and it is a man entirely different, of course. Slightly tanned, a thick built. Hairs on his arms.

“Well?” he looks down his nose the steps at you, squinting, though not unkindly.

“Pass,” you say after you are securely within, fishing it clumsily out of your wallet out of your pocket and stuffing it carefully back back once the larger man nods. You stumble towards the rear, ignoring those who are already riders as they ignore you. This is right.

Luck is with you, as there is a pair of empty seats, right next to each other. You take the one nearest the aisle, cutting the remaining one from those who might make use of it. It is only made of cloth--perhaps some sort of metal or plastic deep inside, to give it shape--but it is cold. You can feel that, even through your--

Bus starts again, seems to rock from side to side--but only for a moment--and then grumbles onto its way, one more leg of an endless migration.

The trees by the side are plentiful, you from your window, as you have so many times again and again. It’s because of the climate, someone told you once. Because of the coast. It could have been your mother--you remember her sing-song voice from forever ago, thinly masked by the static of the telephone. What do you think of me now?

I’m sorry.

You look out the window, let the focus drain from your eyes, transforming the roadside in patches of brown green grey brown green grey green green green.

Where there aren’t houses, they plant trees. Or is there really anything beyond them? Perhaps it is only a single, paper-thin layer of scenery. Let it fall away, then. Let the masses see what you have done.

You tug the window open, just a slit, enough to let the wind press your hair against the side of your face. In its reflection, the other passenger stare blankly, straight ahead--you can see any of them by the way you angle your head. Straight hair, white earphones somehow impossible staying. White jacket, face drawn tight. The bus is empty but for the two of you. He looks at you and then he looks past you, at his own image fleeing past the sunset-hinted sky and then you open your window, all the way.

It makes a loud noise in your ears.

The trees smell nice, you think.

You have not reached your stop, but it would be easy enough to walk the rest of the way. Not your stop. Out the front window, you can see one approaching, but it’s not yours.

It would be wrong, wouldn’t it?

[_]
>> No. 10644
[X] A stop is a stop is a stop. Can you really claim one for yourself? No, what you need is a go, and this bus isn't taking you anywhere near one.
>> No. 10706
[x] A stop is a stop is a stop. Can you really claim one for yourself? No, what you need is a go, and this bus isn't taking you anywhere near one.
>> No. 10713
As profound as your write-in appears, I was more hoping for a course of action for our character to follow than any faux-philosophical rambling.
>> No. 10714
>>10713

I think they're trying to say "Walk the rest of the way"
>> No. 10715
>>10714

This.
>> No. 10731
>>10713
What >>10714 said. I learned my lesson from last time.
>> No. 10749
[x] Walk the rest of the way.

You reach up, before you can even imagine what you’re doing, and pull the cord--in the wrong direction, so you pull it again and there is a sound from somewhere like someone speaking

In the corner of your eye, the man with the white earphones shifts his view: out the window, the window, the profile of your face. You ignore him, and he turns to stare blankly forwards again.

There are two doors in the bus, in its right side--front and back. The front door is for the loading of passengers only--there is a sign to that effect. But you are sitting nearer to that door and you are tired and you are selfish and everyone does it anyway and so you stand and step--step--to the front steps--

The tip of your foot falls as your heel catches--you nearly, nearly lose your balance but instead manage to stumble steps across the pavement--

You let your arms fly and for a moment are you are flying, swooping down to brush the walkway with your talons but then there is something soft against the back of your hand and someone shouts.

“Hey!”

You stop straight, feeling instantly ashamed. You only wanted to fly, to flee, but there’s no point if your freedom comes at price--another’s price--you refuse to borrow from Peter to pay Paul, that you decided a long time ago. There is no helping it, every now and then--college was a terrible chore, you think--but you’ve resolved to follow through as often as you can, to live on paper money and dimes in hand.

Liar. If it was a debt you never had to see, be aware of, you would--

“Jesus Christ--”

On the side, kneeling on the ground, one foot bent on front and one bent under, a girl in a sweater jacket--red--dark red--maroon, a sort of strange shade that seems to fade into the background whenever you look over her shoulder. One hand brushes at her sleeve--where you brushed her, shoved her. The other hand is at the side of her head, keeping a woven beanie--

Something happens behind you, but it isn’t important.

“Jesus Christ, you just--why don’t you look where you’re going, you--”

--secure upon her head. Her attention seems split between making sure her clothing is unharmed and glaring at you with the nastiest look you’ve seen in a long time, and you were in college, so you can remember--

“--freakin’ trekkin’ jerk with the--”

Something else happens behind you, but it isn’t important, either, so you continue looking over the girl’s shoulder, over her shoulder as she suddenly straightens, looks towards the sound wide-eyed. “Hey!” she shouts, and then she is running after the--

After the bus, waving her arms. “Hey! Hey! No! I was gonna--I--wait a minute, come on, wait a minute!”

The bus is fast. The girl’s arms drop to her side, a dejected expression on her face as she turns around--and then there is a burning rage directed towards you, so fierce you blink in disguise (as if a shield like that will block a fire).

“You!” she shouts, sputtering, pointing. “You! You made me freaking miss my--” She stops short mid-sentence, and the j’accuse deflates. “Wait a minute--wait a tick--” she says in a softer voice, but one just as angry. “It’s you.”

You look at this girl’s face. It is totally unfamiliar to you--there are many things, now, that are unfamiliar to you, things that disappear when your eyes shift away, things that you have to stare at for minutes until you can discern their function.

What a terrible haircut, what you can see of it, which isn’t much--

You don’t recognize her at all.

“It’s you,” she says again and it is a cold fury.

[_]
>> No. 10750
>>10749

[x] What is wrong with this woman? I have always been myself and only that.
>> No. 10751
[x] "Who are you? Have we met before?"
>> No. 10771
[X] Those things that happened behind may not be important, but they could be interesting. Take a quick look behind.
[X] To the woman, "Who are you? Have we met before?"
>> No. 10778
>>10771
I took it the guy was talking about the bus.
...is that right? I mean, I'm not sure or anything.

[x] "Who are you? Have we met before?"
>> No. 10789
[x] Hindsight is 20/20, so take a quick peek behind you to get a clear picture of what happened.
[x] To the woman, "...I take it we've met before. Or maybe you met me, since I don't think I met you."
>> No. 10797
>>10778

You're probably right. But I've got a paranoia born from MiG and GA:SD. I don't want to miss something potentially important and have it bite us in the ass later.

Not trying to say this is a Sierra adventure or anything, I'd just rather be safe than sorry.
>> No. 10798
File 122516984211.jpg - (41.00KB , 430x430 , Katzenkralle.jpg ) [iqdb]
10798
[x] "Who are you? Have we met before?"

You know of annoyance and you know of anger. They are pictures you have seen on a thousand faces in the past--sick of your point answers and your thin face. But this is not annoyance. This is not even anger. This is rage, ice cold dry smoldering beneath the surface, focused straight into the back of her eyes.

This is new.

And it’s you she’s aiming at. There’s nobody else in this cold street--even the cars seem to have turned in early. Empty. Like someone moved through the roads and ate everything it could find, and now you and this girl are alone, and she is--

She is--

Your mouth is dry. Not the shyly stuttering sort of dry from juvenile paperback novels but Stephen King hole-in-the-wall dry. Goose, stepping over your grave. Dig him up and see if you can’t get him to run again. The stare--and stare is too quiet a word, because it is more of a glare and even that is too--shines a beam at your face, which runs down the front of your shirt, melted.

Like ice cream, you think, even though it feels absolutely wrong to connect the two, ice cream and this girl. Melted multicolored sludge at the bottom of the bowl. Primordial. Lick it off the spoon and smile at the corpse.

You know this person, but not from a memory.

“Who…” You leave the question dangling in the air, hoping for her to pull on it. Hoping that you might be able to leave it at that. But she only grimaces further, bares her teeth (and you flinch), so you ask further.

“Who are…” and this time she does jump at it, her face a ruddy shade of rage. She jumps at you.

She is at your collar, and she jerks it towards her, whiplash-quick, and the next thing you understand is that you are off your feet, balanced perfectly between gravity and the tip of your shoes and the grip of her first. She is screaming at you, spittle flecking at your eyes, but you do not dare to turn away.

The screams form words, you notice.

“You don’t even remember me--” Interrobang. Pause. The grip on your collar is awfully tight, nooselike. You might die here. “You don’t even--” Adverb. “--remember me--” Interrobang. Probably a line of them, but your head is begin to grow strange--like the branch of a tree--shunting off all but what you need in order to--

Shaking back and forth, and your collar loosens--not purposely, you think, because it soon tightens up again but it is enough to bring you back to the ground--too long to dream with wings, and you never want to wake up--

Something sharp is almost but not quite at your neck. A centimeter closer and it will be a growth--like that tree, you think, only a rotten branch, leaking life’s blood from its base--you wonder which portion of the neck is the important part. Which part really keeps the head connected? How much can you yank out before it all collapses in on itself?

“How about now--” Noun, interrobang, and you’re drifting off again until she accidentally loosens once more. “How about now? Do you remember me now--”

No.

“You--” She throws you to the ground and you crumble, too thin-blooded to move. You think you might be staring at something--the sky, a face--but the black spot covers it all. Black means death, you think. Death, fuzzy at the edge--life, fuzzy at the edges--there’s no conclusion you can come to, so you leave it there and pick up another block across the floor from you.

It’s not touching you, but you can feel the displacement of air, centimeters away again--this time, the tip of your nose.

“Alright,” she says, and this time she sounds much calmer. “Alright.”

And your vision clears, sharp-edges all once again, and now she is smiling.

“Alright,” she says for a third time (Is it the third? Have you heard her before?) and the knife is grey, dulled by sunlessness. “This time, we are going to do this right. No suddenly moves.” And she’s right. To turn and run away would send you straight into the ground.

And she is still smiling.

“Now, hand over your--wallet.”

[_]
>> No. 10834
[x] "Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?"
>> No. 10836
[x] "Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?"

We're so gonna get knifed.
>> No. 10843
[x] "Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?"

Haha
>> No. 10848
[x] "Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?"
>> No. 10849
[x] "Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?"

Suddenly! Voters!
>> No. 10859
[x] "Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?"

You don’t know her. You know her, but you don’t know her--identity, name, or being. Her face, perhaps, but barely. It slides its fingers at something hanging at-over the edge of your head, scrabbling for a grip, now and now sinking its nails into the soft matter--the bones rip out, off, one by one, like some bitter twisted parody of a cartoon cat losing its grip from a wire.

It falls and the nails are the only trace left, buried in your brain.

Slope of the nose. Curve of the cheek. Lashes and eyes and pink lips. Move towards heaven, trace the edge of your mouth to the philtrum and higher higher and the knife is there, still knife, folded out still silver sharp.

Why is this--you think.

Mad, she’s--you think.

Is it because--you think.

“For Christ’s sake,” the girl says, and you look up to her face in wonder. The smile on her face is friendly, welcoming. A hostess’ smile. “For Christ’s sake, stop babbling and give me your--wallet!” She brings the blade a step closer, a small step that brings the tip of the tip against your cheek. Carve ‘em up, by the shape of the muscles beneath, and there’s more than one way to skin a cat, you know, because you read it in a book, once--skinning things. Nothing violent. It was a section on topology, mostly fresh fruit (Can you peel an orange, keeping the skin a single continuous piece? it asked, and you ruined so many with your bare hands because you only had your bare hands and you couldn’t find a

Is it because I forgot your name?

“What?” The smile drops off her face and you suddenly feel very cold.

You almost bring your hand up, make some sort of indicatory motion, sweep of the palm, twist of the wrist, but the blade against your skull gives you ideas, bad ideas, so your arm only twitches and you say again--

“Do you do this to everyone who forgets your name?”

Silence.

She stares at you, her mouth still open, jaw separated from jaw, eyebrows quirked.

And then suddenly that expression, that wrong expression is gone again and the thankful smile is back and her face shines brilliantly and you exhale a breath you didn’t know you were holding and inhale your regular poison once again and it is a genuine smile, you can tell, the muscles beneath the cheek and the rising beneath the eyes and it is lovely, really.

“Yeah,” she says.

“Yeah, sure. Why not?”

The knife lowers.

And then rises again and quite at once snake-burrows under and through your right eye.
>> No. 10860
...what in the world made you think it would be a good idea to belittle a woman with a knife?
>> No. 10861
[x] Comply

What did she mean by "Do it right?"
>> No. 10866
That was awesome.

[x] You'll give her your wallet, but first remove:
-[x] Your bus pass
-[x] Your non-driver government-issued photo ID
-[x] Your Diners' Club card
-[x] Your Social Security card
-[x] Your draft card
-[x] Your AAA card (...you don't have a car)
[x] State what these things are as you remove them, and that while you don't believe in hand-outs, you'll make an exception this time because you forgot her name.
>> No. 10869
>>10860
Belittle? That was a joke borne of fear and confusion, two emotions which I'd say we're feeling a lot of at the moment. I honestly didn't know what else to say.

Anyone else notice she seems to pause before saying "wallet"?

[x] Comply.
[x] "Can I have my ID and bus pass back, at least?"
[x] "What do you know that I don't? There seems to be a lot."
>> No. 10870
[x] Comply.
[x] "Can I have my ID and bus pass back, at least?"
[x] "What do you know that I don't? There seems to be a lot."

>>10861

She wants to see you shake your tail feather.
Bend over, let her see you shake your tail feather.
Come on, let her see you shake your tail feather!
Twist it! Shake it shake it shake it shake it shake it baba~y...
>> No. 10873
[x] Comply.
[x] "Can I have my ID and bus pass back, at least?"
[x] "What do you know that I don't? There seems to be a lot."
>> No. 10958
[X] Comply.
[X] "Can I have my ID and bus pass back, at least?"
[X] "What do you know that I don't? There seems to be a lot."
>> No. 10963
[x] Try to run away.

Fuck it. I want to be tackled and then straddled by our robber.
>> No. 10980
File 122586441299.jpg - (614.09KB , 1024x683 , 917938714_55af2c6ae0_b.jpg ) [iqdb]
10980
[x] Comply.
[x] "Can I have my ID and bus pass back, at least?"
[x] "What do you know that I don't? There seems to be a lot."

You hand over your wallet, move to hand over the wallet, one continuous motion as if you have practiced for years and years over again to take this moment right--hand and arm bent back, bent forwards, grabbing the wallet (leather, same wallet you’ve had for years, you got for your birthday--a birthday--you don’t remember which birthday but it was a birthday) and then the same actions again but in reverse, a dunkingbird of meat and blood: bend back, bend forwards--

The knife at your throat (moved down when you weren’t looking, the wolf from the fence at the edge of your property to the door, because the door is always the last defense of a home, a home is a man’s rib) doesn’t move from its point at its point but the other hand of the girl comes down in an arc, grabbing the wallet from your hand in a single swift movement. You can barely see it as it happens. It is, and you are, and it isn’t, and you aren’t.

“Yeah,” she says, and maybe that happiness is real happiness. To herself, she says “Yeah.”

“That’s more like it,” she continues, and with the knife still butstuck in the edge of your throat, she otherhandedly flips the leather holder open and peels the pocket apart.

And stops, like time froze still holds her breath. The wind the sun the moon, all in a moment are a painted backdrop, immobile, unreal, insignificant but to lend an air that doesn’t exist to a scene that never was. A hiss outwards through smiling teeth, like a snake’s deathrattle. And then--

“What. The.” And this time it is an interjection instead, and you realize with that one word that you have stepped over a boundary that you did not know was there. Interjection. Interjection. She had said it before, more moments ago, but they had not been interjections.

The afterwards screaming whispered interrobang echoes rolling silently--a massive cloud that kicks up dust as it explodes, and you plant you feet and almost not quite raise an arm to shield your face. She has passed from rage to happiness and now happiness back to rage, you see--her face is colored with the emotion as she waves the wallet in your face (knife still, still, still).

“It’s empty!” she screams. You nod, nearly, but then think of bulging neck muscles and don’t. “It’s--” Adverb again. “--empty!” The wallet lands at your feet, thrown by her furious hand.

It isn’t empty, you think. It isn’t empty--my ID, my bus pass--

She takes the knife away and you close your eyes and relax and she punches you in the face, and there is weightlessness and a feeling of falling and then the back of your head hits the pavement and lights shine brightly blightly under your eyelids. Everything holds for a shining moment and then falls phalls phails to hold in climes away into the distance. Gently aware of unsound and so Open Your Eyes seeing scene sin her overhead with rosie-faced as she scream but you can’t no what.

You reach handlookingfor the wallet walled falling upon your knuckle down understomp boot up and downer gain as anintelligibully and you the victim barely knew himher as surely breakes wrist.

“Do I look like I’m doing this for the bus passes--” Meanly understandly Missunderstandable noncense out of the mouth of rage rage range of voise o’er the planes and impleasant that you curl into a bawl. Kick into the sighed of your rib stings to hi heaven. Paws. “You don’t even--” Strike. “--have--” Strike. “--a--” Strike. “--credit card!” Double the flayvor double the nuf said throat seezes Jeezus Cryst straight into the hellow of yor neck.

Girl furl back to view her work near panting painting the side walk in your blood. Smile Smile upon her cheeks once again you comprehandle reality only dim. Tunnelvision titans and blackness at edgey vision.

Fade out fade out away.

---

Dark it is dark what time isnit no strength

Images flit through your mind the steps fell you remember, I fell. I fell. Where did I fall? You search for a memory and come up only with empty hands. Breath of air from the dark whater you doing here took a portion of memoriy with it and laughft.

Tentatively, a little dreadlook the other side, you open your eyes.

A roof.

You turn your head, trying to get your bearings, trying to refit yourself, coglike, into your new environ.

A roof. A house. A home, you suppose--somebody’s home, but it isn’t yours, because it doesn’t look like a home of yours at all.

A bed you’re in. Blanket over you, blanket under you. The sheets wrap about your body, cloth and cocoon, and strangely enough you almost don’t mind. It is comfortable enough to ignore, if only for this hour.

But how did you get here?

You squint down at the patterns up the wall, movements irrelevant as your mind picks at itself.

There was--there was--

She never even used the knife, you say out loud (come unbidden uncalled for) and that strange statement is enough to send a deluge of past sight rushing through your mind. You were at the library and you were in the aisles and then--and then you--

Can’t remember, exactly. There is a blur of color, and that is all.

You hear something, a tapping noise, a flurry of wings, and it takes you more than a second to realize what it is, and only because you see the source of the noise itself--a bird, fixing you with a beady eye, nodding its head in that side to side motion you’ve seen many times people. Birds are prey, you read once, somewhere. They have eyes on the sides of their heads, instead of the front. They must shake their heads like that, to properly burn my image into their retinas--

Animals with eyes in front are predators. Animals with eyes in the sides are prey. So what are you, an animal with eyes in the front of your face that’s being hunted by prey?

You clutch the bedsheets and close your eyes.

[_]
>> No. 10982
[x] Wait, your wallet was empty? You've been robbed!
>> No. 11009
[x] "...'Nevermore'?"
>> No. 11010
[x] Don't move. Don't think. Be like a statue. It might lose interest in you then.
>> No. 11015
Holy shit. Somehow this story got even more surreal.

[x] "...'Nevermore'?"
>> No. 11057
[x] "...'Nevermore'?"

Quoth the raven.
>> No. 11091
[x] "...'Nevermore'?"
>> No. 11096
File 122623040983.jpg - (204.36KB , 1024x685 , 2541710412_524b8839c0_b.jpg ) [iqdb]
11096
I have composed a poem of my own creation. It is as follows:

"I cannot help but make a note
that you have followed what I've wrote
--but still a word of warning true
towards the reader (that is, you):
This fellow cannot avert harm
Depending on imagined charm.
Any reliance on your wit
shall land your fellow into sheer disaster.

---

[x] "...'Nevermore'?"

They block nothing. Even without sight, you can feel the bird’s penetrating the soft envelope you are sealed within, like some sort of--handhold--handhold--

You can ignore it, almost (but almost is only second-best and second-best only means first-lost).

“Never,” you say, and it is more to yourself--a spell, a mantra, a prayer on the cross you bear. The bird is gone, you tell yourself. The bird is gone. You will unmask and see with your own eyes--the eyes outwards, the eyes inwards--will match--the bird is gone, is gone, is gone gone gone gone going on gone.

Something moves in the same room--you cannot see with the cloth over your eyes, but you can hear well enough--handle dip and handle churn and a million little pieces turn, click click click all in a single second. The door is well oiled, you know. It does not scrape.

There is a terrible pause before the first step on the wooden floor--you know this, because you know that there are edges to things--floors and rooms and wooden shoes, all lined up in a row--and there is always the first step-clip-clop (even if a foot unshod--it can only muffle the knocking, never eliminate it entirely).

You do not hear.

She is standing, you think. Must be standing. Standing in the alleyway--doorway, looking upon you. There is a crow--you thought it was inside the house, when you saw it, but thinking back (and the image is already fading, exposed to the sunlight, so you grasp at the)--

Outside the window the crow is waiting, and it is gone.

And through the doorway--in the doorway--is--

No more. You don’t want any more.

[_]
>> No. 11097
[x] Apologize and ask her not to call the police. You've must've mistook another's bed for your own again.
>> No. 11099
>>11096
>poem
Our Charisma is in the low single digits. Gotcha. No more smartass votes then.
>> No. 11108
[x] But you have to. Open the door and talk to her.
>> No. 11110
[x] Apologize and ask her not to call the police. You've must've mistook another's bed for your own again.

>>11099
I have to wonder just what our protagonist's key attribute is. Charisma is poor, his seeming borderline insanity is indicative of low Wisdom, and nothing else has really stood out.
>> No. 11114
[x] Apologize and ask her not to call the police. You've must've mistook another's bed for your own again.
I feel I should write something better but it's 4:30 am.
>> No. 11118
File 122637056088.jpg - (243.66KB , 1000x750 , Portugiesischer-maulwurf-gebiss&grabschaufeln.jpg ) [iqdb]
11118
Woken in another's bed? We have never done such a thing. It does little good to assume--

But I have interpreted your choice in my own way, discarding what details do not fit.

---

[x] Apologize and ask her not to call the police. You've must've mistook another's bed for your own again.

Single soft barrier between the two--you, huddled beneath the cloth, wearing it as some sort of badge you pray to keep you from harm, while on the other side--across the room, you know, listening to the sounds of footsteps that don’t exist--stands in the open door a wild card, a faceless mystery. Purpose unknown. To kiss or to kill--you won’t bear a guess, lest you be wrong.

Through the pores of your shield the sunlight streams.

Shield. Not rightfully yours, shield. Not the shield I’m supposed to possess, you know. I’m not supposed to be here. I shouldn’t be here, in this place--place you don’t know, place you’ve been made comfortable. This place. Displaced. No action without a reaction--and if I’m here, who isn’t?

If you are damned, you deserve your punishment.

“Sorry,” you offer, lamely. The least you can do. You pause, but there is no answer from across the room, so you try again, just an amount louder--

“Sorry.”

Still no answer.

It worries at you, digs into the flesh of your arms, creating divots that pull at your skin. You feel you might tear. Hooks in every square inch of you, that pull and pull until you just--separate--into a million little pieces--blood and bone and organs all laid out in a row for anyone to inspect.

You dare--just barely dare--the edge of the bedsheet, lowering by your own hand, you peek over, still with the realization fresh in your mind (this is not your place, this is not your hour, you are not a special flower)--

Look. Look!

But even with the cover off your face, you try only to delay it for one more second, one more minute, and so you turn--look out the window, at the crow with the eyes you know--the eyes you know are better than the eyes you don’t, after all, even if eyes are eyes.

The crow is gone.

The crow is gone. Empty branch--even leafless, you see, and there is no further distraction you may use so you turn your head back again, to look at the open door.

The doorway is empty, too.

A wooden tray on your chest and you look to your side and understand. The doorway is empty. You are a fool--to think that she would simply stand there and wait until you had the courage to take your head out of your shell. No. Instead, she has moved--to your bedside--her footsteps impossibly silent--their footsteps impossibly silent and in that moment after realization and before horror you wonder why two people would need two people to carry a tray of food.

By their positions, one at either end--at either side of your bed, and you look up as they block out the light and see them as clear as you’ve seen many things.

Like something out of a storybook--Brothers Grimm, all cut up and stabbed and raped--and you pull your head back onto your shoulders, trying to keep it on track, because to associate that sort of situation with these two women, even if they are--

Like something out of a storybook, plain blue dresses that frill at the edges and cream-colored aprons tried above their waists. Their heads are tilted down at you, as if to ask why you haven’t begun to eat--on the tray lies a wooden bowl, filled with some lukewarm porridge-like--

Like something out of a storybook, a storybook, down to the red bows--pink-red red-pink and beautiful skin the both of them and if you look past the facts to the skin, you think, maybe you can ignore--but that does not work--denial runs away from you--and your eyes drop from their bows to their faces, unignorable though you might try.

They have no faces.

[_]
>> No. 11119
[x] Blink. Blink again. Maybe they'll get faces if you blink hard enough.
[x] "He...hello."
>> No. 11120
Alice's dolls. Creepy.

[x] Eat your porridge. Maybe that will make them go away.
>> No. 11130
Brothers Grimm is an apt comparison. This must be the Brothers Grimm version of Gensokyp, where what Zun tells is the Disney shit.

[x] Blink. Blink again. Maybe they'll get faces if you blink hard enough.
[x] "He...hello."
[x] Eat your porridge. Maybe that will make them go away.
>> No. 11132
[x] Blink. Blink again. Maybe they'll get faces if you blink hard enough.
[x] "He...hello."
[x] Eat your porridge. Maybe that will make them go away.

Can I just say that your writing is fantastic? Because I mean. Really. It is.
>> No. 11140
File 122645811211.jpg - (27.60KB , 290x283 , 1222826986648.jpg ) [iqdb]
11140
[x] Blink. Blink again. Maybe they'll get faces if you blink hard enough.
[x] "He...hello."
[x] Eat your porridge. Maybe that will make them go away.

They--have--no--faces.

You close your eyes--open them--close them again, hoping that it’s some optical illusion, perhaps--I’m not really seeing this. It’s not really what it looks like. Because I just woke up--my brain--my mind isn’t hasn’t worked correctly in a little time--

Shut.

Open again and the sunspots clear and you are sure, as sure as you can be (and can you be sure of anything, can you really be sure but that line of questions always make you uncomfortable, sick in the pit of your stomach so you move on move on move on) and you are sure that their faces are--are not there.

No--they have faces, but they have no features--sans mouth, sans eyes, and when you get to eyes you must stop because even though they do not have eyes (not even a shallow indentation where their eyes should be) you suddenly understand that they are looking down at you from above, at you lying in the (ir) bed with a tray over your lap looking back up at what would seem like two perfectly normal--

What do I know of perfectly normal?

Enough to know this isn’t.

They stand at either side and look down and you look up and they look down, arms held behind their back, and the one to your left tilts her (its) head as if to appraise you and you cannot understand this situation so you ignore it.

It isn’t safe, but it makes you feel a little safer. That’s called denia--

Another little thought.

Why are they standing there? And indeed they are standing there still, one on either end, like--like nurses, ready to restrain a patient who is violent but only sometimes. What are they waiting for? They are undoubtedly waiting for something--bent at the hips, towering over me--

I don’t understand.

There are a million different directions to follow, a million different choices in a million different worlds and the sheer abundance makes you freeze inside--a man before the feast, unsure which foods will cure his hunger and which will cure his hunger forever.

There is nothing to do and there is everything to do so you look at them--left--right--both of their heads tilted at you now and so you choose a path as meaningless as you can.

Hello: you say.

And that is the word, that is all that you needed--you understand now--because at your word they turn around as if shunning you (right the first right thing they’ve done right) and sweep across the length of the floor, their feetfall impossibly silent and then they are in the doorway and the doorway shuts and you are alone again.

Alone.

Is this what I wanted? To be rid of the faceless--

I never asked myself what I wanted, you think, and look down at the tray. The bowl, you notice, has a spoon in it, and you take the spoon and you put it in your mouth and you eat and eat.

It has no taste.

When the bowl is emptied but for the melted brown sludge at the bottom, you take the tray and awkwardly place it to your side--staying as you have behind your borrowed cloth shield as you place your tray on the small cabinet-table by the bed, not once daring to take your eyes off the closed door more than a flicker.

[_]
>> No. 11142
[x] Open the door just a little. Make sure nobody is there.
[x] Get out.
>> No. 11144
>a man before the feast, unsure which foods will cure his hunger and which will cure his hunger forever.

Nice.

[x] Search desperately for some reflective surface. Is your own face intact?
[x] If you venture out the room, bring your tray, bowl, and spoon; they'll need cleaning and you'll need an alibi.

Let's rule out trauma-induced prosopagnosia.
>> No. 11154
Did anyone get a sense as to how big these dolls were? Normal people sized, or the miniature kind Alice normally has with her?

[x] Search desperately for some reflective surface. Is your own face intact?
[x] Actually, while you're on that line of thought, take it a step further: How intact are you? That crazy woman beat you pretty hard.
[x] Venture out of the room, bring your tray, bowl, and spoon; they'll need cleaning and you'll need an alibi.

>>11144
Nopperabou moe~

Seriously, though, you raise a disturbing and doubly-relevant point. We did just get whaled on pretty hard by some loony mugger bitch.
Though I am curious as to how the hell you even knew of that condition, let alone that it was a trauma-induced one.

Oh, and for the record, I'm pretty sure that first option is not an attempt to be cute, clever, charismatic, or philosophical.
Apparently it's actually a valid concern, given what we went through, according to the wiki article.
>> No. 11172
Nopperabou? The Final Fantasy music guy?
>> No. 11173
>>11172

Nopperabou as in the faceless apparition.
>> No. 11174
>>11173
Even if you don't like the music, don't you think that's a little mean?
>> No. 11183
[x] Search desperately for some reflective surface. Is your own face intact?
[x] Actually, while you're on that line of thought, take it a step further: How intact are you? That crazy woman beat you pretty hard.
[x] Venture out of the room, bring your tray, bowl, and spoon; they'll need cleaning and you'll need an alibi.

>>11174
I have no idea if you are trolling or not, but here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noppera-b%C5%8D
>> No. 11190
File 12267058883.jpg - (696.47KB , 1280x960 , Ants_cleaning_dead_snake.jpg ) [iqdb]
11190
[x] Search desperately for some reflective surface. Is your own face intact?
[x] Actually, while you're on that line of thought, take it a step further: How intact are you? That crazy woman beat you pretty hard.
[x] Venture out of the room, bring your tray, bowl, and spoon; they'll need cleaning and you'll need an alibi.

And then--and then--when finally nothing happens, you do, glancing all around, to see what kind of prison this is.

There is something in the distance, you sense, and you are drawn towards it, the way a drowning man is drawn towards water despite his utmost effort to the contrary. Your legs work on their own--

Nobody wears shoes to bed--

And you slide off the side of the bed, blankets trailing after you mucuslike as you find your footings. You can walk now, comes the thought. You can be fleet of feet, if only you try--but running--that nervous energy that rests behind the muscles of your legs and around the bones in your ankles--can wait--

It’s a lovely room.

If it’s only a guest bedroom (hope it’s a guest bedroom, because you don’t) it’s a nice guest bedroom--not that you’ve ever seen a guest bedroom beyond the occasional hotel space and your sister’s and the park bench but only once.

Wait--blood pumping to your teeth and you stagger against the bed post until the lights fade leaving their usual colorful afterglow--purple? Green? You can never tell, and even they disappear too fast to stand for investigation--consideration. This room--is a lovely room.

A framed standing mirror square-shoulders in the corner of the room, tilted almost entirely upwards to the ceiling. Lovely room. The last of the blanket drops, and you walk towards the reflection on stiff legs until you are before it.

Your hand reaches out to nudge the mirror top-towards you, then halts as it traces the carved design of the frame.

What will I see, you wonder, and then in a burst of movement you tilt the mirror back-straight, flinching as you rise from the depths of the pane with a terrible look upon your face--

Your face--

This is your face.

---

It’s your face--you’re looking at looking from you. Your face, eyebrows drawn low, regarding, mouth set in a grimace--your face, the you you’ve been every time you’ve seen your face before. Baby cheeks, Weeping Woman nose, pink lips and girl’s eyelashes and great looping creases around the eyes. It is you, and you have never forgiven yourself for that.

Your hair, though--it is white. No--you touch it tentatively, wince. Something white is wrapped around your head. Cloth, but not the same as the one half-strewn across the floor by the bed. A different sort--something long and thin, like a bandana, stained with--

And there are others--you only now notice, now that you can see them, only now feel their weight. Strangling your neck--squeezing your arms--crushing your chest--and you aren’t wearing your shirt, either--you’ve only now noticed, now that you see. Your shirt, your shoes--where have they gone?

Someone took them. One of the faceless--the faceless--one of those? Or someone else entirely? Who else lives in this house? Or is it even a house at all? Where are you, exactly? For all you know, you’re in some structure buried miles underground, and--

No. No. Don’t be foolish. Think for yourself. You turn towards the sunlit window. Crows. Crows don’t fly underground, do they?

No--not that I know of.

So--

Yes--

So--

There’s still a chance.

But it’s not--very--likely--

You wonder if the door is locked.

The door--beyond that door, what sort of things are there? Shapeless things. Maybe nothing that exists, until you open it. And then--and then--what will form? Things. Normal-looking things (what do you know of) or other, terrible things--

Or maybe nothing, and you’ve never thought too deeply about that because there really is no solution, but you have no plans, no flowcharts or lists or X-marks-the-spot so it really doesn’t matter, does it?

You’ll find out until you fall apart.

Tray--bowl--spoon--I’ll take them, make them mine for now. Take it in two hands--that’s still one person, still better than those--and they shall be my newest shield, to deflect--to deflect--

They have not talked to me yet.

You grab the tray-bowl-spoon on your hands and make your way to the door--the door is shut. Some odd balancing act--praise the brain, the mind, the nerves, the inner ear, all those little interlocking gearteeth that let me adjust to a degree that the bowl does not slide (down the tray, off the tray, down to the wooden floor and crack) and you quickly now--quickly now--jiggle the knob with your other hand while it is free--first one way, then the other. The first time was right so you turn it back and it turns back and back and back and the door swings open.

Your hands grab the tray again. Just in time, but it is always just in time--you were always going to--

The hallway is bare, nowhere near as decorated as your (your?) bedroom. There are doors and there is a hallway, and some of the doors are closed and the other doors are closed and the hallway is short and at the other end there are doors.

Count them.

One door, two, three--and hallway with a door at the end of it. You’re surrounded on all ends, you, with only a tray as your sword. It doesn’t have a sharp edge--the best it could ever play is as a shield, and even that--

One-two-three-four and five-means-to-retreat.

[_]
>> No. 11217
[x] Four. Four looks suspiciously solid.

Doors at the ends of a hall are more likely to lead larger rooms.
>> No. 11246
The three doors are likely a closet, bathroom, and another bedroom.

[x] Door 4 at the end of the hall.
>> No. 11276
[x] Door 4 at the end of the hall.

Changing vote.
>> No. 11278
[x] The door at the end of the hall.
>> No. 11306
File 122713090614.jpg - (47.35KB , 461x307 , 081010-shark-virgin-birth-2_big.jpg ) [iqdb]
11306
[x] Door 4 at the end of the hall.

One-two-three-four-fi--

Pick--it whispers--pick--because the world isn’t a roulette table, isn’t likely to spin the same day again and again until the Lady looks in your direction. You’ve got to pick and stick. Choices. Stick to the--the--

One-two-three-four-fi--

You’ve seen it on the television, when you were younger (don’t have the same sort of screen anymore): multicolored with tiny rods every inch around, arrows flipping--tick tick tick tick tick tick slowing now tick tick slower and slower tick tick tick tick tick--

Tick--

Tick--

Ti--

Bounces back into the room (he’s rubber you’re glue) straight and directed as an arrow that lodges--in an instant, pierces the skin the muscle your heart--your heart catches on fire. One moment the same beating organ it’s always been, the next a slow burn--every part of it--red turning into black in your chest. One-two-three-four-fi--

Four. Floats at the end of the hall, swaying like a hypnotist’s pendulum. You raise your arm--your hand--stretched towards it, as if you can grasp it from across the house--fingers spread, one-two-three-four-fi--

The tray spills from your hands--hand--and you stare at the mess at your feet sheepishly. The trance is broken now, and so you take the kitchenware and go back to the doorway of your bedroom--the bedroom, setting it to its side, very neatly (because people appreciate things put away very neatly, especially when these things are theirs--you have learned this, a lesson from long ago that does not--quite--stick)--

Turn around, now. No more distractions? No more distractions.

The bones in your legs, humming--lift--take one step. Another. Another, each foot pausing at its apex at the point where you lose your battle with gravity--fall--land with a heavy thump flat on the wooden floor, a noise like thunder in your beating ears.

It hurts--the footfalls, your ears, your head. Every movement you make pulls at something raw and ragged as you feel the whiteness tighten around yourself--loosen--tighten again in the same rhythmic pattern as your pace as doors you disregarded what feels like eons ago pass away at the sides of your vision.

Only a little further.

The door is in front of you now, the knob and hinges gleaming slightly in what little sunlight comes through the small window beside it. You reach out, and one-two-thr--

--fingers--fingers--fold around the handle, twist, just so, and there is a click that is like a gunshot that echoes down the empty hall.

You freeze. Your hand slips from the doorknob, and the door itself swings just the slightest distance ajar. Natural light seeps around the edges--doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter now--because--

Doesn’t it seem strange that a sound like that would echo?

Plenty of things echo, whether they do or not. Speech, sight, love--

Not this.

Like grease on the back of your neck--no, not as bad as that, you admit. Like lotion--not as bad--but--

You know what you will see and so you turn.

She is there, standing outside one of the doorways you passed moments ago--another doorway, and you think of a time (you cannot measure time) when you pulled the sheets over your eyes--you didn’t see her then, but you can imagine how she must have stood, if only for a moment: as she stands now, one foot slightly ahead of the other, arm reached backwards to pull the door closed behind her, looking at you--looking at you, even without a face--

Smooth. You think you could accept it, if she had--bumps. Eyebrow ridges and traces of jawbones. But her face is totally smooth.

Doesn’t matter now. It doesn’t matter now.

The door (front door, you think) swings further--slowly--swings further open--letting in the out.

Your lips, teeth part. The flat of your tongue nudges against your teeth--like you might say something, say anything, any moment now--and then your jaws tick shut, trapping all your hellos and I was justs tight in the back of your throat.

She tilts her head--that same way she did before--tilts her head again--and the bow in her blonde hair flutters, just for a moment, through the breeze of its own creation.

You might be holding your breath.

[_]
>> No. 11317
[x] Take a step back. Depending on how she reacts, get ready to turn and run.
>> No. 11322
[x] Ask which way the bathroom is.
>> No. 11336
[x] Nervousness never stopped you from trying to be friendly: Give a bit of a wave and a smile.
[x] If you can't say hello or excuse yourself, Try "Good morning" or "thank you."
>> No. 11339
I would like a majority before I update.

If there is no other choice, I'll use a random number generator to determine our actions, but I'd like to hazard a guess: that's not the sort of thing you'd want me to do, correct?
>> No. 11340
[x] Nervousness never stopped you from trying to be friendly: Give a bit of a wave and a smile.
[x] If you can't say hello or excuse yourself, Try "Good morning" or "thank you."
>> No. 11341
>>11339
That would indeed be unfortunate, but if after a while you gotta, you gotta.
>> No. 11361
File 12274400066.jpg - (32.86KB , 620x400 , iceberg-1_1002774i.jpg ) [iqdb]
11361
[x] Nervousness never stopped you from trying to be friendly: Give a bit of a wave and a smile.
[x] If you can't say hello or excuse yourself, try "Good morning" or "thank you."

Hi. You can say that, can’t you? Greetings are fleeting and free. Open mouth, flap tongue, and close again for whatever forever you…

You’re a terrible person, you think. Time-delayed guilt finally sweeps over you, shuddering-strong with the rising of the moon (moon is always rising). You were willing, were ready to leave for a moment--to just slip out the front door even with her

(who?)

staring at your back. Would she have missed you? Would she have shrugged and said ‘good riddance’? No--she hasn’t said anything yet--but is that because of you or because of her?

You stare back, your lips still parted pathetically, thinking--well, say something. Say something. Can you say anything? Show me, please.

She doesn’t, and so you open your mouth an inch wider and drag the word out from the hallows of your throat.

“Hel.”

Wrong.

But still the woman-thing doesn’t react, doesn’t move or talk or anything--anything--just stands there in the same pose like a frozen statue and you wonder if she would have reacted differently after all if you had just taken--a--step--backwards--

And there is sunlight on your back that washes away from it to your front, until it is focused in your eyes and the last thing you’re able to focus on before your vision turns to stars and fireworks is the pink-red bow upon her head.

It’s a little--

---

A stark white lily blossoms--but that can’t be right. Even in the whitest lilies there’s a bit of yellow--the middle, in the middle--

It’s not a lily, it’s a corpse-flower. But that’s not right, either.

It’s a fog, etched with grit. It’s a rabbit.

It’s definitely a rabbit.

Your eyes trace it about--tall, gangly ears, down to the tip of its nose and around to its hind lends, the nub of a tail. You look like you’re about to shatter into a million pieces, you say, and the rabbit says back yes, yes.

The ocean roars in your ears with an intermittent sound--beeping. Someone somewhere dialing a forever number, slowly. An electronic tone you’ve heard before--you’ve imagined you’ve heard before.

The rabbit stares from the ceiling of the room and you follow its gaze to the television suspended in the corner, black, off. There’s nothing to be seen there, after all, so you close your eyes again--

There is something on your arm, and you are under sheets, and you are thirsty.

[_]

---
---

On a side note, I ask you--would you be particularly adverse to my analyzing each choice that you make as the story progresses? Of, course, this might simply be a bad idea, in which case--

But, if you don't mind commentary coming from a person such as myself--would you like me to begin from this point--this post--or to first provide an overview of the previous actions you've decided to carry out?
>> No. 11363
>On a side note, I ask you--would you be particularly adverse to my analyzing each choice that you make as the story progresses? Of, course, this might simply be a bad idea, in which case--

But, if you don't mind commentary coming from a person such as myself--would you like me to begin from this point--this post--or to first provide an overview of the previous actions you've decided to carry out?

I think that much of the reason for the lack of votes despite this being one of the most deliciously atmospheric and immersive stories is that we have no idea what actions will beget what results, and, sometimes, what actions will beget what actions. Our character is absolutely fucked in more than a few senses.

Thereby, an analyzation of our choices might allow for a better view into our character and his situation, and make it easier to decide on what to do. Consider this a vote for a look into our choices thus far.

That said, [X] What's that on your arm?
>> No. 11370
File 122750547091.jpg - (48.66KB , 639x382 , bubbleheadnurse_1.jpg ) [iqdb]
11370
"Yes" to both. I want to know if we're not being very smart by choosing to talk to the faceless nurses instead of running away.

[x] What's that on your arm?
[x] Turn on that TV if you can.

Changing vote a little.
>> No. 11371
[x] What's that on your arm?

>an intermittent sound--beeping.
>the television suspended in the corner, black, off.
>There is something on your arm,
>you are under sheets,
So we're probably in a hospital. That would mean it's an IV.

>It’s definitely a rabbit.
...Perhaps we're in Eientei? Or this might be a red herring/hallucination.

Maybe we've conked out and gone back to the real world? I don't know.

Half the fun of this story is putting together exactly what the hell is going on. It's like picking apart song lyrics, or odd poetry.

>>11361
Analyze away, I suppose? And start from the beginning.
But don't put them in the update posts. Maybe in two different ones, back-to-back, and always a couple votes behind.
Or heck, maybe in another thread entirely; a companion thread, sort of.

Don't feel like you have to analyze all of the votes, though.

>>11339
>>11341
Come to think of it, how long would you/do you normally wait?
>> No. 11372
[X] What's that on your arm?
>> No. 11404
>>11371
>Come to think of it, how long would you/do you normally wait?

There is no set time, to tell the truth. I simply wait and wait until I cannot wait any longer. I am not a good writer. I am even less of a good person, all ugly urges down to my fingers I cannot deny.
"Post."
That's I.

The average number of responses I gather is four--not four exactly, but near enough to four that it does not matter. It is not the average number of responses I gather before I decide to update--on one occasion, I was forced away from this narrative for what to me was a long, long time--and I returned to find--

But I am not certain. It was either exactly the same number of votes as before, or simply one more vote than before--but you understand. Four.

That is not much.

(I must say--on a side note--that your careful inspection of this story is to be commended. Well done.)

I would love this story to gather attention, like so many others, would like its readers to argue amongst themselves about meaning and motive. I would love this story to be worthy of that sort of attention. I would love--

(An update shall appear later--four have voted, after all, and so the voting has apparently come to an end.)
>> No. 11421
File 12275785875.jpg - (305.87KB , 887x535 , Kräftklor.jpg ) [iqdb]
11421
The problem, I believe, is that--ironically--you are much too cautious. You decide to look at a certain object, or do nothing more than wave, when what I would prefer you do is take a definite direction.

But, this story may work this way, too.

---
---

[X] What's that on your arm?

You bring your other arm up from under the sheets--

It hurts--

It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts IT HURTS IT HURTS--

and stop, your face frozen in a silent scream. It would be comical if only you could see yourself, says the buzzing in your brain, but that is no compensation. There is glass in your arm--someone has taken the bones from your body and replaced them with glass--and your slight movement has taken all that glass and crushed it, shattered it against each other, and now that glass is cutting into your muscles and veins and flesh and everything.

(The colors in the room seem to fade away, even with the sunlight shining full-strength onto the bed from the open window. It’s not important.)

It takes a minute of forever, a minute of red-faced half-sobbing and patience, patience, but the pain begins to flow away into a dull throbbing--still as painful, but now only existent with every heartbeat instead of only existent.

So you bring your arm an inch higher--and there is that pain again, that white haze of pain that burns your arm to ashes but you ignore it as you gag and brings your arm another inch, another inch, another inch--and over--your--body--

And as your arm falls lifelessly over your chest, you actually cry out--the beeping--the beeping changes--has been changing, all this time, speeding up and slowing down but you cannot begin to understand what this means: there are bigger mysteries right now.

Your other arm.

Your fingers feel the object resting on your arm--no, lodged into your arm, you realize, and your blood runs cold and the beeping runs, runs, runs and you turns your head and the shards in your neck cut through your throat and your vision blurs.

Tube.

Tube in your arm, running upwards to (you turn your head to look a little to the right and the bottom of your face begins to tear itself apart) there is a bag full of something, some sort of clear liquid and there is a machine with a comet that streaks across a screen only to stumble partway--line--lime--

You were in a place like this, once. There should, somewhere--there should be--

Your fingers claw at the bedside, at cloth and plastic bedcasing (and your vision blurs further, and the television begins to melt into the fog) until they reach something that bulges outward, just a fraction--but a fraction is enough--

Is this it? Is this it?

There must be countless buttons, here, buttons you can’t see, and to suppose that you just--happen--to--press the right one (and the haze rolls down the length of the room, past the windows and doors and towards the foot of the bed, devouring it in bite-size patches up to your ankles and you realize suddenly that your feet are already gone and you think you should be concerned but you are too busy trying to see)--

if you can even press it at all, because the muscles in your hand are breaking apart, becoming so much meat floating about in a bone soup stew.

It gives.

The button, the bed, the hand, all at once. It gives.

You hope, hope beyond hope, that this was the right button, and press at it again futilely--and again--and there is only pain and your finger only bends in that you are sure is the wrong direction but you cannot see your finger anymore, only the rabbit on the ceiling whirling around your head and a face peering out of the white and you wonder which is real.

Is there anybody out there?

At all?

You think--maybe--that--

that--

[_]
>> No. 11463
[x] There is someone there, you just need to know how to see them.
>> No. 11482
[x] There is someone there, you just need to know how to see them.
>> No. 11506
Damn, we got fucked over hard.

I have no idea what to vote; I have less idea what's going on and what is/isn't real than I normally do.

[x] There is someone there, you just need to know how to see them.

Choosing this in hopes of the next update providing more clues.

>>11421
Hmmm. Too cautious? That's the nature of the Anon, I suppose, but I'll be more decisive. Or something.
>> No. 11507
>>11506
On reflection, it is rather apparent that I wrote the last part of this post first, some time long before reading the update proper.
>> No. 11601
[x] There is someone there, you just need to know how to see them.

there’s someone there--

There’s someone there--isn’t there? There’s someone there, someone standing before you--looking at you as surely as you can see--it. Him. Her. A person, at least--something that looks like a person. But many things looks like things they aren’t. You know this, because you grew up, once, from the child that opened his mouth indiscriminately. Fangs, you said, and she lowered your hand and said no. Fangs, you insisted, and they shook their heads and shrugged to themselves.

But now there is nobody but you in the fog--you and this figure-person who you are quite sure is a figure-person. There is nobody to tell you otherwise--no women with sad-wrinkles, no women with ponytails and vibrant smiles--

It wasn’t them. It was a different woman.

Who?

You don’t know. You only had a brief sense of--frown-eyes-shout-turn-blue--and then you were--

are--

afloat. You are afloat now--a quick motion she made, like the twist of the wrist and the fingers splayed just so that make a baseball almost seem to rise--

I’m didn’t fall, you think. I didn’t fall from my place, either. Everything else just moved upwards without me, and something else moved closer from underneath, but I didn’t fall. That’s different. It’s all…

The fog begins to clear.

Everything is a blur still, but you can see color, even if you can’t see edges--there is brown and green and green is part of brown so of course there is green, and there is something like red and something like white--

The colors swirl--rotate--you think you might be ill. You are ill--sick--that porridge. It was bad?

You’ve moved past that porridge. You moved past that porridge, long ago. Daytime is when the cycle begins and it moves in a circle around you and you missed it because you had your eyes shut. Daytime and daytime--

That still doesn’t mean--

No. No, of course not--but it must be, at least--

Something is poking into your back, an iron claw catching you with your hands out--up, he says. Hands up. You try to raise them, but they are too tired--like iron, too. Iron claw and iron arms and your whole body is made of iron.

Red. You can focus, now--they’ve settled into their rightful places (you think, you can only think because you’re viewing the world through the rabbit’s eyes--the rabbit? Why did you think of the rabbit, all of a sudden? That’s not here. That’s back in--in)--

Red. No shirt no shoes no service, and you are not wearing your pants either--or even your underwear--you’ve been put in triangle and polka dots, little polygons that grow smaller and smaller as they go on. Loose about your shoulders, so you reach without thinking with one hand and pull it back up--and there is a coldness around you. You are not wearing your pants, either--or even your underwear--

There is a slit where you can feel behind you, sharp, tiny holdups all gimmie-your-money down your spine, rough and uneven. You turn your head to look at them, because that is what you do when they tell you not to look--and they are brown, and knobby, and the bark is cracked all the way through.

You follow it skywards, past the arms, past the leaves that wriggle, waiting to break free, into--and the sky isn’t burning, after all. It’s only that way because of what is watching, in the distance where you can’t see well because of the endless sea of green. Delight, you heard, once, but you never had a chance to ask if it was true, because you lived in a tidy row of houses far removed from any sail.

It will be dark soon, you think. This is true because the sky is red, and the sky is red because it is true, even though you are sure you were only eating lunch minutes ago (and the knotty feeling in your stomach has untied itself and you think you might be happy for a little while longer).

You turn your head back to the white again and it is not a white but a shirt.

Button-down shirt like I never had long ago, you think, and when the dizziness is gone you can see that there is more: not only shirt but collar--and lower--but pants--and higher again and--but face. Face is looking across at you, leaned against a tree--like you. Just like you. You looked into a mirror and saw a million could-have-beens, and this is you from another world, button-down shirt and baggy pants.

It almost shakes its head and smiles--one corner--smirks, and the eyes close and it talks, in that self-assured way you have never known and the sounds pass meaninglessly by for a moment, until you suddenly realize--

talking to me--

and you turn your head again--all the better to hear.

“--especially dressed in that,” says the mouth, and eyes open and it is watching you and you don’t know why so you frown. It frowns. Waiting. Waiting for--you to talk back? Back to what? Back to--

Say something.

I don’t understand.

Say you don’t understand, then. Say something. Anything.

Mouth wide open and a noise almost nasal passes through: “…huh?”

It is not the right answer. The eyes do not close, now, but narrow, and the frown is a frown as much as twice. “I said,” and the words are deliberately clear and you hate that because you aren’t stupid, only--only what? “that you’ve got some guts to be walking around the forest this late, especially dressed in that.”

The frown doesn’t fit those words. Those are words for--tapping people in the side lightly, with your elbow, while you erupt in great big eyes-closed belly laughs. Not frowns.

But I would frown too--even on my first time--so I can’t say anything--

Frown, still, but this time the eyebrows quirk. You know that face, you think. You know it: it’s what happens when you talk, right before they tell you that you are wrong. Something between dismissal and disorientation.

And then the grin again--the smirk. “Could it be…that you’re too dull to understand?” and a flash of teeth, so you tilt your head and look at the sky red rhapsody.

You hate that--you aren’t stupid--but they hold the cards while you only have the joker and so anger will never lead to happiness however indirectly you follow it.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t argue.

Calmly, you say inside the space inside your head. Whatever happens--remember--calmly.

“I’m…” and you pause because that old terrible thread is back, and what if you are--“not stupid,” you say.

Pause.

Right back at you the teeth bite. “Well, you’re the one that’s dressed in that--” An uncertain expression passes like a breeze. “that--whatever that is. You’re not even wearing any pants!”

This is true. Embarrassingly true. You must have left them somewhere--or they were taken--

But--

You look down, below the shirt, and up to the face again. “Can…I have your pants?” you ask.

This is the wrong thing to say, you think seconds later after the angrily red block-letter response.

The face is shaded now, mouth drawn shut and eyes glaring as it steams.
>> No. 11612
File 122775563299.jpg - (71.33KB , 800x600 , Congreso_de_los_Diputados_(España)_06.jpg ) [iqdb]
11612
[_]
>> No. 11650
[x] "Your backup auxiliary pants, then."
[x] "...Do you have a name? I hate to borrow pants from a frown without knowing its name."
>> No. 11652
...Wait, where do youkai get clothes, anyway?
>> No. 11653
>>11652
Same way the human village gets them? Or they just buy them from the village shops. They probably used to take them from humans they killed, but that's passé.
>> No. 11664
[x] "Your backup auxiliary pants, then."
[x] "...Do you have a name? I hate to borrow pants from a frown without knowing its name."
>> No. 11699
[x] "Your backup auxiliary pants, then."
[x] "...Do you have a name? I hate to borrow pants from a frown without knowing its name."
>> No. 11702
>>11650 here. Change that to "auxiliary backup" instead, unless you think it sounds better.
>> No. 11727
File 122786251972.jpg - (165.83KB , 905x758 , GiantLeopardMoth.jpg ) [iqdb]
11727
[x] "Your backup auxiliary pants, then."
[x] "...Do you have a name? I hate to borrow pants from a frown without knowing its name."

Choose your words carefully, whispers the back of your mind. You’re in between a rock and a tree and a set of teeth, so choose your words carefully. You’ve sunk so far, but you can bob back to the surface if you get this weight off your legs. Choose your words care…

You’re not listening. You don’t hear.

All you can hear-feel is the fact that--you’re sitting here, against the trees, and you don’t have any pants, and you don’t have any underwear. Just this dress. You bend your legs, do your best to tuck them underneath you, rock slightly to the side, to the side, trying to get them there without anyone noticing--does, of course, tilting head and gazing with a strange expression and the redness has dissolved from the face now, but you know that things must be balanced--you heard that, long ago--so it flows into yours, instead.

You feel shame--embarrassment--and it suddenly occurs to you that you are here, now, and she is here and you aren’t wearing anything close to what you should be wearing and you cannot take it in stride.

“P--pants--” you say with your mouth full of your tongue. “Do you--”

What she said, a moment ago--

“N--not your pants--I mean--”

“No,” she interrupts, before you can pull the entirety of the request from your throat. She says No, and she looks down at you, part pity and part I-have-better-things-to-do. Like you are a stain. You don’t like it, but it is better than stupid.

But either way, you don’t like the eyes on you. They remind you too much of--

The bottom of the dress--gown--keeps pulling up, over your knees. You wring your hands, shove it down. If you try, very hard, you can imagine that this is the hospital garden and you have only stepped out for a moment and you will be right back, in your bed, after the nurse returns to fetch you.

But--how do you even know that this is the right--

It does no good, believing in--anything--so--you have to--

“Do you have any--”

No! No no no, you already asked that. Try again. Follow that thread. What do you need?

Pants.

No. That you can get.

“--hospital.” And it has been asked wrong, it does not even make sense, so you must make sense out of it. You were there, and you are here, so here must be--there--no.

That doesn’t make sense either.

Try harder.

You reach out, take it in both hands--you’ve done this before (and again that thread passes out of your closed fist but you do not have the time) and so you can do it again. A fold, bringing the corner to the corner across it. And again. And then open it up--take the triangle on top, and open it up and flatten it, and take the triangle on the bottom and there are no triangles any longer, only a square that wasn’t there before. It is like this. This is like that.

This must be the hospital, and I would like to--

You lift your head, look at the eyes straight, and you can do this because these eyes are a little different, perhaps.

Is this even real? When is the last time I went to bed? You take the card from the top, read the writing diligently, and return it to the bottom of the deck, to be drawn by an unfortunate soul. In a time of great need. Isn’t that what they wrote across the capsule? Across time--this isn’t the right time.

You have a goal now, even if it will last for five minutes. One that makes a better footprint in the sand as it walks down the length of the beach. Go home. Go home, so you can go back. It was a goal, but--

What is it about this goal that makes it--loom?

“I have to--”

[_]
>> No. 11731
[x] “--figure out where I am. And who you are. And how I get back home from here.”
[x] “...And thank you.”
>> No. 11744
[x] “--figure out where I am. And who you are. And how I get back home from here.”
[x] “...And thank you.”
>> No. 11779
File 122800728197.jpg - (60.96KB , 500x348 , 5.jpg ) [iqdb]
11779
Hm.

Let us see if I can point you in a direction. Not one direction over another necessarily. Just a direction. And then let us hope you take a direction at all.

---

[x] “--figure out where I am. And who you are. And how I get back home from here.”
[x] “...And thank you.”

She looks down at you, studying you, anticipating your next words, with a expression that seems to ask--“Yes?”

You know what you have to do. This place--the other place--you have to--have to--

Where am I?

(Wrong. You don’t think like that. Too smart for your own good.)

There’s a taste like vanilla and blood in your mouth--you’ve bit your tongue, you realize, you’ve bit your, bit your, bit your, and a fractal triangle grows holes infinitely downwards--all-seeing eye sprouts off the top and looks at you and glares, and you shrink away within your mind--

You think that your mouth might be open. The world shivers. And then--

It stops. Every shudders, not to a stop because there is always movement in the natural world, but the movement is slow now--and slow is normal, you split-second think. You can’t think. Your brain is still second ahead of your body--or is it the other way around?

Something happened, you feel. Something happened, just now, that you missed. You had your head bowed down for a second, and in that second something--important happened. Something--

Oh.

What were you saying?

“Where am I?” Autopilot. You open your words and the mouth is there--no, that isn’t right. Why would you--those words--

Something doesn’t make any sense. You had something there, and something had you, and--

You look up.

Who…

Smirk--another smirk, but this time tinged with something else. Not concern. Not anywhere near concern. But something in its direction--

Doesn’t mean anything. All of the east coast is in a single direction too. Ice and sunshine go hand in hand, joined together by wedding bands. They want a divorce, but they tried it once before.

I don’t think they can take much more.

“You must really be touched if you don’t know at least that much.” Knees: bend. The whole body: into some sort of on-foot squat. The eyes--the other eyes, and now they don’t look so bad, you think, are on a level with yours.

Sighs. “Hey. Where’d you come from, anyway?”

[_]
>> No. 11790
On a side note, the average number of votes per story segment--not including the lost previous thread--is just a little over two point five.

Please join me in rectifying this.
>> No. 11793
[x] "I... can't remember. I believe I'm lost."

Whatever you do, don't say "I came from the hospital." Then, she'll have to take you BACK to the hospital, and the hospital's scary.
>> No. 11807
[x] The left.
>> No. 11818
[x] "I... can't remember. I believe I'm lost."

Are you my mommy?

On a side note, I just imagined what an H-scene would look like. I'm pretty sure it was looking at me though. Scary shit.
>> No. 11846
File 122810796528.jpg - (32.99KB , 292x400 , 8.jpg ) [iqdb]
11846
Anonymous, I welcome your analysis. This is a coded message that in fact translates to: "Something important may have happened."

---

[x] "I... can't remember. I believe I'm lost."

The hospital.

The hospital.

That’s what you’re going to say, right? That’s what you were about to say. The hospital.

Because it’s true. I came from the hospital, and the hospital is here and here is the hospital and I am, I am, I am--

Eyes level with yours. You look down, look a pattern in the dirt, look back up into them again.

There’s nothing wrong with the hospital. As if anticipating the argument entirely: There’s nothing wrong with the hospital. I’ve been there before. I’ve been there many times before, since--

What was that?

Something gnaws at the back of your skull--something deep inside your spine, itching to get out--move, move, move, god--you, move--whispers into your ear--

The hospital is haze is fog the fog of war of dream of hope of hope extinguished flame of fame of frame of lamb crucified upon the bed

And you don’t quite understand but it is insistent and so you say:

“I--”

And then you stop because what are you supposed to say after that? And so you duck back into your corner to ask the man underneath the table--

Lie, he says.

Lie?

Lie.

“I don’t remember.”

God--you god--you god--you--

And it is not enough to simply--yourself , but when you find that it is so easy to lie, so easy to spit up untruth--like spilling blood and gouging eyes--you cannot stop yourself and lie-one-lie is followed up like a traincar-attached with Two.

“I think I’m lost,” you say and laugh and laugh inside. I think--I think--I think it is plausible--plausible--

The man under the table who is the other face goes away and you are left once again, clawing and thrashing in the liquid fog that spills into your, into your eyes and ears and nose and mouth. It is a liquid with an impossible consistency--the same as air, you think to yourself before you understand what that means and what that means is that you sink through it, as quickly as if you have some heavy weight (heavy tome, stack of books, books, books that you never quite put away even though that is your Job) tied to your legs with a chain of gold (because gold is dense; you know this because you read it, once, a long long time ago)--

And eyes are staring at you, waiting for an answer, you realize suddenly--and the realization’s force sends you back because you forgot, didn’t you--forgot that there was someone else other than you waiting for your words and you cannot go backwards any further because there is a tree so instead you go up--slide up--stand to your full height and the bark scratches deep in your back where the slit is open and you think--

It is no less than I deserve. I am selfish, a terrible person, and now I am a liar too.

But clearly there is nothing written on your face--if there was, the person would not eye you in that disinterested manner, would not stand lazily to her full height like a matching pair, matching pair, don’t even joke about that because it is not the sort of thing to joke about at all--don’t you know that I’m--

It comes as quite a shock to realize that you must look downwards to look at looking upwards at you (not a distance the other might call significant--only centimeters? Or less? Or more, perhaps? But distances are strange to you) and you think--thought you might not be sure--that your expression is a mirror, and that scares you because it is only you and not-you in front of you and you are the way you are right now and if anyone else is then there is no hope.

That is because I am selfish, expecting to be coddled.

But what good is a diagnosis if nothing is done to--

I always had the most fun, comes the thought unbidden, when my sister and I went to the mall and the thought brings smiles and tears, joy and the unbearable weight of guilt.

And looks, analyzing from top to bottom of you “you”. “Well,” and pauses--as if thinking--I would call you ‘kid’, but you are taller than I--

“Well,” says again, awkwardly, “I guess I ought to take you to the village, right? I mean, that’s where you’re from, right?”

No.

“Right, right.” Waving an arm dismissively: “Can’t remember.” Sighs, looks up at the sky that is quickly becoming an evening sky: pink smudges across the side and a deepening mass of blue. “Well, whatever. Hang on, alright?”

So said, the hand grabs yours around the wrist, and--

White noise

a mitenice beeng there with a haere full of strands ristpulls me wholy (and mather and sondown we pray) widther cape stutterby in debrize, and the beeng what Ise are beutiful stands off toptoe was likened flowner stranching petalup to the Raine was hasntfal (nonce haere, lookabout to a day alcleer passenby wilby nightfly soon) becomen quicly foot-lose and farcey-free. Downes tea to had the piddly flagkes bottomsup told me to keen ahead stand ort-of-the-clouds and improssable offsidhes, whather floatsam fligtsam sampley niverdone and so I (I, wither witcher phaces), taken the metshing aroutline and Yangked (Cyain rows up, minena wendt down) and faell froward the froor Harck!-soundly

And suddenly your arm is pulled downwards--towards the ground, and the force sends your eyes rolling to look into your head and you see as your hand is let loose:

Laying upon the ground, cape-coved as if by some sort of blanket--

Who held your wrist, only a moment ago, is now mumbling into the dirt.

[_]
>> No. 11852
Did she trip? This is your fault for lying. Now you might both need to go to the hospital.

[x] Apologize profusely and help her up. Pray she doesn't have a concussion.
>> No. 11858
We're being naughty now, aren't we?

Something happened to us in the past that got us sent to the hospital, then we lied in order to escape from that hospital, and now bad things are starting to happen. We're off our meds, we're no longer restrained by the nurses, we're a danger to ourselves and society, and we may have blacked out a little.

I wouldn't be surprised if she's kissing the floor right now because we freaked out and threw her to the ground ourselves right after she grabbed our wrist, possibly because she may have mistaken this guy for a native, began flying, and then he reacted in the worst way possible.

Anyways,

[x] Apologize profusely and help her up. Pray she doesn't have a concussion.

I wonder if she'll flip out.
>> No. 11877
[x] Apologize profusely and help her up. Pray she doesn't have a concussion.

>>11858
...That would explain suddenly breaking into Canterbury Tales-esque Old English.

>>11779
>“You must really be touched if you don’t know at least that much.”
>touched
Wow. I haven't heard someone use this meaning of the word in a long time. Makes sense, though, given the location.

The temptation to vote for him to break into the "My name is Yon Yonson" recursive song (by way of an answer to the question of where he came from) was great, though only momentary.

>>11807
...I see what you did there, but I don't think that's what he meant, either.

>>11818
I giggled.
>> No. 11898
File 122818175948.jpg - (85.60KB , 512x341 , 9f3deafe30.jpg ) [iqdb]
11898
I wonder, is that how...?

---

[x] Apologize profusely and help her up. Pray she doesn't have a concussion.

Why--

For a moment she was standing, and now she is on the ground, and you wonder why--

That feeling passes through your head like a breeze filling itself into the little cracks and crevices, that feeling--that maybe--just now--something happened just now, didn’t it? but the answer is always no or of course so you have learnt to keep those sorts of questions to yourself--write them down on fortune-cookie paperslips and fold them lengthwise and keep them in a box, and when it is full we shall empty it onto the pavement and burn them and spread the ashes to the wind, who perhaps shall be forthcoming with an answer--

That’s a girl, comes the message morse code-telegraphed directly through your nerves and into your head. That’s a girl, isn’t it? Lifting her head, eyes still unfocused, cape falling over the side of her body as she turns herself over, her hand--her hand, her her her hand brushing through her hair--that’s a girl.

I see.

It’s unimportant, so you let it free--much more relevant is the girl on the ground, on the ground, on the ground, and you wonder conclude yes it must be!--your fault. You must have--done something. Tripped her or whipped her or pulled the cord that brakes the train to a shuddering stop.

“Sorry,” you mumble, and consider shifting your feet, you weight from side to side, looking awkwardly at your toes (bare toes dem toes dem dry toes gonna hear the word of the Lord and the Lord is with me as a might-he terribly won) but that is altogether too cruel so instead you elect with your guilt and consideration to “Sorry,” and bend over and reach a hand in her direction.

She doesn’t notice.

She doesn’t notice.

She is staring strangely at and into the air, both at-you and through-you and you think you have maybe seen that expression before, once when you saw yourself in a mirror.

She does not take your hand, and so you say “Sorry,” again and let it hang there, limp-wrist, until such time as when it is required--

(And in that instant as your hand drops you think that a million flitting things have maybe gone still, like possibilities dying and their carcasses blowing away into the wind.)

It is strange, you think. It is strange, as if the two of you have fallen into another world and then taken your proper places there--for there is the girl, sitting on the ground, staring dully ahead, perhaps as unseeing as you once were when that was your place, and you are standing--

She finally speaks:

“What--” she says and raises her hand but not to pull herself up; instead, she opens it, loosely, looks at the lines of her palm as if they are a map to a place she has never been before.

“What th--” she says and looks up--sees you, sees your hand and takes it with the one she was so fixed upon a moment before--absentmindedly (and you know what this feels like, too, going through the motions to the hell’s dance as the devils beat their breasts and holler at your heart to get its head out of heaven).

“That was--” she says staggering to her feet, and this time chooses to continue this path (as you are, as they are, as are you) and she says: “--odd--” and turns her head to look up at you (and you remember, reremember, you are at least a head taller than her, perhaps further, but you are no good with distances so you cannot tell) and she says: “What the heck was that?”

You don’t understand, and apparently it is written across your brow in black-thought marker, because she continues:

“It was like I got--pulled down, or something, all of a sudden,” she says, more to herself than you or anybody else (yes, yes, you know this feeling too), still slightly dizzily. But then she stands her feet firmly on the ground and looks down--looks up at the sky and--

and--

and--

What is she trying to do, anyway?

It’s not very interesting, you think. It’s very strange, but it’s not very interesting, so you turn around--and the tree--the tree--the tree that scratched you up your back. You remember this? It was behind you, and now it is in front of you--

It passed into view, you think. Passed into view, as if it were the one moving, and not you. You can imagine it--the world sliding, sliding--stopped, finding its new axis beneath your feet and then rumbling to a start again, repositioning its spin every time you moved--

That would be horrible.

Don’t make me think of the consequences. Let me have my childish dreams.

Growls back, with hair in its throat: But you are not a child--and you can feel spittle and hot breath on your face and fall backwards, down--and you look up and respond--

[_]
>> No. 11915
>Growls back, with hair in its throat: But you are not a child--and you can feel spittle and hot breath on your face and fall backwards, down--and you look up and respond--

[x] Wordlessly. When one's gaze is itself an indictment against you, how could you ever defend yourself verbally? Rely on your eyes alone to transmit the appropriate signals: Surprise. Fear. Concern. Submission.
>> No. 11918
[x] With one word, one single, possibly vain, act of defiance. "Stop."

It's like some cruel god or cosmic horror has beaten this man retarded and then made him its personal plaything. I don't like it, no sir.
>> No. 11922
>>11918

>retarded
I find your choice of word interesting.
>> No. 11947
Incidentally, I would prefer it if someone were to serve as a sort of "tiebreaker".

Currently, you're between two directly contradicting outcomes, and I'm sure you'd hate to decide this by random chance.
>> No. 11951
[x] Wordlessly. When one's gaze is itself an indictment against you, how could you ever defend yourself verbally? Rely on your eyes alone to transmit the appropriate signals: Surprise. Fear. Concern. Submission.
>> No. 11952
[x] Wordlessly. When one's gaze is itself an indictment against you, how could you ever defend yourself verbally? Rely on your eyes alone to transmit the appropriate signals: Surprise. Fear. Concern. Submission.

No condition to assert ourselves right now, or quite possibly ever.

Also, I find it fucking terrifying that our author is anonymous and could be commenting on ANYTHING.
>> No. 11955
File 122824148790.jpg - (56.31KB , 500x362 , 11.jpg ) [iqdb]
11955
George Winston: Colors/Dance.

This would not serve as an appropriate soundtrack--it is simply the music I heard as I wrote.

---

[x] Wordlessly. When one's gaze is itself an indictment against you, how could you ever defend yourself verbally? Rely on your eyes alone to transmit the appropriate signals: Surprise. Fear. Concern. Submission.

You don’t respond.

You just look, wordlessly, petulantly, a child whose cake has been eaten, whose dreams have dissipated, whose toys have been taken from their hiding-away place in the box in the attic until you promise, promise to be a good boy good boy.

You stare because you don’t have any words because he is right.

You are an adult. You have adult hands, adult eyes, adult taste, adult everything. Senior year of high school behind you and nothing but the wide expanse of nothing ahead. Tobacco and alcohol and all sorts of things to burn your body with (or is that here or there? Landmasses with peculiar names swivel-view in your mind’s eyes, and one of them is yours--or perhaps none are).

They call it illegal there.

But after all, all you ever really wanted was to be treated like a--

Tree. Swims into view, and of course it would swim into view if you were standing right in from of it, and haven’t a lot of things been swimming into view lately anyway?

A rustling of leaves of air and tiny things moving against dirt and you turn around and she stands to her feet, her cape trailing behind her. White button-down shirt, you notice again. You always liked a shirt like that, but could never bring to yourself the patience necessary to tie yourself down and marry them all in a row, slip-slip-slip-slip-slip, all the way down. Or up, you think. Some, I’m sure, fasten themselves starting at the bottom, and--

You open your mouth.

Why a cape?

But she is still disoriented and the question only serves to tip her off balance, Precession-gyroscope-stop-spinning.

“What?”

Why a cape? Point to it, the tip fluttering in the slight breeze (picks at your skin, sweeps around and over and under your gown and you shiver).

Red (Red, and now in the evening light it is a dark red and truthfully you cannot tell reliably the colors red from brown from blue from)

And then a section of it flips or twists or flicks or trips and it is

Black.

(Many things become black.)

“Y--yeah.” She seems unsure of herself, as if she has been driven down the wrong road and told to leave, leave now, leave, you are a disturbance. What have I done? What do I do? This is beyond my experience. She grabs a patch of her own cape, as if the clothing has only now come into her regard, as if your very mention of it has defined it, rubs it between two fingers like silk and lets it slip from her hand. “Yeah.” And then that previous confidence (You must really be touched) returns and she grins, all predatory and friendly all at once, and you wonder. “Ha! Why a cape. You know, you’re the first one to ask me that.”

She spreads her arms out and for a moment you see superimposed the man in the framed window that hangs on your sister’s wall. There’s a glow around her head, and a crown of barbed wire and a sign you cannot read and she is bleeding. “Because it looks cool?” she says brightly, and then: “Doesn’t it?”

It should be the wrist because the hands cannot support the weight of a body but it is always shown as the hands in all the paintings you have seen. Are your hands bleeding?

And you must have moved, because your hands are warm, wondrously warm, and you wonder if this is how people are supposed to feel--all the time--and your hands are warm because her hands are warm, her arm, and you have taken her wrist in one hand and cupped the back of her hand in the other and look down and her lines are beautiful but all lines are beautiful but this is the first time, you think, that you have seen them up-close, excepting your sister who is lovely.

But it is a fleeting glance that you have because she yanks it away--looks at you strangely, lips parted and confused eyebrows and says:

“What are you doing?”

“I am looking for blood.”

And then, when she doesn’t not say anything to this:

“Are you bleeding?”

“What? No.” Her face calms somewhat, but there is still that strangeness, that strangeness, you are strange who are you who are so strange--

“I’m not going to start bleeding because of some little stumble like that,” she says, and that is good.

It is dark now, and the stars are out and she looks up at the stars that are out that look down upon you (kings of old, kings of gold, but these kings can be red or yellow or blue surely you have read it) and sighs. “Shoot. Already dark out,” she mutters, and looks at you (up at you you remember and you are astonished once again) and says, “Alright--” That swallowed ‘kid’ once again. “You hang close to me, and we’ll--”

Stops short, and swallows.

“Shoot.”

Looks straight at you now, a gaze electric. She smiles a half-smile you almost don’t like and makes a vague motion with her finger, pointing around you: “Alright. Alright. You stay here for a moment. Got that?”

“I said, got that?”

You nod.

“Good. Good.” She smiles a full smile again and it falls off her face with the weight of itself. “Look. I’ll be right back, okay? I just got to--check something.”

And then, in a graceful motion, she turns and bounds into the trees and is lost to your sight.

[_]
>> No. 11959
[X] Well, if it's only a moment...Why not just enjoy the view while I wait?
>> No. 11961
[x] Well, if it's only a moment...Why not just enjoy the view while I wait?

Out for blood?
Who's blood?
Our blood?
Or are we going to chow down on some soylent green? I bet it'll be delicious.
>> No. 11969
[x] Well, if it's only a moment...Why not just enjoy the view while I wait?
[x] Have a seat by the house (if you're still nearby.)

I guess we'd better get a baseball bat and some psychic powers, because it looks like we're earthbound.

Also I have no idea why a tree just made us all cowed.

>>11898
I liked finding all the references to phrases and metaphors in here.

>>11952
>Also, I find it fucking terrifying that our author is anonymous and could be commenting on ANYTHING.
Oh, but the fact that he(?) is Anonymous is part of what makes it so fun.
>> No. 11970
>Also I have no idea why a tree just made us all cowed.

That tree was moving, man.

Not just it, either. The whole fucking world was moving with it too! The whole world's against us now!
>> No. 11975
[x] Well, if it's only a moment...Why not just enjoy the view while I wait?

I'm guessing that Wriggle is going off to check to make sure she can still fly.
>> No. 12000
>>11975
Wait.
>Wriggle
What the fuck?

Damn, I am out of it. I though this was still Alice.
...Was it ever Alice?

...

See now, this is why I love this story: it keeps me so magnificently off-balance.
(Although you could get into minor and pesky details like how it's my own damn fault for being frequently inattentive but yeah anyway.)
>> No. 12006
>>12000

Well, we know she's wearing pants. Though, to be honest I thought it was Mokou until the cape was described in detail.
>> No. 12014
File 122831843267.jpg - (32.90KB , 620x468 , 10-Y5G2M96400.jpg ) [iqdb]
12014
[x] Well, if it's only a moment...Why not just enjoy the view while I wait?

You look after her, but it is a useless notion--the darkness has swallowed her whole, clothing and all, but you look down the gullet and when you look into the gullet the gullet also looks into you, don’t you know?

Gooseflesh up your arms and down the sides of your back. You want to shiver. Restrain yourself.

Stay here. She said--told you to stay here. This spot--around--

You sit--nearly--but catch yourself. You are still bare, and have no desire to feel countless leafy and leathery objects where you should feel--

Cloth-ings, or buttons, suppose.

So you stand, thought your feet are full of ache, and your legs strain, and you are certain surely certain that this is the longest you have stood in your life when it has not been a line.

But you resolutely stand--keeping you back artificially straight, though your spine still pulls at it and your neck-vertebrae crack--and gaze into the darkness where surely there is a forest somewhere and dare it to swallow you, too, as well.

And the forest answers back: I already have; you are here, aren’t you? And you say yes.

So--there is nothing to be done about it.

Letting out a long, hissing breath, you relax as much as you believe to afford and turn your chin to look upwards at the night sky (the ground below is all the same and the trees are--are). Stars: you can see them, through low-hanging leaf-branch clouds. They shine down at you: no sparkling, no twinkling, despite what they lied to you before--they simply shine, their lights constant. Points, you think, and if you squint and nod you think you can see a jagged edge out there--on the outline of the star, and if a star is a chunk of rock cut cleanly by a line of lines, all in a row--

You wonder if anyone is out there, after all.

As for the moon: you cannot see it, yet. It is too low, and the clouds are too high, and--

Gooseflesh again, up your neck. This time you give in (effort is only worth effort if it is worthwhile, you think) and your teeth clatter like marbles (so that is where they have gone, tra-la-la, all blue and red and cat’s-eye swirls and when you were younger you played with disks, plastic plastique plaster and one of them sparkles in the sun you remember so you hid it away in a safe place).

Where is it now?

I dropped it down the drain, you provide (and that is a lie). I dropped it down the hidee-hole, the grab-slat in the flat tablet used to peruse the sewery roost. You never saw them lift it, march inside like ants (worker-ants in worker-uniforms say helloa to the queen) and close the door behind them, but you know in your heart that you must have a heart to know it in--truth (like moth-men and suit-and-tie-men that stand on street corners and look very grim).

You have seen them--only a few times, but you have seen them, though it has been hard (level three is hard. Level two is medium) because they do not want to be seen, especially by you though perhaps that is wrong on your part, you cannot tell because for every teller there is a tellee and what will happen to--

You dare not guess (because you already know) but you have seen them checking watches and reading grey-leaf newspapers that you know are only classifieds: unshaven man and bearded man and the man with the spiky hair, and sometimes they wear black ties and sometimes jean jackets and one time when it was raining you swear you saw balding almost stooping under the weight of a rubbery yellow rainjacket.

But you are safe here.

You look up at the stars in the sky and the moon you cannot see and raise your hands to prod them--I am here. I am here. You may find it quite surprising.

The stars grin, and then--lift away.

If you see the darkness rising--

[_]
>> No. 12015
[x] Try to make a fire.
[x] Check to see if she's back.

Maybe she brought back her friends, and something good to eat~
>> No. 12023
>>12015
Shall I accept this?
If there's no disagreement, then...
>> No. 12024
[x] Try to make a fire.
[x] Check to see if she's back.
>> No. 12030
[x] Try to make a fire.
[x] Check to see if she's back.

>>12023
Go ahead.
>> No. 12032
File 122835985495.jpg - (59.99KB , 500x362 , 12.jpg ) [iqdb]
12032
I am afraid that your first choice did not work out well at all. There was no opportunity--

Well, perhaps if you had--

Never mind. Never mind. You had no matches or kindling or anything of that sort anyway. You are wearing nothing but a hospital gown, after all. Or have you forgotten?

---

[x] Try to make a fire.
[x] Check to see if she's back.

It’s funny, you think. They aren’t stars, after all, but ships. Little rocket ships with well-lit windows and mothers waving goodbye, goodbye as they rise far away--rise far--becoming smaller and smaller until they are little more than a flicker (and at that length they do flicker, and you think you understand what they mean by flick-er-ing).

Goodbye! Goodbye! And they back in many languages: Goodbye! We’ll come again! You’ll visit, won’t you? Yes. Yes, of course I will! But until then--oh--Mother! Mother! Goodbye, Mother!

Even the faint points, now, are wavering away. What are you now realizing? They are--pooling.

Yes. There is a dark pool of water up there, and it is drowning all those ships, putting out their lamps and stoves and electric furnaces. They are drowning up there. They are drowning--

When you see the darkness rising. The ships are designed to be airtight, because how else can you go past the smog and sun and stars and soup? But it is a soup that goes on forever, a pitch black soup, squid ink soup (spaghetti, spaghetti, maybe it is spaghetti, because what dead things will their dead ships bump into as they float).

You never gave a thought after all to your little plastic people on their doomed voyages. Voyages. Here’s a night boy. Voy-a-ges. Sent them off--not even wax paper, oh, not even wax paper because you didn’t know of wax paper, of wax beyond drip-drip-drip down the candle-length--down the storm drain. That never happened, though. That never happened--it wasn’t safe. Here’s a pale boy. But you watched them--dripping down the paneled windowpanes and even though you didn’t even know the meaning of ga-losh-es you were them and they were you stomping about in the pouring rain (weren’t you crying? You think, maybe at some point, you were crying) and that matters to you.

You hold it dear inside. Here’s a bite boy.

They are disappearing now, and in a moment it will be has been as if they have never existing so you must hold it dear. You must keep this memory this memory deep inside your heart head (your heart is in your head, they only heart that counts they said) because you will know. And if you will know at least they will no they will never know but at least you will know. Here’s the mailboy. Keep it alive deep inside deep alive inside intelligence inside but there isn’t any intelligence inside you. You know. Of course you do.

Because it is little pink little grey whorls little grey world fade away into a little grey world little girl oh we never had a chance in this world and isn’t that sad? And you’ve forgotten all your steps. Because you never had a chance to be with the one you loved. Only a walk hand-in-hand, only a hop-skip-jump! Yes hop-skip-jump! And all the men came with us too yes they came in they knee high boots and their buttoned uniforms hop-skip-jump! And I admit that makes me smile. What are you doing mister military commander sir why I am painting pictures on the aircraft. Hey. Stop it. And they came with their brushes and their easels and their paints and began to match themselves to the planes each to each I had heard singing never singing before they were singing I heard them singing each to each. This is a German joke. It will make them laugh billy-ough! And all of them laughed in chorus more for us enormous enormous hillside coming straight at us the choice is yours. The choice is yours. Okay, make a run for it.

Let’s go, then.

Mayday mayday mayday my wings have come off mayday my wings oh my wings. You find it hard to think I think. Oh my wings. And they are falling like butterflies like flutter-bys oh ha ha we transposed them so that’s why the jokes didn’t work we transposed it what does it say I hope it says something terrible but that makes me sad.

[_]
>> No. 12038
Christ I can't even tell if we're delirious from hypothermia, dreaming, or just the usual.

[x] Make yourself a bed out of some leaves, maybe find a mossy log to use as a pillow, and do your best to try to sleep.

Cover yourself with anything. Doesn't really matter what. Just attempt to conserve body heat.
>> No. 12055
[x] Make yourself a bed out of some leaves, maybe find a mossy log to use as a pillow, and do your best to try to sleep.

Really, really hoping this does not result in freezing to death OR getting eaten.

Is it me or was the protagonist not always insane?
>> No. 12069
File 12285085621.gif - (748.21KB , 512x384 , 5.gif ) [iqdb]
12069
I'm afraid you've chosen a choice that's unchoosable--though it really isn't your fault, really. Our fellow, you see, is--

---

[x] Make yourself a bed out of some leaves, maybe find a mossy log to use as a pillow, and do your best to try to sleep.

It is snowing is it snowen it is Snowden and I am cold.

And now I think you’ll stay a while.

I am cold and it is cold and it is cold oh it is cold have you got the bandages on tight? Yes, yes. Are you sure? Yes. Then off we go then, off we go then, hop-skip-jump! Over the hills and through the woods to grandmother’s house we are bringing her a meal. Yes. It is a meal just for you grandmother a meal for you grandmother and oh grandmother you look young yes you look so young hello what sharp teeth you have. I will sit on this side and you will side on that side and we will sup together. Cut it out.

Oh it is a stew it is a beautiful stew beautiful soup what is it? It is mock turtle soup. What kind of animal is a mock turtle do you suppose well I suppose it is not a turtle at all yes you are absolutely right absolutely right absolutely right. It is a lovely animal, rubbery animal, skin like rubber so you have to cut deep but that is no trouble for me look look oh I see what sharp nails you have grandmother. Yes. Cut it out. I bought them for myself, a long many years ago, and they have served me well.

I grew you know I grew I grew at one point I was very little how little grandmother? Well I was only as tall as a bird, and only as wide as a bird, and in fact I was a bird in fact I was. Oh. Oh. That is surprising to hear grandmother well it is true. And now what are you grandmother well I am still a bird except for when I am not. Would you like a taste? Why yes I would grandmother yes this looks very good. You may find it quite surprising.

Yes yes why don’t you take a bite?

I said cut--

Oh thank you grandmother yes grandmother I think I will it smells so delicious simply delicious.

--it--

Then I shall take a bite and then you shall take a bite and we shall take a bite together oh won’t that be lovely, we shall have a taste okay get ready, get ready, on one, two--

--OUT!

The stars reappear--barely at first--only tiny, barely visible smudges of grey in the darkness, and then they shine brighter, and then brighter and brighter, and brighter and brighter, until their points drive straight into your eyes and it hurts so very much and you think you might scream.

Instead, you bend over and clutch at your face and the tears that have pooled in your eyes spill down your cheeks.

But even if you are half-blind you are half-blind as a bat.

Rustling. Like a body being picked up from the ground and leaves and grass. A teasing voice.

“Oh, come o-o-o-on, Wriggle. What’s the problem?”

Who?

“You can’t ho-o-onestly expect me to pass on a free meal, can you?” Crunching like potato chips. “Come o-o-o-o-on.”

A pause.

Mumbling?

You lift your head, ignore how it sops. But tears are a lovely thing--

The girl--the girl you know--glances at you--just a quick glance, a turn of the head, jerked back almost as quickly, I’ve-made-a-mistake quickly, I-shouldn’t-have-done-that quickly. There is a new one here now, just as long as she is. Taller, perhaps. The remnants of cry are still bubble-wrapping your sight and one moment she is taller and one moment the other is.

If it is that close, I am probably the tallest of them all.

“I’ll te-ell you wha-at,” the new one singsongs, turning around to walk away some distance--flamboyantly. She must be aware of this audience of one, watching a two-man play. The edges of her dress spread in a circle around her for a moment, but that is all you can tell of her. Everything else--the nose of her face, the color of her skin--is hidden by the darkness.

When does the moon rise? You think, maybe, if you look up and tilt your head just right--tilt, tilt, and then it’s game over so you flap your head back away from the sky-chimes that giggle at your misfortune and watch two shadows talk.

“We can split him.” Turns around to face her again and proposes this, suddenly. “I’ll take half and you’ll take half. What about that, hm-m-m?” A casual jaggerwalk and a lean on her shoulder. “You can even have the good half,” she says, and you wonder why you can hear only one side of this conversation?

She is much too loud.

Mumbling. No, not mumbling. If a speaking’s to a mumble then a shrilling’s to a talk. Relativity, my dear. Two times one is two of course, so it must occur to you that you’re the third: wheel on a bicycle, sock in a pair. I haven’t got any context--

“E-e-e-e-eh? You’re not eating him?” Her head tilts, slightly, and you almost miss it--they are nothing but silhouettes, after all, puppet shadows in a stage-play. Hold your fingers up to the moon and you can make a rabbit. “What are you doing with him, then?”

[_]
>> No. 12071
[x] "She said she was taking me to the village."
[x] "What village? What's in the village?"

Damn. The way Wriggle was being so overly friendly and not ignoring us or trying to kill us on the spot, I thought she was considering the loony as one of her own kind.

...or maybe that's still a possibility, and Rumia's just being Rumia.
>> No. 12082
>>12071

Wriggle's has a human friendship level of "normal" according to the ever-so-fond-of-exaggeration Akyu. It looks like peer pressure is the major cause here, which means that you should ingratiate yourself with her friends.

[x] Call out to her excitedly: "Cape girl! You're back! Did you bring pants?"

That should make Mystia convulsive with laughter.
>> No. 12105
If I might be provided with a third vote to match, I would consider it most gracious.
>> No. 12106
[x] "She said she was taking me to the village."
[x] "What village? What's in the village?"
>> No. 12107
[x] "She said she was taking me to the village."
[x] "What village? What's in the village?"
>> No. 12121
...Don't we recognize Rumia?

Also, I hope we're not getting Wriggle in trouble, here. She seems a decent sort.

[x] "...I was kind of hoping that bus hit you, spooky dark girl."
>> No. 12151
File 12286249536.jpg - (49.50KB , 500x362 , 18.jpg ) [iqdb]
12151
You may notice that sometimes, for lack of a better term, your choices "don't go through". It isn't you fault, though.

If anyone desires an explanation, I'll attempt one, but for now--

---

[x] "She said she was taking me to the village."
[x] "What village? What's in the village?"

She’s taking me to the village.

Right?

It’s a tangled web that covers the parts of your mind--the parts that put two and two together, and--pipes, under the floorboards. There’s a limited selection, limited to one, in fact, and you take the length and twist-turn it into the opening before the water can rush out and then you must repeat that for the next that is in line, into what you have just placed--and who starts the water when it hasn’t been finished yet? It doesn’t make any sense--

But you think maybe you did it right this time, took the two openings at the opposite ends of the room and connected them with twists and turns and bends. Caps. Were there caps, that you could place?

I guess I ought to take you to the village, she said--

Why would she say that?

That’s where you’re from, she said--

Why would she say that?

Because--you said, didn’t you? You said--‘I don’t remember’. You said a lie to her--why? For no good reason, other than a half-remembered dream about fog and a voice from the darkness. For the sake of that--you lied to her.

And then she fell down, and--

You wonder when the weight will drop--really drop--on you. The other shoe, they say. But that doesn’t work because you are not even wearing one shoe now, you are not even wearing pants or a proper shirt or underwear--

It is cold, and it is dark, and the two are just shadows that shift their weight back and forth, back and forth, and even the shape of their shadows is beginning to fade into the darkness and you hope that the moon will rise over the treeline, quick quick quick quick.

“The village?” comes the voice and it is just what you were thinking, perhaps what you were about to say (though you will never know the last one for sure) so you close your mouth and listen-listen, again.

“The vi-i-illage?” That lilting voice--that lilting, high-pitched voice. You don’t like it. It’s been let loose--was let loose--inside your head, rooting about for truffles, making small holes all over the soft--like a worm--like a worm--

Don’t think about it. Listen. Listen. You need to--

“Has the great Wriggle Nightbug re-e-eally been reduced to such a level?” In the last of the light, before it all fades all, her hands on her hips--that mocking pose--as the girl you know as much as you know simply stands here, arms folded, looking away--and then there’s only darkness and faint starlight and the image is seared into your mind, behind your eyes.

Silence.

Silence, expect for the faintest of murmurings.

Silence.

“Ah-h-h-h-h, I see. So the great Wriggling Nightbug has decided to grow a sense of honor!”

A stormwind burst of laughter.

[_]
>> No. 12154
>That lilting voice--that lilting, high-pitched voice. You don’t like it. It’s been let loose--was let loose--inside your head, rooting about for truffles, making small holes all over the soft--like a worm--like a worm--

[x] That voice. That grating, saccharin voice. That fake mother's voice used by women who are definitely not your mother, patronizing and not all comforting. Get it to stop. Block it out. Drown it out.
>> No. 12187
>>12151
>You may notice that sometimes, for lack of a better term, your choices "don't go through". It isn't you fault, though.
>If anyone desires an explanation, I'll attempt one
Please, by all means.
>> No. 12188
>>12187
Very well. Basically--that I can think of, at the moment--there are two reasons that a choice might not..."follow through", so to speak.

Possibility: the choice picked is so terribly "out of character" that I'm even unable to twist it into something that would fit our dear protagonist.

Or, the more likely possibility: though our protagonist intends to carry out the action you have chosen, something occurs (or is occurring) that somehow--for lack of a better word--"negates" it. For example--your choice of making a bedding out of leaves was negated by your state of relative madness. The most recent post was more unusual in that it was a combination of our protagonist's own personality and the current circumstances that brought about the "negation". If one of the two other characters had paused their argument--perhaps talked to him directly--your choices would have gone through.

In either case--either possibility--the narrative reverts to a "default" path. The name is slightly misleading. To put it colloquially: the path our fellow would follow if he were to "go with the flow", more or less.

Any other question? I cannot promise an answer, but...
>> No. 12191
File 122870520855.jpg - (144.54KB , 800x585 , 800px-Duhauron1877.jpg ) [iqdb]
12191
[x] That voice. That grating, saccharin voice. That fake mother's voice used by women who are definitely not your mother, patronizing and not all comforting. Get it to stop. Block it out. Drown it out.

You don’t like it.

You don’t like it at all.

She was nice--as nice as you know nice is--that girl, that girl with the cape and the button-down shirt, and she had a--an air around her. Like putting your head close to the ground and looking into the horizon, and seeing puddles that aren’t there and haze in the distance. She seemed nice--

You think--things aren’t always the way they seem, but there’s nothing that you understand but the way things seems, so that’s the way you take them: their shells, crack them open on the side of the pan, throw the yolk away and eat what’s left. An egg is white, pure white, pure snow, and that is how it was is will be.

Sister is lovely and the girl smiled in one head and killed with the other, and the other girl sucked the marrow from grandmothers’ bones, and the girl with the cape is nice (you think), and this--

This girl is--

You don’t like this girl.

She is laughter and merriment and for a moment, before the telegraph line had finished translating its signals you thought--perhaps this person is nice, too--but there was a way there--

That’s the wrong word to use.

But it’s the best I can do.

--a way there, a way away a Way to her voice, her walk, the twist of her waist, the spreading of her arms. Like a peach. Have you ever et a peach? So beautiful and so messy.

But this wasn’t--she wasn’t--she was, like a peach that was pleasant to gaze at, all fuzz around the world on the outside, red and pink and shades of almost yellow, and them you bit into it and--

What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple?

--all rotten and darkened brown and sour on the inside, sick sick sick sick.

She was--is--like that, and you don’t like it--that lilt, that laugh.

So you block it out.

A shield, like the blanket, only you haven’t got a blanket here--you’ve barely got a shirt you haven’t got a shirt, but you have your hands so you put them in front of your face, right over your right eye, left over--but there is something thick that has grown over your left, some sort of blubbering pus that grew overnight, while you were sleeping--when were you sleeping?

It’s a miracle, huh?

So you use your right hand, instead--cup it them over eyes both, and you can still hear her lilting voice because you have ears and after all you have not thought this out entirely, have you?

You entertain (we are not amused) the idea briefly: cupping your hands over your ears while you close your eyes on their own, but there is still that--smooth, artificially smooth mass, slick as sweat, over your left hand and wrist and you don’t like it, not at all, and you can hardly stand it now so how could you stand it against your ears?

Then I’ll block them out with me.

I’m sorry, did you say something?

The tree. You have no blanket, no hands, but there is the tree--you stumble backwards, land at its base--its truck is hard against your head and you see all sorts of strange things momentarily on the inside of your eyelids.

High-pitching lilting and the girl who is nice has raised her voice now, and you can hear her voice, indignant against the other although you cannot hear the words. It is easy enough, if you don’t know how, or even that you are, at all, to block out the sounds with your own blood (blood in your ears, blood in your ears, isn’t that a sign of something?) and breath.

Count it out. Won’t you? Count it out--your heartbeat, that you can barely hear, that you would have forgotten existed were it not for--terrible things, terrible singsong things, arguing things--

Yes, yes, yes, of course. Count them: a-one, a-two, a-three, a-four, a-five, a-one a-two a-three a-four a-five--

Oh, are you alright?

Come now, come now, it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough. You can still hear them, a mumbling over the voice in your mind but even a crack in the dam’s enough to start a flood so you must hurry yes hurry lickety-split and block it up--and said--and said--and say something, say something--you!

There is no sound that blocks a sound completely--

Too many. Start again.

This is not here--and thus, neither am I. Yes, yes, that is a good start. This is not true, and you being here is not true, and if you are here there is nothing to block your ears from. Go on, go on: I wear this as a mask--no masks. No masks. Try again. I wear this--I use this--I flee--I fly--from near certain defeat. Yes yes yes yes: Because to stay--would mean that I would--

No.

No. I know what you’re thinking, but do not say that word. It is taboo. It is the unspoken. Do not enforce it in your heart until you are sure that it is what is happening. Can’t you? Fair well fair weather friend.

And a bump, from the ground beneath you jostles the hand from your eyes and it falls to your waist limp--no, not from the ground. From the back. An invisible hand, pulling you forwards, and then it is gone and you fall back against the seat once again.

Your sister twists her head around the driver’s seat and it does not fall off and that is swell, that is swell.

“Heeeey, we’re home!” she chirps and you think chirps and think--she is lovely: that is why I hated that other so.

She was like a bad imitation, you think as the seatbelt pulls away across your chest. All tune and no heart and a thousand ugly things inside. Ming stamped with Made In China, you think, and the car door slides slam-shut behind you, and your sister who is lovely walks into the kitchen and calls behind her: I’m going to make some steak for dinner,” and you understand she does not mean steak but it is a thing that the two of you Understand so it is okay.

“Is that alright?”

She asks as if expecting a different answer than what she has ever been given and oh, god, you missed her smile.

Yes.

“Right!” Laughs like the cry of a bird, and wraps the apron around her waist.

Welcome home.

I am home.

[_]
>> No. 12192
>Understand

I don't like how this one word is capitalized. It makes me feel paranoid.

[x] You're still exhausted. Go to bed. Tell her to wake you up when the food's ready.

If there's one thing I hate about having dreams and nightmares, it's that I tend to wake up right after I know it's going to get interesting.
>> No. 12193
[x] Cry. You're happy to be home.
>> No. 12196
Hmn. I hope you two aren't the only ones who are planning to vote.

Ah, but I didn't create this post to complain. I came to impart information! Possibly useless information, but information nonetheless.

Which is as follows:

This adventure of yours--no, actually, experience would be a better word, wouldn't it? This experience of yours began on November 2nd.

It's this sort of trivia that I'm quite happy to reveal to you, my readers. If you have any questions--well, do post, and I'll see what I can do.
>> No. 12197
>>12196

Okay.

We got the crap beaten out of us by a mugger and then we woke up in an alien hopsital, then we appeared in a forest, and now I think we woke up in a car and now we're "home".

Is it important to find out how and why we're all over the place?
>> No. 12201
>>12197
It is important if you consider it to be important.

What a terrible answer! But, it's true, nonetheless.

As much as I'm adverse to thinking "out of character", so to speak--perhaps, considering your current situation and what you've already done, you ought to form some sort of goal?
>> No. 12204
I do believe it's been roughly six hours, and thus--

I'd like to ask for another vote, if you'd please.

I really hate to sound like a nag, but you must understand--currently we're at a tie--one to one--and I would prefer some sort of tiebreaker.

Incidentally, do you think I update a bit too fast? I know my pace is a bit unheard of, but after all, this story is not one of the more popular ones--
>> No. 12205
[x] You're still exhausted. Go to bed. Tell her to wake you up when the food's ready.

Are we seeing it?


...The continuation of our dream?
>> No. 12212
[x] You're still exhausted. Go to bed. Tell her to wake you up when the food's ready.

...unless we aren't. If so, then:
[x] Cry. You're happy to be home.

>>12204
A little fast. It's not entirely a bad thing, though, but I'd wait a little while longer, myself.
>> No. 12219
File 122878689715.jpg - (36.10KB , 341x500 , unexplained-face.jpg ) [iqdb]
12219
As I wrote, I listened to "ブラックアウト", by Asian Kung-Fu Generation.
Have you viewed the promotional video? It's mysterious.

---

[x] You're still exhausted. Go to bed. Tell her to wake you up when the food's ready.

The kitchen is warm--not in temperature--the time is wrong for that, though you can remember fleeting memories of a time you stripped to your underclothes and lay on the faux-tile floor. Burning and sweat, and it couldn’t be helped. Everyone who was anyone was out, anyway--though you were still deeply shamed, and returned to your room to bake before the longer hand had time to look in the other direction.

But now it is fall, late fall, and isn’t it lovely how your sister has thought of you? A shirt with long sleeves--of course, she had to bring something, because it was their gown (that nondescript their, and you wonder if when if you ever will ever did meet one of them and what them even means--) and--

Wait.

And it is good to be here, good to be in a place like home when it seems as though for days or only one day or only an hour or only a minute surely you’ve been strapped down in that bed, and what did the doctors say? They said that you could go home early--

Wait. Wait.

And your sister came to pick you up, your sister who is lovely and she picked you up, although she never had to--but she came because she is your sister who loves you--and the thought is enough to spread a smile on your face. It is unfamiliar, feels like your skin is cracking. Plaster. Or like one of those chocolate shells you put on ice cream--

Wait--you, wait! Wait about the--

The fog.

And for a minute as you are kicking off your rat-worn sneakers at the doorway to your bedroom the hardwood floor slides away under you--slip-sliding away--but it is an illusion, like staring at your hand and seeing the skin warp and bubble. You sit, because your head is unclear and while it has always-been-unclear always-will-be you suspect, like spring cleaning (though you hate spring cleaning) some things have to be done every now and then, the junk put in boxes and buried deep within the landfill, the plastic and glass taken to the center: and you take the tails and yank the snarling animals out of the ground where you see them.

They must be moles, you think. Tailed animals buried underground--I cannot think of an animal other than a mole.

There was fog, you remember. Fog in the hospital--but that is not uncommon. One finds fog in the November air, if one cares to look--

Wait. Wait, I said wait. The sunset. Surely, it would have burnt away--

What is the difference between smoke and fog?

A half-formed memory is still there, hidden in your mind--you feel--like taking a hairbrush to your hair and feeling the teeth snag one or two or a hundred or a thousand on the way. You put the hairbrush on the counter, left it there--of course! Of course! Who carries a hairbrush with him all the way the day all the time?

You take off your socks. It is difficult, but not as difficult as you believe it is, because you are taking special care not to use your left hand at all. In the noonday sun that invades your house through the window--your window, the door that is also a window that leads into the back-yard--you see the--

It is not a cast and it is not cloth either and all you know is that it is wrapped about your wrist and there is a hole for your thumb.

In the kitchen, your sister takes something metal out of a cabinet. Goes clank! And so you think--a pot.

“I will,” you call behind you without turning your head, and pause.

Last chance.

“Will…take a nap,” you say, and check discreetly your sister’s reaction and you wonder if this is a bad thing to do.

But it is not, because your sister who is lovely Understands--looks at you with those eyes and smiles and nods and you have used up your smiles, but at the very least you can nod as well.

You shut the bedroom door behind you and it is one-two-three steps to the bed and you fall in, simple as that, shirt and pants and all, legs together and arms spread-eagle and your face buried in cloth and you close your eyes and think, what if I were to suffocate here, in this sorry pose?

Because you are four cardinal directions, and one of them is--

[_]
>> No. 12220
[X] Up
>> No. 12222
[x] East. The land of Nod is East of Eden.

Sleep Metaphors for 300, Alex.
>> No. 12227
[x] East. The land of Nod is East of Eden.

Eh.
>> No. 12231
[x] East. The land of Nod is East of Eden.
Our sister is a nice lady.
I hope.