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12238 No. 12238
[x] East. The land of Nod is East of Eden.

--east. There is north, south, east, west, but right now you are--no, you’re not him. He was a person who was good, besides, and you are--you are the inverse of him, feet pointed towards the sky and head inches from the ground. It is okay--this is okay--to be the inverse and not anything else like that, because--because--you don’t know why, but it is logic that has been followed before. The name escapes you. A man died in your position. The least you could remember is his name.

--east. You are being pulled in all directions, like daffy and the body has salt and the body has water, doesn’t it. There are separate things, all terrible, and they are all grabbing a part of your body and yanking, hard. Your legs--both arms--your neck. You think you might break apart, but they don’t want that.

It’s not the fall that kills you.

--east. In the end, the pull towards--to--the east is stronger, stronger, until you think that maybe it is seeking your arm instead, who cares about the rest of me? Yank it out of its joint, like chicken meat. The skin crunches after you have exposed it long enough to heat, and the inside is brown and juicy. You know this because you have eaten it before. Your sister has cooked it--cooked it because you liked it, it was a rare treat--but surely one meal had to have come first? What started you on this road to appreciation-even-when-there-is-nothing-to-appreciate?

It is not important. Think of things you like. Your sister. Crunchy, salty skin.

He was called--

A spit of noise, voiceless, plosive.

He was called--

Blanket are soft, you think, and mattresses are soft. They contour. They bend themselves, spindle, mutilate, all for the sake of whomever is using it--them--all of them. All of the above. So you understand--not immediately, but it comes to you over some time, in bits and pieces, like a play-puzzle you saw once: two sided, every piece the same shape and it took years and years and what felt like years until you lost interest (but)--

There is not a bed.

Why should there be?

I don’t know.

Why should there be a bed?

I don’t know.

It’s perfectly alright for there to be not a bed.

I don’t know .

Say it with me.

I don’t--

It’s perfectly alright.

It’s perfectly alright.

For there not to be.

For there to be n-n-n--oh, line, line, line!

But it’s not a line, it’s an action, a direction, like enter stage left or exit stage right only it is: wake with your nose to the dirt and rise to your haunches, so you do so, obediently, and look.

There are building here, and for a moment you think that you know them--each and every one, as impossible as it can be, since you don’t even remember what the library looked like by now--but it is an illusion, because you have never seen these buildings before. They are--

You nod your head forwards and look out the top of your eyes.

Home, homey, homely, homily.

Houses. You have never seen these kind before, but they remind you of a National Geographic--or have you ever seen anything in a National Geographic like this? Something of this kind, from a National Geographic, you think, and close your eyes to better see. You get nothing--not wren-brown nor sheet-white nor saw-grey nor hell-red--so but your own mind betrays you, fills in the cracks, paints its own pictures.

You run your right hand--your bare hand--along the ground, making sweeping circles. One big palette. Then where do you hold it? There are grass and divots that give the appearance of toeholds, but when you view it from far away, you know: the earth is flat. Spheroid. You mean a place to stand, some passing rock you can put pressure upon. You need a length, a length of length--and where shall you wedge it? It doesn’t matter. No matter what direction I come from, I’ll find a way.

Fulcrum, a whispery voice reminds you, but you say: Maybe I don’t need it. Maybe I can just take a swing--

--at your head!

You spin around, but you cannot do this usefully with your legs bent under you like a dying spider’s and unbalance yourself, landing on your back (at least you will see) and you can see there is nothing. Only earth and dirt and grass and trees, which is what you could have seen if you have only looked ahead--now behind.

It is quiet.

Or maybe it--isn’t.

You don’t hear it, whatever it is. You don’t hear a bit a noise--a thing makes noise. What you hear don’t hear is the noise noise makes as it doesn’t--more than a leaf--but not a lot more. Enough for a hunch, maybe even the sort of hunches they write about in books--thoughts that change the way the world works--

Stupid. The world has always worked the same--

And it is there, in the trees, maybe, and you wonder.

[_]

>> No. 12239
[x] "And what is it there in the trees, I wonder, I wonder~?"
[x] Investigate.
>> No. 12241
[x] Can I force that thing OUT of the tree?
>> No. 12242
[x] Say loud enough for them to hear, "Spying isn't nice. Come on over already."

Makes us seem like we can see them without saying as much. Plus, if they're hiding somewhere else entirely, they might still think they've been made, and come out.

Maybe.
>> No. 12245
I'm very much happy that there's some variety in the write-ins I've received!

...however, currently, you are tied--a three-way tie, in fact.

I don't suppose some fellow out there could, erm...?
>> No. 12246
[x] Can I force that thing OUT of the tree?

Surprise it.

With a rock in the face.
>> No. 12259
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12259
[x] Can I force that thing OUT of the tree?

The tree is--a tree. It is nothing more than a tree, and nothing less than a tree, and you cannot describe it any further to yourself though you scramble for adjectives because that is simply what it is: tree.

It is leafed green and trunked and stands, tall, and you walk towards it because--because--

Because what else is there to do, really?

The world is empty--you think that might be the case, because there is nobody here--nobody--no children in the front stoop, no men plowing the fields, no women looking at you suspiciously from the windows--you are well acquainted with windows. People look out of them--people look out of them, so why are they so surprised when people look in?

I wonder if the steaks are done, you think, and reach and tap the rough bark of the tree with the knuckles of your right hand, one-two-three. It scrapes your skin, and you also think: that’s not very lucky at all.

There is that sound again, like a blossom becoming, and you turn your head, quickly, quickly now, to see--to catch--the man, the woman, the child, the it that is pulling the hairs from the back of your neck.

You see--you see the thing, the person-thing-indefinable out of the corners of your eyes before you look straight at it, because the corner is what sees first, the corner is where you keep your intuition and your archetypes and your toys, the toys that you put away when you were a long long time ago and forgot all about them.

It is--is, you conclude, is, and look at it straight, but it is of course a useless effort because nothing is there.

Yes, of course.

You knew, didn’t you? You knew, the moment you turned your head.

Yes, of course. Yes, of course.

Sigh. Exasperation. Contentment. The same breath is two different breaths is four is ten twenty-four is--

Don’t look!

Your hand tightens--on nothing, there is nothing to hold on to, or tighten around: there is only air, so you reach--reach--and the bark skids your palm off and you wonder if you are bleeding, and so you look.

Yes.

Almost certainly bleeding.

Ignore it. Ignore it all--the bark, the blood, the tree, the dust and the dirt and the flies that flit. It’s nothing. It’s something, but not right now, do you understand?

Close your eyes and pull the thread. Where does it lead?

A long ways away. Far enough that it doesn’t matter to you, right here and now.

No matter. All you need is the other end of it--and then there it is again, that apple-peaches-tea-leaves sense of being-there, and so you look--up!

There is a face.

Ah, someone says, and that someone may or may not be you. But a face, you think--and that is you, you are sure--you are somewhat--you think you believe that it is you, yes, you--

A face--a face needs a head to go with it--

And so, with a strength and a speed you know you don’t have, you grab the branch below the face and bend it towards the ground (it is a thin branch, one that even a sparrow would have troubles standing upon, but that is a thought for another time), and face and head and body go tumbling heels-over-head in a beautiful shrapnel of colors like something you saw when you were asleep once, red and red and red and gold and gold and green.

And there is dust.

You let the branch go. It springs back to the way it was, and you thank it.

It has stopped now, that movement, that gravity-inspired energy, and something lays sprawled in the dirt--and you look at it, and immediately look away. That’s wrong, there, you think. Wrong.

No, you realize. Not wrong. Real. Like reaching among the clouds and finding marshmallow there instead. It takes effort to put your hand through a marshmallow--

Your eye returns--flickers, back and forth, back and forth, and you gather elements, ingredients, if not the whole, and the first to come back is: bonnet. Not coif-like, but upon--upon the head--or is that even the right word? You’ve never been able to tell, anyway. Rumpled, more rumbled than a tar--a tan--a tam--oh, quickly, move away, move away--

It is green, you decide, and the rest of you at least can agree with that, with those: rumpled and green.

But you have taken to long, and you are only down to the forehead (brown bangs, has brown bangs) when an eyelid squeezed-painlike dazedly rises, and an eye moves--finds--focuses on you.

Brown.

No, orange.

“You’re lost!” a girl’s voice says, brightly, smiling, staring straight up at your face.

[_]
>> No. 12261
[x] "No, I know where I am."
[x] "At least, I think I do. Where am I?"

Stop trying to screw with me, little girl inside my lucid dream. I'm at home, sleeping on a bed. The only way you can screw with me now is by saying "If you wake up, everyone here will die."
>> No. 12290
[x] "No, I know where I am."
[x] At least, I think I do.
[x] Wait, I don't.
[x] Dammit.
[x] "...Where am I?"
>> No. 12293
[x] "No, I know where I am."
[x] At least, I think I do.
[x] Wait, I don't.
[x] Dammit.
[x] "...Where am I?"
>> No. 12296
[x] "No, I know where I am."
[x] At least, I think I do.
[x] Wait, I don't.
[x] Dammit.
[x] "...Where am I?"
>> No. 12298
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12298
[x] "No, I know where I am."
[x] At least, I think I do.
[x] Wait, I don't.
[x] Dammit.
[x] "...Where am I?"

“No, I’m not ,” you say, automatically. It’s wrong. A wrong fact, a wrong claim, and so you correct it. You see nothing wrong with this. You’re not always like this, of course--

You wouldn’t remember if you were.

And maybe you have offended, you think, and you look and luckily, the girl is still smiling, smiling, smiling up at you--and that smile--

There is something about that smile, you think (and haven’t you had this conversation before?) and you think: what does a smile mean, anyway? There is a thing to the side of it, like a jerk of the lips or a quirk of the hips or a twitch of a muscle of a cheek that says--some undecipherable thing. And it’s true, isn’t it, that ciphers are for hiding--

“I’m not, he says,” and the smile curls and you decide that you might not like it.

“I know where I am,” you insist. Insist. You don’t like that word at all, almost as much as you don’t like that smile. It’s filled with condescending half-laugh half-lid stares and strapped-down rants on the side. So you don’t hurt yourself. You’re not going to hurt yourself.

But you can at least turn your neck. Tell me, who’s standing there?

And she says, “Where are you, then?”

“I’m--”

At home, in bed, of course. At home, in bed. Because your sister, your sister picked you up after (but don’t think of that, think of now) and drove you home, down the street and up the driveway and into the garage, and you stomped through the door after her and she put on the checkered apron and began to make lunch-dinner the same way she had so many years ago when you were living together all the time and not just once in a blue moon, and while she was cooking you decided that you would take a short nap, rest your eyes a little, and so you opened the bedroom door, your bedroom door, and lay upon your bed and slept.

“--at--”

And there is something off there, maybe, maybe, because here is sky which is not beneath a roof, and here is tree that is not outside a window, and here is dirt that is not atop a floor and the dirt has made smudges up the sides of your socks--a blemish, they call it, a blemish, but a blemish on white socks is not the same as a blemish upon the soul.

“--h--”

And there is no bed here.

There Is No Bed Here.

‘Home’ ends not in ‘ome’ but a muted ‘ahhhh’ as you let your breath out and your throat vibrates (it has not yet received the message--that something has happened and maybe it ought to keep still).

Sky-tree-dirt place, and girl besides.

Where am I then?

And the girl answers, as if she has done this many times and perhaps she has done this many times, played welcoming committee, baked apple pies and stood on doorsteps. But white picket fences and freshly mowed lawns--isn’t here. And the houses look empty, and you think, and afterwards--after they put their apple pies in the refrigerator--and then what?

“You’re in Mayohiga,” the girl provides, and you think, oh.

That’s helpful, then.

Except where is that? Mayohiga.

(The girl smirks.)

Mayohiga is a place; it is a place that you are in and it is a place that you have never heard of, and that is strange. It is two circles overlapping and their overlapping is worrisome, but not unusual, but there is a third circle, too, and that third circle is--a place that you arrived at without knowing how, and you are in that circle’s overlapping, too.

Well.

Well?

Open mouth, closed mouth.

“And, now,” the girl says and you think she has a nerve for this, a gland, a touch in the pads of her fingers, “you cannot leave.”

I wonder what she means by that? you think, and see a leaf, crinkled, discolored, fall through the air and trace its path with your eyes and your tongue in your cheek between your side-teeth, and the girl jumps--

[_]
>> No. 12299
[x] Bend over and pick up the leaf. If it was falling... that means someone must've dropped it. A clue?

Not getting eaten by animals is a matter of not sending off prey signals. Freezing, running, screaming, cowering, these send off prey signals. Acknowledging its presence but then proceeding to ignore it on the other hand... Zebras and lions will drink water from the same pools, you know?
>> No. 12302
[x] And you dodge. And dodge. And dodge and run. Possibly, into the nearest building you can find.

I think it's a bit too late to bring up "prey signals". She's already attacking us.

..And there's a problem in comparing Chen to a wild animal. She isn't one. She's probably capable of thinking more complex thoughts than "If he ignores me, he's not prey. If he runs, he is prey."

...Better get some water.

Also, it's nice to see such a dramatic change from how Chen usually gets portrayed, even if she might kill us now.
>> No. 12304
[x] Dodge.

Of course, Chen being Chen, she may just be going for the leaf.

>>12298
This is one of the most lucid moments yet.
>> No. 12307
>>12299
And then there's a *clonk* as your heads bang together since you were both going for the leaf.
>> No. 12309
>“And, now,” the girl says and you think she has a nerve for this, a gland, a touch in the pads of her fingers, “you cannot leave.”

Unless she's screwing with us or has some extreme ADD, I don't think she's going for the leaf.
>> No. 12311
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12311
[x] Dodge.

And you scramble backwards, are scrambled--fall in little heaps, into piles, onto piles because maybe you are a little stupid--

You are not--

--but you can see when there is a threat, yes of course. Know the difference between a phone and a knife, which goes to heaven and which goes to hell, and this--eyes flashing teeth gnashing handnails stretched wide is not is NOT a pleasantry. She is not asking for scissors, borrowing the glue-I’m-sorry-excuse-me-for-a-moment. This is an attack and so you fall--

--first.

It is close, scissorblade close (and there is scissors again scissors scissors scissors that cut you in two, cut through and through) and you feel her Whifff! through Huxley and Henle and Hyaline and again and again until she has moved, somehow, from above to behind (and how is that; inertia) and you spin on your haunches painfully slow, turgid-slow but actually--

You aren’t that slow.

--because you’re at the very least quick enough to see her land, outstretched like some rejected super-man and are you sure she isn’t? There is red and green and gold and that is strange as she hits the ground--no. No. To hit implies an impact but she bitter-swallows it down and tucks and rolls.

And then she is on her feet again and she twists as she stands, and she is facing you and there she stays.

Just stands here.

Just stands there.

And you stand too because you don’t have anything else.

“You’re fast, for a human,” and slit eyelids and smiles the same jerking smile and raises a hand as if to inspect it, and then she flexes, a million springs all stretching out at once, and--

Red.

Red nails, you think, and--

You didn’t notice this before?

No, no. No, no.

Like lacquer or blood glinting in the noonday sun, and you think that they are beautiful, a little, a little. She bends flexes again, counting off her fingers one-two-three-four-five and the little red dip and sway and you sway too before you remember that you have a stake in--

--and--

“You’ve got long nails,” mouth-flaps glisten, yes, and surely the sunlight must make then very good targets and self-consciously you lick them, your lips, hiding them with each sweep with your tongue.

What did you just say? You can’t quite--

Slits, eyes out of slits even narrower, narrowing, and something is ringing inside your skull.

“Oh? Would you like to try to declaw me, perhaps?”

It’s almost unbearable.

Your mind starts to float, starts to mindwash mindcrash dorwn thee missdy wey but you yank it back, pull the string again, only it’s a different string so that’s alright. You’ve got it wrapped around the fingers of your hand (which hand?) in a firm good grip (I ask again, which hand?) and if you’re sure no to let it go, not to let it slip (which hand which hand which hand which hand WHICH HAND)--

Action. Before the starbrights twinkle in your eyes and everything turns to berotten, you must action--

[_]
>> No. 12312
[x] Punish the bad cat.

Well, if we're fast enough to dodge, then maybe, just maybe, we can swat her down mid-strike and end this insignificant quarrel.
>> No. 12325
[x] Punish the bad cat.

Alright, let's try it.
>> No. 12337
It's amazing that you've even managed to preserve the deliciously catty dialogue.

Abstaining from voting, because I can't come up with anything I like, current votes included.
>> No. 12352
>“You’ve got long nails,”
>“Oh? Would you like to try to declaw me, perhaps?”
IT'S LIKE I'M REALLY EXCHANGING CATTY BARBS WITH A TOUHOE LIKE ZUN INTENDED

Seriously, though, I'm amused and impressed by his ability to be snarky under fire.

I'm concerned about voting for something as vague as this. Don't know if leaving it open to interpretation will screw us or not.

[x] Right hand
[x] Punish (Retaliate? Defend? Preempt?) with the left. (unless that was only a metaphor, in which case you probably don't need to limit it to only one hand.)
>> No. 12353
>>12352
>his ability to be snarky under fire
I'm afraid you're rather mistaken.
>> No. 12369
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12369
[x] Punish the bad cat.

--jumps--

And the action is NOW and you swing, arm, like a bat, flesh and bone and muscle and hopelessly thin, it has always been hopelessly thin because you have never been a running man or a lifting one or one of thousand other ones out there with their metal machines and their tire-tread loops. Not a bat, then. A stick. But then only stick you have as stick is you, and so you--

And she is close again, but again you are--no, no, that’s not right. You swung and she jumped, or she jumped and you swung, and you swung at--you swung at--

You swung at her jump, which means--

And you twistturn and your back pops and you see her rebound (the tree, a tree) and someone is screaming and she bounces off--pounces off--her legs bend and straighten and she is an arrow flight away and you turn a little further, a little further, and--

You cannot bend that far.

You stumble a strange dance feet--inwards, outwards, crossed and you see her--you see her--keep your eyes on her, your eyes your eyes your eyes--

She is passing between the trees of a grove of trees, static flickering red-green-gold between the trunk-frames--like watching a scene between fence-slits as you bicycle past, but you are not moving and she is, and she changes direction in an impossible way and comes toward you again and you can see from the nails stretched out and the toothed snarl and you try again--

--have to try again, last chance last dance and you put the little aching red you have into the force behind your arm and swing!

The attack comes from behind.

It is not behind, but it seems like it must be that way though it is surely a direction that can only be something like “side” by sighde what hyou saw, many times before when there was reason to laork past the jutbone whern stands on the ege in your own shouldier, and you faullen forl gravity-weildst and cattery-mistd and sandall puffup over een maidenshead that false-fhellow intoin thie sgkuiy he meet wis grave graetings. Bellow yonder but upbove younder, her face ill-fwists (ye!) into tryumph onmf again as she ways youn bottomfellow, smarles as is teether tippy-each. She takens nail jaguar jugular chrost--

La-lik, la-slf! it saws.

--and red red runs riverdown as worm as warmfood, and you chakk! On bitetr taste youn knowen what, and so you tourn aface--

--and all becolmes in finil black.

---

This would be your second "bad end", if I remember correctly?

Well, some good may come of this--

Allow me to provide you with a tip.

Specificity is a trait very much desired within. Yes, the less vague, the better. Intention, too, may be an element to include.

Take, for example, our experiences within the house--how many of you wished to spend more time there, I wonder? Perhaps some of you even intended to clean up your dirty kitchenware (as opposed to simply bringing it along in order to serve as an alibi).

However, you chose your door, and it just so happened to be the door to the outside world--a bit of bad luck there, so I gave you a second chance in the form of a lovely lady-without-face.

You decided to greet her, and perhaps thank her--and nothing else; thus, your path out the door was without obstacle, and so you went.

I plead: learn from this.

---

Incidentally, you might be interested in knowing what you've inadvertently missed: the meeting of a new female character (on two separate occasions) and a "plot hook", as I believe they're called.
>> No. 12370
Shit.

[x] Retreat into a building. If you can find something you can swing at her with on the way(a big stick or a pipe would be perfect), grab it, use it.
[x] Fight defensively(just like a cornered rat). Dodge her strikes, and on the event that you can get your hands on something, use it to repel her until she gives up.

... That speed of hers won't be nearly as much of a problem if the place we're fighting in is too cramped for her to jump around like a Flea Man.

Although, if that scream means somebody else other than us and Chen is in the vicinity, then this is probably going to be over before the whole "Get inside" thing comes into play.
>> No. 12371
>plot hook

Let me guess. We missed it when we lied to Wriggle, right?

Or was it when we chose to go to sleep right away upon going back "home" instead of letting that come naturally?
>> No. 12383
[x] Retreat into a building. If you can find something you can swing at her with on the way(a big stick or a pipe would be perfect), grab it, use it.
[x] Fight defensively(just like a cornered rat). Dodge her strikes, and on the event that you can get your hands on something, use it to repel her until she gives up.

I spent most of my time thinking about those last few lines rather than coming up with my own write-in, so I'll use this one for the time being.

>>12371
Female character? I wondered if it was the crazy lady who fucked us over, but no, we did meet her. Kind of. Or heck, maybe we didn't, seeing as how she was assuming we knew who she was, and all.
Other than that, maybe it was someone on the bus or at the library? Or Alice? I'm hazy on this one. My money is on it being someone from the outside world, though.

And as for the plot one... I can only think it must have been our sister.
Of all the people we've dealt with, I think only Flint and she are the ones who have had any prior experience with us, and Flint seems neither to care too much about us, nor to be much of a talker.
That leaves only our sister, who... well, I don't know if she's a talker; we didn't give her much chance. However, she's clearly interested in our well-being, caring, and friendly, so I'd say that makes her a good bet.

So yeah, maybe after we're finished with this jaunt into Mayohiga, we should talk with her.
>> No. 12393
>Specificity is a trait very much desired within. Yes, the less vague, the better. Intention, too, may be an element to include.

Do you realize what you're asking for here? You want descriptive write-ins for a comically unreliable narrator. You're essentially telling the voter to not think and vote in-character.
>> No. 12394
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12394
>>12393
Hm, I suppose you have a point, there. Very well, continue to vote as you have in the past--just remember: if you wish to head in the direction of some fellow's kitchen, please at least mention so within your votes--

---

[x] Retreat into a building. If you can find something you can swing at her with on the way(a big stick or a pipe would be perfect), grab it, use it.
[x] Fight defensively(just like a cornered rat). Dodge her strikes, and on the event that you can get your hands on something, use it to repel her until she gives up.

--jumps--

And the action is NOW and you turn turn turn and run and (WHO ARE YOU RUNNING FROM says the camera man with the ink on his face and the star on his head as he rushes past) you don’t know--

Hide.

Yes, hide. Hide, so she can’t see you, can’t chase you, can’t grate you into little strips, sprinkle whatever’s left on her next meal--you must run and hide and stay there, until the girl is gone and life is still life is still you is still there--and she is behind you, and you can feel her and her feet on the ground and a million tiny things shifting through the air and she turns and in a straight line right towards her, she goes goes go go go go go--

That building, you think, and it is not so much a building as it is material stacked up against itself but you also know that beggars can’t be chooser (chooser choose her chews her) and so you are inside with the wind at your back--

--and--

--you can hide here. You can hide here.

(Can’t you can’t you)

I --hide--here--

The door sweeps behind you and you find a corner, any corner, and you think, yes as you sit with your feet pointed out and your legs folded in and call on quiet thoughts, quiet thoughts, quiet quiet as if surely maybe she is able to hear you think, pluck the radio wavelengths from you head and broadcast it all for all to hear--triangulate--triangulate--

The static is a screaming pitch in your head.

But it is okay.

Because you are here, in this corner (corner corner and why does that remind you of something) and cannot be seen, surely you cannot be seen, and surely she will leave you alone and then--and then--

But better to think of and thens when it is and then, yes, so you huddle your arms against your chest and stare and sit and sit and think.

And now it is a waiting game--a waiting game--and that means sit still and do not shuffle, keep the beating of your heart to nothing but a murmur, and maybe you will get out of this alive.

Yes.

Just sit there.

Just sit there and wait--comes the rain fall or the bell ring--comes the fire or the quake--if you can sit surely sit here surely everything will be all right, all right, all right, all right already stop screaming at me you--

Your fingernails make nonexistent divots against the sides of your head.

Yes, okay.

Just wait then, and you hold your head so it does not fall off, does not thump-thunt-thunk against the floors--and wait, and wait, and wait--

--and--

Hold still, even as the claws burst through the walls and a thousand splinters fly flee fly free and they wrap lock-tight against your neck and they pull something (that’s you that’s you oh gods that’s you) against the wall tug wall once (bending cracking tiny cracking straining) and twice--

Done.
>> No. 12396
[x] Get a clue.
>> No. 12413
[x] No time for that shit.
>> No. 12414
[x] Get a clue.
>> No. 12415
>>12394
Goddammit, Chen!

So, okay. Chen attacks from behind, two out of two times.
By the way, you all do realize that we just basically recreated SHARK END? 'Let's go hole up under seige against a ruthless, relentless enemy!'

I think we need to find ourselves and stop being lost really fast.
>> No. 12416
Fighting doesn't work. Running doesn't work. Hiding doesn't work. Try playing your strengths.

[x] There's a clear association between cats, cigarettes, schizophrenia, and T. gondii. You're not a smoker, but you're clearly schizophrenic, and she's probably a cat, so wave your hands and tell her to stay away from you, lest she catch your toxoplasmosis.
>> No. 12420
>>12416
What?

I think this falls under "Don't try to be clever."
>> No. 12425
>>12415
>really fast
Having thought about what I wrote here for a while, I've realized this is the key thing, here.

Fighting back got us killed.
Hiding got us killed.

All that's left, then...
[x] RUN, DAMMIT, RUN!

I briefly imagined this Anon running through Mayohiga like that insanely limber courier in the beginning of Casino Royale.
>> No. 12454
>>12416
I've read this vote several times and I still don't get it. Also, trying to talk, fight, or hide from Chen is just suicide.
>> No. 12455
[x] RUN, DAMMIT, RUN!

I got nothing.

Let's see if we can break the record for "Most BAD ENDs in a row"
>> No. 12456
File 12293939867.jpg - (119.69KB , 360x270 , seitan.jpg ) [iqdb]
12456
I was rather afraid I would have to invent some tenuous explanation to justify going along with the "RUN, DAMMIT, RUN!" vote--

Thanks for the last, whoever you are (or is that "whomever"? I confess, I'm unsure).

---

[x] RUN, DAMMIT, RUN!

--jumps--

And already you can see it legs bending head-lowered almost almost and already before it is the beginning of the end of it you are turned around--your back to her, and is that really wise? it asks, it asks is that really wise? and you say no, no, not at all but do not turn to look and there is one foot pressure and then lifts off the ground spectacularly but it is your foot, your foot, so it is quite okay and then your other foot hits with a cloud of dust that rises into the air about it.

Behind you. Behind you. The shifting of mites and motes and all sorts of little things that tell you--a foot, a feet leaves the ground, becomes suspended in air.

Don’t think about it.

So you don’t, just stay with the foot through the air in an arch flies (and there is gravity there is gravity there is) and then lands in a cloud--and you have done this before? Of course. This isn’t a running--strictly, only. This is--a journey.

Yes--

A journey, a journey, because a journey starts with a single step and there has been one, there has been two, there has been one two three--been one two three four five six seven--

And each step is a beat in your head, and each beat is the bugle-call for another step, and if there is a thing behind you, all nails and teeth and fury, that is nothing, nothing to be concerned about. There is only the step and the step and the dust and you.

Houses--houses, because you must call them houses, after all, houses--go by, run by. Trees, too. They appear in front of you, then at the moment last veer off to the side--the left, the right--narrowly missing you and you are continuing on and on and on, over rock and dirt and stone.

And, and, and--

You turn--your head turns, although you know it mustn’t, and you see, behind you, and surely it is a little further away? but it isn’t, of course. It wears that smile on its face even though it understands where it stands, the relation between you and it and everything here--it is predator, you are prey, and still it smiles, of course it smiles, you’d smile to if it happened to you like this, the chance to bound after without consequence, with love only for the blood and the meat and the life going out like the lid over a candle--nothing but a hint of its being there, a trail of smoke from the wick--all that’s left.

That will not be you.

You won’t let that be you.

I won’t let you kill me, you think, or maybe say, or maybe you think it to her or maybe it is the other way around, You won’t let me kill you--but that doesn’t make any sense anymore--

Grass crunches underfoot, a little--

--because she is--she is--and something is whispering in your mind now--like a scream, almost, but muted, and the voice says: spiderweb strands, spiderweb strands, and if you turn your head and look over your shoulder (although you shouldn’t do that oh no no no) you think you can see them glistening in the sunlight (noon high noon hi oh hi)--

And where does that lead, I wonder?

And I wonder: Should I stop?

Oh no. Oh no no no.

And so you continue overhead over head over heels as the trees grow together--come in bunches, like broccoli, green and lush and green and petrified--and you almost stop, because--

That doesn’t make any sense.

--but you don’t have time (and you turn your head and she is closer still closer) to think about--petrified petrified petrified why is it so cold here?

She is behind you, still behind you, look, look, look--and you look too far and do not look where you should and a log in your path, frozen--

And isn’t it so funny, that a log should grow itself, right in your path? Isn’t it funny?

No, you think as you foot catches and something very cold and hard slams against your bare foot (bare foot bare foot surely you should have noticed sooner) and you fly forwards as your legs do not and your arms seem to move on their own to catch the ground (right hand, right hand, remember right hand only) and the ground is hard, too, hard and cold and brown and wood.

Between your fingers looks up at you paneled static--a pattern of weaving lines and splotches.

Floorboard.

To the side, there is a sound of metal and air and footsteps, and the door swings open. You turn your head up to look, bent over strangely, a tangled marionette, as near-to sprawled as a man can be without entirely succumbing.

“Hm? What are you doing on the floor like that?” says--your sister, and for a moment you think that maybe she might be surprised, or startled--for you are on the ground, and perhaps this is unexpected--but the expression on her face (as your eye reaches it) is calm and serene, just as it always has been in all the time you remember.

She smiles, laughs quietly, kindly.

“Anyway, the steak is done,” she says, and does not say anything else but the smile remains as if a message: It’s okay. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. It’s okay.

I had a dream--

It’s okay.

It’s okay.

You pick yourself up and follow behind, and the dinner is set and the dinner is fine, surely, looks quite fine. Fork and spoon and knife--so, and the rice and the steak-not-steak sends a feeling through your face. Gluttony. But, it’s okay to treat yourself every now and then, right?

“Buon appetito!” she says, and you begin.

[_]
>> No. 12468
Previous discussion:

>And as for the plot one... I can only think it must have been our sister.
>Of all the people we've dealt with, I think only Flint and she are the ones who have had any prior experience with us, and Flint seems neither to care too much about us, nor to be much of a talker.
>That leaves only our sister, who... well, I don't know if she's a talker; we didn't give her much chance. However, she's clearly interested in our well-being, caring, and friendly, so I'd say that makes her a good bet.

>So yeah, maybe after we're finished with this jaunt into Mayohiga, we should talk with her.

[X] She's your sister and she loves you. Tell her about these strange recent happenings.
>> No. 12505
File 122951468052.jpg - (79.18KB , 375x500 , 3072946507_2b46e4be5d.jpg ) [iqdb]
12505
How disappointing.

Oh--not your choice! Rather, the number of votes for it--or--the number of votes at all--

---

[X] She's your sister and she loves you. Tell her about these strange recent happenings.

It’s not steak, but it’s steak enough.

That’s what you think as you pick up spoon and--but, but, but, you remember: but, there’s your left hand, isn’t there? If you try, you think, you can barely--

Slips through.

You can barely, if you try--

Slips through again.

You can--

You try one more time--take the fork in your right hand and feed it through the crook beside your thumb--and balance, and balance, and surely, if you put it there right, put it in the right spot, see-saw Johnny-maw, see-san Johnny-man, the bed breaks--

Bed breaks on the wrong side of the hand, and the fork flips--goes careening off into the void, never seen again--or is what you would say, think, if at the last moment a hand didn’t cradle-catch the utensil against knuckles, and you look at the nails and the fingers and the hand and the wrist and follow them up to shoulder and graceful neck and chin and face.

It is your sister, of course. Of course--smiles down at you, and asks--

“Would you like me to cut your steak?”

And do not look up because you are already looking up and you nod, once, a full, deliberate gesture.

She smiles, and it is a quiet smile, but a smile enough to know that she Understands--yes, she Understands.

Don’t worry about it.

Okay. Okay.

And your steak is in pieces and that is how you have ever wanted it. Small pieces. A thumbsworth. Take a spoon and easily scoop it up, white rice and all and it is good.

You look across the table--to your left--and your sister has already quiet as a cat returned to her own seat, supping with the grace that you never had because it was never yours. Places both fork and spoon down on the dish, takes her glass in both hands, one gripping and one under the base and drinks without a sound but that peaceful close-eyed expression and quiet smile never leave her face. It is a sure thing. It is a sure thing means you can count on it--that everything will be okay, in the end.

Back to your own dish, and your own steak (although it is not steak at all but that is has always been) and you follow through with your mechanical actions, scoop and chew and chew and do not get a morsel of rice upon your chin.

The rice--the steak--the everything--makes sounds as you chew, wet, filthy sounds, meaty sounds (which almost sounds logical except--of course not) and you cannot ever imitate your sister, chew your food without these squish--swish--squish of the food broken down by the spit and the wedge. Your sister is on a level high than yours.

So it is, so shall it ever be.

You are not--putting her on a pedestal, a stone statue, a granite block with name and date engraved on it (because that it a tombstone and your sister is not is not is not dead) with her above frozen, arm stretched out (o’er this land under this hand) and a solemn expression--never a solemn expression, never a solemn expression! Your sister is kind, your sister is--wise, your sister--

Your sister, surely, will know--will know--will know--

Thought rings echoes in your skull, thumps like a (deer scare) like a hammer on an anvil (chorus, chorus sing hallelujah) because surely your--your sister should know (say it again) your sister should know yes, yes, your sister--

You raise your head and your sister is already looking at you, yes, of course--she would know, wouldn’t she? She would know. If you had something important to say or do or--do--she would find it floating inside her, in her muscles and marrow, a message from the gods--no, from me to you. Come here--come here, Sister. I need you.

Open your mouth--

And remember, there is still food inside.

Close and chew. Chew. Patience--patience. There is not food forever, no manna or forty fishes (forty fishes, was it forty fishes--you can remember forty and you can remember fishes but if it was ever forty fishes you do not can not find in the aching library oh was it forty fishes or years or days or nights) so you just--must--wait.

Wait.

And your teeth work and there are angry, wet sounds, like tears and tears--

Wait.

Wait.

And the last of it in one large clump--oh, a clump of stars and crowns and beautiful, beautiful things--falls--trips the light down the back of your tongue and gets caught halfway but your muscles push and the walls squeeze and it is gone, forming a thick knot in your stomach (which is good, which is good, you say to yourself). You open your mouth--but are not ready yet, breath in--breath out, breathe in--breathe out.

And--

And--

“I went--” and it is your words that are tripping this time, not the meat--not-meat--and you swallow and make a sound against the roof of your mouth (Brekekekex koax koax we sang together, they and I) and say, continue--

No! Start over! This must be clear--

Your words:

[_]
>> No. 12522
Erm, pardon me.

I really would hate to trouble you--really--but the fact remains that--well--

It's been roughly, ah, about eighteen hours--yes, that's about right--eighteen hours since I advanced our protagonist just a bit. Now he sits, his dinner in front of him, waiting for the right words to be placed into his mouth so that he might--

Well, that's the part that's up to you, isn't it?

I did notice that this thread was, er, "stealth-bumped". Yes, I did notice that, and I'd like to thank the well-intentioned fellow who, ah, did that. Yes. It was a valiant effort--though that's only my opinion, after all, so don't--please don't put too much thought into it.

But that fact remains: I really do require, well, a vote of some sort. I really do. I don't suppose one of you might assist me regarding this? Please?

Thank you--
>> No. 12530
The Crafter of Assistance no longer naps. Instead he writes out what is probably a poorly thought-out write-in.

>[x] I have been going to and fro from the earth, and from walking in and out of it.
...Nope, I can't even muster a good write-in. 4am does not lend itself to phrasing what needs to be said to a loving sister.
All I can make is a Bible reference, even if it is relevant --despite being slightly edited.

Also, I'm wondering if "meat-not-meat" is some kind of vegetarian steak, or what.

I'll try once someone else comes up with something good.

No, wait.

[x] "I'm waking up somewhere else instead of dreaming."

This really could use some work. I hope some people who know what they're doing can work with this.
>> No. 12532
[x] "Sister! Sister, I need your advice. I have been finding myself recently... (no no don't pause there--you're not studying Zen you idiot) ...uh, being accosted by strange and violent women. How do I tell them that I'm not interested? Like if I forget their name and they pull out a knife, for example?"
>> No. 12537
[x] "Sister! Sister, I need your advice. I have been finding myself recently... (no no don't pause there--you're not studying Zen you idiot) ...uh, being accosted by strange and violent women. How do I tell them that I'm not interested? Like if I forget their name and they pull out a knife, for example?"
>> No. 12542
>>12532
>>12537
What the fuck are you people thinking? You're wasting a decent chance to talk with your sister to say ...this sort of absurd shit?

What the hell.
>> No. 12543
[x] "I'm waking up somewhere else instead of dreaming."

She'll laugh now, think we're crazy, and then we'll do what they did in Nightmare on Elm Street and take something back with us.

Like a silly hat.

Or a battle scar.
>> No. 12544
[x] "I'm waking up somewhere else instead of dreaming."
>> No. 12547
File 122967634260.jpg - (223.34KB , 800x470 , 01.jpg ) [iqdb]
12547
I'm afraid that I've been forced to split this update in two.

Yes, otherwise I simply receive an error message regarding post length--

---
---

[x] "I'm waking up somewhere else instead of dreaming."

“I need--”

Need--want--need--need is good, because it tells of things, mockingbirds and diamonds and glass, all wrapped up in pretty parcels, presented--by request. A list.

While you’re at the groceries--

Mother, Mother--

While you’re at the groceries--

But this is different, far different than a list of cereal and celery, sweet chocolates, magazines--this is a request for--

“--help.”

Help me.

The smile widens in a pleasant way and your sister laughs, and you have the impression--were she seated just a bit closer, she would nudge you in the side, pat you on the back. “Help, huh?” she says, and laughs, once, sharp but full of joy. “Well, I’m your sister, remember?”

I remember.

“I’m obligated to help you!” she crows, and stretches out that word--ob-ligated, ob-ligated, before suddenly all the hot air seems to rise from her flesh and she’s left a husk (in face, in face, though of course she looks the same as ever) her expression surprised and confused but still half-smiling:

“Though that’s not to say I wouldn’t help you out if I wasn’t your sister!” she assures, and you want to smile, and nod, and say yes, yes, you Understand because you do Understand, after all but she is steam train-full, wheels that click and clack and tappe-tappe-tappe-tappet all the way across. “Er--what I’m saying is that I’ll help you out, anyway I can!”

Finishes it off with a flourish, the her hand rushes back to her spoon and she shovels a piece of not-steak into her mouth, energy beating off her face, chewing rapidly and silent as ever.

Gulps it down and smiles.

You were going to say something.

Yes, yes.

What were you going to say?

What was I going to say? It runs around your head, in circles, a dog chasing the hind leg of a dog chasing its hind leg and--cut that out. Cut that out!

Start at the beginning, and work your way to the front--is what you’d say, but you’re really not sure, after all, where the front begins and the end ends. It all seems to fade--in, yes, in. Black in white. Sunrise, the stars disappearing one by one (the stars disappearing--the stars disappearing--surely you--but that was nowhere near the start and so you dismiss it)--

Start is wrong, start is not at all the important part, the part that causes strain and wear and tear and all sort of distress. There is a common theme, a repeating--an elephant that sticks its neck out every so often and every time you hear a sound--

Elephant? A bridge, a post of some sort--people, people, each of them a different note--a tunnel--

“I go to sleep,” you say, and that is true.

And your sister smiles and tilts her head, because she can see that you are not finished and she will not try to help until you are (unless I would rather she--but that is another story, a far better story that does not apply to any of me today--or the tiles beneath my feet--so you leave it aside)--and you put the thoughts you can into order (what is order?) and strain (what is strain?) and pick at them until you find the one you want:

“I’ve gone to sleep,” you say--correct--you say, and your sister chews on her steak (not steak) and don’t not break eye contact as the words build up behind your teeth like a water hose, stepped upon, and you tug and you tug but underneath that foot--

--pulls free, and you--

“And--” and you know it is not normal even though you are not normal, know this strangeness falls into the same category as you, know it lies far away from the vague boundaries that separate the everyman and the nevermind--and so--and so--

--hesitate--

But she is your sister, and she will listen--you are sure of it. Because, after all, she is--she is.

“I’m waking instead of dreaming,” you say, and that is--not exactly right. Insomnia. Floating through the walls and ceilings. Save me. Save me--

Try again.

“I wake up somewhere else,” and that is closer but still incomplete.

Try again!

“I wake up somewhere else, and then wake up where I went to sleep afterwards--”

Try again! Try again! Try again try again try again try again try again try again--

“You’re saying--” And you look up, because--somehow, even though you knew she was she and she was there, you forgot she was anything more than an observer to a problem, here to punch the number and jot down the results on a piece of computer paper--

(Wait. Wait a--)

--and--and--and--

Her smile is a little thinner, but still genuine. A spark of concern is in the wink of her cheek. “--that you’re waking up in a completely different place every time you go to sleep, right?”

Your sister takes another piece of piece, and you nod, quiet.

“And that later you wake up back wherever you went to sleep, right?”

Nod.

Because that is true, and it is better--better than you could have ever said, better than you could have ever wrote. Simple and clean.

“Alright.” And now she nods, only it is to herself and not you and chews on her not meat, and once it is down: “Okay, so how do you know it’s not dreams?”

And you open your mouth to say--
>> No. 12548
File 122967643455.jpg - (109.93KB , 800x521 , 800px-BonsaiTridentMaple.jpg ) [iqdb]
12548
Nothing.

Because--

How do you know it’s not dreams?

There is--the time before. The bus. Chased by the thing in the dark, then woke down the steps and into the library--

The other bus. In the other direction--the girl--hurt--hurt badly, and then with the faceless around you, you left that house--left--followed by--

The thing in your arm. Waves of pain. A girl who talked and the stars swallowed one by one and a voice--a voice--and then--

You were home and you slept and attacked and woke, here.

Four strange--dreams.

Four strange dreams?

You call them--you call them--there is nothing else to call them, but strange dreams--unreal--as unreal as anything else. Lacking a common connection. A cast that changes. Different intentions, every one. How could you tell that these aren’t dreams?

You can’t.

They aren’t not dreams, then. They are phantoms in your mind--because there are many in your mind, ghosts and moles and ugly wriggling things that play with toys and chew on the insides of your skull. Terrible things. Rattling, all over, every day.

But now--a wave drowns it out, fills it with salt water and cleans out the infection and it is good--because--there is no way that it isn’t a dream.

No way.

No way--

“But--” your sister says, and your eyes focus and something in the depth of the sea roars because you know what will come after that but, and you wish her to stop, but--but--but there are bandages, bandages that needs to be peeled off, and there arm that must be removed with the shoulder--and she is your sister and she is lovely and you know she can only say what needs to be said, in the end--

So you silence yourself, as you feel not steak roll about inside yourself and hear:

“--if you say they aren’t dreams,” And the smile is thin and grim and I-am-here, I-am-here, and-don’t-you-forget at the canyons below her eyes. “I’ll believe you.”

And that takes everything and scratches it, raw and red and bleeding, because if she is willing to believe--so you too.

So you too.

And she nods to you and you her and there is nothing else, nothing else to be said, nothing else to be asked (for surely if there were anything else to ask you would have it in your head already, turning and tumbling and changing colors, red red red and pink all the while) and so--and so--

It’s alright, then. I’ve told you, and now you know.

It’s alright, then.

You eat in companionable silence.

---

“Hey--”

That is your sister, and she has just realized something--you can tell from her face--the wide eyes, the open mouth, the face drawn to the side, towards the open door. It is the back door--towards the backyard.

Not steak is almost entirely gone. It was a small meal--smaller than others you have seen, but not the smallest--and you are ready to clean off your dish and stack it with the others in the sink--

Where are the others?

And your sister is up and out of her chair, and she draws the sliding screen door to a close. “You know you can’t just leave the door open,” she says--and laughs--half-laughs--with her mouth and she turns back and does not sit back down--instead, takes her plate, and--

There’s something wrong, there.

--to the sink--the faucet, which she immediately turns on--and already she is running the food off the plate and pouring one of the three plastic liquid soap bottles, and couldn’t you wait till the sink is filled, and--

Your face, back to the glass sliding door, and you think: there’s something wrong, there. Something a little wrong, there as the sound of scrubbing rises.

[_]
>> No. 12554
[x] You didn't leave the door open, though... did you?
[x] Tell her you'll go outside, for just a moment. You need to check something.
[x] Someone might be out there.
(x) (If it's dark, bring a flashlight, or flick on the light switch for the outside lights. It probably is, since this is in early November, so if it's dinner time, it's going to be dark or quickly getting there.)

Our sister is such a nice lady, willing to put up with us. ;_;
>> No. 12555
>>12554
Also, for a goal, as you suggested... How about finding out what the hell is happening to us, and why?
Finding out just who the woman that beat us up was would be awful nice, too.
>> No. 12556
>>12555
There's probably more and better goals to think of, but I hope someone else will think of them, because it's 4:30am for me.
>> No. 12557
[x] >>12554
>> No. 12569
[x] You didn't leave the door open, though... did you?
[x] Tell her you'll go outside, for just a moment. You need to check something.
[x] Someone might be out there.
(x) (If it's dark, bring a flashlight, or flick on the light switch for the outside lights. It probably is, since this is in early November, so if it's dinner time, it's going to be dark or quickly getting there.)
>> No. 12578
File 122975224267.jpg - (8.01KB , 411x600 , invisible.jpg ) [iqdb]
12578
Oh, dear. I've done it again.

---

[x] You didn't leave the door open, though... did you?
[x] Tell her you'll go outside, for just a moment. You need to check something.
[x] Someone might be out there.
(x) (If it's dark, bring a flashlight, or flick on the light switch for the outside lights. It probably is, since this is in early November, so if it's dinner time, it's going to be dark or quickly getting there.)

The door was open.

Did I leave it open?

It’s a simple question, yes you did or no you didn’t, but the answer is lost--in the clutter--somewhere in your mind, all rolled up into a ball. All sorts of trash, up to your waist. A needle is different than a strand of hay, but a memory--

Memory is memory is memory and they are there, they are all there, and they are all memories.

The past ate it--ate them--each and every one.

There is something wrong there--there are many thing wrong, wrong wrong wrong but it is the wrong you know about, the wrong you have become long accustomed to, so it is acceptable in its own perverse way.

That is not the wrong that you sense--right now, standing before the glass sliding door eyes focused on nothing--nothing--you can’t focus on anything in the darkness, because the darkness isn’t anything at all, is it? So it’s not your fault--

“I’m--”

You are talking before you know you are talking and there is no doubt inside yourself that you are supposed to be talking--saying this--saying--whatever you are about to say. You are at the end of some great stone path. You have been walking all this time, and the muscles of your legs ache but you are at the end, now, and now, and now--

But isn’t an end just another beginning.

And you don’t understand but it makes no difference, so say what you have to say--

“--going to go out for a moment,” you say, and your sister seems to slip forwards, into the sink, and the plate she is holding turns in her hands and clatters and she turns her head--fast--and her mouth stands open and her eyes are wide and where is her smile? and something is wrong here, too.

You should have noticed it--sooner--

Noticed what?

“You’re--going out?” your sister says, and all the serenity has drained out of her, down the sinkdrain, and that alarm is still blaring--wrong, wrong, wrong--

“Yes,” you say.

You just say yes.

And your sister stares and her lips twist and shudder and try to reform into their natural state--that smile, that smile--but it is impossible and even as they are twisting your sister continues: “Well--if--you’re sure?” and you’re half-certain that she hears the alarm, too.

“Yes,” you say.

“I see.” And she doesn’t want you to go--you can tell very little when other people talk to you but you can tell this, especially because she is your sister and you have always been able to half-Understand her--never completely Understand, as she to you, but at the very least half, at the very least--

--but she will let you go.

“Take the flashlight,” she says, and it is not a request, but that is okay because if your sister gives you an order then it must be right to follow, and so when your sister opens the cabinet under the sink and takes the flashlight, long and thin and black--

(under the sink, under the sink, are you sure it was--)

--you take it without comment.

And she watches your back. You can feel her eyes, on your back, but this is different, isn’t it? This is not at all the same as--those others, a long time ago, that you can barely remember. This is your sister, and your sister is this, and there is a switch by the glass sliding door. It controls the light that is right outside, and you can seen it before, illuminating the lawn and so you press it up--
>> No. 12579
File 122975234431.jpg - (257.22KB , 800x576 , 28.jpg ) [iqdb]
12579
Nothing happens.

Nothing happens.

Down again, and again--up--

And nothing happens again, and your sister says, “They chewed through it--” but it is more to herself than you and you press the button on the side of the flashlight once as it hangs limply from your hand against your side, and a spot of light appears on the kitchen floor.

If I were in that spot, I would be blinded. Would I be blinded?

You open the sliding glass door--

---

And nothing changes. Your sister is still there, looking fearfully at the dark and the spot of light is still spilling from the black-thin-plastic at your side so you take it and point it outside--

The spot lands on an island of concrete, surrounded completely by a pool of black. A crack runs through it.

You sweep the spot--from the left to the right--towards the lawn--and miss it entirely, landing on another dim-sparkling concrete piece--

(Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong--)

I don’t need to hear you say it!

Back to the left, then--you’ve seen it before, by the garden shed--a bed of flowers, purple and full and beautiful, no matter what time of the year it is. There are always many dead but there are always many beautiful, and sometimes the many that are beautiful are fewer than you imagine but there is always at least one. The thought send a humming through your mind--an almost pleasant sound.

You sweep it--back to the left, then, and the shed is there, with its glass windows (and why does a simple shed need glass windows, you thought once but it is a mystery) but when the spot illuminates the windows it--shines through.

Blank.

There’s a blank spot there, and there shouldn’t be.

The humming becomes a strange note. Not angry. Never angry. But almost--

You trace the window-frame and sweep the spot down at the foot of the shed, where all those beautiful purple flowers were, and the beautiful flowers are gone.

The foot of the shed is melded into grey concrete.

Grey concrete.

You sweep it--sweep it--move the flashlight back and forth and back and forth, and still you have not stepped out of the house, still you only dare to wander to the doorstep of the darkness that hangs like a shroud--and you are not clever, clever by half or fourths or any about, but you can put puzzles together.

You know what the edges of pieces mean.

And when you sweep your spot there are pieces all over, pieces of grey and speckled and cracked that you fit together, one by one by one by one then the backyard stands clearly in your mind, as clear as if it were sunrise instead of moon (and why does the moon not extinguish the black, you think, but put that thought away for now) and you think--

Backyard.

Backyard.

It was a yard.

I have seen it before--out the sliding glass door. There was grass and green and flowers, beautiful flowers. But now--

The entire backyard is concrete.

The humming rises to a fever pitch inside your mind. In the corner of your eye, your sister opens her mouth--closes it--hugs a washcloth--

And as you sweep your light, left to right and right to left, something scurries just out of the circle--just out of the circle--something smaller, no bigger than a dime--smaller--

You’ve been caught!

They’ve been caught.

They know they’ve been caught.

They--now that they’ve been caught--they’ll--

Wrong wrong wrong wrong blinding belfry buzzing humming wrong wrong wrong--

And then the flashlight is going out, because the darkness is encroaching the edges of the spot, circling from around and moving further in--

--wrong wrong wrong--

--and the spot is becoming less of a spot and more of a you-don’t-know-what, all jagged edges and moving edges and bloating and shrink but ultimately diminishing--

If this continues, it’ll be no more than a dot.

--wrong--

And there is something wrong, too, wrong wrong wrong and you finally listen to that quiet voice inside the edges of your skull that has been whispering all this time--wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong and it says look.

It says look.

It says don’t believe your mind, but look--

And there is nothing wrong with looking, so you look, and the darkness--

The darkness inside the spot--

--is reflecting light back--

--and that’s impossible, you say, but the voice says no, no it isn’t impossible. It just means that whatever it out there is shiny--just like lacquerwork, it says, just like lacquerwork, except the jagged edges closing in from all sides means it isn’t a darkness, but many darknesses--

--little darknesses that make up a big darkness--

--tiny moving darknesses, shiny like lacquerwork--

And that means they must be all around, you think, all around where I’m not shining my light. The light scares it--them away, but only for a second and now they are moving further in, in in in to swallow ever last speck--

You sister is saying something--her mouth is frantic and moving and you cannot hear her--

[_]
>> No. 12585
>[x] Call out for Wriggle.

I really am not sure if I'm joking by saying that or not.

Man, what the fuck happened? And why does our sister seem to be slightly aware of what's going on?

She panicked as soon as we said we were going out. Is that just sis' badass Understanding/empathy at work, picking up on our sudden certainty that something was wrong? Or is she reacting that way for a different reason?

I'm worried.

What the fuck is going on? Rumia and Wriggle laying siege to the house? It sounds like a fuckton of beetles.

I think this bears some thinking about.
>> No. 12587
>Step out and investigate further.
>Shut that fucking door.

...

[x] Shut the door and go back to arm yourself.

Want to make sure our dear sister is safe before we do something rash~
>> No. 12598
File 122983884766.jpg - (125.89KB , 600x450 , 2279208250103830173S600x600Q85.jpg ) [iqdb]
12598
[x] Shut the door and go back to arm yourself.

Because the humming--

The buzzing is--

Wrong. Wrong--it’s not supposed to be this way--can’t be this way. It’s impossible. All sorts of black things crawling into the light--

The light reflects, the light reflects, shining lights and black backs and each of them is crawling, crawling--

And then they are not crawling but climbing--jump, you think, they’ll jump they’re jumping they’ve jumped and they are climbing upwards up the beam of light as if it is something tangible, hand over knee over foot over hand swarming in--

(You cannot hear her above the buzzing)

Close the door. Close the door!

What?

And there are vibrating things--vibrating things on the backs of the things, moving at an impossible speed, moving towards you--

Close--

--the--

--door!

And it is laughable how slow you move, like molasses (not at all like molasses, that would be sticky) or water (not at all like water, that would be wet) or oil, some kind of oil--and you take the door handle with your right hand and pull across your body and the door slides, slides, slides slowly and slower and slower and surely it will stop too soon but it reaches the end of the track and taps--taps shut, taps--

And there is another tap--

And another--

And another, and another, and then it is a sound like rain, and there are things--black things, barely lit with the light from inside--and they are hitting the door and every time there is a sound like tap like tap like tap-tap-tap-tap-tap and it doesn’t stop, just seems to go on forever tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap--

Little black things, little flying black things--

--tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap--

--and it is going on and going on forever and it is lasting forever and the flashlight goes skidding somewhere across the kitchen floor and the sound is on and on and you are on the floor, your legs splayed, and your head pressed against the ground--

--tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-like-rain-on-roof-tops-tap-tap-tap--

(--except ha ha can’t be rain can’t be rain because it is black like poison shiny metallic-shiny black poison rain--)

--and your hands are on your ears and you think you must be saying something or something is coming out of your mouth and it might be words and you cannot hear, so loud the raindrops are tap-tap-tap they keep tap-tap-tap keep tap-tap--

--tap--

--keep tapping, keep tapping, keep raindrops keep on and on and on and don’t stop and why won’t it stop and why won’t it stop--

--please stop please stop please stop please stop please stop oh god--

--tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap--

And time is like an arrow and time misses all the states in between, first grasped at the edge of the archers fingers, held tight against the bowstring, and then you blink and the arrow is embedded within the young wood of the tree, and surely there were times in between, times when it was simply in mid-air with little but inertia supporting it but there is a start and there is a finish and isn’t that good enough?

And it is no longer tapping against the sliding glass door--it is quiet, stark quiet except for a murmuring in your ear.

There is a warm around you, and the bone of a shoulder against the side of your head, and your sister says that it is alright now, it is alright.

You turn your head inwards and close your eyes.

---

Your covers press softly against your chest, and the ceiling fan is a still spoke in the sky, and sunlight sifts lazily through the windowscreen.

[_]
>> No. 12599
[x] Was that real hallucination or a nightmare hallucination? Find your sister and ask her.
>> No. 12600
Woah woah woah WHAT

[x] Go eat breakfast.

This is going to be quite a surprise for whoever's house we're loitering in now.
>> No. 12606
Rant time.

I've been reading through this whole story, and though it is quite well written and presents an tremendously interesting perspective on things... I think what the main character lacks is resolve. He really does seem to be like a mad vagabond in the sense that he flits from one place to the next, interacting with one person and the next but never really sticking near anyone.

>"Also, for a goal, as you suggested... How about finding out what the hell is happening to us, and why?
Finding out just who the woman that beat us up was would be awful nice, too."

While this is certainly something that it would probably help to do, I think our friend has little chance of truly figuring much out in his current state unless the right things happen to hit him (in which case we may have some clue but he still probably won’t). That lady will have to be dealt with if she comes back, but right now she seems to matter less than the TERRIBLE BEETLES OH GOD.... This guy is being pursued by demons. Whether these demons are manifestations of his own lurid insanity, actually beings of horror and madness that have possessed our poor fellow after some catastrophe, some sort of strange curse, or something else entirely... They are dangerous. Danger can be averted if one acts correctly. Danger can sometimes be destroyed or driven away if one acts perfectly.

Stating several things:

I think alice, if alice she was, could have probably helped this guy some. Oh well.

Wriggle would have been nice to keep around this guy. Cheery, sane people generally help insane people keep something of a focus on life and get a bit better; there is nothing worse than being left alone to one's demons (Except perhaps being eaten by chen, who may have been pissed off by being hit by that branch.) Also, wiggle is awesome in general. She doesn't get enough love... ;.;

Demons of the mind can be fought with the mind. That is certainly something to try, if only making him disbelieve them. Best case we can learn to fight back against the darkness and approach something better. Other demons... Well, unless this guy is in a situation with no way to improve it (which is sort of unlikely… I think), other people can probably help him with those (alice, reimu if we can somehow find her...). I don't know about other people, but when I think about something like this guy is being chased by I feel the urge to fight it however I can. When unwanted, bad eyes watch, I try to put them out.

Asking questions to yourself tends to lead to rambling, introspection, and ultimately problems. Acting is better than considering.

This guy has some actual power, though what I do not know. His wounds disappeared soon after he was beaten (I think). He screwed with wriggle's flight and scared her a bit, somehow. He got away from chen and got out of Mayohiga. Most "some guys" cannot detect, dodge, and outrun youkai. This leads me to believe he CAN do things if he tries, though death waits around most trees and a under a lot of rocks. Speaking of that, Mr. Anon Author... What is your policy on re-tries? Is dying and going back an option fine, good, lets-have-some-tea-while-we-consider-what-we-learned, or is it something you really want us to avoid if at all possible? We could figure out who, what, and why this guy is if we are allowed to test him... But are we allowed to?

Yeah, the last thing. If we can do things, let’s try to figure out what we can do and become a little less helpless. This goes together with
>finding out what the hell is happening to us, and why


So… Gentlemen. Am I ranting in vain or am I helping somewhat? Tell me? Please?


Also, storywise. Assuming we don’t wake up somewhere else… lets try to ask “sister” what is going on.

[x] “Sister? What were those black things?
*and if that works...*
[x] What happened to the flowers?”
>> No. 12609
>What is your policy on re-tries? Is dying and going back an option fine, good, lets-have-some-tea-while-we-consider-what-we-learned, or is it something you really want us to avoid if at all possible? We could figure out who, what, and why this guy is if we are allowed to test him... But are we allowed to?

I say: experiment as you wish!

The worst you can do is succeed--oh, pardon me! It is a bit late in the night, and I've become a bit muddled--what I meant to say was that the best you can do is succeed. Yes, after all--

"Remember, it's not the end of the world when
you lose all your continues.
You can start all over again."

...oh, dear. That lyric doesn't quite fit. First of all, you have infinite continues, as opposed to a limited amount. And you certainly don't have to start all the way from the beginning--

I do suspect I am actually somewhat beyond muddled--perhaps befuddled, or even stupefied! A quick shower, to clear the head, and a good night of sleep--
>> No. 12611
>And time is like an arrow
Ten points to Lighthousyndor for silly joke evasion.
>> No. 12612
[x] “Sister? What were those black things?
*and if that works...*
[x] What happened to the flowers?”
>> No. 12646
File 122991439965.jpg - (158.88KB , 580x435 , gardenweb_Garden Galleries_1159093642135_431700D.jpg ) [iqdb]
12646
[x] “Sister? What were those black things?
*and if that works...*
[x] What happened to the flowers?”

Sunlight. Sunlight carries time, carries hours, and time carries hours--or is it the other way around? and that trail moves in your mind in loops and angry snarls until you dismiss it entirely. Maybe they move as one. Symbiosis. Mutualism, or at the very least--at the very least--

Time. Time time time--

The hours are far too far--far too early, you think for a moment but that is wrong because the numbers-time does not match the sunlight and the birds, somewhere in the distance or perhaps closer. Instead--you understand with a clarity that is match each for each by banal horror--it is late, far too late--too late to even do anything about it--

What time--

You are up from the bed in an instant, then, bedcovers flung and sheets folded across themselves and looking closer but it does not change. Time does not change. Eleven, reads the two numbers from the display (the two that are the most important--the two--the two--two scales, held in a hand--blinded she stands--) and eleven is much too late--

The bus schedule--but now the schedule is strange--no, no, look it up: sit in your oversized spinning seat and input in-put all sorts of numbers and letters into the blank bar. Computer. Computer--

And that is a terrible thought, a stupid thought, because you have never had a computer after all--your desk is bare-laid with scrawling sheets and ends and ends but no computer.

It is your sister that had a computer--it folds, you remember, it folds, but not you.

You do not even change (change, change, why would) out of your what-serves-for-pajamas, stumble in a panic, in a daze out your bedroom door, your eyes instinctively settling upon the kitchen table--of course, because the kitchen is a wide-open area, dusty wide and sunrise wide, set across from your room so no maybe how you leave it you are sure to see it, the table and the sink and the refrigerator, as they always have been.

The kitchen table is not bare-laid as well but merely bare, brown and shining from the sunlight through the sliding glass door--

(don’t look)

--and there is a square upon it, not napkin-sized but smaller. You move towards it, closer, ready to spring past and back at any time--but then relax.

It is in your sister’s handwriting.

Words across the sheet in that elegant scrawl--

It is alright, then--your sister left you a note--a note--a note to present, or a note as present, or a note, a note, what other uses can a note have?

You pick it up--its edges cling, spiderlike, to the table surface, and you slide it towards the edge and when it is off you flip it and flip it and flip it until the words are words that you can read:

“Skip work today, OK?”

And then, at the bottom, in a rush that spills to the side: “your sister”.

OK.

OK, then.

Because it allows everything.

It is your sister’s wish, and your sister has always been right, and so that you are here now instead of where you are supposed to be (where you thought you were supposed to be) is alright--OK, OK, OK, alright.

Note back on the kitchen table, face-down, and everything is OK, alright, OK, alright.

(Flowers, you think)

[_]
>> No. 12648
[x] Check out your backyard.

And then we'll go take a nap and ask Wriggle what the fuck she was doing there last night.
>> No. 12651
>>12648
What, may I ask, leads you to suspect that Wriggle was nearby?
>> No. 12653
File 122992046052.jpg - (55.29KB , 363x375 , 343fe1a24ac56c3e1b1f5681bd6ef0d9.jpg ) [iqdb]
12653
>>12651

Those things were bugs, right?

And the backyard got warped into something else instead of what the backyard usually looked like, right?

Why, if I had to spew out an Epileptic Tree right now, I'd say that what happened while we were with Wriggle, as well as our performance with Chen, has finally gotten a certain somebody's attention. And then she brought Wriggle here(who complied because it might let her fulfill her promise that she made to us) with the intention of using her to locate us.

Those bugs? They were scouts.

And now they know where we live. There's nowhere to run now.

(My theories are never right, though)
>> No. 12654
>>12653
Eh? What's Wriggle have to do with bugs?
You're not making any sense here.
>> No. 12658
>>12654

Wriggle has everything to do with bugs.

What's your point?
>> No. 12662
[x] Is the backyard back to normal?

>>12648
>>12653
>>12654
>>12658
It occurs to me that although we (the readers) would immediately associate Wriggle and bugs, he (the protagonist) would not know that there was a connection between Wriggle and bugs/bug controlling powers.

He does at least know her name (and she's probably the only Touhoe he knows by name), though that isn't nearly enough to know her ability (unless you wanted to reeeeeally stretch it after hearing "Nightbug").

>>12606
I think you might be onto something with him having powers or something. I, too, got an inkling of that thought when I read the wording for >>12311 , when he dodged Chen's initial strike.
>> No. 12667
>>12662

Right, Wriggle's abilities are currently metagame knowledge. Noted.

Doesn't change my agenda of "Talk to Wriggle again", though. Even if she had little to no involvement as to what just happened, she might be able to tell us what effect this guy has on the environment, what else is happening, etc., when this guy unconsciously screws with reality and jumps between worlds like it's no big deal. Most likely useless information, but I'd like to know anyways.

Besides, she told us that she'd take us to the village, and then we just left her hanging. Not cool, brah.
>> No. 12676
File 123008084734.jpg - (54.50KB , 460x460 , 3.12.08-STATEN-ISLAND-MURDER.jpg ) [iqdb]
12676
[x] Check out your backyard.

You turn--to look out the sliding glass door.

It is bright, outside, yes, sunshine and birdsong and all sorts of clouds, the hints of them, that you can see above the fences and fences that stand--all of them--into the distance.

You can see.

You stand there, behind your glass shield, shoulders very deliberately still, neck twisted at an uncomfortable angle--looking, looking--your mouth open--

Say something, if you have something to say. Otherwise--

Mouth closed. Teeth clack--molars--you run your tongue behind them, prod your gums--what you can reach, unpassed those closed jaws. They are probably yellow, you think. Yellow and falling off--clink clank clatter, what’s the matter? Triple the teeth, triple the--

Three times eight is--twenty-four. Four times eight is thirty-two, and three times thirty-two is--does it only work with twos? Does it only ever work with twos?

Mouth moving again.

--or some big number like that--and the refrigerator hums disagreement behind you, and if you try very hard you can almost think that it’s a very large beetle. Scoop its innards out and chug them down. Fruits and vegetables and plastic jugs.

Every bit of you is humming, too. Every bit of you--detuned to reality. Sans eyes. Willfully looking away even as you look right at it, because to look right at it--look right at it, with eyes and mind’s eyes--would confirm it.

(and if you try very very hard you can almost think that you don’t know what ‘it’ is)

But there is a limit to the turn of the neck--muscles ache--can’t hold it so much longer--and the light returns to your eyes alight to what is outside, and you memory whispers and your memory screams because what you see is wrong--Highlights for Children, circling the upside-down bird with the granite pencil wrong--

--and it is not just wrong but wrong--moreso--and that is the problem. There is such a thing is acclimation--

Backyard, you think and close your eyes, call it up--it blooms, like a fractal flower from the center of a lily--and you gaze upon it with fondness and think, this is my backyard--all green-grass-grows, and flowers, a trees, and stepping stones in a sea of stones, and at the corner of the shed we grew plants that were purple, Sister and I.

And you open, and--

There is no.

Not a trace of green, a branch or patch. It’s all been swept clear--deliberately, deliberately you think again, and someone has gone through (and you imagine him now, on his hands and knees--all day on my hands and knees, he says, and clips) and clipped it all away fine-tooth and familiar with the cracks that run across the length. Pulled it out.

And in exchange--

Pavement has swallowed it. Flat and uniform, all across, it is lifeless grey, sparkling here and there with the splinters of stones that have been mixed in, but otherwise you know--grey.

Right outside--where you might put your foot if you were to step--there is a dead beetle, and half a dead beetle, cracked, dry. They are of no importance, you think, and then also say it. The words bounce off the glass sliding door in a burst of steam and resound in your ears.

[_]
>> No. 12682
[x] Go out into your backyard. Look for something that could've attracted those insects.
[x] That pavement shouldn't be there. Remove it.

Maybe we can ask our sister about why the garden's gotten some renovations. As for the beetles, well, I wonder what beetles eat?

And, a ridiculous thought, but I bet someone's hiding something from us underneath that pavement. If anyone asks, we're crazy.
>> No. 12689
Well...
Shit.

>>12676
>STATEN-ISLAND-MURDER
That was unnecessarily ominous.
>> No. 12694
>>12689
I apologize if you found the name distracting.

I've been scouring the internet for appropriate images, but haven't at all bothered to rename any of them--

Rest assured that our adventure takes place not within two thousand miles of Staten Island.
>> No. 12695
>>12682
No. Fucking no. Stop trying to be clever.

[x] Open the glass door. Poke the nearest section of where you're sure grass used to be. Is it real?
[x] Prod one of the beetles with something. (Preferably not your finger. One of your shoes, if you have them on.) Are they real?
[x] If you can see your neighbors' yards, look at them: are THEY concrete, too?
[x] (assuming it all still is/looks/feels real) Go back inside, write on the back of her note: 'Did you see the beetles last night? And why is our yard concrete?'
>> No. 12696
>>12694
>I've been scouring the internet for appropriate images, but haven't at all bothered to rename any of them--
That's part of this story's charm. Change it and die.
>> No. 12704
Oh, dear, it's happened again--a one to one tie.

I don't suppose, erm...
>> No. 12707
[x] Open the glass door. Poke the nearest section of where you're sure grass used to be. Is it real?
[x] Prod one of the beetles with something. (Preferably not your finger. One of your shoes, if you have them on.) Are they real?
[x] If you can see your neighbors' yards, look at them: are THEY concrete, too?
[x] (assuming it all still is/looks/feels real) Go back inside, write on the back of her note: 'Did you see the beetles last night? And why is our yard concrete?'

This one.
>> No. 12711
File 123012306413.jpg - (122.26KB , 600x400 , 2293050170103830173S600x600Q85.jpg ) [iqdb]
12711
[x] Open the glass door. Poke the nearest section of where you're sure grass used to be. Is it real?
[x] Prod one of the beetles with something. (Preferably not your finger. One of your shoes, if you have them on.) Are they real?
[x] If you can see your neighbors' yards, look at them: are THEY concrete, too?
[x] (assuming it all still is/looks/feels real) Go back inside, write on the back of her note: 'Did you see the beetles last night? And why is our yard concrete?'

You open that door and step outside.

It’s like a dream, isn’t it?

Yes.

Close your eyes and spread your arms around you and you can see it again, clear as daytime-clear as can be. Here, here, here, was a patio--cheap metal chairs that never were comfortable, despite the cushions you stacked higher and higher and now--and you open your eyes as you stumble through the spot where the little glass-top table would bisect--like Babel, it’s crumbled, hasn’t it? God and God, and don’t God me. I don’t belong to nobody--but--but--

I give myself a little freely, sometimes.

Not to you, though.

Never to you and your feet are smooth are rough against the concrete panels, grid, one-after-another in rows and columns like--like--

Smiles, and sunglasses vibrantly when it was all through--

--I don’t know what. I don’t know what. Don’t ask me. And you continue on, and your feet dance and dance and dance.

Here too, you know. Here too changed, but instead of patio this was grass. It was green and dirt, grass, and you stayed from it--strayed from thin flick pin-dots on your ankles and soles--but you could see it--that much--you could see it when you ate--through the glass and air and above and below the chairs and tables that aren’t there anymore.

Grass. But now it is solid as concrete, is concrete. Someone has taken the grass away, you think, and that is a strange thought, and you wonder: could it be wrong?

Could I be wrong?

Yes, yes.

Am I wrong?

There is only silence, and a cloud passes near to the sun--not near enough to eclipse but grazes, grazes--just enough--the bare minimum--to buzz at its hairs--

And you dance and you dance and you hop--and you stop, because--because--

There is no reason here. Move on, move on!

--and there is the fence, the wood that separates what’s ours (what’s hers, you think, though it be ours) from theirs--and you can admit, yes, that you do not know who they are--cannot even name a face to their number. They are simply not you, not you, but you can jump, can bend your knees and rise into the hair, float with your hair askew just for a second before you’re pull-banded back to stone--and you can see--can see--

--their yards are concrete, too.

Their yards are concrete, too.

This is important, you think. Because--because--

You think of skipping on, of moving on, but there is a reason here, is is is so you stand firm and your ankles ache as the words flow into your head.

--because you are wrong but they--they, they, those featureless they are very often not.

This will have to suffice.

Indoors, then. You’ve seen all you can see (all you need to see, you think but who knows what they need? You never will, you think to follow--you will never, no matter what star you reach for with death on your toes and your spine stretched to nubbins) and so you turn and you have left the sliding glass sliding door open--

(library like-berry lie-prairie)

--and the beetles, you think--are they real?

You think to touch--but these are your hands, and it will not do to stain (stain?) them. You think to kick--but these feet, too, are yours.

So you put your head to the ground (and how better to hear, you think) and blow, and the carcasses rattle across the concrete, legs flailing, a piece of shell here--

Sick.

You are a sick person.

Sick sick sick sick.

It’s dizzy--perfectly mercury-shining dizzy how sick you are, and you slide the door behind you where it does not--quite--reach--and the note is still there, still that square paper with the familiar writing.

Miraculous, chasing even the worst of nauseas away.

Surely, your sister would know?

Of course, you sister would know.

“Skip work today, OK?” it reads, and at the bottom, “your sister”.

You turn it over. The back is bled, but anything you write surely--surely--even if you spilled the opaque--the most stained--surely, she would know some method, some roll of the back of her hand that would decipher--

If she can get past my handwriting.

--the quakes and the crinkles and the faux origami pianos--

And the pen is on the counter and you write (and this will bleed as well, you think):

“There were beetles?”

You put the pen almost--temptation-smelt close to the pit of your lip, and then bring it down again.

“Why is there a concrete yard?”

And then (though there is barely any room left, any white or even grey or even splotch, splotch, dots and speckles) in the corner--

--in a loop that twists upon itself and crosses itself out, you write, “your brother”.

And then you are done and the pen is capped and it is twelve, says the white clock that hangs next to the kitchen window.

[_]
>> No. 12736
>>12676
>Highlights for Children, circling the upside-down bird with the granite pencil wrong--

I had a subscription to that magazine. I remember those "how many differences can you spot" part, but my favorite was Goofus & Gallant.

[x] Don't neglect your body's needs: Eat something. Drink something. Take a shower.
[x] Look around for your sister's computer and look up the bus schedule; you don't have to go to work, but maybe you could do something else, like go to the library?

The only person who could have the backyard filled with pavement in one night is Yukari, which ostensibly would prevent any more insects from burying up from the ground. Or we could be, you know, just insane.
>> No. 12741
>>12711
I'm rather disturbed.
This write-in went off without a hitch.

Things went... well. They went as planned.

This is a new and terrifying feeling.
>> No. 12742
>>12736
[x] Don't neglect your body's needs: Eat something. Drink something. Take a shower.
[x] Look around for your sister's computer and look up the bus schedule; you don't have to go to work, but maybe you could do something else, like go to the library?

Your write-in is equally sensible. Worryingly so.

And wasn't he on a computer in the beginning?
>> No. 12743
>>12736
Er, wait, hold on.

The Library IS work.

Still, what the he-- no, wait. What's going to be our excuse when Flint comes up to us.
"Can you tell me why you thought it necessary to be so late for work?"
".................uh..... ........My sister. She told me not to work today."
>> No. 12744
File 123020920044.jpg - (78.15KB , 600x399 , 2540077350103830173S600x600Q85.jpg ) [iqdb]
12744
[x] Don't neglect your body's needs: Eat something. Drink something. Take a shower.
[x] Look around for your sister's computer and look up the bus schedule; you don't have to go to work, but maybe you could do something else, like go to the library?

Twelve.

And you move and move on.

They are things--actions, things--not only beneficial but necessary (as has been pounded, God’s nails into your case, one-two-three shouts the smack of the hammer so your head doesn’t come off when you smile). Necessary to you--your very survival, what is skin on the surface and below the surface, what is (beneath the muscles and veins and bones and organs and everything else that you can see--when you take them away, pry them out with the back with the claw).

(What do you call God’s claws?)

Eat lunch--change clothes--take shower--

You can do these. You can do these--them--without thinking even consciously.

Lunch is a plate swept out from the cupboard, placed upon the table and upon it, two slices of bread that fit together like a puzzle piece. Jelly from the refrigerator, peanut butter from the pantry beneath the oven. Thick. Thick thick thick thick, onto it and onto themselves, and you eat it in spirals, from the corner to the corner to the corner and around until there is nothing left.

Ouroboros, you think. The final panel of its life.

Pulling a knot too tight--too tight--much too tight--

If you pull a knot even when it can’t be pulled anymore, even as it loops onto itself a hundred times a hundred--it disappears, and that is what is happening to you, you think.

Clothes are clothes, stacked, in the dresser and you bring them, clean and folded into perfect shapes and drop them onto the bathroom floor where they become the beginnings of trash. You. Afterwards, when it is over, they will take your grease and your stains and your dirt and then after the day is done you will take them off and tomorrow it will begin again with another set.

Showers are for nights but you went a night without one--so you can, if you try, tell yourself that this is simply a hold-over--

Things keep happening--to you. Things. It is a strange existence. The world has become--like walking from reality into Technicolor--and it is lovely and it is lovely and--

--and it is above all false.

The Hero is called upon by God to slay the Dragon.

Read it again.

The Hero is called upon by God to slay the Dragon.

The Hero is called upon by God to slay the Dragon, but there is no Dragon and there is no God and there is no Hero because you are not a Hero. You are if anything the--

And the soap is swept away and the towel is swept about and you are swept out by your own feet leading you.

And now it is one o’clock.

And you should be at work, you think you think you think echoes in your mind like the belltoll that should have sang of ‘twelve’ for you. You should be at work--

And the thought comes fleetingly, whispers sweetly of bus schedules and you-can-still if-you-only-try, but it is wrong because bus schedules are only (you think you don’t know for sure let me believe this for now) upon that computer of your sister’s--your sister--

--would never put off work, would never fail in her duties, so she took her laptop with her, of course. Even on a Saturday.

Not at all like you.

You, you, you--that is this house, what it reeks of--signifies--

And without the presence of your sister, you realize again (and how many times is this?) that this place is--empty. Dull. Grey.

Fool. Weren’t you complaining a moment ago of Technicolor?

This and that are different things.

How so?

Because no matter how vibrant you make it, grey is still grey is still grey--

And then the hallways are there alone with you once again, and they loom.

Maybe you should leave, you think, and your socks are on and then your shoes--and you are standing on the front door’s steps and you wonder and you wonder--

Where?

(and drugstores and grocery stores and hair salons and banks and schools and parks and hospitals and all sorts of places, of course there’s places, because you live in a town but it is really a city--)

[_]
>> No. 12745
[x] The drugstore.

This is your brain.

This is your brain hopped up on stimulants.
This is your brain hopped up on depressants.
>> No. 12750
[x] The drugstore.

Maybe the pharmacist will take pity on us and and hook us up with some badly-needed Thorazine.
>> No. 12752
Merry Christmas, you nutjob.
>> No. 12761
[x] The park
Always been a fan of park options.
>> No. 12763
File 123028758143.jpg - (86.03KB , 600x479 , large_white-cells.jpg ) [iqdb]
12763
[x] The drugstore.

The drugstore is a drugstore, but you would never know once you were in it, because there are shelves and shelves and shelves of things. Children’s toys and soft drinks and dry foods and cold medicine, all lined up in neat little rows.

In the corner is a place to develop film.

Develop? Nobody develops film anymore--

It’s easier to think of it as “development”, though. Is there a name for what they do now?

And tucked away in a far-off easily-missed corner is the pharmacy. The drug-store. The store within the store, like a matryoshka doll in its nest. And within are pill bottles, and within are capsules, and surely there’s a way in which it goes on forever on and on towards--towards--

No one ever gets there, but you can try.

You go, and the front door closes behind you, and you gaze upon your front yard and notice that--

And you would panic, should panic, because this is wrong--this is wrong, absolutely wrong--but you are done panicking--done prodding at stones and so when you look upon your front yard and notice that it does not exist anymore, look upon your front yard and see that nothing is left--

--here, too--

--you do not respond, barely respond, barely jump out of your skin and feel something gnawing at your shoulders--only stand in your shoes as you gaze upon the black-gravel street, and you think, it is cold, it is cold, it is cold.

---

And the drugstore--is not warm.

You know this, because it is still and fresh in your memory--glass bottles, and you drank and threw them away and paid what was due so gladly. You stood in a coat, and a coat was the least you needed because the air was like ice, even during the depth of the winter. Cold. Cutting through the muscles and nicking at your bones.

Fresh in your memory, and your memory tells you that it is not far from your house (her house)--not far at all--only a block, a block, a block in a single direction--and you walk and it is still wrong, lined with houses and driveways and not a shade of green, all paved over with panels. The same malaise. Someone has come in the night and replaced--replaced--

It remains that way upon the first block, and upon the second.

And then, upon the third, you stop (and you are doing that a lot lately, aren’t you and you think, no, no) because an owner or two has dared to roll sod, and the sight makes you short foot-skid to a rest till it comes that you are stepping on the faintest of sidewalk cracks.

There is healthy green grass and there is not a thing that is wrong with it.

You look ahead, and see them, again and again occurring with a shrilled frequency: green grass, and then green grass, and then flowers and trees and all sorts of beautiful things.

You look behind, and the world is grey.

This means something.

This means something.

This means something, buzzes the you in you, and you dislodge it--do your best--from its crevice from where it has taken hold--but it only scurries upon again to repeat its mating call. This means something, and you ignore it and lift your feet, because it is not something that needs any regard--and anyway, you have your goal--

And what is that?

The drugstore--

The drugstore is not far ahead--a lot, with lined painted into the ground to set apart cars--and stands inside, lonely, propped up only by the withered husks it has not absorbed into itself--drugstore. You stand and look and walk and look and walk, and it grows--the whole building grows before you. Drugstore.

The signs around it are lonely and small (Pet Grooming--Chinese Food--Photography), and suddenly--set apart from the rest is a great name, electric, written in a cursive script.

Drugstore.

And the great glass sliding doors slide open and you enter and then they shut behind you all by themselves, with little announcement but a clack.

And the drugstore--is not warm.

It is cold, and--not nice. Not a friendly place, not a friendly face. All white--and you think that maybe the white may try to scrub you out, like a stain--

A stain is something of importance. Try ‘smudge’--

--and the white continues on and on, into the aisles, past the cola and ramen and sugared snacks, until it becomes a blinding searchlamp in the back of the store, where the restrooms should be--are--

--and you think--

--and you really don’t think.

[_]
>> No. 12764
[x] Look up. Those are security cameras, watching you in expectation. You have to buy something; show that you're a normal customer and not some derelict who wandered inside to get away from all the pavement. Benadryl? That'll do. You have your wallet, right?
[x] Ask the clerk when at the register if he or she noticed the pavement covering the lawns a few blocks from here.
>> No. 12769
Assuming we have what we need to do such a thing:
[x] Check to see if you have prescriptions available.
[x] Go get something to help you sleep, in case those "dreams" become too much to handle.

This guy has GOT to have things to keep himself in check.
>> No. 12770
File 123034156269.jpg - (50.12KB , 500x346 , unbelievablepictures08.jpg ) [iqdb]
12770
Hmmm, how inconvenient. I saw only the first response--

Well, in the end, those choices would bear much more fruit--

I no longer know, for certain--how many times this ninth symphony has repeated itself--

My vision hurts.

---

[x] Look up. Those are security cameras, watching you in expectation. You have to buy something; show that you're a normal customer and not some derelict who wandered inside to get away from all the pavement. Benadryl? That'll do. You have your wallet, right?
[x] Ask the clerk when at the register if he or she noticed the pavement covering the lawns a few blocks from here.

Drugstore.

Of course.

You--are not--a thief--some drifter-derelict--wandered into this building purely for the white.

You are a man.

You are a man, aren’t you?

Man is people, and you are people, and people come to drugstores, don’t they? Walking into stores with wallets--

--wallet. Did you bring your wallet? Your fingers grasp and clench, and somehow that bit of folded leather was something you brought with you, some part of your routine along with was-food-clothes--at the last moment, your arm, reaching out on its own, and grabbing it.

And you came, didn’t you? You came here, to--to--and your mind scrabbles at the cobblestones and grabs at a hold here, a crack there, pulling itself up, brick by brick--and what does a man do? What does a man do?

He--buys--things.

You hear that? You see that? I--am--here--to--buy--things.

And you turn and look into the cameras that hang from the corners of the drugstore, turn and look into the beady eyes of old, old men. You have nothing to fear from me, you say with the loops of your mind. I am no threat. I’m here to buy things, and nothing more.

A little more?

Very little more.

The aisle is blinding white, so you stand at the very edge, where the dark you are familiar with kisses the beginning of the light. A man passes by from behind you, sets forth into that featureless expanse you have your eye on.

He’s a fool.

He’s courageous.

You would never--can never--you couldn’t--

You shouldn’t touch a light like that.

Those are the words that feed into your mind, make noises that last even to the corners of your skull, into your eyes, into the cavities of your face. You shouldn’t touch a light like that. It might kill you. It might do something worse. Cut your soul into little pieces, make you as brittle as glass. It might split you apart. We’ve gone through all the trouble of putting you back together, and--

It would all come crumbling down, like Jericho.

Jericho, you think, and from that: Petros. That was the name you were trying to remember--the name you couldn’t remember. Petros. What do they call Petros today, in this country?

Just now, the way you phrased it--it’s a little--

But you don’t want to hear it, so you cut it off, right there, and take something--something from the shelf. To buy. I am here to buy, and read the labels as they appear in my sight. You sound it out very carefully:

Be--na--d--ry--l.

And the man comes again, from the other direction, from the white, and looks at you with an expression you have seen many many times but you are thick to it by now and so you pay it no mind. No mind. No mind at all, thank you, thank you.

Itch, it says underneath, in very small capital letters, and then: stopping.

And then larger beneath that, as if shouting: gel.

G--E--L.

And you are back to routine now, and so you are before the counter, and the small white bottle with the blue cap is rings, and the numbers is flash, and you did the change out of the seats of your pockets and scatter them across in front of her--of her, this clerk. A woman, with wrinkles across her face and her hair curled like an elderly Korean. She is not bent--stands tall--but you can’t help but wonder how much longer she will live.

And you decide to ask, because isn’t it a mystery?

“How much longer--”

And she looks up, and you think, stupid--no, the thought is sent to you. Stupid. If you’re going to ask something, ask a question that’s more important--ask a question about green grass and pavement and all sorts of little flies--

Flies?

And you give an internal shrug and change even as she looks at you curiously with a “Hn?”

“Why are there…” And the make a motion with your hand--to the right--towards--

“…over there…” Over there, in that direction, there’s so much--there’s so much that’s--

“…paved over?”

And you stand stock-still, fresh-faced, run-red.

She looks at you, and smiles, open, wide, and her teeth are teeth are clean.

“Hn? Are you new around here?” She tilts her head--slightly--and slides your bottle twists across the counter-surface, and you can barely keep track of the letters except for GEL GEL GEL--

She doesn’t stop for anything to come out of your mouth.

“Well, that part of the neighborhood has some terrible insect problems, I’m afraid. Do you want a bag?” You do not want anything, and that is yes as the receipt prints, ka-chug ka-chug ka-chug.

“Any speck of green,” Slides the change, “and the bugs just move in--”

And that is the end of the trans-action so you take what is yours and barely say thanks and you are out the doors almost before they slide open, with a plastic bag twisting and spinning and dangling from your hand, weighed by a blue-capped bottle.

[_]
>> No. 12771
>“Any speck of green,” Slides the change, “and the bugs just move in--”

[x] You really should redecorate the backyard; the gray is so depressing. Maybe a potted plant or two? A home & garden store or outdoor department if the nearest department story. Hell, even the smallest flower shop should sell some terracotta.
[x] Buy your sister some flowers, while you're at it: She always takes such good care of you, so make her feel appreciated.
>> No. 12772
File 123035046942.jpg - (19.16KB , 303x394 , catschizophrenia.jpg ) [iqdb]
12772
[x] Go buy a newspaper. Check the date. Try and remember the date when that mugger attacked you.
[x] Go to work. Even if it's just to take a brief glimpse at the building, go to work. Why did she tell you to skip work today? You feel fine, right?

No, seriously. So was there a timeskip since we got banged up by that mugger? What else has changed?

Or is this place a dream too, just like Gensokyo? How do we know when we're not dreaming? Is our so called "sister" a part of the dream?

Will there be a library standing there if we go to it?

I'm bracing for an existential meltdown.
>> No. 12774
[x] You really should redecorate the backyard; the gray is so depressing. Maybe a potted plant or two? A home & garden store or outdoor department if the nearest department story. Hell, even the smallest flower shop should sell some terracotta.
[x] Buy your sister some flowers, while you're at it: She always takes such good care of you, so make her feel appreciated.
>> No. 12775
[x] Go buy a newspaper. Check the date. Try and remember the date when that mugger attacked you.
[x] Go to work. Even if it's just to take a brief glimpse at the building, go to work. Why did she tell you to skip work today? You feel fine, right?

Hey, let's summon some more bugs.
They did SO much good for us last time.
>> No. 12776
[x] Go buy a newspaper. Check the date. Try and remember the date when that mugger attacked you.
[x] Go to work. Even if it's just to take a brief glimpse at the building, go to work. Why did she tell you to skip work today? You feel fine, right?
>> No. 12777
[x] Go buy a newspaper. Check the date. Try and remember the date when that mugger attacked you.
[x] Go to work. Even if it's just to take a brief glimpse at the building, go to work. Why did she tell you to skip work today? You feel fine, right?
[x] Buy your sister some flowers, while you're at it: She always takes such good care of you, so make her feel appreciated.

Flowers after the library.
>> No. 12778
Also, does anyone else think the old lady's summation of the problem sounds rather Scully-ish, as in, utterly bizarre shit goes down, and people try to rationalize it at any cost to avoid considering weird shit as a viable alternative?

Like, why would bugs eat the dirt, too?
Why and how would they pour concrete in a single night?
What would ever keep them within a certain area of the neighborhood?

Old lady, you are fucking full of it.
>> No. 12781
File 123037596463.jpg - (61.57KB , 600x223 , 55287_community.jpg ) [iqdb]
12781
I did not forget your first to last choice. Please understand the second to last paragraph.

Also, I'm afraid I missed the newspaper--but the purpose--the goal--surely this is enough, surely--

--

[x] Go buy a newspaper. Check the date. Try and remember the date when that mugger attacked you.
[x] Go to work. Even if it's just to take a brief glimpse at the building, go to work. Why did she tell you to skip work today? You feel fine, right?

What do I do now?

The time, the time. What time is it now? You haven’t looked at a clock since--since--but it was so long ago. What time? You looked upon--must have looked upon the clock, when you were at home.

Yes.

That’s something you would have done, isn’t it? That’s your life. Eat, and look at the clock. Drink, and look at the clock. Even without intention--even without purposely--surely somehow you will always find a way, when you are at her house and the rooms are bare. And it was--and it was--

It was one, wasn’t it?

Yes. It was one.

It was one. It was one. It was--was--was was was was and you left you left the house and it was one, about, about one when you left the house and you have walked all the way from there to here and what time is it now, you wonder? Everything is distorted. A minute takes an hour, and when half an hour goes by you look at your watch and see that only thirty seconds have passed.

You don’t have a watch. You have a thin recollection of wearing--put--placed upon your wrist by bigger hands, because you could never fasten it yourself, could never muster up--

And it is later than one, and if you go home her home house her house surely you will find more--pinpoint accuracy--the minute hand, and the second hand, and the hour hand, all trackable as they make rounds round the round on the wall--and it is later than one, you can say that for certain. Later--than--one.

Aren’t you happy, knowing at least this much? And you nod and the breath runs out your nose and you can say very much so.

Then what is the day?

And the soup runs out of the bottom of your feet.

It pools in your shoes--runs out the cloth, down the rubber soles like waterfalls--spills into rivulets and burrow-valley streams down into the parking lot. Like wet paint, rising sideways into the ether, you think. And then: I am wet paint. I am--I am--I must--

When--was--I?

The line in your head is shattered, cracked in between real and dream and dream-real and things you don’t quite know about--nightmares and waking and grass stains that darken the bottoms of your feet, and--and--

Deep breaths, you sister said once, and she is right, of course, because the heart returns to almost-dead and the blood in your arms cools. Be calm and breathe deeply--it was a line once. You can take it--put it back together--and even if it never works again at the very least you can see--

Stand at the head--muddled beyond the rest. Useless. Descend, then, to the shoulders, across the arm, spiraling around the elbow--reaching the flat of the hand--and there is a clue there--there is a clue!

The--

The--cast. And you do not know if that is proper, if that is what it is but you can call it that when there is nobody here to hear you (as your feet taste you across the corner and across the street and don’t you even know you’re walking?) and you cannot make a fool of yourself (you always can, of course you can). The cast was put on, because--

--because--

You were kicked.

That woman. That warm smile. How could you forget that smile? But the moment she left--

You closed your eyes.

--you forgot her. When did that happen? Did it ever happen? And your mind struggles and your mind breaks and it is already broken and so the words tumble out of the egg, newborn:

November--third--

And that means--

And that means--

“What is today?” you ask and the dog looks up at you, determines no threat, looks away, jowls hanging, tongue hanging, and he holds a leash around his neck and at the other end is fastened, securely, a man with thin eyebrows and a baseball cap that holds all his hair--and you think--surely he is--

Surely he is wondering who are you and why have you stopped me to ask me this, when this is my time. Surely--surely this is what he is thinking. Surely--because humans are selfish creatures and the man’s eyebrows dance and he says, quickly, “Saturday,” and rushes past--

And you think: I knew this--I knew this--I knew this--I even thought it--

Even on a Saturday, I thought, and you said: Not at all like you--

And the dog with the man head hungtight towards the corner and you tagalong with great, sounding steps and even though it is anathema, barely--just--pull on his arm, and he spins at the speed of light or perhaps much slower, or perhaps the world spins and he is standing quite still, and he says, “What?”

And you say, “--the date,” and you are quite rude, aren’t you child?

And his eyebrows dance and he looks at you like a man would look at the other end of his master and he says, “The eighth,” and you are gone from his life as he toms swiftly down the greywalk--

And there you stand, in front of a driveway without green-grass beside it, left without time or place or mind or bus schedule or sister or breath.

And the dog with the man leans around the corner, and at the corner unshaven man with the morning drew-watch and the classified papers very carefully, very silently, almost doesn’t lean away to miss the touch of a dog on his hairdust-brown trenchcoat.

[_]
>> No. 12794
So, a timeskip then?

[x] You have questions for your sister when she gets home. Go back inside and wait patiently.
>> No. 12805
[x] You have questions for your sister when she gets home. Go back inside and wait patiently.

Yeah.

3-4 days is still not humanly possible for the city to go through with such a ridiculous project. Not to mention it's a pretty extreme way to deal with an insect problem. I was hoping we'd be out for a month or so, but this is a worst case scenario.

Better ask our sister what's at work while we're at it. She's got a lot of explaining to do, assuming we aren't considering her a figment of our imagination by now. If the library moved too, I'm voting for [x] Fly.

And what are we? It may have been a narrative choice to have the protagonist never be referred to by name, but that mugger even said our wallet was empty. So we have no ID? Will our sister give us our name if we ask for it? What's HER name?
>> No. 12821
[x] You have questions for your sister when she gets home. Go back inside and wait patiently.
>> No. 12822
File 123044261553.jpg - (106.56KB , 800x557 , 800px-Ursa_Major2.jpg ) [iqdb]
12822
Little things, written like passover again and again and again--why do you--

I'm not allowed to say--

---

[x] You have questions for your sister when she gets home. Go back inside and wait patiently.

And--and--

You look into his i’s and his i’s are filled unpassion, and the rest of the newsprint leaf says to you through its corner-flapping: no comment, no comment, no comment.

And there is no point--and you are halfway house--and so--you turn around and try not to feel the dots on the small of your back, opposite what must be all the words and the world.

Sidewalk is grey, and world is sidewalk.

---

You sit in your room at your weight at the foot of your bed and pushes soft the mattress, and the bottoms of your aftlegs are dug by the bed--the bed--the actual bed, the real bed, what stands and holds and sits bends it body into the air whereupon you lie.

You wait there.

Because--

--there is nothing surely, and maybe you tripped the overcrack fantastic and flew--flew o’er a trail of breadcrumbs somewhere across your life--but you cannot prove it, and you cannot follow it, and you cannot think of things that are might-have-beens.

But if you see another line--

I shall take it, you promise, resolute, but maybe you won’t.

And the arms on the clockface turn, fastest, faster, fast, and you think, what a strange creature! A face and hands, but little body to speak of. To speak of. It could not speak, though you would cry out of your arm was twisted about--

Did that girl, I wonder? Wrench anything out of your socket? You raise your elbow--your hand--your wrist, look around the glistening cast away.

Whence?

The hospital, slick with white tile and baggage. But before that--and it is difficult to push a mind towards a mountaintop, Sisyphus knows, Sisyphus watches, Sisyphus--filled with the grainiest envy, because he knows that yours is not eternally--

And you think--that girl--

Something important happened when--that girl--

Something important happened--

And then there is no sequence, no uncolored board of events for you to hopscotch-follow. Diagrams. Never--and you remember--not clearly, but full of a head full of fog--

There was pain.

And then things became--

Full stop.

There was pain.

And then things became--became--

And the door opens and your sister is there, and she is looking upon you with an expression close but not close that-close to the one you have always feared to have from her--that expression of there-is-something-wrong-with-you. Not quite, no. But it is something that could reach that plateau, someday, if it were given--a good many things. Fuel. A motor, perhaps, and wings of cloth.

But it is much easier to jumpstart a feeling--much easier. And you think, certainly, that hers could last much longer than twelve seconds--and launch headrush, besides, into what is postmarked you fear.

But she--does not have--that feeling yet.

And for that you thank all you can thank, even without knowing their names. Even Flint, cold man as it is--integral as a puzzle piece through which its space you may see rug--

And her hand is clenched, and in that hand is a paper that may have once been squared, and your sister feels your forehead with the palm, looking across you, expressions helpless and a scared--

Scared of! Scared of--

Scared for.

And saying things about are-you-sick and feeling-alright and but-what-do-you-mean-by-this? “Did you forget, somehow?” she asks, and then a smile--and you can tell it is a false smile, because it fits not neatly over her worrymask--grips her cheeks with a frantic desperation and she jokes--half-jokes--don’t-jokes: “You didn’t hit your head or something, did you?”

No.

Drops off like used tissue paper. “No, didn’t think so.”

And the glances continue between your face and the scrunched-up writing in the palm of her fist, and she asks, “But did you forget, somehow?” and you can see her thinking--Can that happen? Can that happen?

No.

You can’t forget what you never thought.

“But I never knew,” and you look straight at your sister and your sister looks straight at you and the light in her eyes flickers with something like--Okay. Okay.

And if you’d forgotten, would you know that you’d forgotten? I wonder--

She looks back--once more--to her notes--your notes--your note, singular note that you left for her eyes specifically--and then the note, already tattered beyond tatters is furthermore not, and she says it, this time: “Okay,” and expounds.

“All of that concrete’s been there--”

And you lean closer, a little, on the edge of some terrible cliff and ready to be caught in a bundle of truth--

“--since the day we moved in.”

And her tone is worried and it is quite alright for her to be worried because something inside you has very suddenly collapsed and really you should have double-checked before you jumped, shouldn’t you have?

Since the day we moved in.

“Yeah,” she says, and then peers under the eyelashes of your face. “You don’t remember a little of this?”

No.

Her smile is twisted off the corner of her face, and you think, someone ought to take that spool and unspool it. Turn it crosswise until everything is loose. Everything is--and she takes a hand and brushes your shoulder. “All the houses on this block are like this. Concrete. If there were lawns, all the insects would get in and under them.”

And the weight is too much to bear, drops, and the frown is a revelation as the lips peel away.

“And even without lawns--”

She stands up--the weight has moved, know, gone through some sort of cycle and reappeared upon her shoulders, invisible, but still there. A little past sunset, it fades neatly into the dark.

“Maybe he’ll stop, someday, right?” she says, and it is the voice of a person who has seen dreams underfoot and tangled in the paths of rage, too worn to move, and at the last moment they close their eyes and cry, maybe a little, for things that aren’t and things that will be. Smile, smile, like it’s all you have left.

“Now, how about dinner, huh? I’ve got some frozen pasta in the freezer. Ready in ten minutes or less!” And her eyes are kind and you say, okay.

[_]
>> No. 12825
>“--since the day we moved in.”

what
why do we remember a garden then

[x] Ask who "he" is.

I have a feeling that we would have found out about "him" sooner if we read that newspaper last choice. And then we blew that chance.
>> No. 12826
>“Maybe he’ll stop, someday, right?” she says, and it is the voice of a person who has seen dreams underfoot and tangled in the paths of rage, too worn to move, and at the last moment they close their eyes and cry, maybe a little, for things that aren’t and things that will be. Smile, smile, like it’s all you have left.

This woman sure is good at making me feel bad for asking questions.

[x] Ask your sister over dinner why she wanted you to stay home from work today.
>> No. 12827
>Ask your sister over dinner why she wanted you to stay home from work today.

Watch, it's going to be related to your recently coming out of the hospital, your freakout last night, or a combination of the two.
>> No. 12828
[x] Ask who "he" is.
>> No. 12835
[x] Ask your sister over dinner why she wanted you to stay home from work today.
[x] Ask who "he" is.

Anybody else notice that votes along the lines of 'do nothing at all/sit around/go sleep/do nothing special' tend to kind of suck?

>Something important happened when--that girl--
I think I'd better go re-read that part ( >>10749 ).
Actually, come to think of it, I should probably reread this whole thing from the start, again.
God knows that helped me see a whole lot of things I'd missed before in CoMN. >>10011 is thread 1(.5), for anyone else thinking of doing the same.

>“All of that concrete’s been there since the day we moved in.”
Wait, then why do we remember it differently? ...Maybe we're not returning to EXACTLY our own universe when we come back from our Gensokyo Trips. Hopping parallel universes, kind of.

On an unrelated note, I'm all of a sudden imagining our sister to look like casual-dress Rider.

On a much more helpful note, I think it would be a REALLY good idea to start packing a Survival Kit of sorts to keep on hand.
Worst case scenario, we find out we can't take things with us.
Best case scenario, we have some helpful stuff on hand for the next time we get dropped into Gensokyo.
>> No. 12836
>>12835
...Jesus, my thoughts are scattered.
>> No. 12841
File 123052251072.jpg - (112.33KB , 800x453 , 800px-Rozh.jpg ) [iqdb]
12841
Tch.

---

[x] Ask who "he" is.

It is delicious.

There is pasta in something that seems to be a sauce of itself, and red and green and chunks, large chunks of chicken that make your tongue spark and your nose run.

And then it is gone and the plates are gone and under a watchful eye you empty a bag that squeals of salt and a crunch of past-fallen leaves.

A final question, you think.

A final question, and then it will be time enough for bed and maybe you will not dream strange dreams.

“Who is he?” and the salt and the clear build in the hallows of your molars, and you lick them through and through and they sludge downforth like so much butter (worth as much, worth as little). And your sister who is loading the dishes into the dishwasher, bent rightly, plate still in-hand--straightens up, looks at you with an eye that is still yet uncompletely jovial.

“Who is he?”

You messed up.

“Who might stop,” you say--certainly--and hope that you have pin-spotted it now, spread it out in lights. You said it yourself, a dinner ago. Maybe he’ll stop, someday. Do you understand? Do you understand?

Yes, because she is in an instant alit, and the faded smile on her face is wan and dry. “Oh, right!” she says, and you bless her, that she might keep this brightness in her voices.

“Well, I don’t think anyone really knows his name, you know? Or even seen him.” She laughs. The idea--the words--she says ludicrous things. Ludicrous. It’s all ludicrous, though--it’s all in that strange, strange way--so it’s okay if you--it’s okay, if she jokes. “Really, who knows if there’s a ‘he’ to begin with, right?”

Half-mouthed smirk and a wipe of the cheek.

“Anyway, ‘he’ lives down the street--” And then something else, an idea that doesn’t sound like half-dreams at the inward edge of a bottle cap. It blossoms on her face like a slow-spreading horror. Plants, and rain.

“But, I recommend you don’t go out there, alright? Please don’t get any ideas.” Twisted because she is your sister, and she knows you--what you might do. Cat-headed curiosity. Don’t go back arm’s reach, and you were found, minutes later, staring at a wall.

“I wouldn’t have let you, as quickly as I did--last night--if I’d known, right? That you’d--”

Forgotten.

“--that you didn’t know, for whatever reason.” Your sister closes her eyes and shakes her head, and there isn’t even the faintest trace of what that used to be, and the conversation is over or at least over enough, so you nod, and she sees you nod, and you move back--back to your room, to gather the clothing and begin the shower and all the nightly ritual.

But--

“Hey.”

And you look back over your shirt, and she, standing at the kitchen sink with an expression you cannot immediately place--

“Remember: I’m your sister, okay?”

And the smile is--

The smile is--

The smile is back, and it is real, and it is cool but it is real--

“I’ll help you out, whenever you need it.”

And you, you smile as well, and that it all the answer that is needed: she Understands, almost immediately. That wire-taut string is tied together, with ribbons and bows and beautiful music, and really, there’s no doubt that everything will turn out all right in the end.

And if it doesn’t--

It’ll be okay, anyway.

And your sister is there and you are there, too, at least for this time, and who could ask for anything more?

---

Sleep, now sleep.

It comes in patches, in seasons of black that crawl up the legs of your bed and up your body until they reach your face. Careful, now. Careful. They have no crowbar, no jerk of the wrist.

Still, there is no such thing as shut, entirely. At the very least--if only among the very, very least--there is eyes wide open and singing to the sky.

They take the opportunity.

Seep right in.

The world is only a blanket wrapped around a mattress. It can be removed, you think, and this is perfectly fine because you are at that state of apathy, that wondrous, dangerous stage.

Quest: place. Adily, st is moved.

And you set out, once again as--the name, the name that you can never remember, following on his Master’s toes until he rises above the yeast. Turned inside-out. Turned upside-down.

North, east, south.

Surely, you think, you’ve missed?

My arm is numb.

[_]
>> No. 12843
[x] Go to the West end of the street. Look for a suspicious building. More suspicious than having a paved front yard, anyway. If you don't find anything, try the other cardinal directions.
>> No. 12846
[x] East.

Assuming this is going to take us to the same place we went last time we picked east...

Can we introduce the element of consistency to our "dreams" by having someone recognize us? Or by asking about someone we've met before?
>> No. 12848
[x] East.
>> No. 12849
I'm afraid I've made a terrible error and typed "east" when "west" was meant.

I may simply create some sort of explanation to pass off one as the other--

--that is, I might pretend I didn't make a mistake, and "west" won--

If there are no objections?

I will type, quickly, a draft, and return, and if there are none--
>> No. 12850
>>12849

Do it.
>> No. 12851
>>12849

Go ahead.
>> No. 12852
File 123054260977.jpg - (83.94KB , 640x480 , Harvestman_eating_skink_tail.jpg ) [iqdb]
12852
I considered--for a while--covering, too--

You'll understand, perhaps, after you read--

--or, perhaps, in a turn or two--or three--if death does not--

---

[x] East.

My arm is--

And you are floating, and the idea-thought worms messily into the back of your skull, and it, too, floats, but in the opposite direction.

My arm is numb.

I’ve made a mistake.

What do you call the upside-down of upside-down?

And I am not that--that is her--that is her, her, her--

And you float on and on, and the water is dark and the water is deep--but you don’t worry. There’s nothing to worry about. There’s nothing to worry. Worry is a space in your mind, an empty room--walk in and flip the switch, back and forth. Back and forth. All you can endure is a thousand clicks, and then the room takes a turn--tallies, marked by an invisible hand--pulls it over you, like a blanket.

I’ve already got a blanket.

Another blanket is quite alright, you think. Another sheet. A layer of dark, of room, of black black black that seeps into your skin.

There’s no escaping it now.

What would happen if you cut yourself--yourself, now? When it all begins to turn on itself inside your insides--then, of course, it will be far too late. Nothing to do, then. Let it run through, like rain in newspaper.

The blackness-darkness moves as you think--sluggishly, but it moves, at the very least, and tectonic plates can shift as God’s hands--make a mountain somewhere in India--so there’s no reason, really, that why can’t you? And it spreads, first, before getting any deeper. All over. Second skin, over the soles of your feet, in between your toes--

It’s cold.

--up your legs--up past your knees--across your chest, your arms, your shoulders, until it is at everything except for your neck, and then--and then--plays there for a moment, like ring-around-the-collar, pastor’s neck, pastor’s ears, pastor’s chin and pastor’s eyes--

It’s cold, and it hurts.

--you close them, even though they are already in, and it flows inwards--outwards--forwards--towards your nose and mouth--creeps up to the edge of the holes, and--

--a moment’s pause.

Like a man steadying himself before suicide. Leaning in and backs away. Leaning in and backs away.

It is at the corners of your lips and the peak of the bridge of your nose, and you barely--barely--inhale--a thin stream of air that pierces your tongue and spreads into nothingness once it has entered your body, but still, it is something--it is something to treasure--

--and you breathe out, as you imagine a whistle might--

--breathe in--

It’s cold. It hurts and it’s cold--

--breathe out--

Cold cold cold--

[_]
>> No. 12854
[X] ...cold? But you are warm and safe in your bed. Your sister always keeps her house nice and warm, you can't be cold.
[X] Where was Eden again?

Diffuses the situation..? I hope? Maybe?
Also, long winded analysis #2


>>in her voices.
Why does she have more than one voice? I think this means she is the one telling us "It's ok" over and over and holding our sanity together.


>>“--help.”
>>Help me.
>>The smile widens in a pleasant way and your sister laughs, and you have the impression--were she seated just a bit closer, she would nudge you in the side, pat you on the back. “Help, huh?” she says, and laughs, once, sharp but full of joy. “Well, I’m your sister, remember?”
>>I remember.
>>“I’m obligated to help you!” she crows, and stretches out that word--ob-ligated, ob-ligated, before suddenly all the hot air seems to rise from her flesh and she’s left a husk (in face, in face, though of course she looks the same as ever) her expression surprised and confused but still half-smiling:
>>“Though that’s not to say I wouldn’t help you out if I wasn’t your sister!” she assures, and you want to smile, and nod, and say yes, yes, you Understand because you do Understand, after all but she is steam train-full, wheels that click and clack and tappe-tappe-tappe-tappet all the way across. “Er--what I’m saying is that I’ll help you out, anyway I can!”

>>And you look back over your shirt, and she, standing at the kitchen sink with an expression you cannot immediately place--
>>“Remember: I’m your sister, okay?”

"Sis" really wants us to know she is sis, and keeps repeating it. Sis clearly isn't sis, she even sort of kind of maybe says it; sis might be someone using sis to help keep and calm and possibly guide/control us. She might be a memory of sis that knows she isn't sis. She might be us. I have my theories.


>>The line in your head is shattered, cracked in between real and dream and dream-real and things you don’t quite know about--nightmares and waking and grass stains that darken the bottoms of your feet, and--and--
>>This is revealing. Real: You are crazy and currently broken, and work at a library. Dream: Gensokeo. Dream-real: Our sister's place and the concrete (which is covering up out memories/keeping us together?)
>>Also, line, line, line, line. Lines are borders.


>>And you, you smile as well, and that it all the answer that is needed: she Understands, almost immediately. That wire-taut string is tied together, with ribbons and bows and beautiful music, and really, there’s no doubt that everything will turn out all right in the end.
>>That wire-taut string is tied together, with ribbons and bows
>>ribbons and bows
Hi yukari. Thanks for acting as sister and keeping us sane. It's awful nice of you, doing something for us like this. You don't do things unless you have a reason to, do you?

I have this ongoing theory that this guy is imagining gensokeo and that only he keeps it in existance; perhaps the strain is what drives him insane. Yukari is the mistress of boundries, she keeps things running smoothly. What better form for her to take than that of dear old sis? I am agruably sane, though; that puts me at a disadvantage when deciphering this little bowl of soup.



Questions/Comments/Concerns on analysis #2?
>> No. 12866
>>12854
>Gensokeo
I think that's my biggest damned concern, right there.
Not even Scorn's name-butchering is bad on that order of magnitude.
>> No. 12872
File 123057862849.jpg - (175.05KB , 293x700 , cdff5377c9894afa00b9f8d80cf79fc5.jpg ) [iqdb]
12872
[x] ...cold? But you are warm and safe in your bed. Your sister always keeps her house nice and warm, you can't be cold.
[x] Swim to the shore.

Changing the second vote because that sounded way too vague and we're on our way to a LAAAAAAKE bad end.

>this guy is imagining gensokeo and that only he keeps it in existance

We're playing as ZUN? Awesome.

>Hi yukari. Thanks for acting as sister and keeping us sane. It's awful nice of you, doing something for us like this. You don't do things unless you have a reason to, do you?

Eh, while "Yukari is our sister" is plausible, this feels a little incomplete to me. To me, when it comes to important situations, Yukari's the kind of person that does the bare minimum; If our self-preservation is all she's really concerned about, she wouldn't have even visited us personally if she could get someone else to do it(Hi Ran). For her to do this herself, as well as go so far as to masquerade as our sister, I think her motivations deserve an addendum:

Yukari really does like you. She sympathizes with somebody who's currently experiencing the same shit she goes through (the massive timeskips being similar to her very heavy sleeping schedule, "waking up in another world instead of just dreaming" being similar to her relationship with Maribel) and thus understands the shit she's felt before. She likes being in the company of somebody that loves her and calls her "sister" and doesn't ever question if the things she does are out of malice or "for the good of Gensokyo". The main reason she's pretending to be your sister is because, well, who knew Yukari was so ronery?

If "Yukari is our sister" is right, then I don't want to confront her about it for that reason, unless she wants to. Otherwise, it would make our sister cry.

>>12866

In his defense, I think he made that pretty early in the morning.
>> No. 12874
[x] ...cold? But you are warm and safe in your bed. Your sister always keeps her house nice and warm, you can't be cold.
[x] Swim to the shore.
>> No. 12876
>>12854
>Changing the second vote because that sounded way too vague and we're on our way to a LAAAAAAKE bad end.
That sounds like a good idea, as opposed to a bad idea. Bad ideas are bad. In light of this, I'll change my second vote to..
[x] Swim to the shore.

>Not even Scorn's name-butchering is bad on that order of magnitude.
Lack of sleep does funny things to people's brains. I remember spelling the as etteh once.
>> No. 12886
[x] ...cold? But you are warm and safe in your bed. Your sister always keeps her house nice and warm, you can't be cold.
[x] Swim to the shore.
>> No. 12888
File 123060622862.jpg - (69.73KB , 600x400 , 54023_community.jpg ) [iqdb]
12888
You understand, right? What I wish for you to--choose--

---

[x] ...cold? But you are warm and safe in your bed. Your sister always keeps her house nice and warm, you can't be cold.
[x] Swim to the shore.

And you open your eyes.

Your eyes, your eyelids, your eyes and all--they are covered by that blanket, that cold--and you knew this, and you saw it, watched it as it happened, and you closed your eyes to shut them out and you think, no, this is the wrong choice--

And you see--

And you see--black and black, and--

It hurts. It was already in your eyes--just a little, enough to scream of substance and issue, but not as much as you thought. And you’ve opened your eyes now, and now that you’ve opened your eyes the black and cold rushes in to tear them away. It hurts. It hurts like things you never thought about--thought amount, but only so long ago you can barely remember.

A duplicate. Something done in the past that connects to its future--the now, now, now--with strings of time. Vibrating. Vibrating--no. That was--that was--vibrating--connect the dots--pull them towards you--

What did you do?

I did--

What did you do? You did it before, when you were a child. You can do it again. What did you do?

I did--

--this:

And you pull your head forwards--your neck forwards, your chest forwards--up, up, up, and the black and the dark is clawing at you at every inch, every surface it can dig its fingers into--

And the blanket ripples--fades--and the scales fall from your eyes (but the sins still cling) and drip down your face to your chin, your neck, your arms--bare arms--sticks your chest and back to your thin summer semmit, and the wind picks at all of you and you think, it is cold.

But not as cold as it was --

And you stand and the water falls and when a pantleg sticks to a mansleg, surely that is the worst feeling--but that is unimportant, unimportant, and at the very least you wear briefs and boxers all at once--

Because every bit of clothing is valuable when it is cold?

But these are little help. Thin, summer clothing. I wore it all year ‘round.

And whose fault is that?

Never mind, never mind and you look about you amidst the drip-drip-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap of puddles--puddles--waves, around the metatarsus--and you tap-tap-drip and you tap-tap-look--

And you stumble, and you fall--and the tap-tap-tap disappears, thank you thank you and you smell sweet dirt and feel the smallest flora against your skin.

Shore, then.

And you turn yourself around, stumble-fall once again until you are almost but not quite upon your back, staring across the surface of a lake that stretches into the darkness, disappears there, and it is dark, you think. No dancing waterstars. No moon, whether you look into the water or out-to the sky.

No.

There is is--dark--faded--barely visible, barely there. Opened. Half-opened. Nearly half-eaten.

Wrong. The old lantern-man eats from right to left. He’s spit up most of his food. A little more than half, not less.

And it is strange, because you think maybe there are clouds, but maybe there is a sheet, too, covering him--her--them all just as it covered you.

Standing at the water’s edge, with the forest at your back and the forest to your left and the forest to your right you watch, and you watch, and you drip onto the soil and you shiver and you watch.

[_]
>> No. 12890
File 123060686515.jpg - (7.61KB , 150x180 , Shirou.jpg ) [iqdb]
12890
>You understand, right? What I wish for you to--choose--

By all means, give me a hint.
>> No. 12891
>>12890
Direction, I'd prefer.
It's Forest every way, but a direction is important.
>> No. 12893
>>12892
Rather "left", "right", or "back".
>> No. 12894
[x] Go left.
>> No. 12895
[x] Go left.

Okay.
>> No. 12905
Huh... So, yeah. Alright. Theory fails.

[X] Left
[X] Look around you at where you are.
>> No. 12907
File 123063336554.jpg - (186.33KB , 375x500 , 3063386861_5371cd739c.jpg ) [iqdb]
12907
I do not believe your theory is a "failure", so to speak.

It's simply that the audience is too few to elicit a proper discussion. In any case--I present to you a lullaby--

---

[x] Go left.

And now?

One direction is as good as another, you think, so you stumble--stumble--nearly fall, but catch yourself on your own legs (third time lucky) and turn to your left--and left is it, left it is, left is as good as right--

That’s a lie.

--and you take it, take a path that is a string wrapped around a thousand trees--looping, curled--you are cold, it is cold, you shiver and stumble and with the thread wrapped around your finger--zipline--rubbing a circlet raw as you move forwards--you follow it, hold your hand up against the trees that appear to cut your off--

--another, from all sides, and another, and another and they are all coming from all sides, and they are all the same tree--

But that’s to be expected. It’s a forest, after all.

And you think: yellow, rope or twine or cloth it doesn’t matter--unless you are talking of bleeding fingers and nicks and cuts that speckle scatter-handed. Yellow. Why did you think yellow?

Surely--if it was yellow--you could see it easier in the dark--

And your fist and your palm scrapes against the bark and you are led--half-blind, half-deaf, half-gone ring-around as you try to find the way you bore: are you towards your left anymore? Did it change anything, choosing a direction at all? You don’t know.

You don’t know. Your sister could tell you, if she were here. Your sister--

You tie yourself into a knot--yourself and a thousand trailings that float after you as a kite’s.

Don’t be silly. Who would fly at night--

And it is cold, it is cold, and pound your hand flat against the thousandth tree and if your fingers are scratched and bleeding it is alright, because you can barely feel them, and if you cannot feel them it is as if they are not there at all.

Worn in this condition--no pants, no shirt, no shoes every surface ached and caked with blood and dirt and wet, surely. And it is dark, but you can see enough--if you squint, and past the freckles that stardot your vision is a line down the length of your arm like a crack--is a crack. Your arm is broken. You cannot feel the pain, but it is broken, surely--see the line? Like fine china--

Hold fast. Hold fast.

The line is spreading. The line is disappearing. The line is wide, and the line is light, and the line has melted into the rain--wet--rain, surely, there was rain at some point, because you are wet and you are cold and you have forgotten your umbrella--never take your umbrella--

A tree pushes you, and you run both-hands into another, and the tree is cold and you are cold and your hands are wet. Frozen. Numb, like teardrops--no, not teardrops. What is it that is numb? Pins and needles and bark with sharp edges that cut you every way, across and down and--there’s no point in choosing one over the other, because they both lead to the same place anyway, right?

It is cold. It is too cold. You need--you need--

Hands are wet--fingers--you think are wet, too, but cannot feel them until they drip-drop down the road to your wrist. The trees are cold--the trees are cold and the wind is cold and the trees are frozen--

Ha--

--petrified, surely--stone-cold--your toes are stone-cold, now. When did your toes become cold? The answer comes to you in a second that is battered back and forth, brought to you bruised and worn. While your hands--your hands--you were too busy looking at your hands to pay attention to your toes--

The ground, too, you think and maybe the ground can hear and maybe your feet hear instead but one washes the other--watches the other, and a stone-block foot flies behind you and your chest reaches to greet the frost.

Frost?

Yes, yes, frost, of course frost--it is winter, after all--it is winter--and your hands are numb and your feet are numb with wind and ice but your chest is where you hide your heart and the places with blood still feel--still feel--

The ground--the frost-eaten ground--is cold, so cold--you are cold--you are cold--and your pantlegs, too, as short as they already are have ridden up your thigh and it is ice and agony and the ground drinks your blood, surely--the ground--

You read it--you read it--in a book once, blood. Fertile--tree grew--and youlean your neck as far backwards as it will go and roll your eyes back upwards to the sky, and the moon and the stars are still as faint as ever, but the little light they give sparkles off the surface of--everything--

Leaves--bark--branches--

The trees, you understand. The trees, the trees. The trees are full of diamonds.

And you think--

It’s so beautiful--

And you hear a familiar beat begin to falter, and you let your face fall into the snow-covered grass, and smile and go to sleep.

[_]
>> No. 12928
[x] Your broken arm. Agitate it. If you go to sleep here, you won't wake up again.

Can we do this?
>> No. 12929
[x] Your broken arm. Agitate it. If you go to sleep here, you won't wake up again.
>> No. 12944
>It's simply that the audience is too few to elicit a proper discussion.

I think that it might be more that we're all at a complete loss as for what's happening, rather than having too few people reading this. I know that I've got no idea, at least. Excellent job.

[x] Your broken arm. Agitate it. If you go to sleep here, you won't wake up again.
Token vote.
>> No. 12950
>It's simply that the audience is too few to elicit a proper discussion.

Was he talking about the main character? Uugh, funcusliaed -> me. I agree, though, you are doing a wonderful job. I can feel the tiniest bit of my sanity slip away with each update.

[x] Your broken arm. Agitate it. If you go to sleep here, you won't wake up again.
(this is going to be unpleasant, isn't it?)
>> No. 12967
Your arm is not truly broken--it appears my hazy metaphors have become misinterpreted once again...

But--ah--but--

Hm.

Well, then--should you change your vote? I honestly can't say. It might herald a great change--on the other hand, that's terribly unlikely.

I wonder...
>> No. 12968
File 123072644760.jpg - (208.68KB , 800x595 , Large-billed_Crow_(Corvus_macrorhynchos)_feeding_o.jpg ) [iqdb]
12968
I must ask that you do not change your vote after all. Yes, this will do nicely.

The crack, incidentally, was a line of blood--which explains its fading away--diffusing in water--

Diffusing. Is that right?

---

[x] Your broken arm. Agitate it. If you go to sleep here, you won't wake up again.

---

Somewhere in the where you are, a woman is singing, and you clutch the edge of the bedsheet in your fists and close your eyes.

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me--and he voice is high, and clear, and there might be traces of teartrails on your cheek and you turn your head away.
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee.

Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day--and you think, yes, that’s right. That’s right. That’s funny. You’re saying--you’re saying--

This is a lullaby, isn’t it?

Your sister pauses.

--lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away.

And you think: one thing, and says another.

And you think: alright. Alright.

And you think--

---

--and the think fades from your mind--doesn’t make sense--was never there, you know.

You knew the moment you saw it, after all. You knew it wasn’t real--

Wasn’t real now.

--wasn’t real now. You knew it wasn’t real now, but you--

And you quash the voice down as underheel and the pay no attention quite deliberately to the sun-baked eyelids you wear. Too late, you know. Once you’ve taken it, warmed your brow, seen hints of light in the background buzzing before the starbrights that aren’t enough there, then--

--then--there’s no reversal of fortune, no erasure. What is done--

So you open your eyes.

A bit of dream, however--a bit of stardrop and dewlight--must have held fast, because your fingers are still curled around cloth. You run it over your thumb, over the bumps in your palm.

The pain wakes you up.

Over cuts and scrapes and nicks that have pepper and salted surely every inch of your hands--the string shoots--directly--existent everywhere at once, it seems, in the very center of your mind and your eyes open and you sit up--

--and--

--and--

--and the sunlight sweat is instantly cold on your skin because this is not your house.

Again--again--this is not--

Calm yourself. Calm down--

What happened? Something must have happened--I was stolen--taken someplace--I fell asleep--

Calm yourself!

And the iron flows and the frost sets and you take a deep breath.

Now, take that line and place upon it--and you know what is meant, because after all it is yourself, as different as it seems. As same. You are you. Different facets, like a diamond--

And you drag it back over and think--dinner. Dinner, and Sister, and bed--

And then?

And then--and then--and then a dream, about running cold and ice-sculpted trees, and--

Stop.

But you already know:

--and--and--I hurt my hands, didn’t I? I hurt my hands, and you look at them, turn them over and over and over and feel--your thumb, your index finger, middle, ring, pinky--and then those on the left, hindered as you are by the cast--and each touch brings that faint shock of pain that seems to burn your hands--make them pulse--and you are thinking or maybe saying:

--and if that was a dream then this is a dream, and if that wasn’t dream then this isn’t dream, and if that was a dream--

In the direction of the sun, a sound of wings.

[_]
>> No. 12996
[x] Try to find the front door. Look outside. Could you be in... the village?
>> No. 13032
I could see this ending badly, but hey. Infinite continues.

[x] Try to find the front door. Look outside. Could you be in... the village?
>> No. 13035
Oh my. Oh my. I've caught up. This has been an interesting ~2 days of reading. Two points sticking in my mind--

1. We had a computer. Now we do not have one. We definitely had one, if "Through thick and thin, through stick and scan, you two have looked out for each other, veritable brothers in this cold, lonely world." was not pure hyperbole.

2. There was a bird at the window. A crow? In any case, a bird for which we did nothing. Now there may be another.

[x] Look to the sun (if to the east, it is morning). A bird is a messenger is no enemy. Look to the flapping of wings.
[x] Look about the room. I do not live here. Who lives here?
>> No. 13072
File 123087281412.jpg - (58.54KB , 800x599 , 800px-Terragen_render.jpg ) [iqdb]
13072
[x] Try to find the front door. Look outside. Could you be in... the village?

Your head turns, your eyes turn. An action completed before you can complete a thought--you are staring at a frame.

Not hung, but bedded--you trace it, not left-right-up-down but in as well, look through the refractions of the grass and the tiny rainbows that appear from a glassmaker’s flaws.

You are out of bed. Somewhere, someway, as your eyes traced over and under and through, your legs--your legs work, and you know--you think because they bend in all the places supposed. Your legs are work, your legs are working, and you are not laid but standing off the edge of the bed--and images flash like thunder in your mind.

Old coyote, walking off the edge of the cliff, hasn’t yet noticed he’s yet to fall--

Nobody wears shoes to bed--

There is a trail of blankets behind you, following you, and you look at it and the edge of cloth comes up--and is again clutched in your hand--right hand. Reclutched. You grabbed at the blanket as you climbed out of bed again. Left a mess for somebody else. You’re selfish. Selfish. Selfish selfish selfish--

You let go, at least--and place your pained hand flat against the window. It’s warm. You place the other and do not wince as the edge of the cast scratches your skin.

The heat seems to soothe your aches, heal all your little cuts and bruises. It doesn’t, of course. You think--if you try very hard--that the warm is seeping into your fingers, your hand, spreading into your wrists and up and down your arm. It’s not, of course, but you stand there for a little while longer, look at them, look past them out the window into--

Tree.

Tree.

Tree tree tree tree leafy and green and healthy and thick. You turn your head--left--right--twist your neck, tilt it, and that is all that remains outside in your vision: an endless sea of brown and green and so much nature--

--but that’s not exactly right. That’s not right. If that were right, you wouldn’t be able to see outside at all--your window would be placed stark against bark (and your fingers twinge). No. This building (because you are hesitant to call it a house when you know only this room and that room and how do you know this room?) is in a clearing. A small clearing, but a clearing--

More than that--

The wings come again, and your eyes turn up and you watch a flutter of black disappear into the thick. The sight--half-sight, half-saw makes you think of washing your face, and cupping your hands and bringing it up--in a smooth motion--and dripping and the mirror shattered with splashes because some water always leaks through.

And maybe the thought is something you do not mind a loss of mind of here, of now and no-time-like-the-present, because you do not hear the footsteps until they are right at--

And you turn to look at the heavy door.

[_]
>> No. 13127
[x] Wait for a knock before you open the door. Did your benefactor come for you?
>> No. 13145
[x] Is this the house you woke up in before? Look around the place a little this time.
[x] If you see the girl from before, apologize for last time
- (X) Regardless of who you meet here, thank them.

>>12888
>A duplicate. Something done in the past that connects to its future--the now, now, now--with strings of time. Vibrating.
Quantum physics? In MY Lighthouse?
...holy shit.

>>13035
I, too, am still wondering why we don't have a computer anymore. Possibly that vote of "[x] Dissociate" did some massive shit? Another personality is Fine Too.

>>12872
Wow, suddenly this theory sounds worryingly plausible. The presence of crows watching us lends yet more credence to this, since Yukari uses them as familiars or something similar.
>> No. 13146
[x] Is this the house you woke up in before? Look around the place a little this time.
[x] If you see the girl from before, apologize for last time
- (X) Regardless of who you meet here, thank them.
>> No. 13148
I'll tell you free: "disassociate" was not the cause of trouble. It was a meaningless, effectless choice that led to nothing.
>> No. 13190
File 123113691174.jpg - (31.71KB , 500x333 , olas1.jpg ) [iqdb]
13190
Apologies.

---

[x] Is this the house you woke up in before? Look around the place a little this time.
[x] If you see the girl from before, apologize for last time
- (X) Regardless of who you meet here, thank them.

Binaries, you think.

Binaries, connect-the-dots again, taking the past and the future and pushing them together, and you can’t tell the difference, in the end, because they look all the same. This has happened before, hasn’t it? Waking in a bed that isn’t yours. The sunlight. The room, the crow, the man (and when you say man you mean kind) outside the door.

It is even (and you turn to look to see if it is true and it is true) the same room--and your face is turned away towards the mirror and you gaze stupidly at your face--again, gaze stupidly at your face--and the door opens at the back of your head and you can see her reflection almost but not quite off the edge of its magic-glass surface.

Woman. Girl--you see, form bounced back past the standing you. Her hair is white, you notice, first--no, it is the sunlight that has bleached it. Her hair is yellow.

The word is ‘blonde’.

Her hair is blonde. There is a line of pink in it--bow, or ribbon, or perhaps something else. It crisscrosses her--pink in her hair, pink tossed around her neck, pink wrapped about her waist--and it is all frilled, and jagged edges and frills that hurt your eyes.

You find something else to look at, focus very deliberately on a point below her waist. Blue, blue dress. Flutters down to her ankles. Ripples, too--and surely, at the very bottom--frills. But you can ignore it. The human eye is much sees a lot less than what it looks. Only the very center--the very center of--the very center--

She does not wait for faces--or perhaps she sees yours as you see hers, and that also is good enough for her.

“Oh, I see you’re up,” she says, and you think: flat, flat. And you think: I have a voice like that. I almost have a voice like that. I--

“Again.” She moves her arms, and it draws your eyes and you see her--really see her, see her form and see her figure as she stands, frills and blue and frills and pink and golden-haired, like something out of--out of--

But you’ve already had these thoughts--and these thoughts were stronger last. Diminishes. Combo, you think. One hit will knock your teeth out--break your nose--but one hit and one hit will knock teeth and break nose and then only bruise--and then one hit and one hit and one hit toothknock nosebreak bruise and thereon only clatter, or worse even yet, equals zero--

What? What are you thinking of? Zero? ‘Combo’? ‘Combo’? G--

And it is not shrimp--it is not shrimp, was not the time before, and you think--you don’t know what you were thinking. The tray is a holder for the bowl is a holder for--

Same as the last. Same as the last. You don’t have to think, so don’t think--

--for porridge. Rolls, in it--so says a wooden spoon hypothesis (same old, same old), but proven with the mustered science: you can see it, heaped, chunks and chunky and you might be sick at sight if it weren’t for the smell--and it is the--don’t say ‘same’, but ‘picture-match’. The eyes-mind match the mind’s eye.

She moves--moves past you--and her face tilts-turns and she gives an indefinable glance to the crumpled sheets like waste across the floor--then removes it, apparently, from what she has and places the tray on the cabinet-table (and you think--but you don’t think it, because you’ve thought it before and that is also the same as well).

The porridge is yours--she has given it to you--so you say, “Thanks.”

The girl does not respond--instead turns so you see the back of her head--her hair--and she is almost to the door and you think--

You think--

You actually think, and it feels like--surely the first time you’ve actually thought, thought about here and now and how that connects with waves and lines and strings to then and before and soon.

Because--because--for the first time, it strikes you--and it should have struck before--must have struck because you thought of it, over and over and over again, and it only occurs to you now that the connection (strings again, strings again) means something.

Same bed. Same bed, same room, same mirror, same crow, same porridge--same porridge--

This is--is not a dream.

And so you ask.

“Where…am I?”

Pauses near the doorway, her head, her neck still and pale as bone. “My house,” she says, and that too is enough for her and she puts her right foot forwards--

“Who are you?”

And this time when she pauses you can see meaning in it, like eyes rise up-and-to-the-left whenever lies. She does turn--what was still before--and the profile of her face in the sunlight is just a little--

“You don’t know me?”

She closes her--the eye you see--shuts slowly. She has long lashes, you notice. Or maybe it is only the light again. Makes a sound in her throat and opens them--it. “In that case, allow me to introduce myself.” And the rest of her turns as well, and you focus--again, again, and again again--on the blue.

“My name is Alice Margatroid,” clinically, almost, although there is--but you imagine many things. Flat, flat. “I won’t ask what you were doing, wandering around in the Frozen Forest so close to winter--”

And eyebrow arches. Again, there is almost--

“--especially dressed in such threadbare clothes.”

You look down at yourself, see yourself--indeed--your clothes--shirt or short are short--in either leg are arm. In fact, you aren’t armed at all--but this is a common sight, one that you’ve seen before--only, now the context is not--

“More importantly, this is the second time you’ve been here.”

Confirmation.

“As I previously mentioned, I don’t know and I don’t care how you keep ending up in such sorry states. I would advise, however, that you cease--” And for a moment she loses the straight in her face and it rises, the half of it, the right of it rises--almost squeezes an eye in a way that reminds of lemon slices and lemon-aid. “--whatever it is that you’re doing,” she finishes with a game leg lame leg takes the frustration out on the wind as it ruffles her sleeves--as she turns to, again, show her headback in the shine of the mirror. Stops.

“I’ll allow you to stay for one more day. After that, I must ask that you return to the village.”

No.

That’s wrong.

And you open your mouth, because--

“I can’t go back,” you say, and the words--the ideas of the words--have become strained, twisted. You built a beautiful base, but only set upon it rubble. Or maybe the base is trash, and it doesn’t matter how good the rest--

“I mean…” you correct, quick, as the girl’s turns slowly and her eyes narrow and she opens her mouth, “I haven’t been there first.”

And you were hoping to lessen the weight upon her brow, and perhaps you do but it is only the smallest budge upwards, not the business-faced return you hoped for.

“You’re…” she begins--does not continue, though her eyes lose focus and she looks past your back as you have looked past many things, and then you are looking at the mirror--through the mirror--directly at her eyes, looking at you.

And then they slide away.

“I see,” says the back of her head. “Stay here. I’ll make some tea.”

And then the door is shut.

[_]
>> No. 13192
...and now we are doomed.
>> No. 13207
>>13192
What? Why?
>> No. 13210
I can't think of a single, natural thing to do that would have any effect, so:

[x] Look out the window.
>> No. 13211
[x] "You're..." "I see," "Stay here, I'll make some tea", she's certainly got a lot to say. Await her return. Hear her out.
[x] ...If you get the chance, and/or if she doesn't bring it up, ask her about...
-(x) How you're coming here. Would she know anything?
-(x) The people you've met before. The girl lurking in the darkness, "Wriggle", and the brown haired, orange eyed girl with the green hat. If this is not a dream, what else isn't?
>> No. 13212
>The porridge is yours--she has given it to you--so you say, “Thanks.

[x] Stay there. She'll make some tea.
[x] Eat your porridge.
>> No. 13213
[x] "You're..." "I see," "Stay here, I'll make some tea", she's certainly got a lot to say. Await her return. Hear her out.
[x] ...If you get the chance, and/or if she doesn't bring it up, ask her about...
-(x) How you're coming here. Would she know anything?
-(x) The people you've met before. The girl lurking in the darkness, "Wriggle", and the brown haired, orange eyed girl with the green hat. If this is not a dream, what else isn't?
>> No. 13251
[x] "You're..." "I see," "Stay here, I'll make some tea", she's certainly got a lot to say. Await her return. Hear her out.
[x] ...If you get the chance, and/or if she doesn't bring it up, ask her about...
-(x) How you're coming here. Would she know anything?
-(x) The people you've met before. The girl lurking in the darkness, "Wriggle", and the brown haired, orange eyed girl with the green hat. If this is not a dream, what else isn't?
>> No. 13261
File 123134873341.jpg - (128.02KB , 600x600 , Nilgun Kara2.jpg ) [iqdb]
13261
[x] "You're..." "I see," "Stay here, I'll make some tea", she's certainly got a lot to say. Await her return. Hear her out.
[x] ...If you get the chance, and/or if she doesn't bring it up, ask her about...
-(x) How you're coming here. Would she know anything?
-(x) The people you've met before. The girl lurking in the darkness, "Wriggle", and the brown haired, orange eyed girl with the green hat. If this is not a dream, what else isn't?

Clack, it sounds in your mind. Or click, or perhaps it is like a star and a star that circle each other and appear as one. Two sounds. Ka. Click. Kaclick, kaclack.

Door is shut.

And there is nothing to see in the bright-polished mirror, so you turn your head around--looking, looking--looking at nothing in particular and seeing the same, until finally images begin to permeate the soft jelly of your eye. Blankets, on the floor, wrapped around themselves in mounds like termite hills.

That’s you.

You did it this time, and you did it last time, too. Remember? Binaries--

And you move (and what liquid are you moving through this time? Nitrogen is) and you bend over, slowly, because even though it doesn’t hurt you expect it to, for some reason. Sleep aches. Your head hurts, sometimes, on Sundays, when you wake up past noon, covered in sweat, your sheets--

--no, her sheets. They are piles--a pile, now, instead of hill--hills--all around--not anymore. Instead, you gather--have gathered them in your arms, and--

“You can leave those on the floor.”

You do. They fall through the loop of your arms as your neck twists, and your mouth jolts into a tight ‘o’.

The loop is still there, even seconds after the blankets have stopped--become an unmoving lump once again (how many again?) and you rub absently at the wrist--at the cast of your left arm with the fingers of your right hand.

“The tea is ready.”

“--h,” you respond, lamely, and limp your way behind her--out the bedroom, turn left, first door on the right and straight on until your foot still unshod (nobody wears shoes to bed--) kisses hard the tableleg.

In the edge of your eye, Alice-her-name-she-says-it-is looks on with disinterest almost, does not nearly doesn’t wince. The saucers and teacups--one and one, set out upon the surface--clank--barely--clink against each other, and you hear the sound of liquid sloshing against itself. It reminds you of pedal-boats. You went pedal-boating, once. Was it a real lake, or--

She takes the reservoir off the table, beached as it is, and tilts, once, twice--and two teacups are steaming with liquid run from its snout, and she places it back. It’s warm--melts the lines in your fingers, across your palm--cupped, to trap the hot air and keep it there, like a balloon of flesh--but a balloon is taut, and yours is wrinkled all the way up to your prints.

You shift your vision, raise your pupils up, just a little, so that you are looking from the bottom-inside of your hands to the top-outside. Across your fingernails, her expression is grim-stretched lips and cynic’s eyes--and a note of unsurety.

“You should consider yourself lucky.” She is talking to you but also at you, and so you sit and absorb her sounds as she raises her teacup to her lips, drinks. You consider drinking yours, but don’t, leaving it underneath your hands. You might not like tea. “You’ve spent at least a week in Gensokyo, and somehow managed to avoid becoming a meal.”

A meal, she says, and you think--bears?

Puts her tea down, and the clank is harsh. “Youkai,” she says without humor.

You don’t know what that is.

She continues: “Gensokyo is a very dangerous place,” she says, and you get that feeling again--that you are little more than a statue, not expected to talk back or even acknowledge her speech.

“If you wish to go home, that can be easily arranged. There is a shrine maiden at the Hakurei Shrine who should be able to return you to the outer world.”

Outer of what?

“Outer--outside of Gensokyo.” She appears almost irritated at herself, as if she is to blame for--something. Something. “The world you came from, presumably.”

The world you came from, she says.

The world I came from.

I came from there. I came from there, and now I am here. Sister, and houses in a row, and the library--

How did I come from there to there?

She pauses, the cup halfway between lips and saucer. “The Border isn’t perfect, after all,” she says.
>> No. 13262
File 123134883455.jpg - (183.29KB , 600x600 , Nilgun Kara3.jpg ) [iqdb]
13262
Border, she says.

Border.

You see it--suddenly--hanging in the air in front of your eyes. The bottoms of your eyelids. Undersides. Without any lashes--eyes, your eyes, always your eyes, looking upon the all of creation--really, it’s no problem. It’s no problem at all. A nudge there, a tap on the side--like fixing a television set. Tap on the side. Tap on the side. Tap--tap--hit it! Hit it! Until it starts working--and you open up the insides and you don’t even have to do that, do you? What’s the difference between an inside and an outside? They’re just different sides, sides, they’re called sides, after all, out and in and they’re both just the same coin in the end so--you just--take--the edges here--

--you’re only visualizing so it’s okay--

--and--

Kleinsche Flasche.

“What?”

Your eyes focus--back past the skyline, past the rolling forest, past the doors and windows and walls and floors and the kitchen counter and the rear of Alice’s skull, until your eyes meet again.

“What?” you repeat after her.

The grim grabs the edges of her lips and pulls them further.

“What you just said,” she says.

“What?” you repeat after yourself.

“Never mind.” She hurriedly brings her cup up--takes a very long sip. You wonder if it fogs her eyes, then realize: your tea has turned lukewarm, look very warm, but still feel as cold as ever. You bend and unbend your fingers experimentally. Yes. Most definitely cold.

Did you forget something?

This isn’t a dream. This--most likely--isn’t a dream. It has consistency. Same bed, same house--

You’ve gone over this already. Follow the thread. Pull at it. Unwrap the ribbon-wrapped giftboxes and hold your hands up eye. Read the blue-tinted boxes and find out what you’ve won.

(‘Won’ is an anagram of ‘own’. My prizes are ur-prizes, and I’ve held them all along, but I never looked at--)

What you saw before--what you saw before--you saw before what?

There was a girl.

There were two girls.

“It’s certainly possible you saw something that looked like a girl,” Alice says and there is something in her voice, laughter and warning and a twist of the--the lips. Of course. She doesn’t want all her tea to splash out, does she? It’d hit the table--splash--run on sploshes and pruddles and rivuers all the way to the other end and form a drip-drop-drip-drop onto your pajama-short-boxer-pants. Uncomfortable.

There are two girls--there are three girls, three girls that stand out like pop-out paper puppets from the pages of your book. You open it to the bookmark, run your fingers over the edge of your face--the forehead, the slope of your nose, the dip--under the chin and the back of the neck, because it is your profile that is drawn, by God and Tenniel’s hand, to your back--

You turn the pages backwards, first one by one, and then frantically as the words pile up without relevance--nothing but pages of useless thought, not even properly sectionalized, and at first you turn too far and you are at her--

But it was dark and sight was useless.

And so you turn again--turn the book around, turn your hands around, and you are at her--a different her--

But it was dark and sight was useless. And then sight was not useless, but you saw or hear little of meaning, and then you were gone--

And then you turn, one last time--a page back, a single page back, and you point to it--your finger underlining each of the beautifully typefaced letters--and you read them out loud, struggling to properly pronounce the syllables:

“The.

“Great.

“Wrig.

“Gle.

“Night.

“Bug.”

And you look up at Alice and with one hand close the book with a dusty, satisfied thump.

Alice looks over her empty cup at you, and you wonder what that expression means. You have seen that before as well. Take your tongue, and stick it not in your cheek or your cheek but the front pocket of your lip--the top one. Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi. You do not know if that is correct, but it is, at least, nearby.

“You’ve met Wriggle, then?”

You hum an answer yes, and look into your tea, by now quite cool and reflective. You look as terrible as you ever did before. There was something there, something about Wriggle-Nightbug-so-she-was-called that you can remember. A buzzing, in your mind, only--

--only--

--it isn’t the bad sort of buzzing, exactly. You remember. Soothing. Like that single time, below layers and layers of soft, fine hair. You could almost barely hear it, but it was soothing, that deep rumbling from the belly of the beast. Sooner later your Sister told you you had to go, and you left the cat and her lovely lullaby behind, but the memory stayed with you. The memory, at least. They can’t take that from you.

Anything can be taken from you. Your future. Your past. It’s easy enough to erase what never happened.

It is like--

--because--because--

--she was nice, wasn’t she?

She was nice.

“She’s a firefly youkai,” she says.

You don’t know what that is.

All you understand is ‘firefly’ and you have never seen fireflies.

Alice sighs. “In any case, you can stay here overnight, but please decide by tomorrow.”

She stands.

“It’s easy enough to leave Gensokyo.”

And you look at your tea and wonder if it is enough to drown.

[_]
>> No. 13264
>Kleinsche Flasche.

"Klein Bottle" in German.

>There are two girls--there are three girls, three girls that stand out like pop-out paper puppets from the pages of your book. You open it to the bookmark, run your fingers over the edge of your face--the forehead, the slope of your nose, the dip--under the chin and the back of the neck, because it is your profile that is drawn, by God and Tenniel’s hand, to your back--

Sir John Tenniel. Illustrated Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and other works.

[x] Alice is nice, but what about the people with no faces, are they nice? Ask her.
[x] Wriggle was nice, but you've never seen a firefly. Maybe you'll be able to see them through your window tonight?
>> No. 13265
[x] It's easy enough to leave Gensokyo, sure. You've proven that quite a number of times. But it's also easy enough just to get sucked right back in. Explain your predicament to Alice. After all, you don't want to make a dramatic decision until you know exactly what's going on.

I mean, leaving Gensokyo through the Hakurei Shrine COULD fix the problem, but it could also lead to some weird paradox situation where instead of warping between the real world -> Gensokyo and back, it leads to warping between one point in the real world -> another point in the real world, and then we've screwed ourselves out of any ability to get help whatsoever.
>> No. 13266
[x] It's easy enough to leave Gensokyo, sure. You've proven that quite a number of times. But it's also easy enough just to get sucked right back in. Explain your predicament to Alice. After all, you don't want to make a dramatic decision until you know exactly what's going on.
>> No. 13267
[x] It's easy enough to leave Gensokyo, sure. You've proven that quite a number of times. But it's also easy enough just to get sucked right back in. Explain your predicament to Alice. After all, you don't want to make a dramatic decision until you know exactly what's going on.
>> No. 13268
>They’re just different sides, sides, they’re called sides, after all, out and in and they’re both just the same coin in the end so--you just--take--the edges here--

>--you’re only visualizing so it’s okay--

>--and--

>Kleinsche Flasche.


That's a dangerous game we're playing.

I'm expecting the other world to either undergo another "modification" or get a new visitor now.
>> No. 13281
File 12314866874.jpg - (365.40KB , 600x600 , Nilgun Kara5.jpg ) [iqdb]
13281
[x] It's easy enough to leave Gensokyo, sure. You've proven that quite a number of times. But it's also easy enough just to get sucked right back in. Explain your predicament to Alice. After all, you don't want to make a dramatic decision until you know exactly what's going on.

It’s easy enough to leave Gensokyo.

Your head is burning. It’s running. Circles. Left and right and up and down. Spinning, over and over again, in the same circle, like a hamster in a cage, clinging to the track of his wheel. You’re becoming dizzy. You’re becoming sick. You’re a little glad now--glad you didn’t drink any of your tea, glad you and everybody else forgot about the porridge that by now must be stone cold on the bedside cabinet-table.

Popping Pepto and pain pills like Pringles--

The image occurs to you--sifts upwards into your mind--and you erase it. Wipe it away, because it’s fictional. It’s not important. Just a creation of--a wish, and rotten meat.

Wouldn’t it be better, though?

More importantly--more importantly--it’s easy enough to leave Gensokyo. And you are back again in that wheel with the world spinning on its axis beside you. Don’t look. Don’t look to the sides. Don’t even look in front of you.

(Too late.)

It’s easy enough to leave Gensokyo, you know. It’s easy enough to leave Gensokyo. It’s easy enough to leave Gensokyo--and it’s easy enough to come back, whether you want to or not.

Like toggling a switch. Turning the light off and leaving the room, only to hear the click behind you and feel the light molding around the back of your body. You turn around. You turn around, but no one’s there, only the doorway, and the bulb that hangs from the ceiling, and the bulb is bright and you cannot see the filament. Burns, much too brightly. Like heaven and hell, all at once, and you reach your arm around the wall and fumble for the switch again and let the room be cool--

--let the room be cool--

--and you cannot even yet see the thread of metal, because there are curtains in front of your eyes, purple and dark green and shifting, changing colors. If you want long enough, they’ll fade away. You’ll be able to see for yourself. And then you will turn, and you will leave the room, and then the lights will on again, just as bright as before.

Some small scrabbling thing at the bottom of the well, jumping, again and again and again--your fingernails scrape at the mortar. If you jump high enough, and in just the right way, just the right way, maybe you can grab at the very edge and pull yourself over--

Oh please. Oh please oh please oh please.

But now--

And it is like God’s hand--if there is God’s hand--coming down to press upon the switch for you.

Because now is you, and this girl--this girl Alice, and you--

And she knows of things.

Perhaps she knows of things.

And perhaps she has written across her hands some incantation--secret password--notes, equations to hold the sky to the ground and keep it from moving without you, so you say:

“I keep coming here.”

And she stops and looks and she looks like she expects something else--wrong, wrong, wrong. You said it wrong, somehow. Try again.

“Here.” You raise your arm--both arms. Above your head. Arcing towards and down your sides. Great traced semicircle. The whole horizon. The whole world. Pancratios. Is that how they pronounced it? Everything is lost between the transition to Roman--to Latin. How many roads--how many ways--how many--

Say it. Say it better.

“I keep coming here,” you say, and you draw out the last word, elongation only for a moment. Your arms. High and low and up and down. “Here.”

Here.

And--

“Consider it complete chance.”

--she doesn’t understand.

“There was no reason for you to have been brought to my home, as opposed to anyone else’s,” she says. “You’re lucky that you were brought at all.”

Wrong. Wrong!

“Here,” you insist, feeling that strange, familiar desperation. “Here. Not here. Here.” Still waving, still waving, and then suddenly the scrap of something that only just passed through your ears and nose and mouth returns--comes back up to remind you--

“The inner world.”

And she still doesn’t understand--but then you see it cross her face, like lightning, and then she seems to change, all of her at once. Her head tilts. Her neck cranes. The lightning--it didn’t disappear after it struck her face, after all. It’s in her eyes. Or is that only fire?

“Are you saying,” she says and you can hear the her inside her screaming flat, flat and you can hear it burst through the walls and bursting from her chair and how her knuckles may turn white, you think, if they grip harder their nothing at all, “are you saying that you’ve already left Gensokyo?”

You nod, because this is correct. Because now you know, right? It isn’t a dream. These characters have faces and phases and a continuity. Real. As real as real, and you keep coming back to this real that is other, and so you nod.

“And you keep coming back?” And you think diagnostician and nod again and wonder if she will tap your knee. You promise to try to keep it as still as you can. You never can, of course.

She hms to herself, looking off into the distance at something beyond your head. “How odd,” she whispers, and then again: “How odd.”

“The Border…” more to herself again, “I can’t say I’m an expert in that subject. The person to ask would be…” And she pauses, and her mouth closes, and her face twists, and she closes her eyes and opens them again.

“Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the Shrine.”

[_]
>> No. 13285
[x] Confirm that the shrine maiden is the expert she is talking about. Agree.
[x] Thank her for explaining things to you and for not dismissing you just because you have difficulty expressing yourself.
>> No. 13287
File 123150976534.jpg - (32.25KB , 640x361 , Schrödinger.jpg ) [iqdb]
13287
[x] Unfortunately, "tomorrow" might be too late. If this will be anything like your past experiences here, then "tomorrow" you might not even be here anymore(or you might be here, in this world, just far, far away from her hospitality). While you're still here, with her, ask if it's possible to go today.
[x] Irregardless of her response, apologize and thank her for putting up with your selfishness.

Although, I'm kind of scared of what choosing this will result in. Our lucidity seems to be slipping, and that's going to be a problem if we slip into Crazyland just as Alice starts trying to fly, just like what happened when we were with Wriggle. We're long overdue for a crazy attack anyways.

Oh, and if our inevitable disappearing from Alice's grasp isn't enough, we need to tell her about "Mayohiga". The fact that we even know about that name bears testament to the fact that we have the potential to appear anywhere. It'll be troublesome if we're in, say, the Scarlet Devil Mansion when it's the appointed time for her to take us to the shrine...

Pic related because I'm now imagining the protagonist as Schrödinger. Manually.
>> No. 13289
[x] Unfortunately, "tomorrow" might be too late. If this will be anything like your past experiences here, then "tomorrow" you might not even be here anymore(or you might be here, in this world, just far, far away from her hospitality). While you're still here, with her, ask if it's possible to go today.
[x] Irregardless of her response, apologize and thank her for putting up with your selfishness.
>> No. 13292
>>13287
Well, he's certainly got girl’s eyelashes.
>> No. 13335
>>13190
>Blue, blue dress.
Since Alice is from Makai, doesn't that make her Devil in a Blue Dress?

>>13287
>[x] Irregardless of her response,
>[x] Irregardless of
>Irregardless
>Irregardless
Fail.

[x] Unfortunately, "tomorrow" might be too late. If this will be anything like your past experiences here, then "tomorrow" you might not even be here anymore(or you might be here, in this world, just far, far away from her hospitality). While you're still here, with her, ask if it's possible to go today.
[x] Regardless of her response, apologize and thank her for putting up with your selfishness.
>> No. 13336
[x] Unfortunately, "tomorrow" might be too late. If this will be anything like your past experiences here, then "tomorrow" you might not even be here anymore(or you might be here, in this world, just far, far away from her hospitality). While you're still here, with her, ask if it's possible to go today.
[x] Regardless of her response, apologize and thank her for putting up with your selfishness.
>> No. 13337
[x] Unfortunately, "tomorrow" might be too late. If this will be anything like your past experiences here, then "tomorrow" you might not even be here anymore(or you might be here, in this world, just far, far away from her hospitality). While you're still here, with her, ask if it's possible to go today.
[x] Regardless of her response, apologize and thank her for putting up with your selfishness.
>> No. 13373
File 123166550332.jpg - (222.40KB , 1000x665 , 7097973-lg.jpg ) [iqdb]
13373
[x] Unfortunately, "tomorrow" might be too late. If this will be anything like your past experiences here, then "tomorrow" you might not even be here anymore(or you might be here, in this world, just far, far away from her hospitality). While you're still here, with her, ask if it's possible to go today.
[x] Regardless of her response, apologize and thank her for putting up with your selfishness.

“D--”

And you are forward--lean forwards, with your hands on the tableflat, arms locked straight and you think, oh, my eyes, I wonder if my eyes are bulging? Animated wolves and the chair skitters away on its spiderlegs, backwards, quickly, to leave while it still can--least it be crushed with a tissue or a swatter. Paper or plastic, please? you think of asking, and Alice looks at you with scarcely parted lips and eyes without expression this maniac, this lunatic who stands only barely supported upon her kitchen floor.

“Don’t,” you say, and you don’t shout it, but that is not a point in your favor. Can’t shout it. Can only expel it, hopelessly neutral in television tones but that is enough to hang it in the air like a picture for all to see. Beautiful picture. Pitiful picture. The frame is--the frame is.

“Can’t,” you rectify, because--because--

There is a pattern.

Alice looks into you, and for a moment that stretches much too long you are sure that you are the one who will be swatted instead but instead she closes her mouth (it’s a wonder how often the common man closes his mouth) and there is wise beyond her ears, because she ask-says: “A pattern…”

Wrong but right but write, in sprawling scrawling speech, you: “I’m a pattern.”

Close.

“In a pattern.” And the correction of your correction of your correction is correct, you are sure, but you have been sure so many times that you check check every minute every second until your papers have been handed back. Yours is blank. Yours has always been blank, and an accurate copy-writ.

But it can’t all be white noise, can it. Surely there is a corner in shadow--for where else could you get--or get, period?

“I’m leaving,” you say and this pattern--this pattern is useful, because you need only to say what you have said already--only turn it on its head. “I keep going there,” you say, and then that phrase that she used herself: “The outer world.”

And that is finis and that is silence. A small one, but large enough to set a wall of a kitchen at the beginning and a wall of a kitchen at the end and between them, a boy with a head of wrong and a girl with a head of light, and between them an idea that only fizzled in the air, turned and turned to feed on itself, but at the very least could be seen. Not admired, not ever admired, but perhaps she might look upon it and be struck.

You swallow down the food you haven’t eaten as she opens her mouth again.

“So,” she finally says.

And then, “So.”

And then stops, and you want to scream: Go on, go on, go on! Before the metronome swings back! Before I’m dashed pell-mell against a mountainside. I can’t stop it--my feet taking a step in furlong boots.

And she only says, “So--”

And turns--and looks, eyes focused and bright--

“You come in,” she says.

“And though the Border’s up--strange--” She says the last to herself. Mark that. Take a note. What you are about to say is sneetch and snozz--

“You keep going out, too,” she finishes, and it is very good, very good. Your problem, summarized--notarized--pasteurized and cleansed of the worms in your head. Wrap it up neat in a bow and you will present it, gladly, to who who asks.

Yes.

She looks and she sees and it is very close to understanding which is very close to other kinds of--and you think, Sister, Sister, I’m very sorry. Have you been worrying?

A weight crushes your chest, tells you all you need to know.

I’m very very sorry. I am going to try to return now--I am going to try to return--

The weight crushes you further--grinds you into the earth. Piles and piles of stone. You look desperately towards the girl, but she does not see (or does she only pretend to not see? No no no no you are depending on the kindness of). She only has resumed her looking through the air--and though her eyes view outwards they in truth look in.

She is mouthing words--whispering, hissing words that you can almost hear:

“Who would be best suited, I wonder?”

And you listen, because you are good at that--you are good at that, sometimes--

“--mu would probably have more experience--”

But it doesn’t help that her words are turned away from you, with her face--

“--haps Marisa would be able to help, somehow? But this doesn’t seem like the sort of--”

Only puzzle pieces of conversation with the wind, in the end. Your ears are not large enough. Your ears--

“--maybe I should? Maybe--maybe if I borrow some books from--”

And that is three people, you think. Two you do not know and one whose face is not familiar--but at least you have seen the face of this Alice girl, and it seems honest.

Three people, and three paths, and--

[_]
>> No. 13376
>but at least you have seen the face of this Alice girl, and it seems honest.

[x] Tell her that you're not good communicating with most people, but she seems to intuit what you mean better than most.

Alice option.
>> No. 13398
[x] Only one option that stands out the most. If "Reimu" has more experience with this type of thing, then...

Picking the Reimu option because she's the most likely one to inevitably push this issue onto our sister the gapbitch who may have been spying on us with crows since forever Yukari.
>> No. 13402
[x] Tell her that you're not good communicating with most people, but she seems to intuit what you mean better than most.
>> No. 13407
>>13398

I like this Yukari. A random human has some apparently dangerous power that he can't control, but instead of just killing him off, she addles him and constructs a fantasy world where she is his sister and caretaker. It's very human.
>> No. 13408
[x] Tell her that you're not good communicating with most people, but she seems to intuit what you mean better than most.
>> No. 13451
Updates?
>> No. 13474
File 123186702037.jpg - (126.04KB , 800x571 , Smudge-Studio-obscura-2.jpg ) [iqdb]
13474
I have been ill--very ill--

I keep thinking I wrote something wrong, but if that is so I cannot catch it.

I feel sick.

--

[x] Tell her that you're not good communicating with most people, but she seems to intuit what you mean better than most.

Pick the one closest to you.

Yes.

That one. That one. The one you can follow without even having to move. Maybe you are lazy and maybe you are soft and maybe you are a bad person, a terrible person, but this thread is right in front of you, and you can grasp it right now, if you try, between your fingers--twist your wrist--wrap it around your joints--

Not that your choices are mapped out entirely by the aches in your legs and your atrophied muscles. There is a justification, too--formed afterhand, from dead eyelids and hot air--but it fits, this replacement piece--fits into the world-puzzle you have been delicately placing together. You hold the tweezers gently--loosely--fingers too stiff and the piece will surely slip and fall and crack into a thousand pieces--gentle, gentle--and--

“Yes.”

Eyes on you.

“I’m sorry?” she says, so you repeat.

“Yes.”

Because I say things and you seem to see, for a second--

Because you open your mouth and say things, many things and you’ve learned, over the years and long ago that the things you say aren’t quite right. You can feel it yourself, like bumps under your tongue--even on those shining days when nothing is wrong, your words are still not--still not--

But she--

She looks and she sees and she hears and she does not Understand--of course, she does not Understand or even understand but she grasps at it, invisible, as it flits past her face. Like a butterfly. How hard is it to catch a butterfly, rainbowed and delicate, between cupped hands without crushing it? It’s impossible--it’s impossible. That’s what you grew up thinking.

It’s impossible--except when your sister tries (because she is your sister, of course).

“You…grasp what I say.”

And the girl under the kitchen table blinks and you do not expect a miracle (expect a miracle) so you try to explain this, too.

“Can you help me?”

And the words don’t seem to sink in. They fly and stick in her face like flies in paper while she stares with that strange, stupid expressionless expression--looks--and then the flies begin to sink into her face.

No.

She let them in--opens her mouth and lets them in, whole. Her skin--her pores--are a hill of thousands of tiny Venus mouths, and now that their prey is stuck they stretch open--no hurry, no hurry, of course no hurry--and in they come, whole and wriggling.

And then--with a working of muscle you can see through her skin, she swallows your words and smiles.

You shudder.

Are you cold?

No--no.

Then--

I just thought I saw--for a second--for a second, I was sure that I saw--

Alice begins to speak.

I don’t remember.

And she stands with a triumphant smile, as if the world, in that moment, has opened up to her. As if, suddenly, the future was clear and she was given the assurance of her victory. This puzzle--this boy who jumps between world and world and back again. Surely, she knows, somehow--in her hands--in her hands--

Give it a twist, a flick of the wrist--

Ta-da.

A perfect cube, each face a segregation of color.

“Of course!” she says, brightly. “I’m not just any magician, you know.”

I’m not just any magician, you know, she says, with a half-smile on her face and a laugh behind her lips. I’m not just any magician. Normal magicians--your everyday, over-the-counter magicians--they wouldn’t be able to solve your problems, clean your life spic and span and shine on, shine on. Magicians are a diamond dozen. But I--

I’m not just any magician, you know, she says, and you have seen--or your memory, at least, tells you that you have seen--nothing of the sort. The television was on, was interesting, so you paused on your way to the public broadcast. He said he was a magician, and he stood, masked, in the spotlight. In front of him was a hat, black and empty.

And suddenly there was a rabbit in it, and you felt like applauding, even if you thought--that sort of thing could never--

And then they should it from behind, and you saw that the stand the magician stood behind was hallow, and you saw the rabbit on the shelf inside it, and you saw, in one deft movement--

--scooped--

And really--really--wasn’t this better? No tricks. No spells and magic wands. Just mind and body with fingers that slipped in and out of every pie even when you looked away only for a second.

It’s better that way, is it?

More admirable.

And so--when Alice says that she is not just any magician--when Alice says that she is a magician--you think that it might probably be okay for her to help you.

That’s okay, then.

That’s okay, then.

The static in your head very slowly, very steadily dwindles away.

The static--

Static? What static?

What were you just--

“Thank you,” you say, and you (a little hesitantly) let your thoughts fade behind you like the sunlight at the beginning of a tunnel, disappearing into nothing as you ride the road around a bend. “Thanks…a lot.”

Alice turns her head away. Her voice lowers to a murmur. “Well,” she says. “you’re human, after all.”

And then she shakes her head and a curious grimacing grin (or is it the other way?) touches for a moment upon her face.

“Anyway, you can stay overnight. If you’re still here tomorrow, I’ll look through a few books and see what I can find, okay? Feel free to relax in the meantime.”

Seriousness rests upon her face, suddenly--lowers her eyebrows, thins her smile.

“I would appreciate it, though, if you limited your exploration to your room, the bathroom, and the kitchen.”

She smiles, one more time--and this one seems a little more real--and then she is turned and away through the kitchen door and you hear another door open and close, in the distance.

And you are alone in the kitchen.

The clock on the wall, you notice, reads a bite past twelve. You wonder what there is to do in this magician’s house--or outside of it.

[_]
>> No. 13475
Scenes like this are a heartwarming island in the sea of paradox that is this story's habitual state.

[X] If she's letting you stay here, you'd best learn how things are around here. Familiarize yourself with the areas in which you've been admitted.
>> No. 13509
[X] If she's letting you stay here, you'd best learn how things are around here. Familiarize yourself with the areas in which you've been admitted.
>> No. 13510
[X] If she's letting you stay here, you'd best learn how things are around here. Familiarize yourself with the areas in which you've been admitte
>> No. 13570
File 123214571147.jpg - (14.19KB , 194x250 , 1231479967465.jpg ) [iqdb]
13570
Updates?
>> No. 13586
File 123216488928.jpg - (82.25KB , 600x450 , 2210544760103830173S600x600Q85.jpg ) [iqdb]
13586
Apologies.
Things keep happening--and then they don't stop.

[X] If she's letting you stay here, you'd best learn how things are around here. Familiarize yourself with the areas in which you've been admitted.

And so you move--like a dream--

After all, it is--is right to look around. It’s right to look around--looking for supplies. Full of all sorts of words and descriptions, and--you were supposed to pick them up--write that after so many right-facing chevrons.

Stand--you are already standing, so you turn to take your dressing gown--and you have never owned a dressing gown. Why did you think--for a moment--

Turn on the lights.

There aren’t any lights. I can see perfectly well. The shades aren’t drawn--the shades aren’t drawn!

There aren’t any shades drawn at all!

And you spit it, harshly, and look towards the open kitchen window, and freeze, because there is a fluttering of black feathers that beats against the glass and disappears past the edge.

And you think that it’s okay. It’s a crow. It’s a crow. Just like you saw twice (Wrong!) before. It’s only a crow.

As opposed to what?

And the question bruises the sides of your head, and you stare out the window into the light and you don’t know what you were thinking--what sort of not-a-crow you thought of there. Black flapping--black feathers. Of course--it’s a crow, and if not a crow a blackbird, and if not a blackbird simply a black bird.

If you listen, very very quietly, you can’t hear the sound of beating wings.

You let out a breath that has grown stale in your chest.

Look again.

‘Again’? I don’t know the meaning of ‘again’--

Just--

--look.

A kitchen. That’s all it is. A kitchen. There is a table that is appropriately flat and there are counters that are appropriately flat and there are cupboards and cabinets that are closed, so you do not know how flat they are. You fumble about the air until a handle bites at your hand, and pull at it.

Plates.

Guggenheim, you think.

Were you expecting something that wasn’t plates?

I don’t know, you say, and you close the small door, and then you stand and look at the nothing that is still outside the window and then you leave, to ‘your’ room--

And ‘your’ room is the same, of course, the same as the last time, like opening your eyes and blinking and blinking and of course whatever was there is still there and whatever was still there is still still there and whatever was will were and will be am.

There is a cold bowl of porridge on the bedside cabinet-table. You’ve wronged someone. It’s worth only as much as stone soup now that you’ve left it there to rot.

You pick the blanket from where they lay and put the bed under them and put the blankets under you and then put yourself under the blankets, and lie upon your hip.

The boy-man in the square-shouldered mirror looks back morosely at you, looking much the same as ever.

No.

Not the same as ever.

Because--maybe a little better--maybe a little--you can see the horseshow folds underneath your eyes. And--maybe--only a little--those baby cheeks of yours are--

The mirror is eaten by the darkness.

---

Chilly.

It’s too chilly.

The sky above you is covered by patches of dark cloud--or is it the other way around?

You close your eyes again, try to visualize.

Maybe the sky is…nothing but cloud, and the stars are the patch. Like looking upside-down the book and seeing what was away pop up towards you. A wood carving of a deer--

There are things, prickling in your back and neck and arms and legs. Dry and prickly.

It smells like earth.

[_]
>> No. 13593
I see Yukari doesn't want us to just laze around and do nothing. Or maybe we did that to ourselves. Or we were sleepwalking in the other world and just "woke up" now. What the hell happened?

[x] Pinch your cheek, in case you're dreaming. Get up and take a good look at your surroundings.
[x] If you aren't in a familiar setting, then find the North Star and follow it.
>> No. 13594
[x] Pinch your cheek, in case you're dreaming. Get up and take a good look at your surroundings.
[x] If you aren't in a familiar setting, then find the North Star and follow it.
>> No. 13596
File 123218780246.jpg - (173.61KB , 334x500 , 3176479021_b435f24ee5.jpg ) [iqdb]
13596
You may find that updates become short.
There's always reasons.

---

[x] Pinch your cheek, in case you're dreaming. Get up and take a good look at your surroundings.
[x] If you aren't in a familiar setting, then find the North Star and follow it.

You raise your hand--up--hold it against the cloud and stars and sky, hold it in place like a tapestry about to fall around you. Someone, you think--someone’s got to keep the world in place--surely--because, surely, the world is falling apart at the edges, all the time--

No. No.

No?

No.

You wait--spread your fingers--flatten them against each other--curl them into a snarl--trying to find a position that is comfortable, though they all make your arm ache. You have never had muscles. There has to be someone that keeps the world going, you think. Keeps it steady. Makes sure it doesn’t fall out of orbit--

Do you honestly think you’re that important?

The cloudcover moves with the wind. You can see the moon, nearly but not yet full. Another day, maybe two--

Do you honestly think that any of us--or even all of us--are that important?

You understand.

It’s just--it’s just a lot of things that happen.

You let your arm fall--just let your muscles slacken, right there, like cutting a rope.

It bounces against your face.

It hurts.

It’s a little bit funny.

You stumble-up to your feet--bare feet, you see. Bare feet that make perfect sense, because that’s what you went to sleep in. Went to sleep--

Where?

It doesn’t matter. Either is fine, because you never wore shoes to bed. Just boxer and wear and shirt without sleeves, thin as rain and just as cold. You rub your arms. Opposite arms to what you hand.

And look around. Look. Maybe you can see something useful. Isn’t that what you type whenever you enter a new room? Look. Chevron look.

Type? Why did you think ‘type’--

A grassy lot.

It’s green and yellow and parched, and it twitches at your feet because your feet are bare--because you don’t wear shoes to bed. Nobody wears shoes to bed, of course.

The sides of the lot are the sides a lot would have--thin and long and thin and long again. That’s four. It’s swell.

There’s no gazelle.

Four, like gridspace. Like maps. Divided into squares (though this is a rectangle--but a rectangle can be a square if it is a square and a square is always a rectangle) and every square has four sides bordered by four squares bordered by four squares bordered by four--count them off: one five thirteen twenty-five forty-one--

But three are blocked off by rows of house, so it doesn’t matter.

If you leave the grasslot (and you stumble look stumble turn) you’ll begin a parklot, and if you go further than that you’ll be on the side of a street.

You don’t know any more than that.

[_]
>> No. 13597
[x] Go down the street.

Uh oh. In before we encounter Him.
>> No. 13616
[x] Go down the street.
>> No. 13619
File 123223370967.jpg - (141.76KB , 426x500 , 1348270459_0acb755c0d.jpg ) [iqdb]
13619
[x] Go down the street.

Stumble walk, stumble hop, stumble shiver huddle step--

The street is quiet in both directions--either way. Cars, but parked. It’s the perfect picture of a day in the middle of the night, without a sign of a sign of people around.

You don’t know what street this is.

There’s no sign, no label written down a grey line, no matter how long and how yellow you stand there for. The lot was in the middle of the road. The lot was off the middle of the road. It’s at the street corners where they bother to tell people where they are, because that’s the only place people have a choice--go on or turn left or turn right--although those last two are the same--except in different directions--

It is too confusing and the sleep is still there in your mind, having eaten the most of your right thoughts--or at least, as right as they ever get.

Down the street. That’s an action--a direction. The idea is blurry, but it feels good--or is that still the sleep, wearing away the edges?

And--even--

Which way is down?

The direction that isn’t up, obviously.

And so you head stumble head stumble clip-clop step down the street, waiting--waiting for a sign of an intersection and an intersection’s sign. The street seems endless. Nothing but driveway driveway telephone pole driveway truck driveway--

Sign.

Bulling Lane reads the leave to your left, and Caret Avenue as you are, and neither is any name that you remember, and so you continue on, tree telephone pole tree driveway telephone pole car driveway tree driveway--and ever and ever--and driveway telephone pole tree driveway driveway car (Petrie Place to your right, or is that Plaza? No, definitely Place, and you pass that too) SLOW tree tree pole tree tree (another street to your right you cannot find the name of at all) tree tree (Lettan to your left) a school of some sort wireframe fence tree tree tree (left: Frindle) fence driveway driveway tree pole tree sapling--

End.

And you stand on the end of the down of Caret Avenue, and left and right (reads the signpost that has been hit by something--bent at an odd angle towards the sidewalk) runs Kaiser Road, and you think--this is a name I recognize--maybe.

[_]
>> No. 13630
File 123226263288.jpg - (51.25KB , 253x253 , haruhi donkeykong.jpg ) [iqdb]
13630
[x] Go down Kaiser Road. It's a better lead than any.

Man, I knew something happened back there in Alice's house. The vegetation's back, for some reason.
>> No. 13631
[x] Go down Kaiser Road. It's a better lead than any.
>> No. 13638
I'm typing that now, though it may not come until tomorrow, or the morrow after that.

Can I say something? Here? I mean--

Words, sometimes, are key. Underline them in your notes, key. Phrases or just a simple word--I'm not sure, but it's important--sometimes.

Ctrl-F.

Sometimes.
>> No. 13641
File 123227637427.jpg - (102.39KB , 309x500 , 3176479047_cd83d59ca7.jpg ) [iqdb]
13641
[x] Go down Kaiser Road. It's a better lead than any.

Maybe.

Or maybe you aren’t even here--maybe this is a dream. A dream of a dream. No, that’s not right--you crossed that out--double-crossed. Black hats and white hats, and you’re never sure who’s going to win in the end unless the lady in her hat shows up, and then her victory is guaranteed. She’ll ride out on her dragon like some hero out of an action film--

--dragon. That’s not right. It’s the wrong script--wrong director--wrong genre, altogether. You’ve taken your elements out of the box and put them in the wrong set--or it was the wrong elements to begin with. Close the lid after you’re done. Put them in neatly. Close the light--the lid--the light--

Is it brighter?

The clouds are starting to melt away without away when you look up--you look back down which is straight ahead and look again--the sign, after all, does say ‘Kaiser’ and then an ‘R’ and then a ‘d’ and that is a constant but it is only two out of two and two is a small number so you cannot count on it.

One. Two. Three.

Kaiser is a name you can remember, but you can remember it from all sorts of places and maybe one of them was a road, and maybe one of them wasn’t, and maybe all of them weren’t.

Maybe you’re asleep on your feet.

Things are supposed to make sense--or maybe things don’t make sense, but that makes sense. Loops of loops. Like fractals--you’ve thought of fractals before, haven’t you? You can’t remember.

“Down” is arbitrary--like so many of your choices, you think, and although you think you can’t remember them, either.

Have I really changed anything? Two roads--one road, and one road--and they are the same road, but let me think--

Separate ways--and I--I took this one--

And you turn to the right, and you walk along the outside edge of the sidewalk--right sidewalk, turned right to the right sidewalk on the right side of the road, and one of those rights is wrong, but you haven’t the time--and you stretch out your arm and the bush that is a you and a head and a head high nips at your fingers. Bites.

I took this way.

And you walk and you walk and you walk--

I took this way. Surely, just now--

Surely, I just made some sort of difference. Surely, this choice means something. Means everything. The distance between victory and defeat. The difference between joy and despair--

Isn’t that right?

And the voice is quiet, but you think you can see under your eyelids and face shaking itself no.

Isn’t that right? you ask, and you think maybe the results are in already in the golden envelope--break the seal and unfold the letter and read--because you feel a shaking inside you. A cold thing.

Isn’t that right? I took this road.

Hasn’t that made any difference?

(RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT)

And the bush ended a million miles ago and you stand at the corner of a gas station and traffic lights and Kaiser Road and Campen Avenue, says the street sign solitary straight.

You know this intersection. It’s a busy one--always busy, cars from every direction, from east to west to west to east and north again, so far that the road itself seems to turn instead of the vehicles--that--that was what you thought, riding the bus to the library libra-leigh live-rarely lie-berries and looking through the windows that you could slide open and push away if you really wanted.

You ride this route.

You’ve ridden this route.

You know--from here--the way to home.

And you turn and you run and you are breaking the law, surely--you’re a bad boy, a terrible boy, because you are jaywalking but it is okay maybe, it is safe. Laws were made to protect the people and there are no cars because it is late and night--nothing but the high-pitched cry of insects (and there is something there--insects--something you have forgotten but you brush them off your shirt) and you set off running, even though you cannot run, counting the things beside you, dark and beautiful.

Shrubbery, and shrubbery, and sapling and bush and the end of an island in the between of the streets, and you pass a road that you do not bother to even find the name of--

And tree and pole and tree and tree and tree driveway tree tree tree, with colored leaves--of course, colored leaves--at a time like this you would expect, but you’ve paid little attention--why is that? And you begin to think why, but then you think: signpost bench tree tree and here is another beautiful silent intersection you know quite well, even know the name of by heart, and you continue forwards--

Pole tree, weak and tiny and almost torn down and tiny tree and sandy lot, lot, lot lot lot--and then a wooden fence that is the border of someone’s backyard, and concrete corners and you cross another street--

Parking lot, pole, streetlight, sandlot--a million other streets you haven’t got time to record--fence--turn right on Dulcis Lane--concrete driveway concrete driveway--and have you really been running this far? Impossible. That’s impossible. You’ve set some sort of record. When you get home, after you hug or sister and maybe cry a little (and you are not embarrassed) you will drink a cup and a cup of water to hold fast this mumbling in your head--driveway concrete driveway concrete driveway driveway concrete driveway driveway concrete driveway driveway concrete driveway concrete corner--

--step off, into the street--and surely it is safe now to stop running--surely you should stop running, because this mumbling has become a murmuring and something in your side hurts, hurts, hurts but you are only a block away from home (Rodolf Drive, says the sign, and you know that that is only a block away from home) and surely--

And ahead of you--just ahead, as you consider the stitch in your side--hastily unfolding a newspaper from under his arm stands unshaven man--you think, for a second, that it is unshaven man, but it is too shaven to be unshaven man.

You see only a glimpse before it is covered by Sports but you are sure. It is tall man. It is an easy mistake because they both have long faces and the same sort of chin but it is tall man, you are sure.

Tall man is there.

[_]
>> No. 13644
Some call it a sling blade. Others call it a kaiser blade.

[x] Ask the man the day and date.
[x] Continue your trek homeward.
>> No. 13645
THE UNSHAVEN MAN IS a background character that we've met before. And possibly that one guy our sister warned us about. Quite frankly, I don't know if we should try and approach him or not. He might kill us, or he might tell us something our sister doesn't want us to know!
>> No. 13647
>>13645
Tall Man, not Unshaven Man. Unshaven Man is the evil twin of Shaven Man from a parallel universe.
>> No. 13648
[x] Ask the man the day and date.
[x] Continue your trek homeward.

I changed my mind. BAD END or not, the fact that we were spirited to this man, it's destiny for us to talk to each other.
>> No. 13763
>>13647
Does he know the milk man? Does he know where one might get delicious milk to go with these cookies?