The 12:54 to Asgard by J. Robinson Wheeler.

What a godawful storm this is. Lightning cracks in blue-white webby streaks every few seconds, followed by ear-splitting KA-THOOOMS of thunder. So much for the "Clear skies and sunshine through the weekend!" weather report of the noonday broadcast. You remind yourself to kick that soapy-headed pretty boy meteorologist in the ass when you get to the studio... yawp! The wind is shoving your car off the road. Man, this sucks balls.

KA-KI-KA-KAR-BALOOOM!

Cripes, that one was close. Did a cow just explode?

The 12:54 to Asgard
Interactive fiction by J. Robinson Wheeler
Release 1 / Serial number 100928 / Inform v6.31 Library 6/11 S

Studio A backstage
You drive on to the studio, running as quickly as possible from your car to the backstage door. You misread a puddle's width, and skid to a near pratfall in the mud outside. Ignoring it, you throw the door open and stomp inside, soaking wet, muddy, and pissed off.

Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> i
You are carrying:
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> x me
As grumpy looking as ever.

> nw

Behind the set
Nothing to see here but a dank corridor of padded gray walls, like the inside of an asylum, which as far as you're concerned, it is. A locked door marked "Maintenance Staff Only" (that's you) lies north, and the glare of the studio is back to the southeast.

The maintenance closet door is closed and locked up tight.

> unlock door
(with the brass key)
With a smile, you unlock and open the maintenance closet door. Ah, your home, your domain. Everything in order, unlike every other square foot of this place.

> n
Just crossing the threshhold makes you feel a little better about everything. Cleaning supplies lined up in the corner, tools hanging smartly from the gear rack, and everything else organized and sorted into labeled plastic tubs...

Wait. What the hell is this!

Maintenance closet
Argh, everything's been dumped around and rifled through! The cleaning supplies are junked around on the floor, stuff is in the wrong bins, or missing -- what's wrong with people? What's wrong with these specific people? They must have tried to do your job without you, only to give up and call you in, after they fled the scene.

You stare darkly heavenward and try to take a deep breath. Let's face it. Right now, you're in no mood to worry about putting all of this right. You just want to fix the damn roof and get the hell out of here, and let the rest of this wait until tomorrow, when you can crab at people and shoot them dirty looks as you clean it up.

On the gear rack is a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a roof tile and a piece of tar paper), a gardening spade, a rubber sheet, shit, some rubber bands and a broom here.

> s

Behind the set
Nothing to see here but a dank corridor of padded gray walls, like the inside of an asylum, which as far as you're concerned, it is. A locked door marked "Maintenance Staff Only" (that's you) lies north, and the glare of the studio is back to the southeast.

The maintenance closet door is wide open.

> se

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> x bucket
A battered, white, 10-gallon plastic bucket. In the plastic bucket are some dirty water and a sponge.

> e

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property. There's a jug of fertilizer and a feather boa here. Yeah, whatever.

Here's something you don't remember seeing lying around before: a battered old suitcase.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

You can also see some bleach here.

> x suitcase
It's an old suitcase, big as a boxcar, covered in sticky leather that's worn and faded from its original brown to a kind of patchy orange.

Dangling from its beefy handle is a luggage tag. The suitcase is closed.

> open it
You open the old suitcase. In the suitcase is a pair of fuzzy socks.

> x tag
In a flat leather sleeve with a plastic window, there's a printed card, yellowed with age. Instead of a name and address, it reads: "You can't take it with you," only there's a cigarette burn in the plastic blotching out the apostrophe-T.

> x box
The box for lost items, usually left in the studio by guests and visitors. A large triangular chunk has been torn out of the side of the box. In the box are some light bulbs, a coffee mug, some batteries, some nails and a tiny seed.

> x boa
A rather feminine affair, about four feet long and made from some unknown white, pink, and lavender feathers.

> x fertilizer
One big jug of what claims to be miracle-growth fertilizer.

> w

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> n
Although it would warm your dark little heart to track muddy boot prints all over the stage floor, according to union rules you're not allowed to step one toe onto the set. Likewise, the powdered-and-coiffed set aren't allowed to go up into the rigging, which is your domain.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

You can also see a pair of work gloves here.

> get gloves
Taken.

> x treehouse
It's a long flat plank that juts out below the main support beam and above the lighting grid, making it a nice roost for the electrics crew to hang out when they've got better things to do. It runs about 7 feet underneath the ceiling, and four feet above the catwalk railing.

> get on treehouse

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring through a completely pathetic attempt at taping a piece of cardboard over the hole. It has warped into a perfect sluice-shape, funneling a jet of water to splatter across the breadth of the lighting grid.

You can also see a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> get cardboard
As soon as you even think about touching it, the thing breaks apart and flies off in a paper-airplane death spiral, never to be seen again.

> x leak
You can easily see the main leak in the roof from here. It's a three-inch wide, diamond-shaped hole -- probably made by someone's shoe-heel -- and water is just draining down it like an open faucet.

> d

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> d
You clomp back down the spiral stairs, and slip on the bottom stair, catching yourself on the railing as your boot goes out in front of you. Dammit.

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> s
You're not leaving until you finish your job.

> nw

Behind the set
Nothing to see here but a dank corridor of padded gray walls, like the inside of an asylum, which as far as you're concerned, it is. A locked door marked "Maintenance Staff Only" (that's you) lies north, and the glare of the studio is back to the southeast.

The maintenance closet door is wide open.

> n

Maintenance closet
This is your home, your domain, where things are supposed to go where you can always find them again: cleaning supplies, the gear rack, and the shelves of plastic tubs.

On the gear rack is a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a roof tile and a piece of tar paper), a gardening spade, a rubber sheet, shit, some rubber bands and a broom here.

> get all
corner of the closet: That's fixed in place.
gardening spade: Taken.
rubber sheet: Taken.
shit: Taken.
rubber bands: Taken.
broom: This should be in the corner of the closet with the other cleaning supplies.
Taken.
gear rack: That's hardly portable.
plastic tubs: They're hardly portable.

> x spade
It's a simple gardening spade, about ten inches long. This really should be put away where it belongs.

> x sheet
A scrap piece of flat rubber sheeting.

> x shit
A soft-serve curled pile of doo-doo. Fake, of course. Someone's idea of a joke.

> x bands
Buncha rubber bands, in various sizes and colors.

> x broom
Just a broom. Stiff straw rather than plastic for the head, though. This really should be put away where it belongs.

> x rack
Brown backing board, prefabricated with holes that are fitted as you please with hooks. On the gear rack is a hammer.

> x tubs
The tubs all have labels: "carpentry", "roofing", "gardening", "lamps & bulbs", "batteries & electric", "miscellaneous", "other shit", and "tape". Collectively, in the plastic tubs are some vice grips.

> look in roofing
You find nothing of interest.

> l

Maintenance closet
This is your home, your domain, where things are supposed to go where you can always find them again: cleaning supplies, the gear rack, and the shelves of plastic tubs.

On the gear rack is a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a roof tile and a piece of tar paper) here.

> get hammer
Taken.

> get mop
Taken.

> get tile
Taken.

> get paper
Taken.

> s

Behind the set
Nothing to see here but a dank corridor of padded gray walls, like the inside of an asylum, which as far as you're concerned, it is. A locked door marked "Maintenance Staff Only" (that's you) lies north, and the glare of the studio is back to the southeast.

The maintenance closet door is wide open.

> se

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> e

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property. There's a jug of fertilizer and a feather boa here. Yeah, whatever.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

You can also see an open suitcase (in which is a pair of fuzzy socks) and some bleach here.

> get socks
Taken.

> wear socks
Too much of a hassle and a waste of time. Besides, maybe they were stolen off a corpse for all you know.

> get bleach
This doesn't belong here! This should be in the corner of the closet with the other cleaning supplies.
Taken.

> get all
open suitcase: Taken.
lost-and-found box: You're the one who ordered that the box be kept in one spot everyone remembers and never be moved around. They threw everything random into your closet for three days while the box went missing. You can't imagine going through that again.
leaky roof: You took a leak before you left the house tonight.
rain drips: They're hardly portable.
props corner: That's hardly portable.

> l

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property. There's a jug of fertilizer and a feather boa here. Yeah, whatever.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

> w

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> u

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring down like an open faucet through a huge hole onto the plank you're standing on, lapping at the skin of the bad-boy cable and running in wormy rivulets down the cabling.

You can also see a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> i
You are carrying:
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
some bleach
a pair of fuzzy socks
a piece of tar paper
a roof tile
a mop
a hammer
a broom
some rubber bands
shit
a rubber sheet
a gardening spade
a pair of work gloves
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> put tar paper on hole
It's hard to reach the hole with the tar paper. You kind of dangerously hop up and slap it to the corner you can reach, and nearly slip as you land again, the joist bobbing up and down freakishly. The tar paper flaps in the heavy leak, too thin to do much good against this much water flow.

> put tile on hole
It's already got a piece of tar paper flapping around on it.

> get paper
Taken.

> put tile on hole
You put the roof tile on the main leak.

> x leak
You can easily see the main leak in the roof from here. It's a three-inch wide, diamond-shaped hole -- probably made by someone's shoe-heel -- and water is just draining down it like an open faucet.
So, a roof tile is now partially covering the main leak in the roof, but water is still crawling out around the edges wherever it can, splattering both the joist and the lights.

> put tar paper on tile
You try, but the tar paper sticks to your hand.

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
a piece of tar paper
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
some bleach
a pair of fuzzy socks
a mop
a hammer
a broom
some rubber bands
shit
a rubber sheet
a gardening spade
a pair of work gloves
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> wear gloves
You put on the pair of work gloves.

> put tar paper on tile
You try, but the tar paper sticks to your hand.

> put sheet on leak
It's already got a roof tile flapping around on it.

> get tile
Taken.

> put sheet on leak
It's waterproof, but you can't affix it to the hole in any way that will stop the leak, because it's too flexible.

> wrap tile with sheet
That's not a verb I recognise.

> put sheet on tile
Putting things on the roof tile would achieve nothing.

> put tile on leak
You put the roof tile on the main leak.

> put socks on leak
It's already got a roof tile flapping around on it.

> d

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> d
You clomp back down the spiral stairs, careful not to slip.

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> e

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property. There's a jug of fertilizer and a feather boa here. Yeah, whatever.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

> look in box
In the lost-and-found box are some light bulbs, a coffee mug, some batteries, some nails and a tiny seed.

> get nail
Taken.

> get all from box
light bulbs: Removed.
coffee mug: Removed.
batteries: Removed.
tiny seed: Removed.

> w

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> u

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

So, a roof tile is now partially covering the main leak in the roof, but water is still crawling out around the edges wherever it can, splattering both the joist and the lights.

You can also see a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> nail sheet to leak
The rubber sheet is too elastic to be nailed up. The force of the water is going to tear it free within seconds, so it's not even going to work as a temporary fix.

> nail paper to leak
It's self-sticking without needing to be nailed to anything.

> stick paper to leak
I didn't understand that sentence.

> put paper on leak
It's already got a roof tile flapping around on it.

> tape paper to tile
It's self-sticking without needing to be taped to anything.

> put paper on tile
You try, but the tar paper sticks to your hand.

> l

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

So, a roof tile is now partially covering the main leak in the roof, but water is still crawling out around the edges wherever it can, splattering both the joist and the lights.

You can also see a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> i
You are carrying:
a tiny seed
some batteries
a coffee mug
some light bulbs
some nails
a piece of tar paper
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
some bleach
a pair of fuzzy socks
a mop
a hammer
a broom
some rubber bands
shit
a rubber sheet
a gardening spade
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> put socks in leak
It's already got a roof tile flapping around on it.

> x seed
One tiny little seed, maybe from a mustard plant.

> x batteries
Buncha batteries, of random types.

> x mug
It's a white ceramic mug with a red heart branded on it. The newsanchor lady uses it. Something about it makes you feel angry and upset.

> x tape
Silver-gray tape, big fat roll of it.

> x screws
Buncha screws.

> x drill
It's a cordless electric drill.

> screw tile to roof
I only understood you as far as wanting to screw the roof tile.

> screw tile
Nothing obvious happens.

> nail tile to roof
(the main leak)
You get up on your slippery tip-toes and make a faffing attempt to balance the tile in one hand like a serving platter, while swinging the hammer with the other, using one of the nails chomped between your grim-set lips, but you're just a few inches too short to do it without killing yourself, and you know it.

KA-BA-BA-BAOOOOM! The thunder god takes that moment to let one rip so close by that the whole building shakes, and the Treehouse wobbles like a diving board. It scares the living bejeebus out of you.

Fumbling to regain solid footing, you catch an ankle on the big snake and nearly slip. The roof tile goes clattering all the way down, and you hear one of the nails (you've got more) bounce away never to be found again.

> i
You are carrying:
a tiny seed
some batteries
a coffee mug
some light bulbs
some nails
a piece of tar paper
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
some bleach
a pair of fuzzy socks
a mop
a hammer
a broom
some rubber bands
shit
a rubber sheet
a gardening spade
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> d

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> d
You clomp back down the spiral stairs, but in your fury and haste you forget this time to be careful, and your slippery boots wheel out from under you, turning the stairs into a sadistic helter-skelter ride that bangs your elbows, ass, and -- with a final, shocking "Gongggg!" -- the back of your skull on the final step. It's like getting a sudden body massage from two spider-monkeys armed with crowbars.

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

You shake the shock out of your head and wipe the mud from your jeans and look around. Wait, where's the damn roof tile? WTF?

> look in bucket
In the plastic bucket are a roof tile, some dirty water and a sponge.

> get tile
Taken.

> get sponge
Taken.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Goddamn, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> u

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring down like an open faucet through a huge hole onto the plank you're standing on, lapping at the skin of the bad-boy cable and running in wormy rivulets down the cabling.

You can also see a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> i
You are carrying:
a sponge
a roof tile
a tiny seed
some batteries
a coffee mug
some light bulbs
some nails
a piece of tar paper
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
some bleach
a pair of fuzzy socks
a mop
a hammer
a broom
some rubber bands
shit
a rubber sheet
a gardening spade
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> stick paper to leak
I didn't understand that sentence.

> x sheet
A scrap piece of flat rubber sheeting.

> tape tile to roof
(the main leak)
You make an attempt to tape the roof tile to the leak, but you can't reach far enough to press a good seal around the edges. Overwhelmed by the water, the tape lets go, and the roof tile goes clattering down to the floor below.

> undo
Treehouse
[Previous turn undone.]

> drop suitcase
Dropped.

> stand on it
You get into the open suitcase.

> get out
You get out of the open suitcase.

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring down like an open faucet through a huge hole onto the plank you're standing on, lapping at the skin of the bad-boy cable and running in wormy rivulets down the cabling.

You can also see an open suitcase (which is empty), a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> close it
That's not something you can close.

> close suitcase
You close the open suitcase.

> stand on it
You climb onto the old suitcase, which holds your weight without complaining, its old sticky leather clinging with a solid grip even to the slippery joist. You get about five inches of extra height out of it, maybe just enough.

> nail tile to roof
(the main leak)
BANG! The first nail sinks in with one mighty blow of your hammer. "Suck it, Thor!" you say, perhaps a little boldly. The roof tile dangles from it while you try to get the opposite corner lined up for the second nail.

> nail tile to roof
(the main leak)
You make a lame attempt at an underhand-style hammer swing, which flonks the nail sideways and sends it ricocheting off the wall and rattling down to the floor, never to be found again. You pull another one from your teeth.

> nail tile to roof
(the main leak)
You make a second lame attempt at an underhand-style hammer swing, which flonks the nail sideways and sends it rattling down to the floor, never to be found again.

As you pull another nail from your teeth, the impatient, stupid, dangerous -- but hell, anything to get this over with -- idea occurs to you: If I just turn around, maybe I can get that second nail hammered in with a solid overhand swing.

> nail tile to roof
(the main leak)
Yet another lame underhand swing, yet another lost nail. You stare down at the suitcase and up at the roof tile. All I have to do is turn around and I can get it, you think grimly.

> save
Ok.

> turn
What do you want to turn?

> around
You decide to risk standing the other way, leaning back a little, so that you can use an overarm swing with the hammer.

> nail tile to roof
(the main leak)
You cock your arm back, whack at it, and even as you feel the solid hit, and the nail sink into place, something else feels...

Terribly...

Wrong.

You're not on your feet, you're not on anything, you're falling backwards, and it's too late to comically flail and get your balance again this time. You're going all the way down to the floor, probably headfirst. The next second elongates to a terrible sequence of flashing moments, like a film reel sputtering out and strobing. You drop everything you're holding, your hand reaches out, in desperation you try to grab --

> screa
That's not a verb I recognise.

> scream
That's not a verb I recognise.

> l

In freefall
Your mind flashes on three things: the J-hooks, the fat snake cable, the suitcase ... ! In desperation, you grab --

> grab cable
You try to reach for the thick cable-snake, but it splits open and pops with a bright blue spark. The lighting grid reacts badly to this, and you see a burst of orange and white light.

The catwalk looks high above you, in your last moment. Almost pretty in the fireworks that are snapping and dancing from the lighting grid. Then someone slugs you on the back of the head with a baseball bat. No, gravity whacks you on the back of the head with the planet Earth, and it drives your brains up in a superball bounce off the inside of your skull, which you fortunately can't feel crack open, as your spine does something really terrible that it should never do, and something feels wet.

The room explodes with white, splitting in two, vertically, like a curtain in the sunlight, then everything fades to orange, then to dark red, breaking up into paint-splatters of bluish-black before it finally goes very, very dark.

> l
Where's the tunnel of light? There's no tunnel of light. Your life didn't even flash before your eyes. There's just darkness, and a cold, hard floor under your back.

You think about the way your hideous demise will be discovered in the morning by the people who ordered you to go back to the studio by yourself last night, alone, in those weather conditions. When you imagine their reaction at the sight of you, you feel a strange, sudden impulse to -- an impulse to -- ?

> laugh
--to laugh. Oh, god, it shouldn't be funny, but -- you can feel your body again, because it's quivering with hysterics. You can feel your eyes again, because tears of laughter are rolling down what must still be your face. Think of it, "Well, did the roof get patched -- eEEAGH! Hideous broken corpse exploded everywhere!" Ha ha ha, oh, god, it hurts to laugh, but you can't stop.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> get up
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

> l
You can see nothing. There is nothing. Or -- funny thought -- maybe it's just that your eyes are closed?

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> x toe
You can see nothing. There is nothing. Or -- funny thought -- maybe it's just that your eyes are closed?

> open eyes
You try to open your eyes, but your eyelids feel too heavy to open. Literally, like some some solid weight is holding your eyelids closed.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> get toe
Better not.

> wake
The dreadful truth is, this is not a dream.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> open eyes
You try to open your eyes, but your eyelids feel too heavy to open. Literally, like some some solid weight is holding your eyelids closed.

> feel eyes
You reach up to your eyes, and find a coin lying on each eyelid. The pair of them clink solidly in your palm as you grasp them and hold them to your chest, their weight a strange, happy relief -- a tangible symbol that your existence has continued, in some way, even though your life has ended.

You open your eyes.

Underworld (on the floor)
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistake it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

Death prods you again with his toe.

> save
Ok.

> death, hello
"Hello, Death," you say.

Death says, "Good day."

Death prods you again with his toe.

> get up
You get off the floor.

Underworld
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

Death stares impassively at you, as from behind, the misty curtain curls open to let a dark wooden shape through.

> talk to death

Death stares silently at you.

The wooden boat arrives at the edge of the river with a gentle scrape. Death stands before it and raises his bony arm to block you. Then he slowly opens his palm.

> i
You are carrying:
some coins
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key
a pair of work gloves (being worn)

> x key
An everyday key.

Death is motionless; his arm extended, his palm held open.

> ask death about me
You ask Death about yourself.

Death stares silently at you.

> give coins to death
You place the coins in Death's open palm.

At once, Death is no longer standing on the shore, but inside the boat, like a mast rippling with black sails. He makes no further gesture; he has no need to.

> get in boat
You board the ferry boat. Death swings his great staff over the rail and plunges it into the shallows. At once, the boat moves away from shore. It plunges straight into the mist, and the cavern walls are lost from sight. Without the gentle sound of swishing, swirling waters, you could imagine being in the gondola of a balloon, floating high in the clouds.

Aboard the ferry
The river flows around you. Death stands aft, using his scythe as a rudder. You are at the prow, staring into the mist.

> x death
Long, black, hooded robe. Hourglass hanging from neck. Bones for hands and feet. Harvesting tools. Let's face it:

*** You have died ***

> x mist
A curtain of mist rises from the middle of the river, obscuring everything beyond.

> x hourglass
Crystalline sand falls slowly from the top to the bottom.

> x tools
You can't see any such thing.

Hehe, cloak of darkness.

> x robe
A cloak of darkness.

> l

Aboard the ferry
The river flows around you. Death stands aft, using his scythe as a rudder. You are at the prow, staring into the mist.

> x river
Crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, a vast, silvery river. So slowly does it move, so unrippled is its surface, and so ancient are its days.

> x me
You have no recollection.

> i
You are numb and unable to tell what you are carrying or wearing.

> z
The boat sails quietly along through the chill and mist, your sense of being underground having vanished somewhere along the way. Distant shapes start appearing up ahead, soon revealed as the outlines of other boats, all bobbing along the dock of a gloomy marina.

I like the snack bar.

Marina dock
Your ferry boat rocks gently against the wooden dock. Ropes tie it off and park it in the bobbling water, in a busy and tangled marina of hundreds of such vessels. You seem to have gotten the no-frills ride, as the largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar. Of the other vessels, even the least of its cousins -- not counting yours -- is ornamented specific to a different culture. You apparently either have no culture or no imagination. You would complain, but you know not whom to, or whether your treatment isn't, in fact, justified.

A vast causeway spans the expanse of frigid water between this end of the marina and a welcoming station on the far side. An immense gate of pearl, jade and lapis seems to float in the sky above it.

> x yacht
The largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar.

> x causeway
The causeway is made of cut stone, huge blocks of it, fitted perfectly together without cement, and interlocking in such a way that it supports its own weight without sagging. It rises in a long, gently sloping arc, supported by columns of ancient redwood, each post a single tree.

Wide enough to carry a hundred people walking shoulder to shoulder, and able to support ten thousand marching at a time, it gives you a cold feeling to see that it is currently deserted.

> n
You cannot. There is no that-direction.

> enter causeway
"Hello?" a young female voice calls out from your left, halting you for a moment.

Aboard the royal yacht, a bob of red hair pops into view. You can't see any features, but the body language is obvious even at this distance: surprise, a smile, and a spirited, friendly wave in your direction.

> x woman
You can't see any such thing.

> x yacht
The largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar.

Before you can even think how to react, the girl is in motion, her sunny blue frock spinning about her, trying to keep up with her various darting movements about the cabin.

> wave
You wave hello to the girl.

She comes skipping down the gangplank, head down, tucking items into her pockets. Then, she sees you again and calls out, "Hello!"

> enter yacht
It's too far away.

The girl runs over to you and shakes your hand. "Nice to meet you," she says. "I'm Polly."

> polly, hello
"Hello, Polly," you say.

She smiles.

She looks around, seeming both enchanted and then repulsed with disappointment. "This is a dreary lot of old boats," she says. "Why aren't there colours and balloons and magic things that go whizz!"

> ask polly about herself

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> ask polly about boats
You ask Polly about the marina ships.

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> talk to polly

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> x polly
She's a friendly-faced girl with a few light freckles to go with her pale skin and red hair. From the way she's dressed, and her formal way of speaking, you don't think she's a contemporary of yours, although she seems to have, as it were, just gotten off the boat.

"Oh, there's a playground over this bridge!" she says, peering up the grand causeway. "Oh, and in the sky! How does it float there? Do you think it's full of helium? This is a strange sky, it hasn't any clouds or sun but we can still see."

> x bridge
You can't see any such thing.

> ask polly about death

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> l

Marina dock
Your ferry boat rocks gently against the wooden dock. Ropes tie it off and park it in the bobbling water, in a busy and tangled marina of hundreds of such vessels. You seem to have gotten the no-frills ride, as the largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar. Of the other vessels, even the least of its cousins -- not counting yours -- is ornamented specific to a different culture.

"Shall we go, then?" Polly asks, tetching about. "There is so much more to see before we catch the train."

A vast causeway spans the expanse of frigid water between this end of the marina and a welcoming station on the far side. An immense gate of pearl, jade and lapis seems to float in the sky above it.

> out
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

She pulls from her pocket a gilt-edged train ticket. "Don't you have one? Oh, you haven't lost it, have you? I was told I must never, ever lose this or I'll be a lost soul. Perhaps I'll become a ghost! I could jump out and scare mean little boys!" she says with a wicked waggle of her fingers.

> enter causeway
You march towards the causeway.

"Oh, do go on ahead," Polly says.

You ascend the vast causeway. Its proportions are even greater than you thought -- as if your eyes could not comprehend its true scale. It takes the length of an autumn afternoon to climb its miles-long curve and cross its ultimate row of stones; it also seems to have taken no time at all.

Welcoming station
Like the entrance to a theme park, if such things floated in the clouds as they do in the imagination of a child. A broad plaza, open above to the sky, and ringed by a zen garden of smooth pale stones, raked into parallel lines that follow the circular curve of the plaza. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike like a sundial whose shadow always points north, no matter how long you stare at it.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

> save
Ok.

> x rose
The rose is represented as being in full bloom. At its center is a triangular spike.

Polly comes dashing up behind you, more or less materializing out of the mist. "Found you!" she says. Noticing the causeway has disappeared, she says, fretfully, "Why, we've no way back now. Oh, but how pretty this is! And I didn't like that other place at all, so never mind that it's gone!"

> x spike
The spike is about three feet tall, six inches across at its triangular base, and coming to an acute point at the top. It is made of some strange amalgam of metal and stone and wood, each of its three faces having a different texture and color.

The spike is set into a circular plug of marble at the center of the rose carving. It casts a short, sharply defined shadow across the rose, although the light source that casts it is not apparent.

"Oh look!" says Polly, dashing over to the edge of the plaza. "How lovely and beautiful they are, all the stones in pretty lines."

> x sapphire
Cut from a single gemstone, the sapphire turnstile is the entry point to a destination you cannot see. The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

She gets a wicked gleam in her eye and says, "I want to mess them up! Don't you just want to kick them all out of place?"

> x stones
A garden of smooth pale stones, raked into parallel lines that follow the circular curve of the plaza.

"Oh, isn't that funny," she says, ignoring you. "Look, if you disturb them, they set themselves right again."

> move stones
You would regret disturbing them.

Polly continues to gambol about the ring, kicking stones away as she pleases, dragging her feet back and forth, making deeper furrows and testing the limits. Eventually, the rocks fail to comb themselves back into place. Polly feigns indifference and sudden boredom, and gives the stones one last sulky kick. She turns and walks away, now interested in the turnstiles.

> x ruby
Cut from a single gemstone, the ruby turnstile is the entry point to a destination you cannot see. The ruby turnstile doesn't seem to move freely when you just try to push it without going through.

Polly says, "The turnstiles are all so pretty! I wonder what kind of rides they lead to. Probably wonderful, thrilling, romantic rides!"

> x topaz
Cut from a single gemstone, the topaz turnstile is the entry point to a destination you cannot see. The topaz turnstile grinds in its pivot-base with the rough sound of mortar and pestle.

> x purple
Cut from a single gemstone, the purple quartz turnstile is the entry point to a destination you cannot see. The quartz turnstile seems to spin more easily in the opposite direction from the other turnstiles.

Polly keenly waits for you to choose a turnstile. You can tell from her expression that she's mentally willing you to choose the way she wants you to, whatever that is.

> x polly
She's a friendly-faced girl with a few light freckles to go with her pale skin and red hair. From the way she's dressed, and her formal way of speaking, you don't think she's a contemporary of yours, although she seems to have, as it were, just gotten off the boat.

Polly keenly waits for you to choose a turnstile. "I know which one I'd pick," she says idly.

> ask polly about turnstile
(the turnstiles)
You ask Polly about the turnstiles.

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> enter ruby

"Oh," she says. "I wanted to try that one."

> l

Welcoming station
Like the entrance to a theme park, if such things floated in the clouds as they do in the imagination of a child. A broad plaza, open above to the sky, and ringed by a zen garden of smooth pale stones, raked into parallel lines that follow the circular curve of the plaza. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike like a sundial whose shadow always points north, no matter how long you stare at it.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths.

Polly is here, waiting for you to make a choice.

> enter sapphire

"Oh, not that one, that one's my favorite," she says.

"Okay," says Polly fixedly. She turns her back to you. When she turns around again, she has a tricky smile on her face, and she's teasingly holding her two closed fists out to you.

> touch left first
You can't see any such thing.

> touch left firt
You can't see any such thing.

> touch left fist
You feel nothing unexpected.

Polly is holding out her two closed fists to you. Rather patiently, for her.

> point at left fist
You point at Polly's left hand.

She opens her left hand to you, revealing an oval-cut topaz gemstone.

"Here you are," she says brightly. She puts the one in her right hand into her pocket, pointedly without letting you see which one it was, and fishes around until she finds another topaz. "Should we go in together? I've got two of them," she says.

> enter topaz
"Don't think you're going through there without me," she says resolutely.

The topaz turnstile grinds in its pivot-base with the rough sound of mortar and pestle.

You walk through into a blast of heat and a haze of brown and amber that slowly comes into focus around you. Sunlight shimmers in your eyes, making the wheat seem to glow from inside. You glance behind you, to see how far you've come, and see a long swath of trampled wheat cut down behind you. In front of you, endlessly more uncut wheat.

You shift the burden on your aching shoulder, and pause to let your callused feet have a slight rest.

Someone nearby snorts, letting you know there's no time for slacking, not during the harvest. The lord has decreed the harvest is ready, and the reapers take to the fields, and the ovens are heated.

Wheat field
The stalks of grass are dried golden brown now, waving in the hot breeze.

You can see some uncut wheat stalks here.

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a shoulder bag (being worn)

> x bag
A loose linen bag that you hold open with each slice of the sickle, to catch the wheat tips within.

The shoulder bag is empty.

> cut wheat
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

> g
(the uncut wheat stalks)
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

You've collected enough wheat for now. You return to the farm, where the grains are tied into bundles and stacked near the threshing floor.

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

> empty bag
harvested wheat tips: Dropped.

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

You can also see some harvested wheat tips here.

> x floor
(the threshing floor)
A large hard slab, covered with grain dust and dried husks.

What?

> give wheat to women
(the harvested wheat tips to the women laborers)
(first taking the harvested wheat tips)
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

You can also see some harvested wheat tips here.

> get tips
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

> talk to women
They are busy working for everyone's benefit. Please do not distract them.

> z
Time passes.

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

You can also see some harvested wheat tips here.

> x bundles
The wheat bundles have been neatly tied by the women, ready to now be threshed on the threshing floor.

> out
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

> n
The time for reaping in the fields is over for the day. The threshing and winnowing must be done now.

> thresh wheat
(the harvested wheat tips)
That does not make sense here.

> tie wheat
(the harvested wheat tips)
You would achieve nothing by this.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a shoulder bag (being worn)

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

You can also see some harvested wheat tips here.

> get tips
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a shoulder bag (being worn)

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

You can also see some harvested wheat tips here.

> x floor
(the threshing floor)
A large hard slab, covered with grain dust and dried husks.

> thresh wheat
(the harvested wheat tips)
That does not make sense here.

> restore
Ok.

> l

Wheat field
The stalks of grass are dried golden brown now, waving in the hot breeze.

You can see some uncut wheat stalks here.

> cut wheat
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

> g
(the uncut wheat stalks)
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

You've collected enough wheat for now. You return to the farm, where the grains are tied into bundles and stacked near the threshing floor.

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

> give bag to women
The bag of freshly cut wheat tips is whisked out of your hands. Just as quickly, a tied bundle of wheat is handed back to you, and you are scooted away to the edge of the threshing floor.

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

> i
You are carrying:
a wheat bundle
a sickle

> stack bundle
That's not a verb I recognise.

> put bundle on stack
(the wheat bundle on the stack of wheat bundles)
Putting things on the stack of wheat bundles would achieve nothing.

> i
You are carrying:
a wheat bundle
a sickle

> l

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

> x stack
The wheat bundles have been neatly tied by the women, ready to now be threshed on the threshing floor.

> thresh bundle
(the stack of wheat bundles)
You grab a bundle and thwack it against the floor, loosening the hulls from the grain.

The process continues through the late afternoon, until the threshing floor fills with loose grains. The sun is a red orb through the smoke of kiln fires as the afternoon latens.

A chant arises, saying, "Let the wind separate the chaff from the good grain, and the chaff be burned to ash."

"The wheat bundle has been threshed," says the lady with the large fan. "Take the loose grains and throw them in the air so I may winnow them."

> get grains
You grab a handful of the loosened grains.

She stands ready to fan the grains when you throw them in the air, to blow the remaining chaff from the wheat.

> throw grains
The winnowing begins. The grains are tossed high in the air, and the fans blow, and the papery chaff is separated from the ripe wheat. As you toss scoopfuls of grains into the air, the wind at your back begins to make you lose your footing.

You notice that you are tiny, and the fans are monstrously sized, trumpeting like elephant's nostrils, snorting and blowing hot gusts of wind. At the next gale, you are swept up in a whirlwind, tossed and buffeted. You land, hard, on a pile of shells. They break your fall, but not softly.

Chaff pile
The pile of chaff is not endless, but it goes on and on, the way a waste landfill does. Parts of it are on fire, not in flames but just smoldering, giving off toxic fumes. At the far end to the north, a great oven is being prepared and stoked. The chaff will all be burned.

Sitting in a rubble of what look like insect shells is a bronze key.

"Oh goodness!" Polly says, pointing to the distant oven. "Look at that poor thing! We've got to free him," she says.

Before you even can even see what it is she's talking about, Polly takes off running north towards the oven as a mammoth, slithering creature with hundreds of legs scuttles toward the bronze key.

> save
Ok.

> get key
(the bronze key)
The bronze key clinks onto the keyring.

> x creature
It is one of a number of things crawling and gnawing and creeping through the piles of burning chaff, as if the whole area were a plot of earth that had a garden stone lifted from it, revealing the unsettling multitude of squirming life that hide underneath.

What? I already took the key.

> n

You run off after Polly, who is proving to be maddeningly fleet, and unfazed by the thick heat of the air or the smoke that depletes it of oxygen. She is within 50 feet of the beast. With one backward glance you see the bronze key being gobbled into a pincer-lined maw.

Before the great oven
The great oven is the size of seven huts, made of clay bricks and sandstone. At the edges it is a sinister cherry red, but near its belching, windy core it is yellow and fire white. To the north is the long road home.

There is a great snapping sound, and a hush falls over the landscape like a shadow of silence. The dragon, loosed from its bonds, rears up, stretching its neck and shoulders, and spreading its scaled wings to their full span.

Polly says to the dragon, "Be free now! I've freed you!"

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

The great serpent gives a scorching howl, lashes its tail at the pile of shells and bones you're standing on, and takes to the darkening sky. There is a great earthquake, and the piles of shells tumble and collapse around you. From above, the sound of thunder, of seven thunders.

> x dragon
You can't see any such thing.

> l

Before the great oven
The great oven is the size of seven huts, made of clay bricks and sandstone. At the edges it is a sinister cherry red, but near its belching, windy core it is yellow and fire white. To the north is the long road home.

A hard rain begins to fall. Polly is nowhere to be seen.

Huh, I thought the dragon had left.

> x oven
The great oven is the size of seven huts, made of clay bricks and sandstone. At the edges it is a sinister cherry red, but near its belching, windy core it is yellow and fire white. To the north is the long road home.
Chained in front of the belly of the great oven is a dragon, keeping the oven alive by breathing flames into it.

> x dragon
You can't see any such thing.

> n

Long road home
The road is clotted with muddy ash, and a vapor rolls in as you progress, making you lose your connection to the landscape. You halt at what seems to be like a dead end, as memories of a different existence are suddenly opened within your mind.

You can see the exit turnstile here.

> exit
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

> go through turnstile
The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

Welcoming station
A broad plaza, floating in a cloud and open above to the sky, now ringed by a garden of stout, vertical evergreens whose roots are enshrubbed and flowered. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike at its center that seems to have split at the top to let a leafy shoot reach the light.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the the topaz turnstile.

> save
Ok.

> go through sapphire
The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

It's been snowing for days, removing all trace of the way home. Your stomach is gnarled with pangs of hunger, and only the scent of wood smoke burning somewhere in the air keeps you going. If you don't find food and shelter soon, you don't think you will make it.

Field of snow
Nothing but snow from horizon to horizon.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> eat grains
The grains are still inedible. They must be winnowed, then ground into flour before they can be baked into bread.

> grind grains
That's not a verb I recognise.

> n
You blaze a trail from the south to the north.

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a south trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

Snow begins to fall again, harder than before.

> knock on door
You knock with desperation on the front door. Each rap of your frozen knuckles on the hard, cold wood of the door sends pain shooting up your arm.

> open door
It seems to be locked.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

The snow is beginning to cover your arms and legs.

> unlock door
What do you want to unlock the door with?

> bronze key
That doesn't seem to be something you can unlock.

Pah, you said it was locked.

> unlock door with brass key
That doesn't seem to be something you can unlock.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

The snow now covers most of your body.

> x plough
The old plough won't do you any good. You rest wearily on it for a moment, catching your breath, straining to settle the knot of unbearable hunger in your stomach.

> n
You blaze a trail from the south to the north.

Trail bend northeast
You reach a point where the path bends around a small hill. Paths run from the south to the northeast.

You can see a trail to the south here.

> ne
You blaze a trail from the southwest to the northeast.

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see two trails (a southwest trail and a northwest trail) here.

> s
The lake is frozen, but the ice is too thin to walk on.

> ne
You blaze a trail from the southwest to the northeast.

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see a trail to the southwest here.

> undo
Lakeshore
[Previous turn undone.]

> nw
The ground becomes treacherous in that direction. You can't go that way after all.

> sw

Trail bend northeast
You reach a point where the path bends around a small hill. Paths run from the south to the northeast.

You can see two trails (a northeast trail and a south trail) here.

> s

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

You can also see a trail to the north here.

The snow covers your head. You feel sleepy now.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

You close your eyes... just for a moment.

Everything fades to to dark red, breaking up into paint-splatters of bluish-black before it finally goes very, very dark.

It is now pitch dark in here!

> w
You cannot. There is no that-direction.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> get up
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

> feel eyes
You reach up to your eyes, and find a coin lying on each eyelid. The pair of them clink solidly in your palm as you grasp them and hold them to your chest, their weight a strange, happy relief -- a tangible symbol that your existence has continued, in some way, even though your life has ended.

You open your eyes.

Underworld (on the floor)
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

You can see a ferry boat here.

> get in boat
You board the ferry boat. Death swings his great staff over the rail and plunges it into the shallows. At once, the boat moves away from shore. It plunges straight into the mist, and the cavern walls are lost from sight. Without the gentle sound of swishing, swirling waters, you could imagine being in the gondola of a balloon, floating high in the clouds.

Aboard the ferry
The river flows around you. Death stands aft, using his scythe as a rudder. You are at the prow, staring into the mist.

Death prods you again with his toe.

> give coins to death
You place the coins in Death's open palm.

Death prods you again with his toe.

Somehow I got in the boat without getting up.

> get up
As you jump over the side of the boat, Death raises his scythe behind him and brings it down upon you with a quickened slash. You are cleaved in two parts at the waist, your upper half falling into the river, which boils cold around you, freezing you in ice. Your still-kicking legs are thrown in after you, and you watch their quiescence with no faint horror.

The current carries you downstream, frozen, halved, dead and aware... oblivion comes slowly. The dark frozen silence, the madness-inducing loneliness, is eternal.

There is nothing beyond the door but chaos.

> z
Time passes.

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> n
You can't go that way.

> i
You are carrying nothing.

> w
You can't go that way.

> e
You can't go that way.

> sleep
You aren't feeling especially drowsy.

> wake
The dreadful truth is, this is not a dream.

> scream
That's not a verb I recognise.

> shout
I didn't understand that sentence.

> sing
You sing, as boldly as you can manage. Waves come into being in the chaos, then distort and fly apart.

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> die
Are you sure you want to quit? n

> x stir
You can't see any such thing.

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> e
You can't go that way.

> w
You can't go that way.

> n
You can't go that way.

> s
You can't go that way.

> x me
You have no recollection.

> xyzzy
Done.

*** Your story continues, but it is you who shall write it ***

Would you like to RESTART, RESTORE a saved game, UNDO your last move, or QUIT?
>
undo
Chaos
[Previous turn undone.]

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> e
You can't go that way.

> w
You can't go that way.

Does this mean I lost or what?

> l

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> jump
You jump on the spot, fruitlessly.

> x chaos
You can't see any such thing.

> blah
That's not a verb I recognise.

> restore
Ok.

> l

Welcoming station
A broad plaza, floating in a cloud and open above to the sky, now ringed by a garden of stout, vertical evergreens whose roots are enshrubbed and flowered. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike at its center that seems to have split at the top to let a leafy shoot reach the light.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the the topaz turnstile.

> enter ruby
As your hand goes to the ruby turnstile, it seems to pull a fast one on you: it rotates the ground open underneath you, and you slide down into the ground, into a deep red light.

There is a musical fanfare as a spotlight hits you, and you hear the cheerful applause of a lively audience.

You Bet Your Afterlife!
Blinded by the glare of the studio lights, heating you to a sweltering degree from above, you can barely make out the tittering studio audience sitting in bleachers up to the rafters. Your feet are nailed to your mark on the floor, right next to the high-rise desk from which a dark-suited host looks down at you over the tops of his round spectacles.

"Good evening and welcome to You Bet Your Afterlife. Say the secret word and win a hundred Glgntz. Anything you say may be held against you. Or if you say 'Marilyn Monroe,' then held against me."

He lights the end of a big black cigar with a wooden match, then stares at you with his chin in his hand, as if waiting for you to say something.

> say xyzzy
(to the host)
"Mnuuhhhmuh?" you say tentatively.

"If that's the best you can do, I'm not sure you're ready for the lightning round." He flips through some cards. "Though according to this, you've already been through the lightning round."

You find yourself unable to speak.

"'Samatter, cat got your tongue?" the host says.

The host turns expectantly to the wings of the stage. He turns to the audience a moment later and says, "I'm sure you can all see this coming."

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

A black cat runs across the stage, holding something pink and floppy in its teeth, which it drops off as a present at your feet. There is a shriek of laughter as the cat prances off again. "Well what do you know, apparently it has," the host says.

> hit man with sickle
You can't see any such thing.

> x man
You can't see any such thing.

> x host
Wearing a judge's wig and robe over a dark burgundy suit, he presides somewhat casually over the proceedings, as if he's bored and hoping for a little entertainment.

He looks over at the audience and says, "Is everyone this slow, or is Einstein playing with general relativity again? A broken clock is right twice a day, except in Einstein's universe, where space is curved, time is an illusion, and everything is relative, especially my Uncle Mortimer."

> hit host with sickle
I only understood you as far as wanting to hit the host.

> throw sickle at host
You lack the nerve when it comes to the crucial moment.

The host leans over you and says, "You realize I'm just filling airtime while we wait for you to pick that up, don't you?"

> get all
tongue: Taken.
host: I don't suppose the host would care for that.
bleachers: They're hardly portable.
desk: That's hardly portable.
studio lights: They're hardly portable.
stage wings: They're hardly portable.
mark: That's hardly portable.
cuecard: That's hardly portable.

He sees you holding the wiggling tongue and says, "Well, off we go, then," the host says.

"Now, we're here to play the game," the host says, hushing the room. "We all know how the game is played, right?" He looks right at you. "Do you know how the game is played?"

Another bug.

> x cuecard

[** Programming error: tried to find the "child" of nothing **]

[** Programming error: tried to "give" an attribute to nothing **]

[** Programming error: nothing (object number 0) has no property mytopic to write to **]
You don't see any cuecards at the moment.

The host puffs on his cigar. "Well? Yes or no?" he asks you.

> l

You Bet Your Afterlife!
Blinded by the glare of the studio lights, heating you to a sweltering degree from above, you can barely make out the tittering studio audience sitting in bleachers up to the rafters. Your feet are nailed to your mark on the floor, right next to the high-rise desk from which a dark-suited host looks down at you over the tops of his round spectacles.

The host puffs on his cigar. "Well? Yes or no?" he asks you.

> x spectacles
You can't see any such thing.

> x host
Wearing a judge's wig and robe over a dark burgundy suit, he presides somewhat casually over the proceedings, as if he's bored and hoping for a little entertainment.

The host puffs on his cigar. "Well? Yes or no?" he asks you.

> say yes
(to the host)
You say, "Yes."

"Here's how the game is played. I'll give you a list of items. If you can find them, you'll win a big surprise!" The host wiggles his eyebrows and rolls his eyes, to hoots from the audience. "A bronze key, a loaf of pumpernickel bread, a bottle of bleach, an hourglass, and a train ticket."

"How does that sound? Are you willing to bet your afterlife on it?"

The host puffs on his cigar. "Well? Yes or no?" he asks you.

> say yes
(to the host)
You say, "Yes."

"Think you can do it? Well, come back when you have them all. Don't bring them one at a time, bring 'em all here in a whole bunch or the ritual won't work."

A turnstile made of black obsidian appears in a flash of stage effects, to oohs and murmurs from the audience.

The host puffs on his cigar. "Well? Yes or no?" he asks you.

> say yes
(to the host)
You say, "Yes."

"What is it, that's bigger than a fruitbat, smaller than a galaxy, rounder than a melon, and high above a harvest?"

He stares out at the audience, which slowly lathers to a boil of laughter. The host says, "It'll catch up to the rest of you later."

The host puffs on his cigar.

> say sun
(to the host)
There is no reply.

The host puffs on his cigar.

> say aardvark
(to the host)
There is no reply.

The host puffs on his cigar.

> l

You Bet Your Afterlife!
Blinded by the glare of the studio lights, heating you to a sweltering degree from above, you can barely make out the tittering studio audience sitting in bleachers up to the rafters. Your feet are nailed to your mark on the floor, right next to the high-rise desk from which a dark-suited host looks down at you over the tops of his round spectacles.

The host puffs on his cigar.

You can also see the obsidian turnstile here.

> x feet
You can't see any such thing.

> save
Ok.

> enter turnstile
The obsidian turnstile turns in its base with a slick, oily feel.

Welcoming station
The plaza, ringed by a garden of stout, vertical evergreens whose roots are enshrubbed and flowered, now seems lifted higher into the open sky and nearer to the floating gate above it. The compass rose at its center is buckled along its petal carvings, sporting green shoots and grasses between every crack. The triangular spike has been swallowed completely by the trunk of a great alabaster tree, which has grown not just upward but outward, providing a leafy canopy and a good deal of shade.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the two turnstiles (the ruby turnstile and the topaz turnstile).

> save
Ok.

> enter sapphire
The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

It's been snowing for days, removing all trace of the way home. Your stomach is gnarled with pangs of hunger, and only the scent of wood smoke burning somewhere in the air keeps you going. If you don't find food and shelter soon, you don't think you will make it.

Field of snow
Nothing but snow from horizon to horizon.

> s
You blaze a trail from the north to the south.

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> se
You blaze a trail from the northwest to the southeast.

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see a trail to the northwest here.

> undo
Frozen creek
[Previous turn undone.]

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

Snow begins to fall again, harder than before.

> get plough
It's frozen solid.

> knock on door
You knock with desperation on the front door. Each rap of your frozen knuckles on the hard, cold wood of the door sends pain shooting up your arm.

> look through window
You can't see any such thing.

> look through windows
You can't see any such thing.

> break door
Violence isn't the answer to this one.

The snow is beginning to cover your arms and legs.

> shout
I didn't understand that sentence.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> in
You can't, since the door is in the way.

> open door
It seems to be locked.

The snow now covers most of your body.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> w

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> n

Field of snow
Nothing but snow from horizon to horizon.

You can see a trail to the south here.

> s

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> se
You blaze a trail from the northwest to the southeast.

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see a trail to the northwest here.

> nw

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> w
You blaze a trail from the east to the west.

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see two trails (an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> e

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see three trails (a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

The snow covers your head. You feel sleepy now.

> sleep
You aren't feeling especially drowsy.

You close your eyes... just for a moment.

Everything fades to to dark red, breaking up into paint-splatters of bluish-black before it finally goes very, very dark.

It is now pitch dark in here!

> i
You are numb and unable to tell what you are carrying or wearing.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> wake
The dreadful truth is, this is not a dream.

> get up
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> remove coins
(first taking the coins)
You reach up to your eyes, and find a coin lying on each eyelid. The pair of them clink solidly in your palm as you grasp them and hold them to your chest, their weight a strange, happy relief -- a tangible symbol that your existence has continued, in some way, even though your life has ended.

You open your eyes.

Underworld (on the floor)
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

You can see a ferry boat here.

> get up
You get off the floor.

Underworld
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

You can see a ferry boat here.

Death stares impassively at you, as from behind, the misty curtain curls open to let a dark wooden shape through.

Wah.

> get in boat
Which do you mean, the boat or the ferry boat?

> get in ferry boat
Which do you mean, the boat or the ferry boat?

>
I beg your pardon?

> l

Underworld
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

The simple wooden ark floats silently on the shoreline, gently rocking against the stone, far from the distant mist.

You can also see a ferry boat here.

> get in
That isn't available.

The wooden boat arrives at the edge of the river with a gentle scrape. Death stands before it and raises his bony arm to block you. Then he slowly opens his palm.

> x ark
You can't see any such thing.

> give coins to death
You place the coins in Death's open palm.

At once, Death is no longer standing on the shore, but inside the boat, like a mast rippling with black sails. He makes no further gesture; he has no need to.

> x ark
You can't see any such thing.

> l

Underworld
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

You can see a ferry boat here.

> enter boat
You board the ferry boat. Death swings his great staff over the rail and plunges it into the shallows. At once, the boat moves away from shore. It plunges straight into the mist, and the cavern walls are lost from sight. Without the gentle sound of swishing, swirling waters, you could imagine being in the gondola of a balloon, floating high in the clouds.

Aboard the ferry
The river flows around you. Death stands aft, using his scythe as a rudder. You are at the prow, staring into the mist.

> z
The boat sails quietly along through the chill and mist, your sense of being underground having vanished somewhere along the way. Distant shapes start appearing up ahead, soon revealed as the outlines of other boats, all bobbing along the dock of a gloomy marina.

Marina dock
Your ferry boat rocks gently against the wooden dock. Ropes tie it off and park it in the bobbling water, in a busy and tangled marina of hundreds of such vessels. You seem to have gotten the no-frills ride, as the largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar. Of the other vessels, even the least of its cousins -- not counting yours -- is ornamented specific to a different culture.

A vast causeway spans the expanse of frigid water between this end of the marina and a welcoming station on the far side. An immense gate of pearl, jade and lapis seems to float in the sky above it.

> out
But you aren't in anything at the moment.

> enter causeway
You ascend the vast causeway. Its proportions are even greater than you thought -- as if your eyes could not comprehend its true scale. It takes the length of an autumn afternoon to climb its miles-long curve and cross its ultimate row of stones; it also seems to have taken no time at all.

Welcoming station
The plaza, ringed by a garden of stout, vertical evergreens whose roots are enshrubbed and flowered, now seems lifted higher into the open sky and nearer to the floating gate above it. The compass rose at its center is buckled along its petal carvings, sporting green shoots and grasses between every crack. The triangular spike has been swallowed completely by the trunk of a great alabaster tree, which has grown not just upward but outward, providing a leafy canopy and a good deal of shade.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the two turnstiles (the ruby turnstile and the topaz turnstile).

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> enter sapphire
The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

It's been snowing for days, removing all trace of the way home. Your stomach is gnarled with pangs of hunger, and only the scent of wood smoke burning somewhere in the air keeps you going. If you don't find food and shelter soon, you don't think you will make it.

Field of snow
Nothing but snow from horizon to horizon.

You can see a trail to the south here.

> n
You blaze a trail from the south to the north.

Barren copse
The only trees for miles around are barren of leaves and sagging with the weight of ice and snow on their spindly limbs. Over a hill to the southwest, the snow slopes down to an icy lake. A fence bars the way to the west.

You can see a trail to the south here.

> x fence
You can't see any such thing.

> sw
You blaze a trail from the northeast to the southwest.

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see two trails (a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> s
The lake is frozen, but the ice is too thin to walk on.

> x ice
You can't see any such thing.

> nw
The ground becomes treacherous in that direction. You can't go that way after all.

> sw
You blaze a trail from the northeast to the southwest.

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> x plough
The old plough won't do you any good. You rest wearily on it for a moment, catching your breath, straining to settle the knot of unbearable hunger in your stomach.

> x bridge
The bridge leads west to the snowy fields.

> x house
You can't see any such thing.

> x door
The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> e
You blaze a trail from the west to the east.

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see four trails (a west trail, a southwest trail, a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> undo
Farmhouse
[Previous turn undone.]

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> smell
Baking bread, hot soup, roast lamb... your stomach spasms at the thought of being able to eat the least crumb of it.

> x smoke
You can't see any such thing.

> w

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> w

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see two trails (an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> w
You blaze a trail from the east to the west.

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see four trails (an east trail, a southwest trail, a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> w
You blaze a trail from the east to the west.

Trail bend northwest
You reach a point where the path bends around a small hill. Paths run from the east to the northwest.

You can see a trail to the east here.

> w
You can't go that way.

> s
You can't go that way.

> nw
You blaze a trail from the southeast to the northwest.

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see four trails (a southeast trail, a west trail, an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> nw

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> x tongue
It's a pink, wet, floppy tongue.

> put tongue in mouth
You can't see any such thing.

> eat tongue
You swallow the tongue, and it becomes part of your mouth. Weird.

> shout
I didn't understand that sentence.

> scream
That's not a verb I recognise.

> knock on door
You knock again, hoping to knock louder this time, but the pain makes that too difficult. Using the side of your hand, you knock again, as hard as you can, and hear movement inside.

> g
You scratch at the door, and there are muffled voices, perhaps an argument about whether to let you in. You sit on the stoop and wait. The door opens a crack. Evening supper is being prepared in the kitchen. A fire glows in the front fireplace. Warmth flows out, as does a sense of family, home, and belonging-- of which you are not a part.

A voice within says, "Who is there?"

> talk to voice
You can't see any such thing.

> say hello
(to yourself)
There is no reply.

> knock on door
You needn't knock on a door that's already open.

> in
A voice says, "Who are you, that you come knocking? Who is a stranger, and who has hunger? You are not welcome, for many who desire to sup and eat will be turned away."

The door slams shut.

> undo
Farmhouse
[Previous turn undone.]

> x voice
You can't see any such thing.

> x person
You can't see any such thing.

> x kitchen
You can't see any such thing.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is open a crack. Warmth and light and enticing aromas escape from it.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> enter
A voice says, "Who are you, that you come knocking? Who is a stranger, and who has hunger? You are not welcome, for many who desire to sup and eat will be turned away."

The door slams shut.

> save
Ok.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> knock
What do you want to knock on?

> door
You knock, but it will not open again.

> w

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> w

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> ne

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see five trails (a west trail, an east trail, a southwest trail, a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> e

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see four trails (a southeast trail, a west trail, an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> w

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see five trails (a west trail, an east trail, a southwest trail, a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> s
The lake is frozen, but the ice is too thin to walk on.

> s
The lake is frozen, but the ice is too thin to walk on.

> w

Trail bend northwest
You reach a point where the path bends around a small hill. Paths run from the east to the northwest.

You can see two trails (a northwest trail and an east trail) here.

> sw
You can't go that way.

> ne
You can't go that way.

> nw

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see four trails (a southeast trail, a west trail, an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> nw

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> x plough
The old plough won't do you any good. You rest wearily on it for a moment, catching your breath, straining to settle the knot of unbearable hunger in your stomach.

> z
Time passes.

> knock on door
You knock, but it will not open again.

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue (being worn)
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> burn farmhouse
This dangerous act would achieve little.

> cut door with sickle
You can't cut anything with that.

> unlock door
What do you want to unlock the door with?

> bronze key
That doesn't seem to be something you can unlock.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue (being worn)
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> x topaz
A topaz gemstone token, oval-cut into a coin-like token.

> w

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> w

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see four trails (a southeast trail, a west trail, an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> e

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

I have no idea what to do now, although I don't seem to be dying this time for some reason.

> l

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> hint
[ Hints not available in this release. ]

> l

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> se

Dark woods
The dark woods offer no more warmth or protection than the open fields, and a greater sense of being lost. Even pine cones would look appetizing to you now, but you see nothing but snow.

You can see four trails (a southeast trail, a west trail, an east trail and a northwest trail) here.

> climb tree
You can't see any such thing.

> nw

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> ne

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see five trails (a west trail, an east trail, a southwest trail, a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> help
God helps those who help themselves.

> s
The lake is frozen, but the ice is too thin to walk on.

> sw

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see four trails (a northeast trail, a west trail, a north trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> restore
Ok.

> l

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

> x me
You have no recollection.

> knock on door
You knock again, hoping to knock louder this time, but the pain makes that too difficult. Using the side of your hand, you knock again, as hard as you can, and hear movement inside.

> g
You scratch at the door, and there are muffled voices, perhaps an argument about whether to let you in. You sit on the stoop and wait. The door opens a crack. Evening supper is being prepared in the kitchen. A fire glows in the front fireplace. Warmth flows out, as does a sense of family, home, and belonging-- of which you are not a part.

A voice within says, "Who is there?"

> enter
A voice says, "Who are you, that you come knocking? Who is a stranger, and who has hunger? You are not welcome, for many who desire to sup and eat will be turned away."

The door slams shut.

> i
You are carrying:
a tongue
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
a topaz
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> e
You blaze a trail from the west to the east.

Lakeshore
The field of snow slopes with subtle treachery down to the shores of a lake to the south.

You can see four trails (a west trail, a southwest trail, a northeast trail and a northwest trail) here.

> w

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

You can also see a trail to the east here.

> restore
Ok.

> l

Welcoming station
Like the entrance to a theme park, if such things floated in the clouds as they do in the imagination of a child. A broad plaza, open above to the sky, and ringed by a zen garden of smooth pale stones, raked into parallel lines that follow the circular curve of the plaza. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike like a sundial whose shadow always points north, no matter how long you stare at it.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

Polly comes dashing up behind you, more or less materializing out of the mist. "Found you!" she says. Noticing the causeway has disappeared, she says, fretfully, "Why, we've no way back now. Oh, but how pretty this is! And I didn't like that other place at all, so never mind that it's gone!"

> x turnstile
(the turnstiles)
A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different exits. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

"Oh look!" says Polly, dashing over to the edge of the plaza. "How lovely and beautiful they are, all the stones in pretty lines."

> choose sapphire
You point at the sapphire turnstile. Interesting choice.

She gets a wicked gleam in her eye and says, "I want to mess them up! Don't you just want to kick them all out of place?"

> enter sapphire
"Fine, go off on your own, I don't care," Polly says.

The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

It's been snowing for days, removing all trace of the way home. Your stomach is gnarled with pangs of hunger, and only the scent of wood smoke burning somewhere in the air keeps you going. If you don't find food and shelter soon, you don't think you will make it.

Field of snow
Nothing but snow from horizon to horizon.

> e
You blaze a trail from the west to the east.

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a west trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

Snow begins to fall again, harder than before.

> i
You are carrying:
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> x me
You have no recollection.

> knock on door
You knock with desperation on the front door. Each rap of your frozen knuckles on the hard, cold wood of the door sends pain shooting up your arm.

The snow is beginning to cover your arms and legs.

> g
You knock again, hoping to knock louder this time, but the pain makes that too difficult. Using the side of your hand, you knock again, as hard as you can, and hear movement inside.

> g
You scratch at the door, and there are muffled voices, perhaps an argument about whether to let you in. You sit on the stoop and wait. The door opens a crack. Evening supper is being prepared in the kitchen. A fire glows in the front fireplace. Warmth flows out, as does a sense of family, home, and belonging-- of which you are not a part.

A voice within says, "Who is there?"

So this is different if you follow the walkthrough, but I don't know why.

I still can't get further, though. I'm going to play the whole walkthrough from the beginning.

> enter
A voice says, "Who are you, that you come knocking? Who is a stranger, and who has hunger? You are not welcome, for many who desire to sup and eat will be turned away."

The door slams shut.

The snow covers your head. You feel sleepy now.

You close your eyes... just for a moment.

Everything fades to to dark red, breaking up into paint-splatters of bluish-black before it finally goes very, very dark.

It is now pitch dark in here!

> x me
You're feeling a little confused now. You imagine there's quite a stupid expression on your face.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> i
You are numb and unable to tell what you are carrying or wearing.

> enter
You cannot. There is no that-direction.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> restart
Are you sure you want to restart? y

What a godawful storm this is. Lightning cracks in blue-white webby streaks every few seconds, followed by ear-splitting KA-THOOOMS of thunder. So much for the "Clear skies and sunshine through the weekend!" weather report of the noonday broadcast. You remind yourself to kick that soapy-headed pretty boy meteorologist in the ass when you get to the studio... yawp! The wind is shoving your car off the road. Man, this sucks balls.

KA-KI-KA-KAR-BALOOOM!

Cripes, that one was close. Did a cow just explode?

The 12:54 to Asgard
Interactive fiction by J. Robinson Wheeler
Release 1 / Serial number 100928 / Inform v6.31 Library 6/11 S

Studio A backstage
You drive on to the studio, running as quickly as possible from your car to the backstage door. You misread a puddle's width, and skid to a near pratfall in the mud outside. Ignoring it, you throw the door open and stomp inside, soaking wet, muddy, and pissed off.

Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> x east
You glance in that direction.

> look in bucket
In the plastic bucket are some dirty water and a sponge.

> get sponge
Taken.

> wring it
You wring as much of the water as you can out of the sponge, back into the plastic bucket.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Sheez, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

You can also see a pair of work gloves here.

> get gloves
Taken.

> wear them
You put on the pair of work gloves.

> climb rigging
Treacherous. Dangerous. Mad. Okay.

On the truss of the lighting grid
You're of two minds about this. One is that it is absolutely crazy to be crouching here on top of the burning lamps themselves, the other is that it's really exciting and interesting, something you never get to see. Particularly thick rivulets of water cascading over the backs and faces of burning hot lamps, breaking into sparks of color and light.

You can see a screwdriver here.

> x screwdriver
A screwdriver with a tip that flips around to be either a flathead or a Phillips-tip. This really should be put away where it belongs.

> get screwdriver
Taken.

> u

On the catwalk
Sheez, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> u

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring through a completely pathetic attempt at taping a piece of cardboard over the hole. It has warped into a perfect sluice-shape, funneling a jet of water to splatter across the breadth of the lighting grid.

You can also see a roll of tape, some screws and an electric drill here.

> get all
bad-boy cable: That's fixed in place.
main leak: That's fixed in place.
roll of tape: Taken.
screws: Taken.
electric drill: Taken.
lighting grid: That's hardly portable.
rain drips: They're hardly portable.
J-hooks: You don't need to mess with those. They're just there.

> x main leak
You can easily see the main leak in the roof from here. It's a three-inch wide, diamond-shaped hole -- probably made by someone's shoe-heel -- and water is just draining down it like an open faucet. Thanks to a completely pathetic attempt at taping a piece of cardboard over the hole, a wet piece of taped cardboard is funneling a jet of water across the breadth of the lighting grid.

> hit cardboard
As soon as you even think about touching it, the thing breaks apart and flies off in a paper-airplane death spiral, never to be seen again.

> x cable
This monster cable is a bundle of lighting and computer-control cables all bound up in a thick rubber skin to make one big one. It looks like it's been chewed on by rats or pigeons or something, exposing the inner wiring. You hope they stopped chewing at the outer insulation.

> x hole
You can easily see the main leak in the roof from here. It's a three-inch wide, diamond-shaped hole -- probably made by someone's shoe-heel -- and water is just draining down it like an open faucet.

> d

On the catwalk
Sheez, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> d
You clomp back down the spiral stairs, and slip on the bottom stair, catching yourself on the railing as your boot goes out in front of you. Whoa, sheezus.

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> e

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property. There's a jug of fertilizer and a feather boa here. Yeah, whatever.

Here's something you don't remember seeing lying around before: a battered old suitcase.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

You can also see some bleach here.

> smell bleach
It smells like concentrated chlorine bleach.

> get all
suitcase: Taken.
lost-and-found box: You're the one who ordered that the box be kept in one spot everyone remembers and never be moved around. They threw everything random into your closet for three days while the box went missing. You can't imagine going through that again.
bleach: This doesn't belong here! This should be in the corner of the closet with the other cleaning supplies.
Taken.
leaky roof: You took a leak before you left the house tonight.
rain drips: They're hardly portable.
props corner: That's hardly portable.

> x box
The box for lost items, usually left in the studio by guests and visitors. A large triangular chunk has been torn out of the side of the box. In the box are some light bulbs, a coffee mug, some batteries, some nails and a tiny seed.

> get seed
Taken.

> get nails
Taken.

> get mug
Taken.

> get bulbs
Taken.

> get batteries
Taken.

> lick batteries
Yeow! Electro-metallic.

> x junk
There's a jug of fertilizer and a feather boa here.

> get all from junk
jug of fertilizer: Removed.
feather boa: Removed.

> shake jug
Something rattles around in there.

> empty jug
rutabaga: Dropped.

> get rutabaga
Taken.

> smell it
Exultant in its rutabaganess.

> lick it
You taste nothing unexpected.

> smell jug
Smells like... nitrogen-rich organic compounds. To put it nicely.

> smell boa
You smell nothing unexpected.

> x suitcase
It's an old suitcase, big as a boxcar, covered in sticky leather that's worn and faded from its original brown to a kind of patchy orange.

Dangling from its beefy handle is a luggage tag. The suitcase is closed.

> open it
You open the old suitcase. In the suitcase is a pair of fuzzy socks.

> read the tag
In a flat leather sleeve with a plastic window, there's a printed card, yellowed with age. Instead of a name and address, it reads: "You can't take it with you," only there's a cigarette burn in the plastic blotching out the apostrophe-T.

> get suitcase
You already have that.

> put all in it
rutabaga: Done.
feather boa: Done.
jug of fertilizer: The jug of fertilizer won't fit in the suitcase.
batteries: Done.
light bulbs: Done.
coffee mug: Done.
nails: Done.
tiny seed: Done.
bleach: The bleach won't fit in the suitcase.
electric drill: Done.
screws: Done.
roll of tape: Done.
screwdriver: Done.
sponge: Done.

> i
You are carrying:
an open suitcase (which is open)
a sponge
a screwdriver
a roll of tape
some screws
an electric drill
a tiny seed
some nails
a coffee mug
some light bulbs
some batteries
a feather boa
a rutabaga
a pair of fuzzy socks
a jug of fertilizer
some bleach
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> l

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property. Yeah, whatever.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

> save
Ok.

> smile
You smile, and make a silly face, and laugh for no reason at all. Strange, but you do feel a little more cheerful now.

> l

Props corner
Where all old studio junk goes to die. You've looked through this stuff before, trying to find something that'd even clear a few bucks at a yard sale, but management caught you at it and declared every piece of crap here to be off-limits private property.

Tucked into a dark part of the corner is the lost-and-found box.

> w

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> nw

Behind the set
Nothing to see here but a dank corridor of padded gray walls, like the inside of an asylum, which as far as you're concerned, it is. A locked door marked "Maintenance Staff Only" (that's you) lies north, and the glare of the studio is back to the southeast.

The maintenance closet door is closed and locked up tight.

> x door
The maintenance closet door is closed and locked up tight.

> unlock door
(with the brass key)
With a smile, you unlock and open the maintenance closet door. Ah, your home, your domain. Everything in order, unlike every other square foot of this place.

> in
Just crossing the threshhold makes you feel a little better about everything. Cleaning supplies lined up in the corner, tools hanging smartly from the gear rack, and everything else organized and sorted into labeled plastic tubs...

Aw. What's happened here?

Maintenance closet
All your stuff is in the wrong places or dumped on the floor. What's with people? Be nice once and a while and don't f-- up a guy's stuff when he's not there. And then call him in late at night to do something quite honestly pretty whucking dangerous.

Screw it, you think. Do the job and get out. They can clean this up.

On the gear rack is a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a roof tile and a piece of tar paper), a gardening spade, a rubber sheet, shit, some rubber bands and a broom here.

> clean closet
Good idea. How to do that?

> get all from corner
mop: Removed.
roof tile: Removed.
piece of tar paper: Removed.

> x tar paper
A dark sheet of sticky film with a rough paper backing.

> wear tar paper
You stick the tar paper to your shirt.

> get all
corner of the closet: That's fixed in place.
gardening spade: Taken.
rubber sheet: Taken.
shit: Taken.
rubber bands: Taken.
broom: This should be in the corner of the closet with the other cleaning supplies.
Taken.
gear rack: That's hardly portable.
plastic tubs: They're hardly portable.

> put broom in corner
You put the broom in the corner where it belongs.

Fine, fine. Waste of... mumble mumble.

> put bleach in corner
You put the bleach in the corner where it belongs.

Fine, fine. Waste of... mumble mumble.

> put sponge in corner
You need to be holding the sponge before you can put it into something else.

> get sponge
Taken.

> put sponge in corner
You put the sponge in the corner where it belongs.

Fine, fine. Waste of... mumble mumble.

> put mop in corner
You put the mop in the corner where it belongs.

With a brief smile of satisfaction, you step back and appreciate the difference. All is well in this corner of the closet. Still not worth the trouble when there's a real job to do, you think.

> x corner
Nothing special about this corner of the closet, except that it's where you like to neatly store the cleaning supplies. It's some kind of mystical feng shui thing with you. In the corner are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom.

> l

Maintenance closet
This is your home, your domain, where things are supposed to go where you can always find them again: cleaning supplies, the gear rack, and the shelves of plastic tubs. You're starting to feel a little better about the state of things in your little home base here. The cleaning supplies are neatly in the corner.

On the gear rack is a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom) here.

> get all from tubs
Removed.

> put vice grips on the gear rack
You put the vice grips on the gear rack where it belongs.

> put drill on gear rack
You need to be holding the electric drill before you can put it on top of something else.

> get all from suitcase
screwdriver: Removed.
roll of tape: Removed.
screws: Removed.
electric drill: Removed.
tiny seed: Removed.
nails: Removed.
coffee mug: Removed.
light bulbs: Removed.
batteries: Removed.
feather boa: Removed.
rutabaga: Removed.
pair of fuzzy socks: Removed.

> put screwdriver on gear rack
You put the screwdriver on the gear rack where it belongs.

> put drill on gear rack
You put the electric drill on the gear rack where it belongs.

With a smile of satisfaction, you step back and appreciate the difference. All is well in this part of the closet. Maybe it is worth the trouble.

> l

Maintenance closet
This is your home, your domain, where things are supposed to go where you can always find them again: cleaning supplies, the gear rack, and the shelves of plastic tubs. You're starting to feel a little better about the state of things in your little home base here. The cleaning supplies are neatly in the corner. All the tools are hanging from the gear rack.

On the gear rack are an electric drill, a screwdriver, some vice grips and a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom) here.

> put all in tubs
pair of fuzzy socks: You put the pair of fuzzy socks in the plastic tub for miscellaneous.
rutabaga: You put the rutabaga into the plastic tub for gardening supplies. Sure why not.
feather boa: You put the feather boa in the plastic tub for miscellaneous.
batteries: You put the batteries in the plastic tub for batteries.
light bulbs: You put the light bulbs in the plastic tub for lamps and bulbs.
coffee mug: You put the coffee mug in the plastic tub for miscellaneous.
nails: You put the nails in the plastic tub for carpentry supplies.
tiny seed: You put the tiny seed into the plastic tub for gardening supplies. At least, you think that's where it goes. Hmm.
screws: You put the screws in the plastic tub for carpentry supplies.
roll of tape: You put the roll of tape in the plastic tub for tape.
rubber bands: You put the rubber bands in the plastic tub for other shit.
shit: You put the poo in the plastic tub for other shit.
rubber sheet: You put the rubber sheet in the plastic tub for electrical supplies.
gardening spade: You put the gardening spade in the plastic tub for gardening supplies.
roof tile: You put the roof tile in the plastic tub for roofing materials.
open suitcase: Too big to go into the plastic tubs.
jug of fertilizer: You shove the jug of fertilizer into the plastic tub for gardening supplies.

With a smile of satisfaction, you step back and appreciate the difference. All is well in this area of the closet. Maybe it is worth the trouble.

You have this inkling that the tiny seed doesn't belong in the plastic tubs.

> l

Maintenance closet
This is your home, your domain, where things are supposed to go where you can always find them again: cleaning supplies, the gear rack, and the shelves of plastic tubs. You're starting to feel a little better about the state of things in your little home base here. The cleaning supplies are neatly in the corner. All the tools are hanging from the gear rack. Everything is sorted into the proper plastic tub. In fact, you feel a sense of peace and serenity flowing over you as you look at how spiffy everything is again. Ahh. That was well worth doing after all. Maybe you can even deal with the task at hand.

A thought now comes floating up into your calmed mind: hammer, nails, roof tile. That ought to do it.

On the gear rack are an electric drill, a screwdriver, some vice grips and a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom) here.

> i
You are carrying:
a piece of tar paper (being worn)
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
a pair of work gloves (being worn)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> x tape
Silver-gray tape, big fat roll of it.

> l

Maintenance closet
Ah, your home, your domain. Everything in order, unlike every other square foot of this place. Just being in here makes you feel a little better about everything. Cleaning supplies are in the corner, tools are hanging from a gear rack, and everything else is organized neatly into plastic tubs.

On the gear rack are an electric drill, a screwdriver, some vice grips and a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom) here.

> remove gloves
You take off the pair of work gloves.

> put gloves in tub
You put the pair of work gloves in the plastic tub for miscellaneous.

With a smile of satisfaction, you step back and appreciate the difference. All is well in this area of the closet. Except that you can tell for sure that the tiny seed doesn't belong in the plastic tubs.

> put tar paper in tub
You try, but the tar paper sticks to your fingers.

> put suitcase in tub
Too big to go into the plastic tubs.

> l

Maintenance closet
Ah, your home, your domain. Everything in order, unlike every other square foot of this place. Just being in here makes you feel a little better about everything. Cleaning supplies are in the corner, tools are hanging from a gear rack, and everything else is organized neatly into plastic tubs.

On the gear rack are an electric drill, a screwdriver, some vice grips and a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom) here.

> i
You are carrying:
a piece of tar paper (being worn)
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> put tar paper in suitcase
You manage to get the tar paper to stay inside the suitcase instead of sticking to your hand.
(first taking it off)

You peel the tar paper off your shirt, and it sticks to your hand.
You put the piece of tar paper into the open suitcase.

> get seed
Taken.

> get boa
Taken.

> wave boa
You feel rather foolish waving the end of the boa, but it's somehow enjoyable anyway.

> get rutabaga
Taken.

> get socks
Taken.

> put all in suitcase
pair of fuzzy socks: Done.
rutabaga: Done.
feather boa: Done.
tiny seed: Done.

> l

Maintenance closet
Ah, your home, your domain. Everything in order, unlike every other square foot of this place. Just being in here makes you feel a little better about everything. Cleaning supplies are in the corner, tools are hanging from a gear rack, and everything else is organized neatly into plastic tubs.

On the gear rack are an electric drill, a screwdriver, some vice grips and a hammer.

You can see the corner of the closet (in which are a mop, a sponge, some bleach and a broom) here.

> i
You are carrying:
an open suitcase (which is open)
a tiny seed
a feather boa
a rutabaga
a pair of fuzzy socks
a piece of tar paper
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

> get hammer
Taken.

> get mails
You can't see any such thing.

> get nails
Taken.

> get roof tile
Taken.

> get rubber sheet
Taken.

> get tape
Taken.

> out
As you leave your little place of peace, with everything back where it belongs, snug and tidy, you manage to carry that mood out with you.

Behind the set
Nothing to see here but a dank corridor of padded gray walls, like the inside of an asylum, which as far as you're concerned, it is. A locked door marked "Maintenance Staff Only" (that's you) lies north, and the glare of the studio is back to the southeast.

The maintenance closet door is wide open.

> close door
You close the maintenance closet door.

> lock it
(with the brass key)
You lock the maintenance closet door.

> save
Ok.

> se

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Careful, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> u

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring down like an open faucet through a huge hole onto the plank you're standing on, lapping at the skin of the bad-boy cable and running in wormy rivulets down the cabling.

> tape rubber sheet to python
You approach cautiously, then slap the rubber sheet around the chewed-out hole in the skin of the big cable. It wraps fully over the damaged spot, but the grip of latex to latex only weakly holds it in place.

You tear off a few pieces of tape and seal the rubber sheet onto the cable, patching the hole and keeping any more water from getting into it.

> x python
This monster cable is a bundle of lighting and computer-control cables all bound up in a thick rubber skin to make one big one. It looks like it's been chewed on by rats or pigeons or something, exposing the inner wiring. You hope they stopped chewing at the outer insulation.

> hammer roof tile to leak
You get up on your slippery tip-toes and make a faffing attempt to balance the tile in one hand like a serving platter, while swinging the hammer with the other, using one of the nails chomped between your grim-set lips, but you're just a few inches too short to do it without killing yourself, and you know it.

KA-BA-BA-BAOOOOM! The thunder god takes that moment to let one rip so close by that the whole building shakes, and the Treehouse wobbles like a diving board. It scares the living bejeebus out of you.

Fumbling to regain solid footing, you catch an ankle on the big snake and nearly slip. The roof tile goes clattering all the way down, and you hear one of the nails (you've got more) bounce away never to be found again.

> drop suitcase
Dropped.

> x it
The suitcase is open. In the suitcase are a tiny seed, a feather boa, a rutabaga, a pair of fuzzy socks and a piece of tar paper.

> close it
You close the open suitcase.

> x it
It's an old suitcase, big as a boxcar, covered in sticky leather that's worn and faded from its original brown to a kind of patchy orange.

Dangling from its beefy handle is a luggage tag. The suitcase is closed.

> stand on it
You climb onto the old suitcase, which holds your weight without complaining, its old sticky leather clinging with a solid grip even to the slippery joist. You get about five inches of extra height out of it, maybe just enough.

> get off
You get off the suitcase.

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring down like an open faucet through a huge hole onto the plank you're standing on, lapping at the skin of the bad-boy cable and running in wormy rivulets down the cabling.

You can also see a suitcase here.

> d

On the catwalk
Careful, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> d
You patiently clomp down the spiral stairs.

Studio A backstage
Crisscrossings of muddy footprints head in from the door to the south, going northwest around the back of the newsroom set, and east into the dimly-lit clutter of worn-out equipment and props. Directly ahead of you, bundled snakes of cables and wires lead into the eye-mangling glare of the set itself. Overhead hang the racks of studio lights. Spiral stairs go up to the catwalk rigging.

Rain drips from the roof into a battered plastic bucket placed strategically on the now slickened concrete floor.

Let's see, that roof tile must be here somewhere, you think.

> look in bucket
In the plastic bucket are a roof tile and some dirty water.

> get tile
Taken.

> shake it
You try to shake some of the water off.

> u
You clomp up the stairs.

On the catwalk
Careful, it's slippery up here. The woven black iron grille of the catwalk isn't providing much traction, now that it's spattered with rainwater, which is coming down in goblike droplets and streams, seemingly from everywhere, spattering off the rigging and the lamps, and running in curvy trickles down the insulated wiring.

About waist high and a foot away from the railing is "the Treehouse," a cantilever joist running slick with rain.

> u

Treehouse
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

The main leak in the roof is right overhead, pouring down like an open faucet through a huge hole onto the plank you're standing on, lapping at the skin of the bad-boy cable and running in wormy rivulets down the cabling.

You can also see a suitcase here.

> get on suitcase
You climb onto the old suitcase, which holds your weight without complaining, its old sticky leather clinging with a solid grip even to the slippery joist. You get about five inches of extra height out of it, maybe just enough.

> hammer roof tile to leak
BANG! The first nail sinks in with one mighty blow of your hammer. "Perfect!" you say, perhaps a little boldly. The roof tile dangles from it while you try to get the opposite corner lined up for the second nail.

> x tile
The roofing tile is dripping wet with dirty rainwater.

> x roof
(the main leak)
You can easily see the main leak in the roof from here. It's a three-inch wide, diamond-shaped hole -- probably made by someone's shoe-heel -- and water is just draining down it like an open faucet.
So, a roof tile is now partially covering the main leak in the roof, but water is still crawling out around the edges wherever it can, splattering both the joist and the lights.

> hammer tile
You make a lame attempt at an underhand-style hammer swing, which flonks the nail sideways and sends it ricocheting off the wall and rattling down to the floor, never to be found again. You pull another one from your teeth.

> grab suitcase
You'd have to get off the suitcase first.

> l

Treehouse (on the suitcase)
The Treehouse is about six feet long and two foot wide, plenty of space to walk or sit, but the rain is making it treacherous. The joist plank is normally stable even out at the far unspported end, but today it feels like it has more spring to it. Maybe the humidity made it flexible or something, but a good bounce on it and it'd start oscillating like a diving board right now. It also feels slicker under your boots than usual -- probably all the oil from a dozen years of mayonnaise-laden sandwich drippings is floating to the surface. Below is the catwalk, and under that is the lighting grid, its cables snaking up to J-hooks in the ceiling and down the back wall, just within reach of here.

One thick bad-boy, as fat and mean as a deep-jungle python, slopes its carcass over the middle of the platform.

So, a roof tile is now partially covering the main leak in the roof, but water is still crawling out around the edges wherever it can, splattering both the joist and the lights.

> smile
You smile, and make a silly face, and laugh for no reason at all.
>
x toe
You can't see any such thing.

> save
Ok.

> turn
What do you want to turn?

> around
You decide to risk standing the other way, leaning back a little, so that you can use an overarm swing with the hammer.

> hammer tile
You cock your arm back, whack at it, and even as you feel the solid hit, and the nail sink into place, something else feels...

Terribly...

Wrong.

You're not on your feet, you're not on anything, you're falling backwards, and it's too late to comically flail and get your balance again this time. You're going all the way down to the floor, probably headfirst. The next second elongates to a terrible sequence of flashing moments, like a film reel sputtering out and strobing. You drop everything you're holding, your hand reaches out, in desperation you try to grab --

> grab suitcase
You see one last chance to save yourself in the handle of the suitcase, somehow close by, close enough to close your fist around. It isn't until you have it in hand that you realize it, too, has tumbled from the Treehouse perch, and is in freefall along with you.

The catwalk looks high above you, in your last moment. Almost pretty in the fireworks that are snapping and dancing from the lighting grid. Then someone slugs you on the back of the head with a baseball bat. No, gravity whacks you on the back of the head with the planet Earth, and it drives your brains up in a superball bounce off the inside of your skull, which you fortunately can't feel crack open, as your spine does something really terrible that it should never do, and something feels wet.

The room explodes with white, splitting in two, vertically, like a curtain in the sunlight, then everything fades to orange, then to dark red, breaking up into paint-splatters of bluish-black before it finally goes very, very dark.

> l
Where's the tunnel of light? There's no tunnel of light. Your life didn't even flash before your eyes. There's just darkness, and a cold, hard floor under your back.

You think about the way your hideous demise will be discovered in the morning by the people who ordered you to go back to the studio by yourself last night, alone, in those weather conditions. When you imagine their reaction at the sight of you, you feel a strange, sudden impulse to -- an impulse to -- ?

> smile
--to smile. What a thing! What could you possibly be cheerful about, in this circumstance? But you want to smile. Your life, it seems, is over -- but maybe it wasn't so bad after all. At least you got to have one. That's dopey, everyone does, right? You try to smile, but your face muscles don't move, your eyes don't crinkle into crow's feet, your teeth don't show. Probably a good thing, since the only thing more hideous than finding your bent-in-half, electrocuted corpse, splattered in the middle of the studio floor, would be finding it wearing a huge stupid grin on its face.

Heh, now you really do feel like smiling. In fact, it kind of feels like you are. What's going on?

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> x toe
You can see nothing. There is nothing. Or -- funny thought -- maybe it's just that your eyes are closed?

> open eyes
You try to open your eyes, but your eyelids feel too heavy to open. Literally, like some some solid weight is holding your eyelids closed.

A bony toe prods you below the ribs.

> feel toe
Your hands grope around in the darkness at your sides, sweeping along the cold, wet floor -- it surprises you to even feel that. But in the darkness, you can't find whatever it is that's poking you.

> x weight
You reach up to your eyes, and find a coin lying on each eyelid. The pair of them clink solidly in your palm as you grasp them and hold them to your chest, their weight a strange, happy relief -- a tangible symbol that your existence has continued, in some way, even though your life has ended.

You open your eyes.

Underworld (on the floor)
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistake it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

Death prods you again with his toe.

Here's something you didn't expect to still see lying around nearby: that big old suitcase.

> get up
You get off the floor.

Underworld
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

Death swings an ossified finger and points at your suitcase.

You can also see a suitcase here.

> i
You are carrying:
some coins
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key

Death swings an ossified finger and points at your suitcase.

> get suitcase
Taken.

> x death
Long, black, hooded robe. Hourglass hanging from neck. Bones for hands and feet. Harvesting tools. Let's face it:

*** You have died ***

> x river
Crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, a vast, silvery river. So slowly does it move, so unrippled is its surface, and so ancient are its days.

Death stares impassively at you, as from behind, the misty curtain curls open to let a dark wooden shape through.

> x ferry
Simpler than you'd expect, as basic as a sailing craft gets. The dark wood glistens near the water line, and has the splintery texture of a weather-beaten farmhouse door. It rocks on the water, barely breaking the surface, you realize that it arrived from far, far, farther away than your eyes let you perceive, for it is an ark that could hold twenty dozen souls, easily -- but today it seemingly comes only for you.

> open suitcase
You open the old suitcase. In the suitcase are a tiny seed, a feather boa, a rutabaga, a pair of fuzzy socks and a piece of tar paper.

The wooden boat arrives at the edge of the river with a gentle scrape. Death stands before it and raises his bony arm to block you. Then he slowly opens his palm.

> get socks
Taken.

> l

Underworld
A steady drip, small and distant, echoes and expands to describe an endless space. Behind you is nothing. Before you, crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, is an infinite, silver river. You mistook it for a lake, so slowly does it flow, so smoothly unrippled is its surface. You cannot see the far side, as a veil of curdling, curlicuing mist hides everything beyond a stone's throw in a milky haze.

Your ferry boat waits on the shore, gently rocking against the stone.

Death is motionless; his arm extended, his palm held open.

> smell
The cavern smells of stone and ancient waters.

Death is motionless; his arm extended, his palm held open.

> liseten
That's not a verb I recognise.

> listen
You hear a faraway steady drip.

> x plam
You can't see any such thing.

> x palm
The bony palm is open.

Death is motionless; his arm extended, his palm held open.

> put socks in palm
You hand over the pair of fuzzy socks. The woolen lump is regarded for a long, silent moment, and then the fingers close around them. There follows a strange and most curious sight, as with quiet dignity the socks are slipped over the bony feet. Death tilts his head from side to side, regarding an outraised foot, sheathed in warm wool. You hear the faint, fuzzy clicking of toes being experimentally wiggled within. The foot lowers. The hood turns up to you, then nods, satisfied.

At once, Death is no longer standing on the shore, but inside the boat, like a mast rippling with black sails. He makes no further gesture; he has no need to.

> board boat
You board the ferry boat. Death swings his great staff over the rail and plunges it into the shallows. At once, the boat moves away from shore. It plunges straight into the mist, and the cavern walls are lost from sight. Without the gentle sound of swishing, swirling waters, you could imagine being in the gondola of a balloon, floating high in the clouds.

Aboard the ferry
The river flows around you. Death stands aft, using his scythe as a rudder. You are at the prow, staring into the mist.

> ask death about the river
You ask Death about the river.

Death stares silently at you.

> x river
Crawling from the darkness to the left and sliding on to the oblivion of the right, a vast, silvery river. So slowly does it move, so unrippled is its surface, and so ancient are its days.

> x mist
A curtain of mist rises from the middle of the river, obscuring everything beyond.

> z
The boat sails quietly along through the chill and mist, your sense of being underground having vanished somewhere along the way. Distant shapes start appearing up ahead, soon revealed as the outlines of other boats, all bobbing along the dock of a gloomy marina.

Marina dock
Your ferry boat rocks gently against the wooden dock. Ropes tie it off and park it in the bobbling water, in a busy and tangled marina of hundreds of such vessels. You seem to have gotten the no-frills ride, as the largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar. Of the other vessels, even the least of its cousins -- not counting yours -- is ornamented specific to a different culture. You apparently either have no culture or no imagination. You would complain, but you know not whom to, or whether your treatment isn't, in fact, justified.

A vast causeway spans the expanse of frigid water between this end of the marina and a welcoming station on the far side. An immense gate of pearl, jade and lapis seems to float in the sky above it.

> x vessels
The other vessels are varied in size and cultural ornamentation. They are all empty.

> pull ropes
The boats bob and jostle on the water.

> x causeway
The causeway is made of cut stone, huge blocks of it, fitted perfectly together without cement, and interlocking in such a way that it supports its own weight without sagging. It rises in a long, gently sloping arc, supported by columns of ancient redwood, each post a single tree.

Wide enough to carry a hundred people walking shoulder to shoulder, and able to support ten thousand marching at a time, it gives you a cold feeling to see that it is currently deserted.

> u
"Hello?" a young female voice calls out from your left, halting you for a moment.

Aboard the royal yacht, a bob of red hair pops into view. You can't see any features, but the body language is obvious even at this distance: surprise, a smile, and a spirited, friendly wave in your direction.

> look left
The largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar. The other vessels are varied in size and cultural ornamentation.

Before you can even think how to react, the girl is in motion, her sunny blue frock spinning about her, trying to keep up with her various darting movements about the cabin.

> wave back
You wave hello to the girl.

She comes skipping down the gangplank, head down, tucking items into her pockets. Then, she sees you again and calls out, "Hello!"

> x girl
She's a friendly-faced girl with a few light freckles to go with her pale skin and red hair. From the way she's dressed, and her formal way of speaking, you don't think she's a contemporary of yours, although she seems to have, as it were, just gotten off the boat.

The girl runs over to you and shakes your hand. "Nice to meet you," she says. "I'm Polly."

> hello little girl
"Hello, Polly," you say.

She smiles. "What a funny suitcase you have! It looks millions of years old!" she exclaims.

She looks around, seeming both enchanted and then repulsed with disappointment. "This is a dreary lot of old boats," she says. "Why aren't there colours and balloons and magic things that go whizz!"

> shake hands
(with Polly)
"Hello, Polly," you say.

"I believe we've met!" she says, giving you a funny look.

"Oh, there's a playground over this bridge!" she says, peering up the grand causeway. "Oh, and in the sky! How does it float there? Do you think it's full of helium? This is a strange sky, it hasn't any clouds or sun but we can still see."

> x old boats
The largest of the other ships is a king's navy yacht, with gold trim on its topside rails, gleaming brass cannonade, and what looks like a snack bar. The other vessels are varied in size and cultural ornamentation.

"Shall we go, then?" Polly asks, tetching about. "There is so much more to see before we catch the train."

> x sky
An immense gate of pearl, jade and lapis seems to float in the sky. You see no way to get to it from here.

She pulls from her pocket a gilt-edged train ticket. "Don't you have one? Oh, you haven't lost it, have you? I was told I must never, ever lose this or I'll be a lost soul. Perhaps I'll become a ghost! I could jump out and scare mean little boys!" she says with a wicked waggle of her fingers.

> ask polly about train
You ask Polly about Polly's train ticket.
"I was told we mustn't lose it. Oh, but where's yours?" she looks at you skeptically.

> x ticket
A travel document, with gold trim around the edges and engraved lettering, announcing the station number, departure time, and estimated arrival time. A large warning at the bottom reminds the owner of this ticket not to lose it, as it cannot be replaced or refunded. It can be traded or sold, but not shared. It also stresses the importance of punctuality, as the trains will not be held for late arrivals.

Snorting, she says, "You're too slow. I'm going ahead."

Polly dashes off up the causeway, which is rather a long, uphill slope to take at a sprint. Perhaps she'll learn about that, or perhaps her legs don't get tired.

> polly, wait
She's not here.

> follow polly
You follow Polly.
You ascend the vast causeway. Its proportions are even greater than you thought -- as if your eyes could not comprehend its true scale. It takes the length of an autumn afternoon to climb its miles-long curve and cross its ultimate row of stones; it also seems to have taken no time at all.

Welcoming station
Like the entrance to a theme park, if such things floated in the clouds as they do in the imagination of a child. A broad plaza, open above to the sky, and ringed by a zen garden of smooth pale stones, raked into parallel lines that follow the circular curve of the plaza. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike like a sundial whose shadow always points north, no matter how long you stare at it.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

Polly looks up from the other end of the plaza and says, "There you are! That was such a long walk, I thought you'd be hours behind me!" Noticing the causeway has disappeared behind you, she says, "We've no way back now. Oh, but see how pretty this is! And I didn't like that other place at all, so never mind that it's gone!"

> save
Ok.

> x plaza

Welcoming station
Like the entrance to a theme park, if such things floated in the clouds as they do in the imagination of a child. A broad plaza, open above to the sky, and ringed by a zen garden of smooth pale stones, raked into parallel lines that follow the circular curve of the plaza. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across, with a triangular spike like a sundial whose shadow always points north, no matter how long you stare at it.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

"Oh look!" says Polly, dashing over to the edge of the plaza. "How lovely and beautiful they are, all the stones in pretty lines."

> x compass rose
The rose is represented as being in full bloom. At its center is a triangular spike.

She gets a wicked gleam in her eye and says, "I want to mess them up! Don't you just want to kick them all out of place?"

> x spike
The spike is about three feet tall, six inches across at its triangular base, and coming to an acute point at the top. It is made of some strange amalgam of metal and stone and wood, each of its three faces having a different texture and color.

The spike is set into a circular plug of marble at the center of the rose carving. It casts a short, sharply defined shadow across the rose, although the light source that casts it is not apparent.

"Oh, isn't that funny," she says, ignoring you. "Look, if you disturb them, they set themselves right again."

You see around her, whisking the stones into place, several heavenly gardeners, shining with light. Polly gives them a lot to do.

> get spike

"Oh, what is this you're doing?" Polly says. She stands beside the spike, scrutinizing it closely. "What do you think of it?" she asks you, tapping it with one of her fingers.

You lift the spike from its base, marble and all, and are surprised that you are able to do so. Underneath, at the center of the rose, is revealed a small patch of moist, dark soil.

Following a sudden impulse, she licks one of the sides of the spike. "Ew! Oh! Hm!" she says rapidly. "Taste this," she says.

> taste spike
One side tastes like stone, another like metal, another like -- sandalwood?

By the time you look up again, Polly's attention has wandered elsewhere. She is standing bent over at the waist, tracing the contours of the inlaid rose carving with her eyes.

> x carving
The rose is represented as being in full bloom. At its center is a dark patch of soil.

> smell rose
Though merely a carving, it clearly smells like a fresh rose in bloom.

Polly says to you, "It's a flower in bloom. I think that means something."

"Something must grow here," she says pensively. "Or something used to grow here."

> smell dirt
You smell nothing unexpected.

Polly says, "Oh, I'm bored. I'm ready to take one of those turnstiles."

> x dirt
A dark patch of soil, right in the center of the rose.

Polly walks over and takes a good, curious look at the turnstiles.

> feel it
The soil is moist.

Polly says, "The turnstiles are all so pretty! I wonder what kind of rides they lead to. Probably wonderful, thrilling, romantic rides!"

> get seed
Taken.

> plant seed in soil
You plant the tiny little seed in the patch of dirt. Mist pours in from the surrounding plaza floor, spreading over the circle of dirt. The seed buried there seems to thirstily absorb it as you watch. The mist swirls into a tiny, milky eddy of vapor at the center of the patch of dirt, then it is gone altogether, drawn into the seed.

Polly keenly waits for you to choose a turnstile. You can tell from her expression that she's mentally willing you to choose the way she wants you to, whatever that is.

> put spike in soil
You replace the spike in the center of the rose, covering the patch of seeded soil. The spike seems to set especially solidly, fitting into place with an almost magnetic pull, and a funny "fump" sound.

"Oh, look!" Polly says, pointing.

As you watch, the triangular spike splits open in thirds at the top to let a tender, leafy shoot reach the light. A moment later, there is a tickling under your feet as the plaza begins to vibrate, the raked stones shaking out of their lines and then being abruptly displaced, as stout evergreen trees burst up in the outer ring of the plaza, growing to a height of 20 or 30 feet, and loosing brown soil as they thrust upwards. From within the soil, shrubs burgeon, grow full and thick, and finally flower before your eyes.

> x evergreens
The evergreen trees have displaced the garden of stones, standing in a ring around the edge of the plaza. Flowering around their roots are some green shrubs.

Polly keenly waits for you to choose a turnstile. "I know which one I'd pick," she says idly.

> smell flowers
Herbal, fresh, new.

Polly skips around the plaza, casting glances at you when she thinks you're not paying attention.

> l

Welcoming station
A broad plaza, floating in a cloud and open above to the sky, now ringed by a garden of stout, vertical evergreens whose roots are enshrubbed and flowered. In the center is an inlaid carving of a compass rose, 14 feet across.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

Polly skips around the plaza, giving the turnstiles a practice spin each. When the ruby turnstile fails to turn, she frowns at it.

> x polly
She's a friendly-faced girl with a few light freckles to go with her pale skin and red hair. From the way she's dressed, and her formal way of speaking, you don't think she's a contemporary of yours, although she seems to have, as it were, just gotten off the boat.

Polly settles down to wait for you to make a choice. For all her pluck, she may not be brave enough to go first.

> ask polly about her dress
You ask Polly about Polly's blue frock.
"I like your dress," you say.

"Thank you!" Polly says. She glances up and down at you as if to return the compliment, but after a moment she shies away, looking nervously at the ground, with nothing to say.

> talk to polly about death

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> ask polly about polly
You ask Polly about Polly.

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> x turnstile
(the turnstiles)
A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different exits. There are no signs explaining their significance, and you cannot see what lies beyond them.

Polly is here, waiting for you to make a choice.

> save
Ok.

> choose sapphire

"Oh, not that one, that one's my favorite," she says.

Polly is here, waiting for you to make a choice.

> enter sapphire

"You already said that one!" she says, sounding cross.

"Okay," says Polly fixedly. She turns her back to you. When she turns around again, she has a tricky smile on her face, and she's teasingly holding her two closed fists out to you.

> look left
You glance at Polly's left hand.

She opens her left hand to you, revealing an oval-cut topaz gemstone.

"Here you are," she says brightly. She puts the one in her right hand into her pocket, pointedly without letting you see which one it was, and fishes around until she finds another topaz. "Should we go in together? I've got two of them," she says.

> enter sapphire
"Fine, go off on your own, I don't care," Polly says.

The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

It's been snowing for days, removing all trace of the way home. Your stomach is gnarled with pangs of hunger, and only the scent of wood smoke burning somewhere in the air keeps you going. If you don't find food and shelter soon, you don't think you will make it.

Field of snow
Nothing but snow from horizon to horizon.

> e
You blaze a trail from the west to the east.

Frozen creek
Lifeless grass lines the edges of a slippery frozen creek. A bridge over the creek leads east to a farmhouse. Dark woods lie to the southeast.

You can see two trails (a west trail and a trail into the dark woods) here.

> e

Farmhouse
Casting warm light on the pale blue snow, the small farmhouse looks closed up for the winter evening. Through the windows you can see some amount of activity. The scent of woodsmoke nearly obscures what your hunger allows you to pick up -- the smells of supper being prepared.

The front door to the farmhouse is closed up tight.

The remains of a century-old plough, buried in snow. To the north you see a snowy field and a bridge leads west to a frozen creek.

Snow begins to fall again, harder than before.

> i
You are carrying:
a topaz
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key
some coins
an open suitcase (which is open)
a feather boa
a rutabaga
a piece of tar paper

> x me
You have no recollection.

> knock on door
You knock with desperation on the front door. Each rap of your frozen knuckles on the hard, cold wood of the door sends pain shooting up your arm.

The snow is beginning to cover your arms and legs.

> g
You knock again, hoping to knock louder this time, but the pain makes that too difficult. Using the side of your hand, you knock again, as hard as you can, and hear movement inside.

> g
You scratch at the door, and there are muffled voices, perhaps an argument about whether to let you in. You sit on the stoop and wait. The door opens a crack. Evening supper is being prepared in the kitchen. A fire glows in the front fireplace. Warmth flows out, as does a sense of family, home, and belonging.

A voice within says, "Come, and be warm, and eat."

It works this time! But why?

> enter
You try to crawl through the door, grateful for welcome, starving for a meal, desperate for a warm blanket and a bed. Strong hands catch you and lift your weak body inside.

A voice says, "Not all are welcome, and many who desire to sup and eat will be turned away. Come in and be warm, and eat bread with us, for you have come far, and there is more for you to do."

You are fed soup and bread, given good wine, and put into a bed under warm blankets. You drift quietly off to sleep, and are awakened by a voice at your bedside.

A blanket is handed to you and a voice says, "Not all are welcome, and many who desire to sup and eat will be turned away. Go, for you have still more to learn."

The door shuts. The snow stops falling. Wrapping yourself in the blanket, you continue onwards...

Village outskirts
At the outskirts of a village, you pause to rest a moment in the rows of a vineyard, snow-covered and bare in the winter months. A fierce wind howls at your back, but perhaps it will give you just enough strength to move you the last few steps. There are lights just ahead to the east, and the smell of baking bread.

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
a blanket (being worn)
a topaz
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key
some coins
an open suitcase (which is open)
a feather boa
a rutabaga
a piece of tar paper

> e

Village Square
The village is sleepy and quiet, tucked away and locked up for the night. A steep hill down a narrow cobblestone street leads away from the village square to the west. The long road back to your home is to the south.

Sleeping in the doorway of a closed-up bakery is a raggedy beggar.

> give blanket to beggar
You spread the blanket over his thin body. He does not wake, but something rigid to his features relaxes when comforted by its warmth.

> give coins to beggar
You tuck the coins into the stiff, cold fingers of the man. He clutches them without waking up, and you hope he'll find them and use them wisely.

> s

Long road home
The road is clotted with deep snow, and a fog rolls in as you progress, making you lose your sense of familiarity with the landscape. You halt at what seems to be like a dead end, as memories of a different existence are suddenly opened within your mind.

There is a turnstile here.

> enter turnstile
The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

Welcoming station
The plaza, ringed by a garden of stout, vertical evergreens whose roots are enshrubbed and flowered, now seems lifted higher into the open sky and nearer to the floating gate above it. The compass rose at its center is buckled along its petal carvings, sporting green shoots and grasses between every crack. The triangular spike has been swallowed completely by the trunk of a great alabaster tree, which has grown not just upward but outward, providing a leafy canopy and a good deal of shade.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the two turnstiles (the sapphire turnstile and the quartz turnstile).

Polly is sitting with her arms curled around her knees to one side, looking slightly forlorn until she sees you standing there. "Oh!" she says, leaping to her feet. "You're back! I didn't know whether to wander off until I saw you again."

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
a topaz
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key
an open suitcase (which is open)
a feather boa
a rutabaga
a piece of tar paper

> x tree
The triangular spike has been swallowed completely by the trunk of a great tree that has grown from within it.

> ask polly about tree
You ask Polly about the tree.

Polly doesn't even seem to hear your question, which is probably her way of politely refusing to talk about anything she's not interested in.

> get all from suitcase
feather boa: Removed.
rutabaga: Removed.
piece of tar paper: Removed.

> give boa to polly
Polly doesn't seem interested.

> give mug to polly
You can't see any such thing.

> enter ruby
"Where are you off to now?" she asks, rolling her eyes. "Oh! Look out!"

As your hand goes to the ruby turnstile, it seems to pull a fast one on you: it rotates the ground open underneath you, and you slide down into the ground, into a deep red light.

There is a musical fanfare as a spotlight hits you, and you hear the cheerful applause of a lively audience.

You Bet Your Afterlife!
Blinded by the glare of the studio lights, heating you to a sweltering degree from above, you can barely make out the tittering studio audience sitting in bleachers up to the rafters. Your feet are nailed to your mark on the floor, right next to the high-rise desk from which a dark-suited host looks down at you over the tops of his round spectacles.

This place is both artificial and dangerous.

"Good evening and welcome to You Bet Your Afterlife. Say the secret word and win a hundred Glgntz. Anything you say may be held against you. Or if you say 'Marilyn Monroe,' then held against me."

He lights the end of a big black cigar with a wooden match, then stares at you with his chin in his hand, as if waiting for you to say something.

> x host
Wearing a judge's wig and robe over a dark burgundy suit, he presides somewhat casually over the proceedings, as if he's bored and hoping for a little entertainment.

There is something strange and wrong about this host. He is more like a puppet than a person, and his face -- it is hard to nail down.

The host sits with his chin in his hand.

> x audience
The studio audience sits in row after row of bleachers. It's too hard for you to tell through the glare what they look like or how many there are. There does seem to be a strange contingent in the front wearing what look like viking horn helmets, but maybe that's just a trick of the light.

You see that the audience does not realize the host is a fake, and are hanging on his every word.

The host sits with his chin in his hand.

> x lights
The lights are blinding to look at, and the glare obscures everything beyond the stage from your vision.

This lighting is designed to blind and baffle you.

The host puffs on his cigar. "Oh good, and here I thought the evening was just going to race by," the host says.

> x wings
The wings of the stage recede into darkness. There is a sense of offstage bustle going on there.

You see that the only exit from here lies in the wings.

"You'd think we wouldn't be pressed for time in eternity, but you'd be wrong," the host says.

> x desk
It's a tall desk, more like an overlarge podium, whose surface is higher than your head, so you can't really see what's going on behind it.

Close-up, the sides of the desk look strangely leathery, like it's got some sort of skin on it that's pretending to be wood, but isn't.

"I'd ask you if you brought your silent partner with you, but apparently you're the quiet one."

> feel desk
It feels strangely leathery, even though it looks like wood. Like it's got some sort of skin on it that's pretending to be wood, but isn't.

"My silent partner is upstairs providing the music."

> put tar paper on desk

You slap the piece of tar paper to the side of the desk, where it sticks in a wrinkly, bubbly fashion. The audience reacts with a gasp.

"Look out, folks, I think this is a stick-up," the host says, to tentative laughter. "I'd put my arms over my head but my face would fly off." The host suddenly jerks forward.

"I mean, my lumbago is acting up. It's all an act. Acting is such sweet sorrow." The audience is momentarily confused, and begins murmuring.

The host puffs on his cigar.

> rip tar paper off desk
You grab the top edge of the tar paper in your grip and forcibly rip it away from the side of the desk, and it pulls the wooden skin away from the desk like a latex mask. Underneath it is wormy, glistening, dragon skin. The tar paper smolders and disappears in a puff of greasy black smoke.

The audience collectively gasps. The host, clutching at his own face, is caught in the spotlight having a piece of skin missing from his cheek to his jaw. Underneath, something dark and shiny, but you can't see what.

"Show's over, folks," he says, and flees the stage. A third of the audience rises up and storms out. Stage hands shove you off into the wings, where darkness overwhelmes you and the scene melts away...

Welcoming station
The great tree has grown to overtake nearly the entire breadth of the plaza, its vast maze of branches creaking and waving in the wind, straining at greater height. Three great threads of stone, metal, and darker wood weave and wind up the bark, having somehow grown into or along with the tree.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the three turnstiles (the ruby turnstile, the sapphire turnstile and the quartz turnstile).

Polly says, "Oh, there you are. Back again. Well, I thought I would have my own adventure this time."

Polly faces the topaz turnstile and stares at it with great apprehension, trying hard to guess what lies beyond. She withdraws the train ticket from her pocket and kisses it for good luck.

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
your *train ticket*
a rutabaga
a feather boa
a topaz
a keyring (being worn)
a brass key
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)

She turns and rushes over to give you a hug. "Sorry, I don't know -- this might be goodbye!" she says, seriously. "If I come back though, I hope to see you here."

> x ticket
(the *train ticket*)
Your travel document, announcing in engraved lettering:
Station MMXIV, Departure Time 12:54, Destination Asgard.
If lost, this ticket cannot be replaced or refunded. It may
be traded or sold, but not shared. BE ON TIME. Trains will
not be held for late arrivals.

Polly whirls through the topaz turnstile and disappears in a flash of amber light.

> polly, wait
She's not here.

> l

Welcoming station
The great tree has grown to overtake nearly the entire breadth of the plaza, its vast maze of branches creaking and waving in the wind, straining at greater height. Three great threads of stone, metal, and darker wood weave and wind up the bark, having somehow grown into or along with the tree.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the three turnstiles (the ruby turnstile, the sapphire turnstile and the quartz turnstile).

> x tree
The great tree has grown to overtake nearly the entire breadth of the plaza, its three great threads of stone, metal, and darker wood woven into and winding up into its vast maze of branches.

> climb tre
You can't see any such thing.

> climb tree
Little is to be achieved by that.

> x canopy
The great tree has grown to overtake nearly the entire breadth of the plaza, its three great threads of stone, metal, and darker wood woven into and winding up into its vast maze of branches.

> x cloud
A misty white cloud covers the three turnstiles (the ruby turnstile, the sapphire turnstile and the quartz turnstile).

> enter topaz
The topaz turnstile grinds in its pivot-base with the rough sound of mortar and pestle.

You walk through into a blast of heat and a haze of brown and amber that slowly comes into focus around you. Sunlight shimmers in your eyes, making the wheat seem to glow from inside. You glance behind you, to see how far you've come, and see a long swath of trampled wheat cut down behind you. In front of you, endlessly more uncut wheat.

You shift the burden on your aching shoulder, and pause to let your callused feet have a slight rest.

Someone nearby snorts, letting you know there's no time for slacking, not during the harvest. The lord has decreed the harvest is ready, and the reapers take to the fields, and the ovens are heated.

Wheat field
The stalks of grass are dried golden brown now, waving in the hot breeze.

You can see some uncut wheat stalks here.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a shoulder bag (being worn)

> x sickle
A curved blade, whetstone-sharpened, secured to a wooden handle. This one is truthfully not as secure as it should be, and it wobbles in your grip with every swing. Tomorrow you'll fix it. Today, there is too much to be done.

> x bag
A loose linen bag that you hold open with each slice of the sickle, to catch the wheat tips within.

The shoulder bag is empty.

> cut stalks of wheat
I only understood you as far as wanting to cut the uncut wheat stalks.

> cut wheat
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

> g
(the uncut wheat stalks)
You slice the stalks off, letting them fall into your bag.

You've collected enough wheat for now. You return to the farm, where the grains are tied into bundles and stacked near the threshing floor.

Gathering area
The other harvesters are bringing the reapings in from the fields and emptying their collections into piles. Two women sit crosslegged near the edge of the threshing floor, stacking bundles of wheat tips that they have neatly tied.

The threshing floor is here.

> x floor
(the threshing floor)
A large hard slab, covered with grain dust and dried husks.

> give bag to women
The bag of freshly cut wheat tips is whisked out of your hands. Just as quickly, a tied bundle of wheat is handed back to you, and you are scooted away to the edge of the threshing floor.

> thresh wheat
(the stack of wheat bundles)
You grab a bundle and thwack it against the floor, loosening the hulls from the grain.

The process continues through the late afternoon, until the threshing floor fills with loose grains. The sun is a red orb through the smoke of kiln fires as the afternoon latens.

A chant arises, saying, "Let the wind separate the chaff from the good grain, and the chaff be burned to ash."

"The wheat bundle has been threshed," says the lady with the large fan. "Take the loose grains and throw them in the air so I may winnow them."

> x lady
A fetching young woman you feel you know well. She nods at you, with just a hint of recognition behind her eyes.

She stands ready to fan the grains when you throw them in the air, to blow the remaining chaff from the wheat.

> get grains
You grab a handful of the loosened grains.

> throw grains
The winnowing begins. The grains are tossed high in the air, and the fans blow, and the papery chaff is separated from the ripe wheat. As you toss scoopfuls of grains into the air, the wind at your back begins to make you lose your footing.

You notice that you are tiny, and the fans are monstrously sized, trumpeting like elephant's nostrils, snorting and blowing hot gusts of wind. At the next gale, you are swept up in a whirlwind, tossed and buffeted. You land, hard, on a pile of shells. They break your fall, but not softly.

Chaff pile
The pile of chaff is not endless, but it goes on and on, the way a waste landfill does. Parts of it are on fire, not in flames but just smoldering, giving off toxic fumes. At the far end to the north, a great oven is being prepared and stoked. The chaff will all be burned.

Sitting in a rubble of what look like insect shells is a bronze key.

"Oh goodness!" Polly says, pointing to the distant oven. "Look at that poor thing! We've got to free him," she says.

Before you even can even see what it is she's talking about, Polly takes off running north towards the oven as a mammoth, slithering creature with hundreds of legs scuttles toward the bronze key.

> x oven
The great oven is the size of seven huts, made of clay bricks and sandstone. At the edges it is a sinister cherry red, but near its belching, windy core it is yellow and fire white. To the north is the long road home.
Chained in front of the belly of the great oven is a dragon, keeping the oven alive by breathing flames into it.

> x dragon
A mountain dragon, a volcanic beast who rides the columns of rising air on leathery wings.

> get bronze key
The bronze key clinks onto the keyring.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
your *train ticket*
a rutabaga
a feather boa
a topaz
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)

> l

Chaff pile
The pile of chaff is not endless, but it goes on and on, the way a waste landfill does. Parts of it are on fire, not in flames but just smoldering, giving off toxic fumes. At the far end to the north, a great oven is being prepared and stoked. The chaff will all be burned.

A mammoth insect creature is slithering and creeping its way through the chaff pile.

> n

You run off after Polly, who is proving to be maddeningly fleet, and unfazed by the thick heat of the air or the smoke that depletes it of oxygen. She is within 50 feet of the beast. With one backward glance you see the bronze key being gobbled into a pincer-lined maw.

Before the great oven
The great oven is the size of seven huts, made of clay bricks and sandstone. At the edges it is a sinister cherry red, but near its belching, windy core it is yellow and fire white. To the north is the long road home.

There is a great snapping sound, and a hush falls over the landscape like a shadow of silence. The dragon, loosed from its bonds, rears up, stretching its neck and shoulders, and spreading its scaled wings to their full span.

Polly says to the dragon, "Be free now! I've freed you!"

> polly, stop
You try to interrupt her, but she ignores you.

The great serpent gives a scorching howl, lashes its tail at the pile of shells and bones you're standing on, and takes to the darkening sky. There is a great earthquake, and the piles of shells tumble and collapse around you. From above, the sound of thunder, of seven thunders.

> l

Before the great oven
The great oven is the size of seven huts, made of clay bricks and sandstone. At the edges it is a sinister cherry red, but near its belching, windy core it is yellow and fire white. To the north is the long road home.

Polly is here.

A hard rain begins to fall. Polly is nowhere to be seen.

> z
Time passes.

> x sky
(the smoky sky)
The sky is darkening at the end of day. No -- it's not that late in the day, but something is amiss. It's too dark, and it's not the smoke from the oven fires, and the burning chaff. A storm may be on its way.

> n

Long road home
The road is clotted with muddy ash, and a vapor rolls in as you progress, making you lose your connection to the landscape. You halt at what seems to be like a dead end, as memories of a different existence are suddenly opened within your mind.

You can see the exit turnstile here.

> enter turnstile
The turnstile rotates around its central balance point, spinning easily on a pivot of polished marble like ice on glass.

Welcoming station
The great tree reaches a height beyond mortal ken, higher than the gate that used to float in an open sky, now looking -- distantly -- like the tiny top deck of a treehouse. The trunk of the tree appears to have fossilized, being as stone, the same stone that formed a third of the triangular spike, and now carved in a spiral around the circumference and leading up into the branches of the tree. Higher up, the tree shines in the light, glinting like metal, the trunk made of bronze and its shimmering leaves made of gold. Beyond that, you cannot tell from here.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the four turnstiles (the topaz turnstile, the ruby turnstile, the sapphire turnstile and the quartz turnstile).

> save
Ok.

> i
You are carrying:
a sickle
a wheat bundle
some loose grains
your *train ticket*
a rutabaga
a feather boa
a topaz
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key
an open suitcase (which is open but empty)

> l

Welcoming station
The great tree reaches a height beyond mortal ken, higher than the gate that used to float in an open sky, now looking -- distantly -- like the tiny top deck of a treehouse. The trunk of the tree appears to have fossilized, being as stone, the same stone that formed a third of the triangular spike, and now carved in a spiral around the circumference and leading up into the branches of the tree. Higher up, the tree shines in the light, glinting like metal, the trunk made of bronze and its shimmering leaves made of gold. Beyond that, you cannot tell from here.

A series of turnstiles made from pure gemstones -- each seemingly cut, by an unknown level of art, from a single crystal. Sapphire, ruby, topaz, and purple quartz turnstiles lead to different paths. A misty white cloud covers the four turnstiles (the topaz turnstile, the ruby turnstile, the sapphire turnstile and the quartz turnstile).

> put all in suitcase
sickle: Done.
wheat bundle: Done.
loose grains: Done.
*train ticket*: Done.
rutabaga: Done.
feather boa: Done.
topaz: Done.

> x tree
The great tree, now as vast and ancient as civilization itself, reaches a height beyond your ken. Higher up, the tree shines in the light, glinting like metal, the trunk made of bronze. Beyond that, you cannot tell from here.

The base of the tree is stone, carved in a spiral around the circumference, stairs leading up into the branches of the tree.

> u
You ascend the carved steps of the tree. It takes some time just to make one revolution around its great circumference, by which point you are only a fraction of the way to the top. Doggedly, you continue your climb, reminded of the staired ascensions to temples left by ancient civilizations. Clouds drift past, the wind sings in the branches, and the air cools.

It would be nightfall by now, by the time you reach the first branch of bronze, were there such a thing as night and day here. In the eternal light, you cannot tell the time it has taken, and once again, the long journey seems to have taken no time at all.

Bronze Kingdom
You are here before a great bronze door decorated with bronze filagree and gold leaf. Around it an archway of stone, 80 feet high and 25 feet wide, carved into which are figures from history and myth, frozen in their moment.

You can see a candlestick here.

> x carvings
From the look of things, Michelangelo's been busy.

Into the dark stone are carved figures from history and myth, frozen in their moment. The great Ouranos, singing himself into existence by voicing his own name. Poseidon and Zeus, sons of the great Titans. Blind Odin and his Raven, hanging from the tree. Adam and Eve, tempted out of the Garden by the Serpent. Moses, striking the Rock to bring forth Water. Elijah in his skyward chariot, crossing the River.

> x door
You gaze upon the door, with a strange dread of what lies beyond it.

> unlock door
What do you want to unlock the great bronze door with?

> bronze key
The great bronze door unlocks with a heavy fall of metal.
You unlock the great bronze door.

> open door
The portal parts in the middle, swinging open with a long, basso creak that vibrates in the branches of the tree, becoming a song of ten thousand voices, a heraldic trumpet call.

As you gaze upon the opened door, a voice calls out to you, saying:

The seal is now broken.
Take what you see beyond,
and fulfill this unsealed revelation.

> in

Iron Kingdom
The base of the iron column is a set of interlocking bars, triangled and latticed, reinforced with lateral beams as tall as your body. An opening in the front side leads into a space in the center of the column.

You can see a scroll here.

> get scroll
Taken.

> x it
The scroll has not been opened.

> open scroll
You open the scroll.

> x it
On the scroll these words are inscribed:

The hour and minute and moment have come,
An eclipse encircled as wide as the world.

When the new day awakens the slumbering one.
When the man of Four Faces lets slip his lies,

The Sun and the Moon are joined by a third,
A third of the World sees through his disguise.

Travel west to the mountains, east to the wind
The day and the hour of the Endgame begin

When the beast has no more need to pretend.
North to the ocean, South to the end.

> l

Iron Kingdom
The base of the iron column is a set of interlocking bars, triangled and latticed, reinforced with lateral beams as tall as your body. An opening in the front side leads into a space in the center of the column.

> in
You pick up the candlestick, holding its wobbly light in front of you.
As you enter, a gate of iron bars swings shut behind you. Not with the expected great boom, but instead the terrible imposition of utter silence and enclosure.

Column base
Inside the base of the column is an octagonal platform, ringed by a grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork is connected to a set of chains and cables that reach up into the vertical darkness. A sconce hangs down below it, scorched and sooty.

> s
You cannot. There is no that-direction.

> out
The exit is not there.

> i
You are carrying:
a candlestick (providing light)
a scroll
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key
an open suitcase (which is open)
a topaz
a feather boa
a rutabaga
your *train ticket*
some loose grains
a wheat bundle
a sickle

> close suitcase
You close the open suitcase.

> drop it
Dropped.

> stand on it
You climb onto the old suitcase. That still works.

> light sconce
(with the candlestick)
You touch the candle flame to the sconce, and a yellow flame leaps to immediate life within it, burning a fuel oil you cannot see. It surprises you with its vigor and heat, and you stumble back off the suitcase, craning your neck to admire its handiwork: within moments, the heat from it begins to unlock the gearwork above it. The gears begin to glow red, and they slide, clicking and ticking, into motion; its ratchets unhinge, hinged parts unseal, rods rotate, and the cables grow taut.

Slowly at first, but building swiftly to a steady pace, the chains begin to move, and the walls of the iron column beyond the bars begin to slide downward.

The platform rises and rises within the column of iron, the walls scrolling down like skyscraper stories, or history's stories. Time does seem to pass, ages of it, and you sense its immensity and weight, one level building higher after the other. Surely it should fall under its own weight, yet it stands.

The platform rattles to a stop, and one set of gears stops turning and another sets itself to work: the bars retract from each side of the cage, opening in eight cardinal directions. Below your feet, the floor shifts, irising open to reveal a familiar design: an inlaid rose, this time clearly marked with compass directions.

A voice calls out to you, saying: "You are greedy for worldly possessions, and material things have a great hold over you. You are turquoise, the desert sky, remote and arid, but full of color. You are close to finding your song."

Silence falls once more.

All is quiet.

> l

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

You can also see a suitcase here.

> get suitcase
Taken.

> se
At first you hear the river, a smooth and splashing roar, and then you hear something else, a different kind of thunderous rumbling, of great flames lashing and spitting at the rocks and spraying the dirt.

You emerge at the bank of the Jordan to see a great zooming flash of light, and feel a hot gust in its wake.

Riverbank
Under a clear midnight sky, the stars twinkle and sparkle, millions and billions in a milky band of diamonds. The air is exceptionally clear, and the river captures and dancingly reflects the heavens within it.

Elisha is kneeling by the riverbank, gazing upward at a streak of blue light that seems to be disappearing in the direction of Sirius.

> x streak
The streak of light disappears with a final twinkle, becoming lost among the other starlights.

> ask elisha about streak
You ask Elisha about the streak of light.

"Oh, someone close to me just left in rather a strange fashion," he says wistfully. He takes the end of the mantle in his hand and waves it gently. "He left me this when he went. You can do all sorts of wild things while wearing it. Ever stopped the sun in its tracks?"

> hello elisha
"Hello, Elisha," you say.

Elisha says, "Good day."

> x elisha
A young man, bright and intense. A sense of wheels upon wheels whirling in his head, making him seem distracted and intensely focused at the same time. His face, though, is kind and open. He wears a mantle around his shoulders, for comfort and warmth.

The streak of light disappears with a final twinkle, becoming lost among the other starlights.

> ask elisha about mantle
You ask Elisha about the mantle.

You ask if you can have the mantle. Elisha looks curiously at you and says, "I only just got this. You'd have to really make it clear why you deserve to wear it for me to part with it!"

> i
You are carrying:
a suitcase
a candlestick (providing light)
a scroll
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> show scroll to elisha
Elisha takes it, saying, "Let me see that!" He pores over it for a brief time and then his face lights up with a wide-eyed smile. "Oh ho ho! Where'd you get this? This is -- wait."

He bears his frowning gaze at it for an equal length of time, then comes up for air, shaking his head. "No, see, you've got it in the wrong order. Let me rewrite it for you." He absently checks the pockets of his simple garment -- which has no pockets -- and then looks up at you, as if delighted to see you are still standing there.

"You don't happen to have a stylus on you? Something I can write with?" he asks.

> elisha, no
No one has asked you a question.

> nw
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> e
East to the wind...

Windy outcropping
The northern sun is low and pale, hidden by a smear of gray clouds over a green sea that washes with great crashes on the rocks far below. On an outcropping of rock at the jagged edge of a windswept fjord, a gnarled ash tree, ancient and bent, makes its stand against the elements.

Hanging upside-down from the tree's remaining solid branch is a gray-bearded old man dressed in pelts and leathers, suspended by a rope tied around his ankle. Perched on the sole of his tied foot is a large black raven.

> x old man
Blind in one eye, the other nearly as closed in a harsh squint against the wind, he wears ravaged garments that were once regal, but are now shredded and chewed-looking. He is excessively brawny, his skin wrinkled and freckled and pale, except for his face, which is bright pink.

> give train ticket to odin
You can't see any such thing.

> i
You are carrying:
a suitcase
a candlestick (providing light)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

> open suitcase
You open the old suitcase. In the suitcase are a topaz, a feather boa, a rutabaga, your *train ticket*, some loose grains, a wheat bundle and a sickle.

> get ticket
Taken.

> give ticket to odin
You tuck the train ticket into Odin's belt, and it folds and flaps in the wind, but stays there. The raven caws at you and bows its head. Unless you just imagined that.

> w
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> n
North to the ocean...

Ocean realm
Vast, endless and eternal, the ocean is before you and all around. Swimming against strong waves, you sputter for air and thrash with tired muscles. Overhead, there is a great clamor in the sky, and flames lashing like whipmarks that cut through the atmosphere. A great beast, an ancient serpent, falls from the heavens, thrashing with fury, and burns all the way down to the water with a tremendous splash. Gnashing and thrashing, the dragon bites on his own tail as it sinks beneath the waves, encircling the world.

A tsunami wave is not long in reaching and overwhelming you. You are turned upside down and the air bubbles out of your lungs. All is green and dark and cold, and then it is not.

> s
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> s
At the end of a tunnel of full of uncanny, glorious light, you behold the a bridge across the clouds to the great jeweled gate in the sky.

Heaven's Gate
The gate of a great walled city, of alabaster towers and standards flying in the winds, a gate shining under a golden sky, glinting and sparkling. A gate of lapis and jade, pearl and silver, emerald and garnet, platinum and elecrum.

The gate is closed.

> x gate
The gate is closed.

> n
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> nw
There is nothing beyond the door but chaos.

Chaos
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

> sing
You sing, as boldly as you can manage. Waves come into being in the chaos, then distort and fly apart.

> sing ouranos
You sing the name that sings itself, and the chaos begins to pull itself into rippling clumps, coagulating, strengthening into ropy cords, which vibrate to the song. Basso profundo only begins to describe the depth of the resonance, a resonance that births its own harmonies, multiplying its own complexity, building to a fugue of creation creating itself. Out of the annihilation comes order, and matter, and energy, and time, and space, and hydrogen and helium, and clouds, and the first stars are born, hot and new. Above and below and in between and beyond it all, there is the song, the voice, the name, and the consciousness singing it.

Ouranos is here.

> hi ouranos
The song changes color, briefly, and a giant red orb forms at the center of creation and burns, spinning and throwing off extra mass, until it stabilizes in size. Ouranos sends the ball toward you, and it warps the space and light around it in its wake. Impossibly big, it is for this one moment -- or you are for this moment -- capable of being grasped by you.

> take star
You reach out, and capture a star. Though it does not burn your hand, nor seem too heavy to hold, its heat and mass -- its inescapable fiery power -- are still evident and real.

> l

Creation
There is no up or down, or in or out, or side to side, or alive or dead, or vision or blindness, or health or sickness. Neither darkness nor light. A seething ruin, a boiling of time, a crazed stir of constant annihilation, the end result of infinite entropy, neither beginning nor end.

Ouranos is here.

> out
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> w
West to the mountains...

Mount Olympus
Red rocks ribboned with gray and orange chalamite, bands of olive trees, white temples of marble, a blue sky, a green river. Ambrosia and nectar, wine and honey. Lazing and dancing and playing in the sunshine are a curvaceous company of vixens and nymphs, shrieking with the utter gaiety of youth at play.

A wild goose is running around loose here, trying to screw everything that moves.

You can also see a goose feather here.

> pluck goose
Which do you mean, the wild goose or the goose feather?

> pluch feather
You can't see any such thing.

> pluck feather
(the goose feather)
(first taking the goose feather)
You're not wearing that.

> x nymphs
They're young and saucy, flirty things, with painted eyes and bare arms and legs. Giggles and cackles roll out of them like rising and falling tides as they prance about.

> x vixens
They're young and saucy, flirty things, with painted eyes and bare arms and legs. Giggles and cackles roll out of them like rising and falling tides as they prance about.

> e
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> se
You return to the river...

Riverbank
Under a clear midnight sky, the stars twinkle and sparkle, millions and billions in a milky band of diamonds. The air is exceptionally clear, and the river captures and dancingly reflects the heavens within it.

Elisha is kneeling by the riverbank, gazing upward at a streak of blue light that seems to be disappearing in the direction of Sirius.

> give feather to elisha
(the goose feather to Elisha)
Elisha takes the feather. "Swell! Thanks," he says. "Little magic ink..." he mutters, breaking the tip of the feather into a nib and then rubbing the nib in quickening strokes along the mantle. He holds the tip up and examines it with a grin. With a flash of his eyes upwards, he says to someone, "That'll do nicely. Thank you."

He sets to work at once, working by candlelight. He works faster than seems reasonable, using the goose quill to pull text blocks around on the paper, as well as changing a few words, as if the scroll and ink were a digital tablet running a word processor.

When he finishes, he bolts upright, tucks the feather behind his ear, and holds out the revised scroll.

"Here," says Elisha. "This is how it's supposed to read." As you take the scroll, Elisha drapes the mantle around your shoulders. It's a heavy garment, and makes you think of Superman's cape.

> x mantle
A heavy garment, deep royal purple, with stripes of pure white wool.

> wear it
You're already wearing that!

> save
Ok.

> x scroll

When the man of Four Faces lets slip his lies,
A third of the World sees through his disguise.
The day and the hour of the Endgame begin
When the beast has no more need to pretend.

The hour and minute and moment have come,
When the new bride awakens the slumbering son.
The Sun and the Moon are joined by a third,
An eclipse encircled as wide as the world.

Travel west to the mountains, east to the wind
North to the ocean, South to the end.

>
nw
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> ne

Desert
A vast arid stretch of soil and sharp rocks, endless in all directions, baked by the sun all day and starved with cold at night.
It's currently daytime.

The children of Israel are standing here, kvetching.

The sky purples as the sun escapes over the western horizon.

> x sun
The sun is setting.

Night falls over the desert. It becomes a moonscape.

> z
Time passes.

The sky turns to rose and pastel blue on the eastern horizon. All over the ground, you see *manna*.

> take manna
Taken.

As you take up the manna, one of the nosier Israelites tugs on your elbow and says, "Better eat it before sundown, or it turns to worms!"

The sun burns down from high above, baking the desert landscape.

> stop the sun
You halt the sky.

> sw
It takes you a full day to return from the desert, but the sky does not move, and the *manna* is preserved.
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> sw

Garden of Eden
A lush garden, a young rainforest, all the trees and flowers are new under the sun, yellow-green and tender, bursting with fragrance and juice and sap, overflowing with life. You can seemingly watch it all grow, as if in a time lapse, every blade of grass straining upwards, reaching for the sunlight, exhaling oxygen so thickly that the sky seems pink and gold even under a high sun.

A pair of flaming swords stand to the east, barring entrance to the garden from those outside.

You can also see the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, a *white fruit* and a *red fruit* here.

> take white fruit
Taken.

> take red fruit
Taken.

> e
You pass through the flames and the razor edges of the swords without harm from heat or blade.

Outside Eden
The ground is hard and dusty, though patched with thirsty-looking grass. There are weeds and nettles growing everywhere, spiky and angry looking shrubs, and trees with a bad look about them. To the west stand the twin guardians of Eden, barring entrance to the garden.

There is a man here, lying naked face down in a patch of grass, one arm covering his face, the other splayed out in the dirt.

You can also see guardian swords here.

> x man
He seems to be asleep.

> wake man
You give him a gentle shake, and he stirs, alarmed at your touch. His eyes dart first to the twin swords of flame, to the garden, and then race back to you, chasing around your face.

Stripes of rope gag him across the mouth.

He tries to speak, but you cannot hear what he says through the gag.

> x man
Stripes of rope gag him across the mouth.

> rebuke man
That's not a verb I recognise.

> absolve man
You grant absolution, as much as it is in you to do so.

> w
You pass through the flames and the razor edges of the swords without harm from heat or blade.

Garden of Eden
A lush garden, a young rainforest, all the trees and flowers are new under the sun, yellow-green and tender, bursting with fragrance and juice and sap, overflowing with life. You can seemingly watch it all grow, as if in a time lapse, every blade of grass straining upwards, reaching for the sunlight, exhaling oxygen so thickly that the sky seems pink and gold even under a high sun.

A pair of flaming swords stand to the east, barring entrance to the garden from those outside.

You can also see the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil here.

> ne
All is quiet.

Column Top
An octagonal platform, at the center of which is an inlaid compass rose. A grille of bars that arch overhead to form a flat peak, from which antiquated gearwork and a sooty sconce hang. Exits lead in each of eight directions.

A yellow fire leaps and glows from the sconce.

> s
At the end of a tunnel of full of uncanny, glorious light, you behold the a bridge across the clouds to the great jeweled gate in the sky.

Heaven's Gate
The gate of a great walled city, of alabaster towers and standards flying in the winds, a gate shining under a golden sky, glinting and sparkling. A gate of lapis and jade, pearl and silver, emerald and garnet, platinum and elecrum.

The gate is closed.

> knock on gate
You knock on Heaven's door. The great gate swings open, and a voice calls out, saying:

"Because you seek peace, peace shall you find. Because you are a child of Heaven, in Heaven you shall dwell."

> i
You are carrying:
a *red fruit*
a *white fruit*
*manna*
a mantle (being worn)
a revelation scroll
a *red giant*
an open suitcase (which is open)
a topaz
a feather boa
a rutabaga
some loose grains
a wheat bundle
a sickle
a candlestick (providing light)
a keyring (being worn)
two keys:
a bronze key
a brass key

This game had a good opening, but descended rapidly into bugginess. From what I saw on the walkthrough, I don't think I get it, anyway. Do the different scenes fit together somehow? Is there a Meaning and a Unifying Theme? Don't know.

> enter gate
With the scroll in hand, you pass beyond the gate.

*** Your story continues, but it is you who shall write it ***

Would you like to RESTART, RESTORE a saved game, UNDO your last move, or QUIT?
>
quit