One Bet, On the Rocks

 

A:           You open your eyes to see leaves and a night sky above you. Cold earth clings to the jeans and t-shirt you don’t remember putting on. You get to your feet, patting your arms and legs for any cuts or bruises. Your head is killing you, but nothing else hurts too badly. It’s not the first time you’ve woken up somewhere unfamiliar after a night of heavy drinking, but you are a bit concerned with the ropes scattered around you, and friction burns on your wrists and ankles. You check your pockets for your phone, finding only a note with a few words written in hurried ink.

You can’t trust him.

You don’t know who it could be talking about; maybe Greg and Tim are punishing you for getting so drunk again. But you have bigger things to worry about, liking getting home. Bushes line the circle around you, keeping the maples and pines from encroaching the serene spot, and you catch a bright glow through the trees. In the middle of the clearing sits a wooden box, about the size of a watermelon. You are about to walk up to it, when a loud bang off in the distance takes your attention. Do you:

Look in the box? Go to part S

Follow the bang? Go to part B

Follow the light? Go to part L

 

 

 

B:           You’re only running for a short time before you stumble onto black asphalt. You look both ways, listening for any sounds of civilization. What you do hear is an inhuman growl from behind that sends you taking off down the road, not looking back. You’re not sure how long you run, but your sides and lungs are killing you. You stop by the side of the road, pine branches crowding the shoulder and brushing your back while you lean over your knees. When you look up, the road has been replaced by a massive sheet of glass, showing only your dim reflection. Even with the sky dark, you can tell the wall extends far beyond the road.

Suddenly the brush rustles, and a stranger in black clothing steps out of the foliage, onto the road. He smiles, holding his hands up defensively. “I am sorry to startle you.” His voice is so calm and smooth, you can’t help but smile in return. “I’m here to help.”

He lets out a little giggle as you take a tentative step backward. “I understand that you’re scared. It’s probably been hard, being all alone out here. It looks like you’ve been fighting for a while already. Do you want out?”

You nod, a thought bubbling up in your mind. You can’t trust him.

“Follow me.” He strides into the glass wall. It ripples like water, as his body slips through and beyond. Do you:

Run back to the clearing? Go to C

Follow him? Go to D

 

 

 

C:            You careen through the forest, hoping against hope that you made the right decision, and straining to hear anything but the branches you’re breaking. You make it back, panting for oxygen, and really craving a drink.

Go to S

 

 

 

D:           You step after him; the cool surface of glass tickles the hairs on your arm and breathes cold air into your face. The next thing you know, you’re standing in a dark yellow steppe. Even though it’s night, the air is warm and muggy, not the cool dryness of the forest behind you. As you peer through the tall orange-white grass, a zebra gallops past.

The man cackles, but it’s a hard sound, not smooth like his voice. Among the gilded fronds, the stranger now holds a bloodied knife. “Alright, I will give you a few minutes to get a head start.” His eyes glitter in the now present moonlight. “Run.”

Go back to the forest? Go to E

Run into the Savanah? Go to F

 

 

 

E:            You turn and barrel back through the door, the cool air and tickling hair only lasts a moment before you blast onto the forest road. You don’t pause, dashing down the street at full speed. The stranger shouts after you, a laugh on his voice, and you turn into the thick. You fly through the branches at a reckless speed, only to come to a stop back inside the clearing. You look around, but the forest is spinning. No matter how many breaths you take, in and out, you can’t quite catch any air. Just as your visions tints with red, you hear a kind woman’s voice whisper in your ear.

“Why do you keep fighting? Shall we try again?”

You open your eyes to see the night sky above you once more. You shoot up, looking around. The wooden box is still laying in the center of the field, and there is still a glow off to your right. You wait a moment and, sure enough, a bang sounds in the distance. You stride—a bit more slowly this time—to the road without incident. As soon as you step onto the black asphalt, you hear a strange grunt behind you in the forest. You turn and jog down the road, keeping your paces even. When you start to get out of breath, you stop. Suddenly the road disappears, and the wall of glass materializes once more. As does the stranger in black, smiling innocently. “I am sorry to startle you.” His voice is still smooth, but you are no longer comforted. “I can help you, if you want.”

He doesn’t seem to notice that you’ve done this before, as he continues. “I’m sure you’re scared, you look like you’ve been fighting for a while. Do you want out?” You nod, slowly. “Follow me.” He steps into the glass wall. It engulfs him, the lake to his puddle. You follow, and step through into the savannah. He looks out over the grasses, then chuckles calmly, removing a sanguine blade from his belt. “Alright, I will give you a few minutes to get a head start. Now, run.” Do you:

Run back to the forest? Go to K [At the end]

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

F:            You fly through the tall grass, leaving the man and his cackle far behind you. The ground here is less bumpy and you can sprint at full speed without fear of tripping. It would feel nice, the warm wind flowing past your ears and the calm sounds of cicadas in the distance, if not for your heart, which is pounding in your throat. You’re going so fast, you almost don’t stop when the grass disappears and you pass a tiny wooden shack. You skid to a halt in the dry sand, kicking dust into the air. A sweet smell drifts out of the open door, drawing you in.

You approach slowly, stepping into the mud-floored home, the sickly-sweet scent of rotting fruit assails you. The inside of the shack is lit by embers, piled into a pit in the center. Poking at them with a stick is an ancient woman wearing bright robes across her shoulders. She looks up at you, eyes whiter than the moon. “Well, ‘bout time you got here. I s’pose you want to know what’s goin’ on.” You nod, yet her voice sound eerily familiar to you.

She chuckles a kind laugh, setting her fire poker down and grabbing a pointy walking stick from the floor. She lifts her weight off the chair slowly, and gestures to an identical seat to her left. “I am a shaman. Sit, and I will tell you what is going on.”

You step over to the chair, sitting down with your hands clasped carefully in your lap. The shaman walks into the shadowy corner of the home, only to return with bowl of transparent brown liquid. She places the wooden dish in your hands. “Drink.”

You lift the saucer to your nose. The scent of rotting fruit in the hut is immediately replaced by the sickly-sweet smell of whiskey. Do you:

Drink it? Go to G

Give it back? Go to H

 

 

 

G:           You take the whole thing in one drink, the warm stinging in your throat a welcome reprise from the craze of the night. You sigh contentedly, but your breath is met with a sigh from the Shaman. She takes the bowl from your hands, not gently but no longer with the kindness of a caring host. She points to the door. “Unfortunately, I do not think I can help you. You must leave.”

You stand up, staring at her confused. She shakes her head, pointing her walking stick at your chest. “If you can beat him in a fight, you may have a chance. So, I suggest you run.”

Go to I

 

 

 

H:           You shake your head, offering the woman the bowl. She smiles. “If you so wish.” She takes the Scotch, setting the dish aside and sitting in her seat. “You are stuck. You are caught in a game between two entities, and unlike before, you can end it. So to speak.”

You look at her quizzically, but she frowns. “If you kill the one chasing you, you may survive. But, if you can find a doorway, a shimmering hole in this world, speak the word ‘Ítreírad’, and you might be able to escape.” She saunters back into the dark, returning with a long, jagged knife. “Take this, and make your choice now. He is coming.”

You nod, taking the weapon and striding out of the shack. You hear someone, or something, coming through the grass. Do you:

Run back to the glass wall? Go to I

Fight the stranger? Go to J

 

 

 

I:             You sprint away from the shack and back into the bush. You only get a few yards before the ground beneath you falls away. You fall after it; then sharp pain stings your legs and back. You strain your head to see what you’ve landed on. Wooden stakes poked out of your thighs and abdomen. You can see fibers from your jeans and shirt stuck to the thick red liquid. It surprises you a little, how quickly the pain fades; even as you watch the flesh and fluids pushed out of your body by your own weight, the sharp points of agony are dulled. You feel hot, and time slows down. You’re not sure when you stopped hurting completely, or when the sky got so bright. But when the stranger in black and the shaman step over the pit, staring you in the eyes, you can hear them clearly.

The man looks up at the old woman. “Well, I guess I win.”

She sighs. “I guess so.”

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. He’s a heavyset man in flannel, and he sounds almost disappointed when he asks: “Do you want another drink?”

You nod your head slowly. “Yeah, pour me a Scotch.”

End


 

 

J:             You walk carefully up to the tall grass, ducking to the side and hiding between thick fronds. It only takes a few seconds for the stranger in black, knife still in hand, to step out of the brush. You can feel sweat dripping down your brow, your heart thumping wildly in your chest as you wait for the right moment. You feel like your breath might betray you, but the man never looks in your direction. You wait for him to walk a few feet out of the grass, before you charge.

You’re surprised at how easily the dagger sinks into flesh. The man barely lets out a moan before falling to the ground. You feel a smile tugging at your lips, and an inkling of relief trickles down your spine. You look up to see the shaman stepping out of her shack. She has a smile too, but hers is bittersweet. She steps forward, waving her staff in your direction.

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. “Do you want another drink?”

You shake your head slowly. “No, I think I can go without.”

End

 

 

 

L:            As you walk through the forest, the sounds of twigs snapping and branches breaking follows you. Before you know it, you’re sprinting toward the phantom glow in the trees. The forest clears and you stumble onto a dirt driveway, leading up to a cabin. Down the drive the other direction, you see a paved road. A heavy grunt from behind drives you up the stairs, onto the porch, and to the wooden door.

After three knocks, the door swings open to reveal a heavyset, bearded man, wearing flannel and cargo pants. He looks at you, then out the door toward the forest. He nods. “Come in.”

You follow him into the dining room, taking the seat he offers at the table. “I’ll get you some tea.” He strides lithely into the kitchen, and you hear him pouring water into a cup. Soon, he walks back in, holding a mug of tea. As you carefully take a sip of the hot beverage, he frowns at you. “Shame, a young thing like you left in the wilderness.” You don’t respond, but he doesn’t seem to notice. “This place… This is a bad place to be. You’re likely to get hurt, or worse, being out here and talking to strangers.”

He gets up from the table, motioning toward the back of the house. “I can help you, if you want to get out.”

You take another sip of tea, wishing it was whiskey. He shakes his head. “It’s fine if you don’t believe me. You can leave, if you want.” The note in your pocket is burning a hole through your jeans. Do you:

Leave toward the road? Go to B

Follow the man? Go to M

 

 

 

M:          You stand up and nod, following him silently into the kitchen. As you pass the stove and fridge, you see a golden star sitting on the counter with the word SHERIFF printed in black. The two of you step out the back, the spring on the screen door cutting through the silence with its metal squeak. In the packed dirt space, between the crimson painted shed and the old cabin, is a large pane of glass.

Or at least it looks like glass. You follow the sheriff around, staring directly at its face. Instead of seeing the shed through the thick, frameless window, you see yourself. Not the you standing in an unfamiliar forest, but the you from last night. You see the bar, and you see yourself asleep, drool leaking from your mouth onto the polished wooden surface of the counter, and a half empty glass of Scotch off to the side. You look to the sheriff but he shakes his head, pointing to the glass. Inside the portal, you watch as a man dressed in all black walks up to you, the bartender paying him no notice. He sets his hand on your back, and you disappear. The man smiles, and walks out.

You stare wide eyed and confused at the sheriff. He holds up his hands before you can speak. “I know it’s confusing, but let me explain a bit. You’re being chased, and that man is going to kill you. So, you have a choice. Go back to the clearing, and fight him; or run, and die.” Do you:

Go back to the clearing? Go to C

Try going through the glass? Go to N

 

 

 

N:           You set your hands on the glass, trying to push yourself through, back to the bar. The sheriff just sighs. “You can’t go back, you don’t even know how.” He let out another breath of air. “I’ll give you some help though. Back in the clearing, there’s a big ‘ol raspberry bush. Just behind it, you’ll find a Browning Hi Power, and maybe you’ll have a fighting chance. Now go.” Do you:

Go back to the clearing? Go to C

Plead with the sheriff? Go to O

 

 

 

O:           You glare at him, opening your mouth to beg for help, yet only a scream of fatigue and fear and confusion. You slam your fist on the glass, not sure what to make of this whole situation. You feel the sheriff’s hand on your shoulder. “You need to go.” Do you:

Go back to the clearing? Go to C

[Locked, unless you’ve read H] Say the password? Go to P

 

 

 

P:            You look up at the glass, some part of your mind remembering a single word. You press your palms against the door and whisper, “Ítreírad.” The sheriff lets out a gasp, reaching out for your arms. Before he can find a hold, you slip into the watery surface and the darkness beyond.

A soft, kind voice echoes off unseen walls. “You made it out.” You look around, but no light reaches your eyes as you float weightless through endless space. “You’ve been the feature of a betting game, going on between two very powerful people for a very long time. Now though, you can be free. But… I’ll give you a choice. You can go back to your life, your old home, and never be dragged into this battle again—but you’ll never forget the horrors you’ve seen here. Or, you can wake up in the bar, and remember nothing; but every time they need to settle a dispute, you’ll be brought back, to live or to die, over and over again. The decision is yours.” Do you:

Forget, but come back? Go to Q

Remember, but be free? Go to R

 

 

 

Q:           “I’ll see you again.”

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. He’s a heavyset man in flannel, and he sounds almost disappointed when he asks: “Do you want another drink?”

You nod your head slowly. “Yeah, pour me a Scotch.”

End

 

 

 

R:           “I hope you can live with this decision.”

You feel rain on your face, and suddenly you’re standing in front of your house in the city. Stone steps lead to your door, and the sun is peaking through the clouds. You’re still wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but the air is warmer here than it was in the forest. You shudder at the strange adventure you’ve just had, and stride up to your house. A nap is in order.

One of your friends leans across the table, narrowly avoiding his beer glass, tapping you on the arm, and changing the subject abruptly. “Are you ever gonna tell us how you got out of the bar?”

Your other friend punches him in the arm. “Give it a rest, Tim, it’s been two weeks.”

Tim groans, looking at you with puppy dog eyes. “Come on. One minute you’re there, and the next you’re gone. We come by your house and you’re not around. We come back the next day and you’re asleep, at three in the afternoon. At least tell us what you did after you left.”

You smile at him, taking a long dreg of your whiskey.  Just as you finish the glass, a slow, smooth voice, sounds from behind you. “Oh, I don’t think you’d believe what happened.”

You spin your head around, staring into the eyes of the stranger in black. You stand up, knocking your chair to the ground. Under your fearful glare, the stranger strides around the table, laying a hand on the now sleeping Tim. Suddenly, your friend vanishes. The stranger looks at you with a smile. “I hope to see you again, some day.”

End

 

 

 

S:            You’re not sure what to think of your surroundings, but after scanning the forest behind you, to make sure no one is around, you walk over to inspect the chest. You lift the lid gingerly. A single sheet of paper crests the box, with a neatly written script.

If you do not wish to be like the man in the box, I suggest you run, and run fast.

Puzzled, you pick up the note. Below it, tucked neatly into the wooden crevasse, is the head of a man, pale and bloodied, staring with open eyes up at the night sky. You pause, almost to shocked to react. You need to move, and now. Do you:

[Locked, unless you came from N] Look for the gun? Go to T

Run into the forest? Go to U

 

 

 

T:           You look around the edge of the clearing for a raspberry bush. When you spot it, you sprint over, reaching behind and clawing at the dirt. The thorns sting your skin, and you can feel the dirt jamming beneath your fingernails, but when cold metal brushes against your skin, both pain and grime are forgotten. You pick up the caked Browning 9mm, cleaning the mud from its sides. You breathe a small sigh of relief before taking off through the underbrush.

You carefully dodge twigs and forest refuse, holding the gun to your chest. Almost as an afterthought, you pause by a tree to check the weapon for a safety. The button makes a satisfying click, now a red dot on the side of the handle. With the trigger free, you step out from behind the pine.

Standing in front of you is a man in black, carrying a bloodied knife. He looks at you, with a smile, before noticing the gun, with a frown. Before you can so much as ask who he is, he lunges at you. You feel the trigger click twice. The gun moves so little that you aren’t even sure it fired. Yet two loud bangs assault your eardrums, and two puffs of pink-red steam erupt out the stranger’s chest. He falls to the ground voicelessly.

For a moment, you’re relieved. Then you feel something tug at your feet, and you’re ripped into a dark nothingness.

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. “Do you want another drink?”

You shake your head slowly. “No, I think I can go without.”

End

 

 

 

U:           You take off through the underbrush, ferns grabbing at your pants and branches scratching your arms. Cold air stings your lungs as they try to keep up with your body. You run for what feels like hours, no end to the forest in sight, and nothing to light your way but a dash of stars in the dark blue sky. Just as your sides and legs begin to protest, you run into something hard. For a moment, you’re airborne, nothing below your feet until your butt hits the ground. You look up, confused at the sudden stop, to see a man dressed in black, brandishing a shimmery silver knife that drips with blood.

“I apologize for the abrasive action.” His voice is slow and smooth, almost soothing. “I had meant to play with you a bit before the chase, but someone tried to free you.” He slinks toward you, the slick blade glimmering in the starlight. “No matter. We can still have some fun. I’ll give you sixty seconds.” He pauses, smiling at you with perfect teeth. “Run” Do you:

Fight? Go to V

Run? Go to W

 

 

 

V:           You stand, facing the stranger. You launch forward, knocking the knife out of his hand and burying your shoulder into his chest. As the two of you tumble to the cold grass, the man flips you over, coming down on top of you. Suddenly he has his hand around your throat, and you can’t breathe.

“Damnit!” he spits into your face. “I should have known that old hag would come meddle with this, now you’re nothing but wasted prey.”

He reaches over above your head, his hand returning with the hunting knife. He holds the tip over your chest. “We’ll just have to do this again,” he says with a crooked smile, before sinking the knife into your chest.

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. He’s a heavyset man in flannel, and he sounds almost disappointed when he asks: “Do you want another drink?”

You nod your head slowly. “Yeah, pour me a Scotch.”

End

 

 

 

W:          You pick yourself up off the ground, tearing through the forest, feeling not so much as a twinge of pain in your muscles. More than once, you nearly trip over the underbrush as the man cackles behind you.

A tree just ahead of you explodes, sending chunks of bark and wood into your face. You swerve, tumbling to the ground. You’re up on your feet and zigzagging through the pines before you hear another gunshot. The third shot sounds, and you feel a stinging pain in your calf. As you fall to the ground, you can feel wet, hot blood dripping into your sock. Biting your tongue, you roll under a nearby tree and wait.

Silence.

Not too long before footsteps approach, stopping a few yards from your hiding spot.

“Hello?” you hear the man call out. “I’m going to give you another chance. I’ll go back a few meters, and you can run again. This time… This time I’ll use my knife.”

You hear his steps wander back into the forest. Do you:

Keep hiding? Go to X

Run? Go to Y

 

 

 

X:            You stay under the tree, breathing as quietly as possible. It feels like years, waiting in silence. The wind moves the trees, and branches snap out in the forest. Suddenly he’s kneeling above you, a knife at your throat. You feel warm breath on your face as he almost moans in delight. “Oh, you should have run.”

You feel pain in your neck; your agonizing gasps quickly turn to coughs as your throat and lungs take in blood.

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. He’s a heavyset man in flannel, and he sounds almost disappointed when he asks: “Do you want another drink?”

You nod your head slowly. “Yeah, pour me a Scotch.”

End

 

 

 

Y:            You get up, your leg screaming at you in pain, and limp into the forest. It hurts, but a crackle from behind gives you the adrenaline you need to run again. You duck around a tree, waiting a moment before leaping down a small decline and running deeper. As the adrenaline wears off, your foot feels heavy. It doesn’t take long for you trip up, hitting the ground and knocking the air out of your lungs. You roll over, trying to stand.

Then you see him, walking toward you slowly, a shining smile and matching knife the only bright parts of his black attire. You feel hopeless, like you’ve lost. He steps up, kicking your foot gently. “Aren’t you gonna run?” he asks as you wince in pain.

You shake your head, but he smiles. “Well, I had some fun anyway, and this should count as a win for me. Thank—”

The man stutters, grunting in pain. In the dark, you can just barely see the point of wood sticking out of his throat. He tries to cough, but only blood and spittle escape his mouth. His now convulsing body shakes to the ground at your feet, and standing in his place is a woman in bright robes, holding a sanguine wooden staff.

“Finally got the bastard,” she says in a voice aged and tired, talking more to herself than you. “I suppose you’ll want to go home now. Sorry you have to get caught up in the squabble of these two.” She looks at you with a kind smile, and waves her staff in your face.

You lift your head from the bar, blinking at the bright light before the shadow of the bartender blocks it out. “Do you want another drink?”

You shake your head slowly. “No, I think I can go without.”

End

 

 

 

K:           You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“Again?”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You check for the box and the glow, still there. Then the bang. You sprint to the road, waiting a moment for the grunt, then jogging toward the wall. It appears, and the man steps out. You don’t wait for him, you step into the glass and feel the warm savannah air.

The knife wielding stranger enters behind you. “I appreciate your enthusiasm. Hopefully you can keep it up, in our chase.” Do you?

Run back to the forest? Go to K1

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

K1:        You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“Fine. Keep fighting.”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You check for the box and the glow, still there. Then the bang. You sprint to the road, waiting a moment for the grunt, then jogging toward the wall. It appears, and the man steps out. You don’t wait for him, you step into the glass and feel the warm savannah air.

A knife wielding stranger enters behind you. “I appreciate your enthusiasm. Hopefully you can keep it up, in our chase.” Do you?

Run back to the forest? Go to K2

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

K2:        You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“You think you can win?”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You check for the box and the glow, still there. Then the bang. You sprint to the road, waiting a moment for the grunt, then jogging toward the wall. It appears, and the man steps out. You don’t wait for him, you step into the glass and feel the warm savannah air.

A knife wielding stranger enters behind you. “I appreciate your enthusiasm. Hopefully you can keep it up, in our chase.” Do you?

Run back to the forest? Go to K3

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

K3:        You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“You think you can beat this on your own?”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You check for the box and the glow, still there. Then the bang. You sprint to the road, waiting a moment for the grunt, then jogging toward the wall. It appears, and the man steps out. You don’t wait for him, you step into the glass and feel the warm savannah air.

A knife wielding stranger enters behind you. “I appreciate your enthusiasm. Hopefully you can keep it up, in our chase.” Do you?

Run back to the forest? Go to K4

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

K4:        You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“Even if you win today, will you keep trying tomorrow?”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You check for the box and the glow, still there. Then the bang. You sprint to the road, waiting a moment for the grunt, then jogging toward the wall. It appears, and the man steps out. You don’t wait for him, you step into the glass and feel the warm savannah air.

A knife wielding stranger enters behind you. “I appreciate your enthusiasm. Hopefully you can keep it up, in our chase.” Do you?

Run back to the forest? Go to K5

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

K5:        You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“Perhaps… Perhaps you can.”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You check for the box and the glow, still there. Then the bang. You sprint to the road, waiting a moment for the grunt, then jogging toward the wall. It appears, and the man steps out. You don’t wait for him, you step into the glass and feel the warm savannah air.

A knife wielding stranger enters behind you. “I appreciate your enthusiasm. Hopefully you can keep it up, in our chase.” Do you?

Run back to the forest? Go to K6

Run into the Savannah? Go to F

 

 

 

K6:        You leave the man, loafing through the glass portal and back to the road. You run several meters before the gunshot comes. You dip into the forest once again, coming back to the clearing. You’re out of breath, even though you ran less this time. The red tinges your vision and the kind, old voice drifts into your ears.

“I’m going to ask you a question, and if you get it right, I’ll let you go. But if you get it wrong, you’re going to fall asleep and never, ever, wake up.”

Night sky through pine needles and oak leaves. You lift yourself off the ground. You see neither box nor glow in the clearing this time, and after a few minutes, you realize the bang isn’t coming either.

“Tell me, what is it that brought you here?”

Scotch? Got to K7

A battle of two powers? Got to K8

Bad Weed? Got to K9

A shaman in the savannah? Got to K10

Satan? Got to K11

The sheriff in the forest? Got to K12

 

 

 

K7:        “That may have been what started you toward this destination, but it is not the substance that is the subject of this fight.”

K8:        “Indeed. But which one wins, is up to you. You have a long road ahead of you. Steps you must take to reach strength, wisdom, and serenity. Or, you can let the battle rage on.”

K9:        “Wrong”

K10:     “Wrong”

K11:     “Wrong”

K12:     “Wrong”

 

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