The Strangest

The last thing you remember was clicking on a seemingly innocuous hyperlink. "[[The Strangest]]," the title read. You moved your cursor to the link and... then what happened? ''Thwack!'' Oh, right. A sudden blow to the back of the head. Lights out. The way you're gently swiveling from side-to-side indicates you're now sitting in an office chair. It's similar to your own, only firmer and less comfortable. How long have you been unconscious? Your head's still a little fuzzy, but you feel like you can finally open your eyes. //[[Look up.|Look up]]// In front of you is a desk. On top of it there's a monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard. Cheap gaming peripherals. Sitting on the floor to the left is a desktop computer illuminated by blue LEDs. Classy. What were you doing before this ordeal happened? Viewing someone's portfolio? You notice something displayed on the screen. <center><h3>Stephen Czaja</h3></center> Wasn't that the guy's name? <center><small>//Writer, Narrative Designer, Editor//</small></center> It's the portfolio you were looking through! However, something is different now. The bio is replaced with a short message. <center><small>Leave the apartment. Walk to the bodega down the street.</small></center> Instructions? The audacity of this guy. You grab the mouse and try to close the website, but the computer appears to be frozen. Do you [[take a closer look around the apartment|look]] or [[leave]]?Thank God it didn't happen [[again|Start]], eh?How dare this computer screen tell you what to do. You get up from the uncomfortable chair and look around the room. A diploma is hanging on the wall behind the monitor. Next to it there's a black dresser; clearly nicer than a home-assembled IKEA piece, but definitely not Pottery Barn-quality. On the other side of the dresser hangs a black and white print of some rocks. Behind you is a queen-sized bed - with no comforter, you note with mild disgust - situated beside a second, smaller desk. Two desks? Maybe the guy's schizophrenic. The décor certainly suggests some kind of mental issue. As you walk out of the bedroom you see there's not much else to the apartment. The living room contains no furniture and the kitchen seems to have no food. You check the fridge just to make sure. Well, you satisfied your curiosity. Now what? Your cellphone is gone. It looks like you'll have to play this sicko's game. //[[Leave the apartment.|leave]]//You step outside and shut the door behind you. You stop yourself halfway through the motion of reaching down for your keys to lock the door. What a stupid situation. "Go to the bodega?" Where are you, Manhattan? You look down the barren street filled with decaying brownstones and a distinct lack of trees. Nope. Brooklyn. Two blocks down you find the little grocery store. A hispanic gentleman behind the counter greets you. "Hey! Are you here to help?" he asks. Do you have a choice? "I suppose so," you respond. "Great! I'm desperate, my friend. Mi mamá died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know. The guy on the phone wasn't very specific. Anyway, I need to leave for the old people's home soon to attend the memorial service. Can you help me out by running a last-minute errand?" "What's in it for me?" you ask. And why is he so nonchalant? "Well, it'll provide you with valuable experience..." You can't help but frown a little as his voice trails off. "...and I'll give you twenty bucks." "[[Deal.]]" <small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> "//Excelente!// I need you to fetch me ten pieces of meat." "What?" "Deli meat, my friend! I'm making a party platter for the funeral!" "Oh. Okay." "Thank you so much! I added my request to your quest log! Now hurry!" You turn around and start walking slowly out of the bodega. When you get out of the store owner's vision, you break into a mad sprint. Meat? //Quest log?// It's time to get out of this nightmare. A fork in the road appears; which way do you go? //[[Left]] or [[right]].// <small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> You can't help but notice, as you run down the left road, the quaint delicatessen store coming into view. The meats that hang on the inside of the window, in a demented way, appear sad as you walk past. The sweet man who sent you on this bizarre quest, surrounded by an assortment of candy bars and chewing gum, appears in your mind. An exasperated sigh escapes your lips. You turn on your heel and head into the deli. "How can I help you?" the woman behind the counter asks, while cleaning her cold cut slicer. "Hi, I need some meat." Your response is short and to the point. There's already been enough nonsense for one day. "Well you've come to the right place. What kind would you like?" "Just an assortment," you say. "How much do you want?" "Ten pieces, please." The woman pauses for a moment. "Ten 'pieces'? You ever been to a deli before? We sell by the pound." "Oh, sorry." It appears you might be giving into the insanity. Time to speak like a normal human being. "I'll get half a pound of ham and half a pound of turkey, cut into ten slices, if possible." "Sure thing." She slices the meats, packages them up, and handed them to you over the counter. "That'll be nine seventy-five." "Um..." Your hand freezes in mid-air, clutching the floppy meat. Money?! Money is involved in this transaction? You reach into your pockets but know there's nothing there. The look on your face must reveal your dilemma to the lady, because she asks, "You got no cash?" You nod. "Alright, I'll give you the meat if you do me a favor," she says. You've come so far; how can you back down now? "Okay, what do you need?" "Take out the trash for me." Great. An easy task. She hands you a heavy trash bag and you [[head out of the store]]. <small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> You dash down the street on the right and soon find a police officer blocking the way. He's standing in front of some yellow caution tape that's tied across the road. "Woah there!" he yells while putting his hand out in front of you, "I'm afraid you can't travel down this path." "But I need to get out of this place!" you cry. "Danger lies beyond this trail. Only more experienced adventurers can survive the peril that awaits." "Are you kidding me?" "Nope." "Well... do you have any meat?" It couldn't hurt to ask. "Get outta' here." It appears you'll have to [[try the other direction|Left]]. (set: $right to 1)(set: $trashquest to 1) <small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> You walk to the alleyway next to the store with the bag, but run into a problem. "Halt!" (if: $right is 1)["Great..." you mumble. <br><br> A familiar police officer is blocking the alley. Behind him yellow caution tape is stretched between the two buildings on either side. <br><br>"Let me guess, I can't walk down this path?" you ask. <br><br>"Correct. Only experienced travelers may brave what lies beyond. Do you need assistance finding content more appropriate for your level?"<br><br>"My 'level'? No... thank you." <br><br>You're feeling a little desperate. Do you [[turn the other way]], try to [[sneak under the caution tape]], or [[lunge at the police officer]]?](else:)[A police officer is blocking the alley.<br><br>"Excuse me, sir," you say, "I just need to throw out some trash."<br><br>"Only experienced travelers may brave what lies beyond."<br><br>"The dumpster?"<br><br>"Do you need assistance finding content more appropriate for your level?"<br><br>"My 'level'? No, thank you. I'll take my trash somewhere else."<br><br>[[You turn around.|turn the other way]]] <small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> As you walk across the street to find an alternative location to dump the trash, you reflect on today's events.<small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> You swing the trash bag overhead like a medieval flail while charging at the police officer. The bag smashes into his chest, hurtling him backward into the caution tape. Unfortunately, his fall is cushioned by the plastic barrier. With a stern face the policeman stands up and pulls out his baton. He performs a graceful, yet powerful, lunge - like a world champion fencer wielding a deformed épée - and strikes you square in the forehead. Yet again, [[your descent into darkness is swift]].<small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> You don't want to be violent, but you're also tired of these silly urban quests, so you duck down and try to sneak past the policeman. He watches you the entire time. "Ahem?" You look him directly in the eyes while continuing to crawl underneath the barricade, pushing the bag in front of you. Halfway through the plastic tape, something catches your leg. Your pants are caught on a gutter! You pull and you pull, but you can't get yourself free! Sweat drips down your brow, stinging your eyes. Seconds go by as you wriggle back and forth. You begin to lose hope. You're done for. The police officer, feeling merciful, walks over to you and frees your pants from the trap. He cannot, however, let you pass. "Look, I'm sorry, but you're just going to have to come back when you get more experience." Sulking, you pick up the trash bag and [[head back the other way|turn the other way]].<small><div align="right">[[Quest log]]</div></small> Your consciousness returns, but there's no swiveling here. Underneath you is a cold, metal chair. It seems you've landed yourself in jail because you're currently being held in a questioning room. A man in a cheap suit is standing on the other side of the table that divides the two of you. "Hi," you say with the most innocent-sounding voice you can muster; a difficult feat, given the series of head injuries you've recently sustained. "You can't attack the guards, you know." Apparently your voice sounded more pathetic, than innocent. "Clearly not." "You have performed a bannable offense. Your account will now be eliminated." "Account? Can't I just leave this place and go home? "Your only option is to create a new user and begin again from the start." A rush of wind from behind your head precedes an event you know all too well. "Oh no." ''[[Thwack!|Start]]'' (set: $resets to 1)<center>''Quest Log''</center> $meat/10 //pieces of meat// gathered for the hispanic gentleman at the bodega. (if: $trashquest is 1) [$trash/1 //trash disposed// for the deli woman.]Double-click this passage to edit it.

Hello, World!

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