These are the things that only happen in the dark
Memories that fear the light: The taste of metal
on skin. A bloody flower that blooms and explodes
into a narcotic thrust. Long ago, you lived
in these places. Half-shattered, half-shadowed towers
Where annihilation's music thrums and dances,
A beat that passes through the wet and dripping walls.
A memory guides you: the smell of forgotten
lust. As you stumble past, at so very long last,
half-familiar faces on a damp-stained concrete
stairwell, a name is plucked from the tip of your tongue
and the strange dreams that consume your endless hours.
[[FOLLOW THE MEMORY HOME]] / [[TURN AWAY]]
She softly took your hand and she led you away
With a whispered word that barely recalled a kiss
long years ago. And nothing happened at all - only:
You spent the long night drinking tea on her frayed
and ragged (link-reveal: "sofa")[ worrying chapped fingers
between worn threads as you spoke, hands almost touching]
You talked about abandoned dreams and friends long dead
now. And a time when you still had (link-reveal: "hope")[ of a sort]
A long time ago. "I won't go with you," she said,
"But I can show you a door "Where the light still (link-reveal: "shines")[
in a blaze of terrifying eternity]"
You don't know if she's afraid or simply waiting
for (link-reveal: "someone else")[ (a better friend than you)]. In the
morning she leads you to (link-reveal: "a hallway")[ where the doors
stretch into forever. Endless. Identical.]
With a furtive glance over one shoulder she takes
you to one door among many and asks: "Is this
what you really want? Is this what you really need?"
[[YES->GO INTO THE LIGHT]] / [[NO->RETURN TO THE DARK]]<script>Sound.play('Turn_Away.mp3');</script>
Desire burns white-hot in your veins for an instant.
The urge to call her back by name and once again
return to the place that forged you. But you are sure
this is not something you can survive to re-live:
the taste of steel poison at the back of your throat,
thunder in the blood at the tourniquet's release.
There's nowhere safe in this world but there are places
less dangerous than this. You'll find another way.
[[SEARCH THE SHADOWS]] <script>Sound.play('Go_Into_The_Light.mp3');</script>
The key slides into the lock with a steel-clean thrust
Like metal(link-replace: ", in vain")[ in vein]. It turns, oil-smooth, with a click
and a blaze of fire at the edges of the world
By the time you step forward she's already gone,
disappeared from sight. In a few moments more, she
Has receded from memory, and you cannot
even picture her face or remember her name.
[[AS YOU BURNED]]<script>Sound.play('Return_to_the_Dark.mp3');</script>
You ran from her. Like you always do, always will
and always did. Down all six hundred flights of stairs
Down into the bowels of love, where brick becomes
concrete, cracked and (link-reveal: "bleeding red")[ as deep set iron
leeches out, decaying under the weight of years
and infinite storeys of most bitter regret.]
Beneath the sky-towers lies the undercity,
A world of echoes and polychromatic sparks
in the warming dark, where you stand stock still and stare.
[[AMAZED]]/ [[MAZED]] <script>Sound.play('As_You_Burned.mp3');</script>
If you have never seen the sun, it is a holy
terror: A blazing orb that blinds and petrifies
Your pupils shrink to pinpricks and it's not enough
You screw your eyes shut but the light pulses through them
Red and terrible. You (link-reveal:"feel")[ (but can never see)]
your skin begin to burn. Your nostrils fill with the
stench of burning hair and dirt, As your (link-reveal:"clothes")[, ragged
and stiff with sweat,] begin to smoulder and you must
[[FORCE YOURSELF TO LOOK]] / [[RUN SIGHTLESS, IN SEARCH OF SHADOW'S COMFORT]]<script>Sound.play('Force_Yourself_to_Look.mp3');</script>
The door opens on a cold, crisp winter morning.
It's a little after dawn - almost nine o'clock
and the sun illuminates the eastern sky like
a bolt of blazing gold. Shiny-topped milk bottles
clink and clatter in their cage as you pick it up
and stoop again to collect the Sunday paper.
-[[this is an ending]]-<script>Sound.play('Run_Sightless.mp3');</script>
You screw your eyes shut and run as far and as fast
as you can. Arms outstretched and wheeling you somehow
fail to fall. Your hair catches light but still you run,
trailing a plume of fire behind you. By the time
you reach the dark, your hair and your clothes are long gone,
as is much of your skin. You saved your eyes, at least.
The shadows are salve to you as you fall, breathless
and sobbing, to your knees. But you must crawl further,
into a dark, wet place where you can smell water.
Your skin has begun trying to reknit itself.
[[OPEN YOUR EYES]] / [[CRAWL TOWARDS THE WATER]]
(set: $skinless to true)
It seems magical at first. A great, sacred hall
to all the better daemons of humanity,
cast in the scintillating colours of heaven,
and yet dancing to the pulse of a deeper god.
But as your eyes adjust to the ghost-light, you see
that it's still just concrete and rust all the way down.
Knots of people gather and break apart like motes
of shining dust that float on sound and a shared taste
for poison. Nothing more. Unspoken words echo
in your head, (link:"doggrel")[doggrel(show:?doggrel)] that breaks the rhythm of dream.
|doggrel)[There is no deeper meaning
There is no higher power
There is no hidden being
There is no secret flower]
And you, child of bleak fortune, have been carried here
by the strong back of the woman you never were
and the gentle arms of the man you will never
be. The city is your existence, halted here;
indefinitely interrupted. The crossing
of all dead roads. And, knowing this, here in this sub-
basement you kneel, rapt, with your thrilled and rictus smile
and fresh blood on your arms. Another debasement.
This is not your [[ESCAPE->SEARCH THE SHADOWS]]
But you could [[STAY HERE]]
if you wanted<script>Sound.play('Amazed.mp3');</script>
Beneath the city, a luminous garden shines.
The Hesperides' orchard, where light glows briefly
golden before being dragged out to be slaughtered
by eternal night. Satyrs and bacchai bask here,
where the old gods never died, where a piper's dance
heralds madness and a garden of poppies blooms
white beneath an underground sun. But still, you turn
away from the golden garden, knowing it is
not for you. That this is not your home and never
can be the half-remembered Ithaca that lives
on in the aching void in your chest and, perhaps,
at the end to this weary road that you so crave.
[[WAKE UP]] / [[SEARCH THE SHADOWS]]
<!-- ''Companions'' -->
(set: $child to false) <!-- someone you would live for -->
(set: $homunculus to false) <!-- a loyal friend -->
(set: $servant to false) <!-- someone you would kill without a care -->
<!-- ''Inventory'' -->
(set: $ichor to 0) <!-- required to make a companion -->
(set: $blood to 0) <!-- required to make a companion -->
(set: $heart to 0) <!-- required to make a companion -->
(set: $ticket to 0) <!-- do we need this to board a train? -->
(set: $metromap to 0) <!-- do we need this to find the train we want to board? -->
<!-- ''Encounters'' -->
(set: $rottingman to false) <!-- you can only kill him once, cutting off BEG THE QUESTION's main story arc permanently -->
(set: $skinless to false) <!-- fine, but what does this do? -->
(set: $thegarden to false) <!-- we only need this if we plan to rip the player away from thegarden ending -->
}<audio autoplay><source src=\"Open_Your_Eyes.mp3\" type=\"audio/mp3\"></audio>
You never went anywhere. Suffered through all that
and you never went anywhere. It hurts to stand
but you painfully rise from the sofa, your skin
raw and liquid. Flecks of dirt cling to the blisters,
and you have stained the grubby fabric with clear pus
Reality shifts from time to time. And sometimes
it leaves mementoes behind: This time, you have lost
your skin. Could be worse. You quietly leave the flat,
stepping around still-sleeping figures on the floor
and out into the grey neverdawn of concrete
and dirty rain, to walk forgotten streets looking
for somewhere better to find or forget yourself.
[[SEARCH THE SHADOWS]]
Eyes closed, you crawl, called by the moist darkness, away
from the burning sun. Back to your beloved secret.
Back to what you've always been. The tracks on your skin
open like gills as you slip into the poison
lake, drawing it into you as you become one
with water and take your place at the stranding shore.
Here, Melpomene birthed the sirens, her daughters,
and in this drowning sea, lewd Salmakis was born.
The sea and sand are made to sing sweet temptation
in the name of that forbidden thing that lies close
to life and closer still to death. You bear poison
in your thick blood and that poison carries you far
along the shoreline of resignation. Carefree
and untouched by the curse of hope, you near Lethe
and blissful respite. When next you return to the city
You know that you will never leave its arms again.
It is a virus of the mind and a fever
of the body. A god that replicates itself.
Forges you, forgets you, anew in its image
And sends you to bring back others just like you were.
-[[this is an ending]]-<script>Sound.play('Stay_Here.mp3');</script>
A crimson flower blossoms in murky water
There are worse things than this: A moment of release
Where flesh and blood meld, ecstatic, with glass and steel
Not exactly the power to forget and not
exactly permission to forgive yourself but
something to feel. A brief absence of fear and the
companionship of shadows very much like you
-[[this is an ending]]-
The golden children of twilight have departed
by the time you awake. The god of the outside
has returned to the void. And this is nothing more
than a concrete basement, scattered with detritus,
the used sharps and memories of oblivion,
and a scrawled promise that YOU WILL BE FORGOTTEN
[[SEARCH THE SHADOWS]]
This is a playble demo of ''Sunder'', a fully voiced interactive poetry cycle in classical hexameter by <a href="https://mightyowlbear.itch.io/">K.G. Orphanides</a>. This demo includes a single narrative core with three unique endings.
It carries (link-reveal: "content warnings")[ for violence, drug use, suicidal ideation, suicide, and drowning].
Its text currently renders best on Chromium-based browsers.
[[BEGIN->SEARCH THE SHADOWS]] Thank you for playing the demo of ''Sunder''.
If you'd like to catch anything you missed, here's a full passage list:
[[SEARCH THE SHADOWS]]
[[FOLLOW THE MEMORY HOME]]
[[GO INTO THE LIGHT]]
[[AS YOU BURNED]]
[[FORCE YOURSELF TO LOOK]]
[[RUN SIGHTLESS, IN SEARCH OF SHADOW'S COMFORT]]
[[OPEN YOUR EYES]]
[[CRAWL TOWARDS THE WATER]]
[[RETURN TO THE DARK]]