CYOA One 1-10
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You awaken in a dimly lit hallway. You know in your gut that you are somewhere inside of Kakos Industries, but you don’t know where. There aren’t any windows, just blank, black walls and a faintly glowing white ceiling. The air is slightly humid, and a bit warmer than you would expect in an office. There is an earthy odor, but you can’t quite place it. You are dressed in business formal, but you have nothing in your pockets. There is a key on the ground beside where you just woke up. You pocket it. To your left, there are approximately 30 meters of hallway before a left turn. To your right, there are around 2 meters of hallway before a right turn. There are deep scratches in the wall as the hallway turns. There is also a door just before the hallway turns.
What do you do?
Go through the door
Go down the hallway to the right past the scratches.
You find something strangely compelling about the door just to your right. It seems familiar in the way that identical things can seem familiar in a particular context. But you don’t know exactly how this is familiar to you. It is familiar in the way streets in a movie might be, even if you’ve only visited the town once and probably not that neighborhood.
The claw marks to your right seem frighteningly deep, but they don’t seem fresh. The exposed metal does not glisten. There is no hint of moisture. Any debris on the ground has been swept up and disposed of by now. Perhaps it is not the most pressing of concerns.
You open the door. Instinctively, you open it wide and close it quickly behind you. The door rumbles slightly, as though there are pieces inside of it that are moving. You know that this is probably not a great thing. Putting that aside, you look around the room.
The room is dark, except where it is lit by the blueish glow of a computer monitor. It’s a CRT monitor, and you can just barely hear the high pitch whine of the tube. Across the room, you can make out the outline of a door. There is also a conspicuous rug in the corner. Apart from the desk the computer sits on and its accessories, these are the only things in the room.
There is something familiar about this computer monitor. You can’t remember. The window on the screen is asking for a username and password.
Attempt to enter your username and password?
Lift the rug in the corner?
Go through the door?
You sit down at the desk and look at the screen. There’s something familiar, but what exactly you don’t know. Did you work in an office? Did you work in an office today? Is this your computer? But why would you be working at a single monitor in what you assume to be some sort of basement in a room with no other light sources. The rug in the corner tugs at the back of your mind, but you shut it out for the more intense question before you: Username and Password.
Hoping muscle memory might take over, you begin typing. As your fingers touch the keys, the sensation is more like melting into them than pressing on them. Your eyes close involuntarily, and you feel your head dip forward until your cheek is pressing into the glass. But now your face is melting into the glass. You are becoming one with this machine. The sensation is warm. Warmer than you expected. The computer itself was cold. But the feeling is like that of returning home somehow. It’s comforting. You feel as though you could just take a nap.
And you do.
You awaken some time later not knowing how long you’ve been out. You feel a little bit refreshed. Maybe an hour or two. You have no idea what you’ve typed. All you know is that the screen in front of you is blinking “Incorrect Input” in red letters with a red box surrounding them.
Discouraged, you begin to look around the room at your other options. The door you came from made that suspicious sound. The door in front of you is nondescript. The rug in the corner could be hiding anything. Or it could just be a rug.
Then the blinking text box on the monitor turns to yellow. It reads, “Wait.”
Then finally, it turns green and says, “Okay.”
The room itself begins to slowly turn about one axis with a mechanical squeal. What you thought was the floor becomes a wall. The desk slides and the computer monitor falls and cracks irreparably. The rug in the corner falls and reveals a door that is now right side up. You step carefully on to the wall that is now the floor as the room finishes rotating. There is only one way now. You go through the door.
The door leads to what appears to be an access tunnel. To your left, a corridor lit with red light. To your right, a corridor lit with purple light. In front of you, there appears to be a small canal with water of unknown depth. It appears to be moving quickly, and could be dangerous.
Get in that water
You take a look at the small canal in front of you. There’s something about the waters that you find intriguing. As you lean over the edge to peer down into the water, you see a number of spinning saw blades peeking out of the water. The realization is enough to send you back.
Looking at the colored lights down the two hallways, you decide that purple is the more comforting of the two, and you move toward it. As you walk by, you hear something big flowing through the small canal, and then the sound of saw blades cutting it to pieces. You don’t know what it was, and you don’t want to.
The purple path curves to the right as you make your way down it. There are not one, but several purple lights lighting your path. One of them is really more blueish, but you figure that’s because one of the LEDs burned out.
The path takes you much further than you expected with no doors, no hatches, no ladders, nor any other routes to take apart from forward or backward.
But then, you come across another person. He is a man of approximately 35 years of age. His is sprawled out on the floor. He is covered in blood. He is not breathing. And he is holding a gun.
Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, you stash the gun in your waistband. You check for a pulse. He is dead. His skin is still warm, though, so he can’t have been dead for long. His wound looks like he was stabbed. It’s larger than a gunshot. But you’re also not a forensic scientist, so you could be making stuff up. He has nothing in his pockets.
As you search his body, it becomes clear to you that the man on the floor seems to be dressed awfully similarly to you. Business formal. Your clothes might even be the same brand. Yours are tailored to your particular form, but the similarity is hard to ignore.
You see a trail of blood moving away from the body. This guy doesn’t look like he walked very far with this wound, so it probably isn’t from him.
Continue forward after the blood trail, gun drawn
Turn back, gun drawn
Push the body into the canal, gun drawn
You take a moment to look at the body and think about what to do with it. This was a person. It could have been you. A burial would be the least this person deserves. There is the matter of it being somewhat untidy to leave the body there. Rats could get to it. It’s kind of gross. It’s technically liter now. The canal along the path is right there. You could just tip it in and let it get blended up or whatever happens at the other end. It might be thrilling for a moment, even if it was a thrill you would have to keep to yourself for the rest of your life, and the rest of your life might not be long, anyway. But somehow, you decide that it is better to leave it where it lies. More respectful that way. You say a few words of respect, like “You deserved better” and “You’re in a better place now” despite not knowing if either are true.
You are then faced with a decision. Go back away from the blood trail a try the other path, or push on. But you’re not a quitter. You go forward in life, never back.
You pull the gun out of your waistband. You seem to remember something from movies about how to check for bullets, but looking at the weapon, none of it is coming back to you. It feels heavy, like it should have some bullets in it, but you can’t know for certain, being fairly confident you’ve never held a gun before in real life. You find the safety and disengage it. You consider firing the gun to see if it’s loaded, but you reconsider because it might only have the one bullet, and it might better be saved. Also, it’s a small tunnel and the sound could do permanent damage to your hearing.
You move onward down the tunnel carefully and quietly. Having no flashlight or lantern, you use the blue and purple lights of the tunnel to guide yourself.
You begin to hear some gurgling. The hair on your arms stands up and your heart rate quickens. You step even more cautiously.
Around the next corner, revealed only partially by the light is the source of the gurgling. A tall, maybe 2.5 meter humanoid monster. It has smooth pale skin, and exaggerated bone structure. It has sharp teeth, but gentle facial features. It wears clothing patched together out of rags. It is both horrifying, and in a strange way, beautiful. It has obviously been injured itself.
It speaks. “You’re hear to finish the job? Wait. I have information that may help you.”
What do you do?
Finish the job. Shoot the creature. It could be a trap.
Hear it out. It’s information is sorely needed.
Attempt to seduce it. Life is short. It could be shorter than you know.
You seem to take pity on this creature. You struggle to fully form your plan or opinions. Finishing it off through violence seems uncalled for, especially as it appears already wounded.
But what to do next is confusing. You feel pulled in multiple directions. You’ve never come across a creature that made you feel so simultaneously fond and afraid. There is something about its shape the defies gender norms, and appeals to all equally. You’re basing this, of course, on your own feelings in the moment, with no one else nearby to actually confirm or deny your assumptions. What the situation comes down to is that you need some information from this creature, but you also need it to like you and want to hang out with you at a later date, or your might not ever stop kicking yourself.
“So, uh, what seems to be the problem?” You ask suavely.
“The gunshot wound,” The creature replies, through pained sounds.
“Oh, yeah, that looks tough. I just want you to know that I empathize with what you’re going through.”
“The gunshot wound?” the creature gasps.
“Yeah, that looks really hard. Tell me about it. I’m a great listener.”
“I don’t know what you’re trying to do,” the monster snips. “I don’t have time to tell you about it. Do you want the knowledge I have to give or not?”
“Sure, sure.” You respond. “But I was hoping we could talk a little bit first.”
The monster stares at you incredulously. “What do you mean? I am injured. I have limited time.”
“Let me put some pressure on that wound for you. Get you bandaged up.”
“Do you have bandages?”
“I’ve got clothes.”
“If you leave now, there is an exit just ahead. Follow the hallway, take the first door on the left. Chip away at the old brickwork, and you can get to the gate.”
“I can’t leave you like this.”
“Leave me with the scraps of cloth and I will bandage myself.”
“I want to see you again sometime.”
“If I recover my full strength and we meet again, I will eat the skin off of your face.”
“Humans are such weak creatures. Control your appetites, fool. Move on.”
Follow the path ahead as best as you can with what you remember of the monster’s instructions.
Continue flirting at greater personal peril.
Go back to the corpse to replace the garments you’ve torn for bandages.
The monster waves you away.
You begin to say, “Wouldn’t you like to feel–”
But the monster cuts you off. “You had better not finish that thought. Go.”
You nod, letting the waves of rejection wash over you. It’s never an easy pill to swallow. All you wanted to do was give this pitiful creature a few moments of pleasure in its last minutes. Really, it should have been thanking you. You were definitely lowering your standards to give the monster a chance. Its loss, really. You feel bad for the monster, missing out on a chance for romance with someone like yourself. If only you could remember who you were.
“My loss, I’m sure, and you really were just taking pity on me, naturally. Leave.”
You feel suddenly as though someone has gazed into the deepest darkest part of your psyche, and you leave with haste.
You start absentmindedly down the path in front of you, replaying the conversation in your head over and over again. What did the monster mean by all of that? Is there something wrong with you? What were you thinking? Are you perhaps The Real Monster? How long has it been since you’ve, you know, done stuff? Are your hormones affecting your thinking? Why are you so worked up?
And then, you’re lost.
You see a door up ahead, but you can’t be certain it is The Door. The Hallway also continues forward. There may have been doors behind you, but finding out would require turning back and potentially encountering the monster once again. You also can’t seem to remember if you turned or made any other strange course corrections.
You flick the safety on your firearm on and off as you ponder your decision. This is surely how cool people handle weapons, you think.
Turn back and check to see if there are any more doors, safety on.
Go through the door, saftey off
Forge ahead. There must be another way out. Safety on.
Duck behind a corner and “clear” “your” “head”. No one is watching, surely. Saftey off, obviously.
You know you’ve got a couple of options here. You could have walked right by a door. You could have made a turn without realizing it. The path itself could have changed, and no amount of backtracking will return it to the way it needed to be. All you know is that all these thoughts are doing you no service, and the monster behind you somewhere has gotten you ALL. RILED. UP.
It’s not your proudest moment, but of course, you don’t actually know for sure that shame is a real thing you’ve felt before. Up ahead, there’s a turn, which could give you some privacy. Privacy from what, you’re not sure. There aren’t any obvious cameras or any other living things around. The monster is far behind you. The corpse even farther, You don’t know yet what’s ahead, but you haven’t heard any sounds that weren’t just the howling of the caverns or the flowing of the small canal.
There’s a catch, though. When you undo your pants, the gun comes loose from your waistband. You decide you’ll just have to hold it, and somehow, you actually like the idea of holding it. The danger of it somehow gets things moving. You think to yourself that this must be an unusual fascination, but you also don’t really care.
You put the gun in your non-dominant hand, and you use your dominant hand to begin “working your junk.” The experience is confusing. You feel very strongly that this is something you have done before, perhaps thousands of times, but the feeling is off, and the muscle memory isn’t there, and it feels somehow clumsy.
You hold the gun up in the air above your head as though that is the missing ingredient. It certainly helps. You imagine the monster paying you a lovely compliment. You imagine the dead man, but alive. You… struggle to think of a single other sentient creature. Do you not know anyone else? You begin to throw together body parts and personality traits into a single-purpose homunculus designed to destress, reduce the impact of unruly hormones, and ultimately clear your head. It’s working. It’s working really well. And then–
“Are you–” a voice begins. But it’s too late, you’ve reached the point of no return. “Sure–” it continues. The waves of release and mortification rush through you. “That’s a good idea down here?” It finishes. And so do you. You have slumped against the tunnel wall. The gun is still above your head. Fortunately, you were practicing good trigger discipline and the gun did not go off. “Well, there you go,” the voice says. It rasps, but speaks clearly and precisely.
You come back to Earth (you assume) and try to get your bearings. The path beside you is still dimly lit with purple lights. The hall that you have ducked down gets progressively darker as it goes.
“I hope you feel better, because you looked ridiculous. In the tunnel? Down here? Well, I suppose life is uncertain. Perhaps you’re on to something.”
You point the gun into the void. It feels appropriate.
“How hedonistic,” the voice says. “Is this a metaphor? Put that thing away. And pull up your pants.”
You consider firing the weapon. Killing is Evil, right? You could solve several of your problems at once if you just pulled the trigger in the right direction.
“Please,” the voice starts. “I’m not going to hurt you. I will have to report this to H.R., however. Do you have your ID card?”
Fire the gun. H.R. doesn’t have to hear about this.
Pull up your pants and look for an ID card.
Run away, pants around your ankles, gun overhead.
You pull up your pants. At this point, the embarrassment has become so extreme that you’ve effectively blocked it out. With your pants pulled up and the gun still in one hand you begin searching your packets for any sign of an ID card.
You have pulled all of your pockets out as though you are a child trying to tell a scolding parent that you are, in fact, not bringing any sand into the house.
“What are you doing?” the voice in the darkness asks.
You start patting down every part of your body. You run your fingers through your hair and then stick them in your shoes looking for anything. You can feel the impatience of the voice in the darkness, even though it hasn’t said anything new.
“Cigarette?” You ask, playing it cool.
“I don’t smoke,” says the voice. Now that you think of it, you’re not sure if you do either. It just seemed like a cool thing to say. “And we’re indoors,” it continues.
“It’s a tunnel,” you say, trying to change the subject from your moment of bliss and your lack of ID card.
“It’s Access Tunnel 99-3c. And for some of us, it’s home.” The tone of indignation coming from the voice is unmistakable.
“Why are you in the shadows?” You ask. All of your feelings have ticked themselves away for later. Your mind is barely working, but what you’re left with is dumb confidence.
“It’s probably better for both of us that I stay back here.” The voice’s tone moves from indignation to worry.
“What are you?” you ask. A subdued voice deep down is screaming at you. What are you doing? How can you just ask somebody what they are? Isn’t that totally disrespectful?
“How hurtful,” the voice rasps. “Let’s just say I live down here.”
“So you’re hiding back there.”
“I’m trying not to frighten you.”
“Who says I’m frightened?”
“Your legs are shaking.”
You look down, and indeed they are. So much for playing it cool.
“Are you still–” the voice begins.
“No. This is definitely fear.”
“Look,” its voice turns to pity. “I don’t even know how I would write up this report. Let’s just pretend it never happened. It was part of some sort of festival. They’re always having those up top. You got lost. Maybe you should keep going.”
Ask the voice what it eats.
Ask the voice which way is out.
Experiencing an uncharacteristic return to sanity, you ask the voice which way is out. You sense that you may have made a misstep.
“I knew. Once. When I was first brought down. But I do not leave. And the tunnels have changed.”
“Would anyone else know? Like is there someone else down here I can talk to?”
“Not many make it down here. And when they do, they do so unannounced.”
You decide to double down. “It must be lonely, then.”
You can sense the growing frustration in this invisible creature’s voice.
At this point, you know you’re in really deep and you just figure you might plumb the depths of how badly a conversation can go. “What do you eat?”
“Mostly inquisitive travelers.”
You begin to feel your senses return to you. “I’ll be going then.”
You turn back around the corner from whence you came. You think to yourself that you aren’t nearly as calm as you had hoped to make yourself. You feel a growing preference for hedonism within you, but you push down those feelings. Without surviving this situation, you won’t be able to pursue any kind of pleasure in the future.
You take a right turn, moving forward through the tunnel again. After a few minutes of walking, you come to a fork. A small bridge crosses the small canal running through the tunnel. On the other side of the bridge, there is an old, rusted gate. There is an armature for a padlock, but there is no lock. Beyond the gate, there is what appears to be moss, or perhaps a strange form of grass, covering the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. Ahead of you, there is more tunnel. The light in the tunnel shifts from purple to orange. There is also a hatch. The hatch goes down, though, so you’re not sure how much help that will be.
Check out that mossy path. A change of pace might be nice.
Stay the course. The consistency of the tunnel is comforting.
Down the hatch! Nothing makes sense here, so why should your actions?
These have been the first ten installments of the new Choose Your Own Adventure story unfolding over on KakosIndustries.com/Patreon. Every patron gets to vote and take part in the story. If you would like to be able to vote on the path our hero is taking and save them from the maniacs steering them to disaster, or from the boring folks preventing them from finding salvation, consider becoming a Patreon patron!