Kentucky Route Zero Act I Fulltext

intro

(A dusty, rusty sign is bolted onto the wall)

sign: THESE ARE THE RULES:

sign: 1. No open flames near the gasoline. 2. No consumption of beer or spirits on the premises. 3. In case of sudden darkness, do not panic. Relax. Count backwards from five. 4. Strictly limit time spent in the basement to fewer than three minutes of every hour.



goto end

intro

outside-church

A singing chorus echoes from within the church. The building is one story tall with a pitched roof, and a three-story spire rising from the front. The top section of the spire is made of stained glass. An interior light illuminates the pines in red, green and blue.

A large LED display glows in the parking lot:

"LIGHT OF THE LAST GREAT AWAKENING BAPTIST CHURCH"



outside-church-options



: Enter the church. (enter-church) [if !overworld-country-church-checked-doors]
: Walk around to the rear of the building. (building-rear) [if overworld-country-church-checked-doors]
: Listen. (outside-listen)
: Drive away. (end)

enter-church

The front doors of the church are modest and worn. They are locked.



outside-listen

The muffled chorus drones at a steady volume, repeating the same two verses without rest.



building-rear

A ramp leads up from a few dusty metal trash cans to the church's back door.



building-rear-options



: Look in the trash cans. (trash)
: Enter the church's back door. (inside-kitchen)
: Go back to the front of the building. (outside-church)

trash

One has a bit of something leafy and rotten stuck to the bottom of it. Another is full of unlabeled videotapes.



inside-kitchen

He finds himself in a kitchen lit by a buzzing fluorescent ceiling fixture. On the counter are a plate of moldy bread and an empty dixie cup flecked red around its waxy rim. A set of swinging plastic doors on the far wall lead out of the kitchen.



: Walk through plastic doors. (nave)
: Walk back outside. (building-rear)

nave

Vacant pews sprawl unevenly into the church. A small raised stage lies to Conway's right, bare except for a tape recorder.

The tape recorder's power cord runs to an outlet near Conway's feet.



: Unplug the tape recorder. (unplug-tape-recorder)
: Go back to the kitchen. (inside-kitchen)

unplug-tape-recorder

The singing stops. The lights fail.



goto end

intro

The diner doesn't appear to have a name. A vinyl banner slung above the door simply reads: "24 Hours." It only has one window, behind which the blinds are tightly closed.



: Try the door. (try-door)
: Drive away. (end)

try-door

The door swings open easily. A bell rings nearby. The interior of the diner is pitch black.



: Walk in. (walk-in)
: Wait a moment to adjust to the darkness. (wait-for-eyes)
: Leave. (end)
goto end

wait-for-eyes

A bit of errant light from the nearby highway creeps through the open door, and gradually Conway is able to make out a few figures inside:



walk-in

Someone shines a flashlight in Conway's eyes. The light is almost immediately blinding, but in the instant it switches on he can make out a few figures inside:



describe-figures

Two old men in trucker hats sit in a corner booth, with a checkers board set on the table between them.

A young woman standing behind the counter in an apron must be a waitress.

The cook stares blankly from the kitchen.



door-closes

The door slams shut, and the room is dark again.



: Sit down at the counter. (sit-at-counter)
: Try to open the door and leave. (end)

sit-at-counter

He hits his knee on something hard and metallic, winces quietly, and then carefully finds his way to a stool. He places his hand on the counter.

Another hand, a young woman's, rests itself on his. She guides his fingers to a laminated menu. Conway closes his eyes, opens them, maybe closes them again. Impossible to differentiate.



: Order coffee. (order-coffee)
: Order waffles. (order-waffles)
: Ask her about the basketball game. (basketball-game)

order-coffee

A cup of coffee would do it. Black ... oily, even. Hot, familiar diner coffee. Conway runs his hand down the menu. The surface is uniformly flat, and slick with condensation.



goto waitress

order-waffles

Waffles are a safe bet even at some darkened hole-in-the-wall. Conway squints hopelessly at the menu, searching in the dark for some legible text.



goto waitress

basketball-game

The Wildcats are struggling, but today's was an important game. They could have rallied. Perhaps the waitress heard the game from the kitchen; or maybe she's a fan herself. Conway clears his throat.



goto waitress

waitress

He feels a warm hand against his cheek, and freezes. Her fingers run across the stubble of his chin. He feels like apologizing. She leans forward, and so does he —



goto end

intro

shannon: Jesus! Are you alright? What the hell.



conway: I'm OK. (intro-ok)
conway: My leg is stuck. (stuck-leg)

intro-ok

shannon: I've got you. You're alright. Shit. Your leg is pinned. I'm going to pull you out; we have to get you out of here.



goto pull-out

stuck-leg

shannon: Shit. OK, I'm going to pull you out; we have to get you out of here.



goto pull-out

pull-out

shannon: There you go. OK. Are you hurt? Can you put any weight on that leg?



conway: It's all messed up. (broken-leg)
conway: It's fine. (leg-ok)

leg-ok

shannon: Just try to stand up. Careful. I'm right here.

shannon: Damn! Don't worry, I've got you. That leg is in bad shape.



broken-leg

shannon: Here, let's get you onto the tram.

shannon: There you go. Now, let's see if this thing has power.



goto lights-on

lights-on

shannon: Well, OK. There's some luck, right? We should be able to ride this tram right out one of the auxiliary exits. If there are any. I think there are.



conway: I can walk. (walk)
conway: What about Weaver? (quest)
conway: What about the onramp? (quest)

walk

shannon: No way. You need to stay off that leg, or you'll just do more damage.



goto quest

quest

shannon: We'll just find the exit, and then figure out what to do from there. That's our first priority.

shannon: So. The controls are over on your side. Let's get moving.



goto end

intro

shannon: Oh. I didn't know those were still down here.



conway: What was that? (what-was-that)
conway: You've been down here before? (down-here-before)

what-was-that

shannon: Look, there's a tape player down there, one of those old reel-to-reel setups.



down-here-before

shannon: Not this deep. But I knew about the tape machines.



route-archivists

goto archivists-first-time [if archivists-first-time]
goto archivists-again [if archivists-again]


archivists-first-time

shannon: When this mine was active, a couple of folk music archivists spent time here recording miners' songs. Really academic, ivory tower types. None of the miners really talked to them much.

shannon: So they stayed at the margins, observed, took notes, and then sometimes they'd get someone on a lunch break to sing into their microphone.

shannon: Then I guess the power company got some kind of interest in the project, and gave the archivists some coal scrip tokens to pay the miners with for their songs.



goto questions

archivists-again

shannon: They'd record up on that old scaffolding we saw, and I guess then they'd sequester themselves down here to listen to the recorded songs.



goto questions

questions



conway: Did your parents sing? (parents-sing)
conway: What happened to the archivists? (happened-to-archivists)

parents-sing

shannon: Oh, uh ... yeah. They sang. They sang in the mine for coal scrip tokens.



goto end

happened-to-archivists

shannon: They got out. When the flood came, they left.



goto end

intro

shannon: The tracks are all messed up here. This tram isn't going any further. I wonder what's down that tunnel.



goto end

intro

shannon: Do you hear that? Kind of a muffled rumbling.



conway: Maybe we're near water? (water)
conway: Maybe we're near the surface? (surface)

water

shannon: Could be. There was an underground lake around here years ago. I guess that's why they stopped digging so abruptly here.



goto end

surface

shannon: Yeah, sounds kind of like a highway. I wonder why they stopped digging so abruptly here. Maybe they hit a pipe or something.



goto end

intro

goto find-exit-first-time [if find-exit-first-time]
goto return-to-exit [if return-to-exit]


find-exit-first-time

shannon: Thank God. OK.



conway: Let's go. (lets-go)
conway: Let's poke around down here a bit more first. (end)

return-to-exit

shannon: Here we are.



conway: Let's get out of here. (lets-go)
conway: Let's poke around down here a bit more first. (end)

lets-go

shannon: Yeah, OK. I just ... I'd still like to look around a bit. I think I saw a tunnel with some broken up tracks back there; I'm wondering what's down there.[if !elkhorn-mine-found-broken-track]

shannon: Yeah, OK. I just ... That tunnel, where the tracks were broken. I'd like to take a look down there.[if elkhorn-mine-found-broken-track]



conway: Do whatever you need. I'll just wait for you here. (choose-conway)
shannon: If you wait for me here, I'll just go take another look around. (choose-shannon)

choose-shannon

conway: Sure, OK. I'll be right here.



goto end

choose-conway

shannon: Thanks. I'll be right back.



goto end

intro

conway: Excuse me, ma'am, I saw the light was on and I'm looking for the onramp to —



shannon: Are you here to kick me off the property? (kick-off-property)
shannon: Do you believe in ghosts? (believe-in-ghosts)

kick-off-property

conway: Oh, no, no ... I guess you don't belong here either, do you?



shannon: Do you work for the power company? (power-company)
shannon: Are you just out wandering? (wandering)

power-company

conway: The power company? Oh, no, no. I once worked for an electrician for a few weeks, but I sort of drifted on before I really learned anything.



shannon: I get it. You're a nomad. (wandering)
shannon: I get it. You're a drunk. (drunk)

wandering

conway: Ha. Well, I do drive a lot. Just me and the road mostly, when the sun is out.



shannon: You sound lonely. (lonely)
shannon: Is that your job? Driving? (conway-business-in-mine)

lonely

conway: Nah, I get by.



drunk

conway: Nah, I do a pretty good job now, I keep sober. I've got a gig.



believe-in-ghosts

conway: Well, let's see ... I do believe a place can be haunted, if that's what you mean.



shannon: What about a person? Can a person be haunted? (person-be-haunted)
shannon: No, that's not what I mean. (not-place-haunted)

person-be-haunted

conway: Sure, I guess a person could. Sometimes I feel haunted myself.



shannon: What haunts you? (what-haunts-conway)
shannon: Me too. (shannon-haunted-too)

what-haunts-conway

conway: Uh ... bad decisions, I guess. Wasted youth. Ha. Well, look ...



not-place-haunted

conway: Well, OK, I've run across a few people who acted like ghosts. Kinda there, kinda ... somewhere else.



shannon: Me too. (shannon-haunted-too)
shannon: So what brings you to this old mine tonight? (conway-business-in-mine)

shannon-haunted-too

conway: Oh yeah? Did, uh ... is that what lead you down here?



shannon: Yes. (shannon-ghosts-led-down)
shannon: I don't want to talk about it anymore. (shannon-doesnt-want-to-talk-about-ghosts)

shannon-ghosts-led-down

conway: So. I guess this place must be pretty important. Maybe I'm in the right place after all.



shannon-doesnt-want-to-talk-about-ghosts

conway: OK. You seem like you've got a lot on your mind. I don't mean to bother you. It's just ...



conway-business-in-mine

conway: Here's what it is: I drive deliveries for a shop called Lysette's Antiques, and I'm out trying to finish this job.



shannon: You're making a delivery to the mine? (deliver-to-mine)
shannon: What kind of stuff are you hauling? (whats-in-delivery)

deliver-to-mine

conway: Oh, uh ... no.



looking-for-dogwood

conway: I have a delivery for "5 Dogwood Drive," and I can't remember ever seeing that address before. Now I heard I need to take a highway called the |Zero|.

conway: So I met this young lady, name of Weaver Márquez, and she sent me this way, and so here I am. Uncommon kind of place for an onramp, but that's what it's been like so far anyway with —



goto switch

whats-in-delivery

conway: Antiques. Good stuff. Lysette has a sharp eye, for the little good it's done her lately. You know, it's just one recession after another, everybody's selling their old stuff cheap but nobody's really buying ...



switch

shannon: What?



conway: Weaver Márquez. Do you know her? (know-weaver)
conway: The |Zero|, is that around here? (zero-nearby)

know-weaver

shannon: So you saw her. Tonight. I know Weaver. She was ... she's my cousin. I'm Shannon Márquez.



conway: Oh, you're the one who fixes televisions. (fixes-televisions)
conway: I get it. She tricked me. (weaver-doesnt-lie)

fixes-televisions

shannon: That's right. Did she tell you that, too? Of course she did.



zero-nearby

shannon: I've never heard of the damned "|Zero|." That doesn't sound like a real highway. But I know Weaver. I've known her all my life, she was ... she's my cousin. I'm Shannon Márquez.



weaver-doesnt-lie

shannon: Weaver doesn't lie. One time, when we were younger, she told me my dad had been in a terrible car wreck. There was crushed metal everywhere, and we'd be hearing it echo through the house for years, she said. I was very upset, crying, and then my dad walked in the door, just come back from a trip to the junkyard collecting scrap metal to fashion into windchimes.

shannon: I was angry, but she said it wasn't a joke, and it wasn't a lie. At the time I thought she meant it as a riddle or a puzzle.

shannon: But Weaver's not a puzzle. She's a mystery.



conway: So, maybe the |Zero| `is` down here somewhere. (zero-somewhere)
conway: So, what are `you` doing down here, Shannon? (shannon-business)

zero-somewhere

shannon: Maybe it is. Well, I won't mind the company. I've got business down here, myself.



shannon-business

shannon: I talked to Weaver earlier this evening, too. Or anyway, she talked to me; it's hard to tell if she's listening sometimes.

shannon: Weaver told me I had to come down here to the old Elkhorn Mine. She said I'd find ... something I've been looking for.



conway: Where did you see Weaver? (where-was-weaver)
conway: What are you looking for? (what-shannon-is-looking-for)

where-was-weaver

shannon: At my workshop. She just appeared. I hadn't seen her since ... a long time.



what-shannon-is-looking-for

shannon: I'm not exactly sure. I have a few ideas ... I'll know it when I see it.



next-steps

shannon: It's not such a bad thing, you showing up now. All told, I'd rather not go down there alone. Your dog should stay up here, though. It's no place for a dog.

shannon: This is an old mine. It runs pretty deep and tangled. If we're going to go down into it, find your onramp and whatever else, we've got to keep our bearings. I don't want to get turned around.

shannon: I've got some gear here to measure conductivity, frequency response, stuff like that. Maybe we can find a way to put a signal out ahead, do some analysis and figure out what kind of topology we're up against.



conway: Topology. OK. (topology)
conway: Sure, let's look around. (end)

topology

shannon: Topology. That's the science of continuous space, my friend. The way this twisty maze of passages fits together.



goto end

intro

shannon: That runs into the mine's P.A. system. Do you think it still works?



conway: Only one way to find out. (try-pa)
conway: The little light on the front of it is off. (light-off)

try-pa

shannon: Alright, give it a whirl!



conway: `(Into P.A.)` Uh, is anybody down there? (conway-pa-said-something)
conway: `(Into P.A.)` Uh, how big is this place? (conway-pa-said-something)
conway: `(Into P.A.)` ... (conway-silent)

conway-pa-said-something

shannon: Nothing. Hm...



goto light-off

conway-silent

shannon: What's that, stage fright? Alright, I'll try it.

shannon: `(Into P.A.)` Check one, check two, check one, two — it's not working.



goto light-off

light-off

shannon: Oh, there's no power. Yeah, OK. Even when this old mine was up and running it was tricky to keep stuff powered.

shannon: You know, the miners used to have to pay just to run the fans and the lights? Yeah, they got paid in these shitty plastic tokens — coal scrip, you know? And if you want to run the fans for a bit to clear the air up, well, you have to put a token in.

shannon: My parents used to work here. So did Weaver's parents. I guess a lot of folks' parents worked here ...



conway: So let's just head into the mine and see what we see. (head-into-mine)
conway: Can we power it up? (power-up)

head-into-mine

shannon: No, I'd definitely feel better getting some readings first. We don't know what it's like down there anymore; years of seasonal changes and seismic irregularities could have totally reconfigured it. I'm not going in blind, and neither are you.



goto power-up

power-up

shannon: I bet we just have to free up some power for the P.A. system. Everything is rationed. Here, set up that lamp of yours, and I'll go unplug these ceiling lights.



using-the-pa-waiting



conway: `(Clears his throat nervously.)` (using-the-pa-intro)
conway: `(Tries to think of something clever to say.)` (using-the-pa-intro)
conway: `(Fidgets with the change in his pocket.)` (using-the-pa-intro)

using-the-pa-intro

shannon: I heard the speakers back here crackle a bit: it's on now, right? Try saying something into the mouthpiece.



conway: `(Into P.A.)` Well ... (using-the-pa-conway-said-something)
conway: `(Into P.A.)` ... (using-the-pa-two)

using-the-pa-two

shannon: Say something!



conway: So, we're down here ... (using-the-pa-conway-said-something)
conway: ... I've got ... (using-the-pa-conway-said-something)

using-the-pa-conway-said-something

shannon: OK, I hear you ...

shannon: We need to measure the echo delay time and figure out how deep the tunnels run. Just make some noises into the mouthpiece.



echo-delay



conway: `(Taps the mouthpiece.)` (echo-delay-two)
conway: `(Rubs a finger along the surface of the mouthpiece.)` (echo-delay-two)
conway: `(Clears his throat.)` (echo-delay-two)

echo-delay-two



conway: `(Scrapes a coin across the mouthpiece.)` (echo-delay-three)
conway: `(Knocks on the table.)` (echo-delay-three)
conway: `(Hums a deep tone into the mouthpiece.)` (echo-delay-three)

echo-delay-three



conway: `(Spits.)` (echo-delay-end)
conway: `(Whistles.)` (echo-delay-end)
conway: `(Blows on the mouthpiece.)` (echo-delay-end)

echo-delay-end

shannon: Damn, that's a long delay! These tunnels run deep. I bet some of them have ruptured or joined up with a cave system.

shannon: Alright, I set up my spectrum analyzer, so just say something into the mouthpiece and we can get a sense for how narrow the mine tunnels are.

shannon: Don't be shy, just say anything that comes into your head. Tell me a story about something — or what did you have for breakfast today?



spectrum-analyzer



conway: `(Into P.A.)` Here is a story. I used to work doing roof repair. (spectrum-analyzer-roof-story)
conway: `(Into P.A.)` I had breakfast with Lysette. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story)

spectrum-analyzer-roof-story



conway: My boss got a real big job out in Louisville. (spectrum-analyzer-roof-story-two)
conway: We even fixed up a church roof once. (spectrum-analyzer-roof-story-two)

spectrum-analyzer-roof-story-two



conway: It should have taken us an hour to get there. (spectrum-analyzer-roof-story-three)
conway: It seemed like a big project, but doable. (spectrum-analyzer-roof-story-three)

spectrum-analyzer-roof-story-three



conway: But then a thunderstorm hit and it was too late anyhow. (spectrum-analyzer-end)
conway: But I was too hung over and we ran late. (spectrum-analyzer-end)

spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story



conway: She made biscuits. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-two)
conway: I made some red-eye gravy. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-two)
conway: I just had coffee. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-two)

spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-two



conway: She talked about her late husband, Ira. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-three)
conway: We talked about the day's work. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-three)
conway: We listened to the radio. (spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-three)

spectrum-analyzer-breakfast-story-three



conway: Then she cleared the table. (spectrum-analyzer-end)
conway: Then I loaded the truck. (spectrum-analyzer-end)
conway: Then we just sat there for a bit. (spectrum-analyzer-end)

spectrum-analyzer-end

shannon: ... got it. Looks like the tunnels are pretty cramped ... Yeah, low ceilings, hope you're ready to stoop a bit! Eh, you're probably used to it.

shannon: One more test. We just need to know if the air is breathable, or if it's too thin, or too dense. Just sit real close to the mouthpiece and breathe.

shannon: I'll measure the resonance of your breath with the air in the tunnels. Just try to relax. Try to breathe naturally.



breath-resonance



conway: `(Breathes, and thinks about the road.)` (breath-resonance-two)
conway: `(Breathes, and thinks about resting.)` (breath-resonance-two)

breath-resonance-two



conway: `(Breathes, and remembers a moment earlier in the day.)` (breath-resonance-three)
conway: `(Breathes, and remembers a moment when he was younger.)` (breath-resonance-three)

breath-resonance-three

shannon: Getting some pretty strong readings here. I think we're in good shape, but keep at it for a minute!



conway: `(Breathes, and visualizes a hot meal.)` (breath-resonance-four)
conway: `(Breathes, and visualizes a cold drink.)` (breath-resonance-four)

breath-resonance-four

(*CONWAY* breathes and relaxes, as a peal of feedback and loose rock engulfs him.)



goto end

intro

(*SHANNON* speaks into the large brick cell phone held up to her ear.)



shannon: It's two-hundred dollars for two weeks. (phone-two)
shannon: Yeah, it kind of `is` an emergency. (phone-two)
shannon: No, it's fine, I'll figure it out. (phone-two)

phone-two

phone: `(Inaudible)`.



shannon: That's true. (phone-three)
shannon: I guess he can't kick me out for another week or two. (phone-three)
shannon: But can I trust him not to just change the locks? (phone-three)

phone-three

phone: `(Inaudible)`.



shannon: Yes, and I appreciate that, but — (phone-four)
shannon: Ok, you're right. (phone-four)
shannon: Just ... nevermind. I have to go. Sorry. (hang-up-phone)

phone-four

phone: `(Inaudible)`.



shannon: Ok. I'll talk to you tomorrow. Love you. (hang-up-phone)
shannon: Forget it. Bye. (hang-up-phone)

hang-up-phone

(*SHANNON* hangs up the phone and puts it away.)



goto end

intro

shannon: Damn. It's almost totally intact. I thought it would have been destroyed.



conway: What is this place? (what-is-this-place)
conway: Destroyed by what? (destroyed-by-what)

destroyed-by-what

shannon: When the mine flooded, I mean. It looks so fragile, doesn't it?



what-is-this-place

shannon: It's a recording studio, basically. Kind of thrown together, but ...



route-archivists

goto archivists-first-time [if archivists-first-time]
goto archivists-again [if archivists-again]


archivists-first-time

shannon: When this mine was active, a couple of folk music archivists spent time here recording miners' songs. Really academic, ivory tower types. None of the miners really talked to them much.

shannon: So they stayed at the margins, observed, took notes, and then sometimes they'd get someone on a lunch break to sing into their microphone.

shannon: Then I guess the power company got some kind of interest in the project, and gave the archivists some coal scrip tokens to pay the miners with for their songs.



goto questions

archivists-again

shannon: This is where the archivists would record, and I guess then they'd sequester themselves down by that tape deck we found, to listen to the recorded songs.



goto questions

questions



conway: Did you ever come down here? (did-shannon-come-here)
conway: What do you think the archivists were after? (what-were-archivists-after)

did-shannon-come-here

shannon: Yeah, I came here with my parents once or twice. They used to play music here, even when those archivists weren't around. It was a nice setup; kinda rickety, kinda dangerous, I guess, but ... I don't know. It had a good energy. It was warm, sometimes.



goto end

what-were-archivists-after

shannon: Data, I guess? Comparing intonation, subject matter, diction ... you know, all those little details that no one really thinks about when they listen to music. Yeah, academics are great at that stuff. Let's get out of here.



goto end

intro

(A dusty reel-to-reel tape player is stashed beneath the track, loaded with tape but starved for power.)



goto end

intro

A paper tag hangs from the birdcage by a string: "*CANARY 25 TOKENS*."

Canaries sold at the company store? Did they also sell respirators? No bones in the cage. The bird must have been set free. Or maybe the cage was cleaned.

There are cardinals at the Louisville Zoo. And other birds: ostriches, eagles ... emus ... no canaries. Too common? Too small, maybe. But they have starlings. Starlings aren't much bigger than canaries.



goto end

intro

The notebook at the top of this dusty stack is labeled in black marker. The label is dusty and smudged, but it looks like it might say "Horses."

"Houses," maybe? Or ... "Verses," even? Crude and hurried handwriting, too. Lysette has immaculate handwriting. Pristine and measured cursive. Never a stray mark.

For the last several months, she filled out the receipts for each order — since that young couple complained about the handwriting on the order slip. It's carbon paper, anyway, it's bound to wear away over time. If they're so precise about their records, they should put it on the computer anyway ...



goto end

intro

A pile of tape reels is jammed into the top of the tram. They must have been thrown on in a rush. The reels are unlabeled. The tape is decayed.

Lysette and Ira's son, Charlie, talked about a piece of music he liked made with old decaying tapes. What was it called ... something about ...

Charlie had the most bizarre taste in music. Weird, noisy, computer music. Where did he even hear that stuff? Louisville, probably. Or college.

He was a smart kid. Damned pity.



goto end

intro

goto first-visit [if first-visit]
goto turntable-controls [if turntable-controls]


first-visit

shannon: Oh, here we are. This may be hard to believe — it's hard for me to believe myself — but this whole branch was underwater last I heard.



conway: Is it safe? (safe)
conway: How did that happen? (how-flood)

safe

shannon: I guess so. Looks like they finally drained it. Or maybe it just drained off on its own.



how-flood

shannon: Some careless miner or some unattended machine bored through into an underground lake.



flood-description

shannon: The water came in pretty fast, and a lot of folks got trapped in the tunnels. I only heard parts of how it went from there — sanitized for the bereaved ... you know how these big companies are.

shannon: But there was gossip too. The trapped miners couldn't get the pumps going because the power was rationed, so they shut all the lights off. But even then it wasn't enough.

shannon: So I guess it was dark, when they ...



conway: Are you OK? (are-you-ok)
conway: You lost some people down here, didn't you? (shannon-lost-people)

are-you-ok

shannon: Yeah. I'm fine.



goto turntable

shannon-lost-people

shannon: We all lost people down here. Well, not all of us. But most of us.



goto turntable

turntable

shannon: It doesn't matter now. Look, this old turntable is still wired up. The controls are dead but I can use my signal generator to switch tracks, if the water hasn't damaged it too much. Or we can just keep heading down this tunnel.

shannon: All this junk hanging up around the turntable is from the company store. Just junk, you know? The miners would buy it and use it to decorate the place ... or as landmarks, I guess. Hard to know which way is which down here. It's all so dim and gray.



turntable-controls

(*SHANNON* connects two clip leads from her signal generator to the turntable's electrical panel.)

shannon: We're on the track between the animal bones and the rowboat, so ...[if elkhorn-mine-rail-ab]

shannon: We're on the track between the pendulum and the casket, so ...[if elkhorn-mine-rail-cd]

shannon: We're on the track between the bat feeder and the scarecrow, so ...[if elkhorn-mine-rail-ef]



turntable-controls-route



shannon: `(Tuning)` ~The animal bones and the rowboat.~ (rail-ab) [if !elkhorn-mine-rail-ab]
shannon: `(Tuning)` ~The pendulum and the casket.~ (rail-cd) [if !elkhorn-mine-rail-cd]
shannon: `(Tuning)` ~The bat feeder and the scarecrow.~ (rail-ef) [if !elkhorn-mine-rail-ef]
shannon: (*SHANNON* disconnects the signal generator.) (end)

rail-ab

goto end [if end]


rail-cd

goto end [if end]


rail-ef

goto end [if end]


intro

(*CONWAY* brushes some dirt off {if}[dog-nameless]the dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}'s hat.)



conway: How's it going, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}? (hows-it-going)
conway: Take it easy, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}. (end)

hows-it-going



conway: Huh. Not sure that lady was right about the onramp to the |Zero| being here. (onramp)
conway: Hey, you got something on your hat. (hat)

onramp



conway: I guess you just can't tell with some folks. They're liable to run you around just for kicks. (runaround)
conway: Better look around, though. Must be down here somewhere. (somewhere)

runaround



conway: Well, try not to get frustrated. (end)
conway: Should we look around? Or get back on the road? Oh, I don't know. (end)

somewhere



conway: Better hurry, though. Weather's about to turn. (end)
conway: Let's take our time and check this out thorough, ok? (end)

hat



conway: Been digging in Lysette's flowers again? (flowers)
conway: Did you pick that up on the road? (road)

flowers



conway: She just can't keep you out of there, can she? (end)
conway: The way Ira used to yell at you, you'd think he was losing his mind. (end)

road



conway: Don't you ever get tired of nosing around strange places? (end)
conway: You like it out here don't you. Picking up strange dirt on the road. (end)

intro

The cramped shack is lined with wooden shelves. Dusty stacks of tape reels and notebooks crowd the room, but a bit of moonlight filters through a window near the ceiling.



goto desk

desk

On a small desk in the middle of the room lay three notebooks. The red one is labeled "J. Márquez," the green one is labeled "R. Márquez," and the blue one is unlabeled.



choose-notebook

goto red-notebook-interrupt [if red-notebook-interrupt]
goto green-notebook-interrupt [if green-notebook-interrupt]
goto blue-notebook-interrupt [if blue-notebook-interrupt]


: Open the red notebook. (red-notebook) [if !elkhorn-mine-outro-read-red-notebook]
: Open the green notebook. (green-notebook) [if !elkhorn-mine-outro-read-green-notebook]
: Open the blue notebook. (blue-notebook) [if !elkhorn-mine-outro-read-blue-notebook]

red-notebook

The pages are covered in disorganized notes, some written horizontally and others scribbled vertically into margins. A few pages are lined more evenly and divided up into charts correlating seasons, lyrics, harmonies, and coal hauls.



green-notebook

On each page is a delicately-rendered charcoal drawing. Most are portraits of rugged faces. Near the middle of the book, there are a few drawings of a young girl in a miner's helmet. She plays along the minecart tracks, collecting pieces of wire. In one drawing, another young girl sits nearby, intently studying a book.



blue-notebook

The notebook is full of greek letters and cryptic mathematical formulas. Near the back of the book, what first looks like it might be an esoteric german shorthand is actually a love poem written in anagrams.



red-notebook-interrupt

Conway opens the red notebook.

The pages are covered in disorganized notes, some written horizontally and others scribbled vertically into margins. A few pages are lined more evenly and divided up into —



green-notebook-interrupt

Conway opens the green notebook.

On each page is a delicately-rendered charcoal drawing. Most are portraits of rugged faces. Near the middle of the book, there are a few drawings of a young girl in a miner's helmet. She plays along the minecart tracks, collecting pieces of —



blue-notebook-interrupt

Conway opens the blue notebook.

The notebook is full of greek letters and cryptic mathematical formulas. Near the back of the book, what first looks like it might be —



shannon-enters-shack

shannon: Oh yeah. This place.



conway: I didn't think you were coming back. (didnt-think-coming)
conway: These notebooks are labeled "Márquez." Your parents are the archivists? (archivists-parents)

didnt-think-coming

shannon: Sure I was. Why wouldn't I be?



conway: Most everyone else I've met tonight has just disappeared. (disappearing)
conway: Did you find what you were looking for? (looking-for)

disappearing

shannon: Well here I am, dammit.



looking-for

shannon: Yeah ... Maybe. Look, we're not going to talk about that anymore, OK?



intro-more-options



conway: Sorry. (intro-sorry)
conway: The notebooks are labeled "Márquez." Your parents are the archivists? (archivists-parents)

archivists-parents

shannon: No. Weaver's parents are the archivists. My parents were miners.



goto leg

intro-sorry

shannon: No, I'm sorry. I'm just on edge. I'll be ok once I get away from this mine.



goto leg

leg

shannon: ... How's the leg?



conway: I can walk on it, but it's slow. (leg-slow)
conway: I can walk on it, but it's painful. (leg-painful)

leg-slow

shannon: Well, I'll try not to get too far ahead of you. You don't mind my hitching a ride, do you? I kinda got a lift out here, and wasn't sure if, uh — when I'd be heading back. I can drive.



leg-painful

shannon: Oh. I've got some painkillers here that could help you out. I got them from a friend when I sprained my wrist installing a security system. You'd better let me drive, though. They're pretty strong.



shannon-drive



conway: I can handle it. (conway-will-drive)
conway: Yeah, maybe that's best. (shannon-will-drive)

conway-will-drive

shannon: OK. Your decision.



shannon-will-drive

shannon: Don't worry: I've been driving since I was nine.



next-steps



conway: I still need to find the |Zero|. (zero)
conway: I guess I should look for another route to Dogwood Drive. (dogwood)

zero

shannon: Well, it's like I told you: Weaver doesn't lie. If she sent you here to find your onramp, this is where you should be looking. Or maybe you just weren't listening closely enough, and that's not exactly what she said?



dogwood

shannon: Yeah, alright. Well, maybe asking Weaver about the |Zero| was the wrong place to start. Maybe we should just ask her for specific directions. Her answers are complicated enough without a layer of indirection at the question.



find-weaver

shannon: I saw Weaver at my workshop. That's up north by Lake Nolin, right at Wax and Peonia, in the back of a bait shop. Pretty glamorous, right? These are the times we live in.

shannon: She's either up there or back at the farmhouse. Whichever you want to head to first, just let me know.



goto end

intro

(*CONWAY* stands solemnly in front of {if}[dog-nameless]the dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}.)



conway: How's it going, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}? (hows-it-going) [if !elkhorn-mine-outro-conway-talked-to-dog]
conway: {if}[dog-nameless]Old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}, this is Shannon. (introduce-shannon) [if shannon-companion+!elkhorn-mine-outro-shannon-talked-to-dog]
conway: Take it easy, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}. (end)

hows-it-going



conway: Sorry I left you alone so long. (alone)
conway: Hurt my leg pretty bad down there. (leg)

alone



conway: What would you have done if I hadn't come back? (hadnt-come-back)
conway: What did you get into up here? (what-dog-did)

hadnt-come-back



conway: It'll be one of us, eventually. Oh well. (end)
conway: Nah, I'll keep coming back. (end)

what-dog-did



conway: Did you take a nap? (end)
conway: Did you find any rabbits? (end)

leg



conway: I've got a shuffle like you now. (shuffle)
conway: Seems pretty bad, if I'm honest. (pretty-bad)

shuffle



conway: Yeah we've got a lot in common. (end)
conway: Maybe we can still heal up. (end)

pretty-bad



conway: How much time do you think I have left getting around on two legs? (end)
conway: Well, I'm not worried if you're not. (end)

introduce-shannon



shannon: Nice to meet you{if}[!dog-nameless], ${dog-name}{end}. (nice-to-meet-dog)
shannon: I never had a dog. (never-had-a-dog)

nice-to-meet-dog



shannon: I've got some dried banana slices in my bag, would you like one? (shannon-gave-treat)
shannon: Do you help with the driving? (help-with-driving)

shannon-gave-treat



shannon: I don't really like them anyway. (end)
shannon: Take care of your friend here, and there's more where that came from. (end)

help-with-driving



shannon: Maybe you can help your friend here, too. (end)
shannon: You help with the drooling, looks like. (end)

never-had-a-dog



shannon: My folks worked alternating shifts for a while. (alternating-shifts)
shannon: Dad was allergic. (allergic)

alternating-shifts



shannon: No time to care for a dog. (end)
shannon: And then they finally got their shifts in sync ... (end)

allergic



shannon: He needed to be able to breath clearly. At home, anyway. (end)
shannon: I would have liked a dog, though. (end)

intro

shannon: Hey stranger.



conway: I didn't think you were coming back. (didnt-think-coming)
conway: Did you find what you were looking for? (looking-for)

didnt-think-coming

shannon: Sure I was. Why wouldn't I be?



conway: People just keep disappearing tonight. (disappearing)
conway: Did you find what you were looking for? (looking-for)

disappearing

shannon: Well here I am, dammit.



looking-for

shannon: Yeah ... Maybe. Look, we're not going to talk about that anymore, OK?



intro-more-options



conway: Sorry. (intro-sorry)
conway: Fair enough. (leg)

intro-sorry

shannon: No, I'm sorry. I'm just on edge. I'll be ok once I get away from this mine.



goto leg

leg

shannon: ... How's the leg?



conway: I can walk on it, but it's slow. (leg-slow)
conway: I can walk on it, but it's painful. (leg-painful)

leg-slow

shannon: Well, I'll try not to get too far ahead of you. You don't mind my hitching a ride, do you? I kinda got a lift out here, and wasn't sure if, uh — when I'd be heading back. I can drive.



leg-painful

shannon: Oh. I've got some painkillers here that could help you out. I got them from a friend when I sprained my wrist installing a security system. You'd better let me drive, though. They're pretty strong.



shannon-drive



conway: I can handle it. (conway-will-drive)
conway: Yeah, maybe that's best. (shannon-will-drive)

conway-will-drive

shannon: OK. Your decision.



shannon-will-drive

shannon: Don't worry: I've been driving since I was nine.



next-steps



conway: I still need to find the |Zero|. (zero)
conway: I guess I should look for another route to Dogwood Drive. (dogwood)

zero

shannon: Well, it's like I told you: Weaver doesn't lie. If she sent you here to find your onramp, this is where you should be looking. Or maybe you just weren't listening closely enough, and that's not exactly what she said?



dogwood

shannon: Yeah, alright. Well, maybe asking Weaver about the |Zero| was the wrong place to start. Maybe we should just ask her for specific directions. Her answers are complicated enough without a layer of indirection at the question.



find-weaver

shannon: I saw Weaver at my workshop. That's up north by Lake Nolin, right at Wax and Peonia, in the back of a bait shop. Pretty glamorous, right? These are the times we live in.

shannon: She's either up there or back at the farmhouse. Whichever you want to head to first, just let me know.



goto end

intro

shannon: "Lysette's Antiques." I guess this is your truck?



conway: Surprised? (surprised)
conway: This is my truck. (end)

surprised

shannon: It's kind of old ... no, I'm not surprised. I guess it's an antique, too.

shannon: I think it suits you.



goto end

intro

(An old hound in a straw hat. Both have seen better days.)



goto end

intro

goto ready-to-leave [if ready-to-leave]


ready-to-leave

(Conway scratches behind {if}[dog-nameless]the dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}'s right ear.)



conway: How's it going, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}? (hows-it-going)
conway: Take it easy, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}. (end)

reroute

goto hows-it-going [if hows-it-going]
goto end [if end]


hows-it-going



conway: What do you think of this place? (about-equus) [if !asked-dog-about-gas-station]
conway: How about a treat? (about-treat) [if !gas-station-asked-dog-about-treat]
conway: Take it easy, {if}[dog-nameless]old man{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}. (end)

about-equus



conway: It's odd, I never noticed it driving by. (reroute)
conway: Seems like they're really on the rocks. (reroute)

about-treat



conway: Here's some jerky from the gas station attendant. (jerky-from-joseph)
conway: Nah, let's save it for later. (reroute)

jerky-from-joseph



conway: He's a bit odd, isn't he? (joseph-odd)
conway: He reminds me a bit of your old man Ira. (joseph-ira)

joseph-odd



conway: I guess the night shift will do that to you. (reroute)
conway: Nah, he's alright. (reroute)

joseph-ira



conway: Do you miss that guy? (reroute)
conway: He was a good man. A good boss. (reroute)

intro

(Folding chairs are arranged around a worn card table. The chairs are empty, and the surface of the table is bare.)



: (Conway places the twenty-sided die on the table.) (end-leave)
: (Conway keeps the twenty-sided die in his pocket and walks away.) (end-keep)

end-leave



goto end

end-keep



goto end

intro

(*EMILY*, *BEN*, and *BOB* sit in folding chairs behind a worn card table. Papers, oddly-shaped dice, and highway maps cover the tabletop.)



goto end

intro

goto gamers-one [if gamers-one]
goto gamers-two [if gamers-two]
goto gamers-three [if gamers-three]
goto gamers-four [if gamers-four]
goto gamers-five [if gamers-five]
goto gamers-last [if gamers-last]


gamers-one

(*CONWAY* clears his throat.)



conway: Have y'all seen a breaker box down here? (gamers-one-b)
conway: Oh, sorry, didn't know there was anyone down here. (gamers-one-b)

gamers-one-b

emily: `(To BOB)` Did you hear something?

bob: `(To EMILY)` Uh, no. Sorry, I was looking at the rules again.

ben: `(To BOB)` It gets easier as you go. Look, you said you rolled a "five," right? That means you get to pick up your marker and move it anywhere on the map.

bob: `(To BEN)` So it's your turn now, right?

ben: `(To BOB)` Oh, yeah I guess so. Where'd you put that twenty-sided die?

emily: I don't see it. Did you drop it?

bob: Uh ... It should be easy enough to find. It glows in the dark.



goto end

gamers-two

(*CONWAY* clears his throat, but gets no response from the people at the table.)



conway: I just need to get by you for a minute. (gamers-two-b)
conway: Did you lose something? (gamers-two-b)

gamers-two-b

bob: `(To EMILY)` I think it rolled down off to the left there, but I don't see it.

emily: Well, I'm not going to go looking for it. It's too dark down there.

ben: One of you go down and get it, and I'll just ... study the rules here.



goto end

gamers-three

(*CONWAY* taps his foot, but gets no response from the people at the table.)



conway: If I can hit that breaker box I can get the lights back on. (gamers-three-b)
conway: What kind of game is that? (gamers-three-b)

gamers-three-b

ben: `(To EMILY)` I think you were right about the instant crisis rolls. There's a whole separate table of them in the back.

bob: I don't like that rule anyway; it's not fun, it's just random and frustrating.

emily: `(To BOB)` The randomness is what makes it realistic, Bob.



goto end

gamers-four

(*CONWAY* clears his throat, but gets no response from the people at the table.)



conway: I really need to get the power back on and make this delivery. (gamers-four-b)
conway: You seem pretty focused on that game. (gamers-four-b)

gamers-four-b

emily: `(To BEN)` I still don't understand how you win.

ben: (Reading aloud) Roll the twenty-sided die once for each player, and refer to "Appendix C: Table of Psychogeographical Anxiety/Address Correlations." Locate the resulting street addresses on the roadmap and move each player marker to the appropriate location.

emily: That doesn't help.

bob: I don't think you `can` win. It says on the box it's a tragedy.



goto end

gamers-five

(*CONWAY* crosses his arms.)



conway: You're not going to let me by, are you? (gamers-five-b)
conway: You said you're missing a piece? (gamers-five-b)

gamers-five-b

emily: `(To BEN)` OK, so just to get started we need that twenty-sided die.

ben: Yeah that gets us on the road. Well, hopefully: if you roll a "one," you drive into a ditch. If you roll a "two" or a "nine" or a "twelve," you have to write down a new anxiety and roll again. If you roll a "four," you get to move your piece anywhere on the map you want.

emily: Bob, go get that die.

bob: It's too dark down there.

ben: `(To BOB)` Well that should make it easy, the damn thing glows in the dark!



goto end

gamers-last

(*CONWAY* knocks on the table, but gets no response from the people at the table.)



conway: If you could just move your chairs a bit, I can scoot right by. (gamers-last-b)
conway: `(Walks away.)` (end)

gamers-last-b

(*EMILY*, *BEN* and *BOB* argue about the rules of their game and who should be responsible for retrieving their lost game piece, a glow-in-the-dark twenty-sided die.)



goto end

intro

(*CONWAY* picks up the glowing twenty-sided die and inspects it. The number "five" is facing up. It's just a small piece of plastic, but it has a reassuring, almost comforting weight. He places the object in his jacket pocket.)



goto end

intro

(An interstate highway — sixty-five — running from Alabama up to just shy of Chicago. It ought to be quitting time in this part of Kentucky, but the daylight just won't shake. The sun just won't go away.)



goto end

intro

(A man with a large pair of antlers slung over his shoulder is speaking with *JOSEPH*.)



goto end

intro

joseph: ... and that's only a few miles outside of Hodgenville anyway. I don't think you could do much better for accessibility, and they got that new gas station if folks get lost —

carrington: But maybe they `should` feel lost, Joseph: just as lost then as we are always already lost. Just like poor, itinerant Silas, wandering the road, looking for a home.

joseph: Well that's a way to look at it, I guess ...

joseph: `(To CONWAY)` Well, hello! I heard that old truck rumble on up. How's {if}[dog-nameless]that dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}? Say, maybe you can help this fellow. He's looking for a ... a "venue" is how you said it, right?



conway: Sure, I have an old friend who runs a bar, and they've got a real big stage. (bar-stage)
conway: Sure, I know a furniture warehouse you could probably break into. (furniture-warehouse)

bar-stage

carrington: No, no, it can't be indoors. Impossible ...



furniture-warehouse

carrington: This isn't some illegal drug party!



introduce-play

carrington: But I'm obliged you'd stop a moment to help me work this through. Let me explain my charge:

carrington: I've dedicated my last twelve years to the design and orchestration of my life's great work: a grand, broadly experimental theatrical adaptation of "The Death of the Hired Man" by Robert Frost.



conway: Yeah, I've read some of his stuff. (more-hired-man)
conway: How do you mean "experimental"? (experimental)

more-hired-man

joseph: Yeah, he's pretty OK. Not one of my favorites. But Carrington here has a knack for drama!



experimental

carrington: Well, drama is really my `second` love. My higher calling is Pseudoscience.



conway: Yep. Pseudoscience. (pseudoscience)
conway: So when is the performance? (performance-time)

pseudoscience

carrington: Pseudoscience is the eternally fruitful marriage of whimsy and process that has yielded such poetic specimens as: astrology, phrenology, canals on mars, and homeopathic medicine.

carrington: I hope I have the time to explain how my pseudoscientific theorypoetics find expression in this play, but now I am in a delirious rush ...



performance-time

carrington: The event is to be performed tomorrow morning, just before dawn. But, in the spirit of tragedy, our venue fell through at the last moment. I've been out all day driving the highways looking for a replacement, eyes fastened to the landscape, like a hawk scouring the field.

carrington: So like a hawk, in fact, that I failed to keep an eye on my gas meter. I'm here waiting for the tow truck to bring my car so I can get back at the task.



conway: Well, I don't mind keeping an eye out for a spot; I'm on a drive anyway. (good-spots)
conway: So what kind of venue are you looking for? (what-kind-of-venue)

good-spots

carrington: If you have attention to spare, I'd be grateful. Somewhere outdoors. Somewhere intimate. Somewhere tragic.



goto end

what-kind-of-venue

carrington: Somewhere outdoors. Somewhere intimate. Somewhere tragic. If you have attention to spare on your drive, I'd be grateful.



goto end

intro

(A moving truck rumbles softly to itself. Painted on its side are the words "Lysette's Antiques. Furniture. Glassware. Curiosities.")



goto end

intro

(A family graveyard is set off to the side of the house. Headstones are inscribed with the surnames of the unfortunate: "Nowakowski," "Padilla," "Márquez")



goto end

intro

(*CONWAY* shakes his head.)



conway: What a mess, huh? (mess)
conway: What a waste, right? (waste)

mess



conway: That gas station attendant was right. (gas-station)
conway: Do you think anyone was hurt? (hurt)

gas-station



conway: Booze and glass all over the interstate. (end)
conway: I bet he could hear each bottle break. (end)

hurt



conway: Looks like a tough one to walk away from. (end)
conway: Well, I'm glad we weren't caught in it, at least. (end)

waste



conway: Guess you never liked the stuff anyway, did you? (liked-whiskey)
conway: Eh, it's probably for the best. (for-the-best)

for-the-best



conway: I'm sure a lot of that whiskey would have ended up spilled somewhere else. (end)
conway: That stuff is dangerous, that hard stuff. (end)

liked-whiskey



conway: Not the way I liked it. (end)
conway: Good for you. (end)

intro

(Two shirtless, shoeless men push a light aircraft along the highway. Occasionally, one or the other slips a bit on the sweating asphalt, or stops to pull back his hair.)



goto end

intro

(The men are nearly broken.)



goto end

intro

(The rubber is almost worn away. Soon, these men will be dragging this airplane.)



goto end

intro

(*CONWAY* taps a key, waking the computer from its reverie.)



intro-route

goto user-prompt [if user-prompt]
goto root-menu [if root-menu]


user-prompt

computer: ~User.~



conway: `(Typing)` ~Conway.~ (user-conway)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Joseph.~ (password-1)

user-conway

computer: ~User "Conway" is not real.~



password-1

computer: ~Password.~



conway: `(Typing)` ~Wheels slide loose.~ (password-2)
conway: `(Typing)` ~The stars drop away.~ (password-2)
conway: `(Typing)` ~I talk and listen to him talking.~ (password-2)

password-2



conway: `(Typing)` ~Nobody saw the accident.~ (password-3)
conway: `(Typing)` ~The moon throbs.~ (password-3)
conway: `(Typing)` ~It's late.~ (password-3)

password-3



conway: `(Typing)` ~You just breathe road.~ (password-complete)
conway: `(Typing)` ~The lights whine.~ (password-complete)
conway: `(Typing)` ~It will only get later.~ (password-complete)

password-complete

computer: ~Password accepted.~

joseph: `(Shouting)` How's it going in there? Figuring it all out? Sure you are.



goto root-menu

root-menu



conway: `(Typing)` ~Messages.~ (messages-root)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Address book.~ (address-book-root) [if !marquez-address-retrieved]
conway: `(Typing)` ~Games.~ (games-root)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Exit.~ (end)

messages-root

computer: ~Message one is from "donald@hotmk.mail".~

computer: ~Message two is from "accounts@consolidated.mail".~



conway: `(Typing)` ~Read message one.~ (message-one)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Read message two.~ (message-two)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Exit messages.~ (root-menu)

message-one

computer: ~From: donald@hotmk.mail~

computer: ~Subject: fragments dim of lovely forms~

computer: ~Message: Joseph, I know it's been a while, and I know you're still sore. But there's a whole world in here, and we need your help to unmask it. Yes, the caves are cold and damp, and we are old and lame ...~

computer: ~Nevermind. I can't remember why I even started writing this. I miss those days in the lab, with you and our dear Lula. Maybe you've found your own "Xanadu." Well, so have I!~

computer: ~End of message.~



message-two

computer: ~From: accounts@consolidated.mail~

computer: ~Subject: Account standing, urgent.~

computer: ~Message: Dear EQUUS OILS. This is an urgent automated message that your account is overdue by more than 14 days. In response, we have switched you to our "Low-Reliability Dirty Power Plus" plan.~

computer: ~Consider making a payment immediately to obviate the need for us to switch you to "Sustained Brownout Select."~

computer: ~Sincerely, your friends at the Consolidated Power Co.~

computer: ~End of message.~



address-book-root

computer: ~Address book.~



conway: `(Typing)` ~The ~|Zero|~.~ (address-krz)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Dogwood Drive.~ (address-dogwood)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Márquez.~ (address-marquez)
conway: `(Typing)` ~Exit address book.~ (root-menu)

address-krz

computer: ~Address "The ~|Zero|~" is not real.~



address-dogwood

computer: ~Address "Dogwood Drive" is not real.~



address-marquez

computer: ~Márquez Residence. 100 Macondo Lane. Head north-east on sixty-five, and turn left as soon as you see that ugly tree that's always on fire. Look for the barn at the base of the mountain there; can't miss it.~



games-root

computer: ~"Games" is not real.~



goto root-menu

joseph-favor

joseph: `(Shouting)` Got it? Out there on Macondo somewhere, right? Yeah, that's it.

joseph: Hey, look, while you were down there I loaded that old TV of mine into your truck. I borrowed that thing from Weaver Márquez a number of years ago, and now that the power is all weird over here I can't pick up anything but static and public access anyway.

joseph: She was always more of a reader, but maybe she'd want it back at home. It's a nice TV!



goto end

intro

goto returning-to-gas-station-with-shannon [if returning-to-gas-station-with-shannon]
goto returning-to-gas-station [if returning-to-gas-station]
goto after-address-retrieved [if after-address-retrieved]
goto intro-first-meeting [if intro-first-meeting]
goto post-reset-circuit-breaker [if post-reset-circuit-breaker]
goto still-need-to-reset-breaker [if still-need-to-reset-breaker]


intro-first-meeting

joseph: Damn! Did you hear that wreck? Truck full of bottles — I dunno, beer bottles? Whiskey? Lost a tire or something, and spilled booze and glass all over the interstate!

joseph: What a mess! I hope they don't come down here looking for anything; we blew a damn fuse and it's all shut off!

joseph: Did I hear a dog? What's your dog's name?



conway: His name is Homer. (intro-dog-homer)
conway: Her name is Blue. (intro-dog-blue)
conway: Just some dog; I don't know his name. (intro-dog-nameless)

intro-dog-homer

joseph: Bit of a shuffle or a drag in Homer's step — kind of an old one isn't he? Well, I guess he's got some stories then.



intro-dog-blue

joseph: Blue sounds like a sweet old hound. I used to know a dog like that.



intro-dog-nameless

joseph: Sure. We got a couple old cats that lurk around. Well I bet he's a nice dog, anyway. Well-behaved, or he'd be after my dinner.



intro-blind

joseph: Hey, here's some jerky for {if}[dog-nameless]him{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}. I made it myself! Didn't turn out too well, but I bet a dog will eat it.

joseph: Getting late, right? I can feel the sun on my neck. I bet it's just a few feet off the horizon.



conway: I've been driving all evening looking for "5 Dogwood Drive." (intro-fascination-destination)
conway: I've got a delivery to make on Dogwood, but I'd rather watch the sunset. (intro-fascination-wandering)

intro-fascination-destination

joseph: Hey, I understand: you have got to do the job you're paid to do. Maybe get some rest somewhere in there; maybe have a drink. Then back at it. There's a valor in that rhythm.



conway: So, where is Dogwood Drive? (intro-address)
conway: How long have you been working here? (intro-joseph-job)
conway: What's your rhythm like? (intro-joseph-fascinated)

intro-fascination-wandering

joseph: Yeah, it's the truth: you have got to stop and breathe in that road! I bet while you're out driving you let your eyes wander up the tree line and you just ... well, I bet you're more of a poet than old Joseph!



conway: So, where is Dogwood Drive? (intro-address)
conway: How long have you been working here? (intro-joseph-job)
conway: Do you like poetry? (intro-joseph-fascinated)

intro-joseph-fascinated

joseph: Oh, I just like to listen to the TV. I used to do a lot of poetry on the computer, but I don't have the ear for it lately.



intro-joseph-job

joseph: I've been working here a number of years. It's pretty OK. You know, I have an advanced degree and a few publications. It's pretty OK here.



intro-address

joseph: Listen, you and {if}[dog-nameless]your dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end} would've been driving up and down sixty-five all night. Dogwood Drive is on the other side of ... well, to get there you've got to take the |Zero|.

joseph: The |Zero| is a tough route to find, but you can use my computer to look up directions. You'll have to head down into the basement and reset the circuit breaker first. I'll be happy to have those whining lights back up anyway; it's too damn quiet out here.

joseph: The basement door is back there in the office.



intro-indicate-door

joseph: Appreciate your help, friend. Oh, and here:



intro-indicate-light

joseph: Take this lamp. It gets dark.



goto end

still-need-to-reset-breaker

joseph: Just head back into the office and you can't miss the stairs. The breaker box'll be somewhere on the right side of the room down there.



conway: Why can't you fix the lights yourself? (why-cant-joseph-fix-lights)
conway: I can't find the breaker box down there. (cant-find-breaker) [if entered-basement]
conway: There are some people in your basement, playing some kind of game. (met-gamers) [if met-gamers]
conway: Alright, I'll do it now. (still-need-to-reset-breaker-end)

met-gamers

joseph: In the basement? No, I don't think so. Maybe that lamplight is playing tricks on you.



goto end

cant-find-breaker

joseph: Huh. I dunno what to tell you. You've got a light and everything. I'm always just down there in the dark, and I have no problems finding it. Well, I appreciate you keeping at the task!



goto end

why-cant-joseph-fix-lights

joseph: Well, it's true: I know that basement pretty well. But last time I got to repair work down there, I crossed the wrong wire and took out half the traffic lights in Elizabethtown!

joseph: It's that damn electric company, "Consolidated." They plug everything together on one big grid. Too many eggs in the damn basket!

joseph: So now I'm a little circuit-shy, is all. Anyhow, I appreciate your help.



goto end

still-need-to-reset-breaker-end

joseph: Many thanks.



goto end

post-reset-circuit-breaker

goto first-reset-breaker [if first-reset-breaker]
goto computer-not-accessed-yet [if computer-not-accessed-yet]


first-reset-breaker

joseph: There it is. Just listen to those lights whine. Yep ...



conway: Well, I'd better get those directions and head to the |Zero|, if you don't mind. (introduce-password)
conway: There were some people down in your basement playing some kind of game, but they're gone now. (gamers-recap)

gamers-recap

joseph: In the basement? No, I don't think so. Maybe that lamplight was playing tricks on you, huh?[if !gas-station-asked-joseph-about-gamers]

joseph: So, you insist on it, do you? Alright ...[if gas-station-asked-joseph-about-gamers]

joseph: Well, strange things happen underground. Especially in the dark ...



introduce-password

joseph: So! Computer's in the office. You're looking for "Márquez." She knows her way around those roads; she'll get you to the |Zero|. The password is ... uh ... damn. I usually just feel it out. "Muscle memory," you know?

joseph: It's kinda long, kinda like a short poem, I think. One of those short poems that really sums it all up.

joseph: You'll figure it out.



goto end

computer-not-accessed-yet

joseph: No luck with that computer password? Maybe you're going too fast; don't force it, now. Just try to think like a poet.



goto end

after-address-retrieved

goto small-talk [if small-talk]


small-talk

joseph: Sun's gone down; you and {if}[dog-nameless]your dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end} better get on that road if you're gonna make your delivery!



goto end

returning-to-gas-station

joseph: Well, here you are.



conway: Do you know where an old mine is around here? (mine-location) [if read-shannons-note-at-workshop+!met-shannon+!asked-joseph-about-mine]
conway: Met your friend Weaver. (met-weaver) [if marquez-farm-weaver-gone+!joseph-talked-about-weaver+!met-shannon]
conway: Ran across a strange museum up north a bit. (museum) [if overworld-visited-museum+!joseph-talked-about-museum]
conway: Found your game in that museum's archives. (found-archive) [if found-josephs-game-in-archive+!joseph-talked-about-game-in-archive]
conway: Where did Mr. Carrington go? (where-is-carrington) [if met-carrington-and-then-left-gas-station+!joseph-talked-about-carrington]
conway: Here I am. (here-i-am) [if !joseph-talked-about-work]
conway: Better get going, though. (end)

here-i-am

joseph: Yep. I'm hard at work, as you can see. Now, don't distract me! Ha!

joseph: You like your work?



conway: I haven't got a lot of options. (work-options)
conway: It's better than being in a ditch. (work-ditch)

work-ditch

joseph: Ha! I bet you always say that. Like a reflex. When people ask about my work, I always say "it's pretty OK." That way I don't have to think about it.



goto end

work-options

joseph: Well, who has options these days? You know I went to college for almost twelve years? I have an advanced degree in electronic writing.

joseph: But I guess I took the low road, in the end.



goto end

museum

joseph: Oh, that old place. I heard they keep a huge archive.

joseph: Hey next time you're up there, take a look in the archive room and see if you can find any of my old work on file. It'll be under "Wheatree," that's my last name. "Wheatree." The archive is just through the Hall of Glass. It's these big plastic doors, kinda hard to spot, but the texture is a bit different than the rest of the walls.



goto end

found-archive

joseph: Yeah? `If I Had My Way, I'd Tear the Building Down`? They still have that? Well, damn.

joseph: You know, I think that's about the best thing I ever did. Nobody's played it. Someday I'll have to tell you about my friend Donald. We worked together on that one. Half way through, we kinda fell out. So that's why the game ends so weird. You know ... one day I'll have to tell you about that.



goto end

met-weaver

joseph: Huh. Now ... you say you met her? She was there?



conway: Just for a minute, then she left suddenly. (met-weaver-she-left)
conway: Yeah she was there. You're surprised? (met-weaver-surprised)

met-weaver-she-left

joseph: OK. I guess she had somewhere to be. I wouldn't take it personally. It's good that you met her.



met-weaver-surprised

joseph: Huh. No, I guess I'm not surprised. It's good that you met her.



weaver-history

joseph: I knew the Márquez family years ago, when Weaver was a young girl, and her parents were studying local folk songs. Smart family. Well, some of them are smart, and the rest are wise, if you know what I mean.

joseph: They hit some trouble a while back, and it kind of tore them all up. But, you know, everyone hits trouble at some point or another. Well, not everyone, but most of us do.

joseph: Hey, if you see Weaver Márquez again ... tell her I'm sorry about her aunt and uncle, and I hope I'll be seeing her soon.

joseph: Many thanks.



goto end

mine-location

joseph: Around here? Hm ... I guess not.

joseph: Oh, unless you're thinking of the old Eklhorn Mine? That's over north-east of here, on Hardyville. But you can't get in there anymore. It's all fenced up ... they had an accident.



goto end

where-is-carrington

joseph: Oh yeah, his tow truck came so he gassed up and left. He's awfully proud of that car.

joseph: Yeah I guess he's back out looking for a venue. He said he hoped to run into you again, though. Or maybe we'll hear about it on the radio; I'll keep an ear on it for you!



goto end

returning-to-gas-station-with-shannon

joseph: Who's that?



conway: It's me. (returning-to-gas-station)
shannon: It's me. (shannon-hub-first-time) [if !shannon-met-joseph]
shannon: It's me. (shannon-hub) [if shannon-met-joseph]

shannon-hub-first-time

joseph: Oho! That sounds like one of the Márquez ladies. Well, I know it's not Remedios — she's back out in Knoxville these days — so ...



shannon-hub

joseph: Hello, Shannon. How's the economy treating you?



shannon: It's not great. (shannon-work) [if !shannon-told-joseph-about-work]
shannon: My friend is looking for the |Zero|, do you know how to get there? (shannon-zero) [if !shannon-asked-joseph-about-zero]
shannon: Nice to see you, Joseph. Don't work too hard. (end)

shannon-work

joseph: No, I guess it isn't. Hell, they got me working days and nights! But at least people still need gas.

joseph: Kinda different in your line of work, isn't it? Well, I'm sure they'll come around. Maybe some old TV show will get popular, and everyone will want old TVs again.



shannon: That's not really ... how it works. (end)
shannon: Yeah. Maybe. (end)

shannon-zero

joseph: Oh yeah, that old delivery driver ... What do you think of that guy anyway, just between us?



shannon: He smells like leather. (conway-smells-like-leather)
shannon: His hands shake when he's not using them. (conway-is-shaky)
shannon: Sometimes I think he's half-asleep at the wheel. (conway-is-sleepy) [if !shannon-will-drive]

conway-smells-like-leather

joseph: Well, a lot of drivers keep one arm out in the sun all day.

joseph: Could be worse, I guess. There's a cable guy comes through here pretty regular, and he smells like warmed-up fish food.



conway-is-shaky

joseph: Yeah, it happens. Too much nerves, or too much drink ...



conway-is-sleepy

joseph: Well, he's no spring chicken. But also ... the road can do that. It's hypnotic: puts you into a kind of a highway fugue. I've had customers through here that couldn't say a word ... I swear they were sleepwalking!



joseph-tells-shannon-about-zero

joseph: Well, it's like I told him: I can't get you folks to the |Zero|. But I bet you can get there. Especially now, with the two of you.



goto end

intro

(*JOSEPH* sits between gas pumps in a Queen Anne armchair. His hair is gray and his glasses darkened.)



goto end

intro

(Stacks of boxes climb precariously to the ceiling. A worn writing table in the corner is the only evidence that this basement was ever used as anything but a staging area.)



goto end

intro

(A clock hangs on the rear wall. The markings are faded, but it seems to have finally stopped just before a quarter past eleven. Morning or night; who can say?)



goto end

intro

(An old hound in a straw hat. Both have seen better days.)



goto end

intro

goto ready-to-leave [if ready-to-leave]


ready-to-leave

(*CONWAY* pats {if}[dog-nameless]the dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end} on the side.)



conway: There are some horses out there behind the house. (horses)
conway: I just met the strangest lady. (weaver)

horses



conway: Remember the horses you and Lysette and Ira had? (ira-horses)
conway: I guess they don't sleep in the barn. (horses-barn)

ira-horses



conway: I miss them sometimes. The horses. (end)
conway: Yours didn't like to sleep in the barn either. (end)

horses-barn



conway: It's too spooky for a horse. (end)
conway: Must be full of gear. (end)

weaver



conway: She seemed pretty nice. (weaver-nice)
conway: She kinda creeped me out, {if}[dog-nameless]buddy{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}. (weaver-creepy)

weaver-nice



conway: "Márquez" ... I wonder where her folks are from ... (end)
conway: I hope we see her again. (end)

weaver-creepy



conway: Just had a weird ... energy ... (end)
conway: But that's not her fault, I guess. Some folks are just like that. (end)

intro

goto just-arrived [if just-arrived]


just-arrived

(*CONWAY* rubs {if}[dog-nameless]the dog{end}{if}[!dog-nameless]${dog-name}{end}'s belly.)



conway: Pretty dark out here, huh? (dark)
conway: So I guess we just head up the path here; the farmhouse is up the hill a bit. (path)

dark



conway: Maybe you'd better stay down here where it's lit. (end)
conway: Hope I can borrow you a treat up there. (end)

path



conway: Keep an eye on the truck, alright? (end)
conway: Maybe I can borrow you a treat up there. (end)

intro

shannon: There's nobody buried here, you know. It's decorative, I guess ...

shannon: Or it's art or something, I don't know.



conway: A decorative graveyard? (decorative-graveyard)
conway: What are the names on the headstones? (headstone-names)

decorative-graveyard

shannon: Weaver's folks were like that. Not morbid, I mean, but strange. Careless with tragic ideas.



headstone-names

shannon: "Nowakowski," "Padilla" .. I don't know those names. Maybe the people who lived here before? I know when they bought this property it already had a house and everything. Or maybe they have some other symbolic meaning.



marquez-headstone

shannon: Oh, and look at that headstone: "Márquez." I used to think that was for my parents. Now I don't know.



goto end

intro

shannon: So, this is where she was? Yeah, makes sense. This was where Weaver and her parents lived. They took out a bunch of loans, you know, and had this place built.

shannon: Do you have any debts?



conway: I never really had any collateral. (collateral)
conway: I owe some people some apologies. (apologies)

apologies

shannon: Well, you're lucky that's all you owe.



goto debt

collateral

shannon: Something to be said for that, I guess.



goto debt

debt

shannon: My parents were like that. Until the company store found a way to get to them. For my dad it was tokens to run the fans and air purifiers, and for my mom it was canaries. Two solutions to the same problem, but they sure sounded different.

shannon: Weaver had debt, too — a lot of it. All tuition.



conway: How did she pay it off? (pay-off)
conway: She said she was a mathematician or something? (mathematician)

pay-off

shannon: She didn't. She had no income, none of them did.



goto bills

mathematician

shannon: Yeah, she studied some esoteric stuff about ... something about using math to translate between Spanish and English?



goto bills

bills

shannon: I think eventually Weaver put those math skills to work on all the red numbers in the family checkbook, and got a clear sense of just how hopeless their situation was.

shannon: So she left. I guess she just drove away in the middle of the night — they woke up in the morning and the car was gone. Never came back.

shannon: Until tonight.



conway: Someone else told me to come here and talk to her. (someone-else)
conway: She seemed really focused on that old TV. (old-tv)
conway: Were you happy to see her? (happy-to-see-her)

someone-else

shannon: Huh. OK. I guess we two aren't the only ones she's been talking to.



goto old-tv

happy-to-see-her

shannon: I don't know. It was so sudden and ... it wasn't like a reunion. She just appeared. She —



goto old-tv

old-tv

shannon: Oh. That's not something you see every day. That old TV right there, well, `that` is a damned antique for you. I had a model like that in the shop once, but I had to sell it off to make rent. Most painful decision I ever made.

shannon: Say, do you mind if I open it up? Looks like the dials are all corroded, and the screen is leaking light a bit. Come on — I bet Lysette would never forgive you for letting a specimen like that fall into disrepair.



goto end

intro

(A moving truck rumbles softly to itself. Painted on its side are the words "Lysette's Antiques. Furniture. Glassware. Curiosities.")



goto end

intro

shannon: Oh yeah, these tubes are all messed up. Look like they've been in a swamp, or a cave or something — there's moss growing on this one!

shannon: That's OK, I have a few spares in my bag here ... Here, I pulled this one out of an old computer monitor. Just needs to be recalibrated a bit ...



goto tuning

tuning

shannon: Ok, that oughta ... should be seeing something now; are you seeing anything?



conway: Hey that looks dangerous, what you're doing there. (tuning-more)
conway: Uh, little bit to the left ... ? (tuning-more)

tuning-more

shannon: Damn, OK ... Here, I think the contacts are dirty. Now don't go telling my customers I clean off old vacuum tubes with spit ...

shannon: There, just gotta turn it north/south, and —



goto end

intro

(A street lamp lights the base of a dusty path leading up the hill.)



goto end

intro

(An abandoned spiderweb stretches across the bottom of a saucepan. A skillet is seasoned with dust.)



goto end

intro

(A disused wood-burning stove is set up in one ash-dusted corner of the room. It's cold to the touch.)



goto end

intro

A creek runs alongside the highway and then turns toward a dirty brick building. A grinding drone from within the building is faintly audible from the interstate. Floodlights on the lawn illuminate smokestacks.

At the edge of the building's parking lot, a large sign, partly obscured by trees, reads: "Amer ... tificial Limb Factory"



goto end

intro

Conway pulls into the bait shop parking lot.



goto outside

outside

Vaulted above the road on a thin steel bar, a handwritten sign reads "LIVE BAIT. MINNOWS SMALL AND ALSO LARGE FOR STRIPERS. NIGHTCRAWLERS. CHIPS AND BEER." A green flyer hangs loosely from a bit of masking tape at eye-level.

To the shop's right, a dirt parking lot sprawls unevenly into grass and then eventually trees.

The bait shop is open.



outside-options



: Enter the bait shop. (enter-shop)
: Read the flyer. (read-flyer)
: Drive away. (end)

read-flyer

Computer-printed type in a bold font surrounds a clipart illustration of a TV set. The TV has eyes, arms, and legs. Its shoulders are slouched. On the screen is a cartoon expression of exhausted nausea. A hot water bottle rests against its wire antenna.

"TV Repair, no model too old, inquire within. We do not sell digital converter boxes."



enter-shop

Narrow aisles crowded with lures, reels, rods, and snacks divide the shop lengthwise from the entrance to the cashier's counter. The left wall is lined with churning tanks of water.



: Look into the tanks. (look-at-tanks)
: Approach the counter. (counter)
: Leave the shop. (outside)

look-at-tanks

The three metal tanks aren't labeled, and the water is too agitated to get a clear view of what's inside each one. The contents of the first tank are vaguely gray. The second is a muddy pink. The third is clear, but shiny silver flecks occasionally flash along its surface.



tank-options



: Reach into the first tank. (first-tank)
: Reach into the second tank. (second-tank)
: Reach into the third tank. (third-tank) [if !conway-shocked-by-bait-tank]
: Leave the tanks. (enter-shop)

first-tank

Conway's hand brushes against something roughly the size of his palm.



: Reach deeper into the tank. (first-tank-deeper)
: Remove hand from the tank. (tank-options)

first-tank-deeper

Conway's hand comes into contact with a scaly, uneven surface. As he runs his fingers along the bottom, a bead of sweat bridges the inches from his temple to the water's surface. Something bites at his forearm. He recoils.



second-tank

Conway's fingers slip through something fleshy but inert. The sensation is nauseating.



: Reach deeper into the tank. (second-tank-deeper)
: Remove hand from the tank. (tank-options)

second-tank-deeper

As his elbow passes into the pinkish mass, he realizes he's about to be sick from the smell, and pulls away.



third-tank

The water seems to tremble with life. Conway can't tell if his hand is being nibbled by fish or massaged by the artificial current. As his eyes near the surface of the water, he can see something colorful glowing faintly at the bottom of the tank.



: Reach deeper into the tank. (third-tank-deeper)
: Remove hand from the tank. (tank-options)

third-tank-deeper

A tremor spreads from his elbow out to his fingertips, and up to the base of his shoulder. His vision flickers. The water is running warm, under his skin now, and he has the sensation that something is about to snap. His eyes close.



electroshock-hallucination

He lays on a rooftop, new shingles rough beneath his back, swelling in the noon sun. He is exhausted. They must have started before dawn. His legs are sore from holding stable on the uneven surface, his wrists from breaking old sealant, his fingers from carefully lifting shingles to hammer down new ones.

His boss, Ira, yells from the idling truck below. He shades his eyes with his hand. A beer would be good. It's barely past noon, but he's worked a full day already ... what could the harm be? Maybe a shot at the counter, just to get his eyes open. Then a beer. He could offer to drive into town for lunch, and stop at that place on Cumberland —



after-hallucination

The cashier pushes Conway roughly on the shoulder. He's been talking, yelling maybe, but it's all an echo now.

Conway looks up, his neck stiff with pain, his right palm still tingling. The cashier points to the tank, then above it to a few holes torn in the wall: nail holes from which an electric sign has come dislodged and fallen into the water. He helps Conway to his feet, looks at him pitifully, and returns to the cash register.



counter

A wiry cashier stands behind the register, preoccupied with a sudoku puzzle.



counter-options



: Ask about Shannon Márquez's workshop. (ask-cashier-about-workshop) [if !asked-cashier-about-workshop]
: Read the note on the workshop door. (read-workshop-note) [if asked-cashier-about-workshop]
: Ask about the basketball game. (ask-cashier-about-basketball) [if !asked-bait-shop-cashier-about-basketball]
: Walk away. (enter-shop)

ask-cashier-about-workshop

A handwritten sign on the door behind the counter reads "TV REPAIRS BY APPOINTMENT PLEASE CONSULT WITH CASHIER." The cashier knocks a few times on the door and waits, occasionally glancing at his puzzle.

After a few moments with no answer, he notices a smaller note written on the sign, reads it, then points it out to Conway.



read-workshop-note

"`Weaver. I got your message. Have left for the old mine. Don't know if I will see you there or what. Ready either way. -Shannon`"



ask-cashier-about-basketball

The cashier switches on the radio. An AM sports broadcast is playing, but Conway can't be sure if it's meant to answer or to drown out his questions.



intro

The exterior of the `Barren River Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation` is a dingy beige, sprinkled with fading graffiti. The front door hangs open from a broken hinge. The windows are dark.



intro-options



: Look in a window. (look-in-window)
: Enter the front door. (inside-front-door)
: Drive away. (end)

look-in-window

The windows are too dirty to see anything inside but a few dim shapes. Furniture, maybe, or livestock.



inside-front-door

The room feels empty with no furniture other than the built-in front desk, host to a disconnected telephone and a few empty beer cans. Meandering lines of color have been spraypainted along the walls.

Behind the desk, a hallway leads into darkness.



inside-front-door-options



: Pick up the telephone. (telephone) [if !barren-river-recc-checked-phone]
: Enter the hallway. (hallway)
: Leave the building. (intro)

telephone

There's no dialtone. The phone is disconnected.



: Listen closer. (telephone-listen-closer)
: Put the phone down. (inside-front-door-options)

telephone-listen-closer

With the phone pressed close to his ear, Conway can hear a thin, quiet roar, like the ocean or the highway.



hallway

The hallway passes several smaller office doors. It quickly disappears into darkness. Something is glowing in the distance, barely.



: Walk to the dark end of the hall. (dark-end-of-hallway)
: Try an office door or two. (try-office-door) [if !barren-river-recc-checked-doors]
: Return to the front desk. (inside-front-door)

try-office-door

One of the office doors is still locked. Another has been broken open, the door handle bent awkwardly inwards and embedded in the wood, but it's jammed against a filing cabinet. On closer inspection through the crack in the door, the whole room is filled with filing cabinets and other disused furniture.



goto hallway

dark-end-of-hallway

The door at the far end of the hallway is tightly closed, but a warm glow bleeds in from its edges.



: Open the door. (open-dark-door)
: Return to the front desk. (inside-front-door)

open-dark-door

The handle is loose, and the door swings open easily. The hallway fills with warmth, light, and the smells of smoke and coffee.



goto campfire

campfire

About a dozen men and women sit around a campfire in the middle of a large room. Cubicle walls have been cut into pieces: some leaning up against the walls, and some arranged into stacks of firewood.

One of the women waves to Conway, and offers him an empty chair. It's missing wheels, but it's comfortable and easily adjustable to his height. Someone takes a pot hung above the fire and pours coffee into a styrofoam cup. Conway accepts it, and they all return to watching the fire.



goto end

intro

The office of the Buffalo Creek Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation is almost invisible from the road, its parking lot overgrown with weeds and its facade sheltered by ivy.



intro-options



: Look in a window. (look-in-window)
: Enter the front door. (inside-front-door)
: Drive away. (end)

look-in-window

A sinewy shadow obstructs the view through the window.



inside-front-door

The floor is loosely covered in dirt. Parts of the carpet have rotted with exposure to rain. Wild mushrooms grow in some corners of the room.

The wall behind the front desk has been mostly rotted away; it looks fragile.[if !overworld-buffalo-creek-recc-broke-wall]

A large hole has been forced through the back wall.[if overworld-buffalo-creek-recc-broke-wall]



: Push through the back wall. (push-through-wall) [if !overworld-buffalo-creek-recc-broke-wall]
: Walk through the back wall. (push-through-wall) [if overworld-buffalo-creek-recc-broke-wall]
: Leave the building. (intro)

push-through-wall

Conway finds himself what may once have been a conference room. The floor has fallen away in places, and filled with a dark green mire. The walls of the conference room are decayed and damaged.



: Push through another wall. (push-through-another-wall)
: Leave the building. (intro)

push-through-another-wall

The drywall dissolves as Conway pushes through it, falling in damp clumps in the marsh. He breaks through into a long hallway.

The glow of a bioluminescent fungus casts a faint blush on the walls. Conway has the feeling he has interrupted something.

After a moment of silence, the frog chorus resumes.



goto end

intro

A tall black oak burns on a hill above the road.



goto end

intro

outside-church

A singing chorus echoes from within the church. The building is one story tall with a pitched roof, and a three-story spire rising from the front. The top section of the spire is made of stained glass. An interior light illuminates the pines in red, green and blue.

A large LED display glows in the parking lot:

"LIGHT OF THE LAST GREAT AWAKENING BAPTIST CHURCH"



outside-church-options



: Enter the church. (enter-church) [if !overworld-country-church-checked-doors]
: Walk around to the rear of the building. (building-rear) [if overworld-country-church-checked-doors]
: Listen. (outside-listen)
: Drive away. (end)

enter-church

The front doors of the church are modest and worn. They are locked.



outside-listen

The muffled chorus drones at a steady volume, repeating the same two verses without rest.



building-rear

A ramp leads up from a few dusty metal trash cans to the church's back door.



building-rear-options



: Look in the trash cans. (trash)
: Enter the church's back door. (inside-kitchen)
: Go back to the front of the building. (outside-church)

trash

One has a bit of something leafy and rotten stuck to the bottom of it. Another is full of unlabeled videotapes.



inside-kitchen

He finds himself in a kitchen lit by a buzzing fluorescent ceiling fixture. On the counter are a plate of moldy bread and an empty dixie cup flecked red around its waxy rim. A set of swinging plastic doors on the far wall lead out of the kitchen.



: Walk through plastic doors. (nave)
: Walk back outside. (building-rear)

nave

Vacant pews sprawl unevenly into the church. A small raised stage lies to Conway's right, bare except for a tape recorder.

The tape recorder's power cord runs to an outlet near Conway's feet.



: Unplug the tape recorder. (unplug-tape-recorder)
: Go back to the kitchen. (inside-kitchen)

unplug-tape-recorder

The singing stops. The lights fail.



goto end

intro

The diner doesn't appear to have a name. A vinyl banner slung above the door simply reads: "24 Hours." It only has one window, behind which the blinds are tightly closed.



: Try the door. (try-door)
: Drive away. (end)

try-door

The door swings open easily. A bell rings nearby. The interior of the diner is pitch black.



: Walk in. (walk-in)
: Wait a moment to adjust to the darkness. (wait-for-eyes)
: Leave. (end)
goto end

wait-for-eyes

A bit of errant light from the nearby highway creeps through the open door, and gradually Conway is able to make out a few figures inside:



walk-in

Someone shines a flashlight in Conway's eyes. The light is almost immediately blinding, but in the instant it switches on he can make out a few figures inside:



describe-figures

Two old men in trucker hats sit in a corner booth, with a checkers board set on the table between them.

A young woman standing behind the counter in an apron must be a waitress.

The cook stares blankly from the kitchen.



door-closes

The door slams shut, and the room is dark again.



: Sit down at the counter. (sit-at-counter)
: Try to open the door and leave. (end)

sit-at-counter

He hits his knee on something hard and metallic, winces quietly, and then carefully finds his way to a stool. He places his hand on the counter.

Another hand, a young woman's, rests itself on his. She guides his fingers to a laminated menu. Conway closes his eyes, opens them, maybe closes them again. Impossible to differentiate.



: Order coffee. (order-coffee)
: Order waffles. (order-waffles)
: Ask her about the basketball game. (basketball-game)

order-coffee

A cup of coffee would do it. Black ... oily, even. Hot, familiar diner coffee. Conway runs his hand down the menu. The surface is uniformly flat, and slick with condensation.



goto waitress

order-waffles

Waffles are a safe bet even at some darkened hole-in-the-wall. Conway squints hopelessly at the menu, searching in the dark for some legible text.



goto waitress

basketball-game

The Wildcats are struggling, but today's was an important game. They could have rallied. Perhaps the waitress heard the game from the kitchen; or maybe she's a fan herself. Conway clears his throat.



goto waitress

waitress

He feels a warm hand against his cheek, and freezes. Her fingers run across the stubble of his chin. He feels like apologizing. She leans forward, and so does he —



goto end

intro

The truck pulls up to a house with an intensely bright porchlight. A cloud of dragonflies swells around the light: darting, hovering, turning at right angles.

There are no lights on in the house. A stencil on the mailbox reads: "2880 Beaker Blvd." And below, written in marker: "NO SOLICITORS. I WORK FOR LONG HOURS AND RETIRE EARLY."



goto end

intro

The truck jerks toward the shoulder, nearly run off the road by a swarm of dragonflies. Their wings beat briefly in the headlights, and disappear into the night.



goto end

intro

The dragonflies vary their pace. As the truck approaches, they scatter. After a minute or two, Conway can hear a swelling whine to the southeast.



goto end

intro

A young man in gray-stained clothes sits by the side of the road. He is playing a worn guitar. To his left is a blue mug, and to his right a weathered dog.



: Listen. (listen)
: Pet the dog. (pet-dog)

listen

The young man strums absently on the guitar, hums tunelessly, and occasionally mumbles a word.



: Put a dollar in the cup. (give-dollar)
: Listen. (listen-2)

give-dollar

The young man stops playing, pulls the wet dollar bill out of his whiskey, and hands it back to Conway.



goto end

listen-2

The young man whistles hoarsely, stops playing the guitar, then looks up at Conway. He rambles for a few minutes about the weather, the dog, and his music, then returns to playing.

As he walks back to his truck, Conway finds that he can hardly remember a word the young man spoke.



goto end

pet-dog

The dog closes its eyes and pretends to be asleep.



goto listen

intro

A sign in front of the building just reads "Museum." The lights are off, but the front door is open.



: Enter the museum. (enter-museum)
: Drive away. (end)

enter-museum

A few feet inside the museum doors, the ambient sound of the highway drops sharply away. The room is cold, dark, and still.



museum-entrance-hub

A book lies open on a table in the center of the room.

An open hallway extends to the left. {if}[overworld-museum-broke-glass]The path ahead is strewn with broken glass.{end}{if}[!overworld-museum-broke-glass]Large glass doors bar the path ahead.{end}



museum-entrance-options



: Walk to the hallway. (hall-of-wounds)
: Walk through the glass doors. (hall-of-glass) [if !overworld-museum-broke-glass]
: Walk through the glass doors. (hall-of-glass-2) [if overworld-museum-broke-glass]
: Look at the book. (read-entryway-book)
: Exit the museum. (exit-museum)

read-entryway-book

There's no title on the book's spine or cover. A three-word phrase written in pencil on the first page is smudged and indecipherable.

On the first page, someone has left an ink drawing of a horse. Several dozen blank pages later, at the end of the book, is an elaborate ink drawing of a one-legged man working an antique adding machine, surrounded by whiskey bottles.



hall-of-wounds

Conway's steps echo against the hallway's marble floor and arched ceilings. Plexiglass boxes line the walls. The hallway dead-ends on a darkened display case.



hall-of-wounds-options



: Look at the boxes on the walls. (hall-of-wounds-boxes)
: Look at the darkened display case. (hall-of-wounds-display-case)
: Return to the entrance. (museum-entrance-hub)

hall-of-wounds-boxes

The first box, just a few feet into the hall, contains an assortment of bird wings. Some are missing feathers. One large, brightly-colored wing almost glows in the moonlight. Its feathers are intact, but a piece of bone pokes awkwardly out from the tip.



hall-of-wounds-display-case

The display case is several yards wide, but just a few feet off the ground. It's unlit, and back in this corner of the darkened museum very little moonlight creeps in. A gold-plated plaque on the surface of the case is a bit easier to read. It recounts a short history of fowl hunting in the region and then speculates, abruptly, about the nature of addiction.



hall-of-glass

The glass doors won't budge. To apply any more force would likely break them.



: Force through the doors. (hall-of-glass-force)
: Return to the entrance. (museum-entrance-hub)

hall-of-glass-force

The glass shatters. Somewhere ahead, a light switches on. After a moment, it switches off. The room is dark again, and the floor is covered in broken glass.



hall-of-glass-2

Broken glass grinds under Conway's boots as he walks down the hall. He has the feeling of being in a larger space. Very little light reaches the far end of the hallway.



hall-of-glass-options



: Feel the walls. (hall-of-glass-feel-walls) [if !joseph-talked-about-museum]
: Feel the walls. (hall-of-glass-feel-walls-archive) [if joseph-talked-about-museum]
: Feel the floor. (hall-of-glass-feel-floor)
: Return to the entrance. (museum-entrance-hub)

hall-of-glass-feel-walls

The walls are completely smooth, and strangely warm. Conway can feel his breath and sweat condensing on the surface.



hall-of-glass-feel-walls-archive

The walls are completely smooth, and strangely warm. Conway can feel his breath and sweat condensing on the surface.

No, they're not completely smooth. One wall is a bit more tacky, like it's bleeding a bit in the heat. Conway presses gently, and the door swings open.



goto archives

hall-of-glass-feel-floor

The floor is completely smooth, and strangely warm. Conway can feel his breath and sweat condensing on the surface.



archives

Rows of filing cabinets line the walls. The room is lit intermittently by a quivering fluorescent bulb.



: Open the first cabinet. (archives-cabinet-one)
: Leave the room. (hall-of-glass-2)

archives-cabinet-one

The label on the cabinet reads: *Artifice — Failure* It contains several articles, CD-ROMs, prints, and punchcards. Each is stuffed in a large yellow envelope and labeled, for example: `Queue`. Lavelle, 2010. `Portal`. Fregger, 1986. `Mondo Medicals`. Soderstrom, 2007 `The Postman's Choice`. Vautier, 1967.



: Open the next cabinet. (archives-cabinet-two)
: Leave the room. (hall-of-glass-2)

archives-cabinet-two

The label on the cabinet reads: *Generosity — Loneliness* It contains several articles, CD-ROMs, prints, and punchcards. Each is stuffed in a large yellow envelope and labeled, for example: `Calamity Annie`. Anthropy, 2008. `Cart Life`. Hofmeier, 2011. `Mainichi`. Brice, 2012 `The Sea Will Claim Everything`. Kyratzes, 2012.



: Open the previous cabinet. (archives-cabinet-one)
: Open the next cabinet. (archives-cabinet-three)
: Leave the room. (hall-of-glass-2)

archives-cabinet-three

The label on the cabinet reads: *Memory — Regret* It contains several articles, CD-ROMs, prints, and punchcards. Each is stuffed in a large yellow envelope and labeled, for example: `Everything I Do is Art, But Nothing I Do Makes Any Difference, Part II Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gallery`. Reilly, 2006. `Digital: A Love Story`. Love, 2010. `Radiator 1-1: Polaris`. Yang, 2009. `Brace`. Kopas, 2012. `The Cat and the Coup`. Brinson/ValaNejad, 2011.



: Open the previous cabinet. (archives-cabinet-two)
: Open the next cabinet. (archives-cabinet-four)
: Leave the room. (hall-of-glass-2)

archives-cabinet-four

The label on the cabinet reads: *Sorrow — *|Zero|*-Sum* It contains several articles, CD-ROMs, prints, and punchcards. Each is stuffed in a large yellow envelope and labeled, for example: `Syberia`. Sokal, 2002. `Prisoner's Dilemma`. Serra, 1974. `The Walking Dead`. TellTale, 2012. `If I Had My Way, I'd Tear the Building Down`. Wheatree, 1985.



: Open the previous cabinet. (archives-cabinet-three)
: Examine "If I Had My Way, I'd Tear the Building Down." (archives-examine-joseph-game)
: Leave the room. (hall-of-glass-2)

archives-examine-joseph-game

A few hundred sheets of paper are roughly stitched together in this manuscript. It seems to be a videogame written in a sort of awkwardly English-like code.

Flipping through the pages, Conway is able to gather that it's a story about three characters: Joseph, Donald, and Lula. It's something like a tragic love triangle, but much more complex. Some kind of tangled, painfully concave love polygon.



exit-museum



goto intro

intro

Conway and Shannon pull into the bait shop parking lot.



goto exterior

exterior

Vaulted above the road on a thin steel bar, a handwritten sign reads "LIVE BAIT. MINNOWS SMALL AND ALSO LARGE FOR STRIPERS. NIGHTCRAWLERS. CHIPS AND BEER." A green flyer hangs loosely from a bit of masking tape at eye-level.

To the shop's right, a dirt parking lot sprawls unevenly into grass and then eventually trees.

The bait shop is closed.



: Enter the side door to Shannon's workshop. (workshop-entrance)
: Drive away. (end)

workshop-entrance

The walls are lined with cheap metal shelves, loaded precariously with vacuum tubes, awkwardly-shaped metal casings, and coffee cans full of electronic components.

Shannon leads Conway to the back of the room, where a few TV sets in various states of dissassembly are set up on a rough wooden table. She flips the switch on the power strip they're all plugged into, and the TV sets tremble to life.



workshop-entrance-options



: Watch the TV sets. (watch-tv)
: Ask Shannon about Weaver. (ask-about-weaver)
: Leave the workshop. (exterior)

watch-tv

A ghostly white wobble flickers along one screen in a rhythmic pattern. Another is just snow. A third — a small security monitor in the middle of the table — is oscillating between different shades of black.



ask-about-weaver

Shannon points to a small security monitor on the table. The image on the screen is just black, but it seems to be fading slowly — almost imperceptibly — between different shades of black.

Shannon tweaks a few knobs on the side of the monitor, but the picture doesn't change.



: Stare at the security monitor. (stare-at-monitor)
: Leave the workshop. (exterior)

stare-at-monitor

The screen is a cavernous black. It hums and swells at the pace of the tide. Conway loses track of the workshop's walls — they could be inches away, or miles. He is adrift on black water, traveling swiftly toward a rocky shore. There should be a lighthouse or a buoy by these rocks — it's too dangerous.

Shannon switches off the power strip. Weaver is not here.



goto end

intro

weaver: That's not how it's supposed to look. You've made a mistake setting it up. Is it a foreign object to you? Which of your parents was it who wouldn't allow you to watch television?



conway: Ma thought she heard ghosts in the static. (after-tv-setup-ma)
conway: Dad thought it was radioactive. (after-tv-setup-dad)
conway: I know how to set up a TV. (after-tv-setup-none)

after-tv-setup-ma

weaver: I know about that. She was ill, wasn't she? Mentally, I mean. Kind of distant, fearful?



conway: Fearful, yeah. That's a way to put it. (parent-paranoid)
conway: No, things just had to be a certain way. (parent-obsessive)
conway: No, just expressive. (parent-artist)

after-tv-setup-dad

weaver: I know about that. He was ill, wasn't he? Mentally, I mean. Kind of cautious, timid?



conway: Cautious, yeah. That's a way to put it. (parent-paranoid)
conway: No, things just had to be a certain way. (parent-obsessive)
conway: No, just expressive. (parent-artist)

parent-paranoid

parent-obsessive

parent-artist

after-tv-setup-none

weaver: OK. I'm skeptical.



after-tv-setup-look-at-tv

weaver: You have it all backwards. I'm not surprised; are you? Have you been paying attention? I don't think you have.

weaver: It's time to start paying attention now, Conway. Look closely at the television.



goto end

intro

weaver: I was just thinking what a lovely house we have. Do you like it? Have you been here before? Did you happen to see an owl?



conway: Sure, it's a nice house. (intro-nice-house)
conway: No, I've never been here before. (intro-never-been-here)
conway: I didn't see any owl. (intro-no-owl)

intro-nice-house

weaver: I know. I like the large beams that run across the ceilings. I like to sit in the house and think of the hills and bluffs surrounding us, like a ... like a cradle.



intro-never-been-here

weaver: I know. It must seem very strange to you. I was here when this house was built, so it's never been strange to me.



intro-no-owl

weaver: I know. I saw it out the window once. Big, ugly thing. All sound and fury. Well, it's gone now.



intro-what-do-you-do

weaver: There used to be another house here. But we had it destroyed. And we built this one. It was very expensive and we got quite under water.

weaver: What do you do for work? Is it too difficult or do you like it very much? I was once a mathematician. Are you looking for something in particular here?



conway: I drive deliveries for a small antique shop. (intro-deliveries)
conway: It's better than being in a ditch. (intro-in-a-ditch)
conway: I'm looking for the |Zero|. (intro-the-zero)

intro-deliveries

weaver: I believe it's hard times for a small antique shop. It's hard times everywhere, even out here on our little farm. My parents stopped paying the bank a while back. I shouldn't even be here. But I just stayed.



intro-in-a-ditch

weaver: Yes. Just about anything is better than being in a hole in the ground. That's why I stay here.



intro-stay-here

weaver: I have some notebooks. I'm only a little bored. I might prefer to watch TV occasionally.



conway: Joseph says you're too smart to watch TV. (intro-too-smart)
conway: Actually, I have a TV here that I think belongs to you. (intro-return-tv)

intro-the-zero

weaver: Oh, you're lost. And that old blind man sent you, is that right? Of course he did. He's nice. Did he say anything nice about me? Did he send along a gift?



conway: He said you were too smart to watch TV. (intro-too-smart)
conway: He asked me to return this TV set of yours. (intro-return-tv)

intro-too-smart

weaver: That was a nice thing to say. But he was wrong. I'm not as smart as I used to be. Well, actually ... I suppose I am as smart as I used to be, but never any smarter. I don't learn anything new anymore. I write some figures, but nothing radical.

weaver: I'll bet he sent that old TV along with you, didn't he? Of course he did. That was clever of him.



intro-return-tv

weaver: Will you please set it up? Then I can explain to you how to get where you're going. The |Zero|. I know.



goto end

intro

weaver: Hey. Hey, wake up. You spaced out for a minute there.



conway: The picture on the TV ... (weaver-complains-about-tv)
conway: What do you keep out in that barn? (whats-in-barn)

weaver-complains-about-tv

weaver: That TV is picking up the wrong signal. My cousin Shannon would know more about it. She fixes TVs for a living. Well, she used to ... I think the new models are giving her some trouble.



conway: So ... I really just need to get to the |Zero|. (the-zero)
conway: Your cousin? (cousin)

cousin

weaver: That's my father's brother's daughter, Shannon. We're about the same age. Well, we used to be. She's older now.

weaver: She has a workshop up north a ways, by the lake. Right where Peonia and Wax road meet. It's a big bait and tackle shop, and she fixes TVs in the back. Do you like fishing?



goto the-zero

whats-in-barn

weaver: Used to be tools and feed. Then books. Now, I think it's mostly spiders.



the-zero

weaver: Honestly, I'm not convinced you should bother with the |Zero|; I'd much rather you find my cousin and fix my TV. But I'll get you headed the right way.

weaver: So, it's pretty easy: get back on sixty-five heading north, then take the first right after the artificial limb factory. From there, your arrival at the |Zero| is basically inevitable.

weaver: Nice to know you, Conway. Keep your eyes open. Especially in the dark!



goto end