Journey through Nowhereland: a choose-your-story (Ch. 1)
This is Chapter One of a series. It’s recommended you remember and/or keep track of each decision you make, as they will likely come into play in future chapters.
Disclaimer: You are a character in this story - your name is Jude. Your version of Jude looks like you do in your life, only much more apocalypse-worn. Your Jude can be whatever gender and use whatever pronouns you prefer.
Welcome. You are about to enter a post-apocalyptic world and wander on a journey through cities and forests full of wonder and danger. Be ready with your writing materials. Be prepared to interact with characters, utilize survival skills, and make sacrifices that will alter the course of your life.
Your name is Jude. You are fifteen years old.
There’s a pounding in your head. You can’t see anything, but you can hear the tap tap of something dripping. You start to move and feel your muscles straining from the stiffness that has settled. One of your shoulders weighs you down with soreness. With some effort, you open your eyes that have been stuck closed with sleep. Light burns your vision as you adjust to the room around you. You sit up and witness the sky above your head, the greyness around you. You’re in a building, but a large piece of the ceiling above you has fallen away. Cement pillars ridden with cracks and vines and sprinkled throughout the strange empty building hold up the rest of the dilapidated concrete. You push yourself off the ground with your good arm, the throbbing in your left shoulder still unrelenting.
The building you find yourself in looks like something of a parking lot, though it could be anything considering the unrecognizable state it’s in. Darkness creeps in from every corner. It looks like the only light is coming from the hole above you. There’s a pillar near the opening, covered in dried ivy vines. You walk over to it, gripping the vines with both hands and pulling. They seem firm enough to climb, but as you pull, your shoulder pinches and your arm shakes. You look back around yourself. It’s either risk your arm giving out, resulting in a fall onto crumbling cement, or journey into a darkness that may not even have an exit.
a) Venture into the darkness, risking encounters with hidden dangers
b) Try to climb the pillar onto the roof, risking a potentially fatal fall onto the cement below
If a, read section A. If b, skip section A and read section B.
You take a breath and turn toward the darkness that surrounds you. You can’t even tell which direction you woke up facing. You do a slow spin, checking to see if there’s anywhere that you can go that looks at least remotely illuminated. There is none. You begin to walk, the ground beneath you crunching with each step. You begin to fall into rhythm with your footsteps.
Just as you begin to relax, you hear something of a hiss to your left. You freeze. You slowly turn your head, but in the darkness, there’s nothing to glue your eyes to. You pick up the pace, trying to keep quiet. Another hiss, the same distance from you. It’s moving with you. You begin to run. You can hear it running with you.
Just as you begin to familiarize yourself with the certainty of your own death, you see a light in the distance. You run even faster. The sound of the foreign footsteps disappears, but you don’t stop. The light becomes a doorway. Two metal door frames mark the exit. Careful to avoid the broken glass lining the frames, you step into the sunlight and have to shield your eyes as they adjust to the violent heat. You inhale deeply, trying to catch your breath. You turn around and look back into the darkness; whatever that creature was is nowhere to be seen.
Skip to section 2.
You shake out your limbs, rolling your shoulders and trying to ignore the ache that allows fear to settle in your stomach. You give another hard tug on the vines that wrap around the pillar. They won’t fall, you’re only worried that you will.
You hoist yourself up and manage to get a foothold. Your fear starts to fade away. This isn’t so bad. You reach up your right arm, then your left, then your feet again. You’re halfway there already. Again, you grab a vine and try to hoist yourself further up. It gives out.
As you drop, one of your feet loses its grip on the vines. You cry out. Your heart catches in your throat. Replacing your foot and pulling yourself closer to the pillar, you decide to rely only on your good arm. As quick as your tired muscles will allow, you pull yourself as close to the pillar as possible and let your right hand leap up and catch on vines further above you before you have a chance to fall back. You take two steps. Then, again, another jump with your hand. Your arm is getting tired. You step up. One more. You reach up as far as possible with your right arm. You catch a vine. You take two more steps, and now you can reach over the ledge. This time you allow your left arm to help, and with nothing to grab onto, you press your palms and forearms hard against the cement of the structure’s roof. You kick against vines and stale air as you hoist yourself over. Finally, your knees make it over the ledge and you let out a long sigh as you roll over, and lay flat, your eyes to the sky, squinting against the brightness of the day.
After a few minutes, you push yourself off the ground and walk around the perimeter of the roof. The sight is horrifying, and beautiful. The cityscape is standing strong, not much is crumbled. Some structures are charred, most have broken windows, but even in its isolation it resembles an ecosystem.
After scanning the horizon with your eyes once more, you peel yourself away and start to look for a way down. There’s a short concrete railing along the perimeter except for in one corner, where the hinges of a metal gate mark an opening. You peer over, and see a precarious flight of metal stairs leading to the ground. You take a step onto the first platform. It sways, but it won’t fall. You trek down the steps.
Read on (section 2).