You open your mouth to sing but start retching, then vomiting up torrential amounts of blood...saturating your white blouse and dowsing your neighbors. \n\nThe music ceases. The crowd murmurs, gasps echo.\n\nYou're doubled over.\n\n[[Eyes, blood-shot...]]\n
[[The number of doors is intimidating|So you open the door]].
"You'll be working with our three counselors and Ozliga, who will escort you home."\n\nIn a snap, the other four Smectoids materialize in a line next to Azala.\n\n[[The Smectoid on the far left|Ardent]] hops forward...\n"My name is Ardent. I specialize in dreams." she says. She bows low before you, then hops back to her place.\n\n[[The next Smectoid over|Amala]] comes forth. She sputters: "I'm Amala...I feel your feelings." And falls back.\n\n[[The second from the right|Amadik]] glorbles: "I'm Amadik. I work with demons...yours."\n\nThen [[the remaining Smectoid|Ozliga]] speaks from her perch: "My name is Ozliga. Pleased to meet you." \n\n"Thank you everyone." says Azala, and she bows low before the other Smectoids. She turns to you. "Now go with [[Ardent|Ardent1]], if you please."\n
[[And close the door behind you]].\n\n
Manners are always at the forefront of your mind so you do not forget them...\n\n"Azala, would you like anything before we go? I have some brownies in the kitchen." You gesture towards the next room.\n\nHer eight eyes soften.\n\n"Not now unfortunately. \n\nShe turns to leave, then [[calls]] for you:\n\n"Come!"\n\nAnd you walk [[out your front door]].\n\n
You're playing your guilty, shit-laden heart out on the piano.\n\nYou feel guilty because, however you may try, you always fail to incorporate some glaring truths--certain other people's feelings for example--into your algorithm for kind action.\n\nJust as you start to play your favorite nocturne you hear [[the doorbell ring|Azala]]. \n\n\n
The instant you take it [[white unconsciousness]] overwhelms you.
<html><IMG SRC=""></html> \n\n[[back|We want to show you that your 'lack of dignity' is no vice]]
"Pardon me Azala, but why did you choose me?"\n\nShe scutters in place, making a full circle to face you. \n\n"You don't know it, but you are the archetypal kind person. \n\n[[We want to show you that your 'lack of dignity' is no vice]], but a symptom of your sensitivity. And in turn, you're going to show humanity how to be truly courteous."\n\n\n
"What are your //dreams//?" asks Alex. Her voice cracks a little with stifled sorrow.\n\nSurprised at her question, you stop to think, and forget to be on your guard. "That's not something I'm used to thinking about. In fact, I don't think that's something anyone is used to thinking about. It's always practicality. That's deeper than it sounds. I mean, to truly be active rather than reactive is not something I'm used to."\n\n"Then how can you know you aren't making a misstep?" she asks with a sudden, few tears. She wrings her hands.\n\nThis is what cuts you, the gentleness, the love. You want to please her.\n\n"Your sensitivity is your strength." says Amala. "She loves you for it. You're not hurting her."\n\nYou feel your sadness for Alex, but you don't let it hinder you. "It's okay to worry about me, but I am taking care of myself, and If I don't go, I will always regret it."\n\nYou take Alex in your arms and let her cry, and as she cries, her corporeal self melts along with her tears. Soon all that is left of her is the salt water on your clothes and on the floor.\n\n[[Amadik|Amadik1]] materializes by your side. And Amala strides gracefully into the white behind you.
You see the familiar view of the outside through your doorframe, but when you place your second foot down on the front stoop a wave of supple black and white tile in checkerboard pattern rolls outward from your footprint, and the world flashes to endless white in all directions.\n\n[[You ask...]]
<html><IMG SRC="\n"></html> \n[[back|We want to show you that your 'lack of dignity' is no vice]]
Suddenly a white door materializes before us.
At that, the hallway goes dark. You hear the doors around you rattle and muffled voices behind them. \n\nYou are overtaken by paranoia that culminates in paralyzing dread.\n\n"What are you afraid of?" asks Amadik in this chaotic blackness.\n\nYou can't speak.\n\n"TELL ME!" commands Amadik.\n\n"It's..."\n\n"What?"\n\n"IT'S..."\n\n"Hmmmmm!?"\n\n"[[THERE ARE TOO MANY OF THEM]]!"
"Don't think of that. [[Approach each person as an individual who loves you]]."
Simultaneously, the noises stop and there is light again.\n\nOzliga is there, while Amadik is no longer. \n\nOzliga slithers round your feet. \n\n"Dear one, it is time for you to go home."\n\nAnd she leads you to the door at the end of the hallway.\n\nShe opens it for you with one eye-tentacle. \n\nBeyond the doorframe you see your living room...the piano. Your painting supplies on the floor. \n\n"Goodbye Ozliga. Tell everyone thank you for me."\n\n[[You step through]].
"Why are you leaving?" he asked you. "You can't answer that question."\n\nThen, as you begin to play, you answer him aloud:\n\n"My friend, I've learned that it's only when people say things like that to me that I lack reasons for what I do. I will miss you."
<html><IMG SRC=""></html> \n[[back|We want to show you that your 'lack of dignity' is no vice]]
Sitting down at the piano, you recall [[a conversation you had with a friend earlier that day]]...\n\n
A brightly-lit hallway with whitewashed walls, the familiar checkerboard floor, and frosty white glass doors. \n\nAmala is with you. Your shirt is unstained.\n\nYou make out that there's a figure standing behind the door to your left.\n\nYou turn to Amala, and she nods. You're afraid, but you're not a confrontational person, generally speaking. [[So you open the door]].\n\n
"Don't run from others' anger." says Amala. "You're afraid of even the possibility of anger. Let yourself interact with others." [[You find that Alex is oblivious to Amala's presence]].\n\n
You approach Ardent. She offers you [[her paw]]. \n\n
There are five known Dweegarian Smectoids. \n\nThey are primeval. \n\nEach chose her own unique [[form|Azala]].\n
moving away
You are still bracing yourself for anger, but [[you ask Alex what it is that has been bothering her and everyone else.]] Though you believe you know full well.
Her massive, fluttering tongue dashes saliva here and there as she talks: "You've done well, friend. BLERG." \n\nYou bow. "Thank you Amadik."\n\nYou look around. "[[What now]]?"\n\n\n
"Hi." There is heaviness in your best friend's voice.\n\n"Hi Alex." you respond softly. Already you feel the guilt setting in. "Do you know Ama-...oh." Amala smiles and shakes her head.\n\n"Do I know what?"\n\n"Nevermind. Um, anyway, how are you?"\n\nShe frowns. "I'm worried about you. We all are." [[She indicates the other doors.]]\n\n[[You look down at the floor]]. \n
[[She can't look over her shoulder at you so she calls extra loudly|come with me]].
You find yourself sitting in the sanctuary of a crowded New England Protestant church.\n\nRed-carpeted aisles, white-washed walls, 15-foot-tall windows. \n\nThe congregants are your friends, family and acquaintances.\n\nThe minister is a hazy cluster of black and red, a figure amorphously wrought. \n\nYou see the protrusions extending from the minister's sides rise a few degrees, and you stand along with the other members of the congregation. \n\n[[The organ starts to play We Would Be One]]. \n\n
When the spell ends and you heave your last, you wipe your mouth with the back of your hand and chuckle a little.\n\nTo the surrounding now silent crowd you say: \n\n"My dear, dear friends...\n\nThis group of people, of which I am a part, could never be 'one.'"\n\n[[And you wake up|Amala1]].
<html><IMG SRC=""></html> \n\n"Hello. My name is Azala. I'm a [[Dweegarian Smectoid from Planet X]]. \n\nI'd be much obliged if you'd [[come with me]]."
<html><IMG SRC="\n"></html> \n[[back|We want to show you that your 'lack of dignity' is no vice]]