"Alright boys and girls, we're cleaning house! Grab your shit and get! You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!"\n\nThe voice is harsh and loud, wrenching you away from your dream and back to the cold world under the overpass. You look up and two uniformed city cops are rapping one of the lean-tos with a night stick while a third cop takes a leak in the bushes. One of them spots you.\n\n"You hear what I said, boy? Take your little party somewhere else, before my friends and I decide you're resisting arrest."\n\nThe cops laugh, or rather two of them do while the third continues to pretend to pee while trying to think of a way out of this duty. But you do as you're told. You pick yourself up and find your way back to [[the street]].
"Cherry Creek" written by Shawn Trautman \nVisit the author at <html><a href="http://www.discovergames.tumblr.com/">his blog</a></html> or on Twitter <html><a href="http://twitter.com/smtrautman/">on Twitter</a></html>\n\n
You stand tall. Chiseled, tight, and full of power. You raise your hand and with it your gleaming sword, thrusting high into the crisp air. Through your efforts, the Horde has been pushed back, and the land is safe from harm once again.\n\nSomewhere inside, you know you're [[dreaming]].
Since you've been sleeping, it has started to snow. Wet, heavy clumps fall on your head, into your shoes, and under your collar. The storm has been going on for a while, and it doesn't look to stop anytime soon. You look down at your worn coffee cup. It's just a paper cup, torn and crinkled, but it gets you free refills at the 7-11, so you've held onto it for eight months now.\n\nYou drop it in the accumulating snow. A warm cup of coffee sounds good, but the dream is all that matters now. You won't have use for that cup anymore. You know what to do, where to go where no one will bother you. You decide to go to [[Cherry Creek]], to finish the story once and for all.
It's difficult to see through the haze, but deep down you see no reason to wake up. In the back of your mind there is a vague but insistent desire to remain in the land of dreams. What you hope to find there or escape from in the real world is unclear, but you know the dream is where you want to be. You put aside any doubts and [[attempt]] to go deeper into the world of swords and heroics.\n
Suddenly, the cold wet mud on your back is replaced by hard rock. You are crouched down, breathing heavily, waiting. With your back against a large boulder, you begin to hear what has made you hide. Gradually, a rumble grows in the distance, coming swiftly closer. Soon, the sound is identifiable as a single, massive set of stamping hooves.\n\nYou hazard a glance around the boulder and spy your quarry - a two-headed centaur, three stories tall, bounds towards you. Its brindle fur and jagged scars make it easily recognizable as the one you've been looking for. It hasn't spotted you yet, but your scent is clearly heavy in the creature's lungs. It covers the ground between you quickly, gracefully, but not effortlessly. The beast's muscles and veins pop and tear in frenzied pursuit.\n\nFinally, it nears your position. You've observed the creature and know its behavior - it will leap over the rock between you. You can either thrust a [[sword]] into its belly as it leaps or wait until it passes and shoot an [[arrow]] through its heart.
You trudge over the brambles and old tires towards the interstate overpass. \n\nIt's been a while since you ventured down here. It seems to have gotten worse since you last came. There are three cardboard lean-tos and one honest-to-goodness tent, and that's about it. There are a few people milling around, but no one you recognize. Someone's getting a blowjob behind the pillar.\n\nIt's wetter and colder than you remember it, but from the looks of the graffiti, the cops haven't bothered with this place in a long time. Perfect, then; time to go [[back to sleep]]...
You grab your belongings, a large dusty backpack and coffee cup, and drag yourself towards the shelter, several blocks away. You get all the way to the front door before you remember they don't open up until dark. From the looks of it, you've got several hours to go before then.\n\n"Great," you think. "I just want to find somewhere to lay down and get back to sleep. That dream was really starting to get good." You could go to [[the library]] to warm up for a while, or see what's happening at the [[I-25 overpass]].
You grab your belongings, a large dusty backpack and coffee cup, and drag yourself towards the park. It must be Saturday, because even with the cold, the park is packed. People are buzzing around everywhere - it's going to be tough to find a safe space to lie down. You might be able to get away with curling up behind those [[bushes]] or maybe you should see what's happening at the [[I-25 overpass]].
You leave the park and get back out onto the street. You stop a moment and suddenly realize just how tired you are. You look around for a good place to rest and they all seem so far away. Still, once you get somewhere you can take a load off and that's motivation enough to keep going.\n\nYou figure [[the library]], [[the shelter]] and the [[I-25 overpass]] are all decent options to try next.
The sun is briefly blacked out as the giant centaur leaps over your hiding place. Seemingly in slow motion, you watch it fly over your head, first the vicious cloven hooves, followed by the smooth, soft belly.\n\nSeeing your chance, you take your sword in both hands and thrust upward with all your might. The creature's belly swallows your sword to the hilt and takes it from your hands, as the beast finishes its vault. It manages two or three more strides before the cold steel completes its work.\n\nThe great beast falters, shudders, and finally [[collapses in a heap]].
Cherry Creek
"Hey, buddy."\n\nYour consciousness returns slowly, unevenly. You become aware of your senses one at a time, and sensations begin crashing in on you.\n\nFirst is the light, at once burning and frozen, seeping through and around your tightly shut eyelids. Next is cold. A bitter, wet cold cuts through every inch of your clothing and skin and works its way deep into your bone marrow.\n\n"Hey pal, can you hear me? What are you doing here?"\n\nThere is a man standing over you, poking you with his boot. You respond:\n[["I'm just sleeping."|I'm just sleeping]]\n[["I don't know."|I don't know]]
Your eyes meet, and the cheering crowd falls away. There is only her. It has been too long and you are too exhausted to try to hide your enthusiasm. You begin to brush aside well-wishers, gently at first and then more aggressively. Your Rebecca is still feet, miles, leagues away and the crowd is suffocating.\n\nFinally you push through and there she is. You stop rushing now, and walk slowly towards her, taking in every atom of the scene. Her long dark hair swirls gently in the breeze. Her big brown eyes smolder and spark. A relieved and bemused smile plays at the corners of her mouth. \n\nShe reaches out and puts her hands to your cheeks, holding your head, and you feel as comforted and safe as a child. You place your hands, first one and then the other, on her waist. Your eyes lock...you lean in...[[and]]...
You walk over to the heaving, bleeding pile of flesh that was only seconds ago a grave threat and watch it dying. Much like the Goblin Vizier, it is clearly in pain and beyond help. Unlike the Goblin Vizier, you will not give the centaur the courtesy of a quick death. \n\nThe Vizier fought bravely and with a certain kind of honor. The centaur spent weeks waiting for children and the infirm to get separated outside of the village and caved in their skulls with its massive hooves. This beast does not deserve your mercy or another moment of your time.\n\nWith the threat finally stopped, you clean your weapons and head back to [[the village]].
Slowly you feel the warmth return to your body. You're no longer bent, broken and hunched. You stand tall and proud. Rebecca's hands once again frame your handsome face. Your hands again grasp her supple waist. The crowds chant your name as your love gazes deeply into your eyes.\n\nYou finally lean in for that long-awaited kiss. As your lips touch hers, chills wrack your body, and your knees weaken. As you try to contain and comprehend the feelings rushing through you, your brain's synapses fire and misfire and colored explosions burst into your eyes.\n\nYou are overcome with the beauty of the moment, and your heart threatens to burst. You melt into your lover's arms, losing yourself as you become a part of her. Her warmth and light and love envelop you completely. You are safe. You are loved. You are free.\n\n[[The End]]
You again raise your sword high. On the ground below you lies the Goblin Vizier, mortally wounded and writhing in pain. You set your feet, stiffen your sinews and prepare to land a final, merciful blow - when suddenly you are [[struck]].
You find a dry spot behind some bushes, make sure no one is watching, and throw your backpack on the ground. As you begin to lower yourself to the ground you hear a woman nearby shout "Unh-uh! No way, buster! You're not going to do...whatever you're doing there in front of my kids. You get out of here this instant or so help me I will call the police!"\n\nYou resignedly grab your things and stand back up. Do you [[look back]] to see the shouting woman or just [[move on]]?
"What do you mean you don't know?! You often find yourself passed out in public spaces with no idea how you got there? What, are you tweaking or something?"\n\n"No," you reply, [["I'm just sleeping."|I'm just sleeping]]
You look back at the woman, still quietly but forcefully muttering threats at you. She's thin, not overly pretty, but she has a kind face, were it not scrunched up in rage. In another life, she might even have been a friend. But as it stands, she's a twitchy dialing finger away from giving bored sheriff's deputies something to do, so you figure it's time to [[move on]].
You make it to the creek, but the trip has taken its toll. The sun has gone down, the temperature has plummeted, and the snow is well past your shins, making each step a struggle. You feel your energy draining. \n\nYou spy a good spot; a place where no one will be able to see you from the walking trail that runs along the creek. As the cold and exhaustion intensify, it's getting harder and harder to work your fingers, but you manage to pull your backpack off and set it down. It will make a fine pillow.\n\nYou wriggle into place, back against the concrete flood wall, and curl into a compact ball. Your vision has started to blur and contract at the edges, but that doesn't matter now. You place your head on your makeshift pillow and begin drifting away.\n\nThis is it. It has to be. It's time to [[finish]] the story.
The sun is briefly blacked out as the giant centaur leaps over your hiding place. Seemingly in slow motion, you watch its powerful legs vault over you, hit the ground and continue to churn up the dirt. \n\nAlmost immediately, there is a change in the beast's demeanor. It senses your scent fading, and knows it has made a mistake. It quickly changes direction and heads towards you, but you are ready. Ever since the creature leaped, you've had your arrow trained on its heart. The moment it faces you squarely, you let your arrow fly. It whips through the air with terrible speed and hits its target, straight and true.\n\nThe great beast falters, shudders, and finally [[collapses in a heap]].
by Shawn Trautman\n<html><a href="http://www.discovergames.tumblr.com/">Blog</a></html>\n<html><a href="http://twitter.com/smtrautman/">Twitter</a></html>
"Yeah, well you can't stay here. You gotta move on."\n\nYou slowly rise to your elbows, the cold making your first movements difficult, and finally get on your feet.\n\n"I'm serious, get moving. I'm comin' back this way in twenty minutes, and if you're still here, we're gonna have words, understand?"\n\nYou look around bleary-eyed, and try to figure out your next move. You could go to [[the park]] or maybe try [[the shelter]].
As you approach the village, sentries spot you from the gates and blow their trumpets clear and loud. dozens of townspeople come flooding out of their houses towards the gates. They weep in happiness for the end of the centaur threat and long to celebrate you and your victory.\n\nIt is a sea of adoring faces, but you barely register them. You are looking for just one face - one in particular. You crane your neck, your eyes darting over the throng, when finally you see her. [[Rebecca]].
The city's central library is enormous. You start to see its facade from four blocks away. It's seven stories of every book, CD, DVD, newspaper and magazine you could ever think of. But you're not here for that. You're here to wash your face, use the water fountain, and get out of the cold for a while.\n\nYou lower yourself into one of the comfy reading chairs by the big windows, and feel good for the first time since that boot woke you up, whenever that was. You think about closing your eyes to find out what happened to the Goblin Vizier, but you're getting some pretty suspicious looks from the patrons. You just know they're going to interrupt right when things get good, so you dig yourself out of the deep chair and think about where to go next. Might as well try the [[I-25 overpass]].