You arrive at a crossroads. Dark clouds gather overhead, casting deep shadows. A low mist rolls over the moors that surround you to the East, South and North. To the West, the road leads up to a wind-battered inn. A wisp of smoke escapes the chimney and swirls into the fog.
In the East, over the marshes, a faint light flickers.
To enter the inn, go to 207.
To follow the light, go to 91.

The path twists and winds, avoiding invisible dangers. The light shimmers, more distant now. You are too slow.
Return to the crossroads? Go to 56.
Try and go on? Go to 314.

An old man emerges from the darkness. He carries a misshapen bundle which twitches and cries anxiously. “Do not follow the light”, he says. “That way madness lies.”
To ask about the bundle, go to 67.
To find out more about the light, go to 3.
Ignore the man and resume your chase: go to 202.

You are alone in the dark. The light has faded into the gloom. It is too dark to turn back; you will have to make your camp here.
Go to 159.

Your sleep is feverish and cold, filled with nightmares.
Suddenly, there is warmth. You sense a blue glow around you. You do not open your eyes. A small, hot hand rests on your cheek for a moment. Your dreams light up with alien beauty you will never describe.
You wake up.
A flickering light is speeding away across the marshes.

To follow the light, go to 12.

12 thoughts on “Follow”

  1. Me like!
    I dig the choose your own adventure-y-ness, and really dig the looping.
    I get very spooky vibes – cool.
    Also like the pressing on I will go there thingy.

  2. Really enjoyed it. Fun and clever. What a great romance, an only-dreamt of glow always just of of reach.

    Best Bits:
    Whole idea and the frustrated meme that the reader has control of the plot
    Second person present tense – brave and brilliant and works here for me.
    Like the use of the game-book style in the first paragraph (directions, lists and short declarative sentences)
    Like the ending paragraph the most but…

    Possible improvements:
    imho the last paragraph is slightly over-played, the best of it is brilliant on it’s own:
    Suddenly, there is warmth. You do not open your eyes. A small, hot hand rests on your cheek for a moment.
    You wake up.

    1. Thank you!
      You are right about the end – shorter works better. I felt there had to be a whole world in there for the endless chase to be worth it, but just chasing after that one touch – that’s perfect.

  3. oooh, cute. Spot-on piece of writing – the Choose Your Own adventure thing could be gimmicky, but the circularity and the restraint of the writing rise it right above that. I really liked this. Witty, punchy.

    And, sorry, didn’t mean to rip off the second person bit in mine, it’s how I started it a week ago :>.

  4. This was very clever, funny and creepy. I disagree with elementalsystems. I really liked the sentence that he leaves out: your dreams light up with alien beauty…
    To me it adds an otherness that enhances the mood of the piece, and then to have the loop is a wonderful thing to experience.

    1. Basically, with the dreams sentence, it is a happier story: there is a good reason to keep chasing after the light.

      You take it out, and it becomes a much darker thing: a constant chase without reward, constant promise, no payoff…

      It does occur to me that you and elementalsystems would prefer the different versions, in fact it’s really telling :)

  5. I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid. Was great
    seeing you play with the style. I also enjoy the circularity of it
    (have you ever read Gödel, Escher, Bach?). I thought the writing style
    was simple and evocative. I like it a lot.

    Best image for me: “Your dreams light up with alien beauty you will
    never describe.”

  6. Mmmm, railroading. I wanted to go to the inn! Actually, I think the win, here, is that some of the side roads are as enticing as the ones we’re already following, like the old geezer with his twitching package. Errm, you know what I mean.

    Also liked the circularity of it. A little Zen.

    1. Ah, but that’s the trick! You want to go somewhere else, but you are compelled to follow…

      That and the circularity make it this neat little forever trap. Om nom nom. :)

  7. Brilliant idea. Very nostalgic for Choose Your Own Adventure readers. It’s like the adult version there of. I enjoyed the dream like quality to it as well, inspires lovely dark imagery in my head :)

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