Sunday, September 9, 2012
Choose Or Die is created by a bunch of scribblers who loved choose your own adventures when they were younger. Desperately unhappy about the sucky outcomes they were always landed, they decided that the power of choice needed to be handed back to the audience, and in this space, a different writer will continue the story along. A truly interactive storytelling experience where the readers actually do get to choose the fate of the main character. Season 4 looks at an Eco Apocalypse. I was invited to write one of the choices from Chapter 1 - italics will indicate a summary of the previous chapter.
Early in your career as a brilliant scientist you created a revolutionary Eco-Waste Control product which has been installed in a large percentage of home across the globe. As the figure-head CEO of one of the most prosperous companies, you spend most of your retirement recovering from wild parties or glued to your virtual games, completely unaware that your invention has had disastrous side effects.
Picketers have over run your mansion and an emergency board meeting has been called.
Your boardroom is filled with panicking blamestormers with tempers rising. Your Vice President, Milo, is finding it hard to take it seriously.
You pound the highly polished table for emphasis. Bickering halts as all eyes turns toward you. “Listen up here, you bunch of sissies. You get paid the big bucks to react to shit like this. Do your freaking job. It can’t be as bad as the media is pretending it is. The reports I am hearing is ridiculous.”
Milo bites his hand to stifle a giggle. The stress has obviously gotten to him. You glare at him. You’ve been in the boardroom a handful of times, but this is the first time you’ve spoken in front of the senior staff. You are determined to come across as masterful and in control of the situation; despite having no clue what is actually going on.
“Where the hell is the Marketing team?”
A manicured hand shoots up in the back. “Maria Britanny, Marketing.”
You point at her. “Get a spin on this; blame the Chinese for their poor work practices and child labor factories. India can’t withdraw their contract. Remind them that most of the online and phone support from a large proportion of tech companies are routed to them, and they will lose billions if they do withdraw. Korea has problems with its whole weirdo government and hairstyles. Do something with that, will you?”
“Uh, the hairstyles of the government?” Someone clears his throat. “Are you talking about North Korea?”
“What?” You bluster. “Aren’t they the same place? North, South, not that different surely?”
The boardroom shuffles uncomfortably as a dozen sets of eyes bore into the table in front of them.
“What about Sweden?” quavers a question from the sides.
“I hate them because they all look so damned healthy and happy outdoors.” You puff your chest out, filled with an unnatural confidence. You feel like J.R. from the old Dallas show.
Paul Poppins from Public Relations glares across the table at the head of Marketing. “I think you’ll find that Public Relations will do a better job at negotiating those areas, rather than the gloss and pomp department.”
A shriek cuts the air as Maria’s manicured hands find their way around Paul’s throat.
“I don’t give a rats ass who does it. Make it so.” You look off into the distance, wishing you’d mentioned ‘Number Two’ or tried for a better Pickard voice.
Todd Brammers taps on his iPad, darkening the room and illuminating the wide expanse of one of the walls. You wish he would use up to date equipment. He projects several channels of live news reports into spots around the wall. Images of tattered humanoids stumble across the wall. Wide-eyed reporters breathlessly relate to their audiences what they are experiencing—that is, until the shit-covered masses reach the TV crew and the camera is dropped, the operator is dragged away or fled. Real life re-enactments of the Blair Witch Project are relayed on multiple screens. Screams are cut off into gurgling, pathetic drowning sounds. You gulp realising for the first time that something has gone terribly wrong with your invention.
“There is no way of making this go away with marketing OR public relations. Environaut is the cause for all of this. We need to shut down immediately and regroup under Chapter 11.” Todd firmly punches in a series of codes, bringing up spreadsheets and financial documents. The rest of the board stare, nodding and grunting at each other. You’ve no idea what the charts mean. You push your hands through your hair. You realise you don’t even know what Chapter 11 is.
“Fine!” You yell. “ Do the Chapter 11 thing. Shut down production—but I still want my spin happening.” You cling to the J.R. image.
“Will you be coming with us then?” Scott Black, the Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, asks you.
“What? Me? No, Milo and I need to check out the Flux Capacitors and gamma reactors in the proton isolators in the Environaut prototype. Science geek stuff. You know.”
Nods from around the room confirm that none of them understand what that means, but they are all relieved that they have a plan to execute without the CEO breathing down their necks.
“Come on Milo, we need to go.” You grab Milo's coat jacket and shove him through the door.
He explodes with laughter. “What the hell was that in there? Flux capacitors? And you know you still have shit on your forehead from this morning.”
You wipe it off. “If you’re not with me, go back to the boardroom and do whatever Chapter 11 is,” you fume. “This shit has gotten serious. I can’t understand what’s come unraveled and how it's happened so quickly.” You both stride toward the exit.
“So what's the plan, Kimo Sabe?”
“Just start driving. I do my best thinking when I'm on the road.” Your mind is rattling off possibilities, reformulating the plans of the Environaut. “ I think this calls for a drive in the DeLorean.”
Milo clutches your arm, stopping your train of thought. “You mean that thing actually goes?”
You grin. “The amount of money I paid for it, I’ve been guaranteed its an authentic working model.” You stride ahead.
You and Milo climb into the car and exit the carpark. The outer perimeter of the security fence surrounding the Smart EcoGen HQ is slowly filling with picketers. You drive out as quickly as you can, hoping they won't notice you.
“It can’t be the recycling processors,” you mumble.”That had been tested for years in the earlier versions.” You steer the car onto the freeway and headed south. If nothing else, a trip to Mexico would clear the mind.
“What does this thing do?” Milo pokes a covered switch.
“Surely the diagnostic console didn’t reboot after the—”
“Hey, if I push this, will anything happen?” Milo doesn't wait for an answer and pushes the red, candy-like button. The DeLorean accelerates suddenly. The speedometer slowly creeps up to 88 miles per hour.
“Did you say something about a Flux Capacitor?” Milo grins. ‘Don’t thank me now. Let's go back in time and fix this mess. Then you can shower me with gifts and double my salary.”
The body of the car begins to shake as the inside glows blue. You take your hands off the wheel. You paid a mint for the car, and the previous owner stressed its authenticity. You grin, suddenly thinking of all the dumbass things you are going to fix up on your trip back in time. You decide you will scrap the Environaut and introduce either the Wii or Xbox to the market years before the original developers have a whiff of an idea of the gaming platforms. Hell, you may decide to do both.
Dials on the dashboard spin. “Shit. We need to set a date. Let's set it for when we met at college, convince ourselves not to bother and —”
“Just set the date, idiot. We are nearly at 88 miles per hour.”
“And running out of clear road.” The freeway ends, and you enter suburbia.
The speedometer slowly creeps around as the car surges forward. Tiny blue lights flash within the cabin. You cover your eyes. “It's 88 miles an hour. So long present day. You suck!”
The Delorean slams into the wall of a low set apartment block. Glass splinters as the steering wheel drives its way through your chest. Your ribs shatter as your lungs burst from the sudden impact. Your neck whips back and forth, breaking in the process. It flops to the side as blood seeps out of your nose and mouth. Milo’s body is ripped apart from the impact. Gore hangs in tendrils in what is left of the Delorean.
You seriously didn’t think a flux capacitor exists, did you? Go back to the start and try again.
If you’d like to continue reading this adventure ( on a winning streak) and be part of the decision process, chapters are still being written - so please pop over to Choose Or Die, read the story so far and vote for your favourite option.