(To bring you up to speed, Active Fiction installs text passages in public locations -- typically attached to lamp posts with zap straps -- each advancing a paragraph or so of story and directing readers to the location(s) of further passages nearby in the area that they may choose to visit in order to continue the narrative. The stories tend to run to ~20 passages overall, and their layout does not necessarily follow an optimal path. Because I don't live in the area, I visit in my car and quickly "lawnmower" all of the story passages using my camera, so I can leisurely read my way through the story threads after my little ones are tucked in. This has the side effect of privately preserving the stories for posterity, as they are only posted in public for a limited time! I was initially gung ho about mirroring the stories here for the ages, but the Active Fiction folks have kindly asked me to refrain from such activity, so now I just give you teasers and invite you out into the streets to experience them for yourselves.)
This time around we revisit some familiar territory but with a more magical realist approach. The very day I got wind that the laminated cards were up on the street, I cleared a block of time that afternoon and started plotting out a grid of story nodes, so as to facilitate and expedite my complete collection of the story fragments -- I wanted to be the first to report on it! Sadly, though all of my ducks were in a row, I've been somewhat blogly backlogged, so now everyone will think that I'm just poaching the story from the 24hrs free daily newspaper. Alas!
#1) The sky over the mountains eases from blues to oranges in the hour before twilight. You're worn out from your long day at work waiting for, (another,) late bus. It's too hot this summer and the muggy atmosphere has sweat slicking your body in all the wrong places. You grip your shirt and flap it against your body to create a breeze. It doesn't work. Where is that bus? You ease your tote bag off your shoulder and set it on the sidewalk. Your muscles ache. You're grateful for the presence of transit in the city, but waiting for late busses or watching full busses whizz past at rush hour is painfully frustrating. You crouch by the road. You rub sweat off your forehead with the back of your wrist. The late afternoon sun bakes your feet through your sneakers. Do you:a story node that offers no branching, only redirection to a subsequent node. (Nice shirt, though!) But this does reveal some key players in this little story, the TRASH KINGS cadre of outlaw raccoons whose sinister plots (I love the revelation in node 14!) impact everyone living in the area.
- Keep waiting for the bus? Go to #2) -> Find the streetlamp on John St, just south of 28th Ave
- Give up on the stupid bus and start walking! Go to #3) -> Head down Watson St to corner of 26th Ave.
And that's a wrap for Active Fiction story #3, with hopefully many more to come following their call for submissions a few months ago. The time seems to be ripe for people to leave their houses and bodily engage with hyperfiction: Brett Joliffe has been running a series of "Choose Your Own Adventure" nights at the Astoria Pub, spicing up a monthly night at the bar with games, stories and a nostalgic theme. As having kids has made me instantly decrepit, I haven't made it out to one of them yet, but I'm looking forward to conducting some reconnaissance and reporting back to you, my long-ignored hypothetical readers. That's all for now, so be well and choose on!