You came too far to let this strange, but familiar being destroy these items, these memories, these fragments of a soul spread to different places. \n\nSo you decide to make a stand. Somehow, you find two Arnis sticks both of your hands. You stand in front of the hole and its items. The figure also makes a stance as two dark blades materialize in his hands. \n\nYou stare at each other for so long that even the shadows are silent. \n\nYou don't know why it happens but, after a time, he bows. Just like that. He bows. \n\nHe stays like that and somehow, you feel compelled to do the same. You lower your sticks and bow your head. You acknowledge both him, and the elements that you are guarding. A beat goes by and you somehow sense him rising first. \n\nAs you feel safe enough to raise your head, you see a young man in a black World's End T-shirt and soft brown hair looking at you. \n\n"I loved them all," he tells you, "I still do. And that is more than okay."\n\nThen he smiles. A genuine smile. And he's gone. \n\nYou realize that there is light coming from beind you. You turn around and [[see ...]]
There are two kinds of [[ghosts]] that you should already know.
You spent too much time gathering all those items, those memories, those fragments of a soul together just to stand back and let this strange, yet familiar apparition take them all now. \n\nSomehow, you find two Arnis sticks in your hands. His face remains impassive, but you see him lift up his hands with two dark blades. He seems to salute you grimly, with resignation and purpose. \n\nWhatever the case, it's on now.\n\nHe strikes with one blade and blocks with the other. You bring both of your sticks down, and he changes his other block into a strike. You duck and block it over your shoulder. It goes on like this for a while as the darkness titters around you, laughing at the both of you. \n\nYou are getting tired, sweaty, and angry. Your attacks are getting stronger. Sometimes you get cut by his blades, but you vaguely notice that the jacket minimizes the cuts--if any--and you keep striking. The next thing you know, you are driving him back into the hole. \n\nHe trips and the dark laughs. He looks up at you and for a few moments he is different. He is older. Much older. His face is lined and his hair is greying and unkempt with patches here and there. His eyes are a faded jade. He looks tired. He has fought his whole life to exhaustion and now it's over. The last self-conscious part of your mind wonders if the old man is looking up at you with relief, or pity. \n\nYou swing both sticks down. And you keep doing it. You keep doing it until there is nothing left. And then you smash the shovel. You smash the shovel, the poem, and the key. You throw the jacket off of you in a rage and let the shadows eat it. \n\nYou make sure that every physical vestige of the ghost is gone. That is one key tenet of what you know about banishing spirits: destroying them. Make sure that nothing is left. If you had lye on hand, you would pour it in that hole right in front of you. \n\nIt's only at that moment that you realize you don't know the way out of the centre of the corridor. In fact, you can't even see the dimly lit pathways anymore. The items made your only light. It is just you in the dark. But you are too angry. You are too angry to care. All of this didn't mean much of anything when it came right down to it.\n\nAll you feel is empty. All you can do is feel the anger become emptiness and now that it was always there. You are just more conscious of that now here, in the dark. It eats at you. It eats you until you can something else ... until something else comes your way. \n\nThrough the emptiness, you understand now. It was self-pity. \n\nAnd so all you can do is wait. You wait and pace around. You wait and pace around in the darkness. \n\nYou wait ... and pace.
When you first set out, you were asked what is the line between the dead and the echoes of the living? \n\nYou know, now, that there is no answer because there is no line. There never was. \n\nBut as you come towards that corner and you see them, and your heart leaps into your chest and throat and you wonder if it is at all possible to die of joy that you have answered [[one last question]].
Spirits of [[the dead]]
And only you get to choose where and when you do. \n\nTHE END
Yes [[it is]].
Suddenly, he seems to get older and there is no one around. Snow coats the ground, but he is still here by the pine trees. He still doesn't turn to look at you.\n\n"Years ago I made a wish here, out of longing for something I never had then. It was a choice between that age-old cliche: loving and losing, or never loving at all. \n\n"Yes, I made a wish here. And sometimes I wish I could take it back: amongst so many other things. I watched Beetlejuice and came to this park as a child. I wanted Barbara Maitland to hold me in her arms and be my second mother, as she was with Lydia. \n\n"My own mother read me Ghosts I Have Been here in the playground. I met my friend here for Warhammer figurines and went to his place to role-play Star Wars games. I pondered over War Craft II and Dune. I met other friends. I even brought ... her here a few times. \n\n"But the time for childish things is over. I read Watchmen on the bus here and now I want to write something. I did write something. A poem. It will be the last thing I give this place: the place where I made so many wishes."\n\nHe takes a piece of paper and lays it near a tree, "Take care of this for me. Let my dreams sleep here for now."\n\nWith that, he pats the tree and walks away. The piece of paper draws you in. You pick it up and there are many different melding, twisting symbols on it. It is Dream Writing. \n\nYou go back to [[the corridor]].
He picks it up, "In the basement, in that window right over the garden, I'd watch him pickle things. I'd watch him sew on his old sewing machine. I tried to sew too, but I never got the thread through the needle and it was all crooked when I did."\n\nHe plays with the small shovel, "I'd go to the park with my Dad on Saturdays. We'd leave my little brother in the spare room where my Dad used to sleep. I'd come back and watch Ewoks and Droids, or Teddy Ruxpin, or Mr. Wizard. But I'd have to go into the kitchen if I wanted to have some of my grandmother's tea and milk, and chocolate cake with coconut sprinkles."\n\nThe boy gets up, "But then my grandmother got sick. And my grandfather took care of her. He tried. And the garden, and the park, and the tea, the pickles, and the sewing started to all go away."\n\nHe walks over to the weeds with his toy, "I stopped using this a long time ago. I don't even remember if it's mine," he turns it over in his hands, "My grandfather faded with his garden." \n\nThe shovel gently falls from his hands into the weeds and the boy walks away.\n\nIt is just you and the shovel now. You can still see it in the weeds. It calls to you. You pick it up and walk back towards [[the corridor]] that just happens to be there.\n\n\n\n\n\n
The corridor is an old hallway in a house. Its wallpaper, in the gloom, is faded like memory. \n\nDo you go:\n\n[[Left]]\n[[Right]]\n[[Straight]]\n[[Backwards]]\n\nWhen you have all of what you are looking for, just wait in [[the centre]].
The poem is hard to read in this lack of light, but from what you can make-out it mentions a frozen place and wishes and leaving childish things behind. It is small and rolled up. Unfurl it and play it in the hole with the shovel. \n\nIn fact, place it on the shovel. There. \n\nNow, finally, [[the key]].
Is it possible to haunt your own [[life]]?
Good. You look positively bad-ass in it. It will protect you against the chill and count as some degree of leather armour. \n\nNow then. Do you have the [[toy shovel]]?
The answer is [[yes]].
You are in a park. You walk past a bench and pine trees and a baskeball court. There is a swing-set and a playground. But you are drawn to a small hill and more trees. \n\nThere is a boy under that tree, though really he is a teenager. He stands there with his hand on the bark of the tree. It is night and there are fireworks in the sky. \n\n"Victoria Day," he says, "I've been coming here with my parents for years after we moved. Look at the other families."\n\nAnd see them. They are on the hill across from the sidewalks on blankets and with picnic baskets. \n\n"We celebrate the anniversary of a Queen who no longer truly rules this land, who has been dead for two centuries or so," he says, "and we look up at the stars that have been dead for even longer. They are pretty though. \n\n"You know, even though I know it's going to hurt me and I'm not yet at the point where I swear a lot, I really wish I had a girlfriend. Almost everyone in high school does but me. I just ... I know I'm going to get that," his hand clenches on the bark, "And I'm going to hate it, and love it, and hate it. I keep saying I will be different from the other guys. \n\n"But I will get a girlfriend even though right now I don't think I deserve one But [[I wish]]."
The figure surrounded by shadows that crackle and swirl like fire hovers towards the items in the hole. \n\nAnd you don't stop him. \n\nHis unsmiling face contorts into pure rage. His hands, as they come over the hole, turn into clenching, ivory claws. You watch as the shovel, the poem, and the key inside it disappear.\n\nYou become aware that all that's left is the leather jacket. And you. \n\nHe looks up at you, and he smiles. It is a warped and twisted smile. The pupils in his green eyes, if they had ever been there, are gone now. The dissonance of this entire journey has been stretched to its breaking point and snapped like an old elastic band. \n\nEven so, the force still comes back towards you. Yes, it is coming back. This is not the first time this has happened, but you know how that it is going to be the last. There is no gap between action and thought now. He reaches for the jacket that is on you, that is you, he reaches for you, and everything falls away.\n\nYour burdens are falling away. Your attachments fall away. You fall in love and fall into freedom. \n\nBut still, as the darkness takes you, you know that no matter what it is still falling.
You are inside an apartment. There is a leather jacket on a desk chair and books on the two shelves above it. There is a kitchen not too far away. And there is a window not far from the sparse bed and its lose covers. \n\nThe window is grimy and curtains sweep at it. There is a young man standing at the window. You look past him and see people moving down below.\n\n"When I first came here," he tells you, his voice sounding very tired, "I watched those apartment houses get built from the ground up. I could still see the bus coming from the street."\n\nHe is looking down as well, "I watched them. When I still lived here, I would watch them playing in the snow. Or frisbee. Sometimes parents would be there with their children. A lot of students here already have families."\n\nHe shakes his shaggy head, "Sometimes, especially on Thursday and Friday evenings there is honking outside and loud music. It is fucking annoying. And this place with its damned static-filled fire alarms and inspections. Heh. I guess this is what you get for living on residence.\n\n"[[Still]] ..."
You take it out of your pocket. Now crouch down. Yes, the darkness here feels like sand. Dig up a small hole. It will not take much. \n\nThere you are. It's just like playing in a sandbox in the dark. Place the shovel in the hole. Good. \n\nNow, for [[the poem]].
The key feels very cold in your hands. Perhaps you are even reminded of an H.P. Lovecraft story. \n\nYou must wrap it in the poem and keep it on the shovel. There. \n\nNow think of the poem. Think about it really hard ...\n\nAnd [[brace yourself]].
All right. So you have gone through all the places: all the places that answer the question of whether or not someone can haunt their own life. \n\nYou should have four items now. If you don't and you continue on, you are a cheater and, really, you just wasted your own time. Really, it's like skipping pages in a story. You can always go back to [[the corridor]] and go down the four paths, though only your memory will tell you which ones you have already taken. \n\nSo, if you already have gone left, right, straight, and backwards you are about to answer the question.\n\nDo you have the [[leather jacket]]?
You walk to the left and the dark becomes murk and the murk becomes a faded white light. And you see a backyard. There is a crooked wire fence around bushes and a clothes line above that links to the house on the right. \n\nIf you turn, you will the backdoor of an old garage and the house attached to it. Its bricks are faded and beige. And there is a garden. But it is choked over with weeds. It has been there for a very long time. \n\nNext to it, almost unseen in the overgrown grass around you is a dusty, yellow plastic toy shovel: the kind that a child would use. \n\nAnd squatting on his knees is the child. He is small and thin. His skin is the colour of milk and his dark brown hair is a mop over his eyes. He is wearing a bluejay cap. \n\n"[[My grandfather made this garden]]," he tells you, still looking at the shovel, moving it with his finger, "He took care of it. He showed me how. That was my shovel. Once."\n
You are in a basement. It is an old place with a wooden floor and a fridge across from you. There is a sealed ivory staircase near a red wall with stickers of tea pots and Alice's Adventures Underground. \n\nThere is a rectangular mirror behind you and a bedroom next to it. It is night or early morning. The area is bathed in a light blue as though the sun has not decided whether or not to rise. \n\nSomeone sits at a fold-out table with a small worn laptop in front of him. He is surrounded by stuffed toys.\n\n"Another early morning," he says, "though I've been awake this entire time," he sighs and looks away from the laptop, "I was here when this place was just a basement and that bedroom was a storage area. \n\nHe has an odd look, "She's in there. Sleeping. I practically lived here even before she invited me here to stay. I never really lived with another person aside from my family before. \n\n"See that fridge over there? Once, we would leave notes to each other on that pad on there, talking about things we were grateful to each other for. We would exchange those words everyday: when she went to asleep during the night and me during [[the day]]."
The hole is surrounded with light and you see what it has become now. \n\nThe poem has grown somehow. It has become an ivory door with curved edges. For some reason you remember lugging a door down a street in the late springtime. The shovel has become something like a doorknob or, more appropriately a latch to open the door. But there is a blot between the words of the poem. \n\nThe key is in your hand and you recognize that it is no blot. \n\nWith the lost key in your hand, you press it to the poetic door and twist. Then you take the plastic yellow handle, you know it as such now, and open it. \n\nIt is a beautiful summery evening downtown. A streetcar clanks by on the tracks past town-houses with vegetables growing in flowerpots. The houses themselves look like they were estates at one time until they were split into segments of different histories. \n\nYou carry a travel-bag on you. It contains Bill Willingham's Fables: The Good Prince and you hear the theme from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance's "Lion King Caineghis" playing through your head. And neither are faded or sad in what they aren't now. They just are, like that day. Like all days. \n\nYou were afraid and you got lost so many times: to the point of terror. But you know that they are waiting for you. \n\nThey wait in a rented apartment. She waits by a lamppost. She waits in the basement apartment. Your friends wait on higher ground. The red car is there. There are clubs to go to. There is a sauna. You can go to your apartment and continue to learn. And there is a backyard with a garden without any weeds. \n\nThis is a place of friends, love, and laughter beyond time. \n\nBut there is one question that comes to your mind as you walk from the bus stop to the lamp-post where you said you would [[meet them]].
and [[echoes]] of the living.
He puts his head in his hands, "She was always sick, but I was the one that became shut-in more than she ever was. Sometimes this couch here, the thing that kept us warm next to the heater and her stuffed friends around me, became this brittle seat of broken freezing glass that I couldn't get away from no matter how hard I crouched into myself. \n\n"We said things to each other. I didn't have a job after Grad School, where I was burnt-out and she always kept track of what I owed so we could eventually work out a way to pay it together. But I never got the point where I could pay back what I owed. Not until it was too late. \n\n"I always knew that she was sick, and she still is. Even now," he looks at the bedroom, "I wish I went to bed when she did. I wish I still had that strength to go out more before my nerves took my body. There are a whole lot of stupid things I wish I hadn't said or done. I'm sure she feels the same sometimes, when she isn't fighting for her life. \n\n"I try not to think about the clubs we went to, or the food she made, or her warmth on my body or the way she made me scream. Of course, I fail. I remember all of that. \n\n"One day, when I ran out of money and I left or we agreed I should leave or I got kicked out ... I'm not always sure. I realized that I lost my key. Yes, the one on the table there next to my computer. We were doing some washing ..."\n\nHe shakes his head, "She fights for her life and I'm not there. Even after all of this. Sometimes I have so much contempt for myself, even now that ..." he sighs, "She would have eventually told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Though it's mostly self-pity, I guess this memory, here, is not entirely mine. I wonder if I am just another one added to this house and another person's life. \n\n"Honestly, I have something of another life now or maybe it's another aspect of me that does, and I don't know if she would even want me back even in some capacity now. I don't know where I am. Too much went down, though the 'her' part of me still reaches out and I say nothing now. Please," he says, "I know I will think I lost it but take the key and go. It hurts too much."\n\nHe turns back to typing on his keyboard. You see the key and you take it. Then you go back to [[the corridor]]. \n\n
Yet you should also know, by now, that some echoes have fragments of spirit, and that dead things do not sleep all the time. \n\nInside every memory is a piece of soul, and it is your job to find them all. What you ultimately choose to do with them is up to you. \n\nWhat is the line between the dead and the echoes of the living? You will find out at [[the corridor]].
He shifts and you can see the gaunt, pale expression on his face through the grimy glass, "I had many good times here. I would go out, with that jacket over there and wander the city. If I didn't, I just had residences and concrete to walk around here. \n\n"But I met people. I went out. I even brought some of them back. And after, when it was night, looking through those blinds at the city beyond was like looking at candles through a veil of night. \n\n"Soon, in a year or so, I will move out of here. I will be in that bathroom back there for the last time as my parents help me move. I will be thinking about my friend who once waited for me in that bed when she needed to sleep and I read my Sandman Midnight Theatre so as not to disturb her. I'll be thinking about all the journeys downtown I made and all the phonecalls I had the impunity to ignore. \n\n"But I will also be thinking about the people who I always waited to come back, especially when I knew they wouldn't. Even now, looking outside this window, watching people live their lives while I'm stuck in here, I sometimes still find myself waiting for an old red car. \n\n"One that will never come back."\n\nHe turns to you and smiles, "There is so much anger, lust, triumph, grief, and contentment here. I almost lived here, but I never did. Not really. Do you think it will leave a mark? Do you think a part of me will still be here staring out of that window pane watching life go on?"\n\nThe young man sighs, "I think you need to keep going. It's getting colder though, so I think you should borrow my jacket."\n\nHe turns back to the window and puts his arms behind his back. You take the jacket and you go back to [[the corridor]].
You reflexively put your leather-jacket covered arms up in front of your face as something begins to form from the hole you made. \n\nIt does not take long. A tall figure with long dark hair, extremely pale flesh and burning green eyes hovers over the hole. The darkness seems to writhe around him, lapping at him like flames. He doesn't smile. It looks like he hasn't smiled for a very long time: to the point where there are more lines from not smiling than doing so. \n\nHe and the darkness reaches for the items in the hole. You have three definitive choices now:\n\n[[Let him take the items]]\n[[Defend them]]\n[[Attack]]