<<if $seenStar or $knowStar>>\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); glub glub glub glub.@@\n<<else>>\n<<if $missedStar>>\n"Hey, Maria, you look a bit worried still. Maybe we could talk." Carlton said.\n<<else>>\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); glub glub glub glub.@@\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $talkedtoMom>>\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); I'm almost here for you.@@\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenstar>>\nMaria could hardly stand the ambiance in the [[Living Room|Living Room Description]]. Everything seemed grotesquely distorted. The wet, cackling laugh echoed in the back of her mind and she could not tell if it was her own mind doing this or not. Those wet, smacking noises made her feel sick.\n<<else>>\n<<if $sawRoom or $metMom or $sawBack>>\nNot much seemed to have changed in the [[Living Room|Living Room Description]].\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowStar and $knowPolitics>>\nThere sure was a curious bunch of things happening tonight, Maria thought. Perhaps a few too many. The nerve center of the house in the [[Living Room|Living Room Description]] was starting to grow a little stale for her taste.\n<<else>>\nThe Heckscher's living room was spacious, occupying a significant portion of the front of the house and leading directly to the front door landing. The walls were a soft blue and there was an "indian rug" carpet on the floor. Several single seat couches flanked the three-seat couch in the back of the living room, encircling the 50 inch flatscreen TV and a coffee table filled with snacks. Here, [[Fake-Dad|Carlton]] and his friends watched the news attentively, ocassionally grumbling when a new set of graphs showed something or other that was not going their way.\n\nA staircase to the second floor came down along the left-hand wall, parallel to a hallway leading to the back room, where the laundry machines and a closet were kept, and which led to the fenced off back yard. On the right hand side an open archway led directly into the kitchen. [[Maria]] could see her [[mother|Hannah]] in front of the stove from where she stood.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\nThe TV was still on, and everyone was still there. Thankfully.\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowPolitics>>\nMaria felt no more enlightened by the TV's coverage of the local election. In fact, she almost felt even more confused by it. She hoped Fake-Dad's mayor won, if only to make him happy. There were other things on her mind pertaining that.\n<<else>>\nNumbers. The TV was just full of them. Exit poll numbers, poll attendance, voter tallies. It was enough to make Maria dizzy. She was never all that great with numbers. She almost felt like [[Asking Fake-Dad What All The Fuss is About|What's On The TV Fake-Dad?]] but maybe not quite. The answer might have made her dizzier.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $talkedtoMom>>\nCarlton noticed Maria wandering about, and sighed a little. "Still creeped out kiddo? Don't worry. Nothing's gonna happen to you while we're here, right boys?"\n\nAll of Fake-Dad's friends nodded vigorously at Maria. It did not really help her to feel any better about things.\n\n"I love you lots, Fake-Dad." Maria said.\n\n"I love you too, kiddo." Carlton said. His voice trembled a little. "Don't worry, it'll all get better soon ok?"\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\n"Fake-Dad, I saw the star shower," Maria said wanly, "It was a little scary. I didn't like it at all, I don't think."\n\n"Scary?" [[Carlton]] asked. "What did you see?"\n\n"I," Maria paused, unable to grasp the words to describe it, "It looked weird to me. The sky loooked weird. It made me a little sick. I also thought I heard something. Something wet and gross. Like voices. My head hurts a little."\n\n"That's ok," Carlton said. He looked worried, but he was trying to play it off cool. He smiled a little. "Staring at the sky can be scary sometimes. Especially at night. Just don't think about it much and it'll all go away. Star Showers can't hit the Earth, kiddo, and they can't talk. You'll be alright."\n\n"Ok," Maria said simply. She hugged herself a little. She did not feel very ok about any of this, at all.\n\n"You might be hearing things because you're coming down with something, that's all. You're just feeling sick – and If you're feeling sick, you should tell your mom." Carlton said. "She'll want to know, and she can whip you something up. Your mom's a doctor after all, and she knows kids well."\n\nIt seemed like Carlton would stare at her the entire night after saying that, watching her stand quietly at the edge of the room, but after a time he turned slowly back to the TV. Clearly he was unsettled by what she had said, even if she had not been able to say anything concrete. But he probably thought that if he acted scared, Maria would grow even more afraid. And he was right. She could almost believe he was right, and that nothing bad was happening or could happen. Almost. <<set $talkedtoDad = true>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowStar>>\nA particular phrase rolling around in her mind. Star Showers. It was such a strange concept to her. A shower of stars? Something cool outside of her window? She idly wondered what it would look like to shower with stars. Could she really see them from her room?\n<<else>>\nIn the back of her mind though, she still wondered if a storm or a hurricane was going to hit them again. [[Perhaps A Quick Look At The Weather|Is Everything Going To Be Ok Fake-Dad?]] would help to still her thoughts. She thought of asking Fake-Dad about it.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\nIt was hard not to visibly shake.\n<<else>>\n<<if $sawRoom or $metMom>>\nMaria swayed on her feet a little, yawning.\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowStar and $knowPolitics>>\n"Sorry if it's been a boring night, kiddo," Carlton said, "maybe you should go see if mommy needs any help."\n<<else>>\nMaria swayed on her feet a little, yawning.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $talkedtoMom>>\nThere was a little fire stoked in Maria's chest. Looking around the living room, though she felt scared, she also felt resolute. Her parents had no idea what was going on. Neither did she. But she had to do something about it and she knew where to go. [[She would go the long way.|Hannah's Kitchen]] <<set $ready = true>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\nMaria felt terribly skittish. She didn't see much point in [[Going Upstairs|Maria's Bedroom]], so she thought perhaps she'd [[Tell Mom What Happened|Hannah's Kitchen]].\n<<else>>\n<<if $sawRoom or $metMom or $sawBack>>\nSometimes Maria's house just felt a lot smaller than it really was. She could have [[gone to her room|Maria's Bedroom]] or the [[kitchen|Hannah's Kitchen]] or braved the [[Back Room]], but it seemed confining, as though time had stopped around her and the world had enclosed.\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowPolitics or $knowStar>>\nAfter a while, the dull ambiance ultimately compellled Maria to leave the room, even if only for a little while, and find something else to do with her night. She was undecided, however, on whether to [[Head Upstairs To Her Room|Maria's Bedroom]] or [[Help Her Mother In The Kitchen|Hannah's Kitchen]], or she supposed she could [[Play In The Back Room|Back Room]]; or perhaps simply to rethink whether she wanted to leave. She pondered it for a moment.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
Dennis N. Santana is the author of this twine story.\n\nYou can find him on the web at:\n\n•www.spiritsofeden.com\n•twitter.com/WyattSalazar\n•dennisnsantana.tumblr.com\n•wyattsalazar@gmail.com\n\nIf you liked the story, you might consider leaving a tip via Paypal. Send it to the same email address listed above.\n\nYou are welcome to link others to the story or excerpt text from it, or look at the code to learn Twine personally or help illustrate a point about Twine, as long as you do so non-commercially, and do not alter the story. Please do not rehost it without permission and please attribute the story (to Dennis N. Santana) if you are going to share it or excerpt text, and link to the original. Thank you for understanding!\n\n<<back>>
Maria approached the big couch at the back of the living room and climbed into a sliver of empty space. Her step-father, [[Carlton|Carlton]], sat in the center of the couch, flanked by some associates, and she sidled up next to him. Smaller couches had been pulled up near the larger one, forming an archipelago of Carlton and his friends. All of them were transfixed on that television.\n\n"Hey kiddo," Carlton wrapped his arm around Maria and pulled her close. "I've been seeing you on the periphery lately, you've been hovering around a bit; anything on your mind?"\n\n"What're you all watching that's got you so quiet?"\n\nCarlton laughed. "This skeleton crew's always quiet." He elbowed one of his buddies in a friendly gesture. "We're watching the polls for the mayoral election. We might be getting a new mayor, if these numbers hold up."\n\nMaria blinked, and Carlton went on to explain that he and his friends had problems with how the old mayor handled things in the city, adult problems about money that she shouldn't be worried about. Maria watched the numbers on the television growing slowly over several minutes, and her eyes glazed over. Clean-cut news anchors and political personalities "debated implications" and "assessed the constituencies."\n\n"It's just politics, kiddo," Carlton said, petting her head.\n\nFeeling restless from all the graphs and percentages, Maria pulled herself off the sofa, and [[resumed hovering about the periphery.|Living Room]]\n\n<<set $knowPolitics = true>>
This is a little story I wrote to practice Twine, using some early draft work for a serial fiction about strange happenings in a little town. I took the opening chapter of that story and I rebuild it as this Twine Story. It was meant to serve as an introduction, but I've reworked it into a somewhat stand-alone game.\n\nI'm not sure whether this will continue (I wanted the original text to open a serial fiction story) nor in what format it will continue in, but I'm rather pleased with the results I've achieved with Twine.\n\nFollow Maria as she explores her home and get acquainted with her family. It is recommended you use the link options to navigate, rather than using your Browser buttons. Using your browser buttons may lead you to miss out on some triggers, due to how conditionals work – do so only if you really need to! I would also recommend not using the Rewind options either.\n\n[[Click here to get started|The Heckscher Living Room On A Decisive Night]].
She hoped she was wrong, and this behavior had nothing to do with a hurricane. Maria wasn't afraid of a lot of things – but she was very afraid of hurricanes. They could break her house.\n\nMaria watched the television from the edge of the room, not wanting to intrude upon Fake-Dad and his troops. They were very quiet and intense while watching the news together, something Maria always found unusual. She had been to friends' houses, and their dads were always loud and cheerful in front of the TV.\n\nOf course, Carlton wasn't her real dad, so maybe that had something to do with it. Maria wondered if that was so – maybe Fake-Dads just had different TV watching habits than real ones.\n\n"Fake-Dad, is there a storm coming? Is that what's happening?"\n\nCarlton turned over to her and smiled. "Why don't you look on your phone, kiddo? You can trust what it says. It'll tell you."\n\nMaria reached into the pockets of her jumper and withdrew her smart phone. She swiped across the screen and readied to flick her finger at the Weather app once it appeared – but it did not. None of the icons did. Instead there was video noise across the screen, like a busted up television.\n\nMaria sighed. "It's not working, Fake-Dad. Just like my computer. It's just a bunch of bugs on the screen."\n\n"Oh for–" Carlton looked as if about to follow it up with a curse word, but he caught himself in time, "pete's sake. And I didn't buy the warranty either. Don't worry, I'll fix it for you. Let's take a look at the weather real quick then kiddo."\n\nCarlton waved her over and Maria watched the TV attentively. He told the boys to wait a second and he switched the channel over to the weather, and Maria almost instinctively expected them to mention a hurricane, given the way everyone was acting. Instead, the small, round weatherman reported something else entirely – a star shower would be visible over Tulippa.\n\n"Is a star shower like a storm? Is a storm hitting, Fake-Dad?"\n\nMaria looked up to Carlton with worry. He smiled.\n\n"Nah, it just means if you look out a window at the sky, maybe in your room, you might be able to see something cool."\n\nCarlton changed the channel back to politics once again. He patted Maria's head, and absentmindedly said, "Nothing's gonna happen, kiddo. Everything'll be fine, and I'll fix all your stuff ASAP." Slightly unconvinced, Maria left Fake-Dad's side, but [[stayed in the periphery of the room.|Living Room]]\n<<set $knowStar = true>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); Oh, did I do that? haha@@
The American Commercial Entity (some would call it Empire) or A.C.E. is often used to refer to the continguous United Ameran States across the continent of North Amera; to the Ameran Treaty Entities across the continents of North, Central and South Amera; or to the various Commercial Entities in league with the United Ameran States, which include the archipelago of Cipan, numerous islands in the Caribic New World Ocean, and some client states in the Middle East. It is a capitalist empire known for military aggression and dysfunctional, almost symbolic governance.\n\nMaria is unfortunately a citizen of this nation. She lives in [[Tulippa]].\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); hahaha what a dump!@@\n
Inside, Maria heard loud cheering coming from the Living Room, and her Mom and Fake-Dad both laughing. She cut around the kitchen again, not wanting to appear directly from out the back room hallway. Everyone was dancing and cheering in front of the television as the election results came in – Alphonse Precipice had won – Maria assumed this was her parent's choice of Mayor. \n\nIt had been a close race according to the TV and the opposition was demanding a recount, but the news felt comfortable reporting that Precipice would be the new Mayor. In addition to this, that stubborn dinner roast was not cut and served on a little wheeled table Hannah had pulled along. Noticing Maria, Hannah and Carlton beckoned her closer and pulled her into a big hug together.\n\nShe smiled, and laughed. Everything before seemed like just a fleeting nightmare. And like a nightmare it had ended and she had woken up. She would put it all out of her mind soon enough.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); –Fin...?@@
Maria approached her window and opened it. She leaned out.\n\nCraning her head, she stared deep into the once empty sky and saw the Star Shower. Or at least, having no frame of reference to tell otherwise, that is what she thought that she saw.\n\nThe night sky was suddenly bright with pale green and dark glowing brown streaks across the void, like massive clouds of gas roiling far far way. She had never even seen many stars in the sky before, because her neighborhood was so bright, so she was surprised to see a stellar body, even if it was an odd one. \n\nMaria reached into a nearby shelf and pulled some binoculars she normally used for bird watching. She pointed them at the sky. Something glowed behind the clouds, as though they were obscuring a weak sun that could dispel neither them nor the black night. Something about this display was just not right. She felt as though she were not looking at her own sky anymore.\n\nWhen she zoomed closer on the clouds, she thought she saw liquid falling to the earth. Giant droplets of something blurry and colorless, visible to her only because of its dribbling, warping form and the way it distorted color and light around it.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); I know you see it. I know you hear me. I can see you, too.@@\n\nMaria knew she heard a voice. She knew she'd heard it laughing before – it was somehow familiar to her. It was wet and high-pitched and cruel, and worst all, it sounded eager.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); I'm coming to visit. It will be fun. For me, at least.@@\n\n[[Maria, more than a little freaked out, backed away from her window.|Maria's Bedroom]]\n\n<<set $seenStar = true>>\n
Maria clapped her hands, and the television set into the wall powered on in response. She sat on the edge of the bed as the TV guide loaded and the channel content displayed. It was on the news – sticking her tongue out, Maria swept her hand in front of herself, and the television recognized the gesture and changed the channel. Now that it was fixed on her she could swipe in a more gentle fashion and the telvision would recognize it. \n\nShe surfed the channels, stopping briefly on her favorites. Airing on the Science Network was a reality show about oyster farmers; on the 24 hour Kid's News Network they ran a feature on how an all-candy diet was not as unhealthy as one would think; on the History Network was a reality show about collecting old junk from backyards and selling it; on the Weather Network they played a reality show about Oil Rig workers; the Animal Network committed two hours to reruns of the oyster farmer reality show.\n\n"I wonder where all the fake shows have gone," Maria said to herself, lying back on her sheets, "I don't feel like reality right now. I guess I'll watch cartoons for something exciting."\n\nShe bounced back to a seated position and snapped her fingers, which the television recognized as a command to return to her home channel, a single, specific favorite; in Maria's case this was the Cartoon Channel. She hoped there was some flight of fancy to be found here, but to her chagrin, the programming also compromised by a reality show about people dressing up as cartoon characters. Frowning at the TV as though the appliance could understand, she clapped her hands to turn it off, and lay back on her bed again, bored but not tired enough to sleep.\n\nOn the wall the television had disobeyed – she heard noise still.\n\nEyes closed, grumbling a little, she clapped her hands louder.\n\nThe grinding noise of the static grew louder in response.\n\nMaria supposed she would [[Have To Reset The Screen.|ScaryTV]]
Hannah Krupitsky, now Hannah Heckscher, is Maria's mother. She met Maria's father and gave birth to Maria at a sort of young age. They divorced after problems with their relationship that Maria does not quite understand.\n\nLike Carlton, Hannah is a Merkaban. She is not very religious, however, so the household does not celebrate any Merkaban holidays. They do Christmas for Maria's sake.\n\nMaria takes a bit more after her dad than her, with dark skin and hair as opposed to light; but Maria has her eyes and nose. Hannah has very pale blonde hair, almost white, and sharp facial features. She lost a lot of weight over time since the pregnancy, both by concerted effort, and perhaps the stress of her divorce and her student and now professional life.\n\nAfter her divorce, she completed her degree in Child Psychology. This has never quite helped her understand Maria, but it did help her find work in the Fraunhofer school district, both in accommodating special needs children and consulting with the school as to how best to teach them, as well as the more straightforward professional pursuits of diagnosing problems and prescribing medication.\n\nShe loves Maria very much, and wishes that Maria would stop calling Carlton "Fake-Dad," though Carlton doesn't mind it.\n\nShe is a member of the Patriot Party of Amera, which is to say she cast a vote for President Cassandra Ableman in the last election and now recieves copious junk mail from the party.\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); you're all gonna NEED a psych when i'm done, haha@@\n
Maria approached the oven and kneeled down in front of it, staring at the roast cooking inside. She thought it was almost as big as she was. Inside its tray, cooking in rendered fat, and covered in nondescript spice powder, it looked like it would be just a touch too heavy for Maria's taste. \n\nBut she never openly complained about food – she just ate what she was given. Mommy tried her best, after all.\n\n"Why is it taking so long to cook?" Maria asked nicely.\n\n"I don't know." Hannah said. "I'm going by the recipe, but the piece of meat Carlton bought might have been too big for it. I thought I could scale it to the size but It's barely browned at all. I stuck a thermometer in it and it's deathly cold inside."\n\n"Maybe we should just call for a pizza." Maria said.\n\n"Nothing doing," Hannah said, "I started this and I plan to finish it, whatever the outcome." She stared grimly at the oven as though she expected war to descend upon it soon.\n\nMaria inched closer. She thought the roast looked a little gray and dripping wet now, but her mother seemed unperturbed by it.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); hahahahahahahaha@@\n\nFor a moment she thought she heard something too, but there was only the spitting and crackling of the hot fat in the tray.\n\nFeeling less hungry by the minute, Maria [[backed off again.|Hannah's Kitchen]]\n\n<<set $heardOven = true>>
@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); It's so nice to finally meet you in person!@@\n\nOutside Maria stood defiantly under the glowing, alien-looking breach in the sky. Her backyard was transformed from an unassuming square plot with a single, drooping tree and a child pool to a mesmeric landscape, crosshatched white and gray like the static on her television and broken phone. It was raining sporadically, but not water – it was that gray goo, coming down in sparse droplets. Whatever it touched disappeared.\n\nSoon Maria was pockmarked with spots of the gray stuff, spots that allowed her to see clean through her flesh as though a hole had been drilled through. She touched the holes and she knew it was fake, it was just an illusion produced by the goo.\n\nShe would have none of that – she created a plane over he head, and the goo slid right off. It would no longer fall on her.\n\nAround her the floor vanished, saturated with the alien fluid. She could stare right into the molten core of the earth, but she grit her teeth and worked to calm her pounding heart and dizzy head. She knew that there was earth beneath her. She knew that this was all a trick. Everything it did were tricks.\n\nIt had not even broken her phone and her TV, or her computer, and it would not hurt her parents. All of it was fake. All of it was trying to push on her. Nobody else could see it.\n\nShe felt a rush of wind and blocked something heavy and large in front of her. It dripped with the alien goo, and as the fluid sloshed and slid around its form there was an outline like a giant slug with a thick, ridged knob for a head. Facing her unbreakable plane, even this minimum of form melted away.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); Aww, you're no fun.@@\n\nIn the middle of the roiling blob she saw a face form, a face that was familiar, that had all the familiar features. It was a face that indicated a risk, or a surrender. It could not scare her anymore, and it knew that it was feeble now, in this place.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); Stop calling me it! Don't call me it, ever again. You don't like it when people call you that. Have some respect for others. I will have you know that I am a Queen! A red one, at that. Though I prefer Bleak. I'm a [[Bleak Queen|The Red Queen]] now, not a Red Queen. It suits me better.@@\n\nThe voice was no longer wet and sloppy like smacking lips – it was eerily human and eerily hurt, and it sounded desperate. Maria knew this was the real voice. It was wild and mad.\n\n"You're right. I'm sorry." Maria said solemnly. "I shouldn't have thought that even if you're mean. It was wrong of me."\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); You're *really* no fun.@@\n\n"And you can't do anything." Maria said. A droplet of the gray stuff landed on her cheek then and bored a fake hole through her skull.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); what did you do?@@\n\nIt tried to dash, the bubbling, oily, horrible thing, it tried to charge and thrash and batter, but it was fully enclosed. Maria had switched her planes and trapped the creature in a cube. [[She was now harmless, whatever she was, this Bleak Queen was trapped.|End It]]\n\n\n
The Red Queen or Bleak Queen is a bizarre entity that [static noise] within the Universe as it is known to Maria, along with [cacophony of dripping noises], similar entities that [shriek, scratch, crash] Known to her as "friends" they have their own colors and titles, and can [record smash, flesh ripping]\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); I don't like being spoken of by people who don't want to meet me. Let's just say my existence means your whole everything is already broken, rotting, dead, sick, sabotaged before it began. It doesn't matter what I do, my mere presence is doom enough. The entire prism of your reality is just a mesh net keeping me from more important things, but after a while that has suited me just fine, hahahaha@@\n\n<<back>>
Maria is a psychic, and her power manifests as the Transversal Planes. Below is a look at the rules of her powers, though they will not be strictly necessary to know, but for curiosity's sake. Maria usually calls them her "Glasses." \n\nMaria can create a "plane" (a flat surface with defined dimensions) across any four points in space, and the space between them is blocked off. She can do this as quick as a thought, but it takes "effort" in that she will become tired if she manifests too many for too long. She can create Planes as big all around as 10 meters and as small as 1 meter. Planes stop anything from moving through them unless Maria explicitly allows it. Maria can block anything extant in reality. \n\nFor example she typically allows Light to move through the Planes, or else they would cast a thick black shadow and reveal themselves; she also normally allows smells through, but if she were to be caught in poison gas her body would reflexively block it. Carlton and Hannah theorize that Maria's planes have a "hardness" or "permeation" that allows them to be broken, but they've not been able to determine anything that can do so.\n\nPlanes are always "square" and "flat." By manifesting a Plane Maria can catch things on the surface – they can't pass, so they lie over the Plane. Maria can also move her planes across space at speeds simiarly to the movements of her own arms and legs. A Transversal Plane is "sharp" – when forced through matter or manifested inside matter, it makes space for itself, like a cut, unless Maria specifically makes it "blunt" in which case it will expand as necessary to cover the space Maria wants, and will "push" things that take up that space, or if Maria desires, will simply stop expanding if it hits something.\n\nMaria can "fly" with her Planes by manifesting "blunt" planes under herself repeatedly, thus "bouncing" her as the planes expand and push her in a desired direction. She can also fall slowly by manifesting blunt, harmless planes inside of her, stopping and starting her momentum over and over.\n\nMaria can manifest a maximum of 6 planes at a time, enough to make a "cube" of Planes. She has sometimes defiantly hidden herself in a Plane cube when she feels depressed. It is impossible for her to suffocate herself in a Plane cube by blocking out Oxygen – her body will not allow that.\n\nMaria can hurt herself with her planes however, but only if she explicitly manifests one with this goal in mind. It acts as a "sharp plane." She cannot hurt herself in other ways.\n\n<<back>>
Past the archway, Maria had to take only one step to enter the kitchen, a wide and open space with cabinets running along the rightmost wall and the oven, refrigerator and sink straddling the back wall, beneath a long panel window looking out into the backyard. The Kitchen was modern and well stocked, and there was never a want of snacks inside the pantry, fruits in the little basket on countertop, or all kinds of brand name foods inside the refrigerator. Inside her mother walked to and fro, tidying things only mildly astray and periodically checking the food she was preparing for everyone.\n\n<<back>>
Star Shower
Maria bounced up from her bed and stood decisively in front of the TV. The picture had turned to video noise, likes a million white and gray bugs crawling the screen. She stared quizzically at the set – it was a digital television and it would normally bring up a blue screen to conceal transmission problems. She clapped her hands, and clapped them again, and it would not turn off. Every time, instead, the television volume grew louder.\n\n"I guess the Peeper broke." Maria sighed. Fake-Dad had set up the Peeper so she would be able to control the TV without a big remote. But thankfully she knew where the TV's controls were. She walked up to the wall and pulled off a chunk of plastic hidden in the wall under the television to reveal its controls. She pushed the big red reboot button and the big black power button.\n\nNothing. She tapped on the buttons as fast as she could, again to no avail. Finally she held down both of them to forcibly reset the TV. \n\nThere was a loud, booming stomp, and a sudden, visceral crunching noise. Maria almost fell, startled by the sound.\n\nWhen she raised her head again to the TV, there was still video noise on the screen, but there were no more sounds from it.\n\nLooking closer, she realized the video static was a different sort. Before, she thought it looked like bugs crawling – now it looked like liquid, dripping behind the glass, thick, viscous, foul white and gray gunk sliding across the screen.\n\nMaria quivered, standing frozen in place for a moment, taking in what she had seen. She felt a strange fear at this sight.\n\nShe knelt further down the wall and slid off another hidden plastic panel. Behind it were the cables for the TV, Peeper and Funcube. She pulled some of her blanket around her hand for protection – the cable was usually hot – and pulled the plugs. Instantly the picture went dark. But she thought the noise the TV made when powered off was different now. Before, it was a typical schwoop! as the power went off and the volume abated.\n\nNow she thought she'd heard a wet, sloppy cackling instead.\n\n"I'm just hearing things." She told herself. She did not believe it entirely – but it allowed her to retain normalcy for a moment. [[She stepped away from the unplugged TV|Maria's Bedroom]].\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); hahaha, you heard me. that's so weird. and fun.@@\n\n<<set $watchTV = true>>
Maria Krupitsky–Torres was a 12 year old person from [[Tulippa]], [[Amera]]. Her father was Diego Torres and her mother [[Hannah]] Krupitsky. They decided to conjoin the names when she was born.\n\nThough she has no problem with being called "she," (and probably no problem being called a He despite nobody doing this) she does insist that she is not a boy nor a girl, but a "Maria." By now, almost everyone in Fraunhofer, [[Tulippa]] knows this, and respects the notion by not referring to her as a boy or a girl but using "child," "kid" or "Maria," instead.\n\nShe discovered this notion after years of discomfort with the girl's uniform at her old school, an all-girl's [[Apostolist|Apostolism]] school, as well as its etiquette teaching. She reasoned that as a "Maria" she can dress however she wants and act however she wants, and her parents supported this as long she remained reasonably well-behaved. \n\nShe wore a beige jumper with a short skirt over a button-down shirt and a bright red bow tie, along with knee-length jeans, to the events of this particular night.\n\nMaria has mid-tone brown skin, neither very dark nor very light; she had black hair styled in a messy in a chin-length bob as of these events. She has bright green eyes like her mother's. Her nose was a little small and blunt and her face somewhat round. She's not very tall nor short, nor heavy.\n\nShe had a tendency to refer to her stepfather [[Carlton]] as "Fake-Dad" and he did not mind it, and found it endearing. She did not do so to be mean-spirited. It was merely a fact to her.\n\nMaria had a special, [[very useful gift that no other child has. You may read on if you wish to know it. |Transversal Plane]]\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); hmm, she sounds interesting@@\n
String.prototype.unDash = function()\n{\n var s = this.split("-");\n if(s.length > 1)\n for(var t=1; t < s.length; t++)\n s[t] = s[t].substr(0,1).toUpperCase() + s[t].substr(1);\n return s.join("");\n};
Tulippa is the lowest state of the contiguous United Ameran States, residing far south. It is a largely peninsular state sometimes crudely referred to as Amera's Penis. \n\nIt is home to a variety of wildlife, and some of the most pristine aquatic environments in the overall largely spent North Amera. Most of Tulippa is composed of small rural towns. Maria lives in a particularly sleepy part of Tulippa, called Fraunhofer. \n\nLike the overwhelming majority of Amera, it is a stronghold of the Patriot Party of Amera, which currently controls the government, and which has controlled the government continuously since the known forever. A small contingent of Centrist Party of Amera counties have risen lately, but are unlikely to succeed, because Patriot is in the name of the Patriot Party.\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); penis! it said penis, haha!@@\n
<<if $seenStar>>\nMaria stood around [[the room|Bedroom Description]], stunned by what she had seen. Had she really heard a voice? Her heart was racing and she felt her stomach churn with the thought.\n<<else>>\n<<if $toyPlay or $watchTV>>\nMaria stood around [[the room|Bedroom Description]], and smiled.\n<<else>>\nUpstairs, Maria walked into her room and sat down on her bed. Hers was a nice little room, with indigo walls (she had desired a different color than the ubiquitous pale blue in the house) and a bed with dinosaur print sheets and pillow cases. Set into the wall near her bed was a TV, with a FunCube480 game console. A copy of Order of Battle: Phantoms, a heavily acclaimed title for the FunCube, rested on the floor, emblazoned with a massive NFK (NOT FOR KIDS) symbol that had gone ignored.\n\nHer room had two big, circular windows: one looked out over the side of the house and another looked out to the backyard. Near the back window, a computer desk beside her bed held her laptop, but unfortunately it would not boot up for some reason. Fake-Dad had promised to fix it, but had not yet gotten around to doing so. She felt like she was steadily running out of digital diversions.\n\nShe had a long table-drawer with stuffed animal toys, dolls with pretty dresses and army men and a little model tank, an Ameran Belial Main Battle Tank. She had tried to dress some of the army men in the pretty dresses from the dolls, but they did not fit properly. Still, it had been worth trying. \n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\nShe desperately thought that perhaps another diversion might have helped. After what she saw in the window however, Maria felt a little too unsettled to play with her toys or watch TV.\n<<else>>\n<<if $toyPlay>>\nHer toys were strewn all over, but she wouldn't pick them up now.\n<<else>>\nShe idly [[Toyed With The Tank|Playing With Toys]] for a moment.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\nShe knew there was something strange and awful at work.\n<<else>>\n<<if $watchTV>>\nShe sighed. It'd be hard to tell Fake-Dad her TV also broke.\n<<else>>She also wondered if she'd [[Find Anything On Her Own TV To Watch.|Maria's Television]]\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\nFeeling frightened by what happened, Maria believed she should go talk to somebody about it. She [[Returned To The Living Room.|Living Room]]\n<<else>><<if $knowStar or $dadStar>>\nMaria recalled what Fake-Dad said about the Star Shower and wondered if she might have been able to [[See Something Out The Window|Star Shower]] if she took a look.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowStar>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $watchTV and $toyPlay>>\nMaria felt she had perhaps quickly exhausted her playing options in her room, and considered going [[downstairs and bugging Fake-Dad just a little again|Living Room]].\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); nooo, come back I want to see you, you idiot!@@ <<set $missedStar = true>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<set $sawRoom = true>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); glub glub glub glub.@@
For many reasons, it felt like a decisive night at the Hecksher household. The atmosphere was quite thick in the room.\n\n[[Maria|Maria]] grew concerned. She remembered when she was younger, and a hurricane had made it all the way from Abhenia and up to [[Amera|Amera]], going through her home in [[Tulippa|Tulippa]] before hitting the interior.\n\nEverything in the living room reminded her of that fateful day. Huddled around the television, her [[stepfather|Carlton]] and step-uncle and [[several friends|Carlton's Boys]] seemed about to crawl into the screen, while in the kitchen [[her mother|Hannah]] babysat a finicky dinner roast, periodically looking out the door to catch glimpses of the LCD. \n\nThey had been [[Huddled Around The TV|What's On The TV Fake-Dad?]] then too, during the [[Frightening Events Of That Hurricane|Is Everything Going To Be Ok Fake-Dad?]], until the lights went out, and even after that they still held ceremony around the machine and, waiting for a sign. \n\nMaria wondered what was going on with all of that.
Apostolism is one of the largest religions in Amera and in the world. It dictates that long ago, a scheming false messiah who pretended to teach the word of God attempted to fool the 12 true children of God into turning away from his path and leading the world to ruin. Among them, one had the courage to turn his back on the messiah, and he convinced the others to follow. \n\nThanks to his leadership and inspiration they banished the false messiah and learned of their true fate as God's own children, and spread the true teachings across the world to fight the false messiah's lies. The Apostolic Church was founded upon the worship of the 12 Apostles and through them the understanding of God.\n\nApostolism is a very old, regressive religion with a host of internal problems. During the Protestant Reformation in Brittania, Roman Apostolists fled from persecution and violence in Brittania and established Amera in the New World. Since then however Amera has grown more secular, as it is difficult to fully exploit their power and wealth while tied down to any dogma.\n\nBesides Apostolism, popular religions in Amera include the Middle-Eastern Sunan religion, Merkabism (which both of Maria's parents came from, but neither practice now) and Sindhi.\n\nMaria is in general very annoyed with Apostolism due to having spent many years in a stodgy Apostolist school, and hates Angels and crosses and other kinds of Apostolist iconography.\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); i should ask Indigo how much of this is a huge lie sometime@@\n
body {font-size:90% !important;}
The Heckscher's living room was spacious, occupying a significant portion of the front of the house and leading directly to the front door landing. The walls were a soft blue and there was an "indian rug" carpet on the floor. Several single seat couches flanked the three-seat couch in the back of the living room, encircling the 50 inch flatscreen TV and a coffee table filled with snacks. Here, [[Fake-Dad|Carlton]] and his friends watched the news attentively, ocassionally grumbling when a new set of graphs showed something or other that was not going their way.\n\nA staircase to the second floor came down along the left-hand wall, parallel to a hallway leading to the back room, where the laundry machines and a closet were kept, and which led to the fenced off back yard. On the right hand side an open archway led directly into the kitchen. [[Maria]] could see her [[mother|Hannah]] in front of the stove from where she stood.\n\n<<back>>
"Mommy, why are Fake-Dad and his friends so interested in who becomes the Mayor? Is one of the mayors their friend?"\n\n"He is their friend," Hannah paused, and then tried to sell a more virtuous notion to Maria, "but he's also a much better Mayor too! We wouldn't support him just because he was our friend, that would not be very fair. He promised to introduce some really good ordinances that will make the town much better."\n\n"Will he do the stuff he promised though? I thought you voted for that blonde lady with the little wings and the weird little tail for President and you said she isn't doing the things she promised to do." Maria innocently pressed on.\n\n"Little tail and wings? You're quite imaginative." Hannah said, looking puzzled. "Anyway honey, that's the President, she has a hard job, even if we're frustrated with her and her constant lying. It's easier for a Mayor to do things than for the president. The Mayor is going to do simple things for us."\n\n"Like what kind of things?" Maria asked.\n\n"He promised to improve the town's architectural standards and to improve resources for the care and education of people like the kids mommy works with, for example. And mommy will get to talk to important people about how to do these things." Hannah said. "That will help mommy a whole lot, and you as well!"\n\n"Oh! I hope he wins then." Maria replied.\n\nHannah nodded, smiled, and returned to her work in the [[Kitchen.|Hannah's Kitchen]]\n\n<<set $hannahPolitics = true>>
Hers was a nice little room, with indigo walls (she had desired a different color than the ubiquitous pale blue in the house) and a bed with dinosaur print sheets and pillow cases. Set into the wall near her bed [[was a TV|Maria's Television]], with a FunCube480 game console. A copy of Order of Battle: Phantoms, a heavily acclaimed title for the FunCube, rested on the floor, emblazoned with a massive NFK (NOT FOR KIDS) symbol that had gone ignored.\n\nHer room had two big, circular windows: one looked out over the side of the house and another looked out to the backyard. Near the back window, a computer desk beside her bed held her laptop, but unfortunately it would not boot up for some reason. Fake-Dad had promised to fix it, but had not yet gotten around to doing so. Thankfully, she could still talk to her friends by messaging them on her phone – if it was charged. It lay lifeless beside the laptop, plugged into the wall.\n\nShe had a long table-drawer with stuffed animal toys, dolls with pretty dresses and army men and a little model tank, an Ameran Belial Main Battle Tank. She had tried to dress some of the army men in the pretty dresses from the dolls, but they did not fit properly. Still, it had been worth trying. Sometimes she liked to [[pick up the toys|Playing With Toys]] and play around for a while.\n\n<<back>>
@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); let me go. this isn't fun.@@\n\n"I bet it isn't." Maria shouted. "What's your problem with me?"\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); you can see! i haven't meet someone who can see in so long, and they were always so fun, but you're not fun at all. you're as bad as all my dull, deadbeat friends.@@\n\n"What's your idea of fun huh? Making all my stuff break?"\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); my idea of fun is making you cry and flail around and look pathetic, but you don't look pathetic at all and i take that as a challenge.@@\n\n"What are you even supposed to be?"\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); not like you, I'M FUN.@@\n\nMaria raised her hands apart from each other, and started inching them together again. The closer her palms came to one another the smaller the box became, and the smaller the sloshing gray Queen inside became, pushed into a smaller and smaller space, her mass "cut" by the inside of the transversal to make room. Once her palms touched she would cease to be.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); you can wipe all this snot away if you want. as far as my voice is concerned this is just a cough. i could scream at you and see what happens but i just want to cough. everything you See has got a sickness, kiddo, and after some time spent relaxing, maybe i can try and get you to cough too. maybe my deadbeat friends will help. so, try smashing me. see what you get out of it, you little brat!@@\n\nMaria slammed her palms together. There was no transition, no flashing lights, no screaming, nothing. Everything was just gone as though it had never existed. Her backyard was gloomy and dark and bereft of anything, as it should be; the sky was the same. Overhead she saw the beautiful blue streaks of stars falling across. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. The Noodle logo cheerfully appeared and her apps were back. She figured the TV and computer would be fine as well.\n\nShe could not hear the little sloppy voice nor the hurt, girlish, angry voice any longer. The Bleak Queen was gone.\n\nMaria turned her back and [[went inside the house again.|Fin]]\n\n
Maria stared at her tank toy and felt spontaneously energetic.\n\n"Vroom!"\n\nShe bent next to her toy table and ran the tank across the surface. The bogies, wheels and treads all moved realistically as she slid the tank across the table, and she could turn the turret easily with her fingers. It was a very faithful reproduction – Maria knew, she had seen one at a base.\n\n"General Maria is here! Do not fear, men and dolls!"\n\nShe arranged some of the army men and dolls in a huddle in the center of the table. Around them she placed the stuffed animals, looming menacingly over the smaller toys, twice as broad and sometimes three times as tall. Clearly the army men and dolls were surrounded and doomed! But Maria charged with her tank, valiantly breaking through the encirclement.\n\n"The Bear and Rabbit Alliance thinks it has the upper hand, but we have something these terrible titans lack! We have guts! This is humanity's last stand! On my mark, we chaaaarge!"\n\nMaria pushed over one of the stuffed bears with the tank, and swept the army men and dolls, hooking her arm around them all and pushing them into the bears and rabbits. "Brrrrap brap brap brrrrap!" went Maria, as her army unloaded its plastic guns, even the dolls, who lacked visible weapons. In Maria's mind everyone had reasonable armor and unreasonable amounts of guns. Humanity's attack drove the remaining bears and rabbits off the table, but one enemy yet stood, watching the battle from afar.\n\nFrom the back of the table, Maria pulled a bear with a green camouflage color scheme, and dropped it in front of her army. The final confrontation was at hand! Emperor War-Bear appeared!\n\n"Muahaha!" Maria mimicked the raspiest voice she could. "I, Emperor War-Bear, will destroy humanity! You are the true evil! You hurt the environment and do bad things all the time!"\n\n"Do not listen to him troops!" Maria shouted. "He is using the power of purpleganda! Humanity is actually really nice and good and we learn from our mistakes! Let's save the world!" \n\nMaria gathered up all of the toys and shoved them all unto the camouflaged bear, knocking it over. "Noooo! I guess Humanity really is the best and coolest! I am defeateeeed!" Maria croaked. Thus, Emperor War-Bear was slain. The world was saved.\n\nAfter regaining her breath, she picked up her tank toy and looked around the [[bedroom|Maria's Bedroom]], chuckling a little.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); oh, how cute.@@\n\n<<set $toyPlay = true>>\n
Major Carlton Heckscher is an Ameran military officer with the Ameran Bison Troops, the land army of the A.C.E. He married Hannah several years ago, fresh off a divorce to Maria's biological father. Hannah adopted his last name.\n\nCarlton is a Merkaban and has taken trips to Merkabah numerous times but he was born in Amera. He is not a Merkabim however – he does not follow the Merkaban religion. He went to Merkabah mostly because it was a nation he could take a vacation to without a passport due to Amera-Merkaban treaties. \n\nHe is profoundly lazy.\n\nCarlton is a large man, built like a barrel, bronze-skinned, with a buzz cut and a strong jaw and fists like cinder blocks. He looks like the officer in a poster for a military video game. He has a snorting laugh and likes to watch TV.\n\nWhich is to say, he is just a guy.\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); booooooooring@@\n
<<if $ready>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); Come out. I want to play!@@\n\nMaria stood in the darkness of that near-empty back room, looking out the window on the back door. There were guns locked in the closet but she would not use them. She had her own ways. She could feel it, outside, watching, smiling, waiting. Mom and Carlton were right. She would not be hurt. But they could be hurt. She knew this. They couldn't do the things she could.\n\nSteeling herself, she picked up the key atop the washer and opened the back door, slowly and silently, so as to not alert her parents. This thing was real and she had to [[Confront It Alone.|The Backyard]]\n<<else>>\nThe Backroom was dark and creepy. It was a broad room with a single, ominous door leading out to the backyard. A washer and a tumble dryer settled against the wall and there was a closet, which was locked. Atop the washing machine were the discarded keys to the back door, but Maria didn't feel like playing outside.\n<<set $sawBack = true>>\n[[She returned to the Living Room via the hallway.|Living Room]]\n<<endif>>\n\n
<<if $ready>>\n"Maria," Hannah said softly, "Let the adults worry, ok? Don't get too stressed out. Maybe you should go to sleep. We'll talk about medicine for you in the morning, if you want to."\n\n"Ok mom." Maria said. "I love you."\n\n"I love you too, sweetie." She said. "Everything will be fine. You're a special little g– Maria, remember? A special Maria."\n\n"I remember." Maria said.\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); Haha. yeah kiddo, go tell mommy about the voices. mommy can do a lot to help, mmm-hmm.@@\n\n[[Hannah]] immediately noticed Maria's bewildered expression.\n\n"Something wrong, honey? You look sick."\n\nMaria walked beside her mother and threw her arms around her. She felt reassured when Hannah put her own hands firmly on Maria's shoulders. Maria almost wanted to cry, but she fought against it and instead tried to explain as best as she could.\n\n"I was looking out of the window, and the sky was strange, and I heard a voice, mommy. It sounded scary."\n\nHannah's grip slackened for a moment, and she became silent. Maria thought she knew why. Though Maria had always been a special kid, Hannah worked with other children who thought even more differently than Maria did. She imagined her mother must have been poring through in her mind everything that it meant when a child said that she was hearing voices in the sky.\n\n"It's fine, sweetie. You might just be tired. It's getting a little late. Mommy will take care of you tomorrow, if you're still feeling bad, ok? It'll be fine, you'll see."\n\nShe petted Maria tenderly, rumpling her hair.\n\nMaria nodded her head. She backed away, and Hannah kneeled in front of her and kissed her on the forehead.\n<<else>>\n[[Hannah]] smiled and nodded toward [[Maria]].\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $seenStar>>\nA gloomy atmosphere seemed to permeate the [[Kitchen|Kitchen Description]].\n<<else>>\n<<if $caughtPot or $heardOven or $hannahPolitics>>\nThe [[Kitchen|Kitchen Description]] smelled strongly of meat and spices. \n<<else>>\nPast the archway, Maria had to take only one step to enter the kitchen, a wide and open space with cabinets running along the rightmost wall and the oven, refrigerator and sink straddling the back wall, beneath a long panel window looking out into the backyard. The Kitchen was modern and well stocked, and there was never a want of snacks inside the pantry, fruits in the little basket on countertop, or all kinds of brand name foods inside the refrigerator. Inside her mother walked to and fro, tidying things only mildly astray and periodically checking the food she was preparing for everyone.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $ready>>\nWith that said, [[Maria felt ready to go.|Back Room]]\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\nMaria felt as though something were stuck in her stomach.\n<<else>>\n<<if $hannahPolitics>>\nMaria smiled and stood around quietly, while Hannah paced around the room.\n<<else>>\n<<if $knowPolitics>>\nMaria thought to ask what [[Hannah Felt About The Election.|Election Talk]]\n<<else>>\nMaria stood around smiling.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $ready>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); hahahahahahahaha@@\n\nShe threw a dirty look at the oven, as though to quiet it.\n<<else>>\n<<if $heardOven>>\nInside the Oven the dinner roast hissed and crackled.\n\n"It's still not done." Hannah said, exasperated.\n\n"Oh." Maria replied. She thought she'd spaced out for a moment.\n<<else>>\nHer mother stood sentinel over the oven, which was making All Kinds of Noise as a [[beef dinner roast cooked within|Cackling Oven]]. It was late, but they wanted to eat some more to potentially celebrate their political victory, if any materialized. As such, Hannah had started cooking again.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $ready>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\n"I have a way to stop you." Maria said under her breath.\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); I would like to see that.@@\n<<else>>\n<<if $caughtPot>>\nMaria played with some of the fruits in the nearby basket, feeling strangely playful with her powers at the moment. She did not normally use them to play – but it felt warranted at the moment. Hannah looked a little uneasy about it, despite having just told her she could use her power inside the house.\n<<else>>\nOn the other side of the kitchen, a stack of pots and pans seemed to be [[Precariously Stuffed Into A Cabinet Compartment|Catching The Pots]], rattling a little with the door to their compartment buckling bit by bit.\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $ready>>\n<<else>>\n<<if $seenStar>>\nHer mother looked a little uneasy with Maria and her behavior, but tried to put up a strong front regardless. "Nothing will hurt you, sweetie. I promise you. You'll be ok."\n<<set $talkedtoMom = true>>\n<<else>>\n"Did you come in to help, then?" Hannah cheerfully said. "I'm never trying out this recipe again. This is too high maintenance for this late at night. But don't worry Maria, I've got it under control. You should go play for a bit until it's ready." \n<<set $metMom = true>>\n<<endif>>\n<<endif>>\n<<if $ready>>\n<<else>>Maria walked away, back to the [[Living Room]].\n<<endif>>
Dennis N. Santana
Major Heckscher's old friends from the service. Maria doesn't really know their names or ranks, but they always call Carlton "Sir" and Carlton puts on an annoyed face when they do it. Sometimes their wives come over as well for parties. They are pretty serious, quiet people, unless a football game is on – and even so. Often they added to the solemnity of a room.\n\n<<back>>\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); these guys barely even exist@@\n
Across the room, Maria heard something suddenly snap. Hannah's old pots and pans were all stuffed into a high drawer, behind a glass door with a flimsy latch – it had come undone the pots and pans budged from their captivity and cascaded to the ground.\n\nMaria reacted without thinking – she spun around and held out her hands. One by one the Pots stopped falling, coming to halt just as suddenly as they had slid out of their doors. They lay in mid-air as though they had landed on a series of unseen shelves.\n\nGently, Maria moved her arms down and the pots followed. She lowered them over an empty countertop, and stacked them one over the other so that they would not fall the same way again.\n\nHannah breathed out with relief, holding her chest.\n\n"Thanks Maria." She said. She rumpled Maria's hair.\n\n"No problem." Maria said. "I'm sorry I used [[them|Transversal Plane]] – I know you don't want me to unless I have to."\n\n"I'm fine with you using them around the house. Just keep it to yourself outside – unless you absolutely have to."\n\n"I don't think people would notice it anyway."\n\n"Well, some experiments have shown that Amerans don't tend to notice things, even strange things, around them if they're busy, but nonetheless, I think it's important we have some rules for when you can and can't use them."\n\nThey always referred to Maria's "glasses" (her word) using one of two terms: they either did not refer to them in name at all (them) or they called them a strange name Maria had not entirely internalized ([[Transversal Plane]]). \n\n"Kind of like how you never notice the President has little wings and a tail." Maria said, nodding sagely.\n\n"You have a big imagination." Hannah laughed.\n\nMaria puffed up her cheeks, feeling a little annoyed nobody believed her about the President. She walked away in grandiose, childishly indignant stomping steps, but [[stayed near the Kitchen nonetheless.|Hannah's Kitchen]]\n\n@@background-color:hsl(0,100%,50%); well, well, what was that? how interesting.@@\n\n<<set $caughtPot = true>>