Half an hour passes. A pale woman with dark hair in a black trenchcoat sits down next to you. "Yes! Pepperoni is my favorite!" She exclaims. She begins to eat.\n\n[[Who are you?|who]]
"Welcome to Big Mikey's," says the man in what you would consider a New Jersey accent, "how can I help you?"\n\n[[I need a large pepperoni pizza.]]
You're such a dork. I guess you can't help being a stereotypical game character. Just buy the backpack. Who knows. Maybe you'll need it.\n\n[[HECK YEAH LET'S BUY THIS BACKPACK]]
You duck inside a nearby apartment complex and crouch in a corner of the lobby. A storm unlike any you've ever seen rages outside. You contemplate the mysterious woman's words - "This place isn't real..."\n\nTo be continued...
You spot an intricately decorated gold pocket watch on the table to your left.\n\n[[How much for this?]]
You walk down the street a couple of blocks. You notice several shops. The time is 1:00. You still have an hour left. You need to pick up lunch for two. You see:\n\n[[BIG MIKEY'S PIZZA 'N' SUBS]]\n[[A sign with directions to the quay]]
You stand on a rocky path that leads to a [[shining gate]] in the distance.
That was a surprisingly good choice.\n\n[[Pay the woman and leave.|city]]
"The shopkeepers. Did you notice their eyes?" Now that she mentions it, you seem to recall something off about their eyes.\n\n[[Yeah. They were a little weird.]]
"I know."\n\n[[Just take the book and humor the guy.]]
"There's something they haven't been telling you."\n\n[[Who haven't been telling me what?]]
The gate swings open, beckoning you inside. You walk down the street, which is empty but does not appear to have been abandoned. Quaint shops line the street, but give way to towering skyscrapers a few blocks down. You're too busy marveling at the beauty of it all to pay much attention to the shops, but a few catch your eye:\n\n[[AUNTIE MARGARET'S ANTIQUE CLOCKS & MORE]]\n[[WE CAN'T EVEN COME UP WITH A CLEVER PUN FOR THE NAME OF THIS COFFEE SHOP]]\n[[DOLLAR DEN DISCOUNT STORE]]\n[[ALBERT'S USED BOOKSTORE|BOOKS]]
You reach into your pockets and find exactly $15. "Damn," you mutter, "I wish they did this all the time." You pay Auntie Margaret and leave the shop.\n\n[[Now I've just got to set the time on this watch...]]
Beyond the gate lies a pristine [[city]] whose buildings glisten like diamonds in the midday sun. Beyond that is an ocean of the most beautiful blue you've ever seen. "This must be a dream," you think. A message in some ancient tongue is engraved into the shining metal of the gate.
"It's, uh, 12:30."\n\n[[Thanks.]]
This is a little weird. You don't remember having a phone in your pocket before. You take out the phone to discover a new text message.\n\n[[Open message.]]
You decide to enter the Dollar Den Discount Store. You step inside the building, which appears to be unattended save for a grouchy-looking teenager who is fiddling with his lip piercing and listening to loud, angry-sounding music on his smartphone.\n\n[[Ignore him and have a look around.]]
This certainly isn't like the Starbucks in your hometown. This menu is the weirdest thing you've ever seen. Still, you're getting thirsty, and the barista is giving you a weird look. You'd better order.\n\n[[I'll have the tomato smoothie.]]\n[[I'll have the lemon juice frappucino.]]\n[[I'll have the pumpkin spice cola.]]
You exit the shop and walk a few feet down the street. You notice a bench. You decide to sit down and take another look at that book.\n\n[[Okay, I guess. Let me get it out of my backpack.]]
"That's not important."\n\n[[Well, I guess I can bring lunch...]]
"No. I don't know what this place is, but I know it's not a dream. Where are you from?"\n\n[[I - I don't remember.]]
Utopia, part 1
The numbers on the watch are written in strange glyphs. They're probably part of that weird language you see everywhere. Oh, well. It's laid out like a regular clock, so you adjust the hands to the position you recognize as 12:30. You've got an hour and a half left before you have to be at the quay.\n\n[[Your cell phone rings.]]
That was... well, you're probably going to be a bit sick later. On the plus side, you're not that thirsty anymore.\n\n[[Let's leave.|city]]
Apparently, the store does what it says on the tin. It's filled with old clocks and as-seen-on-TV items. It's not really your kind of store. Plus, you're allergic to cats, so you should probably leave.\n\n[[Okay, let's leave.|city]]
Great. A pizza place. You go in and a hefty man with a ruddy complexion sits behind the counter. Some obnoxious top-40 station is playing on a radio on the counter.\n\n[[Approach the counter.]]
The woman fades away before your eyes. The sky rapidly darkens. The wind picks up and you hear thunder rumble in the distance.\n\n[[Take shelter in the lobby of the nearest apartment building.]]
You enter the decidedly un-cleverly named coffee shop. A barista waits behind the counter.\n\n[[Okay, I'm thirsty. Let's take a look at the menu.]]
--let the player undo moves? (on / off)\n--in sugarcane, this enables the browser's back button.\n--in jonah, this lets the player click links in previous\n--passages.\n\nundo: on\n\n--let the player use bookmarks? (on / off)\n--this enables the bookmark links in jonah and sugarcane\n--(if the player can't undo, bookmarks are always disabled.)\nbookmark: on\n\n--obfuscate the story's html source to prevent possible\n--spoilers? (swap / off)\n\nobfuscate: off\n\n--string of letter pairs to use for swap-style obfuscation\n\nobfuscatekey: avemzrstfoykwuqbcxlnhidgpj\n\n--include the jquery script library? (on / off)\n\njquery: off\n\n--include the modernizr script library? (on / off)\n\nmodernizr: off\n
You walk to the quay. You find a bench that is identical to the one you sat on before (graffiti and all!).\n\n[[Sit down, put the pizza in my lap, and wait.]]
"Didn't I tell you that wasn't important?"\n\n[[I'm confused.]]
"Bring lunch with you when you meet me."\n\n[[Who are you?]]
You get the book out of your backpack and open it. The scent of lavender appears to emanate from the tome. A note written on paper that looks ancient falls out of the book.\n\n[[Pick up the note.]]
Good for you. You've got something to put things in.\n\n[[I'm gonna get out of here now.|city]]
Maybe that teenager from the dollar store will know what time it is. He has a smartphone, after all.\n\n[[But he looks menacing.]]
You take the book, a musty old tome written in some old language you don't recognize.\n\n[[Leave the shop.]]
You pick up the note. Even though the book itself is written in a language you're not familiar with, you understand the note perfectly. It reads, "Meet me at the quay at 2:00."\n\n[[I wonder what time it is?]]
He hands you a pizza. "That was quick," you think. You reach into your pocket and pay him with the wad of cash you pull out.\n\n[[Leave.|Well, I guess I can bring lunch...]]
You feel like the note is meant for you. You see a sign that tells you how to get to the quay at the end of the street. That's helpful, but it's no good if you don't get there at the right time. You've got to find a clock.\n\n[[Hey! I know just the place.]]
"OH MY GOD HOW DEMENTED DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO EVER THINK EVEN FOR A SECOND THAT THIS MIGHT BE A DECENT THING TO SERVE PEOPLE," the voice in your mind screeches. I can tell that it's screeching because it's in all caps and the grammar is off. You should probably get out of here.\n\n[[LET'S LEAVE AND NEVER COME BACK|city]]
That was helpful. You glance at your watch. 1:30.\n\n[[Let's go to the quay.]]
You choose to enter Auntie Margaret's Antique Clocks & More. You open the door and a small bell signals your arrival. A cat that looks a bit like it's clinically obese waddles toward you. An equally plump middle-aged woman with obviously dyed hair and garish-looking blue eyeshadow chases after it, shouting, "Come here, Princess!" This must be Auntie Margaret.\n\n[[I'm sorry, dear. Princess excites easily. Have a look around, if you want.]]
You decide to go back to Auntie Margaret's Antique Clocks & More. You enter the shop to discover that every clock displays a different time. You don't know which to believe.\n\n[[Well, I still need a clock, so...]]
Whatever. It's more important that you know the time. You enter the dollar store and approach the counter.\n\n[[Excuse me, sir. Do you know what time it is?]]
"They aren't real. This place isn't real."\n\n[[Am I dreaming right now?]]
You've decided to poke around the store for a few minutes. "EVERYTHING'S A DOLLAR!!!" The signs on the walls around you proclaim. Hmm. You reach into your pockets to find exactly one dollar. Maybe it was meant to be.\n\n[[Hey, look! A backpack! That might come in handy.]]
"I like old books," you think as you walk through the door. An older man wearing a pair of glasses with a small crack in the left lens and whose facial hair makes him look a bit like Karl Marx stands behind the counter.\n\n[[For some reason, I feel like I should approach him.]]
"That'll be $15."\n\n[[But I don't have any-]]
You exit the store and sit back down on the bench. You open the pocket watch. It never even occurred to you that the watch might need a new battery. Fortunately, the second hand is ticking away when you open it.\n\n[[Let's set the time...]]
"Hello. I've been expecting you. Here is that book you needed."\n\n[[This must be a mistake. I've never met you before. I've never even been to this town.]]