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<<cacheaudio "satie" "satie.mp3">>
<span class="storytitle">POCKETS, or WHEN THE GIANTS</span>
<span class="subtitle">by Natalia Theodoridou</span>
<<audio "satie" loop play>>They say everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when momentous things happened. They usually say it about disasters, apocalypses personal and collective, tragedies that etch themselves in global memory like scars on the world's skin.
I wish we could play this game about happier things, too. Ask each other: Where were you when this or that incredibly joyous thing happened? What were you doing when everyone, everywhere, cheered?
I don’t know about you. But [[this|Memory of Sex]] is what it was like for me, when the giants came out of the sea.
Perhaps you'll be as fortunate—
or more, or less. <<if $satisfaction lte 3>><<goto low>><<elseif $satisfaction is 4>><<goto medium>><<else>><<goto high>><</if>>
It's almost dark in the warehouse, only a pale glow spills in from a window high up, but you can feel the hostile presence right away.
Then, a low growl gives it away. The dog snarls, baring its teeth at you.
You scan the space quickly for anything you can use, to make the trip—and the risk—worth it.
[[A clear water container.|water]]
[[A can of food.|food]]
[[A gasoline container.|gasoline]]
You pick it up and flee. $name grows more and more into $himself. <<print $his.toUpperFirst()>> mood goes through peaks and valleys, unpredictable, sometimes scary, but so does yours. <<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> leaves the house more often now, though, which pleases you. Sometimes, you forget about the giants entirely, hold $his hand and stroll down the street as if the world hasn't even ended.
<<if $afab>>In mild amusement, you think you'd finally pass as gay again, if there were anyone around to witness you and $name together. You IDed as a lesbian for so long before you realized/decided/accepted you’re a boy that you struggled with being perceived as straight when out with $name. [[Now, finally, you’ve come full-gay-circle.|Child + Giant]]<<else>>You wonder if you might pass as straight now, if anyone saw you. Not that there's anyone left to witness you now, except Cassandra. It makes you feel a strange chill, a detachment, as if there's space between your skin and the rest of you.
[[You try your hardest to let it go.|Child + Giant]]<</if>>
$name is a <<if $afab>>giantess<<else>>giant<</if>>, and $he holds you, little tiny you, in the plateau of $his palm. <<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> lays $himself out for you and you traverse the wastelands of $his back.
You spend a week sitting in the crook of $his elbow, becoming familiar with its texture, its temperature, its scent, the slow rhythm of $his pulse drumming under the paper-thin skin.
Then, a month walking the distance of $him, from $his toes, over the long stretch of $his legs, to the valley of $his spine and the thick forest of hair draped over $his head. When you climb all the way to $his face, you lay your ear against $his lips the way one might put his ear to a seashell hoping to hear the crush of the sea.
<<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> parts $his lips for you and nudges you inside.
Sitting on the soft mollusc of $his tongue, you ask:
<<linkreplace "Were you lonely before you came?">>"Were you lonely before you came?"
And $he says, "Yes. We came here because we were lonely, and you were lonely as well."
[[Outside, it is cold.|Scout]]
<</linkreplace>>Your shrug breaks the roof of the apartment building in half. You shake the rubble off your body, making sure $name is safely tucked away.
You walk across the town, pausing at intersections to stomp down buildings—for no reason at all—and scatter bricks across the road, then walk on. Once you've broken everything by the coast, you reach the ocean. You bathe your feet in its frothy water, drink the salt. You let the ocean's sediment settle in the bottom of your stomach, stratify you from within.
When your stomach is full of water and <<if $water>>seashells<<elseif $food>>pebbles<<else>>fossils as old as the world<</if>>, you lie down on your belly, scratching your face into the sand. You close your eyes, and imagine you’re home.
How does being a giant feel?
How does being a giant feel to you?
Where is home, if you're a giant?
$name sighs into your ear and lies, exhausted, on $his back. You stand up, walk to the window, press your hand against the glass spiderwebbed with cracks and dirt. Outside, the world gets smaller and smaller, until it shrinks to nothing.
[[Morning is coming, crisp and bright.|Scout]] Time passes.
It's a few months before Cassandra disappears without a trace, just like she'd told you. The dog is gone too.
[[You look for them …]]
<<if $afab and $mirror>>
<<set $satisfaction to $satisfaction + 1>>
<<if $sextoy>><<set $satisfaction to $satisfaction + 1>><</if>><</if>>
<<if $nb and $bowie>>
<<set $satisfaction to $satisfaction + 1>>
<<if $dogtreat>><<set $satisfaction to $satisfaction + 1>><</if>><</if>>
<<if $amab and $makeup>>
<<set $satisfaction to $satisfaction + 1>>
<<if $dogtreat>><<set $satisfaction to $satisfaction + 1>><</if>><</if>>
<</silently>>As you leave the warehouse behind, <<if $water>>lugging the heavy water container in your arms<<elseif $food>>the bulky can of baked beans under your arm<<else>>the gasoline container making you list to one side<</if>>, you realize the dog is following you, keeping its distance. Not snarling anymore. You glance at it over your shoulder: it's a medium-sized grey mutt with a coat of tangled, thinning hair.
You stop and watch it for a moment. Droopy ears, pleading eyes. When it notices you're watching it, it sits and whines softly, looking away.
You turn around and start walking again.
The dog does the same.
It follows you all the way back home. Sits again when you place the <<if $water>>water container<<elseif $food>>can<<else>>gasoline<</if>> on the ground next to your feet. The dog waits patiently for you to fish for your keys.
Reaching into your pocket, your fingers brush something unexpected. Small, round, hard. You pull your hand out and stare at the thing sitting on your palm.
<<if $water>><<set $object to "seashell">><<set $objects to "seashells">>A seashell. Bright orange, a perfect spiral half a finger long.<</if>>\
<<if $food>><<set $object to "pebble">><<set $objects to "pebbles">>A pebble. Bright orange, perfectly round and smooth.<</if>>\
<<if $gasoline>><<set $object to "ammonite">><<set $objects to "ammonites">>An ammonite fossil. A perfect, ancient spiral.<</if>>\
How did it get there?
You don't remember picking this up.
Consumed by <<if $water>>seashell thoughts, you pick up the water container again<</if>><<if $food>>pebble thoughts, you tuck the can back under your arm<</if>><<if $gasoline>>ammonite thoughts, you pick up the container again<</if>> and [[shoulder the door open.|Pebbles]] Outside, it is cold. The wind creeps through the layers of your clothing, chilling you to the core. You put your hands in your pockets and still it’s cold.
You find another $object. You study it for a moment, then toss it into the dry shrubs.
The dog is waiting for you by the entrance of the apartment building. No hint of teeth or growling this time. His ears are pressed back against his skull; his tail wags tentatively, once, twice.
<span id="option1"><<linkreplace "Hey, boy.">><<remove "#slash">><<remove "#option2">><<display "dog1">><</linkreplace>></span><span id="slash">|</span><span id="option2"><<linkreplace "Go away, boy.">><<remove "#option1">><<remove "#slash">><<display "dog2">><</linkreplace>></span>
Skyscrapers stand tall around you, grey sentinels of ash and ruin. Crumbling concrete, the metal of the city rusting like old stars.
Litter tumbles on the empty streets. You register the movement calmly but intensely; everything about you is alert. You focus on the world around you, a world known only through whispers, now: the crackling of fire, far away, the broken skyline tinted orange and brown. Otherwise, silence. No blabbering birds, no howling dogs. No cars. Remember cars?
And yet, a human, two blocks from where you stand.
Running away. From you, you realize.
They could have been hostile. Is it better that they’re afraid of you?
A cricket lands on the back of your gloved hand.
You stare at it. Its angular legs folded behind it, ready to give it flight.
[[Squash it]]|[[Play with it]]
You bring your other hand down flat on the insect, squashing it against your glove.
This is the way of the world, now. There is no malice in it; things just get squashed around here. People get squashed.
You remember the first time you saw a body be squashed by a giant's foot. The person screaming, then the scream stopping. The abruptness of it.
The giant never even registered the person was there.
The giant was just taking a stroll.
You flick the remains of the cricket from your glove and move on, thinking thoughts like these:
[[Perhaps we should be more like giants.]]|[[Sometimes, the giants have eyes like lighthouses.|Eyes like lighthouses]]
You lift your arm closer to your face and wiggle your fingers. The cricket moves uncertainly. You stare at this tiny, perfect creature.
For the cricket, you are a giant.
You flip your hand slowly, and the insect follows the movement, keeping itself upright. You can't feel its legs over the thick layer of your glove, but you can imagine it, tickling.
You remember your own first encounter with a giant. You remember thinking a mountain had sprouted in the middle of the beach, except, then, the mountain opened its eyes and unfurled, the giant blotting out the sun as it stretched to its full length before you.
It was many hundreds of feet tall, its legs thin and almost delicate, the rest of its body broad and heavy. Clumsy-looking, as if drawn by a child. Slowly, and awkwardly, it moved away from you.
[[The cricket flies away.|Walking]]
Sometimes there’s light coming out of the giants’ eyes. You can see them in the night, standing there, enormous dark masses, only their eyes illuminated, staring at who knows what.
Sometimes, very slowly, they blink.
The lights go out for a few moments, then come back again.
They remind you of lighthouses. What ships are they keeping from crashing into them? Who are they protecting?
You imagine yourself:
[[At sea]]. Feel it. The salt on your skin, the cold wind on your hair.
[[In a spaceship]], cruising through the vast darkness of space, and then, you see it: the light, far away.
[[Flying]], using nothing but your own skin: You are made of clouds.
Waves breaking on the course side of the hull. The moon glaring down, its light painting the ocean silver. Stars. Uncountably many. Uncountably far away. You think of the squashed cricket in your glove, and the lights on the giants’ faces. You think of another world.
The giants are remaking the world in their image.
[[And you keep walking.|Walking]]
You cruise along the vast darkness around you with nothing to guide you but the eerie light of the giants' eyes.
And you think: one day I'll look up and realize, the giants have moons now. They hang heavy in the sky, like dying stars.
[[You go on walking.|Walking]]
There is a great view of the city spread out below, crumbling grey and black.
It looks almost beautiful, all the decay and ruin, the ageless brutality of the giants.
[[You go on walking.|Walking]]
$name greets you with a kiss to the temple. You hand $him your bounty and savour the way $he flashes you a smile when $he realizes what it contains. That earns you another kiss, on the lips this time.
You go into the bathroom to clean yourself while $name <<if $water>>decants the water into smaller, sterile bottles<<elseif $food>>prepares your dinner: baked beans heated over a tiny gas cooker<<else>>feeds the gasoline to your heater<</if>>.
Later, <<if $water>>when you sit together by the window, sipping your clean water and watching the slow ambling of the giants through the crumbling city<<elseif $food>>as you enjoy your beans by candlelight that makes $name's eyes shine hazel<<else>>as you sit in each other's arms next to the heater and watch the slow ambling of the giants through the dying city<</if>>, you ask $him about the $object.
<<linkreplace "Did you put it there?">>
"Did you put it there?"
$name smiles at you and says nothing.
When you make love that night,
[[you imagine yourself tiny]]|[[you imagine yourself a giant]].
<</linkreplace>>The dog follows you, excited to be on this adventure with you.
<<if $place is "school">>The school is empty, of course, and echoey. A layer of dust covers everything. You pick a classroom at random and run your fingers over desks, leaving behind long trails in the dust.<<elseif $place is "care home">>The care home smells musty, and the slight scent of antiseptic still lingers in the air, even after all this time. You walk along the empty hallways, peer into the empty rooms: the beds are made, the curtains drawn. A layer of dust has settled on the beige carpet. <<else>>The air inside the enclosed garden is laced with the sweet, humid odour of rotting leaves. Some of the plants have withered and died, but others are prospering, untamed now, unimpeded by human hands.<</if>>
The dog's bark snaps you to attention. Besides, there's nothing useful for you here.
You follow the sound and find the dog by the entrance.
A child is kneeling against the wall there, head hidden between knees and arms crossed over the head to form a tiny ball.
"Hey, hey, stop!" you shout at the dog, and he obeys immediately. He comes to stand proudly next to you, ears up, tail alert.
When the child unfurls, you can see it's probably a pre-teen, maybe a teen, barely. They look up at you, and there's no fear in their eyes. "That your dog?" they ask, standing up.
They walk up to you. You notice a pronoun pin on their lapel: She/her.
Yeah, you think. The kids are alright.
"He won't hurt you," you say. "He's just overeager."
She kneels in front of the dog this time, reaches out a hand and allows the animal to sniff her fingers. Satisfied, the dog licks her hand, then takes a few steps forward and headbutts her knees. "Good boy," she says, patting the dog's head. "What a good boy."
"Are you on your own?" you ask her.
She stands up again. "Yes," she says. "Most of the time." She looks at you. "You?"
"I live with my $gender, $name," you say, then immediately blurt out without thinking: "You can stay with us, if you like."
She takes a moment to think about it. Then, [[she nods|way home]]. Cassandra retreats to her new room, which she decided to share with the dog, leaving you alone with $name.
"You know you can tell me anything, right?"
Your $gender shifts where $he sits. <<if $amab or $nb>>"I think I want to try she/her pronouns for a while," $name says. "Maybe experiment with presentation, too."<<else>>"I think I want to try he/him pronouns for a while," $name says. "Try a binder. Maybe cut my hair, too? Experiment with being more masculine."<</if>><<if $afab>><<set $amab to true>><<set $he to "he">><<set $his to "his">><<set $him to "him">><<set $himself to "himself">><<else>><<set $he to "she">><<set $his to "her">><<set $him to "her">><<set $himself to "herself">><</if>>
<<timed 13s>><<if $nb>>
"Does this mean … ?"
$name shakes her head. "No. I'm still non-binary. And my name is fine for now."
You nod. "Got it."
<<else>>"Okay," you say. "Do you want to try a new name, too?"
<<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> thinks about it for a few moments. "Not yet," $he says after a while. Then, $he looks at you again. "Is it really okay?" $he asks, the person who got you through your own transition. Who's still getting you through it.
You show $him your palms. "Yes. Of course."<</if>>
$name takes a deep breath and hides $his face with $his hands. "Ugh, why was this so hard?" $he asks, exasperated.
That night you make love quietly, a thin wall separating you from where Cassandra sleeps. Flashes of intimacies past go through your mind: $name's lips, $his hands, $his hair, <<if $afab>>$his breasts<<else>>$his dick<</if>>. You realize you’ve revised your memories of $him to $his new pronouns. It was easy.
When <<if $afab>>$he slips $his fingers into you, you bite down on your tongue to keep from crying out, but you cry out anyway.<<else>>$he enters you, for a minute you feel like $his dick is your own. The euphoria makes you cum right away. Then, you cry.
If only it were as easy to revise your own mind. <</if>>
The giants flatten the neighborhood adjacent to yours, giving you an even better view of the sea from your cracked window.
You seek comfort in $name and $he seeks comfort in you. You witness $his changes, the swinging of $his mood.
You take long walks in the morning, shivering, cold to the bone. The child follows behind you, speaking in riddles, foretelling the future, listing the things you find in your pockets, before you find them:
A dead moth, its wings crumbling to dust between your fingers.
A dime with a hole in the middle.
[[You give it all to Cassandra.]]|[[You toss every single thing.]]Why did the giants come?
What do they want?
They don’t communicate with each other. They don’t talk to each other. They never seem angry with each other, or happy. They just do their thing, go on remaking the world in their image.
Some people worship them. Stand at the giants' feet, raise their hands to them, their hearts to them.
Sometimes, at night, the giants sing. They didn't do that at first, not right after they came, but later. When they got used to us, this world. When they got comfortable.
When they sing, $name closes all the windows, pulls the blankets over $his head, shuts $his ears with $his hands.
"Why don't you want to listen?" you ask $him.
"Because I don't want to think there's anything beautiful about the end of the world," $he replies.
[[You go on walking.|Walking]]
The city's colour schemes and architecture have devolved from the bright and cheery communities of your youth. All of the buildings are made of concrete, heavy with soot, stained with the acidic rain of the giants' strange weather. The sky is dirty beyond the rooftops.
The pavement under your feet lies cracked and uneven. Dark shapes of inert cars populate the city, their doors hanging open. Your breath held in your mouth, you slip into an old warehouse, looking for anything that will help you survive the giants' new world.
[[But a movement, again.|Dog attack]]<strike><span class="handwritten">I was being intimate with my</span></strike>
You were being intimate with your <<cycle "$gender" autoselect>>
You're still together. You live on the top floor of one of the many identical apartment buildings that make up this grey city. Enormous, drab, brutalist.
It's empty now. You have the whole place to yourselves. Sometimes you leave your apartment and pace the stairwells, up and down, up and down, for hours. Your steps echo across the long corridors and return to you, empty-handed, a light-footed crowd.
But it was not empty then, yet.
The sounds of life were seeping through the thin walls as you lay together in bed, the dim light of a sunset splashing in through the curtained windows, tinting you both teal.
<<if $gender is "boyfriend">><<set $amab to true>><<set $he to "he">><<set $his to "his">><<set $him to "him">><<set $himself to "himself">><<elseif $gender is "girlfriend">><<set $afab to true>><<set $he to "she">><<set $his to "her">><<set $him to "her">><<set $himself to "herself">><<else>><<set $nb to true>><<set $he to "ze">><<set $his to "zir">><<set $him to "zir">><<set $himself to "zirself">><</if>><<print $his.toUpperFirst()>> name is <<textbox "$name" "" autofocus>>.
<<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> had just put $his hands on your chest and called you boy, sweet boy, and something in you collapsed so hard at first you thought the crashing sound had come from inside your body.
[[Except it hadn't.|giants out]]
$name jumped out of bed and rushed to the window, eyes wide, shoulders tense.
<<linkappend "Peeled back the teal curtain.">>
You could see the sea from that window—which is why that apartment and that window has always been your favourite place in the world. (Yes, even now, even with this view.) The sea was calm that day, its color the grey of storm clouds and the grey of sleep, the green of seagrass and the green of trees, the dark of winter and the dark of dreams.
And there they were, colossal, emergent, dripping, wading slowly to shore. There were people on the streets, staring, jaws dropped. It took a few moments for the screaming to start, the panic, the rush to get out. To go … somewhere. Anywhere.
Do you think back to that day often?
<</linkappend>>Yes, you do.
You think about it all the time.
How $name had reached for you,
how $he'd brushed your skin with $his fingers,
how $he'd kissed you so deep you still think you're drowning, sometimes.
How you shivered.
How your chosen name in $name's mouth sounded like the most beautiful thing in the world.
And then, how you pushed $him back on the bed and
[[climbed on top]]|<<if $amab>>[[spread his legs|spread]]<<elseif $afab>>[[spread her legs|spread]]<<else>>[[spread zir legs|spread]].<</if>>You don't think about that day often.
You don't think about how, just before it happened, $he had …
<<if visited ("kiss")>>\ given you the best kiss of your life.
You don't think about how, after you saw the giants come out, $he said to you: "Now nothing will ever be the same again." <</if>>\
<<if visited ("bath")>>\ given you the best bath of your life. You don't think about how, ever since that day, you measure everything by the warmth of those few moments. <</if>>\
<<if visited ("lick")>>\made you feel like a real boy.
You don't think how that's all you ever wanted.
How, after you saw the giants come out, $he said to you: "Now nothing will ever be the same again," and you thought, of course.
I will never have what I want.
[[Now you think of other things.|Cricket]]
[[licked your lil dick|lick]]
[[kissed you so deep you choked|kiss]]<</if>>\<<cacheaudio "satie" "satie.mp3" "https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/transcoded/9/91/Satie_-_Gnossienne_1.ogg/Satie_-_Gnossienne_1.ogg.mp3">>by
<i>VOLUME:</i><br><span class="jukebox"><<button "PAUSE">><<audio "satie" mute>><</button>>\
<<button "PLAY">><<audio "satie" unmute>><</button>>\
<<button "-">><<audio "satie" volume 0.40>><</button>>\
<<button "+">><<audio "satie" volume 0.80>><</button>>\
How $he had pushed you back on the bed and knelt on the floor, $his eyes shiny with a hunger you'd never seen in them before. <<print $his.toUpperFirst()>> tongue teasing the inside of your thigh, $his palm pressing down just above your crotch.
$name had a way of giving you a blowjob that made imagining you were born with a dick so much easier.
[[But you don't think about that.|No]]
<<set $done to true>>
How $he had put you in the bath and run the water a little too hot for your comfort, though you didn't say anything. How $he passed the sponge over the entire length of your body: your legs, your arms, your crotch, your chest.
Your scars were still tender then, in a distant, echoey way, but $his touch was so light it made you feel safe—and it only hurt in the good way.
[[But you don't think about that.|No]]
<<set $done to true>>How $he had kissed you so deep you felt it down your throat for days. So deep you sometimes still can't breathe.
<<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> always took your breath away.
[[But you don't think about that.|No]]
<<set $done to true>>It's a house miraculously left unlooted, full of the things that used to crowd your days, everyone's days; untouched as if its occupants are still in there somewhere, guarding its door, cleaning its bedrooms, maintaining the delicate order of its shelves and cabinets.
Cassandra says you can only take two objects with you as you leave, and you believe her, because someone must. She tells you to think carefully about what you pick, because who knows how the simplest action can affect your future.
You pick these:
<<cycle "$scout1" autoselect>>
<<option "a makeup kit">>
<<option "a mirror">>
<<option "a Bowie record">>
<<cycle "$scout2" autoselect>>
<<option "a sex toy">>
<<option "a dog treat">>
Cassandra witnesses your choices. "One day I'll be gone," she announces. "And it will be all right."
[[Then, she heads home without another word.|transition]]You grab the container.
It's heavier—much heavier—than you expected and you drop it. You hold your breath, fully expecting the container to crack and all the precious liquid to come spilling out.
But it doesn't. The container is sound. All you have to do is pick it up again.
You think the dog will take this opportunity to attack, but it actually takes a step back, as if waiting for you to do what you have to do and be on your way. <<set $water to true>>
[[You lift the container again and go.|Dog follows you home]]There's condensation on the metal, and the can slips out of your hands and rolls away towards the dog.
The dog growls louder, and you should probably leave now, but you can't afford to let this food go.
You steel yourself for the dog's attack, but as you lunge forward to retrieve the can, the dog takes a step back, as if waiting for you to finish what you came here for.
There's no room for second thoughts now. <<set $food to true>>
[[You pick up the can and go.|Dog follows you home]]You grab the container.
It's heavier than you expected and you drop it. The liquid sploshes inside, making the container even harder to handle. You think the dog will take this opportunity to attack, but it actually takes a step back, as if waiting for you to do what you have to do and be on your way. <<set $gasoline to true>>
[[You pick it up again and go.|Dog follows you home]]<<if $afab>>When $he sees the makeup kit, $he presses his lips together and says nothing. Sets the kit aside and finds the <<if $dogtreat>>dog treat. Shakes the little foil packet and the dog comes running, butt wagging madly. It's gone in moments. <<else>>sex toy. Bursts out laughing, and that's enough.<</if>><<else>>$name beams when $he finds the makeup kit in your backpack, <<if $dogtreat>>then beams even harder when $he finds the little foil packet of dog treats. <<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> calls the dog to $him and he comes running. The treats are gone in moments.<<else>>then giggles, hand-on-mouth, when $he finds the dildo. "You little asshole," $he says. <</if>>
<</if>><<if $afab>>When $name retrieves the small mirror from your backpack, $he pauses for a few moments. Then, says: "Will you cut my hair?"
So you do. It's not like you have experience in cutting hair—you buzz yours short with a clipper—but the result is halfway decent, and that's all that matters. Pockets of joy.
<<if $dogtreat>>Then, you get the foil packet of dog treats, to the dog's butt-wagging delight.<<else>>Then, you present the dildo you picked up, still in its packaging. $name wiggles $his eyebrows at you, palming $his fresh haircut with pleasure. <</if>><<else>>"What's that for?" $name asks when $he finds the mirror in your backpack.
You shrug. "I thought we could, I don't know, reflect on stuff."
<<if $dogtreat>>Bodies. Gender. Giants.
As you reflect, you take out dog treats and feed them to the dog one after the other. <<else>>Later, at night, in the half-dark, $he finds a good use for it.<</if>><</if>>
<<if $afab>><<display wishbone>><</if>>You show $name the Bowie record and $he beams. <<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> folds you into a hug and kisses the bridge of your nose.
You have no way to play the record, of course, so you sing it instead and $name lip-syncs to it because $he's always been a horrible singer.
Then, you retrieve the <<if $dogtreat>>dog treats from your backpack, to the dog's butt-wagging delight. They're gone in seconds. <<else>>dildo from your backpack and $name bursts out laughing.<</if>>
<<if $nb>><<display wishbone>><</if>>Back home, $name is waiting for you.
<<if $makeup>><<display makeup>><</if>><<if $mirror>><<display mirror>><</if>><<if $bowie>><<display bowie>><</if>>
Cassandra stares at the giants outside the window. You think she might speak a prophecy any moment now, but she doesn't.
[[More time passes.|Post-transition sex]] $name's mood goes downhill as more time passes without Cassandra and the dog, though you're not sure they're the reason.
<<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> refuses to leave the house again, even to look for those you've lost.
You think it's your fault: If you'd done something else, said something else, found something else in your pocket, would things have turned out differently?
Probably not, right?
[[No matter what you do, you can't guarantee your partner's happiness.]]$name's mood has been more down than up lately. Sometimes $he joins you on your walks, but most of the time $he stays in.
So, today, you're on your own.
You sit on the beach, watching the giants. And you wonder: Where do they go when they retreat into the water and behind the mountains?
You think of Cassandra, and the dog, those pockets of joy.
[[You imagine what it would be like if you begged one of the giants to take you.]] It's been months now. $name is finally in a good mood.
The sun is setting slowly in the distance. It's a perfect afternoon.
We sit on the beach together and stare out at the sea where the giants stand idly, contemplating the brown sky and the burning cities beyond. $name leans against my chest as I wrap my arms around $him.
I reach into my pocket and curl my fingers around an object.
I have no idea what I'll find, but that's all right.
Because, whatever it is, I know I'll give it to $him.
[[And you, I wonder?]]<<print $his.toUpperFirst()>> body felt warm beneath yours, and your hand searched desperately under $his clothes. <<display hard>> $name's crotch.
$name squirmed under your touch, moaning softly and, you thought, a little desperately. <<print $his.toUpperFirst()>> body felt warm, your hand fumbling with $his clothes.
<<display hard>> the hard fabric of your jeans.
<<print $he.toUpperFirst()>> shifted uncomfortably.
"Is this all right?" you asked.
You remember the way $he looked at you then, that shiny mix of fear and excitement in $his eyes. You still puzzle through it, the familiarity of it.
[[All the while, you think of giants.|Cricket]]He stands up and starts following you as you go onto your daily scavenge.
You walk down street after street, the city's decay covering every one of them with a veneer of timelessness. A city of identical ruins.
You've already looted all the obvious places—the supermarkets and pharmacies and gas stations—so you need to get creative with your choices these days.
<<link [[You pick a school.|Find child]]>><<set $place to "school">><</link>>|<<link [[You pick an old people's home.|Find child]]>><<set $place to "care home">><</link>>|<<link [[You pick an abandoned botanical garden.|Find child]]>><<set $place to "garden">><</link>>"Hey, boy," you say.
The dog's ears perk up at the sound of your voice, and his tail wipes the ground.
"I've no food for you, I'm afraid."
The dog doesn't care.
<<display "dog">>"Go away, boy," you tell him. "I've got nothing for you."
The dog tilts his head to the side and gives a low whine. His tail wags again, once, twice.
"Just go away," you repeat, louder this time.
But the dog doesn't care.
<<display "dog">>On the way back, the child shows you her secret stash of cans and clean water. The dog walks ahead this time, making sure the two of you are safe.
In the main road that sees all the way to the ocean, you pause and stare at the distant figures of the giants as they stand in the water, contemplating the sky, or the air, or nothing.
"How old were you when they came?" you ask.
"Older than when I saw them coming for the first time," the child replies cryptically.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
She doesn't reply. "There's something in your pocket," she says instead, and then starts walking again towards your place.
"What?" you ask. You reach into your pocket, certain that you tossed the last $object you found; and yet, there it is, sitting on your palm again, in all its perfection.
[["How did you know?"|know things]] you call after her. She's always known things, it turns out. She's always been able to see things, say things that would later come true, ever since she was small.
She says that as if she's now very old.
Nobody, she says, nobody ever believed her.
$name decides to call the child Cassandra but refuses to tell her the details of her myth.
Cassandra accepts her name. Then, she turns to $name: "Don't you think it's time to tell him?" she asks.
$name inhales sharply at that.
[["Tell me what?"|Processing]]You give her the eggshells and watch her scatter them on the most fertile ground she can find, saying one day something will grow there again—and you believe her, because everything she says comes true eventually.
You give her the dead moth, hoping she might breathe life back into its wings, but she pronounces it long gone.
You give her $object after $object and she offers them each to the giants, leaves them by their feet and stays there, watching from a safe distance, until the giants, oblivious, shift and grind the $objects to dust under their feet.
The dime, she puts in her mouth, and swallows.
One day, she intuits the way to [[a treasure trove|Scout specific]]. Just let it all fall off you, the eggshells, the $objects, the dime—a slow, strange molting.
If anyone were to follow this odd trail of yours, you wonder, what would they find?
Cassandra says nothing of the things you try to let go of.
One day, she intuits her way to [[a treasure trove|Scout specific]]. <<if $scout1 is "a makeup kit">><<set $makeup to true>><<elseif $scout1 is "a Bowie record">><<set $bowie to true>><<else>><<set $mirror to true>><</if>>
<<if $scout2 is "a sex toy">><<set $sextoy to true>><<else>><<set $dogtreat to true>><</if>>
<<set $satisfaction to random(1, 4)>>
<<goto "prophecy">><<set $wishbone to true>>
Afterwards, when you reach into your pocket, you find a wishbone.
[[… and look for them …]]… and look for them everywhere.
You don't find them,
somehow, you know they're both all right.
[[Will you be all right?|Ending]] There was a pain between your legs, your tiny dick tense. You imagined yourself hard as your packer rubbed against It’s hard to say what it's like when I'm held in the giant's grasp. It feels like a fist around my chest, an arm around my neck. I worry what would happen if the giant chose to make a fist right about now.
The giant's palm is rough, weather-worn. Islands of dead skin form scales on the length of the long, long arm. I stretch myself out on this peculiar shore, sun myself under the dirty sky, let myself be lulled by the giant's slow breath.
And, in my fitful sleep and at the edges of my giant dreams, I can't help but ask myself: [[what about you?]]
It's a hard lesson to learn, isn't it? A harder one to swallow.
I remember, though, the mystery of my own internal workings, the shrouded enigma of it all when I first thought of transitioning. Everything was joyous, and the pain was stark, and nothing was easy. Things came to light, later, or maybe I explained them to myself in retrospect, revised my memory of my self and the story of myself I tell, keep telling.
[[It's all that matters, now, the telling.]]
-"Scout Specific" passage DONE, added this: "She tells you to think carefully about what you pick, because who knows how the simplest action can affect your future."
-I like the idea of differentiating between 1st and 2nd person with CSS. Added a note below to that effect. Let me know what you think?
-tweaked all three ending passages
- differentiate the cycling links Vs the navigation links with slightly different color and/or glow?
- Is the audio working ok? currently works in Firefox and not Safari. Controlled by the buttons in the sidebar--let me know if you'd prefer a different/better way?
- I was thinking we could have the art for the piece as background and a text box with black background color and a more computery font (?like a 8-bit game? But, you know, legible) in all passages except those tagged with "nobox" (Nobox passages should remain as they are). So I'm thinking the effect could be what the 1st person passages should resemble notes, whereas the 2nd person passages look like a game.
<<audio "satie" unloop fadeoverto 10 0>>So that was my story—one of the many I tell myself. I'm sorry I couldn't make it a happier one for you. Perhaps next time.
But I can't help but wonder: What about you?
Yes, you, who else?
You've been with me for so long, after all. I'm not a monster. I care.
So what about you?
What story will you tell yourself when the giants come out?
[[(And if you were me, would you try again?)|Start]]<<audio "satie" unloop fadeoverto 10 0>>Yes, you. What about you?
You've been on this trip with me for long enough now that I can't help but imagine you and wonder.
What will it be like, for you?
Will you do better than I did? Or worse? Or about the same?
What will you find in your pocket of joy, when the giants come out?
<center>THE END</center><<audio "satie" unloop fadeoverto 10 0>>Yes, what about you?
You've been with me for long enough now. Seen so much, heard so much. Peeked into recesses of my life I've let no other person see.
So do you ever wonder?
Perhaps I didn't do so great, but I didn't do so bad either.
Do you ever wonder what it'll be like when the giants come out for you?
Do you think you'd fare better?
[[(And if you were me, would you try again?)|Start]]You sit on the beach alone and stare at the enormous backs of the giants as they stand in the sea, contemplating the sky, the flickering stars, the burning cities beyond. Every breath that leaves your mouth is a prayer filled with ash. Your eyes hurt. You try not to tell yourself that this is the end.
The sun sets in the distance. The giants are resting on their haunches now, immovable, staring away from the city. From their slow breathing, you know they are asleep.
You reach into your pocket and find it empty.
<center>[[THIS IS THE END|THE END]]</center>