Do you remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? I loved them back in the day. There were certain books I read multiple times to find the path to the best ending which was, of course, the ultimate goal of the series. They function like a literary RPG in which you are the star of your own written adventure. Progressions of choices lead you inexorably to an end - some optimal, some bland, and some deadly. I won't detail all the ways in which Choose Your Own Adventure books operated, I'll instead throw up a link to their site here so you can discover either nostalgia or something new for yourself.
I have long been obsessed with writing Choose Your Own Adventure tales of my own. They're much harder to write than you might originally think. You essentially have to write an entire series of small related tales that entwine and keep track of all the different branches of each choice and which end each leads to. When I was working the box office of the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver in the days before its tragic closure due to Livent bankruptcy (a historical tale for another time) it inspired a Choose Your Own Adventure tale starring my then-manager and various other employees of the struggling theatre. Then later, in New Zealand, I wrote a never-finished series for a dear friend which involved mailing pages to her and waiting for her choice to reach me before continuing the story. It was a glorious correspondence.
It's that latter attempt that inspired this. On its own, as a standalone, this is not at all a striking story. In fact, nothing happens. It's very dull. The beauty of it will lie in your participation. It's the choice you collectively make in the comments that will propel the story and reveal the hidden plot threads. Unless you interact with this tale, it will never exist.
So, without any further ado, I present my Choose Your Own Adventure. All rights belong to Chooseco and I use this only with the intent to respect and pay homage to a foundation of my childhood reading.
Choose Your Own Adventure
You’re bored. Sitting on the steps, chin in hand, you can’t muster the interest to continue the book face down next to you. The yard is lit by the last of the summer sun and everything is a glorious burnished orange hue. You decide the night is far too enticing to spend bored on your back porch so you get up and cross the yard to the gate that separates your property from the undeveloped land beyond. When you unlatch the gate you hear a small sound. A sort of rasp or light growl. You look around but see nothing, no animals, nobody else around. With a shrug you dismiss the sound, step through the gate, and shut it firmly behind you.
In front of you stretches the land that seems to be used as both a rough green space and a dumping ground. Far off on your right an old couch leans against a refrigerator with no door. Straight ahead of you is a swath of overgrown grass and struggling shrubs that breaks into a sudden woodsy area. To your left the ground slopes sharply downwards. At the end of the slope there is a small side street and across the street sits a graveyard. The sun has now hit the furious red stage of setting and shadows are long and thin across everything. You hear the rasp again. Frowning you scan the ground but can see no animal, nothing that would have made the noise.
The air is fresh but not cold. You breathe deeply and feel like exploring the land beyond your yard. But which way should you go?
If you check out the old couch and refrigerator to see if the growl belongs to a lost animal, turn to Page 3.
If you decide to walk straight across the grass to the wooded area, turn to Page 6.
If you’re more in the mood for exploring the cemetery, turn to Page 7.
- Corinne Simpson