#A COTTAGE OUTSIDE OF TOWN
[[Start the game]]]]
CONTENT WARNING: This game contains themes of death and suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or is in crisis, please contact: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
© 2022 Silent God Studios Sunlight streams through the old, grimy windows. You sit up on your bare mattress, still surrounded by boxes and your half-unpacked belongings.
[[Take a moment to orient yourself.]]You try to shake the dreams from your mind, a scramble of unorganized thoughts, feelings, images... It's a new place, after all. Well...new now. It's natural to have some weird dreams the first night or two, especially in your state.
The walls around you are half panneled with white-painted wood, matching the freshly painted-over walls. If you peer long enough, you can see the seams of wallpaper that had long been covered over with layers of paint. When you'd first gotten here, they'd been baby pink. Not that you didn't ''like'' baby pink, but it was definitely supposed to be a nursury. The real estate agent had said they'd moved out and sold the place in a hurry.
That doesn't matter to you, though. You're here to have a fresh start, and hopefully get a feel for your past.
[[Stay in bed a bit longer.]](if:visits is 0)[After a quick shower and fishing some clean clothes out of a bag of laundry, you pad into the kitchen.
It's mostly unpacked, luckily, though severely lacking in groceries. You probably ought to head into town to get some--You're running low on cereal and sandwich makings, and you figure you ought to work some other food in there.
You make a quick breakfast and a cup of coffee, leaning on the counter and peering out the window into the garden as you eat. ]
(if:(history: where its name contains "5 more minutes...")'s length >= 1)[You try to shake the dream from your mind, but you keep coming back to that dead, painted face, and those milky white eyes. Despite the warmth of the day, you feel a chill creeping up your spine.]
Time to seize the day, or something like that.
[[Finish unpacking your room]]
[[Go out to the garden]]
[[Head into town]]
(if:(history: where its name contains "5 more minutes...")'s length >= 1)[[Go check out the basement]]It's been an eventful day and a half since you've gotten here, and your body aches from moving all this new stuff in. Your doctor had told you to take it easy. He's the medical professional. Best to take his advice in lay back, if just for a few minutes... you feel yourself starting to drift again...
[[5 more minutes...]]Ugh, your paint is all fucked up. You stare at your face: Long, greasy blonde hair that's in desperate need of a brush hangs around a thin, sharp-featured face. It's even more accentuated by the black and white paint that covers it. Black rings your cornflower blue eyes, and is drawn down in long, drip-like patterns from your lips. You can see where you rubbed away around your eyes, smudged and making a mess of grey.
You reach for the edge of the mirror, opening the cabinet behind it. Empty...Did the guys move the makeup again? Assholes. An annoyed, guttural growl fills your chest.
[[Slam the cabinet shut.]]The mirror swings on its hinges, slamming closed with an impossibly loud crash.
The same face you'd been admiring just a moment earlier stares back at you, makeup now dried and cracked, flaking away from an expressionless face. Milk-white eyes stare back at you. The expression twists, and the mouth opens, growling out...something you can't understand. You want to scream, but it's as if a cloth has been stuffed in your mouth. All that comes out is a strangled whimper.
[[Wake up!]]You awaken in a cold sweat, bolt upright in bed. Looks like you've slept a little longer than 5 minutes, but the sun is still shining bright in the sky, flooding through the windows and leaving little pools of light in your room and in the hall.
Just a dream. Weird dreams were to be expected in your state. You look down at your hands and grip them a few times, rub your face, and toss the blankets off.
[[Get up]] You head into your room, which is still filled with half-empty boxes. It'll be another few days before your bedframe arrives, but for now, at least you can set up your book case and put some of your things away where they belong.
You set your nearly-empty coffee cup aside and roll up your sleeves. You put on some of your favorite tunes, open the windows, and set to work on [[unpacking.]]An overgrown garden occupies the side and back of the cottage, in a way you figure looks breathtaking once everything is in full-bloom. For now, you can see the first buds of flowers starting to grow, despite the weeds that choke out most of the plants. It's going to need some serious TLC.
The day is mild, but with the sun on your back, pleasantly warm, a gentle breeze on your back. You figure you could do some gardening, if you felt like it. A shed towards the back of the garden promises some tools that could help you out.
[[Visit the shed]]
[[Go back inside | More chores]]
(if:(history: where its name contains "enter the shed")'s length >= 1)[You decide to use your gardening gloves to weed for a little while and clear your mind. The fresh air, sun, and sounds of nature all around you bring you a sense of peace.
Once you've finished weeding, you decide that it's time to [[Go back inside | More chores]]]You can still feel the dream's influence fogging your brain. You remembered...There was music in the basement, and you had this URGE to go down there. You had to...practice something.
You peer across the kitchen at the old, crooked door to the basement. Swallowing your fear, you edge towards it, making sure to kick on your slippers before you [[descend.]]That fridge isn't going to fill itself, is it? You've been living off of PB&J, cereal, and crappy coffee, and as much as you love it, you figure you could really go for some nice snacks.
There's a nice little grocer in town. After living in America for so long, the customs are a little bit unfamiliar, despite it all. You'd grown up around here, apparently. Not that you can remember.
Pulling a light coat and your boots on, you trot out to your old bike, and climb up on. You pull out of the driveway, and down the dusty old road [[into town]].(if:(history: where its name contains "More chores")'s length is 0)[You start to fade again, nestling your head into the comfortable warmth of the nest of pillows and blankets you'd made overnight. Just a few minutes surely won't hurt. Your heavy lids slide shut, and you drift into blissful sleep.]
(if:(history: where its name contains "More chores")'s length >= 1)[You can feel exhaustion from the last few days pulling at you, the ache in your head subsiding a little as you close your eyes again. You crawl back into bed, tugging the blankets over your head for a nice, short nap. ]
There's loud music coming from somewhere in the basement. With a start, you sit at attention. Right, you need to be practicing. You rub the sleep from your eyes and get out of the beaten old armchair. Big mistake--Now you've got black greasepaint all over your fingers. You groan, wandering into the bathroom.
[[Look in the mirror]] Your fingers brush the old, plaster walls, fumbling for the light switch. It flicks on with an electric buzz, illuminating the cement walls. Despite the cottage's age, it had clearly been re-finished at some point in the 70s or 80s, judging by the half-finished wood paneling towards the back.
It's colder down here than anywhere else in the house, and it feels...oppressive. You shuffle down the creaky stairs, until you find yourself standing in the middle of the room, where the single, naked lightbulb illuminates the whole area. You can see cardboard boxes sagging with age and the weight of their contents shoved into corners, and a few odd pieces of furniture. A broken rocking chair, a desk; A floral armchair, worn in on the seat.
[[Check the boxes]]
[[Approach the chair]]
[[Head back upstairs | More chores]]Dusty, mouldering boxes full of papers and old beloggings occupy the corners.
(if:(history: where its name contains "enter the shed")'s length is 0)[These boxes are pretty old and covered in god knows what. You could really use some gloves for this. Maybe there are some out in the garden? You figure you should probably [[Visit the shed]]]
(if:(history: where its name contains "enter the shed")'s length >= 1)[Luckily for you, you've visited the garden shed. You retrieve the pair of gardening gloves from your back pocket, tugging them on to protect your hands as you shift through the detritus.
Within the boxes, you find an array of documents, both mundane and important in nature, though all relatively old. A few items seem to stick out to you, though...A chain necklace with a key on it, and a sheaf of papers. You decide to [[look through them]].]A chill runs through you, the dream flashing through your mind again. It's the same armchair from then-- You can see the floral pattern, the worn arms and seat of it. It sags with age, and upon closer inspection, you can see that it's got some [[stains]] on it.The door to the shed seems to be locked with a padlock. You briefly recall seeing it somewhere in your room...
(if:(history: where its name contains "Finish unpacking your room")'s length is 0)[Maybe if you [[Finish unpacking your room]] you can find them.]
(if:(history: where its name contains "Finish unpacking your room")'s length >= 1)[You fish the keys from your pocket, fingering through them before finding a key that seems to fit.
With a turn of the lock, you [[enter the shed]].]There's always more to do, and the day is still young.
[[Finish unpacking your room]]
[[Head into town]]
[[Go out to the garden]]
(if:(history: where its name contains "5 more minutes...")'s length is 0)[[Take a nap]]
(if:(history: where its name contains "5 more minutes...")'s length >= 1)[[Go check out the basement]]
(if:visits >= 4)[[Move on to Night]]
(link: "Save")[(save-game: "file A")]After a few hours of hard work, you finally finish unpacking, satisfied with the pile of empty boxes; Your only interruption the peculiar way the music seemed to skip on your bluetooth speakers, and the static that seemed to overcome it at times. Maybe it needs to be charged? You're not sure.
In doing your unpacking, you manage to recover a set of keys that you recall the real estate agent giving to you. You're not sure exacly what they go to, but you're awfully glad you've found them!
[[The day is still young and the sun is still up. | More chores]]The dusty shed doesn't seem to have been opened in years. It's filled with old, rusting gardening equipment.
An old spider's web occupies one corner, now vacant of any resident. It still makes your skin crawl a little bit as you pick your way through, shifting things aside as you go. On a small workbench in the back, you notice a pair of well-worn gardening gloves and something unexpected: A dust-caked container of black greasepaint.
(if:(history: where its name contains "5 more minutes...")'s length >= 1)[That shiver you'd felt earlier returns, and you feel your stomach turn to icewater. Is this where they put it? Why?]
(if:(history: where its name contains "5 more minutes...")'s length is 0)[You retrieve the gloves and little pot of paint, stowing it in your back pocket. For some reason, you feel drawn towards it.]
[[Go out to the garden]] Leafing through the pages, this seems to be the old deed to the property, as written up back in 1994. The owner seems to be one Váli Heikkiä.
Was that who owned the property before? Your stomach churns, an uncomfortable knot of nerves that spurs you on.
You continue to root through the pages, finding boring document after boring document...And then finally, a singular piece of paper, loose amidst the files. It's covered with a black print, and a messy tangle of root-like calligraphy. Beneath it, the shadowy, corpse-like figure of a person. The text beneath the calligraphy is clear:
(text-colour:red)[''For one night only: 4/23/94 10PM at the OVERKILL'']
Your hands begin to tremble, feeling strangely overwhelmed. Your head throbs painfully, and you have to close your eyes for a moment to get your bearings. Crumpling the flyer into your pocket, you step back, and:
[[Approach the chair]]
[[Run back up the stairs | More chores]]You head back to your room for a nice nap. Surely you can rest for [[5 more minutes...]] The little town is sleepy and comfortable, and as you ride down the road, you can hear the birds singing sweetly in the trees. The wind in your hair, the rumble of the gravel under your bike's tires--For the first time in a long time, you feel free.
It's easy to almost forget why you came all the way here in the first place.
You know it isn't, but the dozens of accusing eyes say so. Strangers. Your fault that they're there, all hurting, all missing him.
What could you have done differently? You roll over a dozen impossible possibilities over in your mind, trying to untangle the web of decisions that lead you here like a ball of yarn. Just when you reach half of a conclusion, you're right back to the start.
You want to tell yourself that he didn't want this for you, that he wouldn't blame you. But it's hard to when the events keep going over and over in your mind.
The cemetary is cold and quiet, the crisp autumn wind chapping your cheeks, and freezing your slowly falling tears. Crows caw in the distance, filling the sky overhead.
You can't stand to look at any of them, all those faces you don't know. Who don't know **you**. You're an interloper.
As the service comes to an end, you retreat back towards the gates.
There's a shadow darting among the graves. A shape that's almost familiar, but twisted. Wrong.
You begin to walk faster, glancing around wildly to follow it, not watching where your going. As it gets ever closer, you break into a run, [[and-- ]]////The world falls away around you, and you're surrounded by the scent of earth. Wet, dark soil crumbling all around you as you let out a cry, trying to claw your way out of the grave.
Your head throbs painfully, and you can feel every wound like its fresh again.
Like he's trying to pull you down with him. Maybe its where you belong.
When warm, strong, living hands pull you out, you're met with a look of inconvenience. Disapproval.
The shade flickers ever closer.//
You're pulled from your reverie as you swerve to avoid a squirrel running across the road, letting out a little yelp. You pull to the side of the path to catch your breath, centering yourself. Be here in the moment.
It's been a stressful few days. You just need more sleep.
That's what you tell yourself, at least.
[[Enter the market.]]The town is small and the market isn't too busy right now. You try to clear your head as you walk around with your basket, gathering necessities.
[[Go to the butcher]]
[[Go to the baker]]
[[Go to Sale]]
(if:visits >= 2)[[[Go home | More chores]]]The bell above the butcher's shop door tinkles as you enter. A young woman stands behind the counter, folding up meat in paper for an old man. After a moment, the man thanks the woman in Finnish, and leaves.
You step up to the counter, ordering what you'll need to make dinner tonight.
As the woman readies your order, you catch her giving you furtive glances.
"So," She says, "You've moved into the old cottage." you nod in response, watching her make the practiced slicing motion.
[[Laugh awkwardly and thank her.]]The baker's shop is bright and inviting, the smell of freshly baked bread wafts out the open door.
As you enter, a burly man behind the front counter smiles warmly at you, waving.
"Good afternoon! What can I get for you?"
As you pick out your breads, you sense his gaze on you. When you glance over in question, he pauses.
"I know you're new in town. I figure since you're still settling in, I'd make something special for you."
He offers up a fresh //korvapuusti//.
"For you. Welcome."
[[Thank him.]]The convenience store is a bit busier than the market. As you go around and collect what you need, you feel eyes upon you.
Though no one approaches you or says anything cryptic, you decide to approach a small corkboard that seems to have community events posted on it.
Looking over it, you see a number of ads. An older woman appears to be inspecting it as well. Her expression is sad.
[["Are you alright?"]]
[[Seeing nothing you care about, head home. | More chores]]The woman looks up at you for half a second, then over her shoulder, and then back at the meat. "I really shouldn't //say//, I was only a girl when it happened...but...."
(if:(history: where its name contains "look through them")'s length >= 1)[[You pull the flyer from your back pocket, holding it up in question]]She smiles at you, preparing your order and making small talk.
By the time she's done, you feel a warm happiness bubbling up inside you. She waves at you as you gather up your things.
"Have a nice day!"
[[Enter the market.]] The young woman hesitates.
Finally, she says in a hushed voice, "There was this...band that used to play up there. One of them lived there, up at the cottage. They say he was...consumed by something dark. They say they didn't find his body for days. But I...I shouldn't say anything more."
She passes you your order.
"Have a good day."
[[Enter the market.]] The young woman pales, staring in disbelief. As she gives you your order, she stammers, "It's really not right to gossip. You can't speak ill of the dead."
[[Enter the market.]]The surface of the fabric is smeared in places with what appears to be paint. A few patches look suspiciously like blood, or maybe wine? Your stomach turns at the sight, but you're strangely drawn to it.
[[Look under the cushion]]
[[Save this for another day and go back upstairs | More chores]]Fueled by curiosity, you gingerly pull aside the cushion. Wedged into the seat's frame, you can see something that looks like a scrap of fabric.
Pulling it free, the smell of must fills your nostrils. You shake it out, peering at your find-- A t-shirt, dirty, ripped, and splattered with faded white paint.
You senses are suddenly overcome. Blaring guitar and crashing cymbals, a guttral scream that echoes off of the dank walls. A Shape manifests in the corner of the room.
When silence returns a split second later, it's resounding. The light buzzes, and then fizzles out.
[[RUN. | More chores]]He chuckles, waving a hand.
"It's the least I can do for you, moving into that house. It'd give anyone the chills."
[[Enter the market.]] The old woman jumps a little, and then smiles at you. Her cornflower eyes crinkle up in the corners.
"Sorry, I'm fine. Is there something you need?"
[["Just wanted to make sure you were alright."]]
(if:(history: where its name contains "look through them")'s length >= 1)[["I was wondering if you knew anything about this flyer?"]]
(link: "Load")[(load-game: "file A")]By the time you're done with all of your chores, the sun is beginning to burn low on the horizon. It's been a fulfilling day, albiet a bit eerie. So many nerves, memories coming back to you...
You try to shake it off as you head back inside to work on getting yourself some [[dinner]].The old woman waves a hand, shaking her head amicably. There's still a lingering sadness about her, despite her smile.
"Just lost in my thoughts, I suppose. You have a good day," She interrupts herself when she looks in your eyes, averting hers quickly and moving on, mumbling something.
[[Enter the market.]]
[[Head home | More chores]]The old woman's brow draws tight, her gaze flicking away from you.
"I need to get going."
She hurries off in the other direction without saying anything more. You get the feeling she knew something.
[[Enter the market.]]
[[Head back home | More chores]]You decide that a simple stew will be the best.
You cut up the ingredients, allowing yourself to decompress as you set your mind to this task. Carrots, potatoes, celery, turnips, herbs, spices, beef from the butcher.
When you're done, you put everything in your largest pot to let it cook. As you stand back you decide that you should
[[Send a voice message to your friend]]
[[Look out into the garden]]You're feeling a little homesick. This is a new place, with so many unfamiliar faces, and you're still grieving and injured. You'd thought that leaving would be easier than lingering with the pain back home, putting some distance between you and the //incident//. In plenty of ways it has been easier. In others...well.
//There's something lonely about this house.//
You take out your phone, opening up your messenger app and leaving a short audio update--You were mostly unpacked, you'd gone shopping, dinner was coming along fine. You were done //fine.//
You decide to leave the disturbing dream out of it.
When you press send, you set down your phone so you can [[wash yourself a bowl]].In the thin evening light, you can make out the garden--A tangle of weeds choking out what once must have been breathtaking. You figure it will be even more beautiful when things are in full bloom.
Out here in the countryside, you're sure, there's plenty of wildlife. This is what makes you perk up when you see something move outside--A deer, perhaps?
You drift over to the glass, fingers brushing against the cool pane as you peer outside. Your breath and body heat fogs it a little. There's that movement again. Something...by the shed.
A moment later, your [[blood runs cold.]]As you crank on the water, the faucet spits out a surge of brackish water, salty and fetid. Your hand flys to your nose and mouth, while your free one frantically turns off the spout.
Just as you do so, you jump as your phone begins to blare back your audio message at full volume.
Something is wrong with it. There's a distortion, like you're speaking over a bad line, and the static nearly overcomes your voice.
You can almost hear a whisper in the background, cut in with...music? It's like your phone is picking up a radio signal, but you know that that's impossible.
You towel off your hands quickly, and hesitantly reach for your phone. The second you touch it, the message [[stops. | The basement door opens]]You watch as outside, the shed light flickers on, casting the garden in a sickly yellow light. Nothing. Nobody.
As you step back, you catch a look at yourself in the reflection of the window, your figure ghostly and disproportionate.
Someone steps into the reflection behind you, pale yellow hair hanging around an impossibly pale, gaunt face. It's all you can do not to scream as you whirl around and find yourself [[alone. | The basement door opens]]Its all too much for your system. You lurch forward, that throbbing pain that you've become so familair with returning with a fury. Even though you're no longer as weak and injured as you were after the accident, this is too much.
Bracing yourself against the counter, you squeeze your eyes shut. You stay there for a moment, quietly counting under your breath.
Just as you reach 10, you hear the whistle of a stiff breeze outside whistling through the cracks in the window. The basement door creaks on its hinges, and when you open your eyes, the windows curtains stir. The air currents push the door, and make the flames on the stove dance.
[[Of course.]]It's been pleasantly breezy all day long, and the wind has picked up as the evening has gone on.
You're alone. You're recovering from a head injury, you can hardly remember anything barring the last 5 years, and you're in a new country that you are supposed to be familiar with.
Stress, stress, stress, and trauma on top of all of it. Your doctor had warned you about this.
You feel a little silly, admittedly. You wet a paper towel and dab at your face, only realizing as you come to your senses that the stew is nearly boiling over!
In a rush, you turn off the heat and finish washing yourself a bowl and spoon from your box of dishes. Since the living area isn't quite set up yet, you decide to [[go relax in your room.]]Your unpacking from the daytime has been successful, though there are still a few errant boxes with your belongings in them. For the most part, things are set up--Your bed heaped with cozy quilts made by friends and found family back home. Your wardrobe. Your extensive book collection, with classic literature right next to 60s pulp Sci-Fi novels.
And of course, your record setup.
It's truly impressive. Fitting for someone who used to run a record store.
You've got everything from niche underground music to the classics. At the very least, you can remember your own tastes.
While you're in here with your stew, you decide to try to jog some more recent memories to distract you from whats going on in here.
[[Listen to records]]
[[Pick a book and read]]Double-click this passage to edit it.You scan your shelves, drawing your fingers across the well-loved spines. As you do so, you find yourself draw to...
[[A sci-fi mystery novel]]
[[An adventure-themed graphic novel.]]Your fingers rest on a book that's less worn than the rest. After pausing for a moment, you draw it out and take a look at it.
The cover is smooth and black, hard where most of the others are paperbacks. The skull on the cover is shiny where the rest of the cover is matte, and red thorns spill from the eyes and nose of it. All about the briar, little maroon flowers.
//Lost & Forgotten// by Mihret Åström.
When you open the cover, the spine cracks loudly, as if this is the first time opening. That seems strange and unlikely, given you know how much you like reading. Maybe it was new, and it'd slipped your mind.
A quick thumb-through of the pages only tells you that the thing has about 40 chapters and is quite hefty, but what sticks out to you is the note you find on the inside of the back cover.
The hand is neat and practiced, every sweep of the cursive letters perfectly balanced.
//"Music, when soft voices die, vibrates in the memory."
You'll never be lost or forgotten to me. You can always call.
[[- Ozzy Mandias]]//Double-click this passage to edit it.Double-click this passage to edit it.Something about that makes a shiver run through you. An old admirer? Another friend that's slipped through the cracks of your memories? It's hard to say. Looking at the book's publishing date, it's a good few years old. The likelihood of you having read it is low. Why had you held off?
So many questions left unanswered.