It’s been awhile since I posted here and I’m no game reviewer but I must mention a virtual world that has been taking up some of my recreational time lately.
Obduction is the newest release from the Cyan lab and studios. Cyan is an Indie developer of pc games located in Meade, Washington (near Spokane). Obduction is the brain child of Rand Miller who (with his brother Robyn) brought us the wonderful story and virtual adventure of Myst (and later, the sequel, Riven). In that world, the mysterious D’ni people lived in an underground city and had the magical ability to write new worlds into linking books.
The involved, interactive story line and cerebral puzzles appealed to a new audience of pc gamers in those years leading up to the millennium. Superior graphics and imaginative and beautiful settings made it an instant success. It shot to fame in 1993 with the award of Game of the Year. My brother, who is a school teacher, enthusiastically introduced me to the original Myst and I’ve been a fan ever since.
The company later created a Myst spin off (called Uru) to the online world of multi players, but due to lack of finances and new content, as well as competition with the newer “massive” online games, it was not as successful. However, Cyan continued to maintain a loyal following of enthusiasts and backers. They have many fans who are Second Lifers.
The newest venture has been a long time coming but is no exception to their brilliance. Though it took me awhile to fully engage in it due to a busy life schedule, there came a point as there always has been in their previous creations where you suddenly gasp and go Ahhhh!!
a brief introduction:
You have been abducted by aliens and taken to a strange world that looks very much like a ghost mining town in Arizona. There has been some kind of battle. Once you discover the secrets of the town you will find portals to other amazing worlds.
Where ever, whatever, and how ever advanced, this planet is surprisingly and wonderfully steam punk, with cogs and wheels, levers, and whirring blades. Alongside the creaking machinery, laser beams and particle emitters blast away. There are lost cities on cliff side paths (looking very Mesoamerican), alien pods, fire winged insects and a great tree whose roots lead to a place of entry into other dimensions of time and space. This is not a fast paced game. No one jumps out to do battle though you will get that eerie feeling that you may not be alone! Take your time and enjoy the fantastical landscapes as you unravel the mysteries and find a way home. If you are stuck, there are online walkthroughs.
My final word is that “Cyan delivers the adventure once again!”
This was my contribution to a wonderful hour of spooky stories told in voice at Kultivate’s Scare Me Silly Fest on Sunday. It’s an older story, rewritten and embellished. I will also be reading at Holly Kai on Oct 30 1:00 pm sl time for “Boo.” Check out Seanchai Library’s calendar of story telling events for the month.
A spooky tale for Halloween-
Oh no! thought Charles as he lay quietly in his bed! The small lamp on the side table began to sputter and flicker and as briefly as a candle it suddenly went out! It was dark now and the Bumper was back! He could hear it coming up the stairs from the basement. Down in that Stygian pit a huge ancient furnace grinned fire and gnashed toothy grates. It had multiple arms that reached into the upper floors of the old house, blasting heat and searching for unbelievers. The Bumper was the fire breather’s minion and had made a home for itself in the dark recesses behind the coal bin. Charles wasn’t absolutely certain of this of course because he would never go down into the cellar. Somewhere down there, he was sure, was the entrance to an even more hideous and unimaginable underworld.
Charles had never wanted to move here to the countryside. He liked the modern and airy flat they had in town. There, the glow of street lamps shone into his bedroom window at night and there was no unfamiliar clamour in the walls. Most importantly there was no netherworld in a city flat. Charles ears were not accustomed to the strange sounds that his parents called “the old house settling.” At night he often heard things being dragged around in the cellar. Sometimes it was a grating noise, sometimes the clicking of a clawed finger and other times it was the swift shuffling of deformed and toeless feet. Usually the sounds stopped at the foot of the stairs leading up to the pantry.
But on dark moonless nights, in the middle of autumn, the winds blow cold and strip away the tree branches. They sweep against the shutters like bony, fumbling fingers and it seemed then that the Bumper became very bold and would often roam the upper floors. It always managed to open the closed cellar door even though it had no hands or for that matter any proper limbs at all.
To make matters worse, the moaning of a disembodied spirit in the wardrobe assailed Charles’ small ears as he pulled the blankets higher. His mother said it was just the wind but Charles knew that somewhere behind his clothes and toy boxes there was a cavern of lost and miserable Ghosts who howled loudly their displeasure at being dead. If somehow by an inconceivable carelessness, the wardrobe was not shut properly, they would all rush out into the dark like rabid bats and suck out the souls of anything that breathed. In doing so they could again savour memories of the living. Charles wondered if that should happen how long he might be able to hold his breath. Thankfully mom had closed the doors tightly before she kissed him goodnight.
He lay very still in his bed and waited for the terrible and elongated legs of the Bog Beast to walk by in the garden. The Bog Beast had no head, just a grotesque, hairy snout that sprouted from its’ bony shoulders and as it paused at the window Charles could hear it huffing and sniffing the air for human flesh. He was relieved that mom had locked the sash and closed the shutters on this cold night so the creature would not smell the damp fear coming from the room inside.
The urge to urinate was getting stronger. He could get up and run like mad down the hall but he wasn’t sure if the situation was urgent enough yet to take the gamble. Under the bed and hiding inside the vent, a Ghoulie’s soft jelly fingers were waiting to grab him by the ankles. If he was caught he would be dragged screaming, down and down through the furnace pipes, and into the sacrificial belly of an insatiable Moloch, whose blazing limbs squirmed in joyful anticipation of receiving the immolated bodies of little children.
At any rate he knew it was probably best to try to lie there and wait for the redemption of dawn, hoping he could last that long. Charles thought of his dear old grandmother who took very seriously the machinations and mischief of those who inhabited that other realm. He began to fervently recite the old Scottish prayer she had once taught him, “From ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night- Good Lord preserve us!” He had never felt the need to utter that supplication in the old flat but it was a great comfort and protection in a house like this!!
Finally Charles, could hold it no longer. He had to make a break for it and so he jumped out of bed and sprinted toward the WC. The dimly lit hallway seemed longer and longer at this time of year. Shadows crinkled over the walls and floor like cut out paper creatures, full of flattened malevolence. He felt the heated hands of the register ghoul just miss his feet as he at last leapt over the threshold and into the bathroom. He heaved a sigh of victory and relief as he shut the door.
That night there was a more than usual knocking of the water pipes. In the morning Charles was nowhere to be found. His slippers were by his bed in a puddle caused by a streaming overflow from a backed up toilet bowl. It was later discovered that a pajama top somehow got stuck inside the pipe and caused the blockage but where Charles went remained a mystery. The local constabulary thought he must have wandered off in the dark and drowned in the bog. Unfortunately for poor Charles, in his granny’s prayer, there had been no plea for respite from a demonic herd of tiny plumbing kelpies that had been waiting to gush out in that first flush of the water tank.
Info: Scotland and Ireland are full of wonderful and weird creatures, and Charles’ prayer is an actual prayer my own grandmother recited to us.
There are of course the fairies or sidhe as they are known in Gaelic but also more sinister creatures like Kelpies (Scotland), water demons- who are shapeshifters. They can disguise themselves as alluring maidens sitting by a river or loch, but more often as beautiful horses. However they appear, they are out to drown their hapless victims.
(I’ve been moving house in real life and very busy. I sometimes neglect this blog but in keeping with my love of art and stories…)
and with praise for Seanchai Library, a storyteller’s haven
I was always enchanted by the tragic Hans Christian Anderson story of the little mermaid’s longing- (totally different than the saccharine Disney version), as well as the legend of the Great Selkie of Sule Skerry, and all tales of the sea, so this be another…..