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the cause of, and solution to, all life's problems
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There is nothing. Only warm, primordial blackness. This is where you are now – except you aren't anywhere, and there is no 'now'. You don't have to struggle anymore.

That's right. No love nor loss in this abyss, only the siren song of oblivion.

Forever.



Forever and ever.







Forever must not be as long as it used to be, because there is something infiltrating the nothing. The lighthouse fires of qualia burn through the fog, guiding the ship of existence to harbor. You are one of those animals called human, endowed with the gift of life and the freedom to live it as you see fit. There is an entire world outside your tiny skull, and you're about to be trapped there.

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Piss off. I want to go back to the void.

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You can no more go back than sand can run upwards to the top of the hourglass. The path of life is a one-way street, and U-turns are out of the question.

Here's another sensation for you. It's a smell. A familiar smell.

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… is it a pleasant smell?

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It is the smell of unmixed hard liquor and bodily fluids. It is extraordinarily noxious.

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Why are you doing this to me? Haven't I suffered enough?

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Aaaaaand there's the headache. The mining prospectors must have found a particularly rich vein just behind your eye sockets, what with all the hammers and pickaxes swinging around in there.

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She's in a bedroom. Probably. Typically one sleeps on the bed in a bedroom, which invites the question of why she is prostrated on the disgusting hardwood floor instead of something more comfortable, such as the jumble of destroyed things in the corner, or the pile of ruined goose down beneath the shuttered window. There are a plethora of questionable stains on virtually every surface in this room, including her bare skin. The volume of damaged detritus is too great to catalog all of it from where she is, but the items nearest her on the ground are a discarded red blazer and an empty bottle.

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A potential source of questionable stains.

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The quantity and variety of stains suggest multiple sources.

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She gets up unsteadily, resting on her knees until she feels capable of standing without swaying. It takes a little longer than she'd like.

A lot longer.

Standing up takes a good four and a half minutes. The important part is the destination, not the journey.

Her future sprawls before her like the ink-smudged blank sections on the edges of the map. A map made by a really shoddy cartographer, one who didn't even bother to spice up the unsurveyed regions with paper towns or declarations of HIC SVNT DRACONES. Countless potential pathways are open to exploration – probably best to head down the ones that don't feature public nudity. Just as well, because the door is locked and nobody is getting anywhere until that little hiccough is smoothed over.

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The blazer sits innocently on the floor, saying nothing. The wool is mostly unblemished, despite its apocalyptic surroundings, and it's the right size for a certain someone.

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There might be other articles of clothing that fit you in here! Check the jumble of destroyed things in the corner.

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There are a lot of unrecognizable fragments of things buried in that pile of splinters and shredded fabric, but there is also a pair of trousers. They're tight around the hips and come up three inches short above her ankles, but they match the blazer and are undeniably stylish. In the back pocket is a large metal key with a tag tied to the bow: Room №1.

That's it. No boots, no garments, nothing. Whatever comes next, she's facing it barefoot.

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You have a key, and you're trapped in a room with a single locked entrance. You are hereby absolved of your sacred duty to kick down the door.

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The bedroom is sealed no more. Escape! What kind of dungeon is this, anyways?

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It's the mezzanine of an inn. Early morning sunlight streams in from a nearby open window, illuminating the halo of cigarette smoke around the balcony's only other occupant. Below the railing are the long wooden dining tables of the inn's tavern, quiet save for the sounds of intermittent footsteps.

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A solar dungeon! Radiant damage, direct hit to the retina!

She reels from the blow, but rallies before she can lose her nerve entirely. As tempting as it is to go right back into the bedroom and lie down in the darkness again, her internal clock has been firmly set to 'day'. The next reprieve from life is sixteen hours away.

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"Good morning, officer."

The smoker is a diminutive woman, leaning precariously over the railing. She is both pretty and fully-clothed, which means she's probably doing better than you on the other fronts as well. A trail of ashes drifts from the tip of her cigarette into the tavern below.

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What a strange comment. There's no one else up here, which means…

"Officer? Am I a soldier?"

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"Then why call me that?"

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"Because you're a law enforcement officer?"

She sounds unsure, like she expects this to be a trick question.

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A law enforcement officer?

'Cop' does not match with her current internal zeitgeist (this is more of a 'dead rodent lying in the gutter' period), which makes that a dubious assertion. Being in the city watch doesn't feel more true than any other profession, although there's a certain amount of external evidence pointing towards 'destitute vagabond'.

"You're sure about that?"

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"I suppose you could've been spinning an elaborate yarn for the past three days."

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"That sounds unlikely," she says. "So, supposing that was all true, what sort of cop business have I been on for the last three days?"

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