On this January afternoon, oak zero was cleaning house... Working our way down the staircase to our dusty basement, someone noticed a box marked "KSFO RADIO" and "glasnost." Tucked inside, some worn vinyl from an earlier time and an album of photos...
Journey To The End...
Note to players: Please start with the large audio file attached below. With it, you can follow the written story. (We recommend downloading it.)
A Town of Fear, A Chase of Passion
***Through the Noise of A Crackling Radio***
One: Night's Arrival
Darkness spreads across the city...
Paranoia lashes at our brains...
Around every turn our hearts race, as we squint desperately at red armbands and dark, hidden eyes.
A day in the city was always long, but the night would last even longer on Market Street. Fog whistled in on catfeet as the pursuit began.... This is the story of our endless journey to ocean's edge.
We gathered after dinner, huddled in Justin Herman, sipping drinks to warm our bones. Three men in dark glasses, faces hidden by tall lapels, brought us our missive. In a sentence, the rules for our survival. We were to be marked in blue, and our pursuers, red - if we wanted to be alive tomorrow, we needed to follow instructions exactly.
"You ain't got a chance in a place like this."
Yoshi, infamous agent of indemnity, was on already our tail and had blood on his mind. Ready with his henchmen, he would surface again and again. He showed his face so our fear could have a name, and then disappeared as fast as he'd come. We looked after him, but his trail was hidden by rising steam from an open street vent, gone into the urban jungle.
The first goal was the staircase, and the white tower. Who would meet us there? How would we proceed?
The whistle blew. Our paths split and crossed again as the sun rushed to disappear ahead of us. Ghostly beggars and sharp suits; costumes on the people of the street. As fleeing runners, we learned not to trust anyone, lest they turn towards us in pursuit. We were fueled by Jack Daniel's whisky and raw fear, and only this potent combination allowed us to evade the red enemies. Yoshi saw we had beaten him once, and was hungry for our bands. But we had safely reached the tower. There our first contacts quenched our thirst for water, but not for answers.
Looking out over the city, Chinatown was ahead. We knew that North Beach was so full of agents we had less chance than a GI in Normandy. Leaping over a short stone wall, we exited west and carefully made our way downhill, hearts pounding over the din of the pulsing city.
Two: Miteux Alone
Outside of the first safe zone, fear took control as the agents' devious tactics split our tightly knit group of four. I was lost from the other three.
Not knowing that my three compatriots had found the fire-haired, image-macroed stranger, I ventured off, confident that I'd see them on the flip side.
The facts of the matter hit me like a magnum slug at close range. No one at my side, I bolted down the street, cursing my luck. Seeing the back end of a rickety truck, I grabbed hold of it and jumped on. It was transporting the dead cardboard of a hundred purchased boxes - deader than I'd be if this truck didn't get going. It wasn't moving fast, but the agent on my tail gave up.
He left me in the center of a pack of henchmen I couldn't see. Racing, zigzagging through the neighborhood, I hadn't the faintest idea where to turn. At Via Ferlinghetti I was spotted again. Reds at either end of the street left me no option. It was defeat, or the alleyway. I chose uncertainty, and ran down the short backstreet, hurriedly seeking a stairway, a fence, a fire escape. Behind a dumpster I pressed my body against the wall... and discovered a door handle that moved. Quietly letting myself through to the other side, I locked it behind me as my eyes adjusted to the inside light.
It was a bar, and a fancy afterhours party was on. I looked the part as I'd worn my best necktie. Nobody asked any questions of someone breathing hard, walking fast with wide open eyes. At the bar I got a soda to look inconspicuous, but the door I'd come in by was drawing attention.
I had to give them the slip... out the side door.
Referring to my guidemap, I saw that the only way was downhill - south - into Chinatown. Walking out into the street, I found myself at the busiest intersection in North Beach. Green Street, Columbus, and Stockton.
Immediately two agents appeared, and I was off sprinting. Up the hill was a cable car... my ticket to safety? I reached it after two blocks and jumped on, but was promptly kicked off. The illegality of my actions had no bearing on my decisions. Escape was the only idea considered.
Leaving the car, I ran again. One block, on me still? Two blocks, there they are. I ran until my lungs burned and gravity stopped pulling me down. At the bottom of the hill, I moved forward into streets twice, three times. Every street in which I entered, approaching the safe zone, there was a risk that I was too smart to take.
But if I couldn't make it to the second point, had my compatriots already received the information? I betted on trusting them, in a place where no one could be trusted. Not knowing if they had been captured or if they could evade the reds, I gave up on China town and moved back up the hill. When I had gotten within a few blocks of the third safe zone, Yoshi appeared again with his cohorts.
"Is that him? Go! Go! It's him!"
I saw signs for Wetmore, Washington pass by. My eyes saw red as my legs stopped functioning. With only my own dwindling energy to keep ahead in the pursuit, the only path to escape was straight over a fence, falling into the bushes.
Laying silently, hoping that I wasn't seen, for what seemed like hours, but what must have been moments, I only heard the sound of my heart beat. Vaporous breath escaped upwards, through the leaves.
At the worst moment possible, I was caged. The steel door to the garage was bolted down shut. No way out... or was there? Once again my salvation was by chance. I pinned myself against the wall in the corner by the steel gate. A cc-security system eyed me as I hid my face. After the padding of feet raced up the hill, I ran across the driveway to the fence. Leaping, I only just grabbed the upper end of the fence. My weak and tired body refused to be pulled up and over, but it meant my life. I heard the shouts of the reds out on the street. Any second they would return and see my helpless body hanging on the fence. Finally a rush of energy enabled me to top the fence, and roll over. I hit tree branches on the short fall down.... tearing at my arm and face, they drew blood. Better the tree than the clutches of Yoshi.
An apartment dweller leaned out and yelled, "Git outta my yard! You bastard, the cops are already on their way!" Now it was even more dangerous. I hoped against hope that the safe zone would give me some respite.
I walked hurriedly through Nob Hill up to California Street. Faithfully, like sweet charity, a second cable car creaked up the hill.
Boarding for the second time, I collapsed at the feet of the brakeman. He'd seen stranger things, I could tell by his glance. I was only three blocks from safety and nobody would stop me now.
Trademark flying dismount. I'd seen it before and executed another only to come face-to-face with none other than Boss Kizu Blair. He looked up from his map, surprised. But he had bigger fish to fry. Zooming off on his Schwinn he left too quickly to see my group come out of the market, overjoyed. We had made it all to point three. Now that the boss had seen us, it didn't seem like there was any way we could get away safe. We discussed our options, and fled south as fast as we could.
Three: Evasive Maneuvers
Underfoot the concrete passes, pressing up hard on swollen feet. We know the end is nowhere in sight. But failure is not an option...
...TO BE CONTINUED...