Don't fucking kid yourself, you piece of shit. Someone's holding a white-hot piece of metal to your feet, you'll do anything to make it stop.\n\nDo you [[crack]] or [[hold on]]?
You crawl up the rocks and finally stand at the base of this grim monument. His eyes are swollen shut, his lips are cracked, his face is bearded with blood. Something tore out his tongue.\n\nNothing to learn [[here]].
The ground thrumbles with hoofbeat. You fight amongst yourself, fucking, eating, existing as every point on the circle of [[life|blood]], the predator, the prey, you ebb and flow as victim and conqueror, knowing pain and glory.
You emerge from your crimson haze, dripping with man-blood.\n\nA scimitar flashes, cracking your shell. Black ichor drips from your side, staining the sand. One of the [[guards]] got you in your blind spot--he must have noticed your scarred right eye, from that dominance-battle with the hydra.
You remember the night the refrigerator broke. You'd just got back from the club and the air smelled like burning oil. This had been a hot fucking day and all your food was rancid.\n\nYou'd never inhaled anything so bad as that dying refrigerator. You slept at a friend's house and dreamt of a world where things were dying and could not be replaced. Everything was orange and brown and black and getting darker and darker. You moved like something caveborn, leaping effortlessly through this darkness. The living things on the surface were perishing under the heat death of the universe, and you felt very glad to be underground where you could hide a little longer.\n\nSo now you use the [[cupboard]].
Eventually you stopped going outside, after each excursion left you beat down, more hopeless, more damaged. Going to class was the only thing that kept you connected to the outside [[world|Run]], but it was an umbilical cord full of poison.
You are alone in the darkness, paralyzed. The film is a bright, burning light, growing more intense with every moment. How could you have ever conceived of it as a stream of images and words?\n\nYou struggle to rise from your desk and shake off this madness, this delirium, but you cannot move. Your limbs are frozen, only your fingers can splay in protest. The light grows brighter, [[advancing]] towards you like a predatorial sun. The noise grows in concert, leaping up like an auditory manifestation of the piercing light, sawing its way through the air...
You close your eyes and surrender to the swarm. Their mouths sting, then anesthetize. As your flesh is consumed, you feel your consciousness entering their leathery bodies. You are one with the swarm.\n\nYou glide thoughtlessly through the air with all your many wings, alighting on distant nameless mountains, on lightning-scored rocks. You gain the memory of endless tunnels and the mysteries of the founders, with their iron crosses and statues that lie in wait.\n\nYou find blind, alien peace.
You scream WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT LIGHT DOING IN MY FUCKING FACE\n\nThe light draws back a bit. A thin, reedy voice is talking, has been talking this whole time, now that your ears have picked up on the slim difference between that voice and the buzzing electrical socket on the ceiling. "We've broken the subject's trance. Old technique of withdrawing inside the mundanities of everyday life, a narrative sheath to insulate them from reality. Impressive level of resistance."\n\nA rougher, hungrier voice breaks in. "The iron's [[ready]]."
No loose soil to decompose in, sure. But even if they leave your body to rot in some sunless cavity of concrete, down here in the barren dark, you will rise again, through cockroaches, through subterranean breezes. Without the function of suffering, time is instant, time is always. Plants do not suffer, mountains do not weep, they just become. Your body will return to the universe, and you will reincorporate with the good, the bad, the innocent, the cunning, the lava, the cocaine, the clouds, the skyscrapers, the mascara, a pixel on the logo of an as-yet non-existent corporate billboard, the sweat on a lover's thrusting thigh, all the un-invented reconfigurations of matter.
Few scorpions survive the Great Firestorm. First, it requires owning a lair deep enough beneath the surface of the earth that the heat doesn't cook you in your shell. Secondly, it requires a store of [[food|add]] sufficient for survival during the long, howling months.
<<if $desertJourney eq 1>>\nThe liquefied flesh ball. Hundreds of humies and animals have contributed to this great work--they will sustain a far, far greater being when the [[Great Firestorm|Great Firestormm]] arrives. For when the desert is bathed in merciless, screaming flame for months on end, you must survive down [[here|lair]] in the rocks, with no recourse to hunting.\n<<endif>>\n\n<<if $desertJourney eq 2>>\nYou scuttle back to the liquefied flesh ball and caress it. The jellied bodies of birds, mammals, reptiles wobble with the stroke of your clackers. The arm of a Korlarian outrider, the skulls of some Lords you ambushed on the Bloodmoon pass.\n\nSoon, O sweet pile of sustenance. Soon. You turn your attentions to the outside [[world|lair]].\n<<endif>>
You break down screaming and crying and tell them everything. The smell of burning flesh recedes after a while and gets replaced by the scent of wet concrete, salt, mucus, stale air. You suck blood from your lips for a while and [[wait]].
Screaming you flip your desk over and run from the classroom. No going back now! Everyone knows your filthy fucking secret! They all know your SHIT IS FUCKED UP AND YOUR BRAIN IS BROKEN.\n\nAhhhhhhuhhhhhuuuhuuuagghhhh you cry, mucus and tears streaming down your face. Some people spot you days later, naked, covered in mud. You lope back into your sewage tunnel, leaving them deeply confused. Deep in the intestines of the city, you are free, finally subsumed into the scum you so desperately tried to rise above.
Your tail lashes his flesh, injecting him with a potent mega-venom with NO KNOWN ANTIDOTE.\n\nWheeling backwards you let him die slowly, as befits the fate of a puny mortal who dared that which...he ought[[dared|gather]]...
That's right, swallow the blinding queasiness and sit through the rest of class, a quivering, insensate husk unable to process anything except the aching tempo of your fucked-up shit.\n\nYou dig into the side of your desk with your fingers, clenching your eyes so tight they spark retinal fireworks, counting down the minutes. From some far place you hear the [[whir]] of machinery. Probably some janitor slogging away deep in the bowels of this building.
When you were young, mere huts were scattered up and down the banks. By night it was simple enough to catch a man groggily staggering out for a moonlight piss. Or drag a baby from its cradle. But now they have high walls and their huts are houses, mansions. Roads lead to this place and humans with spears and slings guard the gates.\n\nBut the river flows, and one day their city will be [[bones|dust-land]].
You let go of everything. You have no way to pay next month's rent, you're failing all your classes, you have no friends.\n\nBut the grass is cool and you are alive. You bask in the sun and let the world go by, let the people feverishly pursue their destinations, their itching ambitions.\n\nWe can make this work.
You stretch out a quivering hand towards the closest passerby. Your mouth cracks open and it feels like trying to talk after a thousand years buried in a dusty crypt. Croaking sounds, guttural starts and stops, saw rasp.\n\nTheir pace quickens. Same protocol as passing a homeless person. Thrust hands into pockets, look straight ahead with frozen expression.\n\nDo you [[struggle]] to make yourself heard or forget it and keep [[walking to class]]?
Your lair is a grim, blood-stained pit of yellowed [[skulls]] and red sand. The sandstorm howls [[without]], scouring weakness from the earth.\n\n<<set $oasisDone = false>> \n<<set $caravanDone = false>> \n<<set $desertJourney = 0>> \n
You lying piece of shit. You tell them everyfuckingthing, you know why? Because no human can stand that kind of pain, especially on top of everything else you've endured--the ever-present pangs of permanent eardrum damage, wet stuff leaking down your earlobes, the need for a doctor to salvage your ears before permanent deafness ensues, the unvoiceable, almost unthinkable fear that they'll take your eyes too...\n\nThe thought of everything that lies between life and death, the thought that they'll let you go after amputating, mutilating, excising irreplaceable parts of you, that they'll let you live and return to the world faced with the burden of having to choose whether to kill yourself or live life as an incomplete, suffering, broken thing, unable to clean up after yourself, listen to music, talk to people, walk around without hobbling pathetically, dress yourself...\n\nThat's why art is fucking useless, why love is fucking useless, why books and movies and games should be thrown into a pile and burnt.\n\nYou [[tell]] them everything.
The water is beginning to smell funny. Get [[out of the shower]] or [[slog on]]?\n
Few scorpions survive the Great Firestorm. First, it requires owning a lair deep enough beneath the surface of the earth that the heat doesn't cook you in your shell. Secondly, it requires a store of [[food|add]] sufficient for survival during the long, howling months.
The [[entrance|lair]] to your lair is a shadowy recess beneath a slab of red stone.\n\n<<if (not $caravanDone)>>\nThe delicate feet of a scorpion can sense tremors through up to 100 miles of sand. Not so far away, you feel the rolling centipede weight of a [[caravan]].\n\n<<endif>> \n<<if (not $oasisDone)>>\nThe [[oasis]] to your east seems surrounded by more pitter-patters than usual. The shuffle of vultures and the tread of camels, yes, but something more...\n<<endif>>\n
You always make a mental note to eat these but you never do. So much preparation, so much time, and you never really liked the flavor of vegetables anyways. So it's a bit ironic that you're squatting bestially on your filthy kitchen floor, gnawing on a putrid onion, which is kind of the opposite of healthy. It burns so much after a few bites (it's like eating a white-hot apple!) that you fling it aside and get started on the decomposing [[tomato]].
As you make your way through the dark aisles, spilled juice sticks to your feet, rasping with each lifted step. Popcorn and soda cups crunch under your soles. Can't they clean their fucking theater?\n\nThe crunching sounds become uncomfortably loud. You feel sympathetic pain in your teeth, in your bones at the snapping. Your fingers dip down and feel the floor--what the hell are you [[treading on]]?
Quick as the lightning that turns sand to glass, you tear his [[bowels]] from his belly. Number one rule of the desert?\n\nNo mercy. PERIOD
You perform the ritual of the Bowl of Powder and fill yourself with something like sawdust. You are confident that it has no nutritional value, but the placebo effect brings you back to your feet and fills you with the strength to get through [[another day]] on this cursed world.
<<if $bar>>\nIn his jeans you find some [[car keys]] and a [[chocolate bar]]. No [[wallet]] though.\n<<else>>\nIn his jeans you find some [[car keys]]. No [[wallet]] though. You finish the [[chocolate bar]].\n<<endif>>\n\n
You seize hold of a skull in your clackers, examining the cranial artifact critically from every angle. Skeletons on the [[inside|lair]]. Their god must hate them.
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Hot water blasts your face, unsticking your eyelids. Last night's dreams go swirling down the drain, along with the stinking salt of your nocturnal cold sweats.\n\nYour revery is interrupted by the sound of something rattling in the pipes. Do you [[keep showering]] or [[leave well enough alone|out of the shower]]?
Your legs, weakened by atrophy, by the [[fear]] that kept you indoors, begin to ache after only a minute of running. You [[slow]] down.
You stop somewhere in the mist. This place is as good as any.\n\nDo you [[spit]] on the soil, or gouge your arm to spill droplets of [[blood]]?
Humans like the solid soil. Their clumsy legs sink in water and sand. This is [[settled land|dust-land]].
The [[burger shop]] is open with tons of burgers. The drippy-meat smell of greasebombs is hot on the griddle!\n\nOn the other hand, you could catch a cheap [[matinee film]] at the movie theater across the street. Currently playing: Curse of the Scorpion Queen.
Do you [[crack]], or [[stay strong]].
You look back. The dark swarm circles the cross. Satiated for now. But sooner or later they will come for your life that burns like a torch against the darkness, life that shines brighter than anything in this cold, dead place.\n\nIn this universe, you are the [[sun]].
Imperiously you advance. This man is broken, near death, no worthy prey.\n\nYou feed him your entrancing venom. He is bound forever to your tyrant tail! You clack commandingly for him to follow you, then make your way back to your [[lair|slaveset]].
Something dark has gathered in the distance while you were climbing the rocks. You have wasted too much time in this dead place where nothing grows.\n\n[[Run]].
The haze of hunger recedes and you see the world a little more clearly. Time to go to anthropology [[class|campus]].
Ah, the oasis, that lush, palm-shaded opal, a sparkling solace of cool water in the midst of this horrible waste.\n\nBut you don't see the vivid blue or verdant green, you just see stark red and black because that's how scorpions see, in blood vision, do you get that, BLOOD VISION. All a scorpion ever needs to see is blood! Because that's what they eat! Blood, the water of [[man]]!\n\n<<set $oasisDone = true>>\n<<set $desertJourney = $desertJourney + 1>>
Through a series of gestures you make it clear to him that he is to inhabit a patch of straw in the corner. With your command venom running through his veins, he has no choice but to submit.\n\nYou turn your attention to the massive liquefied flesh [[ball|add]].
After a while someone comes in with something in their hand, small and black, and they raise it\n\nbright shout
You squat on the floor, tearing them open and sucking at their meager contents. Squirts of ketchup on your gums and teeth, so salty and lukewarm. Swallow. Keep swallowing. Gotta get strong.\n\nSoon the floor is littered with packets of ketchup. You've survived [[another day]] in this world.
You lunge upwards in a spray of blinding sand, taking them by surprise.\n\nSTING\n\nCLACK\n\n[[CRUSH]]
You [[remember|advancing]] someone cradling your head like a football or a baby, the tender embrace interrupted by swift surgical jabs, horrible piercing percussion on your eardrums.
No cars out [[here|clothes]].
"I'm alive..." You try to explain something, you don't know what, just something about what's going on inside you.\n\nBut they're gone. The flow of the street is relentless and soon you're a rock in the current, painfully conspicuous.\n\nTime to get to [[class|walking to class]].
Dromedaries drag creaking wagons across the sand. Hawk-eyed men tread along, scimitars flashing in the sun. Your blood-vision throbs, detecting blood in your environment.\n\nUp ahead--those men are carrying blood in their veins!\n\n[[ATTACK]]\n\n<<set $caravanDone = true>>\n<<set $desertJourney = $desertJourney + 1>>
Wow, good thing you were late. Sweet Fortuna!\n\nWith your class swallowed up by a bleak otherworld of endless grey mud, looks like your afternoon schedule is [[wide open]].
Something is gathering on the horizon, a smudge of blackness like ants eating through the terminus of grey sky and dark earth.\n\nBetter [[run]].
You wake up in your apartment, body full of sickness. The red digits of the alarm clock blur and fragment before your eyes. Late. So fucking late.\n\nYou could take a [[shower]] and start this day off proper, or just fall to pieces and [[run out the door]] with a handful of textbooks and notepaper.
Were those your memories? Or ancestral consciousness passed on from your mother, and your mother's mother, and all the way back through sand-swept history? You have lived for so long that you can scarcely distinguish your [[life|dust-land]] from theirs.
You [[flee your apartment]] in a wake of whirling paper. If you sit in the back, no one'll notice that you're wearing vomit-stained pajamas reeking of cheap vodka and sweat.\n\n
You fill these rushes with the part of yourself that was bent, but never broken. They will endure, sucking up moisture, rippling in their thousand blades across the long night of this world as you [[remake|plantforms]] it.
You hold on for an extra second. The pain is unbearable. Nothing human remains on the circuits of your brain, just white hot PAINPAINPAINPAINPAIN as eloquent as the flashing of a lit-up circuit board.\n\nDo you [[crack]], or [[stay strong|oh please]]?
And with telling comes peace. You are, after all, only human. Just a human who endured until they could endure no longer. You smile. Nothing is hurting you! This is the height of human existance, to not be enduring active, ongoing torment and mutilation! Everything else is just gravy!\n\nYou smile wider and wider until your lips crack open again, oozing fresh blood. You've found the secret. Somewhere inside yourself, you still live, having surrendered what you did not need. You never needed anything. That was the secret. To accept dissolution, to accept disintegration. You may die here in this black hole but you will [[reunite]] with the earth.\n
Bones. This sweltering darkness is full of bones. But you don't mind. The seats you were bumping in the dark are rocks. The burning glare of the projector is the sun. The soda is dried blood. You [[wake|scorplair]] from your dream.
Your saliva seeps into the soil, rivulets that carve tributaries. The dead earth of this place moans, grinds itself up in revulsion at the raw life piercing through its skin, eating through its flesh. Flowerthings and fernthings and stalkthings rise up, and you are the light, the moisture they blindly supplicate.\n\nYou deliver strands and coils of piss and shit from your body, fertilizing the ground with the divine matter of your innards, nurturing these [[plantforms]] of jellyfish hue and translucence.
With a congested puking sound the shower head disgorges a torrent of oily purple fluid, sloughing the skin from your muscles. Liquefied meat pours into the smoking drain, leaving nothing behind but a sad skeleton curled up in the tub. Drip drip.
Empty? Ha ha, to the untrained eye, yes. But those who have attained mastery know well the Bowl of Powder.\n\nWherein you take the bags of empty cereal boxes and shake out the faint powder at the bottom. Individually, these grains of cereal are trivial. United, these atomies form a [[meal]].
You [[live|blood]] within thousandfold flight, rut in airborne courses. You conceive, become millionfold, darken the sky\n\nthe old fliers, bony, leathery, twisted, are consumed\n\nthe new fliers are chromatic, iridescent, majestic, liquid-feathered
You follow the footsteps to a hill of heaped rocks. From this barren mound juts an iron cross. Your Anthropology 101 teacher is crucified naked on the cross, huge bolts hammered through his hands and feet. His clothes lie strewn at the foot of the rocks.\n\nHis lips are moving. Do you climb the rocks to catch what he's [[saying]], or search his [[clothes]]?\n\n<<set $bar = true>>
Something hits you.\n\nNope. Didn't talk yet. That's why they're hurting you. You hope. You hope they fucking want something from you, so at least this will end sooner or later. The worst would be if they were torturing you for the sheer joy of it.\n\n[[What the fuck]] is that light doing in your fucking face?
You use the last of your money to buy a burger. You take it to a park and eat it in the shade of a bridge. In the summer this stream is just a trickle, barely able to convey the trash that people hurl into it from upstream. The interstices of garbage form myriad pools in which insect eggs doze.\n\nThe bombs begin to fall. You survive under the bridge, and, hoarding the last of your burger, gain a vital headstart in terms of protein that gives you an edge in the upcoming years, a time which comes to be known as the [[Dark Zone]].\n\n
Shuddering you claw your way down the empty corridors. Empty why? Because everyone is in class. Unlike you. You're not in a room when you're supposed to be in a room. How horrible. People are supposed to be inside certain walls at certain times, don't you know?\n\nThe door to Anthropology 101 [[looms]] ahead.
You ain't dying here, you're the queen of the desert! YOU'RE GONNA LIVE FOREVER SO KILL THIS MOTHERFUCKER\n\nDo you [[seize]] his puny body between your vice-like pincers, or [[jab]] him with your venomous tail?
Which means these motherfuckers took his [[wallet|clothes]]!
The hideous stench of mold eats away at your nostrils, but you get most of the water off your body. Some still lingers in the furrow of your ass and near the opening of your urethra and the corners of your eyes but fuck if you're dabbing those with this doomed towel.\n\nYou [[scan]] your dresser for clothing.
You make your way to [[campus]].
The teacher is showing a film so the classroom is dark. You slip in and sit down, clutching the sides of your desk to remain calm. Someone near you sniffs and turns their head slightly. You smell fucking awful, this is true. You couldn't tell before because you were in your cesspool of an apartment, but in the real world of sunlight and air circulation, you're an olfactory anomaly.\n\nFresh sweat breaks out and smears itself through the film of old sweat--sweat from tossing and turning all night, sweat from hiking up that burning hill, and that last spritz of cold sweat from opening the door to class. You can't believe how much sweat is coming out of you. You're a museum, a repository, an archive of sweat. Tributaries, seas, shallows, lakes, salt flats of sweat, sweaty sweat sweat.\n\n[[HOW CAN ANYONE SWEAT THIS FUCKING MUCH]]
The campus is on a fucking hill. As you slog upwards, your limbs quaking, your head faint, your stomach shriveling up from hunger, you watch the other students walk by. They might as well be a different species. Sleek, well-fed, showered, these fucking Nazis have a plan and they're sticking to it.\n\nYou on the other hand just want to [[find a cool place]] and lie down. Or you could ignore your crumbling, breaking body and find some hidden reservoir of strength and [[get to fucking class]].
You go into imagination mode: Glowing outlines of the desired clothesforms flash against the dresser's silhouette. You snap it open like a wooden egg and sift through the splintered debris, sniffing at each article of clothing until you find a pair of jeans and a clean top. The rest you burn. Imagination mode deactivate.\n\nAs you put your jeans on you're filled with the low sick realization of how many times you've put on jeans before in your life. Like a denim countdown to your death, each leghole tug reaffirming the static nature of your life. Time for [[breakfast]].
The earth foams with life--crawling, mewling, inchoate creation. You cradle them in your arms and let them suck on your wounds. You call them by names of your own design, sounds that come easily to your lips, sounds that will form the basis for language. As you name them, color fills their translucent forms and their bodies harden into shapes that will catch the air to [[fly]] and swat the earth to [[run|runn]].\n\nThis is your place now.
Every scrap of sound from passersby filters through your warped brain as chittering laughter. Your skin itches, your belly rumbles, you're a complete fucking mess. Can't they see that? Can't they tell?\n\nYou feel the sudden compelling urge to end this charade and just [[let them know]]. Hiding the truth is an unbearable farce that gets harder every day.\n\nOr you could swallow it and get to [[class|walking to class]].
Ever since the [[refrigerator broke down]], you haven't had too many options. Maybe you have some dry food in the [[cupboard]].
You open the door, hoping the teacher doesn't say anything sarcastic.\n\nThe classroom is empty. Nothing remains. Desolate grey plains span into infinite mountain ranges. Desks lay toppled in the mud, scattered like breadcrumbs toward the horizon.\n\nDo you search for your [[lost classmates]], or close the door and [[forget this ever happened]]?
Someone is holding a bright light to your face. You spit out blood. You hear it splat on the floor in exaggerated slow motion, rolling through acres of waterlogged reverberation, tinny distortion. Your [[ears]] are wet. Rivers of salt burn down your face. Did you talk? You can't [[recall]].
Did you shout that? You can't tell. In this horrible, feverish moment, there is no difference in outline between bored students lounging at their desks and shocked students sitting still for a few seconds before turning their heads to look at you.\n\nNo one is [[moving|tension]].
The sand hardens under your feet and the sun gutters, painting the horizon phantasmagorical. Dark stones rise to either side and ahead a burning white light [[emerges]] from the ground.
Louder and louder, as if it were coming down the hallway. You can barely hear the film anymore. Noise vibrates through the corridors, through the walls, through the floor, through the ceiling, creeping along your desk, itching at your bones.\n\nDoesn't the rest of the class [[give a shit]]?
Some you shelter from the low wind; these unfold to the utmost extravagance of leaf and petal. Others you let fight the wind, their extremities pulled to needles. Others you pull up to become tall [[rushes]], others you mold into the squatness of [[fungi]]. The mere accident of brushing against your body or tasting the sweat and piss that drips from your flanks brings lasting change to these nascent forms.\n\nThis is your place.
After an hour of walking you find their bodies lying prone around a shallow pool of brackish water. Their tongues are swollen and black, their lips puffy.\n\nThe teacher isn't here though. Lone footsteps lead off into the [[distance]].
The sand gives way to [[hard land]]. After an hour of travel you see farmlands along the great river [[Quath]], along whose shores you have seen [[civilizations]] rise and fall like tides.\n\nScent [[flicks|perhaps]] at your olfactory glands, engorging them mightily...
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He turns and gapes at you, hollow-cheeked. There's not much meat on this humie...\n\nShould we [[gut]] him anyways and feast on the entrails, or keep him as a [[scorpion slave]]?
Do you finally [[snap]] under the immense, soul-busting pressure, or retreat back inside yourself like you always [[do]]?
Reaching into the cupboard, your hand collides with rotten [[vegetables]], empty boxes of [[cereal]], and tepid [[packets of ketchup]].\n\n
The theater lobby. Must have been a good film.\n\nSomething throbs. An ache like hunger, like your first orgasm. It's kinda like you want to drink all the blood in the world, starting with that cute cashier over there.\n\nAs you approach her the thirst ebbs and sustains itself at a lower pitch, and you end up asking her on a date. Cause you just want to drink her saliva now. And later when you get to talking you drink each others hopes and aspirations and become a little happier for it.\n\nSand burns in your dreams every night but the sensation is sweet as water.
You devour the [[chocolate bar|clothes]]. In the same way that eating the food of the underworld makes you of that place, so does eating the food of the living fill you with the light of the surface. This anti-pomegranate brings you back to your [[feet]] again, the insidious gloom pushed back again.\n\n<<set $bar = false>>
Your shower ends and you step out shivering onto the damp floor. You should have washed your fucking towels but you didn't and they're lying on the floor covered in green mold, even your favorite pink towel and [[that ain't going anywhere near|fuck if that's]] your body. Or [[is it]]?
Better wet and clean than dry and dying from mold poisoning.\n\nEat some [[breakfast]] or [[get the hell out of here]]?
You spend the last of your money to buy a ticket to Curse of the Scorpion Queen. You enter the viewing chamber and find a seat. You are alone. In the outside world, people are at jobs, at school, with loved ones. Not you. You're invisible. You're not connected to anything.\n\nThe air conditioning is broken. You threw down the last of your cash and they can't even give you a wisp of cool air. What unbearable heat. You must [[leave]].
As is your custom, you feast on his kidneys, heart, eyeballs, and intestines, then coat the rest in your preservative venom, dragging it back to [[add]] to the massive ball of liquefied flesh that will sustain you during the Great Firestorm.\n\nSuperstitiously you make the sign of Kalag'nakh, Triple Goddess of Scorpions. If there's anything you fear, it is the Great Firestorm, when the sun embraces the desert to its white-hot bosom.
Your lair is a grim, blood-stained pit of yellowed [[skulls]] and red sand. The sandstorm howls [[without]], scouring weakness from the earth.
There he is. Starving, ragged, the stink of sweat and sunburn. Crawling inch by inch to the oasis, his slavering tongue extended to dip into the cool, sweet water.\n\nYou issue the ceremonial death-clack.\n\n[[CLACK]]
Revolting, sludgy tomato drool runs out the corners of your mouth as you bite into the tomato. You knew it was rotten, but not this rotten. The dim lighting in the kitchen and the bright sheen on the upturned section of skin (much like the flush on victims of tuberculosis right before they die) left you unprepared for just how rotten this fucker really is.\n\nBut now you're squatting here, mouthful of rancid tomato soaking into your gums, foul juice running down your arms, and you can't turn back. You consume it all, even the black spots, even the gnarliest bits of wrinkled, dried skin. This tomato was a universe of pain but now you've consumed it.\n\nAll living beings must obey the primal command (LIVE -- LIVE -- LIVE, to the tempo of a heartbeat) and you have done so. [[Ahhh.|another day]]
Die motherfucker die! You grab his body in your clackers and exert 10,000 megatonnes of pressure, shearing through flesh and bone like butter!\n\nSCREAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM he cries, and then you hold dead, severed meat in your claws. Once this was a man, now it's [[LUNCH|gather]].
You feast messily on his belly then break away, satiated. Best keep the rest for the liquefied flesh [[ball|add]].
Some of these you [[infuse|plantforms]] with your madness. Your head is finally free of delirium. Your fecund droplets of fever will grow in the dark places of the earth.
<<if $oasisDone and $caravanDone>>\nYou creep from your pit of bones. The flesh-ball is almost complete. Just one more meat-sack should do it, then you can enter the red-dream of the scorpion-kind and wait out the long fiery months of the Great Firestorm.\n\nThe [[dust-land]] awaits.\n<<else>>\nYou amble up from your pit of bones. The sandstorm is beginning to fade.\n\nTime to [[hunt]].\n<<endif>>\n
You bury yourself in the dunes ahead. As you lie in wait, your venom sizzles to maximum potency, dripping in caustic beads from your stinger.\n\nFootsteps impact the sand nearby.\n\n[[Time]]