Her name was Julie. Her hair was dyed a sort of auburn red kind of color. I remember thinking I’d have found that very attractive as a younger man.
I don’t know why she chose to confide in me. By that time most of the area was abandoned. People were moving into the cities or out into the farmlands, and the suburbs, those symbols of the world that was still choking on it own blood, were getting like ghost towns. She might have confided in me just because we were among the few who didn’t want to leave.
She came up to me and whispered, “I can do what He does.” She looked terrified. She hadn’t slept. She was unhealthily thin. I took her to my apartment, turned on every light in a vain attempt to minimize shadows, and asked her what she meant.
She said it again, a little more confidently. “I can do what He does.” And then she tipped a lamp so it cast a big shadow on the wall, and she gestured at it. And it Opened.
Of course I’d seen the Between. It’s not uncommon for shadows to open seemingly at random, and for Them to glance out, looking for insurrection. But to see it so close was terrifying. The Between isn’t empty. It isn’t silent. They are in there, and the Between is Their home, Their hive, Their nest.
But as terrifying as it was, I was elated. Maybe she could help us fight back! Maybe she could turn the tables. And if she could do it, maybe there were others!
I turned away, wanting to get my glasses, to look at her, to watch her do it again, maybe. I don’t know. It’s moot. When I turned around, she was gone. One of her shoes hung half in, half out of the open shadow on my wall. And then it closed, and the shoe was cut neatly in half, and she was gone. She never made a sound. I didn’t hear Them take her.
She thought she could do what He does. She was only half right. She could Open the shadows, yes, but as it turns out, that’s only the first step. Once you’re in the Between, you need a way to deal with Them. For whatever reason, He can control Them. The rest of us just have try and find a safe passage through the Between.
Those of us that are stupid enough to go there at all, that is.
You can play Openers in curse the darkness They tend to have difficulty reading social cues and being empathetic to other people, but that doesn’t mean they’re sociopaths or anything. Maybe it’s just that when you have an intrinsic understanding of how to violate the laws of physics, that’s eating brain space that is normally devoted to niceties.
In any case, what I’ve found in playtests is that every group needs an Opener. Also, having people that can just pop open gateways into the Between is darned useful, but also highlights the nature of the game. He allows people to use the Between, after all – remember, He wants everyone to care for everyone else, and if folks in Alaska need oranges, well, it’s a lot simpler to enter the Between and walk to Florida and get some than to grow them there. But go in there without clearance (and we’ll get to how that works), and you’re likely to get ripped apart.
“Likely,” however, isn’t “certain.” And here we are back at making that choice. It didn’t work out so well for Julie up there.
On another note, you might notice that I’ve added a blogroll. If you’re involved in the industry and you want me to add your link, ping me and I’ll do that. And please feel free to add this blog to your links page!