Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pathologic: Day Ten, on which the creators of the impossible make their appearance and a discussion commences of the miracles witnessed.

At 7am:

The morning of the tenth day has come.
Infected in the past 24 hours: 340 ppl.
Died in the past 24 hours: 677 ppl.
Gone Missing: 139 ppl.
Number of dead at the moment: 6770
Number of infected: 576

Less than three days remain.

Today's Map. The Plague is almost unbearable.
Seized Focus
The Inquisitor is curious about the Polyhedron. Such a thing shouldn’t exist—it defies the laws of physics, of nature. Yet it stands, almost suspended, at the head of the town like some silvery crown. It was built by Peter Stamatin, and it is from him that we must procure the plans to study the structure in fuller detail.

I find his brother Andrey in the Tavern on the east side of town, and he tells me soldiers came to arrest them and, in a panic, he killed them and let his brother escape. Peter now wanders the town looking at his old architectural experiments: “endless stairways”, he calls them.

These things are impossible.
I ought to have mentioned these strange structures earlier. Originally I thought they were the remains of burnt houses. As it turns out, these were prototypes of what would eventually become the Polyhedron. I’ve walked up the stairs once or twice and surveyed the land—all the sounds of the city fade away at the top of these naked stairwells, leaving only one sound. And that sound is children—babies—crying, fading in and out.

Cue: screaming children sounds
I find Peter in the heart of a plague district, dressed as an Executor cremating bodies beneath one of his stairways. He’s gone mad—he tells me he’ll give me the plans if I bring him five bottles of twyrine to assist in his suicide. I go out, retrieve the twyrine, and procure the plans. He tells me he believes a building is capable of housing a soul—of capturing, freezing, a soul and containing it. The stairwells scattered through town were misfires, aborted attempts, at building the masterpiece that now sits like a crown at the head of the town.

The late Nina Kain funded this enterprise because she believed this building could house a spirit. The children believe the Polyhedron grants wishes and dreams, but the Kains have other (as of yet unknown) aspirations for the creation. Peter says it has power because we believe it has power: a miracle will not happen unless people believe it can happen.

After some gentle prodding, I convince Peter to give up suicide and live another day. It’s not so simple, of course. Klara, the Devotress, has been whispering in his ear, telling him that by building the Polyhedron he has taken a miracle into captivity. It is unnatural, to be sure, but is it truly evil?

Of course, I think over the Polyhedron, and the Kains’ belief in soul houses; the implications are chilling when I think of the cries of children in the endless stairs. I wonder if Peter didn't accidentally capture something in his contraptions that he shouldn't have.

Madness of the Kains
Catherina Saburov is convinced that Simon Kain has revived and is walking the streets. Ridiculous, of course, though I’m almost willing to believe anything at this point. After all, I have never actually seen Simon’s body. I check with Rubin, now freed from the Kain family and notably shaken, wondering why he is still alive: he tells me there is no possibility that Simon could have resurrected. He cannibalized every particle of his corpse to make the vaccine.

Victor Kain advises me to do damage control—to spread a rumor that George Kain believes he has become Simon—and pays me a handsome sum. I report to the Inquisitor who sees through my lie and responds with cool indifference. Something in our relationship has changed. The thing is that I don’t quite disbelieve the rumor myself. The Kains have slowly begun to slip in the past few days. George speaks of slipping into a trance to retrieve the spirit of the Polyhedron. Victor has begun to rave of reincarnation. Maria, of course, remains silent.

The Kain family tomb, I assume. Note again: the horns.
Mark Immortal, theater director, tells me that an uprising and sacrifice has broken out near the bone pillar in the Tanners District. He is, and has been, noticeably upset for his auditorium’s transformation into a morgue, though he comments that they have been his finest audience in a long while.

The problem is easily solved: after a quick inspection, I ask General Blok (still alive) to send his men in to clean things up, and go on my way. The men are protesting the Polyhedron—they say it is destroying the town, and they want it torn down. When I report back to Mark, he admits he instigated the riot. In his boredom, he’s decided to stir up a bit of mischief.

The Bone Pillar
Pathologic is the Western name of this game, but in Russia the title is мор (Pestilence) with the subtitle утопия (Utopia).

In passing, I find a teenager on the street and ask him what he thinks of the Polyhedron. He tells me of its wonders: how, deep within, there is a kilometer-long labyrinth. He says, “You walk and walk in it, and it does not come to an end. When you go out – it is considered that it’s your reflection that leaves, and you yourself get to the Other Country.” I ask what “the reflection” means, and he replies, “It’s as though it’s you, and at the same time it’s not you. They leave not talkative. Therefore it’s said that it’s your reflection that comes back – to quiet the parents and so on. And your real self goes to the country of Utopia – to the magick country.”

This town is worthless. I hold to this. Yet the crown is its one treasure. The Polyhedron is impossible: a miracle, a feat of human ingenuity, completely accidental, and with its thousand uninfected children, it is the one pure thing this town has. Perhaps a cold anesthetic wonder, but a true wonder nonetheless. If one thing could be saved, it is the Polyhedron.

The sketch changes again.
Yet I am uneasy. The Polyhedron makes possible some passage to “Utopia”, the children say, but what is its true cost? I believe in equity: in order to gain anything, something must be given up. What have the depraved folk of this town not yet given up?

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