Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gareth Shinks' Absolutely Boring, Normal Day (demo)



I was putting together a blog post of synopses for things I'm clearly never going to write – story concepts anarchically bashed out on Notepad between cryptic password reminders and dream notes, older ideas languishing sadly in the '2011 Stuff' folder – when I was astonished to see that I had actually got round to writing this one.

Or at least made a determined start on it before getting visibly ground down by the tedious task and spoiling it before quitting. I wrote this a few years ago while stranded in a Malaysian city for several weeks, for reasons that I won't bore you with because you're about to be bored out of your goddamned mind as it is.


Introduction


If you've played a gamebook before, you'll be familiar with the format. Just do what it says and enjoy the illusion of free choice (there are supposedly 50 unique routes, if you can believe the author, only one of which arbitrarily leads to the happy ending). But while you're probably used to battling orcs or debating whether to turn left or right in the labyrinth while tactfully keeping your finger in the previous page, this gamebook is a little different.

This is a gamebook for people who don't like games and can't like themselves very much either. A gamebook for people who've always dreamed of living the life of a temporary office administration assistant with no evident love life, friends or interests.

You are Gareth Shinks, every second of his uninspiring day (I would have made a lot of effort to get it as close to real time as possible) as he gets up, goes to work, actually does his work (real time, remember), goes home, has an unremarkable evening in by himself and goes to sleep by himself. He has a cat, but it doesn't seem to think much of him.

I didn't expect I'd ever actually write the whole thing, since I'm not completely mad and people used to send me work back then, but I'm surprised I even got as far as I did. It was all organised in strategically random sequence on the document, all I've taken out is notes to myself about where we are along the various paths (e.g. '08:20 - had poo, shower'). I'm assuming it's been play tested and that it works, I don't have the patience to find out... do you?

Go to 1! No, it isn't hyperlinked. I hope you like scrolling. If you find yourself reading through the numbers in order, you're doing it wrong.

Dave Warburton, August 2015



AND NOW,
LET'S PLAY:

Gareth Shinks'
Absolutely Boring,
Normal Day


Mercifully Limited Demo Version


1

You wake up and quickly check your alarm clock, paranoid as usual that you may have slept through the alarm and will now be late for work. Luckily, the digital display reads 07:55 - your natural instinct to get to work on time caused you to rise five minutes early!

If you wish to embrace the extra five minutes and get up now, go to 74

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 48


5

The cat is too preoccupied with sleeping to pay attention to the unexciting dry food you pour into its bowl. Never mind, it'll appreciate it later, though you won't be around to receive the rare show of affection. This makes you sad.

Hooray! It's time to go to work. Go to 50


6

That's it, you decide, this is the last time. You press the snooze button yet again and lie in bed, your eyes not leaving the clock as it counts the units to 08:25 with agonising, glacial slowness. Eventually it reaches the designated time and goes off. If you stay in bed any longer, you will definitely be late for work.

To quickly feed the cat and head off to work, go to 5

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 97


11

The cat is too preoccupied with sleeping to pay attention to the unexciting dry food you pour into its bowl. Never mind, it'll appreciate it later, though you won't be around to receive the rare show of affection. This makes you sad.

Huzzah, it's time to go to work! Go to 63


12

That extra time in bed means you don't have time to shower or shave, but fortunately none of your co-workers ever get close enough to smell the difference.

You hear the cat mewling in its sleep, and decide to feed it first in case you forget. Go to 59


13

The Coco Pops are most excellent - unlike Lucky Charms, these remain a tasty treat well into adulthood. As you finish the last delicious morsels and slurp down the brown milk, you see it's almost time to go to work.

Would you like to have a poo first?

If you would, go to 92

If you think you'll be okay, go to 50


14

You shave with your old, slightly blunt razor and it's a little painful, but you comfort yourself with the knowledge that it would have been worse if you left it until tomorrow. What a responsible morning you're having. Except now there's no time for breakfast, so you'd better feed the cat and get to work.

Go to 5


15

The Shredded Wheat husk is abominable, but you eat it because you're a good boy, and it will make you fit and strong for your important day of work ahead.

If you want to have a shower, go to 27

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 5


16

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:10AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you equipped your kitchen cupboard with childish variety packs of cereals. Unfortunately, you have already eaten all the fun ones, and there are only bland, uninteresting ones left. Apt.

If you want to eat a bowl of bran flakes, go to 46

If you want to eat a single Shredded Wheat husk, go to 15


17

What am I doing? you wonder as you press the snooze button again again and lie still in bed again again. You are still unable to get any sleep, knowing that the snooze alarm is imminent and worrying that your morning routine will be suffering from this lethargy. Right on cue, the time reaches 08:15 and the alarm sounds. It would be extremely unprofessional to stay in bed any longer.

If you decide to get up now, go to 12

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 90


18

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:10AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you equipped your kitchen cupboard with childish variety packs of cereals. And because you were so responsible and nobly ate the boring ones first, the most fun ones are left. What a treat!

If you want to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, go to 84

If you'd rather have a bowl of Coco Pops, go to 13


19

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up. Now would be a convenient time to have a shower.

If you would like to have a shower, go to 80

If you would like to have breakfast instead, go to 16

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 86


20

You shave with your old, slightly blunt razor and it's a little painful, but you comfort yourself with the knowledge that it would have been worse if you left it until tomorrow. What a responsible morning you're having.

Except now you face a tough call - bearing in mind that you have to feed the cat before you leave for work, you have to choose between eating breakfast or having a poo.

If you would like to have breakfast, go to 28

If you would like to have a poo, go to 91


21

You stroke the cat and it seems irritated to have been woken up from its peaceful slumber. Your attempts at affection don't get anything back - the cat obviously isn't hungry yet, and you are thus of no interest. You feel sad.

Go to 22


22

With almost half an hour to go before you need to leave the house for work, there's plenty of time to carry out your morning chores and ablutions. Which one would you like to take care of first?

If you would like to have a shower, go to 70

If you would like to have breakfast, go to 35

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 59

If you would like to have a poo, go to 19


24

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up as best you can. It doesn't take very long, so there's still time for breakfast - unless you don't fancy washing your hands and just want to go to work.

If you want to wash your hands and make breakfast, go to 55

If you can't be bothered with that hygiene nonsense, go to 50


27

You clean yourself matter-of-factly in the shower - there's no time for funny business. As you're drying, you look at your face in the mirror and realise it's been a couple of days since you shaved. Unfortunately, you still have to feed the cat and your busy schedule leaves no extra time to spare.

Go to 5


28

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:20AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you equipped your kitchen cupboard with childish variety packs of cereals. Unfortunately, you have already eaten all the fun ones, and there are only bland, uninteresting ones left. Fitting.

If you want to eat a bowl of Alpen, go to 32

If you want to eat some Corn Flakes, go to 41


32

You consume the dull muesli in a near-catatonic state. You are not really aware of time passing, but the clock says it's 08:29, the flakes are gone and there's an unpleasant taste in your mouth, so presumably you finished them all.

It's time to feed the cat and get off to work - go to 5


33

You press the snooze button again and lie still in bed again. You are still unable to get any sleep, knowing that the snooze alarm is imminent. Right on cue, the time reaches 08:10 and the alarm sounds. It would be very unprofessional to stay in bed any longer.

If you decide to get up now, go to 12

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 17


35

You open your kitchen cupboard and are delighted to see a wide choice of breakfasting options available. As in, three (you try writing this goddamn stuff). Unfortunately, you know from experience that some of them are poisonous and will cause instant death, so choose carefully.

If you would like some toast, go to 98

If muesli is more to your liking, go to 75

If you would rather have a bowl of Choco Krispies, go to 64

If this feels like too much of a gamble and you would rather just feed the cat, go to 5


37

You switch on the toaster and it makes a burning smell that sets off your smoke detector, so you have to spend five minutes scrambling around to switch it off. It seems you will have to go without breakfast today. Never mind - at least the cat got fed.

It's time to go to work - hip hip hooray! Go to 50


41

The Corn Flakes are pretty bland, but you eat them because you're a good boy, and they will make you fit and strong for your important day of work ahead. Probably.

It's time to feed the cat and get off to work - go to 5


46

You consume the bran flakes in a near-catatonic state. You are not really aware of time passing, but the clock says it's 08:20, the bran flakes are gone and there's an unpleasant taste in your mouth, so presumably you finished them all.

If you want to have a shower, go to 27

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 5


48

You lie in bed but are unable to sleep, knowing the alarm will go off soon. You glance at the clock every once in a while and see the digits approaching 08:00. Right on cue, the piercing tone of the alarm fills the room.

It would be unprofessional to stay in bed any longer, but you briefly consider it.

If you decide to get up now, go to 22

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 60


49

The cat is too preoccupied with sleeping to pay attention to the unexciting dry food you pour into its bowl. Never mind, it'll appreciate it later, though you won't be around to receive the rare show of affection. This makes you sad.

If you would like to have breakfast, go to 18

If you would like to have a poo, go to 92


50

You start your car and make the familiar journey to NHS Scotland, ready for your fun eight-hour day of processing claim forms. You get the strange feeling that your fellow road users are staring at you from their vehicles as you drive past, but you put this feeling down to your usual paranoia. It's only when a police car flashes its lights and gestures for you to pull over that you realise something is awry.

Stepping out of your vehicle, you shiver in the crisp Scottish breeze, hugging your skin for warmth. Then you realise what everybody was staring at: somehow, ridiculously, in your dash to take care of all your morning ablutions you forgot to put on any clothes.

'Can you tell us your name, sir?' the young officer asks.

'Gareth Shinks,' you reply.

'Did you forget something today, Mr Shinks?' the officer asks, sarcastically. You can't stand sarcasm, and begin viciously beating him up. This causes his partner to abruptly stop laughing and intervene, wrestling your naked body to the hard, cold, stony pavement and securing you in handcuffs.

It looks like this isn't going to be an absolutely boring, normal day after all. But rest assured, if I ever bother to write the full version it will involve Gareth Shinks making it to work uneventfully and going through his day completely as normal. I can tell you're excited already. You don't have to write the bloody thing.

Go to 97


52

You walk into the bathroom and thump the shower hard with your fist, causing severe damage and rendering it unworkable. Well, you did say 'hit the shower,' you weakly pun to yourself, and decide in retrospect that it wasn't worth it.

The toilet is still operational though - if you would like to have a poo, go to 69

If you would rather just feed the cat, go to 5


53

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up. If only you'd made the time for a proper shower.

You're about to leave the bathroom when you realise you didn't put your boxers back on, nor indeed any other clothes. It's lucky you spotted that, or you could have been in serious trouble!

It's time to feed the cat - go to 11


54

You move your computer chair to the centre of the living room and sit in it, facing the TV. The TV isn't on though. You sit there until you ascertain that five minutes have elapsed and it's time to go about your morning routine.

Go to 22


55

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:20AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you tried to recapture your childhood by buying an inconveniently large box of Choco Krispies. Unfortunately, this was about ten years ago, and they've gone off a bit now. There's also some dry toast you can make, if you want.

If you would like some toast, go to 37

If you'd rather have a bowl of Choco Krispies, go to 64


56

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:10AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you equipped your kitchen cupboard with childish variety packs of cereals. Unfortunately, you have already eaten all the fun ones, and there are only bland, uninteresting ones left. Figures.

If you want to eat a bowl of fibre (there's no fruit in it; just the fibre), go to 73

If you want to eat a single Shredded Wheat husk, go to 81


59

The cat is too preoccupied with sleeping to pay attention to the unexciting dry food you pour into its bowl. It will never know that you chose to look out for its need first, above your own, and when it awakens later and eats the disgusting morsels, you won't even be around to receive the rare show of affection. This makes you sad, but the day must go on.

If you would like some breakfast of your own, go to 55

If you would prefer to do a poo, go to 24


60

You press the snooze button and lie still in bed. You are still unable to get any sleep, knowing that the snooze alarm is imminent. Right on cue, the time reaches 08:05 and the alarm sounds. It would be unprofessional to stay in bed any longer.

If you decide to get up now, go to 12

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 33


63

You start your car and make the familiar journey to NHS Scotland, ready for your fun eight-hour day of processing claim forms. If that sounds like a barrel of fun to play, consider yourself lucky that you don't have to write the bloody thing.

CONGRATULATIONS, you have successfully completed the demo version of Gareth Shinks' Absolutely Boring, Normal Day. If this was your first time playing (and I can't imagine why you would possibly have played it twice - it's remarkable that you got this far), you might be interested to know that there are about 50 possible routes through the game, and you beat the odds by finding the one that doesn't result in death or arrest.

I hope this makes you feel slightly less like you completely wasted your time.

GAME OVER


64

Unfortunately, the Choco Krispies are severely out of date (dating back to the brief period of time in which Coco Pops were unpopularly renamed 'Choco Krispies' - that should have been your clue). They kill you instantly. But in this case, it could be more accurately called euthanasia.

Go to 97


65

The Corn Flakes are pretty bland, but you eat them because you're a good boy, and they will make you fit and strong for your important day of work ahead. Probably.

Whoopee! It's time to go to work - go to 50


68

You water the cat-chewed plants and feel good about yourself. They will still almost definitely die soon though.

Go to 22


69

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up as best you can. That feels better. Am I really writing this? Are you really playing this?

It's time to wash your hands and feed the cat - go to 5



70

You clean yourself matter-of-factly in the shower - there's no time for funny business. As you're drying, you look at your face in the mirror and realise it's been a couple of days since you shaved.

If you would like to shave, go to 20

If you would like to have breakfast instead, go to 56

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 49

If you would like to have a poo, go to 94


71

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:20AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you equipped your kitchen cupboard with childish variety packs of cereals. And because you were so responsible and nobly ate the boring ones first, the most fun ones are left. What a treat!

If you want to eat a bowl of Honey Nut Loops, go to 95

If you'd rather have a bowl of Choco Krispies, go to 64


73

You consume the fibre in a near-catatonic state. You are not really aware of time passing, but the clock says it's 08:20, the fibre is all gone and there's an unpleasant taste in your mouth, so presumably you finished it all.

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 5

If you would like to have a poo, go to 91


74

There's a lot a man can do with five extra minutes, you decide. You could water those neglected plants, play with the cat or just sit around doing nothing whatsoever for five minutes.

If you decide to water those neglected plants, go to 68

If you would rather play with the cat, go to 21

If you prefer to sit around doing nothing whatsoever for five minutes, go to 54


75

You pour the muesli and chomp your way through the delightful flakes. Suddenly, there is a movement in your bowels and you realise you quite need a poo - but it can wait.

If you feel like responding to your call of nature, go to 69

If you would rather just feed the cat, go to 5


80

You clean yourself matter-of-factly in the shower - there's no time for funny business. As you're drying, you look at your face in the mirror and realise it's been a couple of days since you shaved.

If you would like to shave, go to 14

If you would like to have breakfast instead, go to 28

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 5


81

The Shredded Wheat husk is abominable, but you eat it because you're a good boy, and it will make you fit and strong for your important day of work ahead.

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 5

If you would like to have a poo, go to 91


82

In an effort to add some variety to your boring life (it's only 08:20AM and already things have become almost insufferably tedious), you equipped your kitchen cupboard with childish variety packs of cereals. Unfortunately, you have already eaten all the fun ones, and there are only bland, uninteresting ones left. Fitting.

If you want to eat a bowl of Alpen, go to 93

If you want to eat some Corn Flakes, go to 65


84

You tuck in to the Lucky Charms, but they aren't as tasty as you remembered. As you suck down the last few unpleasant mallows, you realise it's almost time to go to work.

Would you like to have a poo first?

If you would, go to 92

If you think you'll be okay, go to 50


85

Pulling on your clothes, you judge there to be just enough time to do a poo before feeding the cat and leaving the house.

Would you like to have a poo?

If so, go to 53

If you're okay without, go to 5


86

The cat is too preoccupied with sleeping to pay attention to the unexciting dry food you pour into its bowl. Never mind, it'll appreciate it later, though you won't be around to receive the rare show of affection. This makes you sad.

If you would like to have a shower, go to 99

If you would like to have breakfast, go to 82


90

This is crazy, you think. This is so unlike me. But still you press the snooze button again again again and lie still in bed again again again. This is in no way relaxing, due to the stress of knowing you may soon be late for work. After an excruciating wait, the time reaches 08:20 and the alarm sounds. It would be ridiculously unprofessional to stay in bed any longer.

If you decide to get up now, go to 85

If you would prefer five more minutes in bed, go to 6


91

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up as best you can. Why didn't you do this before your shower? What are you like!

It's time to wash your hands and feed the cat - go to 5


92

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up as best you can. Why didn't you do this before your shower? What are you like!

It's time to wash your hands and go to work - go to 50


93

You consume the dull muesli in a near-catatonic state. You are not really aware of time passing, but the clock says it's 08:29, the muesli is gone and there's an unpleasant taste in your mouth, so presumably you finished them all.

Hooray! It's time to go to work - go to 50


94

You take off the boxer shorts you slept in, sit down on the toilet, relax and then clean up. You wonder why you didn't do this before your shower.

If you would like to have breakfast (after washing your hands), go to 71

If you would like to feed the cat, go to 5


95

You tuck in to the Honey Nut Loops, but they aren't as tasty as you remembered. As you suck down the last few unpleasant loops, you realise it's almost time to go to work - but first you have to feed the cat.

Go to 5


97

You didn't make it to work today.

GAME OVER


98

You switch on the toaster and it makes a burning smell that sets off your smoke detector, so you have to spend five minutes scrambling around to switch it off.

If you would like to try some Choco Krispies instead, go to 64

If you want to abandon breakfast and hit the shower, go to 52

If you would rather just feed the cat, go to 5


99

You clean yourself matter-of-factly in the shower - there's no time for funny business. As you're drying, you look at your face in the mirror and realise it's been a couple of days since you shaved. But there's no time to take care of that now - it's time to go to work, hooray!

Go to 50

Dave Warburton
Malacca, Malaysia
June 2011

Influences: Life c.2009. Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle was on at the time, it presumably had some spiritual influence.

2 comments:

  1. I died on CoCo Pufs... Not sure how I feel about that...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the most humane option, for player and character both.

      The solution to 'win' is sleep > sleep > sleep > sleep > sleep > get up > poo. There's no moral or logic behind it, it's just the only iteration in which Gaz happens to remember to get dressed.

      He also has some kind of quantum cupboards that contain different food depending on what time they're opened.

      Delete