Cognizance​/​Observer

Prologue

What you are about to read is an ongoing interactive narrative. At least once a day, a new chapter is posted. Every chapter is written as a response by a command sent by a reader. Once you’ve caught up in the story, you too can help decide what happens.

To see a list of commands that have previously been sent, and jump to various points in the story, take a look at the Command Log. You’re free to use the same commands again, or come up with completely new actions.

I look forward to building this story together with you!

— FemmeAndroid

The world is dark. You can make out the rounded curve of a seat in front of you. You feel tattered cloth armrests on your wrists. You are in a dusty theater. As your eyes begin to adjust to the dim light, you see that all the seats are empty.

Adjust? Where were we before? It would be a good question, but it’s not worth thinking on now. Loud footsteps pound toward you from stage right.

“Open your mouth and speak! We must hear you as you hear us; without your voice you are not here!” says the actress dressed in a gold suit as she stomps on stage.

“Wait.” She freezes mid-stomp, and slowly brings her foot down to the ground quietly. “Shit. It’s ‘heard’, isn’t it? The line is ‘you are not heard.’”

“Alright, lets take five everyone,” says a man’s voice from a speaker behind you.

“Or is it ‘here?’ Was I right? I’m really not sure I’m following this script if I’m being completely honest. You not taking the time to explain what the words mean Alexi, it makes things difficult. You know that?”

“Like, is the idea that if the audience doesn’t speak, they don’t exist? That without their interaction, they cannot inhabit the work, and if they cannot inhabit the work, the work is destined to be lost in a tempest of forgotten thoughts, swirling with all the other fanciful ideas and stories we’ve told and for as long as stories have been told? Is that it?

“Or is it really ‘heard’? Are we just conveying our need for acknowledgement? Does it have nothing to do with a need to interact, but just for us to feel acknowledged? That feeling in the pit of ours and every performers souls that we fill with praise and admiration? Are we looking to fill that pit by knowing that we are seen? Is that what you’re getting at?”

“Aliyah, maybe you could do this backstage? Away from the audience?” says the man’s voice

Aliyah raises her hand to block out the stage lights, looks out into the crowd, and sees you. She immediately runs off stage, shouting “Sorry Alexi!”

“I apologize for the poor start to the performance. You’ll have to forgive us. It’s been too long since we’ve had an audience,” says Alexi. “We’ll start from the top in five minutes.”


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