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At The End of Everything; Private; Hold Onto Anything
Topic Started: Aug 4 2017, 11:33 AM (284 Views)
VoltTurtle
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The girl who dreams on the back of a giant space turtle.
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Friday, January 2nd, 2015: Fitzgerald Residence

Penelope sat alone in her room, tapping away at the keyboard on her laptop, filling in lines of code for her latest game project.

Her room was a relatively small one on the second story of her house. The walls were white and the lighting modest, giving it a cozy and friendly feeling. In one corner sat her bed, her covers messily arranged and sitting in the same position since she had woken up. A singular sock draped itself over the headboard of her bed frame, and a small black cat rested on her pillow. Near the foot of her bed, in the corner closest to it, drawers containing most of her clothes rested, the topmost drawer slightly ajar. Figurines and stuffed animals sat unperturbed on top of her dresser, in front of a window overlooking her front yard.

Nearby her dresser, Penelope's desk sat, hosting a small lamp, a pack of stationary, a cup full of writing utensils, a printer & scanner, and a black and red gaming laptop that Penelope had gotten for her previous birthday. On the far side of the desk was a small TV sitting next to a wide variety of gaming consoles stacked on top of one another. A black backpack containing most of her school supplies rested underneath her desk. Promotional posters of various different bands and video games aligned themselves neatly on the wall overlooking her desk.

In the corner opposite her bed a small closet door stood unopened, the closet inside containing most of her formal attire and boxes of old toys from when she was a young girl. Near the closet door was a small bookshelf, containing various different fiction and non-fiction books. A well-worn paperback book titled The Art of Game Design sat on top of the bookshelf, along with an old, brown teddy bear wearing a bow tie. In the final corner of the room, the door to the hallway leading to the rest of her house stood, the door wide open, with a medium-sized beanbag chair sitting next to it.

Raina, Penelope's best friend in the whole world, was coming over today. They were nearing the end of winter break and had decided to get some time together before they would have to head back to school. She checked her phone, Raina's last text to her still being a simple "on my way over".

She minimized her GameMaker window and double clicked on the Paint.NET shortcut sitting quietly on her desktop. She probably had time to sprite out the base frames on one or two more objects–new enemy ideas that she had just come up with the day before.

As she clicked away, placing pixel after individual pixel, time seemingly stood still, the world moving around her but her own little world remaining static, unmoving. One single sprite frame turned into two, two sprite frames turned into three, three to four, four to five, continuing higher and higher until she suddenly felt a tapping on her shoulder, jarring out of her own little bubble of reality.

Her chair spun around, her headset coming off of her head and blaring her perhaps-too-loud music into the room around her. She blinked twice, a bewildered look plastered on her face as she realized that Raina had arrived without her even noticing.

She smiled and started giggling, laughing at how completely scatterbrained she was.

"Oh... oh god... Raina, you scared me there."
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((Raina Rose continued from Two Breaths Walking))

Raina stuck her tongue out at Penelope. "I was knocking on your front door for like ever and texted you twice! Your mom finally let me in." She wasn't actually annoyed - not more than very, very mildly, anyway. Penelope being a space case was old hat.

The bed was occupied by the cat (one pillow counted as "occupied") so Raina plopped herself down in the beanbag chair without further ceremony. The warmth of Penelope's bedroom was a welcome respite from the chill outdoors. Even with no snow on the ground, winters in Kingman could get frigid and Raina wasn't built for the cold.

"Whatcha working on?" She'd had half a mind to yank Penelope's headphones off and surprise her when she first entered, but that was the kind of stunt that Leila pulled on her all the time to get her attention, so Raina was well aware how annoying it was. Besides, all those little pixels looked like delicate work. She'd hate to ruin something just because she startled Penelope.
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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VoltTurtle
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The girl who dreams on the back of a giant space turtle.
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"Oh um... one sec..!"

Penelope paused and quickly turned around, changing to her browser window and pausing the video that she had been using for her music up until Raina arrived. She turned back around, before sweeping a lock of her hair out of her face and letting out a sheepish chuckle. "I was working on my latest game project... I think it's coming along quite nicely!"

"The uh..." She paused, trying to think of how to phrase what the idea she originally had for the game was. "The concept I had was like... to make a game where every mechanic encourages you to go through the levels and enemies as fast as possible. So like... rather than carefully planning out how to deal with a given room, you instead just wing it, go nuts, and get rewarded for it."

She rubbed the back of her head. "And like... the margin for error would still be fairly thin, so that's where most of the thrill comes from. You get the best advantages for being aggressive, but you have to execute your aggression well."

She cocked her head slightly and looked away, towards her sister's cat sleeping soundly on her pillow. "I uh... hope that made sense."
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"Oh, yeah?" Raina leaned forward a bit to get another look at the computer screen as Penelope explained the game mechanics. "Sounds neat." She wasn't a gamer herself, but Raina could appreciate all the work that went into developing games. Besides, it was something that Penelope was passionate about, so it was Raina's best friend duty to support her even if she wasn't making something tailored specifically to Raina's interests.

"So is there like a time limit, or what?"
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Oh ah, no... I don't really want to like... force people to play the exact way that I want them to, although..." Penelope turned and paused, briefly staring at her computer screen. "Maybe that would be a good idea..."

She shook her head. "Thoughts for later," she said, as she turned back towards Raina, a sheepish grin on her face. "You're here now and that's what I should be focusing on."

She leaned back over to her computer and saved her work, before closing everything down and standing up from her chair. "What exactly has been going on with you lately?" She asked, as she stretched and moved over to her bed. "Might as well ask since you asked about what I had been doing."
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Raina shrugged in response to Penelope's question, attempting a casualness that she couldn't quite sell. "Oh, you know, the usual. Just been chilling at home and watching some shows before school gets back in."

She reclined back in the beanbag, scuffing her heel against Penelope's floor and trying not to look like she had anything pressing on her mind.

Of course, she ended up voicing it anyway. She never kept anything from her best friend for long.

"Cris is just being dumb lately, is all."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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Penelope leaned over and gently stroked the cat sleeping on her pillow as Raina spoke.

"Oh uh... yeah? That's..." Penelope cocked her head to the side. "Maybe a liiiittle bit vague."

She let out a sheepish chuckle as the cat moved itself off of her pillow and over to her lap. "I'll uh... need a bit more info if you want me to be able to help."
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"Ugh, you know-" Raina sank back further, kicking her feet a little and making a vague hand gesture. "Being all 'bluh bluh the world sucks, you should see someone who isn't bringing you down all the time, bluh'. Dumbass."

She hadn't come over here intending to unload her relationship troubles on Penelope right away, but apparently Cris's latest dose of nihilism was bothering her more than she had thought. "Like, Sam doesn't ever do that, does he? Going on pity trips and all? I keep telling him that he's smoking too much and it makes his depression worse."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Oh uh... no. Sam hasn't really done anything like that..."

Penelope paused, brushing the hair that was creeping into her vision out of her face. She gently rubbed the side of the head of the small cat now settling down in her lap.

"I uh..." She paused, her voice giving away her lack of confidence in her words. "I'm sorry to hear that? I don't... really know what to say."
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Raina sighed. "Yeah, I didn't really expect you to. I don't know what to say about it either when he starts in like that." She had settled for hoping that it would get better for Cris when he went off to college. Everything seemed to get better for everyone when they went off, got out into the world and saw something new. Cris needed new scenery, new people.

It sometimes occurred to her that "new people" might include a new girl who wasn't her, but she was usually able to ignore it. There had been a lot of girls who weren't her, after all, and a couple of guys who weren't Cris.

Raina sighed again and waved her hands as though to clear her words away. "Anyway, I didn't mean to be a downer. I'll figure it out, he'll snap out of it. He always does." She put a smile back on. "What's been going on with you, besides your game?"
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Oh well... since we're on the subject of boys," Penelope began, "I've been spending a fair bit of time with Sam. I've never really had any problems with him like you've had with Chris, he's just a big sweetheart who likes baking cookies for me."

Penelope leaned back until she was resting on her bed, her legs still dangling off the edge and the cat only mildly perturbed by her movements. "I guess with Sam I avoided all of the boy trouble I always hear about and kept all the boy benefits that I never hear about."

She leaned back up slightly, her voice slightly quiet. "Plus... some of those benefits can be pretty substantial, if you know what I mean."
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Raina laughed in spite of herself. "Oh my gooood Penny, I don't wanna hear about how Sam is in bed." Okay, yeah, it wasn't anything she hadn't heard before. Penelope was extremely open with the people she was comfortable with, and Raina was her best friend. Raina had gotten all the details, and had shared a fair few details herself in conversations past. It had seemed exciting and mature at the time, the fact that they both had boyfriends and lovers.

She stretched with her arms over her head, arching her back and sighing in satisfaction when it popped. "Anyway, forget about my dumb boy drama. It'll sort itself out, it always does. Cris will cheer up when the cold goes away - and I will too."

Raina folded her arms behind her head, turning wistful. "Can't wait to move to California and never have to deal with winter again."
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Aw well... it can get cold here but it's not that bad!" Penelope said. "And... personally, I actually like the cold more than the heat, really."

She leaned up slightly, gently caressing the purring cat in her lap. "Plus I doubt California would be... too much better, at least in the winter. If you really wanted a place that's warm all year around you'd probably want to go to Hawaii or something. But that might be a bit expensive."

She let herself relax again. "I think if I were to move anywhere, I'd probably go to Colorado. It's a nice place, I hear. They've got good commerce and legal recreational weed!"
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Raina snorted a little at Penelope's espousing of Colorado's virtues. "I guess you were born to be a peace-loving pothead, huh? Southern California's not that bad in the winter. Caltech is in Pasadena, so I might end up living around there."

Somewhere, in the far-flung future, she had an apartment with wide windows, and a comfortable desk and chair with a cutting-edge computer setup. Maybe she'd get a cat like Penelope's, or some more exotic pet. When she was little, Raina had wanted a parrot. Who was to say she couldn't make that childhood dream come true?

She sighed. "Hawaii would be nice, though. I'll have to go sometime. You think I could convince my parents to take a trip as a graduation gift next year?"
"Art enriches the community, Steve, no less than a pulsing fire hose, or a fireman beating down a blazing door. So what if we're drawing a nude man? So what if all we ever draw is a nude man, or the same nude man over and over in all sorts of provocative positions? Context, not content! Process, not subject! Don't be so gauche, Steve, it's beneath you."
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"Ehh... I dunno, a trip all the way out there is pretty expensive. I know your parents are good for that kinda of money but, well..." Penelope sat up, disturbing the cat in her lap. "...my family has never had a whole lot of money, given the fact that my parents have to take care of three kids on jobs that really don't pay enough."

She bit her bottom lip. "It just seems... kinda wasteful to me, to spend all that money willy-nilly. If I had money like your family does, I'd just... try and live a quiet and comfortable life somewhere. Make video games that people can enjoy and care for a child of my own."

She gently ran her fingers through her hair. "Cause like... I've never really cared all that much about getting out in the world and doing things for the sake of doing them. All I've really ever wanted was to have a nice, simple life and leave a positive impact on the world in some way. So that way, when you and I and everyone we know now inevitably die and no longer exist... I won't be forgotten."

Sensing the sudden, sullen change in the atmosphere of the room, Penelope decided to dial things back a bit. "...Or, you know, get a totally rad robot body and live forever, one of those two."
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