It’s cold out tonight, and I’m worried about Taylor.
Of course, I’m at home, cozy in my apartment in southern Maryland, and Taylor is stranded on a moon somewhere between here and Tau Ceti IV.
I don’t know Taylor’s gender. I do know they’re young, a science student, and the last apparent survivor of a ship called the Varia. I know they cared about the rats they were tending to before everything went to hell. And I’m their only human connection.
I started playing Lifeline by 3 Minute Games yesterday. It’s a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style game that plays out on your smart phone or watch in something similar to real time. Taylor starts trekking across the surface toward a destination, and I don’t hear anything for a few hours until something happens. Now and then I’m asked to make a decision. Should Taylor go east, or west? How about battering down a door versus leaving it alone?
Whenever my watch chimes with an incoming message I check to see if it’s from Taylor. I’m waiting right now, because I just pressed them onward to what might be something terrible, but I know staying put isn’t going to get them off that moon.
Tau Ceti is 12 light years from where I’m sitting. A little less than 4,000 kilometers away there is another person I care about, whom I’ve never met in person. Unlike Taylor, she isn’t fictional, nor am I her only hope to survive a barren world. Yet in much the same way, we stay connected to one another across the vast distance. I think about her, I worry about her, I try to plan ahead and figure out how to bridge that gap.
In the same way I want our relationship to grow and flourish, I want Taylor to live. I’ve questioned some of the decisions I’ve made. Lifeline is good at presenting you with several opportunities to “turn back” after you’ve committed to something. Taylor asks me what to do, achieves some of it or faces an obstacle, and asks me again if they should keep at it or stop?
Will this work? Am I thinking this through? Am I thinking too much? How can we overcome this barrier?
Taylor’s ultimately just a dialogue tree, but I feel for them. I wasn’t expecting it when I loaded Lifeline on to my watch, but there are broad parallels between this fictional situation I’m in, and my own personal one. Beaming back and forth across the void, we’re holding on to an intangible lifeline.
I want us all to make it through okay.