The third and last of the journeys I took using the gamebook Engeki Quest was the route titled Invitation From Far Away. I was instructed to start at this ship.
Having already completed two of the routes I was familiar with the format and had found my own way to interact with the book. If I was uncertain about a location I didn't worry too much as I might get back onto the route at the next point; if I fell off the route completely I could still use it as the start of my own adventure.
I was asked to remember people and events from my memories and weave these into a story. At the same time, small dogs were clamouring for attention and demanding to be part of that story too. These worlds didn't belong together so some accommodating needed to happen.
When asked to cross the road, either over the right hand crossing or the left hand one, my curiosity got the better of me and, as well as crossing over the right, I went back through the text to see what would have happened if I had followed the other side. I wanted to know what the consequences of my choices were. As expected, the two paths merged again soon after but by taking the left crossing you get to read a short additional piece of information. While the final destination is the same and routes very similar too, the precise manner of getting there does differ and what you bring to it will alter it a great deal more. To get the most out of this gamebook, then, you have to concentrate on the experience of going through it and not upon the satisfaction that comes with its completion. By chewing over each part and allowing it to add to the overall picture that you hold of the route, the experience becomes more distinct.
I was directed into the lobby of an elegant hotel, like all the other readers of this route. Clutching my copy of Engeki Quest, ready to present it if anyone asked what I was doing, I looked around. I was left in solitude to continue my story. Neither the concierge nor other readers of the book entered into it.
In the internal courtyard I was invited to sit and think of an old teacher of mine. I was always too much of a rebel to remain close to my teachers and besides, in the UK we don't have the same tradition of remaining connected to our former teachers. I thought hard and finally came up with Mrs Pearson, my secondary school biology teacher. She had the unenviable task of teaching sexual education to a group of 30 teenage boys. She managed to hold enough order in the classroom that she was able to teach us the basics, so for that alone she deserves praise. Thank you Mrs Pearson, you probably prevented some major embarrassments and even accidents!
A few times, when reading the book, I was told to look for a number such as the number of the top left umbrella holder. This number then directed me to the next text entry in the book. In this way there was some interaction between the real life locations and page numbers: you could only find the next entry if you were actually in the location and could check the numbers for yourself.
As an ending, I was asked to imagine Mrs Pearson coming down the stairs. I had to think hard to picture her from back in my schoolboy days and guess how she now looks, seeing as she must have retired. I would not recognise her in the street but on this blue carpeted stairway, within the frame of this quest it was easy enough to imagine talking to her, now as an adult rather than as a fourteen year old, awkwardly self-conscious boy. "What brings you to Yokohama?" I might begin, and she might reply she recieved, "an invitation from far away," from her nephew who was getting married here in Yokohama. And so the story would roll on.