Those Trojan Girls
by Mark Bernstein
for Macintosh (download)
All the software you need is included. For macOS Sierra (10.12), El Capitan and Yosemite.
Hill Academy occupies an ancient and well-tended campus not far from Troy. Hill has educated the children of the provincial elite since its foundation back in the colonial days. Graduates of Hill have included prime ministers, leaders of industry, scientists and scholars and churchmen, and plenty of their wives as well.
Six months have passed since the start of the Occupation. The winter has been difficult, but classes continue and spring approaches. Everything is fairly normal, considering. East House has been converted into a Security barracks, the Librarian’s house is a stop on the Underground Railroad, there’s a simmering war between the athletes and the scrubs, and no one knows exactly what happened to the Polly Xena, who was supposed to be head girl. (Cassie tells people she knows, but nobody has paid attention to Cassandra for years.)
All winter, everyone had anticipated that spring would bring news. Now Linnea is bleeding in the forecourt, and Amy Hunter, the new prefect and head girl, wants a house meeting.
It’s not unusual for Trish Parker, whom everyone calls Farmgirl, to be found climbing in and out the gabled windows of Kenmire House. She spends a lot of time out on the roof, watching the trees or the stars or just getting away from everyone, and Bri Atkins (whose mother still calls her Helen, a detail she hopes none of her school friends ever find out) certainly can’t blame her for that.
Trish’s route of arrival is not unusual this morning, but everything else is. Farmgirl’s return is not usually heralded by a scream cut terribly short, nor by the peculiar sound of bullets chipping fragments off ancient stone walls.
“Hi, guys.” she says. The other girls move even farther from the window. They look at the hunting rifle slung over Trish’s shoulder and at the tears streaming down her face. Trish’s hair is wild – well, even wilder than usual, which is saying something – and there are splatters of blood all over her uniform jacket. She’s the senior, notionally assigned to the quad there to keep the juniors in line, and because she’s the lowest senior in the pecking order.
“Omigod,” Lou Ann, another of her roommates, is frantic. “Are you OK?” Lou Ann has a gift of saying the wrong thing on all occasions.
Trish glances down. “It’s Linnea’s blood,” she tells us, wincing. “Mostly.”
Those Trojan Girls is a plot-filled, suspenseful potboiler. It’s not a game. Nothing you (or they) can do can prevent the fall of Troy or its terrible aftermath. Yet your choices (and chance) matter, and your reading of Those Trojan Girls is likely to differ from any other reading.
A discussion with Mark Bernstein and game designer Stacey Mason casts light on the tension.
SM: So where do you find excitement?
MB: It doesn’t matter that we know how things will end. It matters terribly how we get there, once we meet the kids and start to care about their individual predicaments.
Euripides and Seneca give us a terrific cast. Take Cassandra. She used to be really popular. Three years ago she went totally goth, but for her classmates, goth is over. Nobody has time for that shit. Cassie stands (in torn jeans) athwart the road of history shouting “Stop!” and she is right – but there are good and necessary reasons she’s wrong, too.
Or take Helena, a lovely, provincial girl from a troubled family who recently discovered science, and then discovered sex. She’s having an affair with one of the masters. Mr. Paris has a terrible, irrational crush on her. She’s enjoying herself and learning a lot. She’s got a lot going on. She doesn’t want a revolution, she didn’t ask to get stuck in the middle of an insurgency. It’s not her fault, but those topless towers are going to burn.
Those Trojan Girls is written in Storyspace and follows in the footsteps of hypertext classics like afternoon, a story, Victory Garden, and Patchwork Girl. Those Trojan Girls is also the first published hypertext to use the new Storyspace 3 facilities for stretchtext and sculptural hypertext – ideas explored in the research literature for more than a decade but that remain little known outside the research community.