Okay, so we're doing this -- StingComp!

I blame @AmandaB. In the SeedComp thread, I mentioned that I’d been enjoying playing Cragne Manor and getting to participate in a smaller-scale version of that would be fun. Then she said:

And I said:

Then Amanda and @kaemi replied with a story apiece – kaemi’s about a wasp, not a bee, though I think that’s within the spirit of the rules – so, taking the gag way too far, I wrote them up into two short Inform vignettes and bolted them onto Sting.

And, because many of y’all encouraged me – you know who you are – now here we are: StingComp is a thing, yo. Read on for the FAQ, but here’s the TLDR: post your own short memory of getting stung by something, and I’ll implement it and include it in the game (if you’d like to make it yourself in Inform, feel free to do that too/instead!)

Advance Praise for StingComp

FAQ:

Q: Are you serious?

A: Yes.

Q: Is this a joke?

A: Yes.

Q: Doesn’t this sort of ruin the funny at times, but overall serious Sting?

A: Yeah, so now it’s a freestanding game; if, upon completing StingComp, you find you’re still in the market for interactive bee-based suffering, you know where to go.

Q: How long a story should I post?

A: Up to you, but I will probably get bored and/or sloppy if you go much above a couple hundred words.

Q: Does it have to be a bee sting?

A: No! As we’ve seen, wasps work just as well. And if you’ve got a story about being stung by a jellyfish or scorpion or ray or something, awesome, bring it on! If there’s a metaphorical sting going along with the physical one, great, but an actual stinger entering actual human flesh is the sine qua non of StingComp.

Q: Does my story have to be silly?

A: No, though if it’s too serious, that’s probably not in the spirit of the thing – like, I’m not gonna implement My Girl (spoilers). But the thing about being stung by a bee is that it’s either sudden and incongruous, or foreseeable and rife with dramatic irony. Either way there’s usually something funny about it!

Q: Any guidelines on writing my own code?

A: I’m implementing each story as a self-contained room, with a different player character in each, linked by portals from a hub, so just start your game wherever and I’ll create a portal that will change the player to whatever main character you create. But so I wouldn’t use any “when play begins” rules, and of course the game will only end when the player’s gone through all the vignettes, so if you put in any content that depends on the player winning the game, I’ll need to move it around so please don’t do that. The game framework includes bees as a kind of animal that can be alive or dead, and people can either be stung or unstung, which are properties that you might also find handy. Oh, and I’m using Quip-Based Conversations by Michael Martin as the conversation extension, albeit for Inform 7 since this is still based on Sting’s chassis and I can’t be bothered to update to Inform 10. If you want to use a different extension, that’s fine, but fair warning that I’m not a very good coder so my attempts to integrate things might get, er, buggy.

Q: If this is a competition, what are the prizes?

A: Oh, it’s not a competition – the “Comp” stands for “Compilation.” I can see how that’s confusing.

Q: What’s the timeline?

A: I’ll update the game on a rolling basis as stories come in and I have time. I’d like to participate in the second phase of SeedComp, so let’s say the deadline to get a story in is midnight Pacific time on January 7th, so I can try for a final update before the January 9th kick-off of the Sprouting phase of SeedComp.

Q: I have another question.

A: Post away!

Q: …er, so where’s the game?

A: Here!
StingComp.gblorb (638.0 KB)

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So, we’re in a holiday home we rented in the Belgian Ardennes, more or less at the top of a hill, looking out over the Ourthe valley somewhere between Hotton and Durbuy. My daughter is two years old and happily playing in an inflatable bath. Suddenly, she starts crying, wailing, screaming. Turns out she is holding a wasp in her clenched fist; only its head sticks out. It’s trying to get away, but she keeps her fist closed. Only after much persuasion by us does she let go. Amazingly, because she was holding it so tight, it couldn’t sting her properly. It must have lightly pricked her, because otherwise she wouldn’t have started bawling, but it never got the opportunity to sting effectively, and she gets off without any swellings. The wasp isn’t so lucky. It got crushed to death by the hand of a 2-year old girl.

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As an 8 or 9 year old boy, I was very, very loving, protective and empathic towards all things nature. I tried bandaging broken treelimbs, had long conversations with my cat about my and her feelings, and I saved all kinds of bugs and insects from the casual cruelty of my fellow 8 or 9 year olds.

One time in the playground, some kids were bullying and harrassing a bee which had a hurt wing, it couldn’t fly properly anymore. By the time I rescued it, the poor thing was dazed and crippled by the other kids poking and swatting at it. I took it in my hand carefully and walked to the other side of the playground to put it on a flowery bush. Halfway there… OUCH!

I still held on to the bee and set it down in the safety of the bush. By the time recess was over, my hand was swollen to double its size.

I had not heard the fable of the frog and the scorpion at that age. When I did, this episode was the first thing I thought of. No grudges though.

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The thick distorting haze of time is all around.

You are twelve, or maybe nine, unless it was 15; let’s just say twelve. It’s summer and you are in the south of France again. You’ve been stung by wasps last year and the year before too, maybe even the year before that as well but: see haze. You didn’t like it and are uncomfortable when wasps are around but you know it isn’t the worst thing in the world.

You are playing down by the river brook you see a hornet. A gigantic ten centimeter long (you wonder if that haze might be distorting things a little) yellow and black avatar of evil. Despite staying very very still (or not, who knows with this pesky haze) the demon insect stings you. It hurts. IT HURTS. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily since it’s probably a direct consequence of stings from previous years) your parents have an aspivenin: a vacuum pump for just this kind of event (which may or may not actually work (an aside: the placebo effect is crazy powerful, did you see that study where they told one group that they were taking a placebo and it still relieved their symptoms! But I digress.)).

Whether it’s because you took too long to climb back up the terraces to the house, or because the aspivenin is quackery, or perhaps because hornet venom is actually magma, the pain was way worse than those – in retrospect – benign wasps.

But you get over it and stoically (oh how noble I look through all this haze) resign yourself to being stung every year from now on.

The years pass and you are never stung again.

Back in the present, as you are retelling this story you feel an immense sense of foreboding after typing that never. You can practically hear fate exploding in laughter at your brazen tempting of them.

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I can practically hear that Jaws theme swelling…

And then:

image

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I don’t know if you edited your post just now to add the picture or if my internet connection is just capricious, but that fiend just popped onto my screen from out of nowhere and would surely have sent me into an apoplectic shock were it not for the lifesavingly soothing music I’m listening to.

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I edited my post while you were reading it.

Which amounted to a jump-scare on your end.

How appropriate!

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Two Times I Got Stung by a Wasp and One Time I Just Thought I Did

1997-ish, 12-ish. Glorious summer day.

My friend and I had just been to the swimming pool and we decided to get an ice cream on the way home. I still remember the way that delicious vanilla Mr Whippy flavour mingled with sudden, agonising pain as the right-hand side of my lower lip was stung by the wasp that, unknown to me, had been trying to get in on the sugary action. The sting was, I presume, in response to the threat of being accidentally consumed. It could have been worse, I suppose: my tongue, or maybe the inside of my throat.

By the time I got home, one side of my lip had swelled up to three times its normal size and I couldn’t close my mouth. This became the immediate pressing concern for my parents, but later that night, my mum told me that she’d been cross because I’d been later home than she’d expected. Clearly she’d been planning to have a good old yell at me when I got home but the wasp scuppered her plans! Thanks, wasp.

1994-ish, 9-ish. Cosy indoors winter evening.

My younger brother and I were in our pyjamas, watching our well-worn VHS copy of Disney’s Aladdin before bed. It was getting towards the end of the film. I semi-consciously rearranged myself in the armchair, putting my bare foot down on the carpeted floor, and screamed.

It was like stepping on the worst, sharpest needle of all time. I couldn’t believe that any sharp thing could possibly hurt so badly just from putting my foot down on it.

My dad ran in and soothed my hysterics. He was mainly surprised that a wasp had managed to survive so long into the winter in our cold house.* Some tweezers did the trick, but I don’t think I really concentrated on the rest of the film - it was too much of a shock.

*Still cold in 2022. I visited this week and my dad was wearing a woolly hat indoors!

1992-ish, 7-ish. School day, probably autumn.

Running around hyperactively in the playground with schoolmates at lunchtime like you do when you’re 7-ish, I felt a sharp pain on my cheek. I was convinced this was a wasp or bee sting, because there was no other explanation, right? I spent most of the afternoon in the nurse’s office, swearing up and down I’d been stung, while three or four teachers peered at my face and tried to see what I was talking about. For two years afterwards, I was sure that was what had happened.

Until the Aladdin incident, after which I knew very definitely what was and wasn’t a sting.

(Probably a bit long. Sorry!)

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I don’t know if I can enter this since nobody said if we could include music, and I’ve got this fabulous MIDI rendition of “The Entertainer”.

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When I was a kid, I liked to climb trees (like you do). One day myself and some friends were climbing a tree when suddenly they all ran away.

Looking down, i realised there was a giant wasp nest at the base of the tree beneath me.

In classic IF style, I was faced with three choices:

  1. Stay in the tree hoping the wasps would die down.
  2. Climb down slowly, hoping not to disturb the nest any further.
  3. Let go and jump right onto the wasp nest, then run like mad.

I did (3) and got stung on the butt :slight_smile:

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I was trying to stop my brother (he was 4-5 then, I was 10 years older) from running around the edge of the pool. He kept screaming at me to leave because it was dangerous. I thought, duh, you’re running around the pool on a slippery surface. Of course it’s dangerous.

I grabbed him and threw him in the pool to stop him. Didn’t realise until I was closer that he was running away from a freakin’ wasp! The wasp attacked me. Right between the eyebrows…

He gave me his ice cream later to ‘make the hurt go away’.

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As a little girl, my uncle- who is like a father to me, would take me out hiking.

One of our favourite trails had a wooded scape- full of towering pines, slender aspen, a lake full of waddling mallard duckies and their fluffy little babies, and a trail ominously marked by a sign that proclaimed ‘ROUTE UNMAINTAINED. TRAVEL AT YOUR OWN RISK’ askew on chainlink fencing. It was full of sheer drops where the earth had crumbled away to the water, dead logs as haphazard bridges, and burbling streams industriously alive with darting jewelled dragonflies. It was slippery, uncertain underfoot, and probably entirely too dangerous to be toting around a very small, inquisitive girl who wanted to go sit by the water’s edge to stare at the sunken piano, or coo at baby ducklings, rather than scampering across terrifying terrain.

He would have been in his twenties: a sturdy, broad shouldered man, who spent an inordinate amount of time hauling himself up cliff-faces and bluffs for fun, had just barely aged out of doing kegstands, and never bothered with sunscreen or bugspray for himself, but meticulously applied it onto me, smeary little face pale and scrunched up in annoyance. Usually, I had my dark hair pulled into scruffy pigtails by his clumsy hands, a sparkly t-shirt adorned with a kitten, pastel pants, and sneakers he tied over and over and over for me, going through the slow steps of bunny ear loops with infinite patience.

One day, we were crossing a bridge that had collapsed years ago, wood rotten and breaking apart over stones. I was hesitant, not liking how fast the water was rushing below. He had gone over to the other side first, to test the wood’s sturdiness. He was encouraging me to be brave, and hop across- he would catch me if I slipped, the water was barely ankle deep- but if I really didn’t feel up to it, he could come back over and carry me. He was waiting for a response- and a stray wasp zipped up, alighting behind my ear.

I freaked out. I threw myself across in a blind panic, screaming and kicking and batting at my hair- all but scrabbling up his leg like a kitten, demanding to be held- and absolutely refused to be let down, wailing in indignation and upset. He had to carry me all the way back home. He tried not to laugh, because I promptly bit him when he did- and that made him devolve into trying to mask hysterical laughter with a fake coughing fit, holding me with one arm. I fell asleep while he was carrying me back- we usually hiked in the late afternoons to the evening time. I demanded snuggles and a movie night in a blanket fort to make up for the indignity of it all the next day, and he bemusedly went along with it.

He still remembers the incident with exasperated fondness- “you wouldn’t let go of me! Not even when you were asleep!”

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In case you want to round out my vignette with more deets (because of course you do):
The year was about 1990.
The location was The Drag, a section of a road in Austin, TX.
And I cannot tell you a single thing about the guy who drove us to the hospital, except that he was yelling “Oh, SHIT!” and I was screaming “Drive FASTER!” all the way (which was very short, luckily). He dropped us off at the ER and we never saw him again.

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Okay, picture this with me. When I was younger my nanny would take a bunch of our family on vacation for about a week straight to a specific beach and hotel. I used to go every single year until some stuff went down with my immediate family and I came back with horrible sunburn one of the few years I went by myself.

We went to the beach like everyday! I was always swimming, never wanted to leave the water! My cousins were there, a bunch of them, and they were all older than me. One of my older cousins, forget his name honestly, was a typical blonde teenage country boy. Had the curly hair that went to the end of his ears, wore a shark tooth necklace, had on those leather bracelets, always had a hat on. He seemed like a real tough guy. He was playing catch with another cousin of ours, when all of a sudden one of the adults ran out to check on him.

About ten minutes later we’re back at the beachside bar, one of the bathroom doors open, him sitting on a toilet with his trunks down, an ice pack to a fresh new jellyfish sting, him bawling like he’s 2 years old. Looking back on it? Absolutely hilarious! Then and there though, I was so baffled and confused about how my tough as brick cousin was reduced to crying like a baby!

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Welcome Tarantula!

One heck of an entrance. I’m still figuring out if I am grateful that you kept the exact location of the jellyfish sting up to the imagination, or rather the opposite.

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I think between this and the delightful question about preferred burial methods, someone’s going to have to start keeping a list of interesting ways newcomers to the forums have announced their arrival.

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Pfft, the thing is I barely remember where it was myself. I think it was on the side of his thigh? Pretty sure at least!

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[Mike, you’re crazy for doing this, but, well, if you insist:]

We were at a music festival, in the Suffolk countryside: me, my wife, and my son who would have four at the time. It was one of those family-friendly affairs, full of new parents trying to taste again the wine of their youth while their toddlers played around in the dirt, older kids dressing up and doing arts and crafts and clambering around tree-top obstacle courses, and young teenagers let off the leash and moving about in furtive little clusters with the sole aim of avoiding, at all costs, running into their parents.

It was hot, really, baking hot, and the flat part of the site where the main stages were located was a trash-strewn dustbowl with nowhere to hide from the sun. So we retreated up the slopes into the woodland area, where there was a stage hidden amongst the pine trees, alongside a bar and toilet block – all the facilities, in fact. It was day three of a four-day festival, and we were camping, so what with the break from everyday routine, the broken sleep, the enormous quantity of beer (taken medicinally, to alleviate the camping-related insomnia) and the four AM wake up call (it being impossible to remain in the tent after that time, at risk of being baked alive) the sense of dislocation and unreality had really begun to set in. I’d forgotten what day of the week and date in the month it was, and I wasn’t hugely confident about the year. But that didn’t seem to matter on this particular, insufferably sunny, Suffolk summer morning, under the trees with a pint in my hand, my child (wearing nothing but his nappy) playing delightedly amongst the pine needles, and my wife, barefoot and with flowers in her hair, sitting on a log and watching the band (I remember distinctly, they were called The Pains of Being Pure at Heart). Anyway, after a little while of basking in this idyllic, Woodstock-esque scene, I realised, being on my second or third pint of the morning, that I needed the loo. So off I went to use the gents (one of the definite advantages of maintaining a steady state of inebriation at a festival being to cushion the intellect against the horrors of the communal toilet facilities. In fact, these were no ordinary toilets but exotic, eco-friendly compost toilets, which lent them a certain mystique and glamour, and made me almost excited to use them; clearly I was quite drunk). Just as I was about to enter the makeshift plywood cubicle, my paper cup of woodchips in my hand, I looked back at the clearing where my family were residing happily. Sunlight was slanting majestically through the tall pines, lighting up the woodland floor and making the scattered pine cones glow like precious stones washed up on a beach of dried needles; I’m pretty sure cute cartoon deer were gambolling about while sweetly singing bluebirds fluttered by.

I went to the loo.

As soon as I stepped from the cubicle, I could sense that something had changed. A cloud had passed over the sun; the light was grey and sombre. The band, whose music had been so bright and uplifting before, now sounded merely petulant and grating (perhaps they’d always sounded like that? I’m not sure). A couple were arguing, and the bartended scowled at me peevishly as I passed by. But worse, when I got back to my family, it seemed that catastrophe had occurred in my brief absence. My boy was in tears and my wife semi-hysterical.

“A wasp!” she cried, gesturing wildly, “a wasp!”

“A wasp?” I replied, looking around and, seeing no wasp, simply repeating, “a wasp?”.

A wasp, it seemed, had appeared as soon as I had walked away, expertly reconnoitring my innocent family and then, having identified the most defenceless target, swooping in to attack my baby not just once but, as my wife graphically described it, several times. Somehow, the wasp had clung on beneath an onslaught of hysterically fierce blows and had continued to push its sting repeatedly into the tender flesh of my son’s leg until, a mother’s instinct overriding all other concerns, she managed to pluck off the fiend and crush the tiny black-and-yellow-stripy homicidal automaton between her bare fingers! The tone in which she told me this implied unambiguously that it was largely my fault, and that the bastard had been loitering there, behind the tree, watching and waiting, just waiting for me to go to the toilet so it could carry out its diabolical mission. And who was I to argue? I should have issued them both with Kevlar jumpsuits and smoking apparatus, before answering the call of nature. Things had been made worse, it seems, by the attentions of a concerned couple who, witnessing the incident, had rushed over and immediately issued the wounded with fresh, costly, and entirely fit-for-purpose professional-strength bite and sting cream, which put our dubious little crinkled tube of ineffectual and quite possibly out-of-date sting ointment to shame and showed us up as woefully unprepared parents and unfit do deal with such an acute health emergency (we’re a bit ramshackle when it comes to packing useful things for holidays: the last time we went away, for two weeks, I actually forgot to put in any underwear! And spent day one of the holiday trawling every shop in a small seaside town for a pair of underpants, amongst all the sticks of rock, seashell-adorned jewellery boxes and novelty postcards on offer. There’s a great IF story in there somewhere – perhaps I should submit it to SeedComp?).

When the dust had settled, it became apparent that my wife was far more traumatised by the incident that my son was – he forgot about it pretty much straight away; the high-end sting cream really did seem to take the pain and swelling away very rapidly and he was right as rain within a few minutes, but my wife was shaken up and talked about little else for the rest of the festival (and indeed, still talks about it to this day). Needless to say, we never felt quite the same about those woods after that. The extreme summer heatwave (then extraordinary, now becoming the norm) meant that we still had to spend a lot of the day in the shelter of the trees, but after that the music seemed a little more jarring, the beer lost a little of its savour, and we treaded warily amongst the pines, watching the shadows and alive to every click, whirr and buzz of wings, always expecting our stealthy assailant to reappear (uncrushed perhaps; certainly reanimated) and take its revenge.

It didn’t, for the rest of the festival, and my son has been stung a couple of times since – he seems a bit unlucky when it comes to wasp stings – but no other incident sticks in the mind, or is as frequently recounted, as this one.

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Umm. So when I posted this last night half of me was like “you know, this is an in joke that might have run it’s course, but hopefully I’ll get at least a couple more stories so it all feels worthwhile.” I am excited and not a little daunted to have struck something of a nerve! These are tales rife with hubris, betrayal, kismet, and jump scares. Family dynamics are called into question; universal compassion reaps a parlous reward; we even, mirabile dictu, got a jellyfish!

I will do my best to do this all - and any more stories others want to throw into the hopper! - justice, albeit I woke up sick this morning and have been napping all day (it’s not Covid, thankfully!) so it might be a bit before I really get my oar in. But didn’t want to let it go too long without posting my affection for you magnificent bunch of oddballs :slight_smile:

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Ha, this is good!

A few years ago I got stung by a bee that crawled out of my bicycle handlebar (hollow without the groups). Painful but otherwise uneventful, and luckily it happened before I actually got on the bike.

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