Up All Night: Rumination
Horror/Drama/Visual Novel
Years after the events of Up All Night, Nick Torres remains haunted by the ghosts of his past. Seeking help -- or at least solace -- he reaches out to licensed therapist Patricia Rathburn for guidance.
Much to her dismay, Nick's presence proves a harrowing reminder of Patricia's own inner demons... but can she see past her clouded judgement to help this troubled young man?
Contribution: Narrative design, writing, programming
Gameplay Sample
In-Game Screenshots
Session One Game Script - Alternate Paths Included
Session One - Scene Script
Patricia: (Hm, my new client’s running late...)
Katie: Hey Mom! Come over for dinner tonight?
Patricia: Sure, you want take-out?
Katie: No
Katie: Go out to Parkside Cafe?
Patricia: (That girl. She always wants to go to expensive places... when I’m the one paying.)
Patricia: Sure. See you tonight!
The office door opened soundlessly. If I hadn’t glanced up to check for his arrival I wouldn't have noticed him.
He was plain, in a disheveled and tired way. A man who would have looked as if he belonged anywhere—except that his clothes had the rumpled, lived-in look of someone who traveled often and showered little.
Patricia: "You must be Nicholas Torres. Nice to meet you; I’m Patricia Rathburn."
Nick: "Yeah, I know. I did request you. Just Nick is fine."
I held my hand out toward him and he looked at it with mistrust. He sat down on the couch without reaching out to finish the greeting.
Patricia: "Nick... okay, sounds good. What brings you here today, Nick?"
Nick: "The same thing that brings everyone else here."
Patricia: "And what is that?"
He rumpled his already mussed hair.
Nick: "Talking about problems. You know, that kind of junk."
Patricia: "Why don’t you give me a rundown. What are you hoping to get out of these sessions? We’ll think of this as an introduction."
Nick: "You got any kids?"
That was a bit of a random question. I’d meant for him to introduce himself... but I was the one who hadn’t specified. There was no real harm in giving him the answer.
Patricia: "Yes, I have a daughter. Why do you ask? Do you?"
Nick: "No, just wondering. We’re introducing ourselves, right? Is she older?"
Patricia: "She is, but that’s enough about me. What about you?"
He looked down at his hands. His skin was clean, but his nails were caked with old dirt, as if they had always been that way.
Nick: "Sorry... it’s just that... no. Not important."
Patricia: "Nick, what’s wrong?"
Nick: "Oh, nothing, I’m fine."

Press Him
Let it Go

Patricia: "You scheduled an appointment to discuss how everything is fine?"
Nick: "Oh, uh, no, I guess I didn’t. It’s just that I’m not used to... well... talking. About feelings. About anything, really."
Patricia: "That’s okay, you’re here to work on that. Even admitting that is progress."
He smiled. It was a small and hesitant thing. His next words were self-deprecating.
Nick: "I’ve made that sort of progress before. It never lasts."
Patricia: "These sorts of things move in fits and starts, it’s never a straight path."
Nick: "Yeah, but I don’t know why my road has to be so damn bumpy."
He swallowed, eyes flickering back to the clock.
Nick: "It’s warm in here, can you turn the air on?"
Patricia: "It’s sixty-eight degrees. I wouldn’t call that warm. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t, the whole building is on the same thermostat. You could take that jacket off."
Nick: "No, I’d prefer to keep it on... I guess everything feels warmer than that place..."
Patricia: "What place?"
He hesitated, running a fingernail along the palm of his hand.
Patricia: "If you don’t want to talk about it yet that’s fine. Maybe we can explore that next session."
Nick: "Uh, yeah. Maybe. What’s with the decor, anyway?"
Patricia: "Ah! Yes, I’ve always loved the snow. Do you like it? I find it calming. Reminds me of traveling when I was in college."
Nick: "Yeah, it’s great. It’s really, uh, festive. Just weird for May, you know? I’d expect it to be like this in December."
He was quiet for a moment then looked up, a serious expression on his face.
Nick: "Why blue? For your nails. You seem more like a pink."
He grabbed one of the crimson couch pillows.
Nick: "Or maybe a red."
Patricia: (He’s hyper aware of the colors. I wonder...)
Patricia: "What about my nails bothers you?"
Nick: "It doesn’t fit, that’s all."
Patricia: "My daughter picked the color out for me. She’s done it since she was a kid. She and her friends would always pick out colors for us moms to wear. Even after they moved away, I guess the tradition stuck."
He smiled, a distant, rueful thing. I tapped my fingers on the chair arm, and even though I wasn’t looking, it was as if I could feel the blue coating on my nails.
Nick: "Better than yellow."
Patricia: "What was that?"
He was clutching the pillow so hard that his fingers were white.
Nick: "This is stupid. I didn’t come here to talk about nail colors. I... I had a friend... friends... who died. It’s been years, but I can’t let it the fuck go. That’s why I’m here."
I felt my eyes widen at this. Not at the revelation of death, that was common enough, but at how angry he looked while speaking about it. Angry at me.
Patricia: "Nick, it’s not uncommon to relive trauma—"
Nick: "And what the hell do you know about trauma?! I watched them fucking die in front of me! You ever seen that? You ever seen someone die right there in front of you?"
Patricia: "Nick. You just told me you can’t ‘let it the fuck go’ but you’re telling me you witnessed their deaths? You need to give yourself a break."
Patricia: "Of course that stays with you. Of course it does."
I found myself flinching away as he took a shuddering breath, his fists still clenched around the pillow. Quoting his own words back seemed to have an effect.
I almost wanted to laugh, but that would probably set him off again.
Or maybe that was my own baggage talking.
Patricia: (Not everyone is like Richard. Take your own advice. Give yourself a break.)
Nick: "Sorry. That was... ugh... sorry. I don’t know why I get so pissed off now. I didn’t used to be like this."
Patricia: "Trauma changes us. It’s okay to be different now."
He laughed, but none of it met his eyes. He had a lot he needed to talk about. You can’t always see that on a person’s face—but every time I have seen it, they’ve been on some kind of brink.
Nick: "Heh... That’s what I tell myself, anyway. Well, I should get going."
Patricia: "Are you sure? You have ten minutes left. We were getting close to something."
Nick: "Yeah, I just have stuff I gotta do. Tell your daughter I like the color she picked out for you. What did you say her name was?"
Patricia: "Katie. I thought you didn’t like it?"
Nick: "I thought it didn’t suit you. But I’ve changed my mind, it’s uh... nice. I guess it works, with the story and everything."
Patricia: "Thanks, I’ll let her know."
Nick: "Katie, huh? Cute name. Well, see you in about a month."
Patricia: "The spacing is a little far... don’t you want to schedule a bit more frequently? Therapy won’t be as helpful if it’s too spread out."
Nick: "Yeah... I’ve got too much going on right now to do it sooner. Thanks for the concern, though."
He held his hand out towards me, signaling his unchanged intention to end the conversation early.
His hand hung in the space between us. All I could think about were his white knuckles clenched around that red pillow.
It made me think of a different hand that had once clenched itself around my wrist.

Don't Shake

I reached out and gripped his hand. His fingers were unevenly calloused and his palms warm but clammy. He was nervous. Well, that was to be expected.
A lot of people get nervous the first time they meet someone... and I was supposed to be the sort of someone who would take a deep look at all the messy memories and behaviors that make us human.
Nick: "You know, I wasn’t sure about you, but you’re alright."
I laughed. It was good to hear.
Patricia: "Get to know me better and maybe you’ll change your mind."
He grinned back.
Nick: "That’s my line. I always ruin everything. Here’s hoping I don’t ruin this."
As soon as he left I swallowed down a couple of aspirin. A small tension headache was starting to pulse at the bridge of my nose.
Patricia: "Ugh... why now? I haven’t thought of Richard for at least a year... and that man is nothing like him."
I sat there, lost in thought until my phone buzzed.
Patricia: "Hm, my boss."
I answered. Her voice came through, clear and sonorous.
Lavallette: "How was that new patient of yours?"
Patricia: "Alright. He cut out early. He’s really closed off, which is to be expected of anyone who’s witnessed an unexpected death."
Lavallette: "Oh? What sort of death? Was it bad?"
Always with that tone of curious conspiracy when it came to something out of the ordinary.
Camilla Lavallette always wanted to know the gory details... and, since she was in charge of the offices and a well known psychiatrist I wrote referrals to, I usually gave them over to her.
Patricia: "Not sure. He wouldn’t open up about it, but hopefully next session."
Patricia: "Can’t get anywhere with him if he’s not willing to talk about the root of what’s causing him stress. Pretty sure he has signs of PTSD."
Lavallette: "Well, be sure to refer him over to me if he needs any medication."
Patricia: "Alright. Won’t be for at least another month or so, he’s scheduled pretty far out."
Lavallette: "Oh, that is far. Maybe give him a reminder call to reconsider. It’s never too early to make progress, but it can be too late."
Dr. Lavallette said that last line in practiced recitation. I’d heard it repeated to multiple clients on many occasions.
It seemed to work on most people, as if nobody wanted to say no to her.
With Nick already gone though, there was nobody to try the line on.
Patricia: (Well, guess it’s time to see Katie so she can empty my pocketbook at Parkside. Maybe she’s found herself a steady boyfriend by now.)
Patricia: (One who wouldn’t mind picking up the tab every now and then.)

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