Previously: Japanese New Year Ritual.
Ritual pastas tend to fall into two camps: Games you read about because they’re good stories, and games you read about because it seems like you might actually be able to play them. The 11 Miles ritual is definitely the former.
There’s secondary set of categories, too, by which ritual pastas can be similarly divided: Games that are made-up internet shenanigans, and games that stem from history or folklore. Here, too, 11 Miles is definitely the former.
But although it might be clearly made up, 11 Miles also follows a longstanding tradition of journeys in folklore, legend, and mythology: Journeys to get your heart’s desire; journeys to return home; journeys to get your heart’s desire that result in returning home because you didn’t realize that returning home was what you wanted all along. I keep thinking back to The Odyssey — a much longer trip than 11 measly miles, for sure… although perhaps only in the literal sense.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
Part of what I do with these games here at The Ghost In My Machine depends on the game itself. If it’s a Game You Might Actually Be Able To Play, I try to spin more of a yarn than the original set of instructions might otherwise offer. If it’s a Game You Read For The Story, I try to tease out the instructions from the overall story, offering a sort of blueprint or map to follow in case you do actually want to try to play it.
That’s what I’ve done for 11 Miles. At their core, the rules are actually quite simple: Find the right road, and drive. Of course, though, there’s much more to it than that. For the full story — not just the rules of the game — read Richard Southard’s original tale. It’s an excellent piece of storytelling.
After all, sometimes the rules will only get you so far.
As always, though… play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A vehicle and the ability to operate it. A car is a common choice, but it’s not the only option you might pick.
- A deep wish or desire.
Finding the Road:
- Begin at night, ideally at a time when the roads are not well-traveled.
- Drive to the woods. The woods must be a particular type of woods: The road you take to them must also pass through them.
- Drive. Enter the woods.
- Drive. Begin looking. Look carefully. Let your wish guide you. You will know the road when you see it.
- Drive. When you are certain you have located the road, turn down it.
Traveling the Miles:
- Take a moment if you need it. You may stop the car if you wish. Proceed only when you are ready.
- Drive. This is mile one. If it gets cold, you may turn your heater on.
- Drive. This is mile two. If you haven’t already turned the heater on, now would be a good time to do so. If you do not, you might regret it later.
- Drive. This is mile three. Ignore any shadows in the trees, no matter how human they may seem.
- Drive. This is mile four. Ignore any voices you may hear, no matter how human may they seem.
- Drive. This is mile five. Ignore the vanishing of the trees, the sudden appearance of a lake, and the glowing of the moon.
- Drive. This is mile six. Ignore the returning of the trees, the disappearance of the stars, and the flickering of your headlights. If your radio turns on, ignore that too. Ignore it no matter what it says, but do not attempt to turn it off.
- Congratulations; you are halfway done.
- Drive. This is mile seven. Ignore — again — any voices you may hear, no matter how close they may sound. Do not turn around, even if the voices appear to be coming from the backseat.
- Drive. This is mile eight. Slow down, but do not stop. Break if your headlights flicker, but do not stop. No matter how cold it gets, do not stop. No matter who or what you might see, do not stop.
- Drive. This is mile nine. Your vehicle may stall. Close your eyes. Attempt to restart your vehicle. Do not open your eyes. No matter what you hear, do not open your eyes. When your vehicle starts, hit the gas as fast as you can. When the mile is over, you may open your eyes.
- Drive. This is mile 10. Do not look in your rear view mirror.
- Drive. This is mile 11. Your vehicle may lose power, but continue to move. Let it.
- If you see a red light ahead, close your eyes. Close them tightly. Cover them with your hands if you must. Cover your ears if you can. Make sure you cannot see anything.
- No matter what you hear, do not look.
- No matter what you feel, do not look.
- No matter how hot it gets, do not look.
- When the power returns, stop your vehicle. Open your eyes. Take a moment. Take a breath.
Receiving Your Reward:
- Drive until the road dead ends.
- Close your eyes.
- Imagine your deepest desire. Even if it has changed from what it was when you began your journey, imagine it all the same — changes and all. Imagine not simply desiring it, but possessing it.
- Open your eyes.
- If your desire was an object: Check your trunk. If it is smaller than that, check your back seat. If it is smaller than that, check your pockets.
- If your desire was non-material: Return to your life and check there. If it does not appear immediately, wait. Be patient. It will come.
Completing the Journey:
- You may find at this point that you have returned to the start of the road.
- You may go home… or you may begin the journey again.
- The choice is yours.
During the Journey:
Do NOT do any of the following:
- Turn on the radio, tape deck, CD player, MP3 player, or other music-playing device;
- Use a cell phone;
- Open the windows;
- Drive faster than 30 miles per hour;
- Or leave the car.
Keep your eyes on the road.
Buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
[Photo via evoo73/Flickr]