Life is Strange (Novelisation and Adaptation)
The darkness was suffocating as the thunder exploded overhead. The wind whipped stinging shards of icy rain against the girl’s exposed cheek as she lay motionless on the muddy ground. Thunder exploded once more, this time accompanying a sheet of neon-white lightning, illuminating the ground and the trees, bending dangerously but putting up a solid fight to stay upright.
The girl cautiously opened her eyes, taking in the sodden mud just centimetres from her face. Drawing in a shuddering breath, she slowly rose, all the while looking around, her eyes flicking left to right and back again quickly, like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Where am I? What’s happening to me? How did I get here? And… where exactly is here?
She looked around, trying to get her bearing. Everything seemed unfamiliar. Another peal thundered overhead and she automatically looked up. Her eyes widened at a familiar sight.
The lighthouse! I’ll be safe if I can make it there… I hope.
She finally found her feet and began to move, taking cautious steps forward as she lifted her left hand in front of her face, a futile attempt to ward off the storm. The wind whipped the rain and leaves around her in a great whirling dervish as she stumbled up the wooden log steps that led to safety. Ahead, the trees parted to reveal the cliff edge and the lighthouse, and her gaze fell upon…
… a massive tornado, bigger than the whole town, sucking up water as it whirled and danced its way towards the coastal town of Arcadia Bay. Straining her eyes as she stumbled forward, she could make out cars, houses, debris as they were ripped from the streets in the distance, fodder for the enormous maw that was slowly bearing down upon it. She looked up at the lighthouse, standing proudly as it had done for so many years, its light sweeping slowly around the Oregon bay. As it illuminated the tornado, her gaze was caught by a small object whirling around the outside of the storm.
A small boat, sucked up by the storm and rapidly gaining speed, it whirled around the storm twice before finally escaping its grasp and heading directly for the lighthouse. The girl was frozen to the spot, unable to do anything bar watch as the boat smashed into the top of the lighthouse while thunder crashed overhead. The noise was too much and she clapped her hands over her ears and she watched in horror as the boat tore through the lighthouse like tissue paper. With a groan, the light winked out and the entire mechanism slowly toppled and fell, heading straight for her. Frozen in terror, all she could do was watch helplessly as the giant light bore down on her.
Max awoke with a jump, looking around her as her breathing slowly calmed down.
Whoa! What the fuck? That was… so surreal.
“Alfred Hitchcock famously called film ‘little pieces of time’, but he could be talking about photography, as he very likely was.”
Okay… I’m in class. Everything’s cool. Calm down Max. You’re ok.
“These pieces of time can frame us in our glory and our sorrow; from light to shadow; from colour to chiaroscuro…”
She took in the scene in front of her, as if for the first time. Perched on the edge of a table, her teacher, Mark Jefferson was talking, but his voice was muffled. She concentrated on slowly down her breathing, looking from right to left. There was Kate, sat on her own, her eyes unfocussed as she looked beyond the teacher. As Max watched, a small paper ball smacked into Kate and dropped behind her as she clapped a hand to her face, holding back the tears that had been threatening all day. To Max’s left, a girl in a frayed denim skirt giggled as her neighbour’s phone buzzed.
“Now,” said the teacher, getting up and walking around to the front of the class, “can you give me an example of a photographer who perfectly captured the human condition in life…”
I didn’t fall asleep, and… that sure didn’t feel like a dream… Weird.
The girl whose phone was ringing shot her hand in the air, and spoke without waiting for the teacher’s go-ahead.
“There you go, Victoria,” said the teacher. “Why Arbus?”
“Because of her images of hopeless faces. You feel like, totally haunted by the eyes of those sad mothers and children.”
“I see,” said Jefferson, nodding slowly. “She saw humanity as tortured, right? And frankly, it’s bullshit. Ssh,” he continued quickly, to the chorus of giggles from the students, “keep that to yourself. But ok, let’s talk about Arbus. We all know the basics. We know she was born in twenty-three, committed suicide at forty-eight. But that doesn’t tell us anything about who she was, does it? Somebody give me an insight into her. Yes, Victoria?”
“I’ve always been fascinated at the contrast between her self-expressed love of her subjects, but then everyone else just calling her a photographer of freaks, casting her subjects in a negative light. I mean, she claimed consent for most of her shots, but, just as you showed with your ‘Implied Consent’ series, that’s not always obvious, or necessary.”
“So you’re comparing me to Diane Arbus,” smiled Jefferson, “I don’t know whether to be flattered or not, Victoria. Yes, Taylor?”
“She tended to shoot head-on, Mr Jefferson.”
“She did. Why?”
“I… I don’t know. So they could see her?” Some of the other students giggled lightly at this, and Taylor looked away, embarrassed.
“Arbus was heavily criticized for showing her subjects in a negative light,” Jefferson continued, “but she specialised in street photography, and as Victoria said, ‘freak’ photography. That sort of process has a kind of exactitude to it, a kind of scrutiny that we’re not normally subject to. By that I mean that we don’t subject each other to. We’re always nicer to each other than the intervention of the camera is going to make us. It’s almost like our brains have a warm filter attached.” Jefferson began another patrol of the room. “Now, I don’t mean to say that all photographs have to be mean. Not at all. Sometimes they show something really nicer in fact that what you felt, or even oddly different. But in a way, this scrutiny has to do with not evading the facts, not evading what it really looks like. Someone once said ‘ the camera cannot lie’. Uh, anyone?” He paused and looked around. “Anyone other than Victoria? No? Ok, Victoria.”
“Robert Louis Stephenson, in his book, ‘In the South Seas’.”
“Very good, but he wasn’t the first. It actually appeared in ‘The Evening News’ in Lincoln, Nebraska, in November eighteen ninety-five, and even in an Ohio newspaper ten months previous, over a year before Stephenson. It suggests that, no matter how we view something through our own eyes, the camera will always take a totally unbiased, objective view of what you see. Now this might be exactly what you see, but it might be something totally different. That’s what makes us photographers, that’s what separates us from the hobbyists and amateurs. The ability to see past our own filters to the truth ahead of us.”
Max’s eyes fell on the photograph on her desk, the one she’d taken just that morning. In it, she was facing away from the camera, the Max Caulfield photo memorial wall framed around her head as she gazed at it.
Look at this crap! How can I show this to Mr Jefferson? I can hear the class laughing at me right now.
She’d been quite proud of the process when she took the photo. Managing to increase the depth-of-field on a Polaroid instant camera was a minor miracle in itself.
But no-one would see that. They wouldn’t get that I’m just a stand-in for the Everyday Hero, they’d just see ‘another selfie’.
“Seriously though, I could frame any one of you in a dark corner, and capture you in a moment of desperation. And any one of you could do that to me. Isn’t that too easy? Too obvious? What if Arbus chose to capture people at the height of their beauty or innocence? She had a brilliant eye, so she could have taken another approach.”
“I have to admit,” said Victoria, swaying slightly in her seat, “I’m not a big fan of her work. I prefer Robert Frank.”
Acting almost on instinct, Max picked up her camera. Even now, in the age of digital cameras and technology, she was pulled towards the analogue, and the instant. Her old, battered, Polaroid camera sat, calling to her. It had seen better days, like everything else she owned, but it was hers. And now, in the light of the technology on show in the classroom, and especially Victoria’s brand new camera, it was both unique and familiar at the same time.
“Me too, Victoria. He captured the essence of post-war America. And there was honesty about the economic conditions of the era, but a beauty in the…”
Quickly, she flipped up the flash, swung the camera around and pressed the shutter. The noise of the old camera wasn’t lost on Jefferson.
“Ssh ssh ssh,” he said, holding up a hand, “I believe Max has taken what you kids call a ‘selfie’. A dumb word for a wonderful photographic tradition. And Max… has a gift.”
Hi all, this is my first ever attempt at a fan fiction, and I can’t think of a better game to start with. I’ve never played a game in which I’ve become so emotionally invested in the characters that I was literally reduced to an emotional wreck on stream. I couldn’t talk without bursting into tears and I barely held it together as it was. That said, I plan to use the events of the game more as a template rather than a stick. The plan is not to change the events of the game, but maybe to change some things about them, the order in which they happen possibly, exploring additional scenes or using other characters’ points of view. I won’t be sticking blindly to the script, either.
The full story can be read here: httpss://www.fanfiction.net/s/11818334/1/ – it will be updated regularly until all five episodes have been novelised. Any comments or constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.