God plays dice
This is an interactive story. Users have opportunities to jump to a different storyline of the world. It is an opportunity for you to have a time travel.
Occupation: NASA Research Scientist
Black White color means a start of the story. I used three different theme colors to represent two timeline stories.
Ruth is a well-educated girl who grew up in New York City. Her father is a member of Doctors Without Borders. She adored her father very much, and she wants to make the world better like her father. She believes that with great power comes great responsibility. Ruth graduated from Columbia University with double master degrees in Psychology and Economics. After graduation, she joined NASA as a Research Scientist.
NASA is developing a time-traveling technology codenamed "Teleportation". They are ready to have a human test it. Since the test is potentially dangerous, NASA recruited volunteers and plan to transport two of them to the past and future. To prepare for the journey, the volunteers have to go through rigorous training to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills for living in the past and future.
Ruth is one of the selected volunteers. She has the choice to go back to the past or travel to the future.
Back to the past
The yellow color means past and history.
Ruth goes back to 100 years ago of the US and lives there for one month with money, supplies, and equipment that she brings along with her. She soon finds out that millions of people are suffering a severe pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. She can change the situation by making a penicillin-based vaccine with her 21st-century medical training and medicines.
While finding a way to contact the Red Cross to make and distribute the vaccine, Ruth reads about a mustard gas attack in Belgium as part of the World War I. A group of German soldiers were wounded by the attack. She noticed one of the soldiers is Adolf Hitler who is temporarily blinded. Knowing Hitler will go on and start World War II, Ruth can find Hitler and remove him from the history.
So Ruth has two options with the one month time: helping the Red Cross to save people's lives, or finding Hitler to stop the mass killings of World War II.
A: Stop the pandemic
Struggling to make a decision, Ruth finds a little girl crying in a street corner outside a hospital. She asks the girl what happened.
"My mom died.", the girl said.
Ruth asked, "Where is your dad?"
The girl answered, "He is very sick". She said, "Dad is all I have. I can't lose him."
Ruth walks the girl back to the hospital and sees a lot of patients with hopeless looks. She sees dead bodies are being loaded into trucks and driven away.
Ruth decides to help cure the disease. She convinces a doctor named Mark to experiment her vaccine on a patient who is about to collapse. The vaccine turns out to be very effective. Ruth and Mark spend the next three weeks producing and distributing the vaccine.
Near the end of the one month, the pandemic is effectively controlled. It is also the time for Ruth to go back to 2018. Ruth shows Mark how to make penicillin, which otherwise would be discovered after 10 years in 1928.
Back in 2018, Ruth finds that the H1N1 vaccine was quickly distributed and millions of people were saved in 1918.
B: Kill Hitler
Ruth decides to find Hitler even though she knows a lot of people are suffering from the pandemic. She wants to save the future.
Before she leaves for Belgium, Ruth finds a doctor and leaves him with the antivirus medicine she brought back. She tells the doctor that he can do a chemical analysis and produce more if the medicine proves to be effective.
Ruth then flies to Belgium. She finds the military hospital where Hitler is being treated. She disguises as a nurse and sneaks into the hospital.
Ruth finds an emaciated with black-hair man sitting in a chair. She confirms the man is Hitler. Hitler cannot see anything.
Option 1: Poison
Ruth tells Hitler that she is a nurse and she has a new medicine that could make him see things again. Hitler wants to take the medicine. He does start to see things. He is very excited. Soon, however, Hitler's face turns pale and he falls to the ground. The medicine has a strong side effect for people who have inhaled mustard gas. Hitler's heart stops beating.
Ruth goes back to 2018 and cannot find any history about World War II. She finds Adolf Hitler's name is a casualty list of a newspaper.
Option 2: Gun
Hitler senses someone walking towards him and asks who it is. Ruth said she is a nurse and she is delivering medicine. Hitler said there isn't a nurse named Ruth. He becomes suspicious and starts asking more questions, which attracts other people in the hospital. Ruth has to act quickly. She takes out a handgun, shoots Hitler for a couple of times, and runs out of the hospital before anyone could catch her.
Ruth spends the rest of the one month hiding from the manhunt. She manages to go back to 2018 in time. She finds out that Hitler was badly injured, but he managed to survive and his personality completely changed. He became more aggressive and developed extreme thoughts. He still formed the Nazi party and led Germany into World War II.
Ruth asks the question, "can a person really change the history, or does the history changes a person?"
Travel to the Future
The blue color means the future, high tech, and more possibilities.
Ruth is selected to go to the year 2118 and take a critical technology back to 2018. With the one month she has, she needs to find the cancer cure medicine or nuclear fusion technology. NASA predicts both technologies will be developed in the US.
Choice1: Cure Cancer
In the year 2118, Ruth learns that Dr. Sarah at Harvard University has just made a breakthrough of the cancer cure medicine. Ruth meets with Dr. Sarah. Dr. Sarah tells Ruth that she has a few doses of the medicine prototype, but she needs more time to develop technologies that can mass produce the medicine. More importantly, Dr. Sarah needs the medicine to treat a young girl with rare cancer and in critical condition. Ruth faces the dilemma of whether to take the medicine back or leave the medicine to save the girl.
Choice2: Nuclear Fusion
In the year 2118, Ruth quickly learns that nuclear fusion technology is about to be ready as part of the Department of Defense's research. She meets General Adams who directs the research. General Adams tells Ruth that she can only share the nuclear fusion technology with the Department of Defense when she goes back to 2018, in order to keep the US in the dominant position of the world's energy supplies. If technology is widely known to other countries, the US will lose its competitiveness, the economy will collapse, and people will lose their jobs. Ruth needs to make a decision on whether to keep the new technology only to one country or share it with the world.
I conduct 9 user tests of the "God plays dice", and got a lot of valuable feedback. Below are highlights from the user feedback.
"I like that at the end of the Hitler/Gun choice, it doesn’t work out well and Hitler lives. I also like that Ruth asks “can a person really change history or does history change the person?” It provides a good resolution and something to think about at the ending. "
"I really like your sketch style, it is compelling!"
“The button color needs to be changed. It's hard to find the button.”
"I hope there is a button that I can click to go back to see another choice's result."
" I think this story needs to have some music or sound effect, and it will be better!"
I really like this story. To see a different story ending, I just keep going back to select another choice! I played this game several times.
When people read a story, they like arcs. To be a good storyteller, I need to control the tempo of a story. This story has probably too many climaxes or choice points. I need to balance the surprises and smooth flow of the story.
Check the facts
When I wrote "back to the past " section, I researched a lot of historical information. I tried to make sure every historical detail is correct, such as the year, event, and location. It's important not to introduce any distractions by incorrect facts in the story.
Reading environment can affect the delivery of the story. I showed the story to test users in fullscreen mode. I also set my laptop in a quiet corner with warm ambient light. A good environment can help set the appropriate stage for the story.