Interactive Fiction: The Lady In The Purse (1983)

Front Entry

You are standing outside the front of a door.  On a table, nearby, sits a glass of clear liquid upon a golden saucer.  

Your lips are parched.

>inspect liquid
[in glass, after taking glass]

The liquid is odorless, colorless, and has a specific weight of 1.

Your tongue is dry.

>examine saucer
There is nothing interesting about the golden saucer.


You are holding, in your hand, a glass containing a clear substance that resembles water.  You are wearing a wristwatch.  Your purse (unopened) contains an unopened envelope and a tiny lady.

Your throat feels like sandpaper.

>ask lady in the purse about glass of water
You don't see the lady in the purse!

>open purse

Opening your purse reveals, besides the ordinary fare, an unopened envelope and a tiny lady.

"What do you want now?!" Screams the lady, "you're letting the cold air in."

Your starting to dehydrate from a lack of  water.

>tell me about the glass of liquid
[said to the lady in the purse]
"How should I know?  I'm just the tiny lady that dwells in your purse.  Close this thing before I catch my tiny death."

>close purse

Your belly button is shriveled.

>open purse

"You are the rudest person I've ever lived in her purse.  I've had about enough of you," said the lady, tucking away in a pocket and pulling the zipper closed.

>open envelope
[taking from purse]

Opening the envelope reveals a handwritten letter.

Your toes have turned to sandstone.

>read letter
Which letter do you mean, the handwritten letter or the scarlet letter?

>the scarlet letter
You are not holding the scarlet letter.

>take scarlet letter
You don't see THAT here!

>read handwritten letter

You unfold the letter and begin reading:

"Dearest Janet,

At some time in the future, I don't know the exact time,  you will be presented with a cup of what appears to be water sitting conveniently on a table near a front entrance.  You will also be extremly thirsty, so much so that your toes may turn sandstone.  But you mustn't drink that liquid.  It is not water.  It has the same specific weight as water, but sister, that ain't no water in there girl!! Never ask me how I know this information.  Oh, and I almost forgot, you will know it is the glass that you should not drink because it will bear the distinction of being seated atop a saucer of purest gold.


Your brain begins to decant.

>open door
You attempt to jar the door, to no avail.

>search under table
You look under the table, careful not to spill any of the clear liquid from the glass, and find nothing that wasn't already obvious save 12 dust mites that you cannot see, but they see you, sister.

You can't go that way

The forest is impassable in that direction

Your skin is as the skin of a mummified corpse, just saying.



You are completely in the dark.  You may be in danger.

Front Entry

Maximum verbosity.

Front Entry

You are standing outside the front of a door.  On a table, nearby, sits a glass of clear liquid upon a golden saucer.

>take saucer
You tug at the immovable golden saucer and realize fairly quickly that it's not worth a broken nail.

>kick door.
Who on earth would do such a thing?

Egyptian authorities now consider your sinewy body an important archeological "find".

>inspect door
It is the same door you might see anywhere there are doors.  One round knob, two hinges, and a hunk of wooden plank to fasten it all into a single unit.

>search near table
You find nothing that wasn't obvious already, other than air molecules.

>open purse

The lady is drinking tea while perched gracefully on a discarded cell phone cover.

"Look what I found, said the lady.  It is that hunk of plastic that you threw in here after you were fighting with your cousin and then you got angry...  Oh my it was not pleasant to be a part of that, being cooped as I am inside this handbag...  Nearly squashed the life out of me, you did...  Now, I ask you, why don't you be more careful, darling?  I'm just a little 40 ish lady that lives, literally, from within your purse strings, now I am."  Said the lady, tossing her teacup (which is a pen cap, "really I don't know about you.  Really at all.  Please could I have a crayon?  Sweetie I won't harm anything, I swear to Christ.  Just one crayon, either yellow or veridian hue.  A  note pad would be like a bonus, but it isn't required.  Why look, darling, my walls are a perfect canvas.  You don't mind if I draw a few things in here?  Do you?  I thought since I'm the one who lives here, you have no right to be telling me what I can and cannot put in my own home.  I pay rent.  Wait.  Do I pay rent?"

Presently, the lady in the purse has paused to gather her thoughts.  She scratches her head and it sounds, to you like the squawk of a cowbird.

"We'll do I?" The lady demands, "tell me yes or no right away so that I may know myself.  Please, oh please you little blessing from above, literally.  You can get things too.  Lots of things.  I eat well enough, I have a few packages of crackers in here that will last through 5 apocalypses.  Or is it apocalypsi?  Which is it?  Answer me now I'm tiny!!"

"Wait a second.  If I do pay rent, I have no idea how I could possibly pay.  I'm 5 inches tall.  That is inches, not hands.  Listen, I cannot get a normal career off the ground.  My way is not paved.  I'm handicapped.  Though all the children consider me a pixie, it's just not paying the bills, if there are any.  Are there?  If the answer is yes I will be shocked but if it is no I will have a similar reaction.  Are you going to drink that water?"  Said the lady, looking up at you as you hold the glass of liquid.

"Because before you do I'd love a bath, if you don't mind.  You don't mind.  Do you?  Why would you mind?  Of course you couldn't possibly.  Could you?  I wouldn't mind if the situation were reversed, you'd have a bigger nicer place than this fossil purse, I can tell you.  So it is natural to assume you wouldn't mind if I had a few capfuls of liquor before I have a swim and a bath.  My joints are cramped from living in your zipper pocket.  You made me go there, constantly bothering me and opening the purse in the freezing cold!  Were you raised, perhaps, in an environment that lacked a formal education in a little thing called manners?  Because I wonder sometimes.  A lot factually, about just that subject."

"If I do pay rent I want a form to file with the county rent inspectors!  I may have rights. I'm certain, that were this domicile to be analyzed fully by the local code inspectors, there would be formal criminal charges filed against you.  That is not a threat, it is a promise.  I cannot be treated this way. I'm a poor lady that lives in the purse of a psychopath."

The lady stops talking long enough for you to realize that you are a pillar of salt.

>put lady in glass of liquid

You reach in to grab the lady, who bites your finger and runs inside a hole that leads to the space between the liner and the outer covering.  She is not through talking, however.  You hear her voice, muffled, but discernable as much as a monologue by the lady in the purse can be discernable.

"Well you tired bag of terd droppings!  How dare you violate my person in such a fashion.  You forget that I am a human being with rights?  Is that it?  You have forgotten a lot lately.  Ever figured out who you are?  I can tell you - you are a lunatic dweller of loonyville.  Now I'm stuck inside the walls.  I can see lint here, and there are countless gum wrappers, that actually make it smell nice in here.  So that is not all bad.  Now about that bath.  I would like to take it soon.  I hope you won't jam your vicious hands in here again.  I must warn you that I have a piece of glass that could easily kill you were I to cut you in the logical place, and I know where to use it too.  I was a medical advisor to the president, never forget, before the awful experiment that landed me confined inside your frumpy bag.  Really, dear, you can choose other colors besides black."

>set handbag on table

The fossil bag rests on the table, slightly opened, and the lady peaks her head out in short order, cowering when she sees you.  She is wearing a gum wrapper for a hair-wrap, and has a napkin draped around her, in place of a towel.  She is carrying a bar of tiny soap.  She crawls over the edge of the zipper, holding the soap between her teeth, and uses the outer pocket as a step ladder, out and onto the table. 

The lady looks at you with perplexed wonder. 

"Darling, do you want to put the glass down sometime this afternoon?  I'm sort of in a hurry."

>put glass of liquid on table

The glass sits atop the table.

The lady sets her towels down neatly and ascends the glass, up and over the top.  She falls in with a plop.

"Well you could have put this in the microwave for a few seconds, but if you did that it would mean that you were thinking about someone other than yourself.  I know you are not capable, so I give you a pass this time.  However, it does make me wonder why I bother trying to help you.  You clearly are a hopeless case.  You may give me the soap anytime you are ready, selfish girl.  If it is too much, for your brain, to process the plight of another individual, then oh well, I suppose I just want too much for you and have to realize that I can only control myself.  Still, I am somewhat put off by the entire affair.  Now you are going to stand there and watch me bath, is that it?  Do you think you could give me just a little privacy?"

>take tiny soap

You are legitimately considered a living fossil.

>give soap to lady

The lady takes the soap, then gives a look indicating she would like to bathe in private.

"It is bad enough that this glass is completely clear.  What if a passerby sees me?," says the lady, and then, as if speaking to herself, "I must hurry.  Come on Vivian, lets get moving.  This is not time to doddle about.  I cannot enjoy anything as long as she's around, not even a tepid bath."

>turn around

(continue reading Chapter II)

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The Lady In The Purse: Chapter II