Forget the interactive film - here's the interactive novel

Here she was, breakfast not even washed up; what would her husband, Jeff the journalist, think?
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The Independent Culture
TODAY I bring you a complete novel, suitable for reading on a short tube journey or at a stubborn red traffic light.

Not only is it very short, it is also interactive. That means that at various points in the story you have to choose the next option from the four options offered you. If you choose the right one, you can carry on. You are the main character, who is called Susan, and it depends on you how Susan gets on. Got it? Right! Here we go then with a complete novel entitled: Not The Man She Thought He Was.

Chapter One

Half past ten and Susan still hadn't quite cleared away the breakfast things. Normally she would have had the house spick and span by now, but there had been a very interesting programme on Radio 4, and then she had caught sight of a novel she thought she had finished, and she hadn't, and then the daily paper had caught her eye....

Now here she was, the breakfast not even washed up! What would her husband Jeff have thought, Jeff, the journalist, who left for work two hours previously!

Well, what would he have thought?: a)Blimey, it's all right for some; b)Blimey, hasn't she done the ironing yet?; c)Blimey, here am I working my socks off just so that she can swan around at home!; d)Fair enough.

Yes, Jeff would have thought, "fair enough". After all, as a journalist going to work, all he has done so far is listen to Radio 4, read a book and browse through the paper - exactly the same as her!

Chapter Two

But just as Susan was about to start the breakfast washing-up, she stopped in amazement. The front doorbell had just rung. At half past ten! Who on earth would be ringing the doorbell at half past ten at her house?

Well, there was only one way to find out, and that was to open the door (cautiously) look out (casually) and see who it was. And that is what she did, to see a pleasant middle-aged couple standing there, not at all the menacing strangers she had imagined.

"Hello?" said Susan. "Can I help you?"

"Hello," said the woman. "It's Sheila and David here! We're the couple that you met while on holiday in Rhodes last year. You said we should call in one day, so we have! Can we come in?"

Susan was totally taken aback. She had never met them before. She had never been to Rhodes in her life. But such is the power of politeness that she opened the door even wider and ushered the couple in, thinking wildly: "What do I do now?"

Well, what should you do now?: a) Pick up a poker and chase them off?; b) Reminisce inventively about Rhodes?; c) Effect a citizen's arrest on the rare charge of falsely impersonating a holiday acquaintance?; d) Ring Jeff at work.

Chapter Three

Yes, of course - ring Jeff at work! He'd know what to do! So Susan rang Jeff at work and told him what had happened, and to her amazement instead of laughing it off, Jeff said he would come home straightaway, and that Susan should keep them talking politely till then.

"Who are they, Jeff?" wailed Susan. "I've never seen them before in my life!"

"Whatever the explanation, it can wait till I get home," saidJeff, and rang off.

But what on earth is the explanation?: a)Jeff is writing a piece for the paper on Rhodes and wants some first-hand information from people who have been there; b)He knows intuitively that they are actually Jehovah's Witnesses and, as an atheist, wants to argue with them; c)A couple of serial killers have been roaming the area, pretending to be holiday acquaintances; d)Jeff went away to Rhodes last year on a secret sex-`n'- sun weekend with his secretary, who looked not unlike Susan, and this is a pair he genuinely met there, and he is desperate to get back before they blow the gaff.

Chapter Four

Yes, Jeff desperately needed to get home before the gaff was blown and luckily the lights were all green and the roads all empty, and within ten minutes he came bursting through the front door.

"Jeff!" said Sheila and David. "How nice to see you!"

Jeff looked at the pair he had met in Rhodes. He looked at his wife. He thought of his secretary, who had moved on six months ago. His mouth opened and he said....

Miles Kington writes: Dear reader, I'm sorry, I've just remembered something. You're not Susan. You're Jeff! And we've run out of space, so you're on your own now. Let me know how you get on! Good luck!