For years, Savegraduation had wanted to write a tale of inner-body travel. The first seed was planted when he read the ValueTale of Louis Pasteur in the second grade, and the book had him give a shot to a boy named Joey that would have the soldiers "march[ing] one by one inside Joey's body". In the fourth grade, he watched Dr. Truso and the Case of the Sudden Sickness, in which Dr. Truso traveled inside the body of a boy named Charles to determine the cause of his sickness and discovered that he had tried a cigarette. The video was a health class feature designed to warn elementary-schoolers against smoking. This was his first exposure to true inner-body travel, not just engineering micro-soldiers. Over the next decade, Savegraduation encountered many fictional references to inner-body travel (including one on the now-defunct Prodigy).
One thing he noticed was that they never seemed to grapple with the patient's thoughts over having other people inside his body. How would one feel about having people's complete bodies -- skeletal systems included, eyeballs and all -- inside of his? Wouldn't that be like eating skeletons or eyeballs? But all the patients were either unconscious and unable to consent or seemed limply indifferent to how the procedure would be performed.
Then, in December of 2003, Savegraduation got a yearning to write an inner-body travel story of his own. He wanted it to handle a disease that was new, and one that had never successfully been cured before. It would be a full-length science fiction story.
The problem was, he didn't have the scientific knowledge to write it all by himself. And his imagination failed him at some points. But there was one place where he could collaborate on a story -- the site with his friends at the teen and twentysomething website 4degreez.com! If only he announced the story at www.4degreez.com, gave the parameters and got it started, we would write a story of inner-body travel together!
With a fictional new disease gestaltly in mind, Savegraduation decided to set the story 25 years in the future -- which, in 2003, meant 2028. The politics, pop culture, etc. of the time would be open and free for us to creatively develop, and it was far enough conceptually that one could suspend their disbelief of groundbreaking technology being developed.
Our story got off to a false start. Shortly after Savegraduation began the story on 4degreez, Shadow (a now-banned member of the website, formerly known as Shadow Manifest) inserted a goat attack right in the beginning of the story. In fact, we have not been without our trouble in the history of this story. Shadow also had a gay doctor named Dr. Homo who was obsessed with all things anal. We had to go back to the beginning and develop characters, setting and the pre-disease state of things, so we could give more of a feeling of what Steve's normal life was like before he caught the disease.
In 2004, 4degreez.com became www.4thkingdom.com. Ghost5-0 joined and introduced a subplot with something called AALL cards (ID card, driver's license, medical insurance and credit card all in one) and created four AALL card thieves. He also gave Steve his surname, Bruise. The story was flagging, so Savegraduation tried to create new interest when we switched from 4degreez to Fourth Kingdom. The threads on our story were also moved to the Community board.
Up to autumn of 2005, we had just been referring to our creation as "our science-fiction story". Savegraduation decided it needed a name. He fished around for name ideas, added in some of his own, and had open voting on a title. The vote was unanimous for Inner Bruise, a title Savegraduation had thought up himself (Bruise being Steve's surname). He shared it at the Usenet group rec.arts.sf.composition, and even made the mistake of posting a Shadow snippet into the discussion there.
Additions were slow. We would go months without any new additions to the story. Then in 2006 Savegraduation took a poll on Inner Bruise, asking people whether they had contributed and why they weren't contributing. We discovered that 31% of Alphas, 33% of Betas and 80% of Gammas had never heard of Inner Bruise. Out of those who had heard of it, 23% hadn't had the time to get all the way through the beginning to get to the current point. With them never having finished reading it, we were losing these potential contributors too. For 8% of people who had never written a part of Inner Bruise, the first obstacle was the fact that their fiction writing skills were absolutely horrible. And for 12% percent of those who had never contributed, they meant to add a segment but never got around to it.
So Savegraduation hyped it up more. Then, another poster told him that it seemed "Inner Bruise has run its course". But he refused to give up on it. Julenka came along and added some parts. It was then that Steve picked up his unnamed disease, from a man sneezing without covering his mouth. Later that year, Savegraduation befriended Brandied, a member of 4thkingdom's new Gamma Generation, by wishing her a happy birthday. After the friendship of the two began boiling, she offered to write a segment of Inner Bruise that would get us out of the scene where Steve and Peter Stouffer were videotaping the thieves on the bridge and the tables turned as the thieves started chasing them. She completed the chase scene, and we were rolling once again.
The interest died down in early 2007, as we stalled on a scene in which Steve appeared at Sharon Moran's party. Then in the summer came a member of the new Delta Generation, Achae, who was new to Inner Bruise and to this site in general. She made Jocasta Lin, formerly a walk-on character, into a vivid character who gets the hots for Steve. Adding punch to the party scene allowed us to continue. Later that year, Brandied wrote another segment of Inner Bruise, as she introduced the characters Rochelle Conti and Avery Graham. Koresh also hosted an Inner Bruise page at his bizzyb0t site.
2007 also saw the first Inner Bruise Day, as we celebrated April 14 (the day the story starts) with discussing and working on Inner Bruise. Inner Bruise Day became a yearly event, with role-playing in the 4K Chat Room created by Koresh and Otter. Savegraduation played Steve, while Achae played Jocasta. We also discussed the science of inner-body travel. Kromey had the idea of using superstring theory, while an idea of mine that was rejected would be to have science discover two new leptons, one that shrank the dimensions of atoms and one that grew the dimensions upon contact. We finally settled on using the Fantastic Voyage method to have the medical team travel inside Steve's body.
Nexus, a science-oriented member of the Fourth Kingdom site, expressed interest in joining. She wanted to develop the thieves more, and have one of them have a prosthetic eye, an invention of the future that unlike a glass eye can actually see. "Basically this procedure takes the functions of the cornea, pupil, lens, and retina, and convert that information to sensors that link directly to the optic nerve", wrote Nexus. John, one of the thieves, would wear this eye and would double up as a doctor, the one who was in the operating room supposedly to monitor Steve. When things went bad, John would not come to Steve's aid because he wanted him dead.
Achae made several more contributions in 2008. Kevin Flax and Luann Meyer were introduced, and a conversation on politics began. After Koresh ran out of time to update his own page, Inner Bruise went up at http://www.freewebs.com/innerbruise/, where people could read what we had so far.
In 2008, T0Y asked Savegraduation if he would like to run Inner Bruise in the Blot. He consented, and it began running serially. The first installment came out in July 2008.
In October 2008, we were once again stalling. We were at a point in the party scene where Jocasta was smoking some pot and asked Steve, "Want some?" The dilemma was whether to have Steve smoke the joint or turn it down. Achae said she wouldn't be good at it because she'd reflexively always stayed away from drugs, being a Straight-edger, and wouldn't know how to write a character who is trying to decide whether to smoke a doobie. We finally decided that Savegraduation would write the middle of the ending to the party scene and email it to Brandied, and Brandied would write the beginning and end of the ending segment. She would decide whether Steve accepts or declines the pot, and would give us an ending in which Sharon introduced Steve to Rochelle, and Steve and Rochelle may begin dating or may not.
In 2009, Savegraduation tried to raise interest by holding an election in the Blot in which 4thkingdom subjects voted on the name of the town in which Inner Bruise was set. Achae tabulated the votes. There were 8 votes in all, and the winner, with three votes, was Los Caballos! This was one of the most widely participated-in Inner Bruise events of all time, and made Savegraduation feel more certain that he could get people interested in this science fiction story. He felt better after the event was over.
We had fewer discussions on Inner Bruise on the Fourth Kingdom site. It had been quite a while since the last time someone added to Inner Bruise. In 2009, however, Savegraduation saw something that surprised him. Kazper started one of his "ruminatory" threads, this one on a conlang he had created, and Rquethe plugged Inner Bruise. Rquethe wrote, "Also, are you a contributer [sic] to Inner Bruised? Tandem stories don't interest me that much, but that may be a great opportunity to introduce your language by somehow incorporating it into that story."
On November 29, 2010, Savegraduation announced that he had never received his segment from Brandied. He created a thread on Fourth Kingdom about his dilemma. He finally wrote, "Instead of having one person do all the work of writing each segment, we could have a lot of different people brainstorm each scene and come to a consensus, and then have one person sit down and actually write the scene, taking in mind everything that's been said. Sound good?" So that was what we did.
With the consensus-based model, Savegraduation was able to finish up the party scene and get Steve in the hospital. The story didn't stall at any one scene for too long. In 2012, Ane joined the site, and gave great feedback on the hospital scene Savegraduation had typed up. In 2014, he contributed feedback on the worldbuilding questionnaire. On April 30, 2014, Ane made his last edit on Fourth Kingdom. On May 31, 2014, Savegraduation sent Ane a PM asking what had happened to him, which Ane never read.
As 2014 drew to a close and 2015 rolled around, Fourth Kingdom began dying. Savegraduation had a dream that he was in a house where 4Kers were visiting. He was trying to get them to contribute to 4K's collaborative science fiction story. He placed some doughnuts and other carbs at the top of a flight of stairs, where everyone would see them. Everyone who saw them and was going to participate in Inner Bruise got upset with him for blocking the stairs, thus sounding the death knell of Inner Bruise. People began not even wanting to read it. When Savegraduation held Inner Bruise Day (April 14) this year and asked, "Is anyone actually reading Inner Bruise? If not, why not?", Rquethe replied, "No time my friend". New members weren't hanging around to replace the old ones who were leaving. Even if Fourth Kingdom were to pull through the rest of 2015 and 2016, the site would probably never retain the vitality needed to finish up our collabfic in time. The real 2028 would roll around and we still wouldn't be done with Inner Bruise.
On October 8, 2015, Savegraduation started an urgent thread on how Fourth Kingdom was dying and Inner Bruise needed to be saved. The posters agreed on a wiki -- one that would be open to the public, not just confined to a gated web community.
And so, on November 15, 2015, the Inner Bruise Wikia was born. Now open to the public, we hope to complete the story that is Inner Bruise with contributors from around the world.