"Listen, son, you're in a heap of trouble here," the detective stubbed out his cigarette on the heel of his shoe, and settled in across from me.
"We've got you on charges of trespassing, vandalism, burglary, kidnapping, attempted bestiality, and grand theft tiger. We had to make that last one up just for you, kid. You know how rare it is to have to make up a crime for one person? I have literally never even heard of that. That's how much trouble you're in; you've created entirely new crimes of which you are incredibly guilty," he let that last part settle in for a few minutes.
"I don't even know where to start," I began, picking what I hoped was fur from between my teeth.
"Well, let me tell you what we have down, and you can tell me if any of it sounds familiar. You entered the zoo at 10:30 on the morning of March 24, 2009..."
The smell of cotton candy and popcorn mixes with that of hay, manure, and the four Sparks you downed in the parking lot. The large woman in front of you is wearing leopard print stretch-pants that have long since abandoned the category of "pants" and ventured into the realm of "ass shrink-wrap." The elastic quivers, as if longing to be released. You barely suppress the urge to snap the waistband, which would surely set off a tsunami of fat that would kill all those surrounding yo-
"Excuse me," the beast turns on you, "are you...are you fucking talking about me? You're like, the biggest asshole in the entire world! I weigh 125 pounds, dickhead, and I'm standing right in front of you! I can hear you!"
Were you saying all that out loud?
"Did the spandex-monster pick up your thoughts somehow? You try to decipher her words, but all that comes out is the sound of incessant chewing and the slap of fat on fat as her lips impact each other," are you still speaking aloud? The mix of caffeine, alcohol, and cough syrup blends the lines of your internal consciousness.
"You fucking ass!" She screams, "My boyfriend is going to kill you."
As she storms off toward what appears to be a particularly large, hairy Eskimo, you realize that you are ill-prepared to fight, but still nowhere near the front of the line.
If you stay and fight the WereEskimo, turn to page 2.If you jump the line and bolt for the zoo, turn to page 3.
Hey, you're the one that chose to fight him.
You turn to the approaching man-mountain with fists raised, your body humming with the burst of manic energy and the complete lack of coordination that the alcohol/codeine-psychosis has inspired in you. You decide to throw him off guard by doing something completely unexpected. Maybe you can make him think you're crazy.
You charge at him, screaming, but at the last moment duck beneath his swinging fist. Your flying kick hits the zoo's mascot, Honey the Bee, square in the crotch. As he crouches in pain, uncharacteristically swearing and gagging into his headpiece, you know your course of action was a total success; nobody would have ever expected that. You idly wonder what exactly you were trying to achieve when attacking a stuffed bee was an imperative, but you have long since forgotten. As the hulking arms fold around your neck, your second to last thought is "oh yeah, the Eskimo." Your last thought, before the blackness comes, is unfortunately "I can never remember who did song that goes like 'it's the POWER of love, do doo doooo,' man that has always bothe...re...d..."
Bears and explosions: Everything a zoo should be.
You leap the hurdle blocking the entrance to the park and, to the startled cries of onlookers, you jump the barrier to the Sun-Bear exhibit and duck through the maintenance door. A surprised young Native American man in a beige jumpsuit quickly tucks something behind his back.
"It's cool, man," you assure him, "I'm cool." You make a Fonzie double-thumbs up gesture, because that is cool.
"The fuck you doin' here, man?" He's still hiding something behind his back, and you subtly try to maneuver yourself around him to get a better view. He seems perturbed by your incessant circling.
"Hiding from a giant Eskimo and an immense pile of a woman," you reply.
Behind his back you make out the telltale signs of an illicit substance: a brown paper bag wrapped about a non-descript bottle.
"Whatcha got there?" You inquire.
"This? This is uh..." he eyeballs you suspiciously for a minute, but a few more mimed Fonzie gestures seem to set him at ease, "man, you're already fucked up! Haha! Okay, this is a little mix I made up for the days I gotta clean the bear cages."
If you want to get messed up with a strange Indian in the back room of the Sun-Bear enclosure, turn to page 4.
If you want to get really messed up with a strange Indian in the back room of the Sun-Bear enclosure, turn to page 5.
You and Alex the Indian take turns hitting the bottle and sharing long-winded anecdotes about how bosses suck. As the hours pass, you find yourself bonding with this mysterious and fascinating man. He tells you that he likes to "get online and look at titties," and you agree wholeheartedly. You give him your email address, and later you become fast friends. Throughout the years this friendship allows to assuage your white guilt by telling everybody that your "best friend is a Native American." Your heart will later be broken when you learn he is actually Puerto Rican.
Hittin' it Sun-Bear style.
"Can I hit that?" You ask, though you have already wrestled the bottle from his hand and have been drinking deeply for several minutes.
"Shit! No! Not so much!" He jumps at you, but you deftly avoid him by falling over sideways, "You drank the whole fucking thing? This is peyote tea, man. You are fucked. You're so fucked..."
"I can handle my shit," you inform him, flopping on the ground like an epileptic fish, "I'm a shit-handler!"
"Fuck. Whatever. Listen, I guess you can hide out here for a while, but if anybody finds you, I don't know you. Alright? I gotta get back to work..." He closes the door softly after him, and that is the last sound you hear before the darkness overwhelms you.
You awake to a complete absence of light and stumble about the room, trying to recall where you are. There are colors in the blackness. But they are soft and slippery. They distract you for several minutes. Why do your color-friends avoid you?
Eventually, you find the door and stagger out into the park. It is night-time; the zoo is closed and long since empty. But there are animals here still, and you instinctively feel that you "understand" them now. You are part of the animal world, after all, and all animals are one, aren't they? Yes, you decide. Yes they are. And this is fucking adventure time.
If you try to eat a penguin, turn to page 6.
If you set out for the big cats enclosure, to tell them you've always envied their crazy eyes, turn to page 7.
It was delicious, but you feel like a monster. The guilt pursues you until the end of your days.
All life is one. A sadly more literal statement for the hawk-faced bobcat.
"They're sideways and bendy," you explain to the sleepy tiger, "so that means you can see wider, right? Hey! Lookit me when I talk to you!" The tiger is uninterested in your shouting, but the night-time security seems very keen. You see the flashlights sweeping the area behind you.
"I think it came from over here," a voice says, and that is all you need to make a panicked decision. You are awesome at panicked decisions, you think to yourself, as you leap over the guard-rails. There is a soft thud as you impact the earth below. Suddenly, the tiger is all ears.
"Don't be a dick," you tell the tiger, and decide to try to use your newfound communion with nature to make contact with him.
You extend your consciousness into the earth, and along the ground. You feel the birds in the sky, cartwheeling above you. You feel the insects in the ground, burrowing steadily beneath you. You feel the fish in the aquarium, pretty much just swimming around like a bunch of retards. But finally you find him: the great cat. You expand yourself into the tiger's mind, and feel its scattered thoughts. You have become one entity, and a message passes between you - subconscious and primal: "Seriously, don't be a dick," you communicate to the mighty beast. And surprisingly, it obeys.
If you decide to free your tiger friend and teach it how to dance, turn to page 8.
If you decide to free your tiger friend and charge about the zoo grounds like a madman, turn to page 9.
It is awkward at first, but your patience pays off. As the full light of the moon dances on the flamingo pond, and the blood of a dozen flamingo dries upon his lips, you dance a lovely and subtly graceful waltz with the king of the jungle. Wait, that's a lion. What is a tiger? The president? Prime minister of the jungle? Regardless, it is a beautiful moment full of sentiment and reverence, and though it will never be spoken aloud, you know you two really shared something. But it is time to move on now, and you have a long road ahead of you.
Turn to page 9.
Captain of The USS Fuckin' Tiger!
"MAN THE STARBOARD MAST...AXEL!" You scream to your imaginary crew.
The fictional waves crash down on you with tremendous strength, nearly pretend-washing you away from the wheel.
"WHO'S THE GODDAMN CAPTAIN OF THIS TIGER BOAT?" You demand, swinging the wheel wildly and laughing.
"Jesus fucking Christ, he's riding a tiger!" Cries the night security man as he dives aside a fraction of a second before you and the tiger come charging by.
"Call the cops! Call the cops!" Yells another voice, this one intriguingly feminine.
"HALT! AND AVAST YE WENCH! I LAY SEIGE TO YOUR BOSOM!" You lean down and grab the small, female Asian caretaker by the waist, holding her tight as your tiger ship lumbers off into the night. There is a confused din behind you as the remaining staff scurry about in panic and fear, trying to figure out what just happened.
"This shit right here just happened," you tell the woman, pounding your chest. She responds with a terrified look of bewilderment. You try to feel her presence with your mind--or at least her boobs--but your concentration is interrupted when your tiger steed suddenly throws you to the ground, mounts a nearby tree and, in a single bound, leaps over the fence.
This is you now: Tigerless, alone, and beset by vagina-demons for some reason.
"I thought we fucking shared something!" You scream, as he disappears into the distance.
"Tigers always break your heart," You explain to the terrified woman cowering before you, "but I never will."
"Please, what do you want from me? Just let me go!" She cowers against the gift shop wall, the plastic dinosaurs on display in the windows really bring out her reptilian eyes. Oh, she has reptile eyes now. That's new.
"Baby, come on! You can't tell me we didn't share a moment back there, when I plucked you from the earth and rode away with you on a rampaging predator!" You plead with her, while setting the gift shop banners aflame with your lighter.
"Let me set up a little ambiance, darlin', maybe we can talk about this by firelight."
"You're going to burn down the zoo!" She says, scrabbling away from you.
"I am the incarnation of Ra!" You reply, unsure of who that is, exactly, but it sounds good so you yell it a dozen more times.
The approaching sirens interrupt your chant, and you realize the woman is now fleeing into the night, crying.
If you strip to the waist and do a war dance to prepare for the coming onslaught, turn to page 10.
If you lay down and cry a little because the drugs just turned on you and you realize you'll always be alone, turn to page 11.
It always starts innocently enough--nothin' but eagles and sweet ponchos--and then somebody has to start up a war dance...
You feel the fury enter your body as you jerk to a music that only you can hear. The growing flames singe your bare skin as you wheel madly by the fire, but you are an avatar of war now, and fire is your ally. Faster and faster you spin--the rage in you building to a honed point with which you will strike out at your enemies with the heavenly spear of might. Aaaand now you're getting pretty dizzy. Nausea rises up, and you vomit onto the ground, all the while spinning. As your dance circles you back around to your vomit, you slip in your own sick and tumble into the dirt.
Turn to page 11.
Nobody understands you, and they never will. You haven't called your mom in months, and you are a shitty friend. You don't deserve love. What are you even doing with your life? You think about ending it all, but you know you're too much of a coward for that. So you wait; you'll take whatever consequences come about. You deserve them.
When the police arrive, they meet up with the baffled and terrified night-time staff. Slowly they put the pieces together, and when they finally find you in a pool of your own hurl--soaked in penguin blood, covered in tiger wounds, the gift shop in flames behind you--it is almost a relief. You sleep fitfully in the squad car on the way to the station. You wake up with an inappropriate erection and a headache that would kill a god.
"And that's how it happened," I explain to the detective. He sits in stunned silence, his mouth slightly agape. His cigarette has burned down to the filter; he hasn't taken a single drag the entire time I've been talking. The smell of burnt cotton flits about in the processed air of the interrogation room for a minute, and then is whisked away by the fans. I can hear muffled shouting.
"Am I...am I in trouble?" I ask politely.
Find Robert on Twitter, Facebook, and his own site, I Fight Robots. Or you can turn to page 284, which you will quickly regret, and then spend the next 10 minutes flipping around looking for your original spot.