“You’re fired!” The furious, still slightly aflame man screams as he shoves you bodily from the doorway. You stumble and land rather ungainly, face down on the pavement. Pulling yourself up from the asphalt with all the dignity you can muster (which isn’t a lot in a burnt clown outfit, sans pants) you turn to respond to your attacker.
“Yeah? Well you can take this job and shove it up your ass and then re-staff it while it’s still lodged firmly up there… 'cause you got dudes working on that ass all day anyway. Should be a quick hiring process. You’re… I guess I’m calling you gay, is the long and short of it. Unless you are gay, in which case I apologize for being offensive. Wait, where were we going with this again? Somewhere fun? Ooh, do I get to pick? Let’s go to Chuck E. Cheese! Play some skee-ball. I’ll show you how I can get that center score every time. It’s easy: You just gotta stand right up on top of it and put the ball in there. I know the managers frown on that, but it’s that kind of outside the box thinking that makes me such an asset to the work force. This was a job interview, right?”
“No! You just got fired! And this is a fucking Chuck E. Cheese!” He turns and storms back inside. Through the briefly open doorway you gaze into a portal to Hell: Shrieking children, flames, dense smoke and a brief, terrifying glimpse of what appears to be an animatronic robot mouse spewing gasoline from the place where its mouth should be be.
Somebody is to blame for your predicament. It could be you. You genuinely cannot remember, nor bring yourself to care. But vengeance does sound pretty hilarious right about now, so you set forth to seek it.
If you decide to blame an unjust God, then depart on an epic, decade-spanning quest--fraught with adventure and peril at every step--to try and find him, turn to page 2. If you decide to search for the drug dealer who sold you these “focus pills” for your first day at work, turn to page 4.
You are quickly ejected from the ministry, which you joined hoping to go “undercover” in order to get closer to God. You couldn’t stop giggling at the word “rectory” which, ultimately, doesn’t even mean what you thought. Plus you banged that chick right in the middle of service. It turned out to be a statue of the Virgin Mary. It’s only been three hours since you found your nude genitals rudely scraped across the hot asphalt of a novelty restaurant's parking lot, but you promised yourself a decades long quest of some kind, god damn it. Clearly, some sort of time machine is needed to solve this problem.
Man, you are going to fuck up time.If you decide to pursue the invention of a fully functional time machine in order to skip ahead several decades, thereby escaping the promise you no longer remember making to somebody you’ve already forgotten, which is likely also a decades long quest fraught with adventure and peril at every step, turn to page 3. If you decide to search for the drug dealer who sold you these “meditative pills” for your first day in the ministry, turn to page 4.
That sounds hard. You know what doesn’t sound hard? Turning to page 4.
Turn to page 4.
You arrive at Benjamin Bear’s (trusty neighborhood narcotics facilitator and extremely prolific plushy) house full of piss and vinegar. But that’s another story; you’re also pretty mad. You bang on his door with all the righteous indignation you can muster. You’re not sure how to manifest righteous indignation in a knock. You opt for using your elbow, and to knock roughly to the beat of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Bum badum badum badadada dum de dum de dum-
“Holy motherfuck, would you stop already?”A friendly teddy bear smiles at you from the open doorway.
A teddy bear! Time for hugs!
His tone of voice sounds a little more agitated than you would expect from an ursine cartoon, and his ear-to-ear grin strangely doesn’t move when he speaks. Also, you’re pretty sure amiable animated animals (alliteration is awesome!) don’t say the word "motherfuck," nor speak with an East Puerto Rican accent.
“You interrupted my jam, bear!”
“What the hell do you want?”
The bear asks a good question. He looks huggable too - you better answer if you want any of those.
If you demand your money back for the pills that were supposed to help you concentrate, but instead caused you jerry-rig flamethrowers onto the Pizza Time Theater Band, turn to page 5. If you demand your money back for the pills that were supposed to help you achieve a state of serene relaxation, but instead caused you to face-fuck the Virgin Mary in front of 700 people during Sunday Mass, turn to page 5.
“I want my fucking money back, bear!”
“Do I look like an assholing Wal-Mart, cabron?”
“No, you look like my imaginary friend Mr. Buggles, but that only gets you so far! You sold me drugs that were hilariously fun but rather inappropriate for the utilitarian purposes that I wanted to use them for!”
“I don’t sell utility drugs, Holmes. You came by last night asking for eight Mephedrone, four tabs of X, 17 reams of Buzzers, three Round-outs, a can of Raid with a drinking straw, and the venom sack from a North African Running Lizard. And that’s what I gave you, because I am the best goddamn drug dealer in the entire country.”
Seriously, the guy can find anything: Century old brandy, fingerprint ink, a Walkman, a Frankenstein/vampire hybrid...
“Shit, you know I can’t stay mad at you, Mr. Buggles. But you got me fired from two jobs and I can't be sure, but I’m pretty positive that I need vengeance.”
“Listen, man, I’m sorry to hear that. You’re my best customer. In fact, these days you’re the only customer I have time for, and business has literally never been better. You’re a fucking wreck and you’re gonna die in a week, but you’re single-handedly sending my kids through private school. So let me make this up to you, hey? I got something special this morning. ”
The bear motions you inside.
If you turn and run, taking this rather disturbing turn of events to mean that you have hit rock bottom and must seek help, turn to page 6. If you follow the dangerous criminal dressed in a filthy bear suit into his dimly lit, relatively isolated and soundproof home to take some kind of mystery drug, turn to page 7.
Ha ha, who are you kidding? You’re following the felonious pervert into his sex-cave to take controlled poisons. Don’t front.
Turn to page 7.
You follow Benjamin Bear through a bizarre labyrinth of violated stuffed animals, stained mascot suits, drug paraphernalia and some surprisingly tasteful Eastern European antiques. The end of the hallway terminates in a solid steel door lined with locks. After an elaborate sequence of keystrokes, lever adjustments and the manipulation of secret panels, Benjamin Bear swings the door open to reveal a small refrigerated unit. He plucks a vial of shimmering blue liquid from a row of beakers, and holds it up to the light.
“This here, Paco? This is the mother lode. You heard of Albert Hofmann, yeah? Guy that basically invented LSD? Story goes he wasn’t happy with it. It was too dirty for him. Had a habit of turning on you. Everything’s all 'communing with nature and spiritual enlightenment,' but the minute the stress kicks in, your atoms are made of spiders and you’re running from the wolf goddess. Homey spent his whole life manufacturing the perfect hallucinogen. But that’s just story; this here is reality. They don’t even have names for this shit yet, and I’m giving it to you.”
He hands over the vial with an almost religious reverence, and continues.
“Now, this is kinda untested. Nobody has a goddamn idea what this might do. They say it’s foolproof - impossible to have a bad trip - but those are laboratory conditions. No way to tell how it’s gonna react to chemicals present in an uncontrolled subject. Preservatives from food, pollen in the air, other drugs – you gotta be straight when you take this, and only do it in a controlled environment where you feel comforta-"
“Right. It’s pretty tasty, too. Can I have seconds?” You hand back the empty vial, and smile eagerly.
“Oh… shit. No, man. Oh no, oh shit!”
“What’s your deal, bear? It’s not like I-" You start to protest, but you notice the door behind him is opening on its own accord. A clawed hand reaches out, scrabbling for purchase against the slick wood. The bear is gone now. Everything is gone: There is only the door, the claw and you.
If you turn and run from what is clearly a supernatural monster breaching the space between worlds, turn to page 8. If you decide this claw is full of shit and you’re gonna be the one to call him on it, turn to page 9.
You turn and flee into the inky blackness that the rest of the world has become. The only light comes from the slit in the door from which the claw emerged, and it quickly fades into the distance as you run. Soon there is only darkness, but it is not a cold darkness. On the contrary - the abyss feels nurturing, caring, almost… maternal? Too late, you remember your mother was kind of a bitch, and probably only worse now that she is an infinite void of miasmic shadow.
“I’m sorry I never went to law school like your precious Jeffie, Mom!” you scream, before the blackness takes you.
You fling the door open, ready to confront the mysterious claw with a list of all its faults in bullet-point form.
“Point 1: You’re inconsiderate! You can’t just throw the world into shadow whenever you want. Point 2: You’re one-note! I mean, can you do anything besides scrabble? Diversify! Point 3: Have you heard of knocking? It’s fucking common courtesy!” Your list cuts short when you find yourself staring into the face of some sort of giant bird. The mirrored orbs of its eyes peer passively back through you. The two of you stand for a long moment, face to face, in stunned silence.
You feel the fear well up in you as you gaze upon its immense razor beak, its sharpened talons and great, behemoth wings. But just as the terror is about to take you completely, you sense a glimmer of affection in the beast. On impulse, you reach out to touch it. The second your fingertips brush the first feather, an emotional connection arcs from the point of contact straight into your heart. In an instant, you know the bird is somehow an aspect of yourself, and that it can only harm you if you react to it with fear and negativity. Throwing caution to the wind, you mount the great raptor and wheel off into the sky.
After an eternity of soaring through the infinite void, dim shapes begin to form beneath you. They are distant at first, but seem to solidify with time. It’s less like you're growing closer to them, than it is your eyes adjusting focus to see them. When it finally comes clear, you see that you are hurtling above an immense magical kingdom, the vistas like something out of a fairytale. Enchanted forests the size of continents run off into the distance, twisting rivers of gold cut through deserts of silver, immense baroque castles tower in the distant skyline.
Immediately beneath you, a gathering of figures assemble into a strange parliament. Your spirit raptor banks and drops, descending into their midst. As you come closer, you make out that though they are vaguely human, they are almost comically misshapen. They're hairy, hobbled and ugly - but they look kind.
If you urge the giant bird into a death-dive, switching to a side-saddle position so you can use your incredible momentum to execute the world’s most badass hurtling dropkick, turn to page 11. If you land your magical avian friend and greet the furry folk, turn to page 10.
“Hail and greetings, gentle people! Check out this pimp-ass eagle. Bet your lady-monkeys wet their coats when I rode up on this shit.”
Your spirit raptor begins to buck uneasily, casting nervous glances at the surrounding beasts. They are much larger than they looked from the sky, as things seen from the sky are wont to be. They look much less kind up close, as well. They begin to circle you, beating their immense hands on the ground in staccato bursts. They are whipping themselves into a frenzy for some reason. Panicking, you turn to your bird mount to flee, but find that it is long gone, little more than silhouette against the sun.
“You’re supposed to be like, the embodiment of my soul, you fucker! You can’t just ditch me to be eaten by freak monkeys!” you scream after it, as the brutes close in on you. In response there is only a faint, mocking shriek.
What kind of world is this, when you can't even trust your vicious soul-bird?
"Wait a minute," you think, "there’s no way this is actually happening." Just about every goddamn day you overdose on something and a series of unbelievable events unfold that closely mirror some less fantastic, real scenario. This must be another drug-induced hallucination: The bird is probably here because you’re dry-humping one of Benjamin Bear’s pervert friends dressed in an eagle suit. The horrific violence-apes just mean there’s an episode of Jersey Shore on in the background. That’s all.
You smile, awaiting the inevitable final chapter where you sober up only to realize you’re in a police station and are simply under arrest for Criminal Sexual Wrongness and Possession of An Experimental Intoxicant. You know, just another Friday.
Your confidence in your assessment of the situation begins to wane when the first ape rips your arm off. It is almost completely shot when he starts to violate you with it.
“CHO!” you bellow, as your thousand-mile-an-hour death-dive-dropkick all but disintegrates what you assumed to be the leader of the apes.
Miraculously, his organs seem to absorb most of your momentum, and though you were fully prepared to break every bone in your body and tumble off into the forest to die as a result of this dropkick (and it would totally be worth it. I mean, the apes watching it would be all like “holy shit!”) you instead find yourself standing perfectly calm and upright in the center of the gathering, surrounded by an aura of pink mist.
You scan the stunned faces of the simians surrounding you. Several minutes pass, and none react. You seem to have thrown an entire society into shock. This is normally the part where they realize you’ve fulfilled some sort of long-foretold prophecy and crown you king of the ape people. The fact that they haven’t already is just pissing you off to no end.
“Well, come on. Bow, motherfuckers!”
The first ape shrugs, and half-heartedly kneels. The rest soon follow, more out of confusion than worship. Just as you start to revel in your newfound status (proper reveling etiquette dictating that you stand atop the mostly gelatin remains of your adversary and crow to the heavens) a man in a blue and gold uniform dive-tackles you into the bushes.
Man, just like a Confederate soldier to ruin a good old fashioned Monkey Empire.
You struggle to resist, but without the advantage of surprise and several hundred knots of spirit raptor enhanced momentum, you’re pretty unimpressive physically. You resort to your chief survival skill: Name Calling.
“Vile whoreson! Master of asses! Scrotum Magician! Release me!”
“You’re under arrest, punk!”
‘Aw, shit,’ you think to yourself, ‘it was just another stupid drug trip. I should’ve known when that Yeti was sodomizing me one second, and the next I was executing super-sonic dropkicks.’
Turn to page 12
You awake, as usual, in an interrogation room. A profoundly moustachioed man, whom you recognize as having tackled you into the bushes in the ape city, sits across from you.
“So?” He asks.
“So what?” You respond, eagerly awaiting the reveal. You’ve grown so accustomed to enacting outlandish fantasy scenarios only to wake up in a police station that you have long ceased to fear the charges brought against you, and instead only relish the chance to find out what you were really doing.
“Come on then,” you continue, “I gotta know: What was the bird, really? What was the magical land? Who were the inbred freak-beasts?”
It was like God built them just to mock the beauty of humanity.
The profoundly moustachioed man removes his sunglasses and pinches the bridge of his nose. He is obviously exasperated.
“Well?” You know it’s inappropriate for the situation, but you can’t even bother to feign regret at this point. Your expression is one of earnest anticipation.
“You stole a Pontiac Firebird and drove it through a circus. Those were carnies,” the officer answers.
“Ha! Classic me!” You exclaim happily.
“SIX PEOPLE ARE DEAD YOU FUCKING SON OF A BITCH!”
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots or you can turn to page 13 by prying open your monitor and physically flipping the screen around. No really, it works!