It is a clear and crisp spring day. Birdsong drifts by on every gentle breeze. Pretty girls are emerging from their winter hibernation with all the tentative enthusiasm of young rabbits. And as usual, there we find you: Huffing paint with juvenile delinquents at the back of the arcade at the Family Fun Center, trying (and failing), to explain Trip Hop to the new generation.
"No! It's not 'hangin' out and having fun with my friends music'; it's 'just drank a bunch of cough syrup and now I'm going to try to masturbate but it's going to take a looong time' music.
When suddenly, a stunning young woman rounds the corner and collides with you at full tilt! She is immediately followed by two sinister men in powder blue uniforms.
"Give us the briefcase!" the shorter one growls.
"Never!" you respond instantly, "I'll die first!"
"I wasn't talking to you," the tall one replies, confused. "You don't even have a briefcase."
And he's right of course; the only thing in your hands is a dull gray spray can with some Cyrillic scrawl and the rough translation:
"I do now!" you reply, snatching the briefcase from the fallen girl and sprinting off into what looks a lot like a swirly, color-inverted version of France, but with brilliant blue worms instead of people.
Man, reality is always pulling this switcheroo bullshit on you. You make a note to file a complaint someday.
"You'll never catch me, fascists!" you scream, almost instantly followed by, "I don't know how to drive this biiiiiike!"
You careen out of control, and dramatically sideswipe ... hey, surprisingly not much of anything! This was nowhere near as disastrous as it should have been. In fact, the motorcycle doesn't appear to be moving at all. Too late, you realize this is just the bike peripheral of a Super Hang-On machine. Too late, you remember that you're still inside the arcade. Too late, you reach for your pocket to slip a few quarters into the slot to try and get a quick game in. Too late, you realize you forgot that sinister men in blue jumpsuits were chasing you, and you only ran two feet with your ill-gotten goods before pausing to hop on a stationary plastic motorcycle and rummage for change.
It is with the utmost pity and shame that they beat you to death.
You fling the illicit, stolen, hopefully-valuable-enough-to-hock-for-some-more-reactor-paint briefcase through the nearest window and somersault after it through the still shattering glass.
"Did you see that s**t, Billy?" you turn back to the slack-jawed, be-bowlcutted child, "I told you I was Karate as f**k!"
You linger long enough to see Billy nod, reluctantly ceding your point, before turning and fleeing ... right into the side of the Taj Mahal. Seriously though, can you report the fickle nature of existence to the Better Business Bureau or something? How's a man supposed to get anything done when geography itself keeps dicking him around?
You survey the scene, and find only random madness: You stand in a barren desert, but a few scant feet to your left, there stretches an expanse of pristine alpine mountains, complete with quaint windmills and leaping goats. To your right, a busy New York street, crowded with cars and harried pedestrians. Behind you, the shouts of the pursuing men. Before you, still the Taj Mahal that you just ran face first into.
Don't do that again.
You scrabble up the side of the picturesque range. Though it is a long and arduous journey, you eventually reach its highest peaks, winded, half-frozen, but alive. Alive!
"ALIIIIIIIVE!" you turn and scream to the onlookers.
Look at them down there: Like ants.
Not because they're so small, mind you -- they actually seem to be standing just a few feet below the mighty peak you've just summited (it felt like a way more impressive feat at the time) -- but because they're all growing ant faces right now. The fat Mant that used to look like Mr. Belvedere, sans moustache, now snaps his newfound mandibles in your direction and chitters something threatening. You screech and stumble, swatting at the phantom helicopters with your mother's face that suddenly swarm the skies above you.
You have to get out of here. This place is no good.
The Mothercopters have found it.
Swatting frantically at the air and screaming about your mother for reasons you can no longer remember and indeed, may have never existed, you stumble into the city, drawing the suspicious glares of passerby.
"Help me! They're after me!" you grab the first man you find by the lapels, only to find his lapels growing tiny hands and grabbing you right back. "Get your f*****g coatflaps off me, monster!"
"Whoa there, son, are you all right? Slow down. Who's after you?"
"I ... blue? Something blue, I think." Was that right? It was something else just a second ago, wasn't it? Man/beetles? Fatherplanes?
"Also, I think maybe my parents are disappointed in my life choices," you amend, fairly sure that this is an accurate, if not entirely relevant statement.
"Blu- are you on the drugs, son?" the man with the clutching lapels inquires, his voice gentle with concern.
Son? Holy s**t, did the jackethands get your dad?!
"No! Or wait. Yes! A lot! Don't f*****g judge me, dad! The color blue wants to kill me!"
And even as you speak its name, there it is: Two great, shifting, screaming blobs of powder blue -- one tall, one short -- rapidly closing in on you.
To your left is an ancient bomber, sitting unattended on a narrow strip of runway. To your right, a car idles, its driver nowhere in sight.
You sprint up the rattling steel stairwell, smack the oblivious pilot in the mouth a few times and toss him out of the seat while he's still too confused to fight back. You stomp down on the controls and yank the wheel into the air, almost instantly screaming, "I don't know how to fly this plaaaaane!"
You of course crash and die. Really, how did you think was going to go?
You hop into the driver's seat -- taking a moment out of your busy schedule to swing that sweet Gull-wing door open and shut a few times while yelling some misremembered
"Gettin' jiggywatt it! Nanannanana!" you holler, almost instantly followed by, "I don't know how to drive this caaaaar!"
Inexplicably, however, you do not crash. Indeed, the car seems to be doing a fine job of steering itself. It takes corners at breakneck speeds, madly accelerating to a velocity that no earthly conveyance should dare. This speed! It is incredible. It is in defiance of physics, of all the laws of nature and man -- you feel as if you are about to burst through the thin cosmic scum that separates the bubble of our universe from the next, and just when you begin to blackout (probably from the extreme G-forces and not at all from the onset of Krolon-B Reactor Coating poisoning), the car screeches to a sudden halt.
Ascending before you, triumphant and noble like the mighty metal erection of some half-buried Transformer, is the most beautiful sight you have ever seen: A pristine, untouched and entirely unguarded Space Shuttle. Its uneven white paneling thrums with eagerness, its saucy little boosters just itching to ignite, that perky little cockpit practically pleading for you to get all up inside of it. The very avatar of mankind's adventurous and exploratory nature materializes beside you (incidentally, it looks a lot like Bowlcut Billy).
"Steal it," the avatar of adventure says simply. "You steal that s**t, gaywad."
"I don't know how to pilot this shuuuuuttle!" you cry, as the G-forces hurl you backward into your seat. The focused fury of the boosters roars below you like stolen fire from the sun itself. Through the viewscreen in front, you can see nothing but the stars. And for the first time in your life you are content, for want of nothing, because you know you're finally on your way to them.
"Gaywad," the avatar of adventure says, only you can see now that it is not the sum of all human daring in the shape of Bowlcut Billy, but is, in fact, merely Bowlcut Billy himself. And now he thinks you're a gaywad.
You can't live with that shame. You'll have to find another Family Fun Center, and convince a whole new batch of kids that you're actually a 14-year-old stuck in a Big situation, so they don't tell the manager about the weird 32-year-old with the paint can who won't shut up about Tricky.
Wondrous, awful, silent and vast. A vacant ocean of omnipresent black envelops you like cold amniotic fluid in the austere womb of the universe.
There are no words. They should have sent a poet. Still, you must try:
"I'm f*****g space as balls!" you scream, to the great disappointment of all.
Suddenly, your ship is wracked by a terrible impact! You swivel around to peer through the portholes on the starboard side (or wait, is it the starholes on the port side?). And what you initially perceive to be the calm, peaceful blue of the Earth's oceans, infitely far beneath you, soon resolves into a vaguely humanoid shape.
It followed you. Murderous Blue has followed you into space itself.
"Where are the cannons on this thing?" you mutter, slapping at a series of buttons so unresponsive they may as well be painted on.
Oh no! They must be jammed!
The shuttle rocks with another terrible blow, and you realize that, one way or another, you're going to die out here. But by God, if you're going out, it's at least going to be
They say there is no sound in space, but you swear you can hear the bastard scream.
When you next open your eyes, it is to a plain, featureless white room. Before you sits a patient-looking elderly gentlemen, his flowing white beard resting gingerly on an unadorned wooden desk.
"Is this heaven?" you ask.
But he only shakes his head sadly. "This is the Scandia Family Fun Center. Or more specifically, this is the detention room at the Scandia Family Fun Center."
"I wish I could say I was surprised," you reply, at ease with the complex threads that fate has woven around you, "but we both knew that's how this would end."
"Well, it is the eighth time we've had to detain you," he concedes. "Honestly, I don't even know how you keep getting in here. We've got pictures up everywhere."
"Fake moustache," you supply, and then, seeing his confusion, clarify, "over the real moustache."
"I guess that makes as much sense as anything," he sighs.
"But wait, what did I do wrong this time? I was minding my own business-"
"Huffing Soviet-era reactor paint with minors," he interjects.
"Is that a crime?" you scoff.
"Yes, absolutely. Just possessing it is considered an act of treason in most countries. I don't think anybody's even
But how else are they supposed to have adventures?"
"Well technicalities aside," you continue, "I wasn't doing anything
"Yep." he answers curtly.
"And the exotic locales -- the Taj Mahal, the mountains, the Eiffel tower? What of the globetrotting adventure and intrigue?" you try to sew together the setpieces and chase scenes into a cohesive whole, but they will not settle.
"Well, I don't know anything about that. What I do know is that you rampaged through the mini-golf course, stole a Go-Kart and ramped it into the blaster boat pool-"
"Space," you realize, sadly.
"Where you started whipping errant golf balls at my men, then tried to drown yourself, so they 'would not take you alive.' Which reminds me: Family Fun Center Park Security Forces are in no way authorized to use deadly force."
"Wait, they're not?"
"Of course not! They're not even licensed security officers. They're mostly just teenagers with cans of Febreeze covered in electrical tape to look like mace ... from a distance."
"Then I'm taking
"That's just my lunch and a paperback!" he yells after you, "my daughter was bringing it to me!"
But it's too late. You're already careening out of control, sideswiping the giant plaster bust of the Statue of Liberty on the 7th hole and falling headlong into a Winnie the Pooh themed birthday party table.
"Make way!" You scream, followed almost instantly by, "I don't know how to run these feeeet!"
You can buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
For more adventures, check out Choose Your Own Drug-Fueled Misadventure and Choose Your Own Drug-Fueled Misadventure: Flight of Terror.
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