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And Now For Something Completely Different

2003-03-10 - 8:14 p.m.

Mood: Anxious & Dizzy

Listening to: The Coral, Moxy Fruvos, Beck, The Stranglers, George Harrison

Quote: "Don't forget that the kid knew T.C. liked Moxie." - My Brain

* I found myself at the back of the United Baptist Church in Lakeport. The top floor, where the actual worship services are, but at the back, behind all the pews. But there were pews against the back wall. And people were milling around on the floor - sitting, crawling, some asleep. I started towards the new back pews and saw Annie and Beth sitting on the floor. Annie looked like she did in early high school but Beth looked quite different. She had a drastic new haircut. Page boy style. And it was dyed red. Well, not red, but orange. You know. I asked her when she got her hair cut. She asked me if I wanted to touch it. I did. It felt too smooth. I told them I hadn't seen either of them in a long time and I found it odd that we'd run into each other in a church. Especially my old church. They said they were there in hopes to catch a good wedding or a funeral. Whichever came first. They asked me if I had seen the other people that were there. I hadn't. They were the first people I approached. I looked behind me and saw, to my great surprise, McKeen. He was lying on the floor, eyes wide open. I touched his head in order to get some sort of response. He didn't move. Annie informed me that he always just lies there, never moving. But they knew he wasn't dead, since they had checked. Beth said she wished he was dead, and then at least they could have a funeral. Then the lights dimmed.

Somehow, I knew that when the lights went down I was supposed to sit in one of the pews and buckle my pew belt. There were pew belts. I didn't find this odd. I sat next to Annie and Beth and they asked me if I was ready. I told them, "I guess." They told me I better be. I could hear what sounded like an engine starting floors below us. I had that feeling you get when you strapped in for the Superman ride at Six Flags and you haven't actually started moving yet but the adrenaline starts flowing anyway. The pews all started to move slowly forward toward the altar. Once a row of pews reached the altar they would violently drop forward over a black pit in front of said altar. The pews were hinged to the floor, so they would lean forward, but not drop in the pit. If you're belt held fast, you would stay in the pew and the pew would then rise up on hooks and be placed back to its original setting - like a bowling pin setter. This would go on for about 10 minutes, with people shrieking at the approach of the pit until the lights would go on and then people would go back to chatting, milling, sleeping, or whatever it was they were doing before the lights went dim. The first time we did it I stayed strapped in. The second time I did not. The belt let go and I was flung headlong into the pit. I remember my heart seizing up and looking around me to see if Annie or Beth had fallen too. I could make out bodies, but no faces, so I wasn't sure. And then, suddenly, I'd be walking into the back of the church again. With no memory of what just happened.

* I would see Annie and Beth by a new set of back pews and tell them it was nice to see them again. It had been a long time. We would exchange stilted pleasantries and I would tell Beth I noticed her new hair cut. She said I should touch it. Or maybe I asked if I could touch it? Annie would look at me and tell me the lights would be shutting off soon, and question if I was ready. I thought I was. I'd notice McKeen, at my feet, listless. I touched his head. But I think this time I was checking for a fever, not to see if he was alive. Wait, this time? So I had been here before. The lights dimmed and I sat down. I buckled up and we started to lurch forward. "Let's roll the dice for a wedding this time!" Beth said as we got closer to the altar. It was blackness and falling. And then I remember it getting extremely bright.

* The brightness was the light coming through the stained glass window at the back of my old church. United Baptist Church, in Lakeport. I saw Annie and Beth. Which was nice. Since I haven't seen them in so long. I sat down and tried to make small talk. Tell them I was still at UNH. "Aren't you going to notice Beth's hair?" Annie asked me, almost angrily. I looked at her hair. Beth had gotten it cut in the page boy style. I don't think I normally like page boy haircuts, but it looked good on her. "I'm trying to look like a page boy," she told me. "Do you want to touch it?" I looked at Annie. "Go ahead." she told me. It seemed silkier than I thought it would be. "You better look for McKeen, we don't have much time." Annie instructed me. McKeen? Jeremy McKeen? Why would I look for him I asked her. "This is usually the part where you see him on the floor remember?" Oh yeah. "And he looks like he's dead, right?" I asked. I looked around but I couldn't find him. "Do you think he went outside?" I asked Beth. But she just pointed to Annie. "Um, Do you think he went outside?" I asked Annie. "Beth won't answer your questions, so don't even try. And no. He can't go outside. None of us can." Oh. The lights went dim and I thought I heard machinery underneath us starting to grind to life. "Do you have your dice Beth?" Annie asked. She nodded her head. For some reason, I knew enough to sit down and put on my seat belt - which I didn't even question why a seat belt was in a pew. "I thought you said Beth didn't answer questions." I whispered to Annie as we slowly approached the altar. "No, I said, 'Beth won't answer your questions.'" Oh. The next thing I knew I was being held over the pit in front of the altar and looking over at Annie and Beth. They were strapped in and Beth had her eyes closed. Annie looked at me and said, "Bye." My belt snapped open and I fell forward.

I hit the ground with a thud. I was in some sort of a long hallway. It was dusty and there was a tan colored fog permeating everywhere I looked. There were other people my age all starting to get themselves up off the floor and dusting themselves off. I asked the girl next to me if she was ok. She asked me if this was my first time. I told her that I guessed it was. She told me to just dust myself off and get in a jacket, they'd be coming for inspection soon. I didn't know who was in charge of inspection but I knew they weren't anyone I wanted to meet. I jogged quickly down the hall and went into a room that had tile walls like a locker room shower. There were hooks across the walls that held large yellow and blue jackets. There would be a series of five jackets, either all yellow or all blue, connected to each other by the sleeves with a small white rope. The goal, apparently, was to have five people get their matching jackets on and stand in a group before we got our manila folders with our intructions. Wait, how did I know we were getting manila folders? I threw on a blue jacket while four people struggled to put on blue jackets on either side of me. I had to take mine off a few times in order to make it easier for the people on my team. Wait, we were a team? We found that the rope actually went up through the arms, across the back, down the other arm and across from sleeve to sleeve, jacket to jacket. From #1 to #5. We had a number on the backet of our jacket. #1 - #5. I was #2. One of the girls on my team was the girl I first saw when I was dusting myself off down the hall. She was Native American. A P.A. system loudly announced that my team was fit for inspection and we were to receive our orders. We all opened our folders and inside mine was a 7 of Clubs. I flipped it over and it said in big bold black letters, C O P. I guess I was the Cop. I looked at my other team members, who, due to the rope, were no more than three feet away from me at all times. I looked at their eyes trying to catch someone blinking. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to find Brian Winkleman from Patrick's! "Brian, we're in kind of a serious situation here. No time for games." He told me, "The deal has been made." And then he shot me. In the stomach.

* I was walking into my church of all places. I don't recall the last time I'd been there, but it's been a while. Some wedding. Some funeral. There was no one else in the church. I looked down towards the altar. I saw the enclosed row behind the altar for the choir. I told myself that if I could get to the choir without touching the altar I'd be rich. Suddenly, from the bell tower room, that's located behind the last row of pews, a door opens and it's Annie! I tell her I can't believe it's her and how my mother and I were just talking about her. She asks me what I'm doing there. "What am I doing here? What are you doing here?" She tells me I'm early and that they weren't ready for me. Then the church starts filling up with people. Much more full than I ever saw it when I went there in the 80's. I see, of all people, McKeen walk in. I try to at least say hello to him, knowing it will be awkward, but he just walks past me, gets down on the floor and stares up at the ceiling with his eyes wide open. Beth shows up in front of me and bends her head down so I can see her new haircut. I like it and I touch it. I tell her it's soft. Annie tells me to sit down. Right as I'm buckling my pew belt the lights dim.

"Have you seen Roy?" That's a good question. Have I seen Roy? I don't think I have. "Have you seen Roy?" the voice asks again. I open my eyes and I'm in an incredibly dusty hallway. The girl next to me is shaking my shoulder now and whispers, "I don't mean to be rude, but have you seen Roy?” I tell her that I don't think she was in the church. "No, she never is." the girl, who I think is Native American, answers. "Hurry up, follow me." So I follow her down the hall and into a large, dimly lit room that reminds me of the locker room at LHS. But there are hooks on the wall with lots of jackets. "You know this part remember? You just need to help us get our jackets on." Oh yeah. So we all start to put our jackets on. I try to lighten the mood and ask the girl if this is the Daily Double or the Physical Challenge. But now she's Asian. Or maybe she always was Asian. Or maybe it's a different girl. "Sorry, I have never watched television." the Asian girl tells me. But before it dawns on me how odd it would be for a girl to never have watched television, let alone know I was even referencing something from television, I see Brian Winkleman walk in. He's wearing a yellow coat. I'm wearing a blue coat. He tells me it's too late for him and I should try not to get caught. Then a large man in army fatigues comes in and clubs Brian on the head. It kills him. Or maybe it just knocks him out. They - there's many men in fatigues now - drag Brian down the hallway. We receive our orders and there's two pieces of paper in my folder. One is a map of a rainforest. The other paper says, "Don't forget to figure out who's The Mole!" Oh man. I forgot there was a Mole to be found. Wait, did I ever know that someone was a Mole? Wasn't there a Cop? We go sit down in a classroom further down the hall. A man in fatigues walks in and asks me what language I should answer him in. I'm not sure but I guess English. He tells me, "Wrong Answer." And then the room fills up with gas and we all pass out.

* I wake up in a hallway. It's dark. But from the light in a nearby hallway that's leaking in, I can tell that there's a lot of dust swirling around. A girl shakes my shoulder and tells me to get up. I look at her and she looks familiar. She's Asian. She looks like Ellen from Road Rules. "Are you Ellen?" I ask her. "That's insulting. I'm Korean." I rubbed my jaw, which hurt from the fall as I thought to myself, 'But Ellen is Korean. I wasn't trying to insult her. But I know she looks familiar. Plus . . .' but she interupts my thought bubble with, "Did you remember your belt?" I looked down where my belt should have been. I guess I didn't remember my belt. Wait. Wasn't there something with a seat belt, or a . . . "I haven't seen Roy." I told her. "Who's Roy?" she asked me. "Um, she's a friend of mine. You don't know her?" She ignored me and started running down the hall. I followed her and when I got to what looked like a locker room converted to a giant closet, everyone was putting on jackets. The Asian girl was putting on a yellow jacket and she told me to hurry up and put on the #5. She was #4. My jacket was connected to hers with rope. It was very strange. But not that strange. I think I've read a book, or seen a movie with something like this. Was this on the Mole? Some men in fatigues came in and told us that most of us wouldn't survive the mission. The Asian girl turned to me and said, "That's the worst part." Then, one of the men came over to me with some scissors and cut the rope that was connecting me to the girl that wasn't Ellen. He gave me a manila folder and told me to follow instructions. I told him that Mrs. Chase said I was bad at following instructions. He told me that nobody liked a wise ass. I thought everybody liked a wise ass? Wait, is that a question? So I looked in the folder and it said to go to the room with the Blue Door. So I went into a room at the end of the hall with a Blue Door. I walked in and there was a giant spinning blue globe in the center of the room. It was about three times bigger than a basketball. There were purple sparks shooting from it. A man came over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. I turned around. It was Magneto.

"Wait. Are you really Magneto or just the actor who plays him?" "I am him." he answers. Wait, does he mean "him" as in the actor or "him" as in Magneto. "This is kind of weird." I tell Magneto. "Very true. But we have a lot of work to do." Yeah, I tell him, I know we do. But I'm not sure if I did know that. He brings me over to the globe which it looks like he mentally lowers to my level. I remember thinking that there was no metal in it so I don't know how he lowered it. Then I remembered there was iron in my blood so I better not ask any stupid questions that might piss him off. As I was staring at the globe, which now seemed to have shrunk down to the size of a normal basketball, some more kids came into the door. We formed a circle around the globe and Magneto asked us if we would help him save reality. I told him I'd love to help but that I didn't have a lot of experience. This kid next to me whispered to me, "You've got moxie!" I told him I hated Moxie, but that Tim Curtis loved it. He said he knew. I wrote down in a little notebook I had in my pocket, 'don't forget that the kid knew T.C. liked Moxie.' I didn't know if it was a clue, but I figured it was something I'd want to remember. Magneto pointed out that there were many different strands floating around the sparking globe and we needed to sort them out. It was like a giant cosmic game of cat's cradle and I was assigned the blue strands. We all had our hands in there and then suddenly someone dropped their strand and it got all mixed up. It may have been me. But I don't think so. My face started to elongate and stretch and the room started melting. I asked Magneto what the hell was going on and he told me, "Just the end of reality. Again." This did suck. We all started to contort and scream. Although, I don't think it was painful, we were just really freaked out. And then there was this loud popping noise.

* I think there were several minutes where I was watching this group of six people walking through the woods. Well, not the woods. The rainforest. It took me a while to realize that one of them was me. And once I realized one of them was me, I stopped being the watcher of the 6 people and became the me I was watching. My head hurts. I looked around and remembered everything that happened with Magneto. Well, most of it. I remembered that everything went crazy and we were all expanding and then . . . something. I was about to ask the people in my group if they remembered and that's when I realized it wasn't the same people. There was a blond girl in the lead. We were walking single file and she seemed to be in the lead simply because she had the map. She stopped and turned around and we all sort of gathered around her. "Remember," she said, "We always have to make sure that at least one of us stays alive." Well, obviously. Jeeze. No wonder she's the leader. I noticed the guy in front of me had no fingers on his right hand. Super gross. So we traveled around in this rainforest for a while. I'm not sure why we were there, but I wasn't going to make waves. I'd never been to the rainforest and I wanted to take it all in. Things started to slow down a bit. Literally. It seemed like everything started to go. real. slow. So I turned around and saw two skeletons behind me. Between the skeletons and me was another member of our party who was in the process of getting eaten alive by these little black and red bugs. Literally. After the bugs finished producing their third skeleton they moved on to me. I remember thinking, why didn't anyone scream? As I watched them eat my feet and legs I turned to the two people in front of me. The blond and the guy with only 5 fingers. "Don't forget that one of you needs to stay alive!" I yelled. I still didn't get it, but it seemed like good advice. I was back to watching again and saw that the bugs, whose name I now knew - "Death Bugs" - were finishing with the kid in front of me. Skeleton #5. The blond ran ahead and kept looking for holes in the ground. I remember thinking that I hoped she'd be able to find some Protein Bugs. Wait, what were Protein Bugs? I knew they were good. She found a group of holes and these orange and yellow bugs that were the size of pancakes were crawling in and out of them. She picked one up and then she cut off one of her fingers. She fed her finger to the bug and the bug slowly turned into one of the people in our group that died. She did this four more times until we were all alive again. Now I was back to being me again. We knew that the Death Bugs were still coming so I grabbed the map and said, "Follow me. I know what to do." But I really didn't.

We got up to this big ridge and the bad bugs were right behind us. I looked over the cliff and it was a looooong way down to what looked like a huge river of brown water. I told them it was the only way to go. So we jumped. We didn't even give it a second thought. But we didn't plummet straight down. We slid down on huge mud slides. It took forever. Seriously, we were sliding for almost five minutes. As we were sliding down I kept yelling, "Yippie-Aye-Kye-A Motherfucker!" and then all the other kids would laugh. One of them was sliding by me and I asked them if they had ever seen "Die Hard". They said they hadn't, but that the mud slide reminded them of Romancing The Stone. Then they asked me if that's where I got the mudslide from. Huh? Another kid slid by me on the other side and said it reminded him of Colin's Pit. Wait, how did he know about Colin's Pit? We hit the water and it seemed really thick but it was moving really fast. I knew I had to keep the map dry so I could only swim with one hand as I fought to keep the map above my head with my dry hand. We swam for ages. Eventually, we came upon what looked like a giant floating table in the water. It was going slowly so we came upon it pretty quick. There was someone on it.

"Roy," I yelled. "Am I glad to see you!" "What the fuck is this place all about anyway?!" Roy asked me. I had no idea I told her. "Isn't this all from Huck Finn?" she asked me. "I don't think so," I told her. "Why, do you remember this part from the book?" "Nope," said Roy. "I've never read it." Then I saw a gigantic photo album coming at me in the water. It must have been the length of a football field. "Roy! Jump into the water and catch this photo album with me! It'll bring us to safety!" "No, that's ok. I'll catch the next one!" I told her I'd look for her when I got home. I grabbed a part of the enormous photo album and noticed that the other five members of the rainforest expedition were holding onto the photo album too. We coasted for about an hour - trading stories about crazy dreams we'd had. Then we reached the shore. There was a large green sign where the water hit the sand. It said, "Welcome to San Diego!"

This was good. I’d been to San Diego before. I knew may way around. Wait - no I didn’t. I had been to San Diego before, but it was for less than 24 hours and it was mostly at night. I most certainly didn’t ‘know my way around’. I walked from the beach to the nearest set of buildings. The people that I had been riding the giant photo album with (and who had been eaten and reanimated along with me) started making their way there with me. We didn’t talk much. When we got close to the city we started seeing signs and billboards for “Wedding of the Century!”

We approach what seems to be a lot of hub bub in the down town San Diego area (an area I’d never been to). There’s a 4 story wedding cake in the center of the street and two people are getting married on the top. Jumbotrons are showing the people in the street a better view. The lovely bride and groom are . . . Magneto and SECRET CRUSH?!?!?!? Not MY SECRET CRUSH!!! How could she?! All of a sudden I was really pissed off at Coty. He had been in San Diego! He knew there was a Wedding Of The Century coming up! Why didn’t he tell me it was Secret Crush?! I decided to find out and went to his house. When I got there a girl let me in and told me that she was house-sitting. I asked her if she knew where Coty was. She said he was hiding somewhere else in the city because he saw me on the news in the river with the photo album and knew I’d find out about the wedding and come there looking for answers. The girl, who I had never met before, but was sporting a page boy hair cut, was quite good looking. She said Ben had left a note in case I showed up. It said, 'Zach, remember there's a secret exit behind the altar by the pastor's office. Down the back stairs by the kitchen. Go out the back door.' Thanks, I said. She asked me if I liked playing video games. I told her I did. She asked me if I wanted to go play video games upstairs. I told her I did. So we went upstairs. She put a CD in the stereo and asked me if I wanted to watch Real World on mute first while we listened to music. Then we could play video games. I asked her if she was one of those girls that liked to play Wilco while watching TV on mute. She said she was. I said that was cool. I told her I didn’t really know much Wilco but was willing to learn.

“What have you been up to these last couple days?” she asked me.

“Oh, I think I’ve been having some crazy adventures.” I answered.

“Did you ever die during your adventures?”

“A couple of times.”

It’s been real,

Alceste

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