originally published November 30, 2013
When that girl at the party slipped you a tablet of something she described as “kind of like E”, you simply went with it. After all, you’re young, you work out, and that bacon-laced poutine you ate for dinner should keep anything you ingest in check, right?
Except that you aren’t at that party anymore, you can’t remember how you ended up in this stairwell, and your fingertips feel like pencil erasers. This isn’t good. Your phone is missing from your pocket, and your left foot is slightly colder than your right. You suddenly remember you have to meet your girlfriend in front of her apartment at 10:30, but you gave your watch away to that Armenian hobo with the up-turned eyelid last week in an act of confused generosity.
It’s time to take action. The drugs are oozing into your brainstem and you need to move forward.
If you run down the stairs to street level, turn to section 2
If you run up to the roof, turn to section 3
You burst onto a bustling Williamsburg, Brooklyn street. At least you’re pretty sure you’re still in Williamsburg: a disturbing number of people are sporting ironically thick-framed glasses and at least two cars in earshot are listening loudly to Mumford and Sons. Seems about right.
A digital clock across the street informs you that it’s 10:16. You’ll never make it to your girlfriend’s place in Park Slope, not by 10:30. Also, the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower a few blocks to your left has just turned into a wobbly cartoon stack of dishes, topped by a Red-lipped batfish. And it’s looking right at you.
If you panic and run across the street, turn to section 6
If you clamber into the sewer grate beside you, turn to section 17
You sprint onto the roof, six stories above street level. This frantic burst of energy has caused your bacon-poutine to retaliate and charge forth from your innards in a Technicolor display of firework-juice and half-crushed styrofoam peanuts. You struggle for balance and observe a massive digital clock across the street that reads 10:17. You’ll never make it in time.
You gather your senses, brush your shirt clean of potato-chunks with your rubbery fingers, and look around for something you can use. You spot two things: a backpack and a large red and white zeppelin.
If you open the backpack, turn to section 7
If you climb in the zeppelin, turn to section 11
If you do nothing but sit down and wait for the situation to resolve itself, turn to section 18
You give up. You slump down in the alley in a pool of what might be urine, or possibly the fluid that has been building in your left shoe. It doesn’t matter anymore. Your last thought before you drift into unconsciousness is whether or not that Puerto Rican lady at the CVS near your apartment will let you trade in this slightly-used nail file for an eyepatch. Probably not. The end.
You skirt around the outside of the game. It takes you about three minutes (though it feels more like forty), and your foot is practically numb now. You are about to call out to your girlfriend, who seems quite engrossed in playing Candy Crush on her phone, when a homeless man steps in front of you and asks if you can spare a dollar.
If you give the homeless man a dollar, turn to section 12
If you lie and tell him you don’t have a dollar, turn to section 23
If you’re honest and say you simply don’t want to, turn to section 29
You just panicked and ran across a New York City street. What were you thinking? You are immediately mowed down by a taxi (which you could have hailed, but I didn’t give you the option because I’m the author and I’m allowed to be an asshole), and then stabbed by an undetermined number of passers-by, just because you were stupid. The end.
The backpack turns out to be a parachute, and just as you open it, a gust of wind swoops in and blows you right off the roof. You start to freak out, but your arm is looped through one of the straps and you quickly realize you’re being flown through the air in the general direction of Park Slope. This could be the miracle you’ve been waiting for.
Beneath you the streets look like overturned Lego. Whatever was in that pill you took, it might be a bit too strong for your system. Also, you’re getting really concerned about the chill surrounding your left foot.
You land in Prospect Park, just a short stroll from your girlfriend’s place. You’re going to make it!
If you perform a dance of joy, turn to section 13
If you sprint through the park, turn to section 21
Trees, trees and more trees. It must be almost 10:30 now, right? Where the hell is the end of this park and how far away is your girlfriend’s place? And what was in that pill you took?
No time to think – you continue forward. There’s a fallen tree in front of you, but you think you can see some sign of life just beyond it.
If you climb over the fallen tree and continue onward, turn to section 16
If you continue through the trees around it, turn to section 27
You land on the hippo and realize immediately that it isn’t a hippo. It’s a submarine! No wait… it’s the starting lineup of the 1987 Notre Dame basketball team, gathered under a grey tarp! No wait… it’s a pile of garbage bags! No wait… it’s ninety-seven mohair sweaters stitched together and stuffed with old Domino’s Pizza boxes! No wait… yeah, it’s garbage bags, you were right. But the drugs remind you that sometimes garbage bags can fly. You squint really hard and try to will this heap of trash into the air, but it doesn’t happen.
Also, you pass out. You wake up the next morning, certain you’ve been dumped by your girlfriend and more than a little concerned about your left foot. Also, your pants are missing.
To be continued in my next book: Where The Hell Are My Pants? The end.
You make it about two-thirds of the way when you feel the familiar thud of a Frisbee making contact with your temple. The world swoons and flips upside down, and suddenly a guy with blonde dreadlocks is leaning over you, saying, “You should really get your foot checked out, dude. Also I think I dented your skull with my ‘zbee.”
“No one calls it that!” you cry as you clamber to your feet. In a rage you hurl the Frisbee as hard as you can. It sails up, up, over your girlfriend’s building, quite possibly as far as Queens. The players around you are in awe.
“This is, like, your calling, brah!” breathes an excited skinny vegan in a tattered Widespread Panic t-shirt.
You decide to ditch your girlfriend, seek out more of whatever the hell this drug was, and begin a new life as a professional Ultimate Frisbeeist. You are the flag-bearer when the sport is inducted into the 2024 Olympics, but you end up with the silver medal when an ACL sprain hinders you in the medal round. So close! The end.
You clamber into the zeppelin and quickly orient yourself with the controls. In a flash you are aloft, swooping through the streets of Brooklyn like you’ve been flying these things all your life. You try a barrel roll. It works! You try another. Success! Your left foot is feeling increasingly cold, but you don’t care. You’re an ace zeppelin pilot! You expertly land in the park across the street from your girlfriend’s house. Well done!
Turn to section 22
You fish through your pockets and hand a dollar to the homeless man. You call out your girlfriend’s name and she waves. You did it! Your left foot has no feeling left, but you did it! The homeless man gapes at the dollar.
“Sweet Jesus,” he utters in a voice that sounds like it was dipped in caramel and rolled in gravel. “This is a 1935A experimental silver certificate dollar bill! I can reclaim my fortune by cashing this in! Thank you kind sir!”
“It’s a what?” you ask, dumbfounded. You move in closer to see, at which point he stabs you with a shiv.
“You’d make a rotten zebra-hoister,” he tells you. As the blood drains from your side, you feel both drenched in utter confusion and a little pissed off that this will be the last sentence you ever hear. What the hell? The end.
You begin dancing a jig, while the drugs in your system graciously supply the music to your brain. It’s a rhythmic jam, hypnotic and entrancing. Your feet don’t want to stop – well, your left foot does; it’s almost frozen. But you dance on.
A gaggle of Hare Krishnas wander by and join you. This feeling is exquisite, like swimming through a giant teacup filled with gummy bears. Your arms sway like gaseous noodles. Your hips gyrate with the magnitude of a lateral gravity. But no matter – this dance has become the defining moment of your life. You don’t even notice when the Hare Krishnas scatter after the police officers show up. It’s only when you realize you’re in a jail cell that you finally stop. You might have gone too far. If only you could remember your lawyer’s phone number, or for that matter his name. The end.
Turn to section 19
These drugs must be stronger than you’d thought. Those aren’t neo-nazis, in fact they’re a kindly group of elderly ladies, returning from a fun-filled afternoon in Manhattan where they saw a matinee performance of Jersey Boys. You realize this with relief, and ask them if they know the quickest way for you to get to Park Slope.
Unfortunately, your words come out all mangled and twisted, sounding like, “Gobbum majalla ploonfig yerp falloo Park Slope?” One of the ladies screams and jams a nail file in your right eyeball before they all run out of the alley.
If you give chase, turn to section 20
If you give up, turn to section 4
There’s nothing here. No choices would have brought you to this section, so if you’re reading this you’ve either flipped here by accident or you’re cheating. For shame.
Another thirty seconds of walking through the trees and you reach the edge of a lake. The drugs may be battering your system, but you know better than to try to swim across. You turn back to the trees and continue in the direction you hope will lead to your girlfriend’s place. You come to a fork in the path.
If you head to the left, turn to section 8.
If you head to the right, turn to section 27.
Aha… many would have suspected that flipping toward the end of the book this soon would net you an easy death. It’s okay – the sewer was actually a wise choice! You find a jetpack leaning against the ladder, with no one around to claim it. You scan the controls, pause to scratch your increasingly chilly left foot, and strap it on. Park Slope suddenly doesn’t seem so far away.
Turn to section 24
You sit and wait for things to straighten themselves out. What follows is a fascinating hallucinatory trip through a drug-fuelled portal of color and energy, but to sum up, you don’t meet your girlfriend and you spend the rest of the night on a roof. Where’s the fun in that? The end.
What are you doing here? I said “the end.” It’s over. Stop doing mysterious drugs.
You collect your balance and sprint after the ladies. Unfortunately your sense of direction is somewhat skewed and your left foot is now practically numb with cold. You take a left where they took a right and find yourself face to face with a pack of actual neo-nazis. This can’t be good.
If you try to run away, turn to section 26
If you stand there and wait for them to react, turn to section 28
You crest a hill and suddenly you can see it! Your girlfriend’s building! She’s standing outside, waiting for you! You’ve got about two hundred yards to cover, but right in front of you there are a group of college-age people playing a frantic game of night-time Ultimate Frisbee. This could pose a problem.
If you run around the game to the left, turn to section 27
If you run around the game to the right, turn to section 5
If you try to run through the game, turn to section 10
Okay, the zeppelin wasn’t real, and that most certainly was not ecstasy that you took at the party. You have climbed into a discarded refrigerator box, and your two barrel rolls just brought you precariously close to the edge of the roof. Also, your left foot still feels uncomfortably cold. You panic and race down the fire escape to the alley below.
A pack of surly neo-nazis is approaching on your left. To your right is a large hippopotamus.
If you ask the neo-nazis for help, turn to section 14
If you hop aboard the hippo and hope you can ride it to Park Slope, turn to section 9
“Sorry, I don’t have a dollar on me,” you explain, waving in an attempt to get your girlfriend’s attention.
“You’re lying,” the homeless man snarls at you. “There’s one pinned to your shirt.” You look down and realize he’s telling the truth.
“So I do…” you chuckle, though he is clearly not amused. You fumble with the pin for an unusually long moment, as your fingers still feel like rubbery nubs and you’re having trouble being dextrous. You hand the ungrateful homeless man the dollar and start across the street. Just then, the parachute, which had been scooped up by another gust of wind, sails just over your head and ensnares your unsuspecting girlfriend in its fabricky talons. She panics, struggles, and eventually suffocates.
But according to her watch, you made it there by 10:29. So at least you were on time. The end.
Yeah. You don’t know how to properly use a jetpack. You’re dead within three horrifying seconds. The end.
Nope, nothing up here. Also, you shouldn’t climb trees when you’re stoned on a mystery drug and one of your feet is practically numb. You descend the tree and thank god the author wasn’t such an asshole that he made a branch break and killed you for having a sense of adventure.
Turn to section 16
You turn to run away from the neo-nazis. Probably a good idea, except that the ground feels like a giant waterbed, and it takes you no more than six steps to run head-first into the brick wall beside the back door of a Kinko’s. This might have knocked you unconscious, but instead it drives the nail file deep into your brain with an audible ‘sklorrp’. The neo-nazis shrug and continue making their plans to meet up at IHOP after the rally on Tuesday. What a way to go. The end.
You run into a thicket of trees. It’s dark, and you quickly lose your sense of direction. In front of you is a knotty elm that seems to cough as you approach. “Must be a hallucination,” you figure.
If you walk past the knotty elm, turn to section 16
If you climb the knotty elm, turn to section 25
You stand there, your left foot cold, the world swirling around you in a vortex of hallucinatory wiggles, waiting for the neo-nazis to make the next move. They are in awe of your strength, your lack of panic with a nail file sticking out of your eyeball. They immediately renounce their cause and swear allegiance to you. You now have a gang, a posse. You feel empowered, though maybe it’s the tetanus that is undoubtedly creeping into your bloodstream.
“Quick! To my zeppelin!” you shout, racing back toward the fire escape and up to the roof you’d left. Your new friends are disappointed by the lack of actual zeppelin on this roof. But they forgive you. That’s what a posse does. This could be the beginning of an exciting and weird new phase in your life. Still, you should really get that foot checked out. The end.
The homeless man scowls at you, then nods his head slowly. “I appreciate your being forthright with me. Here. I have a dollar for you.” He hands you a dollar and continues on his way. You limp across the street and hug your girlfriend.
“I should probably go to the hospital,” you explain. “I think I took some nasty kind of drug by accident.” Neither of you bat an eye as your parachute, which had been picked up by another gust of wind, sails inches from both of you, swirls around in a cross-breeze and shoots back across the street, wrapping itself around that homeless guy and suffocating him to death.
“Wait,” she says, “What the hell is wrong with your foot?”
You both examine your left foot and see that blood has been filling your shoe. It seems you got your Achilles tendon pierced at some point between that party and when you awoke in the stairwell. The piercing appears to be platinum and there are some interesting beads on it, but really there’s too much blood for it to seem ‘pretty’ or ‘fashionable’.
“I guess I have two reasons to go to the hospital then,” you reply. You both start laughing, the world pauses in a freeze-frame, and the closing credits scroll by. It’s mostly a happy ending, but they totally misspelled the Second Unit Director’s last name. Oh well. The end.