Dr. Zoltan danced with heavy, stamping steps. His costume, which smelled like an attic full of old electronics gear, was made up of a large number of things… and clumsy. A dark, rough trenchcoat, head-to-toe cargo fatigues from some ancient intergalactic war, padded armor gloves, and a sturdy Swiss backpack purchased from Staples — all of these things gave him the appearance of wearing a cyber-punk-bio-mechanical exoskeleton. Not like a real one; more like a halloween costume. The most impressive element to the whole ensemble was the magenta and green lights flashing through the tangled milk-crate of Radio Shack wires connected to him. He checked them often, and would not have been seen in public this evening had they malfunctioned.
This “life-support system” caused him great difficulty — of an amount considerably above normal — while moving at a speed faster than a walk. Would his glued-on beard fall off? He hoped not.
Tonight, he was running, but only in one particular portion of space. He felt off balance. Disoriented. It was becoming difficult to see in the dark while wearing fogged-up sunglasses. He considered cursing, conjuring up the memory of slang adolescent phrases he learned in a previous life.
His backstage passes flapped around the back of his neck and became tangled. Would he be permitted backstage if his laminates were facing the wrong direction? He hoped they would not become detached accidentally and fall to the ground. He directed his mind towards the possible actions he could take in such an emergency.
The skin on his face shed a few small drops of salty liquid that fell onto his shoes, which were square, uncomfortable, and full of sand. He had kept up this pace for the past two minutes, and was losing his patience. His equipment-filled backpack banged and rattled around like a vagabond bouncing down a staircase — a tumbling ball of limbs, kipple, and grocery cart.
The instructions in the manual said that if he ran at a steady gentle pace in this very specific, exact position for a full three minutes, a means of entrance or exit to another world would open. But this was anything but gentle. Dr. Zoltan wore far too much sci-tech weaponry for this much fancy foot-work. What if the coordinates were wrong?
He did not have much time. The rental car was due in an hour in San Francisco, and he abhorred paying late fees. He needed this “spell” to work, or he would become doomed. His credit card in this version of “reality” only had a $200 limit. One false move and he would be paying off the exponential fees to the Saudis for another two hundred years.
In a booming voice (pitched down a semi-tone with a Melodyne plug-in installed on his laptop) he pronounced, “This reality is one big pyramid scheme!” The overdose of oxygen he was experiencing momentarily re-contextualized what he was saying to himself. His mental record-player skipped as he considered the esoteric symbolism of the pyramid scheme and wondered if this was some sort of clue to the secret and hidden mysteries of the universe. But he had no resources to deploy as a means of accomplishing the results.
He was quickly becoming drained of physical and mental resources, and did not bring any folded hand towels or bottled water with him. His d20 popped out of the side pocket of his backpack. His “Ultravision Future Goggles” were slipping down his face with increasing regularity. Tension. Terror. Panic.
Dr. Zoltan is anything but a mouth breather, but his nostrils are too small to allow sufficient oxygen to pass through them under catastrophic stress. This mad dance inflamed the tissues in his computer-hacker leg muscles. In this mundane reality called American Capitalism, he was unable to activate his Hover Toggle — a device that had not been invented yet due to its non-marketability among the lower class.
He made a vigorous and determined attempt to swat the bugs out of his mind and sustain his geosynchronous stomping for another 60 seconds. He failed and collapsed face-down in the seashells.
Join Dr. Zoltan on his next adventure Beneath The Imaginary City.