Escape into Infinity!
Max squirmed uncomfortably in the wooden seat. “You know, this isn’t exactly what I expected.”
“It never is,” said Dr Skin from the other side of the desk, reaching into his white coat and pulling out a ballpoint pen. “I never seem to end up where I’m supposed to be.”
“I get that. I just didn’t think I would end up in a doctor’s office.”
Skin looked up and around the room, taking in the framed medical certificates, medical instruments and large plastic skeleton in the corner. With a sniff, he pulled a prescription pad out of the desk and started writing on it. “This isn’t my office.”
“I never said it was,” said Max defensively. “It’s just that… I just didn’t think I would end up here
when I stepped through a hole in thin air, you know?”
Skin didn’t look up from his scribbling. “I know what you mean. It’s never what you expect. Somehow, it’s always a lot lamer, like there wasn’t much effort put into it.”
Max rubbed her temple as a headache began to grow. “I just wish there was a point to it, that’s all.”
“Don’t count on it,” said Skin with a wink as he slid the prescription across to Max. She picked it up and read the words on it: ‘DON’T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE SCREEN.’
“What fucking screen?” moaned Max, but Skin, who was now sitting beside her, silenced her with a finger to the lips and a harsh hush.
“That fucking screen,” he said, pointing up at the movie screen in front of them. He offered some popcorn to Max, who refused to take any. Skin shrugged and starting shoveling the snack into his mouth.
The empty cinema around them began to darken and Skin laughed, spraying popcorn out of his mouth. “All right! The movie is about to start!”
The transition between the doctor’s office and the cinema had been so smooth Max hadn't even noticed it, but she did see that figures were fading into the seats around them as the screen burst into sudden bright life.
Max nudged Skin. “What kind of movie is this anyway?”
Skin just shushed Max again and slumped back in his seat.
On the screen the movie began with a bang, a huge explosion that was so realistic Max could actually feel the heat of the flames. Max stood and staggered back a step as the blast reached her, but Skin grabbed her, pulling them into the cover of a blast crater.
“What the hell?” screamed Max, momentarily deafened.
Skin yelled just loud enough for Max to hear. “Hurry, they’re coming.”
“Who?” cried Max back, only to see figures emerging from the smoke of the explosion. Dressed in ninja gear with grotesque smiles etched across their black masks in red paint and large submachine guns cradled in their arms. They fired a few shots at Max, their bullets flying high over her head, but she still ducked down in total fear.
“Fucking hell!” she yelled hysterically. “They’re shooting at us! Why are they shooting at me? What the fuck did I ever do to them?”
“It’s okay,” said Dr Skin, whipping out the biggest handgun Max had ever seen. “I’ve got the gun.”
He kissed the barrel of the pistol, then stood up and shot at their attackers. Each shot found its mark, most of them to the head, all of them putting down one of the ninjas with one bullet. Max peered over the edge of the crater to get a better look at the carnage, but couldn’t bear to watch. It was so much worse than she could have imagined, as faces exploded in gore and the men in the ninja suits fell screaming as they died without getting a shot off.
Max fell back into the crater, cradling her ears, not caring if Skin saw the tears that began to form. “Make it stop. Please, make it stop.”
“Oh, don’t be such a wimp,” said Skin, just as the rollercoaster they were on reached the apex of the ride and slid over onto the steep slope.
Max opened her eyes, but shut them tightly again as the roller coaster car picked up speed, shooting down the slope, shaking and rattling as it went.
“I fucking hate roller coasters!” she screamed.
“That’s okay,” said Skin as the g-forces suddenly cut out. Max felt fresh grass under her backside and opened her eyes carefully.
Dr Skin and Max were both sitting right in the middle of a huge, deserted stadium. A slight wind was blowing overhead, although it didn’t touch them.
“Heh,” said Skin, his eyes wide. “That was a fucking rush.”
Max moved around until she was sitting on her knees and dug her fingers into the dirt, squeezing the grass in her hand. “That’s it. I ain’t going anywhere else.”
Skin lay back and put his hands behind his head. “What do you mean?”
“What do I mean?” said Max incredulously. “I mean I just want to stay still for a second, okay? I don’t want to flip between all these different places, I just want to catch my fucking breath!”
“What different places?”
Max looked over at Skin, but realized he didn’t know what she meant. “Um, the roller coaster and the cinema and the doctor’s office and…”
Skin sat up slowly. “Oh wait, now I know what you mean. Huh, that’s weird.”
“You’re telling me.”
“No, not the skipping between worlds. I’m used to that. It’s just that I honestly didn’t notice.”
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“I kinda wish I was,” said Skin. He stood up and began pacing around Max, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “No, everything just seemed to flow between one place and another. It felt just as natural as the difference between one breath and the next.”
He snapped his fingers suddenly, the echo of the snap reverberating around the empty stadium. “Of course!”
Max looked up from where she still gripped the ground. “Of course?”
“I feel so much more… connected. I actually feel like I’m becoming more connected with existence as we move on.”
“How very new age of you,” sneered Max.
Skin ignored her. “But we’re being put through our paces. Everything revolves around conflict and what greater conflict is there than a stranger in a strange place? Well, fuck that! I say bring it on!”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” said Max, more than a little worried.
“I say it’s the best idea I’ve ever had!” said Skin triumphantly, before screaming into the wide open sky above them. “You hear me? Bring it on!”
All right, says a voice that comes from every direction at once.
Max felt the grass disappear from under her, just slowly enough for her to get in one last moan. “Oh fuck. Here we go again.”