REDPLANET STOWAWAY CH.3 - RUSH THE DOOR WITH YOUR LASER PISTOL
By John Elrod III
Following your instincts, you point your new toy at the door and pull the trigger; nothing happens. You turn the laser pistol over in your hand several times, looking it over as if you had any idea of its inner workings. Throwing in a couple whacks and a few more trigger pulls, even one with the pistol precariously pointed at your face -- lucky for you, a small, unseen LCD screen on the pistol's grip reads, "Unrecognized DNA -- Pistol locked" -- you come to the frustrating conclusion that you will have to figure it out as you go.
"I will have to figure it out as I go,” you say aloud, to nobody in particular. You're acting peculiarly; first, almost lasering your face off, and now, speaking in narratives to the wind. Strange.
You rush to the door, damned pistol in hand, with an unexpected smile on your face. You flash back to summer days spent playing Cops and Robbers in the backyard with your little sister. She always got to be the Cops because your parents insisted you let her win. "She's a girl, and your sister," they said. Though you enjoyed being the bad guy, their condescension still infuriated you. In fact, it's the basis for your entire being, if you think about it -- which you do, quite often. "She's so smart,” they said. "She's class president."She's valedictorian.” "She's going to college." "She didn't wreck the family sedan." "Where did we go wrong with you?" These were all building blocks to the foundation of your current predicament, really. Her unwavering success is what drove you to take that night course in accounting -- why else would you? The constant comparison to her annoying perfection is why you applied so many years ago for the lousy temp job at NOSSA, that you knew you would never get. Who cares if they only hired you because nobody else applied and the last guy committed suicide by self-inflicted headblows from a calculator? That's all ether now. Look, where have you made it? That's right, Mars. I guess you showed them who the real moron is -- it's her -- even though the process has likely doomed you. Where's she, huh? Stuck back on Earth, in some dead-end job -- Assistant D.A.? Pssh -- and a loveless marriage with two little bast--
WAIT -- stop flashing back, you moron!
Shaking your jowls to the point of dizziness, you snap back to reality, or something like it, and realize you've somehow missed the door and are headed down a corridor, toward an electrical station. You struggle to halt your legs' motion, but they're unresponsive.
"What's happening to me?" you can barely think, as you glimpse a neon green, diamond-shaped sign.
"CAUTION: Methane gas. Gas mask required in this zone," it reads, but you're too bleary-eyed to make it out.
You're exhibiting the symptoms of methane gas poisoning. Slowly, the methane has deprived your brain of oxygen. Your cognitive faculties are all out of whack, your mind is having difficulties deciphering your environment, I'm pretty sure your hair wasn't on fire earlier, and worse yet, you're charging directly into thousands of volts of pain.
"Is that a dinosaur?" you can't help but ask yourself, "No, it isn't... well... this is Mars; so, maybe it could be. Stop! Focus on the matter at hand!" you whisper, as you've lost the ability to control your vocal volume.
Either the length of this corridor is uncanny, or you're not exactly moving nearly as fast as it feels. Nevertheless, you're desperate to stop. You spot a low-hanging chain and grab for it.
"Got it! -- shit, a snake!"
Powering through your delirium to realize a moment too late the absurdity of that thought, you're unable to grasp onto the chain once more. Your backwards momentum carries you, finally, through a thinly-paned sliding glass door and, forcefully, you crash into a wall of fuses, circuits, and a bunch of those little knobs that go "click-click-click" when they're turned too fast. An obscene amount of electricity coursing through your veins, you can think only of that dinosaur, or was it a sofa? A sofa? On Mars? Definitely a dinosaur. Definitely.
Meanwhile, a group of perplexed men in gas masks -- who moments before were doubled-over in laughter watching you slowly meander the ten foot corridor to your death -- are now dodging sporadic lasers from the overheated pistol still lodged in your crisping grip.
Oops...RETURN TO CHAPTER 3