As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.
PulpBusters is a presentation of Pocket Theater of the Absurd! Original tales of the weird and strange from the mind and madness of “Amoral Crackpot” Steve Arviso.
I’VE GOT A RECEIPT
Cassie scuttles up, down, and all about the moist labyrinthine network of wholly impossible corridors in the back end of the mall.
NARRATOR: (voice-over) As her sister made yet another poor life decision in a series of such things, Cassie, in a desperate attempt to empty her bladder, followed a sign through a door marked “RESTROOMS” nestled between what used to be a discount Hawaiian jewelry shop and a gold-for-cash place. But rather than finding an actual toilet, she found a labyrinthine network of ever twisting, stretching, and, at times, she would have sworn, writhing corridors that were most certainly used as toilets. And then there was the issue of Cassie turning left several times in a row, yet failing to go in a pee-pee scented circle.
Cassie turns a corner, comes to a dead stop in the face of yet another copy-paste corridor. Only this one has a COFFEE-2-GO machine.
CASSIE: Oh, god-dammit.
NARRATOR: (voice-over) Just as the turn before this one -- and the one before that -- this hallway looked, moved, and smelled the same as all the others. A single fluorescent tube flickered and buzzed overhead. The air thick, heavy with the moisture of a thousand flushes left to fester in a concrete tube with no windows and no doors. The concrete floor beneath her feet moving in such a way that it felt as if it had briefly, but surely transformed into a caravan of mighty Amazonian army ants nipping at the soles of her flats. Also, this one had a “COFFEE-2-GO” machine set against a wall.
CASSIE: Okay. You know what? Screw it. I'm just gonna go right here.
Cassie ducks, squats behind the COFFEE-2-GO machines.
NARRATOR: (voice-over) But just as Cassie squatted down between it, a group of mall employees piled out from the once super-secret door located behind the aforementioned coffee machine from the 1970s.
The super-secret door opens, a YOUNG WOMAN and MAN step out mid-conversation.
YOUNG WOMAN: So I look behind the escalator, and all I see him doing is crying.
MAN: Yeah. That's somehow more gross.
Young Woman and Man stop dead in their tracks, seize on Cassie.
YOUNG WOMAN: Oh, my God. Is that woman peeing behind that vending machine?
NARRATOR: (voice-over) With her leggings still wrapped around one ankle, Cassie pigeon-toed her way between the puzzled man and gawky girl, straight through the once super-secret door behind the Coffee-2-Go, and beyond.
Cassie flees through the once super-secret door.
CASSIE: Sorry not sorry!
The once super-secret door closes behind her.
Cassie now stands at the precipice of a massive torch-lit cavern beneath the mall. Distant, unholy humming of a foul, sinister prayer echoes in the void.
NARRATOR: (voice-over) The Coffee-2-Go led to a well-worn dirt path cutting through a swerving, dipping, curving swath of nothingness that seemed to stretch forever in all directions. The path was lit every few feet by a dark, cold fire, housed in the leather-bound remains of a large creature’s skull. And the darkness hummed with the dull roar of distant praying.
Cassie hobbles down the path, fumbling with her leggings.
NARRATOR (CONT’D): (voice-over) Cassie fumbled with her leggings where the path met nothing, and stared into the deep and endless abyss.
CASSIE: Oh… Well, shit...
END ACT ONE
To be continued...
The chill of night brings with it a still darkness,
brings with it an alluring promise of peace.
Till the light of day warms your cold bones,
may your eyes never rest,
and may those little slices of death never come.
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