(This is an excerpt from my Science Fiction/Comedy novel in progress -- The Adventures of Danger Dave, a story of Galactic Exploration and High Adventure, produced and broadcast by 21st Century Weasel Entertainment.)
Danger Dave Dies…Again
By Rick Carlson
We slowly fade in to our Hero as he slowly fades out….
Dave looked down with a puzzled expression at his own face looking back up at him with an equally puzzled, yet blank, expression. A Bad Thing had just happened.
“I can’t be dead,” thought Dave. “I’m a galactic hero. Trillions of people need me. This is a mistake.”
Dave immediately regretted his choice of words. If it really was a mistake, it was probably his. “Think, Dave, think.” So, Dave thought…“Clues – I need clues.”
He tried to focus his eyes, or what he thought would have been his eyes, if he’d still had a body. “That’s it! My body – let’s start there,” he thought excitedly.
Now that Dave was on a mission, he felt he was back in his element, on solid footing, with a good leg to stand on. “Funny how many of our phrases are based on the physical world,” thought Dave with slight bemusement. “I’m still thinking in English – what am I thinking with? Where’s my brain?” As Dave’s thoughts started to drift, his ghostly presence started to drift, as well.
“WAIT!” Dave screamed within his mind, and he stopped drifting. “Okay, don’t think about thinking – think later. Now is the time for action without thought!”
Newly refocused, Dave looked back at his body, which had shrunk as if viewed through the wrong end of a telescope. He tried to zoom in by narrowing his non-existent eyebrows – no response.
“Okay, so no computer-assisted sight – figures, but it was worth a shot…SHOT! That’s it – someone shot me! Whodunit?”
Suddenly, and quite without warning, his view shifted, momentarily making him sick to his also non-existent stomach. However, instead of his assassin, all he saw was an empty room, with a view of his body through the doorway reflected in the large, antique mirror.
“Rats! I missed him, her, it – whatever.”
Dave now felt the room trying to
pull away, like so many
“No! I’m not ready!” Frantically, he scanned the room and saw the 3-D TV. He couldn’t focus. The image was fading…‘pink’ was the only word that formed fuzzily in his swirling mind before everything drained to black.
Dave reached out and grabbed…nothing. After a moment of panic, followed by another moment of heightened panic, then a big breath of air…no air…panic again, Dave finally stopped.
“Where am I?” he called out. Nothing.
“HELLO!!!” Still nothing.
Dave looked down – there was no down. Or up.
Dave was floating, but there was nothing to float in – panic again.
After what could have been hours or days or merely seconds, Dave finally came to terms with the fact that time itself did not seem to exist and neither did the rest of the Universe. After starting to wonder if he had destroyed the entire Universe, and feeling the panic start up again, he said, “No. I refuse to panic again. Let someone else have a turn.”
After a moment or ten of steadfastly refusing to panic, Dave finally noticed a very dim light off to his right. Without another thought, he turned right and began moving toward the light, or it toward him. Dave didn’t know and didn’t care – it was something, and that was enough for the moment.
After a brief, but timeless, journey, Dave arrived at the light, which turned out to be a flickering streetlamp on a damp night at the corner of a city intersection straight out of a Mickey Spillane or Kinky Friedman novel. The fog began to roll in, and the narrator in Dave’s head began reciting campy lines about dames and cigars. Dave shook his head to clear the fog and the voice and looked again. The only thing in sight was a small building with a door slightly ajar.
“The only exit is to the north. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.”
Dave smiled at the memory as he studied the scene, and then boldly whispered, “Too obvious – it must be a trap.” He decided to sneak around the back.
There was no back.
Where the fuzzy glow of the light stopped, reality also stopped. The only place to go was through the door.
“Well, Dave, you’re already dead. How much worse can it get?”
“I’m not going to stand here and argue with myself,” Dave argued with himself. Realizing how foolish he looked to the nobodies in the non-existent Universe, Dave boldly marched straight in, head held high.
Dave jumped out of his skin. The sound was only the door closing behind him as he slammed it shut, back in his body and in…the waiting room of a dentist’s office.
“It just got worse, Davey,” he said to himself.
“Don’t call me that. I’ll make you go in to see the dentist first.”
Realizing again that he was being foolish for no good reason, he finally took a good look around the room. On the left, he found three floor-to-ceiling sets of bookshelves made from thick cherry wood, filled with leather-bound journals.
In the center, he found a puffy, black leather sofa with a glass-topped coffee table with magazines and a steaming pot of coffee. He poured a cup and collapsed into the comfy couch.
He very much approved.
Scanning to the right, he noticed a fish tank that ran the full length of the wall. Setting down his coffee, he struggled a moment to be released from the bonds of the couch and finally managed to stand back up without too much damage to his dignity. He strolled over to the fish tank and tapped the glass. Every single fish saw him at the same instant, and in that instant, Dave saw his earlier panic on the face of each and every fish before they vanished as one.
They did NOT approve.
Above the tank on the wall hung a sign:
DANGER DAVE DORIGHT, CHARTER MEMBER
“EVENTUALLY, EVERYONE SLEEPS WITH THE FISHES.”
-- Xiggy Xambini, Galactic Mafia Overlord
“…and then I woke up.”
“So it was all a dream?”
“I don’t think so, Dan. I think I actually died, but instead of moving on to the afterlife, I was stopped short, and then ripped back through time to try again…and again…and again…”
“What gives you that idea?”
“First, there is the sign on the back exit that read, ‘Your tunnel to the afterlife has suffered structural collapse and reconstruction is on hold until further notice.’ Also, those bookshelves on the left? They’re filled with hundreds of journals, all in my handwriting, each one describing how I died, with the approximate date/time at the top of each entry. Some of them are one-off accidents, while others are repeated many times, advancing a little further each time, but sometimes starting over and taking a different path further back – like those old text adventure games with a grue hiding in every dark corner to devour unlucky adventures who stray off the lighted path.”
“Fascinating, Captain,” remarked Dan, Spock-like.
“Fascinating for you, maybe. Terrifying for me. Well, at least a bit unsettling…for two reasons.”
“Please elaborate,” continued Dan-in-Spock-mode.
“First, there is the last entry – I shot myself: laser pistol ricocheted off an antique mirror, but I’m pretty sure I can miss myself the next time. That’s not what worries me.”
“Then what is?”
“If that sign is correct, and Xiggy Xambini has been promoted to Galactic Mafia Overlord, then I’ve got a feeling I’ll be filling up a lot more Death Journals for the near future.”
“I think you’re overreacting, Dave. We’re in the Penthouse Suite of the best hotel on the planet. What could possibly go wrong?”
“Hey, that’s my tag line! Take it back, or you’ll doom us both.”
“Fine, Captain Paranoia, I take it back, but seriously, what’s with the heebie-jeebies this time? Is it because this exquisitely fine hotel is at the heart of the Scariest Place in the Galaxy©®™J?”
“The brochure right here on the desk: ‘Happy Town, on Bambi’s Planet, is known throughout the civilized worlds as the most haunted tourist destination, with the most fun and excitement to be found anywhere in the Milky Way.’”
“Haunted by what? The ghost of the corned beef and cabbage sandwich I had for lunch? Oh, that reminds me – you might want to stay clear of the bathroom for a bit.”
“Lovely…thanks for the heads-up, Dave. No, I’m not talking about the funky green cloud being sucked up by the fan. I’m talking real ghosts.”
“Haven’t seen a single one.”
“Yes, you have.”
“You. You said it yourself – you saw yourself floating over your own dead body. You are the ghost. Or were. And by what you described, you’ve ghosted hundreds of times in the past, and will quite likely keep doing so for the foreseeable future.”
“Okay, Mister Wizard, if I’ve been down that tunnel the same way so many times before, why haven’t I brought the memory back with me until now?”
“Beats me, Dave. Maybe it has to do with all of the ‘alleged’ spectral activity concentrated in this area. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there are no ghosts. Something gave this place a reputation for being a hotbed of unusual activity. Whatever you want to call it, whatever it is, you can’t deny what you remembered, nor can you deny the marketing might behind the ghostly gambling theme.”
“So, if you were in my shoes, what would you do?”
“Just go with the flow.”
“Easy for you to say, that’s basically your life’s motto.”
“And look at me! I’m happy, healthy, and loving life! You can’t argue with success, and fantastic hair! Besides, what have you got to lose? According to your own admission, if you die, you’ll just end up doing it all over again, so why not have fun with it? Try having a positive attitude and put the weight of the many worlds on someone else’s shoulders for awhile. You might even find a girlfriend. Women love a man with a sense of humor and fun.”
“How would you know?”
“Other than you, most of my good friends are women. Trust me, Dave. It’ll be great. Consider this a paid vacation and live vicariously through me this once. It won’t kill you to lighten up a bit – at least, not permanently.”
“That’s what I’m here for, Dave – your own personal amusement.”
“Gee, Dan, I thought you were here to fly whatever needs to be flown…oh! I just remembered something. You’ve seen that photo of the guy who jumps out of a plane and parachutes into the middle of a pond surrounded by a hundred alligators?”
“Sure, Dave – I’ve even joked that it was you about to be eaten.”
“It WAS me. Well, not that exact photo, but a similar thing happened.”
“How did you survive?”
“I didn’t…not at first. It was written in one of those journals. I was about to hit the water when I saw the gators. Next, there was a bunch of splashing, and I was in The Waiting Room again. The next entry in the Death Journal describes how YOU saved me from the gators by catching my parachute on the wheels of the plane and carrying me through the air and over the fence to safety.”
“Nice, what kind of plane was it?”
“A small one – like for crop dusting and barn storming. But you’re missing the point – it was in my Death Journal, remember?”
“Oh, right – I see. If I rescued you from the gators, how did it get in the journal?”
“You ran over me when you landed.”
“Oops, my bad. What happened the next time?”
“I don’t know – that event wasn’t in the next entry, and I don’t remember reading the date, so I can’t tell if it hasn’t not happened yet, or if it always never happened this time.”
“Once again, in English?”
“That was English. Douglas Adams was right – the main problem with time travel is getting the verb tenses right. Come on, we’ve got some questions to answer, and some obstacles to avoid, like me shooting myself with a laser pistol reflected off a mirror in this very hotel.”
“Can I shoot you, instead?”
“Whatever gets us through the day, Danny Boy…whatever works.”