PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you eat too much cake, you will die.the fantastic life and suicide
-- April 14th, 1996 --
``Where All the Good Guys Go."
11:13 pm, Halloween, 1999.
Mary already knew the bunny was always kind of "on the edge",
but his reaction to the inspector having been locked in the
utility closet was especially reactionary. He had confronted
Mary in the lounge, paced, worried and fretted passionately and
then was probably extraordinarily upset when he realized Mary
had disappeared and left a little note saying "bye" where he
had just been standing.
It was definitely his. Where the hell did his body go? He jumped down into the grave and picked up the doll. Mary had never seen it before. It was ugly. It didn't even look human.
"Well, that's certainly distressing," he said to himself.
He put the doll in his pocket, looked around to make sure there was nothing else he had missed and then pulled his hat down over him.
Mary left the doll with the hat's laboratory for analysis. It
seemed the practical thing to do. They told him it would take
two to three weeks for a full report, which was fine with Mary
as he had bigger things to worry about at the moment.
The hat kindly reminded him that he had inadvertently taken a hostage and that by now the easily excitable Admiral would have definitely decided what was going on and who was to blame. Mary hadn't really meant to take a hostage; but it was done and he couldn't say he was all that upset about it. What was the worst the Admiral could do? Kill him? He wished he could cackle because now would have been a good time for it.
Then he was in Maryland. Billed by critics as "The First
Trans-Dimensional Electric Abusement Park", it was the First
Trans-Dimensional Electric Abusement Park. It would have
attracted billions of excited tourists and starry-eyed kids had
Mary ever let other people in it. But he didn't. It was
always empty. The word most commonly used to describe it was
"vast". It was big. The other word most commonly used to
describe it was "scary". It was also frightening.
It seemed unlimited in size. It sprawled over the horizon to meet the damp green moon which hung uncommittally in the sky. The carnival atmosphere here was thick and overwhelming. Spirals and crooked things and razor-edged primary colours seemed to be the general theme, but artistically it was very eclectic, if not just dizzyingly horrifying. The rest of the hat was disarmingly odd looking, but it all seemed to come to a squinty-eyed head here. Mary had designed it all. It was one of the few works of art he felt anything remotely comparable to "pride" in.
There weren't even any attendants in Maryland. And although it was all fully automated, everything had very tedious and often quite humiliating manual controls which the bunny would have to run in order for the ride to work. One of his least favourites consisted of him towing a roller coaster on a bicycle while Mary whipped at him yelling "Faster, damn you! Faster!"
Way up, high above tents and vacant playgrounds and motionless Mary-go-Rounds, slowly turning over the exact middle of the park was the largest Ferris Wheel ever constructed in any part of the afterlife. The simulation heroics that had been required to get this thing built were usually described as "really stupid". The designers literally had to redefine the definition of where the "sky" actually begins. Fourteen engineers went insane and Mary knew it was worth every single one. It was a bright mechanical green, which stood out alarmingly against the dark red sky. It had a post-apocalyptic hallucinogenic quality superior to everything you've ever seen, unless you just survived the apocalypse and realized your jeans are made of LSD.
And at the very, very top of this Ferris Wheel, in one of the many cages that hung dangerously from it by thin strands of metal, Mary stirred anxiously. He was trying to convince the inspector to be helpful in one of the few ways he knew how.
"I don't normally like heights," he said, gazing out the grated window, "but I really like this one."
As their cage reached the top, the Ferris Wheel stopped turning and left it swaying slightly in the air. Mary checked his watch and then stared off over the horizon once again. Maryland was very big, he thought. He grinned back at the inspector, who was sitting on a small blue metal bench looking annoyed.
"Did you like the closet?"
"Why did you bring me up here?" she snapped.
Mary thought about this for a second. "I'm instilling terror," he decided finally.
He shrugged. "Just generally." He leaned a bit closer to the window. "How's the view?" he yelled.
"F-f-fine s-s-sir," said a very scared bunny voice from below. He had put up a fairly impressive and brave argument against Mary's plan and was now strapped to the underside of the cage.
"You think you're scaring me, don't you?"
"Is that a trick question?"
"Is that a trick answer?"
"Is that a --"
"Oh shut up," she said angrily. Mary shrugged and looked back out the window. It was a really big park.
"H-h-help?" tried the bunny pathetically. "P-please?"
The plan was to get all the information he could about military procedure in cases like these from Maxine. So far he'd gotten nothing of use except for a few witty insults and a reminder to use the word "cram" sometime in the near future.
"I just want you to know," Mary said diplomatically, "that being my hostage will be a satisfying and rewarding experience."
"Go to Hell."
"No, really," Mary said with a little wave, "I've given this some thought and I think it's the only way."
"I think I-I-I'm b-blacking o-out. G-God, s-save me."
Maxine smiled politely. "You don't honestly think you can beat the system, do you?"
"Well, that depends," Mary said slowly, "on how hard it's going to be."
They held each other's stony gaze.
"I-I c-can't feew m-my h-h-hongue."
Mary charged into the control room followed by three large
floppy-shoed, red-nosed clown thugs roughly struggling with
Maxine. The bunny walked in slowly after them, shaking
nervously and clutching the walls.
"Incoming message from the Admiral, sir," said the hat.
"Tell him to shove it."
Neon violet streaks sprung up from the floor and the Admiral's distressed face suddenly filled the screen. "Mary!" he yelled angrily.
Mary hit a button on his chair and the Admiral and the screen disappeared. "That guy's really starting to piss me off," he said.
"Military crafts approaching."
"You know they don't fire you," Maxine said from the back of the room. "It only gets worse."
"What do you mean?" Mary said, turning to glare at her. "How could it possibly get worse?"
Mary relaxed. "No problem," he said with a sigh. "I'd be batting a thousand if it wasn't for that greasy one in Philadelphia last year."
"Not MIMES: MINES! If you screw up here they force you into eternal hard labour."
"But I can't do that!" Mary said, suddenly feeling uneasy about this entire rebellion thing.
"I don't know."
"Approaching," said the hat.
"Okay hat, we need to, like, run... away."
"They'll find you," said Maxine.
"I'm not allowed to evade commanders," explained the hat.
"What? Then give me manual control!"
"You can't have it."
Mary glared at the ceiling. "What the hell do you mean?"
"I agree with the hat," said the bunny.
"So what are you going to do, Mister Mary Holiday?" Maxine teased from behind him. "There's no way out."
Mary sprang from his chair and climbed on top of some keyboards near the front wall. He searched frantically through video screens and displays he rarely looked at. The other crafts were little dots, closing in on him quickly.
He paced around the bridge nervously. "Okay, okay," he said, trying to calm himself. "What do we do? Hat? What can I do in a situation like this?"
"I'm not allowed to tell you."
The bunny bitterly withheld all helpful advice he might have had.
Mary's mind raced as he watched the blinking dots get closer and closer to the middle of the screens.
"Hat, uh, I want you to, uh..." He looked around for inspiration and saw a potted plant. "Escape!"
"That's the same as running away," said the hat.
"Something with impunity?"
"Without a verb that's not really a command."
Mary sighed miserably and threw himself at the ground. An idea struck him. "Hat!"
"Elude, evade, dodge, avoid, and 'survive' are not applicable."
"Go to the next mission!"
Everything went a sudden meaningful black.
"Hey!" complained the hat loudly as they reappeared elsewhere
in time and space. "That was sneaky!" All mission-related
commands had priority over the military safety nets that kept
people from doing anything treasonous. Mary didn't really know
this, but he had already begun to strut.
"Hooray!" he cheered.
"I'm actually impressed," said Maxine.
"Me too," agreed the bunny from the floor.
Mary continued to dance about the room shouting things like "YEAH!" and "WOO!" and "POW!". He tried to do a few gymnastic moves he hadn't done in centuries and wound up crashing out into the hallway. Maxine and the bunny watched in silence as he increasingly didn't return.
"Does he do this sort of thing a lot?" said Maxine.
"Yes," said the bunny. He thought about this. "Yes, he does," he said.
"How do you put up with him?"
"He's really not that bad... once you get used to him." He sighed.
Maxine glared at the door and then looked back at the bunny. "Okay, why do you put up with him?"
"It's my job."
He shrugged. "It's my job," he said again, more to reassure himself than the inspector. "It's an issue of loyalty."
Becoming frustrated with this conversation the bunny excused himself politely and left to find a quiet place for a cigarette.
"So I guess it's just us," Maxine said to the clown thugs holding her. They shifted uneasily.
The bunny later found Mary in the arcade. He was playing a
kamikaze space fighter game that he never lost at. It cost a
ridiculous number of quarters though. The bunny stood next to
him and watched as he played.
"Maxine has been shown to private quarters as you requested, sir," he said. "I haven't yet found anyone willing to clean the bowling alley, but I'm still looking."
"Did Maxine finish her inspection?" Mary said absent-mindedly.
"No, I believe you shoved her into a closet before --"
"Yeah, yeah. Well, get her on the rest of it." He wrenched the controls furiously and his ship exploded into another one. "ALRIGHT!" he cheered. "I DIED!!" He dropped another quarter into the machine. "Make sure she's supervised at all times."
"The next mission is still waiting as well. The hat recommends
"Where are we?"
"Outside a poetry cafe."
"Just doing my job, sir." He waited quietly for a moment and then left.
Mary stood alone in the noisy glow of the video game making a mental list. The military was after him, most likely thinking he had killed the cleaning staff. His fascist terrorist Fan Club had tried to dig up his body which didn't work only because his body had already been stolen and replaced with a little ugly doll.
Complacency sucks, he thought.
He'd irreversibly altered the path which his afterlife was travelling down and was feeling nothing but bitter hatred for everyone trying to back him into a corner. This was fundamental rock'n'roll rebellion. He used to be in a rock band. A great big fucking rock band that smashed things and made noise and vomited all over itself before passing out on the stage and having to be carried off and locked in a hotel bathroom.
An hour later he went back to his room and found a pen. Then he cleared his desk and wrote all over a nearly blank piece of paper.