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Culture Shock

We swerved out into the busy streets of our almost, but not quite, minimetropolis and began our journey to Obscurité. We swung past the zooming cars and booming bars. As we passed one of these, I noticed a couple fighting in a parking lot. They were bitching at each other about something, then the man vomited onto her shoes. He couldn’t hold down whatever he had filled himself with…she retaliated by doing the same to him, possibly as a chain reaction. I quickly looked away.

“Oh, the sights and sounds of city at night,” I said, noticing that Simone had been looking out of the window as well. This was rather funny for us, although I supposed that it wouldn’t be so great if we were the ones with vomit-soaked shoes. We veered sharply around a white car before racing through a red light, fishtailing a bit as we went.

“Just don’t get pulled over,” Simone cautioned.

“Oh.” I remembered something from earlier. I liked the way you threatened to throw whatever-her-name-was off of the bridge. That was sexy.” She looked over at me and smiled while raising one of her eyebrows.

“It wouldn’t be sexy if I threw you out of the car and onto the street. You’d be run over and splattered on the pavement.” Was she joking?

“You don’t know me very well yet…I might like that even more.” She actually did laughed this time, banging her head against the back of her seat.

“Fuck yeah,” Soren said from the front while looking back at us.

“You don’t need to look at us when while you’re driving,” I said. He turned back around and switching from lane to lane, back and forth. I felt seasick. This ride wasn’t going to end well.

“This ride isn’t going to end well,” S. spoke. Fuck. Confirmation. It was now eleven fifty-nine p.m. The GPS said we were only a few minutes away from our destination. I had given the address to Soren when we got back into the car. Only one more turn, then it would be a straight shot to Obscurité. The turn signal was green, so Soren didn’t slow down. He was making a ninety degree turn at fifty-something miles per hour. Mother fucker. It all happened in slow motion. I remained silent as we began to drift sideways. The tires were practically burning off of the rims as we slid.

“What the hell, Soren?” Simone’s words seemed to come out of her mouth little by little, as if she was speaking through a machine that both slowed and lowered her voice. I imagined what the people in the cars around us were thinking. It was probably something similar to what I was thinking: Holy shit.

We defied gravity as the whole left side of the car came off of the ground and into the air. Was I going to die? Probably not, only because I had already made it through many near death experiences already. I had gained a certain level of confidence in my survivability.

I closed my eyes and braced myself for impact. I was flying…flying…then the flight came to a halt and the catastrophe came to a crescendo. SMASH. The front end of the car slammed into the concrete side of the building on the right side of the street, the one we had just ‘turned’ onto. The back end collided with the glass window of a pharmacy that was set up at the street corner. I could hear S. laughing in my ears as a thunderbolt ran all the way up my spine. Was he enjoying this? I fell forward and to the right, slamming my head into the back of each of the front seats, and then was thrown into Simone.

We finally stopped moving. What was the next thing to do? I wasn’t sure if I was injured or not, as I was still completely frozen. The car was tilted up on its side. Simone and I were going to have to climb up to the door that I had gotten in from in order to escape the wreckage. I looked over at Soren. He was moving, but only slightly. He lost consciousness during the crash and hadn’t fully regained it.

“Get out. Get out, right fucking now!” Simone’s suggestion sounded wise to me. We climbed up and opened the door on my side, then made our way out to the sidewalk. A few cars were heading in our direction, but no one had confronted us yet.

“How far from the hotel are we?” She asked.

“Less than a mile now.”

“Great. Let’s go.”

“What about Soren?”

“Fuck him. He drove while he was that wasted. He can stay here and deal with it. I’m certainly not going to. We’re going to the party.” I didn’t really want to be here when the police showed up anyway, so I agreed to go.

We ran as fast as our bodies would let us and pedestrians began to arrive at the scene. We went on for a few blocks before looking back. One or two people were staring at us, but no one was in pursuit. We were going to make it, weren’t we? I still felt kind of sorry for Soren. His night had gone to hell, and I was fairly sure that his car wasn’t going to be drivable any time soon.

“You’re going the right way,” S. said. This worried me to some extent. The thing that just basically killed someone, and seemed to enjoy being in a ridiculous car crash, was pleased with what I was doing. But I was actually sort of happy with how everything had gone…it was far more stimulating than being at home, going to sleep early on a Saturday night to go and sit through church in the morning. We looked behind us again, just for paranoia’s sake. Our paranoia unfortunately seemed justified this time.

“Hey!” Someone who was still pretty far behind us called out. He was half-running after us. He didn’t seem to be a cop, but this still wasn’t good.

“Fuck you!” Simone screamed back at him.

“Not to worry, scattly skittles, keep running and you’re right as rain,” S. said. The hotel now lay before us, less than a thousand feet away. I saw Anna as she bolted out of a small art gallery to the right of us, running toward Obscurité as well. She was much faster than we were, somehow. Obscurité was just in front of us beyond a busy street. The random man behind us was still in pursuit. Not for long…

We dashed across the street like we were playing a game of Frogger, dodging and leaping our way to the other side while horns blared angrily all around us. It gave me a fantastic feeling. I was alive. I was really alive. Our pursuer wasn’t brave enough to be a Frogger frog. He decided to give up the chase. Just then, Veia hopped across the street on all fours. She had her frog shirt on. Now this really was a video game.

“Ribbit, ribbit. I’m a fuckin’ frog.” Would she be coming with us? I hoped that she would. A set of large glass revolving doors spun around in front of us. We had arrived at the hotel’s grand entrance. The word ‘Obscurité’ was displayed in large gold plated cursive lettering just above the doors. We walked up the obsidian stairs and prepared ourselves for another adventure.

“Simply walking through these would be much too boring,” Simone pointed out.

“Indeed.” I spun one of the doors around and around. “What are you waiting for? Come through!” I shout-laughed at her. She stood in front of the door for a few seconds as it spun around, waiting for just the right moment to run through. And then she found one…sort of. She ran at the doors at full speed. She made it through part-way, but then slammed into one of the glass panels and was flung inside the building. She tripped, falling face first into the floor of the lobby.

“That was most definitely some slapstick shit,” I said jokingly.

“The elevator is coming back, child…the one you’ve heard before,” S. told me. I walked through the doors and into the hotel lobby, where Simone had almost gotten back up to a standing position. A huge red and silver ornately embroidered rug covered the majority of the lobby floor. We began our expedition across it.

“So, this place seems to be lacking a crucial element,” Simone declared. I was sure that she was talking about the party. “Where the hell is the party?” I was right.

“I guess it isn’t down here in the lobby. We’ll have to use the elevator to get there.”

“Ooh, ahh, spookisexy.” She was apparently really into eerie elevator rides. After I thinking about it, being really into eerie elevator rides was something that we had in common. Ding. Ding. Ding. The three elevators weren’t at the ground floor yet, but one of them was approaching. Ding. The doors of the elevator number three whooshed open. One person was standing inside, but she wasn’t coming out. Oh! This was getting interesting. I knew who she was.

“Ello there, Ivan! My name is Fawn.” It was the girl who wore the short pants to church. “You’ve made it to the party!” Her voice was higher now, and flowingly dream-like. She was clearly not sober, but neither was I, and neither were Simone, Anna, Veia, nor Shadowshade. Fawn held a glass of something in her left hand and shook both of ours with her right. “I’ve come down to get you!” Her timing was unbelievably perfect, almost too perfect.

“I already feel like something fun is going to happen,” Simone said.

“Ooh, fun, fun there shurtainly shall be!” The doors closed and we began to move upward. Ding: floor one. Ding: floor two. Ding: three. I could see Veia and I…the room in the old school…our room…the elevator. It was as if we were somehow flying up above that school right now. What the hell? This elevator looked exactly the same as the one from my memory. This was all very strange.

“Been here before, haven’t we?” S. said ever so snidely. Ding: floor four…five…six…seven…

“So, Ivan and, um…”


“Okay, would you both like to partake of this beautiful beverage? I made it myself. I just had my own before coming to get you. It’s really rather joyfulous.”

“What’s in it?” I asked.

“Five dimensional orange cream! It’s a five dimensional orange cream slushie.”

“God damn, that sounds lovely.” Simone took the glass and immediately drank half of it. Ding: eight…nine…“Damn. Delicioso.” She complemented the slushing before handing it over to me. Five dimensional orange cream...this was going to be a voyage. I drank the rest of the five dimensions, which really did taste very creamily orange. Ding: ten…eleven…twelve…we slowed and eventually squealed to a halt at floor twelve.

“Almost there,” Fawn declared. The elevator doors opened and we walked out into the hallway. I started to think that maybe the party wasn’t going to be quite as entertaining as I imagined. No one was standing out in the halls. All of the rooms were very quiet.

“I hope this is a real thing,” Simone said.

“Just go on a bit farther, boy. The squigg has already begun to woimble, you see?” S.’ voice kept me going.

“Will this be a squigg woimbling party, full of woimbling Squiggs?” I inquired.

“Why, yes!” Fawn agreed. “That’s a wonderful description of it.” At the end of the hall we made a right turn. Down this little hidden hallway, just a few feet ahead of us, was another elevator. “You know how most hotels don’t have a 13th floor? Silly superstishles…”

“This one doesn’t either,” Simone said.

“But the 12th and 14th do have a bit of space in between them, right?” I had noticed.

“Quite a bit, actually…enough that someone could play around in it.” Ding. This new elevator opened and we quickly walked inside. Fawn pushed a button that was painted in four different sections. One corner was red, another was white, another was black and the last was grey. “Fun zone button! We’re entering the fun zone!” Fawn cheered.

The elevator felt extremely bizarre now…the way it was moving…I couldn’t quite explain it. It was doing backflips and twirling around at the same time. Fawn’s words were sqoigling around in my head. What she just said sounded like: “Wee’rrreh enttoreeeng theee Fuonzoone!” S. seemed to be getting a little bit…shadier.

“What a lovely land in which you stand, child! Five dimensions…now that is something, isn’t it?” While he said this, I thought I saw my copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar float past on the elevator wall. I was feeling much ooglier than usual…and blooglie enough to think that the word ‘usual’ itself sounded a lot like ‘use you all’…Ding: floor thirteen.

“Ready?” Fawn asked as the elevator doors opened. The tension in my body rose quickly. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting to see, but I was confident that it would be something wondrous. There was only a thin, dimly lit corridor. No one was here either, and it was only about twenty feet long. What the fuck? This was certainly not wondrous.

“Um, what the hell is this?” Simone asked.

“Either Fawn wants a threesome, or we’re going to be murdered. Maybe even both...” I added.

“Which would you prefer?” Simone wondered. Which would she prefer?

“The death rape, please. But do the raping part first.”

“It does sound tempting.” Simone eyed Fawn and I as if we were two delectable desserts. What? I wasn’t really expecting this. Suddenly it did seem rather tempting.

“I choose the threesome too,” Fawn seconded.


“That does sound…too torturous to contemplate without immediately making it happen.”

“I would do it…but it would be much better once we get to the other side. Your drinks should kick in soon. Mine certainly has…are you ready? Here it is, loves: the fifth dimension.” Fawn walked down to the end of the hallway, Simone and I following suit. She then started banging her fists into the wall. BangBangBangBangBangBangBangBang…the section of the wall slid all the way down, then revealed an entire new hidden floor of the hotel. We were now entering floor 13: Floor Obscurité.

When we walked into the gigantic room I was completely blown away. Pictures of swirling optical illusions adorned the glowing pulsing multi-textured walls. Strobe lights of all different colors, shapes, and sizes lit up the four corners of the room. The floor felt like velvet. It was very, very, velvety carpet.

Some of the strings in the carpet began to grow, some of them up to a few feet, then battled each other by bopping their stringy wormy heads together. Bop. Bop. Bop. Squish. One of them won. The other one splattered all over the wall. Whatever was in that drink, combined with this crazy pulseglow palace, was creating a very unique experience.

“See, I told you.” Fawn certainly had told us…I noticed that there were other people here too, probably at least a hundred of them. Many were flowing and dancing in the ambient aura of the aurora lights. Within seconds I was alone…but alone in a crowd. I wasn’t really so alone after all.

“Can you smell the discombobble?” S. asked. Somehow I could. Some person, or other form of being, was approaching me from the heart of the entrancing atmosphere. He or she was wearing only stilettos that seemed about a foot high, a leopard print silky band around the waist, and a gigantic extremely fake curly blonde wig. Oh, and a zebra-striped fez…this was it, nothing else, no underwear of any kind. The person had two lovely uncovered feminine mulatto nipples, and a very masculine erection. It waved and wobbled as the person walked.

“Well hello there, young sir. Care to dance with me?” Their voice sounded almost as if they were talking through a glass kazoo.

“Sure,” I said. “I’m Ivan.”

“Oooh, Ivan the Terrible, you must be. I’m Trix, like the cereal. Want to see my dance move?” Why not?

“Why not?”

“Okay, darling…here goes it.” Trix stared directly at me with their giant eyes and opened their mouth. Their tongue marched right out of their mouth and slithered its way over to their right ear, wrapping around it. Wow. This was going to be fun. The tongue wrapped around the other ear before traveling back into the mouth.

“And a one, a two, a one, two, three…” Trix pulled a red laser-pointer pen out of their waistband and aim it at their tongue. To my surprise, it cut right through it. What the hell? A giant pile of tongue now lay before me on the velvet floor. Really? Trix sprouted many different sets of arms and legs, one after the other, until they became a giant circle. Their body now looked like one big fleshy spinning disk. Then lights came on…all over the fleshy disk.

“Wheeheehee!” Trix began spinning while sticking a much shorter tongue out. They looked just like the Wheel of Fortune.

“What do we have here? Young Tristan! Come up! Come up!” Shadowshade was talking now. He had somehow become an announcer. Was he Pat Sajak? Surely he was about to spin Trix around. “Okay, okay, here’s a phrase for you! It is: you get nothing! Hooray! You get fucking nothing! Nothing at all! Ha-ha!” He was losing his shit.

“Uh…do I at least to pick a vowel or something?”

“No! All of this has been predetermined for you! You’re supposed to be a mindless soulless robot! Never do anything! Beepy bop, boppy boop, babe.” S. was getting really zonky.

“Beepy bop, boppy boop,” Trix began to sing.

“No,” I said. “I’m Ivan the Terrible. I choose my own goddamn fate.”

“Spin me, spin me!” Trix shouted as little tickets with cotton candy pictures on them started flying out of their mouth, accompanied by the sound Dingdingdingdingding. “For I am the wheel of punishment! Let’s give the everything-munchers a bit of poison in their peaches!” I grabbed the side of the Trix wheel and spun it as hard as I could. “Oiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoiyoi,” Trix’s popped so far out of their head that they really just looked like bloody, springy, googly-eyed glasses.

“And we’ve landed on…murder! Yes! Murder! They’re going to be murdered! All of those who are deserving of such a fate, each and every one!” S. squealed ever so happily…and quite seriously too. Who was going to be murdered? Then I could see myself on a screen that was lowering down from the ceiling. I was standing over someone and covered in blood. It was their blood.

“Muh-muh-muh-muh-muh, muh-muh, muh-muh, muh-muh, murder!” Trix sang. The cotton candy tickets kept spewing out of their mouth and landing all over the floor. More of them flew out, and more, more, until the whole room was being flooded by the little tickets. Trix let out a shrill and alarming scream as all of the tickets turned into real cotton candy. It filled the room all the way up and over our heads. It began sticking to the insides of my lungs. I was choking, gasping for air. Was I about to be killed by cotton candy? The cotton candy sea flashed every color of the rainbow, and some colors that I didn’t even know existed.

Poof! There we were, Trix and I, standing back on the 13th floor. Trix was still their ‘normal’ abnormally dressed self. There was no Shadowshade, no spinning wheels. “Cotton candy?” Trix handed me a rainbow puff of sweet and weightless fluffy fluff. It was a flavor I had never tried before.

“What flavor is this?” I asked.


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