Transforming Trumpets to Saxophones

As you walk, the fantasy world you lived inside the Ship Wreck recedes from sight and memory. Instead you see waterlogged furniture and broken windows everywhere. Striding by a bruised warehouse that has been converted to apartments, you hear the wailing of a saxophone coming from inside. You stop and listen, trying to place the tune. Nothing. A man in a hooded sweatshirt steps from behind a broken desk. He’s smoking a cigarette.
“Deja vu.” You mumble to yourself and speed up your walk.
You reach the boat, rediscovering your two oarsmen snoozing peacefully on what so recently was the shore of a great urban lake.  The waters have receded in the last three hours, baked by the sun and drained by the recovering sewers.  You lean over Shane's slumbering body.


Poison was the Cure

“The king falls so Haven may rise again.”  The witch doctor takes out a knife and makes a cut in the Cedar’s flesh next to one of the swollen scorpion stings.  Taking out a leather pouch, he carefully catches the dripping black fluid.
The screen fades to black, then shows the king - dressed beautifully in purple robes and a golden crown - laying on a pallet of red roses.  The camera pans back to reveal a funeral procession.  The king is dead, yet the people are celebrating - they have been delivered a cure to the plague. The camera moves again and zooms in on a nearby tent.  There, the witch doctor is standing behind a wooden table, ladling out cups of hot broth from a giant black pot.
A young boy stands before the dancing doctor, holding out his hands.  “What is it?”
“Poison. Poison and cure.”
The boy recoils.  “What?”
“The poison is the cure.  This magic broth contains three of the mighty Scorpion's stings.  It will not hurt you.  It will protect you from the terrible plague that has killed so many.  Your king has died by the sting of the evil scorpion so that you may live.”
The boy cries for his king, his savior, as he drinks his cup.
The reality of how long you have been sitting in a chair hits you hard. Standing slowly, you walk your way stiffly toward the door.  The crowd begins chanting Cedar's name.


Do the Dance

“Alright.  And is he the one who tells you where the caves are, too?”
“No.. uhm... you've got to do tons of stuff before you even find out about the caves.  He just sells you healing potions and tells you about this whistle thing oh and  he does a super sweet dance.  Ever notice how incredible those little pixelated characters can be when they dance?  Amazing, I tell you.  Fucking amazing.”
“Forget the dance, man.  Where are the rest of the quests?”  You spot a two story bamboo house nestled in the trees.  A figure clambers down from the second story on a vine, lands on the ground and comes dancing out towards you.
“All the quests are in the village north of here.  Oh man, oh man.  Check him out!  This dude is so sweet.  God damn!  Scope the way he bangs that stick on the ground and turns his masked head.  And the jumps!  Look at the little jumps he does!  Oh man... the jumps.”
You sniff the air.  “You didn't by chance go get high before coming back here, did you?”
He sits up ramrod straight and scans the room several times.  “Maybe.  I mean... uh... dude?  Is that a problem for you?”
“Other than the fact that it's slowing you down? No.  But I'm wondering if you're aware of the fact that you're talking like a 16 year old from the eighties.”
He clears his throat guiltily.  “Yeah.  So I got a little high.  I was frustrated with the game, alright?  I just need to chill.”
“Alright.  Well chill by continuing to feed me whatever you learned in the first couple hours of play, will you?”
“Sure, dude.  Sure.”
“You're right, though.  That dance is pretty sweet.  I like that he keeps doing it even though he's talking as if he's all pissed off.  There's no way any human being could dance like that and be angry.”  You follow the path north to the village.  “Maybe he's not human!”
“You never know man.  You never know.  Maybe he's the scorpion.”


Street Ways, Water Ways

The walk drags on.  Twice you have to skirt new lakes, unwilling to swim your way across.  At an intersection of streets become rivers, you spot a couple of kids on a canoe.  Their eyes light up.
“Hey!  Aren't you that guy who won the tournament the other night?”
The other boy chirps in.  “Yeah.  That was a totally incredible show, man!  The way you got that big guy at the end and you both blew up from the dynamite.  Amazing.”
They both make exploding noises.
You grit your teeth.  “Yeah, I'd almost forgotten.  Thanks.  You're welcome.  So.  Want to give me a ride to The Beyond?”
They grin widely at one another and nod.  “Yeah!  Hop on, man!”
You sit and lean against the edge of the boat.  The boys point and chatter about the best course to take.  Draping your hand over your eyes to block the sun, you doze off.


Wretched Ratcheting Nurse

You fall back into the chair.  Anna kneads your shoulders while you grit your teeth.  You close your eyes and imagine yourself and Inky playing a game of Burning Empires set in stark white hospital hallways.  Hundreds of bespectacled doctors bearing clipboards flee under fluorescent lights from your avenging flamethrowers.  They scream.  You laugh.  Working your way from the center to the entrance, you arrive at the empty waiting room.  She's here.  The nurse.  She stands, arms folded across her chest, between you and the exit.  Wearing grins so wide they barely fit your faces, you and Inky drown her in fire.  When the smoke clears, she stands untouched and frowning.  Your eyes snap open.


Out, out, damn foam

On the other side, you lean against a wall and hack deeply from your lungs.  You feel your body shaking with the effort.  Your stomach twists.  You imagine toxic gases pooling in the copses of your alveoli, shutting you off of from oxygen.
“Not going to throw up.”  You mutter, letting out another cough
“Find what you were looking for?”  The security guard is fixing the tape barrier.
You nod and cough into your fist.  Anna shakes the guard’s hand and then walks back towards the hospital entrance.  You follow.
She turns around and gives the security guard a hug.  “Thank you so much, friend.  Thank you.”  
He looks around the hallway and shrugs. “Just don't talk about it with any staff, okay?”
Anna purses her lips and nods firmly.


Olfactory Institution

A short bearded man smacks his hand against his clipboard.  “Really.  I don't have time for this.  Unless you are amongst the injured, I don't see what exactly you think you're doing back here.  If you don't leave immediately, I'm calling security.  We have people to take care of here."
The group squeeze tight their circle, ejecting Anna to the outside.  They are now ignoring you.
“Maybe we can smell our way there.”  You tug her away from the doctors.
She takes you seriously, putting her nose to the air.  Wrinkles sweep across her face.  “All I smell is cleaning agents.”  With that pronouncement, she marches deeper into the intestines of the institution.