Part Eight: Kalo Junction
Part Nine: Foster Got Fingered
Part Ten: Assignment Terror
Part Eleven: Pineapple Rendition
…March 17th? How can it be March 17th? Wasn’t it the 15th like five minutes ago?
I remember… I posted the files from ‘Assignment Terror’ but something went wrong. Nothing saved right, it was all just text and nonsense. I tried to fix it over and over and nothing worked.
Then I… Then I woke up.
But when did I fall asleep?
My memories don’t make sense. Where do the hallucinations end and reality begin? There are holes in my arm marking where I was given shots of some kind of drug that has turned my memories into Swiss cheese.
All I can tell you is what happened, or at least what I think happened…
…all around me are the sounds of work; shuffling footsteps, hushed voices and the hum of electronics. It could have been any office any where in the world, except that I don’t work in an office and even if I did I sure has Hell wouldn’t let them zip tie me to a chair in the middle of the room.
And I sure as Hell wouldn’t let them do it to me while I was in my boxers.
“Is it casual Friday?” I mumbled to no one in particular.
“He’s waking up again,” a miserable and strangely familiar voice said.
I blinked my eyes trying but the room was twisting and shifting as though I was underwater. Once the thought I was under the sea got in my head I couldn’t get rid of it.
“How am I breathing?” I asked.
A female voice chimed in, it had a thick Texas twang, “What in tarnation? How much Haloperidol did you give him?”
“Whatever was in the hypodermic,” another voice said, this one was high pitched, annoying but nominally male.
“Who are you people?” I spoke carefully, afraid that any moment seawater would rush in my mouth and rob me of breath, “Where am I? What’s the water pressure? Do I have gills?”
“What is he talkin’ about? You better not have killed another test subject.” The owner of the female voice drew close enough for me to make sense of her outline. Now I could see she was a giant squirrel wearing a space suit.
Suddenly everything made sense.
“Sandy Cheeks?” I said, “From Spongebob Squarepants? Is that you?”
“Uh…” a confused look crossed the rodent’s face, “sure. Sure it is.”
A turquoise octopus shoved Sandy out of the way and shone a penlight in my eyes, “You gave him too much you idiots! He’ll be incoherent for days!”
I started laughing, how could I not? “Are you the guys that messed up my blog?”
“Oh no,” the familiar, friendly and porous shape of Spongebob Squarepants shuffled into view, “we just kidnapped you. Your website had an incursion from the Entity.”
Squidward snarled at the yellow sponge, “Shut up would you?”
“Aw come on, how much is he going to remember at this point?”
I squinted my eyes and for a moment instead of comical characters I saw strangers in hazmat suits but I knew that was crazy. I knew that the seawater must have been playing tricks on my eyes. “What do you guys want?”
Suddenly a huge pink starfish grabbed hold of my shoulders and started shaking me, “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT FILE YOU HIPPIE PINKO?”
“What file? ‘Assignment Terror’?” I asked, “My friend Mike Whitehead gave it to me. It’s all there in my blog updates.”
“THERE IS NO SUCH PERSON AS MIKE WHITEHEAD! WE CHECKED!”
“Oh yeah,” I chuckled, “I totally made that name up to protect his identity.”
Patrick Star gestured in one direction, “WE NEED TO TAKE HIM FROM THE CHAIR-” Then in another, “AND PUT HIM ON THE WATERBOARD.”
Slowly and carefully the space suited squirrel pried Patrick’s grip from me, “Respectfully sir that isn’t why we’re here.”
“Yeah,” I said, “you tell him Sandy!”
They all stared at me in confusion. I hoped I hadn’t offended them, I was eager to get untied from the chair and go off with them to have whacky adventures. Sure I knew that living under the sea would violate the terms of my house arrest but I didn’t care.
There was something I did care about however. Something that gave me a pang of guilt. Wasn’t there something else I was supposed to be doing? Something involving a bunch of kids and a… And a…
“Slender Man…” I said, “Is this about Slender Man? Is he threatening Bikini Bottom?”
“Oh pul-ease,” Squidward turned away in disgust.
“Hey, lets talk about that scary Slender Man,” Spongebob put his arm around my shoulder, “have you seen him?”
“Not in person no,” I said, “I dreamed about him once.”
“Very interesting,” he scratched his chin, “and this happened after you started your investigations?”
“Then how do you know he really exists?”
“There were videos.”
“How do you know the videos weren’t faked?”
“I don’t… But they looked real.”
“Ha!” the octopus said, his voice oozing with condescension “and I suppose you believe everything you see?”
I stared long and hard at Squidward, “Mostly.”
“Oh the irony,” he said before turning back to his sensors and monitors.
Everyone got quiet again. I think I heard mellow surf rock playing gently somewhere in the background. I began to feel uneasy, this conversation was starting to have sinister undertones.
“WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?” Patrick Star grabbed me by the throat, whenever he shook me the legs of the chair rattled against the metal floor, “WHAT ARE YOUR CRIMES? WHY ARE YOU WITHHOLDING INFORMATION ABOUT THIS UNIQUELY AMERICAN RESOURCE?”
My brain rattled around in my skull, my eyeballs bulged comically. I was still zip tied to the chair so I couldn’t defend myself. I choked and gasped, my only thought was that this wasn’t even remotely the way I thought I would die.
At first I thought I was starting to faint then I realized the lights were flickering. The pink starfish dropped me to the metal floor, I hit it with a bone jarring clang. Spongebob shrieked. Sandy started yelling “It’s here! We did it!”.
There was a shape peeling itself out of the corner, a tall, squirming shape with an immaculate suit and an empty face. The sight of the entity drove Squidward to draw a revolver and put it to his head. Patrick began shouting at the thing, “I AM PLACING YOU UNDER ARREST IN THE NAME OF THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT!”
The lights flickered again and then every monitor and screen was filled with the face of a Synchro-Vox pirate. The pirate shouted, “Are you ready kids?”
A dozen arms erupted from the figure. Screams filled the air. Wherever those slender limbs touched my cartoony captors they burned the color away…
…you don’t have to believe a damn thing I just said. It’s just what I remember and whoever those people were it looks like they shot me up with the full contents of the Keith Richards home game.
What I can tell you is that I passed out again and when I came back to my senses I found I was almost alone in a narrow room filled with malfunctioning electronics. I was still lying on my side and still zip tied to a chair.
But like I said I was almost alone.
A familiar figure in a dark hoodie and a grotesque mask was crouching beside me.
My long strange night was just beginning…