In the interest of catching everyone up, I am going to reprint our entire adventure so far, but with only the bits where we live. Here goes! Next week I'll do one of just the ways we die.
It’s another boring day at your stupid office. You spent most of the morning catching up on all the Internet you missed while sleeping and now you’re behind. Your stomach is growling because the banana you bought had a weird brown lump on it. You know you should get back to work, but you also know that you’re hungry and don’t care about your job at all.
You open your desk drawer and, underneath a stack of sexual harassment zero-toleration handbooks and porn magazines, find a bag of beef jerky. The brand name is “Jack’s Links” …which doesn’t sound quite right, buy hey, beggars can’t be choosers and you need something to lay down on top of that scary-looking banana you ate earlier. You rip open the bag and dig in. Hey, this stuff isn’t half bad! Kind of an odd color for beef jerky, but it’s really quite delicious. You get through about two thirds of the bag when you pull out a piece that’s got a tattoo of a heart and anchor on it.
Meh. Whoever this guy was, he didn’t have a great taste in tattoos, but he did have a GREAT TASTE. You finish the bag off, and lick you fingers. You scrumple up the Jack’s Links packet into a ball, and proceed to throw it into the waste paper bin on the other side of the office. It runs along the ridge of the paper bin twice before finally falling in. Hey, this is great! You think you’ve just invented the latest sport: waste paper golf. You’re surprised nobody has ever done this before. God, you’re an absolute genius. You’re about to scrumple all of your important legal documents into balls to continue your newfound sport, when Angeline walks into the room and sits in her cubicle. You know Angeline is like, really into you, because she was totally checking you out at the last Christmas shindig. Well, either you, or the tall, handsome guy standing next to you. Nah, it was definitely you.
As another wadded up paper ball bounces off the rim of the waste paper basket, you get the distinct feeling that someone is watching you. You shrug it off, however, and continue to crumple up your “important” meeting notes and show-off your skills to whomever is watching. Hopefully, it’s Angeline.
This time, the ball goes in! “Yes!” You shout while pumping your fist into the air, “200 points.”
“That’s the first one I’ve seen you sink,” Jimmy, the boss’s kid says.
Startled, you try to compose yourself. In your excitement, you had forgotten someone had been watching you. “Well,” you reply snarkily, “Maybe each basket is worth 200 points.”
“I’m telling my dad,” he retorts. Then runs off to your boss’s office.
Oh crap! This could ruin your day…well, more than your day. What if you got fired? What if you got fired! There’s always unemployment…
Oh, you’re going to tell daddy over my dead body! You spring into action, grabbing a handful of those cheap office pens, just in case you need to throw stuff at him. You begin to notice your age as you pant towards the brat, but you’ll be damned if that stops you! You whip a pen at him, missing completely (unless you were actually aiming at Sue with the lazy eye from accounting, but you know you weren’t).
He looks back to see if that was you, makes an obscene gesture, and picks up the pace. If you don’t do something soon, you’ll have to listen to your boss lecture you for 15 minutes about conducting yourself in the office! 15 friggin minutes!!! You take every pen in hand, and throw them with all your might. Nailed him!
He turns around again, probably to make some stupid remark, when he runs right past his dad’s office, and down a stairwell. You hear him make a large amount of shrieks and shrills, as any annoying child is prone to do when they’re making a big deal out of some broken bones. Oh wait, this is bad! Now he’s going to tell his dad you made him fall! Unless he broke his mouth. Can you break a mouth? You’re not sure, but you bet that kid just found out.
That’s what an innocent person would do in this situation, right? Plus, if it isn’t broken now, maybe you can find a way to rectify that before he has a chance to talk! You follow the boy’s path past his father’s office and to the top of the stairwell.
It is immediately apparent from the renewed shrieks and obscenities that come as soon as you are in sight that the kid’s mouth is not broken. In fact, he’s probably not very hurt at all; this stairwell is weird and the first flight only has like three steps.
You walk towards little Jimmy, hoping maybe the sight of your intimidating figure advancing towards him will shut him up for a few moments while you think of another plan of action. No such luck; if anything the shrieking just gets worse. How does such a little kid know that many swear words? you wonder for a moment, but then you remember who his father is.
When you get within reach of the kid, you grab him by the arm and pull him to his feet.
“Shut up, kid! Save it for when you’re actually hurt!” you say as he struggles against your grip. You note with satisfaction that even if you couldn’t keep up with the youngster when running, you’re still much stronger than he is.
He squirms and shrieks for a moment, but then he quiets down. His eyes grow big like he’s terrified of something, and a smaller, more genuine-sounding moan escapes from his lips.
“Behind you,” he whispers.
“Yeah, right,” you laugh, “as if I’d fall for that one!”
Jimmy wordlessly pulls against your grip again, this time with such sudden vigor that he at least succeeds in pulling you towards the other end of the landing.
Your oath dies on your lips as you glance up and see what Jimmy was so scared of. Standing at the top of the stairwell is a gigantic bug-thing! Its silhouette fills the doorframe as it stands on two hind legs and waves four arms that end in scythe-like claws in the air. Its shiny black body is spattered in blood—you guess that of your poor dear officemates, given the shreds of cloth that are also sticking to it here and there. It kind of reminds you like a horrible, bipedal cockroach.
You stand there gaping at the impossible creature before you, and would probably continue to do so until the thing gobbled you up with those huge blood-soaked jaws, but as you think you catch a glimpse of another two or three similar creatures coming down the hall, something pulls at you.
Jimmy has now gathered his wits about him enough to have the sense to make for the exit. Since you haven’t thought to let go, the viselike grip you have on his arm is pulling you along, too. Jimmy reaches the other end of the landing, and you shake yourself into awareness just in time to consciously think about not tripping as you dash down the stairs. You can hear the creature behind you, clicking and hissing like that weird music that was coming from the boss’s office when you were chasing Jimmy earlier. It occurs to you as Jimmy leads you down another flight of stairs that the weird music may not have been music after all…
At least I don’t have to worry about being lectured for fifteen minutes! you think.
Down another flight of stairs, and another, and another, you go, never letting go of Jimmy’s arm, always with the clicking and hissing bug-thing right behind. But all too soon, you find yourselves out of stairs! You only work on the third floor, after all.
With nowhere else to go, you shove the door to the lower level open, and you and Jimmy rush inside. Jimmy finds the knob that locks the door from this side, and you hear the beautiful melody of the tumblers sliding into place just half a second before you hear the thunk of the bug-thing running into the door.
Panting for breath, you lead Jimmy down the hall. Nobody works in the basement; it’s just a dimly-lit storage area for janitors’ supplies and extra office stuff. The other stairwell is always locked and the elevator needs a key to get down here, so you should be relatively safe here. But just in case, you take Jimmy into one of the storage rooms, lock the door behind you, then plop down on an abandoned office chair, finally letting go of Jimmy’s arm.
“Now what?” Jimmy asks, rubbing the developing bruise shaped like your thumb.
Now what, indeed…
“Now what?” you repeat back at Jimmy, “Now you stay here and be reeeaaal quiet while I go look for help.” You quickly unlock the door, open it, slip out, and close it behind you before the shocked expression even leaves his face. You quickly but quietly make your way down the hall. If you remember right, there’s a stairway leading to an emergency exit around the corner.
Just after you round the bend, you hear Jimmy start to cry loudly. Man that kid has a set of lungs! Over the bawling, you can just make out the sound of something with a lot of feet heading towards your former hiding place. As you try to get the image of a giant cockroach eating a small child out of you mind, there’s a huge crash, and Jimmy’s cries turn to screams. You peek back around the corner, and see the monsterous insectoid has apparently gotten itself stuck trying to climb through the window in the door. You also see that there’s a fire axe attached to the wall opposite the door. You realize you have two choices.
Finally, the annoying brat isn’t your problem any more. One less thing to worry about is always a good thing. Still, that fire axe might come in handy. While the critter is busy dining on screaming child, you sneak past and grab the axe. You head over to the locked stairwell on the other side of the basement, break the lock, and head up the stairs. You know, you feel surprisingly good. You thought that you’d feel at least a little bit guilty about leaving a kid to die a gruesome death, but nope, nothing. Meh, the days of needing to look after your fellow man are long gone now. In the main foyer, it looks as if the military have arrived to start evacuating the survivors. This probably means that this is a far bigger problem than a simple roach infestation. Hanging with the military sounds pretty cool, but then, you’ve seen all those apocalypse shows, the military is defeated and falls to pieces early on, and small groups of survivors fare a little better in comparison. Maybe you’re better off on your own?
A: Follow the military to the safe zone
B: Go lone wolf and head off in your car
Now, before you get too outraged that we're cold-blooded to let little Jimmy be the main feature from Room Service at the Roach Hotel, here's what would have happened (according to borntobealoser) had we tried to assist the little nipper:
A: Go back and use the axe to try to kill the monster before it eats little Jimmy:
The kid probably deserves what’s coming to him, and you haven’t really got the time to go saving people, you’ve got your own hide to save, after all. But something about “being a good human being” means you have to help the kid, and if you aim for anything in life, it’s being a good human being. Well, a not-bad one, at least. The creepy crawly is distracted by Jimmy, so you’re easily able to get close and grab the fire axe. You raise the weapon high above your head, and with all your might, send it flying down towards the giant bug’s back. With a dull thud, it bounces off of the roach’s tough exoskeleton, and clatters to the floor. Suddenly the bug isn’t trying to squeeze through the window, but has pulled itself out, and has turned its attention on to you. You’re uncertain, but you think you see the equivalent of a smile spread across its face. And with that, you realise you’re screwed. Before you can turn to run, your head is firmly inside its mouth. Your adventure, and your life, end here.
So it was sort of a lose-lose situation however you look at it. Renxin and HerrD had more traditionally "heroic" solutions, but they both resulted in us ending up still with the same choice as last time (save Jimmy or stay put). So I went with the one that gave us more outs.
Your challenge for this week, then, is to write up the results of both of our choices (follow the military to the safe zone or go lone wolf), one of which results in classic CYOA death and the other of which continues the adventure, again offering us two choices.
However, we have the added proviso that this week at least one of your options must include someone or something called "Tankerbell". It could be the name of a vehicle or a weapon, a soldier's last name, or an actual fairy of some sort.
Wow, I loved reading the whole story so far. It felt like it took a while to get from “Jack’s Links” to giant cockroaches, but in reality it only took about a dozen paragraphs when it’s all merged together.
That Tankerbell idea is awesome. I don’t plan on writing outcomes for this one, as I won the last one, but if there aren’t many entries (it seems that not many people can be bothered to join in, which sucks), then I’m more than happy to have a go.
Heck yeah, give it a go! You, Renxin, and HerrD are the stalwarts moving this thing forward week after week, I’d hate to not have yours.
A: Follow the military to the safe zone:
You decide that several dozen highly-trained men with assault rifles are a better bet than one out-of-shape office worker with an axe, and head towards the soldiers. On your way over you notice that they are all wearing some kind of gas masks, and seem to be handling the escapees pretty roughly. You shrug and approach the nearest soldier. “Hey!” you call out, causing him to turn toward you, gun raised. It’s at that moment you realize that a sweating, panting man holding a fire axe and screaming at an armed and obviously stressed soldier probably isn’t a good idea. He doesn’t seem to think so either. The soldier readies his weapon, shouting something about “another infected”, and emties his entire magazine into you. You drop to the floor, your Office Adventure Ending Here…
B: Go lone wolf and head t your car:
You notice that the soldiers seem a little jittery, and that they aren’t being all that careful with the survivors. Did that one just punch Kim from accounting? He did! You decide that a bunch of heavily armed guys who are obviously just as freaked out by whatever’s going on as everyone else might not be the best travelling companions, and quickly duck out a side door. You head towards the employee parking lot, looking around for more monster roaches as you go. Though you can hear all kinds of emergency vehicles and what sounds like a pretty good sized riot starting to break out, the coast seems to be clear. Just as you reach your car, a hand falls onto your shoulder. You scream like a little girl and spin around. Standing in front of you is Bob from market research…you think. It’s definately something wearing the same dumb tie. Bob seems to have grown two extra arms since you last saw him, and he’s definately never been half-covered in black chitin before today. You’re sure of that. As the Bob-thing reaches for you again, you realize you have two choices:
A: Try to fight back against the monster with your trusty axe…
B: Try to get into your car before it can attack you…
A. Decide to go lone ranger.
You see the military guys herding everyone towards the doors, and beyond that a large group of tents which are swarming with a whole bunch of guys in haz-mat suits and other safety gear. As you watch you see the Haz-mat guys scanning the staff with a variety of implements, before directing people towards certain tents. You think to yourself, based on years of horror films and the like that the military are just trying to help the sciency-types round up good specimens. Clearly you don’t want to run the risk of being probed (or whatever it is they’re doing) and quickly head for the fire exit. Surprisingly it is unblocked and you slip out unnoticed. Taking a quick look around you take a few steps into the deserted car lot. A few more steps and you briefly get to wonder why part of your brain is on the pavement ahead when the sharp crack of a rifle echoes down to you.
You fall to the floor, Your Adventure is Over.
B. Side with the military.
You see the military rounding up everyone and evacuating them swiftly, and realizing that you may well be screwed without help you slip into the throng and make your way outside with the rest of the group. As you head over to the tents, a garish graffiti-esque marker on a vehicle catches your eye and you wonder why Karen from reception has ‘Tankerbell’ emblazoned across her Mini. The crowd thins out as you near the tents most heading to what seems to be a rescue center, the others disappearing into the maze of tents. As the Haz-mat guys scan you, they seem to hesitate as their machinery suddenly glows red, making alarming beeping noises. Suddenly you are surrounded by a large group of the soldiers, all of whom have their guns leveled at your face. One orders you to stick out your hands as he holds up a set of handcuffs
Cooperation? Hah! When has that ever worked? You slip away as nonchalantly as you can, and pop out through the fire escape. As you exit into the parking lot you get an odd feeling in your belly. Something you ate isn’t agreeing with you. You cast your mind back to the “Jack’s Links”, and for the first time in years wonder about the wisdom of eating someone. Preoccupied with this, you don’t notice the black, shiny, and most importantly, enormous insect hiding behind your car… Oh dear. Your adventure appears to be over.
Follow the military
Figuring that it’s better to go with safety in numbers of heavily armed guys than to wander around on your own in a city infested with big bugs carrying an axe you’re only vaguely sure of your skill with, you start towards the soldiers.
“Freeze!” someone yells.
Almost instantly there are guns leveled at you. Oh God! Do they know you left Jimmy to die? You weren’t all that concerned when you thought you’d gotten away with it, but oh you know you’re going to get it now! Some part of your brain not frozen by fear dredges up a memory, which lands in front of your mind and falls out through your mouth:
“Angeline?” you gasp, “Is that you?”
Even through all the hastily donned body armor and the bowel twisting sight of an uzi pointed at you, you recognize your hot co-worker. She groans and lowers her weapon, and the others do likewise.
“You know this guy, Tankerbell?” someone asks.
“Ah, hell,” she says, spitting, “As if the roaches weren’t bad enough, now I’ve got to deal with this bug.”
Pretending you didn’t hear that, you sidle into the camp. Angeline “Tankerbell” (you file that one away for future use) confiscates your axe, muttering something about liabilities, and directs you towards a tent where the other survivors are being examined. A small balding man with a white coat and worryingly manic expression waves some strange device around each person before permitting them to pass. When it comes your turn, he stares at the thing for a second before asking, “Did you, uh, eat anything like, say, a banana with a strange growth on it, or some kind of meat product this morning?”
He didn’t ask anyone ahead of you that, which makes you instantly suspicious. Do you:
A: Tell the truth about eating the scary banana and human jerky, or,
B: Lie, lie, and lie to save your skin
Go with the Joes. They could die first; that’s their JOB, right? It looks alright. You kind of deaden your face, pretending to be in shock and walk right into line with three other people from your building. A guy in camo stops you and says “do you think there’s anyone else to save?” You shake your head. He looks at you suspiciously. “They even got my boss’s KID! He couldn’t have been, well, filling he’s — he was too SMALL.” The guy nods, apparently satisfied you’re a person. The woman at the head of the line, on not answering, is asked for her identification. She pulls keys out of her pocket and offers them. The soldiers point guns. She bursts open like in one of those bad movies. BBBANGG! They got her! Unfortunately, they got you too. You fall over, dead of a head wound.
My car’s just over there. You slip away. Military people should be a good diversion for your getaway. You get into your car and have the engine started when you realize that backseat window on the passenger side is broken. A limb whips out from the backseat and pushes the power lock button on the passenger side. Then the owner of that limb, a spider bigger than Jimmy, sits up. It points to itself and says “TANKERBELL” and points at you. Do you A. Tell it your name. B. Scream and try to get out.
A: Follow the military to the safe zone:
The military will provide an excellent distraction for the roaches, so hiding behind the front lines in relative comfort while they die the heroic deaths they’ve been promised seems to be a win-win situation for every one. You shuffle into line with the rest of the survivors, and after a quick frisk and a chemical shower, you end up in the temporary military compound just outside the office building. There’s a huge line of soldiers pointing their guns at the main entrance, their trigger fingers at the ready. As it occurs to you that a few bullets might be enough to stop a giant roach, you feel the ground shake as a huge tank pulls up behind you. You notice a cool looking cow bell hanging off of the main barrel, and a painting of a fairy in a green dress on the side of it. “Thank God, Tankerbell’s here!” you hear a soldier shout, followed by several cheers. This is awesome, you’re pretty sure that Tankerbell is about to blow a huge hole in the side of the building. You sit back, and get ready to watch the fireworks. With an ear-splitting thump, Tankerbell fires a shell, and a huge eruption of flame bursts out of the office building. After a few seconds of silence, a flood of roaches pours out from the new exit. The soldiers start to pump lead into the critters, but it doesn’t seem to slow their advance. It seems like the end is near, but there is still hope! Tankerbell’s driver has jumped out and made a break for the hills, leaving an awesome toy lying around with nobody to play with.
Now comes the decision. Do you:
A: Hop inside Tankerbell and blast those roaches off of the face of the Earth.
B: Make like Tankerbell’s driver, and flee.
B: Go lone wolf and head off in your car:
No thanks, you’d rather the roaches didn’t find you, so hanging around with a bunch of loud thugs just outside their nest doesn’t seem like a good idea. You head off in the opposite direction, and make your way out through the back door. It’s easy enough to find your way to the car park, and get to your car. You pull off, and as you start to plan your next course of action, you hear the clanging of cow bells, and a thunderous rumble. You look through your rear view mirror, and see a monstrous tank charging in your direction. You’re in a narrow street, with no side road to turn into, and the tank can do double your speed, and doesn’t look like it’s about to stop for you. Isn’t it ironic that during a giant roach invasion, that the military is what eventually ends it for you? There’s no time to ponder this, as the tank climbs over you car, crushing you inside. Your life, and you adventure, ends here.