To leap or lounge?

The people have spoken, and we have decided to turn down the beguiling high-tech Utopian fantasy offered by our long-skulled yet cowardly "allies" in favor of continuing our journey to cloud-shrouded, devastated Earth!

Earth may not be like it was, but it's your home. You wonder how far into the future you've journeyed. A thousand years? A million years?

A screen lights up. You're determined to see what happened to it, so you order the computer to stay on course. Moments later, retrorockets fire to brake the descent.

Oxygen content: 4.3%. Supplementary oxygen-generating helmet must be worn at all times. Radioactivity level: 6. Radiation-resistant coat and helmet cover must be worn except in protected zones. Basic gene grain bits are available. This is the only edible food. Ingest 1,800 milligrams of vitagranules-anti-toxicant formula mark 8744369-5 -- with each gram of gene bits. All water must be demulsified and de-acidified in puroscan.

You have hardly finished reading these words when you feel an abrupt deceleration followed by a slight jolt. Your craft has made an amazingly smooth landing.

Through the window you see an endless landscape of rocks and boulders, the sort you might find in a dried-up riverbed. So this is Earth.

You only hope it's not all like this.

You put on the oxygen-generating helmet and your radiation-resistant coat and helmet, open the hatch, and step outside. Your computer said that food is available, but everywhere you look, you see nothing but barren, rust-colored rocks and dirt. It's the most forlorn landscape you've ever seen.

Hey, we landed in Phoenix! I kid, I kid.

There's no way of knowing which way to walk.

Before you can think about it, a strange-looking machine zooms in and hovers over you. You watch with fascination as wire arms descend and begin enfolding your spacecraft like a spider capturing a fly.

[polldaddy poll="4569982"]

What'll it be, intrepid explorers? Stand by and spectate, or leap in and participate? Each path has potential dangers and benefits. However, I believe our only food source is on the ship, no? That might make this decision REAL easy ...

(Text and images ©1985, 2010 by Edward Packard.)

9 Responses to To leap or lounge?

  1. Bael says:

    Maybe this is me just my D&D training coming in to play, but nobody takes my stuff without a fight.

  2. X-stacy says:

    Well, but is the spaceship armed? Getting back inside while it’s being wrapped up might not be the best idea if it’s not. I guess we could maybe fire up the engines, anyway.

  3. Brad says:

    Hrm. This is a toughie. And no majority ruling yet.

    This is why I kept multiple bookmarks handy for this sort of thing, so I could number off the last choice I made and pick up from where I left off if things got dire.

  4. Did we land on earth or in a Claw Machine?

  5. dm3588 says:

    Jump back in. If we go back inside, the claw machine will probably carry the ship back to its headquarters and we’ll meet someone and make friends and be happy. And then they’ll recruit us into the Resistance and we’ll be the ones to come up with the strategy that finally gives the Resistance the edge it needs to overthrow the robot overlords and we’ll be heroes and our names will go down in history and they’ll sing folk songs about us a thousand years in the future. Whereas if we stay outside and let them make off with our ship, we’ll be left behind and get lost and die of exposure, hungry and alone and completely forgotten, and our bodies will be eaten by rats and the Resistance will be destroyed and their bodies will be eaten by rats and the robot overlords will rule uncontested for a thousand years until finally the rats become intelligent and they find a way to overthrow the robot overlords and then they move into Thorn Valley where Timmy’s brother goes insane and turns into Eric Idle, but then Donkey Kong kills his girlfriend, so he grows a second head and becomes a dragon who can’t sing and God bless insomnia.

  6. spidercow2010 says:

    Jeez, dm3588, at least write SPOILER ALERT across the top.

  7. spidercow2010 says:

    But dm3588’s comment made me realize that I voted ALL WRONG. I was thinking–if I thought at all–that “Jump back into your spacecraft” meant “Get the hell out of there,” and I didn’t wanna run, so I voted the other way. But as dm quite rightly pointed out, being outside the ship just means losing the ship. “Jump back into your spacecraft” means come in from the arid hellhole. So if “Stay where you are” wins, knock off a vote.

  8. Brad says:

    Good point, Cowperson of the arachnid persuasion. I think it’s time to jump in and hold on to what we’ve got.

  9. Dan Gonzalez says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that we’re wearing TWO helmets?