You’re weightless, floating in a massive space roughly the size of a football stadium. There are some geometric shapes floating here and there, and blue laser beams flying through the air. You try to orient yourself. Okay, you left the last place through the floor, but it seemed like you entered this place through a wall. There’s a bright light at the other end of the chamber. A young boy zips past you and shouts “Hey, the gate to escape is down!” That was actually helpful. You point your feet at the bright light, push off the wall, and drift towards the light. Halfway there, you grab a laser gun that’s floated by. You play around with it and accidentally shoot yourself in the leg. Oops. You feel your muscles freeze up. But it doesn’t matter, because you’re on the right course! You drift through the bright light . . .
The timer on your wrist starts counting down from 60:00, and you begin your journey. Whoa, it’s hot. A filthy man with a cockney accent demands to know what you’re doing here. You shrug and grab a lump of coal off a pile. You notice some items that seem out of place—one of those little metal star-shaped toys with six little knobs, and a red, fragrant, thorny flower. Before you can investigate them, the lights flicker then go out entirely. Water starts flowing in through the walls. Ow ow ow, that is cold! A heavy metal door is now slowly lowering over the only egress. You wade towards it as fast as you can, but you’re not going to be fast enough. The filthy man gets there ahead of you and nobly braces his body in the door frame. He slows it down just long enough for you to dive into the water and swim under . . .
Wherever you are, it is abundantly clear that there is no intercourse allowed. You know this because there are signs. So many signs. Some quite graphic. And they all indicate one thing: no copulation. It’s not as if you were planning to . . . anyhow, it’s a pretty nice place. There are some plush couches and a few metal poles that are almost certainly not load-bearing. Hmm. Against one wall are a bunch of zodiac signs and a series of morbid horoscopes. Oh, but you find a few typos in them, and together they spell “Make it rain.” You’re not sure what that means, but you find a bottle of Dom Perignon, so you shake it up, remove the cork, and spray it all over the room. When it splashes up onto a photo of pumas, the fabric tears, and a key falls to your feet. You pick up the key. It’s all wet, but you remedy that with an object you’ve been carrying for almost 40 minutes. You use the key to unlock the only door, push it open, and exit . . .
You’re soaking wet. It’s very unpleasant. You’re in some kind of massive garden, and pretty much everything seems edible. You’re about taste some tree bark when a strange group of men file in and perform a rhyming song about your misfortune. One of them brings you a towel, and you dry yourself off. You keep the towel. While exploring, you uncover a keyboard inside a hollow stump. As you start experimenting with it, the men sing the overture from a Mozart opera; you think it’s the one about a wedding. You play the tune on the keyboard, and a door swings open. You step through . . .
You’re standing at the beginning of some sort of obstacle course. There’s a glassed-in overhanging control booth, and the interior designer must’ve really loved the letter “X,” because it appears on every surface. This place doesn’t seem to have been designed for an ordinary human. Everything climbable is unreasonably high, and there are massive gaps that require jumping across. And more lasers. Not those tame muscle-stiffening lasers from five locations ago . . . these lasers look like they’d cut clean through you. The walls are pretty beat up; some parts are scorched, others seem frozen solid, and there are criss-crossing claw marks all over the place in groups of three. On the closest wall you notice a sequence of them that you could use as handholds. You nervously climb up, wedging your fingers and shoes into these abrasions. When you reach the top you squeeze your way through a hole in the ceiling . . .
The first thing you notice here is the rug. It’s way more interesting than the carpet in the place you just left. It’s covered in a zigzag pattern of thick lines alternating burgundy and white. The whole place is ringed by curtains, and there are a few black chairs, two lamps, and the Venus de Milo. You’re admiring it when you hear something behind you. There’s a very small man. He claps his hands and says, “Let’s rock!” His words and movements all seem . . . off . . . in a way you can’t identify. There’s a predatory bird in the corner, looking at you curiously. You get the distinct impression it’s not what it seems. You feel something squirming in your pocket that you remember picking up nine locations ago. You release it on the floor, and it heads for the curtains. Just as it gets there, the bird swoops down, catches it in its claws, and crashes into the curtain. In that spot, a shimmering portal appears. You see on your watch that you’re down to your last ten seconds, so you sprint towards it. You pass through. On the other side, you’re greeted by some guy named Bob. He hands you a deerstalker cap and a chalkboard with “00:01” written on it, and leads you to a wall where he takes your picture.
You’re in a totally empty space. You can walk again, but your legs are still pretty sore from what just happened. Before you can explore, a smarmy looking blonde kid wearing black robes busts in, clutching a stick. The space transforms itself into a storage facility, overflowing with towering heaps of junk. For lack of any better ideas, you follow the kid, who occasionally pauses to point his stick at inanimate objects and shout in Latin. He opens a wardrobe, climbs in, and shuts the door behind him. You wait a moment, then yank the door open. He’s gone! You follow his example. When the door opens again, you’re somewhere else . . .
Oh man, this place is just super distressing. There’s, like, torture equipment all over the place. Someone could really get hurt on this stuff. That’s probably why there are so many security cameras on the walls. Nice to know someone’s watching . . .? A rat scurries across the floor. You think he’s cute, so you put him in your pocket. Whoever says rats are the worst thing in the world ought to be shot. One wall is covered in words, including “Thought,” “Slavery,” “Duck,” “Crime,” and many others. On a whim you use something that you picked up two locations ago to connect two of the words-- which also appear in a famous Tolstoy title-- with a crude black mark. A hidden panel pops open, and you hurry out . . .
Ding! You’ve arrived. The door slides open and you step into a metal chamber. It seems to be a movie theater for one person. You take a seat in an uncomfortable leather chair, and a movie begins. It’s not a very good film. Very, very quick cuts, some not-so-inspirational slogans and bible references, the moon, a doll, some stairs, gross looking pasta . . . weird choices. But man, does it have a dope-ass beat. You’re starting to groove out when you hear a whisper say, “We have to go back.” You look around, but there’s no one there. Anyhow, there definitely isn’t enough time left to go all the way back to the start. Well, sick drum solo notwithstanding, it’s time to get out of this creepy place. You find, against a wall, an octagonal bagua carving. You use clues you picked up in the movie to push some hidden switches, and the whole thing swings open. You crawl through . . .
This is the first location where you feel physically comfortable from the start. It’s a nice, oak-panelled study. Two gentlemen wearing white wigs sit at a table. One of them talks really fast. No one else is in here, but through a window you can see a man singing, dancing, and rapping with great urgency. One of the gentlemen suggests that you can solve one problem with another. They gesture to the table, and you take a seat, diametrically opposed to where they’re sitting. There’s a map of the US (with only thirteen states) and an elaborate sliding puzzle that involves moving a piece from New York to Washington, DC. Once you complete the puzzle, you hear a click, and a trapdoor opens in the floor. You climb through . . .
You emerge through a hatch in the floor of an elongated space with blue carpeting. You haven’t seen any live human actors in the last four locations, but this one more than makes up for it. There are a dozen or so men and women in suits (some decorated with medals and ribbons) walking and talking around the table in pairs and trios. They’re yammering so fast you can hardly make out anything they’re saying. Something about . . . the president getting into a bicycle accident? Free college tuition? Someone named Josh being in love with his assistant? There’s a map of the world on one wall, covered in symbols. You connect matching symbols with pushpins and string, and find that the strings all overlap over an island in the middle of the Atlantic. You poke your finger into the map at that spot and find a secret button. As you press the button, the map rises into the ceiling, revealing an opening. You step through . . .
Great, another empty space! Oh, no, wait, there’s a large black predatory cat. He’s baring some nasty-looking fangs at you. Now he’s pacing back and forth and arching his back. Crap. You remember that you’re carrying two things that could be useful in a situation like this. You pick one, pull the trigger, and the cat goes bounding off into the distance, chasing a blue dot. Phew. Okay, now what? You look at your watch, and a little over half of your time has elapsed. There are no walls visible, so you choose a random direction and start walking. Eventually you reach an elevator, just sitting there. Inside, there are two names embossed on the wall . . . is this a law firm? There’s Muzak playing . . . it sounds like a cover of Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues,” but with soul. The elevator buttons are flashing intermittently. You play a game of Simon with them, matching the flashing sequence. After several rounds the buttons all give one final flash, and a previously invisible button lights up. You press it, and the elevator descends through the floor . . .