The Choose Your Own Adventure series was my favorite as a kitten. I read and reread Journey Under the Sea and The Abominable Snowman, hoping each time that this time, finally, I would escape death.
Of course I never did, and perhaps this affected my development. Perhaps the Choose Your Own Adventure series perverted me. Would I have been a different cat if I had not read them? Maybe. Perhaps I would now be one of those happy kitties you see gracing calenders demanding "cheezburgers." Maybe not. We cannot know for sure how greatly we are affected by that which surrounds us as we grow, and how much is coded in our genes.
As a tribute to these influential books, I would like to invite you to participate in my own Choose Your Own Badventure. I use the word "Badventure" instead; perhaps you know why? I apologize for this nostalgia. It was prompted by a dream I had, that I do not remember, from which I awoke weeping.
Luco de la Cabeza Grande's Choose Your Own Badventure
You are in a bathroom. You find yourself overcome with a sense of impending doom. Your heart is like a rock rolling around in your chest. You feel untethered, as though there is nothing keeping you from floating through the ceiling, past the atmosphere, into the depths of space.
If you choose to remain in the bathroom, go to panel III. If you leave, go to panel II. If you cannot make a decision, go to panel IV.
Upon leaving the bathroom, you are confronted with Mingus trapped in a gigantic purse, cleaning his paw, snuggled in a golden jacket. What you do not immediately realize is that Mingus has the power of Medusa.
You are turned to stone.
This is a painful death because you feel your body changing, and although it takes only moments, it feels as though it takes entire lifetimes for your blood to slow, running sluggish from your heart to your brain. You feel your veins hardening, filling with rock. Your saliva turns to cement. Your last thought as you gaze into his evil eyes? "He is sooooo adorable!"
You stay in the bathroom for another moment, allowing the anxiety to pass. You feel your body relax. This is due in part to the fact that poisonous gas is being pumped into the room by the evil prison guard. It is becoming more and more difficult to breathe.
If you remain in the bathroom, go to panel V. If you leave, go to panel VI. If you still cannot decide what to do, go to panel IV.
Your inability to make a decision causes you to become more and more anxious. The poisonous gas being pumped into the room does not affect you, but slowly you become aware that something is wrong. Your eyesight seems to flicker. You feel as though you are in many places at once.
And then for no reason your body begins dissolving into myriad pieces of blood and bone - you are melting like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. Perhaps this is a consequence of some evil you did not realize you were committing. Perhaps you suddenly developed an allergy to oxygen. Perhaps god has become angry with you. It is no matter (you remember the truism: life is absurd).
Your heart is the last to burst in fleeting fireworks of red and black.
Your decision to remain in the bathroom was ridiculous! The room is filling with poisonous gas, why would you remain? Do you see the skull over there by the clock radio? That is your skull, fool, because the poisonous gas is poisonous, and you died.
If, however, you had a straw in your pocket and you used it to filter the air, please proceed to panel VII.
You run out of the bathroom, through the hallway, and to the safety of the Outside. Passing through that back door, however, causes a horrible metamorphosis; you become the dog.
You feel every piece of fur like a torment. You itch all over. You have an urge to eat your own feces. This fills you with an overwhelming revulsion. Shaking, you stare with wonder into the expanse of a cloudless sky.
If you begin to weep, go to panel VIII. If you do nothing, go to panel IX. If you lose all hope, go to panel X.
Liar! There is no possibility you had the foresight to bring a straw with you on this badventure! Those bloody hand prints are yours, reader, from when you reached for me to help you and I did not because I cannot help a liar escape her damnation. It would be unethical.
After your lie about the straw, you began to feel a trembling rush over your body. The poisonous gas causes you to bleed from every pore. It is a disgusting death, reader, and very painful.
You will continue to weep until you die, although you do have the small consolation of being allowed Outside. Unfortunately, being an insatiable dog, you eat all the dirt and the grass and the trees and the weeds in the backyard, and your body expands and expands until you burst, dog parts flying through the air. It is an uncomfortable death, but you do have the satisfaction of having eaten the backyard. Before you die, you are quite proud of this.
You do nothing. Nothing happens.
You continue doing nothing. You lie in the sun. Nothing happens.
It grows hotter and hotter. You do nothing. Your fur absorbs the heat. You do not even turn your head.
The sun sets and still you remain motionless. It rises again. Clouds fill the sky. It begins to rain.
You do not move although rain pelts you. Then it begins hailing. One fist sized piece of ice hits you between the eyes. It does not hurt. You die.
I have also lost all hope. Please proceed to the next panel.
We die alone together - never having understood one another.