Do not read this story straight through from beginning to end! In fact, if you haven't already read "Lock and Load!" ( right here) , don't even read this at all! It's part of the Mercury's Choose Your Own Adventure story, you see, and the adventure begins there, not here! Once you've read "Lock and Load," your adventure can continue below...
Smitty leads you past the booths and into a hidden, secret hallway. Rats scurry about your feet and fetid water drips upon your brow. As your footsteps echo through the dank hallway, you hear the sounds of the Expo Center recede behind you—the bustle of the NRA nuts and the meowing of the nearby cat show contestants fades, until all you can hear are your footsteps and Smitty's labored, phlegmatic wheezing. Suddenly, Smitty stops, abruptly pushing you into the wall. He pushes his pasty, bestubbled face near yours.
"A TYRANNOSAUR BIT MY ARM OFF!" shouts Smitty at you. "WHEN I WAS TRYING TO SAVE FANG!"
"Uh... who's Fang?" you ask, scared by Smitty's sudden increase in volume.
"Fang's my saber-toothed tiger, you nitwit!" Smitty steps aside to reveal a large cage that, somehow, you didn't notice before. (Weird.) Inside, a massive saber-toothed tiger lies—breathing in shallow gasps, staring warily at you as its double-edged, blood-drenched fangs glint under the hallway's flickering florescent lights.
"Uh, would you look at that," you reply, as your eyes try to locate an exit. "Say, look at the time! I need to get back to the gun show. Er, no, I mean, the cat show. I don't know. Whatever. I have to leav—"
"Horsefeathers and rapscallions!" Smitty shouts, his clawed arm spazzing around your shoulder. "You've got to travel back to the prehistoric age to save Fang!" He takes a deep breath before his eyes widen again. "YOU'VE GOT TO SAVE FANG!"
"Wha—" you start to ask. You stop when you notice a single tear rolling down Smitty's filthy left cheek.
"All those delightful kitties at the cat show are descended from Fang!" Smitty says, his eyes rolling in their sockets and his hooks trembling with raw emotion. "If Fang dies, I'll never have had the chance to catch him on my time-traveling hunting trip. You see, because I used to be a veterinarian, I noticed that Fang had a defective heart valve, and so I tried to save him, but the aliens... the aliens... the... that gun? I need you to get Fang a new heart! The kitties!"
• If you don't understand any of this, and are pretty sure this whole "Choose Your Own Adventure" idea is a piss-poor one, click here.
• If you would like to hear Smitty out and see where he's going with all of this, then keep reading...
"I'd like to hear you out, and see where you're going with all of this!" you tell Smitty. A glint in his eye tells you that you've chosen quite an adventure!
"Okay, I'm a time traveler," Smitty says. "I have Fang from a hunting expedition. He's the great granddaddy of all modern cats—even Garfield! Anyway, he needs a new heart or he's going to die. I need you to travel back and get me a new saber-toothed tiger heart—why, I'll even let you take this sweet-ass gun I got from the future!"
He holds up the shiny, metallic, pulsating gun. You stare at it fondly. It is a sweet-ass gun. You notice a button labeled "return" on the side.
"That must return me to my time," you think.
"Once I have the heart," he says, "I can perform a heart transplant. Because I used to be a veterinarian!"
"First: You used to be a veterinarian. Got it. Second: This makes no sense," you point out. "If there's already another saber-toothed tiger in the past, then doesn't Newton's Fourth Corollary of Chronological Paradox dictate tha—"
"ARE YOU GOING TO HELP ME OR NOT?!" Smitty shouts. "Listen, you have two choices—step through this MAGICAL TIME PORTAL... or go home and cry like a little baby! What's it going to be?"
You watch as Smitty turns and grandly gestures to the bathroom door.
"That's the door to the bathroom," you point out.
"Not that door, fucktard!" Smitty says. "That one." Just to the left of the bathroom door, you see a beaming, swirling spiral of purple and green energy.
• If you don't want to help Smitty—and would rather, say, go do a bump of coke in that bathroom over there— click here.
• If you aren't a coke-snorting sissy, and you want to help Smitty save Fang, jump into the portal and keep reading...
Once in the portal, the shimmering, shiny visage of Mayor Tom Potter appears. He yawns.
"I'm sweepy!" he says, rubbing his eyes. "So sweepy! Oh, why hello, adventurer! I assume you're here to help my friend Smitty?"
"Indeed I am!" you declare. "I need to find a saber-toothed tiger heart, or something. I don't know. I wasn't really listening, and I think Smitty's pretty drunk. But yeah. I'm here to help, or whatever."
"Grand! You can choose three different ways to begin your adventure," Mayor Tom Potter proclaims. "FIRST! You can try returning to the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth!"
"That sounds logical," you reply. "I'll do tha—"
"HORSEFEATHERS AND RAPSCALLIONS!" thunders Mayor Tom Potter. "THOU SHALT LISTEN TO THINE OTHER OPTIONS!"
"Oh... uh... okay," you say. "Sorry."
"You are forgiven. SECOND! You may also travel to the scintillating artistic renaissance of 1960s Japan, where a Butoh dancer might be able to help you!"
"But what does 1960s Japan have to do with a saber-too—"
"All right, all right," you offer meekly.
"And finally, the greatest choice of all!" Mayor Tom Potter shouts. "THIRDLY! You can go visit your girlfriend—she's working on top-secret technological advancements, in the shadowy glades of Laurelhurst Park!"
"My girlfriend?" you ask. "Why, this adventure I've chosen is getting weirder and weirder!"
"SILENCE! CHOOSE THINE OWN ADVENTURE!"
• If you want to return to when dinosaurs ruled the earth, click here.
• If you want to travel to 1960s Japan, click here.
• If you want to see your girlfriend in Laurelhurst Park, click here.