[disinfo ed.’s note: The following is an excerpt from Lost At The Con, new fiction from Big Shiny Robot‘s Bryan Young.]
A political writer for a second rate, online news magazine, Michael Cobb is assigned by his editor to cover a sci-fi and fantasy convention in a bid to humiliate him.
Since Cobb can’t afford to turn down the job, he heads to Georgia and dives head first into the world of Griffin*Con, renowned the world over as the Mardis Gras of geek conventions. In Atlanta he finds a place that takes geeky debauchery to new heights: science fiction and fantasy, cosplay, booze, sex, comic books, drugs, slash fiction, and more.
This scene takes place on Cobb’s first day at the con:
My heart sank, killing the warmth of the drugs. The urge for locomotion finally returned to my legs and I continued my sojourn to the elevator.
That feeling of flying high without a safety net returned as the elevator doors I’d finally reached opened with a sharp DING.
And there before me was a Darth Vader.
He was all in black, save the lights twinkling on his chest plate. He had his laser sword swinging at his side and a boom box straight out of 1985 slung on his shoulder.
Jesus Christ almighty, I was in hell.
Run DMC was blaring, but Vader, with a thick, gloved hand, pressed pause on the tape player ceasing the music. All was silent but for his asthmatic voice, “Party Vader ‘Vater.”
I had no idea what he said, but what else could I do? I stepped into the elevator with this evil, evil man and his entourage, dressed in costumes from half a different film fantasies. Squeezing into the back, I thought I might just zone them out, staring out at the floors below.
As soon as the elevator doors closed, Vader once more resumed his assault on decency, filling the airwaves once more with the mingent sounds of early eighties hip-hop. Then the rest of them joined in on the merriment. It was as though I’d stepped into a cage for a dozen go-go dancers.
We made it up five floors before the doors opened and I wanted to scream out to those getting on, “Run! Flee for your insignificant lives!”
But before I could say a word Vader beat me to the punch. “Party Vader ‘Vater,” he would say, just after stopping the music. I rolled those words back and forth in my head trying to make sense of them to no avail.
The doors closed, he restarted the music and the dance party began all over again.
By the time we finally reached the ninth floor, it was apparent to me that my heart might explode. When the door opened I was clamoring to get out, but there was an entire boarding party of people standing in my way, expecting to get on.
They were all dressed in khaki jumpsuits, each of them had hexagonal white patches with rows of solid black lines embroidered along the inside.
It was a shock to everyone, me most of all, when I shoved the Vader down to his knees, all while I was screaming like a madman. “Get out! Run for your lives! Get out while you still can!”
I made it out and hit the front most khaki clad bastard as with my shoulder as and it was as though I’d struck their ten-pin. They all toppled over, sprawling across the floor.
That’s when my blood ran cold, as though ice was flowing through my veins, stopping me in my tracks.
He was there.
Looking at me, staring at the commotion I’d caused.
Who else but a jet-packed Abraham Lincoln?
He was coming out of a room some thirty feet away and with all of my hollering he had to notice me. His copper-plated goggles whirred into focus, almost certainly narrowing in on me. I wondered if his eyewear contained some sort of heads up display that had targeted me, painting a giant bulls eye on my forehead.
I didn’t have much time to actually count the different ways he could crush me with his augmented hands because I was already on my way back in to the elevator. Clawing my way inside, I prayed that his stovepipe hat wasn’t brimmed with a steel blade, perfect for throwing like a discus and beheading me like some half-assed Bond villain from the sixties.
The Vader turned to me and, in his belabored voice, asked me, “What the fuck?”
Ignoring him, I made my way to the back of the elevator, hurrying my way past the dancers. I went as far as I could and hit a glass wall, looking out over the lobby and turned to see if the steam powered Lincoln was still on my trail.
Lincoln seemed to have forgotten about me. He was using his meaty bionic arms to help up the guys dressed like janitors that I’d knocked over like brick houses in a hurricane.
Our eyes locked, Lincoln’s and mine. This was a battle of titans and I was determined to stay as far away from the battlefield as possible. Our eyes remained fixed until the doors slid shut and the dance party continued upwards.
The rap hits of the eighties began again and the walls shook from the shifting weight of the merrymakers.
The elevator shot upwards.
As I watched the dots on the floor below get smaller and smaller I was left in my own thoughts, considering the ever-expanding nature of the universe. My brain hurt contemplating the idea that telescopes in space could see the edge of the big bang and that seeing light at immense distances was tantamount to time travel. Perceiving the vastness of the universe while rising higher and higher into the upper bowels of the hotel made my head swim.
The intoxicating effects of the MDMA in my system were only exacerbating the ethereal pain throbbing in my head. The people in the lobby below were shrinking, getting smaller and smaller, their lives more and more insignificant. They were just like me. Even though I was moving higher and higher, I was matching their insectoid size, contracting into my own original fetal state. The galaxy was drifting further and further into the far reaches of space and our space telescopes were looking deeper and deeper into the depths of time and I could feel that swirl of emotional discomfort, like that first walk into a strange girl’s bedroom.
And there he was.
There in the void was the head of Lincoln, floating in the ectoplasm of the universe. His mouth opened and consumed my small, floating, infantile form until I was what Vonnegut would call a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness.
And there was blackness.
And then after the blackness, there was nothing.