"I've never seen anyone so hesitant to run away from a big, juicy, cheesy, greasy burger. Especially someone who looks like a big ol' burger."
A rotund white brown-haired man standing at 5'7" ran on his two feet through a dim-lit near-white beige hallway. He wore a bloodied white shirt and black pants with holes showing at the knees. His black shoes were torn and untied. His blond hair showed signs of balding at the front. Blood from his nose layered his bearded lower jaw. He continued running. His feet went against the grain of the carpet.
The man grunted one octave lower than Middle C.
The man's movement almost faltered and kept going at a risky rate. His legs varied with their motion, looking as if they were wiggling before landing. His arms gave a slight jerk. They shifted bit by bit. His upper body pointed at mid-level. His upper body looked ready to curl. The length of the hallway seemed vast. He heaved. Two dark-suited men with black sunglasses followed with thudding footsteps louder than his own. They were both white men in peak physical shape.
“You’re going to submit, whether you like it or not! Try our new Double Bacon Double Cheese with the Spicy Queso! Fries and drink are only $2.99!” an intercom said. Its voice touched the near end of the speaker's gain, causing it to grate a few times at specific points.
A white door with a golden doorknob stood at the end of the hallway. A sign with the word “Exit” in red font was positioned above the door. The man focused on the door. He pushed faster. His body almost surrendered. However, his legs continued landing. His body leaned and pointed towards the door. As he neared the door, the blue AT&T globe logo appeared on the doorknob.
The intercom laughed and said, "The Big Game plus a Spicy Queso Burger makes for great sensation! Don't kid yourself, Dustin, you can't run away forever!"
Dustin muttered, "Yes, I can."
"That's where you're wrong."
Dustin neared a few feet away from the door. His left foot landed. He was now able to lean as far as he could to grab the knob. The red carpeted floor shattered. He fell, disappearing into the black nothingness.
The intercom laughed. The two men stopped in their tracks. They looked down and faded away.
"Got you now, silly goose!”
The intercom's laughter died down to brief chuckling. Dustin dipped into the abyss. Surrounded by blackness, he waved every limb in different directions.
“No, no, no, no, no!”
The near gray white fluorescent-lit ceiling faded from view. He screamed a few semitones higher than Middle C.
Then, he landed on his bottom. A crack reverberated throughout his body. Dustin closed his eyes and screamed. He opened them a second after. Red sunlight burst into this eyes. Dustin stood in paralytic motionlessness. A crowd in a red, rocky, and fiery environment was in front of him. Various human screams (feminine and masculine) covered every octave and semitone achievable. Winged red monstrosities and deformed mechanical horse humans wearing logos of multiple National Football League teams circled him. The words "State Farm is there" showed up in cloud font before the group covered him. He curled, pulling his hands back to his chest. He coughed.
"Out of my way!” a distorted lower voice said.
The bodies of lifeless monstrosities flew away, dying on force impact on the sharp and pointy terrain. A red muscular horned robotic biological organism broke the crowd surrounding Dustin, pushing every last one of them away.
The organism's face turned to the man. Saliva dripped from its mouth onto the sandy ground. It looked bigger than any of the deformed monstrosities the man had seen so far. It roared.
"Welcome to Hell! It runs on Dunkin’!” said the organism to Dustin in the distorted lower voice.
"You can talk?"
It swiped Dustin's legs.
“Hey! Where are you taking me?"
It moved, dragging him along. He laid looking up at the blue blimp flying across the red sky. It had the word "Goodyear" on the blimp in yellow font. A volcano erupted not too far from it.
The man moved his head to the surface while monstrosities laughed and hollered. He rotated from right to left, looking at every single monstrosity at rapid speed. Each face had some degree of integration with technology. Some were three-fourths covered. Some one-fourth covered. Each one spat on him as the organism dragged him. Dustin shrieked.
“Submit and eat the Carl's Jr. Double Bacon Double Cheese Burger with the new and improved Spicy Queso! Fries and drink cost extra,” another loud voice burst with one semitone below Middle C.
“Get out of my dream!”
The organism walked up a set of stairs. The impact of every single rung on Dustin's body pronounced sharp sounds. The organism threw Dustin's doll-like body onto a flat piece of rock tilted a bit towards the left. Dustin vocalized. Tears rained down his reddened face.
The organism told the man, “You gotta try the new Spicy Queso. It’s that good. That finger-licking good I tell ya what!”
Dustin's face blanked. The organism formed a gigantic fist with its metal right hand. It moved the fist far back from the man to aim at his face.
“Will you get one before the Super Bowl today?”
Dustin shut his mouth and squished his eyebrows.
“Enough with these damn advertisements! I am going to make a change today, and I'm going to be an individual! I'm not going to die serving this damn machine anymore!”
“Too bad Dustin.”
The organism moved its fist to the tip of the man's nose. His nose flattened, submitting to the high-temperature metal. Then, his face touched the metal. Tiny cracks came out followed by an overflow of blood.
Dustin opened his eyes. He screamed for five seconds and breathed shallow breaths in quarter notes after.
He curled inside a jean quilt on a queen-sized mattress. The quilt covered everything but his legs. His head neared the end of the pillow touching the headboard. A monolithic black heater stood not too far from his bed. Its temperature at 22 degrees. The heater spun at 180 degrees. The top of his nightstand had various crunched receipt papers, CLIF bar wrappers, and a smartphone on top of them. The sunlight came into his room through pronounced lines produced by his blinders. The lines contrasted with the dark of his bedroom.
Dustin’s face expanded as beads of sweat dripped down his face.
He screamed. His breathing repeated, with each one dipping shallower than the last.
Using his left arm, Dustin flipped his body upward. His chest pointed to the veiny textured white ceiling. He gripped the mattress sheet. He clenched his jaw. After a few seconds, the man opened his mouth and exhaled.
"Good god. What a dream."
He pulled the smartphone from the top of his nightstand and clicked its power button. He positioned the phone into view, letting the screen's light coat his face.
"What is the time, Siri?"
"10:42 PM. February 6th, 2084," The phone told him.
His stomach growled. Dustin laughed.
"Siri, I need some Carl's Jr. Can you make an order to arrive before the big game?"
"Sure thing. What do you want?"
"Three or four Double Bacon Double Cheese with the Spicy Queso. Express delivery."
"Three or four? Be specific, Dustin."
Dustin scratched his head.
"Four. I want four Spicy Queso burgers."
"Noted. Four Double Bacon Double Cheese with Spicy Queso Sauce Burgers with Express Delivery. Do you want fries and drink with those?"
Dustin put the smartphone back on the nightstand. He re-positioned himself and threw the jean quilt back. His body pointed upright. He landed his feet on the beige carpet. Dustin departed from the bed. He wore a t-shirt and no pajama pants. His legs were hairy, with some hairs longer than the average male at his age. The light from the blinders layered the semi-monotoned texture of his back. He walked to the drawer diagonal from his bed. He pulled the drawer out and swiped a folded pair of pants. The drawer pushed shut. He walked to the heater and pressed a button on top of it. It turned off. He walked to the edge of the bed and sat down. The pants slid on. He buttoned them up. He took off his shirt and threw it from behind into the laundry basket placed to the left of the bed. A forest of hair covered his body.
"No, I'd like two six-packs of Heineken with that. Oh, one more thing, Siri."
"Can you order me some Dunkin' Donuts as well?"
"What type of donuts would you like?"
"Twelve Boston Cream's with the chocolate icing on top. Make sure it's Express delivery too."
"Add them to the Carl's and the Heinekens?"
"You mean yes?"
7:30 PM. Ten tall Heineken cans. A few Carl Jr. burger wrappers. An open Dunkin' Donuts box with only one Boston Cream donut left. An empty bag of Lays ketchup chips.
These were among the many things strewn across the floor of another room in Dustin's home. Dustin sprawled all over the couch, snoring while the eleventh Heineken dripped all over his upper body. Ketchup chips crushed to bits between the manufactured crevices of his body and the leather love-seat couch.
The television displayed a different story.
Dark green and white clad football players passed the trophy around. The coverage switched to a man appearing to be in his mid-40's and a well-postured older man. Their faces widened and reddened and poured tears. The second tallest player handed a silver trophy to the well postured older man.
"The Vaynerchuk family are exuding pure joy tonight, I tell you. It's been 61 years since the Jets breaking their drought over the Seahawks in Super Bowl LVII. 61! They've been reshaping the team for the last three years, and it's been the biggest ride for them, injuries and all. This has been the 15th Super Bowl for the Jets, and the 14th since Gary Vaynerchuk bought the Jets in 2020 and turned them into a legitimate football dynasty during the 2020s."
"Oh man, the Jets have been engaging to watch over this last season. You wouldn't believe the number of injuries they've had to sustain."
The coverage transitioned to a brown-haired bearded athletic, tall white male wiping the tears from his eyes with his arms.
"The Jets played Garrett Voakes, a backup quarterback with little experience, play in Casey Nash's absence after his career-ending injury in the AFC Semi-Final against the New England Patriots."
"This has been the best night for Voakes."
"Absolutely. Voakes performed well in the best Super Bowl game ever! This game started tense from start to finish."
"Also, the Pepsi Co Halftime Show performance from the same replicated Bruno Mars hologram the NFL has used for the last 42 years definitely got the crowd going tonight."
"It had me moving with joy!"
"And it's with that joy we end the broadcast of Super Bowl CXVII."
Bombastic orchestral music entered in.
"The New York Jets were the underdogs tonight. Now they come out with a 14-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Century Link Field. The closest game in Super Bowl history. Thank you so much for watching. Have an excellent night, everyone."
The camera coverage switched to players clad in silver and blue hanging their heads in shame. The game's score popped up onto the screen.
New York Jets - 14. Dallas Cowboys - 13.
The camera coverage turned to two Jets players dumping Gatorade over a man who appeared to be in his late fifties. The man clenched his fists and raised his hands. He screamed. The screen faded.
D u s t i n j o l t e d .