The Kilroy All-Star Christmas Spectacular: The Best Christmas Chapter Ever
I don't like this at all.
The N'jilarian nectar has sucked me deep within my own subconscious. which, looks like those kitchens from a 1980s sitcom. I'm sitting at a round wooden kitchen table, an open algebra book laying open in front of me. Mom stands at the stove cooking something. Tony leans against an island counter in the center of the room eating from a bag of cheese balls. Across from me sits my dad, Simon Tybalt, sipping a cup of coffee.
"What the hell is going on here?" I ask and a canned studio audience laugh track reacts. "What's going on?"
'You're in your subconscious," Tony says, his mouth full of snacks. The audience laughs and frankly I don't get why that's funny.
"Why? Why are you here? Mom? Dad?"
Dad explains. "N'jilarian nectar summons a version of the three people who you need to talk to the most into an alternate reality for a moment so that you can deal with your shit."
More laughter, thus solidifying that as a pattern for all this.
'I'm making your favorite, honey," Mom says. "Cheeseburger macaroni."
"I'm not hungry. I'm confused."
"We are the three people you are most connected to," Dad says. "The nectar brings us to you so that we can help you deal with your pain."
I think for a moment. The canned studio audience murmurs and gasps. I guess they weren't expecting that. I was. The nanotech in my brain told me this was going to happen. It's why N'jilarian nectar is not allowed outside the No Trade Zone because it messes with your psyche. The nectar burrows deep inside your essence, finds your deepest hurt, and connects you to the three people that can most help you with it. Good times.
"I don't want to do this," I say. "I need to get out of here and fight Herpezoids."
"Time has stopped outside of here," Mom says.
"I wonder what deep pain I am having to deal with," Tony says. "I mean, we're manifestations. Our actual selves are going through this exact experience right now."
"Not mine," Dad says. "My actual self is dead."
A roar of laughter from the studio audience.
"That's not funny!" I pound the table and stand and yell out at the unseen crowd in the darkness. "Shut the hell up!"
A lump of emotion lodges in my throat and tears blur my vision. Losing my dad so soon after finally meeting him cut me to the core. I grew up not knowing who he was because Mom hid that information from me. She said it was for my own good, to protect me from the bizarre world of Corporate, Herpezoids, and portals.
"I barely got to know you!" I say to Dad. "Then you died. Sure, it was an epic, heroic death, but that's not the point. You were gone. You left me and left me with this thing in my head and a million questions and..."
I catch myself. So many words I want to say, but my emotion is suppressing them. I swallow hard and plow ahead.
"And you left me with this hole in my heart and life and I don't know how I'm supposed to fill it. I almost wish I hadn't met you that way I wouldn't miss you the way I do now."
"Your father loved you," Mom says. "Still loves you."
"And you!" I turn on her. "You didn't tell me who my dad was and that really pisses me off!"
"I know." She cups my face in her hands and I melt. "And maybe I should have, but I was young and scared. Just like you are now. I just wanted to do the right thing for you and for us."
"She did the right thing," Dad says. "The only thing she could do."
Mom pulls me into her and I sob and, God, does this shit suck so hard. I compose myself and pull away and turn to Tony.
"Why are you here?" I ask him. "You hear to help me with my daddy issues?"
"Nope." He munches on a cheese ball and sips from a glass of green Kwench-Aid that wasn't there earlier.
"Then why? Do I have pain related to you?"
"No." His voice is different now. Sadder. Flatter. "I'm here because of Leigh Ann."
"Leigh Ann breaking up with me hurt. Still hurts. Worse than I ever thought it could. So why isn't she here?"
Tony closes the bag of cheese balls, sips his green Kwench-Aid again, and sighs. He won't look at me, choosing a spot on the inky black floor of this bizarre sound stage kitchen.
"Leigh Ann isn't here because the N'jilarian nectar couldn't connect with her."
"Because she doesn't want to be found." Now, he looks at me. "Not by you."
I didn't think I had any tears left, but I was wrong.
"She doesn't want to talk to me or see me, does she?"
"I'm sorry, man." He puts his hands on my shoulders and squeezes. "I really am."
"I get it. I did that. It's my fault. I have to accept that I am not what she needs right now. Or maybe ever. I suck."
The studio audience rolls with laughter and I'm a little offended by that.
"I love you all," I say to my parents and my friend and they come in for a group hug. I know it's not really them, but they feel real enough to matter. But, I have to get out of here. I can't let the N'jilarian nectar keep me here living this pain loop or I will go nuts.
"Dad? How do I get out of here? How long does the nectar effect me?"
"It only wears off when you think of things that bring you joy."
"Count my blessings?" I scoff. "My only way out of an emotional prison created deep into my subconscious by an alternate reality-inducing booze is to count my blessings?"
The studio audience laughs and laughs and laughs.
I'm so glad my suffering can bring so much joy to an imaginary studio audience.
To be continued...