A lab technician just wants to go home from work when he finds himself thrust into an abandoned amusement park where he must find specific documents to save mankind.
“Dana?” I asked as I peered through the open car window to verify the picture of the driver on my rideshare app.
“Yes. Sam?” Dana, the rideshare driver, reciprocated the verification and answered hesitantly.
“Yes,” I responded and stepped into my ride share heading home. I could not wait to get home. I had a long day, turning into night at work, trying to get caught up with all my lab sample processing.
“Nice night,” my driver began conversing as I was distracted by my phone. Looking up, I realized we were not moving in the right direction. “Ah, why have you driven off course?”
Pausing and pumping the gas moving us faster, she responded, “This is the course to your next destination.” I reached for the door handle, the doors locked, the windows blackened, and a screen shot down like a guillotine between front and back seats, trapping me. Stopping seemed inevitable, my blood pressure rising with each turn, looking at my watch, we had only driven fifteen minutes before stopping abruptly.
I sat in anticipation, planning for when the door opened. A slam, pausing silence, then a blinding light shone as my door opened to her silhouette where I found myself being dragged out of the car. “Sam, you must find the hidden box containing documents detrimental for mankind. Here are the supplies you will need. You must go alone. I cannot help you. I will be waiting to pick you up. Any questions?”
“Of course, I have questions! What is this? I’m a lab geek, not a secret agent!” I exclaimed.
“You received an email yesterday. You have the credentials to save mankind once you find the documents. Your work as a lab technician is only a cover for what you can really do. We know about your background in cryptology. You are the decipherer.” Dana instructed.
“Dana, this is a mistake. I did not get any email. You have the wrong man. Some of my education is in cryptology, but this cannot be happening…” I implored.
Dana interrupted, “Sam, you are the only one to save us. You have no choice. We have units watching your father if you refuse. He will not be waiting for you if you walk away. Take this bag, enter the gate, and find those papers in a locked blue case. I’ll be waiting…” Dana responded moving into the car quickly, driving off, and leaving me looking up at the entrance to Hubert’s Hoppy Land, an abandoned amusement park that closed twenty years ago.
I walked through the gate thinking, “How hard can this be to find some case in a defunct park?” I walked past the turn-styles and ticket booth to a large, dust-covered map of the park. Removing twenty years of filth, I studied the map areas and rides: Tree Hollow Lane, Firefly Express, Tadpole Junction, and Lily Pad Kingdom to name a few. Pondering what to do first, I felt a nudge in my brain to look in the bag Dana gave me. It contained a knife, a jar of flies, night goggles, a rope, a park map, a pair of boots with a sticky bottom, and a letter. Unfolding it, the note read:
Find the blue case. Do not assume you are alone. These items will be helpful, but you may only use them once. Upon retrieval, use your cell phone to call this number, only once. Remember, “The prince must kiss several frogs before finding the princess.”
“I guess I’m the prince. How did I end up here? Wait, this must be some type of scavenger hunt game my friends planned! Okay, I guess I’ll play along.” I repacked the bag and moved to a sign pointing in two directions. Logical thinking told me to go left, but I felt a prod to move to the right.
As I arrived at the Firefly Express, a train around the park, the sky went darker. I found an entrance hoping to find a clue in one of the cars. The train moved throwing me back onto a seat. “What the…?!” Quick thinking brought me staggering to my feet moving through the cars looking for an off switch because I noticed the track was out just ahead. Holding onto the seats, swarms of fireflies came through with high beam lights almost blinding me. “Goggles!” I screamed, tearing open my pack and putting them on. I could see! Finding the engineer’s station, I pulled the lever hard to an astounding stop, jerking me back. I ran outside to find myself at the top of the park next to Tree Hollow Lane, a log ride.
From the train, I hopped to one of the logs. Hearing sounds, a giant frog, or costumed man, appeared lunging at me as I began dodging him. He came at me again. I pulled out the knife and stabbed him. He limped away, dragging one webbed-footed leg and me losing the knife. Jumping in the hollowed log, I pushed myself and started gliding down the tube-like path gaining momentum. I looked closer and saw years of debris blocking my way where I would crash. My brain on high alert told me to grab the rope. I launched it around a tree branch, swinging myself to the bank landing with an unharmed thud.
I stood up and saw a pond with tons of lily pads waiting for me to hop from one to the other. The map revealed this was Lily Pad Kingdom. “The sticky-bottomed boots, I must put those on.” Slipping them on quickly and with a running start, landing on the first pad, almost sinking, the boots saving me, I kept on leaping until I found stability seeing the castle in sight. “The case has to be there!”
My hopping seemed endless as dozens of frogs appeared springing toward me. They were covering the lily pads where it would be difficult for me to pass. “Wait, the jar of flies!” I tore open the jar and out they came, frog tongues shooting out like rubber bands catching flies as they sprang off the lily pads chasing them. Leaping to land, I entered the castle to find what appeared as a female frog dressed as a princess sitting on something blue. “I get the message now…kiss her, then I’ll get the case, and probably get the girl. I will still have to decipher the documents. This was tough, but I would save mankind! Who would believe it!” Moving towards her, I puckered my lips, only a whisper between us…dizziness…darkness…
“Oh man, I can’t believe I didn’t see the Frog Wizard giving the princess poisonous breath. Darn it, I was right there about to win! So close! Jeremiah, hit reset,” commanded Tommy.
“Okay, do you think your mom will bring us some more juice boxes?” asked Jeremiah.