I laugh quietly, under my breath, as I consider it. It all seems so typical. Some reclusive young inventor accidentally creates a device that sends out mysterious energy waves, and before anyone can react, the entire world population is exposed. The ensuing chaos drives humanity right over the edge, and in a few short years everyone is dead, down to the last human being.
But now, time travelers from the distant future have arrived, to gather a collection of essential people in this cave. The one safe place that will shield us from that mysterious energy. In a just a few hours, the device will be invented, but this time, humanity will survive. Me and my fellow party guests are the key.
Among us is Stephen J. Fry, cartoon character from the show Futurama. It never occurs to me to question the merits of his inclusion in humanity's last hope. Other party guests, though, are suspicious. Insulted, Fry shouts for all to hear, "Oh yeah? Well maybe I'll just walk outside then, and be exposed to the radiation, and then walk back in here! And when I have my baby, he'll have big pointy teeth, like this! And he'll be like, 'Raaaaaaarr!!'"
Fry puts his head down, and butts into another party guest, knocking him against the wall.
As the others grab him, I am overwhelmed again by the sheer absurdity of things. The dangerous energy waves, the ones that destroy all of humanity in one quick stroke, have just one effect. They make every man on earth pregnant. All at once.
Shaking my head, I walk for the bathroom door, but when I open it I see it is occupied by two burly men. One is hurriedly trying to fit a dress over the head of the other. I close the door, preserving their privacy.
Fry has been subdued. To lighten the party atmosphere, some people have set up a television on a shelf. The opening credits reveal the cartoon to be G.I. Joe. As the music plays, the words: "Special guest: Santa Claus" appear, stenciled over a poorly animated Santa in a dirty canyon floor, waving to a few soldiers.
The credits end, and the commercials start. While everyone is waiting, one guest, a balding man holding a drink with an umbrella in it, points to a ragged man in a coarse sweater and says, "Hey, you're the savior, aren't you!"
The ragged man grins, all teeth behind his pointy black beard. A few others notice him, and exclaim. A half dozen people break into polite applause. Apparently the Savior is a famous television actor.
He grins again, and waves his arms for quiet. The party guests obey.
"Okay, okay, I'll tell a joke. Okay, here we go." He begins to pace back and forth, and a space opens up around him in the crowd. "So I was walking down the street, and I see this, like, this guy in a wheelchair. And he's looking all depressed and stuff, like, 'Oh, my life has no meaning,' so I says to myself, 'hey, I better go and help this guy.' Save him, you know? 'Cause I'm, ... like ..."
The crowd joins in, "THE SAVIOR."
"Right, man!" he says. Everyone laughs.
"So I says to him, 'Hey, man! Cheer up! Life could be worse!' And he looks at me, and says, 'Worse? Worse?!'"
The savior pauses for effect. The audience waits, patiently, enjoying a classic routine.
The Savior jerks his arms out and flaps them, thumbs pointing down at the floor. "'Look, man, I AIN'T GOT NO LEGS!!'"
A few people laugh. Most of them just smile. Encouraged, the savior paces back and forth with renewed vigor.
"So, of course, I kicked him in the nuts."
I look over my shoulder, and notice that the television commercials have ended, and the show is on. The Savior notices too, and sits down on the floor, ending his act before the big finish. He knows he can't compete with television.
Inside the show, I'm in a dark metal room, lurking on the edge of a doorway that opens to a landing platform. On one side of the platform are two featureless steel doors set into a cliff wall. If opened, the doors would make a hole large enough to pass an aircraft carrier. Opposite the doors, a huge river streams violently past.
A cheezy electronic rhumba beat starts up, coming from everywhere at once. It sounds to my ears like some kid has pressed the "demo" button on his ten-dollar Casio keyboard. I was expecting this. This is one of the rare "musical" G.I. Joe episodes. I see myself from the courtyard, peeking around my doorframe. A badly animated helicopter drops down from the sky and floats in front of the giant doors in the cliff. After a moment, the doors grind slowly open, revealing a long featureless tunnel into the mountain.
This is my chance. Once the helicopter flies in, I dash from my hideout and zip around the closing doors. A guard in a blue uniform cries out, and comes running at me. When we're at arm's length, he stops, spins on his heel, and we start a conga line. The rhumba beat fills the chamber, and we sing,
"This is the way we boogie,
This is the way we boogie.
This is the way we boogie,
Into the secret base."
At the end of the tunnel, the guard hands me off to a tall dark man in a snow jacket and a beret. "This way," he says, and I follow him down a carpeted hallway. He keeps going, into a homely-looking kitchen, but I turn left, into a dim, wood-paneled living room.
A dozen brawny guys in survivalist gear are relaxing in front of a widescreen television. It's like a Halloween party. I walk around the coffee table and plop down at the end of the couch, next to a man with huge biceps poking out of his spotless blue navy shirt. Thankfully the rhumba beat has stopped. A man with a big silver head walks in, bearing drinks on a tray, and hands me a tall glass of water before sitting down.
No one is talking, because the commercials have just ended. I look up at the television. It's an episode of G.I. Joe. The animated silhouette of a man is cackling dramatically onscreen, his eyes flashing red with seizure-inducing evil.
I sit up and wave my glass around.
"You know, ... I've always wanted to hang out with a bunch of G.I. Joes, and watch G.I. Joe!"
At this, every man in the room roars his approval, shouting "ARRRRR!!!", like jolly pirates. The chorus of yelling goes on for quite a long time, as every one tries to touch their drinks together with everyone else in reach. "HYAAARRR!!! ARR! HOARRRRRG!!" When they finally settle down, I notice the television again.
In the show, an impossibly burly man has just infiltrated the enemy base, dressed in drag. No one seems to notice that he makes a very bony and ham-fisted woman, even the flaming gay man who has been assigned as his hairdresser, to prepare him as a guest in the evil captain's dinner party. Despite his odd appearance, the burly man seems quite content wearing women's clothing. He opens a compact and touches up his lipstick.
"Whoah," I think to myself, "G.I. Joe has gotten weird."
I wake up.