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February 28, 2011 / milesandhisfavorites

Project Labyrinth Part One

It’s hard out here for a nerd.  Living on this planet we call Earth for the past eleven years really gives you another view on things.  For example, if you’re a waste case with all As, getting chased by bullies through cliques of girly-girls and herds of goths counts as your physical education.  And with all of the spitballs I’ve learned to dodge, I could join the military.  In fact, I’ve started my own clique called the Epsilonians, exclusively for nerds with IQs over 130.  And we were planning revenge on all of the popular cheerleaders and quarterbacks.  It was time for the nerds to have their fifteen minutes.

Ding-dong!  The doorbell rang, and I got to it before my snooty cheerleader sister, Charlene.  Standing before me was one of the nerdiest nerds on the East Coast-Gerald Meizenheimer.  He had glasses that looked like they were constructed entirely of tape and glass.  His nose had turned a shade of green from all of the snot that was clogged inside it.  His clothes were so awful, you could practically hear them clashing, and the top of his head had turned white with underwear dye from so many atomic wedgies.  “Well?” I asked him.  “Well,” he said in a voice that was half human, half pig.  “Stage One is nearly complete.  Eugene and Mildred have completed the graphics, and are currently coding it.  Meanwhile, Team Stage Two is working out a map of the Labyrinth.  We are close to our goal.”

Project Labyrinth was going to be the final battle of the metaphorical nerd vs populars war.  It was laid out in two stages.  Stage One was to create a sports/cheerleading computer game with amazing graphics and addicting gameplay.  We would insert a miniature USB into each school computer, and once the populars discovered that the game was free for download on only the school computers, they would rush to get it.  Stage Two was the trap.  After the populars were accustomed to the game, we would initiate the Labyrinth itself.  The Labyrinth was a vast virtual terrain filled with bottomless pits, lava-spewing volcanoes, and monstrous creatures.  The sports avatars themselves would be defenseless, and the Labyrinth was programmed to stay onscreen until a player could defeat it.  Then, the entire Labyrinth would be sucked into Limbo, a program we created that was, essentially, an endless white space.  Once Labyrinth and Limbo collided, the two would vanish from the computers forever.  It was perfect.

After another week, Stage One was finally complete.  Football Battleground was a virtual simulation game of football.  The football avatars had to navigate the field using the arrow keys, using the keyboard to win the game.  The flip side, Cheerleading Mania, was essentially Guitar Hero for cheerleaders-hit the right keys at the right time to score the right moves.  On the first day we released it, there were fifteen downloads.  By the end of the week, another fifty-five people were playing the game.  It turned into an instant popularity contest, and we kept people playing using Drakon.  Drakon was a virtual alias for Gregory Nighter, a nerd/sports fan.  He played both games, keeping the scores high and everybody kept getting more and more competitive.  Finally, a month after FB and CM had debuted, we prepared to initiate Stage Two.

At nine in the morning, free period in the computer lab, I prepared myself.  I was to become the king of the Labyrinth, Knightfall.  Knightfall was an all-powerful deity represented in the form of an imp made out of shadow.  He had spies all over the Labyrinth called the Traggers, who looked like small jellyfish made out of lava and could fly anywhere in Knightfall’s domain.  He also commanded an army of monsters who could terrorize any avatar at any time.  I logged onto the Epsilonian file.  Everyone knew what it was and decided it was just some nerd thing, role playing or stuff like that.  I clicked on EverMaze, our codename for the Labyrinth, and became Knightfall.  Like everyone who would first arrive at the Labyrinth, the shadowy imp appeared in a lovely meadow, brimming with wildflowers and humming with cute little bumblebees.  But if one walked to the edge of the meadow, one would see that it was part of a chain of three lovely chunks of land floating above a torn landscape.  It was tough, cracked soil as far as the eye could see.  A river of hot, steaming lava flowed off into the distance.  Other than that, there was absolutely nothing on the landscape.  If I were a popular, I wouldn’t move.  But we had programmed the cute bumblebees to become a swarm of evil bumblebees and force you off of the island to the underworld below.  If you survived the fall, which was unlikely, you would still have to navigate the area and defeat the Labyrinth, which was practically impossible.  And then there was me.

Being the king of the Labyrinth, I had the power to teleport to my palace, which resembled a Mayan temple, only it was made of obsidian and rubies, representing black and red, the colors of evil.  I opened an IM browser.  Around this time, all of the Epsilonians would be logging on, turning into digital monsters.  I began to type into the browser:

Knightfall: Drakon!

Drakon, who in the Labyrinth was a gold-skinned dragon as long as a bus, flew into the palace.

Drakon: Yes, Lord Knightfall?

Knightfall: Summon… the Inners.

Drakon: It is time, Lord Knightfall?

Knightfall: Yes, Drakon.  It is time.

The Inners were the inner circle of the Epsilonians.  You see, all nerds in the school were Epsilonians, which accounted for about two hundred and fifty kids.  But only a select ten, other than me, were in the inner circle.  They had the biggest hand in Project Labyrinth, which meant that they also were some of the most major monsters in the Labyrinth, next to me and Drakon.  I waited a couple of minutes, and then the Inners entered.  Each one looked like a gila monster, only they were ten feet long and could breathe purple flames.  Griphold, who was really Gerald Meizenheimer, stepped forward and began to type.

Griphold: So it is time?

Knightfall: Yes, it is.  You and Gigante-

I took a step towards Gigante, who was a little bigger than the others.

Knightfall: -go to the Data Swamp and prepare the reconnection.  Thunderion, I want you to go to Puebcave Canyon and rig the Outway trap.  Seyverus, assemble the rest of the monsters.  Tell them to stay in the village until further notice.

The village was a rustic city that stretched for about a square mile.  At one end was my palace.  The Inners, when not ordering other monsters around or supervising the construction of cruel traps, lived there.  All other monsters take up at least temporary residence in there.  Griphold, Gigante, Thunderion and Seyverus ran out of the palace to do their duties.  Meanwhile, me and the other six Inners walked into the map room.  It was gigantic, and the walls were covered with maps of the Labyrinth.  Tiny pictures of the various Inners and monsters moved across the maps.  After waiting ten minutes, the Inners returned to the palace and the terrifying monsters were all in the village.  I went to my secret chamber, a small room with a single hologram displaying a hovering green buckyball that represented the Labyrinth.  A screen filled with various codes and geometric formations appeared, as well as a small keyboard.  I typed in the password, TAPEEYES, and then tapped a single word that appeared: Initiate.  Immediately, fourteen computer screens, playing FB or CM, transformed into the meadow landscape that I had arrived in, only the avatars were muscular football players or blonde cheerleaders instead of shadowy imps.  There was silence for a few moments, and then a single guy walked to the edge of the meadow, looking at the landscape below.  His eyes widened, and he just stood there.  Suddenly, there was a loud buzzing noise, and the avatar was suddenly engulfed in a black swarm of bumblebees.  When they flew away, all that was left was a stick figure made out of white binary code.  The digital skeleton crumpled to the ground, and fizzled away into nothingness.  That computer was now useless, as once an avatar had been digitized, there was no turning back.  Everyone started jumping over the edge.  Only three survived, and they immediately started moving.  Project Labyrinth had been successful-so far.

Meanwhile, I walked into the village square and summoned a meeting of the forces.  I opened the IM browser and started to type.

Knightfall: Okay, Project Labyrinth has been initiated.  Monkine, how many have survived so far?

Monkine, who looked like a rabid baboon with a scorpion tail, and who had made the international math finals and won, spoke up.

Monkine: Well, Lord Knightfall, out of the one hundred and fifty avatars sucked into the Labyrinth, one hundred and twenty five survived the fall.  All are currently roaming the Labyrinth.

Knightfall: Thank you, Monkine.  Now, Panlute, I want you and your horde to lead the first attack.  According to the maps, a group of twenty or so avatars have joined forces and are currently marching through Dead Man’s Thicket.  Intercept them and destroy as many as possible.

Panlute and his four soldiers, all of whom were lizard men with vampire fangs, whooped and cheered, and set out for Dead Man’s Thicket, a dense forest of dead trees, some of which were man-eaters.  I noticed that all three people in the computer lab were part of the team marching through the forest.  Suddenly, Panlute and his gang descended from the trees.  All three players screamed with horror as their fellow avatars were digitized before their very eyes.  They ran out of the forest and back onto the open plains.  I began typing again.

Knightfall: Monkine, how many fatalities?

Monkine: Out of the twenty-one avatars that were part of that group, only five survived.

Knightfall: Very well.  Falconeim, take me to Puebcave Canyon.  Diseaitis, chase those five avatars to the Outway trap.  I’ll meet them there.

Diseaitis led a horde of nine zombies.  Falconeim was a giant falcon with arrow-sharp feathers.  I mounted Falconeim, and Diseaitis followed on the ground behind us.  I spotted a lone avatar climbing a giant dead tree.  Falconeim swooped in on her, and she turned just in time.  She leaped from the tree, but Falconeim caught her and shredded her avatar into binary code.  The ones and zeroes clattered to the ground and were vaporized in a pit of data.  Data was a hazardous substance that would digitize anything on contact-even deities.  It took a while, but we arrived at a massive chasm in the ground.  There were tunnels in both sides of the canyon that housed the Siphas, giant fanged worms with no eyes.  At the very end of the canyon was a mine entrance that led into a maze that supposedly housed the only way out of the Labyrinth, called the Outway.

It wasn’t long before three football player avatars and two cheerleader avatars walked into the canyon, screaming and running from nine grotesque zombies and an amorphous green blob with matching eye stalks.  Suddenly, a swarm of Traggers surrounded the attackers and carried them off toward the village, just like in the plan.  I typed in a few commands, and Knightfall turned into a figure in a shadowy zoot suit and fedora.  I then conjured up some shadowy discs and floated to the ground.  I pulled up the browser and began to type.  So did the avatars.

Knightfall: Well, well, well… I know a way out of this underworld of terror.

LeManning5: Why should we trust YOU?  Everything else in this place is a trap.  The lizard men vampires, the carnivorous dead trees, the zombies, the blob… how do we know you’re not some evil sorcerer who’s gonna turn us into poisonous mashed potatoes?

Knightfall: Because deep inside that mine is the only way out of this Labyrinth, other than defeating every monster.

LeManning5 and a cheerleader ran through the mine entrance.  They ran screaming out, followed by a trio of Siphas.  They ran at me, but I snapped my fingers and the door appeared in place of the mine entrance.  LeManning5 turned the knob and walked into what looked like an endless plain of white.

LeManning5: Hey, wait a sec!  Where am I?

Knightfall: A program called Limbo.  It’s endless, and this door is just a portal to it.  That’s why I call it the Outway-trap!

LeManning5: Wait!  Let me back in the-

But it was too late.  I shut the door and snapped my fingers again, and the door vanished.  The four remaining avatars advanced on me, obviously looking angry.  But I transformed into the true form of Knightfall, the shadowy imp.  They stepped back slowly, clearly frightened.  I transformed into a coal-black dragon and flew away, but not before summoning a swarm of Siphas to finish the job.  I flew to the floating islands and hovered above it, and was met with a shock.  Apparently, fifty avatars had gathered on the main island and were using stiff reeds from a pond to fight off the bee swarms!  Another twenty were building primitive huts using tall savannah grasses!  The popular kids were starting their own civilization!

I summoned every monster in the Labyrinth to the village, where we began to make plans.  The next morning, we set out to put those plans into action.  Eugene and Mildred were up all night working on The Savior, a deity like no other.  Instead of the dark and evil ways of Knightfall, The Savior had the power to make civilizations prosper.  Of course, he wouldn’t be able to rule the Labyrinth, but he would banish the killer bees to the village, and all would be lovely on the islands-but not for long.  We planned to attack the islands, sparking a war that we couldn’t lose.  Then, we would rule the Labyrinth, and keep the avatars as our minions.  Drakon sacrificed his dragon form to become The Savior.  I had a Tragger spy on The Savior’s debut, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  There was a big “You will not be missed” ceremony for the killer bees, and then there was a nice party.  But during the second free period, I went from king to warlord.

I dispatched a massive swarm of Traggers towards the islands, and mounted Falconeim to watch the carnage.  They only sent fifteen avatars into battle, a pathetic force, but I couldn’t blame them.  After all, with only a hundred avatars now, you wouldn’t want to sacrifice too many.  Still, only two survived.  Believe it or not, they kidnapped a few dozen Traggers and were hijacking them, turning them into avatars themselves.  I don’t know how, they just did.  But they were still Traggers at heart, so I vaporized them.

After fifth period, I was getting annoyed.  The avatar village had launched an attack on Falconeim and his car-sized vulture horde.  In all, Falcomeim himself had been digitized, though the horde had retreated.  I called an emergency meeting of the Epsilonians at lunch, and since we took up five cramped tables, everyone else in the lunchroom was forced to the eastern tables, where they were forced to watch the Globe Theater Song-And-Dance Revue, a “modern” musical twist on Shakespeare.  “Okay,” I said in a hushed whisper.  The popular kids hadn’t caught on to the fact that WE were responsible for the Labyrinth, and we preferred to keep it that way.  “The avatar forces have digitized Falconeim, but we still have superior computer kn0wledge on our side.”  I whipped out my small laptop and opened it.  Onscreen was Knightfall, but instead of his evil palace, the king of the Labyrinth was standing in front of a very familiar New Orleans-esque mansion.

Mildred, a short and plump nerd with red split ends, gasped with recognition.  “That’s,” she managed to say.  “That’s the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom!”  I grinned.  “I know,” I replied.  “Though now it’s our outer-Labyrinth base of operations.  You see, I salvaged the Virtual Magic Kingdom program from a Disney file, updated it to fit with the Labyrinth graphics, and used multiple Google Earth and map resources to turn it into a fully-fledged virtual Walt Disney World, not just with Magic Kingdom.”  Mildred looked puzzled.  “But why,” she questioned, already knowing my answer.  “Couldn’t you just build a virtual Walt Disney World yourself?”  But I could tell she already knew.  I had never been to WDW, so I needed a starting area.  VMK was perfect for that.  Then, I walked over to the Liberty Bell replica in the center of Liberty Square, where the Haunted Mansion was located.  I clicked on the word STOW that had been cast into the bell, and suddenly it swung to the side, revealing-a computer terminal.

On the screen was the Jurassic Park logo.  I clicked on it, and suddenly I was standing in front of the classic Jurassic Park arch.  Only I wasn’t on the infamous island itself.  I was on Jurassic Park Island, part of Universal Studio’s Islands Of Adventure.  “I also,” I began, just to ignite curiosity.  “Built ourselves our own little Islands Of Adventure.  Our base is Camp Jurassic.  I upgraded each of your avatar monsters into a Raptan-a raptor man.  To demonstrate, I pressed a button in the corner of the screen.  Suddenly, Knightfall turned into a humanoid, about seven feet tall, with leathery gray skin, raptor feet, and fingernails that were so long, you could have sworn that they were like claws.  “Raptans,” I explained.  “Can travel at speeds of up to fifteen miles per hour, though only for a short time, and can also turn into a Jurassic Park Velociraptor, also for a short time.  If you want to get into Floridoom, which I have named these places, dive into the Data Swamp.  I’ll be in there already waiting for you.  Good luck!”

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