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At the Park of Madness
“What would happen if Cthulhu, the eternal dreamer, god-king of the sunken city of R'lyeh, got bored and tried to run an amusement park? Shenanigans. Lots and lots of shenanigans - as long as you ignore the mental trauma and brain damage, that is.”
“I don’t actually know how I got this job - after all, human brains can’t actually comprehend exactly how these rides work - but I guess even an eldritch abomination from beyond the constraints of normal time and space needs an engineer, occasionally.”
“Oh wonderful, another bunch of tourists. How long d’you think it’ll take before they look too hard at something they shouldn’t and have a seizure?”
“Give or take five minutes, they’ve been getting dumber recently.”
“Steve, the hell are they making this coffee out of? It tastes like dirt. And when I say dirt, I mean actual, dug-out-of-the-topsoil dirt that they mixed with water.”
“Doug, do you really think that these people know how to make coffee? It’s not like they even know how to drink it. I don’t even know if they have mouths; it’s kinda hard to tell after the tentacles and whatnot.”
“So I’ve been thinking - how did we even get the permits to build this park, anyways? I mean, it’s defying the laws of physics and is probably larger on the inside than the outside, but it’s not like you see Cthulhu walk into the Bureau of Land Management’s office and be all like, “hey guys, I need to build a park here, what forms do I have to sign?” Does he even have money? Does he even know how money works? For that matter, how the hell did anyone even hold a conversation with him without going insane?”
“Well, first off, you’re thinking about how this park works, which is like, breaking rule number one of being an employee here, which is don’t talk about work. You can probably guess what rule number two is. Second, did you really think those BLM guys are even people anymore? Not even the Devourer of Stars can avoid the bureaucracy that is the American government’s zoning laws.”
When the end times came, when the stars aligned and the great sleeping Old One named by the morass of humanity to be Cthulhu rose up from the depths of the sunken city of R’lyeh, we thought it would be the end of mankind’s brief existence in the dark and unforgiving reality that sheltered such cosmic horrors beyond human comprehension behind every non-Euclidean corner.
When the Great Dreamer didn’t immediately devour the stars like he was supposedly prophesied to do, even the doomsday cults were left a little bit uncertain. After all, it was the End Times, the time when things end. And yet here stood Cthulhu, the Great Old One who drove men mad with his mere presence and embodied the primal fear of the unknown that permeates all living things, doing not much of anything, really. It was kind of a copout. The cults demanded to know what was going on, and a refund while they were at it.
After that, things got a little messy. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s safe to say that Great Old Ones do not abide by the customer service principle of “the customer is always right”.
Cthulhu, in all his great wisdom acquired by being dead and dreaming at the bottom of the Atlantic, decided he wanted to do something productive with his un-life (or is it re-life? Really, can anyone tell with the Devourer of Stars?) and decided that he wanted to open up an amusement park.
Personally, I don’t think that he understands what ‘amusement’ actually means, but the guy’s trying. You have to give him some credit for that. However, the Mouse, being a horrifying eldritch corporate creature of similar incomprehensible madness and legal power as Cthulhu, decided to take issue with the Dreamer butting into their market.
Court cases were had. Accusations, lawsuits, and lawyers were thrown (and occasionally devoured) by either side. The President of the United States, being fed up with this whole ordeal, briefly summoned up the disgruntled ghosts of the Founding Fathers to achieve maximum democracy and gave Cthulhu the boot, saying that “technically Old Ones fall under the purview of illegal aliens” and that he should “fill out the damn visa paperwork first” before picking fights with the hivemind of lawyers that forms the Mouse.
That’s a shortening of what actually happened, mind you. The whole affair was a fair bit more complicated than that and currently has Congress wrapped up in another debate about what exactly an immortal, undying eldritch abominations from beyond the constraints of true reality constitutes in the H1B visa program, but as we all know Congress doesn’t get things done.
Long story short, Cthulhu opened up a pocket dimension and tried to build a theme park in it. I say tried because I’m not sure it counts as being ‘safe’ or physically possible, but he doesn’t technically have to follow OSHA regulations, not that anyone particularly wants to enforce them. Government agencies in general just tend to avoid anything having to do with Cthulhu like it’s the plague, which isn’t entirely inaccurate. Unless it’s the IRS. Because no one messes with the IRS. And hey, it gets customers, so I guess it works. Even if they come out gibbering and insane, but we did put up signs telling people to not look too closely at, well, anything. Disclaimers, gotta love them.
Now, what you’re probably asking yourself right about now is, “Why exactly is this very human man working at a decidedly inhuman and probably very dangerous amusement park?” It’s pretty simple, actually. Cthulhu doesn’t know how to build roller coasters. Ergo, when he inevitably gets frustrated by the “constraints of normal reality” and just wills some impossible, physics-defying monstrosity into existence, customers start complaining. And by complaining, I mean they start foaming at the mouth and randomly exploding.
Extradimensional space will do that to a guy, hence the disclaimer signs posted over everything. Try not to touch anything.
So the Great Dreamer decided he needed some expertise, and, well, the people you see working here are either the only ones who were brave enough to sign up or just have been working in customer service long enough that their souls have been stripped away and they really don’t care whether or not the food vendors are even physically capable of being perceived because damn it, some other kid did something he wasn’t supposed to do and now there’s person splattered all over the street.
There have been a few rough spots, sure, but if you’d ask me what I thought working for an eldritch terror beyond human comprehension was going to be like a year ago, I probably would’ve laughed at you and then called the police. It hasn’t been the easiest, sure, but the boss hasn’t eaten anyone’s souls in at least three months and we’ve been reasonably accident free for about a year now.
No, getting devoured by park equipment isn’t considered an accident, we listed it under “probable causes of death” in the legal disclaimer on the tickets. Yes, I know that you can’t read it. Neither can I. The lawyers can, though, and that’s something that we here try to stay away from. That’s one of a few rules for thumb for employees here, after all. I’ll give you a few, just because I feel nice today.
If you’re not smart enough to follow the rules set for customers, you’re not going to last long enough to be anyone but the janitor’s problem, and he’ll probably appreciate the snacks.
Don’t mess with lawyers or the IRS. The FBI, the NSA, the KGB (and yes, they’re still around, don’t think we don’t notice), any number of alphabet agencies are involved in this park, but only one is feared by an abomination beyond rational thought and fear itself.
...that’s about it, really. Pretty sure that George, he’s the manager, could give some more on that kind of information, but he started locking himself in his office with a bottle of vodka and a gun, so you’ll have to come back later and see if you can talk to him then.
“So why the hell do we have all these noir-lookin’ types around here nowadays? They’re scarin’ off the kids. Well, more so than usual.”
“They’re trying to be genre-savvy or something, think that dressing like that will protect them from the apparent rampant airborne stupidity that’s been going around for a while.”
“The what now?”
“Y’know, the contagious plague of stupid. I think the Boss had something to do with it, but he won’t give me a straight answer and just tells me to go do paperwork when I ask about it. HR is no help either.”
“Normally I’d question your reasoning, but at this point the pigs have flown, hell’s getting reports of further snowy weather, and HR is probably responsible for more missing persons cases than any other factor.”
“See, see, I heard Steve going on about it the other day, and that’s because there’s apparently some kind of union going around.”
“Union? Why would we need a union? I mean, we don’t even get healthcare because our mortality rate is so high. It’s not like we get paid in currency we can use or anything.”
“Hey, man, look, ‘snot my problem if you can’t find some shady lookin’ fellows in robes to take those cursed books from R'lyeh off your hands. And besides, it’s not a union for us, it’s a union for the food vendors.”
“That somehow makes the situation both more and less clear. And I say that as a veteran of at least six months of work here.”
Now, see here, don’t get the wrong impression. It may sound like I’m messing around with all these ridiculous stories, but you learn real quick to stop doubting around these parts. Half of the staff here regard our reality as nothing more than quaint little customs used by those incapable of perceiving the truth of the universe. They’re right, because people tend not to be able to twist the laws of physics into a geometry-defying pretzel because they missed an afternoon snack.
We like to joke around here because honestly, no one’d get by otherwise. You see things that people simply cannot understand everyday, things make you want to claw your own eyes out. No matter what zany antics that he’s gotten up to, Cthulhu is still a Great Old One, less a physical entity than an incomprehensible concept.
To gaze upon his face is to go insane. He is the creeping darkness, the unknown abyss that mankind dares not to gaze into. He is not merely powerful. The Eternal Dreamer is a being so far beyond humanity that we cannot begin to understand the weight of his existence, much less the breadth of his power.
Ultimately, in the end, you cannot stand before Cthulhu. There is no resistance, only acceptance of an inevitable fate. To step foot in this eldritch place is to come to terms with your own insignificance in the universe. It is to gaze upon your own mortality in the face of a being that was birthed in the darkness between our reality and the Truth. It is -
“Oi! Frank! Call the janitor, we got a code brown over here!”
“We don’t have codes here, Steve. What do you think this is, a hospital? Besides, I’m busy!”
“I dunno and I really don’t care, it’s a messy one this time!”
“Call the janitor! It’s what the lazy bum gets paid for!”
“That’s the thing! It was the janitor!”
“Well, call another one! There’s gotta be more than one of them, this park is massive. I think, at least. It takes forever to get anywhere, at any rate, and I declare it arbitrarily and unnecessarily large as a result.”
“I already tried doing that, and all I got was the cultist help guideline, which was surprisingly helpful at telling me exactly not what to do in these situation, namely start worshipping the recently exploded janitor.”
“Ok, well, then close your eyes and pretend really hard that the stain isn't there anymore.”
“I can’t actually bend the rules of physics, space-time, and logic. That’s our boss.”
“Well, then find a broom. I’m kind of busy here! Important company business, and all that.”
“The brooms are on fire. And screaming. In fact, are you sure that this is the janitor’s closet? Nothing looks like it’s supposed to clean in here. It looks like something that requires a holy cleansing.”
“Look, the last janitor made it work, so you’re just going to have to make it work. We don’t pay you to sit around complaining about things.”
“We don’t pay you to do that either!”
“I’m not getting paid to do this, though. We don’t even get paid at all anymore, because none of us can actually read our contracts without dying horribly, and very few of us have a bunch of sketchy cultist friends who are willing to buy soul-eating statues at the drop of a hat.”
Right, where was I? Oh, right, the end is inevitable, to stand before Cthulhu is to risk madness, et cetera and so forth. Look, it’s company policy that I narrate this to you, don’t question it. If you’re going to complain about it, talk to my manager.
So enjoy your visit here. See the sights! Ride the rides! Have fun, like you’ve never enjoyed yourself before!
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You only have once chance, because odds are, your first visit here will also be your last. Read the signs, watch your step, and have fun.