'Ten Minutes Late for Reality' by Lou Morris (c) 1988, 1989, 1991, 2002, 2015. Twenty-one:


   "Hey, did I ever tell you that I am the living embodiment
of Elvis's reincarnated soul?  Well..."

                                 - Roy Bluehaul--stealing a
quote from Lou Morris, the

   "Mom?" Roy yelled down the hall, now wearing normal
clothing:  a white t-shirt and black slacks.  He combed his
collar length blonde hair and spritzed some aerosol breath
spray into his mouth.
   "Yes, my son?" she answered jokingly.
   "I beat Lou's car today," Roy lied, "So can I go to the
   "What does beating Lou's car have to do with going to the
mall, Ski?" she asked quizzically.
   "It puts me in a good mood..."
   "Oh, okay.  Sure, but don't forget to feed Shadow," she
   "I already did."  He walked over to the back door.  "And
I fed the two cats, too.  Bye," he added before he left.
   The only interesting thing that happened on his way to
the mall was that he passed a flat-bed tow truck headed the
other way, carrying a wrecked red Corvette.
   He parked his car then walked into the mall, his mind
full of details: details of a new plan--a major heist of
immense proportions, such that he would be rich with a
minimum of risk.  And the best part of the plan was not the
plan itself but that it fit his horoscope perfectly.  "Reap
Death's benefits.  Rob Death Adventure," he recited happily,  
although he still didn't understand the part about the trip
with him, himself, and his eye; didn't matter too much
though--most predictions work themselves out in the end.
   The upshot of his planing was this:  he would rob the
Games department of Generic Corporation's Death Adventure.  
All the Games employees have green tills filled with about
two hundred dollars, plus the stand managers have a safe
filled with money in a little building to rear side of the
main Games Circle.
   "So simple," he said aloud to some familiar looking silly
kid carrying a bookbag.  "In less than ten minutes, I could
net more than ten grand!"
   "And they think we're crazy..." Mongo said to his bookbag
as he walked away from the strange person.
   At first, Roy thought of going fifty-fifty with a kid
named Lou Morris, since he got most of the details from him a
week or two ago--listening to him chatter in college algebra
class about how much he liked his job at Death Adventure.  
But then Roy thought better of it; "I'll get all the money
for myself."
   He skipped into a medical supply/heath food store named
"A Medical Supply/Health Food store."
   "Hi," he said to the overly cute counter girl.  "Uh, nice
day out, ain't it?  Uh..."  He smiled weakly, trying to
phrase his next thought.  "Are you doing anything tonight?"
he blurted stupidly.
   "Sorry," she smiled.  "Me and my boyfriend are renting a
motel room tonight."
   "Tomorrow night?" he asked hopefully.
   She smiled again, hardly suppressing a giggle.  "No, I
think I'll be too busy getting married."
   "Oh... how about next--"
   Give it up, Roy!
   "What?!  Who said that?" Roy asked, looking about the
small store for hidden speakers or something like that.
   "I think the author did," she answered, still smiling.
   "The author?  I don't--"
   "Don't worry about it.  Now did you just come in here to
ask me out or did you actually want something useful?" she
   "Oh, yeah.  Uh, do you have either?" Roy asked, glancing
here and there, nervously looking for that "author" person.
   "Either?" she asked, dumbfounded.  "Either what or what?"
   "No.  Either; uh that stuff that puts you to sleep..."
   She frowned, looking to the ceiling, then smiled.  
"Ether," she said.  "Yes, we have ether, but only in the
liquid form."
   "Liquid form?  Never heard of it?" Roy admitted.
   "Neither have I, but we have it.  Do ya want it?" she
asked, holding up a small bottle of Generic brand liquid
   "Yeah, what the heck."
   Cash, check or charge?" she asked, punching his purchase
into the cash register.
   "Charge," he frowned, pulling out his mother's charge

   Ah!  The sounds of video games, Roy thought as he walked
into the mall's arcade, carrying his newly purchased package.
   He eyed the cute girl in the mini-skirt playing Pac-Man.  
He also eyed that stupid kid with the bookbag that he'd seen
so many times today.
   Ping!  Beep!  BeepBoopBeep!  Clunk!
   He walked over to the Gauntlet game.  An "out of order"
sign was taped to the large screen.  He pulled the sign off
and dropped a token in.
   The screen lit up with instructions describing various
creature types and monsters.  Roy pressed a green button
below the picture of an elf.
   "Welcome, wizard," the machine recited, showing Roy a
top-view of a dungeon layout.
   Roy kicked the machine.  He didn't want to be a stupid
wizard--they suck.
   "Wizard shot the food," the machine recited.
   Roy maneuvered his yellow wizard-person around the stone
dungeon labyrinth.  He shot something that looked like a pool
of slime.
   "Shots do not hurt other players... yet."
   What? Roy thought.  This machine is acting funny...
   "Ugh.  Wizard takes damage."
   Huh?  But I ate the food?  He kicked the machine again.
   The screen popped to a blank.
   "Guess it was broken," Roy said, replacing the sign.
   The screen lit up, once again.  This time, instead of
instructions, the screen showed a partly hidden view of five
adventurers traversing a volcanic dungeon maze.
   Roy turned away, failing to notice.  He walked into a man
carrying far too many boxes and bags to see where he was
   Boxes and bags flew everywhere as both Roy and Your Name
Here fell to the floor.
   "Not again!" Your Name Here yelled.  "I've already been
mugged once today."  He took a second look at Roy.  "Oh, it's
you," he sneered.
   "Hi, Tim," Roy said.  "How's the army?"
   "Yeah, yeah," Your Name Here replied tartly, picking up
his packages.
   "That's great, Tim."  He grabbed Your Name Here's hand
and shook it, forcing Your Name Here to drop some of his
packages again.  "You mentioned something about being
mugged?" Roy questioned.
   "Yeah," Your Name Here mumbled.  "I thought you were
him..."  He finished picking up all the bags.
   "Don't worry about it; most people mistake me for a
mugger," Roy laughed.
   "Oh, I wasn't worrying about it...  But anyway, back to
business."  He walked away, leaving Roy standing alone in the
crowd of the arcade.
   "What a jerk!" Roy yelled when Tim Restle was out of
hearing range.  He picked up his liquid ether, thankfully in
a plastic bottle.
   He also held up a black leather-like checkbook.  "I hope
he doesn't mind me borrowing this," he snickered.

   "Can I help you?" the red haired guy behind the counter
breathed tiredly.
   "Yes.  I'd like to rent some costumes," Roy replied,
tossing some of his arcade tokens into the "help the animals"
   "We only have two left--everyone wants a costume for that
big Death Adventure party tomorrow," he droned.
   "No kidding?  That's where I'm going!" Roy explained.
   "Should've known," he mumbled.  "Here they are."  He
pointed to two costumes hung behind him.  "Doug the Clown and
Ninja Warrior."
   "Well, I already have a ninja suit, so gimmie the Doug
the Clown costume."
   "Okay," the attendant murmured.  "Anything else?"
   "Uh, yeah!  That 'Dumbo Jr. Laser Squirt Rifle' gun over
   "Anything else?"
   The counter person wrote up his order, then looked up.  
   Roy grinned, holding up his newly acquired checkbook.  
"Check," he said.