One night, I went out drinking. The next morning, I woke up in a cell.
That is, of course, not the full story.
The first thing I saw upon opening my eyes were big iron bars. I, of course, sighed, ‘Oh, great’ under my breath, but then I saw what lay beyond those bars. Walls made of monochrome stone, and a large metal door. Illumination was provided by orbs hanging from the ceiling, which did little to add colour to the setting. The stench of mildew and rot was everywhere. My “bed” was a large plank of wood, above a black stone floor. A black stone floor stained with red.
There was a cell next to mine, and there used to be a person in it. What was left of that person remained.
Just as I was about to rummage around for something to pick the lock or something like that – well, I had to try something – the door opened. In came a creature that seemed appropriate for this setting, yet out-of-place at the same time. Though the creature was extremely obese, just barely getting through the door, its tiny legs somehow supported its body. It had skin as white as bleach, which, combined with its body shape, made it resemble a snowman. A snowman with bulging red eyes and rows and rows of jagged teeth. For clothing, it wore a tie and a collar – without a shirt or suit, like Yogi Bear – and its tiny feet were fitted with tiny black shoes.
It wobbled towards me, took a glance at the cell opposite mine and then back at me. ‘See that there?’ I could only nod. ‘He had nothing to say. Nothing funny, nothing interesting. Made us think maybe it was wrong to watch humans. But just for a minute.’
He smiled, revealing all his little sharp teeth. ‘Yes, we like watching you humans. See this outfit? I saw a human wearing something like it, so I thought, I’ll wear it, but only the parts I like. But I digress.
‘When I watched you, you were among friends, and they were laughing at what you were saying. If you could make them laugh, you could make me laugh. So go ahead.’
That went through my mind over and over, until I forced my mind to think of a joke, and I blurted out the first joke that came into my mind. The one about the man at the pub talking about a building and if you fall off it, a gust of wind brings you back to the top. As I told the story, the creature’s wide grin was slowly replaced by a tiny frown. At least I didn’t have to see his sharp teeth then, but that was the only relief I could find at that moment.
‘How was that supposed to be funny?’ The creature arched an eyebrow, or at least, did his equivalent of it. ‘What did you say to those friends of yours that made them laugh?’
TheyonlylaughedcauseIwasdrunktheyonlylaughedcauseIwasdrunkthinkofajoke think think think of a joke
A monster from another world wouldn’t know what that last joke was about, I thought, think of something more universal. Light. The orbs dangling from the ceiling have light in them. Everyone knows about light. Good jokes about light.
‘I…ate one of those orb things,’ I said, ‘and it made me light-headed!’ It was the best I could think of in these circumstances.
He didn’t laugh. I wasn’t even granted the relief of not seeing his fangs – he bore them as he growled at me. He flexed his fingers, with claws that resembled fishing hooks.
‘They only laughed ‘cause I was drunk!’ I cried out loud.
The monster’s wide grin returned. ‘Oh, it’s beer that’s needed, is it? Well, that’s probably the best thing you humans have ever created!’ He wobbled away, out of the room, and my heart finally slowed down. Then I thought that perhaps this would be the time to make my triumphant escape, and looked around for things that might aid in it. The cell next to mine had bones, so I tried to reach for one of them in case that would help.
Before I could even grab it, the creature returned, carrying a stein full of booze. As soon as he came in, I stood firmly as if I were in the army. Through the bars, he grabbed me by the throat, and forced the beer down my throat. It tasted more or less about the same as most beers I’ve had, yet one stein and I already felt tipsy.
He brought more steins, and he brought them quickly. Then I said things and he laughed at them.
I still am forced to sleep in his dungeons. What’s more, I’m forced to go onto a stage daily, so more of those creatures could see me drunk and laugh their heads off about it.
But at least I get free beer out of it.