You blink. Somehow, you are no longer standing in the pilot room of your 7S22 space craft. You had just entered the atmosphere of the Unknown when everything vanished.
You are standing in a landing bay.
"Good day!" cries a man from across the room. "Welcome!"
You nod in his direction and then make your way across the room. Your mind is racing, trying to be ready for the unexpected. Is the floor going to give away? Is gravity going change? Is the man going to turn into a bird and fly away? You stop dead in the middle of the room.
You laugh. Just the reputation of this world is enough to make you go paranoid. You have to let go. What happens will happen. The logic in your mind will likely be useless if something ridiculous happens, so you tell yourself to stop trying to explain everything. Just like the landing: you were a few thousand meters in the air half a minute ago. Oh well--you shrug--best not to sweat the small stuff.
The man is watching you with curiosity. "Something wrong?" he asks.
You look back at him and blink. Now he's wearing a doctor's coat with giant dinner plate glasses. But what do appearances matter, right?
You walk up to meet him. "Everything is different," you say, "but nothing is wrong."
He smiles. A row of golden teeth greet you with a twinkle. "Would you like a tour?" he asks.
"A tour of what?" you ask.
He grows thoughtful, and puts his thumb and forefinger to his chin where a beard begins to grow. Then he jabs his spectacles further up his nose and adjusts his polka-dot bow tie. He sniffs and says, "Erm, a tour of my new invention."
"Ooo," you say, "are you a scientist?"
The man fixes his blue lab coat and gives a grin. "How'd you guess?"
You shrug. "A tour it shall be."
A few seconds later, you're backstage with a blaring rock concert one curtain away.
You look back at your companion. He's wearing a leather suit with his hair stretching a foot in every direction.
"Well," you say. "It appears that you have gone for a rock and roll stereotype but accidentally kept the mad scientist hair."
He gives you a hurt expression, and suddenly you're standing in a hospital. He's on the bed with casts on every limb.
"Is this world really so straight-forward?" you ask. "It moves like a logical imagination, one scene to the next."
He squints at you from beneath the silkly white sheets of his hospital bed.
"We-he-ell," he says, "Aren't you such a lovely psychiatrist! You think my friendly neighborhood is not chaotic enough for you? You're going to the City!"
"The City?" you ask. "Where's that?"
"Over there," he says, jabbing a pointer stick down a long, dark tunnel. You look; there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
You nod. "I will go there," you say. "But thank you for the tour."
He frowns. "Yes, well, that'll be twenty-nine-ninety-nine."
You laugh and hand him a hundred dollar bill. His jaw literally drops as you step into the entrance of the tunnel and his neighborhood vanishes behind you.
"That was relatively straight forward," you say. "I even had some control over the imagination of that reality. He seemed surprised when I created a hundred dollar bill out of thin air."
But now you find yourself standing in a dark tunnel with a light at the end the size of a coin. The last neighborhood had been like riding a wave of dreams. You can already guess that this tunnel is going to be like fighting a nightmare.
You are not prepared. But you are open and willing. You take your first step into the unknown.