They’d had fun at the concert. And from what she was hinting, Alissa wanted to have more fun at his place when they got there. It might even be so much fun that he would end up completely forgetting about the concert. There was one problem with that glorious scenario: Jack’s best friend Hunter had been over a few nights ago. This, of course, meant that Jack was almost completely out of potable beverages of an alcoholic nature. Alissa just did not seem like the warm-cup-of-coffee and a peck-on-the-cheek sort of girl; at least, Jack had been hoping she wasn’t and he was reading these signals correctly. This needed to be rectified before they arrived at chez Jack.
On his right, he saw a sign for a place that looked open.
“Hold up a sec, I want to stop off and get something,” Jack said as he angled his car into the right lane.
“Completely—well not completely—but mostly out of beverages at my place, and hell, we might as well pick up some snacks while we’re at it,” he smiled.
“OK, cool. If you still want to stream a horror movie, I’m game, but I must be fed,” she giggled, patting her midsection.
This was going beyond Jack’s wildest dreams. She was a friend of a friend that he’d met over at Hunter’s place one night. She had been dragged along to Hunter’s by a girl named Sandra that Hunter had designs on. Alissa had probably only been there to give her friend an excuse to leave if Hunter had, well, hunted her too aggressively. Jack had been stunned by Alissa the second he’d laid eyes on her as they were entering the apartment.
It was the eyes that had really done it as far as he was concerned. All of her looked good to him but she had really vibrant green eyes that sparkled when she laughed, like emeralds being rolled around in someone’s hand on a sunny day. Eyes like that were the kind of eyes you dreamed about staring into and saying all the stupid crap you’d never admit you’d said when you talked to your friends later. Bad novel writers would spend a page and a half on those eyes.
At first, he’d been too afraid to approach her at all. She had looked completely out of his league and he had figured the poor girl had been dragged to this against her wishes. Not to mention she probably got leched on all the time wherever she went. But as the night had gone on, she had seemed increasingly bored and by herself every time he looked over. The last time he’d looked, she had been petting Hunter’s cat, Satan. Which was another good sign, because Satan rarely warmed up to new people and he had looked about to crawl into her lap. Stupid cats have all the damned luck.
Finally, it hadn’t been lust that drove him to talk to her. It had been more that she looked lonely, and frankly, he had only been talking to people he could talk to any time.
“Hi, you look bored out of your mind,” he had said by way of an opener.
She had smiled. “Well the cat’s nice.”
“Maybe to you. He usually doesn’t like new people. But I figured that was a good character reference, and you looked bored, so I figured I’d introduce myself,” Jack had replied.
She had scratched the cat under the chin, causing an eruption of purrs louder than even Hunter got from the cat, “Do you hear that? You count as a character reference; I may write you down on my next job application.”
Jack hadn’t been sure how to take that, so he had quickly said, “Of course, if you’re not bored, I can always convince Hunter to get another cat and I can piss off and go make friends with it. By the way, the cat’s name is Satan, so maybe you should leave that off the resume. Well, I guess it depends where you’re applying really.”
She had laughed, “No you’re fine, you’re wonderful in fact. I like the cat, but everybody here knows everybody else it seems, and yeah… I was pretty bored. Purring gets monotonous after a while.
And that had been that. They’d talked all through the rest of the evening until the girl she’d come with wanted to leave. Jack hadn’t had a leave option: Hunter always made him help clean up after these things since it was the only way the apartment was ever cleaned at all. But before she’d left, he’d gotten her Facebook and Twitter and a few days of back-and-forth conversation later, he had invited her to the concert by a band he knew she liked that he was indifferent towards.
If it turned out at the end of this that this was a friends thing, he’d live, but… He hadn’t kissed her or anything, frankly, and he was having fun and didn’t want to spoil it by being awkward. At the same time, he was almost positive that they might meet in the middle over a movie later. He really liked her a lot and was damned if he was going to screw this up, either the friendship part or the potentially more part.
The parking lot they pulled into was for a rundown-looking convenience store called “Beer ‘N’ Things.” It wasn’t much to look at but it didn’t have to be. It wasn’t like he was getting a hot dog here and had to risk food poisoning. You took your own life in your hands if you bought things that needed preparation in a place like this. Jack had learned that lesson long ago. He had plans for the evening and they didn’t involve spending the rest of it getting his stomach pumped. Go in, grab a few six-packs of beer and whatever she wanted, along with some nice pre-packaged, all-American junk food, and get out.
The window was so grimy that they could barely see inside. Thankfully, when Jack pushed the door open there wasn’t a robbery in progress, which would have been awkward. He’d have had no way of knowing from the outside and the last thing he wanted to do in life was startle an armed person in the middle of a tense crime situation. What he did find inside was the convenience store that matched the front of the building and the parking lot. Grimy aisles, dimly lit, a cashier who barely took notice of them behind bulletproof glass, all the marks of a dive convenience store. It wasn’t perfect but again, it didn’t have to be. Jack didn’t have very expensive tastes in beer and even the shittiest places carried Corona and Sam Adams.
Once they’d had visual confirmation that there was no robbery, they headed directly toward the coolers. They didn’t make it. They didn’t reach that destination because Alissa sudddenly said, “Fuck it.,” before pulling him sideways into an aisle.
She did that so she could kiss him, which she was in the process of doing even as she grabbed his coat and pulled him sideways.
Both of their eyes were closed when their bodies came to a stop. As far as first kisses went, it was a pretty good one. In fact, it was so good it changed the world. Because when Jack opened his eyes a second later, they were no longer in the aisle she’d pulled them in the direction of. Or in the convenience store she’d done it in.
“Holy shit,” Jack breathed.
“Mmmmmm?” Alissa said before opening her eyes. After which she said, “Holy shit!”
Because it was pretty accurate.
A stone wall had appeared behind them separating them from the nice, normal, grungy-looking convenience store they’d been in a minute ago. The aisle itself spread out in front of them, starting like normal racks of now unidentifiable sales items but slowly turning into stone walls in the distance. The items they could see close by had brand names that made no sense, like “Pain-Os” and “HackedoffFingers” though there were still “Whatchamacallits” even if the packaging looked different. At least the closest racks had packages, further down the racks held just globs of slime and mud and unidentifiable red things as they got smaller and the stone walls behind them got more pronounced. Within twenty feet of where they stood, there just ceased being anything even remotely like a store, and the aisle turned completely into a passageway out of Dungeons and Dragons vanishing into the dark. The sole neon light that had survived the transition sizzled and sparked before flickering out, leaving them with only the yellow light provided by what appeared to be torches set up high in the walls further away.
“What, the, flying, holy, sweet Jesus on a pogo stick, fuck?” Jack said slowly.
Alissa, who was still looking over his shoulder after they had broken apart, pointed.
There was a rack of objects off to one side of the wall that had appeared to seal them in. A sign above it proclaimed it held, “WEAPONS! LIGHTS! DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THE DARK WITH ONLY YOUR FINGERS IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THEM ATTACHED!”
There was another sign dead center on the wall itself written in a combination of big type and practically microscopic type. Jack moved forward to read it better in the flickering torchlight.
“Welcome to THINGS!”
For your convenience and comfort, we have provided a selection of weapons as well as numerous headlamps. All our way of saying thank you for shopping at BEER ‘n’ THINGS! Don’t worry about bloodstains on the floor—they add ambiance—no need to report it to the cashier; he won’t be coming in to clean up. So, enjoy your adventure! Find the path to the exit and WIN!
(in very small print under that) By entering “Things”, you have released “Beer N Things” from indemnity in the case of loss of life, disfigurement, or any other form of injury, including mental anguish. This does not require a signature. It only requires entering the premises. We checked with a lawyer and yes, we can do that.”
And under that in larger type…
Jack finished reading and said, “I stand by what I said a moment ago.”
Alissa nodded, “And I agree with that assessment completely. Should we grab stuff?”
Jack hit the wall next to the sign with his fist, hard. As he shook his hand in pain he replied, “Well we’re not getting out that way, I don’t know what choice we’ve got.”
“Check your cell. Maybe we can call for help?” Alissa said, happy to have thought of a solution that might be quick and easy.
Jack quickly pulled his phone out but could only confirm what she saw when she did the same, “No bars, I guess we go for weapons and lights.”
Alissa nodded and began to rummage around through the various things that lined the shelves. The throwing stars seemed pointless; she would barely be able to hit the broad side of a barn with them. There were no guns, which seemed a shame but there were lots of different swords that she also passed on. Finally, she decided on a baseball bat, with numerous spikes sticking out of it from various different angles. She figured it poked and added concussive force to any discussion—the swords only poked, so it was a comparative judgment call.
She looked up to see Jack carefully hefting a two-sided ax.
“Are you even going to be able to swing that thing?”
He grunted giving it a test swing, “Hey, I’ve got a gym membership.”
That did not feel like the answer she wanted. Especially after he stuffed the throwing stars into his pocket. She saw there were different knives available and she quickly stuffed a couple into her pants pocket and her jacket, “Grab a knife.”
“But I have the stars,” Jake protested.
“For up close,” she replied witheringly as she checked the lights.
“Oh shit, you’re totally right, I’m an idiot,” Jack replied. She noted that he didn’t take the macho route there and argue with her, so point there. But he kinda did go all macho over the ax, so call it a draw.
They took off walking. Alissa was trying not to notice the various dark stains on the floor and the walls. She was pretty sure she knew what they were and she really didn’t want to think about it. She liked Jack, quite a bit actually. If the night had gone according to her plans he’d have had a really good rest of the night. The thing was, how well did she really know him? Talking online was one thing but this was a life and death situation. And here she was with a guy who thought throwing stars would be of any use. Maybe he’d turn out to not be a liability but how could she know that until it was too late? If she hadn’t kept turning down Justin from Ken-Po class, she wouldn’t be in this mess. Of course, she’d probably be in an entirely different mess since Justin didn’t strike her as the “No means no” type. But he did a decent kata and would probably be of more use here than Jack, who was cute and sweet and nonthreatening and she doubted that whatever caused those bloodstains responded well to cute. Nothing could change it now. She’d just have to hope that Jack proved to have hidden depths. Lord knew Justin didn’t. He had open quagmires.
They had come to a T-intersection. Since both directions showed nothing further than their headlamps could penetrate, it presented a quandary.
“Which way. O great and mighty guide?” Alissa asked.
Jack looked deep in thought for a second before saying, “To the right. Call it a hunch.”
She was just about to agree with him when a voice came out of the darkness to the left. “Come ‘ere baby… give us a kiss…” it hissed.
What stepped out of the gloom and into their light was ridiculous but no less lethal-looking for it. Stepping toward them was something that had the shape of a man but composed entirely of sharp chrome spikes. There were no eyes, no mouth, no anything in any direction except spikes (well except maybe the soles of its feet, which were out of sight). Even… you know… that… was just one slightly longer spike in a sea of spikes.
As soon as it knew they had seen it, the spiky monster began to sprint towards them with an amazing turn of speed. Alissa and Jack stood there, still trying to process what they were seeing. Finally, a light bulb went off for Alissa. As soon as the monster came hurtling directly at her, at the last possible second, she just stepped deftly to the side.
At this point, they discovered that the thing must have had spikes on the soles of its feet as well. Its attempts to stop itself sent up little sparks off the stone floor until with a loud clang it hit the wall just past them. And stuck.
“Well that was stupid,” Alissa said.
“Still, if it had managed to catch you…”Jack replied.
Alissa nodded her head, “Oh yeah, lethal. I mean if it had an ounce of brains or coordination we’d have been in trouble.”
They both watched it as it struggled to try and extract itself from where it had stuck into the wall.
“Good turn of speed, I mean to get stuck in stone like that,” Jack said.
“No doubt. Oh well, let’s get going.”
As they marched down the right-hand corridor, they ignored the muffled voice behind them asking, “Little help?”
They walked in silence for a while without further incident. There was no animosity; it was just that both of them were still trying to process this very much so and very truly fucked up situation for one. Not to mention both of them worried about attracting attention from whatever else was hiding down here. Finally, Alissa broke and said, “So, what in the hell do you think this is?”
Jake smiled a bit, “Well, I don’t watch AS much Sci-Fi as I look like I do but if I was to have a guess, I’d say some kind of pocket dimension or something. Why the hell did someone think it was a good idea to put a convenience store over it? Anyone’s guess.”
His light flashed off of something in the distance. With trepidation, they crept a little closer only to discover it was a stack of boxes.
Jack tried to make out the writing, “Are those 24 packs of beer? Are they using this for overflow storage?”
Alissa squinted ahead, “Look a little closer. Read the labels.”
“Sick minds are at work here,” she replied.
“I don’t know. That’s what we used to call it in college,” he replied with a shrug. “Maybe the manufacturer just finally embraced it?”
Their conversation was cut off by a male voice yelling from behind the boxes, “You can’t fool me monsters! I warn ya’ I got weapons! Don’t come any closer!”
The hall that they’d been traveling down was silent for a moment.
Finally, Alissa said in an even voice, “Maybe you shouldn’t have shouted that so loud. I mean we aren’t monsters but that seems to me to be the kind of thing that attracts monsters.”
There was a deep quiet for an additional moment. The kind of quiet that indicates someone is doing mental arithmetic and coming up with the, “I’m a moron” sum at the end.
“You aren’t monsters?” said whoever was hiding behind the boxes.
“Nope,” Jake replied.
Another moment of silence was followed by the noise of something quietly rustling from further down the hall. That quiet was shattered when a human man covered in grit and grime burst through the boxes sending beer cans and boxes flying everywhere. “OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!!” he yelled as he ran in their direction.
He was almost to them when he fell to the ground, a gray tentacle grasping his ankle.
Common sense said he might be more dangerous than whatever was grabbing him, considering his previous outburst. It also normally would have pointed out that whatever it was, the horror with tentacles had grabbed the guy, which meant it was now busy and might be bypassed. Unfortunately for Jack, he had a big ax, and common sense had stepped out back real quick for a smoke in the face of the testosterone created by having a big ax. Before he could stop himself, he’d rushed forward and swung the ax at the tentacle which split easily in a spray of something purple that he could only suspect was blood.
After he saw the man scramble off in the direction of Alissa, Jack turned to look down the hall to see what had grabbed him. It could have been described as an octopus. It had the great big eye and it had numerous limbs which usually counted as tells. Of course, it seemed to have more than eight of those tentacles, which was probably a disqualifier right there. Being in a hallway instead of the ocean was another issue, as was the giant mouth below the eye that was full of razor-sharp teeth. All of that seemed to add up to, “Not actually an octopus but I lack the life experience in inter-dimensional horrors to think of anything else.”
Jack had just reached that conclusion and had taken the throwing stars out of his pocket to avoid getting close to it when it decided to remind him as to how far its reach was. The creature did that by wrapping a tentacle around his waist and beginning to drag him towards the drooling maw of teeth.
The throwing stars clattered to the ground, completely useless to him.
Unfortunately for Jack, what was wrapped around him was not the very end of a tentacle like what had caught the stranger but the big thick meat of one where all the real strength was. Not to mention, the way the thing jerked him about to and fro on his way to becoming a quick Jack Snack made it almost impossible to get a good swing in with his ax. He could barely hold onto his lunch, holding on to the ax was only a secondary consideration, using it was way beyond his abilities. The violent motion did not prevent him from getting a look at where he was heading or from being able to consider all of those really long, really sharp-looking teeth. It seemed unfair that those teeth had no problem remaining in focus as he was buffeted about.
Suddenly the monster squalled in pain and released him reflexively. Jack just had time to see the throwing star protruding from its eye before he hit the ground with a bone-shaking thud. He lay there for a moment contemplating oxygen and if his body would ever be able to enjoy its benefits again. As he did, a specific sound got through to him. A meaty, thunking, squelching noise to be specific. Oh, yeah, horrible creature, eat them all! He should probably help do something about that.
He rolled to his feet grabbing up the ax from where it had fallen to the floor. Alissa was brutally whacking away at various tendrils, sending out sprays of purple in all directions with her own multi-faceted implement of destruction. The big main body of the thing was not amused; it looked downright peeved about the whole situation. As much as it looked at anything, since it was squinting hard because of the throwing star striking it right in the eye. Which is why your mother never wanted you and your kid brother to have them and you had to buy them off that one kid who had the dirtball older brother.
Jack viewed the monstrosity’s distraction as an opportunity. He moved in as quickly as his sore body was able and started wailing away on the disgusting thing’s main body with the ax. It kept jerking away its enormous eye instinctively shifting the body everywhere but it didn’t stop Jack from getting some brutal shots in, coating him with sticky purple goo.
The creature let out a squall, its breath catching Jack directly in the face, making him thankful that he didn’t have a full meal. It moved backward with as much speed as it was able, leaving trails of purple blood in its wake. As wounded as it was, it made good time and soon enough it vanished from their lights.
“Thanks for the save there,” Jack smiled at Alissa.
She wiped a glob of purple off her face before replying, “I can’t believe that ninja star crap actually worked!”
“You know, I think I finally figured out what that thing reminded me of,” Jack said.
“If it had been green, which it wasn’t, this pocket dimension would be served a cease and desist by the Simpson’s lawyers.”
The man who had been reduced basically to rags and a pair of Converse High Tops turned out to be named Kyle.
“So how long have you been here?” Alissa asked.
He shook his head, “I really don’t know. It feels like weeks but with no clocks, the battery on my phone that ran out ages ago and no sun, I just don’t know. I’ve been feathering my headlamp, using it as little as possible.”
“How in the hell do you find your way around here with no light?” Jack asked.
“And what in the hell have you been eating?” Alissa added looking over at Kyle as they walked.
“It’s actually not pitch dark down here, there’s like a low luminescence once your eyes adjust. As far as food, remember those racks from the beginning? You find stuff like that scattered about. I guess it’s less fun if you starve to death.”
Jack looked slightly aghast, “What does that stuff even TASTE like?”
Kyle sighed, “Liver. Even the beer. Either of you got a Slim Jim or something? I hate liver.”
“Sorry. Hey, has anyone but keeping track of turns?” Alissa asked.
“I have, I have a direction in mind,” Jack replied. “I have a pretty good sense of direction.”
“Here’s hoping you’re right. Just a second guys; look up ahead. Oh, and for the record, I agree. Liver is gross,” Alissa changed the course of the conversation three times without regard to anyone’s ability to keep up.
Everyone peered into the darkness ahead of them. But the thing was, it was no longer all darkness ahead of them at all, they could see a square of light off in the distance.
“Holy shit! I think that’s the exit. I never thought I’d see it!” Kyle burst out, practically hopping in place with joy.
He darted forward, only to freeze a moment later. The light had vanished. It had vanished behind the gigantic thing that had stepped out of the darkness. The thing that let out a thunderous roar.
“ROAR!” it said.
It was brown and man-shaped, just much, much bigger than they were. Its skin, such as it was, looked like leather plates. It was indeed something that looked like a thing. Its mouth was wide, its nose almost non-existent, Drool fell from its enormous mouth.
“IT’S SLOBBERIN’ TIME,” it yelled.
“Really?” Jack finally broke the silence.
Even Kyle looked disgusted, “I’m going to get killed by something doing comic book jokes.”
The creature roared again before hurtling down the huge hallway in their direction. Kyle darted off to the side, and the creature went right on by. Jack thought this was completely unreasonable. If it had stopped for Kyle they might have been able to wound it critically while it was busy pounding the newcomer into a pulp.
It seemed like even before Jack could raise the ax into a defensive position, the monstrosity took a swing at him causing Jack to flatten himself to the ground. There was a resounding boom when the creature’s fist slammed into the wall. From Jack’s viewpoint on the ground, he could see Alissa sliding under the thing’s bowed legs while it was distracted. Great. Instead of using Kyle as a distraction, everyone else was going to use HIM as a distraction while they ran for it.
The thing loomed over Jack. Looming was something this monster had a natural ability for and it did it well. With Jack prone as he was, the whole looming thing worked even better. The monster brought both fists up to turn Jack into a gooey paste on the floor when suddenly, it paused. It began waving its arms in the air and spinning in a circle.
As it turned completely around, Jack could see that it wasn’t because of a sudden desire to dance badly. Alissa clung to its back by a knife she’d wedged between its plates. The creature was just too damned bulky to effectively reach where she was hanging on, but Jack worried that it would only be a matter of time before it caught her leg or something.
He got up and took a swing at one of its legs to distract it when they went whipping by again. This earned a yowl of anger but didn’t seem to be putting it off its main objective. Very single-minded, which unfortunately for their little crew was probably a good trait for a monster to have.
Alissa called down, “Give me your ax! It’s vulnerable here, but I can’t get the damned knife deep enough.”
Well, easy, he’d be right up there with the ax and just hand it over. How hard could it be? Just climb up this enraged monster and hand her the ax. Easy as pie.
Jack was pretty sure he was about to get killed here.
Saying a quick prayer to whichever Saint looked out for total idiots, he grabbed the creature’s arm as it went flying by and scrambled as high as he could.
“Quick, take the thing!” he yelled.
He had no idea if Alissa had gotten the ax. As the monster’s arm whipped him off he only had the briefest moment to enjoy being airborne. All he knew was that he didn’t have the ax anymore. Then all he knew was that it got really bright with a flash of pain and then it got really dark with enforced sleepy time.
“While you’re adorable when you’re asleep, we might want to get a move on,” a decidedly feminine voice called out of the dark to him.
“Just five more minutes,” Jack grunted.
“I’d like to think you’d want to get out of here while we have the chance,” the voice said.
All of it came back to Jack, crashing down over him like a tidal wave of weird. His eyes snapped open, then quickly shut again, “Oh sure, the nice stuff had to be the dream. The reality had to be the horrible stuff that felt like a dream. Also, my head hurts.”
“If we get out of here, I’ll get you some Excedrin,” Alissa replied encouragingly.
Groaning, Jack opened his eyes to see Alissa staring down at him smiling. He managed a weak smile back, “I don’t know, this is the best view I’ve had all day.”
She laughed lightly and held out her hand, “Let’s get going, and maybe you’ll get the same view without the horrific surroundings.”
Jack got to his feet begrudgingly. He was immediately happy to see the beast lying there looking deceased and even happier to see the light shining off in the distance without the creature’s bulk to hide it.
“What happened to Kyle?”
She shrugged, “He took off for the light, I let him. Figured if it was a trap, let him find out first since he was so eager. I haven’t heard any screams so I figure we’re in the clear.”
It didn’t take long to cover the last bit of distance. While both of them had their ears perked up, no sounds were forthcoming in front of them. It seemed like the rocky leathery thing was what was supposed to keep them from leaving and both of them really wanted to believe that.
Coming up to the light, they saw that it looked to be a glass door. Better yet, the door looked like it led to an honest-to-God dingy convenience store, which is not a view that usually brings as much joy as they were feeling at the moment.
Jack pushed and the door opened with a thwop as the weather stripping around it released.
They practically fell out into the store.
A red light started going off. They both ducked instinctively until a recorded voice started squawking, “WE HAVE A WINNER!”
Looking up they saw Kyle pulling stuff off of shelves and the same disinterested clerk behind the glass watching them. He saw them and gave a half-hearted wave followed by a thumbs up.
Stumbling a bit they made their way to his little bulletproof booth.
“What in the hell?” Alissa demanded.
The clerk rattled off in a monotone, “Congratulations on winning the Things challenge. Each of you are entitled to fifty dollars’ worth of merchandise, valid for this visit only.” He paused and added, “Hey, well done, the other guy told me he thought you guys were dead when he came out.”
“To be fair, that thing looked unkillable,” said Kyle over his shoulder as pulled more stuff off the shelves.
“You should warn people,” Jack said indignantly.
Sighing, the clerk replied, “I keep telling the boss we should put up more warnings but the boss never listens. We got just those two.” The clerk pointed to a little placard by the door, and to the floor in front of the aisle they’d vanished down, where “THINGS” had been painted in red but was now scuffed and partially illegible without squinting.
“Why in the hell do you even keep the place open with stuff like that in here?” Alissa asked.
The clerk shrugged, “The boss thought it would be a tourist attraction. You know, like a ride or something. And since almost no one makes it out he doesn’t pay up very much, so he views it as a win. Three in one night is some kind of record I think.”
“That’s insane,” Alissa said.
The clerk managed another shrug, “I just work here sister.”
“How does that even happen?” Jack demanded.
“Look buddy, I make 12 bucks an hour working here, I don’t make ‘understands inter-dimensional portal magic’ money,” the clerk smirked.
“Valid,” Alissa agreed.
Jack turned to Alissa, “Look, I am really, truly sorry this ruined our night.”
She smiled, “Hey, how many people can say they’ve done that on a first date? And, we can seriously load up for a hundred bucks of stuff to hang out with.”
“You mean you’re not going straight home?”
“Well, I am, but only to pick up some clothes. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve got purple glop all over us. But assuming the very earth doesn’t swallow us up next, Netflix and a hundred bucks of booze and junk food. I’d say we’ve earned it!”