Pick-Your-Own-Adventure: Escape from AllMart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

You’re the hero!
You awaken in a strange and seemingly infinite megastore known as AllMart.
It’s home to everything you could ever want or need, but hidden dangers abound!
Pick your own path, but watch out! Can you ESCAPE FROM ALLMART?

You awaken on a bench in the middle of what appears to be a large clothing store. Fluorescent lighting glares from the ceiling high overhead. Soft music drifts to your ears from nowhere in particular. Sitting up, you find yourself surrounded by a veritable forest of clothing racks, all filled with women’s outfits of various sizes and styles! White linoleum paths divide the racks and shelves into square grids.

You stand up and look around. You can’t see an entrance or exit. There’s no sign of how you got here. Tall shelves eventually block your view in every direction. All you can see is women’s clothing for hundreds and hundreds of metres. You see people moving around the racks of clothing or along the linoleum paths. Other customers, all shopping by themselves, and people in red and white uniforms that must be staff.

What do you do next?

To climb the nearest shelf and try to see where you are, turn to Page 2.

To find some clothes to try on, turn to Page 4.

To find one of the staff and ask for assistance, turn to Page 5.

You turn to Page 4.

You go through the racks and find a dress to try on. You can’t find a changeroom or any signs as you wander around. This store is huge!

You eventually find an alcove with some mirrors and put the dress on over your t-shirt and jeans. You look very pretty.

To climb the nearest shelf and try to see where you are, turn to Page 2.

To find one of the staff and ask for assistance, turn to Page 5.

You turn to Page 2.

You decide to climb one of the shelves and try to see where you are. Not sure why this is your first move, it seems kind of extreme.

The shelf is very tall and very long. It feels taller than you first realised as you climb. Shelves shake underfoot. All the clothing above head height should be inaccessible but there’s not a speck of dust on anything. Even though you’re out of shape and your arms are weak noodles, you make it to the top and look around you.

The store stretches away from you in every direction you can see! The women’s clothing section alone is a vast landscape of clothing racks, shelving, tables, and mannequins. The roof, still far above your head, stretches to infinity in all directions. You can’t see any walls, or any exits, just huge support pillars that branch up to the roof once in a while.

On the limits of your vision you can get a sense of other sections. There’s a border where Women’s Clothing blends into Men’s Clothing, a section equally vast. What might be an electronic section on the horizon. A maze of glittery glass countertops with pinkish clouds hanging over it like some fantasy labyrinth also sits to one end of the women’s section.

From the ceiling in various places, signs the size of billboards dangle over this self-contained consumerist world. Only the nearest one is close enough to read. ‘AllMart: We Sell All’.

To find one of the staff and ask for assistance, turn to Page 5.

To despair, turn to Page 13.

You turn to Page 5.

You wander through clothing racks for a while until you find an employee to ask for assistance. They are wearing a white shirt, red pants and a red smock. The smock reads ‘AllMart: We Sell All’. They look young, although their age is difficult to determine. Their skin and hair is so pale it’s as if they’ve never seen the sun. Plastered on their face is a huge, unnatural grin.

“Hi, welcome to AllMart, We Sell All. How may I serve you?”

“What is this place?” You ask.

“AllMart is your one stop shop for your every want or need!”

“How did I get here?”

“The important thing is you’re here now, AllMart is your one stop shop for your every want or need!

To go around in circles for a bit, asking the same dumb questions, turn to Page 7.

To ask where the exit is, turn to Page 8.

To ask where the bathroom is, turn to Page 12.

You turn to Page 8.

“Where the exit is? That is to say, where is the exit?”

The employee’s face crinkles into concern. “Exits? I’m not sure we have those. But that can’t be right, because AllMart is your one stop shop for your every want or need! Let me radio my supervisor.”

The AllMart employee pulls a walkie talkie off their belt and asks their supervisor about exits. You listen intently. A loud shriek of feedback comes back through the walkie, so loud it makes you jump! Buried under the feedback is babble, mixed with a sort of Gregorian chanting and the squeals of an animal in agonising pain, which goes on for several seconds. None of it sounds even remotely like language. The employee nods for a moment and the noise cuts off.

“Mm-hm, mm-hm, that’s what I thought.” The employee’s awful grin returns, an almost feverish light in their pale eyes. “I’m sorry, as I said, I don’t think we have any exits. You must have imagined them. Is there any other way I can serve you at the moment?”

To ask to speak to a manager, turn to Page 16.

To tell the employee to go fuck themselves, turn to Page 19.

To try to find the exit yourself, turn to Page 21.

You turn to Page 21.

You decide to find the exit yourself. Setting off in a random direction, you figure as long as you keep moving in a straight line you’ll have to reach an exit eventually!

Racks and shelves of clothing seem to go on forever, and yet no two racks are alike. The styles come from America, Europe, Asian, Africa, and different eras of history. You see other AllMart employees and what must be other customers walking among the rows. All the employees have the same pale, grinning, twitchy look. You consider trying to talk to the other customers but they all look glazed, frowning in concentration as they wander around like zombies.

Outcroppings of mannequins line the path every once in a while. All of them identical, none of them wearing the same thing as any other mannequin. Their faces are blank and featureless but even without eyes they seem to follow you.

After walking for what feels like an hour, you come to some tall shelves and your first fork in the perfectly straight path. A signpost points toward ‘Shoes’ on the left and ‘Perfume’ on the right.

To take the left path through ‘Shoes’, turn to Page 24.

To take the right path through ‘Perfume’, turn to Page 31.

You turn to Page 31.

You take the right path through the perfume section. Glass counters and white shelves form a labyrinth as far as the eye can see! A sticky haze hangs in the air. The glass counters are filled with thousands and thousands, millions, of tiny bottles of every shape and size and colour. All full of perfume!

The area appears totally abandoned except for the omnipresent background music of the store, which you had almost forgotten. No employees or customers. Like some kind of idiot, you are undeterred as you set out through the maze. The glass counters are arranged into islands, so it’s possible to keep moving in a relatively straight line.

It starts as a tickle in your throat. The smell of perfume is cloying and sweet. A mix of a hundred thousand different fragrances sticks in your sinuses and to the roof of your mouth. That haze in the air gets thicker, and your eyes start to sting. You begin heaving! You’re suffocating! You crumble to your knees, clutching your burning throat, and start crawling back in the direction you came, crying, drooling, choking. But it’s too late!

You d-

You cheat and turn back, your finger still wedged at Page 21, then you flip to Page 24. Cheater.

You take the left path through the shoes section. You feel vaguely uneasy, like something important just happened but you missed it. There’s a tightness in your chest but it goes away after a few deep breaths. You can’t shake the feeling that this place is more dangerous than you first thought.

The path continues straight and seems to stretch to a vanishing point in the distance. It is surrounded by ranks and ranks of shelving extending overhead, covered in shoes. Men’s shoes, women’s, and children’s shoes. An unimaginable number of shoes! The shelves cover another area the size of a small city. Enough shoes to give every man, woman and child in the world one pair for the week and one for Sunday best.

Your feet hurt from walking in only sneakers. You find a pair of hiking boots in your size and exchange them. That helps but you keep walking for another hour and nothing changes. You don’t have a phone or a watch and time is hard to tell with the constant lights and looping music. You see more employees and customers but they all look like grinning maniacs or zombies.

To despair, turn to Page 13.

To keep going, turn to Page 40.

You turn to Page 40.

You keep going until you reach the end of the shoes section. You’re convinced the mannequins from Women’s Clothing are following you. Every once in a while they appear randomly at the ends of rows. Sometimes you look back and they’re standing in the middle of the path from where you just came. It’s probably nothing. Just the stress of the situation getting to you because you’re a weak and emotional person who’s not very good in tough situations.

You’re hungry and thirsty as well as tired. You haven’t seen anything to eat or drink since you woke up here. And unfortunately the next section is ‘Books’. Nothing but shelves and shelves of books as far as the eye can see! Every library and bookshop in the world, from modern paperbacks to ancient, leather bound tomes. Children’s books and fantasy and religious texts and celebrity biographies. The canons of every author in existence. No two shelves are alike, even as you pass hundreds and hundreds of them!

Every once in a while, the shelves are broken by small gatherings of armchairs, for reading. You come across a man in one of these, surrounded by piles of books. He wears thick glasses and his clothing is dirty and disheveled but he’s the first customer you’ve seen not wandering around like a lost spirit. Maybe you can ask him for help?

To keep going, turn to Page 50.

To talk to the stranger, turn to Page 58.

You turn to Page 58.

“Excuse me, do you know what this place is? I’ve been walking for hours,” you say.

The man looks up. He seems annoyed to have been interrupted from his reading.

“This is the AllMart, haven’t you heard? Your one stop shop for your every want or need,” the man says sarcastically.

“How do I get out of here?”

“You don’t, the AllMart goes on forever in every direction.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Time doesn’t really exist in the AllMart, unless it’s for sale.”

To despair, turn to Page 13.

To ask for something to drink, turn to Page 59.

To get tough and demand some answers, turn to Page 62.

You turn to Page 59.

You notice the man has some supplies half-hidden behind his piles of books. There is also a bicycle parked behind his chair.

“Could I please have something to drink?” You ask.

Annoyed, the man reaches down and tosses you a bottle of water. You open and chug it quickly.

“I have some other supplies hidden nearby. It’s relatively safe here, unless you open the wrong book,” the man says. “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. And you have to watch out for the Bookwyrm.”

The man tries to return to his reading. He clearly doesn’t want to talk to you.

To get tough and demand some answers, turn to Page 62.

To ask to borrow his bicycle, turn to Page 65.

You turn to Page 62.

You decide to get tough and demand some answers! Stomping over to the man, you take his glasses and throw them on the floor where they break.

“Give me some answers!” You demand. “What is this place? How do I leave?”

“No! No, there was time now!”

“How do I get out of here?”

“I don’t know! The AllMart chooses you, it contains everything you could ever want or need but there’s no escape! I was like you once, but I searched for months and couldn’t get out. There are many dangers and most people just give up and become ghosts of their former selves!”

To keep going, turn to Page 50.

To ask to borrow his bicycle, turn to Page 65.

You turn to Page 65.

You ask to borrow his bicycle.

“No, asshole, you just broke my glasses! I’m not giving you my bike!”

To keep going, turn to Page 50.

You turn to Page 50.

You keep going. Talking to that guy probably makes no difference to the narrative anyway.

After a while, your feet hurt and you’re very tired. Maybe if you go to sleep you’ll wake up out of this nightmare! You find one of those reading nooks and curl up in an armchair, and go to sleep.

You wake up an indeterminate amount of time later still in the store. Lights glare overhead. The store music plays very softly on an endless loop. You’re very hungry and thirsty. You’re less thirsty if you asked that guy for some water but still pretty thirsty.

You get up and keep going in the same direction as before. In desperation, you ask the next employee you see for help again but they are completely useless! Most of the customers don’t even appear to know you’re there.

After what feels like another two hours walking past shelf after shelf of books, you come to another fork in the path. A sign reads ‘Pets’ to the left and ‘Stationary’ to the right.

To take the left path through ‘Pets’, turn to Page 74.

To take the right path through ‘Stationary’, turn to Page 81.

You turn to Page 74.

You take the left path through the pets section. I mean, come on, Stationary? What the hell are you going to find in Stationary? Long, tedious descriptions about how there’s totally lots of notebooks and pens and stuff? Boring.

A cacophony of animal noises greets you as you enter Pets. Dogs and cats scrabble at the walls of clear plastic boxes, dozens upon dozens upon dozens of them! Hundreds of puppies and kittens roam in open pens filled with straw and play equipment. The place smells like a barnyard. You can see a wall made up of cages containing thousands of birds, of every species imaginable!

You don’t have time to play. You’re still very hungry and thirsty, it’s beginning to look like a matter of life and death.

To eat a kitten, turn to Page 76.

To keep looking for something else to eat or drink, turn to Page 80.

You turn to Page 76.

You sick fuck, you’re going to eat a kitten?

You don’t even have anything to kill or cook it with! What, you’re going to kill a kitten with your bare hands and eat it raw, fur and bones and all? You’re disgusting.

To keep looking for something else to eat or drink, turn to Page 80.

You turn to Page 80.

Past the dogs and cats and birds is an inland ocean of aquariums, from goldfish bowls to tanks the size of olympic pools filled with whales, sharks and giant squid! You take one of the goldfish bowls and drink some of the water. It's kind of gross but you were willing to eat a raw kitten so who are you to judge?

Past hundreds and hundreds of metres of tanks are rodents. Rats and mice and hamsters in little glass tanks, thousands of them! Then there are hermit crabs and ferrets and iguanas and snakes and frogs and teacup pigs, and a small city of monkeys and chimpanzees. It must take an army to keep these animals fed and their cages clean, and yet you haven’t seen any employees or other customers.

Eventually, by the horse stables, you spot a small selection of pet food, toys and supplies. By small, that is a section the size of several Navy Destroyers lined up alongside one another filled with shelving three times as tall as you are. You find some kind of dog biscuits that don’t taste too bad and start choking them down. It’s not a raw kitten that you’ve killed with your own hands but it’ll do, right, you sicko?

As you move deeper, the enclosures get bigger and the animals more exotic. Necks swaying, giraffes wander around under the artificial lights, nibbling leaves off tall feeding platforms. Elephants trumpet inside one massive pen. Some of the enclosures are open. A small herd of zebras and other zebra-like creatures trot past you down one aisle.

You come to a corner and hear a rippling growl. A couple of massive tigers lounge over the broken body of another customer. Blood splatters the linoleum floor and surrounding shelves. The nearest tiger mops its gory muzzle with a pink slab of a tongue.

To run, turn to Page 83.

To fight the tiger, turn to Page 101.

You turn to Page 83.

You take off running, as fast as you can! You don’t even look back to see if you’re being chased. Eventually, you run so far and fast you reach the edge of the pets section.

To keep grinding through these long and pointless sections, turn to Page 94.

To speed things up, turn to Page 142.

You turn to Page 142.

Over the next several days, at least as far as you can measure days in the AllMart, you continue to trek in as straight a line as possible from your starting point. You scavenge food where you can. Somewhere, presumably, is an enormous grocery section stocked with more food than you could eat in a hundred thousand lifetimes but you haven’t had the good fortune to stumble on it yet, and may in fact be moving away from it. Customers and the endlessly grinning employees seem to get rarer where you are.

At one point, you come across a vast field of cars and motor vehicles, stretching almost as far as the eye can see! At the very edge of your vision, another section exists lined with boats ranging from speedboats to yachts to monstrous oil tankers dwarfed only by the horizon! Unfortunately, you can’t get any of the cars started to speed up your journey but you survive by draining water from radiators.

You trek through a literal jungle of artificial plants. Artificial fruit hanging from some of the branches tastes waxy and unpleasant yet somehow sustains you. But a constant rustling in the leaves behind you tells you this is not a safe place to stop and rest. You pass along the edge of a hardware section the size of a small country. A universe of coffee cups. A mind-splitting number of novelty salt and pepper shakers. A plateau of tables, like an endless desert.

Eventually, you come to a place with whole houses for sale. The aisles turn into fake streets with artificial lawns, cardboard cutout cars and mannequins in lifelike poses, like  a nuclear test site. Descending into madness, you taunt and curse the mannequins. They do not like it.

To despair, turn to Page 13.

To despair, turn to Page 13.

To despair, turn to Page 13.

To keep going, turn to Page 301.

You turn to Page 301.

Eventually the shelves become filled with more esoteric items. Memories, packaged in ways that are indescribable but undeniable. Other people’s memories and, more disturbingly, your own. Your first kiss. Your greatest childhood embarrassment. Your first memory of waking up in the AllMart. Memories, swathes and swathes of memories.

Emotions for sale. Hope. Happiness. Ambivalence. Schadenfreude.

Buried among towering shelves, you find concepts of time. Time as experienced by an eight-year-old on summer vacation. Time as experienced during an important job interview when you really need to go to the bathroom. Time in the silence waiting for an answer after that first ‘I love you’. Geological time. Eastern Standard Time. All the hours you’ve lost to daylight savings.

Nestled among the time section shelves you find a single physical object. An enormous red button. It almost pleads to be pushed. ‘RESET’ is printed across its surface.

To not press the red button, turn to Page 270.

To press the red button, turn to Page 305.

You turn to Page 270.

You sure you don’t want to press the red button?

To not press the red button, turn to Page 286.

To press the red button, turn to Page 305.

You turn to Page 286.

Come on, don’t be a bitch, press the red button!

To press the red button, turn to Page 305.

To not press the red button, turn to Page 330.

You turn to Page 330.

Press the fucking button.

To press the red button, turn to Page 305.

To press the red button, turn to Page 305.

You turn to Page 305.

You press the red button. It sinks into the mechanism with a satisfying click. There is a flash of blinding light! You can feel your body getting heavy, so heavy it starts to sink, siphoning away, like you’re being pulled down a drain…

Turn to Page 1.

You turn to Page 1.

You awaken on a bench in the middle of what appears to be a large clothing store. Fluorescent lighting glares from the ceiling high overhead. Soft music drifts to your ears from nowhere in particular. Sitting up, you find yourself surrounded by a veritable forest of clothing racks, all filled with women’s outfits of various sizes and styles! White linoleum paths divide the racks and shelves into square grids.

You stand up and look around. You can’t see an entrance or exit. There’s no sign of how you got here. Tall shelves eventually block your view in every direction. All you can see is women’s clothing for hundreds and hundreds of metres. You see people moving around the racks of clothing or along the linoleum paths. Other customers, all shopping by themselves, and people in red and white uniforms that must be staff.

What do you do next?

To climb the nearest shelf and try to see where you are, turn to Page 2.

To find some clothes to try on, turn to Page 4.

To find one of the staff and ask for assistance, turn to Page 5.

 

=============

 

You have thoroughly enjoyed this story. The author must be a pretty cool, handsome guy, you think.

To leave a nice review, turn to Page… I assume there’s a button?

To visit my website for more short stories and articles, turn to seanebritten.com

To follow me on social media, turn to @SeanEBritten on Twitter and Sean E. Britten on Facebook

Thanks for reading!


Submitted: October 13, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Sean E. Britten. All rights reserved.

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