Whaddup, FYA!! For once I’m excited to welcome you to Monday, for it’s the NEW MONDAY, otherwise known as CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE MONDAY! We can’t deliver you cocktails, but we CAN bring a little adventure and choice into your otherwise humdrum week. If you were with us for the last CYOA, you remember how it works. If you’re new to adventuring, welcome! Each week, we’ll post an episode, ending with a set of choices. Vote in the comments, and the winning choice will determine the next episode. That’s right — not even WE know how this shindig is going to unfold! We won’t be able to show you every possible ending, but we are bringing MORE CHOICE to this democracy in the form of last week’s Mad Libs post. Keep an eye out for your contribution!

And now, without further ado, DYSPOCALPYSE COMMENCE!!!!!

Chapter 01: The Dyspocalypse Will Not Be Televised

“Open up!” you shout, pounding on the bathroom door, adding in an undertone, “I’m so late.” You hear giggling. “Jeez, this is SO not funny! It’s the second time this week!”

“Door won’t open for you again?” Your suitemate smirks, poking her head in your room on her way to breakfast. “It worked for me. You just have to learn how to finesse it.” She breezes off, on time, perfectly put together as always.

You sigh, and go back to pounding on the door. “C’mon! Hurry up!”

“I’ll open if you ask nicely,” a smooth metallic voice responds. “And stop hitting me.”

“Pretty please? With sugar on top?”

“That’s better. You didn’t have to beg, but it’s a nice touch.” The door slides open with a hiss and—you swear you aren’t imagining it—a snicker. You rush inside, making sure to wedge a flipflop between the door and the jamb just in time to keep it from closing and, for all you know, locking you inside this time. After a quick shower—thank goodness it was cooperating this morning—you’re flying down the dormitory steps with just enough time to grab a bagel from the dining room to scarf down on the way to class.

Your first class, Man as Machine, is just getting started as you squeak in the door. The opening credits are rolling on the telemonitor and a voice is droning about humans’ capabilities and shortcomings in construction (the lecture is titled “Skyscrapers vs. Strip Malls”). You activate the pad on your desk and start tapping through your files until you pull up the accompanying study guide. It was bad enough to be stuck in the Faculty of Arts and Letters instead of making it into the Academy of Higher Learning, but if you don’t stay on top of things you’ll be dropped down and transferred to the Institute for Domestic Arts and the Trades. Not that there’s anything wrong with learning to cook and perform mechanical maintenance, but you burn everything you try to cook and the last gadget you tried to repair burned you.

“Where IS that stupid file?” you mutter, flicking the screen.

NO TALKING NO TALKING NO TALKING flashes at you in red. Great. You know the machines aren’t out to get you in, like, an OUT TO GET YOU way, but some days it seems like they really delight in screwing you over. You learned about humanity’s increasing obsession with technology and decreasing attention span and memory capacity in history classes as a little kid, and figure things are way better off the way they are now. With most people unable to concentrate for long periods and with so much knowledge lost, accessible only with permission from the machines, there’s a lot less warfare and crime (other than petty street crime and dumb bar fights over whose robot pet cat is cuter).

Shit. Now you’re really screwed, because you’ve missed half the lecture. You can always call it up on your tablet later, but you hate to think since the computers are tracking your use, they’ll figure out you weren’t paying attention in class, and might report you to the headmaster. You’ll have to do it anyway. Shit! Pay attention, pay attention, you think.

THWACK. A small, white missile lands on your desk. Curious, you pick it up and turn it over. It looks like paper, but you’ve only seen paper a few times in your life. Quickly, you thrust it in your pocket when you remember the small camera on your desk. Oh, like THAT’S not suspicious, you realize, so you pull it back out, make a disgusted face and pretend to throw it on the floor.

The hallway is crowded after class, and you take advantage of the crush to unfold the note without being spotted by any cameras.

Don’t look around, the note says. You look up. Crap. There are spies everywhere. Do not trust anyone, and do not mention this note. At lunch, you’ll be asked to join us in the dining room. Don’t act like you expect it—just walk around looking for an empty table to sit with your reader as usual, but walk past the table under the window with the bathing scene. That’s where we’ll be. Please destroy this communication by eating it.

Um, weird. And GROSS. Since paper is so scarce, the note is scrawled on what looks like a scrap that’s been buried in a landfill for a hundred years, or at least spent several hours in the school’s kitchen trash pile.

“What’s up? Hey, what’s that?” You jump, and spin around to see your roommate angling to see the note you’re still holding in your hand. Quickly stuffing it in your skirt pocket, you try to act innocent. As much as you don’t mind your roommate—a tidy, friendly roommate is a great asset in boarding school—you also aren’t sure if you can trust Sev, otherwise known as the biggest gossip and a bit of an airhead (which is really saying a lot).

“Huh? What’s what?” you counter. “God, I totally spaced in class. Did you get any good notes?”

Sev totally forgets about the note you were holding, and natters on about the class. “Strip malls! I mean, jeez, they could at least have talked about shopping malls. THAT I could have listened to. Hey, sit with me at lunch today! No reading. It’ll be totally fun!”

“Um…” You scramble to come up with a response as you two walk into the dining room. Scanning the stained glass windows, you find the one with the nude nymphs cavorting in a spring. No one seems to even notice you’ve walked in—you might be able to sneak back to your room with your lunch and avoid everyone, but then you see him. The most gorgeous boy you’ve ever laid eyes on, and he’s looking straight at you from a prime position underneath one of the bathers in the window.

Uh oh! Now what? Do you:

A.  Make up an excuse to ditch Sev so you can sit at the mysterious table by the stained glass windows?

B.  Sit with your roommate and the host of vapid cheerleaders that surround Sev?

C.  Take Sev with you to the mysterious table, even though the note explicitly said not to?

D.  Ditch them all and go to your usual empty place in the corner and try to catch up on what you missed in the last class?

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.