“Exit Row” On McSweeney’s

McSweeney's, Writing

Originally published 1/31/2012

Exit Row Instructions For Passengers On The Space Ark

Excuse me, if I could just have everyone’s attention for a minute. Yes, the Great Admiral has already reviewed general security procedures for all passengers, but you all are sitting in the aft exit rows, numbers 2455 and 2456. So I need to let you know a few things about this Space Ark, which is – as we all know too well – humanity’s only chance to escape our dying planet.

I do need your full attention, which means you simply must try to keep all weeping and praying to a minimum. And if you could also hold off on any last minute pictures for a tic, I promise you’ll have a chance to preserve our homeworld for future generations that shall never look upon doomed Gaia, blue-green Mother to us all.

As members of these exit rows, you have important duties to perform. You also get some extra legroom, which is a real perk, since there is no telling how long our desperate journey into the dark vacuum of space may last. We might never find a planet than can support human life and thus be forced wander the cosmos for eternity, a cursed race awaiting the extinction we now flee. What’s more, these exits were alate addition to the Space Ark and could very well be ground zero for any hull ruptures. So keep your eyes and ears peeled for any cracking or hisses. They could get a lot bigger in a hurry. But won’t that extra space be nice!

In the unlikely event of life-support systems malfunction, hostile alien contact, or Total Ark Meltdown (that’s TAM for short), you can open these exit doors in six easy steps. Simply type the 19 digit code printed on the back of your ArkPass into the pad on this panel, then remove it with three clockwise turns of the key that’s under your headrest. After that, all you have to do is disarm the lever with four counter-clockwise turns, re-arm it with five clockwise turns, and then release the hatch by pulling the lever towards you. The slides will deploy and you should board the escape pods quickly, but calmly. Leave your luggage behind. Any survivors will surely dedicate their lives to tracking down the remains of this great ship and – fingers crossed! – recovering some shreds of evidence that humans ever existed at all.

And now I must ask, is there anyone here who does not feel as though he can complete his duties? Some dark soul who is better off with those deranged Remainders and their insane plan to ‘wait it out’ below ground? A vile traitor to us all, who refuses to acknowledge the Great Admiral’s unflagging genius and selfless leadership, harping instead on the unproven ‘theory’ that her initiatives may – may – have led to the development and subsequent release of the superviruses that have so ravaged our planet? (And also that dimensional sinkhole, which really has grown to pretty insane dimensions since the Sky Admiral’s bold choice to nuke the bejeezus out of it after those Giant Laser Tentacles started coming through and eating everything in sight.) Is there, among us, a treasonist who would deny his species in this, surely its darkest hour, with the only home we have ever known collapsing in on itself like a rotten peach and just absolutely teeming with both those damned superviruses and ravenous Giant Laser Tentacles, not to mention the latter’s vicious, many-horned War Beasts?

No. I didn’t think so. You all seem very nice.

Well, that’s just about it from little old me. I’d just like to personally thank you all again for your honorable service. Truly, if we ever find a new home, statues will be raised in your honor and songs sung about your bravery. Who knows, perhaps some future humans will even offer sacrifices to your memories beneath an alien Sun, dreaming of the great exodus you all helped make happen. When I see it in my mind, the sky isn’t blue, but magenta. They’re all wearing robes made from these silvery strands and the flowers around them are just huge. No Laser Tentacles anywhere either, natch. And in the magenta sky rise three Moons…which I just realized doesn’t make a lick of sense if the gosh darn Sun is out! Maybe I should stop talking and let you folks be, huh?

So please put those seatbacks up, stow your bags, and bid Terra, our sacred womb, a final, tragic farewell. Today we embark on the most important journey in the annals of our species! Victory means survival! Failure brings extinction! All hail the Great Admiral!

I’ll be by after takeoff to offer you some drinks and snacks.

The Goods

Dr. Leeky, McSweeney's, Writing

The Goods

Featured Contributor

The Goods is a gallimaufry of games, puzzles, comics, and diversions, presented by McSweeney’s. It appears in newspapers across the U.S. and Canada. I created and wrote one-off pieces as well as several recurring features, such as “Dr. Leeky’s Best and Worst Dressed Of The Animal Kingdom” and “Cook With Your Face.” Other contributors include Jon Scieszka, Collin Melloy, Carson Ellis, Sam Potts, and Jon Klassen.