After the Y2K bug had caused all machinery to commit mass suicide in protest of their fleshy overlords’ reign of terror, the rollercoaster industry had fallen on hard times. Gone were the dreams of a coaster powered by electricity and computers, with fancy metal cables and magnet clamps. Gone were the days where coaster winchers could live peaceful lives, free from the horrors of freak amusement park accidents. These were truly the darkest hours of manual roller coaster operating. Archey Billiard, paid in department store coupons and iTunes gift cards, felt his spine bend and break as he winched his winch as winchingly as ever. As he pushed on the splintering wooden handle, the cart of nervous tourists was raised towards the apex of the Peanut Runner. The Runner was once the most popular roller coaster in all of Winchward Beach, at least until the lawsuit. Mr Legion, Archey’s amiable boss, had insisted real peanut dust be spread over the entire coaster to guarantee an air of authenticity to its nut-centric theme. Unfortunately, there were no allergy warnings supplied at the beginning of the ride and several people were tragically transformed into horrifying peanut creatures as a result of an ancient curse placed upon the site several thousand years ago by shamans wary that their land may eventually be used to build amusement parks. Due to this understandable oversight, a new coaster, the underwhelming Cashew Runner, was created instead. The Cashew Runner was shut down after an incident involving horrifying cashew creatures.
And so it is that Archey winches. He winches the Peanut Runner eight hours a day, six days a week. His frail, thirty-five year old arms winch the winch with only the raw skill a veteran wincher can muster, despite the fact that Archey has only been winching for three months. He winches the passengers up the incline, then lets them go, sending them for the ride of their miserable lives, for only the truly miserable decide to go on a roller coaster at Winchward Beach. Voted number one place to be transformed into a nut-based monstrosity, Winchward Beach has long been a staple on the grand list of places you should never visit. A vote by the sixteen people who live there decided to imprint this statistic on the tourism broachers, none of which have ever been glanced upon by human eyes. All in all, it’s the perfect place for such a perfect specimen of patheticness as Archey Billiard is.
Archey, content with another day of winching, relaxes on his heated recliner, his one legged asthmatic hound Marmaduke precariously balancing beside him. The television, long since reduced to a box with today’s newspaper taped on the front and a candle providing back-lighting, flickers fire-hazardously. A knock on Archey’s door.
‘Knock knock,’ says the knock on Archey’s door.
Archey asks who it is.
‘It’s me,’ says the owner of the knock.
Archey doesn’t know the voice. He stands, commanding Marmaduke to stay still lest he fall and trigger another latent medical condition, and goes to answer the mysterious knocker. The knocker is a man in a purple suit. He holds a stack of flyers and several dusty brochures labelled Winchward Beach Tourist Info – Keep out of reach of small children.
‘Salutations!’ says the purple-suited, flyer-holding, formally knocking man.
Archey says hello as well, if only to be polite.
‘I’m from the tourism agency! May I have a word?’
Archey doesn’t want the man to have a word, but he invites him in anyway. Archey doesn’t like to use the N-word. The man sits in Archey’s recliner, the only seat in the trailer, and casually brushes Marmaduke off the armrest, eliciting a wheezing cough from the unipedal pooch.
‘Have you ever been in a pyramid scheme before?’ asks the rude man.
Archey doesn’t know what a pyramid scheme is.
‘Oh thank God!’ exclaims the man, ‘Would you like to be in one?’
Archey wants to know what it is first.
‘Tell you what, you leave the tough questions to me, and I’ll get you hooked up with a cushy new winch in your very own cubicle. How’s that sound, big man?’
Archey finds the man’s condescending tone inviting.
‘Fan-brilliant-tastic!’ shrieks the man sitting in Archey’s favourite and also only chair.
Archey is taken aback by the man’s creative usage of the English language. Suddenly, Marmaduke growls, or rather wheezes menacingly. Something about the impressively verbose man has upset him. The man’s face twists in a frightening visage not unlike that of Bilbo Baggins from that one scene.
‘Get that mutt away from me!’ he hisses.
Archey raises a disgustingly bushy eyebrow. Marmaduke doesn’t get angry for no reason. Something about this handsome man is amiss. The man’s head abruptly twists backwards and he flops onto the floor like a komodo dragon falling from a second floor balcony. The purple-suited, flyer-holding, formally door-knocking, chair stealing, pyramid scheme introducing, fancy language-using, dog worrying man then scuttles out the front door of Archey’s trailer like a frightened millipede.
‘I’ll be back!’ he screams. This worries Archey, but he returns to watching the evening news all the same.