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I take off my hat to admire it. It's bright, cartoon red, a perfect fit for my head, and despite its rigid plasticity, a marvelous accessory.

I am filled with fear.

The landscape around suffers from the same disease of absurd perfection as my hat. The trees are of an artless, symmetrical shape, one and all sporting the same uniform color of lima beans. They seem to have been specifically placed in an insuffient attempt to cover up the betraying monotony of the ground. The grass is not grass, but simply a smooth surface on which I stand. The hills are overturned cereal bowls, and the road too obviously leads exclusively to them. Clouds float overhead like bulbous white stock tickers, promising an eternity of drought.

I am in Mario World.

But an unexpected comfort washes over me (and I'm glad enough at this demonstration of the simple faculty for emotion) as I realize that a few of my closest friends are here. Two girls and a boy. They too look cartoonish, false images I've seen before but cannot name. I begin to speak to them, but a line of children interrupt me, and I am too astonished to resume. The children are normal, fleshy humans, exulting in their imperfect song. My erstwhile companions are as relieved by the sight as I am. We do not question their origin any more than we question what we must do. To reclaim our humanity, we must become children again.

But our impulse fails horribly.

We get in line and attempt to join in the singing, and at first I think we are succeeded. I can feel all of us getting smaller, but then I notice the revolting side effect: we are becoming...animals. Well, I'm becoming an animal. One of the girls has become an artichoke, and the other boy has become an asparagus. Neither of these are vegetables of which I am fond. The other girl is an animal like me, a tigeress. I feel a sudden attraction for her assert itself. We abandon the line of children. They continue to march down the road, and I am suddenly conscious of an elder,teacher perhaps, leading them She looks at our dejected group, and smiles knowingly.

We adapt quickly.

We accept our lives wandering this 32-bit hell and soon fall into routine. But romance between the girl and I flowers. Time plods, then whirs, then blurs into fountain stream of image. I am aware of anger, chaos, an intense sadness. Time stops. I straddle the 'neck' of the asparagus. He has betrayed me. I point a sawed-off shotgun at his tip-face. My lovely tigress stares dispassionately at our mortal struggle. The prickly stick beneath me begs, persuades, invokes God. The artichoke pleads for his life. She is probably in love with him. Finally he insults me out of desperation, hoping to goad me into some mistake no doubt.

"She chose me. Slow-witted bear, you act in blind vengeance because you are too uninteresting to attract my beloved."

The artichoke calls to me, shouts my name. I turn calmly to her and explain that in a perfectly symmetrical world, there is no room for compassion--or forgiveness. I turn to the tigress who is surveying the upside down cereal bowl hills. I begin to cry.

And then I blow the head off that motherfucking piece of shit vegetable.

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