Parties, Pins and Pedestrian Lights

I was late. Damn late. My bus had broken down on the way and I was a good twenty minutes late for the surprise party. Surprise! Of course, I couldn’t even head straight there once I got into town; I had to go to the ATM. I ran to the nearest one to my bus stop and stood in the queue. There were five people ahead of me, quite a lot for an ATM queue. I really didn't have time for this.

I danced around like I had to use the bathroom while the people in front of me got their cash out. They all seemed to be asking for receipts, just making me later and later. Then the guy in front of me decides to check his balance. The bastard! I was in a rush and he wanted to know how much money he had. That could have waited. Then he took out forty euro. I should have just mugged him. He got a receipt too. I wanted to kill him.

Finally the guy left and I was free to use the ATM. I shoved my card into the slot with great haste. The machine asked for my PIN and I obliged, not caring if anyone could see what I was entering. I selected sixty euro and waited for the machine. After several seconds my ATM card popped back out. Then I waited for the money. I could hear the sound of the money coming and I was waiting for it to slip out into my hand and I could be on my way.

I waited ten seconds.

Twenty seconds.

Forty-six seconds.

A minute and eight seconds.

That was it. Too long. There was definitely something wrong with the machine. There was a big queue building up behind me too. Not only was this damn machine trying to steal my money it was causing me great embarrassment too. So I hit it. With the palm of my hand I smacked the keypad. And again. The machine shook with the force I imparted on it. It was still making the here-comes-the-money sound and still my money was trapped inside.

I leaned down and looked into the money slot. There was something in there. It was weird. I couldn't tell what it was. I moved my eyes right up to the slot when I was blinded by an intense purple light. The pain was incredible. I didn't just see the light. I heard the light. I felt the light. I was even able to taste it slightly, though it had no smell. The pain caused to my senses overwhelmed me and I passed out.

I woke up back on the bus. But there was nobody else on it. I looked out the window but all I could see was blackness. The bus was still vibrating like it was moving, but when I went downstairs there was no driver there. The bus was completely empty. Sometime around here I soiled myself. I couldn't open the doors or smash the windows. I couldn't move the steering wheel or hit the brakes. I couldn't get at the box where all the bus fare was collected.

I sat down upstairs in my favourite seat, unable to come up with someway out of the bus. Then he appeared. A small green frog appeared next to me on the seat. He spoke.

"You must not go to the surprise party, Alan."

I was very confused. Why did this frog talk and how did it know my name. After a lengthy inquiry I learned that the frog had caused the bus to breakdown and the ATM to malfunction. But the frog wouldn't tell me who he was or how he could do these things. He said he did them to protect me. That my future depended on not going to that surprise party. I insisted that Mary was sound and I wanted to go to her surprise party. The frog said I couldn't, and he'd stop me if I tried.

I agreed not to go and suddenly I found myself standing back in front of the ATM machine and my sixty euro sitting in the slot, waiting for me to take it. I took the money and looked at my watch. There was still time to make the party if I ran. I was sure I had just made up that whole frog thing, that I had gone a little crazy from the long waiting time for the money. So I ran. I ran as fast as I could to make the party.

As I foolishly jaywalked (or rather jayran) I was hit by a fire engine and killed instantly. I didn't make the surprise party. I didn't listen to the frog. I now know what I should have done. I know what the frog is. I know what the frog is working against. I know that if you see the frog, if you wake up in some strange location and a talking frog appears to you, you have to, and I repeat have to, listen to what he tells you. Because if you don't, if you ignore his sagely advice, he'll never stop bitching to you about it for the rest of eternity.