The Lair of Shannon Allisplural

Being arrested or eviscerated (you imagine) by a large plush elephant is a terrible way to start your day. Hesitant to face either option, despite the seemingly insurmountable difficulty of climbing a twenty-foot chain-link fence, you spring lemur-like, clinging to the steely curtain that separates you from possible freedom. Without any clothes to hinder you, the climb is remarkably easy. You drop down unharmed (aside from a few minor snags) on the other side of danger. A squinting, pony-tailed police officer, thwarted by the fence, scowls at you menacingly. “You better not run, you little puke.”

“Anyone ever tell you that you look like Steven Seagal?” you ask before sprinting away, arms flailing like dying birds. His screams fade as you approach a nearby building.

The summer has brought a veil of stillness over the school. The sign out front reads: “OCAD – the university of the imagination.” You cannot fathom, nor immediately see a better place to hide from the police, so you wiggle through a window (no doubt left ajar by some underpaid maintenance man) and land in room bathed in harsh fluorescent light. Approximately a dozen wooden easels bearing blank canvases are arranged about the room in a loose circle. Before each of these sits a stuffed animal, not the cutesy ones usually piled up on the crisply made beds of English schoolgirls, but the preserved husks of dead animals treated by smoking men in poorly lit basements festooned with jars of unknown liquids.

“Finally, our model is here!” A mass of blond hair precedes a smiling face, peering from behind a canvas. “Class, ready your brushes. If you could please take your spot in the center of the circle?” she asks gesturing at you with a flick of her hand.

“Sorry,” you begin, “I think I’m in the wrong place. I should go.”

“You can’t go, not until class is over,” she replies with a sunny smile. Between the suggested violence in her wild look and the surreal scene before you, you decide it best to play along for now.

“OK,” you say, taking a place in the middle of the room, “who are you and what are you doing here?”

“We are Shannon Allisplural and we are attempting to reprogram reality. Everyone here came to me as you have and was saved from a mediocre existence. We can save you too, if you let us. Won’t you let us stuff you… full of life?”

You certainly don’t like mediocrity, so there’s that. On the other hand, you’re not sure you want to become a permanent still life. A difficult choice lies ahead.