Author's note: This was inspired by Terry Pratchett in general and Only You Can Save Mankind in particular. If you've read neither, shame on you.


See the man, running through the maze.


See the helmet. It is yellow, like his suit. It resembles a pizza pie with a slice missing.



The letters stenciled above his tinted visor...



The man runs. He cannot remember why he is here; indeed, he cannot remember if he ever did know. All the PAC Man knows are the maze, the pills...

...He turns a corner and stops dead...

...the pursuit.

One of Them is advancing down the path right now. He does not know if they are ghosts, or demons, or some nameless eldritch abomination. The only thing he knows about Them is this:

They must not catch him.

He turns and flees, picking up pills all the way.

He does not know what the pills are for. They are tasteless, scentless, and (as far as he can tell) have no nutritional value. The only sustenance he receives is placed at a certain spot by a person or persons unknown—the ones responsible for his being here? Who knows?—at regular intervals, disappearing as mysteriously as it appears.

The PAC Man runs...

For all his speed and cunning, he would be dead by now were it not for the glowing orbs.

He must have found out about the orbs quite early on, for he can't remember not knowing the effect grabbing one had on Them. He has escaped from more than one jam that way. They turn blue, and flee from him in fear, knowing that now, and only now, are they vulnerable.

He could not deny the sheer pleasure vanishing one of Them gave him, but as time went by they returned to the chase. They always returned.

He hasn't seen a glowing orb for a while.

Sometimes, he is so exhausted from running that he will begin to hallucinate. He imagines he sees a wife, a female doppelganger of himself; or a child; or some sort of teacher or professor.

But they all fade away, and he is once more alone.

Alone but for Them.

He has been running for so very long.

And They have become faster. Smarter.


See the man running, the sound accompanying him, emanating from everywhere and nowhere.


From the left—!

From the right!

They close in on him, two of Them, in a pincer movement. The man stifles an oath, and ducks into the only opening available.

It's a dead end.

He stumbles to a halt a few feet from the wall, two more pills in front of him.

He whips around. The two from before have entered the pathway. A third follows them in.

No escape.

He looks back down at the pills—the last two pills.

He has been running for so very, very long...

The hell with it, he decides.

See the PAC Man, turning and running headlong towards the relentless foe...