Jayden tried to keep from grinning as he edged past the lady pushing a baby stroller through the crowd on Mandalay Avenue, but he just couldn’t help it. Today was it. Today was the day.
He was going to get what he deserved, and it felt so good. The months, the years of practice would finally pay off.
Stepping into the Ron Jon Surf Shop, he paused, breathing in the salty, coconutty smell of the place. This was where he’d get it. His sij-thing.
Where were they? It didn’t make sense that the store would have sij-things out for anyone to just buy. There was a tradition to be upheld. A…ritual. Yes. That was what they told him.
And he was so ready.
As if in a wonderful dream, he drifted past the shelves of paddle guards and board wax, of Fred Tools and trim planes, of leash cups and resins. None of this stuff interested him, though he’d probably get into it at some point. They would make him do it, wouldn’t they? Maybe it would be part of the oath.
The board shorts were cool, though. And the shirts. But all that was for later.
At the register, a butterface blonde with nice tits smiled automatically when he approached.
“Hi!” she said brightly.
Oh, shit. Now that he was here, they weren’t just going to give it to him. He had to ask. His face reddened. This was like buying condoms or lube or something. Why didn’t she just know?
“Uh, hi,” Jayden replied. “I’m…uh…” He swallowed. “I’m ready.”
Still smiling, she asked, “Ready for what?”
“Uh…” She was going to make him spell it out? Wasn’t it written all over his—
The butterface girl laughed. “Just kidding. Go past the dressing rooms to the black door. Down the stairs. You can’t miss it.”
His relief was so complete that his knees came close to unhinging. “Uh, thanks.” He smiled back and went where she indicated, opening the black door covered with sij-things at the end of the corridor.
Double shit. The stairwell past the door led to absolute darkness.
This was it. He could either turn around and go home, or make the plunge. Most people quit at this point. Too scared. Didn’t have the sack. Punked out.
Jayden Silas Tucker wouldn’t be one of them.
He forced his feet down the stairs, stomach tightening. Soon, he was swallowed up by blackness: step after step after step.
It seemed to take hours. Days. An endless descent.
Sweat poured off his brow. His calves quivered like guitar strings. Every breath whooshed in an exhausted pant. Wouldn’t it be easier to just forget it?
No. Never. Not after all that preparation.
After a thousand more steps, a million, he reached the bottom.
Was this it? A cinderblock room with a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling? Shouldn’t there be something more, like a—
“Are you ready?” asked a deep, gargling voice from somewhere the light didn’t reach.
“Y-yes,” Jayden managed, catching his breath.
A fragment of darkness detached itself from the shadows. It seemed to possess a vaguely manlike shape, though with massive curling horns and tiny, slit-like crimson eyes. “Which color?”
“Uh, red. No! Um, white. Definitely white,” Jayden said.
“Are you ready to take the oath and accept our sigil?”
“Hold out your hand.”
Wincing in advance, Jayden extended his hand, palm up.
“Do you solemnly swear to forego all use of the turn signal in any driving situation, and for all time?”
“Do you solemnly swear to tailgate at every opportunity, no matter which lane you are in?”
“Do you solemnly swear to make all lane changes as quickly as your car’s steering will allow?”
“Do you solemnly swear to ignore every merge line, jumping ahead at every opportunity?”
“Do you solemnly swear to never let anyone merge into traffic ahead of you?”
Jayden felt a cold, slick sensation as the horned darkness placed something in his hand. “By accepting this sigil, you affirm that of all the people in the universe, the rules, customs, and courtesies of the road are beneath you, only to be followed by lesser folk,” it said. “The road belongs to you and you alone. Do you acknowledge it?”
“I, uh, ack…ackuh, um. Yes. Yes, I do,” Jayden said.
“Then go, with my blessing.”
Soundlessly, the terrible, man-shaped blackness vanished, leaving a sulfurous miasma in its place.
The instant Jayden’s fingers closed over the sigil, he felt an incredible jolt of electricity rocket through him. Yes. Yes! A massive erection tented the front of his trousers and didn’t subside until he was up the stairs, out of the store, and back at his car, smoothing his brand new Salt Life sticker on the rear windshield.
“Everyone watch out,” he murmured, smiling. “Jayden’s got his sij, uh, sign thing. Sticker. Yeah.”
Present readers excepted, of course. You are, no doubt, all excellent motorists.