A fraction of a second after tapping your time-travel remote, the sound of a loud engine fills your ears.
Although it’s muffled … because, you realise, you’re wearing a helmet.
You feel the wind whipping past you.
A helmeted, jacketed figure sits a few inches in front of you.
Behind you, enormous booms echo out:
THUD! THUD! THUD!
What on earth is going on?
You come to your senses and realise … you’re on the back of a motorbike, whipping through a dirt trail in the forest.
Then the rider turns around to look at you, and flips up his visor to reveal … Daniel Throssell’s face.
And he’s … shouting something.
You turn around to look behind you … and nearly fall off the bike in shock.
We’re being chased by a … kangaroo?
But not just a normal kangaroo.
This kangaroo is GIANT.
And … it’s looking at us hungrily.
“What the Hopkins is THAT?!?” you scream through your helmet.
“That, my friend,” I reply, “is none other than one of the most irritating creatures on this copywriting island …”
“Wait, you mean guru?”
“No, goo-‘roo. They’re greedy, vicious, and they can grow up to as much as eight or nine figures tall … as you can see!”
THUD! THUD! THUD!
The goo-‘roo keeps hopping after us … and it’s gaining.
I squeeze the throttle … but the bike is maxed out. We’re not going to outrun it at this rate.
Time for a new plan.
“You know how to ride a motorcycle?” I call out.
“No!” you reply.
“Don’t worry, neither do I! You take over!”
Before you can protest, I deftly swing around behind you and shove you forward. You grab the handlebars of the bike and take control.
Behind you, I unholster my Compendium shotgun … and begin unloading it at the goo-‘roo.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
But your riding is too unsteady … and I miss all my shots.
I curse and turn back to reload … then spin back around and aim my shotgun.
“Hold this thing STEADY!” I yell.
“I’m TRYING!!!” you shout back.
The goo-‘roo lurches closer.
It takes one last giant leap …
… comes flying through the air towards us, and …
This time … I nail the shot.
The goo-‘roo keels over, wounded. It won’t be hopping after us any time soon.
“All right!” you scream.
We zoom off on the bike, leaving the injured goo-‘roo lying on the trail behind us.
A minute or so later, you turn the bike around a blind corner of the dirt trail, and …
… come face-to-face with the unharmed goo-‘roo, standing right in front of us.
“AAAAAHHHHHHH!” you scream, jerking the handlebars.
The bike veers sharply left, just missing the goo-‘roo.
It starts bounding after us in hot pursuit.
“How is that even POSSIBLE?!?” you shriek.
“Retargeting!!!” I shout back. “Once they get a whiff of you … these things will follow you EVERYWHERE with offers for their free-plus-shipping book, or their training course!”
I turn around and keep firing.
You round a corner … and again, the goo-‘roo is waiting.
(Sure enough, you notice a book tucked into its pouch, which it seems to be intent on getting you to pay the postage for.)
You pull the throttle, and the bike crests a hill …
The goo-‘roo is waiting right over the other side.
The motorcycle slams into the goo-‘roo’s furry chest.
We each go flying through the air … then roughly tumble along the ground.
You sit up, groggy.
You look over at me.
I’m lying unconscious on the ground.
The goo-‘roo bounces up in front of you.
It looms over you with its towering bulk. From up close, you can see the hunger in its eyes as it looks at you. It licks its lips.
You try to scramble to your feet, but before you get up, the goo-‘roo stuns you by crying:
“WAIT — I’m not one of those ‘goo-‘roos’!”
It can … talk?
“Listen,” booms the goo-‘roo’. “I’m not a goo-‘roo, and I’m not here to hurt you. In fact, I’m here to tell you what the other goo-‘roos WON’T tell you. They’re keeping this a secret from you. And they’re FURIOUS at me for offering to share it. Now if you’ll just … give me … your credit card …”
Licking its lips, the goo-‘roo reaches out its giant paws towards you.
You shriek in terror …
The goo-‘roo disintegrates into chunks of retargeted fur and gore.
You look over at me … but I’m still just sitting up, dazed. It wasn’t me who saved you.
Who shot the goo-‘roo?
“Yeeeah! ‘MERICA!!!” calls out a voice from a tree in the distance.
You squint into the distance and see …
It’s my buddy Tom Burns, with his sniper rifle.
He’s saved you for a second time in this Parallel Welcome Sequence.
“THANK YOU!” you call out, jumping and waving your arms.
“Don’t get me wrong … I only saved your sorry butt because I hate those goo-‘roos more than anything else,” he mutters. “Slimy creatures. No surer sign something is a goo-‘roo than hearing it bash other goo-‘roos …”
By this point, I’ve recovered myself. I walk up to you.
“Are we safe now?” you ask.
I shake my head grimly.
“That goo-‘roo will never leave you alone, sadly,” I explain. “It may be dead for now … but it’ll respawn in another YouTube ad the next corner you go around.”
“So I’ll NEVER be free?”
“There’s one way to make it stop …”
I reach into your pocket …
… and pull out a small chocolate-chip biscuit.
“Is that a … cookie?” you ask.
“Yep,” I say, taking a bite. “He planted this on you. They use these cookies to track and retarget you. But you’re good now. Just don’t go clicking any more of their videos, okay?”
You nod your head.
And then you realise … weren’t you originally here for another email?
You look down at your phone … and see a new email from Daniel Throssell.
Better go read that, then …