With beads of sweat dotted on his brow; he writhed and squirmed violently on the floor – but as he did so, the bonds around his ankle gripped even tighter. He could feel the circulation in his foot being cut off, and tried to use his other leg to kick at the snare, attempting to snap it or break it clean off, but to no avail.
John let out a roar of frustration and thrashed again, flipping himself onto his front – the soft ground cushioning him as he fell.
Knocking away various coloured debris, John clawed at the ground in front of him but found no purchase, no grip as his nails dragged along the red floor leaving white, parallel scratch marks.
A tear welled at the side of John’s eye, but he fought back the hysterical urge to give up.
He was determined to free himself.
Suddenly, eyes stared out at John from the surrounding area.
Small, beady eyes took in the scene of the grown man struggling to free himself from the leather thongs wrapped around his ankle – all too interested in his plight.
John stopped struggling and looked up at the strange audience.
“Please, HELP ME!”
The eyes did nothing, but suddenly, an unseen voice boomed around the area from all sides, robotic in nature.
“Stephen. There’s a man stuck in the ball pit. Help him out please.”
The panic washed away from John, embarrassment taking over all his senses. His face felt heated as his cheeks took on the exact hue of the red plastic balls that surrounded him. Green, yellow and blue shapes taunted from every direction, the leather straps of the spider’s web above trapping him in the pit below.
He had to maintain some pride.
This was not how it would end.
John threw himself forward; his left arm outstretched, and grasped hold of a metal strut wrapped in soft plastic that he knew supported the gargantuan rainbow maze of the adventure playground.
Summoning all his might, he pulled, and felt the taut leather trappings of the web above stretch as he inched closer to freedom.
More people gathered to stare down at John; his eyes narrowed in determination, his arm shaking in his exertion – the tip of his tongue poking out in concentration.
His face just centimetres from the strut and John felt the leather bonds begin to slip down his ankle. Relief took over his entire being and he threw his other arm out to the strut, pulling with all his might for the last small distance.
The bonds slipped again, but John did not feel relief this time.
Instead, he felt a sick realisation of dread, as the leather straps hooked onto his shoes, and refused to give any more – he had reached a dead end.
John flew backwards into the ball pit as his arms caved to the pressure, scattering plastic spheres into the sky that rained down upon him, entombing him in a soft, polymer nightmare from which there seemed no waking.
John lay on his back catching his breath.
“I just wanted to have a go.” He wheezed, but no one heard him, no one cared.
Through the small holes in his multi-coloured prison he could see a crowd of children, some laughing, some crying, and – picking his way through the crowd – Stephen, John’s greasy-haired teenage saviour.
This was the worst trip to McDonalds ever.