Traffic moved steadily and eloquently up and down North Los Robles in Pasadena. Cars, trucks, cycles and several varied conveyances moved in almost perfect synchronized symphony as lights changed and stopped whole lanes of vehicles from moving to let others pass for a few minutes then letting it move again. Intermixed in this vast modern real world tableau, local pedestrians and visiting travelers existed in this mélange of civilization. Two friends stopped and hesitated out of the coffee shop, one of them taking another sip of his fresh brewed morning coffee before departing. A female bike messenger stopped to catch a drink from her thermos, then looked up to the bookstore up on the curb and noticed a book by authoress Elizabeth Vannacutt she was interested in reading. Departing out the back of her apartment building, Penny Parker was also tipping back her morning coffee in her orange and white waitress uniform and hurrying out to her little car and hoping she could get all the way to work before her engine light came on in her car. This morning was almost like just every other morning except with little variances, and Leonard was starting to realize it. Waking up, going to work at the university, dealing with Sheldon and then going to bed just to do it again the next day was starting to become a routine he felt trapped in. Rajesh was feeling it too and to a lesser extent even Howard. Recently married to a cute and adorable blonde biochemist named Bernadette with a childlike voice and cartoon giggle, he too was starting to feel he needed something new and exciting to break up the monotony. While they all enjoyed going to Stuart's Comics over on Ellsworth Avenue, it just seemed as if this week was no different than the week before. However, there was one member of their retinue that didn't feel their same sentiment.
"Burned out? Hell, no…" Sheldon Cooper sounded chipper and looked at their surly faces with a sparkle in his gleaming eyes. "But I understand your predicament, and I disagree. What you guys are confusing as routine is actually perfect order and conformity. Every morning I wake up, I realize that I'm living through another cycle of a flawlessly balanced system that I perfected with absolutely no surprises, hindrances or variations."
"Yes, Sheldon…" Leonard sighed tiredly. "But we're not androids. We're normal."
Sheldon looked at them as if he was peeved by their snide comment.
"We're tired, Sheldon…" Leonard continued. "Nothing exciting or new has happened in a while." They walked up the sidewalk from where they had parked toward Stuart's Shop.
"Nothing exciting?" Sheldon scoffed again. "Why do you think I am constantly bringing up new and interesting new pieces of info to share with you guys? Why do you think I'm constantly trying to enliven your lives with bright new discussions and speculative debates?"
"Because you're an egomaniac and like being the center of attention." Raj answered as they passed Mocha Jojo's Coffee Shop.
"I've been so down I actually promised Bernadette I'd take her to visit her grandparents in Nevada." Howard sighed. "They actually collect and paint rocks to sell to tourists, and God help me, that sounded exciting!"
"Maybe Stewart's got something going on…" Leonard held the door open to the guys to go in ahead of him. Ahead of them, the place was filled with the posters and memorabilia of both the comic book, science fiction and fantasy genres. Howard called it "nerd nirvana," a haven for guys like trying to hold on to the only happy memories of their otherwise distraught childhoods. Tables were full of boxes of old and new comic books, the corners reserved for books and VHS and DVD collections and the ceiling strung up with model space-ships, crime-fighting vehicles and even the occasional inflatable action figure. The walls were covered in posters of superhero artwork, shelves of toys and reproductions of movie weapons and autographed photos of famous science fiction and fantasy actors. Some of them were gifts to Stuart from actor Wil Wheaton, a well-known actor from an acclaimed science fiction series from the Nineties. Upon entering, Sheldon's blank expression took on a likeness of happy familiarity dosed with a token of idol worship.
"Well, if it isn't Wil Wheaton, my new best friend…" He saw Wil as a colleague and comrade, a drastic change from his previous enmity with the actor over an unhappy absence at an autograph session years before. Will looked up with an amused look tinged with uncomfortable overtones, glanced to Stuart and back again. He had other people in his life he was much more friendly with, but he wasn't about to upset Sheldon by dosing his joy with reality.
"Hello, Sheldon…" Wil beamed jovially as he looked up then restrained his demeanor with curiosity. "Hey, what ever happened with that going into space thing?"
"No comment…" Sheldon reacted with buried embarrassment.
"He failed the personality screening…" Howard revealed. "But I may get to go…" The guys were always willing to reveal more of the Sheldon they knew to Wil. By now, they had got to know enough of him to accept him as a friend than as another science fiction icon. Raj stood by with a light sigh to meet Will again, but Leonard pretended to be distracted by a large Hulk figurine Stuart had his counter. Eyeing the seventy-five dollar price with the fifteen percent off sticker, he placed it aside and started thumbing through the collector cards near the cash register.
"That sounds exciting…" Stuart responded and bobbed his head as the fact entered his brain. "You guys must be excited for Howard…"
"Not really…" Sheldon confessed.
"Yeah, we're all really happy for him… Hey, Stuart…" Leonard turned to him eager to change the subject. "What do you do when you start getting depressed?"
"I'll let you know when I figure it out…" Stuart responded as he lightly bobbed his head once again. "But, hey… Wil, what was that thing you were telling me about?"
"You mean the fantasy fun place?" Wil responded looking up from the counter. "You guys are going to love this. This entrepreneur guy has got a live-action and mental skill game built out of the remains of an old underground military installation out near Hitchcock, California." Wil told the guys. "It's opening in two years, but he's looking for serious gamers to go through the system and give their opinions of it. Now, he heard I was a big gamer, and invited me to go through it and check it out, but I'm flying to Romania to start shooting a movie and I can't use the invitation he sent me. Would you guys be interested to use it?"
"Interested?" Raj chuckled excitedly trying to hold back his excitement. "Of course, we're interested! I'd give my left nut to Shiva for some excitement…"
Wil scowled a bit. Just when he thought he got Raj, he said something weird like that.
"That must be a Hindu thing…" He replied.
"Mental and live-action?" Sheldon scowled and twitched at the prospect.
"Yes, Sheldon…" Wil realized he had to explain. "That means running, climbing and shooting…"
"I don't know…"
"What do you mean you don't know?" Leonard suddenly had a reason to live. "It sounds awesome!" He looked to Howard and Raj grinning like big kids again. "Can you make all the arrangements?"
"It's just a phone call away." Wil lifted his cell phone to pull up his e-mail and get the phone number he needed to adjust the invite for the guys. He just pulled up his phone account and hit redial on the right message as the guys talked over his hushed conversation.
"Guys, imagine…" Leonard was finally grinning. "We get to check out an entirely new game before it even opens."
"The poor fools…" Sheldon looked up with his ego up to full pressure. "By time, I'm through with it, there will be nothing else…"
"Yes, four guys…" Wil already had the guy on his phone. He looked up to Sheldon and did a double take. "Technically, three and a half…."
Sheldon looked up annoyed then dismissed on it.
"Oh… because Howard's so short…."
"I'm only a half inch shorter than Leonard." Howard pointed out.
"Yes, you are." Leonard hid his chuckling in a Daredevil comic book.