February, 21, 2018 - An Escape of a Date (Marshall tags Maggie)

Morgan Jackson

Marsh approached Maggie's door, reminding himself that this was just an outing between friends - he had no real reason to be nervous. Except for Cam being pissed his traitorous brain reminded him. Marshall hadn't actually expected to win Maggie's date at the auction; he'd been bidding just to mess with Cam's head, hadn't missed the disappointed look on Cam's face when the winner had been announced.

Marshall knocked and waited. He'd told Maggie to dress comfortably, nothing fancy, and nothing else about their date. Of course, he hadn't actually figured out what their date would be until Thursday. 

They'd be trying their hand at an escape room, spending about an hour trying to figure out a mystery together. After that, they'd go out to dinner, if Maggie was in the mood. Marshall was thinking about taking her to the Melting Pot - part of a chain, the restaurant served fondue of all sorts. It seemed fun, like the escape room did.

Given that Maggie had only participated in the auction because she believed in helping animals, she thought things had really worked out well. Spending the evening with Marshall would be fun, unlike had some random weird dude ended up winning. She had followed his instructions and dressed comfortable, just a black sweater, some jeans, and a pair of Bobs she wore when working or just hanging out. She thought she looked pretty nice given the lack of flour anyway.

When she answered her door, she was genuinely pleased to see Marshall. Since they had rekindled their friendship, she had found herself looking forward to seeing him, as though they would give them time to proceed another few hours in the time they had missed during the time they'd drifted apart.

"We'll look at you," she observed, grinning. "I think I should feel pretty special this evening."

Marshall laughed, and rubbed at the back of his neck, under the collar of his coat. "I would hope so?" he said, the words ending on a questioning lilt. "Well, as long as you like what I have planned. I didn't want to do something cliché - that just seemed boring."

He nodded toward his car. "We have to drive into Denver, but I think it'll be worth it. How do you feel about puzzles?"

That sounded promising, though honestly, Maggie would not have complained if it had been cliched.She wasn't very hard to please, not really. Taking his cue, she grabbed her bag which normally made it as far as just inside her door and rummaged until her keys were located. Quickly she locked her door. "Well let's get going then."

Marshall nodded and walked back to the Explorer, opening the door for Maggie. He closed it when she was settled in and went around to his side.

Soon enough, they were on their way. Marshall kept music playing the entire way to Denver, but it was low enough that he and Maggie could talk. 

Finally, they arrived at their destination: The Denver Escape Room. Marshall explained the premise of the business, and what they'd be doing - which was escape from a rogue AI. "I thought this sounded awesome."

The drive was fun, though Maggie hadn't really expected anything else. When they arrived, her eyes widened in genuine surprise and excitement. She'd seen places like this featured online but never done it herself. "This is going to be really cool." she assured Marshall. "We'll actually have to see how good we are at it. Very impressed. Gotta say."

Marshall linked elbows with Maggie, producing their entry tickets. "Apparently the solve rate on this particular adventure is really low - only 22% of the groups that go in figure it out."

He grinned at her as they entered. They'd be the only two running the room - he hadn't wanted to get paired up with strangers. He'd figured he'd want to murder someone if they got stuck with idiots, and the point of this was to have fun.

"That's not daunting at all," Maggie commented as they turned their tickets in and were shown into the main lobby of the building. They'd naturally have to go through instructions of some kind. "We'll just have to be in that 22%. I think we can do it, and if not I'm sure there is someone to be bribed."

Marshall laughed. "I'm not sure that I'd want to win by cheating," he said, and then they were getting their instructions. Shortly after that, they were locked into their challenge.

It was just them, a rogue AI, and one hour to escape the AI's experiments. The timer started, and Marshall could already feel the pressure of that one hour. Even though he wasn't going to bribe someone, he did want to win.

"It's not cheating. Not technically," Maggie insisted, though as soon as the hour started, she found herself hyper-focused on the task at hand. The first thing to do was look for clues, and within the finite space, she didn't feel like it would be too difficult at first. She was also pretty sure that getting close to the "AI" figure would be necessary. "Alright, so logically, we do you think we need to start?" she questioned. 

"Well, the AI is running experiments, right? Is there a pattern to them? Or a code underlying the experiments? A common theme?"

Marshall gave Maggie a grin. "I'm probably over-thinking this."

"I think that's our best shot unless you think a clue is sitting in a corner somewhere," she said, giving Marshall credit. With such a low rate of success, it was likely to be a bit more complex than just searching different places in the same room. 

Marshall and Maggie searched, and searched, and tried to solve the mystery. Unfortunately for them, they weren't up to the challenge. Their hour timer ran out, and they were released from the room. 

At least they were laughing. And they laughed most of the way to the restaurant. Marshall had made reservations at The Melting Pot, figuring fondue would be different from anything they had in Silver Lake. 

They settled into their booth at the restaurant, and Marshall grinned at Maggie. "At least we had fun. Even if we sucked it up and fell into the seventy-eight percent of people who couldn't beat it."

Maggie agreed that the first part of their date had been a lot of fun, though if anyone asked she planned on being mysterious about the outcome of their escape. She might even outright lie about it depending on who asked. "We definitely have to go back sometime and see if we can't defeat it."

The restaurant was nice, and most importantly, different from the places they had in town, and she took a sip of the drink she'd ordered as she casually perused the menu. "Again, you made an excellent choice. You've set the bar."

Marshall laughed. "Great - be sure not to share that with Cameron. He'll want to do something crazy to one up me, like take you whitewater rafting, or sky-diving. He's insane, you know?"

He looked at the menu as well, and suggested that they share the four course experience. They'd start with a cheese fondue pot, get a salad and an entree each, and then have a chocolate fondue pot for dessert.

"But then you could just one up him.." Maggie pointed out, her tone playfully suggesting that she thought there was no downside to this. Honestly, she didn't buy into the whole competition thing, and frankly she was just as likely to randomly text Marshall and tell him she wanted to do something crazy anyway, and she wanted him to join her. She had to get her kicks somewhere.

She thought the food suggestion sounded good, and gave the idea a thumbs up. "I'm actually really glad we started hanging out again."

Marsh laughed. "I don't think I could one up something like skydiving. Cam is crazy enough to do something like that. I am not."

The waitress stopped by their table, and they placed their order. Once she was gone, Marshall grinned at Maggie. "I'd just keep lowering standards, until there was no challenge left."

Maggie too waited until the waitress stepped away before continuing. "You are forgetting one key thing," she said as though she was about to make his whole argument collapse. "I am the judge of how awesome each activity is. I might very well think that going to a movie is a lot more awesome than skydiving." In fact that wasn't too far from the truth. She liked going to movies, but didn't very often due to her work schedule and perpetual need to interfere in everyone else's life. 

"I wouldn't mind going to movies more often," Marshall admitted. "I just don't want to have to drive to Denver to see smaller releases, which is what I usually end up wanting to watch."

Marsh preferred foreign, indie or more cerebral films, when he made the time to watch them. "I would love for Silver Lake to be home to a theatre with an arthouse film focus, but that would involve more money than I have."

And her experience, the movies that were available in the theaters generally reflected the audience. When Maggie had that in college she remembered having a large and relatively new theater to visit, and despite the number of individuals in the city they resided in not much more outside of Seth Rogen type things ever showed. She wants asked the manager to explain the limited choices and have been informed that the theater catered to the largest number of individuals possible. The only movie outside of the norm in that area had then whatever new summer Disney flick happen to be playing at the time.

"you know you could still try to organize something with other people," Maggie suggested thoughtfully. "People with similar interest. Find a place, fix it up. It could happen."

Marshall shrugged. "I don't know that I've got the time or drive for that," he admitted. "Between the shop, my mom, and the volunteering I do, I have just a few hours a week that are just for me."

Cameron and Maggie had found out he was a volunteer firefighter when he'd had to reschedule or outright cancel plans with them to accommodate training days or emergency call-outs. Cameron had teased him, saying it explained why Marshall bothered keeping in shape.

Maggie nodded, excepting his reasoning as perfectly acceptable. She couldn't say that she blamed him for not liking the idea. A lot of the time when those types of organizations popped up, it always ended up being one person who took all the brunt of the responsibility. Many certainly didn't do anything that required a lot of time mostly because she spends her hours working. If she was at the bakery later than 6 AM for the day or an otherwise been detained by something else. Being an adult was super fun sometimes. "Maybe somebody will create a place for you to go without having to drive to Denver. " she offered as an alternative.

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