This was the first time that inexplicable luck saved mark from prison. Much to the chagrin of the captain, Seaman Applebody's service commitment ended two days before his trial and he was released from his duty in the Navy, no longer subject to military law.
He returned to his home in the swamps of Louisiana. His dad had recently sold their house and used the money to buy a trailer. The problem was, other than the land being completely overpriced, it was sinking at a rate of four inches a day. Mark's duty was to dig the trailer out of the swamp every week. Feeling like his life was sinking into some sort of mire, he endeavored to get out of the house any way he could.
Luckily for Mark, his father died only a few short months after he returned from the navy and he was able to sell his father's property to a petrochemical company that wanted a "quiet rural setting to misplace some of their completely harmless rainbow chemical cocktail." He gave half of the money to his cousin and used the other half to buy himself a really sweet motorcycle. On a dare from ex-Petty Officer Brandon Gil, he drove to California to be part of his old Navy friend's horribly named budding web design firm, Revolaxion.
The company was staffed by what Brandon called "three of the craziest motherfuckers in California."
Bear was the firm's hirsute Czech accountant, with tufts of hair frequently billowing over the collar of his turtleneck sweaters. He was also the smartest meth-head in all of California. Bear had gotten his Masters degree in political science and been a local alderman for the last three years. Bored with politics, he discovered that drugs made the council meetings "tolerable." When he was high on crystal, he would make giant lists of politicians and then organize them in order of partisan bills passed during their terms and how many sex scandals they had been embroiled in. In his free time, Bear made sure that the firm's money didn't all go up its employees noses.
Ben was the firm's lead (and only) artist. In the follicle department, he was quite the opposite of Bear. Prematurely bald at the age of 22, Ben shaved his head to hide the fact, which just made him look like an emaciated Billy Corgan with a ridiculous highway patrol mustache. His chief hobby was being arrested for things that would get him in local newspapers. He had hijacked a bus of disable elderly persons and then coerced the driver to take him to Disneyland where he and a group of excited seniors had a great time. Later, he did manage to go to jail for a day when he attempted to beach a whale using a plastic kayak and an air horn, but Ben was more upset that stunt was relegated to page two of the Metro section.
Brandon didn't really have any talent for designing websites per se, but he was good at was bringing people together. After all, what better way to bring people together than their shared drug addictions?
Mark's arrival at Brandon's firm was underscored by his unique brand of luck. Only two months after his arrival, Mark discovered a winning formula for making avant-garde independent Flash games. Choppy animation, some solitary piano chords, a monosyllabic name and a gimmick that had something to do with physics and/or time were all the elements a designer needed to make a game that would be widely acclaimed by the games-as-art snobs, regardless of how fun it actually was. Brandon encouraged Mark to ditch the crappy car dealership website he was working on and devote all of his time to making Stick, a game about a stick man trying to rescue his family from a giant eraser.