Category Archives: Silly Video Game Inspired Fiction

Gunning for You in 2052

It was a typical day in space. An asteroid shot by faster than a bullet and hit the top of the Moon. Drills as tall as skyscrapers added bigger and deeper craters to the already pockmarked surface of the Moon.  Astronauts performed delicate ballet-like moves as they jumped to and fro on the surface. However, no chorus of angels or symphony orchestrated their choreography: they were on a mission to find minerals.

“Austin, Austin, can you read me? Over.”

“This is Austin. We read you loud and clear, Gurdeep. What’s the project status? Over.”

“We have all drills running, and we’re proceeding ahead of schedule. Should I give a full report to Mr. Houston?” said Commander Gurdeep.

“Excellent! Mr. Houston’s gone to grab a cup o’ joe. Do a full data analysis and beam it back to earth. Don’t forget to have T.O.M. check on the drills later.”

Gurdeep said, “Will do. Have a good night, Austin.”

“You too. Over and out,” replied Austin.

Gurdeep hopped and skipped to a Moon Lander that had a large camera mounted on it. He looked straight into the camera and spoke to an A.I., “Hey T.O.M., how’s it goin'”?

“Bah!” said T.O.M. “I’m tired of this tedious sifting. A big dot above the camera moved toward the left, pointing toward a group of astronauts that T.O.M. was speaking about. These astronauts used large metal sieves to sift through mountains of Moon rocks. The dot moved back to its original position before it started to appear sunken and deflated. T.O.M. said, “I wish I could play right now.”

“You can finish playing your games after you’ve sorted through your rocks,” said Gurdeep.

“Ugggh! Fine. I guess it’s back to the salt mines for me,” T.O.M. said.

Gurdeep cleared his throat and said, “Alright, now I’ve got to record my report to Mr. Houston. Please start the recording, T.O.M.”

Click.

“On March 6, 2051,” Gurdeep said, “I explored a crater on the dark side of the moon and found space dust, rocks and some kind of weird case. I think I threw away the case because it seemed irrelevant to the mission.” Gurdeep rambled on, and the dot above T.O.M.’s camera rolled around in circles — never again focusing on the astronaut.

Instead, T.O.M. scanned the pile of space rocks that Gurdeep had dumped in front of his camera. As T.O.M. scanned, his sensors found a piece of plastic in the pile. “That’s odd,” he thought, “because Earth and the Moon had banned and eradicated all traces of plastics in 2030.” Anyway, he looked closer and saw it was, in fact, a case. T.O.M. used his retractable arm to flip the case over, and a video game disc fell out. He picked up the disc with his arm and moved it closer to the camera to scan it.

The title read “Invader from Space!” Looking closer, T.O.M. saw a Martian with an automatic blaster, a menacing grin and an air quote that read, “We’re coming for you in 2052!”

“Oh boy,” though T.O.M., “I can’t wait!”

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A Tale of Two Trash Cans

Sara started playing her video game without a care in the world. Her character ran around the town helping villagers. One spectre haunted the town: the smell of rotting garbage that rats grew fat on it.

Sara’s character took action into her own hands. She challenged the rats’ king to a gallant sword fight. She snapped the king’s sword in half and sent the lot of them scurrying for cover in the sewer, and the villagers gave her warms hugs. This victory over the king was just the start of the character’s good work.

Sara’s character sauntered around the town, throwing out everyone’s trash. When she emptied the last trash can, the villagers held a celebration. The fireworks were deafening!  The gold flowed towards her like a running river. They even painted a massive portrait of her character ascending into heaven. The corners of Sara’s lips curled into a smile warm enough to melt ice.

Suddenly Sara was jolted from this fantasy slumber when her roommate Samara entered the room and said, “Hey, what have you been doing all day?” Before Sara could reply, Samara spoke again, “I’ve just run a mile, filed my taxes and strategized paradigm shifts for my meeting.”

Sara hit pause on the game and said, “I had oatmeal and took out the garbage.”

“Pfft! Took out the trash,” Samara muttered as she turned around and walked away. She walked away so tall and so straight that one could have mistaken her for a steel poll.

Sara looked at Samara’s back for two seconds. She glanced at the TV screen. She scratched her head. After all of that, she shrugged her shoulders and kept playing her game.

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If Teddy Bears Made Video Games

Outside, last night’s snow covered half of the video game studio’s windows. Ice had consumed the window’s other half and left ornate paisley patterns on the glass. Inside, John, the manager of the studio, put on a sweater and stood up like a massive concrete pillar: no one was going to move him with words or deeds. “Fuzzy,” said John, “make sure your team finishes those trees today. I told you three weeks ago that they’re going in the first level. Come on now!”

John swung around on his left foot and started walking away, his flip flops clicking and clacking, before Fuzzy could reply. Fuzzy jumped out of his chair, high into the air and landed softer than a feather. His face was just visible above his computer monitor. “What happened to you, John? You used to be beautiful. All you care about now is making a profit!”

The other bears’ clicking, typing and munching of pizza ceased. If one had entered the studio at that moment and judged the environment solely based on sound, one could be forgiven for thinking it was a ghost town. The bears’ mouths dropped open in unison, and their heads — as if magnetically attracted to conflict — turned toward Fuzzy and John.

John tensed up, his left eye started to twitch and he shook before he swung around fast enough to drop his briefcase. A flood of papers consumed the floor. His eyes turned a fiery red. John managed to calm down enough to scoop up some of the crumpled documents, held them over his head and started shaking them. “I suppose you think these are going to pay themselves. “Maybe,” he said as he ran towards the roaring fireplace, “I should just burn them and put this place out of its misery.” John threw some of the papers in the fire and cackled as he watched them turn into a cinder. He reached to pick up more papers; instead, he picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels on the mantelpiece, and he took a swig.

Fuzzy stared straight ahead at John and had not flinched or blinked yet. Fuzzy’s eyes narrowed, his eyebrows became diagonal and his voice was unwavering, “And we haven’t been on a picnic for a year!”

John took another swig and threw the Jack into the fire. The flames leaped out further than normal, singeing the hairs of a stuffed animal in front of the fireplace. John paid the fire no attention, but his eyes mirrored the raging inferno next to him. All the bears except Fuzzy hid under their desks and covered their ears.

“I told you there’s not enough money in the piggy bank for you guys to go on picnics whenever you feel like it,” said John. “Johnny,” Fuzzy said, “I know you’re still the same old guy who used to play ball and eat ham sandwiches with us in the park. I know you.” John swung around again so he could be alone and stared at the ground. A hot tear fell down his cold cheek. He started to whimper but bit his lip and pivoted on his right foot to face Fuzzy.

John looked up at the bear, a smile started appearing on his face, and he said, “O—Ok, you guys can go for a picnic.” “Woohoo!”, the bears screamed with delight. Fuzzy gave John a pat on the back, and the two old friends defused their tense standoff with a shared smile.

The bears all ran out the front door. Some carried wicker baskets while others did cartwheels, danced, skipped and jumped through the thick snow. They kept doing this until they all fell face first into a snow bank. The delicate white powder covered their furry faces and snouts.

“Uh, are you guys ok?” asked John. “Yeah!” they all yelled together. And off they ran during a cold winter’s day to have their picnic. The cold did not bother them, for they were warm and fuzzy teddy bears.

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When Life Throws Tomatoes at You

Tom almost burst with enthusiasm as he hopped onto the stage to debut his new video game.

“Hey everyone!”, he said. “allow me to show you the next big thing in gaming.”

He clicked a button, the lights turned low and screenshots of his game cycled through on a massive screen. As Tom scanned the crowd to gauge their initial impressions, he felt drops of sweat pour down his forehead. He wiped his brow before he continued .

“I’ve listened to your feedback on my previous games,” he said, “and this time I incorporated some of your thoughts into this one.” Tom saw a couple of eyes twinkle and huge smiles, with glowing white teeth, became visible.

“But this time I decided to make it a freemium game.”

Now the audiences transformed into a bunch of belligerent Hydes. They contorted their faces in a grotesque manner and their booing rendered Tom’s speech inaudible. Suddenly, red blobs flew through the darkness and splatted on the stage. They were tomatoes! Tom ducked and searched for cover to no avail. He tried to run off the stage. Instead, he slid on the red mash and landed face-first before fading to black.

***

When he awoke, all he saw was red. If Tom had been a character in his game, his vision would return and his wounds would heal after avoiding gunfire for several seconds. But Tom had not yet developed a way to heal human beings or give them clearer vision; that was beyond him as a game developer. He rubbed his aching head, which hurt as if he had been partying all night. Except he was alone. The audience was gone.

The janitor, wearing a dark blue uniform, was now the only other person in the auditorium. The janitor swept up all of the dirt, plastic cups and garbage into a massive landfill in the corner of the room.

Tom stumbled toward the edge of the stage and sat on it. His already oblong face seemed longer than normal. He sat there and licked some of the tomato juice from his mustache. “Mmmm. At least it’s tasy,” he thought, even though his eyes were downcast.

The janitor stopped sweeping for a moment and glanced at his only friend in the room.  “Hey buddy,” said the janitor, “I think you got something on your face.”

As he sat there, a piece of tomato pulp slid down Tom’s cheek and splatted on the stage. He sighed with enough force to blow dead leaves off autumnal trees. The rest of the night was a blur for Tom.

***

Tom woke up possessed: he had been slaving for hours behind a hot pot on the stove without remembering how he got there. His girlfriend entered the room, grabbed a big wooden spoon and dunked it into the pot. She licked the spoon clean and nodded. She titled her head and looked upward before her eyes lit up and seemed to jump out of her head.

“Wow! That tastes better than my nonna’s sauce, just don’t tell her I said that haha. Most tomatoes are pretty bland this time of year. How’d you do it?”, she asked.

Tom winked at her.

“It’s a secret,” he said.

 

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Run It in Recovery Mode

Electricity surged through the cold, steel fence and emitted a faint bluish hue. My plan was to hop over said fence, but first I had to cut the power source feeding the fence’s deadly defenses. With the power cut, my character jumped but didn’t get far. I heard a zap sound and the brightness on the screen blinded me for several seconds. My character’s limp body fell to the ground with a thud. He was gone.

I slammed my controller on the coffee table in front of me, and it shook my beer. I watched in horror as the bottle tipped over and spilled its golden liquid all over my console. As a result of the spill, my console started to fry and then smoke billowed out of the top. The screen began to wobble, the picture quality was out of focus and looking at the video game made me feel dizzy as if I was wearing beer goggles.  I sat there, on the couch, and my only thought was, “What is going to happen to the machine?” My face started to turn red and sweat poured down my cheek as I ruminated on this question. To counteract the heat, I poured some of the cold beer on my face and slapped my cheek. I shook my head until it hurt and my eyes opened wide. I could see the light: I knew what I must do to fix the machine.

I “ran” to the back of the console, which was only three feet in front of me, and bruised my knee after nearly tripping over the coffee table. I saw a shiny, red button covered by a glass case on the back of the console. There was white text scribbled on the glass that read, “Run in Recovery Mode.” The glass cover, I noticed, seemed to have a tractor beam: it pulled the index finger on my left hand closer and closer. Yet I had no idea what would happen if I tapped this button.

I stretched out my right hand, intercepted my index finger and pushed it away from its glass-cover trajectory. However, my index finger broke free and continued its initial flight path toward the cover, inching closer and closer to its mysterious target. With my free right hand, I splashed more cold beer on my face and took a swig of the bottle’s final droplets; this steadied my shaking legs. By now, my finger had made contact with the glass. In a flash, I flipped open the cover and tapped the button. Now I had done it.

As I stood in front of the console, I felt what I can only describe as part of myself “breaking away”. I turned around and saw a ghostly version of myself, featuring a pale blue and fuzzy white aura, as it walked in reverse until it both reached and sat down on the couch. The aura’s appearance reminded me of something like the quality one would get from a VHS tape. I looked straight ahead to see the smoke fly back into the console; the beer bottle stand at attention, with its contents refilled; and the sounds of button tapping as the controller flew back into my hands. That’s when things got weird.

Both versions of myself melded together again, then I shot through the ceiling and propelled out of this universe. I flew so fast past countless sparkly planets and nebulae that my head was spinning like a vinyl record. After traveling this way for some time, I stopped seeing planets and only saw bright neon colors and strange abstract patterns. It was a bit like speeding down the Las Vegas strip at speeds that defied one’s imagination . Instead of crashing at a dead-end, I landed in what I can only describe as a soup or lava lamp. Blobs of red lava, against a turmeric hued yellow background, bounced around and gravitated up. I reached the top of whatever structure was holding me back and jumped for freedom. I was free — for the moment.

After jumping out of the structure, I lost all control and hurtled through earth’s atmosphere. The wind was rushing through my hair as I burst through collections of clouds. You know, I slept through the cloud stuff in science class, my head and body somewhere down on the ground, but I can confirm these things are not made of marshmallows. With only the clouds to slow me down and no parachute, I crashed through my roof and landed on my kitchen floor.

Several minute later, I blinked, my eyes opened and I found myself standing near the fridge with a cold beer in my hand. I glanced at the ceiling and saw no damage. I glanced at the console and saw it was in pristine shape. All I can say is think twice before you run recovery mode.

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To The Sources Themselves!

The story begins as I steeled myself to enter a cold, concrete archive.  The building itself was a grotesque accident of twisting and turning stuff, but that did not matter. I was there to retrieve the past, to recover sources thought lost and to write you a story. Before I opened the door to the past and entered the building, though, I put a bookmark in my diary and closed it. Then I took a deep breath and walked through the door.

“Greetings!”

An archivist sneaked up beside me, and her smile seemed to melt the icy concrete exterior and interior of the building. I smiled back, but the warm exchange didn’t last long. After I exhaled and rolled up my sleeves, a huge “claw” hovered into view, dangled above my head and then prepared to swoop in for the kill.

I thought I was about to be gored by the “claw” and suddenly recalled my pet fish, Mr. Fishy, from two years ago. I covered my eyes to avoid seeing the gory spectacle unfold. Then, just as quickly as I had spotted it, the “claw” swooped away in a different direction, slicing off the tiny tips of the hairs on my head along the way.  I wiped the sweat from my brow and stopped shaking.

“Whew! That was close! What is that thing anyway?”, I asked.

“It’s the Armed Book Retriever 2000,” said a different archivist who was working behind the information desk. She rolled her eyes as she replied to my question.

I watched as the “claw” backed up and beeped, like a forklift moving in reverse, then moved forward, lurched to the right, then beeped and move backwards again. It — at last — grabbed a book from the shelf only to drop it. The process of picking up the book began again.

“Couldn’t I just walk up to that stack and collect the book myself, and isn’t that machine’s claw grossly oversized to pick up tiny objects?”

“Sir,” the same archivist said, ” the Retriever 2000 is $6.50 an hour. Please stop asking so many questions and let the machine do its job in peace. It wants a safe and respectful workplace too, you know.”

At that moment, the “claw” turned around to face me for a moment and, as if it were raising an eyebrow, it lifted one of its two metal blades.

“N-n-never mind,” I said.

I backed away from the machine, and it carried on in its merry way. I decided I should do the same and carry on with my research.

I opened my diary to the bookmarked page, and landed on a quote I had highlighted, which read: “History is done in the footnotes.” The footnote to this insightful quote, yes there was one,  included a list of sources I had come to collect. I showed my diary to the archivist at the information desk and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, do you know where I can find these items.”

She glanced at my diary before saying, “Video games, huh? No one has seen or played those in a long time. They’re somewhere deep inside this place. Head down the stairs there all the way to the bottom. Keep going ’til you reach the rare technology section.”

“Ok, thanks,” I said. I muttered “I guess” under my breath.

I found myself walking down a rickety wooden staircase that wobbled every time I took a step. The steps also creaked like a squeaky, old door that someone was pushing open with all their might.

Snap!

My third step nearly killed me. My ankle almost twisted because my foot broke through part of the wood and got stuck for a minute. All of me could have fallen through the stairs, but I managed to break free and decided to skip a couple planks of wood.

“I’m okay!”

Crickets chirped. I turned around half expecting someone to come to my aid, but I guess they had stuck their noses in books. I did what little I could: I left a yellow sticky note near the hole in case someone else stumbled upon it.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I waddled past doors covered with cobwebs in search of the sources. The flickering torches on the brick walls did not offer enough light to illuminate my surroundings, and I bumped my head. I could already feel the resulting mountain range with my fingertips when a voice interrupted my self concern. It seemed to come from on high and provide hope in the darkness.

“How can I help you?”, asked a different archivist. I showed her my diary and she added, “Ah, yes, this way please, sir.”

I walked past several rooms as the archivist led me toward the sources. One room was full of crates, stacked to the top of ceiling, marked “Top Secret”.

“Hmmm that’s odd”, I thought to myself, as I raised an eyebrow.

Carrying on, I caught a glimpse of a crypt complete with a badly bandaged mummy sticking out of a sarcophagus. I turned away at first and kept walking. Then I shook my head and said, “Hey, wait a minute, what the hell was that? What exactly is going on here?”

I pointed at the crypt, and the archivist laughed before saying, “Oh, that’s just our Halloween decoration room. Please follow me.”

“Okay, if you say so,” I said.

We moved forward, smiling, without a care in the wide world. Suddenly a school of bats swarmed and flew over our heads.

“Alright,” I said,  “now this is getting weird. I mean…”

“Never mind, sir,” said the archivist, “we’re here.”

We entered a cavernous room with a large brown treasure chest in the center of it. I opened it and the glittering objects inside forced me to cover my eyes. I was so shocked at the discovery that I fell backwards and only caught myself by landing on my palms. When I stumbled back to my feet, I rubbed the dust off my palms and noticed a bunch of video games had tumbled out of the chest. I saw Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid.

The archivist said, “No one has played these games for years. I’m not sure the technology even exists to run them. Sir, I don’t envy the difficult work you have ahead of you, playing all these games. There’s so many.”

“I don’t care; I’ll find a way to make it work. It may not be a pretty job, but it’s my task to make the past alive. By golly, if I have to, I’ll stay up all week to play these games. Nothing can stop me.”

“What about the writing?”, she asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said, “that too.”

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I Angered the Video Game Gods

I stared out the window as the sky’s tears fell to the ground. These droplets also ran down the pane of glass, and for a second, I thought I was crying, as if I lacked an awareness of my own feelings. I a took a closer look at myself and realized I was crying on the inside; the droplets were tears of boredom (the ugly cousin of tears of joy). My depressing thoughts pushed me to inhale a toxic cloud of cigarette smoke before I butted out in an ash tray and dragged myself to the couch to play video games. What happened next, minus the cigarette part because I do not smoke, is a true story. I swear.

***

I booted up a cart racer and proceeded to zip past fools, leaving them dizzy, dazed and confused. Some sore loser, though, decided to ruin my fun. The sore loser was in last place and could not handle breathing in my exhaust fumes. He decided to thwart my plans for victory. He somehow managed to creep up on me and get very close, and I saw his username was SonofCronus99. “Huh,” I thought, “That’s a weird name. I wonder who that could be.” Before I could think any further, SonofCronus99 zapped my cart with a massive lightning bolt that blinded as it emerged from behind a cloud in the heavens. My cart flipped over and landed with so much force that it flattened on the ground, like a pancake. Frustrated at this race-ending disaster, I ejected the disc and slammed it back in the case because, although I was irate, I still like to keep my games in their proper boxes.

I then turned on a different console and started playing a Smash Bros. game. Things were going well enough: my opponents were not destroying me, but I wasn’t winning every match either. I was about to win a match when a Pikachu, this one named “The Big Z”, electrocuted me with a thunderbolt attack. I went flying off the stage and landed somewhere in oblivion. This sudden defeat caused steam to shoot out my ears, so I dashed outside and into the rain to alleviate my pain. In fact, the water cooled off my hot head.

I was now feeling better until there came a roar from above and a golden lightning bolt hit me faster than I could blink.  Zap! The ground beneath me shook so hard that it seemed like an earthquake was happening, and there was a massive crater beneath my feet.  Although I smelled like burnt toast and looked like it too, I was able to rest on my knees and shake my fist at the sky.

“Hey, that’s not fair! I wasn’t even playing video games that last time.”

Zeus did not care.

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