April 4, 2006

Best of Five

Thread: Game

A few seconds before he went poof, the last man on Earth saw something odd in the sky, aside from the fact that the atmosphere was on fire. A pair of neon blue words, flipped as if reflected in a mirror, had seemed to pop into existence silently. They hung there indifferently as if they had always been there, even though the man was quite sure that they had not been there before. He took a moment to deliberate what ‘REVO EMAG’ was supposed to mean but before the poor bastard realised he was supposed to read it backwards, he was blasted into a shower of ash by the fire shock, like a dandelion’s fragile seed being scattered on the wind.

Poof. And that was that.

* * * *

“Yes!” Dog shrieked leaping up onto the sofa that they had shared for the last four and a half billion years. “I win! Two-one! Two-one! You admit defeat, old man?” Atop the sofa, he began to twirl like a talentless ballerina on heat, repeating “two-one” over and over again.

Dog was a diminutive bag of bones, with a hairless, crimson skin stretched over his spindly frame. Bones jutted out here and there at unexpected angles, lending Dog the appearance of a traffic accident victim who considered a hospital visit to be a waste of his tax money. The only attire he wore was an overly bulgy pair of decrepit navy swimming trunks with the inviting message ‘Eat My Shorts And Don’t Stop There Honey’ splashed across his loins, which was not what Graham had in mind when he demanded Dog put something on while in the house.

Dog suspended his ungainly, reckless spin to unveil a thick, green plume of noxious smoke from his rear end, which exploded out as though dynamite had been detonated in some deep fissure. He returned to his victory jig without further ado.

Graham sat amidst the pea-soup cloud less than amused. He threw the joystick away, with its bulbous red button sticking out like a boil begging to be burst, but its wire pulled taut before it reached the TV and was dragged to the ground.

Towering and austere, yet overshadowed by the inept gymnast bouncing about on the cushion beside him, Graham sported a white, wiry beard that had earned him the barbed nickname of Santa. He bore craggy features that even the most foolhardy mountaineers would have had second thoughts about, and Graham was not ashamed to admit that he once considered using collagen to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. His dress was unflinching in its constancy. Everyday he wore the same tired, sallow toga that pleaded for a trip to the laundrette so it could live in vivid white again, and a pair of home-made ochre sandals with silver buckles that had lost their lustre long ago. Graham carried a certain grace with an uncertain style that Dog commented looked fairly good for a transvestite.

“Best of five,” grunted Graham, who was still not over the incident when Dog shot him in the back thus snatching Graham’s second would-be victory and sticking it so far down the jaws of defeat that defeat had retched up its pasta supper. Dog had protested that it was in his nature. In fact, it was Graham’s fault for inventing that tedious parable about the frog and the scorpion crossing the river. Graham had pointed out that (a) it was a bloody turtle in the story and (b) he could not possibly be the author of a parable that painted people in such black and white terms. It was not in his nature.

Dog broke from his dance and cackled at Graham, “Anything you say, Santa. I can keep my trigger-happy fingers going as long as you can. I practice with these babies all the time!” To demonstrate his meaning, he closed his right hand into a hollow fist and shook it up and down in the air a bit. At least, Graham comforted himself, it was merely a demonstration this time.

Graham sighed inwardly and wished that he were not such a pacifist, because it made the game so much harder. On the positive side, however, it did make victory that much sweeter. When Graham had won the first game, Dog’s face was a complete picture. It was still hanging on the wall behind the TV, having been sliced off and freeze-dried as part of their agreement. Frozen in an enthusiastically blended expression of horror and disbelief, it was guaranteed to make Graham chuckle when the chips were down.

Graham leaned forward and groaned instinctively when he felt the twinge of back pain that was a reminder of when Dog had once stabbed him between the shoulder blades with an oriental ear pick. Before him was the Video Computer System, the bane of Graham’s existence and yet paradoxically the reason for it.

It was a wide, unwieldy black box whose upper surface was dominated by a corrugated plastic surface that drew the eyes towards a slanted control panel that at the back. The Game Program slot sat in the centre of the panel, flanked by three cylindrical metal switches either side. A plastic cartridge poking out of the game program slot bore the words ‘planet earth’ in dull, curvy letters. An apparently pointless wood-trim at the front somehow added a finishing touch to its form. It was a beautiful thing infused with love that Graham detested with a passion.

Graham verified that both game difficulty switches were set to B, to ensure Dog was not going to cheat as he had got away with for around a billion years in the previous game. He depressed the game reset switch. The picture of a scorched, dead Earth flickered briefly and was replaced by a brand new blue sphere with ecosystems, climate and the untapped potential to produce the works of Shakespeare. Or, if Dog had his way again, a TV show called Pop Idol.

“This time,” warned Graham with great authority, “you will not screw with me in the bleeding Garden of Eden.”

Dog snickered, knowing full well that he would screw with Graham in the Garden of Eden.

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 2301

One Response to “Best of Five”

  1. Pippin wrote on 6-Jul-2011 @ 1057:


Leave a Reply