My finger didn’t have the strength to push the restart button. I’d been playing since I got home from work. Food and sleep now, and in that order. The pizza app brought up on the left screen and my usual order placed. Shop reopens in 4 hours. They had to wait until the very last digit was entered before telling me! Another instant noodle box selected from the pile by the sink and the red cardboard box dropped in the microwave. Two minutes to wait. What time did that pizza place close anyway, I thought they opened all Friday night.
Ding. Satay. My favourite. At least it came with a plastic fork to save the washing.
Back at the screens and the game still telling me I’m dead. Country of the Living Dead. “You should try it,” gamer_chick747 said. “It’s only single player yet, the co op will be a few more weeks. Good to practise before the big battles.” She sounded so cute in the phones but she never turned on the camera, but then neither did I. Sometimes it was better not to know. She was right though, it was a great game and even though I’d never much liked zombie movies, this game, even in this limited form was so good.
Saturday 6:22am the bottom of my main screen said. I’d been playing for more than twelve hours. Not a record but for a game like this…
Bed was only a few steps away and I didn’t bother turning off the game.
Stop using the pick, it often caught in their skulls and took too long to get free and that’s when the rest of the horde could get me. That sleep had really cleared my mind and I knew what to do now. Just had to take stock of where I was.
Total Zombies killed – 1833. Lives used – 42. Average 43.6 undead per life.
Not a great achievement. Must do better.
Maybe I should start the laundry, she was often there Saturday, but I should really order food first. Pizza ordered, a supreme with extra olives this time. Delivery in thirty five minutes the app said. Plenty of time to get the washing started and wait for the delivery man.
She was there, I knew it. “Going to the protest later?” her voice so steamy I was ready to go too.
“What’s it for?”
“You need to get out more.” She was leaning against a washer. Just some old jeans and ripped top, but I’d marry her instantly. “It’s against the war.”
“What war? Last I knew we weren’t in a war.”
“The one they want to start. You feel it, don’t you? All that talk about the East invading.”
“You want someone to come with you?” It was worth a try.
“Max is calling for me at three.” That was the brainless jock she fawned over. Could hardly string two words into a sentence but he was able to bash other people in the football pitch.
“You should come. We need more people so the government know we don’t want them forcing us into another war.”
“I’ll see,” I said still wondering what a gorgeous bright chick like her would see with an idiot like Max.
My washing left circling in the drier when the pizza arrived, better to eat it hot. She was gone when I went back to the laundry to check. I couldn’t think of much worse than going to a pointless protest. The government will take no notice. They never do.
- - -
It worked perfectly. Instead of the pick, I picked up a length of pipe and poked it straight through their skulls, right through the brain. Everyone knew that the only way to kill a zombie for ever was to pierce the primitive part of their brain, the part right in the middle. That’s why you need a long pick to penetrate right through the top of the head, or this pipe to poke up their chins through to their brains. It worked good through their open mouth too. That stopped their hissing! I was passed that hard section and powering along until I lost my pipe while I was clambering over a chain wire fence, a hundred undead behind me. That pipe still on the ground over the fence, and it would have been perfect to poke through the horde and reduce their numbers, but all I could do was run off and try to find another weapon to use.
I had to pause the game. 116 zombies for this game life so far. New record, but there was an incoming message.
“Tried that zombie game yet?” gamer_chick747
“Playing it now. Great game”
“Can hardly wait till the co op so we can fight side by side.” gamer_chick747
“Me too. I prefer the pipe so far.”
“I’ll try that next.”
Much as I tried, I couldn’t find a sword in the game to use. I did acquire a long knife and that worked well, but every business I looked to loot had all the swords taken. I did pause to collect my dried washing and I heard next door leave to the protest. All this zombie killing had me hungry again so I splurged on another pizza. I was supposed to be saving for a house deposit, but house prices increased more each week than I managed to save and that goal seemed forever beyond my reach.
Two hours delay for delivery. I’d never seen that much delay before. Saturday 11.02pm. Maybe everyone wants pizza too. I can wait.
I found a sword. Not the best, but it did work enough to see how a good one could work well. Wham. One slice and a zombie’s head was opened and his infected brain sliced in two. My current favourite weapon. Maybe I should get one for real, be a great talking piece, but I’m sure it won’t be allowed, our government didn’t allow citizens weapons of any type. Even buying a carving knife was difficult so swords would be a prison sentence. And no point complaining, people thought we lived in a free country, but really anyone with half a brain knew it was a police state where no normal person had any power at all.
Two hours meant a whole heap more zombies to kill, and they weren’t going to die without me. Fighting left and right and then a horde forever ambling behind, waiting for me to stay still too long so they could bite me. Axe and hammer I bashed them, picking up a long stick at places to stab them from a further distance. The pizza delivery guy had to pound on the door to make me hear over the headphones. One got me before I could pause the game. Dead again!
“It’s crazy out on the roads,” he said as I handed him a tip. “Thinking of calling it a night.”
“Maybe. There’s people running everywhere and no one knows what’s happening. No cops in sight either.”
It was hardly warm, the cheese all congealed and the base like cardboard. I ate it anyway. A zap in the microwave and it really wasn’t that bad.
Refuelled, I attacked the horde with enthusiasm, looting a long machete from a fallen and using that to slash, always aiming for the head, but accepting any hit that stopped their advance as a good hit. It did leave the top part of their body still biting, but it certainly slowed their advance.
Even through the headphones I heard next door return, then a little later there was a lot of loud moaning. Max was certainly getting lucky tonight!
I went back on the attack, but I’d lost interest thinking about next door. That should have been me. The next time I died I stopped for the night, lying on the bed thinking about her. If I had gone with her silly protest would I be getting laid right now? Who would know? They must be really going for it. The moaning hardly stopped.
I dreamt of her. Peering deep into her blue eyes while I was kissing her rose red lips and my right hand slid underneath her jeans to gently touch the smoothness of her bottom.
“Make love to me,” she purred, and we were naked on my bed. “I love you.”
Noises next door woke me. Maybe he’d fallen off the bed and broken his neck, the noises felt like that. Part of me wanted to go to her door and ask if she was alright, but then again I didn’t want to give that loser a chance to flaunt his conquest at me. Instead I attacked the game again. Every zombie was him and I was on fire, slashing his thick head into two. Sometimes slicing his legs off so he was down to being half a man before I cleaved his head in two, straight down the middle, his pitiful brains split open for all to see. I’d killed him so many times I lost count. Slashing him every painful way I could imagine, and I was imagining very well. The good bit was I never was killed myself. Maybe it was all the practice, or maybe I needed the motivation to make good. The screen said Sunday 8:22am when I hit pause. Another twenty four hours and I was due at work. Maybe I should get some more sleep now to replenish my motivation.
Still moaning next door as I laid down. That had been a very long time, I wonder how he managed to keep it up that long? I was lulled to sleep by moaning, and when I woke again there was a flashing box on the main screen. Just a message, but one sent with priority. I lay watching it flash. I really had nothing urgent to attend to, but I was hungry and that had me up. I did glance toward the message. Enough to see it was gamer_chick747, but I’d read it better with food. Box of microwave noodles in hand, I sat in front of the screen again and clocked her message.
The world has gone crazy outside. It might be an invasion. I don’t know what to do. Can you help? Cathy. 157 Oak Hollow Road, Everglade.
No one ever used their address. She’d used the name Cathy before but an address! Straight to the map program and then street view. 157 was a normal looking house. Stucco and shingle. One of hundreds similar lining most streets, but that city was right across the country, thousands of miles away.
Then it was the video sharing sites, they had the news first, usually before the government deleted what they didn’t like. I searched for Everglade and invasion.
Whoa! Hundreds of short cam captures. People screaming and running from an advancing group. No sign of weapons on either side, but then no one was allowed to own any sort of weapon in this “free” country. There were so many vids it couldn’t be a hoax. I left one playing while I quickly replied to her message. I even gave my real name and address.
The message bounced. Service congested. Re-sending in 5 minutes.
Back to the videos, but now there were hardly any to be seen. Censors got them. It was so common these days that most of us used other services in other countries, but as I tried to get to my favourite it was not connecting. That told me more than trying to find more videos. If they were censoring that hard, it must be bad. Back to her message, I printed a copy and then back to the map program and took screen prints of the house, then back further and further, taking prints each step as a record of how to get there. I was lucky, getting enough views before that program crashed. It seemed most of the internet was gone now too. My hand reached for the LAN cable and ripped it from the socket. It wasn’t beyond our government to brick user’s computers.
Sitting back in my black and red custom gamer chair I thought what was happening. Her message was still on the centre of the main screen and I now knew what I would do. Never in my life had I had real purpose before. Sure there was things that might be nice to do. Good jobs to aim for. Find a wife. Nice house and then children. All the usual stuff, but no real concrete purpose. Something that had meaning and challenge. Something that had heart and passion. No one had ever really asked for my help with something serious, and though I didn’t really know her, we’d worked many times together with games and we always worked as a perfect team together. Why not in real life?
I didn’t even own a car, just the bus to work and shopping. My life moved between work and my apartment. Five days I endured a third of my life unchallenged at work, then another third I slept, and then for the rest, I gamed.
Now I had a quest and I wasn’t sure what I needed. If it really was an invasion then air transport was out. Bus and train most likely the same, but it was a mighty long way to walk, but every quest had to start somewhere. All good questers needed supplies and a bag to carry those supplies, then provisions for the trip that they added to as the quest continued. Food and water. Snacks. Clean clothes. Money. Weapons and cyber recovery. Pen in hand I began writing a list, but then realised I had hardly anything on the list anyway.
Beginning with food. Mainly noodles and a couple of cans of beans, that should do to start. A bottle of water and two of beer. A change of clothes and extra undies. “Always wear clean underwear,” Mom said. Money? Two cards and a handful of coins. Not ideal for a long trip, will need to get more on the way. Weapons? What Weapons could I use? The best knife from the kitchen and two long screwdrivers, and my USB recovery stick, it held all my passwords and details to rebuild a life.
As I looked at the small pile I thought it was more than most game quests had to start, but I couldn’t help but think it was not enough for a real life adventure. Tipping my old backpack upside down I replaced the books and disks with the supplies from my pile. There was room for a little more, so I did add more socks and another thicker top. My work boots completed my outfit. It would win no prices for style, but it should work.
One more look at my computer and her message still on the main screen. I reached down and reconnected the LAN cable and watched the system come back to life. No more messages. Hardly any sites accessible, and those that seemed to connect didn’t load fully in the time I gave it. Sunday 4.13pm the screen said before I turned the main power off and the screen died. I felt part of me inside die to.