Join Darrion in Episode 1 of his 8-bit Role-Playing adventure as his everyday challenges and anxieties come to life and he is forced to battle against powerful enemies known as the “Mundanities”.
Reality’s collapsing around us. Just… us.
Volatile, inter-dimensional shifts bubbling throughout our home. We’re existing in the same space, breathing the same air. Or so it seems.
She enters our kitchen. Phases through me.
“Morning,” I say.
Silence. No reaction to me. She sips coffee. No slurps nor satisfied gasps.
Thick layers of brane… brain? Translucent fields inflaming and growing denser. Filtering my greetings. My regrets. My apologies.
I waved. “Hey”.
We are occupying the same time and space. But never quite the same time. And. Or. Space.
Mission critical. Must. Reunite. Our. Realities.
It scorched layers off his Lingual Papillae.
A mere thirty seconds for the microwave to bubble his mac and cheese into molten lava.
He gulped water.
Efforts… futile. Tongue screaming.
“You okay?” She smirked.
“Hot,” He replied.
“Want milk, baby tongue?”
He had warm cranberry juice. No need for milk, ice, or her debilitating jabs.
He blew on his bowl before eating another forkful of her macaroni.
“Tasty?” She asked.
Nicely crusted…. perfectly seasoned parade of cheeses. Brilliance in a bowl.
The best he’d ever tasted.
“Its okay,” He answered. “I’ve had better.”
He vehemently stared at the screen.
Technopathy failed. Nothing creative or profound had materialized in his thoughts or Word Processor. His muse was an unsurprising no-show. Why waste inspiration on atrocious writers like him? Right?
“What’s up?” She asked.
“Suffering.” He typed a paragraph.
“Food’s getting cold.”
“Cool.” He deleted everything.
“Hurry… Eat.” She rested a full plate between them. “You’re probably hungry.”
“Probably am…” He reached for the plate.
Stomach’s tight. Extremely lethargic.
He hadn’t eaten sinc-
She slapped the biscuit out of his hand. “Food’s on the stove.”
“Seriously?” He asked.
“Grab yourself a plate.”
He remembered my birthday. Nobody remembers my birthday except my mother and Facebook.
I scarfed a piece of my shortcake and washed it down with my nightly medicine.
Straight jack out the bottle. No ice, no chaser. Dark. Strong. Painful going in especially when I take it to the head. Heavenly for my body, short term. Probably damaging my spirit– if I believed in that sort of thing, but oh so good for my mind. I’ll take the headaches. Next-day regrets. Just bring me ecstasy. Pleasure. That hard sleep I haven’t had since I was a child.
I ate another slice.
Sweet, soft, and rich like the nice brother down the hall who brought it for me. Such a solid dude. Always doing nice things for me. And I do nothing for him in return. Nice guy.
I slipped on my favorite lace panties. A skirt short enough to be a blouse.
Something comfortable that I could easily pull up or pull to the side if I was feeling adventurous.
Its. My. Birthday.
“God damn.” I grabbed my belly roll then looked over my shoulder.
My ass was definitely fatter too. Shit.
My mood darkened. I’m thirty five. Metabolisms slow at that age. Mom was skinny up to about my age as well. She was also married to Dad. Had two kids and was a decade into her nursing career. I was still hitting clubs and putting on expensive lingerie and my best perfume to fuck guys who never remembered my birthday or where they met me.
I lowered the music.
“The fuck?” I whispered to myself.
I felt weak. Emotional. Lost.
Nice brother down the hall tells me I had a pretty face. Even with the smile lines. Guys I messed with compliment my shape and how good I feel. But never how my eyes squint when I laugh. Interesting that the one guy that says the most beautiful things about me was the last man I’d think about fucking.
I ate another piece. Smaller than the last. Turned up the music. Started to whine like I was playin mas in Trinidad.
“I love soca!” I screamed.
Fuck the neighbors. It’s my birthday.
My phone rang.
Shit… nice brother from down the hall calling.
Forgot he had my number.
“Hmmm…” I watched the phone.
Nice brother was sweet… but can sweet collapse my walls and have me sore and shuffling like The Walking Dead into work the next day? Can sweet grab me by the hair and have me screaming bloody murder into my pillow case? Would sweet give me panic attacks and have me shaking, tossing, and turning at night in anticipation of getting split into oozing, bruised up pieces? Sorry… Sweet can’t.
I pushed ignore. “Maybe next time.”
I tossed the cake in the trash. Deepthroated the Jack bottle as I cranked up the music.
It’s my birthday. I wanted strong not sweet. I’d text nice brother gratitude tomorrow. Now, I’m enjoying what youth I have left.
INT. HOUSE – DAY
MAN seated at TABLE. Listening to HEADPHONES. Drinking COFFEE from MUG.
Sound bleeds from MAN’s headphones. Indecipherable talking. Sound effects from headphones. Screams. Lasers. Swords.
WOMAN seated across from MAN. Staring intently at LAPTOP. Drinking COFFEE from MUG which has BRIDE boldly inscribed on its face.
You’re addicted to headphones.
WOMAN looks up. Intensely stares at man. Awaiting an answer. Slightly irritated expression.
MAN looks up. Matches eyes with WOMAN. Removes headphones.
WOMAN stares for a beat.
MAN smiles at WOMAN. Returns headphones to ears. Increases VOLUME.
He knew they made the application process mind-numbing-ly long and tedious on purpose. It was to scare away unqualified applicants and people who did not truly give a flying shit about working there. People like him. Unqualified. Not unqualified because they could not do the work. Unqualified because they didn’t give a shit about doing the work.
He squirmed in his seat.
It’d been an hour but it felt like longer.
Why the hell would they ask him to input his full job history and upload his resume. Seemed redundant to him considering everything they needed and asked for was included on his resume. What a drag, he thought.
“What?” Marcey asked him.
“Boring,” He replied. “And a waste of time.”
“Everything bores you.”
“Just this… this worthless piece of shit process.”
“Well, its the process.”
He wondered why Marcey put up with his impatience. His immaturity. His stubbornness. His questionable attention span.
He completed his work history and saved his progress before moving onto the next section.
Training and Education.
He took a deep breath.
Almost complete. Or so he believed. Or so he hoped.
He finished his wine.
If she could put up with him and his attitude for years then he could put up with filling out a single stupid application for a night. It was only fair. Though, the idea of sacrificing the few waking hours he had to himself to complete some stupid application for a job he didn’t want anyway filled him with dread. So much dread. Feelings threatened to cripple the application process.
“Shit.” He sank in his chair.
“Language,” Marcey warned.
“Browser froze.” He tried returning to the previous form. “Didn’t save nothing.”
“Oh man,” She replied. “Do it over.”
“Can’t,” He panicked. “Won’t let me.”
His blood started to boil
A whole hour of his life, potentially wasted. There was no way in hades he would waste another doing another application.
“No way,” He said. “I’ll wait til it thaws.”
“What?” Marcey asked.
“Thaws… Unfreezes,” He replied.
Marcey shook her head. “Strange man.”
He threw his head back against his chair.
“Could have been halfway done with a new one,” Marcey said.
Of course, Marcey was correct. He could have halfway completed another application in the time he was waiting for the window to unfreeze.
“Damn.” He closed the browser.
“That computer is trash,” Marcey said.
He restarted his trash portable laptop.
“So stupid,” He said to himself.
“Sorry, babe,” Marcey said.
“Didn’t want to start over.”
He was furious but kept how he felt to himself.
He restarted the browser.
None of that nine to five plantation bullcrap was going to matter soon anyway. He planned to be self employed. No more putting in stupid applications and begging people for work. He’d rather be homeless or die than to spend the little youth he had left than taking peoples orders. And those horrible commutes… If he wasn’t so afraid of Marcey, he’d pound his fist on the table in disgust.
He entered his username and password. Logged into the job site. Returned to the application.
A newsfeed window popped up on the bottom corner of his screen. Something about a conflict. Threats of nuclear war.
Soon that nine to five torture wasn’t going to matter. The direction the world was heading, the apocalypse was going to wipe out everything anyway. And only people like him were going to survive. People who understood how fragile and volatile the illusion of living a responsible adult life really was. One nuke. One meteor collision. One caldera eruption. One viral or zombie outbreak away from total anarchy. From wiping away the illusion. Christ will return Oh… he thought in his best Yoruba accent. The thought of judgment day and the impending doom filled him with joy. After the application he’d search Amazon for early Black Friday deals on survival gear and a crossbow.
His application loaded. Everything he’d input…. was…. there.
No survival gear or crossbow shopping now, he thought. The apocalypse would have to wait until after his interview. Marcey tweaked his resume. He was confident there would be an interview in the coming weeks.
“Hey.” He scrolled through his application. “Looks like it saved.”
“Great,” Marcey said.
“Yeah,” He replied. “All there.”
Marcey blew him a kiss.
“Thanks,” He said.
He wondered why she put up with him. But knew why he was able to be an adult and put up with another job application…. For her. Marcey was all the reason he needed.
He added a resource to shared spreadsheet.
This was their first meeting. First week of their weekly conference call. Something he’d been waiting for since he started that literary project so many months ago. Since he decided he wanted to write stories for a living. To be a part of an actual team full of people who shared his literary goals.
Marcey was looking in his direction. Not only looking but staring.
He tried to ignore her but couldn’t.
“Yes?” He asked Marcey.
“Nothing,” She kept staring.
It was something. He knew it was something.
“What is it?” He asked.
The kitchen was cold. Definitely a draft coming from the window.
“You cold?” He asked.
He shook his head.
He considered asking adjusting the temperature. Changed his mind when he remembered Marcey’s sixty six degree rule. Heat only goes on when temperature drops below sixty six degrees. The thermostat read seventy degrees last time he checked.
It felt colder than seventy. At least ten degrees colder.
He caught Marcey staring again.
He groaned. “Stop staring.”
“Sorry,” Marcey said. “Your hair.”
“What about it?
“Your hair’s distracting.”
“You need a cut.”
He’d heard that distraction talk before and promised himself he wouldn’t take the bait.
“Not doing this tonight,” He said.
“Guys? You there?” Stacey asked on the phone.
He almost forgot Stacey, third writing partner and Marcey’s sibling, was on the phone. Ready to work.
“Sorry.” He raised the volume on the phone. “No more distractions.”
My hero complex was going to get me killed. Or fired. I knew it would. Death and unemployment would not stop me from being a hero and protecting that puppy.
I stopped traffic. Snatched the lost puppy from the street and carried it to the sidewalk.
“Calm down,” I begged as the baby pitbull tried to wiggle its way out of my grasp. “Chill yo.”
My work clothes were a wreck. I looked like a construction worker covered in many shades of brown. Dirt and god knows what. I didn’t want to to guess what was on that dog’s paw.
And I was already thirty minutes late for my new job. I sent an email from my smartphone. Considered lying to my supervisor. Stomach bug. The runs. Nobody questions loose bowels and I wouldn’t need a doctor’s note or further explanation. Everyone gets diarrhea and nobody questions it.
I put a leash on the puppy’s collar.
I thought the pup was a boy. Couldn’t tell and I didn’t want to lift its leg to check. I thought that would look weird to anybody walking by.
“Who’s your owner?” I asked the pup. “You live around here?”
I tried to recall the dog owners in the neighborhood. There were many. And the puppy’s breed was common in my community.
I walked the pup across the street to my block.
A woman with a dog walked towards me.
“Excuse me,” I said to the woman. “Do you recognize the dog?”
The woman shook her head and kept going.
“Thanks…. for nothing,” I said.
The neighborhood was full of rude and antisocial assholes, I thought. That’s what I get for trying to help an innocent creature, I thought.
I walked to the house. Opened the door.
Considered opening the front gate leading to the backyard but that would required me to tie the dog to the front door and go through the house. Didn’t want to just leave the dog outside. Didn’t want people in the neighborhood to think I was an animal abuser. If I saw a dog tied to a front door I would think it was abuse.
I opened the door. Walked the dog through the house, living room, and basement leading into the backyard.
“I’ll find your owner after work,” I said to the pup. “Gotta go to work.”
I shut the basement door.
Dog whimpering. Scratching the door.
There was nothing I can do then. I was already an hour late to work on my third day. Or… was it my second? Could have been my fourth, I thought. Didn’t matter. There was nothing I could do other than keep him safe in my yard. If I let it go it’ll wander.
I ran upstairs. Changed out of my sweaty, dirty button-up shirt and replaced it with a fresh short sleeve polo. Put on a second coat of deodorant. And I was out of the house and on the way to the Metro rail within five minutes of changing.
My phone vibrated. Marcey was calling again.
I sighed. Reluctantly answered.
“Yes?” I said.
“Where’s the dog?” Marcey asked.
“The yard,” I replied.
“Which yard?” Marcey asked.
“Our yard,” I replied.
“What?” Marcey shrieked. “How’d he get there?”
“Through the house,” I replied.
“You walked a strange dog through our living room?” Marcey said.
“He’s not strange,” I shot back. “He’s a puppy.”
“What’s funny?” I asked, feeling a bit offended.
“Nothing, yeesh,” Marcey replied. “I was talking to my coworker a-”
“Why tell your coworkers?” I asked.
“Oh come on,” Marcey said whilst laughing.
I didn’t understand what she found so damn funny about the situation. I just rescued a puppy from being flattened by multiple cars. I just preserved precious life! She should be praising not mocking him. She should be begging to give me a back massage for all the heroic work I put in that day. Asking how I would like my eggs prepared for my heroes breakfast. And what made it worse was she brought her stupid coworkers in on the joke. I was the joke, I guessed. She didn’t appreciate my heroism. No surprise.
“Don’t leave him in the yard,” Marcey said. “Let him go. He’ll find his way home.”
“And let him get run over?” I said.
“That’s not your problem,” Marcey said. “Someone could be looking for him.”
Stupid dog. Stupid girlfriend making fun of me for wanting to be a hero. Stupid me with the hero complex that will one day get me killed by a dog owner. Or a speeding car. Or a stray dog. Stupid situation, I thought.
I returned to the house and to backyard.
The pup was waiting for me on the backyard balcony. The pup sprinted down the stairs and immediately jumped into my arms. Left dirty paw prints on my fresh shirt.
“Come on little guy,” I said as I hooked the leash to the pup’s collar and lead him out of my yard.
I took him a block away to a small park away from the main avenue.
I was going to let him go. But I didn’t want to let him go onto Main Street where he could get flattened by a speeding car. I couldn’t sleep comfortably knowing I contributed to the death of a puppy. Maybe Marcey could. But I couldn’t.
“Good luck, little guy,” I said as I released the puppy onto the side street.
Maybe its owner will find it. Maybe someone else from the neighborhood will discover the pup and give it a new home. I tried. Lord knows I tried.
The dog ran to the nearby playground, sniffed around the grass before lifting its leg to pee.
Oh, its a male, I realized.
I wished him -the puppy- well before sprinting home. Quickly changed into a fresh shirt and rushed out of my house and towards the bus stop.
I hope I could catch a bus. I was more than an hour late to my new job. But I saved a life so it was worth it.
The puppy -the same one I spent an hour rescuing– narrowly avoided two cars as it darted across the street.
“Shit,” I said to myself. “Are you kidding?”
The puppy disappeared into an alley.
“Damn,” I cursed myself.
My phone vibrated.
At first I thought it was my job reaching out to see whether I had returned the lost dog. Whether or when I would be reporting to work since nobody else among the pool of PhD’s and Masters degrees know how to make photocopies or pivot tables. Part of me hoped it wasn’t the job. I didn’t much feel like lying over the phone. Not while I was in a heroic mood. Also I was a terrible liar.
It wasn’t the job.
“Yes, dear,” I answered.
“What happened to the dog?” Marcey asked.
I couldn’t tell Marcey what happened. I already felt like an idiot. Didn’t feel like being the butt of her and her coworkers jokes.
“Nothing,” I replied. “On my way to work.”
It was time I hung up my cape, I thought. Well past time I gave up being the hero. And considered villainy instead.
I clenched my fist.