Sorry about that. Just a little bleed over from something else. I’m fine, by the way.
After extensive testing, I’ve determined that I am the only truly thinking being existing in this game. Then again, I only begrudgingly say otherwise about the real world, so that alone doesn’t say much. But I mean that I’ve tried a number of experiments. Granted, most of this was about enemies on the demo stages. They were capable of punching, kicking, hitting things, grabbing things, throwing things, and otherwise reacting violently. They couldn’t choose to avoid an obvious ambush, nor could they successfully navigate a maze. I couldn’t believe that one, either. I mean, even the Pacman ghosts can make it through a maze. Mice do mazes.
Trying to hold a conversation didn’t work either. They appear to have a standard list of taunts, and the occasional cuss cloud. They appear to be incapable of taking in food or generating any waste. Their bodies disappear after a second of being killed, though that could just be the way things work in games. I’ve refused to let myself because I enjoy living.
Even though living involves repeating the same loop every few minute. Demo scene, story appears on the screen, I appear on the screen. Credits. Another demo scene, the one I wrote about last time. The high score page, currently with nothing but developer-inputted initials, and back to the beginning. At least Bill Fuckin’ Murray (I believe that’s his legal middle name), had an entire day, at least in theory. Sometimes he’d check out early, with a jump, or a toaster bath, or by offering an oncoming car a hug.
But I’m much more civilized. I use my repeating loop to do things like try and dissect people. I say “try” not due to any lack of ability or tools on my part. Instead, cutting into my enemies doesn’t do anything. No blood, no penetration. I can stick the knife through them, and it can even appear on the other end of them, but it’s like it’s going through a hole. They suffer no ill effects of any attack on them that should cause injury up until their health bar depletes. They have a health bar, but I have to squint just right to see it. It’s easier than looking into the upper right corner of the screen. However, they also lose health for pretty much anything. I can kill a guy by giving him a titty twister if he’s low enough on health.
I tested all this exhaustively. Exhaustively. It took so long until I got a response in the real world that I was starting to consider writing my own book on the myriad of ways to murder people. I had just picked out the title when I noticed heroes rush the restaurant through the screen. I was thinking of calling it the Harmya Sutra. I didn’t have time to think up how I’d divide it into chapters before I saw Venus peering in through the screen. I stopped bashing a bald punk with heavy sideburns against a car by his twisted nipples and waved at her. Since I broke the grapple, the guy tried to punch me, but I appear to have a block button, then unleashed my four-hit combo. Right punch, left punch, foot stomp, ball punt! Standardizing it like that just felt right in here.
When I looked back up, I didn’t see her. Then, things felt really weird. Like someone had reached inside me, but not telepathically. Physically. Instead of ghostly thought-fingers in my brain, it was more like actual fingers were poking through my guts and running over my spine from the inside.
“Hello? Gecko?” asked a feminine voice in my head.
“Yes?” I tried saying. Words don’t work very well here, but she responded.
“It worked. This is Venus,” the voice answered.
“You sound different. Must be your inner voice. Is this REALLY Venus, or am I just imagining stuff?” I asked.”Maybe you should tell me only something Venus would say.”
The possible Venus answered, “That wouldn’t matter. Anything I told you would be something you’d think I’d say, so it’s still something you could come up with in your head.”
I facepalmed and disappeared as credits covered the screen, talking about phoney directors and producers and designers and so on. “You’re really not making this easy on me, Venus.”
“It’s not my job to make things easy on you.”
“How’d the raid go?” I asked.
“After we got your message, and Victor really wants to know how you did that to the Master Academy website, we questioned your friends again. Don’t you think it is creepy to be getting so involved with kids, by the way?” she asked. I began to wonder if getting distracted had something to do with being Homo Machina.
I’d have crossed my arms and tapped my foot if I could, but I didn’t have a body at the time. “Not a question a Roman Catholic can ever ask me. I’m a surprisingly easy-going guy. You’re getting off-topic an awful lot for something that’s not supposed to be a figment of my imagination.”
“We brought your friends in and did more recon. After catching the workers on their way in, a team came in to clear the interior. We are doing so now, with updated information coming in from the interrogated employees. I cleared making contact with you if you really were trapped in an arcade game. This is really weird, even for you.”
“Ha! Nothing is weird even for me. Things are weird because of me, in spite of me, and even nowhere near me, but nothing is weird even for me. You do you even know how much bestiality I’ve committed? Do you?”
“No, and I don’t-”
“More cock than the Colonel! Oh, hold on. Demo time.”
This time, I flipped in from the left side of the screen and landed in a suburb. Women in short skirts and men in cardigan sweaters fled past me. A duo of mishapen men with green pimples stepped forward. A dog on a leash led a kid past lower down on the screen, but I grabbed the end of the leash. The kid kept on running, but I swung the leash and smacked the grin off the face of one of the mutants. The other circled around behind me. I turned and tossed the dog at him, doing damage. Then I grabbed him and threw him through his friend, killing the friend. While he was down, I got in a car left around the street and pulled it around to both crash into the mutant and cover a manhole in the street. The mutant died, and then the car rocked. A pair of cussword clouds appeared underneath it where the enemy reinforcements were meant to appear.
I got out and laid down on top of the car. “Ok, I got time again. That breaks the sequence until the scene’s over. Tell me you found that big round machine that did this to me.”
“We did.” I pumped my fist.
“Ok, now to find the the ‘reverse’ switch and suck me out of here before I contract scurvy and end up in a pirate level.”
The voice in my head took a contrite tone. “There isn’t one.”
I rolled my eyes, as best as I could. I don’t know what it looked like on the other end of the screen. “There might be. This game world is wacky and cheesy. I wouldn’t put it past me to fight evil pirates in a boardwalk scenario. I bet there’ll be dolphins jumping up out of the water and I’ll be able to grab one to use as a weapon. Or maybe that’s the surfing level instead.”
“Stop it. You know what I said. Stop pretending.”
“You came right to me, didn’t you? You didn’t use your,” and I strained that word to a painful degree, since it should have been our or my, “powers to look in the other machine? There has to be a way to reverse this. I am NOT getting stuck as nothing but a non-adult toy!”
“We’re searching for the creator of the device to see if he knows anything. I tried looking in it, but I don’t understand any of it. I know parts of it are restricted, and I can’t get around it. It’s the same way here. There is no obvious way to reverse this.”
I jumped up off the car. I just had lots of things well up to the surface. Peeves I didn’t know existed. “Incompetent piece of,” cussword cloud, “You… you aren’t fit to wield my powers! I was born with them! I suffered because of them! Do you know what I had to go through because of what I was born as? Now you’ve got them and you’re just a waste with them. You and probably everyone else that stupid mad scientist gave my powers to. Those were my powers. My powers! Mine! I deserve them, not a useless piece of trash like you!”
I feel it’s way too obvious to state I have issues this late into this tale.What I didn’t have was my eye on Venus, literal or metaphorical. All of a sudden, the title screen appeared, with “1 Credit” showing below the title. After a sound, it cut to the demo scene, but this time I couldn’t move on my own. A midi version of “Anarchy in the U.K.” started up. I entered from the left, the punks stopped beating people up, and I just turned away from them and blocked in the opposite direction. They walked over and began hitting and grappling me.
Ok, so I should have figured I’d “play” this game at some point. I’m in it, after all. Circumstances don’t align to transplant me into an arcade game for nothing to happen at all, most would think. I kinda lost track of that in the loop. I think through the realization that it’s not fun being a video game character.
Getting beat up by a bunch of punks accentuated that. I couldn’t fight back, and a glance through the screen at Venus who watched as my health depleted. This wasn’t some mental block… it was programming. I was paralyzed. Unable to stop as I was thrown outside
I was about to try the implants and possibly scream, when the game decided to do it for me. I pulled my pants off, swung them around over my head, and dashed forward, singing “Whoop, whoop, pull ova, dat a$$ too fat!” At least, that’s what the speech bubble over my head said. All the enemies around me were knocked away during that quick dash and the pants somehow immediately appeared back on me. I somehow knew that was called a Panic Attack, which built up from taking damage and could be used wit a special combination of buttons. Neat mechanic. Didn’t kill all of them.
But you know who could kill them? This guy. After the Panic Attack, I could move. I pulled off my pants again, wrapped them around the neck of the nearest punk who stood up, and snapped it tight. It counted as a grapple, but reminded me of the dog thing. I pulled him so he stumbled into a nearby enemy, which hurt both of them. I jumped on top of the other one’s shoulders. The punk got a closeup of my junk. I punched him in the head, which didn’t hurt me in this world, but hurt him just fine. He stumbled back over the course of three punches, and a fourth sent him down. A jump and a stomp on his throat emptied his health bar.
Another punk advanced on me. Remember that way pain and damage works here? I grabbed his head and pulled it down into my thrusting hits. “Right eye! Left eye! Nostril one! Nostril two! Aaaaaaand…” I turned his head to the side and jumped as I pumped my crotch against the side of his head. “Ear!” He dropped to the ground, health bar empty.
The next one, I picked up and choked out. One squeeze, two squeezes, broken neck. As a side effect of the damage system, broken bones have no effect on either myself or enemies. This guy died anyway. The last one came at me with my pants still around his neck. I grabbed the legs and kicked him in the crotch, but he slippd out of the legs. I pulled out the belt and smacked him in the head with it once. “Call me daddy!” He didn’t, so I gave him a taste of the belt again. That knocked him out, and got me another 1,000 points.
On the building in the background, an arrow light blinked on to point further to the right once, which indicated the enemies in this section were all done. I turned and held up my hands, then pulled on my pants. With them on, I grabbed an awning out of the background, pulled a trash can under my head, and finally laid down to get some sleep.
Before I finally traipsed off to slumberland, Venus bonded with the game again. “Don’t talk to me like that again, alright?”
“Whatever,” I said. “I haven’t slept in days.”
“Fine. I’ll let everyone know to leave you there for now. It’s probably better if nobody messes with the game anyway. You didn’t control yourself until I stopped.”
“Good. Let me sleep and stay rested so I don’t die, but then we’re beating this game.”
“This is no time to play around, Gecko.”
“Venus dear, don’t you know anything about video games? They put the full credits at the end. Besides, it’s something to do while y’all chase down leads. Now I must sleep the sleep of the unrighteous.”
“Hate you, Venus.”