Now that I know dying isn’t the end of me, at least like this, it takes some of the pressure off. Apparently I died before, but now I know I did. And everyone’s out in the world, doing things without me.
I’m just here, in my little hamster wheel, killing things. Like I can just be easily manipulated by giving me wave after wave of mindless drones to slaughter. Going through the motions. No. I’m more than that. Even death gets boring when it’s this same ol’, same ol’ bullshit.
And if it wasn’t for Leah being a part of how I got here, I’d suspect she was part of some plot to trap me really efficiently. The moment I thought that I had bashed in a cyborg hockey player’s head using a set of those little clacky office balls that transfer kinetic motion so only the ones on the end move. It’s a slow way to kill someone, but I have time. Too much time, and not all of it accounted for. I could have had a thousand epiphanies I lost every time I died because I didn’t know to record them.
I hate doubting my own thoughts. At least before, when being Homo Machina gave me resistance to psychic mindfuckery, I only had my own mental issues and people’s manipulations to worry about.
So I killed, and killed, and killed. Hours and days and… I think it’s been a week… of nothing but slaughter.
The music’s not bad here, though. The basement lab’s soundtrack is a forever-repeating MIDI of the song “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones. I like the sense of humor. But I’m tired of wasting my time and literal lives beating up a bunch of fake people who look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man missed while snowballing someone and the drippings formed a person, and then that person got kicked in the head by a mule before they managed to dry up and harden.
After countless slaughter and an unknown number of deaths, I decided to find some way to break this system. Though I can at least establish that I have died at least once more and fought my way back to this level. I noticed changes after a chase section.
It was fun. The tank that started chasing me wasn’t fun, but then I stepped into this room that said “Australian Particle Accelerator” on the door. I found a kangaroo in front of me wearing tight runner’s shorts and shirt, a helmet, and goggles. He looked at me, then at the tank as it burst through the wall. I hopped on it and gave it a quick “Giddyup” with my heels.
This kangaroo ran faster than a greased taco through a human digestive tract. It gunned it, which kept the tank from gunning me. The tank gave chase, followed by more sports robots. It slowed me down a little, but the kangaroo kicked like a mule, if a mule was a kangaroo. Bam! Down goes football player with actual pistons for legs and spiked shoulderpads. A motorcycle pulled up with a pair of enemies on it. The one in front looked had a pitching machine for a head and wore a baseball uniform. The one on back also dressed for America’s past time, but its legs ended in wheels instead of feet and it had metal clubs in place of its arms. The secret to beating that one turned out to be tugging up on the roo’s tail so it crapped with the same effect of an oil slick.
So I had to fight enemies while outrunning the tank, up until I circled around behind it and started kicking its ass. A machine gun mounted on top made the chase more perilous, firing down at me. I wish it really was possible to beat a tank to death with a kangaroo. Maybe I can work on that. Perhaps cybernetic muscle implants?
After the tank finished exploding a dozen times, I dismounted the kangaroo next to a hole in the wall that led to where the elevators led up out of the lab. I took a break then to write about the experience, only to find I was no longer female. I had male parts again, and brownish-red skin. I still had long hair, but it was brown with a bunch of green feathers tied to the ends. I also wore denim jeans and a black leather vest. So, probably a Native. I suddenly felt the need to own a casino and cry when someone polluted, but I don’t think it’s that simple. For one thing, my name bar now says I’m “Coyotl,” which sounds Aztec. A look in the reflective surface of the screen confirmed that the ears on my head are now dark brown. I kinda figured I’d be black the way these things normally go. White guy, woman, minority. Sometimes the minority’s a dwarf or a robot, but usually it’s something that doesn’t count as a normal white guy.
Looking in the screen also showed that nobody paid any damn attention to the game anymore. Yeah, that’s about what I thought. That’s how it happens. Something bad happens to someone, something you know you should do something about, and at first everyone is outraged. Then a day passes, or two. Or like two weeks at this point. And it becomes hard for them to maintain that outrage because they have other shit to do. That’s a good reason why I never could trust any of them.
I don’t know why I think this, but I’ve got it in my head that beating the game will do more than just give some hint about how to get me out of here. I’m kinda thinking it’ll trigger something. Maybe some ejection sequence; hopefully one that didn’t require the machine that put me in here to be in one piece. But I keep going through the motions, fighting my way through wave after wave of people. Bah! Just because I’ve been starved of homicidal fulfillment is no reason to keep playing by this machine’s rules.
I walked back over to the wrecked tank and tore off its machine gun.
The next floor up turned out to be corporate offices brimming with men walking around in business suits with Mongolian armor over them, carrying swords, spears, and bows. I’d been wondering when they were going to get to the barbarians mentioned in the game’s opening, though Mongolians really only fit in the strictest definition of that term: someone who doesn’t speak Greek. Bar bar bar, bar Barbara Ann!
Instead of running out and gunning them all down with my new little friend, I shot my way through to the top of the elevator, grabbed the cable, and shot where it connected to the elevator car. I FLEW up, shooting through the walls, even missing the office of Genghis Khan, VP of Acquisitions. As I popped up through the top of the screen, the screen stayed focused on him. My score counted up as he poked his head through the wall and looked up and down, then shrugged.
Next and hopefully final level… the roof!
I somehow exited from an elevator car when I reached the roof, so it’s safe to say I did break the game by skipping a boss I’ve apparently never been able to beat. That must be why I didn’t have the machine gun anymore.
There, I found an orange-skinned person in a suit waiting next to a helicopter. “Ha ha ha! You’re too late! The U.S.A. has succumbed to its fear and elected me PRESIDENT Annihilation! First America, then the world! Get ’em, Secret Service!”
With that, a crowd of a dozen black suits jumped on screen and began beating my ass. It wasn’t just melee attacks and grappling. They all had pistols, and no friendly fire problem. I just had to take a beating and try to think of a way out of this. Like if I had the Panic Attack or a Special. But it’s not like I have a Z button! Just imagine if I did…
Oh for fuck’s sake. While laying on the ground, blinking in and out, I realized I could have probably just done that the entire damn time. And maybe I figured that out before, too.
When I stood up again, I pictured arcade controls in my head, including a Z button. My Panic Attack turned me into a coyote who ran past all the agents, snapping at them. I became humanoid again at the end of it and tried for a Special like I’d been hoping to pull off all game.
Everyone froze in place as I howled. The background went dark and music began playing. I pulled out knife and started dancing around, my spinning hair revealing black and yellow feathers instead. After dancing toward the center of the screen and spinning a bit, the music stopped. It became day again as I put the knife away somewhere. All the Secret Service agents dropped, too.
“Oh crap,” said President Annihilation. Before he could scramble into the copter, I grabbed a pistol from a dead agent and shot the chopper. It exploded, as such vehicles tend to do. Meanwhile, President Annihilation fell on his ass. I somehow lost the gun, but I was in cutscene mode now. He tried to wave me away while I approached. He shook when I picked him up. I know that because my plans were for something a bit worse. I fell back as his suit tore apart. A mechanical exoskeleton grew out around him, encasing him in shiny teal armor and a glass case around his head.
The final fight was on. Don’t sound impressed. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting out of here instead of wasting my time. I had more important things to do than kill fake people. But since I didn’t feel like starting all over again, I still stepped to the side to avoid it when President Annihilation’s suit’s arms turned into chain guns and he fired a two second burst at where I’d been standing.
But I was tired and cranky. And tired of being in this meaningless mess. There’s a whole world out there just begging for a little Gecko fun to be had. I don’t care how many forms this boss takes, he’s going down. Way down. I lured him over to the top of the roof. He played ball. Too bad for him, the ballgame I played was Rugby. I grabbed his leg and threw myself off the roof.
Through a combination of weight, momentum, and video game physics, he followed along. Like the world’s least fun sing-along. Follow the bouncing bodies, kids! “Aaaaa aaaaa aaaaaa aaaah!”
If ever there was a time to hit a panic button, that was it. Oh look, I just happened to have found mine, and readied to hit it. I looked down at the incoming ground with a smile on my face. Enough sitting this one out. I laughed as I looked down at the angry orange face of Annihilation. I doubt he could hear me, and I knew he certainly wasn’t capable of understanding me, but I laughed and told him, the street getting closer and closer… “And here… we… go!”