Page 25 - WTP Vol. XI #3
P. 25

 wheezy Cooper Boulevard.
But here they were now, in Amber’s room, on Ar- awata.
They were sitting at the end of Amber’s bed, cross- legged, gripping their controllers in the gaps between their knees. The GameCube, at the TV’s base, gave off a feline purr. They were playing Super Monkey Ball, a candy-colored game of purely babyish simplicity, and Mark was getting restless, almost bored.
“This sucks,” he said. “What does?”
“This game.”
“I like it.”
“It’s for children.”
“Well, duh,” Amber said. “That’s kind of the appeal.”
She sighed—as if only the littlest, whiniest child would have thought to point out that Super Monkey Ball was childish.
“There are men in South Korea,” she continued, “men with wives and kids and jobs, who play this game hour after hour, for days, until they pass out from ex- haustion. I’m telling you, dude. I saw it on the news. And if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.”
“They’ve got kids?”
“Of course,” she laughed. “But Ball is life.”
Her monkey, as she said this, collided with Mark’s on a toothpick-thin bridge, sending him tumbling death- ward. His avatar smiled as it met the abyss.
“Shit,” he said.
That life had been his last, but he’d been thinking, all the while, about his dad, off in Georgia or Kentucky, playing Super Monkey Ball until his brain short-cir- cuited. The drool on his chin (in the dank, dark space of this fraudulent dream) trickled like slime on the walls of a cave. Bags of fast food were amassed at his feet, where they rotted like the carrion of countless tiny animals. A landline was ringing, but his father, catatonic, couldn’t pause to pick it up. (His dad, of course, had never played a video game. But these
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“Ahead of them, across the lot, some
birds were darting to and from their nests among the oaks. A man would know the right response. But Mark could manage nothing but a laugh, a timid snort. The birds con- tinued darting, their chirps the only sound among the broader human silence.

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