Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted! I’ve been swamped with work and study of late, but I’ve also finally finished the first draft of my novel, so I can now turn my attention to other forms of writing before I attack the second draft.
On that note, here’s another piece for the #300DaysofFlashWriting challenge, where participants write for ten minutes only on a prompt posted online by my friend Shekina on her blog and social channels. This was written from the Day 32 prompt, ‘Video game’.
What’s in a Game?
The video game was a birthday present. Ashok could tell from the size and shape of the parcel.
Beaming from finally reaching double digits in age, Ashok carefully unwrapped it. He thought he would recognise it from the colours that gradually revealed themselves as he slid the paper away, but it was no game that he had ever heard of.
“I asked for the game you wanted, but they’d sold out,” his father said apologetically. “One of the staff recommended this game, though. He said it’s going to be big.”
Ashok shrugged. A game was a game.
He started to play after returning from bowling and pizza. It was a strange, difficult game, but something compelled him to stick with it. His mother had to tear the controller from his fingers when she realised it was well past his bedtime.
The next day, Ashok tried to describe the game to his friends, but they shook their heads. They had never heard of the game’s title, and didn’t understand what sort of a game it was from Ashok’s vague descriptions.
“It’s like a platformer, but there are puzzles too, and there’s a shooting bit, I think. But I can’t remember. And there’s something else. I can’t remember what… And the story is weird! But really cool. But I can’t remember now how it goes.”
Frustrated, he tried to find the right words to describe it precisely, but the words wouldn’t come. His friends looked bored and Ashok gave up. They didn’t even want to come over to play it themselves.
Day after day, Ashok tried his best to get to the end of the game, but new levels kept respawning. He bought every issue of his favourite video game magazine, but none mentioned the game.
Desperate for someone to talk to about the game, he went into the shop where his father had bought the game, but no one had heard of it, and looked puzzled when Ashok tried to describe it. The right words felt just out of reach one more. Ashok took the cartridge into the shop, where one of the sales assistants turned it over and over in his hands with a look of confusion.
“This isn’t one of ours. Do you know who served your dad when he bought it?”
Ashok produced the crumpled receipt. The sales assistant frowned.
“Well, it’s one of our receipts alright. But this staff number definitely doesn’t exist.” He returned the game to Ashok and shrugged. “Maybe your dad bought it from another branch and there was a printing error?”
“No, it was this one! Can you try playing the game please? Just plug it in so you can see what it’s like. No one understands me when I try to describe it.” A pleading look entered Ashok’s eyes, and the assistant relented.
“Okay.” He disappeared through a door behind the till. Ashok waited.
The shop was quiet. Ashok ducked under the counter and opened the door slowly.
The sales assistant sat cross-legged on the floor, a controller in his hands. He didn’t so much as stir as Ashok walked towards him.
The assistant still didn’t turn around or say anything. He continued to play the game, pushing the joystick this way and that while pressing buttons with his other thumb.
Ashok peered at the screen and gaped.
There was nothing there.
© 2021 Dipika Mummery