An older gentleman in his early fifties sits at a large, mahogany desk inside an elegant and luxurious study. Books and antique trinkets are displayed along the wall to ceiling shelves behind him. The lack of windows makes it so natural lighting is nonexistent, and the air of the room is stuffy but professional.
Despite his unkempt facial hair, it is clear this man generally has a refined demeanor about him, but recent troubles have caused him to become a bit neglectful of his personal care. He looks to a paper and pen that are laid before him on the desk. He picks up the pen. He looks it over once more and with slight hesitation signs the bottom.
“Let the games begin.”
He gives a sly smile as he slowly gets up to leave the room. He moves as if he is in pain. As he exits, the door creeks loudly and echoes throughout the stuffy room as it shut slowly behind him.
Angela Delamont, a glamorous senior in her final year of undergraduate studies, is hosting the biggest sorority/fraternity mixer party of the fall. A life blessed financially has pressured her into being nothing short of perfect under her family’s watchful eye, but here she makes all the rules. Dressed as an elegant angel, her eyes glaze intently over every inch of the party in search of anything out of place that could ruin her event.
Angela attention is caught by a geeky-looking guy dressed as Pac-man entering the party.
“Hey, I’m sorry but were you invited?”
“I’m Mile. Meg the DJ invited me.”
“Oh, Right. That was nice of her uh, but I mean are you sure you would be comfortable here?”
“Oh for sure. I’ve been working on making a game with my computer science friends day and night, and this is just the break I needed.” Miles smiles back at her.
Starting to get frustrated at how he doesn’t seem to understand her intention, she signs.
“Is everything cool here?”
Meg, having seen the altercation has stepped down from the DJ booth and made her way over to Miles. She glares at Angela.
“Oh, Meg! I was making sure Miles was feeling comfortable enough here but…”
“But what? Look if you want your precious music you let my friend stay, ok?”
Angela thinks for a minute, but before she can say anything Miles, finally realizing the situation, speaks up.
“Nah I think I’m just going to head out Meg. No one wants to be where they aren’t wanted anyway. Thanks for the invite though, your beats are the best as always. See you around.”
He gives one last smile at Meg and a small frown at Angela before heading out. Meg gives another glare and heads back to her station.
Angela looking a little guilty takes a seat near the center of the party and continues to watch as it continues around her.
The next morning Angela is awakened by her phone ringing. Even in the morning she still looks and acts nothing less than perfect. With a light yawn, she sits up and answers her cell phone. While her face is completely composed, her eyes betray a mixture of emotions that show an uncertainty of how to feel about the news she just received.
Angela is in her room sitting on her bed dressed in all black. In front of her sits a gaming console. She stares it down as if completely unsure of what to even do with it.
“What the hell were you thinking dad?”
Flashing back to a reading of a will. We focus on Angela alone in a room. The reader of the will speaks.
“According to his latest last will and testament, written one week ago, Randel Wilford Delamont has decided to leave every last one of his assets, totaling 23 million, to his only child Angela Maria Delamont.”
Angela still looks unsure of how to feel about the situation.
“That being said, he also states that there will be a rather unique condition to this inheritance, and should you not fulfill this condition, the inherence will go to an undisclosed charity that he has chosen beforehand.”
This grabs her full attention.
“Sir, I am not sure…”
“I am sorry Miss. Delmont to do this, but it was his last request.”
“What does he want me to do exactly?”
“Well, it seems he wants you to play a game.”
“A game? Like in those creepy “Saw” movies?” She goes a bit uneasy.
“Oh no no nothing like that.” This makes him laugh. “Your father has given us a console and a video game. He states that if you manage to beat the game within a week you will get a code word that will allow you to access the inheritance.”
“He wants me to beat a video game? My dad?”
“I have read it many times myself due to its strange nature, but yes that is what it clearly states. His final written words were “Let the games begin.”
Staring at the console she finally gets up and turns it on. She picks up the controller as the theme music starts. She gets to the title screen and presses the flashing start button.
The games appears to be a low-graphics basic dungeon crawl with a mansion theme. There are unique items to discover, house guests to interact with, secret paths to unlock, riddles to solve, and enemies to fight. She plays for a while but can’t seem to get past a particularly annoying enemy that keeps pushing her back with a rolling giant rolling pins. Frustrated she throws the controller and sighs. After a full minute of basking in the depth of despair that comes from being unable to move forward, she stands up.
“I think I am going to need some assistance.”
Angela sits across from Miles. Now in a white halo themed t-shirt and old jeans, he drinks a coffee and waits for her to speak the reason for the meeting.
“Um, so I’m sorry about the party.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t very chill of you.”
“So is that all you called me out for?”
“What? Oh no. You see, my father died…”
He instantly becomes anxious and embarrassed.
“Oh uh look sorry I’m not the best at comforting people emotionally, and if you are looking for someone to have a one night stand with…”
“No! Oh goodness no! I mean no offense, but no. Why would you even assume something like that?”
“Whatever, I’m not here for comfort, I’m here about a game.”
At this, his interest seems to be piquet.
“Yeah you see my dad left me this stupid game to beat in order to get my inheritance but I can’t even get past the first floor or whatever. “
“I don’t know. Never heard of it, but that’s not saying much. Anyway, If you can do it for me I’ll give you $10,000. Do we have a deal?”
“Woah wait, $10,000 just for beating a game?”
“How rich are you?”
“That’s not important. I only have a week to get this done, so will you do it or not?”
“I am going, to be honest, I don’t like you much.”
“Doesn’t matter as long as we both get what we want right?”
“It does matter, but even so I do need money to help make our game a reality. Plus I’m interested in what kind of game is worth all this much.”
“Great, let’s go now.”
“Woah, right now?”
“Only a week remember?”
Miles thinks on this.
“I’ll need to get in the zone. I’ll need to shower, sleep, and gather fuel for the long haul in case this game is a real backbreaker. Give me till tomorrow. Oh, and we do this at my place. I’ll work better.”
“How about this, I’ll get you some “fuel” and you settle for a nap, and we meet up tonight?”
“Fine, but you better get some good stuff to eat and drink.”
“You never have to worry about my taste.”
It’s nighttime and Miles distastefully staring at a table with hummus, avocado bruschetta, a fruit and vegetable tray, and a pack of kale smoothies.
“What is this?”
“Come on. I meant like junk food and energy drinks.”
“That won’t do anything good for your body. This stuff is better for you, and will keep your mind active enough to play for a long time.”
Miles rolls his eyes and takes out his phone.
“Hey yeah can I order for delivery? One large meat lovers pizza and one vegi, two two liters, twenty wings, and an order of cheese fries. Yup. Thanks.”
“That’s a lot junk just for the two of us.”
“Who said I got anything for you?”
Now with a table mixed with healthy and junk foods, Miles sets up the console and gets ready to play. He sits on an expensive gaming chair as Angela sits on a stool behind him. As the game starts up Mile’s eyes widen.
“What the heck is this?”
“I’ve never heard of this game before.”
“Probably just some old game.”
“No. Trust me I would know. Let me just look up the title.”
He searches his phone and finds no results.
“Can we please just get to it?”
“Well excuuuse me, princess.”
“Never mind. Should have known you wouldn’t get the reference.”
He starts the game and instantly he is locked into it like a trance. Angela watching him play, growing more and more fascinated by his passion and skills. Finally, he gets to the rolling pin encounter.
“That’s her, the boss I couldn’t get past. Be careful.”
He flawlessly dodges and jumps, and is able to maneuver his way up to her and strikes her down.
“Uh sorry to tell you, but that was a mini-boss. There is still a whole section of this level of the mansion to go.”
“No worries. You have an expert on your side now.”
He gives a wink, and she rolls her eyes.
Miles makes his way through the whole first level without a hitch, but he makes great time moving through the second level until eventually, Angela notices he isn’t making any progress anymore.
“Everything ok Miles?”
“Uh yeah, it’s just this doesn’t make any sense.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the whole second floor seems to be one giant puzzle of some kind. I collected these random items like a bear, a lemon, and a Frisbee, but I have no clue what they mean or how to use them.”
“Wait. Show me the map again.”
He pulls up the map.
“That’s our house.”
“and you are JUST now noticing this?”
“Well I don’t know, it was all virtual and I wasn’t really paying that much attention. Please don’t make me feel dumb.”
“Why would I do that?”
“I..I don’t know.”
“Anyway, I found the bear here, the lemon here, and the Frisbee here.”
He puts to different areas of the map. Angela thinks about this.
“Angela if this is a game your dad had this game custom built based on your house and life, maybe these objects mean something.”
“Oh yeah. Well yeah, I guess I did have a stuffed bear when I was little.”
“Where did you put it?”
“I slept with it every night, so on my bed in my room.”
“Where is that on the map?”
“OH! I see where you are going with this. Right there.”
She points to a location. Miles takes the character there and puts the bear on the bed. A ding sound is heard.
“Yes! Now lemon?”
Angela seems embarrassed. Miles looks over.
“I uh. I hated lemons so I would throw them in the toilet.”
Miles pauses for a second before cracking up.
“But it’s funny.”
“Well, you know what they say. When life gives you lemons, throw them in the toilet.”
Miles finally calms his laughter and continues to play.
“It’s not stupid, it’s human. We all do silly things.”
“Gosh, what is your deal with needing to be perfect and control everything?”
“I don’t NEED to be, and I don’t control EVERYTHING.”
“Oh yeah? So kicking me out of the party was for fun?”
“That was for…”
“I didn’t fit your perfect orderly guest list right?”
“Well yeah, but I mean that wasn’t right of me.”
“Look I get it.”
Miles hesitates for a second.
“I’m on the spectrum.”
“Yeah. I mean I am high functioning, so it’s easy to miss, but socializing is hard for me. I don’t pick things up as easily as others. If things don’t fit just right, it causes me a lot of trouble.”
“I had no idea.”
“Like I said, easy to miss. But either way, I don’t let it define me. I do what I can, and I learned what I can't control won’t control me. It was hard, but things are pretty cool now. I have friends who get me, and a future I can see for myself.”
“That’s…actually really awesome. Not the spectrum stuff, of course, but you being able to have all of that.”
“Look, all I am saying is that I know what needing to feel in control is like, and while we may be different in a lot of ways, maybe we can at least get each other a little bit.”
Angela is touched by these words and gives a genuine smile.
“Yeah, maybe we can.”
“Now what about the frisbee?”
They go through the game levels together. Angela helps with the personalized touches to the game while Miles leads with the maneuvering skills. They laugh over stupid jokes, Angela tries to get Miles to get the healthy food she brought, they talk more about their personal lives, and Miles teaches her a bit about how to play as time passes in the blink of an eye. They finally reach the last level which is a replica of her father’s study. Angela stares grimly at it.
“He never let me in there. Honestly, he never let me into his life much at all.”
“Don’t be. No matter how hard I tried he was nothing more than neglectful and reclusive, and that was all his own fault. Nothing to do about that now though.”
Miles nods his head and continues on in the game. He pulls a hidden switch which opens up the bookcase and reveals a hidden chamber. Miles grins.
“Looks like its final boss time.”
Battle music starts to play and a giant vampire comes out and attacks the main character. Miles struggles to defend himself but eventually manages to take it down. Suddenly it get back up.
“What the hell!?”
He repeats the action over and over, but the vampire never seems to die. Finally, he pauses the game and tosses the controller.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Angela can see the frustration on his face.
“Hey, it’s cool. We will get, and even if we don’t there will be a very happy foundation.”
“Seems like someone learned a bit about control.”
Angela starts as if she has an idea.
“Wait! I think I know what to do.”
She picks up the controller and starts the game. Instead of fighting against the vampire she just allows it to take all of her hearts without moving an inch.
“No! What are you doing Angela?!”
He goes to grab the controller but she keeps it out of reach. Just as the last heart is about to be taken the vampire falls to the ground and lays down as if he longer has the will to fight. Suddenly the vampire transforms into what looks like a pixel version of her father. The screen cuts to a video recording of her real father. Angela gasps. He begins to speak.
“Congrats my angel, you were willing to give up control and won the game. It was the one lesson I was never fully able to learn until death was staring me in the face, and I wanted to make sure you never made the same mistake as me. I’m sure by now you have heard that I have been dealing with an illness for a very long time, and that I could no longer fight it. You were just starting college when I learned about it, and while I know I wasn’t the best father, I wanted to be sure you didn’t lose these years of your life worrying for me. I always wanted to be a game developer, but life had different expectations of me. In my last years, I was determined to finally make a game, and there was no more important game than one I could share with you after I was gone. Inside were all my sweetest memories with you. The bear I gave you on your first birthday, the lemons from our lemon tree that made your face so bitter you threw them in the toilet, and the so many other lovely memories I never wanted you to forget. I truly hope you enjoyed this game. I know it could never make up for how neglectful I was, but just know I always loved you.”
Angela stares at the screen with tears in her eyes. Miles looks at her and after a deep breath wraps her in a big, awkward hug.
“I told you I’m not good at comforting.”
Angela smiles through the tears and hugs him back.
“Nah, you are doing fine.”
“Wanna get a lemonade?”
She pushes him off playfully and dries her eyes. She rolls her eyes and begins to leave with a smile.
“Hey come on! My treat, just take it from the ten thousand you owe me.”
He follows her out with a smile of his own.