“Ooh, see, who’s making it to the top of the mountain. It’s SwordOgre!” the anchor’s voice roars through the JBL speakers as the virtual spectators cheer and applaud their favourite players.
I press my headphone mic close to my lips and jab my thumb at the screen. “Hey, hey, player-1234-I-don’t-care, I will invert your rib cage if you don’t leave my spike behind.”
The player who, as usual, feigns ignorance, sprints up the mountain toward my area and sabotages my spike. A clever coward, I see. Red splashes my screen and sirens pierce through the speakers, digging needles into my eardrums. I rush toward the spike and notice the player has no ammo left, and although with only nine hundred swords remaining, is still in top 10.
Everything is bloody perverted here!
I had abandoned creative writing so I could focus on video games, praying nothing would be rigged here. For a while, yes, I enjoyed my games without the egoistic noobs. Who did they even think they were?
I’d win every match...
I’d win every man’s heart...
And win all kinds of sponsors.
But offers decreased when petty hackers jumped into the game I owned the throne of. I stopped playing because I felt humiliated. The world had deceived me and boo-ed at me, stomped on me and crushed my bones. It had decided to taunt me for the rest of my life.
Suckers, I said and thanked God that something like New Year and these stupid resolutions existed. No offense to my muggers (in this sense, those who aren’t gamers). I had to instill faith in myself that I could get back on track no matter what other moronic actions the world did to enfeeble me.
So I sat down and with huge, bold letters wrote my one and only “resolution”:
Win Bionic Assault Tournament or flush yourself in the toilet.
Sounds delicious yet nasty to me; pretty straightforward, too. Both are ominous. Who knows what happens? Ninja couldn’t even predict the future. He, the God of Thrones (or the King of Game of Thrones. Whatever), couldn’t estimate who was going to win the Fortnite Tournament. Well, he wasn’t that oblivious; you know. He knew he’d win, but wouldn’t that be too self-assuring to other people? They’d think Fortnite was rigged too. Okay, well, just sit down and tell me things you think aren’t manipulated. You’d fill two houses of forty hands and feet each on five lanes, already! Ninja had to act deaf and blind to what was about to happen, not that he was clueless of his win. YOU GET IT.
So, I got back to playing Bionic Assault when the creators and CEO of the game said “kiss my arse” and banned the hackers and useless noobs out of it. Only professionals were supposed to play it and not spam emails.
I choke on my Red Bull when a rabid player, NotSOUgly, fires countless bullets through my armor as if he’s emerged from the game and shoots me for real. Nine thousand swords decrease to a mere seven thousand.
“Oi, what’re you wasting your bullets for?”
“So I can see you off to your funeral. Also, you a noob ‘cause you play with the Gay Gun.”
I… agree with the second part, though. Noob players use Judge or in popular and insensitive terms, the Gay Gun and gain several kills effortlessly.
I fish my knife out and with a few frenzy chases, stab Ugly. That one kill restores my swords. It’s like health and helps you equip different weapons. Without sufficient swords, you’re a beggar in the game and as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.
The Tournament completes its first half with me in 18th rank among fifty others. I’d taken an oath in front of my family that if I lost this impossible game, I’d do most of the house chores (not that I didn’t, anyway) for six months straight, let my brother decide the house menu and babysit my neighbour’s sister’s dog’s grandmother. A hectic schedule I could definitely pull off with no sweat and back pain to spare.
“Welcome back to Bionic Assault Tournament, powered by Reese’s and sponsored by Riot Games and MamaEarth Diapers.”
I gulp down warm water from my glass and gurgle it in my mouth, training and preparing my voice for all the cussing and screeching I’ve to do today. The intensive cursing and strength that accompanies my voice could alone win me impossible games.
*a few hours later*
“SwordOgre, you—you, our friendship ends from this point on!” cries a player, PeanutButter, all set down on wanting to exterminate me within a single blow. Friendship, I think, and scoff; he speaks as if we had any bonding to start with. My eyes hover over the leftover time on the top right screen and the rage rouses from dormancy; my eyes roar with the passion to end this game.
I finally equip my ultimate weapon that painfully takes four hours to regenerate each time it exhausts and swirl it at my ex-friend. The weapon that attaches a scintillating crescent to its top and wraps prismatic beaded weeds around its staff, slices through the player’s abdomen, diving it into two unequal halves as the mutton chops plop to the floor and incinerate (or should I say, roast?).
“Nah-uh, not that. Remember, this is a child-friendly game. You might see a ban sign outside your door and never see the face of the game. Ever again,” announces the anchor and questions regarding how our pg-13 game turned into a child friendly game flushes into my mind. What’d they have to say about Mortal Kombat X, then? For muggers, once again, it’s the definition of pg-13, with extensive violence and extensively creative weapons and actions. A few actions smash the opponent’s skull into pieces and stuff their brain into their intestines. If you’ve bottled up your minacious grudge for an eternity, treat the game like therapy and there you go, you don’t have to see actual blood on your hands and raw mutton chops in front of you.
Haters boo and fans say I love you.
I did it! I DID IT!
It’s the end of Bionic Assault Tournament. I climbed up from 15th rank to the first; something I could’ve never achieved if I were still forcing my brain to come up with writing ideas. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. A woman my age would’ve wanted to hang out in nightclubs, drink booze and party all night long. I (with an emphasis on it) crumpled down every cliché and stereotype. An immense relief. I realise I’m a celebrity now and earnestly wait for Ninja to write me a congratulations letter.
I’m amidst tearing a Pacific Ocean filled fan letters when a knock raps on the door.
Is it the Ninja?
Impossibly possible. He can’t know my address unless he’s an acclaimed part-time stalker.
Shut up. He’s your role model, Jazz. Oh yes, oh yes. There goes me, exposing my animal side.
I rush toward the door and gently open it like the lady that I am so not. Outside, there’s no Ninja. No samurai. But a bunch of roses cradled in the hands of somebody.
“Hello, hello. So nice to meet you.” A man pops out from behind the roses. So not like Ninja. He’s a middle-aged man. So not my type! “Congratulations on your win, I’m NougatPeriPeri, the game designer of Bionic Assualt. You can call me Ransom too.” The man extends his hand out as I take and shake it.
I… I didn’t rig the game if that’s what he came here for. It was already rigged. But he’s in a jocular mood, a smile that stretches like a tight underwear.
He hands the roses over to me as we make it to the living room. Ransom settles on the couch and rubs his palms, smiling and appearing a little jumpy, as if too excited to meet the celebrity that I am.
“How may I help you, stalk- Ransom?”
“Er, first, I congratulate you on your win. Every fourth year, after the tournament announces its winner, I go to their house and congratulate them and offer them some deals.”
“Ah, okay. What’s the deal compromise?
“Em… I didn’t come here for the deal in particular.” Ransom gets down on his knees and stuffs his hand into his back pocket. Gun? Key to the room of Bionic Assault CEO? “You’ve enthralled me with your beauty and talent. Your gaming style is my style. No winner in the history of our tournaments has ever shown such impressive skills. You’re so agile, so crazy, so my type. Will you marry me?”
Ransom shoves a diamond ring in my face.
What in the world of expired cotton candy?
I examine the ring to make sure it isn’t a Bionic Assault merch he’s proposing to me with. But no, no, no. I’d rather write for the rest of my life, throw myself under the bus or sell used undergarments.
“Mister, I can’t. My life—”
“Is prosperous, yes. And I want you to share it—.”
“You greedy dumb—”
“Look at this shiny ring.”
“Ransom. No. I’ve a cat and he gets sentimental when I talk to him about marriage. And it’d be unfair to him.”
“Miss, I’m sure your cat will understand. I’ll take care of our kids, don’t you worry.”
Little did he know, my cat isn’t even mine. He’d stalked into my house, so I kept him in for a while. He died soon after.
I tuck my hair behind my hair and pull my face in, avoiding any eye contact with Ransom. “I don’t think I could get a good price for ‘em on the black market.”
Ransom’s lips contort and grow lopsided. His eyebrows furrow as he retracts his ring box and retreats to his couch, gulping down a ball of saliva. “Uh, you’re joking, right? Haha...”
“Which part of my face shows otherwise?” I sit back and gaze at my nails, adopting an impression of an evil landlady who manipulates men into going on many dangerous missions for her. “Do you know why I live alone? I sold my cat to the black market, sacrificed my neighbour’s dog’s grandmother to the evil men of a downtown occult, and since you’ve stepped into my house with no notice beforehand, it’s obligatory to put you to sleep forever. I loathe uninvited guests and men, especially.”
I draw a butcher’s knife from the knife stand and flick it at the uninvited guest. Dark red splatters against the wall and it feels like the actual game I’ve won after a long while.
(everything is a work of fiction. Ninja never said any of it, or did he...?)