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Contemporary Funny Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

The only sound in the house is that of the bullets being fired. It comes from the living room, the center of the space, where a teenage boy sits on a sofa, playing a game. The room is like any other: a gray couch covering the center, two matching chairs on both ends, a TV across, a rug in between. It is normal, no different from any other image of suburbia. Just a boy passing the time, taking the edge off, with some easy entertainment.

The boy’s father walks in, interrupting his calm.

“Hey son, what are you playing?” he asks.

“Just Call of Duty,” the son replies.

“Right, right, fun. I was talking to your mom, and she thought maybe we should play one of my games from back in the day. She thinks we don’t hang out enough and this will be a way for us to bond.”

“And what do you think?”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“I’m kind of in the middle of a match, dad.”

“When you’re done then.”

“I don’t know.”

“Come on, live a little!”

“Okay okay, just let me finish.”

The boy continues his game, shooting soldiers and often dying himself as he runs around a make-believe battlefield.

“Okay, I’m done,” he says after some time.

“Great!” the dad says, rising from his chair.

The father is no stranger to the console; it is merely the latest iteration of the same machine he played himself as a child. Replacing the current disk with his own takes him little time. Before the boy knows it, the father is sitting down beside him, holding his controller, and settling in.

The game begins with a cut to a school. A still photo. Then a barrel which, as the school gets smaller and the barrel gets bigger, comes into focus, and is revealed to be a machine gun much like the one the boy was playing with before. The words Active Shooter fade in and out of the forefront.

“Oh yeah,” the dad says, joyfully. “I’ve missed playing this.”

The boy’s face starts to sink into itself like quicksand.

“What is this?” the boy asks, his voice coming out as staggered as a cold breath.

“This is the game! Just you wait, it gets better.”

It gets worse. As the boy feared, the gunman is the character you play, and the students at the school are the targets you slay.

“What the fuck is this?” the boy repeats after the father mows down his first pair of students roaming the halls.

“It’s a shooter! Just like what you were playing.”

A siren blares out while echoes of screams bounce around the walls.

This is not that.”

“What do you mean? It’s just like that!”

The figure on the screen reloads his gun as more students flee.

“That’s war. This is…this is fucked up.”

“Are you saying war’s not fucked up?”

“No, but…”

The dad laughs as he shoots a child in the back before they can escape.

“How can you laugh about shooting kids?” the boy asks.

“What do you mean? When I walked in you were planting your balls on some dead dude’s head. Was that not a joke?”

“This is not a joke!”

“What are you getting so worked up about? It’s just a game. I thought you’d like it!”

The character on the screen enters the school’s library. What students can be seen quickly hide under the nearest desks.

“How could you think I’d like a game where you play as a school shooter? Have you gone insane?”

“I really don’t see the problem. How is this any different from playing as a war criminal?”

The dad moves towards one of the desks, flips it, and shoots a young boy point blank in the face.

“Because it’s war!” the boy screams. “You have an opponent. They’re fighting back. This is just…a slaughter.”

“Don’t worry, the cops show up eventually. You can have your precious duel then.”

Another desk is flipped. Another child dies.

“That doesn’t make it better!”

“Well, you can also play as the cops if you’d rather. It’s a lot less fun, though. You only get to kill one guy if you choose that path.”

“One kid, you mean?”

The shooter starts spraying bullets wildly around the room.

“Well, a kid with a gun. You wouldn’t shoot a kid with a gun who’s terrorizing your school?”

“But you are the one terrorizing it!”

With the library emptied, the shooter re-enters the halls. At the end of the first one, a police officer appears.

“For fucks sake,” the dad says, shooting the first officer to come into focus. “Your generation is so sensitive. If I knew you were going to act like such a pansy about it, I would have brought a different game. Maybe Animal Crossing would be more up your alley. I don’t know how we’re supposed to bond though if I’m lying. I never played that fucking game.”

“You really thought we were going to bond over this game?”

“Well, yeah, it’s fun!”

Another cop falls.

“It’s horrendous! What’s next? You’re going to show me a game where you play as Hitler and shoot Jews?”

“Oh my God…every argument goes back to Hitler with you kids. It’s not like that at all!”

“It is. The fact that can’t see that…it frightens me, dad. You’re frightening me.”

“Frightening you?! Would you get a fucking grip, it’s just a game!”

The screen shakes as the shooter is wounded, likely shot. Aimless expletives leave the father’s mouth in frustration.

“How would you feel if I was one of those kids?”

“What kids?”

“The kids in the game you’re murdering!”

“But you’re not one of those kids.”

“I could be! There was a shooting just the other day in this state!”

“You’re being ridiculous.”

I’m being ridiculous?!”

“These kids aren’t real.”

“That’s not the point!”

“What is the point then?”

Blood starts to drip down the screen. The shooter’s movements slow.

“Mom!” the child screams, getting off the couch. “Mom, are you home?!”

“What the hell are you doing? Why are you getting your mother involved in this?”

“Mom!”

The mom comes in, bright as a bird, her smile wider than a Smith & Wesson.

“How are my two favorite boys doing?” she asks.

“Your husband thinks it’s okay to murder children.”

“I’m not murdering anyone! It’s a game. Honey, will you tell him it’s a game?”

“My husband. You mean, your father? Don’t particularly care for that tone, young man.”

“Mom, are you serious? Do you see the game he’s showing me?”

“What is it, one of those shooters? I knew this would help you two bond.”

“Mom, he’s shooting kids!”

“Alright, just lovely, you two have fun!”

“Mom!”

She keeps walking.

“Mom!”

Then she’s gone.

“See,” the dad says. “She thinks you’re a pansy too.”

“That’s it,” the boy says, leaving the room. When he comes back, he’s holding a pistol.

“Woh woh woh,” the dad says. “Where’d you get that from?”

“You probably should have played hide and seek more often instead of this shit. It wasn’t exactly hard to find.”

The father finally puts the controller down, careful to pause before doing so. The shooter was still alive, after all.

“Son, give me the gun.”

“No, I don’t think I will. I think I’ll take it to school. Shoot a few of my fellow classmates. It’ll be fun.”

“That’s not funny, son.”

“But this is?”

“For fucks sake, would you let it go already? I’ll turn it off, okay?!”

“It’s not okay.”

The dad turns off the TV, throwing the controller across the couch immediately after.

“Shit like this is why we don’t spend a lot of quality time together.” He gets off the couch and starts walking away, muttering as he does so. “Man just tries to bond with his son a little and gets berated instead. Has a gun pulled on him! Treated like a monster in his own home.”

The rest of his words are ineligible for the boy, who’s quick to place the gun on the couch with the father gone. After, he makes his way to the TV, removes the disk from the console, snaps it in half, puts a different disk in, returns to the couch, and grabs the controller.

A cascade of bright colors surrounds the screen as a landscape appears, filled with people and animals of all sorts, rendered but not realistically, moving about. In the corner, a message reads: Welcome to Animal Crossing. And the boy is calm once more.

February 07, 2024 01:25

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