Lounge Lizard Lucas - An Interactive Adventure

Submitted into Contest #219 in response to: Write from the POV of a security guard on the night shift, sitting in front of a wall of CCTV feeds.... view prompt

16 comments

Fiction Crime Funny

#1 Night At The Magnolia


Lucas hates working. It could be sloth, laziness, or a general distaste at having to do things for other people. He hasn’t devoted much energy into thinking about it.


They say a lazy person can’t survive in New York City, but Lucas looks at his current setup and marvels at how wrong they are. He hits play on a music playlist and looks at his wall of surveillance screens. Rent-free apartment, benefits, Sundays off, and all he needs to do is sit in a comfortable chair and watch the screen all night. Life is sweet inside the control room of The Magnolia, a new building owned by tech company Beta. There are so many cameras everywhere, he doesn’t need to even get onto his feet to patrol.


Lucas takes a huge bite of a Chipotle burrito, turns around, and gazes into the surveillance camera. While he watches the tenants, the owners watch him. But who knows if they're really watching?


“You're disgusting!” Mark groans.


Lucas follows his coworker's gaze, and looks down. Sauce from the burrito is dripping down his shirt. “Fuck you, Mark. It’s not like you’re much better.” 


“Fuck you too.” Mark laughs. In New York, you can say whatever you want. “Why don’t you go to the bathroom and wash your shirt?” 


Mark works the afternoon shift and has seniority, so Lucas should listen to him.


Make the decision for Lucas, and then skip ahead to the numbered section:


  • Lucas goes to the bathroom → #2
  • Lucas doesn’t care if his shirt is dirty. → #3


#2 Distraction


Lucas goes to the bathroom and looks for paper towels, but remembers these modern buildings don’t stock them. He puts the front of his shirt under the water faucet and washes off most of the sauce. He quickly gives up trying to dry it in the hand dryer.


There’s no rush to get back. Lucas checks his mobile. There are some notifications from the Beta Security App, which he ignores as they’re always nothing, He opens League of Legends, checks his game stats, and accepts a few friend requests.


  • Back to the grind → #3


#3 Carnitas


Lucas leans forward and takes another bite of the burrito. He reaches the good part, the meat, he takes such a big bite some of it hangs from his lips.


Mark looks repulsed. “I’m going to put in a request to can your ass.”


“Nobody watches us anyway,” Lucas says.


“They’re always watching, and listening,” he says. “And, just teasing you, bruh, Eat as much as you want. Weve got the easiest gig in Manhattan.”


  • Back to work → #4


#4 Camera Controls


Mark tinkers with the controls for the parking lot cam, angling it upward toward the apartments. With floor to ceiling windows, most of the tenants leave their curtains open 24/7. Perhaps they assume people in Manhattan have other things to do than to spy on their neighbors. If so, they’re wrong.


“Yo bro, look! They’re doing it! Apartment 3B. Every Friday night at 5pm. She was wearing business clothes, they must be coworkers.” Mark gleams with delight.


“So, you're a peeping Tom,” Lucas says, “Now, you are the one being disgusting.”


  • Watch the action → #6
  • Ignore it → #5
  • Tell Mark not to watch → #7


#5 Background Noise


While Lucas finishes his breakfast, he’s serenaded with a chorus of hoots and hollers from his coworker watching the action.


Finally, Mark goes quiet. “Show’s over.”


  • The show must go on → #8


#6 Another Woman


If this was porn, it wouldn’t receive many views, Lucas thinks as he watches. Out of an animal-like curiosity, he gazes at the mechanics of two people doing it. He’s worked here for three months, when he gets a good look at the woman’s face, he know's she is not the tenant. Not 3B's wife. 3B is taking a big risk having another woman in the apartment.


  • Show’s over → #8


#7 Peeping Tom


“Turn it off,” Lucas says. “We could get canned for doing this.”


“Quiet, bruh. I think someone is listening,” Mark says, and chortles when he sees Lucas’s panic. “Relax, there’s no audio in the building.”


“I need this job.”


“Fun killer," he says, as he shifts the camera angle back toward the parkling lot. "Next time you need something on your shift, I’m not picking up.”


  • Show’s over → #8


#8 Prison Break


Mark checks his watch. “6pm,” he says as he stands up. “Peace out. It's like a prison cell being here for 10 hours a day.”


"I beg to differ." Lucas nods to Mark who's making his exit.


On the surveillance screens he watches Mark go down the hallway, and then five minutes later exit the bathroom, take the elevator to reception, and leave through the building.


  • Loneliness is my only friend → #10


#10 Trash


Lucas is alone. Being alone in a half empty new building scares him at times. He triple e checks that the door behind him is locked and gets ready for a long night of boredom. It’s better than working.


Sometime after 9pm, one of the screens shows something out of the ordinary. Lucas leans forward, squinting at the grainy image. A figure is sneaking in the shadows around the plastic dumpsters on the side of the building.


Lucas’s heart races. He reaches for his mobile to call Mark, but he remembers Mark doesn’t like to be bothered off-hours. The figure disappears from view. Lucas sits back in his chair, now feeling a little foolish for being so on edge.


Lucas is a big guy, 6 foot, 220 pounds. Why is he afraid of a homeless guy? He should get out there and make sure the area is secure. Bonus points: the folks at Beta will see him on camera doing his job.


  • Stay in the control room, do nothing → #12
  • Stay in the control room, call the police → #11
  • Rush outside to prevent any vandalism → #13


#11 Ring The Alarm


Since last year, the police no longer respond to vandalism calls.


  • It’s the thought that counts → #12


#12 Trashed


Lucas takes another bite of his pork carnitas burrito, while he leans over the control panel and watches the screens. The figure outside is knocking over dumpsters and looks to be searching for food. 


Lucas takes another bites and watches the entertainment. The trashed trash cans are someone else’s problem. 


As he leaning over the desk to protect his shirt, burrito sauce now drips onto the keyboard. Replacing that will be someone else’s problem too.


  • Post Prandium Depression → #20


#13 The Intervention


Lucas takes his security baton and exits the building through the parking lot door. He spots the homeless person searching the dumpsters for food. Lucas doesn't know it, but life has been very hard for this man on the streets of New York, after being discharged from the VA hospital in Buffalo. The man senses danger behind him and jolts up, peering into the darkness trying to find out who the attacker might be.


  • The plot thickens → #17


#17 The Business End


The man feels in danger and draws a gun. When a large man with food on his shirt lunges toward him, he pulls the trigger out of self defense.


Lucas feels a searing pain in his chest. He should have learned to mind his own business. 


  • Game Over


#20 Boredom Strikes


Having woken three hours ago, and drunk a Starbucks Venti on the train, Lucas finds it hard to relax. The dumpster diver moved on a long time ago. Lucas’s eyes dart from screen to screen, seeing nothing but empty hallways and the occasional tenant returning home. He doesn’t want to spy on windows like perv Mark.


It’s against the rules, but maybe he can play a round of League of Legends on his mobile. Management will probably just give him a warning the first they catch him.


  • Play League of Legends for the next 20 minutes → #21
  • Resist the urge and keep an eye on the monitors → #22


#21 Game On


Lucas logs into League of Legends, then contemplates how sad it is he can’t even make it through half of shift without screwing up, and puts his mobile back away.


  • Go to → #22


#22 Visiting Hours


Lucas has been working at The Magnolia for three months. Since taking this job, working for a security firm subcontracted to the building, he’s helped his mother pay off credit cards bills. The ones she’s racked up on dental treatments. Thinking about that makes him think he can make it through this shift without messing up.


On the main screen, he watches the front door in reception open. Jacqueline from 7G enters the building. She walks toward the elevator. Before the front reception door closes, a man outside grabs the handle and slips into the building behind her.


Lucas studies the man’s face. He’s never seen his face. The man slowly ambles toward the elevator. Jacqueline’s elevator has already departed. The man waits for the next one.


  • Rush up and try to intercept the man on the Seventh floor. → #23
  • Watch the elevator to see which floor he gets off on. → #28


#23 The Seventh floor


Lucas rushes to the 7th floor, but the man is nowhere to be seen. Listening outside Jacqueline’s door, he hears her husband’s voice and the typical sound of someone who’s just arrived home.


Where did he go? Lucas opens the Beta Security App. Using AI, it tracks every arrival, and where they went through the building. The App shows that the guest after Jacqueline entered apartment 3B. The one perv Mark had been watching earlier.


  • Go check on apartment 3B → #24
  • Go back to the control room → #28


#24

Lucas walks down the quiet hallway of the third floor. Down the hallway he hears a shout A crashing sound echos down the hallway and then there’s silence. Lucas rushes down to the door of apartment 3B.


  • Knock on the door → #25
  • Wait outside the door → #26
  • Go back to the control room→ #28



#25 Knock-Knock.


Lucas takes the security baton off his belt, and holds it in his hand, and then knocks on the door. No one answer. He knocks again. 


  • In front of the door → #27



#26 Wait


Lucas stands there for what feels like ten minutes, listening to someone moving around inside the apartment. 


  • In front of the door → #27


#27 One Door Opens, and.


The door suddenly opens. Before Lucas has time to react, he hears a gunshot. There’s a searing pain in his side, and he drops to the ground. The Epiphany Lounge has lost it’s best customer.


  • Game Over.



#28 Control room


Watching the footage, he sees the man who entered the apartment leave again fifteen minutes later. Maybe it was just a visitor or a coworker.


He checks the Beta Security App, 3B’s wife has not been returned to the building yet. The other woman left at 6pm. And a man at 10pm. Maybe this tenant does it with all genders. There’s all types in New York. Not really his business.


  • All Night Long → #30


#30 Easter Egg


It’s 4am, Lucas paces around the control room. His friends are probably all deep asleep, having normal lives.


This job sucks. He could hire a lawyer, claim disability for the sprained ankle he got in the first week. What is the point of watching these monitors and wasting his nights. He could just be at home, getting paid to do nothing.


  • Call the management office and report a medical emergence because he re-sprained his ankle → #40
  • Put those thoughts aside, man up, and sit back and finish his pork burrito → #50


#40 Nirvana


Staying at home, and playing games all day is heaven. So much better than having to take the L train across town every day to go to work.


The painkiller he was prescribed by the doctor has been working so well, he hasn’t felt his ankle in weeks. He began visiting two others doctors to ensure a steady supply.


Six months later, as he assembles an army to fight in Summoner's Rift, his heart skips a beat, and Lucas slides out of consciousness.


If this happened a few months ago, the Epiphany Lounge would have lost its best customer, but he hasn’t been there in a while.


  • Game over.


#50 Late Night


Minutes turn into hours, and Lucas’s eyes start to droop. He was just about to nod off, when a sound jolts him awake in his seat. It takes a second to figure out it’s the phone ringing.


“Security,” he answers.


Screaming comes over the line. “I think my husband is dead. There’s blood everywhere.”


“What’s your room number?” The number is showing on the control panel.


“Apartment 3B. Third floor.”


“I’ll be right up.”


Lucas rings in a murder call to 911. Being New York, the police could arrive in minutes, or they could take half an hour, who knows?


  • Go up to the apartment → #51
  • Stay in the control room until the police arrive → #52


#51 The Scream


Kate, in apartment 3B, screams for the next half hour. In between the screaming, the pair have a conversation, “We need to do something!” “The police are coming soon!” several times. Lucas realizes he doesn’t have the right life experience to handle a situation like this.


  • They finally arrive → #52


#52 Flashing Lights


Lucas buzzes in the two police at the front door. There’s soon a dozen in the building. An ambulance arrives.Tthey take the body away, and the police drive Kate off somewhere.

“Did you see anything?” the detective in charge asks Lucas, when they’re alone.

“This building has cameras. Everywhere.”

“Can I see the footage?”

“We don’t have access, only the management does.”

“Let them know, we will get a warrant.”


  • Sex, Lies, and Videotape → #70


#70 Betamax


The police warrant arrives the next day, and the staff at Beta Property Management say they are working on producing the footage.


A few days later they send a message: Unfortunately, due to a system error, the video footage at The Magnolia has been lost for Oct 10th.


Lucas asks Mark, “All those cameras, what are they for? I can’t believe they lost the video.”

“Bruh, it’s a Jeffrey Epstein,” Mark says. “Do you think they’re going to release the video, and then have the company get sued?’


  • Old Fashioned → #80


#80 Q&A


An irate police detective asks Lucas, “I can’t believe Beta has lost the footage. What are all those cameras for?”

Lucas shrugs. “I just work here.”

“Now I have to ask questions like an old fashioned TV detective. Did you notice anything unusual on the day of the murder?”

“Just the other woman who was there at 5pm, and then his wife came home at 11pm.”

“Did you see anything else?”

Lucas’s mind goes back to when he saw the other man sneak into the building behind Jacqueline, the one he didn’t stop.


  • Open up about the man he let sneak in behind Jacqueline → #87
  • Clam up like a 3-day-old Little Neck → #95


#87 An Embodied Voice


Using Lucas’s description of the man who entered 3B, the police track down the ex-boyfriend of the woman who visited the apartment earlier in the day. 


When Lucas leaves work the next Monday and heads to the 86th street subway station, a voice shouts from behind him, “You testify against my brother Marco, and you’re a dead man!”

Lucas turns around, and sees an angry young man. “Who are you?”

“Didn’t I just tell you?”

“Ok.” Lucas isn’t fast with the wordplay. He sees that the man is holding a gun in his pocket.


  • Agree not to testify → #88
  • Call his bluff → #89


#88 A Chill Pill


“Ok chill,” Lucas tells Marco’s brother. “I won’t testify. It's just a job.”

“Good.”


  • Go to → #90


#89 Just Doing My Job


“It’s my job.”

“What?”

“It’s my job to help the police.”

“Then you’re a dead man.”


He pulls his hand out of his coat. He’s holding a packet of pretzels, eats one, and walks off stamping his feet and grumbling under his breath.


  • Go to → #90


#90 They Could See This Coming


Lucas doesn’t testify, but the police saw this coming. The previous interview was videotaped and submitted to court as evidence.


A week later, when Lucas leaves work at 6am, a man in a hoodie rushes across the street and jabs a knife into his back. Lucas falls to the ground. The Epiphany Lounge has lost it’s best customer.


  • Game over


#95 Why Are You Here?


In the control room of The Magnolia, Mark looks at Lucas. “Marco’s trial was yesterday. They didn’t even call you in to testify?”

“Nope,” Lucas says, stuffing his face with Mexican food. It’s Friday.

“If Marco goes free, he will be back on the streets.”

Lucas reaches around and locks the door behind him. “Not my problem.”


  • Go to → #99


#99 The Penny Drops


On Sunday, his night off, Lucas goes to the Epiphany Lounge on West 6th and mingles with the regular Sunday night crowd. He puts $20 tip on the bar to receive good service for the rest of the night. That’s the way this city works. No one does anyone a favor for nothing.


  • Good work! → #100


#100 The Moral of the Story


If you had played this game online, your answers would be stored in a database. The time of day you played and the speed at which you pushed the buttons would be used to determine a possible personality profile. If you logged in with a social account, that would be scraped for info. All of this would be data mined to find the optimal way to entice you back to the game, to spend more time, and to show you advertisements you might click on. People in real life assume they are always being watched, and online assume they are anonymous. The reality is exactly the opposite.


October 12, 2023 06:15

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16 comments

Amanda Lieser
04:38 Nov 16, 2023

Hey Scott! Oh what an intriguing game! I played it and was surprised at the ending. The moral of the story was well written and nicely thought out. I thought these characters were interesting and flawed in just the right way. I was surprised with some of the frank options-peeping Tom. But hey, that’s life. Sometimes, it’s a bit frank. Nice work!!

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04:51 Nov 16, 2023

Thanks for reading, Was a bit of a fun experiment in games after reading "tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow." The original computer game my story was based on was a bit sleezy but hard to get the tone right in a reedsy story. Plot wise, another in my series on the theme of "the cowards journey", a corollary to the hero's journey. In real life staying away from trouble is usually the right option!

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15:48 Oct 14, 2023

Well done Scott! I tried to this before, a few months ago, for my 7th (? I think() story Hyacinth. Serial killer story where the heroine was supposed to keep rewriting her fate. Got halfway though and got all confuddled so quit and turned it into a meta story instead. This is great. I Was curious at first about some missing numbers but I guess thats deliberate? Theres one occasion where you instruct a move back to 21 but i think it should be 24! Good stuff , enjoyed the read!

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02:43 Oct 15, 2023

Thanks so much for finding that error, just fixed it! Will go back and have a look at your story Hyacinth. And I didn't think readers here would want to flip back and forth pages that much, so I made one that was quite linear without many huge jumps. THink I could have done something better for the story, but ran out of time. Yeah the number were 30,40,50,etc were placeholders and also didn't have time to go back and condense them all. thx again for reading!

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Tommy Goround
05:10 Oct 13, 2023

Umm.. help. This is usually done in second person. I don't know how to feel.

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05:45 Oct 13, 2023

Yeah ikr. I just dislike 2nd pov so much (you you you….) i thought id try third. But then it seems to not read as a game as much. Hmm first attempt, the story isnt that great, maybe something like squidgame would be better.

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Tommy Goround
14:45 Oct 15, 2023

Hahah. Maybe a serious version?

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Philip Ebuluofor
16:49 Oct 12, 2023

This Lucas died multiple times or is he using a bulletproof jacket or something?

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01:49 Oct 13, 2023

Thx for checking it out. It's a game. You follow the # numbers based on your descision and When you die, you go back to the start again.

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Mary Bendickson
14:48 Oct 12, 2023

Different concept for story telling. The lounge lost it's best customer several times. The last line so true. Thanks for liking my Gift

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15:37 Oct 12, 2023

Thanks for having a look at my video game in a story!

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Danie Holland
13:28 Oct 12, 2023

Scott, I found this to be such a unique way to give a short story. It really does feel like you are playing a game. I loved this line at the end, "People in real life assume they are always being watched, and online assume they are anonymous, the reality is exactly the opposite." - So true, I can't tell you a single thing my coworkers were wearing at work yesterday. Most people don't REALLY pay that much attention to what is going on around them. I liked this concept, Thank you for the story!

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13:53 Oct 12, 2023

Thanks for reading! With trying to fit the prompt and the game, the plot was a bit simple but I finally had a deeper thought at the end. yeah people share everything online without thinking about it, but then worry so much who's watching them when they leave their front door.

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06:16 Oct 12, 2023

After reading "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" I've been thinking about the intersection of literature and games, and am trying something different this week. (It's been a very long time since I've read a "choose your own adventure" book.) Sorry the story is quite basic and close to a video game. I may try this again with a more serious story in the future.

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Tommy Goround
05:08 Oct 13, 2023

Same title as Aldous Huxley essays?

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07:55 Oct 17, 2023

Inspired by Leisure Suit Larry the video game.

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