Arcade After Dark
The talk of the arcade was Toygirl and everyone wanted to play it. From boys to men and girls to women, it seemed like everyone wanted to play a game of Toygirl. Some of the other games received less attention. This was especially true of Table Tennis. While the game was the least played in the arcade before Toygirl arrived, it at least got some attention. Now poor Billy was forgotten. The other three games still received solid numbers. Not as strong as before, but they were still quite good. Even the jukebox was getting some play. The arcade was doing quite well.
One Saturday night, the arcade closed as always. As soon as it was evident that everyone was gone, Toyboy took a stroll over to visit with Toygirl. It seemed more and more that he shunned his friends to spend time with her. Not that he didn't like the others, but she brought out feelings in him that he never knew. The guys were all about joking and teasing, but Toygirl was different. She wanted to know more about him. She cared what he thought. And this made him happy.
While he was over waiting for her, he heard someone messing with the front door. The door was being unlocked and it was opening. He knew that he had to get out of sight. He ran back where the other guys were and they watched as the front door opened and some shadowy figures stepped in. Three figures stumbled in, obviously they were burdened by some great weight. One guy headed over to the alarm system and turned it off. Then the lights went on. The guys all scrambled back to their machines as fast as they could. From the safety of their machines, they peered out and saw it was Mike with two of his friends. One was carrying a television and it looked very heavy. He struggled to put it down near an outlet. Another guy was carrying two bags that appeared to be full. Mike was carrying a case of beer and what looked like some bags of chips. They all dropped their bags near the television, where the one guy proceeded to plug it in. They then pulled a video game system out of the bag, an Atari 2600 game system and proceeded to plug it into the television. Mike was busy getting the beers out and opening the chips. They all then plopped down on the floor and began playing the Atari.
As the night went on, the men got pretty buzzed and quite tired. After a few hours, they decided to call it a night. One of the guys suggested they pack up the TV and game system, but Mike told them to just leave them for the night. He was too tired and a little too tipsy to want to move stuff. He said he would get there early in the morning and pack it up. They all agreed it was a good plan and headed out for a nightcap.
After it was apparent that the arcade was empty once more, the guys came out of hiding. One by one, they walked over to the Atari system sitting there next to the television. "Did you see this?" Toyboy said to the rest of them. "It was an arcade game that could change games" he added. Billy walked over to it and looked carefully at it. He snorted and said "What kind of dang blasted contraption is this?" As they all stared at it and tried to figure it out, Toygirl walked up and said "It is a home arcade system. These will one day replace us." A shocked look fell over their faces and then Captain Moon Man spoke up "There is no way this could replace us. It is so puny." They looked to her for a rebuttal, but instead she went over and climbed up the system. She came to a lever that said "Power On / Off" She pushed it to on. Then she went over and walked up to the television and waved for Toyboy to come over. He ran over and she whispered something into his ear. He then bent down and she climbed up on his back. They moved over, with her on his shoulders, towards the television. He was a little wobbly as they got near. She reached out for the television and steadied both of them. Then they moved slowly over to a rectangular button and she pushed it hard. Suddenly, the television turned on and a bright light filled the room. He jumped back and both of them fell. The rest of the guys ran and hid. After a few seconds, they one by one came over and saw on the screen, an image. It had the name of the video game and it was playing itself. They all started laughing at the hilarious image. It was Toyboy or at least that is what it said it was. But the image on the screen was horrible. Instead of the cute boy with the hat, there was a one colored stick figure with a line that was supposed to be a hat. He moved around a poorly designed maze and grabbed boxes that were supposed to be toys. "This is supposed to replace us? You have gotta be kidding" laughed Billy the Block. Cap walked up to it and asked "How does one control such a device?" Toygirl smiled at him and said "With a joystick, silly." She then walked over and pointed to it. She signaled for Toyboy to come over and he climbed up the joystick with her. She then hit the button on the joystick, which started the game. A somewhat familiar sound came out of the speakers. It sounded similar to the Toyboy theme but it was less full. It sounded like it was missing something. She then grasped the controller and pushed it back and forth, trying to move the character on the screen. He came over and helped her as the joystick was much taller than either of them, at least twice as tall, if you measured from the base to the top. They tried in vain to keep away from the bullies or what appeared to be bullies. It was hard to tell as they kept flickering as they moved. Within seconds, they were caught and they lost a life. Toyboy looked over and said "I never thought I would be using a joystick to control myself." Everyone had a good laugh at that.
After awhile, the group tired of playing the weak attempt at Toyboy. Roadkill Bill finally spoke up and said "What other games are there on this machine?" The all walked over to the stack of cartridges and looked. Toygirl started mentioning the names "We have Adventure, Haunted House, Combat, Captain Moon Man..." Once she mentioned that one, everyone yelled "Put it in!" or "Let's play that one." Toygirl then moved over and turned off the machine. She had watched the guys earlier doing it and had a good understanding on how to do it. She then said to the group "I am going to need everyone to help me pull out this cart. It is quite heavy." So Cap and Roadkill Bill got on one side and Toyboy, Toygirl and Billy the Block moved to the other side. She then said "On the count of three, pull with all your might...One...Two...Three!" They all pulled as hard as they could. At first it did not seem to budge, but after a few seconds, it started to give way. With some more effort, they felt it pulling out. Cap then said in strained voice "Just a little bit more....PULL!" And with one last effort, they yanked the cart out and it rolled down the machine, taking them with it. Most of them let go and fell to the side, but Roadkill Bill hung on for whatever reason and landed on the floor. They looked down and saw him all flattened out. He pulled himself aside and shook himself out. Within seconds, he was back to normal and said "I'm OK." They then dragged over the Captain Moon Man cart and slowly pushed it in. After some pushing, they got it to snap in and were able to turn it on and play it.
As the image came up on the screen, it looked very similar to Captain Moon Man. As they played the game, they saw that they could move around, shoot and had the shield just the arcade game. The aliens looked very similar and the music and sound effects weren't too bad. The Captain gleefully said "I am spectacular on any machine." They laughed at his bragging but had a hard time disagreeing with him. After some playing, they decided they had to play a different game. At the bottom of the pile was Tabletop Tennis. Everyone decided that they had to play that one. Everyone except for Billy the Block. But he relented and they loaded the game in. When the screen came up and they saw that Billy looked exactly the same, they all laughed. "Guess you can't mess up a block" said Roadkill Bill. Billy just growled at him. But they soon found that they could not control the game with the joystick. Not knowing that they needed paddles for the game, they gave up. The night was getting late and they needed to get some sleep. So they all got together and help to turn off the television and the game system. They had some good laughs and everyone went their separate ways.
The next morning, Mike showed up early. He looked quite groggy and a bit hung over, but he was there to put the television and Atari away. The arcade was going to open soon and he could not have this mess. When he looked at the machine, he noticed how the carts were all strewn about. And he looked into the machine and noticed that Tabletop Tennis was in there instead of Toyboy. He could have sworn that the last game they played was Toyboy. But as he thought about it, he figured it must have been the beer. Its not like the games can play themselves and it is unlikely that someone broke in and just played a game of Tabletop Tennis and left. He scratched his head and went on his business of cleaning up.
Arcade After Dark © Tom Zjaba
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