Arcade After Dark
Chapter #6
by Tom Zjaba

Chapter Six
Jungle Drums

    The arcade was abuzz with excitement. The game that replaced Tabletop Tennis has quickly become the most popular game at the arcade. But then new games usually were popular at first. But this game was even more popular than Toygirl and she was the queen of the arcade. Congo Drums was the first game at the arcade to feature different screens. Until now, all the games had the main character moving on the same screen. The backgrounds changed occasionally or the enemies changed, but it was always the same screen. But in Congo Drums, the main character moved from one level to another by scrolling backgrounds. The kids were amazed and loved the game. They loved taking turns leading Stanley from the jungles where he had to dodge animals in a stampede to the river where he had to get his canoe past crocodiles and hippos to the hill he has to climb while dodging coconuts the monkeys are throwing to finally getting past the gorillas that are holding his beloved captive. Everyday there is a line of kids waiting and putting their quarters on the machine.

    As each day goes by, it looks less and less likely that Billy was coming back. It had been nearly a week since they took him away. Most games were back in a matter of days if they needed work. And with the success of Congo Drums, the arcade would be foolish to remove it. Sure there was plenty of room to put Billy if he did come back, but they would probably just put another new game. There were new games being released weekly and with the big arcade down at the mall, this arcade could not afford to waste space on old games.

    While the gang has tried to get Stanley to join them, he has yet to take them up on the offer. They have gone night after night and knocked on his machine and called out to him. But they have not gotten an answer. Toygirl finally offered a solution "Why doesn't someone just go up in his machine and ask him in person?" Captain Moon Man responds "We have tried to invite him, but obviously he is too good to be seen with us." Toygirl just rolls her eyes. Finally, Roadkill Bill speaks up "I will go up and talk to him. He may not hear us down here or know he can leave his machine." They all agree that sending Bill is a good idea. The rest of them are a little hesitant to go themselves. But Bill doesn't really fear anything.

    As the others watch, Bill slowly climbs up the power cord. As he gets to the top, he enters the machine. While he has been in a few different machines in his time, it is still always exciting for him to see a new machine. Most machines look pretty similar. There are alot of wires and machine parts. He doesn't know what they are but he figures they are the guts of the machine, so to speak. Being only a squirrel, he is not the brightest member of the group. The machine is very dark, but then that is expected with it being turned off. So Billy used great caution as he made his way through this unknown area. But as he felt his way through the darkness, he saw a light up ahead. As he neared it, he heard conversation and laughter. Once he made his way into the light, he saw something that he never expected to see. Sitting at a large table was Stanley and what looked like a zoo full of animals around the table. There were hippos, gorillas, crocodiles, rhinos and other animals. They were all talking and laughing and having a meal together. Stanley quickly saw Bill and waved for him to come over. Bill was not sure what to do, but he figured he would come over. One of the monkey's got up from the table and made room for Bill. He sat down next to Stanley and soon there was a glass in front of him and a plate. "Make yourself at home" Stanley said as he poured a strange looking liquid into Bill's glass. "I can see why you never heard us when we called you" Bill said as he had a hard time hearing over the noise the animals made. "We can be a noisy bunch" one of the gorillas said with a smile. Stanley then offered his hand and said "Where are my manners, my name is Stanley and these are all my friends from the game." Bill shook his hand and then replied "I am Roadkill Bill, I am in the game across from you." Everyone came over and said hello. One by one they shook his hand and told him their name. There was Gerald the Giraffe and Harry the Hippo. The gorillas went by such names as Charles and Darwin.

    After awhile, Bill forgot about the others as he had fun eating and drinking. While he had a good time, they were outside worried to death. What happened to him? Did he get lost or worse? But no one was willing to go in and see what happened. They just sat out there worrying and hoping he would show up. After a few hours, Bill finally emerged. He was smiling and was shocked to see his friends still waiting for him. They all gave him an angry look and he said "What did I do?" Toygirl chimed in "You could have let us know you were allright. We were worried sick about you." Bill just smiled and said "Man, do they know how to throw a party." Soon, he was telling everyone about the fun he had and how the hero and all his adversaries in the game got along like one big, happy family.

    That night, Captain Moon Man went back to his machine and thought about what he had heard. Why hadn't he ever seen the aliens from his video game once the machine was turned on. They had to be there, at least he thought they did. He decided that he would have to look for them with the rest of the gang. While he would not admit it, he was scared to look himself. They were pretty scary looking in the game and the last thing he wanted was to be surrounded by them. He shot at them all day, so they may not like him. He did not hold a grudge at them shooting at him as he figured it was part of the game, but would they be as understanding. That night, he did not sleep very well.



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Arcade After Dark Tom Zjaba

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