Arcade After Dark
Chapter #9
by Tom Zjaba

Chapter Nine
Leaving the Arcade

    At the end of every day, Mike heads over to Bi-Plane Battle and Clown Around and pulls the money out. He counts it and puts the total on a sheet. He then tallies the total for the month. Some days the total is low. Only $10.00 on a Monday. But then he gets a surprise and ends up with a $70.00 day. The month is half-way through and already he is already surpassed $300.00. "I will break the $500.00 mark with no problem." he gloats to Danny. "It is just the kids playing a new game. Now that the newness has worn off, look for those numbers to drop big time." Danny is trying to not show that he is worried. He underestimated the games and knows that they should easily break the mark. He hates being wrong more than the money he is going to lose. But he still contends that if they put in a few new games, they would have made allot more money. Jungle Drums is consistently pulling in $50.00 on a weekday and over $100.00 on Saturday and Sunday. He has been down to the arcade at the mall and seen how crowded the new games are. He just doesn't want his boss filling the arcade with relics and watching business dry up. Right now he has the advantage of location, but that could change. There are a few vacant stores on the street and if another arcade opened up, they could get killed.

    That night, the gang gets together for another night of visiting. Toyboy and Toygirl love hearing the stories about the old days of the arcades and especially about the warehouse where Billy returned from. They love hearing about other arcade games and wonders what other Toyboy and Toygirl games are like. Do they also come out of their machines at night? Do they get along with the other games? These are the kind of questions that they pester Billy the Block with each night.

    As the night goes on, the usual pairing happens. As happens every night, Roadkill Bill and the Jumpy the Clown head off to cause trouble. They love pulling practical jokes on Captain Moon Man and Ace. And tonight is no different. Billy the Block usually sits by himself and watches as the events unfold. He is more to himself since returning from the warehouse. The only time he talks is when he is prodded by Toyboy who keeps asking him about this warehouse. Having been here at the arcade all his life, Toyboy is interested in seeing other places. He longs to see more machines and see what other places look like. Tonight, he decides that he is going to leave the arcade.

    As the rest of the gang watches Roadkill Bill and Jumpy tease Captain Moon Man, Toyboy disappears into his machine. He goes into his resting place and begins to pack a bag. He looks around at his modest room and smiles at the poster on the wall of Toygirl. She has not been to his room yet to see he has a poster of her up. It is a copy of a promotional poster for her game. Roadkill Bill gave it to him as a joke when they she first arrived. He does not know where he got it from, but he likes it. He pulls the poster down and rolls it up and puts it in his bag. He has a change of clothes, which are identical to the ones he is wearing. With the bag packed, he heads out of his machine and towards the front door. While the others do not notice him, Toygirl does. She finds it odd that he is walking away from the group with a bag. So odd in fact that she decides to investigate. She runs after him, yelling out "Toyboy, wait up." He ignores her and keeps walking. He would ask her to come but he is afraid she will tell the others. He is intent on going and does not want to be stopped.

    "Wait up!" Toygirl says as she catches up to him. He just ignores her and keeps walking. "What's with the cold treatment? What did I do?" she yells at him. This gets his attention and he turns to her and says "It's just that I am leaving the arcade and I don't want you to try and stop me." This takes Toygirl completely by surprise. "You're leaving? But where are you going?" He stops walking and turns around "I want to see other arcades. I want to see the world. I have never been anywhere but this arcade." She starts laughing "You can't just leave. What will happen tomorrow when the kids try to play Toyboy?" Her laughter upsets him and it is visibly noticeable in his face. "Guess they will just have to play Toygirl, the newer and better maze game." This upsets her and she thinks she knows what is bothering him "Is this about you being jealous of me? I thought we had this figured out." This stuns him as he did not mean that. Sure, he is jealous of all the attention her game gets, but he never wanted to hurt her. "No, it's not that. It's just that hearing Billy the Block talk about the warehouse made me want to see other places. I want to see what other games are out there. You know, meet the other Toyboys." She then walks over to him and says "And you weren't going to even say goodbye?" As she comes closer, he can see the tears in her eyes. Now he really feels bad. "If you want, you could come with me." She smiles at this and says "Thanks for the offer, but the arcade is my home." He smiles at her and they hug. She then gives him a kiss on the cheek and says "Good luck. I'm not sure if you can send a letter or anything, but if you can let me know if you are all right, please do." He lets of her and says "I will. Say goodbye to the others for me." He then walks up to the door and looks at it. "Wonder how I will get out of here? That door is really big." Toygirl starts laughing "You are planning on leaving and you don't know how to get out?" He then looks at the small gap under the door. "Maybe I can fit under here."

    As Toyboy tries to fit under the door, Billy the Block sees the two of them and starts walking over. "What are you looking for, Toyboy?" he says as he heads over. "He's not looking for anything. He is leaving." Toygirl says. Toyboy is halfway under the door and slowly squeezing through. As he gets through, he reaches for his bag, which gets stuck and breaks open. The contents spill out on the floor. Toygirl reaches over and picks up the poster. She looks at it and sees herself on the poster. She giggles to herself and the rolls it back up. An arm then reaches under the door and Toyboy says "Can you hand me my stuff, please." Toygirl hands him the poster and then the other stuff. "Thanks!" he says as he slowly pulls them under the door. "Think he will be all right out there?" she asks Billy, who is now next to her. "He's not going anywhere." he says in his gruff voice. She looks at him and says "What do you mean? He is leaving. You saw him leave." Billy smiles at her and he says "Trust me, he will be back. He has no choice."

    Outside, Toyboy gathers his stuff. He is right outside the door and he is starting to feel a little funny. He then steps onto the sidewalk and something strange happens. As he steps away from the building, he begins to disappear. His leg and arm just disappear as they go away from the door. "What's wrong?" he says to himself. He pulls his arm and leg back and they become visible again. He gets a sick feeling in his stomach. He then tries to step out with his other foot, but he gets the same results. As soon as he leaves the doorway, his body start to fade away. "This is so weird." he says. He then decides to jump out and see what happens. As he jumps out, his whole body starts to fade. He looks at himself as he is slowly fading away and freaks out. He quickly jumps back and he becomes whole again. "I better go back." he says as he starts to shimmy under the door again.

    Billy and Toygirl watch as Toyboy slowly appears under the door. Billy smiles at her and says "I told you he would be back." She smiles back at him. As he pulls himself through, Toygirl offers him a hand. He reaches out and she pulls him up. He then dusts himself off and looks at them "It was so weird out there." Billy then interrupts him "I know, you started to disappear." Toyboy is surprised. He looks at the door to see if they could see through it. "How did you know?" he asks. Billy laughs and says "You are not the first video game character to try and run away." Billy looks at him with an odd look "I'm not?" Billy smiles and says "I did the very same thing when I was a young." Toyboy and Toygirl look at each other with shocked looks on their faces. "Don't be so surprised. You try getting hit back and forth all day long. It's enough to make anyone want to run away." Billy is shocked to hear this. He would never have suspected that Billy would have tried this. "Why can't we leave? Why do we disappear?" Billy goes over and puts his arm around him and they start walking back towards the gang. Toygirl stays behind and collects up Toyboy's stuff. Billy then says "I really don't know. My only guess is we are somehow linked to our machine." Billy is walking along. Toygirl runs to catch up with them and now at his other side with his bag in her hand. Billy then asks "But if we are linked to our machine, how can we leave it?" Billy thinks for a second and then says "I am not completely sure, but I think as long as we are within a certain range of our machine, we are all right. It's my theory. I was able to leave the arcade when I was sick, but I was in my machine. So it's not the arcade." It is starting to make sense to Toyboy. It seems very odd, but he cannot think of a better theory. As they near their machines, Toyboy speaks up "Well, I am going to bed early. I still feel weird from my trip." Billy laughs as he says "I know what you feel like. It took me two days to feel like myself again. Toyboy then waves as he leaves.

    Inside his machine, Toyboy goes back into his room. He pulls out his clothes and puts them away. He then takes out his poster and looks for the spot on the wall to hang it. He looks over and sees the empty spot on his wall and walks over. He unrolls the poster and prepares to hang it up. Before he does, he notices something odd on the poster. At the bottom of the poster is a message. "Toyboy, I hope you never leave. I cannot image the arcade without you. Love Toygirl. He is smiling as he reads it. He then hangs the poster back up and smiles at it. Maybe it isn't so bad being stuck here at the arcade.



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Arcade After Dark Tom Zjaba

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