Game Over: A Short Story - Part 1
"Die alien scum!" Theodore shouted out at the TV screen in mock anger as the crowd cheered him on. "Your mother put up more of a fight than this last night!" His friends roared with laughter as he reached for his half empty bottle of Mountain Dew, his only sustaining life force.
It was a day like any other on campus. Theodore Lucas Fisher spent hours in the student lounge playing video games with his fellow nerds and social outcasts. Though he rarely attended the few classes he had registered for, Theodore spent most of his time here at his community college, for he had nowhere else to be (and even if he did, he couldn't get there, for he still didn't have his driver's license, despite the fact that he was 19). He also didn't have a job or a girlfriend, and he still lived with his parents, though from time to time he would stay with his older brother Joseph for the night or the weekend. Aside from the people he played video games with at the college, Joseph was really Theodore's only friend.
From the outside looking in on this group, you'd think that they were the closest of friends; they laughed together, spent hours a day together playing video game, and all seemed almost the same in personality and demeanor, but Theodore rarely conversed with these people outside the student lounge in the context of first-person shooters and RPGs. Though he has been out of high school for a year now, Theodore still had not picked up the finer points of social interaction and for the most part, his socializing consisted of nothing more than a regressed form of parallel play with nothing but a television screen and a few game controllers holding the closest things he had to interpersonal relationships together.
Sometimes Theodore wished he could be more social without video games, but he tried not to think about it. It was really just one of those things that nag at him from the back of his mind and was easily drowned out by an excess of Mountain Dew and obnoxious disjointed ramblings about the other players' mothers that somehow made him almost fit in and feel somewhat accepted. Just like any of the other gamers in the lounge. It seemed as if the louder he yelled about nothing in particular, the more the other guys in this group seemed to accept him and give him the positive reinforcement that he had always longed for. It was only with this kind of public display that he could really hide his true feelings and pain from the world. The only way he could become completely invisible and blend in was to draw attention to himself, though he had to choose his words carefully as to not seem at all different from the rest of them in his calculatedly contentious clamoring.
All in all, Theodore was content to stay here playing video games with other gamers for the foreseeable future. He had no real goals in life and no real hobbies other than video games, and of course, Star Wars. Having no plan for life and living without direction was a better option, in his opinion, than setting himself up for failure. If he had no goals, he could not fail to reach them. In all of his 19 years of existence, he had never had a girlfriend or even been on a date. He had become bitter toward the opposite sex without ever giving himself the chance to have his heart destroyed. It was just easier that way. He didn't think he was the kind of guy any girl would ever want anyway. He was a little on the heavier side, though not drastically overweight, wore glasses, and usually wore an old baseball cap over his light brown hair. It was obvious to even the casual observer that he did not put much effort into his appearance either, with his Star Wars t-shirt, dirty grey hoodie, and black tennis shoes that were not accompanied by socks of any kind. It was almost as if he was making an effort to keep women away, though he didn't give off any vibes that he swung the other way, either. It seemed almost as if he was content to live his life celibate. It's not that he was asexual, he was just lazy and was unwilling to give himself freely to another person for any reason.
The closest he had ever come to falling in love happened while completely immersed in his favorite movie. But before anything could happen with the girl he had his heart set on, that bastard Han Solo swept his princess of his dreams off her feet and Theodore was still alone. Oh well, easy come, easy go. It wasn't as if he had a chance with her anyway, even if she did exist. Living in a fantasy world was so much simpler than creating one's own world within the real world in which to function, especially a fantasy world created by someone else. The plot was already prescribed, which removed the pressure of making decisions and worrying about the future. Even upon the first viewing of a new movie, Theodore always had a certain anxiety about what would happen next, which is why he tried to stick to his favorites. Perhaps if the real world was more like a movie, and there was someone who could tell him what would happen next, maybe he would not find it so hard to be a part of it. But sadly, life could not be so simple, which was why he turned to movies and video games.
At least with video games, while he does have to make the right choices to get ahead, and to prevent himself from dying for that matter, he can always start from the last save point if he fucks things up epically. But there are no save points in life, which is why he prefers not to take too many risks. With games, he can live multiple lives and just stop playing if he doesn't like where things are headed.
"Wow you guys suck," Theodore announced to his so-called friends after kicking their alien asses for about the quadrillionth time. "Just like your mom," he couldn't resist adding, though the joke had gone far beyond outdated several millennia ago. He did not notice though, for in his world, time was perpetually at a standstill, but he couldn't tell for he had no concept of the motion of time and space. In his eyes, existence was static. He, and everything around him, was static. Which could explain why he hadn't changed much at all in his 19 years. Same interests, same sense of humor, same outlook on life, same everything as when he was but 12 years old.
As he looked around, he noticed that only four other people aside from himself were still in the lounge; the three guys he was playing the game with, and some girl in a long black coat and a fuzzy black hat sitting a few feet away on the ragged old couch that must have been in the lounge since the beginning of time, writing something in a notebook and seeming to just blend in with the scenery. She looked as if she felt out of place there, though at the same time she belonged there all too well. The girl caught his notice for only a moment, but then he turned back to the guys who would actually pay attention to him. "So how about another game? What do you say?"
"I have to go to class," one of them, the one called Dave, who had short black hair and dark brown eyes, replied. "Maybe some other time. I've been playing this game for two hours anyway."
"Yeah," one of the other guys, Colin, chimed in. "I have to get going as well. Work and all. Can't afford games if I don't keep my job, you know."
Theodore looked disappointed as the two of them got up and walked out of the lounge. Before he could say anything more, Louis, the last gamer remaining, aside from Theodore, just got up and left without saying so much as a word and Theodore was left alone with his game again, but he didn't mind too much. He was used to being alone by now. After almost two decades of self-imposed isolation, it didn't bother him too much to be left by himself. He'd just play single player mode until another gamer nerd came along, which shouldn't be too much longer now, as they all seemed to congregate in this area, as it was the only place on campus with televisions provided for video games.
Several hours later, Theodore noticed that it was beginning to get dark outside and realized that he had lost all track of time sitting there in the lounge staring at the television screen. Even though he had nowhere else to be on a Friday night, Theodore decided to leave anyway. He thought that it would be best to get to his brother's place before it got completely dark out, as he would have to walk.
...To be continued in Part 2...
Read Part 2
- Game Over - A Short Story - Part 2
Theodore is horrified by what he finds when he arrives at the gamer's lounge on Monday. Will this discovery finally be the push he needs to get his life together?
© 2018 Jennifer Wilber