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Submitted By: John Rose
The following is a record of three days in the summer of 2020. During this time I encountered The Probe, a new and very underground video game. From the beginning I knew it was different; the disc came with an enigmatic black clip-on device.
This was the Probe itself— it resembled a tiny black eye and contained a century of spy technology. The manual told me to wear it on me, to take it everywhere. I did.
I go to work from 9:00 to 6:00. My boss is being annoying. At lunch I stop at the mall to pick up a copy of Mirror's Edge 9. A cell phone salesman hounds me about wireless plans; I hate those guys. After work, I go to Grandma's house to check up on the old lady and mow her lawn. I get home late and watch ESPN highlights (Denver dominates).
Later that night:
I put in the disc, insert the Probe device, and launch the game. I expect some kind of training sequence via shooting range. Instead, I'm shocked to recognize my Grandma's kitchen. And there she is, polygon for polygon, smiling and making me cinnamon toast. But what's this? A horde of zombie cell phone salesmen erupt from the cabinets!
A Masked Villain makes his entrance, accompanied by ominous guitar music. He takes Grandma hostage and directs his zombies at me. I see something shining in the darkness: a Lawnmower Sword + 10! Instantly I pull the starter cord and my sword buzzes to life, whipping limbs from bodies. As evidenced by the gore on the appliances, I'm winning and my sweet old Grandma seems safe.
Suddenly the Masked Villain makes his escape, but not before spawning an Explosive Salesman. With only seconds to react, I pause the game and scroll through my Abilities Menu. At last I find a Field Goal upgrade, unlock it, and equip it to my foot. I wind up and deliver a ruthless kick to the monster's jewels – my upgraded foot rips upward through his body and pops off his head. Fatality.
There's an hour-long traffic jam on my way to work. Right before my exit, an El Camino cuts me off and I swerve to the shoulder. Flat tire. The Probe makes a sound like laughter (I'm still not sure how it can see out of my pocket). After changing the tire, I arrive at work late and have to stay until 7:00. My boss has gone from annoying meddler to meddling jackass. Finally I get out and hit the gym. That treadmill chick wants me bad, I can feel it. Later, I'm too tired to do anything but watch a movie on cable. Das Boot – how can I resist three and a half hours of pure epic? I prop the Probe up on a cushion to make it comfortable.
Later that night:
After enjoying it so much the first time, I just can't say no to The Probe. The level starts, and there I am on an endless highway. The pavement is clogged with abandoned cars, burning under an apocalyptic sun. Unexpectedly, the earth cracks with volcanic fury, and an army of demonic El Caminos emerge from the depths.
They close on me with intentions of roadkill, but I'm ready with my trusty tire iron. I beat them back one by one, shattering windshields and cracking axels. I'm suddenly ambushed by a ten-storey El Camino, and behind the wheel is the Masked Villain. He runs me down and I black out. I awaken miraculously in the hands of the treadmill chick; she caresses my muscles back to life, but I pass out again.
When I come to, I see the treadmill chick running for her life down the highway. I stand – I am healed! But the treadmill chick is in danger, running (I love to watch her run) from the beast. It closes on her. I reach for the sky and summon my steed. A flying u-boat glides gracefully from the heavens and I leap to the bridge. Flank speed! The smaller El Caminos rally to stop me in my pursuit, but I have already manned the deck gun. I spit thunder and death from the weapon until the minions are totaled.
Finally I can see my enemy, and he has nearly caught up to her. I man the conning tower and take careful aim. Fire one! Fire two! I fire all of my torpedoes, and they carve the air toward my foe. They erupt where car becomes truck, and put a smoky end to the abomination. Somehow the Villain has escaped again. Landing my u-boat, I give the treadmill chick some hearty, hearty thanks.
Work sucks – 9:00 to 8:00. The guy across the hall smells like rotten ass (I have a bad feeling that the Probe can smell it too). I buy some Girl Scout cookies – Thin Mints – but all I can taste is body odor. Plus my boss is so irritating that I'm basically looking for reasons to let him live through the day (note to self: maybe this game is messing with my sense of reality).
Anyway, he's lucky it's Friday. It's all good, because there's an Ozzy concert tonight. The man's 72 and still melts my face from my skull. The Probe is knocked to the floor of the mosh pit during “Paranoid.” I take some bruises finding it, but it's undamaged. In fact, it blinks a little red light as though it's enjoying itself. After the show, I trudge back home and turn on the season finale of Top Chef. I can't believe that moron won.
Later that night:
I plug in the Probe and take a deep breath. I can feel the final confrontation coming, inevitable. Ready for the worst, I'm still horrified to see the level start in my office! The Probe really knows what I fear most. I can hear the maniacal snicker of the Masked Villain, stalking me. In the gloom I see a mini-boss: my co-worker's floating, horrifically stank armpit. Seeing that my magic points are full, I summon an army of bloodthirsty Girl Scouts to defend me.
But they're no match for the foul demon and they quickly fall prey to its attacks. It comes at me in stomach-turning thrusts. Succumbing to the stench, I puke on the beast but it only seems to get stronger. Suddenly, I know what to do, if only I can remember the combo. I grab a nearby pair of scissors and unleash a fury of button presses until I hit on a special move from Top Chef.
It's an angry combo, full of dicing and paring and carving, and it leaves a clinging cloud of blood in the air. As I wipe my hands, I sense movement. I deftly avoid a teleportation attack and roll to my feet. I know now that my animal instincts are too much for the Masked Villain. The enemy strikes again, but this time I'm ready. A button prompt flashes beneath his face – I hit the X button! Another button prompt, and another, and another – B, X, Y!
With the fury borne of a successful quick time event, my hand rips the mask from his face. My boss sneers at me with an expression of fear and rage! I see a final button prompt and tap the A button as fast as I can. Ozzy's spirit rushes through me. I crank my boss' head nearer and nearer, my jaws gaping wider and wider, until… chomp! I remove his skull with a single bite and spit it to the floor. Rock and roll!