By Charles Matthias
|Judas picked up the Colt .45 LC, placed the muzzle inside his open jaw, accepting the barrel with the curve of his tongue. His finger sat perched on the trigger, his eyelids closing gently over the grayish scene. All sound about him came to an abrupt silence, every bird pausing in its song traffic coming vanishing from his Socratic cavern; even the endless tick-tocks of the ancient grandfather clock standing between the mantle and the far wall hushed themselves. In that moment of complete silence, every voice in the world listened as he passed final judgement over all of them. The trigger moved quite easily in his grip, the sound of the shot never reaching his ears.|
"Okay I'm going to take my antlers and impale this guy," Bart told the gamemaster after glancing over his character sheet.
"Don't you got to take your sombrero off first?" Simon prodded him. It seemed to Judas that Simon liked to bug Bart about his charecter that was descended from a moose, with full human appearance, but still had antlers and was forced to wearing a sombrero to hide it. Judas detested Simon, for he was a bona fide jerk, nothing more, nothing less.
"I was just about to say that!" Bart insisted.
"Okay, you take your sombrero off and try to impale this guy with your antlers. Roll." John, the wire-thin gamemaster who looked like he was still thinking about that last pizza he'd prepared back at Dominoes. It was another all-nighter at John's place, his parents both having night jobs. Judas felt a kinship with John, as if both of them were thinking and feeling on the same level. He knew there had to be a reason that John would only gamemaster Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
While Bart was still rolling, the phone began to ring. "I'll get it in the back room, you three just hang here," John said as he dashed back through the double doors from the living room to the study.
Bart looked as his die roll, and then put his hands over and scooped up the dice. "I guess I'll just have to reroll it when he comes back in here."
"What did you roll, a one?" Simon prodded a little more.
"No." Bart shook his head.
"Simon, just lay off for once." Judas bemoaned.
"C'mon, Jude, don't you want to know what he rolled?"
Simon turned from Judas, his hawk-nosed face turning once more to Bart's unremarkably burlesque figure. He began to berate him once more, but Bart just shrugged him off. Judas began to look at his character sheet, letting the lull in game time give him a chance to wonder and wander in the vaulted chambers of his imagination. He looked over the stats on his Redfox, the only PC in the game who did not possess full human appearance. He never quite understood why he would even play the game if he weren’t going to be more like the animal than the human.
He looked at the two squabbling, wondering whether he should break in, when John poked his head on the door, his hand over the mouthpiece of the phone, "Will you guys be quiet, it's my girlfriend!"
"Tell her hi," Judas mouthed.
John stepped back into the study, and the three of them sat there looking at each other, not sure what exactly to do. Judas felt like that if he was ever going to connect on a better level, then now would be the best time to pop his question. "Hey, guys, have you ever wanted to be your characters, I mean, in real life?"
"What do you mean?" Bart asked, looking confused.
"I mean, have you ever wanted to be Michael Moose? Or how about you, Simon. Ever wanted to be Sunset?" Judas asked again, hoping that his question would be clear.
"Hell no, it's just a game," Simon retorted, his voice not moderated in the least since John's warning. Judas glared at him coldly, wishing that looks could kill.
"Then shut up." Judas told him, turning to face the still deliberating Bart.
"What the hell's gotten into you?"
"Let's just say that I'm sick of your attitude," Judas pointed out, staring the older kid down.
Simon threw a few dice at him, his face red-hot, "Who you invited you into this group anyway? We were doing fine until you showed up and made us have to deal with nonhuman appearance. Plus you just suck gaming-wise."
John poked his head out of the study again, his eyes cold and his face firm, "Simon, will you please shut up or take a short hike. If I hear one more interruption your little Sunset is going to be taking a ride out of this game, you read me?"
"Fine." Simon stormed off, stomping loudly the entire way out of John's house.
The wiry gamemaster shook his head in annoyance, "He'll be back, this usually takes about ten minutes. I hope he didn't offend you?"
"No." Judas lied.
"Good." John then disappeared again.
Judas looked over at Bart, who had apparently withdrawn into himself. "Well?"
"Would you ever like to be Michael Moose?"
Bart leaned back in his seat, biting his lip, "Well, I guess it might be cool to be as strong as him and all, but I don't think I could deal with having antlers. Just too freaky, you know." Bart then looked at Judas's resigned face. "Do you want to be Redfox?"
Judas chuckled to himself, "Yes I would very much."
"But he's not even remotely human in appearance!" Bart objected, somehow horrified at that thought.
"That's the reason I want to be Redfox."
Bart looked at the new gamer for a moment, his eyes passing over Judas's face, searching it, examining it. Judas could tell from the look in Bart's eyes that he had just faced a concept for the first time, and was completely repulsed by it. Was there any wonder that both of them had selected human appearance, they wanted to remain human.
"That's kind of interesting, Jude," Bart replied lamely.
Judas finally just turned around, not wanting to look at the kid anymore. "Just forget it Bart, just forget I said anything."
"What's going on now?" John asked petulantly. Judas turned around to see him walking back into the room proper. John was obviously finished talking with his girlfriend, as he had a sort of sick little smirk on his face.
"Nothing." Judas called out, not wanting to talk about it anymore. Bart however, proved less than tactful.
"Jude was just telling me how he wanted to be his character Redfox."
John looked incredulously at Judas, "You really want to be Redfox?"
"Why don't you all just leave me alone." Judas called back.
John nodded and motioned to Bart to get up and leave the room. Bart immediately walked over into the kitchen, shutting the door behind him. John walked over and sat down opposite his friend. "Hey look, Jude. This is just a game remember? Enjoying your characters is one thing, wanting to be them is a serious problem."
"You're the one that introduced me to the game. I thought you liked this transformational stuff." Judas protested.
"I enjoy the implications of it. I'm also willing to read the stuff you write. Did you join that literature group like I suggested?"
"Yes, I sent one of my stories off before coming here. What did you think of the latest one I gave you?"
"About the fox?" John asked sarcastically.
"They're all about foxes." Judas pointed out.
"That's what I mean, you lack variety, also your prose needs work."
"You don't like it." Judas despaired.
"I didn't say that." John pointed out.
"You didn't have to."
John sat there for a very uncomfortable moment as Judas continued to stew. It was obvious that John was trying to find someway to talk himself out of the corner he put himself in, but Judas was not in the mood to listen. He'd heard enough as it was anyway. "I think I should probably be going home, it's getting kind of late."
"It's not even eleven," John protested as Judas stood up.
"Well, I'm still going home, I just need a breather." Judas walked out the front door, leaving all of his gaming stuff behind. He could pick them up later. He just needed time to think. He didn't even care whether he woke his parents up or not anymore as he walked the single block from his house to John's in the cool summer evening.
John came by the next morning, the cumulous clouds moving through the sky slowly. He saw that both of Jude's parents had long since left for work, so Judas should be at home by himself. He rang the front door bell, and waited a few seconds. He had expected that Jude would have come running to the door as he had done so many times in the past. However, he was greeted with stone cold silence. He looked about the house impatiently, saw the open window leading to the den, and slipped through. He was not really breaking and entering, just entering.
He saw that the den was quite empty, but the gun case that Jude's Father kept was wide open. He looked about the house, dashing from room to room until he came to the living room in the back, where Judas lay on the ground, a revolver by his side, and the back of his head blown completely out. John dropped the character sheets, fell to one knee, his whole body convulsing.
Judas logged onto his computer, once again not caring one bit whether he woke his parents up. He quickly downloaded his email, 60 messages. He had never gotten that many before in his life! Sixty messages, wow, that was something, and for only a matter of half a day too! Before he had been happy to receive even one message that was not spam. He quickly perused the subject headers. He saw the story he had posted, and smiled at it. It was a story of adventure and glory; a story of touching emotional impact and of devious intrigue. He was quite proud of it. He was sure that these people would like it, since it dealt with their favorite topic, transformation.
He scanned the subject headers some more, seeing several for some long story in some odd Universe by some guy who went by the name Thaddeus. Judas had tried to read the story, but it had bored him to tears. It had been an utter waste of his time. He wondered how many people were lambasting him for it. He checked a few of the messages. What he saw sickened him even more. "I usually don't post replies to people on the list, but this story was so good I just had to let everybody know. Great job Thaddeus, as usual." The other messages had something similar in it.
Judas scrolled down the screen some more, not bothering to read the responses to Thaddeus's annoying story. He had read the story before, had not really liked it, thought it quite trite and too saucy, appealing to the emotions, and not to any sense of plot or effect. However, he now resented it, because apparently everybody was responding to it instead of his story. He kept looking for any response to his story, and was nearly at the bottom of his in box when he finally saw the sole response to his story. He smiled; it was probably the first of many to come.
He opened up the message, and after the first line, he couldn't read anymore. "To be frank, this story sucked." He was so struck, that he just turned his computer screen off and just sat there staring at the floor. His magnum opus, had been treated like Simon, Bart, and John had treated him. Like everybody had treated him. Like the world had treated him in his making.
John finally recovered enough to call the police. He had staggered to the phone in another room, unable to call from the same room as Jude's dead body. He told the police what he had found, and then had staggered up to the upstairs bathroom, as they did not have one on the first floor. He leaned over the toilet and vomited, nearly crying from what he had seen. He had heard of depression before, but how could a simple gaming session cause it?
He wandered into Judas's room, looking over his well-made bed, and the computer which was on. He turned the computer screen on, and stared at the window, "You Have New Mail". It was over top of another mail message. He looked at the first words, "To be frank, this story sucked." He glanced at the subject header. It was the same story that Jude had been praising to John the night before. It was obvious that others did not like it as well.
He clicked the window off, and closed the message off. The first thing he saw was a new message on the same subject from Thaddeus himself. He clicked it open. "Hey Toiracsi! (that's not Judas Iscariot is it). I loved this story. It was written with a sharp wit, and quick descriptions that make my poetic prose look somehow too mushy. I am glad to have you join our community of writers here. Keep up the good work, you really are a good writer. Signed: Thaddeus."
John sat back, feeling ill. He looked at the character sheets still clutched in his hand. There was only one thing left to do. He began to type. Type the continued adventures of Redfox. It was the least thing he could do for somebody he had considered a friend.
Judas picked up the Colt .45 LC, placed the muzzle inside his open jaw, accepting the barrel with the curve of his tongue. His finger sat perched on the trigger, his eyelids closing gently over the grayish scene. All sound about him came to an abrupt silence, every bird pausing in its song traffic coming vanishing from his Socratic cavern; even the endless tick-tocks of the ancient grandfather clock standing between the mantle and the far wall hushed themselves. In that moment of complete silence, every voice in the world listened as he passed final judgement over all of them. The adventures of Redfox were just beginning. The trigger moved quite easily in his grip, the sound of the shot never reaching his ears.
|Talk to me!|