Saturday, 18 March 2017

Taking a Break

[Media prompt] The death of a prominent gamer has led to a debate about whether gaming marathons are hazardous to health.
Taking a Break

Tarvydas feinted, a shirtless thug’s haymaker missing the side of his head by more than enough, then, with agility belying his size, pushed forward with his back foot off the curb, jabbing his would be assailant in the face. His arm didn’t move very far, but the punch was hard enough to knock the man to the ground, but not so hard so as to hurt his fist or, which was the sort of thing that got people booted these days, kill the fool. A trio of drunks, friends of the man or not Tarvydas couldn’t say, drew air in through their teeth in unison, a kind of symphony of boozy sucking, as they watched the tranquilised body hit the pavement with a short, sharp slap. He’s not getting up, said Tatiana into his earpiece. Tarvydas knew that, he could tell from the slackness of the man’s limbs, but ordered her to bring the car around nonetheless. He was right to do so; by the time she pulled up, the door opening as she braked, a small crowd was starting to gather, and someone had called the grunts. You’re going down, fat boy, a woman yelled, but Tatiana had him in the car by then, the acceleration encasing him in upholstery, the comeback on his tongue never making it past his lips. At cruising altitude, the molten flow of golden lighted streets dwindling into the darkened plains beneath them, he felt the first flutter of the mandatory hiatus, and he let it come.

Derek, a voice said, half merged with a disappearing image, which moved too fast for him to recapture. Derek, again, accompanied by a jolt to his shoulder. When his eyes flickered open, he saw his mother. It’s your break, she said, an apology tinged with anxiety. As always, it took him a moment to adjust to his surroundings, the bank of screens, disengaged and flickering with static, his mother’s perfume, the ache of familiarity settling upon him. He groaned, although he knew he and Tatiana had synced and she would be there when he returned; it was the thought, the idea, of waiting that fatigued him. I want to sleep, he said to his mother, so she closed the shutters, the room fading to dark as they slid down, locking with a soft cluck. Derek felt the world slipping away, a gentle rocking motion the last thing he remembered, not unlike being on the ocean, he imagined, although he had never seen water. He had never seen anything, he thought.

His mother put the USB containing her son’s consciousness onto the desk. It made no sense that they still needed a break, but the law was quite firm on it. She shut the door and went to the kitchen. Her husband would be home soon and wanting his dinner.

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