Between the hours of two-thirty and three-twenty every Saturday afternoon, Greenvale’s video arcade, PM’s Amusements, would be all but empty, save for a twelve-year-old boy dressed in sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt, named Jimmy Taylor. With a chocolate milkshake in one hand and the equivalent of one week’s pocket money in the other, Jimmy would wipe his black and white sneakers on the large, rectangular mat outside before stepping into the musky aromas of the arcade. Keeping his eyes on the floor, Jimmy would weave his way around the flashing lights of the arcade machines begging for his attention, stopping when he got to the manager’s desk. Placing his pocket money on the counter in the hopes of exchanging the hard-earned notes for four gaming tokens, Jimmy would use his free hand to flick his hair out of his eyes as he thanked the manager before collecting his tokens and walking towards the only arcade game he ever played: Vantamia. Today, however, Jimmy was not the only one who had entered the arcade with the hopes of exchanging their pocket money for some tokens, nor was he the only one who was there to play Vantamia. Turning the final corner before reaching the video game, Jimmy stopped in his tracks, lifted his head and stared through his fringe. His top lip twitched and the grip he had on his milkshake tightened. What was she doing here? Was this payback or something more sinister? Either way, Jimmy found it difficult to believe that Sandra Henderson had figured out where to find him.
Pushing the buttons and moving the joystick so aggressively that her ponytail swayed from left to right, Sandra didn’t take her eyes off the screen as she spoke. “This is a two-player game, you know?” Unable to see the screen, Jimmy watched the bright colours from the game reflect off of Sandra’s face. She bent her knees, squinted her eyes and rapidly tapped the two red buttons in front of her. She was in The Wizard’s Dungeon. Impressive. “The type of game where can choose to verse each other or work together as a team.” Sandra groaned as the sickening music indicating your game was over filled the arcade. Keeping one hand on the joystick, she turned to face Jimmy. “I’m out of tokens. You got any?” Jimmy relaxed his grip on his milkshake and caught himself starting to breathe again. He walked towards the machine, placing his milkshake down on the table beside him before putting two of his tokens on the specially designed holder between the red and blue sets of controls of Vantamia. Jimmy’s eyes closed as the smell of coconut soap caught him by surprise. He hoped his hair covered his face well enough that she didn’t notice. Continuing to avoid eye contact, Jimmy put the other two tokens in the machine, causing the game to start playing the Vantamia theme song. Jimmy flicked his hair out of his eyes and the two of them pressed their respective start buttons.
“I’m never going to forgive you, Jimmy.” Sandra’s player moved forward and attacked the troll using one of her three spells. Jimmy was happy to let her take on the trolls so he could save his energy for the Bats of Greyson. He jumped over the dead troll and held down his Power Up button.
“I didn’t want to embarrass you.” Jimmy felt Sandra’s stare. “Bats!” Waiting for her spells to power up, Sandra was forced to use hand-to-hand combat against the flying beasts.
“So, you made me stand up on that stage by myself for an eternity because you didn’t want to embarrass me? Great job, genius.” Jimmy waited for the bats to gather around Sandra before releasing the Power Up button, killing all eight bats in one hit.
“I did what I thought was best. I didn’t mean to upset you.” They ducked and jumped their way around the ghosts in The Valley of Souls before reaching the tunnels that lead to The Wizard’s Dungeon.
“Don’t pretend like you did it for me, Jimmy. You copped out because you were scared.” The screen flashed red and white as The Great Wizard appeared before them. “We worked on that play for six weeks. You don’t put your heart and soul into something like that and then just quit.” The Wizard flew around the screen at an incredible speed as the two of them rapidly pressed their spell buttons in an attempt to do more damage to him than he was to them.
“It would have been worse me being on stage with you, trust me.” The Wizard’s strength was deteriorating.
“You don’t get to decide that. Besides, that’s not the point. The point is that I would have helped you and you should have helped me.” Having used every spell they had, the two video game characters jumped up at the same time, landing on The Wizard, causing him to retreat in fear.
This gave Sandra and Jimmy a chance to rest while the second level loaded. Jimmy had never seen a girl crack her knuckles before. “Seems we might do better together, anyway.”
Jimmy chuckled, flicked his hair from his eyes and focused on the screen as they entered the Realm of the Unknown.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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