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Vrai Kaiser


3 min
Rated:
Mature

Drink & Play


The Taurus Demon Of Friends

I didn’t save him and he didn’t save me

by Vrai Kaiser

Dylan and I used to be inseparable. We spent long afternoons outside trying to plot how we’d get back inside where the air conditioning and videogames were.

The Taurus Demon Of Friends | I didn’t save him and he didn’t save me

I’ve died 37 times today.

I inch along, memorizing the layout of the room. When I’m certain it’s safe, I step out from the shadows. I catch a glimpse of movement in my peripheral vision. Did I check that corner? Before I can react, a prowling demon pounces, and I’m a smear on the ground.

Time to try again, a different route this time. I creep along a ledge. It’s getting narrower, but if I take this step just right, I’ll be fine. I place my foot down gingerly, toes first, but it’s narrower than I thought. I fall through the air, grasping at nothing.

There’s a bottle of hard cider open on the table next to me, the aftertaste as sour as my frustration. I save drinking for the nights I visit Lordran. The constant obliteration is easier to take when your head’s a little hazy, your toes a little warm. But that’s not the bit I like.

Dylan and I used to be inseparable. We spent long afternoons outside trying to plot how we’d get back inside where the air conditioning and video games were.

I like to visit Knight Solaire. We stand on a castle rampart and take in the glow of the sun together, talking about cooperation and camaraderie and trust in a world where NPCs are always going mad and trying to spill your guts. Well, I talk. He listens, mostly. He hasn’t had anything new to say in a while.

My phone chimes with a notification from Facebook. I decide it’s time to take a break. The message is from my friend Dylan. I’ve known him since we were 6 years old. Dylan and I used to be inseparable. We spent long afternoons outside trying to plot how we’d get back inside where the air conditioning and videogames were. We’d wander all over the neighborhood, walking into dry creeks and through unmapped stands of thicket.

I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve hung out since high school. He joined the Air Force when we graduated, and that first taste of freedom pushed him over the edge. His Facebook was plastered with pictures of his smiling face, always with a drink in hand. Stories of his misadventures filled his newsfeed.

I could say it was because of his father, a goodhearted but terrifyingly stern, ex-military policeman. After that house, where the response to anything was likely to be ‘no,’ the world must have seemed like an endless expanse of ‘yes.’

His message doesn’t surprise me at all: he’s getting engaged. He’d proposed to a girl at his retail job as a joke, and she’d called his bluff. I could hear his voice even from hundreds of miles away: “Sure, why not?”

I accept his offer to go out for drinks, because what else can I do? Explain the vague unease in my stomach when I see him?

I hear the story of exactly how many bars he’s been to since he’s been back and how many nights he doesn’t remember while deployed. He says that his military file was thick as a brick with citations.

I want to laugh along with him, to fake it, but I can’t. It’s too painful.

We don’t talk about the engagement. He says that any spare money he has, he spends on nights out. “Why not have a good time with what you have?”

“Because of the future,” I say.

He shrugs, laughs it off. I don’t think he’s thought about having a future.

I stare at him, trying to find any trace of the kid I knew, the kid who cried when I shot him with a squirt gun, afraid he’d get in trouble for messing up his clothes. I’d never made anyone cry before.

I imagine his liver inside his body, fat and swollen and pulsating like the Taurus Demon.

“I’m what they call a functional alcoholic,” he says, smiling like it’s a joke. “I never feel hungover, and I’m always at work on time. I still get things done, so nobody cares. It’s not a big deal.”

I imagine his liver inside his body, fat and swollen and pulsating like the Taurus Demon.

I think he’s probably right when he says no one cares, so long as he’s functional. I imagine getting a Facebook message for his funeral, cold and abrupt. The thought makes me sad beyond measure.

“I care. You’re killing yourself,” I say and it slides off his back as a joke. Another concern for another day.

“Want to go to a movie?” He asks. “Hold on. I can slam a couple more shots before we go.” I wave off his offer. Suddenly I have a headache. I need to get out of this bar. I just can’t keep watching him die in my head.

I need to get out of this bar. I just can’t keep watching him die in my head.

At home I settle back on the couch and take up my rapier. I say hi to Solaire, whom I’ve known for two months and not twenty years. Despite only offering a few conversations, Solaire has worked his way into my heart. I leave him stationary and know he’ll be there. I feel warm and fuzzy in more ways than one, knowing what I can accomplish if I’m careful.

I get a text message from Dylan. What are you doing tomorrow? Want to go the bar? I shared half of my life with him. If I had tried a little harder, a little longer, could I have broken through, helped him put his life together?

I delete it, unread.

I could burn myself out just trying. I don’t have a cheat sheet.

At home I settle back on the couch and take up my rapier. I say hi to Solaire, whom I’ve known for two months and not twenty years.

I find out how Solaire’s character quest is meant to end, and then I start researching the roundabout way a player can stop it from happening. I don’t care that it ruins the naturalness of the experience. I’m going to save Solaire. He’s been cheering me up every time I get pummeled by a punishing nightmare world.

I want to do just this one good thing.

Geeks Need Love Too

The romance of video games

For many of us, video games figure into our everyday lives — and into our relationships, too. Sometimes we’re licking real life’s wounds while hiding out in some RPG, other times couples are learning how to move and fight as one, and other times we are just using a game as foreplay. One thing is for sure, lots of us are doing it.

One man. One broken heart. One rented video game. You’ll never guess what happens next. Ok, he plays the game. Heartache becomes escapism within a classic RPG, and maybe he’ll even get the girl. But probably not.

Love & Smash Bros. is an amazing tale of

  1. Winding down and letting it all hang the fuck out

  2. Dealing with the pressures of life that we all deal with

  3. How the right Player 2 can make life’s challenges so much easier to manage. We enjoyed it so much that it was the first short film we shot of one of our stories.

A very different take on the perfect Player 2, or Player 3… Milena’s story about how video games are good foreplay gets pretty steamy, if you know what I mean. STEAMY.