I go in, and the first thing I notice is the scent of armpits, old socks and greasy fries. The air conditioner is broken, again. Itís hot, and Iím wearing that horrible thick, blue sweater my aunt gave me on my birthday. Five minutes in and already, Iím drenched in sweat. The shouting of unsupervised spoiled children in the background, I walk up to the counter, and I look into the dejected eyes of the man before me and I slip him all the money I have in my pockets. Iím comfortable; this is all familiar to me. Iím at the arcade again.
I ask for twelve coins, but he gives me only ten. He tells me that the price went up since last time. I donít mind. I donít care about the money. I couldnít care less about it, Iím just here today for the same reason I come here every other day: to get away, and I play some good video games. And today, just like every other day, Iím playing Time Crisis II
But this day was not like every other day.
I go to my cabinet, and I reach down my pocket and take my first coin up. It glistens because of the sweat from my hands just before I put it in. My first coin is inserted. I have nine others left. I pull the trigger, Iíve begun to play. I aim and then I shoot, I take cover and I then get out and repeat the process. I forget the world, I forget what I have and I donít have. I forget that Iím alone. Every time I pop up and shoot someone in the face, Iím happy, Iím comfortable. So far, this is all familiar to me.
But suddenly, something happens. Out of nowhere, I hear the racket of a coin being slotted in next to me. A new player joins me. This player is Tyler.
Lifting his cumbersome red gun with only one hand, Tyler looks at me and gives away a light smile. He doesnít say a word, just that smile is enough. No introduction, no small talk, nothing. Tyler just gives me that smile, and weíre both ready to start.
We work together beautifully. Without delay, we both push down the pedal at the same time. Tyler and I, we fire at pretty much a rhythmic manner. Itís almost like weíre playing off notes to a familiar song. He knows his queues, and I know mine. He guns down the ones on the left, I take down the ones on the right. When heís reloading, Iím shooting and vice-versa. If one of us gets hurt, the other immediately fires at to provide a diversion. Even the pickups, even the pickups, we evenly split.
Moving through the town square, Tyler and I, we work together beautifully. Itís almost as if we have the same mind. But mistakes still happen. I make a fatal error; I look at the other screen when I should be concentrating on mine. Seeing me dead, Tyler breaks away from his monitor as well. I have six coins left.
The first area is cleared, we move away from the pretty town square to some hidden alleys. Weíre supposed to chase down some psychopath with a suitcase. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot to kill the criminals. Shoot to save the world. Shoot to solve the problem. Shoot to forget the world, to forget the problems. You have to keep shooting. Tyler and I, we keep shooting, but it seems we canít keep up. I canít keep up. I like to think weíre playing to the rhythm of "Where is my mind?"
. I keep missing my queues. I keep missing my queues. I keep missing my targets. I canít keep up with this much longer. Tyler carries on without me, but he canít finish this alone. No matter how hard he tries. He strives to succeed. He pushes himself to make it, to achieve something. Except something is always holding him back, and that something is me. I canít keep up with Tyler, and he canít keep on saving me.
Our rhythm is broken. The tempo is ruined. The song is over, but you can still make out some noise. Weíre hammering away with our guns, hoping something good comes out of it. Hoping weíll survive until the next area. Death, after death after death, the suspense is mounting. I am eager to make it to the end, let me at least make it to the end.
Luckily, we do. Tyler and I, we've reached the end, my joy is incalculable. Tyler and I, we've reached the end, together
. I have two coins left.
This is it. The climax, the grand finale, la fin, whatever you want to call it. Tyler and I, our next challenge is to take down some lunatic with a suitcase. Wonderful. All this time, weíre chasing after a suitcase. In our pursuit, weíve killed hundreds, weíve destroyed public property. Weíve probably wrecked families too, at least one
of those guys must have been a father. Some poor kid is probably an orphan now. All of this, for a suitcase. Lovely.
Focus. Tyler takes left, I take right. Just shoot everything in sight. I can do this, I have to do this. Tyler, he smiles at me one last time. ďDonít worry about itĒ, he confidently tells me, ďeverything will work out, it always does.Ē Tyler: dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, a red and white T-shirt, heís relaxed. Slim and just a little bit overconfident. Focus. I know Iím capable of completing this. I have one coin left.
Tyler, he is what I can only dream to be. He is the answer to all of my problems, the solution to my flaws. Accuracy: The ability to perform a task with precision. By that definition, I am inaccurate. I can barely preform any task, let alone do so precisely. My ambition is handicapped by my laziness. Tyler is accurate. It comes as no surprise to me that he is the one that fires the very last bullet. The one that ends it all. Just one bullet can change everything. Just one simple moment in time can make you notice what you've done, and what you want to do. It can make the difference between who you are and who you could be. Game Over. Tyler and I, we worked beautifully together.
And now for that moment. That moment in time where I notice what I've done and what I want to become. For as the screens fade to black, I glance upon the reflection. There is no one but for one man. It was only me, holding both guns at the same time.
The truth is, there is no Tyler.