Emlyn Chand issued a writing challenge last week. You might recall that I have told you more than once recently that I have struggled with this entry. I decided – surprise, surprise – to submit it in poetic form. That presented quite a challenge to me, but as my story-writing skills have not been honed enough to even begin to compete (see the other entries here), I opted for a genre with which I am more familiar. Her challenge read as follows:
Writing Prompt, Week 1: Rip Van Video-Gamer
We all know Washington Irving’s classic story, “Rip Van Winkle.” Rip wanders into the woods, falls asleep and awakes twenty years later to find the world around him has changed dramatically. My younger brothers remind me of Rip. They descend to their basement lair and play video games incessantly. When they’re not playing video games, they’re talking about video games, likening life to their favorite computerized heroes. What would it be like, I wonder, if they got so involved in a game that they didn’t realize as the time passed them by? What if they got so caught up that they played for twenty years before finally emerging from their gamers’ coma? What would the world be like when they reentered it? What would they think? How did they manage to meet their basic survival needs during gaming? There are just so many questions…
Could you answer them for me? Submit your response to this prompt. Here are the rules:
- Keep it to 1,000 words or less
- Write it any genre you’d like (or perhaps even poetry)
- Write it in any tone you’d like
- Give it a clear story arc
So, herewith my entry. Hope you enjoy it! Despite my struggles, I had fun – and Hubs likes it!
A Tale of Two Video-Gamers
© 2011 Paula Tohline Calhoun
In the arena of our basement,
Brother Roddy and I fought
As one against the aliens, sent
To bring our world to naught.
These fiercest foes could not compete
With our exquisite strategy!
Our universal battle plan complete,
from perigee to apogee.
The TV screen – our battlefield –
Consumed our every minute.
We could not stop, we would not yield –
We were in this war to win it!
Our virtual world was everything.
The outside world did not exist.
Roddy was Viceroy, I was King,
And though many begged, we’d not desist.
All life outside our basement room
Soon learned to live without us.
We lived, content within our tomb,
And they forgot about us.
We paid the calendar no mind,
The freezer and microwave fed us.
The outside world we left behind –
It didn’t understand or “get” us.
And so it continued until the day,
The food was gone, our batteries died.
We needed another way to play,
And we knew we must venture outside.
Roddy called, “Mom!” and I yelled, “Dad!”
But not one answer came.
I thought to myself, “Maybe they’re mad
We’ve spent a few days at our game!”
When we got upstairs and looked around,
We could see no one was there.
And stepping outside we also found
There was nobody anywhere!
We went into the street and on into town,
To look for some batteries and food.
We roamed everywhere, both uphill and down,
And soon we were forced to conclude:
Our town was deserted, devoid of all being!
We wondered, how this could occur?
We couldn’t believe what our eyes were seeing –
Were we victim to some alien saboteur?
At last, we saw in the distance,
An old man shuffling by.
We ran, hoping for his assistance.
“Please, sir, what has happened, and why?”
The old man was startled, then shielding his eyes,
He looked up and said, “My, oh me!”
Then smiling, and shaking his head in surprise,
He said, “Don’t you know who you see?”
Both Roddy and I shook our heads, not knowing,
Then we noticed a cleft in his chin!
And all of a sudden, our astonishment growing,
We knew it was Dad, Rip van Win!
He was our father, but wrinkled and dried.
“Good grief! How much time has gone by?
It couldn’t have been all that long,” we cried,
“Since Roddy, my brother, and I
Had just started playing our video game –
It was only a short time ago!
How could you have gotten so old and so lame –
Where did everybody else go?”
“It has been twenty years since you went down the stairs
To play at your games of war.
We tried to inform you of all our affairs,
But you tuned us out, locking the door.
Now twenty years later you’re asking me
Where the rest of us all have been?
You are the ones who’ve been gone, don’t you see?
You’ve missed what’s gone on here since then.
I alone hoped you’d come back someday, boys,
So I walk through this town every day.
Everyone else left you both to your toys
When they picked up and moved away.
It happened the state had to build a new road
So they bought all our homes, for a price.
And the townsfolk moved off to another Zip Code,
and found other homes just as nice.
So, please, sons, won’t you come home with me now?
We need you to care for us, now that we’re old.
None of us care anymore of the how
Where, or why, you deserted your family fold.”
“OK, Dad,” we said, “we are truly sorry
We devoted ourselves to the game.
We didn’t consider how much you would worry,
But yet – you forgot, just the same –
So we’ll just forget the entire incident
You’re older, we’re wiser, all’s well.”
Then we set off for home, making sure as we went
To buy food. . . and a new Duracell.
So, there you have it. Maybe not a winner, but, for me, enough. . .