“Come on, come on!” Bob desperately but quietly pleaded.
Bob knew he was going to die now. A bead of sweat flowed down his face. His friend, Andrew, previously had this same fate, but it was Bob’s turn now.
Bob was about five feet and seven inches, he had messy hair and right now had an excited face, but a hint of frustration was present.
Bob pushed the left button, then the right button, then both. He somehow managed to stay jumping while staying hunched over the low pinball machine.
Andrew was standing next to Bob, well, jumping also, and he couldn’t help but shout. “No! Stop! Just die already, gosh darn it! Gahhh!” Andrew could hardly take the pressure.
The ball almost rolled through the two pins. “Yes! Yes! Take that! Come on! Come on! Oh, come on!” Bob could hear the frustration in the last two words, which fueled him, gave him power.
Bob had saved the ball. But Andrew wasn’t done yet. “Die! Still die! Die now!”
One thousand points until Bob beat the high score.
There was a small crowd around him as his score slowly inched up from twenty million to twenty million and one thousand, then to twenty million, three thousand, and five hundred.
Bob phased up the group of the seven other people around him, including Andrew.
Since points were easy to get in pinball, it didn’t take too long for Bob to get closer and closer to the high score that Andrew set, but everyone knew each other in this arcade, so beating this high score was a pretty big deal.
“Noooooooooooooooo!” Andrew screamed, as his high score was completely smashed. “You haven’t seen the last of me!”
After Bob died in the pinball game, everyone dispersed to the different arcade machines. The arcade was moodily lit to a dark blue and looked modern and new.
Those two words were not how you would typically describe what was in the arcade. It was known to be an old fashioned arcade, but it had a wide selection of the newer arcade games, too.
The retro games weren’t near as popular as the new games, and the new games weren’t even popular themselves.
If a stranger were to go into this arcade for the first time, they would automatically assume that there was a group of friends who had planned to go to the arcade.
That is how much the arcaders know each other. They’re just random people who enjoy arcades. But these people are dedicated to the games. They came here often.
And if you were to visit that arcade, you’d want to come back. It’s a community.
Andrew had now stolen the pinball machine from Bob.
“I haven’t seen old Mr Smith in a while,” Andrew observed. Mr Smith was the owner of the arcade.
Rumour has it that Smith isn’t his real name and that he was a government agent slowly trying to take over the minds of the young, but that was just an inside joke.
“I heard that he was in the hospital.”
“Mr Smith? At the age of ninety-seven you’d think he’d never be in the hospital,” Bob replied sarcastically.
Andrew sounded more concern. “No, I heard he was going to be in there for a while. I think it’s something serious.
He might even be in the hospital for the rest of his life, however long that would be.”
“But who would own the arcade? I heard that Melvin is moving away, and he’s the most likely person who would be able to take care of this place,” Bob assumed.
“Meh, it wouldn’t take too much effort to own this place,” Andrew continued. “All you’d need to do is make sure that everything stays clean.
But after being with the same person for fifty years, this place might go through some changes.”
The word ‘change’ sent a wave of worry through Bob.
Bob ran home with excitement. Once he got home, he smashed through the door.
“Mom! Guess what!” Bob shouted as he kicked his shoes off. He didn’t give his mom enough time to answer.
“I got the high score on the pinball machine!” he still shouted, but this time he walked into the living room.
“I’ll have to tell Mr Smith!” Bob’s dad replied. “What perfect timing, right before your birthday and all. Mr Smith sai…”
“Shush! Don’t spoil it!” Bob’s mom interrupted. “But it does have something to do with your dad finally getting a job.”
It was time for supper, so Bob and his family sat down to eat, and Bob told the whole story of his high score.
The next day after school, Bob and Andrew ran straight for the arcade. The conversation from yesterday had been totally forgotten.
“I challenge you,” Andrew said breathlessly, “to a street fight!”
Twenty steps away from the doors of the glorious arcade, Bob stopped running. He also stopped breathing for that matter.
Bob stared lifelessly into the arcade-like he just walked into math class and realised there was a test. The lights inside were off. There was, as usual, no one inside.
But more importantly, there was a sign on the door.
Bob inched towards the wretched sign in disbelief, Andrew by his side.
“No,” Bob whispered. “It can’t be.”
“Aw, man! There goes your high score!” Andrew added, obviously not understanding Bob’s problem.
The sign read, “Closed for Renovation”
Bob threw his bag of change to the ground in disbelief. Then he picked it up because it was hard to get ten dollars worth of quarters. “It can’t be,” he repeated. “Not on my birthday.”
“It’ll be up and running by tomorrow,” Andrew reassured. “I mean, what could possibly go wrong?”
“It… It might be different,” Bob stuttered. “No, it might not ever be the same. What if we need to pay to get in? What if they get rid of the retro games?”
“Those?” Andrew said acting like he didn’t care. “They have new ones for a reason. Plus, the arcade is huge. We could shoot hoops. Maybe play foosball.
We could even play that one game where you roll that ball into the circles inside circles…”
“It’s called Skee Ball” Bob informed.
Andrew continued. “Whatever. We could play the new games, too.”
“You already said that,” Bob informed yet again. “I don’t like the new ones. They’re just not the same. Nothing’s the same.”
Bob walked home staring at the ground. After half of his usually short walk home, he reconsidered what he was doing.
“Nothing,” Bob thought, “is going to ruin my birthday.” He lifted his chin, shook off any hard feelings, and ran home with a smile.
“Happy Birthday!” Bob heard as soon as he walked in the door. His parents were at the door, which is a fitting place to meet someone who is also at the door.
“Thanks!” Bob replied full of excitement. He almost accidentally said “You too,” but that would have been a bad idea.
During supper, Bob got to eat his favourite meal of tacos. He and his family discussed random things like how their day went, what they did at school, and the normal discussiony things.
After they got the homemade cake and sang the birthday song, Bob’s family discussed what to do for Bob’s birthday party.
Bob insisted that they couldn’t go to the arcade because it was closed for renovation.
Then it was time. “Son,” Bob’s dad recited like it was a dramatic scene in a dramatic story, “You were one of the main patrons to the arcade ever since you were a kid, and I had the same fate.
Mr Smith became my friend when I went to that arcade. He’s a cool guy. I even worked at that arcade. It was the best time of my life.
I hope to relive that glory, and I want you to know how it feels. Well, I got a job now. Mr Smith gave us the arcade.”
Bob didn’t know how to react to this. At first, he thought that it was a prank, because of how that mini-speech was recited. But then he noticed the seriousness of his parents.
Bob then got unbelievably excited. He felt like his life was a story with a happy ending. Bob knew that his life had changed. He not only accepted this change, but he cherished it, too.
He was so into that mood that later that night, he rearranged his whole room.
(Whoah, I can't believe you made it to the end of this! As a sign of my gratitude, post one of your Commaful posts or YouTube videos or anything you want me to see/read!)