Posted by John Sektor
Posted by Hughie Freeman
Posted by Gilda Starr
Posted by The Minister
Posted by Lindsay Troy
Posted by Brian Hollywood
Posted by Zeb Martin
Posted by Bobby Dean
Posted by Eric Dane
Des Plaines, IL
Des Plaines Public Library
The corridor entrance to the library is vacant before a man dressed in blue jeans and a lime green shirt walks up to the building. He stops outside the glass doors, knowing he doesn’t need to pull on them. Clearly, it’s not time yet.
He pauses before looking at his watch, tapping his left foot while the time ticks down. Emerging is a large man, 6’6”, 300+ pounds from off in the distance. He wears a gray mask on his face and a navy blue suit, three-piece and is practically bulging out of it. His shoulders rip across the $3,000 dollar outfit, so his movements are very restricted and limited. Regardless, the masked man meets the individual in green in front of the library. By now, the main person’s “8-BIT BADASS” shirt is in clear view and it’s obvious he’s one of the new High Octane Wrestlers, “The Vintage” Conor Fuse. The Game Boy, by association, is the other man.
Conor doesn’t have to look behind him to know his henchman is right there waiting.
“Just a few more seconds and… okay. Open up!” Fuse shoots his head up from his watch, directly to the doors. However, he sees no one there to unlock them.
“Unacceptable.” Conor states as his teeth click together and he goes back to double check the time on his wrist, just in case he made an error. “What kind of pony show are they running over here, anyway? This is Des Plaines!” He says this statement like Des Plaines should be considered an elite city, held with the same prestige as places like NYC, Paris or London.
Finally, a good minute later, an elderly woman makes her way through the corridor holding a set of keys that almost weighs as much as she does. The staff member is struggling to get there but sees Conor and The Game Boy waiting. She smiles from ear to ear, as if the young men outside warmed her heart to unforeseen levels. Fumbling the keys around, she tries to find the right one but assures Conor she will eventually get to it with another glance through the glass and a “silly me” type of facial expression.
Conor, however, is growing more impatient. The Game Boy puts a hand on his shoulder as if to say “calm down, it’ll be fine”.
Second key… no. Third key… no.
Tenth key… that’s the one, oh wait, no.
Fifteenth key, that’s it! The doors are unlocked but Conor wastes little time in pushing them both open before the woman can, almost knocking her over in the process. He bursts into the library.
“Well, hello, my dear.” The elderly woman says, completely unaware Conor almost took her right off her feet. “My name is Margo. I’d be happy to assist you. Sorry it took me so long to open. We don’t get many young men out here in Des Plaines that are so eager to start reading books anymore. Not with that… internet fad going around.”
Margo says this like the internet will pass in a year or two and no one will remember it. Conor, however, is in his own world. He hasn’t listened to a thing she’s said.
“Come along, Game Boy.” He remarks. “We don’t have time to waste!”
The Vintage has already raced up the stairs to the second floor. Given the clothing he wears, TGB obviously takes a lot longer to get there but, eventually, he leaves Margo alone in front of the entrance way.
“What nice young boys.” She says while struggling to stick the right door into the floor latch so it can remain open.
Up to the second level the scene goes and Conor stands in front of 5 rows of 5 computers. His eyes scan each one of them, carefully trying to select the right location and system for him to begin the task he’s set out for. It takes him a good minute but he finally settles on the 2nd one in the 2nd row. “That one.” He says and hits the arriving Game Boy on the chest before racing over and taking a seat. Wheely chairs abound, it takes Player One a good minute to focus before he can stop swinging about, making you question why he was in such a hurry to begin with.
Conor pulls out his Des Plaines Library Pass and enters his username and password…
Fuse sighs out loud. All the computers are old Dell desktops. The load times should have been expected but they clearly weren’t anticipated for.
Growing frustrated, Conor puts his head down on the keyboard and tries his best to wait it out. A good two minutes pass before The Game Boy pokes Conor in the arm. He snaps up, with numerous keyboard keys tattooed into his face.
“Good.” He states with a mischievous grin. “Let’s get going.”
Fuse reaches into his jean pocket and pulls out a small sheet of paper. On the top it reads “JASON STORM.” What’s underneath can’t be decoded, however. Next, he takes a pair of glasses from his pocket and puts them on. While the “Mute Muscle” says nothing, his body language imposes he’s surprised by Conor’s reading glasses, like he has never seen them before.
“Oh.” Conor says with a nonchalant nod. “They’re fake.”
Conor loads Google Chrome and starts flipping through links as he talks to his henchman like he’s having a fluent conversation, even though the big man has yet to say anything since they first appeared on HOW together.
“Yes, yes, I watched his original entrance promo. Guy seems like a push-over, kinda cheesy and nice. Not a bad bone in his body… or is there? What is it with these HOW Developers and putting me against NEW BOTS, anyway? I showed everyone on my Re-Fused LiveStream two weeks ago I have manuals on everyone in HOW. Everyone! Of course I don’t have new BOTS, though! They are throwing me curveballs already. Who hits curveballs? I want fastballs!”
Conor continues clicking through website information. It’s clear he’s a good multitasker, as he’s able to talk to The Game Boy fluently and navigate the interweb to exactly his intended destinations. He even takes notes while continuing to ramble.
“But I did good, didn’t I? I knew nothing about Erin Gordon when she was announced as my opponent. Thanks to the World Wide Web, however, I read up, I studied and I defeated her easily.” He says this as if it never came across his mind he needed to cheat in order to do so.
Conor jots down notes at a frequent pace. He copies and pastes some YouTube videos into an email documentation he intends to save as a draft later on. By now, a few others have entered the library and two more people have logged on to computers at nearby stations. It’s not enough to make Conor uncomfortable, anyway, or for him to slow down what he’s doing. Instead, he keeps speaking to his partner.
“Yes, Game Boy. I know this is a massive inconvenience but I can’t help it when that storm hit us last night. If it wasn’t for the power outage, my modem wouldn’t have burnt out and we could have done this at my place.” Fuse’s forehead crinkles together as he tries to fight back some anger. “Storm hit us. Jason Storm. I’m on to you. I know you caused it last night. It’s right there in your name. I’m not stupid.”
More clicking, jotting down notes and copying URLs.
“Trying to get me off my game. Won’t happen, bro. I know there’s more than meets the eye to you!” Conor breaks his frustration with a quick giggle at the thought of referencing a TV show he greatly enjoys.
Across the way, one of the people who signed on to a computer can’t help but watch The Game Boy, being that he’s dressed in a suit and wears a grey mask with two red dots for eyes and a dpad for a mouth. However, every time TGB notices him, the man’s eyes dart directly back to his own computer screen, scared for his life.
“Okay, okay. We are getting somewhere.” Conor chimes to his imposing friend. “Listen, I knew this Storm guy would be an easy BOT and now I am seeing it. He’s from Toronto, sure, just like me. He’s system jumped, sure, just like me. But he’s not me. He’s nowhere near as good as I am. I have system jumped to many games and won them all!”
The man across the way looks at The Game Boy again but shoots his eyes down to the screen when the hulking man notices him for a second time.
“He system jumped to Japan… but I got some footage. He system jumped to England… but I got some footage. He German system jumped?” Conor asks The Game Boy like he really does anticipate a response. “Ja. Ich habe einige Aufnahmen.”
“Hey kid, can you keep it down!?” A voice is heard behind them.
Immediately, Conor stops what he’s doing. His body is frozen in time, like the entire world has been put on pause. The Vintage takes a moment for a deep breath and then methodically turns to where the voice was coming from.
“Excuse me?” He asks in a general direction.
“Yeah. You. This is a quiet zone and you’ve been doing nothing but talking this entire time.” A man in what looks to be his 60’s says to Conor from two rows down.
“I have?” Conor inquiries.
“Yes. And I don’t know what it is with your freak friend over there and that BDSM mask and all that.” The man continues while Conor becomes puzzled.
“B. D. S. M?” He starts mouthing the words but no light seems to go off.
“Look, pal. Whatever you’re into I don’t care.” The 60-year-old says. “Just stay quiet. Stop talking. I want to surf the internet in silence. It’s the only time I can get away from my wife. I hate her.”
Conor stands up from his chair and points directly at the man. “That’s great what YOU want but what about ME and MY needs? My internet stopped working in that storm last night, you know, the one Jason Storm caused!? It’s so clear he did it, it’s in his name! The guy has fraud written all over his face, I can see it! It says he’s from Toronto but he’s probably born in Oshawa or some hick town from outside the area and claims he’s a big city player! That system jumper is gonna get his Game Over handed to him, by yours truly, in just a few short days! Erin Gordon even took him down a life. ERIN. GORDON.”
By now, a middle-aged librarian approaches Conor and The Game Boy (well, until the hulking man rises from his chair, then the staffer with no muscle whatsoever stands down). “Sir,” the librarian starts with a trembling voice. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave. I’m sorry.”
The Vintage is like clockwork. He moves from the retiree patron complaining at his computer and drops the conversation entirely. Now he is 100% fixated on the librarian man in front of him.
“Fine, I’ll go. Game Boy, take my paperwork. Don’t forget my fake glasses- eeeerrrr I mean glasses, either. I don’t need the Des Plaines Library anymore. I got what I came for.”
The Mute Muscle does just that, collecting the paperwork and Conor’s “glasses”. Fuse is sure to make his way past the initial old timer that complained about the noise, though, to add one last remark.
“Got. What. I. Came. For.” And as Conor trails off to the staircase he can still be heard muttering. “I know you’re working for James Storm. One of his henchmen. I know it.”
The scene jumps to the main floor of the library where, not surprisingly, the original librarian named Margo has sought some extra help in sticking the entrance door into the latch on the floor, which clearly wasn’t working when she tried to do it. Upon seeing Conor race down the stairs and TGB following behind, her face lights up again.
“Oh, I hope you enjoyed your time here, young man. You both are welcome back anytime!”
“Shut up.” Conor says as he flees the building and heads to his car. While doing so, Conor bumps hard into another man, in his early 30’s, who was trying to enter the library. Fuse hits him so hard the orange trucker hat falls off this man’s head. “OUT OF MY WAY. That hat can’t hide your balding forever, dummy!”
As the man picks up his hat, The Game Boy lags behind and finally passes Margo.
“What nice, nice boys.” Margo says, completely oblivious to the rudeness. “The future is in safe hands.”