Power Outage Blues

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A lonely gamer is forced to take a hard look at his wasted life when he no longer has access to his escape from reality.

Submitted: February 14, 2019

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Submitted: February 14, 2019

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Power Outage Blues

The front door flung open as he rushed in with his arms full of bags. And in the bags was everything that he needed. In all reality he didn’t need most to everything he had spent his money on in those bags, but he spent his “hard” earned cash on it anyway. He set the bags on his little kitchen table and got to work. He opened the box of energy drinks, took one out, cracked the top, and placed the rest of them in his fridge. He put the three frozen pizzas in the freezer as he took a gulp of his sugar infused beverage. After he had put away everything that required refrigeration, he got to work on the prized goods. He had just bought a new gaming controller; it was an elite controller which had special buttons on the back of it allowing the user to control their character faster without having to move their fingers to the other buttons on a normal controller. The time difference for those types of controllers is only in the milliseconds, but when gaming, “that makes all the difference between ‘life and death”. He had also purchased a new gaming headset, or mic, which was designed to amplify all the sound effects while blocking out everything else outside of the game. He got the mic out and plugged the charger in since that would take the longest to wait on. He already had two battery packs ready to go instead of using regular batteries, which as most gamers know cost way too much for how quickly a gamer will burn through them. So while he waited for his wireless mic to charge up he pre-heated his ovan for one of his pizzas and sat down on his cheap, little couch.

“Hello Sil3ntGh05t”, his box said as he turned it on and mic’d up with his older, worn-out headset. Sil3ntGh05t selected his favorite game, which was the reason he bought the new remote and headset. The games lighting was more colorful to most other games, which was enhanced because he had shut off all the other lights in his house to save money on electricity. Bright reds, greens and blues blasted out as he leaned forward into his gaming position. It was a fairly simple game. Simple in that there was no campaign or story mode. It was a team based game; two teams of six fighting over an objective. Sometimes it was control over certain spot on the map, always in the middle, or it was when one team had to push a cart, or payload, from one point to another. Unlike many other popular first person shooters where most of the characters are all similar, this game had the characters all extremely different with their own special abilities and techniques. This was the aspect that Ghost loved about it. There was so many variations of strategies one could go with when choosing their characters. Certain players would chose DPS, or damage per second, characters while others would chose tanks whose main job was to take a lot of damage and hold their ground being backed up by the DPS and the healers. That was Ghost’s job. He was a healer main, as in healers were his main pick, and it was his job to heal everyone and to stay alive since most every team would focus their attack on him first. The team comp, or composition, was based on what healers worked best with which tanks and which tanks matched up best with which DPS and so on. Depending on what the other team chose, an adjustment might have to be made in order to counter other characters and their abilities.

Ghost started a quick play match instead of a competitive one. Competitive rounds lasted longer and were ranked, meaning he would be playing with and against players of his own skill rating, which was affected by each win and loss. He entered the game already in team chat with two squeakers arguing amongst themselves. For those who don’t know, a “squeaker” is a young person, usually an adolescent boy before or in the middle of puberty who typically uses foul language and/or makes sexual comments frequently. Ghost listened to them argue while the other players were not in chat.

“Hey guys”, one of the squeakers softly said while in mid-conversation with the other who was rambling off on something Ghost didn’t catch. He ignore them however, to save his sanity for a competitive match. Talking in chat with other players has the potential to be pleasant, but often times it’s just little kids or people looking to get a rise out of others.

The match started. Ghost went with the group as two of their DPS flankers took off on their own. He held back , supporting the tanks with his heals as they approached the center of the map. Ghost adjusted his position; he moved slightly to avoid enemy fire and to keep his team in his line of sight. He healed his team and he laid down covering fire as the opposite team approached.

“FUCK! Stupid motherfucking cocksucker ass-fuck clowns! I’m down!” One of the squeakers let out a high-pitched shout of frustration.

Ghost chuckled to himself as he checked the top right of his T.V. screen to see the most recent kills, or killfeed. His team was up a player and were able to secure the point. As a healer, the biggest part of Ghosts job was to save his ultimate ability as a counter to one of the enemies ultimates. The healer ult, ultimate for short, that he was currently holding gave himself and his team a brief health boost. One of the enemy players, a machine gunner, hit his ult button which used a locking system, or homing device of sorts, on Ghost and his team. Ghost his his ult button in time to counter the attack and they were able to repel the enemy advance. Ghost didn’t do a particular great job in the match but did his part for his team to win. Ghost continued to play a few quick play matches to get his practice rounds in.

After about twenty minutes, Ghost left the queue and instead stayed in the main menu as he got his dinner ready. All he had to do was open a box and put one of the pizzas into the oven; so he “prepared” his dinner and paced around his little apartment looking for something to do. His room was a mess, but he rarely if ever entertained guests so he figured he’d save cleaning it for another day. As he checked to see if he needed anything, such as toiletries or hygiene products, he got a text from his mother. Ghost had never been that close with his mother. He loved her in the way any child should. He was grateful that she gave him life and didn’t put him up for adoption. He didn’t hate his mother, but there was no special bond or deeper connection between them. He would talk with her every so often, which was only small talk, and the text he received was just that.

“Hey Honey! Hope you’re doing well. Just wanted to let you know that your brother got engaged! The wedding hasn’t been scheduled yet, but I’ll keep you posted on the details.”

Every time they talked, whether she started or ended the phone call with it, whether she flat out said something or hinted at it, she always included something about him finding a girlfriend. Ghost had tried a few times. He had dated another gamer girl when he was younger and just out of high school. That relationship ended, or rather faded away, as she left to do “bigger things” as she put it. All she really did was end up marrying some blue collar guy and having kids with him.

“Guess that’s ‘moving up” Ghost once thought to himself sarcastically.

The timer on his phone went off. Ghost sliced into his cheap pizza and opened another energy drink to go with it. He sat at his little kitchen table while he ate and watched videos on how to perfect his gaming. He watched clips on how others used the characters he played, what team comps were working against others and on which specific maps, and other various videos on his game. He watched intently, but couldn’t help drifting into thoughts of his childhood. He recalled life with his younger brother.  Unlike his relationship with his mother, which was monotonous to say the least, Ghost and his brother did not get along. There were no major events or underlying disagreements that caused any kind of animosity; it was more a mutual dislike of each other. As one of Ghosts online friends had put it,

“some people just don’t click.”

That was their nature. His brother was the opposite. Ghost’s brother was considered an active person, a lover of the outdoors and the nightlife, who would often scoff at Ghost for his prolonged presence in the virtual world. Ghost ignored the insults he was hearing from his brother in his head and finished eating most of his dinner.

Ghost left the dishes on his kitchen counter and got back on the games. He queued into a competitive match this time as he took another gulp of his tall can of legal crack. His new headset was still charging, but he couldn’t wait any longer. He was itching for the sticks, or the controller, and being that he had the next day off, his only plan was to indulge into his make-believe world. He entered a match with four people in a party of their own and one other person with the gamertag of “YellowBroCone” who was in the game chat. The match was a capture the point and move the payload with each team getting a chance to defend and attack. It was the attackers job to capture a small area on the map, which then would unlock a payload they had to stay near to “push” it from that point to the very end of the map if they could get there. There were checkpoints along the way which was the defense's job to try and stop the attackers from reaching any checkpoint.

“What’s up team?” Whether it was only one other person or not, Ghost would address the team as a whole.

“What’s up Ghost,’ YellowBroCone replied, ‘who ya gonna play?”

“I’m a healer main, I’ll tank it if needs be, but I’m a better healer.”

Everyone picked their character, the comp was simple, two healers, two tanks, and two attackers or DPS. The tanks and healers stood in front of the respawn room door, ready to set up their attack. The map was a city scene at night. The attacking team had to push past a choke, a narrow gap where the most concentration of fire is, in order to get to the small area on the map to capture it. Ghost had picked a healer who shot a heal beam out that provided constant healing. His teammate, BroCone, selected the tank with the massive axe and shield. They pushed past the choke with great effort as bullets and bombs rained down on them. BroCone charged in using one of his abilities and pinned one of the enemy healers to a wall, killing the player.

“Got em!’ BroCone shouted while swinging his axe around aimlessly at anyone within range, ‘Move in!”

Ghost, with the rest of the team, followed suit and moved onto the objective. An enemy flanker was able to speed her way back and kill Ghost. It didn’t matter, however, and Ghosts team took the first point.

The rest of the attack went as smooth as Ghost and his team could hope for. The defenders were staggering to the payload instead of grouping up together to defend as a unit. Ghost stayed on the payload for the majority of the push, but that changed once they got to the end of the map. The enemy was able to up a fight by changing to different characters designed for stalling an attack. One of the members in the group of four flashed the message “Group Up” as most of the team was respawning. They grouped up and moved in together. Ghost followed one of his flanker as they took off towards the left; they got behind the enemy as the flanker hit his ult and unleashed a fury of shotgun blasts, killing three low health characters.

“Fuck yeah! Let’s Go!” Ghosts mic lit up as BroCone shouted in excitement.

After their successful attack, it was time for Ghost and his team to defend. Ghost went with the same healer and moved to the choke where his team was setting up their defenses. The attack was sloppy to say the least. Whether the team Ghost was playing against lost morale from their uncoordinated defense earlier or whether they just weren’t good on attack, he couldn’t say. Whatever the reason was he didn’t care; his team was looking good and after one of the enemy players left the game, winning was pretty much a guarantee. Ghost switched to a more challenging healer so he could get more practice with his aiming.

“VICTORY” said the game announcer after the match was over. The after match stats popped up as the group of four left the game.

“Well, good job dude, good luck on your other games.” said YellowBroCone.

“Yeah, same to you. GG.” Ghost smirked as he left the match.

Ghost opened another energy drink and queued into another competitive match. There were only solo players in this match and everyone on the team was in the chat.

“What’s up, team?” Ghost made his presence known as he heard a bong or bubbler from someone with the gamertag “KILLAHASH420”

“What up, Ghost?” KILLAHASH420 replied.

“I’m gonna throw, you bitches better just deal with it” Someone with the tag SmurfNSn1p3 chuckled.

“None of that now,’ KILLA said in a calm manner, ‘let’s get us a W.”

“Dude I’m just fuckin around. Don’t get your panties in a wad.” Smurf fired back.

“Shut the fuck up you fuckin smurf!” The chat was lighting up with all kinds of toxicity as Ghost saw the name D4rkCloud on the top left of his screen pop up.

“Hey guys, let’s calm down and plan a strat.” A soft, subtle voice echoed under the name of Hiddenfoal.

“Ooh, that a bitch I hear? What up girl? What you look like?” D4rkCloud continued his relentless and questionable banter.

“Dude’, KILLA chimed in with his stoney tone, ‘she sounds like she’s 12. Bring it down a notch.”

“You her fuckin dad? Who the fuck cares? White knight soy boy.” D4rkCloud let out a menacing laugh.

“If she can game that’s all I care about,’ Ghost felt the need to put his two cents in, ‘let’s focus on the win.”

“I’m wit ya Ghost, it’s all bout the W.” KILLA seconded the notion.

“You sound like a bitch yourself Ghost,’ D4rkCloud wasn’t letting up, ‘hope you don’t play like one. Whatever though, you cunts just try and keep up, I’ll carry you.”

The chat fell silent after that as Ghost, KILLA, Hiddenfoal and someone else with the tag ItzdaOGman huddled close to each other, ready to race to the middle of the map. Ghost had chosen the healer he had played in quick play because the character also provided speed boosts so his team could make an attempt to get the objective before the opposing team. D4rkCloud and SmurfNSn1p3 both selected snipers, (who require more skill than most players have), right off the bat, so it was up to the rest of the team to fill in the necessary positions. However that isn’t what happened. Ghost and Hiddenfoal chose healers while KILLA picked a tank, but OGman picked another damaged dealer, throwing off the team comp.

The doors opened and Ghost hit his speed boost, projecting the team forward. Half of the team went straight to the point while the two snipers and the other damaged dealer went off on their own. Ghost spotted the enemy team coming towards the objective in full force.

“Comin in on the left.” KILLA casually stated.

Ghost and the non-attack players were fighting with half their strength and were losing ground. Both the snipers got picked off by a flanker while OGman was nowhere to be seen. Ghost had the option of either healing or providing additional speed, but left his ability on heals.

“I’m dancing the point if anyone needs heals,’ Ghost voice was frustrated with the current fight as he sporadically moved around the point to avoid damage, ‘let’s pull ba--FUCK!” Ghost was about to tell the team to pull back but got pushed against a wall by two of the enemy tanks and killed.

“Let’s group up guys.” Hiddenfoal stated politely with her mouse of a voice.

“How bout you keep me fuckin healed, bitch!’ D4rkCloud blurted out, ‘I’m getting no heals and I’m doing all the work.”

“Bullshit,’ Smurf said pridefully?, ‘I got the most damaged and kills.”

“Heals are on the point, where the rest of us are,’ Ghost butted in, ‘maybe switch to someone else or join us so you can get healed.”

“Maybe you should get off the point and heal me, trash” D4rkCloud replied, disparaging Ghost.

Time was running out. The enemy had secured the objective the longest and was prepared for an attack. Ghost’s team moved in, but was clumsy and uncoordinated. Ghost managed to avoid getting killed several times as the enemy unleashed the bulk of their ult’s. He was saving his ult as a counter to one of the enemies ult. Then the enemy player hit his ult and pulled out a long sword used to cut through low health healers. The enemy targeted him and Ghost hesitated, hitting his button late, getting himself and two other teammates killed.

“Damnit! I swear I hit Y!” Ghost proclaimed over his mic, but he knew it wasn’t his new controllers fault. Because of his response, or lack thereof, his team was not able to regain control of the point and lost the round.

The chat was silent. Only the sound of breathing could be heard, but the silence did not last long. KILLA’s mic went loud with another hit; a quick bubbling sound followed by a long, deep cough.

“Maybe if ‘killa’ wasn’t too fuckin high we’d be doing better.” D4rkCloud broke the silence.

“Whatever dude,’ KILLA replied, ‘it’s just a game.”

“I blame the healers, fucking two bitches who can’t heal for shit.” Smurf joined in.

“Seriously, sell your game Ghost.” D4rkCloud added.

The doors opened and the team was off again, Ghost didn’t respond as he sped most of the team towards the objective. As half the team was setting up to confront the opposing team, Ghost’s lights in his apartment started to flicker, and then, in a flash, his T.V. went black.

Ghost looked for the circuit breaker to try to get the lights back on but he couldn’t find it. And after five to ten minutes of him aimlessly trying to get back into the game, he realized that the match was over and that he had lost a lot of skill rating points. He called his power company provider who instructed him that they were working to restore it, but that it could be a couple of hours. He found a candle that his mom had bought him ages prior that he had never used. So he lit the candle and sat in the relative dark. As he sat there, he thought of the match he was just kicked out of and how, although half of the team was toxic, he did little to contribute. He opened his phone to check out a video, but realized he had no data, so he couldn’t do anything except make a call or send a text. His past messages, besides the one his mother sent, were all from his coworkers and employer. Ghost had socialized with a few of them here and there, but he always felt out of place. Like he had nothing to offer them. He wasn’t good at telling jokes or impressive stories. He worked a minimum wage job that provided little material for entertaining others. His only hobby was video games, which he didn’t talk about much because of the stigma surrounding them.

“Only losers play video games.” Ghost had heard several people say in his brief twenty years of life. Some hinted it, while others stated it plainly.

Whenever he was around people in the physical world, he felt anxious, embarrassed, and worthless. But in the virtual world, he felt like he could actually contribute something, even if it was a stupid game. He was part of a team.

He was in the midst of a crowd, but no one seemed to notice the .44 he was holding. He cocked the hammer as his fellow man continued without a second glance. His face was red from tears, but he was no longer crying. He had cried all he could. He pointed the barrel beneath his chin with a calm stillness he couldn't believe he possessed. As he looked up towards the heavens he muttered, “fuck it”, and slowly squeezed the trigger. He woke up. Ghost had had that dream weeks prior to the power outage. The days after the dream, he found himself drifting into fantasies of ending his life. He puzzled over why he felt that way; life wasn’t particularly bad. He had an income, an apartment to himself, and was relatively healthy. Ghost felt like it wasn’t so much the negative, everyday feelings of life that was causing it, although they certainly played their part. Ghost was confused; he wasn’t sure which paths were available to him, let alone which one to choose. Ghost wasn’t overweight, but he wasn’t athletic. He wasn’t dimwitted, but wasn’t a genius. He wanted to be accepted by people, but was poor at conversation. Ghost didn’t have any outstanding qualities, skills, or talents. He felt hopeless often and found solace in his game. The thoughts of how pathetic his life was eluded him when he was gaming. Work was a challenge for him because he would try and force a content demeanor, but would then swing into fits of anger. It was only when gaming that he could evade considering his existence and what role he should be playing. But because of the power outage, Ghost was unable to hold back the tide of thoughts that poured into him.

Ghost sat on his couch, staring at the ceiling with the light from the candle barely illuminating his apartment. He scrolled through his phone several times, wondering if there was anyone he could reach out to. “Why bother?’ Ghost threw his phone on the seat next to him, ‘There’s no one to talk to.” He no longer had a distraction from his thoughts, and the thoughts took over. His mind kept flashing to the dream he had. He wondered, “would I do it here? Or would it be out there?” He glanced towards his door.  Ghost thought about how to acquire a pistol. He didn’t like the idea of cutting himself or taking pills. Both options seemed to give the perpetrator a chance at survival whereas a gun would be permanent. He shook the thoughts by getting up and checking his fridge. Ghost checked the box of energy drinks. Each box came with four and he only had one left. He jittery paced around his dark apartment. He wanted to remove himself from the pain of living a pointless life, of being trapped in his game and his mind.

“You should like a bitch, whining and complaining about stupid shit,’ An unknown figure in Ghosts mind said to him, ‘why don’t you do something about it?”

Ghost’s imagined company did not say what to do however. The unrecognizable face left Ghost with more questions than answers.

“What can I do?’ Ghost asked himself, ‘How do I stop these thoughts? These fuckin fantasies I can’t help but dwell on.”

There was no answer. Ghost didn’t expect his subconscious mind to give him one, but he was hoping for some form of an answer, anything. Was he weak for not going through with taking his own life or was weak for even considering it? Ghost was still perplexed at which path to take and he wasn’t getting any closer on what to do. Then, as if it were something revolutionary, he asked himself, “why?” He thought of his family and how there was little he had in common with them. He thought of his work and how he had no passion for it or anyone whom he worked with. He even thought of the players he gamed with and how many are toxic trolls who’ll do and say anything just to get a rise out of others.

“So is there nowhere I belong?’ He said to himself, ‘is that reason enough to do it? Do I even want to kill myself or have I just not found something better than this?” Ghost mulled over his options.

Ghost got off his couch and searched for a pad and pen. He found both and commenced to writing a letting. It took him several drafts to finally get it down, and by draft five he reread what he wrote.

Mother,

There are so many things I should say. Hell, there are so many things I should actually be doing instead of this. For the life of me though I don’t know why I can’t express them clearly. I guess that’s always been my problem, I was never really good at expressing myself and what I’ve felt. I hope you know my actions were not caused by anything you’ve said or done, I’m just tired. Tired of pretending to fit in, tired of comparing myself to others, tired of trying to cope with the meaninglessness of it all, tired of being trapped in my mind. I’m mostly just tired of trying to figure it all out. I give up. I know this will be hard on you, but you got Easton who’ll take care of you. I’m sure his soon to be wife will give you plenty of grandkids for you to be able to take your mind off of what I’ve done. Life will go on and I’m sure you’ll see that my part in it was not needed.

Your Son,

Mitty

Ghost let out a sad laugh at seeing the nickname his family gave him. Everyone at work called him by his real name, Mitchell, however, he rarely talked with any of his coworkers. Everyone else referred to him as Ghost, and most everyone he communicated with was online. Ghost thought about how much time he wasted in his life on video games. Even before online gaming was a thing, he had spent most of his childhood in front of a T.V. or computer screen.

Ghost’s little apartment was quiet though the storm outside raged on into the morning, keeping the power off, and, in turn, him confined. Ghost was exhausted. He had stayed up most of the night writing, reading, and rereading his letter. He eventually fell asleep. The candle burned out during the night; some of the wax poured over its sides and onto the letter. His apartment lit up as the lights came back on, exposing the scattered litter of crumpled drafts he had written. Ghost slowly got up. He sat on his couch motionless, expressionless, as if waiting for something to move him in any direction. He let his mind wander as he considered every reason to go through with it.

“Why shouldn’t I?’ He asked himself, ‘what possible reason do I have to keep putting up with life and all its shit?”

“Fuck life!” The voice of his subconscious echoed.

“Fuck life?’ Ghost responded, ‘As in I should do it?”

“If life’s going to fuck you, fuck it back.”

And that was all he needed to hear. No hotline or counseling or therapy could have motivated him better. Ghost knew his life wasn’t some kind of nightmare. He didn’t have a tormented past, he was never abused, nor did he suffer from any seriously affliction. But for him, life felt excruciating, and it was his fault.

“Maybe I don’t have anything to offer life, but fuck life, what has it given me? I should take whatever I can get from it. My life right now is bullshit but I’m the one who let that happen. If I don’t want to feel this way then I have to change it. Life’s not going to do it for me. If anything, life’s going to do its damndest to make things worse.”

One of the lights that came back on was from the T.V. As Ghost’s conversation with himself came to pause, he glanced at the T.V. It’s blue hue shining bright as if pulling him into its rays of enticing entertainment.

“Since I love this stuff so much, maybe I could be a part of it. I don’t know a whole lot about computers, but hell, I’d be a Goddamn janitor for a gaming company if it meant I was that much closer to what I love doing. Maybe I should go to school, actually learn how games are made.”

Ghost considered the handful of options he’d thought of off the top of his head as he got up from his couch. He turned the T.V. off and opened his front door. It was past noon. The sun was was high in the sky and almost blinded him as he stepped out into the known world.

 


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