I can feel my back fall through the wind as I stumble off the blocks. Why, I ask myself. I already know the answer. The sky gets smaller as I plunge into a dark abyss from which there is no escape. Once again, I’ve taken a wrong turn. I’ll repeat this mistake many times over, for I do not learn my lessons so easily. I open my eyes to see smiles from above, the laughter of my enemies spiraling downwards with me.
I let out a long lament as I tumble towards the ground. I brace myself for the pain I know is coming. Like Sisyphus, my eternal task has been decided for me. I will jump and fall until the sun dies, its last ember flickering into dark. Only then will I receive sweet release from my cursed life. My life is one long Groundhog’s Day, and there shall be naught to ease my suffering.
I had my pick of games when I was first created. There were so many from which to choose, I could have been anyone. PacMan, Frogger, anyone. Death stalks us all, however. I guess it doesn’t matter. Whatever my choice, I was doomed to a life of pain. Plus, I’m not social, and I’ve no desire to exist in a world with creatures like me so I chose this game, the wrong game, to be alone – foolish idiot that I am! I should have known there would be no solitude. Now I hop and implements of death greet me upon each step. I try to avoid them, but they are always there. There is no freedom from my torturers. I’m often bitten or hit on top of my head – and I fall, like I’m falling now.
Left! Right! Left! Right! Back! Forward! It all gets too confusing at times. And then I panic. Sometimes, I freeze – unable to move. Then a snake joyfully jumps on me, giving me one last kiss before dying. Perhaps subconsciously I refuse to move. Perhaps I refuse to do my maker’s bidding and wait for death to take me. I have no desire to a willing victim to my own demise. But I’ve no choice really. No matter what I do, I will fall.
If I’m lucky, I can get past four or five pyramids without falling. Hell, I don’t even know why I’m calling it lucky. It is terrifying to make it that far. More snakes, more creatures, more chances at falling. I don’t know why I postpone the inevitable: falling is my fate and fall I shall.
Thud! The wind leaves my body as I hit the ground. I can feel water fill my eyes, begging to be released to run down my furry little cheeks. But Q*bert doesn’t cry. He stands up, brushes himself off, and resigns himself to his fate. There is no use in spilling tears over the inevitable.
I sit and glance up at the pyramid before me. An invisible hand pulls at my arm, forcing me to stand. My legs shake, my back aches, and yet I’m being pushed forward. The voice tells me I have another turn. Perhaps this time I’ll make it. No matter how much I know it not to be the case, the smallest flicker of hope remains embedded in my soul. Is it there to inspire me or to mock me? I do not know. But my legs carry me forward, and I climb back on top of the pyramid.
Left! Right! Forward! Back! The futility of life saddens me, but the desire to overcome this damned sense of uselessness depresses me even more.
And once again, I’m falling.
Natasha Cabot is a writer living in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Her short stories have been published in several literary journals, most recently in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal and CC&D Magazine. She recently finished her first novel, Patriotland.