The Adventures of JEN, Arcade Goddess (slight language)


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Thread: The Adventures of JEN, Arcade Goddess (slight language)

  1. #1

    The Adventures of JEN, Arcade Goddess (slight language)

    Why hello there. Here's the beginning of another short story (I always begin them, never seem to finish them). I'm having a little trouble with my tenses. Grammarites, please, take this apart for me...
    By the way, just so you know, the story is about an arcade-game addict who builds a nuclear reactor in her back yard.



    It’s a family reunion, June, and Ashley finds herself in the bed of her dad’s rusted pickup truck with a couple of friends. Her younger cousin, Jack, is in the back seat making faces at them through the glass, ducking down whenever he gets anyone’s attention.
    “Smells like bacon,” Ashley remarks.
    “Yup,” says Jennica.
    “I’m bored, let’s go for a walk or something,” Rick proposes. “Let’s go to Samnium’s.”
    Jennica gets annoyed. “I’m banned.”
    “What did you do?”
    “I tried to steal the Zaxxon machine.”
    “So, you’re like, coo-coo nuts. I never knew that about you. Were you high?”
    “Mentally distraught. I don’t know.”
    “Your rents must’ve been proud. Trying to snatch a Zaxxon machine – ambitious”
    “I know. Had a forklift out back ‘n everything.”
    Meanwhile Jack has his face pressed against the glass pane, wrinkled like a bulldog, half-smiling at Ashley. “That’s it,” she says as she hops off the truck bed, opens the back door, and attacks Jack’s tickle-prone spots with fingers moving like sea foliage. He yells and covers himself with an unrolled sleeping bag.
    Cynthia, Ashley’s mother, comes by with four paper plates of burgers, peameal bacon, plain potato chips, condiments, the works, balanced on hands and forearms with waitress expertise, says “your Uncle Lyman is here, Ash, I want you to say hello to him after you eat, leave your poor cousin alone,” and then teleports back to the gathering. Rick half wonders if he should leave a tip. After stuffing their faces, they slowly approach the herd of visiting family members, where they gather up the other kids their age, occasionally get snatched by folks from Vancouver or other parts of the island, to rejoin the group in a dynamic fission-fusion pattern. Ashley finally greets her Uncle, whom the family thinks is famous because he was once in a documentary film.
    “Ash-eh-ley!”
    “Hey Uncle Lyman.”
    “You've gotten tall! It’s ‘at Swedish on your mother’s side,” and so on. Ashley is mildly allergic to routine small-talk – finds herself having to go in to get a Reactine. Now the smell of salmon on cedar plank fills the air, and she knows her father has taken over the barbecue. Jennica and Rick come up to the house and after mulling round a bit more they decide to go off on a walk. They get a kilometer down the hill and agree to hitchhike the rest of the way into town. Rick’s high school acquaintance, Brody, comes by in his truck and they hop in.
    Down in the village, people seem a little on-edge. Brody mentions something about strange men in dark suits hanging around, showed up just a few hours ago, standing at street corners, some drinking coffee out of thermos, regarding everything in the town with what you might call a suspicious-monotone expression. Stranger yet, some of these folks seem to be sweeping the residences of the town with these high-tech hand-held gizmos, strolling down the sidewalk pointing them at every house, coffee shop, and fishing supplies store.
    Jennica seems to solidify for a second, wide-eyed. “Um, guys?”
    “Um, Jen?” says Ashley.
    “Can I get dropped off at my place by any chance? It’s just up 5th.”
    Fine with Brody. Now Ashley is regarding Jennica with a quizzical look.
    “Everything good?”
    “Yeeeee, Uhhhhh…”
    “Oh no, she’s glitching out.”
    But now Ashley has to know what’s going on. They get to Jennica’s house and she takes them out back to the garage – its own separate building about thirty feet from the main house. Dense mossy forest backs the residence. Jennica takes out a key and turns open a heavy-duty padlock, opens the door.
    Inside, Mother Mary, is the largest collection of old-school arcade game machines Ashley has ever seen. More units than could possibly fit into a garage of this size, Ashley thinks. There are the popular staples: Pac-Man, Gauntlet, Joust, Galaga, Space Invaders, Frogger, Donkey Kong Junior, etc. There are rarities, like Crossbow, which has a panel-mounted, well, crossbow, which is used to snipe down crudely drawn medieval warriors; there’s Journey, based on the legendary rock band, digitized black-and-white photographs of the members’ faces, featured in the latest graphics of the time, each getting their own separate mini-game – Steve Perry, in search of his beloved microphone, navigating a maze of turnstiles, Neil Schon retrieving his guitar via jet-pack – the band playing “Separate Ways” in the finale through an actual cassette mounted within the machine with a looping tape; there’s the Atari Touch-Me, which eventually went on to become the popular hand-held game Simon.
    “What,” inquires Ashley, “the fuck?”
    Turns out Jennica had been scouting out online forums for sellers, and as soon as she got her license, taking her brother’s pickup all around the island, sometimes even ferrying over to the mainland, to retrieve these units. She is a classic arcaphiliac. It was the weekends with her father, Jeremy, starting at about age 8. The arcade, TriSim, he figured would keep her busy, and at least it was more active than going to the movies, popcorn munching, pop slurping. Soon she was taking the #1 place on most of the score panels, under the moniker JEN. There, she became The Alpha. She found all the bonus rounds, the secret rooms, the Easter eggs. She began to memorize the movement of the enemies, learned to predict what the AI would do next, submerging into the world of bits. The other kids started dreading coming into the place, arcade gangs fell apart, disillusioned under the all-great JEN. Thomas the owner would stand back by Frogger, to watch kids stroll on up to the door, peer in, see JEN, lower their heads in disappointment, and walk off. If business was being lost then JEN would have to go. He explained to Jeremy the situation and he, not being the argumentative sort, shrugged and started taking her to MAXON on the other side of town. There she found an all new selection of games to master. But her funds were running low and her father was unwilling to up her allowance. She devised a plan. A trashed Street Fighter machine was out back behind MAXON, and she got her father to bring it home with them in his truck. There, in the garage, with a screwdriver and a crowbar, JEN, then age 9, got to work. She explored the inner workings of the machine, unhinged the coin door, took out the bezel and reject buttons, pried opened the panel and looked inside the z-back cabinet, examined the PCBs, microswitches, fell in love. She put it back together, by memory, by what felt right, and amazingly, when she plugged it into the wall outlet, the screen flashed, and she looked up. It said, insert coin. She took a wire clothes hanger and started prying around into the side of the coin door. Minutes went by, she breathed determinedly, and wouldn’t you know it – it clicked. She was in - character select. She practiced all night. Later on she would learn that the process was strangely similar to the way carjackers jimmy open car doors with slim jims or hangers.
    The next day, she turned up at MAXON with the wire up her sleeve, trying not to look too eager. She held back while the other kids played, noted which units had similar coin door mechanisms to the Street Fighter back home, which units were out of direct site from the owner. Finally, she decided on Metal Slug 2, around a corner, not too many kids hanging around. She slid the wire part way out of her sleeve and knelt down to the coin slot, wedged the wire in to the right of the bezel button, and soon enough triggered something. Credits on the bottom right of the screen blipped all the way up to 99, onto soldier select, she chose Eri, like usual.
    And so began Jennica’s life of crime in the arcades.
    Last edited by HumanYoYo; October 28th, 2014 at 07:39 AM.
    Cascadian

  2. #2
    Member hvysmker's Avatar
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    Itís a family reunion, June, and Ashley finds herself in the bed of her dadís rusted pickup truck with a couple of friends.
    *** Slightly confusing. Maybe "in June"?

    then teleports back to the gathering.
    *** Sort'a sets the time period.

    Later on she would learn that the process was strangely similar to the way carjackers jimmy open car doors with slim jims or hangers.
    *** That clothes hanger episode reminds me of one place where I worked as a kid. We had a jukebox installed. One of the guys had at one time been a jukebox repairman. He taught us how to hit the box to play records for free.

    Interesting, though I was never much of a game player. Only that one suggestion.

    Charlie

  3. #3
    Hey YoYo --

    I enjoyed the aesthetic here and found the tone pleasant and fun. The construction of the piece seems to need more attention than the grammar, though there are a few things to work on there, too. I hope you'll take this piece and run on with it, as I can see several neat ideas and directions you could take it.

    But I'd cut a lot out. The present tense may be to blame, but the early dialogue, the family reunion, all that stuff just seemed not to matter at all, once the focal point was on her arcade 'crime' of jimmying the machines. And, didn't she take one apart and reassemble it like a pro? Would seem to render the hanger unnecessary if she knew how to get inside. But that's a petty complaint, meant solely for suggesting rumination.

    Some grammatical stuffs I spotted (take all this at face value, as I'm not an educated person by any means and have learned everything I know about the English language from WF):

    It’s a family reunion, June, and Ashley finds herself in the bed of her dad’s rusted pickup truck with a couple of friends. - I also noticed this; think the intro needs rewording, or at least a semicolon here or there. "It's a family reunion in June; ...." “Smells like bacon,” Ashley remarks.
    “Yup,” says Jennica.
    “I’m bored, let’s go for a walk or something,” Rick proposes. - remarks, says, proposes.... calling attention to attributions is generally not a good idea.

    Meanwhile Jack has his face pressed against the glass pane, wrinkled like a bulldog, half-smiling at Ashley.
    - drop 'pane'

    attacks Jack’s tickle-prone spots with fingers moving like sea foliage.
    - 'attacks Jack's' rhymes. Not sure if it works, but I like the simile.

    with waitress expertise, says “your Uncle Lyman is here, Ash, I want you to say hello to him after you eat, leave your poor cousin alone,” and then teleports back to the gathering.
    - Consider using full stops and letting the dialogue be separate from the exposition.

    Rick half wonders if he should leave a tip.
    - half-wonders

    to rejoin the group in a dynamic fission-fusion pattern.
    - This might be too high-brow, or nerd-ish or something. I like it, but lots probably won't.

    Brody mentions something about strange men in dark suits hanging around, showed up just a few hours ago, standing at street corners, some drinking coffee out of thermos, regarding everything in the town with what you might call a suspicious-monotone expression.
    - Hard to picture these innumerable 'strange men' doing the things you mention, especially in a pluralized fashion.

    pointing them at every house, coffee shop, and fishing supplies store.
    - fishing-supply store (or some such)

    More units than could possibly fit into a garage of this size, Ashley thinks.
    - Weird - hard to imagine looking at a room full of stuff, being able to read all the titles, and then think there's no way they could all fit. Something a few clicks off with this observation.

    Pac-Man, Gauntlet, Joust, Galaga, Space Invaders, Frogger, Donkey Kong Junior, etc.
    - drop the 'etc'

    “What,” inquires Ashley, “the fuck?”
    - I like this, but it calls way too much attention to itself.

    Turns out Jennica had been scouting out online forums for sellers,
    - Funky with the tense. Turns out is a mind-warper when working in present tense... also 'had been' seems to want to be 'has been'

    The arcade, TriSim, he figured would keep her busy, and at least it was more active than going to the movies, popcorn munching, pop slurping.
    - Consider rewording this and/or splitting it out into two separate sentences.

    She took a wire clothes hanger and started prying around into the side of the coin door.
    - She was doing this so often -- was there nobody watching? And the 'around into' seems clumsy...

    which units were out of direct site from the owner.
    - sight

    I think too many commas and needs more focus. Beyond that, much potential and a fun read. Thanks!
    It all starts with a name and flows from there. A ridiculous moniker springs to mind and it launches like a multi-lubed slippery-sloop down chutes made of buttery-floops. Down, down, down. We watch, spellbound. Rapturous. Glockenspiel. We do our due diligence with penitence and penicillin. Do whatís due, then dew drops on your moon-pops.


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