Welcome to chapter two of the fictional experiment I call Too Long; Didn’t Play: The Movie! Every week in 2018, I will be telling you a story about a hapless gamer caught in games he may or may not have heard of. Will he escape? Will we find out what’s going on? You’ll have to read on to find out.
Last week, our protagonist escaped the dungeon in Dark Souls. This week, we’ll see if he can escape the crazy in Killer is Dead.
The rain pattered on Thomas’s face, waking him up. He groaned, but didn’t open his eyes. Rain was potentially good, because it meant that he’d made it out of the dungeon. Also that he’d survived. So: Yay?
The telltale scrape of metal on metal hinted at what else was beyond the blackness of his eyelids: more swords. So much for his hopes of being home.
Thomas’ eyes flicked open, and were immediately closed again by a stinging drop of rain. He blinked to clear it and looked up. Standing over him was a tall, angular man with mussed, black hair and red eyes. He was dressed entirely too well for the setting, which appeared to be a dank alley between brick buildings, and had an unbalanced silhouette, with one ordinary arm and another that was an enormous, bulging monstrosity. He looked like a fiddler crab that shopped at Brooks Brothers. The rain pinged off of the gigantic arm in a way that suggested it was made of metal, but that none of the bulge underneath it was wasted on empty space.
Thomas, of course, noticed none of this. All he could see was the sword. More specifically, all he could see was the tip of a sword, which hovered ominously a few inches away from his nose.
“Are you the target?” asked the low, smooth voice of the man behind the sword.
“I hope not, but I wouldn’t be against it.” Thomas wanted to reply, but it just came out as “blarglfarglemuh?”
Before he could try again, maybe this time with words, footsteps echoed in the alley. The fiddler-crab man turned, directing the sword away from Thomas’ terrified rictus. Thomas slumped back and remembered to start breathing again.
The footsteps grew closer, and a man with a shiny suit (not nearly as expensive as the swordsman’s) appeared around the corner. If the man with the sword looked like a fiddler crab, this one looked like a rodent, with bulging, restless eyes and pointed teeth.
“Aw, crap!” The rodent-man exclaimed when he saw them, and he bolted back the way he’d come.
Fiddler Crab ignored Thomas and walked off in the direction that Rodent had fled. There was no urgency to his stride, which made Fiddler Crab man all the more terrifying. If he had run in pursuit, that would have suggested that running from him mattered. His cadence was almost more terrifying than the sword.
The Rodent popped out from behind a dumpster and fired some sort of machine gun, which the Fiddler Crab deflected casually with the sword.
Ok, so the sword was definitely edging out the walk as the most terrifying thing. Maybe even more so than that eyeless zombie thing in the dungeon, but at this point who was keeping score?
Thomas dove behind some trash bins and fervently hoped that, wherever this was, it was a place where bullets knew they were supposed to stop when they hit metal. Like in the movies. Of course, Thomas mused as quarter-sized holes appeared in the metal a few inches from his face, he wouldn’t be that lucky.
The hail of gunfire stopped, and Thomas bolted down the alley, away from Fiddler Crab and his horrible sword.
“Don’t look back,” he panted to himself as he caught his stride. “Don’t look back. Don’t look …”
Another hail of gunfire sounded, this one further off, and Thomas failed to take his own advice. While he was looking back he collided with something that felt like it should have moved when he ran into it, but didn’t. He bounced back and landed, recumbent, on the asphalt.
Thomas had heard of people described as statuesque before. He always thought it meant a person who looked like a statue. It didn’t mean that, but he had never looked it up so that’s the definition he gave it. Regardless, by both his definition and the actual one, the person standing over him was statuesque.
She was tall, and was dressed similarly in style to the Fiddler Crab, in that both outfits were understated and probably very expensive, though there was significantly less material used to make her clothes. That probably made them more expensive somehow; Thomas didn’t understand fashion. He especially didn’t understand how you designed a shirt for someone with eight arms – each of them holding a gun.
Each one pointed at him.
“Are you the target?” asked a voice with a faint British accent.
Thomas couldn’t speak at this point, but his neck muscles, in an effort to save themselves, shook his head from side to side as emphatically as possible. There was more gunfire from the alley, which cut off abruptly and was replaced with a brief scream that ended before the first echo reached Thomas.
“I suppose not.” The octopus woman said, and in the blink of an eye six of the arms and all of the guns disappeared. She bent down and extended a hand to Thomas. “Are you hurt?”
It was a very particular turn of phrase. She didn’t ask if he was ok – because he manifestly wasn’t – only if he was physically injured. As he stood, Thomas rubbed his head where the monster in the dungeon had slammed him against the ceiling, but there was no lump. No pain at all. It’s like he was in a different body, rendered fresh for him when he arrived.
“I don’t think so” he replied, finally remembering how his voice worked. “Where am I? What is this place?”
She looked at him for a moment.
“I get the feeling those are bigger questions than they sound,” she said. “We should probably take you to see Bryan.”
“Brian?” Thomas repeated.
“No,” the woman smiled. “Bryan. Everyone gets that wrong. You look like you’ve already met Mondo. I’m Vivienne. Bryan is the head of our little agency.”
“You’re assassins?” Thomas’ filter kicked in too late to stop the words from slipping out.
“Goodness, no,” Vivienne replied. “We’re more like the police, except we hunt monsters.”
“Indeed. Have you seen any lately?”
Before Thomas could tell her about the day he’d had, the Fiddler Crab, who was apparently named Mondo, stepped out of the alley.
“Killer is Dead.” He said, and he held up the proof, which turned out to be the head of Rodent man. It dripped.
A person’s brain is a very smart thing, regardless of the intelligence of the person using it. It knows how much it can handle, and when it approaches the limit it does things to protect itself. Thomas’ brain, in this moment, decided that Thomas was at his limit for crazy, and suspected that this world was only going to get worse, so it did the only thing it could do to save Thomas from being completely, mentally destroyed.