Zedlist – Part One
They were growing fiercer and stronger by the second. The city was alive with commotion; black smoke billowed out from nearby buildings and police sirens wailed without purpose. The screams of men, women and children unified as one terrifying pitch. Kevin knelt by the vehicle’s carcass, flames escaping through the broken screen and throwing light on the surreal scene before him.
Richard Mabely’s pale body lay on the fractured asphalt, his eyes open and unseeing, perfectly motionless. Kevin’s nostrils were now accustomed to the stench of rotting flesh. All senses numbed. Cradling head in hands, he sobbed. He had done more than he ever dreamed he could and it was all for nothing now. If he closed his eyes tight enough this might all go away, and he could start again.
The room was white, with a richly coloured Moroccan rug laid out on fashionably beaten floorboards. Everything was in perfect order. Computer games and DVD’s filled an entire wall of shelves – lovingly arranged in autobiographical order. Every single game remembered by that glorious moment when it was finally completed and the demons were vanquished once and for all; or at least until the next ones came along.
Kevin was seated in front of two large computer screens. He loaded his bong with some of Croydon’s very finest Purple Haze, balanced the base of the instrument between his knees and lit. It bubbled gently. Smoke entered the chamber and danced beneath the coloured plastic casing. Removing his digit from the rush-hole, he inhaled the smoke in one expert breath.
After returning the object to the table, he leaned back in his customised gaming chair. It bragged a built-in massage system and special controls adapted for Kevin’s style of play. It was compatible with every new console on the market, was the only one of its kind in the U.K., and allowed for many hours of game-play without back ache or the dreaded gamer’s thumb. This wasn’t just any chair. This was ‘a serious piece of tech’. He leaned back in his throne, looked up vacantly at the ceiling and ever so gently exhaled.
The light illuminated and silhouetted the smoke as it dispersed and joined the particles all around him. Everything was silent: silent TV voices, the silent buzzing from a desk lamp, and the silence of cars passing over rain covered tarmac. This information was not registered consciously, but played in the background, creating a scene that could be comfortably interpreted as reality.
Kevin had never seen any point in leaving his house. Why would he? Everything he needed was here. He socialised, shopped and worked from this bedroom. To him the outside world was horribly disordered and unpredictable. Within these walls he knew exactly where everything was and he was in control – He was certain of that.
Kevin was a ‘professional gamer’. Although people who are unfamiliar with the concept may laugh at the apparent contradiction of these two words, in his case they were both equally founded. Kevin did play games all day, but if the term ‘professional’ can be defined by autonomy, dedication and income, he had earned the status several times over. New games arrived almost every day, played and studied thoroughly before being released to the public. When Kevin had started his career, it was somewhat of rarity. Now everyone seemed to be getting in on the act. Despite the influx of competition, Kevin considered himself to be ‘on another level’ – as his t-shirt clearly stated.
It was of paramount importance to Kevin that his profession be taken seriously. Although he was aware his traits may be perceived by some as being those of a ‘typical gamer’, he also understood that in the 21st century there really was no such thing. In reality Gamers were as diverse as people who listen to music; ranging from the ‘mainstreamers’ – waiting for the next big thing to arrive – to the real geeks who prided themselves on discovering the most obscure titles they possibly could. Kevin was neither one nor the other, but played all the games he could get his eager thumbs on, indiscriminately.
The first game Kevin had ever reviewed was Golden-Eye, based on the 90s Bond film. He’d completed it in only two days. Having no one to play it with, the multiplayer system was of no use to him. That was never an issue now. With the rise of ‘massive multiplayer online gaming’ he could play with anyone in the world without the inconvenience of human contact.
Kevin knew who he was in a game: Max Payne, Juke Nukem or Captain Price. It was a world of ‘kill or be killed’ and there was never any time to ask how he was feeling. Nothing could penetrate his perfectly rendered shell. He enjoyed the furious pace of combat games. He had to think fast, making snap decisions that could lead him to victory, or jeopardise everything.
Kevin often found himself watching films and screaming,“Why the hell are you running into combat with an M14!? You need an M16 you dick!”
It was all about the right firearm and the right person for the job. Everyone had their place in the troop. There was always a fine balance between acting in the interest of the team and using initiative.
Enjoying the pressure and the skilled co-ordination of so many complex tasks, Kevin found himself so immersed that the room around him simply ceased to exist.
He was first introduced to marijuana when his housemate Alex moved in. He found that it not only helped his spatial awareness, but enhanced the level of detail in everything he did. He found himself chatting online about games, films and all manner of obscure subjects. One topic, of late, had demanded Kevin’s undivided attention.
next chapter: Zedlist – Part Two
all chapters: Zedlist
more by LUCAS HOWARD
photograph by fervent-adepte-de-la-mode