Daytime, Outside a Small Town
I’m online, chatting with Boomer as we play.
“So we’re agreed, right?” I say.
“Yeah, OK. Whatev’s.”
“No,” I say in my speaking to children voice, “that’s not good enough. How many times has it killed you now?”
“I don’t know. Two, three...maybe ten times,” admits Boomer.
“And about a dozen times for me, too. You with me on this? I’m sick of chasing back to the coast to pick you up, and I’m sick of going from badass to bambi.”
“Yeah, I’m with you. No playing with spray paint cans,” he says in his talking to teachers voice.
“Right. Where’s Eraser?” I ask, keeping my eye out for bandits. We’re laying among some bushes in the middle of nowhere. We’ve each got some equipment and food, but not a whole lot yet. We were supposed to get three of us together for a raid on an airport to get back up to snuff.
“I don’t know, he was supposed to meet us. I don’t see him in the player list.”
“Eraser! You in the game? We don’t see you on our server.”
“I’m there. I’m Razor now.”
“Razor? Really?” I couldn’t stop myself from saying it.
“Yeah. It’s shorter and easier to say. What’s wrong with Razor? ‘Cause I’m sharp!”
“It’s because of your hair cut, right?” says Boomer.
“What? Not because of my hair cut...”
“Yeah. That girl asked you if you wanted a razor cut, then said you look sharp when she was done.”
“Hey, I don’t blame you. She was really cute.”
“I just thought Eraser was too hard to say. Anyway, you guys see the patch notes?”
“There was another patch?” I ask.
“Yeah,” says ‘Razor’. “You were right about the paint cans. They were totally bugged. Got some nerve gas code in there or something.”
“Nerve gas? We’re going to get WMDs in this game?” I saw a bogey crossing the field. I put the sights of my .357 magnum on them, and kept an eye out for others.
“The important thing is it’s fixed now,” said Razor.
“That’s what Boomer said last time. You remember how that ended. Boomer, bogey incoming.”
“No, really. That’s me coming up to you guys. Check this out!”
The bogey stopped and raised his hand to wave.
“What are you wearing?” I asked.
“Geez, you’re so paranoid!”
“Blame the game.”
“Red ball cap, blue backpack and a Mosin rifle with a custom paint job.”
“That’s you,” I dropped my pistol.
“Niiiice paint job, dude!” said Boomer.
“Thanks!” said Razor.
“No!” I said.
“What?” they both said.
“No paint cans!”
“It was a bug. You heard the man.”
“I’ve got the rest of my paint right here,” said Razor. Several paint cans dropped on the ground.
I ran. I just plain ran.
Sure, all I had was a pistol with three rounds of ammo, a motorcycle helmet, a knife, two cans of tuna and a backpack, but that’s enough to bring value my character’s life. Especially with the number of snipers hanging out near the respawn zones.
“Chicken,” said Razor.
“I’ll wait over by the barn,” I said. “You do what you’re gonna do. Paint your gear. When you’re done, leave the cans over there. Then we’ll hit the airport. I’ll just chill here.”
“Your loss,” said Razor.
He and Boomer got into painting up Boomer’s helmet. Boomer had an extra in his backpack, so they painted that one up for Razor. The compared each other’s helmets, then tried painting everything else in their inventory.
“That about does it,” said Boomer. “Who’d have guessed you can paint the bean cans. Sure you don’t want to paint something up, Goose?”
I thought about it. Maybe they were right. They’d been dinking with those cans for over twenty minutes without one single mishap.
“I’m good. You guys ready?”
“Sure,” said Boomer. Then Razor asked him if he wanted to see something cool that he’d seen in a video.
“You guys coming?” I asked.
“On our way,” said Razor. But they were up to something.
In the game, I heard the sound of an explosion, punctuated by screams. The barn rocked.
“What happened? You guys OK?” They were laughing up a storm.
“Guys?” They couldn’t stop laughing.
Finally, Boomer got himself under control, a bit. “Oh, that was totally worth it!”
I was looking out of the barn, toward where they’d been. I didn’t see them.
“Guys? You in the grass?”
“Yeah, kinda,” said Razor, trying to recover his breath. “More like all over it!”
“We shot the paint cans!” said Boomer.
“They all went up!” said Razor.
“It was glorious. Till the screen went black,” said Boomer.
“We’ve got to try that again!” said Razor. “Get all the paint cans you can, then let’s meet north of that Star-yacht city. Goose, you in?”
“You’re dead, right?”
“I’ve never been so dead!” said Razor. “You should have seen the colors. Hey, Boomer, look out for propane cans, too!” He was still laughing. So was Boomer.
“I’ve got my .357,” I said.
“Excellent!” said Boomer. “We have ignition!”
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