“It’s real,” said SoldierA.
“No,” I said, “you’re pulling my leg.”
“No, really. I’m on the live feed now. Lots of people are confirming it.”
SoldierA is our tuned-in, tied-in player of the group. He knows the Twitter feed of DayZ developer Rocket’s barber. We don’t know how he manages to hold down a full time job, be father to several kids, a good husband (well, we haven’t heard threats of her leaving yet), and know all this stuff. Probably because the rest of us spend too much time on other things, and just haven’t had as much time on the game as him to build up the contacts in our social media and links in our browsers. He played the Mod, we just joined in on the DayZ standalone.
One thing, though, is that you can usually count on what he says. If what he says turns out to be wrong, there’s usually a correction from the dev team the next day saying he should have been right.
“I’m not going to test it,” I say. “Even paint cans are too much for me.”
“What’s wrong with you? They fixed that over a week ago. Hey, Boomer’s coming in. Howdy, Boomer!”
“Hey guys, what’s happening?”
“There’s a cool new bug,” said SoldierA.
“Sweet! Is it as much fun as the exploding paint cans?”
“Better! This one won’t kill you.”
“What is it?”
“No falling damage.”
“Yeah, I’m watching the live feed on bug reports right now. At least a dozen confos.”
“I’ve got to try this out. Goose, where are you?”
“Just south of the complex, near where we logged out last time.”
“I see you. I’m coming down.”
He runs down the hill.
He climbs a ladder up the side of a building. Then he drops.”
“You OK?” I ask. I haven’t got a thing for splints, and my medical supplies are low. “I can hit you with morphine.”
“No, I’m fine. But I think I hit the dumpster on the way down. That wasn’t a good test. Hang on.”
“Is he jumping?” says SoldierA, over our voicechat outside the game. “Where are you guys? I want to see.”
“We’re over at that military base you showed us. You know, the one that’s kind of hidden?”
“On my way! Don’t die before I get there.”
“Here I go!” Boomer is on top of a sentry tower. I see him drop to the ground. My stomach churns.
“Whoa! That was cool! You should try it!”
“You’ll find me with a paint can in my hand first...”
“No, really! I didn’t even grunt. Here I go again!” His body falls again. He gets up.
“Hey, there are some really tall buildings in town. Can you climb up the water towers?”
“The tallest things in the game,” says SoldierA, “are the communications towers.”
“Yeah, but I want to do this where someone can see me!” says Boomer. “Hey, let’s go to that tall building in the big city down there.”
“Fine,” I say. “Maybe I’ll try a molehill.”
“Chicken,” he says.
“I’ll meet you there!” says SoldierA. “I’ll record video! We can put it on the internet. This is so cool!”
“Great. Hey, we can go together! Tandem! Goose, can you record video on your system?”
“I’m sure I can, somehow.”
“Here’s a link,” says SoldierA. “I’ll meet you guys at the construction crane.”
“Too bad we can’t, like, let people know. You could go around collecting admission.”
“Collecting bullets is more like it,” I say. “Just lead the way. I’m following, but I might lag a little. I’ve got a download for John’s video recorder software going in the background.”
On the way, Boomer climbs a few buildings then jumps off them just for the heck of it. I watch a couple of times, but mostly I pop out to check my download, then install the app, while he’s doing his birdman routine. Every time I see it, it makes me a little sick. I’ve seen my buddies take a bad step or miss a ladder one too many times. Then it’s a long run back to the coast with a spare can opener and food.
I got the movie recorder ready, and we collected up at the foot of the construction tower.
“There, that one,” said SoldierA, pointing at a building. “That one has the longest drop in the game, other than the communication towers. I’ll record us from above. Goose, you get us from the ground. Then we’ll do a second jump, and you can record us from up above as we drop. Sound good?”
“I’ve got to go up there, too?”
“If you fall, you won’t get hurt. Why don’t you believe me?”
“Because these things always seem to bite me in the keister. OK, I’ll go up there for the second run. First, I’m going to just stay down here on Terra Firma.”
They climbed up the building. I had my rifle out, sweeping for bandits. They stood out on the edge of parts of the building as they climbed time after time. It’s like they forgot where they were. It’d be just our luck if someone with a Mosin took them out right before they jumped.
“OK, we’re in place. Ready?”
Boomer and I both said we were. I hit the key combo to start the recorder, and a little red dot came on at one corner of my screen.
Boomer jumped just before SoldierA, so that he’d show up in SoldierA’s recording.
They came down, down, down. Man, that’s a long drop.
Boomer hit the ground, then SoldierA.
There was a horrible groan. The death sound.
“What happened? What happened?” said SoldierA.
“I”m fine! I’m OK!” said Boomer.
“What happened?” I said. “My screen is black. Do you see me?”
“No...you’re gone!” said Boomer. “You were right there!”
“Wait, there he is!” said SoldierA. “Whoa. Freaky!”
“You’re body. I just saw it rise up into the air. It flew up next to the building. I think it’s up there somewhere now.”
“Can you get my stuff? My rifle!”
“Yeah, I see it,” said Boomer. “Up there, stuck in that ladder.”
“How did that happen? You guys didn’t hit me! I was ready for that. There I was, thinking, ‘Now’s the time you get it, Goose, because they won’t suffer any falling damage but they’ll run into you and surely crush you!’”
“You are so paranoid!” said Boomer.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t say that you don’t have a reason to be paranoid.”
“Did you get the video?” said SoldierA.
“Yeah. I think so. I’d just stopped it...hey! Do you think that video app killed me? I heard myself die right as I hit ‘Stop’ for the record controls.”
“Yeah. It does that sometimes,” said SoldierA. “Didn’t I tell you?”
“No! No you did not tell me! I never heard the words ‘by the way, the video app will kill you sometimes, sure you still want to run it’, not once!”
“Oh, well. There you are. Now you know.”
“Should we meet you at the coast or something?”
“Can you get my stuff?”
“Nope. I tried climbing up to where your body is. I tried the ladder first, but I couldn’t get to your stuff. Then I went inside, because, y’know, your body was kinda sticking through the wall. But when I walked up and clicked when it showed me the gun and bullets logo, your body just disappeared. It’s not anywhere around here.”
“Yeah, I swear. It’s gone.”
“I haven’t even restarted,” I said.
“No body, anywhere," said Boomer. "I’ve got an extra can of beans, and we can probably find an axe around here somewhere.” You could tell from the sound of his voice that even he thought that sounded lame.
“Want to send me that video?” said SoldierA. “I was looking the wrong way when I fell, so mine is useless.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait to see it,” said Boomer.
“File...delete.” I said.
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