Hello! Could there be another time to discuss ‘Urban Nightmare’ ? That’s the theme for this month’s WEP Challenge. And aren’t we living it every moment?
I’ve attempted a flash, and while the premise remains the same (I can’t seem to break away from my preferred style of writing) but I’ve attempted not to talk of human relations that almost always form the basis of my stories. Hope you enjoy this one! I tried hard to incorporate the clues at WEP but somehow I have a long way to go as far as this genre is concerned.
Disclaimer: All characters and situations in the story are a work of fiction. They may not be associated with any person living or otherwise.
I slid into my black oxfords and turned around for that penultimate look into the mirror. A tailored-fit navy suit with accessories to match. I was dressed right to meet the Premier. Some of the best brands had just ventured into face masks and I was famous for my pro bono services in promoting them.
“Indian Suvin- the finest cotton fibre. We don’t compromise on quality,” that’s what they’d said.
Pandemics, quakes, protests, forest fires and what not- you need business through them all. I strapped the face mask and glanced at the virus World-O-Meter flashing on the TV screen. The third-world was catching up fast!
The Maybach was the best bet to drive me to the Premier’s House. For these down and hard times, he was a man under tremendous pressure.
I had wondered what a game developing company could do for the most powerful man in the whole world. Why did he ask to see me?
“He views you as someone with tremendous vision.”
Bernard, the right-hand man had been assuring. “You know with all those games about zombies and apocalypse…ha…his grandson is such a fan of…of all of them! What have you named them…umm..”
“ ‘Uraban Nightmare’. I could send somebody to assist with those.” It was still hard for me to apprehend why the Premier desired to meet me!
“No,no,no… you see, Gossamer is a futuristic gaming company and we are hoping to use your services in this time of world crisis.”
“I’d be happy to assist.” I couldn’t think of anything better to say.
“That’s wonderful! So we will tie up things from our end and you will hear from us soon.”
And we had hung up. I had no clue of what was going on. We generated money through entertainment… okay, good money if I may say so! I was rather flustered that morning. We had made our contributions. What was it then?
I had stood at the bay window of the seventeenth floor of my plush Gossamer office, while talking to Bernard. All the while my eyes had been fixed on the huge sea of construction that embellished Flora City. Embellished- that wouldn’t be the right word, no? The gigantic structures looked fine. I could spot a cement mixer outside a half-finished one. And some tiny, inconsequential workers going about their jobs of raising it. Sweating it out in the heat.
The first Urban Nightmare had been a game about concrete eating up the world. That was in 2000. We had just started out. And they gave us names- futuristic. Really? If you ask me, gaming is a reflection of what’s already there. Anybody with vision would be able to make that out. I had just turned it into a venture.
Anyway, the best part of Gossamer was the skill trees. The focus was always on providing the player every chance of feeling like a winner…uh…like a fixer, a messiah. We didn’t mind giving easy access to skills. Maybe that’s what made us popular in the business. A win over an enemy arouses excitement and that’s what we provided, right?
Bernard’s mail was quick to arrive in my mailbox and here I was…
The car came to a sudden halt shaking me out of my reverie.
“Are we there yet?”
“No sir. It’s a crowd. The protests are still on.”
“Ah! The protests.”
The world was turning into just another version of itself. Like a coin. Until you flip it, you never know there’s another side. The pandemic had turned the earth pallid, but not before the other half of the world had risen to repudiate years of bigotry and prejudice.
We had even attempted one on this. It was a bad idea. Turning protestors into lurkers. The world didn’t take kindly to it.
We had often anticipated these antagonistic situations at Gossamer, transforming jungle fires into meteors that needed to be chased and viruses into zombies, which was our recent gamble. It paid off well, huh!
The wheels rolled once again. I peeped out of the window. Huge masses of men and women thronged the roads. Their face masks weren’t made of Indian Suvin. They seemed not to care. They stood rather close to each other. Did they fear the pandemic? I’d watched a documentary last night on lives in some slums in the third world. I had been wondering about a game around those. What kind of skill trees could we build? Was it even possible? Well, Gossamer excelled in finding possibilities for all kinds of Urban Nightmare.
The world was hurting. And here I was, running my mind over video games. But then, to miss opportunities is no business ethic.
The Mac lay open in front of me. Those slides resting in their ideal folder. I went through them one last time.
The Pandemic; Statistics; Skill Trees. All in place. The simulation of a catastrophe and an offprint of a solution.
The Premier was waiting. I was already planning the next project. Sometimes zombies aren’t just mutant viruses. They could well be kingpins, the real Urban Nightmare!
Word Count: 842
If history interests you, you may like to check out my eBook, available on the following link for FREE download, all of June.