Free-Floating Hostility

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Introduction to Assassination Tactics for Public Health Students

I'm climbing up the stairs, my AK dancing lightly in my muscled grip. I can't hear anything, but that's normal. I also have no sense of smell, touch, balance or gravity, so that if I find myself suddenly facing a wall I am completely cut off from the rest of the universe, but that's okay too. At the top of the stairs I charge ahead, tripping lightly over a box full of health pills and head toward the uzi hovering in midair just ahead. I'm almost there now, any second, when--dude, what was that? Nothing? I take another step. There it is again! Two soft arcs of light just ahead of me. Goddamn it, that French guy is lobbing grenades at me from behind again. Retreat! No, wait, don't retreat, the whole point is to kill him first. Okay, okay, spinning, spinning, thread the needle...oh piss, he killed me.

Except I'm not dead. Where am I now? No sign of Frenchie, and I'm standing atop a vaguely vaginal red tube holding a semi-automatic. I step down and find myself in between a tunnel and more stairs. I opt for the tunnel. Wait. I hold stock still. I see a telltale bulge of calf muscle just around the corner. It's not Frenchie, so it must be--no time to think. I have to take him out. I fire, but it goes wide and now I've blown my cover. My assailant wheels around and I know I'm spotted. I fire again but it's becoming increasingly clear that my aim sucks. Now he's coming toward me.

"Oh no, I guess you spotted me," the Cookie Man (whose anonymity I'm still protecting even though he showed that post to his boss) calls out waggishly from the next workstation. It is 6:15, class is over, and that means it is Quake hour in the computer lab. It may have been Dara who gave Cookie the idea for Quake hour; she plays these assassin games with her real-life-gun-packing now-fiance and her mom. And mazel tov to Dara and David by the way. But tonight it's just me and a French student whose name I haven't caught. I made a transparent attempt to do some homework when class ended, but I gave over easily. I explained to Cookie a little about my history with electronic gun games and how I tend to lose in improbable ways, but that just egged him on. "Let's show Anna how rough first-person shooter games can get!" he called out to the Frenchman. "You're French, right?"
"The French are good pacifists."
"Can you throw bricks in Quake?" the Frenchman quipped.
"And then you can write about it on your blog," (this last to me).
"I probably will," I said. "In fact, from this point on if you want something not to be public, you should specifically tell me so." And as you can see, my mom raised no liars.

So I decided I would rather be reeducated in the ways of shooting games than run regressions on the mortality data from the Titanic. Yes, those were the actual choices. Which brings us to where I left off in our narrative.

Okay, I thought, he's gonna let me kill him as a teaching tool. All I have to do is point the gun somewhere other than up my nose. I wanted to aim farther down, so I hit the down arrow. This proved to have been a mistake, as it caused me to step backwards directly into the moat.

"I'm in the moat, Cookie," I whined as my avatar floated aimlessly in his own bubbles.
"Hang on, I'll come down into the moat and you can shoot me there." He made good on his promise and jumped. "Isn't this environment incredible?"
I maneuvered myself into the right position and began firing. This time, as he was completely immobile, I managed to hit him four times, each producing a red splash from his avatar and an indulgent cry of "Oh no, you're shooting me!" from the man himself. Finally he died.

"I killed you!" I said with mingled pride and relief.
Cookie fought off a smile. "I'm sorry, but I feel duty-bound to tell you that I actually died by drowning."

You so wish you went to Berkeley.

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