|(Everyone enters the
sobbing) No cookies. . .
No Time for Games
Mike: Not until you've finished your homework, young man.
By: David Smith
Bob: The guy from Lost in Space?
Rodents scurried through the layers of debris lining the cracked and stained concrete pavement of the narrow alley, and a dank stench hung in the saturated air as a light rain fell.
Mike: Just another day in Chicago.
Dot strained to study her keypad in the dim light of a single, bug-filled street light,
Servo: Yeah, you see one cockroach, there's a hundred more hiding in a street light.
the only one working for at least three blocks.
Bob: The Great Street Light Strike of '43.
"Think it'll work?"
Bob: Nope. They're on strike.
Servo: To do what?
then raised her wet face up
Servo: Started to cry?
to see Bob peering around the corner.
Crow: Oh, no wonder she's
He was winded,
Servo: You mean wound.
his face and uniform smudged with dirt, a light mist formed with every puff of breath. She sighed tensely with some relief.
Mike: It was a tense sort of relief.
"I'm not sure. I've never done this before."
Crow: (Bob) "That's okay, just
lie back and leave everything to me."
She paused, lowering her keypad. "Any luck on your end?"
Bob: (Bob) "Yeah, I caught five bluegills."
Bob glanced nervously up and down the sidewalk, then crept in beside Dot and crouched down next to her.
Servo: Always look both ways before putting the moves on your girlfriend.
She could tell he had nothing good to report by the knot in his forehead.
Mike: And also by the kitana wedged in his abdomen.
Bob: Who said that?
He pressed his shoulders against the grimy brick wall, and closed his eyes. "I've never seen anything like it.
Crow: The backs of your eyelids?
No sign of the user.
Mike: Except that sign over there.
No trace of him anywhere. Glitch can't even give me a summary of the game. Just a lot of very dangerous, heavily-armed sprites out there. Bunches of them around every corner, practically."
Bob: (Dot) "Yeah, I know, I've
been here with you for the past three microseconds."
Bob raised his head wearily and looked at her. He could see the look of worry in her stubbornly hopeful eyes.
Servo: Hey, make up your mind, is she worried or hopeful?
He saw her shiver in the cold, and he leaned over and rubbed her upper arms.
Mike: (Dot) "Bob, this is neither the time nor the place!"
She thanked him with a smile before returning to work on her keypad.
Crow: (deep sigh) Okay,
so what's going on here?
"I'm almost ready," she said as she typed hurriedly.
Crow: (Dot) "Just let me change my bra."
"I've put everything into this message we know about the game--what little we know. Is there anything you can add?"
Servo: (Bob) "Yeah, order some of them mojos, I love those things."
Bob thought for a moment. A fleeting look of genuine fear swept across his face.
Crow: Before being replaced by his normal dashing apathy.
Finally he shook his head. "Just...
Mike: ...the facts, ma'am.
someone get us out of here," he allowed himself to murmur.
Out of where?
A chill swept through Dot as she realized that she'd never seen Bob truly frightened. She nodded in agreement as she hit the EOF key.
Servo: Putting an end to Mainframe
once and for all.
"There," she whispered, and watched the keypad retract.
Bob: (whispering Dot) "I just put my Tamagotchi to sleep, try not to make any noises."
With a short beep of acknowledgment, her organizer presented a single, large key marked DEPLOY. "We've got to move out into the open."
"I understand," Bob answered.
He knew this was coming,
Mike: He'd read the script.
and wasn't looking forward to it. He took a deep breath and stood. "Ready?"
Servo: Yes. No, wait a sec--AAAAAA!
Dot nodded, her jaw clenching with firm resolve as she stood beside him. Bob raised his wrist to his mouth. "Glitch," he ordered in a near whisper,
Crow: (Bob) "Put on my 'Talking Heads' tape."
"defense shield, on my command." A tiny bleep answered him. He proceeded slowly to the end of the alley, and leaned out ever so slowly to check the street.
Servo: Well, it looks okay, I think we can come out now -- KABOOM!
A series of explosive reports echoed from the distance, but the coast appeared clear.
Bob: The road, on the other
hand, was full of Game sprites, remember?
He glanced back to Dot, then crept out of the alley, his arm raised to keep Glitch at the ready.
Dot followed him out, and looked around for a clear shot at the wall of the game cube.
Crow: Yeah, it's several square miles in area, this shot's going to be pretty challenging.
The swirl of purple at the end of the city street loomed ominously, and she raised her organizer. "Here goes," she announced as she tapped the DEPLOY key. "...our only hope."
Bob: Hey, what about
me? I could get us out of there single-handed!
A short, black message capsule shot out of the top of her organizer and streaked across the sky toward the game cube wall, just as a hail of photon bullets descended on them.
Mike: Huh. Not the right time
of year to hail photon bullets.
They glanced around in a panic, but could not find the source--it could have been anywhere, or everywhere--the bright specks pinged all around them.
Mike: Oops, I didn't say "Simon says"!
A translucent bubble popped into place around the two of them,
Mike: Help! I can't breathe! Let me out of here!
but to their alarm, some of the photon bullets pierced it easily.
Crow: And pierced them easily.
"Run!" Bob shouted needlessly as the two turned and ran for cover. They dove headlong into a stairwell at the base of an abandoned tenement building, landing at the bottom with a painful thud, their arms and legs entangled.
Mike: Another brilliant idea from Bob. Way to go, blue guy.
With assorted grunts and groans, they struggled to right themselves, slipping and sliding in the soggy debris on the ground.
Bob: Never play Twister in a mud pit.
The pinging continued,
Servo: Oh, they have a machine that goes "ping".
the photon bullets picking away bits of brick over their heads. Their backs pressed firmly against the cinder blocks, breathing hard, they locked eyes in a gaze of terror.
Servo: (Dot) "Would you stop making googoo eyes at me and get us out of here!?"
The barrage subsided, and when Dot caught her breath, she looked around the stairwell.
Crow: (Dot) "Hmm. Stairs. Just as I suspected."
A weather-beaten door beckoned. "Why don't we see where it goes?
Mike: I don't see why not, I mean, every step we take is nearly getting us killed, sure, let's see what's behind this mysterious door that more likely than not hides some horrible threat.
Bob returned a look of reluctance.
Bob: I wanted to go back and
kick those sprites' bitmaps. Think they can delete me huh? Well,
I'll just show them, I--
Dot frowned. "Do you want to go back out there?" she snapped, inclining her head
Crow: Ouch! Did she snap her neck?
up the stairs toward the street. Finally Bob nodded, and stepped across to the door. He tried the handle--it promptly broke off in his hand. He held the broken handle up to Dot and, wearing a sheepish grin of helplessness, he shrugged.
Servo: And they proceeded to
kill some more time.
Dot--hands on hips--was clearly not amused,
Crow: Just like us.
so Bob tossed the handle aside and gave the door a shove. It didn't budge.
Mike: Why don't you try the handle?. . . oh yeah.
He stepped back and thrust his shoulder into it. It creaked, but still didn't open.
Servo: Then he thrust his hair into it and it slid open easily.
He glanced at Dot, who understood to help him, and they both hurled their bodies into the door. With a loud crack and a small avalanche of crumbled stone and dust, the door swung wide.
They stood side-by-side at the threshold and stared into an impenetrable black abyss.
Mike: They've broken into Wyoming!
Hack and Slash were drifting along a Mainframe street toward the Tor, apparently quite pleased with themselves.
Bob: (Slash) You were
wonderful last night.
Hack: "It's sure quiet around here without Bob."
Servo: (Slash) It'd be even quieter if you'd shut your yap.
Slash: "Yeah. It's great. Quiet."
Hack: "The boss'll love what we have for him."
Crow: Three tickets to Toy Story on Ice.
Slash: "Yeah, he'll love it." Pause. "What do we have for him?"
They stop in the street, bits of data flying past them in either direction.
Mike: Oh yeah, when I think of No Time for Games, this is what I'm going to remember.
Hack: "You don't know? You were the one who found it!"
Slash: "Yeah, I found it." Pause. "What did I find?"
All: Who's on first!
Hack raised his arms in frustration and turned away to devise an answer when suddenly he was struck in the back of the head.
Servo: Thank you!
"Ow!" He spun around to face Slash. "What'd you do that for?" He extended his arm and smacked Slash on the side of the head.
Crow: (Slash) "May I have another, sir?"
Slash: "What'd you do that for?
He drifted backwards
Servo: Uh, why?
and rolled over a black capsule lying on the ground--which sent him flipping head over tail.
Crow: So his head is normally under his tail?
As he righted himself, he snarled at Hack. "What's the big idea--"
Bob: (Slash) "What's
the big picture? Why are we put in this system? Who is
the User? Why does --" ow! Tom, why'd you bite me?
at which point he spotted the capsule. He reached out to pick it up when Hack extended his arm and snatched it away.
Servo: So which one's Hack and
which one's Slash?
Hack: "Hey, what's this?"
Slash: "I dunno--but I found it."
Hack: "You tripped over it. I found it. And the boss will love it."
Slash: "Love what?"
All: WAAA, WAAA, WAAA,
Dot's expression of carefully suppressed terror filled the Vid Window.
Mike: (Dot) "Help me! I'm stuck alone in a Game with Bob!"
Her wide eyes, shining in the gloomy darkness, darted around as she spoke in a low tone. "Whoever finds this data capsule, please take it to Phong at the Central Office immediately.
Bob: The Principle Office! Wake up!
Bob and I are trapped in a game, but it's nothing like any game we've ever seen.
Mike: Bigger bosses, trickier puzzles, it beats the pants off Final Fantasy VII!
There's no record of it on file. It's similar to the Ray Tracy Crime Boss Game, but it doesn't have any of the usual characters."
Servo: Oh, and it's got this yellow thing running around a maze eating dots, ever hear of anything like that?
Megabyte slowly leaned forward toward the window, his eyes glued to Dot's with rapt attention, a vague sneer of intrigue creeping across his jaw.
Bob: Hey! He's drooling over my girlfriend!
"We've tried to ReBoot, but nothing happened.
Crow: That's funny. Try turning it off and on really quick, see what that does.
We are still ourselves, we don't know the rules of the game, and we haven't been able to find the user. The game has been going on for well over five hundred cycles, and it hasn't ended yet.
Bob: What? That's the equivilent of 25 years!
Worst of all..."
Mike: (Dot) "I'm alone with Bob!"
Dot hesitated, her eyes welling up a little
before continuing in a much lower voice. "All of the other sprites with us... have been deleted.
Bob: What other sprites? All the sprites in Mainframe were nullified except for me, her, and Enzo! It was in the accident in the sister city!
As far as we know, we're the only survivors.
Crow: (a la Monte Python) I'm not dead yet! I'm getting better!
All of the game sprites are heavily armed. If there's any way to end the game, please--"
Bob: Get me a soda, rub my feet, what?
She stopped suddenly looking away
Mike: So before she was suddenly looking away?
as if responding to a noise, and Bob's voice could be heard in the background asking, "Think it'll work?" The message then ended with a brief splash of snow.
Bob: (Megabyte) Hack! Slash! Stop throwing snowballs in the Tor!
Megabyte leaned back again. Hack and Slash hovered expectantly
Servo: They're pregnant now?
to either side of his chair, tapping their fingers together anxiously.
Crow: Why, are they coming
Bob: (Megabyte) "What should I have for dinner tonight. . . Pizza? No, not pizza. . . "
Megabyte pondered, tapping the arm of his chair rhythmically in deep thought. "Most curious."
Bob: Oh no, it's an Alice
in Wonderland/ReBoot crossover!
"Did we do good, boss?" Slash blurted.
Megabyte eyes them both through narrowed slits.
Mike: I'm guessing "no".
"Well, if you consider that you've been unable to penetrate the Central Office defenses even with Bob out of commission, then this might prove a barely acceptable alternative."
Crow: . . . to butter. Half the fat and no cholesterol!
Hack and Slash turn to one another and wave their arms enthusiastically. "We did good!" Slash cheered. Hack chimed in with agreement.
"You had a very fortuitous accident," Megabyte added. "I was contemplating having the both of you deleted."
Bob: (Megabyte) "But I think we'll bring it down to community service."
"We aim to please!" Hack announced as as spun around deliriously.
Mike: "as as spun around
"It would appear," Megabyte mused, ignoring Hack and Slash's continued patronage,
Bob: (Megabyte) "If it had any coloration."
"that this game has some unique and potentially powerful coding. I simply must find a way to break it."
Servo: If it's so powerful, why does he want to break it?
Megabyte spun around and opened up another Vid Window. A list of available software tools scrolled past, and Megabyte jabbed at his panel to halt the screen. "There. That one."
Mike: Sorry, sir, all we have
He punched a few more buttons,
Crow: (Megabyte) What the hell, this can't hurt anything. . .
and a software spanner tool materialized next to his hand. He lifted the tool slowly and extended it toward Hack and Slash.
"Here. I want you two to penetrate the game cube
Servo: With your minds.
and make a backup copy of all the code you find there."
Bob: (Megabyte) "And bring back change!"
Hack: "Certainly, boss."
Slash: "Anything you say!"
Crow: Would you eat a can of
Slash: "You what? You want us to penetrate the game cube?"
"I did make myself clear, didn't I?" Megabyte growled quietly.
Hack and Slash looked at one another nervously. Hack stammered, "B--b--but we could be... deleted."
Crow: We can only hope.
Slash: "Right! We could be deleted. And then we wouldn't be able to do anything else for you."
Megabyte's eyes narrowed and turned black.
Servo: Oh, he's got mood ring eyes.
Hack and Slash knew there was nothing else to do or say.
Bob: So the story's over. The
(Everyone gets up and leaves.)
@.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6..
(Back on the SOL. Bob, Servo, and Crow are at the desk. Mike is off to the side, reading a manual and standing next to a VCR that's flashing 12:00)
Bob: Okay, one last time, here's how it works: a nanosecond is about the length of a second. . .
Servo: Uh huh.
Bob: . . . a microsecond is a minute, a millisecond is an hour, a second is a day, a minute is a week, an hour is a month, and a day is a year.
Servo: Yeah, but that doesn't make any sense! That would mean that there are a thousand seconds in a minute and a thousand minutes in an hour, a thousand hours in a day. . . I mean, it's stupid!
(Mike looks bewildered, puts the manual down, and starts pushing random buttons on the VCR)
Bob: Well, they're not exact equivilents, it's more of a rule of thumb, you know. It's like, that's what it would feel like if you were inside a computer, despite the fact that it doesn't really last that long.
Crow: Oh, like when they say a college class is an hour long even though it's really fifty minutes?
(Mike walks away, looking frustrated.)
Bob: Yeah, like that.
Servo: Or like when you're in a restaurant and they say that you'll be seated in a few minutes even though it takes a half hour?
Bob: Well, no, but. . .
Crow: Or like in amusement parks where they have a line for a ride and the sign says "30 minutes to the front of the line" even though it takes several months?
Bob: No, I don't think you're getting it at all.
(Mike returns with the clown hammer and starts beating the VCR mercilessly.)
Crow: But, uh, there's one thing that still puzzles me. What happens in the Games?
Bob: What do you mean?
Crow: Okay, the User lives in our world under our time line, right? Now, to a Mainframer, the Games last less than a second, which is your day, but obviously to the User it doesn't last less than a second.
Servo: Depending on the game you're playing and your processor speed.
Crow: Right, right. So what's the deal?
Bob: (straining to think) Well, you see, the Game creates a buffer zone in which Mainframers run at the same time as the User, so they can interact in real time.
Crow: Oh, so when you're in a Game, time speeds up.
Servo: Okay, so why is it that, when you've entered a Game that lasts several minutes, the time in Mainframe doesn't move ahead more than a few microseconds?
Bob: (seriously stumped) Uh, well, umm. . .
Servo: I think it's safe to assume that Mainframe time and User time are actually one and the same, but they call them different things just to sound cool.
(Mike shoves the VCR to the ground in a mangled heap and turns to listen to the conversation going on.)
Crow: Sort of like how they call them Moon Pies even though they're made on Earth?
Servo: Or how they call them french fries even though they're American.
Mike: Or how they call them fanfics even though they're. . .
(Lights go off)
All: MOVIE SIGN!
6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. @..
Click Here To Enter the Theater...