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Royer’s Madcap Experiences: The Mountain Beacons

By Ric Royer

By Ric Royer

Ric Royer has elected to add the nickname “Tabs” to this story. The meaning is unclear

For several months, I lived alone on the summit of a desolate, treacherous mountain chain in the deepest wilds of Roi Hardy. It was a three-day hike and climb from civilization and my only contact with the outside world was via a series of log beacons set up on various far away summits and set ablaze to impart emergency information. It was unlikely that I would ever need these beacons but I was careful to organize such a system anyway and I paid a small aggregation of Roi Hardy hill people to monitor the news with the instructions that the beacons be lit only under the more urgent of circumstances.

I sat alone in my cabin for these many months, going out only in the morning to gaze off at the nearest summit in search of the fire. I cooked rabbits, built wooden boats on a table and wrote terrible sonnets to my lost checkers grandmaster, who had abandoned me after a week-long session of stringent motel coitus.

I became bored. The cabin had a second floor with two small bedrooms, one of which was locked– an overstuffed pink chair had been placed before it. I became curious about this locked room and went about the business of pushing the overstuffed pink chair out of the way and kicking in the door, an ordeal that took two full days.

The windows of the room were covered in heavy green drapes– very little light penetrated. It was empty, save for a large pile of dark items that had been placed in one corner and reached near to the ceiling. It was hard to discern the nature of this pile at first but once I pushed aside the drapes (an ordeal that took another full day), I was able to recognize the heap for what it was– a series of factory-boxed video game systems of vintage age.

It was the “Cucumbrix 2000”– I remembered it well. Introduced with much fanfare, it ended a terrible failure– the creator had shot himself in the face after losing millions. I removed a console– it was sleek and white, had two streamlined controllers and an ashtray built into its face. There was an enormous insensate instruction guide and a pile of pink forms that flaked away in my hands.

In another corner, I suddenly noticed an older model television set and I decided to hook up the Cucumbrix and give it a spin. It blinked and sputtered but then flashed on and I removed the complimentary cartridge from its plastic casing. It was called Turtles! and it too came with an instruction booklet with screen shots, tips from the creator and a series of patches for the Turtles! club.

I began then, as the sky faded into twilight, to play Turtles! with an interest that became an obsession and I failed to notice out the window that the beacon had been lit. I know now the exact time that the flames would have risen out of the mountains, signifying mankind’s terminus, the time of the end, 4:05 LST. I know now because later I would locate the diary of the nearest Roi Hardy hill person and the dead embers of his beacon, his last act. Ironic, then, that my being distracted by Turtles! saved my own existence.

For when I alighted upon Roi Hardy weeks later, I alighted upon the dead and the broken and a barren wasteland.

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