Obsessive Arcade Disorder

November 15, 2013
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There’s never anything to do on cruises. Sure, there’s food and shopping and water slides, but there comes a point when your prepaid VISA maxes out, when you discover that there’s more to life than food, and there’s only so many water slides you can go on before your mouth tastes like you chugged a bottle of salt. In short, the week-long Caribbean cruise my family and I went on last winter got boring after the second day.

On the third day, while trying to find something fun to do with my siblings, we wandered past what looked like the mouth of a cave against a wall. From the red carpeted hall, we couldn’t see much except the flashing neon lights lining the side of the cave and hear the low echo of pop music. We ventured inside. It wasn’t my idea to go there and watch my allowance slip through my fingers. It was my brother’s fault; he wanted to play a couple racing games.

The narrow path shone, littered with lights and lined with rigged crane machines and the Stacker game. You know, the game where you’re supposed to stack blocks on top of one another and not let them fall. Out of boredom, I decided to try it while my brother was on some sort of spaceship ride. Stacker was only two tokens anyway. Every time I played the game, I got a minor prize—red foam dice keychains, plastic rings, expired candy—but I never won the gold, the Sony Bloggie Touch.

I don’t remember exactly when I became known as the “Stacker Master.” I would always be on the last row before dying, and I would attract a crowd of supportive parents, toddlers, one mildly attractive guy, and overly tanned American tweens. Then on the sixth day, something incredibly happened. I won.

That’s right. I won! The Stacker music changed and the machine started bleeping out of control, swirling coloured lights threw me into a daze, and some of my fans ran off to get their friends or parents to say, “Look! That girl won the big prize!”

I took a deep breath, stared straight at the glass box guarding the prizes. Hands shaking, I slapped down the button for the Sony Bloggie Touch. The Touch began to move. Closer and closer, it pushed its way towards me on the metal rod it hung on. It was pretty far back, I thought. What’s going to happen if the music stops playing before it reaches me? The music did stop. The Touch stopped moving. But then it started again, and the mechanical voice screamed, “CHOOSE YOUR PRIZE! CHOOSE YOUR PRIZE!”

Behind me, I heard someone say, “What’s going on? Didn’t she choose her prize already?” Panicked, I hit the Bloggie Touch button again, then punched it over and over again. But it would not move towards me.

“Just choose another prize,” my sister said. I looked at her, wondering how long she had been standing beside me. Behind her, my brother stared wide-eyes at the game.

“But I wanted that camera,” I said.

“Dominique!” my brother interjected.

“Then get the other camera,” said my sister.

“The Canon one?”


“Dominique!” My brother said again. “Hurry before the music stops playing! It’s asking you to choose a prize!” and before I could stop him, his hand flew in front of me and slammed down the button for the $50 iTunes gift card.

My breath stopped short. “NOOOOOO!” I howled, throwing my body against the glass and pounding it, hoping it would stop the gift card from moving forward. “I don’t even use iTunes!” But I might as well have been screaming at a rock. The music screeched to a halt and the gift card rolled out of the slot.

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