Time to continue Jackson's (mis)adventures. I'm going old skool for the inspirations this time. And hoping this section doesn't balloon out of control like the last one.
Jackson in HRPG-World: 4-1 Bubble Bother
“You need to go to the Mountain of Monsters. The princess is being held on the hundredth floor by a...” The barkeep paused for dramatic effect. “...dragon.”
“A dragon, huh?” Ian Jackson said.
The barkeep nodded, his expression grave.
He must have fallen into a really old game, Jackson thought. Everything around him seemed a little blocky, as if the resolution had been turned down low. It was too bright and colourful. He was standing in what should be a dingy pub and it was so bright he practically needed shades. No realism at all.
Which was to be expected, given that this was a computer game and all that. Jackson couldn’t remember how it had happened, but he’d been sucked into his computer. Now he was trapped, forced to play out one random game after another in a futile hope of finding the exit to the real world.
If Jeff Bridges showed up he was so bottling that fucker.
“You’d think they’d come up with something more original,” Jackson said.
The barkeep stared at him and blinked round, owlish eyes as he took a sip of his beer. He immediately regretted it. Whatever was in the mug wasn’t beer, or even vaguely alcoholic. It tasted like someone had melted a toffee apple into a glass and thrown in a few spoonfuls of sugar for good measure.
“I mean, dragon. Come on,” Jackson said.
“It is a fearsome beast,” the barkeep said.
“I don’t doubt it is,” Jackson said. “At least until it comes back later in the game with a dye job and new role of generic wandering mook.”
The barkeep looked at him blankly.
It did seem a little early to throw a dragon at him. He’d only just arrived in this game world. Big critters like dragons didn’t normally show up until later. That was assuming this was an RPG. The game did seem a little primitive.
Slay the dragon, rescue the princess. Maybe that was the whole game.
“So this princess, where is she princess of?” Jackson asked.
The barkeep looked at him blankly.
“I mean she has to be princess of somewhere.”
The barkeep blinked. He said nothing.
“Country?” Jackson asked. “Which country is she princess of? Who’s the king...queen? Where’s their palace?”
“She is a princess,” the barkeep stated as if that was answer enough.
And it probably was. The princess might as well have been an inanimate chest of treasure for all the difference she made to the plot.
“Okay, so where is this...” he sighed, “...Mountain of Monsters.”
“It’s right outside the village,” the barkeep said, clearly happy to be on more familiar ground. “To the south.”
Yeah, right, because when settling a new village the perfect place to locate it was right next to somewhere called the ‘Mountain of Monsters’, Jackson thought as he left the sorry collection of huts behind.
Hi, welcome to the village of Dullasshit. To the north, east and west are miles of lovely rolling countryside. To the south is the Mountain of Monsters, complete with terrifying fire-breathing dragon.
It was not like they’d bothered to put any distance between them and the mountain either. Straight out of the back gate and—wham!—there is was: ugly great spike rising up out of the ground like a rusty nail sticking out of a quilt.
What was it with the ludicrously overly dramatic names in these games anyway. The Bridge of Stolen Sighs, the Mire of Misery, the Dark Forest of Doomy Doom... Who came up with these names? What was wrong with something simple like Firetop Mountain?
And what was the betting the entrance was a cave that looked like a giant mouth with two scary eyeholes above it. Never any damn originality. Slay the dragon. Rescue the princess. Enter the creepy cave that looked like a screaming mouth. They could at least vary the orifice. How about a cave entrance that looked like a nostril. Or—if they were especially daring—a vagina. Haha, a cave entrance that looked like a vagina, that would be sure to wind up the moral guardians.
He was smiling at that thought when something fell out of the sky and smashed into the ground a couple of metres away with a sound like shattering glass. It was followed by a screaming person waving their arms in the desperate manner of someone hoping it would enable them to fly. Jackson caught a glimpse of a rotund boy in Lederhosen before the falling figure hit the ground with a sickening thump.
What. The. Fuck.
Jackson saw right away there was nothing he could do. The figure lay face down and unmoving. A steady trickle of blood formed pools beneath shards of brightly coloured glass. A rainbow, Jackson thought. A glass rainbow and a fat kid had fallen out of the sky.
He looked up. Nothing but blue skies and white fluffy clouds. The poor kid really had fallen out of nowhere.
Jackson turned his gaze to the mountain. There were objects floating around the fang-like peak. They looked like large, brightly coloured balloons.
You’d better not go all Half-Life with some shitty platform levels near the top, Jackson thought. He hated platform games.
He left the fallen boy and continued on. The entrance was on the other side of the mountain. It did not look like a giant screaming mouth with scary eyeholes.
Jackson paused in stunned surprise. Then he laughed.
Damn thing looked like a giant stone vagina.
* * * *
An unseen figure brushed away the layer of dust covering the glass screen with a scaly hand. Revealed beneath was the image of a tiny figure standing before a slit-like opening in the side of a mountain. The unseen observer turned a dial on the side of the wooden cabinet. The picture zoomed in until Jackson’s face expanded to fill the whole screen.
“Oh yes, you’ll do just fine.”
to be continued...