Free games ain’t free

Week 6 Prompt: A character is at an arcade on the pier, when a man comes up and grabs his shoulder. 

Three ghosts were in hot pursuit of Pac Man when a meaty hand clamped over my shoulder. My hand lost its grip on the controller, leaving Pac Man stopped dead in his tracks, his mouthed gaping like a kid seeing boobs for the first time.

“What the fuuuck, man,” I said as Pinky, Inky and Blinky descended on my little yellow circle. “I was close to beating my high score and getting another free game. This better good, dude.” I turned and found myself looking at a chest so broad you could show a movie on it. I looked upwards, past his thick neck, alive with ropy veins pulsating with rushing blood, to face that resembled one of the big stone faces on Easter Island — heavy, long and expressionless. If I had to guess, this dude did not spend a lot of time in the laughs department.

“My name is Clyde. I’m the Game Master of Pac Man,” said the huge man, his voice thundering like the boom of a canon fire that caused the arcade to go silent save for a few bings and bongs of arcade games. “I’ve come for your payment.” He stared down at me with stony eyes from his great height.

“P-p-p-ayment?”

“Yes, Johnny. There is a payment for those five free games you played today.” He reached down and picked-up a briefcase, placed it on top of the game. He snapped the two locks, opened the case and pulled out an ancient looking scroll.

“But I earned those games.” I said more confidently than I felt. I could feel many sets of eyes on me.

“Small print, my boy. You need to read the small print when you enter into a contract.” He unrolled the scroll with his huge, thick hands. “It says right here in section 5.5.1 of the gaming contact: No free game shall go without payment. All payments are under the authority of the Game Master and will be determined by aforementioned authority.”

“I didn’t sign any contract, mister.”

He stuck the scroll in my face and pointed a muscular finger at my chicken scratch signature. “Look familiar to you?”

“I-I-I don’t remember signing anything that involved a scroll.” I looked around the arcade for help, all those eyes quickly diverted back to the screens of the games.

“Ignorance is not a defense, Johnny boy. Your signature means you agree to the terms of the contract. Now let’s get on with business.” He reached into the case and pulled out a syringe so large even his hands didn’t dwarf it.

“W-w-what are you going to do with that?” I tried to make a move around the man, but he shifted his weight, pinning me against the game. I wasn’t going anywhere.

“As the Game Master, I’m obligated to review the contract with you, and since you clearly did not read the contract, this will be enlightening for you. The payment for your five free games will be 2000 CCs of your soul juice, the nectar of the Gaming Gods.”

“Please don’t,” I begged.

“This is going to hurt.”

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