Silence reigned supreme in the small room. The only light that illuminated the otherwise pitch black space was the small blue light on the computer tower, just under the desk of a cheaply built, wood particle computer desk station.
A small clicking sound and the sudden flood of orange light from a distant room broke both the silence and darkness in unison. Calvin let out a loud yawn, and dragged his heavy, numb feet towards the living room. He headed straight for the small, shining blue light, guiding him to his beloved computer.
It was another sleepless night. At best, the teen could only bank in about 2 hours of sleep per day, and this night was no different. He needed something to cut the tedium of sleeplessness. With a few quick taps to his keyboard, the computer pulled out of its sleep mode, and began to run its initial programs.
While he waited for the computer to warm up, Calvin grabbed his tan plaid button-up of his dusty green couch and mindlessly slipped into the sleeves. He also shook his head, clearing out any false sense of sleepiness, as well as to allow his frumpy dirt-brown mop top to fall in place.
The computer made a quick beeping noise, signifying it was prepped up and running at full capacity. Without even thinking Calvin pulled up his MMO Folder. He was an avid MMOer, and had at least ten games currently installed. Even with all the games to choose from, Calvin's mouse instantly rolled over to the icon of a round slime smiling at the screen, under the icon was the name "ZoTails". Calvin was somewhat hooked to the game, ZoTails was a 2D Side-Scrolling MMORPG that easily surpassed previous 2D RPGs made in the same fashion. Calvin was instantly a fan after he tested the game in the Closed Beta stage, and had set the tedious goal of getting every class in the game to level 126 before the next major update, which would release a new "Class Promotion" system for players at that level. Calvin succeeded in getting three out of six classes to level 126, and was now working on a his Magician, who was level 100.
As the game was loading itself, Calvin leaned back and stretched. It was the end of the month, so the game had gone under an update. It was definitely not the major one he had bee waiting for, but he was curious as to what was released in this minor update. He popped back up to a proper sitting position, expecting for the game to be updated, and the game to be half way done loading.
What he had risen up to see, however, was an error message:
"Access Denied; Use Updated Launcher"
"The hell?" Calvin muttered to himself. He closed the program and logged onto ZoTails' game host, Rocket Planet Games, using his HotCoyote browser. On the main page, he expected some update info on the games R.P. hosted, but instead was a huge splash page advertising a new Launching System they had added over night.
Calvin could feel his stomach take a sudden plunge.
It was an Universal Launcher. A system where players are forced to start a game from a Launcher that displayed all the games. In theory, a Universal Launcher was a novel idea. But Calvin knew the horrid truth. Universal Launchers were big, data draining piles of digital waste. Worse yet, this Launcher required him to log outside the game, which meant thanks to both the Launcher and ZoTails being data tanking programs, switching game accounts would take at least 3 minutes.
Dread still ruling his mind, Calvin downloaded and installed the new Launcher, and again attempted to run ZoTails. This time, the game went through, and entered the loading screen. Calvin muttered something inaudible and stood up. He needed a drink, hell, he simply needed alcohol. Unfortunately, upon exploring the fridge, he found no alcohol sustained beverage at hand. The only drink available was a can of diet cola. While not as mind altering was alcohol, the taste of diet soda was adequate brain and taste bud damage.
Slamming the fridge shut, Calvin returned to the computer. To his dread the game didn't complete its loading. Instead, an error message popped up again.
"Could not connect to server, Please try again later." the teen huffed. The error message wasn't uncommon, he sometimes had to run into it once or be disconnected in game at least once before the game decides to run properly. He clicked on the "OK" button, and without warning, he was booted out the game.
"What th- oh come on!" Calvin snapped to nobody. Instantly, Calvin was logging back on, his ISP must have had a small connection hiccup. The log in process was slower this time; ZoTails was a tank of a program, so his computer would be slow after exiting the game. Back onto ZoTails loading screen, Calvin ran into the same problem. The game gave him the same error message, and again booted him out.
Cursing the game, Calvin log back onto R.P's site, and checked the forums to see if any errors similar to his had occurred for other players. The feedback would be almost instant if issues occurred, but in this instance, no such post was made, so the game should have been up and running just fine.
Unfortunately, Calvin's third attempt to log on proved the same. He was again given the "Could not Connect, Please Try Again" message. Calvin was more than irritated now. All he wanted was for something to take his mind off his insomnia, a simple 1 or 2 hours of mindless bashing of cute little monsters.
His fourth attempt also proved to be fruitless, as did his fifth. Calvin slammed his keyboard into the desk the sixth time. Whether it was his lack of sleep, the fact he couldn't find any error reports online, or simply the fact that he instantly hated the new launcher, but his battle with logging into ZoTails became nothing short of a sick obsession. He refused to leave his chair, the teen just cursed and yelled to nobody each time he was denied access to the game.
Eight times, nine times, twelve times, eighteen times. The game refused to let him in, the game sites gave him no information. His computer huffed and puffed audibly, trying to sustain the data overload the games and its owner forced upon it. Night had shifted to day break, the sun's new orange light poking into Calvin's small living room. The green couch had been flipped over, and apparently carved into as stuffing was still floating aimlessly in the air. There were body shaped cracks in the wall, and any breakable items of glass or clay had been shattered on the ground. With all the chaos, Calvin's neighbors should have heard at least a portion of the chaos. But not once did anybody bang on the walls to silence it, or even call the cops, as if they already knew any attempt to calm the rage would have been futile.
Calvin sat hunched up against the wall directly across the computer. ZoTails was again loading for the twenty-fifth time. Calvin had basically given up all hope already; this last attempt to enter the game was more on instinct than anything else. He watched with sunken eyes as the screen hit 100% loading, but did not switch to the "connecting" prompt until a minute after, not a good sign already. It remained at loading for another moment, again, a bad omen.
Calvin hung his head low. That was it; he had given up the fight. He didn't know what caused the program to reject him, or why, but it had won the four hour war. He slowly slid down and left, into a shivering fetal position.
It was then that he heard it.
Cheesy MMO music!
Calvin popped up to his knees, his eyes instantly locked onto his computer monitor. ZoTails had finally let him into the server select page. The teen scrambled to his feet, but lacked the energy to do much more than fall into a high paced baby crawl. He was ignorant to the shattered glass cutting into the palms of his hands; he did not feel the broken clay vase dig into his knees. His weakly pulled himself up onto his office chair, and entered the only server available. His feverishly clicked through the channel selection page, and chosen the first character he set his eyes on, he didn't care which one it was.
He could dance with excitement, if he wasn't mentally exhausted, or could sing with joy, if his vocal cords weren't dried out from the lack of liquid. It didn't matter, he was on! He had finally accessed the game!
Then the game beeped. Calvin's eyes focused back onto the screen. A red bar had covered the upper body of his character with the message:
"Disconnected From Server"
He didn't budge. He didn't say a word. Calvin's mind went completely blank. He simply stared at the monitor, back outside the game, with the new universal Launcher automatically pulled up. It sat there, mocking him, toying with him. He could hear it laugh at him, whistle, hoot, and howl obscene things, knowing Calvin could never access ZoTails with it there.
A grin, a feverish, mindless, warped grin, began to break into Calvin's face. The teen began to chuckle and cough maniacally; he wrenched clumps of his brown mop top hair away from his skull. The chuckles became cackles, and his hand now targeted the computer monitor. With one vicious yank, the monitor's wires snapped away from the piece of machinery, and the screen, which still displayed the Launcher, suddenly went black. And with one, furious scream of sheer rage, the teen pitched the monitor like a baseball, right for the one window in the entire room.
"Thank you Matt; Allison Xian here at 106'th St, where yet another violent outburst had ended with several SWAT team officers tranquilizing yet another enraged MMO Gamer, this time 17-year old Game Programming Student, Calvin Rainser.
Just like the first wave of enraged MMO Gamers, this started with Rocket Planet Games' new 'Universal Launcher', which seems to be giving many players trouble accessing their popular title 'ZoTails'. We tried to get a comment from Rocket Planet, but they refused to give us one, only saying that they had no intent on taking down the launcher, or editing it.
We did however access the Universal Launcher page, and I quote: 'The new launcher will not only allow you to access all our games more easily, but also show all of our games you may have missed! The newer, faster, easier way to play Rocket Planet!'
Clearly, this is not the case, as Calvin is the 15'Th individual to lose it over the Launcher flaws.
Back to you Matt."
Author's Note: For once, I actually finished something I was working on. This was actually for some MMO Writing Challenge, but the horror/comedy feel at the end of the story made it feel that it belonged in "Tales of the Twisted" so enjoy.