“Are we naught but rodents in a box, pushing food-dispensing buttons while others copulate in cages?” A question best asked in the company of a stiff drink and an elderly gentleman. But none-the-less, I listened to the rank young man express his worries as we rode the government-funded transit system deep underground, to the lab.
“Skinner,” he stated, and waited. But when I raised my eyebrows at him, he nodded his head, apparently under the impression that I was listening and that I understood. “Skinner — he made these boxes, see?” I saw. He was one of those nouveau-psychologists — the ones that thought that if you looked at a man long enough, you could tell him where he was going, and why.
“Well,” the young man continued, “he also made missiles.” Missiles?
“Yeah. He put pigeons in them, too. So they could tell the missile where to turn by pecking little buttons.”
I spoke: “But what happened to the pigeon when the missile found its mark?”
He grinned. The tram stopped.
I sat down at my computer. Work had begun, and I was behind on a deadline. Three hours later, I had barely written a word. I heard whispers coming down the hall. I think they were talking about Tetris.
Tetris. How long had it been now? I checked my timepiece. Four months. I took a breath. My whole life had been one version of Tetris after another. Some were metaphors, some were actual games of Tetris. My first had been a Game-Boy version. Yes. My second had been a woman. Decent broad, but wanted perfection from me. So I pushed the pieces around — I lied a bit. But eventually it just got too fast, too frantic. I had to stop.
But it was back now. The need to arrange, to organize, to produce perfection: an even, rising surface.
Suitcase in hand, I left, my leather coat billowing behind me. My boss called after me — something about a meeting. I didn’t care. I had a meeting of my own.
Alleyways. Dark figures standing with hands in pockets. Drugs and women everywhere.
But not for me. I was going deeper.
A husky voice asked me if I knew where I was. I told him I did. Silently, he opened the door.
But it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t Tetris. It was something else.
“This is Tetris Attack.”
“Like fun it is!” I pushed him up against the wall. “Don’t you know not to fuck with a man who needs something?”
“It’s the same thing, man!” he croaked.
It was nothing like Tetris. There were no falling blocks, only rising. I was told to arrange the blocks of the same colour in lines. I protested. They grabbed me, one on each arm. I kicked at my assailants, but they held tight. “DO IT!”
I pushed the red blocks into a line. With a satisfying “GRAAAHHH” the bricks combusted.
I was home.