A lot of mail flows in and out of the video game world. Luckily, Avery Edison is there to catch it ...
Work in the Mushroom Kingdom is hard to find, so when I got a gig with the pit crew at the kart races, I was thrilled. Mom always said that training as a mechanic would never get me anywhere, that I should be more like my brother (he got his MBA in Pacing Back and Forth and Throwing Things), but now I'd have the chance to show her just how wrong she was.
I was assigned to Mario's kart. The race began, and after only one lap he pulled in to the pit stop, jumped out of the kart and ran around shouting "Mamma Mia!" The kart itself was in horrible shape -- the bumper had been dented multiple times by some kind of heavy projectile, the wheels were clogged with banana skins and the whole chassis was bent and buckled from carrying coins for some demented reason.
Oh God, it's alive. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.
I went to work removing the fruit, and asked my partner to do something about the ruined tire rubber (I guess a certain plumber has been watching too much Tokyo Drift). He shook his head and gestured to a truck that was delivering a brand-new kart for Mario. I soon discovered that our entire job consisted of helping the truck driver get new karts down so that Mario could jump in them, speed away and come back in a lap's time with another ruined vehicle.
"The spectators want to see crashes, but the drivers won't get in anything but a brand-new kart. This is the price we pay for greatness."
"Just look at the turnout this year. Fantastic."
I was so confused -- what about the food shortages in World 2? The fuel crisis that has left World 8 consumed by darkness? How can the people allow waste on this scale?
"That is the price they pay for greatness," he replied.
I quit my job. Maybe I'll go back to school, get a diploma in Hiding in Lava and Then Popping Out When Someone Comes By. There are no blue shells in lava.
Lucky I quit, as they got rid of physics the next day. I hate when they do that.
Look, I know what I am, OK? I'm a drug dealer. At best I operate in a legal gray area. So when this weird blue hedgehog comes to me asking for speed, of course I'm gonna give it to him. I didn't even charge him that many golden hoops, although I could see he was loaded with 'em.
I tapped him on the shoulder and his wallet just exploded.
It was a great customer-salesman relationship for a while there. He became a regular, someone I could rely on for income, and somebody who could rely on me for good product. I honestly thought he was a good guy.
But when he brought that kid into it? Man, that was fucked up. Tails, or whatever? I don't know what their relationship was, but I do know that Sonic didn't want him dosing off the same stuff. Insisted I give the kid freaking LSD, just so Sonic could sit back and laugh while Tails ran around telling people that he was "flying."
"I'm invincible! Test me Sonic, test me!"
How did they even meet? What happened to Tails that gave him an extra freak tail? Is Sonic a giant hedgehog, or is Tails a really small mutant fox? These are the questions I don't want answered.
And don't even get me started on that Knuckles dude. I have absolutely no idea what that guy's deal is. You'd think with the dreadlocks and all, he'd be into reefer. But no, the first time Sonic brings Knuckles over, the red freak asks if I'll sell him all the coke I have in exchange for some "cool martial arts moves." It's weird -- I don't think I remember Bruce Lee ever getting off his head on cocaine and then trying to break a boulder in half with his hand.
They always mention these guys, too, but no one else seems to know who the hell they are.
Now I'm at the point where I feel like if I try to cut Sonic and his friends off, they're gonna hurt me. That's not how this relationship should be, you know? I'm meant to be the dude with the control, the supply. I'd be happy to watch the three of them crash and burn in a blaze of narcotics, but for Amy Rose. Every other day she comes by, tears in her eyes, and asks me if I've seen her "boyfriend." Says she's been hammering away at guys for Sonic and needs to see him. As twisted as their "love" is, I think she'd be heartbroken if Sonic OD'ed.
"Better take a photo of me so you don't have to look through Google Images."
Plus, I am making just crazy money. If I were a tree, you'd never be able to see how old I was because I gots too many rings to count, playa!
Seriously though, this is a tragedy waiting to happen.
I have done some difficult jobs in my time. I've scraped cake batter of the walls of the Cooking Mama house, dealt with sexual harassment from Lara Croft's butler and even spent hours at a time underwater when I was looking after tadpoles for the Battle Toads. But Luigi's mansion has to be the worst place I have ever worked.
Swear to God, Lara, this wasn't funny the first time.
To be fair, Luigi did warn me that over the years there had been a few reports of spectral activity in the building. But I dismissed such talk as local color, a funny little fib the Realtor had probably told to squeeze a few more coins out of the lanky Italian. Little did I know that the whole house was built on an ancient Koopa burial ground.
"Remember ... Wounded Shell!"
Technically, I am a live-in housekeeper, but I have not been able to sleep a single night I have been here. The hundreds of ghosts that inhabit every room of this house are a constant distraction -- knocking things over, making loud noise ... one of them even stole from me, and I am not the type of woman who even has things worth stealing.
I am sympathetic to their plight; I would be angry if the land of my people was desecrated, too. But I don't think I'd be so passive-aggressive about it, so annoying. I haven't met a ghost yet that doesn't try to get my attention when my back is turned, and then run and hide as soon as I try to look at it. That's childish behavior, is what it is.
I'm not sure what the hell that backpack is, and I'm starting to think I don't want to know.
In addition to dealing with the ghosts, I'm having to clean up after a ridiculous number of Mario's parties. Well, he calls them parties -- they seem more like bizarre contests designed to humiliate and even physically wound those he considers friends. I have dared to ask Luigi how he can put up with such mistreatment, but Mario always butts in before Luigi can reply, and says, "He's a-having a good-a time! And who a-said the help-a could talk?"
Oh, so now you're inviting the ghosts and your oldest enemy above me? You're a terrible person, Mario.
I feel bad for my employer, who clearly has a lot of issues surrounding his brother. He seems to idolize Mario, despite all the ill treatment, and does everything he can to emulate him. Luigi even labors under the illusion that Daisy, a woman who bears an eerie resemblance to Mario's Princess Peach, is his girlfriend, and he's always asking Mario to join the two of them on a double date. You should see Mario try to hold in the laughter.
Infidelity is just a palette swap away.
I know I should quit, go work somewhere else (I hear the Tetris guys need help keeping things organized), but whenever I bring the subject up with Luigi, I see tears in his eyes. I don't think he could stand another person leaving him.
I know what you think I'm gonna complain about. The broken pots, right? The holes in my walls? The bushes that used to stand tall in my garden, and are now nothing but mulch? Well, all that stuff I was expecting. Really. People told me that if you're gonna live next to the Hero of Hyrule, you're gonna get some property damage. And hey -- it's my fault for storing my valuables in clay pots, for having weak walls that were so susceptible to bombs. For ...
For maintaining an attractive ... garden? OK, that one's confusing. But I'll let it pass.
I can't deny that he's making an absolute fortune from it.
No, the thing I truly hate about living next to Link? The guy is always asking me to housesit for him. I mean, I get it, dude -- you've got to rescue Zelda. We all love Zelda, we all sympathize. But c'mon: Your house is exactly the same as mine. It's barely even a house, man! I'm pretty sure houses aren't just single rooms with beds and pots in them. I'm almost certain that if worse came to worst and your home really did somehow get damaged while you were gone, you could replace everything in there with one single trip to Ikea.
When he's not rescuing Zelda, he's asleep. Pretty sure the guy's a depressive.
Still, I get my revenge on the jerk. In little ways. I keep a bunch of chickens in my yard, for instance. For some reason, they don't seem to like Link much. It's almost as if somebody has trained them to hate him.
My entire career has led me to this moment, the moment in which I admit that everything I know about nature is wrong.
A few years ago, we in the naturalist community noticed a rapid decline in the local amphibian population -- a decline that we couldn't link to any environmental cause. We were starting to get extremely worried that our local frogs were simply dying out, never to return. A breakthrough came when we heard that drivers were reporting an unusual amount of animals getting in their way on the road. We surveyed everyone with a car, asked them if there was one animal in particular that they were observing. And there was.
We didn't understand why, but almost every frog in the vicinity was engaged in an attempt to cross the local highway. There were no food sources over the road, no fertile breeding grounds. And yet they were hopping over there anyway. Some evolutionary instinct gone haywire? Regardless, we had to protect these creatures.
We lobbied for an overpass for the frogs to use, and after several intense debates with the town council, we won. Almost a million dollars was spent constructing a frog-only bridge to take the critters over the highway and to the other side safely. It was a great achievement for us activists.
And it didn't work.
Not even when we rebuilt the roads in shitty 3-D.
The frogs are still trying to cross the road, even after we have done everything we can to make the overpass appealing to them. We've populated the entrance with food for them, put up small barriers to guide them and even tied small leashes to some frogs and attempted to walk them across the overpass ourselves. To no success. On one particularly galling occasion, I dragged a frog halfway over the bridge before it loosed itself and then dove over the side into oncoming traffic. I was horrified.
At this point, I can only conclude that the local frog population is engaged in some insane form of the game "chicken," and that they are daring each other to try and cross the highway without getting harmed. But of course, that's insane. Clearly, I am going insane.
I have no idea what is going on in my client's head, but I think he's planning to kill me.
Avery Edison is a writer and comedian. More of her work can be found on her website.
For more examinations of video games, check out Video Game Zoology: How 5 8-Bit Characters Would Really Look and 12 Great Video Games With Ridiculous Premises.