Rip Van Video-Gamer: Winning Fiction by Paula Tohline Calhoun

The Prompt:

We all know Washington Irving’s classic story, “Rip Van Winkle.” Rip wanders into the woods, falls asleep and awakes twenty years later to find the world around him has changed dramatically. My younger brothers remind me of Rip. They descend to their basement lair and play video games incessantly. When they’re not playing video games, they’re talking about video games, likening life to their favorite computerized heroes. What would it be like, I wonder, if they got so involved in a game that they didn’t realize as the time passed them by? What if they got so caught up that they played for twenty years before finally emerging from their gamers’ coma? What would the world be like when they reentered it? What would they think? How did they manage to meet their basic survival needs during gaming? There are just so many questions…

The Feedback:

Paula’s take on “Rip Van Video-Gamer” came in the form of an epic poem detailing the gamer brothers’ addiction and confusion upon their emergence from the virtual world.  It was enhanced by the moral lesson espousing the importance of sticking-by your family.

♦ Kudos and three cheers to everyone for outstanding efforts! As the father of “lost” video gamers, I relate to this topic. A Tale of Two Video-Gamers earned my vote. This work stirred emotional thoughts of my lost gamers and what may become of their time. Thank you! I enjoyed time traveling with “Rip Van-Video Gamer”Brian Cassidy

♦ I loved the way it read, just rolled off the tongue. Great story –  Courtney Conant

♦ I found Paula’s unique approach to the contest very creative. Clean writing style, captivating short story, very well done –  Steve Umstead

♦ I liked the poetic aspect of Paula’s entry and found her story very engaging – Kathy Benson

♦ Paula’s entry was unique in that it was poetry that told a story. Something not usually seen in flash fiction – Kathleen S. Allen

The Winning Fiction:

A Tale of Two Video-Gamers
© 2011 Paula Tohline Calhoun

In the arena of our basement,
Brother Roddy and I fought
As one against the aliens, sent
To bring our world to naught.
These fiercest foes could not compete
With our exquisite strategy!
Our universal battle plan complete,
from perigee to apogee.
The TV screen – our battlefield –
Consumed our every minute.
We could not stop, we would not yield –
We were in this war to win it!
Our virtual world was everything.
The outside world did not exist.
Roddy was Viceroy, I was King,
And though many begged, we’d not desist.
All life outside our basement room
Soon learned to live without us.
We lived, content within our tomb,
And they forgot about us.
We paid the calendar no mind,
the freezer and microwave fed us.
The outside world we left behind –
It didn’t understand or “get” us.
And so it continued until the day,
The food was gone, our batteries died.
We needed another way to play,
And knew we must venture outside.
Roddy called, “Mom!” and I yelled, “Dad!”
But not one answer came.
I thought to myself, “Maybe they’re mad
We’ve spent a few days at our game!”
When we got upstairs and looked around,
We could see no one was there.
And stepping outside we also found
There was nobody anywhere!
We went into the street and on into town,
To look for some batteries and food.
We roamed everywhere, both uphill and down,
And soon we were forced to conclude:
Our town was deserted, devoid of all being!
We wondered, “How could this occur?”
We couldn’t believe what our eyes were seeing –
Were we victim to some alien saboteur?
At last, we saw in the distance,
An old man shuffling by.
We ran, hoping for his assistance.
“Please, sir, what has happened, and why?”
The old man was startled, then shielding his eyes,
He looked up and said, “My, oh me!”
Then smiling, and shaking his head in surprise,
He said, “Don’t you know who you see?”
Both Roddy and I shook our heads, not knowing,
Then we noticed a cleft in his chin!
And all of a sudden, our astonishment growing,
We knew it was Dad, Rip van Win!
He was our father, but wrinkled and dried.
“Good grief! How much time has gone by?
It couldn’t have been all that long,” we cried,
“Since my brother Roddy, and I
Had just started playing our video game –
It was only a short time ago!
How could you have gotten so old and so lame –
Where did everybody else go?”
“It has been twenty years since you went down the stairs
To play at your games of war.
We tried to inform you of all our affairs,
But you tuned us out, locking the door.
Now twenty years later you’re asking me
Where the rest of us all have been?
You are the ones who’ve been gone, don’t you see?
You’ve missed what’s gone on here since then.
I alone hoped you’d come back someday, boys,
So I walk through this town every day.
Everyone else left you both to your toys
When they packed up and moved away.
It happened the State had to build a new road
So it bought all our homes, for a price.
And the townsfolk moved off to another Zip Code,
and found other homes just as nice.
Please, sons, won’t you come home with me now?
We need you to care for us, now that we’re old.
None of us care anymore of the how
Where, or why, you deserted your family fold.”
“OK, Dad,” we said, “we are truly sorry
We devoted ourselves to the game.
We didn’t consider how much you would worry,
But yet – you forgot, just the same –
So we’ll just forget the entire incident
You’re older, we’re wiser, all’s well.”
Then we set off for home, making sure as we went
To buy food. . . and a new Duracell.

Mrs. Storm

Writing everything from Sweet Romance to Children's Books to Nonfiction, Melissa loves books, birds, and bonbons--in that order. She has an advanced degree that she never uses.

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