Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. I, Issue 3    December 1994

The Collectors, Part 2

by Adam Trionfo

Continued from The Collectors, Part I.

      The story so far...

      Henry, a classic game collector, has been summoned by Helen, a rival collector and old lover. Rumor is, she has uncovered rare cartridges found in the desert of New Mexico.

Henry wasn't as ready as he thought, after all.

The last time he had seen Helen had been a couple of years ago. She had been thirty or so then, and beautiful. But more than that, she had seemed sane. She may have been capable of doing anything to anyone, but there was never a madness behind her actions. Now Henry was frightened. More than frightened -- he was downright terrified.

The car that he was gestured into did indeed hold Helen. But not the Helen he remembered. Her face had been ruined, mutilated, torn to pieces, it seemed, and then sewn back together. The back seat of the car was littered with trash, and there was a sickening smell that lingered and made Henry want to gag.

Helen motioned him to sit down, her revolting face stirring madness from the bowels of Henry's heart. His lungs lost breath, but he tried to remain calm. He didn't want her to think that he couldn't face her like this.

"Henry. I see it has been a long time since we did business. Didn't you hear what happened to me? I thought everyone knew. I thought you would know, for sure. You've got those strange street smarts that have always allowed you to know what is happening. I'm surprised at you."

Henry fixed his stare upon her face. He stared into scars that were so deep that they were really crevasses. His mind tried to match the voice he remembered with this one. This couldn't be Helen. This monster didn't look like her or sound like her. Her voice was no longer a sound to linger, awakening thoughts of desire that he had once held towards her. He didn't care what this person thought of him. This was not Helen.

"Dear Henry. True to your word, you really haven't looked into my life anymore. When you told me you wanted nothing to do with me and that you would ignore all you heard about me, I didn't think you meant it. You really haven't paid attention to anything you have heard about me, have you? Has everything about me in the past revolted you so much that I turned into this monster before even I knew I had?"

Henry listened to her. It was her, all right. Turning tables, bringing up the past, just like she always did. It was true: She had always been a monster. Before she had been this disgusting figure, she had always been a monster to him.

"Henry, don't you have any questions to ask me? Don't you want to know how this happened to me? I'll answer anything you have to ask."

Henry was determined not to go down the road she would lay out for him -- a road that he was sure would end in ruin. "Helen, I believe you want to see me about business. You did send me Pele's Championship Soccer, didn't you?" He tried to be as tactful as he could. He knew she could see all the questions behind his eyes, but he would let them lay there. He would not follow her lead. Not again. Never.

"Business! Is that all there is now? Two years ago, this happened to me, and I haven't even heard from you. I should have had you killed. Business! I knew you were up to something when you contacted me to meet you here. What is this about this game? I sent you no such thing. I don't even own that myself."

Henry couldn't read Helen's face. He never could before, but with all the scars, it was impossible. She didn't sound like she was lying; and why would she lie about something like that anyway?

"Helen, do you mean to say you didn't give me--"

"Of course not! Why would I give you something that valuable? You are not a major contender in the business, but competition is competition nonetheless. I suppose you are going to tell me you didn't give me Imagic's Cubicolor either, right?"

"You have that? I thought that was just a rumor or something! Of course I didn't send it to you."

Henry could see that the car was driving down a main avenue. Helen told the driver to pull over at the nearest convenience. Henry got nervous. "Helen, what exactly is going on?"

"Looks like the ride is over for you, my fellow collector. I've had enough of your lies!"

Henry recognized that voice. She used it only when she was extremely angry, angry enough to kill. Without hesitation, Henry tried to jump out the side door. It was locked. He tried to break the back passenger window with his elbow. No good.

"Oh, poor Henry. Feel like a pig trapped in your pen?" There was no kindness in her voice as she pointed the barrel of the small gun at his head. "I suggest you behave!"

There didn't seem to be a way out for Henry. He calculated the risk and grabbed for the gun.

To be continued next issue...

      Read The Collectors, Part III here