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Gaming War Stories: A Fistful of Fire

[Gaming War Stories is a new blog series dedicated to the kinds of stories only video games can create. Not plots, not characters, but those precious few lived-in moments where games mark their unique place in our lives through the sheer will of mechanics alone.]

It was over. After hours of trying, we had succeeded on Expert Realism: Four friends, one apocalypse, an out-of-place garden gnome, and a rock concert gone horribly wrong.

This was Dark Carnival. Dark Carnival could go fuck itself.

Down the slide, around the carousel, through the tunnel of love, etc. Our entire journey had been one misstep after another, a bitter war of attrition with the supreme being who called himself "The AI Director". We were bitter about what that name represented.

But here we were, after what seemed like eternity (it was really more like 4 hours), with pyrotechnics blazing and a helicopter coming over the horizon. With a single yell over the mic, we all broke out of our perfectly tweaked killzones and headed to where we thought the chopper would land.

We were huddled together on the bleachers. An endless horde of zombies were working their way up toward us, and my ammo counter was quickly draining to nil. The helicopter flew over our head....

And over to the other side of the stadium. Shit. We all screamed "Move!" in unison, as if any one of us, after all this time spent failing, would hesitate for even a split-second.

Halfway across the stadium, one of my friends spoke up with a polite suggestion. "WE FORGOT THE GNOME. WE HAVE TO GO GET THE FUCKING GNOME RIGHT NOW. I'M NOT DOING ALL OF THIS AGAIN JUST FOR THIS FUCKING ACHIEVEMENT." I nodded in agreement, even though he couldn't see it.

So we went back on our newly formed "No Gnome Left Behind" initiative. Somehow, we made it there without a scratch, but I had used up every last bit of ammo I had to make it that way. With the gnome in my friend's hand, and with only two decent guns left within the bunch of us, the journey began again. The helicopter hovered, waiting for our arrival.

Limping across the bleachers again. My pistol wasn't doing much to deter zombies. They were closing in.

I came up with a brilliant plan. It was one of those plans where, in a fraction of a second, you formulate it, evaluate it, and then execute it. On-the-fly problem solving.

I would secure our escape. I would be the team hero. My friends would love me. I was so sure of it.

We were fast approaching the helicopter. The zombies were fast approaching us. I stop for a moment at the head of our group, turn, and replace the pistol in my hand with a molotov cocktail. I am Prometheus, here to give fire to the lowly undead. This would stop the horde in its tracks. My aim is true. I light the rag...

A zombie blindsides me from an angle I wasn't expecting. My aim jerks down for a singular moment, and I release my fistful of fire right into the ground at my feet. My teammates have caught up to me by now, and we are all bunched together as the fire begins to spread over our section of the bleachers. There's screaming from the characters, the zombies, and my friends. It's a cacophony.




We're downed. The zombies are ravaging our burned bodies. The screen fades to black. All I can do is laugh.

And that's why I'm not allowed to carry molotov cocktails anymore.