“Define questionable,” I asked.
“These,” Paul answered, pointing the pictures he’d found on my hard drive with a dagger that seemed to materialise out of nowhere. “These are the very definition of questionable.”
“Right. No more physics-defying anime mammaries.”
“Now, I very distinctly remember this conversation,” Paul Izod, editor and resident tyrant here at Zero1Gaming.com, told me as he turned off the video record of a conversation we’d had months before.
“Why did you tape that?” I asked, looking around the room from the chair I’d been, shall we say, encouraged to sit at in front of Paul’s desk.
“Oh, I record everything that happens in the offices.”
I made a mental note to warn Seb about this. We may need to move our experiments off site.
“That’s not the point,” he told me very firmly. Paul was sitting on his desk, a two-handed sword laying across his lap. It was still in its sheath but that didn’t mean I was any safer. I’d seen what the man could do with a blunt object.
“It feels like it should be,” I protested.
“The point is that I distinctly remember telling you not to store questionable content on your computer.”
“I don’t remember that conversation ever happening,” I assured him, leaning back with a smug smile on my face. Denial was always the best defence. He played the tape again. “Oh! That conversation!”
“Trent, you do good work around here,” Paul explained, taking a long sip from his mug. “You keep the newbies in line. The monster you raised in the fridge has learned to make a mean cup of coffee. You even occasionally turn in an article on time. But I cannot have you completely ignoring me.”
“Sorry, what were you saying?” I turned my head back to him. “I was miles away. Do you have a point?”
Paul threw a folder at me with a casual flick of the wrist. It opened and pictures scattered across the floor around me. There was an awkward silence as I looked them over.
“Umm… these are for a review?” I offered. It was my best defence against the mounting evidence that I had, in fact, completely disregarded Paul’s orders.
“That excuse again?”
“I’m telling the truth.” The words nearly stuck in my throat and had an unnatural sound coming from my mouth.
“What the heck kind of game is this one? More ninjas who fight and disrobe?”
“No no no.” The very idea was insulting. As though I’d be caught repeating myself like that. “I’m completely over that phase of my life. These are ninjas who cook and disrobe. Completely different.”
The silence that followed was a delicious kind of awkward. I savoured it for as long as I could, letting the discomfort wrap me up like a blanket and snuggle me to sleep.
“You’re… going to have to give me a bit more than that,” Paul instructed me, pointing the sword at my crotch. It wasn’t the first time that castration had been threatened in that office. I decided to give him what he wanted.
“It’s a rhythm-based game where you help a young woman who also happens to be a impossibly proportioned ninja complete a series of culinary challenges against other women who disrobe each time you prepare better food than them.”
“That sounds like nonsense,” Paul shook his head, turning the point of the sword away from my most vital of areas.
“It kind of is,” I admitted. “I mean, if you don’t mind being put on some sort of register, it is a passable rhythm game. You press the buttons. Food gets made. Boobies come out. Sometimes things don’t need to make sense. Sometimes we just need to accept that the world is a strange place.”
“So you’re telling me it has better gameplay than I’d think?”
“What? Oh, my no. The gameplay is slightly confusing and only serves as an excuse for the gratuitous and insulting fan service that fills the rest of the game. The music isn’t even as catchy as it should be considering it is the star of the show. Unless, of course, you count the boobies.”
“You’re really selling this very well,” Paul told me. “But, given your penchant for causing chaos among the staff…”
“I prefer to call it team-building…”
“You started four fires this week.”
“No. These were the regular kind. The point is it that I’m just glad you aren’t trying another violent coup or anything else.”
“Nothing! Now if you’ll excuse me I need to meet with Seb and discuss something very important.”
There was a protest from my boss. Something about pressing charges for property damage, but I was already on my way out the door. It was a tried and true method for not getting fired, in my experience.
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An American trying to infiltrate and understand English society, Trent is a writer of novels and player of games. He has a serious addiction to JRPGs, the weirder the better, and anything that keeps him distracted from work.