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Terror at the Arcade
Our story begins in a tiny mall, in the somewhat cultural town of Grapevine, Texas. Well I guess it is pretty cultural since they do have a really nifty wine celebration every year, and one of the best British food import stores is there. Anyway, In this mall is a local all-in-one arcade, bar, and unofficial child drop-off point known as the Big Texas Arcade. With its blinky blinky lights, and the “bleep-bloop” of the sounds, and the shrieks of small unattended children this delightful place is the workplace of several insane young adults. The employees at this establishment, possessing an impressive arsenal of disinfectant, fight an uphill battle against hundreds of childrens’ grubby fingers.
Enter a happy couple, Peter and Sofiya Petrakov. They're mostly satisfied with their life, and they decided to take their eighteen-month-old child out to have some fun. Don't worry. No one dies in this story...at least not here at the arcade, and it's probably someone you don't even know.
"Pyotr, are you sure this is good place to take Malchik?" Sofiya asked.
"Malchik?" asked Peter.
"Our son." Sofiya said, holding her son's flailing body tightly. "I'm worried that you are getting more absent-minded, dear."
Peter seemed unfazed by her outburst, which is understandable as he probably got a lot of this from her at home. All the more reason to be absent-minded.
Peter ran his fingers through his light brown hair. "Well website said kids love this kind of thing," he said. Peter was a little out of touch with what children want. It's been so long since he was a child that he sorta forgot what being a child was.
Sofiya and Peter took their eighteen-month-old son, Malchik, deeper into the maze of blinky-flashy things. They passed the large plywood arcade boxes of Super Tank Command and Cannonball Fury, across the valley of the many dancing simulators, and towards the cosmic retro pinball games.
"Oh man! Dude, that was nuts!" a young hefty male adult voice cried out from the bar. Apparently the four young men sitting at the bar were watching the slow demise of their favorite local sports team.
"What the hell!? I can't believe it! Why you wanna screw me like that?!" a guy in a backwards cap yelled.
"Yeah, I'm sure you’d like that," a man with too much stomach for his shirt replied.
"SHUT UP! It's not funny anymore!" the other three shouted in unison.
"Well it's not my fault you got caught with that yiffy kid in the bunny suit at the furry convention," the black man said.
"She said she was 23!"
"She also said she was a woman," said the hefty man.
“Well fine! You tell me the difference between a girl and a dude when they’re wearing a fursuit and then we’ll talk!” backwards cap guy burst out.
“Naw, man! You knew he was a dude!”
Now Sofiya was getting rather upset at these young men for their vulgar behavior. She didn't speak much English, but she could tell when people were being lewd no matter what language it happened to be in.
"Excuse me," Sofiya interrupted. "Could you not speak nasty words in front of child?"
The backwards cap guy was not impressed. "You been drinkin' too much vodka, ya crazy rooskie!"
“Humph...You are a bad man!” Sofiya shouted.
The backwards cap guy was not done. “It’s not my fault you guys lost the cold war. Reagan came and smacked you...”
"Hey hey hey!" a kid with bleached-blonde hair interrupted with a Texas twang.
“Oh you want some too?” the overweight instigator said.
“Y’all need to apologize before it gets outta hand,” bleached-blonde boy said.
"But I was just..." the rotund rascal muttered.
"Just do it," the kid insisted.
"Oh, ah...yeah we're...sorry," the backwards cap guy meekly said. Sofiya thanked them for their humility and took her beloved Malchik over to the various prize machines. Peter followed with a glassy look in his eyes. Sofiya stops suddenly, and quickly hands the eighteen-month-old baby to Peter.
"Pyotr, take Malchik. I must use uh..uh..tualet!" Sofiya quickly exclaimed as she shoved the baby into Peter's arms. Sofiya ran off in the direction of the public restroom, holding her legs together. Peter, still rather glassy-eyed, stared at the fluffy multicolored stuffed animals in the claw crane machine.
"Bah-buh," Malchik said, staring at the glass box of fluffy delights.
"Oh? You want fuzzy thing?" Peter asked the squirming baby in his arms. Peter set his child down on the floor, and reached deep into the recesses of his pockets for a quarter. Pulling out the quarter he accidentally let the myriad of U.S. coinage and Russian rubles spill all over the floor.
"Bozhe moy," Peter quietly complained, as he slowly bent over to pick up his monetary mess. Without warning Peter felt an uneasy feeling in his gut. He knew this feeling as he's had it many times before. Oh why did he have to eat so many of those dirty water hotdogs? Fast food always upsets his irritable bowel syndrome. He needed to wait for Sofiya to get back, but he didn't know how long that would be, as she may be having issues herself in the bathroom. Peter looked down at Malchik. Malchik looked up at Peter. Peter looked toward the restrooms. Malchik looked at the claw machine. Peter's upset gut was getting worse.
"Ah...I be right back," Peter said to Malchik. "S-Stay," and he darted towards the restroom while trying to not look like he was about to explode.
Bursting through the door of the men's room he dashed to the one unused restroom stall and disrobes with lightning speed. The stall was somewhat dirty, but that didn't bother him, as this was heavenly compared to the terrible sanitation he's seen in the poorer areas of Vladivostok. He was just thankful for a working toilet.
Several minutes later Peter emerged from the restroom feeling two pounds...or 0.91 kilograms lighter. He wandered to the middle of the arcade. He knew he was supposed to do something, but he couldn't remember what? He saw his beloved Sofiya by the claw machine. Peter smiled, but his smile turned to confused fright when he saw that his wife has a look of horror in her face.
"Was ist los?" Peter ran over and asked Sofiya, then remembered he's not German. Sofiya did not look at her husband, because her gaze was locked on the claw crane machine, or more specifically what's inside the claw crane machine. Their 18-month-old son, Malchik, was inside the machine. He was grinning a big baby grin, and unaware of the terribly-dull claw of doom dangling over his head.
"Pyotr, I tell you to watch Malchik! What happen?!" Sofiya angrily asked Peter.
"Someone set us up the bomb," Peter responded.
"What you say?" Sofiya shouted, now furious that Peter was sounding even more nonsensical than usual. Sofiya started to pound her fist on the claw machine, however she could not break through the space-age plexiglass protecting the contents inside. Using all of her might she attempted to rattle the machine to pieces, however this only caused poor Malchik to cry, and to attract a nearby employee.
"Excuse me," said a pale and rather thin young man, "but, we can't have you abusing the machines."
"You not understand!" Sofiya shouted at the arcade employee. "My son is in there!"
"Er...well, um that machine is the property of Big Texas Arcades Incorporated, and um..." the employee tried to calm the frantic woman while explaining procedure. It wasn't working.
"Max, you go clean the grease off the pinball machines," a rather portly old man in a white cowboy hat said. "I'll take care of this. Now how may I help you, ma'am?"
"You are manager?" Sofiya asked.
"Yes, I am the manager."
"My son trapped in machine! GET HIM OUT!" Sofiya shouted as she pointed at Malchik, who was now grinning and waving inside the claw machine.
"Ma'am, we don't give out free prizes. Any prizes you get you need to win them fair n' square," said the manager.
Sofiya could not believe what she was hearing. These employees were treating her son like a child's stuffed animal. Sofiya turned to Peter.
"Pyotr, you start this! NOW YOU FINISH IT!" Sofiya said, shaking her glassy-eyed husband.
"Da! I fix it!" Peter said, reaching into his pocket. He fished out a quarter, and plunked it into the machine. Maneuvering the claw in the machine he dropped it down near Malchik. The claw weakly tried to make a feeble attempt to grab a stuffed rabbit, and failed. Peter sighed, and put another quarter into the machine, tried again to snare the baby, and failed. He put another quarter in the machine, and accidentally dropped the claw over the prize chute, causing it to waste a quarter and make Peter let out a frustrated groan. This caught the attention of a passing arcade patron.
"Dude, are you trying to get that baby in there?" the young adult patron asked, as he stared at the giggling Malchik.
"Da. That my wife's son. Wife is very angry at me," Peter replied with disappointment.
"Aw, well the way it's stuffed in there, there's no way you can snag the baby. You can get the panda that's in front of it though. That one's loose enough to pull out," the dopey dude said, also looking a little glassy-eyed. Peter put another quarter in the machine, successfully gripped the panda, and dropped it in the prize chute.
"Look, Sofiya, I have panda for you," Peter said, giving the stuffed panda to his wife.
"I don't want panda! I want MALCHIK!" Sofiya shouted as she threw the stuffed panda at Peter. Sofiya pushed Peter aside, and studied the claw machine's controls. She was determined to get her son out, and this was one of those moments that if you wanted something done right you had to do it yourself. Sofiya shoved a quarter in the slot and navigated the claw near Malchik's head. Dropping the claw, she managed to hit the baby in the head as it slid down next to him. She plunked another quarter in the machine, and managed to get the claw to poke at her son a little, but not get a firm grip. She put another quarter in and had a look of determination or possibly constipation on her face. This time the claw gripped the child's arm, but then the arm slipped right through the wide gaps between the deadly rubber-capped talons.
"This game is cheat!" Sofiya growled. She plunked another quarter in, and navigated the claw directly over Malchik's head. The claw wrapped around the baby's head, and pulled with all its weakened might. With a good yank the baby was lifted up, and dumped into the prize chute. With a lot of motherly love, and a little determination, Sofiya had beaten this terrible deadly game of doom. Sofiya picked up Malchik and hugged him tightly.
"My little Malchik! I so happy to see you!" Sofiya said.
"Hello, Malchik," Peter said as he tried to hug Malchik. Sofiya growled at Peter like any protective mother bear would, and Peter backed away slowly.
And with all the excitement they could handle for one day, the three of them left the Big Texas Arcade. And they all lived happily ever after...except for Peter, who was forced to sleep on the couch for the next two months.
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