'FOR PITY'S SAKE KEEP QUIET.'
"As if angry car horns could read...", thought the postman, shaking
his head in disgust. He knocked. The door opened a fraction.
"Gasp! How did you guess?", yawned a bleary shadow behind the door.
"Special Delivery. Sign here!", snarled the postman wearily, sticking a greasy pad with ball point attached into Morlok's unshaven face. Managing a trembly if recognisable cross, Bob Morlok was handed a letter. Muttering what may have been "Thanks", he shut the door and looked around for the letter opener.
Then he remembered what had happened the last time he'd used it and ripped open the envelope with his teeth instead.
'Your Royalties for the second quarter. Total before taxes=35c.
'Best wishes, your publisher.'
Bob tried but couldn't keep back a violent bout of nausea. He smoked
his first Camel of the day.
Thirty five cents to live on for three months!
"I gotta program a major hit", thought Bob, "with a killer storyline. Or else." This attic room had a skylight. He gazed through it at the dripping rooftops and sighed.
He was clean out of ideas. He shut his eyes and squeezed. Nothing came. Total block. Crushing his last butt into an overflowing ashtray, Bob announced to anyone who cared to listen (no one did):
"Blood's dead. Stone cold dead as a dodo. He'll write no more games and his pseudonym will as of now disappear from all local Computarama shelves, forever."
Bob Morlok sighed once more and decided on a breath of air.
The joint in Binary Street was open. Loud music poured out. He walked
over to the bar and ordered a coffee. Beside him, some kids were
noisily wiping out aliens on a video game. Bob turned to look.
Intergalactic robots exploded with inhuman shrieks. The skinny kid
locked onto the joystick was yelling triumphantly - He'd just made the
Bob snorted, "What a zero!" The insult had the effect of breaking up the party atmosphere.
"Oh yeah? Go ahead and beat my score, pops!", skinny snickered.
This was what Bob had been angling for. His right hand closed over the stick and his left pushed 'PLAY'. The following carnage of screaming metal, green blood and exploding alien troop ships was all over in a few seconds.
Enemy losses were so sickeningly enormous that the score blocked on
999999. Without even looking, Bob typed in B-L-O-O-D as the latest hi
"Y-you're B-Blood?", stammered skinny, who looked like he'd just swallowed a live Pac Man.
"Gaze up in awe, junior", drawled Bob, kindly, "You've just lived through a major moment in your life." With that he turned and disappeared through the door, leaving behind one unpaid for coffee and a bunch of amazed kids.
"That really zapped 'em", grinned Bob to himself. He was savouring the glory so much that he didn't see the old man walking towards him. Bob Morlok looked down at the old guy sprawling on the sidewalk.
"Gee, I'm really sorry. Are you okay?", he asked, helping the other to his feet.
"Sure, sure. Don't worry about it, young fella. Not your fault if I'm so absent minded."
Suddenly, Bob's eyes switched on.
"Wow! You can't be! You aren't! Damn it, you are Charles Darwin, the famous bio whatever."
"No need to shout it out, son. There may be newspaper hacks lounging in the trash cans."
"Oh yeah, sure. Say listen. Your books really made a major impression. All that stuff about super bonus scores for the fastest."
"Yes, well, that's one way of..."
"Hey, wait a minute. Aren't you supposed to be dead, theoretically?"
"Let's just say I'm living incognito for the moment."
"Wow! That's major. Hey, listen. Let me buy you a drink. No, really."
Morlok guided his new friend into a nearby bar. They sat down close to a pinball machine.
"Beer", said Bob, to the guy who was taking orders.
"Water, please", said Darwin.
"Water, huh?", muttered the waiter, and disappeared.
"Interested in biology, are you, Mr., uh...?"
"Blood. That's my name."
"Blood, eh? My, my. Well, well."
The old man's gaze centered on the pinball machine. He glowered.
"Accursed invention. I've been working on video games for months. That's the reason I came here to Slick City - but who listens to an old dodderer called Mortimer Slithe?"
"Slithe. Your pseudonym is Slithe? You could've done better than that!"
"A long story. And unpleasant. I'm stuck with Slithe. Do you believe in aliens, Blood?"
Bob was taken aback by the question. He stammered, "Well, you know, I, er..." But his lack of conviction went unnoticed. Slithe was getting into gear:
"They're here!", he whispered, waving his cane toward the video game. Then looking Blood right in the eye, he thundered, "They're here! Pac Men are reproducing in millions! They actually exist, do you hear me!"
Bob-Blood reeled in shock.
The old man suddenly stood up and left the bar. Bob was too stunned to stop him. That was the last he ever saw of Charles Darwin.