Gunther rolled a twelve for "water viscosity", which is why Amy Zurich fell off of her bike. He watched it on the monitor and giggled, then moved Amy's piece from "optimum" to "slight injury" in the "FAIRLY FORTUNATE" column. Gunther's game board was very big- he had fashioned it himself, and was rather proud- but there was only so much he could concentrate on at once. Besides the dice and the board, he also had the monitor and the instrument panel to keep track of. It was a very elaborate game, and sometimes he was exhausted, but mostly he had fun. There were times when he wished he had more than three pairs of arms to work with, but he had what he had and wishing was a fool's game. Doing was what Gunther was all about.
Three buttons on his panel started to flash red. They were lined up horizontally and read "Minor", "Major", and "Deadly", respectively. He hardly thought a scraped knee should be deadly, but it also might be kind of funny. Suppose, for instance, that the water on the sidewalk held some kind of fatal toxin, and she was poisoned? Gangrenous, even? Wouldn't that be something? He considered it for a moment longer, then decided that it would lead to a lot of lawsuits and bickering, which meant more work for him, and he wasn't in the mood. Today was a day of simple games for him, unless something really exciting happened along. He pushed the "Minor" button and Amy got on her bike and rode home to get a Band-Aid.
Gunther adjusted the camera hovering over the board until it was focused on another region entirely. Here two men haggled over the price of a candelabrum in an open air marketplace. Vitriol had been exchanged, tempers ran high, and now- exciting!- a knife glittered inside the would-be buyer's denim jacket. Now several levers began to blink, adjustors with graduated markings on the side. Above each was a label- there was "Quickness", "Agility, "Adrenaline", and "Luck". He would have to adjust each one twice, once for each man involved. Each had a certain range, of course, to compensate for natural ability.
Just for shits, Gunther turned both as high as they would go for both men. A spectacular grapple ensued, and Gunther Dawson giggled some more. The merchant managed to turn the man's knife back on him and stab him in the throat.
"Bravo!" Gunther cried.
Some cops rushed to the scene- Gunther always had plenty of "justice officer" pieces handy for violent scenes, though justice was served irregularly at best. He found the phrase sufficiently comic. The levers blinked again, and he decided that the cops would all have minimal agility. A crazed merchant versus four bumbling cops- high comedy! And if they had kids, well- Gunther would try to be nice in the ensuing dice rolls and button-presses and all that rigmarole, but he couldn't make any promises. He couldn't even talk to them if he wanted to, though sometimes he liked to make them think he was, just to fuck with them.
One of the cops managed to bring the merchant down, though he succeeded in taking down two of their number first. Plucky fellow. Gunther decided the scuffle had gotten boring and pushed "deadly" when it came time to decide on the gunshot wound. The merchant could live forever in gossip, or history as a lot of them called it.
The camera was on the move again, this time taking in a rabid dog that was chasing a pair of squirrels. More levers- "Aggressiveness" and "Fear". The dog had none of the latter and all of the former as a given due to his "rabid" condition, and the squirrels were predisposed to the latter anyhow. Gunther let nature take its course, as he usually did with animals. Animals were boring.
The dog licked its foaming chops and darted onto an adjacent highway, where an eighteen-wheeler was barreling towards it. The driver was a known but as-yet unconvicted child molester, and Gunther was getting pretty tired of those. He threw the dice- a nine- and it was determined that the man would crash. He turned the "Compassion" lever up and the "Reflex" lever to midway, and so the driver swerved. The dog escaped unscathed, but the truck overturned and the man found himself in one hell of a pickle.
Gunther felt a faint sense of triumph somewhere beneath his hearty laughter. It was soon forgotten.
The camera moved now to a church, where several people were now kneeling and murmuring with their eyes closed. Gunther couldn't hear them, usually, and when he did, he didn't understand. It always made him a little sad to see people in the throes of this activity, because he remembered that once he had been able to hear them, back before the game had gotten so chaotic. Before the ornate game board with its dazzling pieces. Before the buttons, the levers, the flashing lights, the laughter at things that he sometimes wasn't sure he ought to be laughing at. There had been a few, but now there were many, and the game was more efficient than.
He couldn't remember. Maybe it had all been a dream. On the job and off, Gunther Oliver Dawson dreamed frequently.
He watched the people for awhile, marveling at how beautiful they looked this way, talking to themselves or perhaps someone else. When they were like this, each one seemed like he or she was the only person in existence, a supplicant creature serving a benevolent Mother or Father. So much promise- there had been so much promise. But now there was only the game.
Promise for what, Gunther asked himself, and found that he did not know the answer.
He rolled several pairs of dice, hardly aware that he was doing it. The people finished up and left, to get into expensive cars and drive to nice homes and feel concerned about their concerns. Gunther thought that maybe there was something about all this that could be set to rights, but he wasn't sure what his thought meant, and besides, he had a game to play.
He rolled an eleven, and a button labeled "Natural Disaster" lit up. He pushed it and watched the monitor.
The lightning swallowed them whole, and Gunther giggled.Send us your comments on this article