The story of my life is a long one. We live longer and experience more in this world than we do anywhere else. I still remember the day I was born which seems impossible by your standards but believe me it’s true. I have no reason to lie after all. My Alternate was six at the time. It was a cold July day. My Alternate’s mother woke him up at about 05:30 and told him to meet his father in the living room. He proceeded down the hall, sleep still stuck in his eyes. As he walked into the room his father greeted him with a big smile and a big brown parcel. I remember it being huge. His father simply said, “I thought you and I could do something together” and together they unwrapped this package. When it was fully uncovered his father simply looked at him, waiting for some form of response.
Unfortunately my Alternate had never seen anything like it and his father had no idea how to operate it. The device was square shaped, with a slight wooden finish. Rows running across it’s torso from left to right. Slightly further up, two silver switches were situated on either side of a big, gaping, square hole. The switches from left to right were labeled, Power, TV Type, Game Select and Game Reset. With the device came two square objects with cylindrical attachments and one big red button on each but there was more. Aside from the cables that this thing was heaving behind it, a small black, square thing was shaking inside the box while my Alternate was was trying to remove the device. Sticking his hand in further he was able to pull the square object out. He distinctly remembers the red printed text which was the main fruit of this object but also paying attention to the white printed text at the top of the square. It was the first moment in my Alternate’s life that he remembers being curious and from that curiosity I had been conceived. These words would lead him into a whole new life and the birth of something wonderful. The words that would forever change him were simple yet epic on a grander scale and on the square object in the red printed text..
During this time while my Alternate was reading the square object and connecting the cables, I was growing at an exponential rate. By human earth standards I would be nine months already. It took a couple of minutes by your time for me to grow and it all started with curiosity. My Alternate placed the square object into the big, gaping, square hole on the device then pushed the switch labeled “Power” from Off to On.
In that moment I had been born and it was only a couple of seconds. My Alternate and I can’t remember how he selected the games back then, but he remembers playing them, enjoying them and sharing the experience with his father while I learned, grew and started to understand what this world was and my place in it. We both learnt that this device was labelled as a Video Computer System called an Atari and the small square object was a cartridge. The two square shapes with cylindrical attachments were known as controllers or joysticks which assisted me with movement in this world. The more my Alternate played the more I understood. I remembered and picked up skills at a rapid pace.
Over the next couple of months, I realized what I was and what I was meant to do. I was his alternate just as he was was mine except I could only truly be free once a cartridge was inserted into that Video Computer System and a controller was in my Alternates hands. I was his persona and he could live his adventures through me. I would take the pain of getting blown up, shot and beaten knowing I would be brought back together in an instant, sure I might have had to walk the same stretch of virtual road again but it was worth it. He would do the thinking and I would carry out the commands. We were a team back then and shared an immense amount of joy and frustration during those months.
Sadly, good things must come to an end. One rainy night my Alternate and I were playing Tank. We had his father on the ropes. Fingers frantically pushing at the red buttons on the controllers. My Alternate had just lined up a shot, about to press the red button and then….darkness.
The lights went out, the TV went off, and the radio silenced. Moonlight bathing us in a pale silhouette. The power would be out until the morning. Sad and defeated, we went to bed. I was excited for the next morning. I had never left a mission incomplete, never been cut short so prematurely. The next morning my Alternate and his father pushed the “Power” switch to the On position on the Atari but nothing happened. His father checked the cables, the plugs, made sure the TV was on and then pushed the switch again. Still nothing. At this point I was getting nervous and so was my Alternate. Our hearts were pounding, our minds racing ahead, thinking the worst. His father spent the day trying to get that wonderful Atari working again but to no avail.
The Atari was dead and with it, I was imprisoned, to a lonely life of solitude buried in the depths of my Alternate’s subconscious. I didn’t know when or if I would ever be free again. I was in turmoil, hanging in limbo and for a while my Alternate forgot about me, the memories of our once glorious adventures were the only things keeping me company. It’s not all bad though, I remember the wall between us suddenly crumbling away and with it, new images, vast definitions and whole new sounds flooding my senses..
…but that’s a story for another time.