I read this at work today, I really enjoyed it.
The Elusive Record
This is an email I sent to my ex, who still holds the minesweeper record on my computer...
For your reading pleasure, as well as your own egotistical sense of self satisfaction, I shall recount the following tale of one man's struggle to achieve a dream. It is by no means a lofty or uncommon dream; some might call it man's most basic and primal drive. For as long as there has been man, he has been at constant odds to uphold his status as master of his own domain. Nothing does man so unrelentingly assail as an intruder in his realm. Even the most calm and meek among men attain an unremitting ferocity when his territory is threatened by an outsider. Perhaps man's need to command all that he surveys comes from deep seeded insecurities and feelings of vulnerability. Maybe it can be attributed to his instinctual role as provider and protector. Or maybe he just doesn't like people fucking with his shit. Whatever reason, the power derived from his retort is undeniable. Yet despite the tenacity and willpower unleashed in these threatening circumstances, it is sometimes as though the fates conspire against man. And so, the premise of` the narration contained herein is born.
But as with all good things, it was not destined to last forever. There came a time when our steadfast ruler grew uneasy. No longer was he content to merely control his own province. He sought to reach out from the loneliness that is so often associated with presiding at the top, and soon our hero fell in love with a beautiful woman. At first, the passionate bliss was overwhelming, and the mighty kingdom he had toiled so hard to perfect fell to the wayside, slowly decaying into a dulled and worn shell of its former self. Still, the subjects were loyal, and continued to serve their master well despite the moldering conditions in which they were forced to dwell. But with its defenses weakened and the ramparts lowered, the conditions were ripe for tragedy to strike the sacred ground. And strike it did from the most unsuspecting source.
"Can I use your computer?" What speakest thou, Wench? You wish to embark on a journey to my sovereign territory? You believe yourself to be worthy of stepping foot in my sanctified temple? A hearty chortle I extend to you. Ha. Ha ha! What is this? Stop looking at me like that! Must... not... look... into... eyes... But the siren's call had overwhelmed my fortitude. "Okay." And darkness fell.
Soon there were traces of corruption evident throughout the land. Strange new residents appeared to have illegally immigrated and positioned themselves prominently on the Start menu.
Quark XPress? What is this abomination of code polluting the hard drive? PageMaker reigns supreme in these parts, fiend. What is this "Color Coordination Schemes" atrocity staring out from the "favorites" menu? This is not a favorite. The only color needed here is Olive Green! Who the bloody hell is Cathy Dennis, and what in God's name is she doing in the music folder?
Though unwelcome, the new tenants were causing no real harm. Eradicating them would be a simple enough matter when their mistress was not paying attention. The ultimate power was still in the hands of the almighty creator, and imperfections could be tolerated in exchange for certain other worldly desires. And so the occupants both native and foreign continued, reluctantly but peacefully, to coexist. Until one day when the king settled into his palace for a little leisure at the expense of the court jester, Minesweeper.
After a fiercely intense battle wrought with cunning logic and a few lucky steps, the final time of 140 seconds was very pleasing to our hero, for it was a new record. At least, it should have been. But his trophy containing the plaque on which to engrave his name did not appear. Perhaps the monarch was mistaken. Perhaps he had been a more masterful manipulator of the mines than he had thought. A quick stroll to the Hall of Fame should clear up this discrepancy. 129 seconds? Surely the king had shown true mastery of this craft and had neglected to make mental note of it. But what is this? That is not the king's name next to this exceptional mark, for it read "Susan." Susan? So... The backstabbing harlot was keen on usurping her patriarch's power was she? Well the conquistador called Man shall not relinquish his authority so easily! By the day's end this stain on the robe of righteousness shall be vanquished!
Tragically, after numerous attempts, it was clear that his skill was no match for hers. It was now evident that further training was necessary to hone his skills to a razor sharp edge. Perhaps if he witnessed the witch performing her magic... Some undiscovered knowledge might be attained which could be used to his advantage. And so he waited. With unwavering persistence and patience to rival the great sequoia, our hero waited for the opportune time to catch this charlatan in the act. He would discover her secret and expose her ungodly ways. And at last the moment arrived.
Feigning affection and a desire for intimacy, the king nestled along side the sultry vixen in the great chair. Yes... Play your silly little music and set your ludicrous kitty background picture... for the time is near when vengeance will be extracted! A fresh board presented itself, the smiley face was clicked, and the melee began. What the king witnessed next was a frantic barrage of swift handed movements and button clicking the likes of which he did not know was possible. How did this frail, delicate female frame achieve this level of athletic superiority? Our hero scrutinized the surrounding area, searching for the source of this amazing power, but to no avail. The eyes of the vile temptress burned with other-worldly levels of focus and concentration, and any attempt to intervene would surely produce catastrophic consequences. Clearly the only explanation was demon possession.
"Oh, only 132. Oh well, hehe!" The voice of the demon king himself was taunting our hero through the tongue of this beautiful instrument of torture. Realizing that his sweetheart was incubating the spawn of Satan, the king began the poignant and arduous process of letting go his ties to the pleasures to which he had grown accustomed. And soon, she was gone, but her scathing mark remained.
Were our hero any less of a man, it would be a sensible and completely acceptable maneuver to enact the power of the "Reset Scores" button and expel the mark of the beast from his territory. After all, accomplishments attained through pacts with evil have no place in this harmonious kingdom. But the guardian of this dominion refused to be bested by anyone, be they mortal or otherwise. The king made a sacred vow that no matter the price, he would conquer this demonic titan on his own terms, and left the Hall of Fame untouched as a constant reminder of his goal.
After a year of training, mental exercises, reflexive conditioning, and eye-hand reaction drills, the king had at last acquired the unhumanly skills necessary to best the 129 second mark. Our hero was now a shrine of physical perfection from the shoulder down, and was finally ready to confront the phantom that had haunted him all this time. However Fate, it would seem, had other ideas for mankind's champion.
On the first attempt, the motions flowed from his fingertips emulating the grace of a tiger chasing its prey. Yet there was a serene calmness in our hero's mind, as if he were an outsider watching this marvelous display of perfection from afar. The blocks continued to fall in rapid succession until there was only a small corner left. He glanced up at the time, 90 seconds. Surely the remainder would take 15 seconds or less to clear, and victory would at last be secured. However this momentary lapse of concentration triggered an unexplained spasm in the wrist, causing a tile to become mismarked. Normally the king would have simply corrected the mistake, but moving at superhuman speed, it was too late. The actual mine was triggered, revealing the 6 unmarked mines with 93 seconds elapsed. After this crushing defeat, the king retired for the day.
The next day, still slightly perturbed by the previous loss, our hero was at it again. Though not as swift as the previous day, he was moving quite well, confident in his ability to achieve greatness despite his defeat. This time it came down to two tiles, one with a mine, one clear. A 50/50 chance at victory. The king glanced at the timer: 120 seconds. Plenty of time. Just relax, and make an educated guess. He considered the board, weighed the odds, placed the cursor, and let the button fall... Wrong guess. 124 seconds. And so it continued, day after day, attempt after attempt. One freak accident, one victim of circumstance after another. Though his abilities are unparalleled, the king was simply unable to seal the victory for mankind. And his struggle continues to this very day.
How long will this madness last, you may wonder? Well, dear reader, I cannot be sure, but I promise you this. As long as there is breath in his lungs, sight in his eyes, and spark in his soul, our hero will never give up. He will endure defeat, disappointment, and failure for as long as it takes until his goal is attained, so that mortal and spirit alike will realize that the soul of a man rests not within his breast, but within his home. And a man is willing to fight to the bitter end to preserve the sanctity of his home.