“Bah, where is good drink when need one?”
A glass bottle crashes against a wall. Shards of glass rain down onto the ground below. The neck of the bottle, still somewhat intact, rolls along until it touches a shiny, black dress shoe. The foot that the shoe houses lifts up and crashes back down onto the glass!
“Pepsi? Mountain Dew? Bud Light? Awful! Awful! Awful! May as well drink urine of Thai prostitute. Again.”
Sensei Abe Lincoln says the last part quietly.
He looks out across the counter in front of him, across the sprawling arcade.
“Same neon lights as Bangkok too…”
“Abe!” Lincoln flinches. Both the sound of his given name, and the bellowing roar it is said with contribute to his response.
The voice belongs to Shunin Yama.
“Abe!” Yama shouts again, from somewhere out of sight. “Where are you?”
The Oni of Oblivion doesn’t need to wait for a response. A loud BANG! makes Lincoln jump, as a nameless arcade machine topples over, crashing onto the black carpet.
Shujin Yama stands where it once was, a large neon sign in his hands.
Even from a distance, the sign is clear to read:
Vito Valentino’s arcade.
“Toss me one of those bottles of piss water!” the big man commands. He readies the sign like a bat. Dutifully, Lincoln obliges. He grabs a bottle of Bud Light from the fridge behind him – the door of which has been ripped completely from the hinges – and lobs it across the space.
It… doesn’t go very far.
The bottle explodes onto the carpet and the horrid lager within sprays out, staining the neon designs embedded within.
Lincoln looks on with wide eyes, conscious of his failure.
Yama doesn’t just smile, he actually laughs! Or chuckles, anyway. Laugh might be a bit of an oversell. Even so, it’s horrifying.
“Good enough,” he says, happy at the damage anyway. Lincoln is instantly reassured. “Come! I want to show you something.”
Lincoln nods his head frenetically. Being the good little helper that he is, he scuttles out from the bar to follow the colossus’s lead. As he goes, he drags his arm across the shelf behind the counter, and bottle after bottle smashes down onto the floor. One final act of independent desecration.
Another arcade machine happens to find its way to the ground (I wonder how that happened?) just as the sensei caught up to where his once-student is. But it’s not the fallen machine that captures Lincoln’s attention. It’s the elaborate structure that dominates the man-made clearing (if you can call Shujin Yama a mere man).
His eyes scan the scene. Atop a mountain of machines stacked three-high – almost to the ceiling! – a basketball game is planted in place like a flag at the summit of Mt. Fuji. The hoop itself, along with the attached backboard, has been torn from the machine, and twisted into an offset position. Following to the right of Lincoln’s position, two lines of pinball machines are stacked side-by-side, mirroring each other’s twists and turns with just a small, hand-width gap between them. The machines drop in height every so often as they snake further to Lincoln’s right, with one placed on the diagonal at each edge, like a pathway down.
At the end of all this, another hoop hangs low off the edge, falling down to where a high striker has been positioned, the hitting surface slid right under the hoop. Some loose wiring hangs from the back, trailing down to where a claw machine is fastened onto a fluorescent light tube along the roof. Underneath, a series of plastic balls with toys inside fills a tub, and then another pair of machine rows line their way towards the finale. A giant metal keg sits on the top, delicately placed and looming large for the poor sod in a MECCA staff uniform duct-taped to a pipe at the end.
“You did all this?” Lincoln asks Yama, completely ignoring the plight of whatshisface.
“It’s not much.” Yama shrugs. “But it’ll do. I wanted to use the air hockey machines too, but something happened to them.”
The sensei looks in the direction where Yama’s massive neck jerks, and sees two tables completely smashed in half. ‘The sheer force that must have been required!’ he thought. Not to mention the strength needed to tear apart the claw machine, and to stack the other machines so high! What mind would even think of this?
Lincoln was beginning to grow concerned about what went on beyond his comrade’s angry eyes.
“Stand over there.” Yama points in the direction of the claw machine, where what remains of its control panel sparks away to the side. Lincoln isn’t sure it’s going to be safe, but with Yama in such a peculiar mood, he has no intention of arguing with him. “When I say to hit the red button, hit the red button.”
Lincoln nods his comprehension to the behemoth.
Yama grabs a basketball. One massive hand is all it takes to wrap around the ball and keep it in place. Yama winds back, and treating the larger ball like it’s just a puny baseball, he hurls it towards the hoop. It smashes off the backboard and falls through the net below.
The rows of pinball machines catch it. The ball falls right in the gap between the two stacks and begins rolling! It picks up pace as it hits the machines angled downwards, and keeps weaving its way through the labyrinth until it hits the edge. It falls. This time, it passes through the net below without touching the rim.
It splats onto the high striker.
The meter dings each time it passes a new level. It never quite reaches the top, but it doesn’t matter. The loose wires have been triggered and the claw machine whirs to life.
Sensei Lincoln looks to Yama for the signal, but is met with the shake of a giant head.
The claw opens up as it lowers down into the ball pit. It grasps one of the plastic orbs and begins rising back up. Reaching the top, the machine starts to swing to the side. Lincoln gets a glimpse at the Vito Valentino toy inside it!
“Self-centred American…” he mutters under his breathe.
“NOW!” The bellow of Yama prevents him from thinking on it any further. He slams his hand onto the red button and the claw opens. The ball falls. Cracking onto the side of the keg, it splits open and Vito falls out onto the floor.
With his head separated from his body.
Nothing else seems to happen. Lincoln looms to Yama again, but a big finger tells him to wait another second.
That’s all it takes.
The keg groans. And it sloooooowly begins to move. It rolls, more and more, picking up pace as it comes bearing down on the young man strapped to the end.
It reaches the edge.
The keg falls.
From behind a taped mouth, the man tries to scream.
But the keg never lands on him.
Shujin Yama is there. Having moved with a deadly nimbleness across the room, Yama catches the keg and tosses it effortlessly to the side.
“Justin, is it?” Yama pokes at the name badge on the man’s chest. “Get up.”
That’s not a request. Yama snatches the man off the ground, and places him on his feet; his legs, hands, and mouth still bound.
“You’re going to leave now, Justin. You’re going to run home to your mommy and daddy, and you’re going to tell them exactly what happened here. Can you do that for me, Justin?”
The young man nods, fear in his eyes.
“Good. But be careful to tell the truth. Tell your family how you’re only there with them because I LET YOU BE. Tell your friends about me too. Tell them all about who it is that decides whether you get home safe at night. And Justin…” He looks into the young worker bee’s soul. “…If you can ever come back in here without peeing yourself, make sure to tell Vito too. Tell him the truth, Justin. Tell him that you live in Shujin Yama’s world now.”
Justin, the MECCA worker, trembles in place.
Justin hops away with his bound legs as quickly as he can. Shujin Yama watches after him.
Sensei Abe Lincoln’s shoes scuff as he sneaks up next to the giant.
“You let him go?” Lincoln readjusts the bowler hat atop his head.
“No.” Yama continues to stare after Justin. “I am going to be with him forever.”
“What now?” Lincoln looks back to the construct behind them.
Yama raises a mighty foot.
DING! DING! DING! DING! DING!
The machine rings out as Yama’s foot strikes the ground, with the meter rising all the way to the top.
The ensuing quake causes the stacked machines to wobble.
Everything crumbles around them. The light tubes get pulled from the ceiling, and even parts of the wall fall in.
All with just a stomp of the foot.
Lincoln can hardly even believe it.
“Do you have a fireball handy?” Yama asks his once-teacher.
Of course Lincoln has a fireball handy.
Darkness takes the screen just as the sound of Lincoln lighting a flame is heard.