Dangerous Games: All the Puchikai at Wallyworld Suck

You’ve seen them wandering aimlessly, staring down at their phones, off in their own little virtual worlds.  You might even be one yourself, so focused on the chase that you wouldn’t even notice if you fell right into the game.  The game even warns you to be observant, to be aware of your surroundings.

If you can’t keep at keep at least one foot in the real world, you never know where you might end up.

All the Puchikai at Wallyworld Suck

Beth paused at the corner and grabbed Terry’s shoulder to keep him from stepping into the street and getting creamed by a panel truck that sped up to beat the light at the intersection.  Terry didn’t even look up from his phone.

“Look where you’re going, dumbass.”

“We gotta hurry,” Terry said, oblivious to the close call.  “There’s a Gozuu in there!”

He pointed across the street at the Walmart.

“Bullshit,” Beth said.  “All the Puchikai at Wallyworld suck.”

A shirtless pedestrian taking in summer sun sneered down at them as he passed by.  “Stupid fucking kids.”

Beth, who was fourteen and hadn’t considered herself a kid since she was raped at twelve, ignored him.  Terry, who Beth did kind of consider a kid even if he was a year older, appeared not to have heard the man at all.

“Puchi-Map says it is.”  He tapped his phone’s screen, a virtual map with them at the center.  “Puchi-Map is never wrong, but it won’t stay there forever.”

The Don’t Walk at their crosswalk turned to Walk, so she grabbed him by the arm and led him across the street.  He followed without even looking up from his phone.

Puchikai World, the latest craze in VR mobile gaming, was kind of kid’s stuff, but Terry was wild about it, and Beth was kind of wild about Terry, so they played and collected together.

Terry’s collection of Puchikai, little cartoon creatures, was big enough that he ignored the scores of wild Puchikai roaming around the Walmart parking lot.  He had all of them.  He stayed on Puchi-Map, a third-party app that was against Puchikai World’s terms of service, technically speaking, even though a lot of people used it.

Beth found and caught three new ones as they crossed the parking lot, then realized she was almost out of traps and restrained herself.  If there really was a Gozuu, the holy grail of Puchikai, in Wallyworld, she might need all the traps she had left to catch it.  Most Puchikai were cute, in a Japanese Anime kind of way, but next to useless when fighting other players in the game.  Gozuu was a true monster, one of the few near unbeatable catches.  So rumor said, anyway.  She didn’t know anyone who had caught one, or even seen one.

She watched her screen to see if it would appear to her.  She also continued to watch traffic, and steer Terry out of harm’s way when he tried to wander into it.

He kept his eyes on the map, then zoomed in on the building they were about to enter.

“Looks like it’s in Electronics,” he said, and finally looked up as they stepped through the automatic doors and into the air-conditioned chaos of Walmart.

Beth checked again, but it wasn’t showing up on her game app yet.

Terry clicked out of the map and opened the game.

Gozuu finally appeared on her game as they walked past the pet food isles, and Beth began to share Terry’s excitement.  She didn’t start feeling nervous until they passed a display of new iPads and entered Electronics.

It was deserted.  Not a single customer browsed the DVDs or video games.  There were no employees around to mean mug them, the way store employees always seemed to do with teenagers, as if they were up to no good.

They followed the short-range trackers on their game apps, then stopped in front of a pair of black swinging doors.  Employees was written in big letters across one, Only across the other.

“It’s in there,” Terry said.

Beth took a step back and looked around.

“Come on,” Terry said.  “There’s no one around to bust us.”

“Yeah, about that …”

Terry ignored her and pushed through the swinging doors, into the darkness beyond.

“Shit!”  Beth looked around again, then stepped in behind him.

“Terry?”  Beth whispered, then gave a little whistle to get his attention.  There was no reply.

She looked down at her screen, saw Gozuu ahead and to the right.  She tapped the Traps icon to get them ready and followed after Terry.  The glow from her screen gave enough light to see directly around and in front of her, but no more.  She moved slowly.

No sign of Terry, but Gozuu appeared on her screen, ready to fight.  She threw a trap and waited to see if she would need another.

A growl from directly in front of her drew her attention away from her phone.

Two large red eyes opened up the darkness just outside her circle of light, then the thing in the darkness rushed forward to get her.

Beth opened her mouth to scream …


I sent this story out to my Knightmares newsletter before I merged the newsletter with this blog.  I thought I should share it here too.  If you like it, then subscribe to Knightmares and never miss a post or future flash fiction.


Alex squirmed in the front passenger seat, strained to see over the dashboard.  It was dark out, snowing, and the headlights shining through the falling snow made him feel like he was in a spaceship flying past stars.  The drive from grandma’s house was long and boring, but flying through space was fun.

“Sit still!”  Papa was in a bad mood, a don’t mess with me boy mood, so Alex settled back and tried to sit still.

It wasn’t easy.  They never let him sit in front, something about airbags killing little kids like him, and it was a whole new perspective.


Nothing.  Papa squeezed the steering wheel until his fingers turned white.

Alex turned to look in the back seat.

“Sit still!”

Alex jumped, slammed himself back into the seat.

He waited for mommy to say something, to tell papa not to shout, but she didn’t.  They’d been fighting all night, so she was probably giving him the silent treatment.


“Hush, Alex,” papa said.  “Leave your mommy alone.”

“Papa,” Alex said, then remembered he was supposed to hush, and whispered. “Papa.”

Papa ignored him for a moment, then sighed.  “What, Alex?”

“Why am I sitting up here instead of mommy?”

They’d traded spots at the last rest area.  Alex had to piss big time, and he’d wanted a few minutes away from the arguing, so he’d taken his time.  His papa came into the bathroom while he was washing up and hurried him back out to the car, almost shoving him into the front seat and buckling him in.

“Your mommy was tired,” papa said, and there was something in his voice Alex didn’t like.  He whispered, maybe so mommy wouldn’t hear him, “all that running her mouth wore her out.”

“Mommy’s taking a nap?”

Papa looked into the rear-view mirror, then back to the road.

“Yeah, mommy’s taking a nap.  You should too.  We won’t get home for a few more hours.”

“Okay,” Alex said, and he tried, but something was still bothering him.


“What, Alex … what?”

“You got blood on you.”

My Favorite Gadget

Here’s a blast from the past, written when I was a part of author David Wilson’s Storytellers Unplugged.  It’s about the beginning of my enduring love of gadgets.  It’s all a bit dated now, my gadgets have evolved since writing this.  I have even written a 100K length novel on a tablet, which now my grandson’s favorite toy since I have upgraded again.

I have also changed my mind regarding Apple products and software.  Everything I own is Apple now.

I have not changed my mind about most of the Lewis/Clark Valley’s radio stations.

My Favorite Gadget

If you’ve read the afterword to my novella 1200 AM Live you’ll know my opinion of my local AM and FM radio stations.  For those who haven’t read the aforementioned piece, I’ll give you the short version.

I fucking hate it.

Local radio in the Lewis/Clark Valley is mostly country, which makes me angry if I’m forced to listen to more than a few minutes, or worse, top 40.  I’m not sure which I hate more, a song where even the guitars sound like they’re whining, or a song with a computerized beat and auto-tuned vocals.  Top 40 is the new disco, in my humble opinion, and country is the new … well, country.

There are a few light muzak stations, and a few rock stations, but the only good (IMO) rock station is broadcast from the city of Spokane, which is over a hundred miles to the northwest, and can only be heard clearly from the roofs of this city’s taller buildings on clear and windless days.

For a few years I contented myself by listening to talk radio instead, but too much of that fosters bizarre personal and political opinions, so I gave up listening to talk radio.  I think it was a good choice, like giving up meth or public masturbation.

For the past four or five years I’ve eliminated my dependency on local radio with a miracle of modern micro-technology called an MP3 player.  I load this wonderful little device with music of my own choosing and an audio book or two, and I’m set.  It’s very liberating, not having my ears held hostage by smarmy DJs and music that, quite frankly, makes me feel like hitting people.

I loved these new gadgets so much and used them so extensively that I wore them out.  Any new MP3 player I purchased, no matter the brand or model, had a three to four-month life expectancy.  I could almost predict the week when my current MP3 player would finally bite the dust and would start comparison-shopping in advance.

For a long time, my wife tried to convince me to buy an iPod, the Cadillac of MP3 players, and I resisted for two reasons.  The first reason was price.  Those little bastards are expensive, so why spend so much when I could almost count on wearing it out in the space of a few months?  The second, and to me more powerful argument against the iPod is that I hated Apple software.  Every piece of Apple software I ever attempted to use seemed to slow down or crash my computer.  Why in the hell would I spend so much money on a product that would probably crash my computer ever time I plugged it in before it finally wore out in three or four months?

Eventually she talked me into it.

I bought an iPod Nano, which worked flawlessly for two years before my wife bought me my new third generation iPod Touch.  The Touch was a Christmas present, and is the coolest, most useful little gadget anyone has ever given me.

The old Nano is still in use.  My oldest daughter has had it for three months now, and it still works just fine.

Truthfully, I thought the Touch was overkill.  It’s a fantastic gadget, but much more than I required for simply playing music or audio books in my car or work truck.  There was just no way I’d ever use even half the features this new toy had to offer.

Then I discovered the wonderful world of applications.  Evidently there are several million applications available to install on this little gadget, many free, most only a few dollars.

I must admit that very few are of any real interest to me.  I’m not a gamer or a social bug.  I don’t want to turn my iPod into a small hand-held heater (yes, there is an application for that), or keep 24/7 tabs on all my Facebook friends.  I’m a driver during the day and a writer on nights and weekends.  My iPod keeps me entertained while driving during my working life.  I thought it would be severely cool if I could somehow use it to write.

As it turns out, there is an application for that too. No shit!

There are probably more than one, but the one I use – I’m using it now, actually – is called My Writing Nook.  It is a cool, and extremely useful little program.  It auto-saves as you work, has an optional auto-correct function that is actually pretty good, and thanks to the third generation iPod Touch’s wi-fi capability, you can email your work to your desktop or laptop computer with the touch of a virtual button.  You can also create your own workspace on My Writing Nook’s website and sync your documents in progress.

This is an excellent tool for writers.

Recently, my wife’s favorite gadget, her mucho expensive touch screen laptop, took a dump on her.  Since she hasn’t had a desktop computer for a few years now, she didn’t have a second machine to fall back on.

I have a laptop too, a tiny little thing about the size of a hardcover book, that I do all my writing on.  Unlike her, I insist on keeping a desktop computer too, but I don’t like writing with it.  I do all my writing on the laptop and everything else, including editing, on the desktop.

Since my wife’s computer is FUBAR, she is now using my little laptop.

Have I gone back to writing on my desktop computer?

He’ll no.  I’m using the iPod for that now, and thanks to my wireless network, and My Writing Nook, transferring my work to the desktop computer for editing is actually easier.

You might imagine that writing anything more extensive than, say, a shopping list would be a pain in the ass with the iPod’s tiny little screen and keyboard, but that’s not the case.  I got used to it remarkably fast.  I still have to copy and paste my work into Microsoft Word, and there is a bit of formatting and extra editing involved in incorporating your output into your word file, but not as much as you might think.

If the My Writing Nook people could incorporate some simple formatting options and a more powerful spellchecker into the program, it would be just about perfect.  With a cost of $1.99 for the iPod application, and no cost at all to use the Writing Nook web page, I can’t complain too much.

Now my favorite gadget is my most useful one.