Friday Fiction: Old Dog, New Tricks

I’m going to try this feature one more time. Behold the return of Friday Fiction!

I went to for my writing prompt today, which gave me …

The year is 2070. You have just moved into a Seniors’ home, and the LAN parties are amazing.

Okay, I think I can crank a couple hundred words, at least, out of this prompt. Let’s see what happens. I’m writing autobiographically but changing names for reasons.

“Welcome to Beechwood Estates Senior Living Community, Mr. Jones! My name is Carla and I’ll be helping you and your wife settle into your new apartment. Nursing staff is available with the touch of a button on your watch, so if you ever need anything all you need to do is just push this button right here.” Carla gestured to Mr. Jones’ wrist to show him what button to push, then went to do the same with Mrs. Jones and her watch. She continued the orientation speech. “Dinner will be in the main dining hall at 5:45, although you can always cook on your own here in your apartment. Tonight is gaming night, so you’ll want to be ready for that.”

“Oh, I love games. I presume the usual stuff, checkers, gin rummy, that sort of thing?” Mr. Jones asked.

Mrs. Jones piped up. “Don’t let him play checkers for money, he’s a shark.”

Carla chuckled. “No, um … we do game night a little differently around here. It’ll take a bit of preparation for you to play.”

“You guys do roleplaying games? They never told me that in the sales pitch.”

“Actually, no,” Carla said with a smile. “Well, not tonight, at least. RPGs are the first Tuesday of the month. Jim Watson is our game master and he puts together a really good campaign.” She looked around and noticed two 14-inch tablets on the dining room table. “Do these run Windows or Linux?”

“Windows,” Mr. Jones responded. “I never could get the hang of coding in Linux. I know, I’m a bit of a Luddite compared to most of the youngsters here.”

“Windows is fine. Here, let me just …” She fumbled on a ring with multiple flash drives on it until she found the one she was looking for. “Can I install something on your tablets, Mr. and Mrs. Jones?”

Puzzled, Mrs. Jones asked Carla what she was intending to install.

“Oh, we have some of the classic computer games here on a private server, and tonight is our LAN night. I think tonight we’re playing Minecraft, did you used to play that one?”

“You know, I never did get into it,” Mr. Jones said. “Stacy used to dabble with it back in the Teens, but it was never anything that caught my fancy.”

“I think you’ll love it, Mr. Jones. Some of the other residents have taught me how to play – it was way before my time, of course – and it’s kinda fun. The throwback graphics are interesting and a big change from the graphics in today’s games. They stopped updating it decades ago, but we have a copy of the last workable version and that’s what we play on game night.”

Mr. Jones smirked. “You know they were throwback graphics when the game came out, Carla. We played Skyrim and The Witcher 3 and The Sinking City, and the graphics for those games were incredible at the time. They’re nothing compared to what’s out today, but we always stuck with the classics. There was a point in time that we stopped getting new games, they’re always so complex and hyper-violent these days, and most of them are console based. We never played console games, so it’d be like trying to learn how to ride a bike for us. We’re just used to the tablets these days.”

Carla asked Mr. Jones to enter his passcode into his tablet, and she began work installing the Minecraft client on his tablet. It only took a few seconds before she was done, and she repeated the process with Mrs. Jones’ tablet.

“There now, you guys are all set, server information is already loaded in so you’ll go straight to the LAN when you start. Minecraft starts at 7:00. That’s when I get off, but I’ll stick around to introduce you to the other residents on the server.”

Mrs. Jones spoke again. “Oh, you don’t have to do that, Carla, I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Don’t give it another thought, Mrs. Jones, I’m happy to do it.”

“Well, thank you, dear.”

“Okay, it’s getting close to dinnertime. I don’t think you two have had a chance to stock your fridge yet, so let’s get you over to the dining hall.”

Carla and Mr. and Mrs. Jones left the apartment and the three of them got into the Jones’ golf cart. Carla directed them up the street a short ways to a large building where people were already starting to take their places at long dining tables.

Dinner was a simple affair, fried chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes, and the Joneses were able to make quite a number of new acquaintances with Carla making introductions.

After the plates were cleared, some residents left the dining room to go about their evening, but many stayed behind and started pulling out their tablets to prepare for Minecraft night. Carla was seated beside the Joneses and started her tablet up as well.

Mrs. Jones remembered vaguely what to do so she forged ahead, saying hello in chat and getting a lot of hellos in return. Mr. Jones was a little slower and Carla helped him get started, introducing him when he’d logged in and giving him some pointers on what to do to get started. He’d spawned in the middle of a wooded area, but off in the distance he could see some other buildings. He wasn’t far from friends. Carla helped him to fell a tree and build a crafting table from it, then use the table to craft the tools he’d need. Eventually another player found him and together they put up Mr. Jones’ first shelter. The player’s name was Fred, and he was very helpful.

Once he’d gotten acclimated and introduced to another couple of players in game, Carla said it was time for her to go home, so she signed out, shut down her tablet, and wished both Mr. and Mrs. Jones luck with Minecraft, explaining that she’d be back on site at 10 am the next morning if they had any questions.

Mr. Jones sat back and marveled at his good fortune to find a senior community that was active in the ways that he used to be. He looked over at his wife, smiled, blew a kiss, and went back to exploring his new cubical digital world with his new friends.

It was going to be a good home for them both.

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