Bobgon sighed as he sat on the edge o’ Cookie Mountain, gazing down @ the creamy reflection the moon & the stars left on the bubbling waves o’ Soda Lake. Its clear beauty made his mood rainy. He wanted to watch it fore’er, but knew he couldn’t: sometime soon his fuse would reach its end, causing him to explode, & sending him to the great bonus level in the sky, where all creatures went when the world scrolled past them too far, erasing them from its memory.
The verdant mountain’s eyes pointed up @ Bobgon.
“¿Why so sad, Bobgon?” it asked. “Don’t tell me you blew all your money @ Game Guy’s, too.”
“No…” Bobgon said with a shake of his head.
“You didn’t catch that blue virus that’s been running round lately, ¿have you? ‘Cause I hear taking just 1 & a half blue pills ought to cure that immediately.”
“I’m ‘fraid that won’t cure what ails me…” said Bobgon.
“It isn’t love, ¿is it? ‘Cause I heard just the other day some poor love-struck Koopa leapt down into the ether ’cause he was sure that Mario fellow o’ the Mushroom Kingdom would ne’er love him,” said the mountain. “You know, I don’t often like to get political, but I must say that these wars have been going on too long without any sign o’ benefits. Tears folks all apart.”
“You shouldn’t say that,” mumbled Bobgon.
Bobgon glanced round himself, heart gasping @ the prospect o’ seeing a Shyster lurking in the shadows. With how li’l he had left o’ natural life, Bobgon was especially fearful o’ unnatural death.
He suddenly felt as if the wind had become 10° colder & stood & walked ‘way, still eying his surroundings by habit. E’en if Bowser’s spies weren’t watching him, you ne’er knew if a Koopa shell might come careening @ you, or if some klutz manages to hit a POW block floating ’bout, or if Mario himself were to appear…
I probably should’ve said goodbye to that hill. He was so nice, e’en if not particularly loyal.
‘Course he’s not loyal: ¿what’s he got to fear? ¿A castle falling on him & giving him a cute li’l bump? He’s probably lived the life o’ 100 Bob-Ombs stacked 1 after the other.
Maybe I could’ve told him ’bout my fears. He was so nice, maybe he could’ve helped…
But Bobgon knew he’d ne’er have been able to tell him ’bout his fears—knew he’d ne’er be able to tell anyone ’bout them. Bob-Ombs knew they were s’posed to go out with the utmost o’ dignity. That didn’t include whining. O, sure, there were Bob-Ombs who flouted these norms, as there were wilted shrooms ‘mong all creatures o’ the Koopa Kingdom, but they were considered shameful ‘mong the whole community; & if Bobgon was going to have to die eventually, he wanted to a’least keep his dignity. ¿Why scrounge a few scraps o’ time in doubtful comfort for the price o’ an eternity after life being looked down on by everyone close to him?
He was so distracted by these thoughts that he almost missed the crystal brick racing toward him faster than a ROB-BLS. He narrowly sidestepped it—’twas so close that he felt the wind it left brush him.
Whew. I don’t know why, but I keep forgetting that I can step to the side. Good thing that didn’t happen this time.
But Bobgon was still frazzled as he made his way home. He could still feel the wind pushing gainst him, but now coming from a thousand imaginary shells & pow blocks all round him. The only thing he could do to… the only thing he could do was twist his back key harshly, the rusty metal scrape distracting him from everything…
Though Bobgon tried, he found he couldn’t get through his front door. ‘Twas as if there were an invisible barrier in the way—which was quite common if one ventured too far through the Koopa Kingdom; but usually only outside.
But deep down in the bottomless chasm o’ his own subcon he knew whence this force field came.
¡Weakling! ¡Microgoomba! ¡You can’t fall like this!
He practically shoved himself out through the doorway, & then after a few stumbles on the dusty wooden paneling that oddly formed the ground outside for many meters, he built in himself the will to keep stepping forward. This morn the floor’s varnish seemed e’en icier than usual. ‘Twas slightly icy from last night’s dribbling & this morn’s unusually low temperature; but he suspected his psychological state augmented it a bit.
Inside he felt as if all the screws were loosening. He couldn’t stop shivering. He couldn’t stop turning his head in every direction. He couldn’t focus on where he was going.
¡You need to focus! ¡You’re only wasting what li’l time you have for no good! Nothing’s going to happen now.
But he didn’t know that. All he knew was that he wanted to think o’ a way to minimize the loss o’ his lifetime, but didn’t know how—& mo’ importantly, didn’t have the time to think o’ how to do so. The spirits o’ chilliness both outside & inside seemed to paralyze him.
Then a Bullet Bill zoomed right past him.
Bobgon jumped almost a meter, swinging his fuse rope wildly while he cursed. “¿What the hell you think you’re doing?” he shouted, his tone rising till ’twas almost cracking. “¡You almost killed me!”
“Sorry, mate,” the Bullet Bill said with a wave backward as he continued sailing into the blue.
But Bobgon continued to glare @ the Bullet Bill quickly fading into the smiling clouds, & shouted out, “¿Sorry? ¡Sorry wouldn’t help zip if you actually did run into someone, you thoughtless waste! ¿Can’t any o’ you idiots scrounge a pixel o’ consideration?”
But he stopped when he noticed the posse o’ Piranha Plants who’d been loitering & chatting, now silently staring @ him with surprise—& a dash o’ fear. Bobgon hunched himself together & stormed on hurriedly, keeping his eyes glued to the ground. He tried to still his shakes… but just couldn’t.
You’re blowing it. You need to keep it under control. You can’t go out like this.
Abruptly he felt his temperature 180 into a swelling fever.
I’m probably becoming ill is all.
Well, it’s too late to try calling in sick. Shouldn’t be doing that for such a minor illness, anyway. I’ll be fine.
O, but I’m going to be late, I know it.
This illness, it clouds my mind so much, I’m going to do so badly. I already have trouble focusing on my work. “Your kill count isn’t meeting standards, Bobgon.” It’s that I’m too slow for the spritely devil.
He jerked his eyes upward & swore. ¡Need to pay attention to where you’re going! ¡You’re doing it ‘gain!
He looked up just in time to see a Pyro Guy with his face in a sheet o’ paper almost bump into him. ‘Gain, Bobgon jumped ‘way & began tossing out wild curse words.
“O, sorry bud,” the Pyro Guy said with a li’l chuckle. “Been distracted by my rehearsal o’ The Inferno. Always bump into a guy, I swear.”
Bobgon didn’t respond, but continued swearing, gradually devolving into quieter incoherent babbling. He swiftly turned ‘way & continued walking.
That was no coincidence. Couldn’t be.
Don’t be superstitious.
Too specific. It could be anything, ¿but was made o’ fire? Something has decided I need to go—whether fate or… something else.
¿Did King Bowser hear that hill talking to me?
He shook his head. We can’t distract ourselves like this. Just focus on doing your job.
But still the heat itched from everywhere underneath, which jolted him into pacing back & forth mo’ quickly than usual, which only fed the flames, causing him to pant & pant & pant just to rid himself o’ the excess smoke.
Smoke… Fire… O no…
But nothing he did could stop him. He just kept pacing & burning. He could feel his whole body throb. The corners o’ his eyes burned from the sharp brightness he emitted like 6-o’-clock fireworks.
Please, Programmers, ¡no!
He could briefly see a few Koopas standing round, glancing ‘way with uncomfortable frowns. But he could hardly pay much attention to them: the force pressing into him from the inside took all o’ it, crushing him so intensely that he almost wished it’d just happen so he could feel relief.
Then it struck in 1 bolt, ripping him from the inside, wrenching 1 shrill scream that spread ‘cross the valley. & then there was no more o’ him but smoke.