An arcade machine

Short Story Challenge Week 42: Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

This might just be the most unusual story title of the entire challenge to date.

I’ve made it 42 weeks into my year long challenge to write a short story every week for a year. I’ll leave it up to you to work out how many weeks that means I still have to do. Go on. Take your time, use a calculator if you must.

In any case, if you want to catch up with the prior stories you can find the full archive here.

Not that this is my first short story challenge, mind you.

The first led to an eBook, called Fifty Two, so if you enjoy this tale, why not do me a solid favour and buy a copy?

Buy Fifty Two through Amazon for your Kindle e-reader here.

Buy Fifty Two through Apple for your iPad or iOS devices/Macs here.

Buy Fifty Two through Smashwords for any other e-reader format here.

If you’re more of a long fiction reader — and especially one who likes B-Movies about Australian secret agents featuring way more exploding sharks than any other novel* then I’ve got just the book for you:

Buy Sharksplosion for Amazon Kindle

Buy Sharksplosion for iBooks (iPhone, iPad, etc)

Buy Sharksplosion for all other e-readers through Smashwords

*As nobody has yet challenged me on this one, I’m going to shift towards regarding it as scientific fact. Want to prove me wrong? You’ll need to buy a copy first to check that hypothesis.

But enough e-book advertising, Alex! On with this week’s story. Once again for inspiration I’m grabbing a random tome from my bookshelf, choosing a random page, pointing a finger and using whatever I find there as inspiration for this week’s story.

Well, mostly random.

That’s all I’ll say for now. I’ll reveal this week’s inspiration after a little tale I call…

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

An arcade machine

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

That damned noise, Claude thought, would drive him insane one of these days. It was that new machine that just came in last week. Attack Space War, it said on the side.

That title, along with the repetitive sounds it made certainly seemed to be enough to get the teenagers flocking to it in the bowling arcade. The painting of the alien lady with the big boobs on the side probably helped a bit there too, Claude figured.

Which was fine when the place was busy, because at those times Claude barely had time to register any of the noises the stupid arcade machines made, or indeed the noises that the stupid teenagers who came in to play them made.

There were change machines to refill, hot dogs to serve, bowling shoes to clean, and, if Claude was lucky, a teenage girl in a revealing top that he could peer down.

But not right now. Not in the middle of the day. The boss insisted that they had to open “to get the lunchtime crowd”, he said, but what he really meant was “You do it, Claude. You open up and sit in an empty bowling alley until the school rush starts.”

Claude knew that the boss was an idiot. But then, every boss Claude had ever had was an idiot.

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

Christ, but that noise was annoying. It was tempting, Claude thought, to go and just switch it off.

But no.

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

No, because while the boss was an idiot, he was an idiot who made a point of turning up at the oddest times, and the last thing Claude needed was to get fired for switching off one of the machines. Friday was pay day, but Thursday was rent day, and Claude was a bit short this week.

Getting fired wouldn’t help matters any there. Claude knew he couldn’t go back to the car wash, or the supermarket, or the garage. There was that new fried chicken place opening up on the other side of town, though. Claude figured he might drop in there and see if they had any work going. At least he’d be working with smells of fried chicken, rather than smells of teenage hormones and bowling shoes all day long.

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

Sure, there were still jobs to be done. The hot dogs could be started cooking, the vacuuming could be done on the carpet that was so cheap, it was already starting to wear thin on the entranceway. It was always possible – but unlikely – that one of the office workers from the council chambers over the road would drop in for a coffee, so the dining area needed a clean out too.

Not that anything was likely to happen until at least 3:30pm.

3:30pm was precisely 20 minutes after the school disgorged its pupils for the day, and exactly long enough for the first of them to push open the bowling alley’s front doors and descend for the afternoon trade. It was like clockwork, with 3:30-6:00pm really busy, then the evening bowling crowd – less of them if there was a show on at the RSL or something – until closing at 8pm. Then sweep up, lock up and go home.

Bwarm Bwarm Baderr!

That noise may have been annoying, but the queues to play it were long, and that meant that it was bringing in serious money.

It was only Wednesday, and usually the boss would only make one trip to the bank a week to deposit all the 20c pieces, but he’d already had to make a trip just to cover what Attack Space War had taken in over the weekend. The boss said he was thinking of buying another one.

Then it wouldn’t just be Bwarm Bwarm Baderr driving Claude mad.

It would be Bwarm Bwarm Baderr Bwarm Bwarm Baderr instead.

May as well clean it up, Claude figured. He got the bottle of supermarket-brand window cleaner and the cleaning cloth, and headed over, trying to block out the Bwarm Bwarm Baderr noise as he got closer.


The machine said on its screen.

Odd, thought Claude.

Nobody had been in all day, and he’d opened up and powered up all the machines earlier. Whenever there was a blackout all the kids would complain that they’d “lost their money” if they were playing, so Claude knew that there shouldn’t have been any free games sitting in Attack Space War.

And yet, 1 CREDIT was blinking at him from the screen.

Oh well, Claude thought.

Nobody’s here. We don’t do freebies, so I don’t want it still there when 3:30 rolls around.

May as well have just one little game…

So this week’s chosen tome (and I get the feeling that some of my friends might have worked this out already) is from my paperback (and well-worn) copy of The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams.

I mean, what else was I meant to do for week 42, really?

If you’re the truly curious type, it’s on page 86 of the paperback edition, 6th Printing, 1981.

It’s the noise that one of Disaster Area’s songs makes, as described by Ford Prefect.

And it would appear that I purchased my copy of this tome from the Armidale Beardy Street Book Exchange (there’s a stamp in it) and that it originally belonged to somebody called Judy Watterson. Because she wrote her name in it.

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