Friday, February 2, 2018

Killing Daniel

Killing Daniel
By Michael Cannata

Gus had the address at last! It had cost him a lot of time and some old favors, but he'd finally found, Daniel. And now he could kill him for real.

Gus loved playing video games; "Werewolf Wars" was the latest and greatest online game and was fast becoming popular. He spent at least 5 nights a week engaged in cyber wars with other people connected to the game online. Gus was very good! Battling evil forces was right up his alley.

Most wars games were based on soldiers and reality based characters, He did well but he found them restrictive when it came to challenging his imagination. His favorites games were fantasy based. Magic weapons, special abilities, worlds that don't follow the rules of reality, that's what he loved. That was where he spent most of his waking hours. His game console was a portal to a world of fantasy, inhabited by real people. A world he ruled whenever he was connected. It was where Gus escaped from reality.

Until, Daniel, came along.

Daniel had joined the online gaming group a few months ago and had quickly become a threat to his rule. Daniel was one of the most savage and feared werewolf warriors in the group. The first time they met in cyber-combat it was an epic battle. He won, convincingly, and Daniel didn't take it well.

Daniel was ugly and vicious in the way he spoke to people over the microphone. It wasn't like the average harmless trash talk that a lot of the players engaged in...  It was unbridled hate speech. It wasn't Daniel's success in battle that spawned Gus' hate for Daniel. It was his excessive taunting, insulting and the cruel and ugly personal remarks he made as he slaughtered his way to victory.

He made racist remarks constantly; he rained vicious slurs upon gays. He vilified people by religious and ethnic grouping. No topic was taboo or sacred, no person or situation was exempt from his verbal assaults.  If he sensed any way to effectively insult the person behind the video character he just destroyed, he would berate them without mercy or apology.

Whenever Daniel spoke to Gus he always referred to him as "The Old Faggot."  How Daniel knew he was gay was a mystery to him. As far as he believed, nobody in his life knew it either. He was still hiding in the closet as far as his family and friends were concerned.  He was married and had a wife and children. None of them knew. And now Daniel had announced it to the cyber world. He wondered how long it would take for the name to reach someone he knew in the real world.

He never beat Daniel again after the first meeting. With each loss the invective increased.  Daniel hurled the ugliest words he could muster after every victory for all the online players to hear.  He insulted his family and children as well as his race and heritage, but it wasn't until he started calling him The Old Faggot that he finally started to hate him as a person rather than some anonymous cyber being.

Daniel was the ultimate bully. And now he became a very real threat to someone who didn’t like to be threatened at all. Gus decided to find Daniel. Not the fantasy opponent, but the living breathing Daniel. And now he knew where he lived… and a lot more.

Gus was a trained assassin who served in the military. Killing people had been his job for 30 years. He retired active service years ago. He was 62, still in better shape than people half his age.  A couple of years ago a friend had given him an X-box video game. He started playing and found that he loved the game. All his friends found his addiction to video games pleasantly eccentric.

It was clear he would never beat Daniel in the cyber world. The only way to stop his venom was to catch the snake and cut off his head. All he needed was Daniel's address. He memorized the information he needed. He often wondered if he was still good enough to eliminate a target. Thanks to the motivation and opportunity that Daniel provided, he was about to find out.

He secured his weapon and prepared to travel to Daniel's home to wage battle their final battle.  Only this time it would be for real. It was just a Glock, 9mm hand gun with a silencer; nothing magic about it. It was more than enough to kill Daniel in the living flesh. He wanted the silencer so that he could be close when he took Daniel out.

He couldn’t shut Daniel up in the game world. He had a few things he wanted to say to Daniel before he deleted him from the real world altogether… permanently.
Daniel had forgotten that he's talking to real people. He was about to get a fatal reminder. He thought he was unbeatable, like the hate he spawned every day. He wasn't.  In the end, no matter how powerful he was in the online universe, he was just a man. Not a fantastic fantasy villain.

When it came to hunting down men in the real world… that was Gus's best game. Daniel didn't stand a chance.

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