enemy dispenser

manuscript-day eleven of 100

Overlay text points me to a decidedly surreal element, a large switch, its socket pasted to a brick wall. An enamel sign above it reads ‘enemy dispenser.’ Gathering all my guts I am stepping up to the oversized button and ‘engage.’
    Sudden excited shouting in the street. Outside my field of vision (FOV) a yet unknown number of bad guys has spawned. While I am hastily turning around a gun cracks. Blood sprays, the stereo headphones relay a pressed ‘Ugh!’ to my brain. Payne’s way of quitting him being hit. Panic stricken, having no idea where the projectile originated from, I am running across the street, dodging into suspected safety behind a parked car. Crouching there, condensed breath rhythmically appearing in front of my face, I realize that I have lost health.
    The according gauge in the lower left corner of the screen, next to the bullet time hourglass, unsparingly shows me this risk-aggravating factor. When health melts down to nil, I am dead. The health-meter is designed as the silhouette of the one who has nothing to lose, the outlawed ex-undercover cop Max Payne. My silhouette. At the moment it appears to me like the oh so familiar chalked outline of a corpse on concrete. Dead man walking.
    My meditations on the balancing of the game’s health- or damage-point system are brought to a grinding halt by catching a glimpse of pants legs in the corner of my eye. One of those aggressive blokes has spotted me hiding behind the forlorn car, and already came around.
    I am facing his gun’s muzzle at point blank range. The bore is octagonal instead of round, I am shootdodging sideways. Although bullet time gives me plenty of opportunity to aim, I only manage to bring my crosshairs to his stomach. The impact makes him tumble backwards, but does not bring him to the ground. Realizing that he is preparing to attack again, I am leveling my Beretta with his line of sight.
    One down, nothing to celebrate, the others are storming towards me, guns blazing. Sending a fan of bullets into their general direction does no good. I am failing to hit and run out of ammunition.
    ‘WASD,’ the space bar, the whole keyboard, the mouse, even the screen are forgotten, from now on only registered by the subconscious, I am no more actively aware of operating them. I am running, crouching, dodging, and shooting for my life. I am Max Payne, out ‘in the violent, cold urban night.’
    Rushing into the fleeting cover of a doorstep, a trash bin, the bus shelter, the safety railing of the entrance to ‘Roscoe Street Station.’ Streetlevel standard city elements seemingly get inscribed with new meanings out of the urban warfare field manual.

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