Category Archives: World


The Secret Diary of Max Payne: Day as a children’s entertainer

Dear Diary

I’ve faced down psychopaths armed with rocket launchers, spitting hatred at me from behind a teflon shield while I pump them full of bullets. I’ve broken a man’s arm, then beat him to death with the wet squishy end. I even fired an old lady out of a confetti cannon through a chain link fence (wait, that was another game…damn). But nothing I’ve faced so far compares to the day I started my new job.

“It’s easy Max” said Passos. “Breeze in, rub shoulders with some sexy soccer moms, do your thing, pick up your paycheck then book out.”

Through a ginger-beer haze I said yes.

999 Mockingbird Avenue was the address on the slip. Passos said I could pick up a bag of equipment from a lockup on 33rd and Main. The place smelled like the inside of a rabbit’s cage in high summer but the bag was there. Passos told me not to look inside until I got to the place. Natural curiosity has never been my thing, I always believed that sticking your nose into things is a surefire way to get your schnozz shot off.

The house was nice, sitting behind a white picket fence but all the warning signs were there. I just chose to ignore them. The swing set. The paddling pool. The damned Little Tikes Wendy House. Goddamn I should’ve just turned right around, found the nearest bar and poured myself two fingers of unconsciousness but like a boneheaded idiot I just carried on walking.

I rang the doorbell, a cheery little chime that sounded like a robot bird singing “Au Clair De La Lune” or some other shit.

A curvaceous woman answered the door, showing just enough cleavage to make me think Right Said Fred had taken up residence under her blouse.

“Heyyyyyy! You must be Max! Come in! Come in!” she twittered, ushering me through the door. Somewhere at the back of the house I could hear noises. Animal noises, like the noise you probably hear on a mink farm when it’s skinning time.

Maisie, the well stacked broad, walked on ahead leading me by the hand. She moved like liquid mercury poured over ratafia biscuits. I tried not to let it distract me, hefted the bag and followed.

“HEYYYY Everyone! Look who’s here! It’s Max the Puppet Master!”

In the few microseconds it took my visual cortex to register the scene, and the extra seconds it took my brain to process what was going on I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut. Cold sweat broke out across my back and shoulders like I’d been hit with a freeze ray.

“Kids. Oh my gentle Jesus. Kids!”

Struggling to stay vertical I looked in the bag. Two hand puppets and a shiny red clowns nose looked back at me forlornly.

“READ US A STORY UNKIE MAX!” shouted the dozen or so voices, sounding like the ghostly voices of a scratched gramophone record.

“STO-RY STO-RY STO-RY!” they echoed…

What happened for the next hour was a complete blur. No bourbon hangover, no amphetamine-fuelled nightmare, no jilted hooker or coke-crazed drug baron could compare to that hour of terror. Kids clambering over each other, snot – oh god – so much snot, everywhere and over everything. I swear I saw one kid grind an oreo into the cream-coloured vanity rug with his heel while another kid stuck a half-licked lolly to his mother’s butt while she was using her smartphone to update her twitter feed.

There was no choice. I dived through the closed window, vaulted the paddling pool, dived over the picket fence and ran. Just ran.

Two days later, Passos rang. He was plenty pissed.

Copyright Notice
This article first appeared on Dead Pixels on Toast and is reproduced here with the express permission of the author. The original article can be found here.


This is Max Payne

The Secret Diary of Max Payne: Making a cup of tea

Dear Diary,

The day started like any other. The usual shaft of light beaming through the crack in the curtain and the shrill constant beeping of next door’s alarm clock scratching at the walls. Christ, the only thing missing from this picture was the dustman reversing down the road clattering the green plastic tops of wheelie-bins like a rejected cast member of Stomp wreaking revenge on the sleepy town of Bromley.

It had been 3 months since I’d left the favelas of Sao Paulo, and with New Jersey seemingly closed off to me, I’d packed my pockets and set off for the sunny south-east of England; I figured that at least here I’d be free from the streets of bullets, grime, and crime. How wrong I was.

As I swung my legs out of bed and sat up, I noticed something odd. Well, odd to any normal person, to me it had just simply happened again. I stood up, the creases running rampant in the clothes I’d slept in, and swallowed a lungful of air. The alarm. It was still beeping. For all the good it would do I banged on the wall. Unsurprisingly the alarm kept going, so I decided it was time to get up, have a cup of tea, and think about leaving the house.

The dull hum of the refrigerator the only sign of life alongside the stale chemical smell of empty cans of energy drink that hung in the air like a re-used birthday banner.

The kitchen was dark. The dull hum of the refrigerator the only sign of life alongside the stale chemical smell of empty cans of energy drink that hung in the air  like a re-used birthday banner. I shuffled forward with all the motivation of a 14 year old science nerd getting changed for PE. I knew I was going to stub my toe, it was simply a matter of when.

The kettle. I filled it with water and flicked the switch. It bubbled to life a lot quicker than I’d ever managed to do, and as it did I reached for the teabags. One left. Hell, maybe it was going to be my lucky day after all. The water was reaching a crescendo. The raging liquid spat and frothed, shouting at me that it was time to pour.

As I stood waiting for the tea to infuse I listened to the fridge seemingly getting louder, like the propellers of a chopper hovering in a LZ. My mind wandered.  The running, the gun fire, the sound of an approaching chopper. The sight of a way out. The thought of that bastard leaving me in the shit after all I’d done for him…

I looked down. The tea was starting to stew. I looked around for a spoon only to be disappointed with the lack of tea stirring cutlery in this shitty apartment. The only visible alternative was a jam streaked knife. It would do. With a flick of the knife, the bag went flying across the darkened kitchen and landed in the sink. Score one for, Max Payne. Only one thing was missing. Milk.

The stench of some moldy cheese was the first thing to climb up my nostrils and use my nose hair as a rope swing, closely followed by the eye watering sight of some furry ham.

I stepped towards the Mark 1 apache refrigeration unit and opened the door. The bright white light flooded the kitchen. The stench of some moldy cheese was the first thing to climb up my nostrils and use my nose hair as a rope swing, closely followed by the eye watering sight of some furry ham. My eyes darted around the fridge looking for something resembling cow juice. Nothing. Shit.

The door! Max you dick, the milk is always in the door.

I looked to the right and reached across in anticipation, a milk bottle smiling back at me, there was clearly enough for a man sized cup of tea.

Oh yes, it was going to be a good day.

My fingers curled around the edges of the bottle and I lifted that sucker out of the door. In any other decent person’s story, that would be it. Tea made and on with the day. But not me. Not a chance. That would be too easy.

As I turned towards the mug, bottle in hand, the slippery bastard leapt from my grip. I watched as the glass smashed around my feet in slow motion, a mix of milky white and crimson red as the shards tore at my fleshy foot fingers.

This, I concluded, was my life.

Copyright Notice
This article first appeared on Dead Pixels on Toast and is reproduced here with the express permission of the author. The original article can be found here.



Village’s catchy theme music helps boost tourism

A small, nondescript trading village has reported a dramatic increase in the number of lingering visitors thanks to its theme music being just so damn good.

Residents of Etrova, who are accustomed to the passing trade of travelers looking to stock up on weapons and magical artifacts before journeying out into the world beyond, say that a growing number of adventurers are choosing to remain in town, wandering or standing around for days on end in some cases, because, as one person who makes a living collecting monsters and training them to fight explained, “the theme music here is fucking great!”

Among the growing number of adventurers killing time in the quaint but otherwise completely forgettable town are a young boy and his fairy companion from a nearby forest, a band of angsty teenage mercenaries looking for work, and a mystical white wolf.

“We’re on the hunt for a dangerous man who’s trying to get his hands on an ancient power that will allow him to siphon off the souls of all life on the planet or something”, said one spiky-haired adventurer. “But after hearing the awesome music here we decided to stick around for a couple of days to just enjoy it.”

An armor-clad warrior, who our reporter found sat on the ground humming and swaying along with the distinctive jingle, agreed that the village’s theme music was pretty catchy.

“I concede that I am wasting time”, he said. “The dragons will soon come and rain hellfire down upon this mortal land, and whilst I must seek guidance from the Elders who reside in the high mountains of Faregor, I am smitten by the peaceful melody that echoes through this tranquil place.”

However, some residents claim they don’t understand what the big fuss is about.

“I’m actually completely sick of it”, admitted one long-time resident. “The bloody thing just loops round and round. Sometimes you think it’s finally stopped then… BANG! There it goes again. It’s driving me fucking crazy.

“I’ve been to other towns and their music sometimes changes, you know, like after a horrible event or when I’m having some sort of weird flashback. But ours is always the same, day after day, month after month. I really don’t know how much longer I can take it.”


World War II shows no sign of ending

Roughly 70 years after the first shot was fired, it seems nothing — not the billions of lives lost, not the trillions of dollars spent, not even the repeated assassination of the dreaded Mecha-Hitler — will bring about the end of World War II. Citizens the world over have begun to wonder if the brutal, destructive conflict will ever end, and why it hasn’t already.

“Well, It’s an extremely popular war,” says Sergeant Bill Taylor, who has personally participated in thousands of invasions of Normandy. “Simple as that. Soldiers love it. Ask a soldier to choose which war he’d most like to fight and die in, and he’ll choose World War II. Every time.”

Variety, Taylor surmises, is one of the big reasons the war remains so popular with soldiers both young and old. “You like tanks? Planes? Trench warfare? Submarines? You want to shoot guys close-up, or give orders to a squad from a safe distance? You want to fight in Europe or Russia or Africa or the Pacific? World War II has got it all. It’s just a fantastic war.”

Taylor admits recruitment in the decades-long conflict does seem to drop from time to time, but remains confident that every few months the fighting will escalate once more, drawing in new combatants as well as battle-hardened veterans.

“Sometimes soldiers will leave and try out another war. Maybe in another time period, like Ancient Rome or the Napoleonic Era. Sometimes they go fight in space or with a bunch of stupid elves or something, but eventually they come back to good old World War II.”

Mecha-Hitler’s repeated deaths have done little to end the war.

“Sure, there are more modern conflicts,” he adds. “The Middle East is hot right now. But World War II is a classic, and you just can’t beat a classic.”

As well as its popularity among soldiers, some cite the increase in complexity of the seemingly endless war as an important factor in its longevity.

“Early on in the war, the conflict was relatively simple, maybe a single pilot in a Super Ace plane, trying to single-handedly destroy the Japanese fleet,” says Captain B.J. Blazkowicz, who has fought in numerous campaigns against Nazi forces.

“When I started fighting, it was just me, creeping around a Nazi stronghold, bribing guards, unlocking chests, looking for secret Nazi war plans. Later, it got a lot more violent and more complicated. More weapons, more enemies. Now, instead of lone soldiers facing throngs of Axis enemies by themselves, I look around and see the battlefields are full of soldiers. Twenty-four, thirty-two, sometimes even more.”

Whether due to popularity, complexity, or the sheer number of different ways for soldiers to join the fight, it remains certain that World War II is showing no signs of letting up.

“When faced with the choice of fighting in modern conflicts, space wars of the future, or sword-and sorcery battles in medieval or fantasy realms,” Sergeant Taylor concludes, “we’re finding that  many soldiers will still choose World War II.”

“Let’s face it. No one will ever get tired of killing Nazis.”


Adventurers told to stop wasting time cooking, dating and buying houses

The Guild of Heroes has raised concern that adventurers are increasingly spending more time cooking, collecting insignificant objects and undertaking tedious odd jobs than they do saving the world.

In a strongly worded open letter, Guild Chairman Jarvis Ravenclaw blasted adventurers who “continually deviated from their mission to pursue personal interests”, with shocking examples of heroes caught dating, getting married and even purchasing property whilst they were meant to be working.

Speaking to The Daily Pixel, Mr Ravenclaw explains that the problem has intensified in recent years, with some heroes now choosing to ignore their main quest altogether.

“Productivity is really down at the moment”, Mr Ravenclaw says with a sigh. “We’re seeing adventurers take up to 80 hours to complete quests that, if they just focussed on the task at hand, would only take half that time. I know of at least one case where an adventurer simply spent his time collecting rare herbs and wild flowers. Sure, he ended up with one of the most impressive and beautiful botany collections the world has ever known, but millions of people died as a result”.

Mr Ravenclaw is clear that he and his organisation don’t begrudge hardworking heroes engaging in a few extra-curricular activities, provided that it didn’t impact on their performance.

“Everyone needs a break, and if an adventurer wants to spend a few minutes fishing, playing cards or chatting with locals I’m not going to stand in their way”, he says. “But a small minority is abusing this trust and sullying the good name of heroes and adventurers everywhere.”

Yvette Northwind, a local NPC, told us she was increasingly surprised by adventurers’ willingness to undertake seemingly endless odd jobs for her and other townsfolk, even with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

“One day this new guy appeared in town and we started chatting”, she says. “He told me that the forces of darkness were slowly consuming the world and that he was on an urgent quest to prevent the extinction of humanity. However, when I mentioned I’d lost my pet cat, he jumped at the chance to find him for me. I tried to decline his offer as I felt he should probably focus on his quest, but he was so insistent I had no choice. Even after he’d found my cat he asked whether he could help me collect ingredients for a pie I was making. In the end I had to get my husband to chuck him out as he was getting a bit creepy.”

The Guild of Heroes told us that it was considering introducing compulsory hero timesheets, which adventurers would use to record how they spend their time. However, some are worried that epic adventures will become bogged down with red tape and form filling, which itself will distract individuals from questing.


Adventurer rescued after becoming completely tangled in incredibly long scarf

An adventurer on his way to the peak of a distant mountain had to be rescued after he became completely tangled up in his 30-foot-long scarf.

The unlucky individual, who has asked not to be named, got into difficulty shortly after commencing his journey and was only saved thanks to the actions of a kind-hearted passerby who spent 3 hours unknotting him.

The passerby told The Daily Pixel: “When I first came across the guy I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I’d been having some pretty crazy hallucinations beforehand, so I initially thought I was seeing things again. From a distance he just looked like a huge pile of fabric, flapping in the wind. However, as I got closer I realised what had happened and set about trying to free him from his silky tomb.

“It was after I’d unravelled him that he told me he was heading for the big mountain in the distance. I asked him why he was heading there, but he just shrugged his shoulders and ran off. I hope he made it okay.”


Moody teenager with long hair and bad attitude told he may have to save world

Described by friends and family as “completely unlikeable”, “excessively dramatic” and “needlessly grumpy”, the young Shima Moonheart was today utterly disinterested to discover that he may have to save the world.

Upon being informed that the fate of humanity could soon rest in his hands, the indolent teenager rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to stare despondently into the distance, occasionally yawning loudly.

The Daily Pixel took the opportunity to speak to the reluctant hero-to-be and, in an exclusive interview, sought to understand his irritating demeanour.

With a skinny frame, pale complexion and long black hair covering his self-doubting eyes, Shima greets us with a pathetically limp handshake.

“…”, he says, refusing to make eye contact. “… …” he adds sarcastically, showing no emotion.

However, asked whether he believes himself capable of leading a ragtag gang of equally dislikeable and melodramatic teenage misfits on an illogical adventure of discovery, Shima becomes visibly irritated.

“Of course I’m capable”, he yells. “If I wanted to I could do anything, but I don’t want to do anything because there isn’t anything worth doing. We’re all going to die one day so we might as well just accept it. Screw this interview, I’m not talking to you anymore…”

Turning to walk away, Shima inadvertently triggers a random battle and spends the next twenty minutes fighting off the advances of a large magical frog wearing a top hat and a monocle.

“It’s crap like this that makes me so depressed”, Shima wheezes, as he loots the bloody remains of the amphibian for gold coins and an assortment of oversized weapons. “I mean, where the hell did that frog come from and why was he so pissed off with me?”

On the subject of his slight build and androgynous appearance, Shima had little to say. However, he expressed hope that he might enjoy a late growth spurt.


Concern over military cutbacks as lone pilot sent to intercept 100,000 alien spacecrafts

The fate of humanity once again hangs in the balance after NASA announced it had discovered an armada of over 100,000 hostile alien spacecrafts erratically zigzagging its way across the galaxy towards Earth.

The US Government has appealed for calm in the face of almost certain mass extinction, assuring angry citizens that the decision to send a single lightweight vessel to intercept the gargantuan fleet was not financially motivated.

However, speaking exclusively to The Daily Pixel from his cramped cockpit, pilot and Earth’s last hope James Carter admitted that he had some niggling concerns about his perilous and clearly under-resourced mission.

“To be honest, when they asked whether I’d be willing to join the fight to save Earth I didn’t realise I’d be going alone”, Carter says, forcing a nervous laugh. “They keep telling me I’ll be fine, that I am a brave and courageous hero, but I can’t stop thinking it’d be sensible to send a few more ships, you know, just in case I don’t make it. They’re really putting all their eggs in one basket if you ask me.”

In addition to being outnumbered 100,000 to 1, Carter says he also has serious concerns about the suitability of his tiny craft, particularly its limited range of movement.

“Shortly after leaving Earth I discovered my ship can only move up and down”, he says, wiggling his control stick left and right to demonstrate the problem. “Sure, I can speed up and slow down, but that’s it! I’m not one to moan, but this is really going to limit my tactical options. I wanted to head back to Earth to get it fixed, but I have no way of turning around.”

He continues: “I’m also not particularly happy with my main gun which seems pretty puny when you consider what I’m up against. I’m told it’s upgradable, but I don’t really fancy messing around with it whilst I’m single-handedly fighting an entire alien civilisation intent on eradicating mankind. It’s a distraction I just don’t need.”

As the valiant pilot heads deeper into the cold, dark vacuum of space at speeds in excess of 34mph, communication becomes difficult and we quickly lose contact. Struggling to hear through the static, we think we can make out the faint sound of techno music, although this could not be verified.

The US Department of Defense has sought to allay fears, stating that whilst the alien invaders possessed unimaginably advanced technology far superior to our own, they were nonetheless exceptionally dim-witted and prone to flying in easily predicable formations.


Local man sick to death of all these zombies

Describing himself as “a pretty tolerant kind of guy” and “someone who holds mainly liberal views”, 27-year-old business analyst Alan McGregor nevertheless said yesterday that he was actually “really fed up” with the plague of zombies that has hit his city.

Speaking to reporters from behind the makeshift barricade he has erected in his living room, McGregor said he felt like he could live with his new neighbours’ bloodthirsty and monomaniacal nature if only they weren’t all so insufferably boring.

“It’s just that they have so little to say for themselves,” McGregor said. “Between you and me, it’s almost enough to make me want to take a chainsaw to the whole shambling mass of them.”

He continued: “Normally, my attitude is live and let live. But these zombies aren’t even really alive, are they? So, you know, it’s difficult.”

McGregor complained that he has to run the gauntlet of the ravening, boorish horde every weekday on his commute to and home from work.

“I’ll be trying to get to my car and there’ll be twenty or thirty of them clustered around me, moaning and groaning to themselves, practically clambering over one another to get at my internal organs”, he said. “I literally have to fight them off with my briefcase.”

McGregor told us that things rarely improve even when he reaches the relative safety of his office.

“I’ve always tried to keep things on a professional level at work,” he said. “But it’s hard to stay focussed on the job when Mark from Accounts and Jenny from Marketing are salivating at you over the partition wall.

Nothing gets done anymore. In meetings it’s a real struggle to get everyone to stick to the agenda. They keep getting up out of their chairs, stumbling towards me, pawing at my body and trying to take a bite out of my face. I usually have to give up on the whole thing and leave the room. Honestly, most days I get so bored I could scream.”

Depressingly, even family members appear to be succumbing to this scourge of tediousness as the zombie infection spreads.

McGregor explained that on Sunday evening he had telephoned his mother for their weekly catch-up: “We were just chatting away and I was enjoying having a normal conversation for once. Suddenly there was the sound of breaking glass and then a brief, bloodcurdling yell. After that, all Mum could say was ‘Brains! Brains! I want to eat your brrraaaiiinnnssssss!’ And I just thought, ‘Oh, God. Not you as well!'”

McGregor said it took a further twenty minutes to get his mother off the phone.

Throughout the interview, McGregor was insistent that he had nothing against zombies per se. But he did admit that the growing ranks of the undead in the local area had made him seriously consider moving somewhere else.

“I heard the zombies haven’t made it as far as Birmingham,” he said. “But I’m not sure I can stomach the thought of moving that far north”.


Anger and confusion after alchemist sells blue healing potions and red mana potions

Wizard and warrior unions are threatening legal action against an alchemist selling blue healing potions and red mana potions.

Both guilds say they have been inundated with complaints from members who have become confused in the heat of battle and lost valuable XP.

“We had one sorcerer only 95XP away from reaching Level 4 who became totally confused whilst fighting a particularly tough boss,” said Wizard Guild spokesman Oldbeard Pointy-Hat.

“He had been using an effective combination of crowd control spells and buffs, but they were draining mana like crazy. With his main buff about to expire he needed to quickly top up his mana, so he did what any wizard would do in that situation – he spammed those blue bottles. The next thing he knows, he’s standing there trying to cast his spell but nothing happens. Of course, the boss then charges in and starts doing some major damage. Our member has very few Hit Points due to a glandular problem, and so he was in serious trouble straight away. So what does he do? He necks some red potions, only for nothing to happen again.”

He went on: “Needless to say, the fight did not end well. He should be a good earner, a Level 5 Wizard, but instead he’s dropped to Level 3. He has a family to feed and we believe the alchemist is to blame. You can’t ignore years of color coding tradition.”

The Wizards Guild was not the first to contact The Daily Pixel, and Warrior Guild representatives are reported to be “very angry”.

Even NPCs have begun to criticise the alchemist, claiming that some of the food products on sale at the store are of a poor quality.

Random Villager said: “I got hurt when an adventurer cast an area of effect offensive spell during a low level goblin attack. I didn’t want to get the guard involved so the adventurer agreed to buy me some food from the shop in way of an apology. However, I ate the food and nothing happened! I didn’t regain any lost HP, there was no improved rate of healing, not even a morality meter alteration! It really annoyed me as I went for a vegetarian option to be healthy but, as far as I could tell, there were no statistical benefit to eating the food. Sure, it tasted nice and I stopped being hungry, but there was no tangible benefit to that carrot whatsoever.”

However, alchemist and store owner Alotta Coin insists customers should not expect anything else from her goods.

She said: “The healing potions are blue because they are mostly water – the purest and healthiest substance known to man. Why should the colour blue have anything magical about it? And red has always represented power and danger – and what could be more dangerous than a fully-powered wizard about to bring flaming death down upon on a crowd of enemies?”

Ms Coin also stated that it was preposterous to think that consuming any type of food product would bring about an immediate improvement in health, let alone cure life-threatening injuries.