He turned around and looked for the source of the almost inaudible voice who called his name. As his red eyes scanned the place, the voice got absorbed by the metallic and electronic sounds piercing through the atmosphere. The whole place was vibrating with loud shouts of winning and losing and yet he could hear his blood running and his heart beating.
He turned again and saw Mikhaila waving at him. His lips curved into a warm smile and his right dimple showed as he walked towards her. As he reached near her, a small arc formed on his eyebrows and his slightly opened mouth transformed into a big smile.
"Hey man, so glad to see you," a big fat boy tapped his shoulder. It was Jason, the loudest of them all. "We thought you were a goner."
Benjie, a tall tan boy greeted him with a light punch on the face. "Damn you Simon! What's with your eyes?"
Simon's laugh vibrated inside the arcade. "I told you already, I had migraine attacks."
"No one believes you, nerd." the guy playing Patrol 117 said. He turned around and ducked while loading his light gun. "Everyone knows you are busy playing video games."
"If you give us your newest cheats we won't tell the teachers." Jason smirked while hitting on his targets. "Damn you, Pete why are you hiding, this ain't motion sensored."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm on it." Pete stood up and fired his gun. When his character died, he kicked the game machine. "This is crap. Let's try the 3D ones."
"Shut up, I ain't done yet." Jason shouted.
"Hey dude, did you bring your cards?" Benjie whispered.
Simon smiled and took two cracked Mossy Maze cards from his pocket.
"Enjoy unlimited gaming," he whispered back with a devilish grin.
"That's what I'm talking about." Benjie took one and dragged Pete to the other vacant machines.
Simon moved closer to Mikhaila and smiled, "Hey, wassup? Where are the others?"
"Ah, they're on Destroyers right now." Mikhaila tilted her head and looked at his eyes. "Are those red contacts?"
“Uhm, yeah. Can't play without glasses."
"What a flashy guy," she said as she tried to suppressed her laughter.
First, they went to Destroyers II and checked out on Mirel and Micah who were both terrified upon seeing his red contacts. They left the two and watched elementary students play Virtual Pac-Man III and PacMan Vs Golden Aliens. Simon invited Mikhaila to play Dash of Zombies, a 3D obstacle race where you need to kill zombies and overcome blood and mud trails full of bugs to reach the goal. However, Mikhaila didn't even reached half way through the game and surrendered with a queasy face.
Simon laughed when Mikhaila admitted she hated zombie and any other bloody games. But when they tried the racing games, the rosy color in her cheeks had returned. He enjoyed seeing her happy and getting flustered at the same time. Her soft voice seemed to calm his nervous heart as he stood a little closer to her.
They reached the 90s Classic Game Area and Mikhaila placed her fingers on her chin. Simon stopped walking while she moved around from one game to another. She stopped in front of the Street Fighter II machine where a grown-up man was playing with a 10 year-old boy.
Simon's eyes dilated when he looked at the two players. He heard the ticking of a clock as the hour hand stroke passed 12 midnight. Slowly, the noise around him faded until he saw his father in a dark but familiar room where they both played video games until morning. He heard his father's usual chuckle while his sturdy shoulders and chest began to move up and down. His father looked at him and his eyes changed from dark to light brown.
When he blinked, he saw Mikhaila smiling at him while pointing at the machine which was now vacant. He scratched the back of his hair as he walked towards her.
"What's wrong?" she asked..
"Nothing," Simon said as they both sat down the two empty chairs.