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BioShock Infinite Midnight Release, Bemidji

By Yami Blanford

 

There was an awkwardness to this night. Mostly because of me.

I thought it was going to be fabulous, lots of people, cheering and excitement. I dressed up. Not a normal dress up, but an awkward nerd dress up. I cosplayed. I dressed up like a character from a video game. No one else did.

My dress was torn at the hem, and I wore a bloody apron around my waist. My hair was pulled back, and layers of purple, black, red and brown make-up exaggerated dark lines under my eyes. I was a Little Sister. I was a salute to BioShock 1&2.

If there had been a wall clock, it would have been ticking obnoxiously as my manager and I sat around the store. There was one person outside. He must have been the biggest fan in the world to sit out there since six o’clock in twenty-degree-weather.  The temperature just dropped and dropped. Every time I went out for a smoke, shaking from the cold in my knee-length dress and tights, I grew more and more jealous of all his blankets that seemed to multiply every hour. Every time I went out, I expected there to be a line. There never was.

Inside I smelled of smoke and a little bit of dirt that I used to rough up my dress in attempts to look more authentic. The television over the back counter played the exact same trailer for BioShock Infinite every three minutes. Eventually I would slowly raise one arm, head banging slowly, horned fingers raising and falling dramatically as my voice joined the commercial:

“Stand tall for the beast of America, lay down like a naked dead body, keep it real for the people working overtime, they can’t stay living off the government’s dime.” I said it so many times that night I started to believe in it. Like it was becoming my new mantra for life.

Midnight came and went with a total of twenty-three dedicated and excited customers picking up their copies of BioShock Infinite.
 

***

 

Downtown Laundry, Bemidji

By Amanda Pearson

 

The warm scent of detergent meets me at the door as I walk into Downtown Laundry. The sound of clinking buttons or zippers echoes throughout the oblong room, and a small child dances to Billy Joel. I soon find my seat, resting against the cold metal of an empty dryer. It matches the harsh temperature outside as the sun sets and the cold starts to drop to even lower digits.

The snap of fabric wakes me from my daze as a large woman starts to fold sheets. The family closest to me begins to take loads of clean laundry out to their car, bearing the cold without jackets on their short trip. Their small child runs to the vending machines with a handful of change to pick out a laundromat dinner of Cheez-Its. She struggles and the sound of the bag ripping open fills the room as she makes her way out the door.

A small pink sock is left behind as they drive away, leaving me alone with an elderly couple and a twenty-something guy with brown fuzz covering his face. I hear small bits of conversation over the hum of the washers that are left running. The three of them talk of chemistry and black powder. I don’t understand.

Alone in the corner stands an old Pac-Man game with pictures that don’t match the current image of Pac-Man, nor his ghostly enemies. Their shapes flick across the screen in a dull glow.

Another flick of folding sheets grabs my attention as the woman folds and packs the last of her laundry. Her husband seems of no help as he continues to talk to the younger man, even after she leaves with their blue, cracked baskets.

The two men talk about what sounds like cars or snowmobiles. One pulls out a tattered wallet either to show a photo or share a business card. Soon I am left alone with my laundry and the twenty-something guy who pulls his clothes out of a dryer and sits next to the wrinkling pile as his face hovers over his phone. His hand moves to his pocket and starts to jingle coins saved for another day.

Fake plants add a hint of green to the mostly blue room as the radio station reports weather: “High of thirty-three degrees tomorrow with a slight chance of snow as we head into the evening hours. Stay tuned for more weather news as you listen to 95.5 KZY.”
 

***

 

Movie Theater, Bemidji

By Kelsey Sutton

 

It’s cold. My stomach is full, almost too full, as we wait in line. I shouldn’t have eaten all those pancakes at Perkins. But I can’t bring myself to regret it; I can still taste the sugary sweetness of the syrup in my mouth.

“We’re going to be late,” my friend Randi mutters, glaring at the girl behind the register. I hug myself and just nod, wishing we could move away from the window. We’re here because there’s nothing else to do. We’re too young to drink and it’s too cold to think about anything else. So here we are.

It’ll be a good distraction for Randi. She’s been in love with the same guy for years, and the timing for them never seems to work out. Lately, he’s been talking a lot about his new girlfriend. Every time Randi recounts their conversations, her eyes burn and her jaw clenches.

Eventually the line moves and we shuffle up to the counter to get our tickets. We decide to see Oz. Of course we need to get popcorn.

“Give me so much butter that it makes the kernels soggy,” I say to the employee. She laughs.

Once we have our treats and our drinks, Randi and I hunt down our theater. Other conversations fill my ears; someone talks on their cell phone, and a man tells his friend about a new car he bought.

We settle in our seats, eyes adjusting to the darkness. Ads flash on the screen.

“What does he even see in her?” Randi demands, shoving food in her mouth. She chews angrily.

“He’s an idiot.” I don’t know what else to say—I’ve said all the usual things—so I just wait for the movie to come on. After a few minutes, it does. We lose ourselves in the moving pictures, images of witches and monkeys and yellow roads.

Then the movie is ending, and we stand while the credits roll.

“What did you think?” I ask Randi as we leave the theater. The parking lot is bright and loud as people rush to their cars.

She sighs. “I wish his girlfriend would get flattened by a house.”
laundromat2Yami Blanford is an avid gamer and consequently has a love for writing fantasy and sci-fi. Amanda Pearson will graduate with a BFA from Bemidji State in May and will pursue an MFA at Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Kelsey Sutton is a junior at BSU; her book Some Quiet Place will be published this July, and she will graduate in May of 2014 with her BA in English.