Achievement earned: 200 reviews.
Bonus level unlocked.
Dark and stormy nights may have been cliché, but this one was starting to actually shift into the realm of frightening. The lights flickered and the game characters held their breath as they hurried through the central station. The usual PSA of Sonic repeating the dangers of dying outside one's game had been replaced with bright red backgrounds holding flashing exclamation points. Everyone, go home. It was dangerous to be out.
Ralph parted with Vanellope in game central station, both of them hugging each other while silently turning their backs on Felix and Calhoun, giving them some privacy while they said their goodbyes. Surge protector was circling the games, scribbling on his clipboard like mad. For the first time in a long time, it was the middle of the night and the power strip was empty.
"Ralph, I'm scared." Vanellope whispered, biting her lip. "What if I forget you? What if my gl-l-litching goes away?" She asked, her body turning to blue code as she worried.
The large man couldn't soothe her fears because he didn't know the answer. All he could do was hope for the best. "It'll be alright, kiddo." Maybe the power wouldn't go out. It had only happened once, in the blackout of '86 that lasted two whole days. Turbo was furious for missing all the racing he could have done. All Ralph remembered was that some games were different than others, some remembered and some didn't.
Dig Dug was still swearing he got plugged in right after the black out.
As they retreated to their respective games, Felix and Ralph gave a final wave to their female counterparts in unison before they climbed about the Fix-It-Felix Jr. train in silence. They're trip back home was short, and when they arrived they made short work of getting to their posts. Ralph climbed the outside of the building while Felix took the elevator. They joined the others on the roof. Ralph took a moment to feel scared for Q*bert- if the game shut off, all their friends would... Die.
"Looks good to me." Felix said as he took a standing position on Ralph's shoulder with a pair of pixelated binoculars, hit with his hammer a few times to give them some drastic improvements. Ralph held out a hand to take them, handling them with care so Felix wouldn't have to waste time fixing them up again. With a hold on them that only needed two fingers, the larger man took a look of his own. Felix was right. The sign on the building across the street was still lit, proclaiming something having to do with 'filing taxes', whatever those were. This was their beacon of warning- sometimes the light went out before the arcade went down, and the pause gave everyone time to brace themselves if the lights started flickering and the power strip started to fail.
But then a pair of bright headlights suddenly swamped Ralph's vision, and he yelled in both pain and surprise as he dropped the binoculars. They hit the edge of the building and tumbled down, shattering on the ground twelve stories below. Felix winced. "What's wrong, brother?" But the door to the arcade was unlocked and opened, scaring the games as the wind and rain blew in. Lightning illuminated a shadowy figure as the door closed, and the figured hurried away so the door could slam behind them.
All the arcade games were unsure of what to do, but it didn't matter. The figure hefted something heavy in their arms and grunted from the effort, turning away from the blinking screens. As they watched in silence, the darkened figure rushed to the back room labeled 'employees only'. The swinging door closed behind them, and the games were left in awe and confusion. "What was that?" Ralph muttered, but he looked out across the street again and noticed a tiny red light was blinking erratically. "The sign!" He yelled, and Felix was already busy climbing down the building to get what was left of the binoculars. Ralph ran his hands through his hair and looked over to Sugar Rush, where Vanellope's hand was placed on the screen, her lip wobbling. The poor kid was terrified.
Felix returned and Ralph held him up so he could see. "Oh my land, the sign's going out!" He yelled, and a low babble rose up in the arcade, characters panicking, saying goodbye to each other, even pleading with the electricity to stay on, as if it was a figure that could be reasoned with.
The lights began to flicker.
Ralph gulped and Felix lowered his binoculars, hopping down to stand next to his friend and brother. The wrecker looked down at him and gave him a weak smile, then looked up to see Vanellope. She was hugging Taffyta, who was sobbing uncontrollably. She looked up at Ralph and bit her lip as everyone's screens began to flicker as well, the power strip sputtering to maintain its charge.
The lights went out.
But as Ralph closed his eyes, waiting for the game to die, the power flickered for half a second before it came on again, lights dim but functional, the games still running as they were before. Everyone mumbled in confusion and Felix donned the binoculars again, looking across the street. "The sign's out." He confirmed before looking to Ralph, an unspoken question passing between them. Why was their power still on?
That was when the figure that had stormed in exited the back room. The coat and hood that had shadowed his face was off, and they saw it was Mr. Litwak, looking rather awkward in a pair of slippers pajama pants, and a black bathrobe. He looked around and stood with his hands on his hips, sighing as he looked around. The games stayed quiet.
"Darn weatherman said that storm wouldn't hit until tomorrow afternoon!" He huffed. "Bought that generator last week and got all the work done on it. I was gonna hook it up in the morning." Everyone still kept quiet though, and Mr. Litwak seemed okay with that, nodding to himself and pulling his coat on. "It's for the best anyway. Power's out all over town! If this keeps up, we'll have tons of customers tomorrow! Get some rest, everyone." And like that he left, and there was an awkward silence as he locked the door behind him, braved the weather, climbed into his car, and puttered off again.
"Tapper's?" Ralph muttered to Felix, and his smaller counterpart nodded.
And as everyone piled into the game to drink to their life being prolonged another day, a cheer went up to Mr. Litwak, who had saved them once again.