The Last Arcade in San Jose

With a wheeze and a roar, Rufus powers up the old generator. You flick on the master switch by the open door. There's nothing like the sound of thirty arcade cabs and pinball machines all powering on simultaneously. First, you hear the hum from the vast initial power draw, then the monitors buzz into life. Next, the pins click and clack through their mechanical set up. Finally, the piece reaches its climactic crescendo, and the games themselves boot up with an array of bleeps, filling each cell in your body with a giddying sense of anticipation.

What about the lights? When the beautiful neon of the marquees merges with the warm glow from the arcade monitors, the warehouse is so perfectly lit you could never do it justice with words. It makes you wish you could stay there forever. But you have to ration the fuel to ninety minutes per day, except Sundays or special occasions. This happens to be one of those very days. It's your nineteenth birthday.

You were born on May 23rd, 1967. Ironically, it was the same day that US strategic command nearly launched a knee-jerk nuclear strike against Russia, after a solar flare jams all their radars. But in '83, you got the real deal. Maybe the Russians hated that Matthew Broderick movie Hollywood had released a few months previously. Or maybe we poked the hornet’s nest one too many times.

Either way, at 15:47 PST on 11th November 1983, San Francisco got nuked along with Los Angeles and San Diego. Way along the bay in San Jose, you saw a yellow flash light up the cloudy afternoon sky as you streamed out of school. But a few minutes later, standing dumbfounded as the sound wave hit, you knew your life had changed forever. You remember the warm blood rolling down the sides of your face. You still can't hear so great from your left ear.
HEALTH is 12.
SCORE is 0.