Issue Eight:
Mushroom Speed Boosts

By Ben Reynolds

I gave up racing Logan for a while. It got boring. He is too good. He knows every shortcut, every shortcut within a shortcut, where to use the mushrooms. He set the fastest time on every track.

But I’ve been practicing. I’m ready.

Mario celebrates my return with a wahooooo!

Logan races as Donkey Kong. I’m always Luigi. Luigi is Mario’s under-appreciated brother.

First up, Mario Kart Stadium.

Come on then, this time you’re going down.

3…2…1…Go!

I get a boost start and beat him to the first corner because Luigi has better acceleration than Donkey Kong. I stay ahead until he uses a mushroom to take a shortcut over the grass and I can’t catch him from there. He’s too good.

Damn it!

He play-punches me on the arm and leans back with that satisfied smile. Sometimes he feels he should taunt, take the piss, because that’s what everyone else does, but he’s not very good at it and you can tell he regrets it. It’s not him, but to be honest I don’t know whether it’s worse to be humiliated or patronised.

Try a different track. Twisted Mansion.

I’m better at this one.

3…

Gotta time this right, get the boost start.

2…

Mum pokes her head through the door.

1…

Who are you talking to?

Go!

Gah, missed the boost. Thanks Mum.

Logan. We’re racing. He’s too good though.

Mum moves into the room, sits next to me. She puts her arm around me.

Bubble, I thought you were going to delete his accounts.

This isn’t his account. This is him.

I point to the screen. DK skids around a corner, boosts into a straight.

That’s his ghost.

Mum pulls her arm away.

Oh Jefferson.

What?

It’s not him.

It is! I point at the screen again. That’s him. He did that. Before, I mean. He set the fastest time so the Switch remembers how he did it and I have to try to beat him. It’s called a ghost race.

Mum stands. She runs her hands through her hair. There is a seam of grey on her left temple.

This isn’t helping anyone. Her voice wavers, her lips thin. I’ve asked you to delete his accounts. She doesn’t look at me as she says this. She looks at the floor and then at my bedroom door. It’s all I’ve asked of you. Please do it.

I swallow, say nothing as she stares at the wall, struggles to keep her breathing regular.

I’ll take that as a yes, then, she says. Thank you.

She slams my door harder than she intends to on the way out. I think.

These aren’t his accounts. These are his save games.

I spend the evening beating his times, one by one. But I leave the last one. Rainbow Road. I leave it for him, so he doesn’t disappear completely, so he can stay.

 


About the Contributor

Ben Reynolds quit his job as a journalist in December 2016 to chase his creative writing dream and is working on his first novel ‘The Last of Logan’, which is part grief memoir, part love letter to video games. ‘Mushroom Speed Boosts’ is an adapted section from the book. His work has also appeared in @morestorgy and @EllipsisZine. He lives in Worcester Park in south-west London and has two children to feed, so also works as a freelance journalist and sub-editor.


Losslit canon

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

It's been several years since I read it but it had a profound effect on me both in its dealing with memory and loss and also showing me how books such as these could be written.

See all entries in the Losslit canon


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