The Oldest Game of All
There have been many boy-is-this-comic-good moments amid my reading of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman^WP^: the convention of serial killers (with panels, keynote speakers, chit chat — the whole shebang); the 100-year meetings of Dream and Hob (a mortal who simply doesn’t believe in death; “death’s a mug’s game” were his words); the utterly disturbing cafeteria slaughter; the prisoner muse Calliope (to draw inspiration from her, one has to, “naturally”, rape her)… but the very first one was Dream’s stand-up-comedy-esque fight in hell for his helmet:
Choronzon: Ssso, You know the rules, dreamlord? If you win, I will return your helmet. If you lose, you will ssserve as plaything of hell, for eternity. Our ssslave.
Very well. I have the first move. I am a dire wolf, prey-stalking, lethal prowler.
Dream: I am a hunter, horse-mounted, wolf-stabbing.
And I feel the grass beneath my hooves, the flanks between my legs.
All is real. Nothing is real. Choronzon’s move.
Choronzon: I am a horsefly, horse-stinging, hunter-throwing.
Dream: There are many ways to lose the oldest game. Failure of nerve, hesitation… Being unable to shift into a defensive shape. Lack of imagination.
I am a spider, fly-consuming, eight legged.
Choronzon: I am a snake, spider-devouring, poison-toothed.
Dream: I am an ox, snake-crushing, heavy-footed.
I feel the snake writhe beneath my hoof, its spine crushed.
Choronzon: I am an anthrax, butcher bacterium, warm-life destroying.
Dream: A change in direction, but still an old gambit. I think…
I think I understand how Choronzon plays. How I can turn it against him.
I think I will abandon the offensive.
I am a world, space-floating, life-nurturing.
Choronzon: I am a nova, all-exploding… planet-cremating.
Dream: I am the Universe — all things encompassing, all life embracing.
Choronzon: I am anti-life, the beast of judgement. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, gods, worlds… of everything.
Sss. And what will you be then dreamlord?
Dream: I am hope.
Sandman, A hope in Hell
Interestingly, the first thing that came to my mind was that classic Friends WP moment:
Rachel: Oh, hey, I have an idea. Why don’t we play rock-paper-scissors, and whoever loses goes in first. (they all agree) Ready? (They do the rock-paper-scissor thing with their hands: Rachel has paper, Phoebe has rock and Ross has scissors, while Joey is doing a strange upward wiggling with his fingers. They all look a him confused).
Joey: (smiling from ear to ear) Ah-haah! I win!!
Ross: What is that?
Joey: That’s fire. Beats everything.
Phoebe: Oh, really? Does it beat water balloon? (She places her hand over his “fire” and mimics a bursting water balloon, putting the fire out).
Joey: Ooh! Well played, Phoebe Buffay, well played.