The Oldest Game of All

tue20jun2006—25w171d46%— 13h59m00s—0utc

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.

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