Recently we gave Mountain – a kind of desktop geological pet – our Bestest Best Landscape Of 2014 Award. As part of the chatter about it I said that I "felt strongly enough about *my* mountain that I will never boot the game up again once it’s gone".
Until now that meant not launching the .exe file and just keeping the whole thing in storage on my hard drive. But that bothers me. The mountain might as well already be dead if I do that, and will almost certainly end up lost to space-clearing mass culls if I don't get a new hard drive and this one keeps inching closer to capacity. Instead, I'm going to boot it up one last time and wait for digital nature to take its course...
The first problem that presents itself is that, with an hour to go until I start work, I need to go have a shower and wash my hair. What if the mountain dies on its own? Graham's did. No-one knows what happened there. What if mine needs to know I'm here or lives longer if I click on it every now and again?
I briefly consider dragging my PC into the bathroom with me but that way lies madness.
My parents had a cat who grew so clingy when I came home from university for a year that it was less noise and hassle to let him sit in the bathroom with me than to shut him out. Sometimes while showering you would hear a thump and there would be a chubby ginger cat in the tub trying to sit as far away for the shower as possible and looking up at you like "WHY DID YOU MAKE ME DO THIS? I AM ALL WET NOW".
"We're not going through all that again," I tell the mountain. "Stay here and don't die."
At that moment a die crashes into the side of my mountain. The sides 1 and 2 are clearly visible.
I think my mountain is actually attention seeking.
"You stop that immediately! I need to get ready for work. Also you are a digital mountain – it is too early for these shenanigans!"
There is a ping.
"IT'S LONELY AT THE TOP, IT'S LONELY AT THE BOTTOM", declares the mountain.
Oh COME ON!
"Look, I really need to go wash and get ready."
There is another ping.
"I AM TAKING IN THIS DAY."
I assume this passes for acceptance of the situation and grab a towel.
"I'll be back in a moment, yeah?"
Standing under the shower I think fondly of the mountain. It looked particularly beautiful as I left the room, bathed in pink evening light which made the faces of its die seem to glow. Even its black umbrella looked kind of charming.
Its black umbrella? Huh...
As the shower rinsed off the last traces of sleepiness my brain finally registers that something is amiss. *My* mountain had a skull on it. *My* mountain had a barely recognisible clock face jutting out of it. *My* mountain had the back end of a horse pointing jauntily into the air.
What the hell is this imposter? This mountain cuckoo baby?
I stand there trying to work out what to do. Do I search my hard drive and try to find the save file I'm presumably missing? Then a treacherous memory stirs. A slightly inebriated memory wherein there's a chance I, uh, well, kinda, sorta, uh...
There is a chance I euthanised my mountain rather than watch it die.
I'm not actually sure how I would have done that. Did I delete the game and then re-install it? Past-Pip, what the hell did you even do?
"I'M PLEASED WITH THIS FRESH MORNING", offers the mountain as I come back into the room.
I don't know what to say to it.
I try to dry my hair like someone who doesn't just go round euthanising mountains, but I feel like the mountain knows something is amiss.
We sit in silence until a champagne bottle crashes into the side of the cuckoo mountain. I think my mountain is turning to drink. Or at least gently revolving to drink.
"It's just a coincidence, Pip," I tell myself.
"I'M GETTING HIGH ON THIS DARK STATE," announces the mountain.
"I did it because I cared! Probably!" I wail.
The mountain just carries on spinning slowly, covered in snow and booze. I go to the RPS chatroom to explain the complication.
Alice is incredulous. "How can you people not be trusted with mountains?"
"I clearly meant well," is my (utterly inadequate) response.
A ping from the direction of my second monitor.
"IS THIS WEIRD, I DON'T KNOW ANYMORE".
The mountain seems sad. I can't help but feel partly responsible.
So what now?
"I'M LOOKING AT THIS OVERCAST NIGHT" chimes the mountain.
You and me both.
I go and make a cup of tea. Perhaps I should let this one live. Perhaps there is some way to make it up to this one? Alternatively I could just put a stop to its misery right now...
In the end I decide to let the mountain tell me what to do - whether to carry on or to delete the whole sorry spectacle. I mean, it had seemed like the mountain might be cheering up a bit when I went to boil the kettle ("I'M SUPER INTO THIS BLOOMING MORNING") but that might have been sarcasm. I guess the next status update would be the decider.
"I'VE HAD DREAMS ABOUT THIS BLACK NIGHT."
I shake my head sadly. Goodbye, little mountain. I'm sorry I'm such a terrible geologist.
This article is part of the RPS Supporter Program. Dote Night will return next week.