During childbirth, timing is everything, from marking the instances of contractions right down to the measured breathe-and-push moments that lead into crowning. But sometimes things need to be put on hold, and one of those times involved the classic Infocom game called Zork I, where, in this one part, you have to kill a thief who’s pretty much fucking impenetrable.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a cold February night in 1983. The woman birthing the child was breathing pretty rapidly, and it was getting close to crowning time, I could tell. But too many things were on my mind, and I’m the type of guy who needs to concentrate on one thing at a time—I guess I’m just OCD that way. The fact was, I wasn’t delivering a baby until I killed that dirty, thieving son-of-a-bitch in the Underground Empire. I told the mother this, as my team rolled in a gurney that held my Commodore 64. It was time. Time to kill.
I tried using my sword a couple times while, behind me, I heard the soon-to-be mother breathing incessantly. But my sword was useless against this foe, and the woman’s panting was really getting on my nerves. “Can we get her out of here?” I yelled over my shoulder. But nobody moved—they were intently locked into the game that played out before me. I died, was sent to that altar, then tried my hand again. And then, as that bitch behind me started crying like the baby that would soon emerge from her own Narrow Passage, I had an idea: the knife. Rusty though it may be, if I yielded it precisely it just might do the trick.
I made my way back to the Treasure Room, sweat beading on my forehead, my heart quickening. The nurse behind me yelled, “Doctor, she’s crowning!” I dismissed the nurse with a wave of my hand and reminded myself to fire the asshole when this was all over.
Before I knew it, there I was, face-to-face with the thief. “Well, well, well,” I said to my computer, as chaos ensued behind me, what with the crowning child and all. “So we meet again, my nimble-fingered nemesis.” And so I unleashed upon him my fury and thrust the rusty knife into his sad, filthy person. At last, he was dead. I kicked the gurney aside, wheeled around and delivered the screaming, troll-like infant.
And so it was: I removed one life from this world and, seconds later, brought to the surface yet another. And all on a cold February night in 1983.