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I met a man who played Magic the Gathering

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« on: 05:34:50 AM 09/16/17 »
( Posted here while I wait for DP's video on it, so might as well get all the criticism for it I can from here as well. Thank you for reading it enjoy. )

When I was twenty one I considered myself a total failure. I get now that I wasn’t, but at that time nothing could shake the cloud of depression that hung over me. I got into the college that I wanted, in the field I wanted, but it was too hard, or I was too weak. After a horrible semester stacked onto two mediocre years, and the realization I wasn’t even halfway done with my academic path, I folded. No degree but thousands in debt, typical right? I only spent a few weeks with my parents, they weren’t pleased with my departure from higher education, and they weren’t pleased with me taking up space in their home. So that’s when I moved into an apartment complex. It was a pretty nice place, lots of new parents. Apparently the park and trail nearby was a major draw for them.
   The only job I could find was running night security for a museum, it was pretty mind numbing and no I don’t have any stories about it. There wasn’t any company, and there wasn’t anything to do besides listen to podcasts and look at the art. I didn’t have internet at my house, and on nights I didn’t work I would get bored. Sometimes I would just lay on my couch and listen to the noisy neighbors on either side of me. Hearing their lives made me feel not as lonely, though other times I hated that they seemed so happy. When the neighbors were silent I would take to walking the trail near my apartment. That’s when I met him; the man who played Magic in the dead of night.
   It was a Friday night and by some miracle I didn’t have work that evening. With all the free time in the world I decided to take a walk along the trail. It was a pretty good neighborhood but if I did run into anything I had a pocket knife in my bag. Using my phone’s flash light I navigated my way through the trail and enjoyed the sounds of the nocturnal animals going about their day. Heck back then I was a nocturnal animal.
   The trail was a large circle wrapping around a local forest, between my apartment and the trail was the children’s park. When I entered the trail I didn’t see anyone there, but on my return from the trail I saw a lone figure sitting at one of the picnic tables set up by the park. The four picnic tables were set under one street light it’s glow only showcasing the darkness at its edges.
   I must have been lonely. That’s the only explanation I have for why at that moment I thought it was a good idea to talk to the man at the picnic table.
   He squatted on the picnic bench hunched over the table his hands shuffling a deck of cards. The man wore a black hoodie with a skull design on it’s chest. He had the hood pulled up and covering his face, which made sense since it was pretty cold out. As I worked my way past the creaky swing set I called to the guy “ Hey whatcha got there?” He just waved at me.   
Once I got to the picnic table I could tell plainly that he was shuffling magic cards. He was pretty engrossed in his cards so I just kinda awkwardly walked away , my curiosity sufficiently satisfied. After getting back to my apartment and after being reminded of Magic I wanted to find my old deck, and I soon found it in a box of my college dorm stuff. I used to play back in college but since then I had let it drop to the wayside. Gripping my deck box I walked back to the picnic table. I sat it down on the table and I could see him eye it. “Do you wanna play a couple rounds?” I asked the man.
   It was then that I heard him speak, it started out tentative like someone who hasn’t spoken in a long time and is unsure if they even can anymore. “ Yeah, that’d be great” he said setting is deck down onto the table. He didn’t use card sleeves and I could see matches upon matches of wear on his cards, their edges frayed and their faces scratched.
   I won’t go into detail about the sets we played, those are unimportant, what was significant to me was the change in the man’s demeanor. As we played each other he seemed to calm down. He wasn’t as nervous and spoke more confidently. His plays got better and better and while I had won a few matches at the start he ended up beating me in all of the later games. I must have lost track of time somehow since we played till morning. He used a newer set, one from when I had dropped out, but mixed in where some older cards, definitely not standard. Most significantly was his Black Knight card. I could tell he cared about it because it was the only card that wasn’t beat up. Later I would look up that Black Knight card and found out it came from the Beta set which meant it was a fairly rare card and was valued at fifty bucks. As we finished our last match and his Kalitas swung for game he looked at the sun rising and turned back to me a smile on his face. “Thanks for playing with me” he said putting his deck back into the pocket of his hoodie.
We both stood up and I said “ Sure thing man, you were great. Do you game around here?” At that question the man laughed before replying that “No, but you should check out Game Theory though, the people there are nice.” He then gave me a wave and walked off. As he did a strong wind blew through catching my deck and sending it flying off the table, I quickly dropped to the ground to pick up my deck. As I picked them up I noticed one of his cards had slipped into mine.. It was his Black Knight card. It had even slipped into a card sleeve of mine somehow. I quickly got up to call out to him but when I did I couldn’t see him.
Once I had another day off I made my way to the store the man had told me about, Game Theory, figuring that someone there might know the guy and be able to return his card to him. The store was clean but cluttered in the sort of way only a nerd store can; comics, cards and board games packed the shelves waiting for anyone to find something they loved within its walls. It thankfully had a back section with several tables that was less messy and had room to move around. It really was a cool place.
Arthur, the man I had met on the trail, had been a regular here a constant fixture of their legacy games. He never talked a lot but he kept coming back and people grew attached to him. He was a good person; I can agree with that. He was loved.
It took the store owner longer to put the pieces together but when he did we both decided to hang a picture of Art on the wall framed with his Black Knight. What I didn’t know was that during the Summer, Arthur had died in a hit and run.

Thanks Arthur.


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« Reply #1 on: 08:51:30 PM 09/18/17 »
I thought this was an okay story, and I think it could have been improved and expanded upon a lot without a word limit, but such is the nature of writing contests x3 There were some details here that I thought could have been expanded upon, and some that I feel were a little unnecessary in the context of the story. I like character development, but I don't feel like hearing about the narrator's depression and financial issues really added to my reading experience.  Again, with a longer story, I think those details would work better and could certainly be used to enhance the feel of the narrative, but here they just left me wishing that there had been a little less information given about the narrator's background, and more about the events with Arthur. Maybe an example or two of Arthur being cagey, then opening up to flesh out his character a bit and expand on his change in demeanor.
The plot is fairly standard ghost-story stuff, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's a pretty good formula to use and build on, and I did like the contemporary setting and the use of the tabletop card game here. It's something that isn't really used, and gives the story some unique character.  I also like the interaction between the narrator and Arthur. How it isn't needlessly creepy or heavy handed in its handling of a weird guy sitting alone playing MtG. I didn't really feel like the story was trying too hard to string me along or bait-and-switch me like some ghost stories feel.
Aside from that, there are some issues with grammar and punctuation, but nothing too very distracting to a reader. Sorry if the comment seems contradictory at all, I'd love more character development for the narrator in a longer piece, but without expanding the story, I think more words could be used in the middle of it. Glad I gave this one a read!
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« Reply #2 on: 09:12:07 PM 09/19/17 »
Thanks for the feedback, yeah I was really feeling that word crunch. I have a lot of trouble with dialouge in Creepy Pasta ( Ashcan ) stories, most people don't recount dialouge when they tell stories unless it's important to the tale, but I can give it another go.

I'm waiting for DP to make his DeadSrs on it before attempting to rewrite the story.

Thank you for the criticism.