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The Bleeding Effect

It's important for your kidneys that you take a break

Published onJan 10, 2021
The Bleeding Effect

The Joker laughs.

I’m fighting Hypatos, Rudjek’s Bodyguard. He’s a big guy. RB to perform a light attack. We crash down through the stone and sand into the lower-level arena. RT to perform a shield break. It’s a fight of honor. X to dodge. I finally knock him down, and loot him for his heavy blunt.

I meet up with Commissioner Gordon and we ride into Siwa, across the dunes. The camera pans up, and the Assassins’ logo fills the screen.

“Layla. Layla!” You wake up panting. The voice in your ear tells you that you need to take a break. The Animus is rejecting you. Your kidneys need an injection of cyclosporine to counteract the fear toxin. Two c.c.’s should do it. You reenter the Animus.

The Batman’s logo fills the screen. “This is how it happened. This is how the Batman died.” The camera soaks in the rainy city streets before flying to show me, standing on a rooftop, surveying. Hepzefa comes over comms, telling me to head to GCPD headquarters.

Apparently, The Ibis is stationed at the Ace Chemical plant, and has a team of bandits standing guard. The Ibis is part of the secret order that forced me to murder my son, Jason Todd, with my own blade. I even the odds, calling for my camel and racing through the city streets.

You realize that you have to pee, and you once again detach from the Animus. You walk from the living room into the bathroom, and as you do, you realize you’re hungry. You microwave a burrito, and return to the Animus with a fuller stomach.

With the game paused, I can enter the Targets menu and see who I have to fight. The Scarab, The Hyena, The Lizard, Killer Croc, Mad Hatter, Two-Face, The Penguin, The Vulture, The Ram, The Snake, Ra’s Al Ghul. It’s all starting to run together, and makes it hard to tell what’s real and what’s just a memory. It’s something called The Bleeding Effect. It’s important to take a break when that happens. 

I leave the Animus, and instead poke around my computer. Apparently, I make hobbyist pinball machines and host a competition online for others who do the same. I do a few AR challenges to loosen up, learning how to glide and disarm thugs. OK, I’m ready to go back in.

You reenter the Animus. You fight a nest of crocodiles. You rescue firefighters. You loot hideouts. You disarm bombs. You fight Tanks and Templars.

You open the map and see so many question marks across the sandy city. Riddler trophies, and undiscovered locations. You feel tired, and you quit out to my Steam library. Sitting there is the other game, the one I wasn’t already playing. I load the game up, and see that you have three upgrade points left. But should you learn how to tame animals, or how to throw three Batarangs at once?

I’m hungry.

Michael Sullivan:

I really love this piece, I think it’s so creative and really effective in what it’s doing. I want to make one small comment but really emphasize how cool this piece of writing is first.

The one line that as I read struck a different note from the rest of the piece was the end of the second paragraph, the “Nice!” and the exclamation point in particular. I don’t think it’s a poor moment at all, but it creates an emotional punctuation, and it early on gave me the sense that the voice of the narration was energetic or excitable. That’s not inherently wrong, but for me what the rest of the piece does so (so) successfully is create this very steady rhythm and steady affect that lets it just wash over you as you read it and, as you say, bleed together.

Also I love the variation between first and third person narration.

May Regan:

Thanks for the feedback! I think that makes a lot of sense. The rest of the piece is almost morose, and that does stick out. I’ll think about if I want to take that out, and more in general I’ll think about the tone and what it’s doing. Great comment, and thanks for reading!