Thunderstorms in Louisiana aren’t really like thunderstorms anywhere else. For most of the summer, any given day’s weather can turn near Tropical Storm power at any time. What comes with that is flash flood warnings with every storm. Sometimes it just passes by; sometimes you are swimming to get to where you were going.
On this one particular day during the summer after my freshman year of college, I did one of the top five stupidest things I have ever done. All for a video game.
That summer, I was working as a bookkeeper at one of the many industrial plants that exist outside of town. There are a ton of these types of towns in Louisiana, where the industrial plants sprung up first, then the houses, and then finally the stores. The town I was working in was like that only on a much bigger scale. So, all the industrial parts were a fair five miles or so in the opposite direction from the mall and other stores.
The previous weekend, I had come back from hanging out with my high school friends up in Baton Rouge, where they went to college, and they had a brand new game. Timesplitters 2. The game itself wasn’t exactly brand new, but it was new to us. Relatively obscure, it never made it to the local wal-marts, at least as far as anyone could tell. But a friend of mine had a copy somehow, and we loved it. There aren’t many console first person shooters that could really hook us, but this one had a ton of really insane modes that were always a good time to explore (I remember one involving a circus strongman with a flamethrower fighting off zombies).
It was an awesome game, a great time, and I needed it. And when you need something thats a responsibility.
I made a pile of phone calls to every store that sold video games. The only one that had it was the Babbage’s in the mall in the town I was working. No problem. I would get it on monday.
Cut to monday. The sky exploaded. Pissing down rain. Thunder, lightning. The works. All day long.
But none of that discouraged me. Babbage’s was going to hold the game for me for 24 hours, so I had to get there before they closed. 5pm rolled around. I started my drive. I can barely see in front of me. All the smart people were already off the roads.
The fastest was to get to the mall was on this backroad that stretched on the far side of town. I see people turning around in the middle of the road all along the way. Something was going on up ahead. I plow on in my 91 Buick Regal.
I turn off to head to the mall. The neighborhood I was driving through was mostly new construction, built up around the buisnesses near the mall. I knew the road by heart.
So, it was a bit surprising when I hit the straight-away and I couldnt see road, grass, or anything else. All I saw was water. From building to building.
But the water thinned out right near the mall. I could see the road on the far side…..I sat there about a quarter of a mile from the flood for about 10 minutes. Debating what to do. Going around the other way to get to the mall could take another 30 minutes. Then the fever hit me. Got to get the game. I still can’t explain this feeling to this day. Like a junkie. I needed the smack.
I slammed the accelerator and the Buick flew into the flood. I knew how far the posts were from the street so I could avoid the median. I knew I just had to keep my wheels straight and keep my speed up. About half way through the flood, I figured out I fucked up. I looked out my side window, and the flood water was almost half way up the side of the car door. Around the time I noticed this, the engine started sputtering a little. Water in the air intake. I let go of the accelerator. My mighty buick floated through the flood, without taking water into the interior of the car somehow.
I thought for sure I got myself stranded…..then I felt it. The grip of tire meeting the road on the other side. I slammed my accelrator and the Buick launched out of the flood water into the mall parking lot. Coughing and spurting the whole way.
I got Timesplitters 2. And went home the long way to avoid any further flooding. Was it worth it?……
Fuck YES it was worth it. That game is fucking awesome.