My love of survival horror games has perverted the delicate sensibilities of my parrot.
When I first got this bird I spent two weeks trying to get him to say “Hello.” By the end of the month he was saying “‘lo! ‘lo!” But that was about it. So I gave up.
But then I bought a GameCube and, well, every Resident Evil game they’ve cranked out for it. I played them for hours on end with the lights out. I won’t lie to you -- it sorta put me “off,” you know? I started sleeping with the lights on and locking my windows at night.
One night I crawled out of bed to get myself a drink, and I shuffled down the dark hallway between my bedroom and the kitchen, feeling along the wall with my hand as I went. The kitchen was nearly pitch black until I opened the refrigerator, and then a brilliant wedge of light poured out, causing me to squint. That’s when I heard it:
“Grraaa ... aaaagghhh...”
It was the slow, raspy moan of THE UNDEAD. I wheeled around, panicked, staring into the darkness beyond the fridge. The milk slipped from my hands and crashed onto the ground, spilling all over the kitchen floor. I didn’t move a muscle. Time was frozen for me. And then again:
“Nnyyaagghhhh... glup, glup, glup...”
The sounds were terrifying, and yet ... familiar. Slowly, my socks wet with milk, I stepped gingerly forward toward the family room. I must’ve left my Nintendo on, I thought ... but no, it and the TV were both silent. The Resident-Evil noises were coming from elsewhere. Then, from behind:
I whirled around and reeled backwards in horror. I smashed into the lampshade and furiously reached over to flick the switch. And there, sitting on his perch amidst the warm glowing light that filed the room, was my parrot. “’lo! ‘lo!” he said to me, cheerfully.
Apparently all those zombie noises from the game had gone to the little guy’s head. He could duplicate them exactly! This went on for some weeks, until finally I got used to it. The groanings and mumblings as I lay in bed at night actually started to get kinda soothing.
Of course, I forgot to warn my friends and neighbors. A couple weeks ago, after a late night partying, Gary crashed on my couch. At 4:30 he came slamming into my room in his boxers clutching a baseball bat. “SOMETHING’S IN THERE!” he hissed at me, panting.
So of course I had to introduce him to my parrot’s habit. He only does it when the lights are off -- I guess I trained him to do that, you know, by playing those games in the dark. “’lo! ‘lo!” he’d squawk, and then we’d flick off the lights and it would be: “Mmwwwaaahhhhh... *slurping noises*”
One day Gary and Chris and I all stood around his cage one evening talking it over. We dimmed the lights until the bird let out a long, low, “Grrannggpphhnyayyyaahh” sound, like an oboe being played by an asthmatic’s last breath. “See?” I said. “Zombie bird.”
“Dude,” Chris said, stepping back. “How do we know that that bird’s still alive? Maybe he’s dead. Or ... undead. Has he eaten recently?”
“Truth be told, he’s been a bit peckish,” Gary said.
“Of course he’s peckish,” I grunted. “He’s a bird.”
“You better take him to the vet,” Chris said, holding up a crucifix.
The next day at the Animal Clinic, the vet couldn’t figure out anything wrong. “That’s a fine healthy bird!” he told me.
“’Lo!” the bird cheeped in return.
So I turned out the lights in his office. The room fell silent.
And then, from the cage, a soft low murmur: “Braaaaains...”
“Maybe he should stay for observation...” my vet answered.
The next morning I came in to pick him up, but I found his cage outside the office with a note attached. “Please take bird home,” it said. “Dogs all scared and night janitor quit.”
[Victim idea submitted by GameSpy Reader Adam Rixley.]
So I sold it to some guy who plays Battlefield 1942 while talking like a pirate.
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