Chart Topper by Jack Doherty

Photo by Pixabay on

Last month I went to the Lazer-Zone. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch recently, what with Sarah leaving and everything, and, well, I guess I’ve been looking for some sort of escape, a project to take my mind off the situation at hand. I never thought that project would be joining Hetton-Le-Hole’s Premier Lazer Tag League, but then life throws you a curveball every now and then, doesn’t it?

I was browsing the classifieds one afternoon for a new place to live. When I said Sarah had left recently, what I really meant was that I’d been kicked out. It wasn’t my fault though. Who was she to be going through my personal messages? That sounds bad, but it’s not as if I’d been cheating or anything like that. I’d never do that to her. It’s not my fault a few of the girls from work were flirting with me over text every now and then. And what’s the harm in them sending me some pictures? I never asked them to. She had blown it all out of proportion. But she’s gone now, and I’m on my tod. Well, I’m not completely alone. I’ve got the lads down tag league, haven’t I?

So, I was looking at the paper for houses to rent and all that, when I noticed this big, bold, advert: BECOME THE WORLD LAZER CHAMPION, it said. Shouting at me. All in green. How could I not be interested? It looked ace. You show me a man who says he doesn’t want to become the World Lazer Champion™ and I’ll show you a liar.

I did as any normal man would do in my situation, I cycled down the Lazer-Zone straight away to sign up. I got a few funny looks when I put my name down, let me tell you. They’re not laughing now though, are they? I’m top of the league as we speak. 5089 points so far. A good 50 ahead of Jayden and his crew of snotty little arseholes. It turns out I’m made for lazer tag. Who’d have thought it? A 51-year-old, soon to be divorcee, smashing the youth at their own game.

I can tell the staff have never seen anything quite like it. They’ve not said anything to me, but there’s definitely a respect there. I can feel it. I wouldn’t say that they see me as a hero. But hero-like? Certainly. I actually heard one of the lads refer to me as ‘Robocock’. I’ll take that any day of the week. Insults should be worn with pride. It just shows I’m doing something right. You can’t get to the top without upsetting a few people along the way.

It’s getting to the end of the season now. There’s only three weeks to go, and, as you can see from my score (5089, in case you’ve forgotten), I’m pretty well placed to win the whole bloody thing. Without wanting to jinx it, it would take a royal fuck up on my part to let it slip now. That said, there’s still pressure to see the job through. I’ve held the top spot since near the start of the year. In a lot of ways it’s great being on top, but it doesn’t half make you paranoid. You’re constantly looking over your shoulder, hoping that no one is creeping up the league table. It’s what keeps you going, keeps you on your toes.

I’m making it sound like the league has been a breeze, but it’s not all been plain sailing. I’ve had my fair share of shaky moments. Take week four, for example. I was having a bit of an off day, missing my targets, forgetting to recharge every 10 shots, that sort of thing. On any normal week this would have been fine, but there was a bloody party on. Someone’s sixth birthday. This meant the zone was chock-a-block. I could handle the kids, they were shit. Half of them just stood in the corners of the zone crying. I picked them off no bother. It was their parents that caused me a bit of trouble. It’s bad enough when you get the weekend warriors coming down and ruining the rhythm of the league, but when some adults turns up, things really start to go downhill. I got through it though, I just had to change up my game. I went more defensive, tried to protect my score that way. It wasn’t my most explosive day in the zone, but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly. It’s how you win titles.

That wasn’t the biggest challenge I’ve faced though. God no! The last few weeks have been hell. I’m not exactly sure why it’s happened, but all the other lads have joined forces. The lot of them. They must have organised it outside of the zone. Each week now it’s 20 against one. It’ll be that way until the end of the season. I guess they must have been getting sick of my reign of terror. I’m not worried though. I’ve got the quality to see it through. The finishing line is within reach.

Without sounding big headed, I’ve already got one eye on next season. I’ve heard a few whispers around the place there’s going to be some changes to the zone in the off-season. I’m tempted to see if I can get my hands on some blueprints. It’ll give me the advantage I need. I want to make history. In all the years of competitive North-East laser tag no one has ever defended a title successfully. I need to be the first. I know I can do it. It’s my destiny.

As you can probably tell, life isn’t too bad right now, considering everything that’s gone on. I never did find a place to rent, but I’ve got a roof over my head and all that, so don’t worry about me. I’ve moved in with my mate Josh and his missus. They’re good people. They let me sleep in the garage free of charge. Dead nice of them that, isn’t it? It’s surprisingly comfy as well. Handy too. They only live few streets away from the Zone.

I’ve been trying to get Josh to come down with me one week. Just for a bit of backup and that during the final stretch. It’s not entirely selfish on my part, I actually think it would do him good. He’s been a bit down recently to tell you the truth. Marriage problems by the sound of things.

Despite my best efforts, he’s not taken me up on the offer yet. He keeps on saying that laser tag ‘isn’t really his sort of thing.’ I’ll change his mind eventually. I think it could really help him. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year, it’s that laser tag can solve everything. It’s bloody ace. Trust me.

About The Author

Jack Doherty writes from his home in the North East of England. After almost a decade writing music reviews for publications such as Drowned in Sound, Loud and Quiet, CLASH and DIY Jack has decided to started to branch out into the world of short form fiction. More of his writing can be found at:

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