"How do we do this?" the Muse asked. We were riding on our horse, circling the towering giant, big as a ten story building, looking for a way to bring it down. At least we were in the game we were playing, Shadow of the Colossus, which had kept us occupied for a few hours now.
"Get off the horse," I said. "Look at the soles of his feet when he walks. I think you can shoot him with an arrow there, get him to fall to his knees maybe."
"Yeah," she said. "That might work." She had our onscreen character, another nameless video game hero, slip off the horse and draw a bow. She took aim at the monster's foot and waiting until it lifted it, revealing the bottom of its foot. She fired an arrow at it, penetrating the skin there. The colossus bellowed in pain and stumbled, fell to its knee.
"There!" I said, pointing at the screen. "I see some fur just above the knee! Try climbing up there."
The Muse put away the bow and steered our hero to the monster's leg, jumped up, grabbed handfuls of matted brown fur and pulled herself up, climbing up the beast's thigh as it struggled to push itself back onto its feet.
"Get up onto its back," I urged, and she did, climbing up and up as the colossus raised up onto its feet again. It tried rolling its shoulders beneath us, attempting to shake us off, but we held fast, crawling over the undulating flesh and fur until we reached the creature's head.
"There it is," she said, meaning a glowing glyph, carved into the skin of the monster, just above its brow.
"Get it," I said. "Poke it in the head!"
She drew her sword and raised it high above her, steadying herself, ready to drive the blade into the monster's brain with all the force she could muster...
... and then the game froze. We were stuck in time, sword just beginning its downward thrust, the colossus in mid-bellow below us.
"Shit!" the Muse shouted. "What the hell?"
"Wow," I said. "Talk about bad timing. That's never happened before."
"Well, crap," she said. "Reset the damn thing. We just figured out how to kill it, I'm not going to go to bed until we do."
I pressed the reset button on the Playstation, and the machine went through its normal startup routine: logo popping up on the television screen, chimes over the speakers, but when the game disc spun up to speed, there was a new sound audible, a terrible clacking sound coming from the console's disc tray.
"That doesn't sound good," I said.
"Ignore it," the Muse advised. "I find that ignoring anything that might be a problem with a piece of electronic equipment is the best course of action."
The game started, and she loaded our saved progress, which brought us back to the beginning of the battle with the colossus. Within a couple of minutes, we were back in the same position we'd been in when the game had crashed, riding the head of the monster, on the verge of delivering the killing blow...
...and again the game locked up, this time with the clacking from inside the Playstation increasing in volume and speed.
"Well, dammit!" the Muse yelled.
I quickly pressed the eject button and pulled the disc from the machine. It appeared to be undamaged. I set it aside and removed a different game disc from another case, and put it into the Playstation. Clack-clack-clack-clack... I turned off the machine.
"Muse," I said, "I think we've killed my Playstation."
"No! That can't be. You've only had it for what? A few months?"
"Actually, about five years."
"Well," she said. "Well... well, shit." She frowned. "I guess I can't really bitch about that, then."
"Especially since you weren't the one who bought it in the first place. I guess it's just lived as long as it's going to."
"But what about my game," she insisted.
"I guess you're just going to have to wait until I can get a replacement."
"Tomorrow. You're getting another one tomorrow."
"I don't have the money to get one tomorrow," I said.
"That's what credit cards are for," she said. "If you don't get another one tomorrow, then I'm just going to die. Do you want that on your hands?"
I sighed. "You're a pain in the ass sometimes, you know."
She nodded. "I do. It's a skill. I'm the queen of it. So if you don't get another one tomorrow, I'll die, but first I'll poke you until you go insane." She proceeded to poke me in the side. "Just like this, for hours and hours." Poke-poke-poke-poke-poke-poke. "Insane." Poke-poke-poke-poke-poke-poke-poke-poke-p
I swatted at her. "Okay, okay! Jesus! I'll go get one! Just knock that off already."
She grinned. "My powers of persuasion are legendary."
"And fucking irritating, too."
She shrugged. "If it works, it works. I have no shame."
"You're lucky you have any teeth right about now."
"You're such a gentleman."
"And you're a pain in my ass."
"True," she said. "But tomorrow I'm going to be killing those colossusses..."
"... Colossi," I said. "The plural is 'colossi.'
"Whatever. I'm going to be killing them, and that's all that matters."
"Your ability to boil life down to what's truly important just amazes me."
"I'm bad," she said, nodding. "I'm nationwide."