The key to identifying a great arcade was not the lights, Hobo knew. People always thought about the lights, but it wasn’t the lights. It wasn’t even the sounds. The key to identifying a great arcade was the smell.
Ozone from overheating electrics, warm plastic, old sweat, and chips. A great arcade, a truly great arcade, acquired all of those smells over a period of time. They would embed themselves in the walls, the ceiling, the sticky carpeted floors. They became part of the place, even more so than the bricks and mortar, a second skin. They clung like a mist, so that when someone walked in it felt like they were passing from one world into another, that they were walking through a fog into a new reality.
And, if it was a truly great arcade… then that was true.
I wrote “The Arcade of Doom” for the Lethbridge-Stewart Lineage collection and it was only supposed to be a throw-away, fun story involving Lucy, Hobo, and the creepily squeaky-voiced Quarks. Stories, however, are unpredictable things and have a tendency to develop lives of their own. In this instance, The Arcade of Doom planted a seed in the mind of another one of Candy Jar’s authors, Tim Gambrell, who created two stories following on from Lucy and Hobo’s encounter with a Quark to create a wider story.
It’s an unusual, but very enjoyable, experience to find your stories developing past the point where you thought you’d typed “THE END” and it’s made me wonder if any of my other stories are waiting to spring back into life while I’m not looking…