Congratulations, it’s all yours! We hope you enjoy your “Purple Protector: Sim City Avenged #3 Limited Holographic Cover Edition.” The next step is to Pay Now to get your item as quickly as possible.
With a wide, satisfied grin on his face, Dale clicked the “Pay Now” button on his monitor screen. Soon, another collectable would be finding a new home within the rapidly filling space of his small trailer. It was a catch-22 situation; if he stopped buying the collectables, he’d be able to save up for a larger home, but what did a guy like him, single, already in his mid-forties, need a larger home for if not to store collectables? And the thought of putting his collecting on hold even momentarily… No. He was too addicted to the thrill of the find… and the thrill of the win, when that “Time Left” countdown ran out and he was left with a new comic book, action figure, or collectable music paraphernalia.
Still, all that stuff still cost Simoleons… with a sigh, he flipped backed over to his free-lance programming project. The code was still compiling. He grinned to himself, then switched back over to his web browser. A little simBay until it finished wouldn’t hurt…
…And then he found it.
It was the one version of Europe’s The Final Countdown on vinyl record that he hadn’t managed to procure over the years. The 7″ EP from Japan… and not only that, this version was signed. Signed! He had to have it. His mind was in another place as his fingers keyed in the starting bid of 500 Simoleons…
He was much younger then, still in high school. He’d been at the local watering hole, playing some foosball with a friend when out of the corner of his eye, he saw her, dancing with some of the girls from his school. She must have been visiting some friends, because he knew she wasn’t from around there.
He would’ve remembered a face like that. She was beautiful. Perfect. The Final Countdown was blaring from the stereo as the girls danced. He told himself that before the song ended, he would go introduce himself to her… but nerves got the best of him. He turned back to his foosball game, and when the song was over, the group of girls had cleared out of the pub. He’d never even learned her name, but her face, and that missed opportunity, still haunted him to this day.
Time left: 1 day 2 hours Wednesday, 10:03PM
<europeluvr46> Hey guys, what’s up?
<imanewbie> Hey euro, where you been?
<europeluvr46> Busy pushing through a programming project for my client, but I’ve got some time now. :-)
<h1kk1k0m0r1> And by “programming project” and “client” you really haxx0ring some trust fund baby to buy a new imported anime girl figure, right?
<europeluvr46> Very funny, Mori! Though I actually am getting a new baby from Japan soon… but it isn’t what you think! It’s a new record for my collection!
<MamaMia> Oooo, is this it? Your last Final Countdown EP to complete your collection?
<europeluvr46> Yup! Tomorrow, it will be mine! :-)
<h1kk1k0m0r1> I dunno Euro, you’d better be careful. You could get hit by the Sniper. They say he’s legendary for ruining auctions, always at the last possible second.
<europeluvr46> Ha, that just sounds like some crazy urban legend. Probably one of those software programs…
<europeluvr46> But really, who would care that much about a Final Countdown EP? I won all the others in my collection fine!
<MamaMia> There are still fans out there! I like Europe…
<femail> I would’ve guessed you like ABBA.
<MamaMia> lol I like ABBA too. ;-)
Time left: 12h 33m 26s Today 10:03PM
The next morning, Dale was up just in time to meet Tanisha, the postal worker that delivered mail to his trailer park, as was his daily ritual.
“What have you got for me today, Tanisha?” he said, his breath showing on the chill morning air.
“Sorry Dale, just bills, credit card applications, and the obligatory catalog you are going to throw away.”
He let out a sigh. “I should’ve splurged on next-day shipping for that Purple Protector comic. Thanks anyway, Neesh.”
“No problem, I’ll let you know when it arrives.”
Disappointed, Dale trudged back into his trailer, nuked a breakfast burrito, and settled back into his familiar computer chair to hash out some more lines of code for several hours, checking his auction on simBay every so often, unable to get over that anxious feeling he always got the closer it got towards the end of the auction. But so far, no one else had bid. Typical. No one ever bid until the end anyway…
Time left: 4h 7m 11s Today 10:03PM
“Come on, come on!” Dale’s stomach echoed the grumbled tone of his words as he stared at the timer on his microwave, waiting for his sodium-and-MSG-in-a-bowl to finally be ready.
For some reason, as he watched the digital display slowly count down the seconds, it felt like the longest two minutes ever. But finally the timer dinged, and his ramen was ready. His stomach rumbled again. It was more than ready. He’d gotten into a coding-binge and hadn’t bothered to take a break to eat since his breakfast burrito.
As he slurped up his artifically-flavored noodles, he whipped out his smart phone and brought up the auction listing. Good, he thought. Still no bids. Should be fine if I have a quick nap to pass the time to get closer to the auction close… that’s when all the action happens anyway. If any action is going to happen at all.
Time left: 13m 54s Today 10:03PM
Dale’s “quick nap” turned into nearly two hours. He woke with a start, and nearly fell out of bed when he saw the clock. Only thirteen minutes until the end of the auction! It was go time! He stumbled from the bed, blankets wadded around his ankles until he managed to kick them free, in his mad scramble back to the computer.
Had there been any bids while he’d been asleep?
Time left: 10m 49s Today 10:03PM
He let out a sigh. He was still the only bidder. Why was he feeling so panicked? This wasn’t a limited edition Purple Protector comic… this was a one-hit wonder band from the 80s… and a vinyl at that! Very niche. Still…
He refreshed the page.
It was monotonous, this part, but at the same time, it was the most exciting part. He could feel a surge of adrenaline course through him every time he refreshed his browser and saw the timer on the page grow ever closer to the end of the auction.
Time left: 1m 13s Today 10:03PM
Time left: 45s Today 10:03PM
He gasped, his fingers stumbling over the keyboard to input a new bid, as he saw his minimum bid of 500 Simoleons had been outbid… barely. 501 Simoleons! What should he do? How high should he go? There was no time left! No time to think! He quickly put in 600 Simoleons and submitted the bid, his fingers trembling over the mouse.
Then he sighed as he got the notification he was once again the highest bidder.
His heart was pounding furiously as his mouse moved back over to refresh the page. Mere seconds left now… he had this…
Time left: 1s Today 10:03PM
After the page had finished loading, he could only blink, dazed, unbelieving, for a few moments.
Bidding has ended for this item.
He jumped back out of his chair, aghast. Where the notification telling him that he had won? Where was the “Pay Now” button?
His hands sunk into his face as he saw the tab for his e-mail indicated a new message. He didn’t need to click on it. He already knew what he’d find in his inbox.
We’re sorry you didn’t win this time around. While this one got away, there’s other stuff to find. Don’t give up.
<femail> Hey Euro. How’d the auction go?
<europeluvr46> I don’t want to talk about it.
<h1kk1k0m0r1> Sounds like someone got sniped!
<MamaMia> I told you there are still Europe fans out there!
<ChatGurl> Oh, Europe! They sang The Final Countdown, right?
<MamaMia> Ya, Euro was trying to win a special record off simBay.
<ChatGurl> Maybe another one will go up?
<europeluvr46> I doubt it. This was a limited edition signed copy… Besides that, I just… feel like I’ve lost something very important a second time… you wouldn’t understand.
<GoForBroke> sux dude
<h1kk1k0m0r1> Ya, that’s pretty unfortunate…
This was written for the January Monthly Short Story Challenge from the Sims forums, which tasked folks to write a story in 500-1500 words using 1-12 screencaps using the theme “The Countdown.” It is a completely stand-alone story, not using any characters from any of my other works. (Well, if we disregard the fact that Jayla’s sister from my short story last month makes a brief cameo, heh…)
I know this is kind of ridiculous, but oddly enough, the only thing that I could think of that wasn’t rocket ships or bombs or something to that effect was an eBay bidding battle, with that “time left” counting down, but I was stumped over exactly what should be the item being bid on. I was talking about it at the library where I work and one of the volunteers in my department said, “It should be a special record of The Final Countdown by Europe and… honestly, there was really nothing that could possibly top that. Nothing. So I decided to go ahead with the idea, hahaha!