The Final Final Countdown


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?

<GoForBroke> lol

<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.

No bids.

Refresh…

No bids.

Refresh…

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

No bids.

Refresh…

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.

Hi europeluvr46,

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!

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About Mastress Alita

I'm a fulltime librarian, a chronic migraineur, a tea addict, and an avid Simmer that writes SimLit and maintains the Stories and Legacies Index, a link directory of SimLit on Wordpress. Though I obviously love cats, I actually don't own one! (Blame my apartment lease for that!) I do have a charming old cockatiel, Kali, that has been my companion for the last seventeen years!
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19 Responses to The Final Final Countdown

  1. CitizenErased14 says:

    So clever! I loved how you used eBay for the countdown! That was so original, and it reminded me of the days when I used to bid on stuff on eBay too! I’d always get so nervous near the end of bidding XD The end made me sad though. No one understood the true meaning/value behind it, and once again, the opportunity slipped through his fingers. Sad! (Though I did love that victory dance in the final screenshot haha). Great job with this story ^_^

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think The Sniper was a bit affronted to be accused of using software, hahaha. And she’s obviously got a bit of a hording problem… I had to tone down the amount of clutter objects in that room when she was completely unable to interact with the chair at the computer. >_>

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great story and am sorry that Euro lost the highest bid in the last second, although that’s how it works on E-Bay. His friend ‘Mama Mia’ couldn’t help but like ABBA!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. lovesstorms says:

    Haha!!! I think it’s hilarious that The Sniper is a kid!! The last screenshot is perfect too! Great job on the writing! I wanted poor Dale to get the bid but he needs to maybe stop? Ooft…I don’t know. It’s tough to stop once you get a good collection going. lol I sort of understand the pain. Awesome job!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s probably not unreasonable to say he’s got a bit of an addiction to collecting, though nowhere near as bad as The Sniper, hahaha. The thrill of those final moments before the win… did she even really want those ceramic cat plates, or the creepy doll on the shelf, or half of that other junk in that room? Heh, cluttering up that room for that last screenshot was a ton of fun. I knew I went too overboard when the Sim couldn’t even interact with the desk at first though, hahaha!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. raerei says:

    Oh, dear. And this is why the few times I used eBay, I used the Buy Now feature and just skipped the bidding process. I could never take the pressure!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. rinellie says:

    This was incredible. I honestly was holding my breath when there was less than a minute left for the bid. I really like how you wrote about a literal countdown because there’s nothing like those final few moments… I can understand Dale’s obsession with bidding haha!

    Your writing style is very fluid and adept too. It’s in third person, but I really get a feel for Dale’s character. Great writing! Also, I’ve just gotta say how much I enjoyed reading the chat sections. I laughed so hard at “sux dude.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oddly enough, I think this is the first Sim story I’ve written in third person instead of first… I guess I just felt like trying something different, hahaha!

      At first I really wanted to make the chat screens screencaps from actual IRC (I spend a lot of time on IRC… man I feel old) but with such limited picture real estate, in the end I had to scrap that idea and just write out the chats instead. But yes, that was still a ton of fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. sabreene says:

    Wow, does this bring back memories of using ebay! I still use it, of course, but it’s not like those early days, when you really did sit there and watch the seconds count down, refreshing and refreshing again, and had to scramble to type something in if it went up! Ah, memories. I loved your shots for this story, the sets and characters and angles — it all worked so well! It was all so well done!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, thanks Sabreene! My early screenies for stories were… Oh man, I have such a hard time looking back at them, to be perfectly honest. ^_^;; I’ve been trying very hard to improve in my “photography” skills lately, so that comment means a lot to me! I’ll admit that I got some awesome photography pointers from some of my forum buddies though (but isn’t that what this community is all about?) I’d still love to learn to make a better “flashback” effect though… I wasn’t entirely pleased with how mine turned out for the “teenage years” shots… I tried, though!

      There definitely is something different about the early days of eBay… I almost wanted to use that for the simBay shot (the old logo and such) but it just would’ve been more difficult to doctor together than using the “current” eBay look. I certainly spent a lot more time on “classic” eBay, too! (Though I’ve suddenly had a return now that I’ve been trying to hunt down Sims 2 expansion packs, hahaha! Funny how eBay has a way of pulling you back…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • sabreene says:

        I definitely still use ebay .. I buy a lot of my clothes from there! and I used to buy a lot of books, but now i go digital, mostly. I hear you on improving your photography skills — I know when I look back at my first chapters vs now, I’ve improved a lot! Still, I’m just pretty much basic, lol! But I really appreciate how the art helps convey the story, and I really loved that in yours! Even down to things like your little details — a burrito sitting on the table next to his computer. Because that would be so what he would have! Something portable to eat while at the desk!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my! He got sniped by one of his chat buddies! XD Thanks for the trip down memory lane with the whole bidding war thing! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, all the chat buddies were based on characters that appeared in the story, though a few didn’t end up showing up in the “final cut” of pictures (a couple of the teens of the bar shots and such). There were two male teens he was playing the foozball machine with that didn’t show up to get the best angle on that shot, though I still used them when formulating the “characters” for the chatroom.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. cathytea says:

    This is so well-written! Great screenshots, too! I’m hoping you’ll follow up with these characters… I wonder if Mia is out there!

    Liked by 1 person

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