And now for my second contribution to the “Gamify Me” series! This entry isn’t as crazy-long as my last one, but then again, it isn’t necessarily 100% finished. I figured I could give you guys the first part and update it later. And Benderstrike, I’ve already been Gamified, so don’t choose me as the winner. For those of you who don’t know what “Gamify Me” is, the link to the Week #16 Recap is below. I highly recommend you write an entry. Enjoy the story, amigos!


            Over the years, there has been talk of a place called Animal Crossing. It’s a strange, backwards countryside in which adorable little animals wear clothes, own houses, and go about doing people things. If that isn’t frightening enough, the folktales about this place say that if a child runs away from home, these animals will accept him or her as a neighbor. The child can simply live in this place, owning their own house and paying mortgage without any adult to help them.

            It is unclear where exactly Animal Crossing is, because you’ll be told something different depending on whom you ask. Some will tell you that Animal Crossing is in Japan. Others say it can be found in America, in one of those square-shaped states in the middle of the country that people tend to forget exist. There are even folks who claim that Animal Crossing has no real geographical location. They would tell you that it lies deep within the recesses of a child’s imagination. It is the place that a child will escape to if they are unsatisfied with their life as it is- or if they’re just bored.

            This is how Ben Dirstryke - a city boy who had been born and raised in south Detroit – found himself looking out the window as the countryside roared by. He sat in the seat of a midnight train operated by monkeys. This young boy had nothing but 1,000 bells, a one-way ticket to Animal Crossing, and a heavy heart full of anxiety and unfulfilled dreams.

            As Ben stared out the window, mulling over his troubled home life, a cat wearing a red sweater vest walked over to him and said, “Excuse me, but can I sit with you? All the other booths are full”.

            Ben looked around the room. It had no shortage of empty booths. In fact, the only other passenger on the train was a little brown boar snoozing on the other side of the room.

            But when Ben turned his head back to the cat, it had already sat down across from him. It stared at Ben with its big, red eyes and gave him a smile that seemed far too friendly considering they were complete strangers.

            Uninhibited by Ben’s apparent discomfort, the cat proceeded to introduce itself and bombarded Ben with personal questions; “It’s so great to meet you. I’m Rover. What are you doing on this train? Actually, don’t answer that. I can tell from your apparent anxiety that you’re moving. So why are you moving? Well, I can tell from the lost expression on your face that you’re running away from home. Do you have a troubled home life? I can tell from the heartsick look in your eyes that your family and peers constantly harass and berate you, driving you into moving away as a desperate means to escape. But you need somewhere to escape to. What’s the name of the town you’re moving to?”

            The cat’s unnerving insight into Ben’s thoughts frightened him. But Ben felt a need to mask his fear. In an attempt to put up a façade of utmost confidence, Ben answered Rover’s last question with a sassy but uncreative response.

            “The name of the town is ‘Your Mom’?” Rover said, still smiling. “Hey! I know that place! That’s one of my favorite vacation spots!”

            Ben stared at the cat, perplexed. Is he just screwing with me? Ben thought.

            “Yeah, Your Mom is a great place to visit” Rover said. “But you’re taking a big risk by moving there. I heard that paying a mortgage in Your Mom can be brutal.”

            At that moment, the overhead speakers came on, and the voice of a monkey filled the room, “We will soon be arriving in Your Mom. Prepare to disembark. Eek eek!”

            “Well, it looks like this is your stop” Rover said. “Enjoy your new life in Your Mom. Be nice to your neighbors and treat the environment with respect. And above all-” Rover’s tone became very serious, “Watch yourself when dealing with raccoons. Take care!”


            Ben hadn’t taken two steps from the train station when a chubby raccoon waddled up to him and began introducing himself. “My name is Tom Nook. I run all the real estate here in Your Mom. Everyone who owns property here pays mortgage to me. One might say that I own this entire town!”

            Tom Nook began chuckling heartily and prodding Ben with his shoulder. “I’m joking! I’m joking!” he said finally. “I like to have fun with my job. You probably need a place to live, right? Lucky for you, I have four houses that you can choose from. Follow me!”

            So Tom Nook showed Ben four different “houses” (each one was roughly the size of a tool shed). Ben chose a house with an orange roof by the beach, so he’d at least have a nice view from his shoddy new home. He sealed the deal with Tom Nook and handed the raccoon his 1,000 bells.

            Nook shifted the bag of money in his hand, judging the weight, then burst out laughing. Ben shifted uncomfortably where he stood, waiting for Nook’s chortling to subside. When it did, Tom Nook wiped a tear from his eye and said, “Okay, that’s all good and fun. But seriously now, where’s the rest of the payment?”

            “That’s all the money I have in the world,” Ben said, meekly.

            Nook exploded into an uncontrollable torrent of laughter. He fell to the ground, rolling in the grass as he struggled to breathe through his mighty chuckling. All the while, Ben stood with his arms crossed, for he no longer felt as downtrodden as he was offended.

            The raccoon stood, grinning and wiping the dirt off of his suit. “Oh boy. If that’s all the cash you have, I can see why you’ve resorted to living among animals. Don’t worry about it, though. I’ll just lend you the other 19,800 bells you need to buy the house.”

            “Lend it to me?” Ben said, a bit suspicious.

            “Of course. I’ll let you take the house for now, and you just need to pay me back by this time next week. That’s it. No strings attached. No other significant details to consider. Do we have a deal?” Nook held out his hand.

            Ben was about to shake his hand when Nook added, “Although I should stress that it is very, very important that you pay me back in time. Because if you don’t- well, you know- something unpleasant may hypothetically happen…”

            Ben pulled his hand back. “Are you a loan shark?” Ben asked, his eyes narrowed.

            “What? No, no…” Nook said. “I’m obviously a raccoon. Look, you can either take this house or live in a cardboard box tonight.”

            Ben looked over at the puny pile of plywood that Tom Nook called a “house”. He began thinking of where in town he might find a cardboard box…

            Realizing that Ben was on the verge of declining the offer, Tom Nook grabbed Ben’s hand and shook it rigorously. “Great! It’s a deal then! I’ll expect full payment by next week. Nope. There’s no backing out now that we’ve shaken hands.” Nook said quickly, before Ben could object. He slammed a little metal key into Ben’s hand and, in the same rushed tone, said, “Here’s the key to your new home. The house doesn’t have a lock, so it’s really a symbolic thing. Enjoy your new life in Your Mom, and be sure to come do some shopping at Nookington’s, it being the only convenience store in town.”

            Tom Nook sprinted away, leaving poor little Ben alone with a tool shed for a house and 19,800 bells of debt.