We’re so pleased to introduce “Tierkling” by Justine McNulty as a Masters Review New Voices story. In “Tierkling,” a group of boys breaks into a neighborhood pet shop. It’s innocent enough — they simply want the animals to get some exercise. Of course, things take a troublesome turn.
by Justine McNulty
Galactic Mountain had always been there, and in our minds it always would be, the way it had been then. Its neon lights were a beacon to train our bikes toward, its flashing sign our refuge. We would lean our bikes in a tangled pile of metal against the brick building, crowding into the entryway which yawned up over our heads in a dark arch of pocked plaster, thick and high and gleaming, neon letters flickering green and blue.
Inside, the ceiling was low. It was always dark, always cool. The neon sheen followed us into the gloom. The room was dotted with games—lights darting around their curving edges, buttons flashing blue and green and pink, begging us to pound our fists against them, for the long red tongue of tickets to spew from the black slats beneath the plastic bubbles that allowed us to peer down inside the games, to watch the lights dart back and forth over glistening bulbs of glass, praying that our light landed on just the right spot.
Galactic Mountain had many rooms, and not all of them arcades. There was a room of tubes—long, winding tubes of thick plastic with clear windows to peer from, pits of foam blocks to leap in, columns of foam hanging from low ceilings for us to run through, to get lost in. There were rooms of TVs, gaming consoles snaking their thick black wires toward the buzzing screens. We would sit on the beanbag chairs that littered the floor and run our thumbs up and down the gleaming controllers, the TVs warming our cheeks with their soft blue glow, setting our eyes ablaze.
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