Marcus Popwell was used to getting his own way. An only child, he never wanted for anything. Everything was always there when he wanted it, how he wanted it, and often even if he didn't really want it and just demanded it. He was a spoiled child, and everyone knew it.
This year, though, things were going to be a little bit different for Marcus.
There was a buzz around the country, a feeling of excitement. The SuperBox 180 was the hottest gift, and boy, was it ever hard to get hold of!
Adverts had been placed in local papers by desperate parents prepared to pay twice the recommended retail price to secure one as a gift, men of dubious morals were stealing them to sell on, and despite assurances by BoxCorp that more SuperBox 180s would appear in toy shops across the country in time for Christmas, none were to be found. Anywhere!
Why, poor little Tom Hoodvale had been looking forward to getting a SuperBox 180 for six months! His Christmas gift was instead to be some new clothes! New blooming clothes!
Sarah Ludham had been planning on buying one for her 11-year-old boy Colin, only to be disappointed -- and to spend Colin's Christmas money allocation on buying the poor boy some new shoes for school! Shoes, I ask you! Shoes for Christmas! Whoever heard of such cruelty to children?
Mark Winkleton had been leaving hints around the house for three months, only for his disappointed parents to fail to find one for sale and spend their Christmas savings on new curtains and cushions for Mark's room. It would be a Christmas he would never remember!
There were to be a lot of disappointed children that year, and one particularly angry and selfish child stood out from the rest.
"I want it, I want it, I want it!" screamed Marcus, in a voice much too loud for the time of year and rather aggressive for a boy who really ought to be nicer when requesting presents.
"I want it!"
He was, of course, referring to the SuperBox 180. And you could hardly blame him for wanting one -- it was being advertised constantly on the wireless, with tales of it's "super graphics" and "lifelike sounds" wowing children across the country and sending demand spiralling higher still.
"I want one! I NEED one!" spat Marcus, now very red in the face, for approximately (according to the remembrance of his poor mother), the 100th time in the first weeks of December alone.
"Well, Marcus, I'm afraid Father Christmas might not be able to find a SuperBox this year. They're awfully hard to get hold of" she said, scrubbing away at last night's dinner plates.
"But I said I wanted one in SEPTEMBER! That's enough bloody notice!"
"Yes, but lots of other children want one too. And let's not even mention the expense. They're two hundred and eighty shillings! How is poor Santa supposed to afford thousands and thousands of SuperBoxes for children all at once?"
"I don't care! My crew is coming round to play on MY SuperBox 180 on Christmas day! I've already said I'm getting one, so... I'd better get one!"
"Your crew?" said mum. "You mean Simon and Christopher?"
"Yes! We're a clan. Simon is now called Si-copath, and Chris is only known as Kill-stopher. That's how you should refer to them from now on."
"Do you have a clan name, Marcus?" his mother asked, spoiling her son once again with attention.
"Yes! My name is 'Mark of Death' that's what you should call me when Simon and... when the DEATHWALKERS come round on Christmas day"
"That's nice. And what else does 'Mark of Death' want for Christmas this year?"
"You KNOW what I want" shouted Marcus, "a SuperBox 180 and NOTHING ELSE!"
His mother smiled, knowing that children often demand things too expensive or too impractical for Christmas. They're not to know the politics of supply and demand, or even the basics of running a household on a limited wage.
No, Marcus wouldn't be getting the SuperBox 180 this year. It was too expensive and had sold out anyway -- no doubt many other parents had been spending too much money on their own spoilt children!
"We shall see" said mother. "We shall see".
Several days earlier, in fact, the decision had already been made. Marcus was not going to get his SuperBox 180. He was getting a PortaGAME Twin Screen.
"One-third of the price, madam! A steal at only 99 shillings!"
"OK, and what about the games? The... tapes and discs?" asked his mother, already resigned to making the purchase.
"No need to worry, ma'am! It comes with one game already included in the package, so there's no further expense on your part."
"And what is the name of the game it comes with?" asked mother, not really paying attention but asking to be polite and show an interest.
It was 8:45am on Christmas day. Marcus thought the box was a bit light to be a SuperBox 180, but eagerly ripped it open first anyway.
"Yes, Marcus! It's the game it comes with! Is it a good one? The man in the shop said it was a good one."
"FLUFFY PUPS? I wanted Driving Ninjas on the SuperBox!"
"Well, they didn't have any SuperBoxes, and the man in the shop said..."
"I hate you!" shouted Marcus, and off he ran to the safety of his bedroom.
Christmas was ruined.
At this point, your author feels it convenient to point out all the other ways Christmas had been ruined over the years in the Popwell household.
Last Christmas was ruined because Marcus didn't care for the Hollywood DVD he had been given. The Christmas prior to that was ruined by Marcus refusing to eat his Christmas dinner, after secretly eating all his chocolate presents for breakfast.
Prior to that Christmas was ruined in spectacular fashion by Marcus deciding the Christmas tree needed candles on it, like the Christmas trees on television.
And so, as it was before, Christmas was ruined again.
"Never again! Why do we even bother?" his mother said to his father, still in bed on Christmas morning, listening to the sobbing, sulking sounds coming from Marcus' bedroom.
"I don't know" said father.
"I mean, it's not like we didn't try."
"I know" said father.
"You can't even BUY the SuperBox thing! And it's nearly 300 shillings. We can't afford that, can we?"
"Not really" said father.
The sound of crashing came through the wall. It was Marcus throwing something at his bedroom door. Probably the poor little PortaGAME Twin Screen.
It was Christopher and Simon, or Si-copath and Kill-stopher, if you really must humour them, who had lived up to their threat of popping around to Marcus' house on Christmas afternoon. Of course, they referred to it as "hanging out" and called his house his "crib" but the fact is they arrived. And they were not impressed by Christmas at the Popwells!
"Ha ha ha! What the fuck is that?!" laughed Christopher, kicking the PortaGAME's box across the floor.
"Fluffy Pups? Is that like an 'Ooh, I'm stroking my puppy' game" asked Simon, who was actually correct in his assumption.
"I don't know. I'm taking it back" said Marcus. "I hate it and haven't even loaded it" he added, kicking the box himself.
And so they all kicked the PortaGAME Twin Screen's box. Kicked it from the lounge to the kitchen, kicked it half-way up the stairs, kicked it against the wall and up into the air. If the aim of the box was to be an entertaining game in its own right, it sure lived up to expectations!
Anyway, after an hour of kicking the box they got bored of that and started playing Fluffy Dogs on the PortaGAME because there was nothing else to do or on telly and they weren't old enough to know about wanking.
They realised it was really quite a good game, even though it looked a bit gay, so they played it for five hours. And Marcus? Well, he bought himself a SuperBox 180 in six months time when BoxCorp started practically giving them away because everyone had started buying the GameBase3 instead.
The moral of this story is something like you should give everything a go, and not just buy things because everyone else is. "Be true to yourself!" as Sonic Team would probably have Amy say at the end.
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