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Story Notes:
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

I'm trying a new format with this one - shorter, faster-paced chapters, but more of them. I'm going to try to stay below 1K words for each chapter to try to make the pace faster and to increase the urgency. It's also an exercise in self-control, because I'm notorious for long, wordy stories. This will still be long and wordy, probably, but in smaller, bite-sized chunks. :)

This story is a homage to not only some of the most popular forms of entertainment today, but also to the entertainers and the genre itself. Since it takes place in 2015, it's been about a year since Shawn and Gus relocated to San Fran - but Lassie's still sticking his nose into the story, anyway. For the sake of this story, we're going to pretend that the whole Monk reference didn't happen at the end of season 8, and that Shawn and Gus are the only consultants consistently hired by the SFPD. And Henry's going to butt his way into the story, too, even from retirement in Santa Barbara. So business as usual. :)

Please review and enjoy!

((Needless to say, since this is one of my stories, there will most certainly be whump. Right now, rating is T, but if it gets too graphic, I'll change it to M.))
Author's Chapter Notes:
See the end of chapter note for more information about the background and inspiration for this story! :)

Starting out slow here with the obligatory flashback prologue... this absolutely sets the stage for the rest of the story. Enjoy!

I don't own Psych, Mortal Kombat, Mario, Madden, or Space Invaders. Well, technically, I own the entire series of Psych on DVD, and I have New Super Mario Brothers for the Wii and my dad had some Madden games for the Nintendo 64... but I don't own the rights. :)

“Shawn, I said no.”

Fifteen-year-old Shawn Spencer scowled indignantly at his father. “Why the hell not?” he spat back, watching with a certain degree of satisfaction and foreboding as his dad’s hackles rose.

“Watch your mouth, kid,” Henry snapped, and Shawn noticed with no small bit of pride that he’d managed to make both the vein on his father’s left temple and the one on his neck bulge in frustration. “And you know damn well why.”

Shawn rolled his eyes. “Come on, Dad!” he practically whined. “It’s just a game. It’s not like I’m going to lose it and go on a killing spree.”

“See, Shawn, that’s exactly your problem,” Henry ground out, snatching the case out of Shawn’s hands. “You think of it as just a game – but when does the line between ‘game’ and ‘reality’ begin to blur? When does violence suddenly become the answer to everyday problems? I swear, if parents keep letting their kids indulge in this crap, America’s going to have an epidemic on its hands.”

Realizing that whining and wheedling wasn’t getting him anywhere, Shawn decided to take the logical route. “Really, Dad? Don’t you think you’re taking this a bit too far? I play Mortal Kombat and suddenly I’m a serial killer? Everybody’s playing it.”

“I’ve spent the better part of my life fighting against crap like this,” Henry rebutted, waving the game in front of his son’s face. “I’m not going to let it into my house.” He spun on his heel and stalked toward Shawn’s bedroom door.

Incensed at the unfairness of it all, Shawn forgot about logic and nestled back into familiar territory. “What are you going to do with my game?” he demanded, arms crossed petulantly. “I bought it myself!”

Henry snorted. “Yeah, with Gus’s money. Just be glad I found out about it before Mrs. Guster did – you’re already on very thin ice with her at the moment.” He glanced down at the box art, considering. “A friend of mine is having a yard sale next month. The game’s in almost new condition; he should get a few bucks out of it, anyway.” Glancing back at his teenage son’s horrified face, Henry threw back over his shoulder, “By the way, you’re grounded,” before leaving Shawn to stew.

At the little nudge of uncertainty at his harshness, Henry strengthened his resolve. Like hell was he going to let his kid play a game that glorified gratuitous violence.

Shawn would just have to stick with Mario, Madden, and Space Invaders.
Chapter End Notes:
This story is a product of its time. A trend in recent years has been the rise of "Let's Players" on sites such as YouTube and Twitch - basically, gamers who make their name by playing video games and commenting on them, giving tutorials, showing people without access to the games the gameplay, or just acting like idiots while playing a game. Some notable figures today are PewDiePie (though I in no way support him or the stupid stuff he's done), Markiplier (love him!), Jacksepticeye (he's a precious Irish kid with green hair, an adorable accent, and a great personality, and groups like Rooster Teeth or Achievement Hunters. Now, none of these real life people will be in this story, though they may be referenced. There will be some original characters based off of them - or rather, off of pretty much any prolific Let's Player out there.

One of the most entertaining types of games to watch them play are horror games, and one of the most iconic horror games today was released in 2014, "Five Nights at Freddy's." If you don't know anything about the game, don't worry - it will be explained in the story. There will be references to other popular games, like PT, Skyrim, Silent Hill, Bioshock, etc... but nothing that non-gamers will scratch their heads over.

I beg you not to be overwhelmed if you're not into video games or the let's player culture. This is a story for everyone, and I'm only using video games as the backdrop for this exciting and hopefully terrifying storyline. :)

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