The door opened and Mark walked in, shuffling three grocery bags between his free arm while the other closed the door behind him.
“Welcome back.” came a call from the living room down the hall. “You going to help me with the groceries or not?” was all Mark could respond as he frantically balanced the bags while taking off his shoes.
“Can’t, in the middle of a game.”
Sighing loudly Mark hurriedly stepped into the kitchen to drop the bags off, nearly losing a glass jar of pickles in the process. “Seriously dude!? You couldn’t pause the game?” His roommate grunted something in response but he couldn’t hear over the rustle of the grocery bags.
He grabbed a drink and went to the living room to find his roommate in deep concentration. Chucking the drink to his roomie who caught it midair in his teeth before crushing it like an M&M Mark plopped down in the chair opposite him.
At first he had been concerned having an alien as a roommate, but after a while he didn’t even notice it anymore; he even learned which of the three mouths was the one speaking and which ones were just mouthing along.
“What level are you on?”
“I’m in the bunker level.”
“Wait, but when I left an hour ago you were still on the bunker level.”
Mark looked at him and then at the TV to confirm. “Have you really not been able to beat it?”
His roommate mumbled something. “What was that? You have to speak up when you’re pouting.”
“I said I keep dying!” They dropped the controller and slouched back in the chair. “No matter what I do I keep dying on this level.”
“Well which part do you die in?”
“The control room. I can’t find a way to escape it before the enemy rushes me.”
“Well, yeah, you’re not supposed to.”
“What do you mean? Is it a bug?”
“No, I mean it’s a last stand moment. There’s no way for you to escape.”
His roommate looked frustrated beyond measure. “Then what’s the point!?”
Mark paused to think about it; he was still explaining human things to his alien friend. “It’s meant to be a noble sacrifice. You fight the enemy long enough to delay them the ability to fire the plasma rocket until your friends escape.”
“But why do I still die?”
“Because that’s the noble part. You give your life for your friends and comrades.”
All three mouths let out a long gurgling sound. Mark didn’t know if that was meant to mean something in their language or if it was something they picked up from watching humans.
“Why does your species fetishize dying in combat?”
Mark was taken aback that his roommate had to ask him regularly what a toaster was yet somehow knew about fetishes.
“I wouldn’t say we fetishize it.”
“Really?” They stood up and went over the the dvd rack. “Half these movies you have involve a human dying in combat “heroically.” He reached down and opened the game cupboard. “Nearly all these games have a human dying as well for the same reasons.”
He nudged the cupboard door close with a tentacle and returned to the couch. “Just admit your people have a problem.”
Rubbing his eyes Mark dug deep for an explanation.
“I’ll grant you we romanticize it, but not to the extent it is a fetish.”
“That still does not explain the obsession with death.”
“We humans controls so very little in our life spans that if one were to contemplate it they have their entire world come crashing down upon them. To control ones death at the very least is a comforting thought for some, but to give that death in service of others is set as a higher standard.”
He pointed to the front hallway. “If I had died tripping over my shoes and bashing my brains in when I was hefting the groceries my death would be foolish and silly for many.”
Mark then pointed at his roommate. “But if I had died getting groceries because I ran out to get food for my starving friend then that is considered noble as it was a death brought about in service of another.”
His roommate considered this and then offered the question of “If that is so wouldn’t the person you would be dying for rather you continue to live and be part of their life?”
“Sometimes they don’t even know you exist.” He pointed at the video game. “You die in that bunker because you were holding off a wave of enemies that wanted to launch a nuke that would kill all your friends; but it would also kill everyone within the city they are hiding in as well. Millions of lives suddenly no dangle by a thread and it is by your actions that determine how long that thread can be held on to.”
“One of our human holy books says “
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
“ It means there is no greater act of love than to give your life for another. What could possibly be more heroic than that and more worthy of praise?”
His roommate looked at him and then back at the game. “Maybe grabbing me another drink from the fridge to be honest.”
“Stop calling them drinks. All you do is bite through the entire can and eat it. It’s horrific to watch.”
“But there is no greater love than to sate the thirst of another.” they mocked back as they resumed gaming.