Dear Alex,

I am really, really sorry.

It’s honestly baffling how we keep running into each other. I mean, Manhattan isn’t a small place, but wherever I go, you seem to go as well, at least as long as the block is between levels three and nine. I don’t blame you—you’re a looter, a rioter; you’re trying to make ends meet against impossible odds in a city stricken by viral plague and general anarchy.

But, that being said, please understand that given the red bar above your head, I have no choice but to continue to pump round after round into you (often, strangely, into your skull, which doesn’t seem to affect you as quickly as one would think), watching numbers eject from your body after each hit.

“They got Alex!” your friends scream. I hear it so often. You must mean a lot to the other rioters, as this is the only name I ever hear them yell like this. Yet every time I face them, I hear your name. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking to know that even in this time of national panic, your comrades care so much about you.

Alex, please understand that this is a video game, and because of that simple fact my objective is to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in its digitized world with little to no remorse. Did you ever play an Uncharted game (I mean, prior to the outbreak, of course)? Nathan Drake kills, like, a continent’s worth of people per game as if it’s nothing. It’s engrained in my brain after decades of gaming: red-bar-equals-kill and green-bar-equals-don’t-kill. It’s nothing personal.

I respect your persistence, but haven’t you learned by now? I’ve shot you down at least a dozen times. What the fuck are you doing? Clearly you can’t hang. I’m not mad at you—you give me incremental experience points every time we quarrel in the streets. I’m simply disappointed. I’m 10 hours into Tom Clancy’s The Division, I’m level 11 and you inhabit a block that’s now below my level. You cannot, and will not, succeed. I’m sorry Alex, but it’s time to give up.

I know these are hard times. Earlier I saw a guy selling rats. No one was buying them, but I respect his hustle—he found a grind and went for it. Take note, Alex: it’s time for you to find a new line of work. You know what the post-apocalypse world needs? Trash collectors.

Like, for real, take a quick look around you. There’s more trash piled up on Manhattan’s streets than the replies of a Kim Kardashian Tweet. Find an untapped market and proliferate in it. After all, once the outbreak hit, all the unionized trash collectors decided to equip flamethrowers and deem themselves “The Cleaners,” burning whatever they see fit in a literal “cleanse by fire” approach. Why don’t you team up with them and actually do something useful? It’s the end of days, and no one is worried about the environment. Send that shit to the ozone layer and let some other nerd deal with it. Unclutter our streets, and our hearts.

You could make so many credits that you could buy, like, a hundred level four knee pads to cushion yourself while you kneel down to clean up bullet casings and plague vomit. That’s called being a productive member of a capitalist society.

A life of crime isn’t for everyone, Alex, and there’s no shame in admitting that you aren’t cut out for it. Look at this world not as an end, but as a beginning: the beginning of you being the best damned trash collector Manhattan has ever seen. “There goes Alex!” they’ll say. “Making this shithole a little more comfortable everyday.”

So, Alex, I am really sorry, but I am also really optimistic—for you. Alex: The Trash Man sounds a lot better than Alex: The Beloved By His Peers But Perpetually Being Murdered Bullet Sponge.


Blake, and everyone else playing The Division who’s tired of hearing “They got Alex!” after every other fight

p.s.—Thanks for the Trendy Puff Jacket, thing is fly as hell.

Blake Hester is a Kentucky-based writer who used to steal issues of Playboy from his Dad. To check out more of his work, go to his website.

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