Carefully prying the door open, I set foot inside as I turned on my flashlight. The cold interior of my hometown's abandoned department store was still warmer that the winter tundra outside. Although rust and decay layered every surface in sight, I still recognized it as the K-Mart I set foot in 31 years earlier to purchase "The Legend of Zelda". The memories came flooding back taking in the familiar layout around me.
Several yards ahead, a small black rectangle lay on the dilapidated tile flooring. I approached it and knelt down for further inspection. It was a cassette tape, and flipping it over, the illumination of my flash light revealed a strip of masking tape on the other side bearing the phrase "KMART87" in black marker.
I opened the lid of my Walkman hanging from my belt loop and inserted it, and then snugly secured my earbuds into place.
As soon as I pressed the play button, the neglected store around me transformed in an instant as cheery music filled my ears. The floor was clean and immaculate. Fluorescent lights glowed overhead. The shelves were stocked. It was as if the store hadn't aged a day since all those years ago.
I began walking down aisles taking in the miracle around me, as the peppy tape played. However, as the clarity of the tape occasionally warped and fluttered, the manifestation of a thriving store around flickered and jerked in synchronization, like a projected image struggling to maintain stability. Underneath the twitching facade of former glory, the present rot of the building persisted. Though slightly disoriented, this did not stop me as I continued, memory guiding my steps right to the video game aisle.
There, I stopped as I saw a small familiar boy, no older than eight or nine. He stood there, his gaze intent on a small, golden box on the shelf in front of him. As I stepped closer, I could make out what the text on it said, and why it had him so entranced.
"The Legend of Zelda"
released January 27, 2019