Gideon looked to his left and to his right. It was the same sight as yesterday, and the day before: the fluffy bushes like clouds on the ground, the white clouds like bushes in the sky, the same familiar giant mushrooms that greeted him so every morning. He was comfortable here, as comfortable as he could be expected to be. But lately, Gideon was beginning to feel a little trapped. 224 pixels was more than most Red Koopas had to themselves, and yet how many times had he counted every one of those pixels? How many times had he reached the edge and turned around? How many more times would he do so?
Gideon knew that he could walk off his platform whenever he chose; he had seen the Green Koopas do it countless times. But he could never quite get himself to leave. It was not a sense of duty that kept him in place – in truth, the King did not much care where his minions wandered so long as they stood somewhere between the Plumber and the Castle. But it would be so surreal, to take that one big step off the platform that had been Gideon’s home for so long. If only he could, for a few moments, be beyond the confines of his platform, without covering the intervening space. The beaches of Yoshi ‘s Island, the Pyramids of Sarasaland, the great Rainbow Road in the sky: He could see himself walking each one, end to end and back. And yet he could not see himself standing on the ground a few short pixels away from his perch.
Gideon looked down over the edge. The ground below was cracked, worn by time and by the waves of Goombas that passed by every day. He wondered if it was cold. It stared back up at him, the same ground that he saw every day, but somehow calling him louder than ever. He reached a tentative foot over the edge but quickly turned around. Not this time. One day he might feel that ground beneath him. One day, Gideon would leave his self-imposed floating prison, but not today. He was not yet ready.
And then, the sounds of chaos. Goombas shouting and screaming, Koopas scurrying into position. A Plumber was approaching. It was the green one this time, Gideon saw, bounding off of brick and shell, drawing closer: 32 blocks, 16, 8. Before Gideon knew it, the plumber was leaping towards him feet-first. It was the last sight for many a Koopa, but somehow, it was not fear that Gideon felt, but hope. Hope that the plumber would knock him off of his platform, force him to take those first steps on the ground. Hope that this blue-collar angel of death might be the key to starting his life anew. As the plumber’s boot sole approached from above, Gideon took a deep breath and readied himself for whatever the future might hold. The pause threw off Luigi’s timing and the plumber landed short. Before Gideon could stop himself, his beak touched the plumber’s kneecap. Gideon’s savior instantly drew back in pain and tumbled into the abyss.
Gideon watched the Plumber fall. He would receive a medal for this, Gideon knew. But he also knew that he would not be at the award ceremony. They would have to bring the medal to him.