More Than Just A Game


Kyle commissioned more troops to sector Seven. He would not be overrun again by maniacal orcs. He checked his town hall, carefully, meticulously counting his resources. Wood was running low, but iron and wheat were fine. Patriotism was very weak, however. Those darn spies! How do they keep getting into town? I’ve doubled the patrol three times already! Kyle considered his options. Obviously, more guards wouldn’t help. His enemy clearly had him beat in the realm of espionage. An idea hit him, he quickly scrolled over to his tavern. Checking his gold supply, he allocating 1000 coin for free drink. He waited as patriotism slowly accumulated. A smile crept over his face as he watched, before too long a townsman had turned in a spy.

Now was the time. He must seize his victory before his enemy, the troll army, had time to recover. He rallied horse archers and axe men, his most advanced troops. Most would die in the siege, but after all, this was just a game. He commanded the town militia to form, their job was simple. They were just a distraction. They would hit an outpost on the western most side of the map, drawing enemy troops away from the keep while his real army struck at them when they were most vulnerable. He selected his troops, opened the gates, and marched forward.

After several minutes of marching through swamps and forest, his army reached the keep. His plan had worked, most of the enemy army had gone to defend their outpost from the mock attack. He gave the order to charge, watching as troop morale dropped due to the slaughter of the town militia. In moments the gates were broken down by his axe men, allowing his horse archers to charge through, slaughtering all in their path of destruction. A few more seconds and green letters flashed across his screen reading Victory for Agdamor. He stared at it a few moments, feeling the pleasant rush of endorphins for his time-consuming success.

A slight grayish blur suddenly appeared on the corner. It looked like a man of some sort. He was accompanied by several very high-level orcs. Kyle’s eyes narrowed as he noticed this. He had never seen any additional animation past the victory screen. He looked more closely, intently watching to see what would happen next. The man had a massive walking stick that Kyle could now identify as a magically imbued staff by the light emanating from the crystal at the head. He was bewildering. He had never seen anything like this before, nor had he ever seen the wizard character. The man suddenly stopped and began conversing with one of the orcs. Then this one seemed to bark orders to the others and they headed towards the recently conquered keep. Kyle stifled a chuckle, there were only a few orcs, high levels as they were, they didn’t stand a chance against several dozen axe men and horse archers.

As he continued watching the wizard he noticed what appeared to be a smile cross his face. This further bewildered Kyle as he had never seen such detailed animation. It was almost as if he were watching the scene unfold not from a computer screen, but rather from a helicopter. The wizard suddenly raised his staff, the light glowing from the crystal now burst into a deadly green flame. It lunged at his soldiers, soaring over the walls and down into their midst. He heard loud, painful screams and expressions of agony as they were engulfed in flames. Several of his men on horses tried to make a break for it, charging through the open gates, but the orcs stationed at the entrance were now the majority. In moments his entire army was slaughtered.

He watched, jaw dropped in shock as the screen slowly moved closer to the wizard. He turned, staring directly at Kyle, a sinister smile on his face. He spoke slowly, and elegantly, “Kyle Rodarbocher, you’re mine now.” He spoke several words in an unknown language filled with magical power, then let out a raucous laugh. The green words spelling victory faded. Replaced was a strange word in strange runes died a dark red.

Kyle had been so engrossed in the events unfolding before him that when the power went out and the screen turned black he jumped a little. Though he would never have admitted it, he had never been more terrified in his life. This is just some sort of joke. Yeah, just a practical joke that Marty or Dillion made. They could’ve learned how to code and hack without telling me. That’s possible. Kyle found the argument slipped from his grasp as he was met with the brutal realization that for the first time in his life he had no idea what was going on and it terrified him.

Kyle checked his watch, his mom had called him down for dinner fifteen minutes ago. He would be in trouble. Darting out of his room, he cautiously crept down the stairs, as if he could succeed in slipping into dinner without being noticed. The whole house was eerily quiet as he moved forward. Stealing backwards glances and half imagining monsters lurking in shadows, he realized it was very odd that the power outage, though not uncommon in his neighborhood, hadn’t at all startled his family.

When he reached the kitchen table his fear grew stronger. He could see that it had been set and that the table had been used. He could still smell the meatloaf. He tentatively called out for his parents. Then his sister, but nothing returned to him. All was silent. He stalked around, peering out the window of his house, everything seemed fine, although the neighborhood was unusually quiet for a spring evening.

He took a step back, analyzing the surreal moment. Unsure what his next move should be. Kyle took another glance out of his window, realizing that the cars were still parked out front. He ran back upstairs, shouting for his family, flinging open doors as he went. Nothing. No one was there.

“Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Everything is fine. Nothing to worry about.” Kyle hit his hand against the wall. “OK! OK! You win! This isn’t funny anymore!” The silence continued unabated.

In nervous fear Kyle darted outside of his house, figuring he could take more solace in the fading sunlight than an eerie, empty house. He threw the front door open, rushing out before he had a chance to take a good look at what he was rushing towards.

It was far darker than he had thought. When he had looked outside previously, evening light had just begun. Now it looked closer to midnight. As Kyle took in more of his surroundings, he discovered that the houses that stood across the street were gone, heavy, overgrown trees stood in their place. The was no street either. He looked down at his feet, he was standing in several inches of fallen leaves, with a sick thought he spun around. Where his house should have been Kyle now saw nothing else but forest, dense, dark, scary forest. His home was gone. His family was gone, and his sanity might very well have gone with them. Kyles was alone.

The young man sank to his knees, overcome with a mixture of shock, horror, and grief. A sharp, nasty screech pierced the stillness of the haunted forest. Kyle’s head jerked up from his inner torments. He shakily rose to his feet, fleeing into the darkness, away from the noise, away from home, and away from hope.  -photo creds


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