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The Game

by Shoshonna Shoap about a year ago in horror
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A $20,000 Dollar Friendship

The Game
Photo by Sean Do on Unsplash

The Game

Jackson sat in his brown desk chair. He had a trail of wrappers and cans splayed around him. The boy had spent hours in that very same spot. Jackson’s hair was mussed and his clothes were the same as the day before. The glow of the computer screen illuminated his face with an eery glow. He was tired, oh so tired but he could not give up. He had to finish the game in time. The reward was too great. All he needed to do was remember the special code in the final level.

Earlier that day, Jackson went to school like he normally did. His mom woke him up at six. She tugged on his foot and told him he had to get up. Jackson ate his breakfast and watched random videos on his phone while his brain slowly woke up. School was okay, usually boring but he hated getting up so early.

While he chewed on a buttery bagel, he clicked on a video that quickly grabbed his attention. The video was an advertisement for a game competition. Players had to complete several tasks and reach the last level. The winner of the last level could win a huge reward of twenty thousand dollars. Jackson almost choked on his bite of bagel. He excitedly ran to his dad, who was getting ready for work. He explained to his dad that all he had to do was play a game to be eligible to win big money. His dad was skeptical but told him he would check it out with Jackson after school.

Jackson’s mind was reeling in sonic speed all the way to the bus stop. The big yellow bus pulled up to the stop with its old breaks squealing like nails on the chalkboard. The bus was always loud and smelled funny but Jackson could not wait to get to school. He wanted to talk with this friends to see if they had seen the same video. He walked to the back of the bus to his normal seat. Macy was waiting for him, like she always did. Macy was his best friend.

As soon as Jackson sat down, Macy whizzed right by a good morning and blurted out about a crazy video she had seen. Jackson’s eye’s lit up and realized she was talking about the same video he had seen. Jackson told her all the information he had learned. Macy added to the story by telling him that the game required players to work as partners. On the way to school, they decided they would team up and play the game as soon as school was over.

The day dragged on slower than those slimy snails that always seem to pop up after heavy rain. Jackson found himself doodling all through social studies. In math, he spent his time totaling up all the awesome gaming gadgets he would buy with his half of the money. Macy and he had partnered up on so many things, he just knew they would win the prize reward. After all, Macy and him had won the hot air balloon competition for all of 6th and 7th grade. Jackson drummed his pencil with excitement as he watched the clock tick by until it was finally time for dismissal.

Jackson ran up to his house and quickly unlocked the front door. He hollered to his dad that he was going up to his room to play a game with Macy. He grabbed a soda and some bar-b-que chips and went up to his bedroom. He threw his book bag on to the floor in front of his dresser. He put his phone on speaker phone and called Macy. He was ready to play the game. Macy and him found the website from the video.

The website asked for basic log in information and general player information. Jackson fibbed on the birthdate. He wasn’t technically old enough to play but he wasn’t exactly a little kid. He was in middle school. The game seemed cool. The game seemed to be a puzzle type game that required players to find clues and solve a mystery. Macy and him flew through the first five levels. The mysteries were so easy, Jackson knew they were going to win.

Hours had passed since Jackson had started playing the game with Macy as his partner. The only thing is that at level six, Macy’s phone had gotten staticky and then he couldn’t hear her anymore. He had assumed that her phone had died. Her avatar was still on the screen. Jackson tried to chat with her in the game. Her avatar stood still like a statue standing over the head of a grave in one of those cemeteries in scary movies. Jackson was worried and he tried to chat with her again. Finally her screen name showed typing. Letter by letter, the text bubble spelled out, “ I AM TRAPPED! HELP ME! IF YOU DON’T FINISH, I CAN’T LEAVE. PLEASE, I’M SCARED!”. Jackson tried to get more information but then her avatar turned to stone on the screen. A red line with drips melting downward slowly moved across her screen name as if her name was being scratched out.

Jackson understood some of the weird questions that they had answered at the beginning of the game. Now he knew what the game had meant when it asked him if he would do whatever it took to save his partner. He was so scared. He couldn’t tell his dad. He had to help his friend. He knew if he told his dad, that he would make Jackson stop playing. He would say it was too dangerous and call the cops. His dad might even say it wasn’t real and that Jackson was getting to wound up and then Jackson definitely couldn’t help rescue his best friend.

Now it was late and here he was glued to his computer. Jackson had been sitting in that chair for so long that he couldn’t even feel his legs. The wrappers from various snacks and empty cans of soda to stay awake all lay in testament to his dedication to seeing this nightmare to the finish line.

Jackson finished level eight. He had been writing all his clues down in his little black notebook that he used for all his gaming codes and passwords. Each new level included information from the previous. He was so close to the last level. The ninth level was the final mystery that required all the last clues that were given when a player solved a level. Jackson did not understand how the clues of rice cakes, unicorn, bacon, palm tree, french fries, pink, magic, and a hoodie could help him solve a final puzzle.

The screen faded at the end of level eight. Jackson’s heart was racing. His black notebook was next to his left hand. His right hand was nervously shaking while it slide the mouse to guide the curser to the button to enter the last level. Jackson was terrified. Macy was his best friend. He didn’t know how he would explain to her parents or his if he failed. He had to complete this last puzzle and finish.

He clicked the button. An evil laugh came out of the speaker that sent chilling tendrils of sinister giggles that gave him goosebumps. One of his cats jumped up onto the desk and made Jackson jump. His left hand jerked and knocked over a can of soda. The brown sticky liquid flooded all over the notebook. The page with all the clues was quickly soaked. Jackson ran to the bathroom and frantically pulled the towel off the rack. He mopped up the soda as best as he could. He sighed with relief as he realized he could still read the clues.

He tossed the towel to the floor and started to work his way through the final puzzle. He was doing okay. He started to believe he might just save the day. He didn’t care about the money anymore. He just wanted his friend back. He decided he would let her have all the money as long as she was safe. One more clue and he would be done. He looked at the page of clues and realized the one clue he hadn’t used yet was too blurry.. He could only make out the last letter “n”. His forehead started to sweat and stomach twisted into knots. He knew one of the clues made him think of Macy and Christmas time. Then all of a sudden, he remembered. He typed the final clue, one letter at a time, “u-n-i-c-o-r-n”. He didn’t want to risk a typo. He hit enter and waited anxiously. Confetti sprinkled across the screen and a congratulations message scrolled across the screen. Jackson didn’t see the digital fanfare as he was frantically texting Macy to see if she was okay.

Jackson stared at the text conversation. A text bubble appeared with dots. Jackson watched the screen, waiting for her response. He was concentrating so hard that he swore he heard her voice. He blinked and suddenly it wasn’t nighttime anymore.

The sun was shining through the window behind Jackson. He opened his eyes. His head was on his desk and his hand was wet from drool. He panicked, had he failed Macy and fallen asleep?!?! He heard Macy’s voice again, calling his name. Jackson picked up his phone and told Macy everything that happened. Macy explained to Jackson that they had tried to play the game after school but realized it was a scam commercial. Her phone died and when she tried to call back, she realized he had fallen asleep.

Jackson couldn’t believe it had all been a dream. The whole thing had seemed so real. Macy told him that maybe next time, he shouldn’t drink so many sodas. After that, Macy gave him the nickname, brony, since the final clue was unicorn. Jackson jabbed back about at least she knew he would always ride to her rescue. They both laughed and vowed to always be there for each other through junior high and unicorn fiascos.


About the author

Shoshonna Shoap

I am a mom, wife, animal lover, writer, painter, illustrator, and a student. I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree.

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