Don’t stop playing

Dont stop playing

Ava Gjertsen, Editor

It was a freezing and rainy October evening when my old close friend stopped by unannounced. I was certainly surprised, as we hadn’t spoken in a few years since we left off on bad terms after graduation. Nonetheless, I still welcomed him inside, glad to see a familiar face and worried he might catch a cold in the dreary weather. He sat on the couch, fidgeting and eyes shifting everywhere except for my gaze. Frankly, he didn’t look so good: prominent, dark bags sat beneath his eyes, and some of his unkempt and tousled hair had grown out quite a bit and concealed them a lot. His attire was wrinkled and stained, appearing as if it hadn’t been washed in awhile. I figured perhaps he was homeless or something of the like and wanted some help, but I was dearly wrong.

“Are you thirsty? I can get you some water or something,” I offered out of politeness. 

“Oh, no thanks. Actually, I just wanted to give you this, to show my appreciation for our old friendship.” He then pulled a hastily wrapped rectangle from behind his back, and laid it on the coffee table with shaky hands. 

“That’s nice of you-” I began, but he stood and headed to the door before I could finish. “Yeah, just um…read the note. It was nice seeing you, I’m sorry,” he said as he slipped outside.

I stared at his receding figure from the window in utter bewilderment. Never in our years of being friends had I ever seen him behaving so oddly. I took it as his way of making amends and shook off my confusion, instead going and picking up the gift he left. Curiously, I peeled the wrapping paper off, revealing a video game case. The cover read “Tiny Townsville” and featured many small characters standing in the middle of a village filled with cottages and trees. My brows creased as I was once again left perplexed, though it did seem like a kind gesture. Throughout high school I had been a video game fanatic, always glued to my computer or console. I still had many of the games I used to enjoy, however, I didn’t play as often. Uninterested, I tossed the game beside my computer desk and decided to head to sleep. 

The following day was spent working at my job before I returned home, exhausted. I decided to play some video games to wind down, but nothing sounded fun and the boredom was consuming me. I suddenly remembered the game I was given the other day and curiously went to put the disc in my computer. It began to load up, bright colors flashing across the screen as I leaned back in my chair in anticipation. It took a strangely long time to completely load, which left me slightly frustrated, but it did eventually. “Tiny Townsville: Evolve your world!” The home screen featured the usual in PC games: start, settings, and help options displayed. I clicked the start button. Immediately, it changed to a forest-like area, where a pixelated female character stood.


I chose yes and the girl’s face popped up with a speech bubble below, her name revealed to be Maisey. She gave me basic instructions, such as the controls and the gist of how to play. It was a seemingly innocent game. The characters were designed cutely and it appeared to be similar to a farm simulator game. Overall, it looked peaceful. 

“Don’t you want to become a cult leader? Since the passing of our savior, there’s been a void that you could fill.”

Confusion filled me as I reread the text on the screen. That didn’t seem right.

“Yes” “No”

I pressed no, a little disturbed by the wording. However, instead the yes button flashed as if I had chosen it. Maisey got a creepily wide and cartoonish smile on her grainy face as her character turned to face me behind the screen. It was as if she was staring directly at me, and made me uncomfortable. 

“Welcome Jason, we’re so glad you’ll save us,” the text typed as my heart sank; I never gave it my name. 

Not wanting anymore to do with it, I turned the computer off, watching as the once colorful screen turned black. I glanced back at the coffee table, where the note my friend had attached to the present sat untouched. I hurriedly opened it, the messy penmanship only leaving me with more questions than answers: I’m sorry, I don’t know what it wants or why it does what it does. I had to give it to somebody. I’m afraid. Forgive me.

I told myself that I had had enough discomfort for one day and decided to just sleep on the situation. The same night, I awoke at 2:00 a.m, the feeling of an empty stomach making me too uncomfortable to fall back asleep. I groggily slipped out of my bed and headed downstairs with the intention of stealing a snack from the kitchen. As I did so, I noticed a light coming from my living room. Confused, I walked towards it only to find my computer on and running that stupid game from earlier. It was on the same screen I had left on at. I slowly approached it and moved the mouse to click out of the game, but it wouldn’t budge. No matter how hard I tried, the mouse would not go to the exit out option. 

“Move the character before exiting, please,” Maisey’s character suggested. 

Despite my irritation, I just decided to comply so I could leave and go back to bed. I moved my avatar to his cottage and opened the front door. I was interrupted as a loud slamming startled me. I whipped around, only to find my front door wide open. My eyes flickered between the screen and front door, my heart pounding at the freaky correlation. I entered the avatar into the cottage, disturbed to find the interior looked frighteningly similar to my own. Then, I opened the fridge in the game. To my horror, my own fridge swung right open as the game had. I had no chance to make another move as Maisey’s character entered the cottage, and her speech bubble popped back up. 

“Let me out?”

“Yes” “No”