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Story

IN THE ARCADE

A story of two friends who end up meeting at an arcade, but are unfortunately sucked into a macabre game. Can they beat the game and escape alive? Here comes…

“Hey there Harry!”

“Hey, Peter.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Oh, just playing some games. What else is the arcade for?”

Peter grinned. He had come to the arcade for the first time in weeks. And as soon as he reached, he met his best mate, Harry. This was the nearest arcade to their home in Las Vegas. And one of the best, too. It had more than fifty different games, and one game costed only one dollar, be it any game at all.

The pair played crane games – Harry won a stuffed bear and Peter won a… Barbie doll – air hockey – Harry lost 7-6 – gambling – they were both going to turn eighteen that year so that’s allowed – and other simple games like basketball, whack-a-mole, car racing, bumper cars and of course VR games.

When Harry and Peter were both down to their last dollar, Peter remembered a game which he’d played a couple of months ago, but when he had come again a couple of days later, it was out of order. Since then, the arcade hadn’t been greeted by him, till today. Peter said to Harry, “Hey, guess what, there’s this really cool game right in the corner. It’s called Bonfire, 2003. It was released couple months ago, and I bet you haven’t played it. It’s epic!” They both strolled over to the corner. Peter kept on flipping his dollar coin and decided that if its heads, then the game is totally fine, but if its tails, then the game is still out of order. For some reason, the coin kept on landing on tails.

Miraculously, and to Peter’s disappointment, the coin had a brain, because it was correct. The game really was out of order. “Dang it!” he shouted and smashed his hand on the game’s screen. He ripped off the paper which had a sad-faced emoji on it and read “It says ‘this game is out of order. It will be fixed soon. Sorry for the inconvenience’. Why?” he spoke softly. “It’s such a good game, the best one in the whole arcade…”

“No. It will be removed soon, it is a nuisance. Trust me, you don’t want to play it.” A voice spoke behind him. He whipped around, only to see the founder of this arcade, Mr. Jimmy Jason, or as the people called him, J.J.

“But why?”

“Just… just trust me, kid.”

“Ugh, fine. It’s your epic arcade JJ, I wouldn’t lead it to hell if I were you. Come on Harry, let’s go home. This place has no future.”

Then Harry finally spoke, “We’ll see about that.” JJ left with a hung up look on his face, clearly irritated, and at the same time Harry accidentally dropped his coin, but it did not fall on the floor. It fell right into the funnel of Bonfire, 2003.

“No…”

“What?”

“Harry, you do realise that you just wasted one dollar on a game that doesn’t work.”

“It’s just a dollar, it doesn’t really matter. And anyways, it could be a blessing in disguise, maybe the game actually works.”

They both hung around a bit, but to their utter disappointment, it was not a blessing in disguise.

     “Okay, Harry, that’s enough of your nonsense. Let’s go home. It’s eight already.” They both exited the arcade. Harry called up my mom and informed her that he might be a bit late. After all, he had met his friend after two months. After that, they both walked down the lane and ended up in a restaurant.

     The name was Vegas Classic Restaurant. It was the costliest in the area, and Peter only had a dollar left. Nevertheless, they ordered Italian. A pizza, some pasta, whatnot. And when the bill came, it added up to sixty six dollars and fifty cents. Peter told the waiter to give us a minute and he agreed. At that precise moment they both snuck away. Under the tables they went and reached the door. Unfortunately, the door had a bell, so whenever it opened and closed there was a loud ring. And the waiter saw them. He screamed and pointed. A bunch of security guards came out of nowhere and chased the two. The cats were right on their tail, but of course the mice were faster.

     Harry and Peter ran like their lives depended on it, and it did. They both knew that they were criminals then, but all anyone would want to do is to escape. They both ran up the alley and across the arcade. But when Peter looked towards his left, Harry was missing. He looked behind and halted; then ran back.

     Harry had stopped in front of the door of the arcade, where JJ was locking the door. But what had caught Peter’s eye was Harry’s hand. And now it was his leg. They were turning to dust. He fell down once both of his legs were gone. Harry looked up with puppy eyes, but there was nothing his pit crew could do. Peter suddenly felt as if he was in the scene from Avengers: Infinity War, when Spiderman was on the ground and turning to dust and Ironman was standing above him, almost tearful.

     In a few seconds Harry was gone completely. Peter saw JJ’s shocked look and then him shaking his head, muttering, “That’s another one. I have to get rid of that game. If only there was another way.” He noticed the guards had caught up and were only a few metres away. At the same time, his eyes caught JJ opening the door slightly to kick away a rock, and he took the chance. Ducking below JJ’s hand, Peter dashed inside, leaving JJ screaming. Through the alleys formed by the games, following Harry’s dust, right to the corner.

Peter’s watch beeped, it was nine. Bonfire, 2003 lit up. Harry’s dust seeped inside a small hole in the game. Simultaneously, Peter dropped his last coin into the funnel.

He peered down at my numb hands, which blew away and then tumbled down. His legs, too, had disappeared. His chest was the next to turn to dust, and he had a sudden difficulty in breathing, as if he was having an asthma attack. Then it reached up to his mouth, his nose and his eyes. He felt itching on his forehead as the crumbs of his body, and then tufts of his hair floated away leaving a wisp of dandruff trailing behind.

There was darkness all around him. He felt himself being carried by the wind, and then drowned in black.

Peter got up, his back aching slightly. Then he realised that he had lost his memory because he couldn’t remember anything except from his name.

There was a man next to Peter. “Hello,” Peter spoke, kindly. His voice seemed very thin. The man had a beard, with white tips, and was a whole lot taller than him. He was muscular and was wearing a bullet proof vest. On his back, there was a grey rucksack. The man also had ripped jeans, which actually looked worn out. He had two pistols which he hung on his belt and one assault rifle in his hands. Peter suddenly felt something in his hands and saw a silver revolver, shining as if new. There was a knife with a short blade hanging in his belt. Peter, too, had a backpack, but it was not even half the size of the one the man had.

“Ow.” he clutched my head as a flashback came, a short one in which he remembered Harry and him turning to dust. That was it. “Harry, is that you?”

“Don’t tell me you’re Peter.” Harry’s voice sounded very deep.

“Why not? I am Peter.”

“You didn’t have to follow me, it was my mistake. And, umm, how do I say this? Umm, just, look at yourself.”

Peter narrowed my eyes and looked down. His arms and legs were frail. His upper body came forward a little, and then thinned towards his waist, with a curvature body. His hair was long and came down to his shoulders and he wore gloves without fingertips. He also found skin tight jeans and a crop top on him. And then it dawned on Peter, what Harry had meant. “Am I…?”

Harry nodded and muttered, “At least I was the first one here so that I could remain a boy.” His face reddened and he felt embarrassed at what had happened. “Well, the bright side is you’re really cute, if this were true I might even marry you. Disgusting. And secondly nobody knows apart from us two. And even if I try to spread it nobody will believe me. But the dark side is,” He grinned evilly, “I can tease you forever and ever and ever.”

Peter cleared his throat and responded, “Hmph. It’s not my fault. There has to be a boy and a girl, and I didn’t even get to choose my avatar!” He flinched at the surprise. No matter how much he tried, his voice wouldn’t get any deeper. “Oh look! A settings tab!”

“Where? In an arcade game. Impossible!” Harry looked towards his right and at the same time Peter jumped up and slapped him on the head. “Hey!” He clenched his fist to punch him – her, actually – but she stopped him.

Peter waved my index finger in a ‘no’ sign and said, “You can’t hit a girl, can you? It’s against your ethics.”

“Yeah, but you’re a boy. Your avatar is a girl.”

     “Nu-uh. Look at me. For now, I am a girl. Hee hee. Lucky me.”

     “Okay, fine. I hereby dub thee… Petra.”

     “What, no! I am Peter, Peter Parker. Just kidding, that’s spidey.”

     “Wait, then what is your surname? I mean, it would be cool if mine was Osborn, but it’s Cama. Harry Cama. My mother’s Indian and my dad decided to change his surname instead, I don’t know why.”

     “Yeah, I already know that. You’ve told me multiple times. Anyways, I’m actually Peter Miller.”

     “Oh yeah! How could I forget? Anyways, now you are Petra Miller.”

     “No way!”

     “Yes way! Haha.”

     “This sucks. Let’s quickly get out of this… video game?”

     “I suppose. Come on.”

They walked together to the T-point, and turned right, aimlessly. Suddenly, Petra pointed at a parking lot, having spotted ten cars. All of them black convertibles with neon strips. They all had two seats, but only one racing suit in them. Eight were occupied, and they soon realised that two were meant for them. One had blue neon strips and the other had pink neon strips.

“Dibs on the blue stripped car.” Harry exclaimed and walked over to it.

“No! Blue is my favourite colour!”

“Well, you’re a girl. Pink suits you.”

“Fine, take it, sexist.” Petra walked over to the pink car and picked up the racing suit to put it on. It was not even a proper racing suit, instead a pink frock with uncovered shoulders and a knee-length skirt, with shorts under it. “Hey, look away. I’m changing!” Petra called to Harry, but he kept looking at her. “Ugh, this is a frock. I’m not gonna wear a frock!” She jumped in the car, throwing the frock on the road, and pressed the race of the car, but it refused to start.

“Hey Petra! You need to put the clothes on. It’s a racing gear. The game won’t work without it!”

“Aw crap! Look away I said!” Harry refused and stared, so the girl turned her back towards him and changed. Luckily she didn’t have to change her undergarments – that would be horrible.

Petra seated herself in the comfy seats of the McLaren F1. Harry was sitting in a Bugatti Veyron, obviously faster. He had also changed, into a completely blue proper racing with gloves, unlike Petra’s mittens. He had a bike helmet, and Petra couldn’t help but feel jealous because all she had was her bare head, with the red shoulder-length hair hanging open and falling on her face in front of her eyes. She looked at her watch, but wasn’t wearing one, Peter was the one who wore a watch, not Petra. Instead, she admired her long nails, painted a dark black, contrasting with a white skin. Petra suddenly unzipped her bag and pulled out a makeup kit. She smeared the deep red lipstick on her lips, and then she used the eyeliner to darken her eyes. She coloured her eyelids turquoise and blushed her cheeks a light red. “Hey, Harry.” Harry’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open, speechless. “Oh no! What am I doing? I’m beginning to feel like a girl too now!” I was about to rub the makeup off my face, but suddenly Harry was at my side, holding my arm.

“Don’t, you look pretty. Besides, you’re a girl.”

“So what?”

“Girl’s put on makeup, don’t they?”

“Yes they do, but I’m not a girl and I detest makeup. Okay? Now let me scrub it off. I don’t like this girly feeling.”

“Well, girl’s get girly feelings. And they love makeup. So, it all makes sense, you know.” Harry walked back to his car and sat inside. He drove the car to the end of the road and turned left, where there was a starting line. I followed behind him, having a little trouble in keeping the car straight.

“What’s up Petra? You can’t drive?”

“Well, I know the theory but I’ve never really driven before.”

“You haven’t driven! Who hasn’t driven?! Ha!”

“Oh shut up. I’m half a year younger than you.”

“Yeah yeah, whatever, girl.”

“Stop calling me a girl! I’m not a girl!”

“Look at yourself and then we’ll finish our debate.”

Petra looked at herself, at her female body, female voice, female behaviour, it was as if Peter had had a gender reassignment surgery. She didn’t like it at all.

Suddenly there was a booming voice in the air, “Racers, on your marks. Get set. And… go!”

Petra pressed the race completely and the car went flying ahead – it was automatic – as Petra was unable to see anything without a blur. She rammed right into a tree and greyish fumes were emitted from the engine of the car, as if it was smoking. Meanwhile, Harry was patient with his stride and he pressed the pedal slowly. Accelerating at a normal rate he crossed Petra, called out, “Hi!” and whooshed forward.

“Whoa! This is the life baby!” Harry exclaimed as he dodged obstacles, flew over ramps and got nitro boosts. Of course, he finished in first place with his racing skills. However, the race wasn’t complete yet, for the last place still remained – that of Petra. Her car’s radiator was blown and it was heating up at an amazing rate.

“This is hopele- ful. This is very hopeful! Got it! Yes!” Petra screamed with joy and jumped into her car. She turned the heater on full speed, and pulled the roof down so as to not burn up. While Harry was enjoying getting a gold medal, Petra was trying really hard for her idea to work. If she turned the heater on full speed, it would take heat from the engine causing the engine to cool down and consequently the car would run smoothly. She reversed the car, avoided the tree and moved slowly. She knew that she was already in last place, but she had to complete the race. “Thank you Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. You saved my life. Televisions are useful.” Petra slowly rode on around the obstacles, taking the normal routes rather than the ramps and never used the nitro boosts.

“Where were you?” Harry asked, as he jumped down from the podium with the gold medal still hanging around his neck. “You know, there is a time limit of four minutes, and if you had taken even one more millisecond to complete the race, we would not have qualified for the next level of the game.”

“Next level?! What?!” Petra exclaimed. “I thought this was it, that I could finally go back and become Peter again.”

“Be Peter again. Haha. Live as Petra for now. Peter does not exist.”

“He’s in me.”

“He’s not. He’s gone. She is here.” Harry touched my chest indicating my heart. I thought about what he had said for a second and then there was suddenly a loud screeching noise and a bell ringing.

“Qualifiers: Harry the Hunter and Petra the Huntress.”

“Great. Now I’m Petra for sure.” Petra spoke on hearing her name.

“See.” Harry chuckled. He walked forward where there were little half-sized wooden doors like entering the main cabin in a police office, labelled level two. He boldly strode forward and entered the new arena. Petra followed meekly behind. Being only five feet two inches, unlike Peter’s five feet ten inches, she could easily hide behind Harry, his avatar being about six feet, although the real Harry was probably five feet five inches or something. Harry was definitely impressed by his current status: muscular, handsome, tall, strong, brainy. Except the white hair did indicate something – age. And that was the only reason why Petra failed to fall for Harry. She was, on the other hand, much younger than Harry’s avatar, as young as Peter himself.

As Petra passed through the doors, they swung shut behind her – a spring – and refused to budge, becoming as rigid as chrome steel. There was no way back. She looked straight ahead and gasped, as The Wild West appeared in front of her. She slowly walked forward into the city, kicking up the dirt in front of her, which blew away in the zephyr. There were old wooden buildings on either side of the dusty street on which she now walked, supported by wooden beams, cracked with age. To her right, she saw a stable with four horses: two brown, one an elegant black and the last a cream coloured horse. They neighed as the intruders passed from their sight but it seemed as if the place had been vacated, for there was no other human being in their sight. The pair walked forward and saw a building that was standing out from the others. It had been painted a golden colour and was the only building with two floors. It wasn’t very pretty, but was special in its own way. There was a word painted in black at the top: MAYOR. Harry just ignored it and walked on, but Petra stayed there. She might have imagined it, but she believed that her senses would not deceive her. She believed that she had seen the curtains move slightly to one side and a scuffle as a man hurried away, coughing ever so slightly, as if he was trying to remain hidden. She walked up the three steps to the door and banged her knuckles on it, rhythmically. Nobody answered, except Harry, who called out, “There’s nobody there. Come on.” Petra looked back, a little surprised at his lack of curiosity, but then again they were stuck in a video game. She looked back at the door and knocked again, without saying a word.

This time, the door slightly opened. Petra kicked it open before the person inside could react and close it again, and entered. Harry followed her, with some interest in what she had discovered. There was a rotund man crouched down in there corner, with his hands held in front of his face as protection. His belly was falling forward, with the buttons of his shirt straining to keep the body covered. Slowly, noticing that the couple weren’t doing anything, he got up, bringing his hands down, revealing a chubby, somewhat childish face, with large eyes but a small nose and equally ugly mouth. Both of his ears ended as a point, as if of an elf. Neither Petra nor Harry noticed as the man pulled out the pistol from his holster, but as soon as Harry had seen it, he reacted, bringing his foot in the air and lashing out at the man’s wrist. The gun fell on the floor with a clatter, and Petra picked it up, examining the metal. The man shouted out but the scream died out as Harry clamped his hand over the man’s mouth. He dragged him to the back and dumped him in a large room, with had no furniture except from a square table with four chairs. The man was forced to sit down on one chair, with Harry to his right and Petra in front of him, with the gun pointing at his head. They had warned him that if he tried anything, they would shoot.

“What’s going on?” Harry questioned, as if he was a policeman interrogating a criminal.

“Nothing.” The man squeaked, clearly terrified of his guests. Petra’s eyes narrowed and her grip tightened on the trigger. Her beastly man had come out and she would not hesitate. The man read her eyes and looked down.

“Don’t make us shoot.” It was the stern voice of Harry, who had fixed his eyes on the man. He could tell the man was innocent, a victim, but was just scared, and decided to loosen it up a bit. “We won’t hurt you. Just tell us what’s going on.” He nodded at Petra, who brought the gun down a little, waiting for a response.

The man looked up again, straight at the gun, and spoke, “I’m the mayor of this city, which has been evacuated.” He noticed the puzzled eyes of the two, and continued, “Last time was the third attack of the Nausuchets, a viscous cowboy gang with six people, always threatening to kill people who didn’t obey them. Four of the residents had been killed and a load of diamonds had been stolen before we decided to evacuate the city. This was the day before yesterday. But I had to stay back, the carriages were full and the mayor is the head, the last person to go, like a captain on a drowning ship. Nobody came back for me. I decided to wait for a week to see if the men would return, or else I would make an escape for it, to a neighbouring town.” Petra kept the gun on the table and tried to make out what she had heard. Suddenly, she knew how to pass the level. She looked at Harry, who seemed to have realised too. They both got up and noticed two pairs of clothes lying on the floor. They both picked up one, as the man exited the room and walked upstairs. The kit was packed with two pistols already loaded and in the holsters. Each of them had four bullets, two to spare. But if they missed three times, they were doomed.

Petra walked out first, over to the stables. She brought out the jet black horse, while Harry fidgeted with a brown coloured one. On climbing onto the horse, they heard the faint ruckus of hooves against the ground, and the growing sound. In the distance, they could make out six horses with men no bigger than plastic figures riding them, getting bigger by the second. Harry leaded his group, and the horse walked forward, meeting the other cowboys.

The leader was smoking a cigar. He snickered as moved his hand against the little bristles of his recently shaved beard. “I’ve ne’er seen ya before.” He spoke in a thick American accent. “What’re ya doin’ ‘ere?”

Harry replied firmly, “We’ve come to put a stop to your malevolent acts.”

“Ho ho ho! Ya can’t put a stop to us! Ha ha! C’mon. Try.” He stood waiting, amused by the stupid behaviour of the newcomers. He looked behind at his gang and sneered back. But he hadn’t noticed Petra drawing her gun and firing. The horse reared back and fell on the ground, the man crumpling on top of him. Petra felt bad for hurting the horse by shooting at its leg, but she couldn’t kill a man! The man lay still on the ground. He was still breathing but wasn’t moving, a fall from that height! The rest were now shocked. In seconds they noticed the two newcomers vanish in thin air. They had fled so fast there wasn’t even time to take revenge. Two members slid of their horses to tend to the unconscious leader, while the rest went round, searching for the to-be victims.

Petra was hiding in the shadows of the mayor’s building, and Harry was right behind her. “What did you do that for?” He exclaimed angrily.

“He was getting on my nerves.” The conversation ended there, for they heard a gunshot terribly close to them. They both drew their guns and climbed off their horses, coming round the corner to meet one of the ghastly members. He shot Harry, but he managed to duck down in the nick of time, feeling the bullet whip past his hair. But in that much time the second had pulled out her gun and fired it, this time shooting the man’s leg rather than the horse’s leg. He fell on the ground, squealing in agony as the dust was dyed red. Petra ran back and mounted the horse, realising that the man’s groans would attract the rest of the swarm. They hurriedly got out of there, but Harry fell down as his horse neighed and backed up, being shot right in the knee. Luckily, he didn’t fall in a lethal position, rather he did a back flip in the air and landed on his stomach, still conscious. But he didn’t have time to stick around and made a run for it, leaving the horse where it was.

Something moved on the roof. Harry shot. It was a little mud rock, blown by the strong breeze which was bringing along with it a dust storm. They ran for shelter as the dust hailed down, blinding them and making their noses itch. Petra noticed the two men who had been treating the leader run away, leaving him there. They were both shot, right in the head. But they had been mistaken for Petra and Harry, the same side had shot their own members. But even in this, Petra couldn’t help but notice their aim. A direct headshot on moving obstacles in the middle of a sandstorm. But they had saved their bullets, five bullets for two people, simple enough. They noticed moving objects in the distance and tried their luck. Two bullets for two people. It was getting harder. The sandstorm was settling down, and now they could make out the people patrolling the area. They seemed to be used to the frequent sandstorms. Harry decided to walk out, they had to get closer to the enemies to get through. The sandstorm had died down by a large scale now, and was just manipulated by a slight breeze. The sun was shining down on the town, lightening up the area and clearing the visibility. Harry had a clear shot of the man, if only…

The man had dismounted his horse and was walking with his hands around the pistol, alert of his surroundings. Harry had been hiding in the shadows and came out now, accompanied with a bullet. The man had just stepped down a step from the mayor’s place, creating a bend at the knee from where the bullet passed. It was a millimetre away from impact and instead creating a hole in the wooden beam.

One bullet. Two men.

Petra came forward this time and dived to the right. The man whipped around but it was too late. Red blood was flowing everywhere as he dropped his gun and fell to the ground, his hands instantly at his stomach.

“You killed them!” The last man was behind them, with two pistols, both pointing at the heads of the pair. They had no bullet left. “I never miss.” He fired both guns. Harry got hit in the hand as he jumped up to give the shooter a hard time, while Petra danced away as the bullet whipped by the side of her head, scarring her for life, without blood. She suddenly picked up speed and ran to the guy who was shot in the stomach with bullets landing right behind her. The pistol had one bullet, which Petra managed to get hold of, turned around. The man had run out of ammunition. Startled, he jumped down, and slowly backed away, but Petra just smiled. She fired the gun.

The mayor was outside by the time the six men were tied up and dumped in front of his house. He was congratulating them, but they had elsewhere to be. They walked to the end of the street, where the huge metal gates opened, level three.

The huge metal gates shut behind them with a slam as they entered, causing Petra to jump up and make a little ‘girl scream’ out of fright. She looked behind and noticed it was only the gates. “Phew!” She sighed of relief, putting her hand on her heart, trying to convince it that all was fine. She slowly put her soft hands on Harry’s shoulder, as the dim light began to darken, to make sure that he was there, that he would give her support. She looked around as the darkened chamber lit up again by the flickering light. They were locked in a chamber with a really high ceiling and wooden beams, as if it was built during the Tudor Times, by the British. There was a projector which projected a timer on the bottom-left corner of a wall. There was a stool in front of it, on which there was a bomb. The countdown hadn’t started, it wouldn’t start until they both changed their clothes which were lying on the floor, messed up.

The eerie hall had an irritating stench as a few bodies lay on the floor, burned so bad the skeletons were visible. Petra looked at Harry and Harry looked at Petra, both had horrified looks on their face. They had to solve the mystery before the bomb blasted, in ten minutes, and they also had a count of how many people had actually died trying.

“Well, I guess that’s that. There is no other way.” Harry spoke softly and took a step towards the clothes, but Petra grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“No Harry! There has to be another way! What if we can’t solve it? I’ve never been good at solving riddles. Let’s search, for now we’ve got all the time we want.” Petra squeezed her sharp nails into Harry’s arm, and he cried in agony. He shook his head slowly and picked up the clothes. Petra had no choice but to follow him, he had zero percent chance alone, and she would probably blow too. She had to try.

Petra had a white half-sleeves t-shirt and a black leather cut-sleeves jacket. She also had to put on a mini-skirt, leather too, and a pair of dark see-through leggings, which came up to her thighs. She had black boots with small heels of about an inch.

“Wow, Petra! You look totally like a goth!” Harry exclaimed. He was wearing a brown cowboy hat and a similar top as Petra’s, although his was more male fitting. He had dark black shorts going down to his knees and short socks, white in colour. He was bearing black boots with a heel too, except they were covered from the top, unlike Petra’s. In worry, she put on a lot of lipstick and dark make-up. “Why’d you put on all that makeup? It was fine.”

“I put on makeup?”

“You didn’t know?”

“Maybe I put it on in worry and tension, that’s what girls do, I guess.”

“I don’t think they do, but whatever. You are getting girly thoughts.”

“No I’m-” Petra began, but hearing her thin voice and her tone, and understanding her suddenly getting passive aggressive and raising her hands like in a cat fight, she understood the truth. “Yes, I think I am. But I don’t like it one bit.”

“Yes you do, don’t lie.”

“Okay fine, you got me. I like it, but I like being a boy more. I want to go back to being Peter.”

Their conversation was interrupted by a sudden loud beeping and they both looked towards the bomb. Seven minutes were left.

“The countdown started!” Petra exclaimed with shock, spreading her arms as if making a ‘seriously’ gesture.

“I didn’t know either,” Harry said hurriedly, “Quick, begin searching, look around.” They both looked around fiercely with their eyes wide open. It was a huge chamber, and the light was dim, and flickering continuously. The ceiling was very high and the floor was bare. “Five minutes left, Petra.”

“What?! I’ve barely started!”

“Well, then get a move on!” Harry furiously exclaimed.

Petra, hopeless and certain that they both would die a painful death in a video game, lied down on the cold metal floor and rested her head on the palm of her hands. Harry, meanwhile, scanned the corners and edges, in case there was a small button or small clue. And then Petra suddenly got up.

“Hey Harry! I found it!” She abruptly squalled, her eyes lit up and face showing all the signs of pleasure. “Look up! On that beam! Something is written!”

“It’s Greek. No wonder you’re such an idiot.”

“Hey! How dare you!”

“What?! It’s true!”

“Shut up and look at the timer. Only two and a half minutes left.”

“Yes! So get back to searching!”

Petra looked up again, slightly disappointed, but still determined to decipher what it said. “Do or die.” She whispered to herself. It read ‘Eλληνικά’. Petra looked at the bomb. One and a half minutes left. She walked over to it and examined it careful. There were three wires, one red, one blue, and one green. There was something written on it too, in English.

 “‘The word has two parts. The first means to not be physically capable of hearing. The second means to utilize. Guess the word, implement it and escape free.’ Hey Harry! Come here quickly! I found something!”

Harry dashed over, “Yes, what is it?”

“It’s a riddle. We need a word for not being able to hear and to utilize. Put them together and get a word. Do it, and we’ll be free.”

“Hmmm, not being able to hear? I only know one, deaf.”

“What about to utilize? Hurry up, only forty five seconds left!”

“Utilize, let’s see, handle? Use? Promote? Apply?”

“Got it! Deaf and use. Defuse! We don’t have to look for a clue, we have to defuse the bomb!”

“Thirty seconds to death Petra!” Harry was panicking real badly now.

“There’s a keyboard, with a little screen in front. I think to defuse the bomb we need a password, have you got anything? Something’s written in Greek. What’s written in Greek?”

“Greek?”

BOOM! The bomb blew and Petra and Harry were knocked backwards. They were both burned all over and neither of them could move.

“Pe- Pet-” Harry couldn’t complete what he was saying. His head fell down and his eyes rolled up into his head.

“Har-” Petra began, speaking with great pain as her burned mouth moved even a millimeter, but couldn’t bear it any more. All went black and she couldn’t feel a thing.

ZAP! The burned bodies were in the arcade. JJ had unplugged the game, and jumped back on seeing the burned but alive players. Skeletons cluttered the floor too, quite a scene!

“Help…” Peter rasped, but he wasn’t Peter. She was Petra. Harry was an old man too. Their lives had taken an awkward turn, they were avatars not themselves. And all this had begun because they had wanted to play a game.  

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