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Code: Beyond the Screen

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Your World and Ours

   It is a dusky April morning. The sky awakes in a cornucopia of colors, a cotton candy pink, a mellow orange, and an over dramatic violet as the sun very slowly begins to climb over the horizon. The birds sleepily come out of their deep slumbers and preen themselves, getting ready for the day ahead, the trees stretch and wave to the upcoming sun, and mosquitoes whine softly, whirring around sadly until their short domain of the night finally comes to an end. I sit behind a blackened screen drifting just in between the realms of dream and waking reality as my arms hang limply by my sides, shackled by the very things that are keeping me alive. It would all be extremely ironic if that haven't been true of everything in this chamber that is to be my prison and just this whole world in general. My world, that had almost fallen apart due to the most careless and mysterious mistake ever created: my existence.

   I hear the sound of footsteps. What is it to be this time, a tormentor or a savior? The game masters have a specific schedule for "visitors" who either are here to keep me alive or fight with me. Literally fight with their high level in game items. They don't give me anything but they've already found I can be a formidable opponent. I used to keep track of all the days, but after a while found it impossible. It's hard to keep track of time in a room devoid of windows or timepieces of any kind. The matron walks through the wall, which ripples as she steps out of it. My hands, which I had been tensely clenching by my sides, relax. I know she’s one that won’t let me be harmed, at least for now. Her name is Lilith. I only know this because of the plain, sparsely decorated nametag she has to wear to get in here, always hanging loosely around her skinny neck. It used to scare me, the fact that she could walk through walls of sturdy iron and stone before I realized everyone could. No one here ever uses the door.

   Avoiding my gaze, she serves me the food I requested. I don’t need it obviously, because one has no need to eat or drink here, but I do it because I want to imitate those people outside the monitors, the ones who reduce me to little but a shred of my consciousness and force me to go wherever they want me to go, do whatever they want me to do. To them, I’m a minor avatar on a screen doing whatever they desire with no question and no reward. I can’t resent them, no matter how hard I try though. They’re just so innocent, I guess.
   My chains melt away when I come down to eat. It’s funny how the gamemasters come up with these prisons. They make them so that they cater to your every desire and whim, and the chains melt away as easily as an avatar dissolving into code, which is what happens when they’re abandoned. When a player bores of the game, and doesn’t play for longer than six months, the avatar is disposed of by tearing all their codes in relation to the game apart. Before the operation, they lower their pain level to zero, so that when they watch themselves being torn apart, they feel no pain. I’ve seen it happen before. Their eyes are dull and listless and they don’t, they can’t, resist it. The whole time they wonder why their player has abandoned them. Were they not good enough? What did they ever do to deserve it? When they’re completely dissolved, they’re reborn as organic code; which is used to create the landscape, player items, monsters, or other avatars. The first time I’d seen it, I felt sick; not only because of the inhumanity but the fact that it could happen to me. It’s one of the saddest things I’ve known, and it used to give me nightmares of the worst kind, ones that would make me wake up in a cold sweat with my heart pounding furiously as the haunted faces of the abandoned cross my mind(You should keep in mind that one doesn’t need to sleep here either. Just saying.).

   I don’t belong here, I know that. I’ve never belonged. I was pulled from multiple strings of code to create a body that is more durable than steel, a storyline more interesting than anything in the “real world,” and an amazing set of powers and skills that would leave the mightiest kings and world leaders awestruck; except, all the avatars are like that. And so all this blather about being the very best and standing for justice and freedom and peace is a lie. It’s a lie that everyone enjoys playing nonetheless, a pleasant pastime that takes you away from the worries, pain, sadness, and anger of your own world. I envy you. I can go everywhere but nowhere. My world may be practically endless, but it’s not real. At a click of a button, a command from the gamemasters, and my whole world could disappear, and me along with it, just be gone to the vast abyss of cyberspace, and no one will be there to mourn.
   I watch myself, or rather my player, priming me for the fight. I (she?) hacks through waves of monsters. I (she?) summons a tidal wave of awesome power, overwhelming all opponents. I (she?) get(s) to the final boss monster in five minutes flat and as I (she) go (es) to deal the final blow… the monster suddenly seems to find a surge of hidden power and knocks me over the edge of a pit of molten lava. I feel a searing pain, and then it’s over. Game over. The child player groans in frustration. Beaten again! I smile inwardly as I am transported to the death room, where all temporary deaths go and lives are replenished. This is the only room that the gamemasters didn’t seem to put as much effort into making beautiful, like the prisons (or spawnpoints, whatever you want to call them) and marvelous landscapes they dream up for the safezones and frontlines. I guess they thought, why bother? The players themselves don’t see the death room, and avatars are only in them for a few seconds before they respawn.
   I bet you wish you were in my world, I think as I imagine my player’s naïve, youthful face. I wish I could be in yours. You’d have awesome adventures everyday with amazing power, without worries of work, anger, or sadness; you probably can’t think of anything better. I could. I wish-I wish I could live in a world where lives are meaningful. Only one life, but a life far more hopeful, more wonderful, more whole, than my own. I fall on my knees and weep on the cold, smooth, alabaster floors of the death room, only opening my eyes once to see my tears falling soundlessly into the binary code and the other avatars staring at me. Let them stare. I don’t care. They don’t know. They don’t know anything.

   Night. It’s been hours since my player stopped playing. He’s been sleeping for a long time now, and he stopped playing earlier than usual, because it is a school day tomorrow. Good. I need some air. I put my hands on the wall and furrow my brow in deep concentration. My chains unclasp with a soft clink, and I am free to roam the night. I take off my shoes; they make too much noise. I grab strips of binary and interweave them into a fake player ID and digital heartbeat so the gamemasters cannot tell I even left. The night feels glorious, the grass cool under my feet. I thoroughly enjoy myself until Lilith timidly implies that I should get back into my chambers; the gamemasters were getting close to checking that all avatars were where they should be. I feel exhilarated, exuberant. I travel back, planning for the next night, wondering why I had ever stopped.

   Disappointment. The game is going through a renovation and will not be open to play for several hours. Sorry for the inconvenience. My player reads the message, with his lips moving silently to form the words, and then he literally growls at the screen in mild annoyance while I watch in interest. He vows he’ll stay where he is until the renovation is over, and stares at the screen for approximately sixteen minutes before he gives up and leaves, leaving me to my own devices. Typical. It amuses me how little time my player can stay still and stare at a screen, when I’ve been doing it for years. I plan to go outside again, but Lilith stops me.
“But why?”
“You don’t know, do you?”
I have a sinking feeling I know what this is about.
“Is it them?”
“They’ve found out. You’ve been too careless.”
“But they never realized before-“
“They have now,” Lilith finished ominously, her mouth set in a hard line.
“They know. The gamemasters know you’re a Virus.”

Chapters:   1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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This book has 30 comments. Post your own now!

Kyrstie said...
Oct. 11, 2015 at 11:33 am
What an interesting story plot! This well written novel could've only come from someone with quite a bit of experience in writing. You were very descriptive, and your vocabulary is impressive! I wouldn't change a thing.
KittyKat1419 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 28, 2015 at 3:10 pm
I didn't read all of it but it sounds really interesting! Hope I have the time to read it in the near future.
Jtatsu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 11, 2015 at 10:19 pm
@kingofwriters Thank you so much! I am hoping to expand this story soon, but you might have to wait a bit :)
kingofwriters said...
Jul. 9, 2015 at 6:41 pm
Feedback's on the thread! After reading this, I REALLY want more of the story! The imagery was absorbing and the concept is incredibly inventive and has a TON of potential. Are you planning on expanding this at all?
A-C-Y said...
Apr. 10, 2015 at 5:10 am
Whoa, this is incredible! The fact that the story actually took place in a computer game is just genius! I love the creativity and your way of describing the scenes and the emotions of the characters. I hope there even more after this, I can't wait to read it! :D
ellwist said...
Apr. 5, 2015 at 8:17 pm
This is amazing. Thank you for the read--will there be anymore or is it just a one-time thing for this character?
Jtatsu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm
Thank you for your input! As of right now, I am working on a new part, although that will likely not be posted for awhile yet.
Jtatsu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 16, 2015 at 5:02 pm
@BreeZephyr Thank you so much! I really appreciate the honest criticism from everyone ^^ I would really like to get editing right away, but is there a possible option for doing that on Teen Ink besides deleting, then reposting? If so, let me know.
BreeZephyr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 16, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Hmm. I don't think so...I think that you'll just have to edit it on Word or something and then submit a new version. If you do resubmit I'd love to read it, though! Good luck!
SparaxisThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
May 29, 2017 at 11:31 am
I think there is an editing option near the deleting option.
BreeZephyr This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 16, 2015 at 11:01 am
Hey Jtatsu. Read the book and love the story! The premise is amazing--how did you think of that? Anyway, I told you I'd leave some constructive feedback, so since I have both some praise and some criticism, I'll just get the criticism out of the way so I can talk about what I loved about this story: -The first paragraph. Opening a story by describing a picturesque landscape is nice, but it's also been done to death, and your story is so unique that I'd hate for anyone to just assume that it's l... (more »)
jamie. said...
Mar. 10, 2015 at 9:55 am
OMG you are definatly a better writter than I am lol I am working on it though... The story is great everything you did was amazing you really grabbed my attention with the summary that was great and the story itself I could never compare to it I think you did a very excellent job.
Jtatsu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm
@jamie. I'm glad you liked it!
jamie. replied...
Mar. 11, 2015 at 8:10 am
I posted more but they aren't showing yet I posted them private and I have to wait for them so they should be better.
Sharkbait said...
Mar. 8, 2015 at 11:35 pm
Wow. This is a really mesmerizing story, having kept my attention through to the very end. I'm not much of a game person, but it was really interesting to think that each game has so many lives in it. I think that this would be worthy to publish when it's done, but I have a few things I must mention. First off, the first paragraph was a little confusing and out of place. I can see why you had it there, but it might help to intertwine the ideas from the first paragraph with the rest of that chapt... (more »)
Jtatsu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 9, 2015 at 3:12 pm
@Sharkbait Thank you for the honest feedback! I appreciate it :)
Amai-kun This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm
I'm going to do my best to tell you how good this is, because even though it's not my personal cup of tea, it's obvious you're a very talented writer. You show rather than tell, you're very descriptive, and you have a good deal of suspense as well. The one thing I would suggest is writing perhaps less purple prose, but then again, it could just be me.
Jtatsu This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 26, 2015 at 6:50 pm
Thank you for giving me honest feedback. I really do appreciate all the effort people take to write me reviews of my story, because it shows they care about my growth as a writer ^^ Where do you believe there is purple prose? I will do the best I can to improve
Amai-kun This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 27, 2015 at 1:41 am
It's rather overall. I can't really give examples of where because it's just a sentence or two in most places. Just thinning it out a bit. Of course, you shouldn't take my opinion too seriously, since it's just one out of ten or so, and everyone else likes it.
Hetzer said...
Feb. 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm
A very interesting and original take on MMO characters. I'm not gonna lie, at first I thought this would be some kind of SAO clone, like I've been seeing literally everywhere, but I was pleasantly surprised to find something I could find myself getting into with ease. Keep updating this, I believe it has potential.

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