Darkness in the Game: Electric Shock – Chapter 4: Xavier

“So… how long have you known, uh…” Brent asked. He and Issac had walked about three blocks and Brent had already forgotten Issac’s friend’s name.

“Xavier?” Issac finished.

Brent nodded. “Yeah, Xavier.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve only been here for six weeks. Xavier was the only one in our school that would actually talk to me,” Issac said.

“Oh,” Brent said. Brent felt as if Issac was uncomfortable about talking about the topic, so he changed it to video games. “Have you ever played any other video game systems?”

Issac answered. “A little. I play the Xbox with Xavier sometimes. I’ll admit that it’s a good system, but I’m just not that much of a fan.”

Brent nodded. “I can understand that.”

After several minutes of walking and talking, Issac and Brent had arrived at Xavier’s house. Issac walked up to the door with Brent right behind him and knocked on the door. They waited a few seconds and then the door opened.

“Issac?” a voice asked, groggily.

“Hi, Xavier. Uh… I have something to ask you,” Issac asked.

“Sure, but… who’s this?” Xavier said, pointing to Brent.

“I’m Brent,” Brent said, introducing himself.

“… my cousin,” Issac added.

Xavier said, “uh-huh. So, what did you want to ask me?”

“Right. Um… it might sound really weird, but my PlayStation came to life,” Issac said.

“Really?” Xavier asked. “So, what do you want me to do?”

Brent spoke, “we want you to help us destroy Issac’s PlayStation.”

Xavier thought to himself for a moment. “Alright, destroying a PlayStation… I’m in. Sure, it sounds weird, but asking me if I want to destroy a PlayStation… I won’t reject it. I hate PlayStation. I’m more of an Xbox guy myself.”

Issac gave Brent a look and whispered to him, “I told you.”

Brent spoke to Xavier, “do you know where any nearby video game stores are around here?”

“Yeah, there’s a GameStop a block away from here,” Xavier said, pointing behind Brent and Issac.

“Why are you asking about that?” Issac asked Brent.

“Where else would a video game system go to find some help?” Brent said.

“He has a point,” Xavier said. “Let’s go!”

“Do you want to go now? I mean, we don’t have to…” Brent said. He turned to Issac. “What time is it?”

Issac gazed down at his wristwatch. “4:00 p.m. Xavier… will your parents mind if Brent and I stay for dinner?”

“Of course not. Come on in,” Xavier said, inviting Brent and Issac into his house.

Brent turned to Issac. “shouldn’t you call your parents?”

Issac was already on his phone. “I’m already on it,” he said. Issac dialed his parents’ home number and asked if he and Brent could stay at Xavier’s place to have dinner. After a few minutes, Issac turned off his phone. “Let’s eat.”

Brent and Issac entered Xavier’s home and find their way to the dining room. They sat themselves down and waited for the dinner to be served. Xavier walked into the dining room a few moments later and sat himself down next to Brent. “So, Xavier, what are we having?” Brent asked Xavier.

“My mom is making pork chops with barbecue sauce on top,” Xavier explained. “Oh, and, don’t worry about my mom making more. She always cooks extra pork chops just in case one of us in still in a hungry mood.”

Issac nodded. “So, we’re all leaving after dinner, right?”

Xavier answered. “Yes.”

Five minutes passed until Xavier, Brent, and Issac all smelled the pork chops’ aroma fill the dining room. “Mmm, they smell really good,” Issac said.

“Well, thank you, Issac,” a feminine voice said. Xavier’s mom entered the dining room with a tray holding ten pork chops. Xavier’s dad was on her heels walking into the dining room. Xavier’s mom placed the tray onto the table and took off her oven mitts. She turned to Brent and said, “hello, I’m Sally, Xavier’s mother.”

Xavier’s dad approached Brent and held out his hand. “I’m Robert, Xavier’s father.”

Brent shook his hand and looked at Sally quizzically.

“You boys can dig in if you want,” Sally said, motioning towards the tray of pork chops.

“Thanks,” Issac said, picking up a pork chop. He cut through the meat and took a bite. Issac’s expression changed. “Brent, you’ve got to try this. It’s really good.”

Brent immediately grabbed a pork chop and cut off a small piece and ate it. “Wow, that’s really good!” he said.

The boys and Xavier’s parents all ate the pork chops within forty-five minutes. Xavier then asked his parents about him going to GameStop with Brent and Issac. “Mom… dad… can I go to GameStop with Brent and Issac?”

“What for?” Robert asked Issac.

“Oh, I just wanted to buy him a game for his Xbox. Just because his birthday is in two days and I’m going to be really busy with my… cousin during the weekend,” Issac explained.

“Well… I think that’s very nice of you Issac,” Sally said.

“Very well,” Robert said. “It is your birthday soon anyway.”

“Thanks,” Xavier said. He got up and hugged his parents and left with Brent and Issac.

Brent spoke to Xavier. “Just for a heads up, I don’t know exactly know what to expect. Last time I’ve dealt with this kind of issue, my friends and I ended up battling a minion.”

“Expect the unexpected. That’s what I always say,” Xavier said.

They walked a few blocks and stood at the door of GameStop. Brent walked up to the door and grabbed the handle. The boys walked into darkness. There was only silence until a voice spoke one single word.


Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 13: Party Crashers)

“Derek, hold on. I don’t understand. Go over the plan one more time,” Brent said.

“Alright. You said that you’re team is eating at the House of Pizza, right?”Derek asked.

Brent nodded.

“Okay, you two go in like you’re actually there for the party so don’t sugarcoat it. Then you two talk to him like normal students, then try to get into the topic about last night. Like I said, if anything goes wrong, I’ll be outside and I’ll be in there in a second. Just don’t get into trouble. The last thing we all need is to get arrested for crashing a party.”

“We’re going to get arrested for talking to a teacher?” Kris asked.

Derek shook his head. “Oh, no. We’re going to put the crash in party crashers.”

“I’m still not sure about this, Derek,” Brent said.

“Quit worrying, Brent,” Derek said. “We have to do this.”

“Why?! Why do we have to do this. I don’t really see a good reason to do this,” Brent said, loudly.

Kris looked up at Brent. “We’re doing this for Brooke, Brent. And whether you like the idea or not this means a lot to me. Seeing Brooke laying in that hospital bed, makes me feel helpless because while she’s beaten and in bed, I’m stuck in this chair for at least two more months.”

Brent sighed. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m just really frustrated.”

“The Xbox?” Derek guessed.

Brent nodded. “Yeah. Now I’m not saying this in a mean way, but while we’re wasting all of our time planning this out we’re giving the Xbox more time to take over the world.”

“Don’t worry, Brent. As soon as we’re done with this we’re going to stop the Xbox. I promise,” Kris said.

Brent nodded. “Okay. So, are we leaving right now?”

Derek walked over to his counter and grabbed his car keys. “Yeah,” Derek said, spinning the keys around one of his fingers.

The three boys got into Derek’s car and drove off down the road towards the House of Pizza. Several minutes later when the boys arrived, they all gazed through the windows of the restaurant. They spotted Coach Guiles sitting with the rest of the football team eating pizza and drinking soda.

“Okay, guys. You two go in. I’ll keep watch and when it’s time, I’ll come in we will crash that party,” Derek said.

Brent and Kris got out of the car and entered the restaurant. Coach Guiles saw them and waved them over. Brent and Kris walked towards the tables their team was at and sat down. They received high fives from each member of the team. Then they started to talk to Coach Guiles.

“Glad you two could make it,” Coach Guiles said in a deep voice. “Now that you’re here, dig in and eat as much as you want. If the pizzas are all finished, I’ll order some more. This my money we’re talking about and I’ll do what I want with it. And besides, this team is worth it.”

“Thanks, Coach,” Kris said, acting like actually cared.

“No problem. Anyway, you two took this team above and beyond. I thank both of you for

that. I’ve been coaching here for ten years and this is the first team to win the championship.”

Kris couldn’t take the wait any longer. “So, uh… just out of curiosity Coach, what did you do last night? Did you watch t.v. or walk around the neighborhood? What did you do exactly?”

Meanwhile, Derek was slouching in the driver’s seat of his car watching as Brent and Kris continued to talk to Coach Guiles. He reached down into the glove department and pulled out a mini-sized bag of Cheetos. Derek sat for several minutes just watching the boys and crunching on Cheetos until he noticed Kris stand up suddenly and point his finger towards Coach Guiles. Derek had noticed that Kris had said something, too. He made out the “liar” and sat straight up in his seat. “Oh, man. He unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car immediately. He slammed the car door shut and ran into the restaurant. He grabbed Kris’s arm and told him to calm down.

Kris eventually calmed down and sat back in his chair. “Sorry.”

Derek knelt next to Kris and whispered to him. “You’re not sorry enough. You’re jeopardizing what we’re trying to do. Don’t go insane. Remember what you said earlier. You said that we were doing this for Brooke.”

“Right. You’re right, I did say that didn’t I?” Kris said, disappointedly.

Derek patted Kris’s shoulder. “Yes. Yes, you did.”

“Alright,” Kris said. “Well, you’re already here Derek so you might as well stay.”

“Whatever. Just as long as I have my Cheetos,” Derek said, raising the half eaten bag. He sat down. “So, anyway, Coach… where were you last night around 10:00 p.m.?”

Coach Guiles leaned back in his chair. “What kind of question is that? Is this some kind of interrogation?”

“Maybe,” Derek said. “Then again, maybe not.” He grabbed a Cheeto inside the bag and ate it.

Then, all of a sudden, three big, strong men wearing ski masks barged into the restaurant. They went straight towards the counter and the register. Then one of them turned around and yelled out, “alright, listen up everybody! Put your hands in the air and keep them there. If anyone does anything funny, things are going to get really ugly. So, I suggest that you all listen!”

Everybody in the restaurant raised their arms, including Brent, Kris, and Derek. The second robber looked straight at Coach Guiles and waved his gun towards the door, motioning for Coach Guiles to leave.

With a smirk, Coach Guiles calmly left the restaurant with innocent lives being held. Kris turned his head to watch Coach Guiles leave when the second robber walked up to him. “Hey! Turn yourself back around, Wheels.”

Kris became angry. He looked down at the wheels of his wheelchair and clenched his fists.

Several long minutes later, the robbers got the amount of cash that they wanted and ran to the door. Two of them left while one stopped and said, “If anyone talks to anyone about this, we’ll find out. Then, we’ll hunt you down.” With that the third robber left and let the door slam shut.

“Coach Guiles got away! Dang it!” Kris yelled.

“Calm down, we’ll get him soon enough,” Brent said, calmly.

“Yeah, but what if soon enough is too late?” Kris asked.

“What do you mean?” Derek asked.

“He could find Brooke and maybe go after her again. I don’t know why exactly, but he could,” Kris said.

Derek looked Kris right in his eyes. “Kris. I promise on my grave that we’ll find him. We’ll stop him. We’ll do everything we can to get him.”

Kris nodded. “Okay.”

Brent spoke up. “Let’s go. We all know that Coach Guiles won’t be at Weitan High during the weekdays. He knows we’re after him now. I bet that he’s with those goons, too.”

“He is,” Kris said, abruptly. “One of the robbers waved their gun towards the door. Then he left. He was smirking, too.”

“Well, lucky for you two, I know where he’ll be. While I was investigating, I’ve noticed that Coach Guiles goes to the gym every day,” Derek said.

“Great, we’ll head there tomorrow,” Brent said.

The three boys started to leave. They walked through the parking lot towards the spot where Derek had parked. Derek said, “okay, so I’ll pick you both up by…” He trailed off. “Where’s my car?”

Brent and Kris looked around the parking lot with Derek, yet there was no sign of Derek’s car. “No!” Derek screamed. “My car’s missing!”

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 12: Suspicion)

“Derek? Where have you been?” Brent asked.

Derek sighed. “I’ve been investigating,” Derek said.

Brent gave Derek a look of confusion. “Investigating what?”

“I’ll tell you both later,” Derek said to Brent and Kris. “We should leave Brooke alone so she can rest.”

Kris nodded in agreement. “Derek’s right. We’ll all see you tomorrow, okay?” Kris said to Brooke. Brooke slowly nodded her head and laid down on the bed and, almost suddenly, fell into a deep sleep while the three boys left the room.

“So, what have you been investigating?” Brent asked.

“I’ll tell you a little bit. Then I’ll tell the rest tomorrow with Brooke,” Derek said. “I have a suspicion on who assaulted Brooke.”

Kris spoke up immediately. “Who?”

Derek spoke again. “I’ll tell all three of you tomorrow. I want all of you to know.”

Derek walked away and Brent and Kris looked at each other. “Who do you think he’s talking about?” Kris asked Brent.

“I have no idea,” Brent said, honestly. Brent looked away from Kris. “Who do we know that would purposely hurt Brooke?” Kris shook his head. “I have my own suspicion. I think it’s someone we both know and treats us like their own.”

Brent and Kris both expressed the same face of concern. Simultaneously they said, “Coach Guiles.”

Kris spoke right away. “It can’t be him. He doesn’t have anything against Brooke, or at least I don’t think he does.”

Brent spoke now. “Well, hold on. Let’s think about it. Does he have a motive?”

Kris stared at Brent. “I doubt it.” Kris started to walk away.

Brent stopped him. “Slow down, Kris.” Kris glared at Brent.

Kris spoke, angrily. “What?”

“Where are you going?” Brent asked.

“Where do you think I’m going, Brent? I’m going to the school,” Kris said.

“For what?” Brent asked.

Kris was silent. He shrugged Brent’s hand off of his shoulder and rolled down the hospital hallway. Brent watched as Kris turned the corner of the hallway then Brent followed him out of the hospital. Brent began to run towards Kris outside of the hospital, when Derek ran up beside him. “Now what? Are we becoming stalkers?” Derek asked, humorously.

Brent looked over at Derek. “I need to know exactly where Kris is going. Right now, I don’t trust him. Someone hurt Brooke and he thinks that it’s Coach Guiles, but we don’t know. Like you said, you’ll tell us tomorrow when we’re with Brooke,” Brent said with a panting breath.

Well, actually, he’s right. It was Coach Guiles. Why he did it, I don’t know, but Kris is one hundred percent right. How does he know?” Derek asked.

Brent looked at Derek. “It’s his suspicion.”

“Oh,” Derek said. “Wait, really?”

Brent nodded. “So, do you want to follow him with me or what?”

Derek thought for a second. “Why not? There isn’t anything else for me to do, so I guess I’ll follow him.”

Brent and Derek ran down the street behind Kris. Several minutes of running, panting and sweating, they finally arrived at the school. As Kris rolled up the wheelchair ramp in front of the school, Brent ran up behind the wheelchair and applied its brakes. The wheelchair stopped abruptly. Kris pushed harder and harder on the wheels, trying to make them move, but he had no luck. Kris sat up and turned to Brent. “Release my brakes, Brent,” Kris said, seethingly.

Brent shook his head as Derek walked up behind him, “No. Not until you tell me what the heck you’re doing!”

Kris looked down towards his feet then back up to Brent and Derek with tears in his eyes. “You don’t understand! Neither of you two understand how I feel!”

Derek broke in immediately. “Stop it! I know how you’re feeling. I’ve felt more than what you’re feeling right now!”

Brent looked at Derek. “What are you talking about?”

Derek sighed. “Remember when you both came to my house and you wanted to talk about me and the Xbox?”

Brent and Kris both nodded. “Yeah, why?”

“Okay. Remember the picture in my wallet?” Derek said, showing the picture. “This was my girlfriend, Valerie. Her name was Valerie Valdez.”

“So… when you say was, you mean that you broke up with her or she broke up with you?” Brent asked.

Derek shook his head. “Not even close. Guys, Valerie died in a car accident five months ago.”

Kris spoke. “Now I know why you were really upset over Tyler’s death.”

Brent punched Kris’s arm. “Quiet.” He turned his attention back to Derek. “Derek, I’m sorry. I apologize about Kris.”

“Hey!” Kris said.

“It’s okay. I know he didn’t mean it like that,” Derek said. He put the picture of Valerie back in his wallet and put the wallet in his pocket. “Now, let’s go.”

“Wait, what?!” Brent asked.

Derek explained. “We’re going to talk to Coach Guiles, but we’re not going to do it here. I understand that he’s having your team go out for a pizza party.”

Brent and Kris nodded, suspiciously.

Derek continued. “You’re both going to the pizza party. I’ll be there in case anything goes wrong. To cut this story short, we’re going to crash that pizza party.”

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 11: Near Death)

As Brent and Kris turned the corner of the block, the figure stood up. It’s hands were layered with some of Brooke’s blood. The blood dripped off the figure’s fingertips, splashing on the sidewalk. Immediately, Kris looked from the figure to Brooke, then back to he figure in disbelief. “What did you do to her?” Kris shouted. He lunged toward the figure, but was being held back by Brent. Kris struggled to get out of Brent’s grasp, but it was useless. Kris began to pant heavily. “What did you do to her?” Kris asked again, a little more calmly. He broke off of Brent’s hold on him.

The figure stood there, motionless. The figure only made little movement from it’s breathing. It looked down at Brooke and knelt next to her body again, placing it’s hands over her heart. Brent and Kris gazed down at the figure’s hands and saw Brooke’s chest red and bloody. Kris knelt down on the other side of Brooke’s body and grabbed her motionless hand softly. “Brooke,” he said quietly, “if you can hear me, I want you to squeeze my hand, okay?” Brooke’s hand didn’t move. Kris sighed, growing worrisome of the thought that Brooke’s spirit might leave him. “Brooke, squeeze my hand,” he said.

Again, Brooke’s hand lay motionless. Kris began to squeeze her hand begging her to squeeze his. Nothing. Kris glanced at the figure on the other side of Brooke. “What did you do?” he asked. The figure shook it’s head, as if it was disproving Kris’s question. Brent walked behind Kris and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Come on, Kris. We need to get her to the hospital,” Brent told him.

Kris nodded. “I know.”

Brent gazed at his watch. “It’s 10:00 p.m. We shouldn’t call 911. We don’t want to have the ambulance’s lights to flash and cause a lot of commotion this late.” He looked at the figure. “You and I will carry her to the hospital it’s not far from her, maybe half a block or less.” He turned his gaze to Kris. “Keep holding her hand. If you feel a response, tell me so we can know that she’s actually okay, alright?” he asked.

Kris nodded, slowly. “Alright.”

Brent and the figure picked up Brooke’s body slowly and carefully, not having her body bend. “Keep her body straight, we don’t want to risk anything worse than what already happened.” Brent warned. Th figure nodded in response. Several minutes of walking, the boys and the figure arrived at the hospital.

“Let me hold her,” Kris said. The figure politely moved and placed the side of Brooke it was holding onto Kris’s lap as Brent continued to hold the other. Brent and Kris went into the hospital, then Brent asked the figure, “do you want to come with us?” The figure shook it’s head. The boys continued to carry Brooke’s body into the hospital, while nurses came up to the boys with a gurney. Brent and Kris placed Brooke carefully onto the gurney and watched as the nurses rolled her off down the hallway and turn around a corner. Kris sat down with Brent and placed his head in his hands and sighed.

“I should’ve went with her,” Kris said.

Brent looked at Kris, but didn’t say anything.

A couple of hours later, Dr. Wilkins appeared around the corner and walked toward Kris and Brent. “oh, hello again, Brent,” he said. “Hello, Kris.”

Both of the boys greeted Dr. Wilkins. Brent then asked, “so… is Brooke okay?”

Dr. Wilkins opened a folder in his hands and said, “Brooke was shot near her heart, it didn’t even graze it but it was enough to make her unconscious. She’s awake now. If you two would like to see her you may.” Brent stood up.

“Do you want to see her?” Brent asked Kris.

Kris nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I want to see her.”

Brent asked Dr. Wilkins, “what room is Brooke in?”

Dr. Wilkins responded, “she’s in room 452. That’s the next floor, take a right, go down the hall, and it should be near the end. Just follow the signs if you need help, or ask one of the nurses up there.”

Brent said, “thanks, doctor.” He rolled Kris and himself to the elevator and rode to the fourth level and walked down the hall and found room 452 and went inside. Brooke was laying on the hospital bed. She was awake and she was breathing softly and slowly. Brent knocked lightly on the door and Brooke turned.

“Hi, guys,” she whispered. “What happened?”

Kris rolled closer to her. “You were shot. It was just enough to make you unconscious.”

Brooke seemed shocked. “I was shot?” she asked. “Where?”

Kris pointed toward Brooke’s heart. “near your heart. The bullet didn’t even graze it.”

Brent walked up to Brooke now. “I’d say that you are really lucky,” he said.

“I guess so,” Brooke said. “Anyway, did hear anything from Derek?”

Brent looked down at his feet with disappointment. “No, not yet. Where could he be, though? I mean, his mother said that he left to get a video game, but he probably would have shown up there before we left. I really hope nothing happened to him.”

Kris shrugged. “All we can do right now is wait until either we hear from him or someone else does.”

Brent pulled out his phone to see if he had any missed calls. He had none. “Yeah. We just got to wait.”

Kris grabbed Brooke’s hand. “I thought you were gone,” he said, shedding a tear.

Brooke smiled. “I’m not going anywhere.” She motioned for Kris to come closer to her and kissed him on his cheek.

Kris blushed. “Okay… so, I’ll come back tomorrow and stay with you for awhile. Is that okay?”

Brooke smiled again and responded, “yeah, that’s okay.”

Brent said, “I’ll come, too. If that’s okay with both of you.”

Brooke and Kris both said in agreement, “of course.”

Then, Brooke remembered something. “Wait. I just remembered something.”

“What?” Brent asked.

“You said I was unconscious, right?” Brooke asked.

Kris answered. “Yes. Why?”

“Well, before I went out of consciousness, I saw someone. It wasn’t either of you two,” Brooke said.

Brent nodded. “Yeah, we saw a figure standing next to you. We didn’t know who it was.”

Brooke’s face went neutral. “I do. I saw it’s face.”

Kris asked, “who was it?”

Brooke looked at Brent and Kris. “It was-” Brooke stared at the door, her mouth gaping open.

Brent and Kris asked simultaneously, “who was it?”

Brooke pointed at the door now, Brent and Kris followed her finger. The figure was standing in the room wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants. It was gazing at the clock on the wall of the room. The figure then spoke, “it was me.” The figure turned around and pulled down it’s hood. Underneath the hood and the baggy articles of clothing, was a tall, dark-haired man. He spoke again. “I saved your life.” He turned to reveal his face. The man was Derek.



Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 6: Broken Bones and Leaked Information)

“Kris… Kris! Can you hear me?” Brent was saying, standing next to Kris’s hospital bed. “Kris… say something, anything.” Brent paced back and forth from the bed and the door. Brent’s cell phone rang and he answered.

He sighed. “Hi, Brooke.”

“Hi, Brent. Is Kris okay?” Brooke asked.

“I’m not sure,” Brent said. “The doctor should be here soon, I just hope that it isn’t serious.”

“Me too,” Brooke whispered into the phone.

“I’ll let you know,” Brent said.

Okay,” Brooke said. “Say hi to Kris for me. Bye.”

“Alright, bye,” Brent said. The call ended. He put the phone in his pocket and sat down in one of the chairs in the room. Several minutes went by until the doctor entered the room. “Dr. Wilkins, how is he?”

Dr. Wilkins opened a folder in his hands. “Looking at Kris’s x-rays, I saw two fractured bones in his left middle finger and his left ring finger, three fractured ribs, and a broken right leg.”

Brent sighed. “This shouldn’t have happened. I should’ve just lost that game, it would’ve been better than this.”

“Don’t blame yourself, Brent. It’s not your fault,” Dr. Wilkins said, comforting Brent. “I’ll bring a wheelchair for you. You two can leave whenever you can.”

“Thanks,” Brent said as Dr. Wilkins left the room. Brent put his face in his hands. “This is all my fault,” Brent muttered.

The door opened and a nurse rolled in a wheelchair. A few minutes went by and Kris regained his consciousness. Brent helped him up out of the bed and into the wheelchair. “I’m sorry, Kris,” Brent said, disappointedly.

“For what?” Kris asked, groggily.

“It’s my fault that you’re in this chair,” Brent said.

“Stop it. Stop beating yourself up, it’s not your fault,” Kris said, calmly.

“That’s exactly what the doctor said,” Brent mumbled. “Let’s take you home.”

Brent rolled Kris on the sidewalk towards his house, fortunately Kris leaved close to the hospital so they didn’t need to go far. “By the way, Brooke told me to tell you hi,” Brent said.

“Oh, man, the movie! I have to ask her about the movie. Can I borrow your phone?” Kris asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Brent said. He pulled out his phone and handed it to Kris. Kris punched in Brooke’s cell phone number.

“Hello? Brooke, I’m sorry about our movie plans. I’ll make it up to you, just-”

“Kris, it’s okay. Don’t worry, if you can we can see a movie next friday,” Brooke cut in.

“Are you sure?” Kris asked.

“I’m sure,” Brooke said. “I’ll see you on monday?”

“Yeah, see you on monday,” Kris hesitated, then finished. “Bye, Brooke.”

“Bye, Kris,” Brooke answered.

Kris ended the call and gave the phone back to Brent. “I have a feeling she’s mad at me, but feels sorry for me at the same time,” he said.

“You never know,” Brent said. He looked at Kris and spoke to him again. “Kris I have to tell you something about the game.”

“What?” Kris asked.

“Remember when you asked me what that player on the Blazers said to me?” Brent asked.

“Yeah, why?” Kris asked, with concern for Brent.

“He didn’t say anything, he asked me to do something. He wanted me to lose the game for us,” Brent said. “That’s why you’re in this chair. He knew I wouldn’t so he went after you. I should’ve lost that game, it would’ve been better for everybody.”

“Oh, yeah, about the game. Did we win?” Kris asked.

“I’ll tell you when we get to your place,” Brent said. Brent had a disappointed look on his face as he rolled Kris to his house. They reached Kris’s house and Brent carried Kris up the staircase to his bedroom and laid him on the bed.

“Okay, the game. Who won?” Kris asked excitedly.

Brent couldn’t help but smile at his friend’s fetish with the winner of that game, knowing it was the first time he smiled after the incident. “Alright, I’ll tell you only because you won’t stop talking about it.” He hesitated. “The score was 46-53 and the winner was…” He sighed. “The Weitan Warriors. We beat the undefeated Buchet Blazers!”

“Great,” Kris said, smiling. He covered himself with a thin sheet- with a little help from Brent- and laid his head on a pillow. He raised his fist to Brent. “We made high school history.”

Brent pounded his fist. “Yes, we did. So, I still need to take you to actually get video games. Do you want to go tomorrow?”

“Sure, thanks,” Kris said.

“No, problem. It’s the least I can do after what happened,” Brent said. He looked at the door. “Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He opened the door and left Kris’s house and shoved his hands in his pockets and walked home.

When he got home, he got himself ready for bed and fell asleep, painfully rethinking about the incident and kept saying to himself, “it’s all my fault,” never letting the saying leave his mind. Even though he had this guilt, he knew that he and Kris would be shopping for video games tomorrow, and hopefully everything would be better.

All of a sudden, Brent’s cell phone rang and he answered it. “Hello?”

It was Kris. “I have something I should have told you before. I know somebody that is helping the Xbox with his plan.”

“Who?” Brent asked, sleepily.

Kris answered. “Derek Trenton. He’s known to you and me as the Blazers player.”

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 10: Emergency Call)

“Kris, have you heard from Derek at all?” Brent asked Kris.

“No, have you?” Kris responded.

“No,” Brent said. Brent and Kris were sitting in the back of their school bus. Both Brent and Kris had not heard from Derek since he had dropped them off at their houses one week ago. “I hope he’s alright. We don’t need anybody else to be killed.

Kris nodded in agreement. “Totally. One funeral is more than enough.”

They arrived back to their high school and walked into the front entrance. They both were congratulated along with the rest of their football team for winning the high school championship last Friday night. Brent received fist pounds and Kris received pats to the back. In the crowd of students, Coach Guiles made his way through to Brent and Kris. “I’m proud of you, guys,” he said. “Thanks to you two we made high school football history on Friday. He looked at Kris. “Sorry about the wheelchair, Kris.”

Kris said, “It’s okay, I’m getting used to it.”

“Good. Anyway, since you had to be taken to the hospital, we never had our team celebratory pizza party. So, if you guys are free this Friday night, we’ll be eating at House of Pizza.”

Brent looked at Kris and returned his gaze on Coach Guiles. “We’ll be there.”

“Alright, see you boys on Friday,” Coach Guiles said. He turned and walked toward the gymnasium and went inside. Now that the football season was over, Brent and Kris had made plans to be on the basketball team until next year.

“So, now what?” Kris asked Brent.

“Algebra,” Brent responded.

After what Kris and Brent thought was the most boring algebra class in their life, they headed for their second blocks. Brent had biology, while Kris had english. Walking to the cafeteria after second block, Kris and Brent continued to talk about the whereabouts of Derek. They asked each other if Derek had called the other, which they answered with a shake of the head. Standing in the cafeteria line, they wondered if they knew where Derek could go after school so they could search for him after school was over. They got their lunch and carried their trays over to a round lunch table and sat down. Not much longer, Brooke sat down with them.

“Hi, guys. What’s wrong?” Brooke asked, seeing their expressions on their faces.

“It’s Derek. We haven’t heard from him in awhile. We’ve tried calling his cell phone, his home phone, but he never picked up. I understand if he’s still dealing with Tyler’s death, but if not why hasn’t he contacted us. He’s helping us go after the Xbox, right?”

“Wait, what?” Brooke asked. “You’re going after an Xbox? What’s going on? Are you feeling okay or are you still recovering from that hit in the head?”

Kris smiled at Brooke. “I’m fine, but Derek might not be.”

Brent looked at him and asked, “what do you mean?” But instantly after he had spoken, he knew exactly what Kris meant.

“Derek’s with us now, so the Xbox might be going after him again because he got Tyler last time,” Kris explained.

“You may be right. We need to go to Derek’s house right after school,” Brent said.

Brooke, who was still mesmerized by the conversation between Brent and Kris, started to understand what it was they were talking about. “So, are you saying that this Xbox is evil?”

“Not just an Xbox, Brent’s Xbox,” Kris told her.

“Okay…” she said.

“Want to come with us?” Kris asked.

Brooke thought about it. “Sure, why not?”

The boys and Brooke quickly finished their lunches when the bell sounded. They picked up their backpacks and walked across the school to their third blocks. After that was fourth block which seemed fast to Brent, but longer to Kris.

“Finally,” Kris said. “Guess we’re going to Brent’s now.”

“Where’s Brooke?” Brent asked, looking for her.

“Oh, she’s just calling her mom. She said she would meet us at the vending machine,” Kris answered. Brent and Kris walked down to their cafeteria again and walked towards the vending machines. In a couple minutes, Brooke came into the cafeteria. Kris told Brent, “there she is.”

“Okay, I’ll have my mom drop us all off at Derek’s. She should be here soon, I called her half an hour ago. Brent’s mom pulled up to the school. She said hello to Kris and Brooke and asked them about their day at school, like every mother would do. They both responded by saying that it was fine. The boys and Brooke fastened their seatbelts and Brent’s mom drove off of the parking lot to Derek’s house.

Once they were all at Derek’s house, Brent walked up to the door and knocked. Derek’s mother opened the door. “Hi, Brent. Can I help you?” she asked, politely.

“Hi, Mrs. Trenton. Is Derek home?” Brent asked, hopefully.

“Not this moment. He went to the store to get a video game, but you may all come in and wait for him. He should be back very soon,” Mrs. Trenton said.

“Okay, thank you,” Brent said. Brent, Kris and Brooke walked into the Trenton household and sat on one of the couches. They waited and waited and waited. Derek hadn’t come home yet, and it was 9:00 p.m. “It’s getting kind of late, Mrs. Trenton. Can you have Derek call either me or Kris when he comes home?” Brent said.

Mrs, Trenton nodded. “Sure, I’ll have him call as soon as he comes home.”

“Thanks,” Brent said. Brent, Kris and Brooke stood up from the couch and headed towards the door. Then Brent turned around. “Again, I’m sorry about Tyler.”

Mrs. Trenton looked at him with a smile and with a tear rolling down her cheek. “Thank you, Brent. Ever since Derek met you, he’s said that you were like a brother to him and Tyler, but now he just says that you were like a brother to him.”

Brent responded with a stutter. “A-a-and you tell Derek that ever since I’ve met him, he’s been like a brother to me. You know, when I met the real him.”

Mrs. Trenton nodded, again. Then Brent, Kris and Brooke walked out the door. Brent asked Brooke, “do you want my mo to take you home? I can call her for you.”

“No, that’s okay. I can walk home,” Brooke said.

“Alright,” Brent said. Brent then, grabbed Kris’s wheelchair and rolled him home while Brooke walked the other way towards her house. As Brooke was walking home, she felt something was behind her. She turned, but saw nothing. She continued to walk forward and stones crunching under boots. She turned around again, this time seeing a figure in the darkness. The figure punched and kicked Brooke until she fell to the ground. The figure then, held out his hand and a shot fired from a gun. Dropping the gun in a dumpster, the figure ran off towards the north end of the town. Beaten and bloody, Brooke lay on the sidewalk holding her chest firmly. She heard footsteps running towards her. Another figure knelt down next to her and pulled out its cell phone. Meanwhile, Brent was outside of Kris’s house and felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.

“Who is it?” Kris asked.

“I don’t know. The number is blocked,” Brent said. He answered the phone. “Hello?”

A voice spoke. “It’s Brooke, come quick. It’s an emergency.” The call ended.

“What?” Kris asked.

“It’s Brooke,” Brent said, alarmed. “We’ve got to get to Derek’s quick. She couldn’t have gotten far from there.”

“Do you know who called?” Kris asked.

Brent shook his head. “No.”

“Is she okay?” Kris asked, becoming worried.

“I don’t know, but we better hurry. She couldn’t have gotten far from Derek’s house, though,” Brent said. Then, Brent grabbed Kris’s wheelchair again and ran as fast as he could and rolled Kris with him towards Derek’s house.

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 9: Funeral)

“I can’t believe he’s gone. After all we’ve been through together…” Derek said, sadly.

Brent walked up to Derek and put his hand on Derek’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Derek. I should’ve convinced him not to go down into the water. I should’ve went after you, not Tyler.”

Derek gave a disappointed sigh. “It’s not your fault, Brent. If it’s anyone’s fault it’s the Xbox’s. The Xbox is the reason we’re all here now.”

Brent nodded, sadly. Brent, Derek and Kris, who was talking to Derek’s mother, were all at a funeral for Tyler. Along with Derek’s family, Brent’s family and Kris’s family, Brooke was there, too. Brooke was with Kris, tears in her eyes. Even though she didn’t know Tyler or Derek, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for their family.

All of the mourners filed into the church and sat in the pews. A eulogist approached the podium and began the eulogy. “Tyler Trenton was a young boy, whose life had been taken from him. Tyler will be in the lives of everyone here in this church. He will live on in our hearts forever and always. I would now like a moment of silence for Tyler, so if you all would be silent please…” The church was silent for several moments. Then, the eulogist continued with a question. “Would anyone like to come up to the podium and say a few words?”

Derek pulled out a folded piece of paper from his coat pocket and stood up. “I would, sir.” The eulogist motioned for Derek to approach the podium and walked to the side of room. Derek stood behind the podium and started to read from the piece of paper. “My brother, Tyler was a great guy. He never asked for anything in return for his actions. He was a brave, courteous kid and I-” Derek started to cry. “Uh… Tyler, just-” He stopped. “I’m sorry.”

Brent stood up and walked to the podium and took the paper away from Derek. “I’ll read for you, okay?” Derek nodded as Brent gazed over the paper and read. “Tyler just kept a smile on his face, he didn’t have a problem with no one and he meant the world to me, but I guess that physically, that world is gone because Tyler is, too. Mentally, I will always have Tyler around me wherever I go, because to me, Tyler is still here. I wish I could hold him one more time, but I can’t and that will be the thing that haunts me from now until I die. The last thing I wanted to say to Tyler, but never had the chance to, was that I loved him.” Brent now had tears filling his eyes. He read the last line on the paper. “Tyler was and is my inspiration to love my life and now he’s my hero, too.”

The mourners in the pews weeped and blew their noses and dabbed their eyes with tissues or handkerchiefs. Derek looked at Brent and walked to him with his arms open. Brent hugged Derek as Derek cried. The eulogist approached the podium again. “Thank you, boys,” he said. Brent and Derek then walked back to their pew and sat until the funeral service was over. After the service, everyone walked to their cars and drove to the cemetery for the burial service.

Once they arrived at the cemetery, there was a small tent over where Tyler’s grave was. There was a hollow box with an urn placed on top, containing Tyler’s ashes. The mourners gathered into the tent and stood silently with a strong wind, blowing hard enough for the tent to shake. Brent looked at Derek who still had tears rolling down his cheeks. He then gazed over at Kris, who had his hand in Brooke’s. Both of them also had some tears rolling down their cheeks. Eventually, the grave diggers arrived and made the announcement that the funeral and burial services had been over and then buried Tyler’s ashes.

Kris rolled up to Brent in his wheelchair. “Hey, Brent.”

Brent responded, “hey.”

“So, now what do we do now?” Kris asked.

Brent shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. This funeral and the whole Krypting incident…” He trailed off. “I guess we just have to keep doing what we’re doing, like destroying the Xbox and going back to school.”

Kris nodded. “I guess so.”

Brooke walked up to Kris and Brent and wiped her eyes with a tissue. “Hi, Brent.” She looked down at Kris. “”Are you okay?”

Kris’s eyes were watery and a small tear rolled down his cheek. “Yeah, I’m just-” He pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket. “I’m just a little emotional when it comes to funerals, that’s all.”

Brent looked over at Derek, who was talking to his mother, then back to Kris and Brooke. “i’ll be right back,” he said, walking away.

“What are you doing?” Kris asked.

Brent ignored him and walked toward Tyler’s grave, reaching into his jacket. He looked around, then knelt down next to the grave. He pulled out his hand from his jacket and placed a picture of Derek and Tyler together in a frame. He looked to his right side and saw a red rose and picked it up from the ground and placed it in front of the picture. He gazed over the grave for a moment and then picked himself up from the ground and walked back over to Kris and Brooke.

Kris squinted at the grave and looked at Brent with a puzzled expression on his face. “Where did you get the picture?” he asked.

Brent smiled shyly and said, “remember a couple days ago? We were at Derek’s helping him and his mom with the funeral arrangements.”

Kris nodded. “Yeah…”

“Well, remember when I got up to go to the bathroom?” Brent asked.

Kris looked at Brent with a shocked face. “No. You didn’t…”

Brent shrugged. “I did. I actually went up to Derek’s room and hid the picture in my jacket. Do me a favor and please don’t tell him.”

Kris looked at him intently. “Don’t worry, I won’t. Your secret is safe with me.”

“Thanks,” Brent said.

A couple of hours later, after everyone had finished talking to the Trenton family and giving their condolences, they went home. Brent, Kris, Derek and Brooke had stayed for a while longer. Kris rolled up to Derek with Brooke next to him. “Derek, I should have done this earlier, but… this is Brooke. She goes to our school. She came here to pay respect to Tyler, although she never met him.”

Derek shook Brooke’s hand. “Thank you, Brooke. I wish Tyler could have met you. You would have liked him.”

Brooke responded. “I’m sure I would have. He seemed like a really nice boy.”

Derek said, “he was.”

Brent looked at Kris and said to him, “I’m going to show him the picture on the grave.” Kris nodded. “Hey, Derek, I want to show you something,” Brent said to him.

“Okay,” Derek said.

Brent walked with Derek towards the grave and pointed at the rose and the picture lying on the grave. Derek gazed at the two items on the grave and cried. He looked at Brent and said nothing. “I hope you don’t mind, but I took the picture from your room and put the rose on the grave with it,” Brent said, calmly.

Derek shook his head. “No, I don’t mind.” He looked back at Brent and continued, “I think it looks good.”

“I really am sorry, Derek. I should never had let-”

“Stop. I told you it’s not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”

Brent wanted to nod, but he couldn’t. He felt that Tyler’s death was his fault because of his actions that he didn’t do to stop him.

“Let’s go,” Derek spoke. “It’s getting pretty late, anyway.” He glimpsed at his watch. “It’s 10:00 p.m.”

“Brent finally muttered under his breath, “alright.”

Derek drove the boys and Brooke back to their houses and parked into his driveway and walked inside of his house. He walked into his bedroom and stared at his Xbox, angrily. He unplugged the system and carried it downstairs. He opened the front door and dropped it on the yard and went back into the house. He returned several moments later with a lighter. He lit the lighter and dragged the flame over the Xbox. He watched as the bright, yellow-orange light engulfed the system in the middle of the yard. Derek switched off the lighter and put it in his pocket. He gazed at the fiery inferno and spoke. “You took my brother’s life. Now I’m going to take yours.”

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 8: Accepting the Unexpected)

“Tyler!” Derek shouted.

Tyler sat in the chair, squirming to get himself free.

“Derek, help!” Tyler yelled. The creature was getting closer to Tyler’s neck.

“What is that thing?” Brent asked.

“It’s a Krypting. If this thing bites me once I’m dead, so could you hurry up?”

The boys ran up to where the chair was just above their heads. They looked down at their feet and saw water underneath some glass. Kris looked up at Brent and Derek and had the same idea as they did. “That thing is like a crocodile, right?” Kris asked. Brent and Derek nodded. “But it’s made by technology. So, it can’t survive in water. We’ve got to get Tyler down and cut that rope to drop the Krypting into the water, but we have to break this glass first.”

The boys searched the store, and for several minutes couldn’t find anything that would break the glass. Derek walked behind the counter and picked up a Rock Band microphone. “Hey, guys! We could use this. If we smack at the glass while holding the cord, we can break it,” Derek said.

“It’s worth a shot,” Kris said.

Derek grabbed the microphone’s cord and slammed it down on the glass. It cracked. He attempted to break the glass again. The second attempt cracked the glass again, but not enough to make the Krypting fall in. He tried again. The third attempt shattered the glass and showed the glistening water.

“Nice,” Brent said. “Now we have to get Tyler down.”

Kris rolled out so he could talk to Tyler. “Tyler, we’re going to get you down now. We’re going to get the Krypting to fall in the water below you, alright?”

“Okay, as long as I get down from here,” Tyler responded.

Brent stood up on the counter and grabbed onto the chair. Using his upper body strength, Brent pulled himself up and balanced himself on the edge of the chair. The rope dangled aggressively shaking the chair with uneasy force. “Whoa,” Brent said, alarmingly. He slowly steadied himself and turned around. “Derek, toss me the scissors on the counter.” Derek tossed the scissors to Brent. He caught them, carefully keeping balance on the swaying chair. “Ready?” Brent asked Tyler.

Tyler nodded. “Yep.”

Brent separated the two sides of the scissors and cut the rope with one of them. Slowly, the rope’s strong fibers started to snap apart. In a few minutes, Brent cut through the rope and the chair fell towards the water. Derek caught the chair above the water and Brent jumped off. The Krypting fell into the water, being destroyed continuously by the electrical currents.

Derek and Brent loosened the chains and pulled Tyler out of the chair. “Thanks,” Tyler said. He turned to Derek and gave him a hug. Derek couldn’t help but shed a small tear at the sight of his brother, still alive.

“Are you okay?” Derek asked.

Tyler nodded. “Yeah.”

The water then started to splash. The four boys gazed at the water and heard a rumble. Following the rumble, the water formed into a wave and poured over the boys. “What’s going on?” Kris asked. Just as Kris had asked his question, a loud, ferocious snarl surrounded the inside of the store.

“What is that?” Derek said.

Appearing out of the water, a larger Krypting bared its teeth. The boys watched the Krypting’s teeth drip. The poison covered the Krypting’s teeth. It looked over the boys and stopped its gaze at Derek and lunged forward. The Krypting snatched up Derek by his clothes and dragged him underneath the water, disappearing into the deep.

Tyler stepped towards the edge of the floor.

“What are doing?” Brent asked.

“I have to get him,” Tyler said.

Brent shook his head.”It’s too dangerous for you.”

Tyler looked at him with tears in his eyes. “I have to…” He paused. “He’s my brother. He’d do the same thing for me.”

Brent looked at Tyler intently. He nodded. “Okay, then. Hold on.” Brent walked over to the rope that had fallen with the chair and handed it to Kris. “We’re going to hold the rope and lower him in.” He looked at Tyler again. “Tyler’s going to save his brother.”

“Okay,” Kris said. He grabbed the rope and said, “are you ready, Tyler?”

Tyler nodded. He jumped into the water and swam down towards the Krypting. He continued down, deeper and deeper until he saw Derek and the Krypting. He tried to yell out Derek’s name, but he was inaudible for he was underwater. The water pressure suddenly was forced onto Tyler’s body. He was running out of time. He swam faster towards Derek and was hindered by the Krypting. Then, a familiar voice spoke overhead.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” the Xbox said. “Poor Tyler. You think that you’ve escaped from me, but you haven’t. You will stay with me, you and your brother. You both have betrayed me and now I have no choice but to keep you both as prisoners. I wish you both could’ve chosen the thing that was best for you. Me.”

Tyler ignored the Xbox’s speech, and stared at the Krypting. The Krypting roared at Tyler and lunged toward him. Tyler dodged the Krypting’s mouth and swam to Derek. He picked him up and gave a big tug on the rope. Brent and Kris pulled and pulled on the rope until Tyler and Derek appeared out of the water onto the edge of the floor.

Tyler gasped for breath while Brent pulled Derek up and sat him on the chair. “Derek? Can you hear me?” Brent patted his face a couple times and repeated his question. “Can you hear me?” Derek opened his eyes slowly and looked at Brent. He then became alarmed immediately.

“Where’s Tyler?” he asked.

Brent looked at Derek. “He’s fine. He’s right over there, he saved your life.”

Derek looked over to Tyler and got up from the chair. “Tyler, are you okay?”

Tyler gasped again. “Yeah… I’m fine.” Tyler’s eyes began to flutter and suddenly closed.

“Tyler? Tyler…” Derek said, alarmingly. Brent and Kris walked over to Derek. “Tyler!” Derek continued. “Wake up, Tyler.”

Kris gazed at Tyler and hesitantly spoke to Derek. “Uh… Derek.”

“Yeah?” Derek asked, worried.

“Look.” Kris pointed at Tyler’s right leg. On that leg was a small hole. A hole the size of the Krypting’s tooth.

“No. No, this can’t happen!” Derek shouted aloud. He started shaking Tyler violently. “Come back, Tyler. Come back!” Derek started to cry and rested his hands over Tyler’s heart. Derek had felt a faint thump of Tyler’s heart and then nothing. Derek then stood up and looked down at his feet. He stroked his hair and said sadly, “It’s too late. He’s dead.”

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 7: Hostage)

“How do you know this?” Brent asked Kris, looking at the back of a Xbox game.

“Remember when you walked out to the huddle and Derek shoved you?” Kris asked.

Brent nodded. “Yeah, but what does that have to do with the Xbox?”

“When I walked over to you, I saw the Xbox laying on the ground near their sideline,” Kris said. “It looked like it was smirking at you.”

“Huh. Well, now we know to watch out for him now. We’ve had the Syrium, but that was just the beginning. Who knows what Derek’s planning with him right now?” Brent said. There was silence in the store. Then Brent said, “it’s a good thing we came to Game Stop, it’s more peaceful and quiet here than Just Press Play.”

Kris crouched down and picked up a game on the bottom shelf. “I’m getting this game,” he said raising a copy of Assassin’s Creed II. “What are you getting?” Kris looked at Brent with his head cocked to one side. “Brent? Brent…”

Brent was not paying attention. Instead, he was looking at several Xboxs in their packaging and stood motionless. Kris tapped him on his shoulder, but Brent brushed it.

Kris smacked Brent in the back of the head. “Hey, Brent!”

Brent was startled. “What?!”

“Are you okay?” Kris asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Brent said. “I just think we need to go and, you know, talk to Derek and see why he would want to help an Xbox. I mean, does that sound a little odd to you?”

“Well yeah, but-” Kris drew a blank. “I’m not sure. He might have a reason, but it probably isn’t a good one. Or it could be… I don’t know, I’m just a boy in a chair right now.”

“Let’s find out. I’ll buy the game for you, we’ll drop it off at your place and we’ll go talk to him,” Brent said. “Do you know where he lives?”

“No, but my mom does. I’ll ask her,” Kris said. “My mom knows his mom from a book club a couple years ago. I know it’s weird.”

Brent looked at Kris. “Doesn’t matter if it is or not. Let’s go.” Brent bought the game for Kris and rolled him out of the store. They both stopped by Kris’s house. They dropped off the game and got the address for Derek’s house. They walked to the eastern part of the city to Derek’s house and Brent knocked on the door. The door opened.

“What do you want?” a voice snarled.

“Are you Derek Trenton?” Brent asked.

“Yeah, why?” Derek mumbled.

Brent looked back at Kris and back to Derek. “We have to ask you something that really concerns you. Is that okay with you?”

Derek thought about it. “Uh… I guess. What do you want to know?”

Kris spoke up from behind Brent. “If you are, why are you helping the Xbox with its plans?”

“It’s simple. I don’t actually want to die with everybody else. Especially you two. No offense,” Derek said.

Brent and Kris looked at each other with looks of bewilderment. “Really? That’s your excuse. That’s why you’re helping the Xbox?” Brent asked.

“No. It’s not an excuse. It’s more of an explanation than an excuse. Now, is that all you want to ask me?” Derek answered.

“Not yet. Tell us the truth, Derek. There’s more people to care about than you. So, what’s the real reason?” Kris asked.

Derek sighed. “Fine. The Xbox… has my little brother. It said that if I didn’t cooperate, then I wouldn’t see him again. I just did it to get my brother back.”

Brent looked down at his feet then looked back at Derek. “What’s his name, Derek?”

“Tyler. Why do you want to know?” Derek sniffed.

“Because we’re going to get him. Me and Kris will bring him back to you,” Brent said. “Don’t worry, we’ll make sure that the Xbox doesn’t hurt him, okay?”

Derek nodded. “Okay.” He sniffed again and looked right at Brent. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being rude and acting like-” He corrected himself. “No. I’m sorry for being a jerk.” He motioned his hand to Brent, hoping he would shake it.

Brent grabbed his hand and shook it. “No problem.”

“Thanks,” Derek said.

Brent nodded. “Don’t worry, we’ll get your brother back.” He glanced at Kris then back to Derek. ‘Even if it’s the last thing we do.”

Derek sniffed again. “I really appreciate it. But I’m not going to just sit here, I’m coming with you.”

Brent and Kris stared at Derek inaudibly. Several seconds passed and finally Kris broke the quiet. “Uh… okay. But Derek, won’t the Xbox kill you if you fight against it?”

“Probably, but I’d do anything for my brother,” Derek said.

“Would you die for your brother?” Brent asked.

“Oddly, yes. I love my brother and nothing will stop me from either helping him or being there for him,” Derek said.

“Alright, let’s go!” Kris said.

Derek grabbed his jacket and his car keys. “We’ll take my car,” he said. The boys went to the end of the driveway and stood still gaping at what they saw in front of them. Sitting in the driveway was a red ‘69 Jaguar. “Get in,” Derek said.

“Amazing. He’s got the car, the hair, the good looks… and did I just say that out loud?”

Derek stood quietly with a look of confusion and Brent was trying not to burst out in laughter. “Yes you did,” Brent spoke.

“Anyway, all he needs now is the girl,” Kris finished.

“Actually…” Derek pulled out his wallet and showed Kris a picture.

“Never mind. This guy is ahead of the game,” Kris said, pointing towards Derek.

The boys got into the car and fastened their seatbelts. “Do either of you two know where the Xbox would be?” Derek asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe we should go to Just Press Play because that’s where Kris and I saw it last,” Brent said.

“Okay,” Derek said. He put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway. He then put the car in drive and drove down the black pavement. Several minutes later, the three boys arrived at the store.

Again, the store looked worse than when Brent and Kris had visited.

“Ugh…” Derek said, disgusted.

“Just a heads up, the inside walls are electrified,” Kris said.

“Plus, we fought a Syrium. So watch out for the Xbox’s minions,” Brent added.

“A Syrium? I heard of that before. The Xbox told me that it was creating a whole bunch of creatures. So, we’ll either see one now or we’ll see one very soon. The Xbox also said that a creature with advanced technology like the Syrium shouldn’t have been beaten by you two. It’ll probably make the next minion even tougher than the Syrium was. Trust me.”

“Come on,” Brent said. The boys entered the store and looked around. There was silence, but only for a brief second.

“Welcome back, boys,” the Xbox said, sitting on the counter. “I knew you couldn’t stay away.” It looked at Derek. “Very good, Derek. You’ve succeeded in bringing them to me. You shall be rewarded.”

“No, I didn’t bring them to you. I’m here with them. I’m not your assistant anymore,” Derek announced.

“Oh. Well then, I guess I’ll have three times the fun instead of two,” the Xbox chuckled.

“What do you mean?” Kris asked.

“Have fun,” the Xbox laughed. The Xbox then disappeared leaving the three boys alone. The lights shut off and the doors locked.

“Derek!” a voice screamed. A spotlight shined in the middle of the room. A rope hung in the air holding a boy chained to a chair with one of the Xbox’s minions. It looked like a crocodile, but it’s teeth were much more sharp and they were filled with poison. The creature walked all over the chair, it’s teeth inches away from the boy’s neck.

Derek spoke. “Tyler!”

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 5: The Big Game)

Pandemonium. The Weitan High School’s football field was lit up with blinding lights making the green turf glow with a luminescent shine. The crowd cheered for the Warriors and jeering against their opponent, the undefeated Blazers from Buchet High School. The game was about to begin as both teams headed out onto the field. The scoreboard came to life with a fresh fifteen minutes on the clock for the first quarter of the game.
Brent walked out to the referee for the pregame coin toss. Brent called heads. The referee flipped the coin, and showed the side with the heads. “Weitan gets the football first,” the referee announced. Brent looked straight ahead at a Blazers player looking him up and down.
“What?” Brent asked.
“Nothing,” the player snapped. “You better hope that your team is lucky because you all don’t stand a chance against us.”
Brent rolled his eyes. “We’ll see.” Brent walked over to the team huddle and gave them a pep talk to game them into the game more mentally, physically, and emotionally. After Brent had given his pep talk, the team got into their offensive positions. The kicker on the Blazers punted the football to start the game. Kris, who was running back, caught the ball and sprinted down the field. Kris was tackled at their forty-eight yard line. Brent, who was quarterback, was walking into the game for the first snap.
Brent called the play and the Warriors’ center snapped the ball. Brent caught the snap and looked downfield for Kris. He spotted him and he was wide open. Brent threw the ball with a perfect spiral, and it soared through the air into the hands of Kris. Kris ran from the twenty yard line, the ten, and into the end zone. The crowd roared as Kris spiked the ball in the end zone and looked up at Brent, who was doing a fist pump and pointing to him with a wide smile on his face. The number 6 lit up on the scoreboard. The Warriors’ kicker then kicked a field goal for an extra point resulting in a 7-0 lead with twelve minutes still left in the first quarter.
The ball was punted and now it was the Blazers’ turn. The player that was talking to Brent earlier before the game, caught the ball and ran quickly down the field, leaving the other players in the dust. Except for one Warriors defenseman, who tackled him, unfortunately tackling him into the end zone. The Blazers’ kicker then evened the score to a result of 7-7. The time continued on and ended for the first quarter with a score 13-7, the Warriors in the lead.
As the second quarter started, then after another fifteen minutes ended, the score was then tied at 23-23. Brent walked over to the sidelines for a drink of Gatorade. He took off his football helmet and drank. Kris walked over to him. “Hey, we’re doing pretty well against a team that’s undefeated,” Kris said, glancing at the scoreboard.
Brent nodded. “Yeah, that guy over there said that we’d better be lucky or we wouldn’t have a chance against them supposedly.” Brent pointed at the player on the Blazers that talked to him before.
“I think he has a big ego, don’t you think?” Kris asked looking at the other player.
“I suppose, but who cares?” Brent said. The referee blew the whistle to start the third quarter. “Let’s go.” Brent put his helmet back on and he and Kris walked out to the field.
As Brent walked in the field, the player on the Blazers shoved him. “Listen up, Brock!” he said sourly.
“It’s Brent. My name’s Brent,” Brent said calmly, keeping his frustration down to a low level.
“Whatever. Look, we both know what’s going to happen, so just lose the game. Or do you want things to go worst for your team…”
“What?” Brent questioned. “Never mind.” He got up and walked over to his team.
“Give it some thought,” the Blazers player said, “if you know what’s good for you.”
Kris walked up to Brent. “Whoa, what was that about?” he asked.
“Nothing,” Brent said, continuing towards the team.
“That wasn’t nothing, what did he say to you,” Kris asked.
“Don’t worry about it, I handled it,” Brent lied.
“Fine, if you say so,” Kris said with concern. He followed Brent back to the team huddle and started the third quarter. The Warriors and Blazers continued offensive and defensive plays as the third quarter came to a close.
The fourth and final quarter was coming up with a still tied game with a score of 46-46. “Alright, boys, this is it. You can do this. I believe in you, the crowd believes in you, you all need to believe in yourselves. With just believing, you’ve got half of this victory in the bag. Keep up the energy, keep up the aggressiveness, but most importantly, keep up the teamwork. Look at those boys over there. They look fine on the outside, but on the inside I know that they are fearing you, all of you. One more thing. Win or lose, you guys are still a team and don’t forget that, any of you. I may be just a football coach, but after this year, you boys are more like a family, and I will always be proud of all of you for your effort. Now, let’s get out there and make some high school history tonight,” Coach Guiles said for his fourth quarter pep talk.

The team walked back on the field for the last time of their sophomore year. Plays were run back and forth, with the game still tied at 46-46. There was one final minute left for regulation of the game and there was still time for one final play. The Warriors’ center snapped the ball to Brent, who again looked for Kris. Brent shifted his vision from Kris to the Blazers player who had told him to lose the game purposefully, then back to Kris. He took a couple steps back and threw the ball, again with a perfect spiral. The Blazers player knew where the ball was heading. The Blazers player headed towards Kris, with a significant amount of speed left in his legs.

Kris looked up from behind his shoulder, running towards the end zone. The Blazers player was right on his heels. Kris was getting closer and closer to the end zone, as well as the Blazers player. The ball was inches away from Kris’s hands, as the Blazers player was right behind him. The ball was not visible under Kris’s muscular arm as he headed to the end zone. The Blazers player grabbed Kris and tackled him to the turf with force. A whistle sounded, numerous gasps were audible as a loud, cracking noise came from the field, followed by a scream. The night ended with an ambulance driving off to the hospital.

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 4: Unfortunate Encounter)

As Brent and Kris walked back to Just Press Play, their heads were drenched with rain. When they were close to the store, Kris’s cell phone chimed. He answered, “Hey, Brooke. What’s up?”
“Just to let you know, we’re going to Perfect Pictures Cinema. We’re going to see Zookeeper if that’s okay with you,” she asked.
“Yeah, perfect. So… friday night at 9:00 p.m…. after the game?” Kris asked.
“Yes,” Brooke answered.
“Okay, see you then. Alright, bye,” Kris said. He closed the phone and put it back into his pocket.
“So… why did we have to go now?” Brent asked.
“I don’t know… it just felt like the right time to do it,” Kris replied.
“I guess that sounds fair enough,” Brent said.
As they arrived at the store, it appeared to more dull and dark than it was the last time they had visited. They opened the door and walked in.
“Ah, if it isn’t Brent and his friend Kris,” the Xbox said. “So, Kris, have you decided to join me?”
“Uh, yeah, I think you’re just bananas, so I’m just going to decline your offer. Okay?” Kris said.
“So, you’re both against me…. Then what are you doing here?” the Xbox asked.
“We’re here to stop you,” Brent said.
“Foolish boys. Just like most villains in t.v. shows and movies, I have partners and minions. Right now, I’d like you both to meet one of my minions,” the Xbox explained. Then, a robotic creature made by technology came down from the ceiling, hissing at the two boys. It’s gray color coating covering its body made the store looked almost as dull as the store itself. “This, gentlemen, is a Syrium. One of my minions,” the Xbox said, introducing the creature.
“It’s ugly,” Kris said, looking at the Syrium’s face.
The Xbox looked at Kris with a face of confusion. “Anyway… if you want to stop me, you’ll have to stop my Syrium first. Have fun,” the Xbox said. Then the Xbox vanished.
Brent looked at Kris and Kris looked back at Brent. “Let’s do this,” Brent said. The Syrium hissed at the boys again, becoming angry at their presence. The Syrium scuttled over to the boys, its feet making short, quiet, clicking noises.
The store was a dull gray. The inside was surrounded by electrified walls. One touch would be more than enough to electrocute someone to death. Various games were scattered across the floor, signs were falling off of the shelves, the cash registers were beaten and smashed.
Brent and Kris walked toward the Syrium, both of their feet were shuffling across the wooden floor. The Syrium had a snout. It was a long, pointy snout that could lacerate anything, especially human skin. “Look out for its snout. I’m pretty sure one cut from that thing will hurt like heck,” Brent said cautiously. The Syrium charged and the boys sidestepped out of the way. “Well, at least this will probably be the easiest minion of the Xbox that we’ll have to face,” Brent said.

The Syrium quickly turned around and pounced onto Kris’s chest, its snout inches away from his heart. Kris pryed the Syrium off and tossed it to the other side of the store, escaping injury or worse. “Don’t worry, I think I’ve found out its weak point. Look at its tail,” Kris said. Brent looked at the Syrium’s tail. It was made of a simple chain, long enough to grab it and hurl it into the electrified wall. “Split up,” Kris said. “You go to the right, I’ll take the left. Just create a diversion long enough for me to grab on to its tail.”

“Fair enough, it shouldn’t take you that long,” Brent said, grinning at Kris.

“Ha, that’s funny. Yeah, good stuff,” Kris joked.

“Go,” Brent shouted.

The boys jolted towards the Syrium. Brent grabbed a few video game cases and chucked them into the Syrium’s snout getting it’s attention. “Over here, you pile of technology,” Brent said. The Syrium looked over with rage and started scuttling over to Brent. “Kris, now!”

Kris ran over to the Syrium, hopping over fallen shelves of games, controllers and systems. He approached the Syrium and grabbed on to its tail. The Syrium turned immediately, showing a new feature. Two rows of sharp metal teeth. “Not on my watch,” Kris said. He spun in circles, never releasing the Syrium. Within seconds, Kris’s strength made the Syrium’s altitude rapidly increase. He aimed at the electrified wall and released the tail. The Syrium hissed as it whizzed through the air, eventually hitting the wall. The Syrium whimpered on the floor, rose up to it’s legs, and then collapsed. The Syrium was defeated.

Both of the boys panted heavily. “Whoo! Not in our town, you monster,” Kris managed to call out.

“Dude, this is just going to keep getting tougher,” Brent said, weakly.

“I know, but we can do it. I know we can,” Kris said with confidence.

“It’s getting late and we have that game tomorrow, we should both be heading home,” Brent said gazing at his watch.

“Alright, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” Kris said.

“Yeah, see you tomorrow,” Brent said back. “Before we go, we should probably fix the place up.”

“Sure,” Kris replied.

Brent and Kris returned video games to their appropriate place, fixed the signs, and picked up the shelves. Then, the boys both left the store in their separate ways to go to their houses. They had to get some rest because tomorrow, it was time for their team to make high school football history.  

Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 3: Football Practice)

“Let’s go, guys. Hustle!” yelled the football coach, Coach Guiles. Brent, Kris and the rest of the football team were sprinting up and down the field. “Alright, boys. Get a partner, grab a football and start throwing,” Coach Guiles called.
Kris walked over to Coach Guiles. Coach Guiles was six-foot-five and muscular. He had blue eyes and short, blond hair. Coach Guiles’s face had a blank expression.

“Hey, coach. What time is the game tomorrow?” Kris asked.

“The game is at 7:30 p.m. Be here at 6:30,” Coach Guiles replied.

“Thanks,” Kris said. He walked back over to Brent. Kris picked up a football and threw it to Brent. Brent caught it and threw it back.

“Hey, Kris. Come over to my place after school. I want you to come with me to Just Press

Play. I want to get a new game,” Brent said.
“For your Xbox?” Kris asked.
“No, my Playstation,” Brent replied.
“Sure. I’ll get something when we go, too,” said Kris, throwing back the football.
“Great,” Brent said.
Coach Guiles blew his whistle. “Boys, that’s all for today, but be ready for the game. You can all go now,” he said.

Brent and Kris walked off the field to the school’s parking lot. They got into Brent’s mom’s car. They put on their seatbelts and rode home. After they arrived at Brent’s house, Brent and Kris walked across the street to Just Press Play. When they walked in, Brent saw exactly what he wanted to for once. He saw his Xbox on the wooden floor. Kris walked over and saw the Xbox, too.

“Hello again, Brent,” said the Xbox. It looked over at Kris. “I don’t believe we’ve met before. Call me Xbox.”

Brent said, “this is Kris. My best friend.”

“Okay, Brent. Now I believe you when you said that you’re Xbox was alive!” Kris exclaimed.

“So, Brent, have you decided to join me?” Xbox said.

“Is it serious?” Kris asked.

Brent looked at Kris with a faint smile. “Sadly, yes.”

“Brent. What is your decision?” Xbox said, drawing back his attention.

“I told you. I’m not stupid and I won’t join you,” Brent said.

“Very well. I guess you’ll just die along with the entire human race,” Xbox warned him.

“Go ahead,” Brent said, testing the Xbox.

Xbox gave Brent a smirk and turned to Kris. “How about you, Kris?”

Kris gave Xbox a confused look. “Yeah, I’m still processing this. I’m going to have to get

back to you on that,” Kris said.

Brent started to laugh. “Sorry, but if you’ll excuse us, we’ll be going now,” he said.

Kris started to object, “I thought we were getting video games.”

Brent looked at him. “Not now, but maybe later,” he said.

“Okay. Anyway, thanks for proving me wrong,” Kris said.

“Uh…you’re welcome. I guess,” Brent sounded puzzled. “Hey, let’s go to your place. We can play your Xbox. I’ll just call home to let them know.” Brent pulled out his iPhone from his pocket and called his home number. After the call ended, Brent stuck the phone back in his pocket. “Let’s go.”

The boys walked a couple blocks to Kris’s house, while talking about the football game the next night. After a couple of minutes later, the boys arrived at Kris’s house and went straight to Kris’s room. “Grab a controller over there,” Kris said, motioning his hand over to a table next to a pair of beanbag chairs.

“Alright,” Brent said. He walked over to the table and picked up a controller and asked, “hey, Kris. What chair do you want?” Brent looked down at the two beanbag chairs, then looked up at Kris.

“It doesn’t matter to me. Sit in whichever one you want,” Kris told Brent.

Brent looked at the two beanbag chairs again and hesitantly, plopped down on the black one.

Kris turned and asked Brent, “okay, Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 3?”

Brent and Kris looked at each other for one brief second and simultaneously said, “Modern Warfare 3.”

Kris opened the game’s case and put the game into the system. Kris walked over to the red beanbag chair next to Brent and sat down.

Several minutes into the game, both of the boys’ eyes were glued to the T.V. screen. In the midst of the game, the power went out and the T.V. screen went black. “Oh, no. It’s happening again,” Brent exclaimed.

“Brent,” Kris said calmly. “Look outside. It’s storming.”

Brent looked out the window and saw gray thunder clouds hovering overhead. “Oh, okay,” Brent let out a sigh of relief. “This whole Xbox thing has me going insane.”

“So, what are you going to do about it?” Kris asked him.

Brent sighed again. “Will you help me destroy it?”

“The Xbox? Sure. You know, I’ve always wanted to destroy a video game system before I die,” Kris said sarcastically. “Anyway, yeah, I’ll help. Only because I’m you’re friend and let’s face it, you couldn’t do it without me.”

“Whatever,” Brent said, ignoring the sarcasm. “Thanks, man.”

“Do you want to go now?” Kris asked.

“Sure, why not?” Brent said.

The boys got up and put everything away. “Let’s go.”

So, Brent and Kris walked out of Kris’s house and walked back to Just Press Play to meet the Xbox again.



Darkness in the Game: Short Circuit (chapter 2: Preparation)

For Brent, this was by far the weirdest day of his life. Brent was six-foot-two with shaggy, brown hair. He had hazel eyes and freckles on his face. Brent was muscular and played football on his high school’s team, the Weitan Warriors. Brent was a popular guy in his home town, but even more popular in high school.
The next morning, Brent packed his backpack for school. He went downstairs and went into the kitchen to make his breakfast. He made scrambled eggs and bacon with an apple and a glass of orange juice. After he ate, he changed out of his pajamas and into his clothes. He put on his deodorant and brushed his teeth. Then he went back downstairs, grabbed his backpack and headed out the door.
The day was perfect. The sky was blue with white clouds. As Brent was at his bus stop, he looked around. He saw birds flying overhead and cars driving by. When the bus rolled up and the doors opened, Brent stepped in and sat in the back of the bus with his best friend, Kris.
Kris was a good friend of Brent’s and he also played on the football team. Just like Brent, Kris was also a popular kid. Kris was wearing a black shirt, black shorts and was wearing white Nike shoes. Kris had his ears pierced and had long black hair, blue eyes and was also muscular like Brent. Kris was six-foot-four and a small, kind face was looking at Brent with a smile.
“Hey, man, what’s up? Are you ready for football practice after school?” Kris asked.
“Yeah,” Brent replied, “I’m totally ready.” He looked around the packed school bus and turned back to Kris. “Man, I gotta tell you something.”
“What?” Kris asked.
“You’re gonna think I’m crazy, but hear me out on this,” Brent said.
“Okay, what is it?” Kris questioned.
“Last night I was playing my Xbox, and then the ground started shaking and the power went out-” Brent paused, then continued. “Then, my Xbox came to life.”
“You have Xbox Live. I know, so do I, it’s not crazy at all,” Kris replied.
“Not Xbox Live. My Xbox came to life,” Brent emphasized.
“Seriously, dude. You’re going nuts. Video game systems don’t just come to life, and if they did that would be so cool,” Kris said thinking about live video game systems.
“Well, it happened, and let me tell you something. It is totally not cool! It told me that technology is starting to rule the world!” Brent said.
“It talked to you, too? Look, Brent, maybe it was a dream. All I know is that if my Xbox started talking to me, I wouldn’t be on this bus right now, I can tell you that much,” Kris answered.
“Just forget it,” Brent said and put his head against the bus window. “Just forget I said anything.”
“Can do,” Kris replied.
After the bus stopped at the school, the kids got out and walked to their classrooms. Brent and Kris went to their first class, which was algebra.
“Great. Nothing better than learning math at seven in the morning,” Kris said sarcastically. When the two boys arrived in the classroom, they sat in their seats and waited for the bell to ring. While the teacher was talking about compound inequalities, Kris fell asleep on his desk while Brent drew a beard and mustache on his face.
“Mr. Maxton!” the teacher yelled. Kris woke up startled. “Thank you. Now go wash off those pen marks.”
Kris looked at Brent with a look of anger. “Not cool, dude.” Kris walked out of the classroom, washed off the pen marks then returned to class.
After the first two classes were over, Brent and Kris went to the cafeteria for lunch. When the boys got their lunch, they sat down at an empty table and started to eat. “Man, I’m so tired. I want to go home,” said Kris.
“What are you going to do at home?” Brent asked.
“I don’t know. Go on Facebook, listen to my iPod, play my Xbox…” Kris said.
Brent looked at him with a blank face. “No.”
“Seriously, man. Let it go,” Kris said.
“How can I? It’s going to be stuck in my brain forever-”
Kris was paying no attention to Brent. Instead, Kris was looking at his high school crush, Brooke Hanson.
“Hey, boys. Can I sit with you?” she asked.
Kris stared at her with a smile on his face, red from being a little nervous. “Yeah, sure,” Kris said.
Brooke sat down at the table. Brooke was five-foot-ten with blonde hair, blue eyes and a sweet smile was appearing on her face. She was wearing a pink shirt, pink jeans and flip-flops.

“So, Kris, how was your weekend?” she asked.

“Good. It was good,” Kris replied.

“Glad to hear it,” Brooke said. She hesitated. Then she said, “So, Kris, I was wondering if

you wanted to see a movie sometime?”
“Yeah, sure. Sounds great,” Kris said.
Brooke said, “Great,” then got up and walked away. Kris looked over at Brent.
“Look at that. I got a date with the prettiest girl in school,” Kris said with a smile.
“Wipe that smile off of your face,” Brent said.
“Sorry. No can do,” Kris said. “I can’t. I can’t because I got a date with the prettiest girl in school.”