“Sasha! … Sasha this is the last time I am calling you, if you don’t come down for supper right now, you will be punished.”
Harry hoped that he would hear the creaking staircase indicating that his elder sibling had finally decided to bless them with her presence. However, it never happened. Mrs. Mary O’Malley stormed into the dining room only to discover that her command wasn’t adhered to. She stomped up the staircase, heaving, and banged on the door.
“Sasha! Open the door!”
“Mommy … Wait,” came the muffled reply. Sasha’s response was drowned by ear-splitting, staccato, and rowdy sound of her video game.
TIK TOK… TIME FOR NEXT LEVEL… TIME FOR NEXT LEVEL…
The door creaked open, “Mommy, what’s it? Why are you banging at my door?”
“Don’t you realise it’s time for supper, this is family time, step down right now.”
“Supper? I didn’t realise, I still have to complete my homework.” Cried Sasha.
“You are so addicted to your video game that you don’t have time for anything else. Follow me!” Her orotund command was non-negotiable. Sasha followed her mother with a reluctant heart, beating to the beat of the music emitted by her video game.
Sasha quickly gorged on her food and made a beeline for her game.
“I shall quickly play this level and wrap it up for the day and then do my homework,” she convinced herself.
“Sasha, please let me play,” Harry tried to get hold of the game controller, “I want to play too.”
“No! Dad got this for my birthday and besides you don’t even know how to play.” Sasha rebuked Harry, snatching the controller back.
“That’s because you never let me play!” Harry sobbed, “I wish, you get inside this game itself and never come out!”
Harry dashed across the room, banging the door shut behind him.
“I shall never talk to her; she has become mean and meaner since this video game came into our lives.”
“Harry! Don’t cry my boy… what’s the matter,” Mary shushed her son.
“Mommy, Sasha doesn’t talk, neither does she play in the garden with me any longer. It seems that the video game is her brother, not me.” He wailed.
“Yes, Harry I have been noticing as well. Don’t worry she will outgrow it, give her some time.” She comforted him, but her thoughts were dubious.
Her husband had gifted Sasha the game on her tenth birthday, since then, it had become a bone of contention between the two. Mary tried her best to cajole Sasha outdoors, but she remained glued to the screen. Her academics, friendships, and social etiquette had taken a back seat. Mary knew that it was a phase of life but lamented at the loss of her daughter’s constant presence around her, and no longer being a cynosure of her eyes. How she wished to see her kids play outside and spent time with her like before.
Sasha woke to an idle screen, beeping to call her back to the game.
“Good lord! Seems I dozed off playing last night, I haven’t done my homework as well, going to school is impossible!”
She quickly formulated a plan.
“Mommy! Mommy I have a stomach ache… Ohh my tummy…,” she wailed.
Mary tucked and advised her to stay in bed for the rest of the day.
“I will drop Harry to the school and ask him to walk down himself from the bus stop on his way back. Give me a call if you feel worse, I shall come back from work, love you my baby.”
Sasha felt guilty of cheating her mother but the alternative was worse. She promised to herself, to amend.
The banging of the door declared her victory.
She had the house all to herself; mom at work, dad on a tour and kid brother off to school.
“Yippee…. Half an hour of play wouldn’t really matter, I shall behave like a good girl for the rest of the day.”
The game controller beckoned her and she happily gave in.
DING DONG… NEE NAW…
SASHA YOU ARE ON THE THIRD LEVEL
Reflected the screen.
Sasha jumped with joy; she had finally done it. Suddenly there was a lightning spark in her controller.
Thud… Thud! Sasha was banging on the door but to no avail.
“Where am I? What has happened? Why can’t I move my legs?” She was petrified, there wasn’t a soul to answer her questions, only eggs flying around.
Sasha tried to crane her neck, “ladders and cloud stations, tracks, and planks… Where am I?” She focused outside the glass wall only to gasp in astonishment. She saw her bedroom across the it, her books lying strewn all over the table and clothes under the bed. Her favourite teddy bear face down in a dusty corner and her family picture frame upside down on the side table. She felt sad at the sight of her messed up room and finally it dawned on her that she was trapped in her own video game. If only she could move, but that was possible only with the controller, that occupied a prime spot on her bed. She thought hard of her predicament and checked her parameters; two beating pink hearts suggested two lives left and a canister half full indicated her energy level. Thus, she concluded, she couldn’t waste either of the commodities and waited for help to arrive.it was time to self-reflect and finally emerge out a winner from this game.
The tinkling of the door chimes indicated Harry’s arrival. Sasha counted his footsteps as he climbed the staircase and stopped outside her room,“ I don’t want to talk to you, but just wanted to know if you are feeling better. How come you are not playing? No sounds. If you don’t want to talk, I don’t care either.” Harry matched off, disappointed at her for not even responding.
Sasha begged him to enter the room but her wails were unheard.
“Harry! Harry!” Sasha shrieked and cried on the top of her lungs, only to realise that she was in a different realm.
“I am certain, he will come again.”
Harry prepared a sandwich for himself and devoured it, he wondered, “Sasha isn’t playing but is still not coming down, hope she is fine.”
“Should I go to check on her?” He debated with himself but finally sibling concern took over.
“Sasha, I have got a sandwich for you,” he tiptoed in. She was nowhere to be seen. Harry was surprised, he wondered about her whereabouts.
The lights were on, so was the television, but she wasn’t there. “I better tell mommy,” he decided. His stride was disturbed by the sight of the glowing controller on the bed. “Strange! It’s blinking as if the game is in progress, but who’s playing?” He looked at the screen, only to fall backward in fear.
“Sasha! Is that you?” He saw her thumping the screen and babbling something he couldn’t comprehend.
“I can’t hear you,” he gestured.
Sasha indicated him to wear the headphones. Harry got them at one go and did as instructed.
“Sasha, can you hear me? How did you get in there?” Tears trickled down his face.
“Harry, I shall explain everything once I am out but I fear, I don’t have much time. See the scoreboard; two lives left only. I can’t play on my own, you will have to move me towards the end of the game by the controller.”
“I don’t know how to play, remember you never let me, what if I goof up.”
“Don’t worry, I will guide you. We just keep walking and collecting eggs on the way. The moment we collect the desired number we go down the ladders and deposit our eggs on the cloud stations. You just follow my instructions. Be careful while I get off the ladders, don’t let me fall off. Do so, I will explain the last level later, we have just two to go, I completed the first three in the morning.”
“Sasha, I am scared,”
“Oh! You cry-baby! Just hold the controller and let me guide.”
Harry took a deep breath and started playing his first video game ever.
“Press the forward arrow,”
Harry did and Sasha started moving, “now you know how to move me according to the arrows and make me jump when required by pressing both together.”
Harry nodded and the game was set. Sasha moved slowly in the beginning, as Harry was hesitant initially, but made steady progress. She climbed down the ladder and jumped off the clouds with precision, all the while collecting and depositing the eggs. Harry was quite proud of himself. She had reached the final ladder, beyond which she had to walk on the red brick wall.
Harry was tensed, it was crucial to make it at first go, he made her walk down but suddenly he pressed the wrong arrow and Sasha went tumbling down the screen.
“Sasha!” He started crying, leaving the controller aside.
DING DONG… YOU HAVE ONE LIFE LEFT!
There was still time, Harry loved his sister, he held onto the controller with renewed enthusiasm.
“I won’t give up!”
BLOP! She appeared on the screen and this time descended successfully.
YOU HAVE REACHED THE FINAL LEVEL!
Harry jumped with joy!
“No! Don’t celebrate too soon.” She warned, “Now you have to be really slow and make me walk carefully over the wall onto the plank, so that I walk straight into the giant’s eye. The planks shall move, be careful, we have no life left.”
Harry was a soldier ready to die. He tightened his resolve and steadied his feet, and pressed the forward arrow. Sasha started walking on the red brick wall and jumped gracefully on the final plank.
“Careful!” Shrieked Sasha, resolving to herself never to play the game ever again if she got out of here alive.
“I’m trying my best Sasha, but it’s difficult to keep you steady on a moving plank.”
“I am certain you can do it, don’t lose hope. Remember how we climbed trees and crouched on the branches. You are a pro at it.”
Energised with new-found confidence, Harry started the round. She moved and crouched to balance her weight. Harry’s father had taught him the trick of walking on branches while climbing trees.
“Harry, we are heading into obstructions, slow and steady,”
Harry moved Sasha at a slower pace than before and made her perch before the obstructions and slowly slide past them.
Their joy was short-lived. The final lap was treacherous, the plank swayed like a pendulum. They had to finish this fast.
Suddenly the plank started moving wildly, both Sasha and Harry looked at each other and smiled. They nodded their heads and Sasha ran on the plank and jumped into the giant’s eye.
SWISH SWOOSH BANG!
Harry opened his eyes from under the bed to see Sasha on the floor. He was ecstatic, Sasha couldn’t stop crying. They both hugged each other, not letting the other go.
“Sasha, I have to confess something,”
“Sasha, I wished you would get trapped inside the game last night, I am so sorry.”
Sasha embraced her kid brother, “You were angry yesterday all because of my callous behaviour, it’s not your fault. And, it’s you who got me out, you are a better player than me.”
YOU HAVE WON THE GAME!
Sasha had realised the difference between the real and the virtual world and Harry had decided never to play the video game ever! They prepared supper and laid down the table for their mother; it was indeed the beginning of a new day and ending of the game.
Mary was pleasantly surprised to see her kids playing outside when she arrived. She wondered how fast some wishes come true and smiled. She sat there with them and lazed around. The supper was an enjoyable event with laughter and joy.
“Mommy can we sleep with you tonight,” their imploring eyes were a sight to behold. She couldn’t deny. Together they hopped to her room.
“What’s the thumping noise coming from your room Sasha is your game on?”
“No mommy, I haven’t played at all today, but yes even I can hear the sounds.”
“You guys lie down; I’ll switch it off.”
“No!” They shouted in unison, “we will do it.”
They both tiptoed to the room while Mary changed into her night clothes. They peeped through the crack of the door and slowly opened it.
COME START THE NEW LEVELS
AND GET LOST IN THE EGGKRAFT!
The siblings laughed hard and snapped off the wire from the main terminal. They were done with EGGS!
The moment I saw the prompt, my boys (aged 14 and 9), remarked,” Mom, which game is it? Look at the ladders, probably for changing levels.” Their casual remark stayed with me. So, this one is for my boys and their love for their favourite game ‘Minecraft.’
Hope you all find me too!
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