Royally Lonely

“Sounds like everyone loves this guy,” Tyler chuckled to himself scrolling the messages.

“He’s back. Get ready!”, “I’ve been waiting!”, “I can’t believe it’s time!”

He returned his phone to the nightstand and rolled over in bed. After a few moments, he felt pressure on his bladder. “Damnit,” he grumbled. He threw the blanket off and padded to the restroom in the dark.

After washing his hands, he turned off the bathroom light, returned to his dark bedroom, but stopped at the doorway. A small, dim, red light illuminated a pale figure sitting on his computer chair. The crimson glow came from the outline of a crown on the boy’s pallid forehead. The stranger didn’t appear to be older than 10 or 11, he was a young boy dressed in all black with a prominent widow’s peak that almost touched the red crown.

Tyler gasped. He recognized the boy as something that looked like a vampire, and someone that didn’t belong in his home; he ran to the kitchen. The mid-20s man scrambled, barefoot in boxers, to the knife drawer. Instead of wasting time turning the light on, he used the light post outside to help him find a weapon. After a second he pulled out a medium-sized bread knife. He chose it over the bigger, sharper butcher knife because unlike that one, he knew the bread knife was made from silver. He spun around wildly expecting the young vampire to be right behind him.

Instead, the boy was only just stepping out of the bedroom. His red glow appeared brighter and more sinister in the darkened, tight hall. The boy walked toward Tyler’s kitchen at a leisurely pace.

“Wanna play?” The boy asked. He stopped walking once he reached the threshold of Tyler’s kitchen where carpet changed to tile.

“STAY BACK!” Tyler yelled and waved the bread knife around. The boy looked down at his unmoving feet, then up at Tyler again; he tilted his head.

“I already am. Wanna play?” he asked again. Tyler stopped swinging the knife and relaxed his arm. He lowered the weapon, but not by much; the boy didn’t seem to be threatening him but he still looked dangerous.

“Who are you?” Tyler asked.

“Oren,” Oren replied.

“How’d you get in my apartment?”

“Uh..,” Oren made a quick gesture at the air next to him. Somehow a small, round section of the empty space became darker. Oren stuck his hand into the darker section and it disappeared; then, Tyler felt something grab his hand. Before he could yell in surprise, Oren pulled his hand out of the darkness again. This time he was holding the silver bread knife. “Like that,” he said. Then, Oren grabbed the blade and stuck his hand into the hole again.

Tyler jumped when the handle popped out of a hole in front of him. He accepted it with the realization that this kid could have killed him a dozen times already if he wanted to. Maybe he really did want to play.

“Play what?” Tyler asked. Oren smiled.

“A game I made. The rest of the building plays but you’re new. So, I had to ask you before we play.”

“Oh!” Tyler abandoned the knife completely. He remembered everyone else’s messages. His new neighbors seemed excited and it sounded like they’d done it before; he reasoned it was safe to agree. “Yeah, I’ll play.” He was about to ask how but Oren spoke up first.

“Thanks!” Oren grinned. He clapped his hands while the crown on his forehead grew brighter and brighter. After a few moments it dimmed again, but somehow the kitchen was still filled with light. Tyler glanced out the window and saw a bright purple sky.

“Did you do that? Why is the sky purple?” he asked Oren. The pale boy nodded. Now that there was more light, Tyler noticed Oren’s light grey eyes.

“It’s easier to just move the building,” Oren said.

“To where?”

“To my game! It’s called the AlterNet, it’s on a different Earth.”

“You teleported the whole 15-story apartment building to a different Earth!???” Tyler asked. He was starting to wonder if it was a dream. Oren giggled.

“Yeah, but it’s not a big deal,” he said. “You should see what my mom can do.”

“100-story buildings?” Tyler asked sarcastically. He decided it would be easier on his mind to accept it as a dream and play along. Oren shook his head.

“I moved your building to a different Earth, right? So, automatically that means there are multiple Earths, right?” Tyler chuckled and shrugged; anything Oren said wasn’t real.

“Sure,” he said.

“What I did with your building, my mom can do with Earths.”

“Neat!” Tyler smiled. “She sounds strong. Well, go get your friends so I can learn how to play the game,” Tyler tried moving the dream along; Oren’s gaze fell to the ground.

“My mom says I can’t have friends,” he said.

“What? No way, what about everyone else in the building?” Oren shrugged.

“I can have fun with strangers that happen to be having fun on my server.”

“But, that’s dumb! You can have friends, what’s she gonna do?”

Oren looked up from the floor to meet Tyler’s eyes; his expression was serious and stern.

“Kill them,” he said.

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