My corner store lighter drops to the blackened heath where thousands of charred worms lay. I pick it up and flick it until my censer lights and I close my eyes as the fumes fill me with a better world.
Baas looks up from his twelve hammers, trying to assess a body count from the different colors of hair sticking to the claws. “You know that kills you, right?”
your friend played this game. he helped you beat the parts you couldn’t beat. but he’s gone now. you’re at his house as the rain beats down and the living room smells like wet wood and carpet uncleaned since you were kids. Dim light cuts the room in half, the rest shadow from which you deliver his old CDs and cartridges into a cardboard box because his parents said do whatever with his stuff, wouldn’t understand what they were looking at, what it means to a kid. Xrafstar Killers for the PSP, the scratched, smeared disc so light in your hands like it couldn’t possibly contain that deep, dark, beautiful world you stumbled through, grabbing the console back, trying to impress him, plastic sticky from shared sweat.
you break the disc in the kitchen and pick up the biggest shard. you’re running out of things to believe in. you cut yourself in the lines you learned before that post was deleted for violating the community code of conduct. this world is the false one. the dream is real. the post warned that every captive world has become hell in the absence of the hearts of children. that tyrants have taken control. that you should think twice about entering a place where death is torture’s blink. where you can’t shut it off if it becomes too much, a razor-lined wheel of reincarnation. it doesn’t matter. you’ll see him again, in whatever form you fit inside, in the world of Xrafstar Killers. To never be alone.