This is my response to a writing prompt by /u/IFedTheCat on the /r/WritingPrompts subreddit. The writing prompt was:
A horrified non-gamer overhears a conversation between gamers, misunderstands their references to violent killings, and mistakes them as violent psychopaths.
As a gamer myself, I know the lingo and discussions between gamers must sound rather ‘odd’, to say the least, and this flash fiction was designed to take a darker look at those conversations, from the perspective of a non-gamer. Warning: some coarse language.
They didn’t know I was in the next room, my back to the wall, paralyzed with fear. How long had I known these people? Maybe two years, perhaps a bit longer? How long had they been hiding this side from me, how long had they been suppressing their true, sickening, violent forms?
“So, the other night, you should’ve seen this killstreak I was on.”
That’s Charlie’s voice. I guess, out of the four people I once called friends, he was the one I figured would always snap first. I mean, he’s always been slightly unhinged, but now I see it – he’s part of this disgusting, satanic group of blood and murder.
“I got like three headshots in a row,” Charlie continues, bragging about his exploits. “All with my Glock. Like BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, all three of the fuckers come through the door, one after the other. None of ’em saw it coming, it was epic.”
My heart’s in my throat, but my phone is in the other room. Goddamn Apple and its three hour battery life. I should have bought a HTC, because then I’d have it with me, and I could call the cops. I could get out of here before these psychos decide to kill me next. But I can’t. I’m stuck in the bathroom, with no way out.
“You fuckin’ rambos don’t know true skill.”
That’s Johnno. I don’t really know much about him – he’s the newest to our group, and I think I’ve said a few words to him. He’s a gentle giant – at least, that’s what I thought. A towering guy with a charming smile, always calm and relaxed. Not a killer. I swallow thickly, trying to calm my racing heartbeat, but my hands are shaking with adrenaline and fear. I close my eyes, praying this will go away, unable to avoid overhearing their conversation.
“You should be a sniper like me,” Johnno continues, “nothing like the power of that SRR-61 in your hands. Single shot, bullet straight through the chest. Plus, put the suppressor on, they never hear it coming; I’m practically invisible.”
A snort of laughter, and from Jessica, “Invisible? What about the smoke from your little campfire? Got your comfy little spot on the rocks, too afraid to actually get your hands dirty.”
Oh god, not Jessica. To think I actually had a crush on her. That brown hair sweeping down her back, that soft curve of her chest — no, I shake my head and grit my teeth. These people are monsters, monsters in human skin that have been lying to my face ever since I met them. Why the hell did I come over here? Just because Mark wanted me to glance over his physics assignment? Fuck Mark, I should have let him deal with the work on his own.
Now Jessica and Johnno are arguing over…camping. Is this their hideout? Where they go to plan their next attack on innocent people? Yeah, Johnno is defending his ‘spot’, in the ‘rocks’, somewhere near ‘C’ building. Where the fuck is that? Is that on campus? I know there’s an administration building with a letter like that…I thought it was D though. Shit, I have to warn someone, but I’m stuck in the toilet, and if I come out now, they’ll know I’ve been listening all along.
I hear Mark break into the conversation. That bastard led me here, into the lion’s den, surrounded by these cold-blooded killers. I hate him, and I fear him; and I wish I’d never met him in that physics class. I really should have paid more attention to his friends and his life, but I had my own friends, I had my own life. That was my mistake. My mother warned me about this, about coming to the city and meeting these dangerous types. She’d be horrified if she knew where I was now. I’m horrified too.
“Bitch,” Mark laughed, “you don’t know shit. It’s all about the knife, baby. Nothing like that sweet, sweet takedown. Come up right behind them, slit their throat, take their tags.”
There’s no mirror in here, but I can feel the color drain from my face. Guns were one thing, but now he’s talking about killing someone like they’re an animal. My god, what the hell have I got myself into? I want a way out, but there’s nothing I can do. This is it, I’m going to die here, at the hands of these monsters.
A moment of silence, then from Jessica, “Where’s Riley?”
My blood runs cold. Why did it have to be her? Of all the people to deliver my death sentence, why her?
“Bathroom, I think,” Mark says.
Another pause, and from Charlie, “Have you asked him? About joining our clan?”
A clan? Oh fuck no. They want me to become a member? No way in hell will I kill anyone. But a rational part of me knows I might not get out of here alive, and joining their gang could be my way out. I join, I lie through my teeth, call the cops and put these maniacs away for life. I’ve heard everything, I can testify all these ‘killstreaks’ – I heard Johnno talking in the ‘thousands’ of people he’s killed, but that can’t be right. Can it?
“I’ll make him join,” Mark laughs, hard and cruel. I shiver, and offer a prayer to the God I don’t believe in. It’s probably too late now to ask for help or forgiveness, but I’m terrified, and fear makes people crazy.
“Alright,” Charlie says, clapping his hands together. “Are we going again? I want to notch up that final kill on my carbine. Jess, go see where Mark is. Let’s finish this before dinner, yeah?”
The footsteps approaching the bathroom door are my doom. I hold my breath, close my eyes and apologize to my mother. I’m sorry I never listened to you. I’m sorry I found these people, and got myself stuck in this situation.
I’m sorry, and I love you.