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1 THE GAME
The blue light of the computer screen was flickering on Charlie’s and Peter’s faces, making them look like astronauts lit by the cosmos.
“Seriously. Go for it.”
“This is stupid.”
“Don’t you want to meet God?”
There was a knock on the door. Charlie’s father.
Peter rushed to snub out the joint. He blew a tuft of smoke out the window.
“Tell him to go away,” Peter said.
“You’re the idiot who brought pot.”
“Yeah, well, you’ll go down, too, if he catches me.”
“Tell him you’re masturbating. That always gets my dad to leave.”
“You’re insane. You know that?”
In a way, it was true. Peter was smart, handsome, charming, and had been thrown out of the most expensive private school in town, meaning he was both rich and reckless. But there was something more. A dangerousness was just below the surface. Almost a nihilism, and more than the usual teenage morbid curiosities. It was what drew Charlie to him, but enough of the honor student was still left in Charlie to listen to that voice in the back of his head saying, Get into trouble, sure, but do you really want to go there? Charlie’s father hated Peter and had no idea Peter was here now.
“Charlie, come on, I want to talk to you.”
“Not now, Dad.”
“Come on. Open up.” He tried the doorknob.
“Dad, we can talk later. Okay?”
“I got a call from the school.”
“Later. I promise. I’m busy.”
Charlie could imagine his dad weighing his next moves. The shadow shifted under the door.
“Fine. Tonight, okay? Not tomorrow. Tonight.”
“Okay. I promise.”
Charlie held his breath and watched the shadow under the door. It hesitated, then moved away.
Charlie let out a breath. He gave Peter a harsh look and said, glancing at the half-smoked joint, “Throw that thing away.”
“Um, nope.” Peter tucked it into his shirt pocket.
They looked back at the computer screen.
The same prompt was there, flashing, alone on the black screen.
“Say something,” Peter barked.
Charlie shook his head. Finally, he typed:
No response. The cursor just blinked.
They gave it a while. Nothing.
Peter said, “Try something else.”
Who is this?
The cursor blinked a few times, then the letters tapped out:
This is God.
Peter laughed. “This is awesome.”
“You can ask it anything. Watch.”
Peter grabbed the keyboard.
Are you a man or a woman?
After a moment, it said:
I am what I am.
Copyright © 2019 by Danny Tobey