A game made the rounds on the platforms, and if one had the hard-earned digital cash if their social credit permitted, one could purchase the most addictive game on the market. Marco Sanchez was instantly hooked when the name “Reptilian Reflex” graced across his hungry eyes with its font of broken up letters that oozed out the bottom. The game was complex, engaging and went on until the sun burnt out.
One night, he and his friend immersed themselves in the ever-eternal realms of “Reptilian Reflex,” playing as a green-scaled humanoid scouring the ruins of a dead civilization and collecting the souls of those crushed in his merciless hands as he searched day and night for the Cosmic Keys of Creation. Sanchez was close. The final boss was complicating every step and he was forced to find new ways to outsmart his opponent. The battle was fought with the last Earthman alive, who became horribly disfigured and mutated from constant war, plague, indoctrination and radiation poisoning. His friend, Troy Hill, excused himself momentarily after binging on twelve-ounce cans of soda during extended gameplay.
Sanchez tipped his head in a mocking gesture of acknowledgement and resumed playing, his hands chafing after months of trials and tribulations with the greatest game developed by questionable interests. He was starting to make headway. The boss, in his last-ditch effort to save his kind, began hollering in pain to the tune of relentless bloodletting. After several volleys of multiple weapons collected in the course of the game, he began to show signs of succumbing. Sanchez was glued to the screen, his eyes bulging out manically to take in every available bit of visual information as he pounded and plundered the last excuse for a bastardized hominid. The boss caved, as did its native civilization long ago, followed by screams of torment that filled the room with blood-curdling horror before dying in a blaze of crimson glory. A spirit wafted up and curled into an eerie cloud, and the creature absorbed it, capturing its soul, entrapping it forever to tap its energy for years to come.
Sanchez balked in amazement. After months of toil through neighborhood riots, robberies, murders and UBI stipends, he had won! The carcass of the final boss, whose defeat was called The Ultimate Extinction Event, vomited up a skeleton key that spun into an arc and tracked by the perspective camera. The key was caught one-handed by the game’s cold-blooded protagonist.
The Cosmic Key of Creation was his.
Exuberant over the temporary solace of victory, Sanchez shouted out, “Hey, Troy! I just beat the final boss! I beat the whooole game! Humanity’s screwed tighter than a lightbulb.” Hill shouted through the door of the stall, demanding his friend wait for the final revelation until he came out. Sanchez twitched his shoulders insouciantly and continued without his partner to witness.
The character sprinted towards a dark vestibule with a glowing yellow slot in its center and entered the key. The chamber lit up in stages like the cabin in a spaceship and the console with the key in it dropped beneath the ground. After a pause filled with a shaky cam to indicate a mild earthquake, what looked like a stone tomb ground up to the surface where the console once stood. Wedged in its center was an incubation vat. The hatch of the vat opened; inside were the last fertilized eggs still in the process of ovulation. The reptilian slinged out an axe and whacked it, smashing the eggs and sperm until every vial was dashed to bits, sealing human extinction forever. A green diaphanous mist lifted from the remains; Sanchez pressed down a button and flipped the D-pad, snatching the last souls of a dead Earth. He was now replete with humanity’s energy. The shaking intensified and bits of stone detritus crumbled down like sleet. At the bottom of the screen, an orthographic display of words scrolled horizontally with the message of triumph:
Congratulations! You have finally stamped out the enemy, the Vile One’s wretched image now vanquished from His own Creation! With the last soul taken, the world falls right in the palm of your hands. You are now the master of reality, to crush, reform and manipulate as you see fit. Long live the tyrant incarnate, destined to usher in a new world order of chaos, power and arbitration between life and death. Hail, our new leader of Earth-emeritus!
“Ha! Ha! See that, Troy?” Sanchez barked. “I’m the tyrant incarr––whatever he said––yeah!”
Hill barked an expletive muffled in a short echo from within the lavatory.
Now you're enthroned as a god of your own De-creation! The game boasted.
A second later, the image on screen shook in the manner when Sanchez swallowed the souls of the fertilized eggs, except it continued until the edges of the flatscreen began to quiver. Sanchez jolted up from his typical slouch, his eyes wider than the Earth he lazed upon, and recently destroyed within the game. Something violently pulled at him as if he was flung into an event horizon; his form stretched and spaghettified as the black hole ripped him asunder, though the feeling was closer to a thousand razor blades slicing through him at once. He screamed the final scream of the boss he victoried over minutes earlier.
The door pounded with Hill shouting, “Marco, what the hell’s going on! Now you know how I feel, idiot!”
No response came as Sanchez began choking, the ferrous taste welling up in his throat. He was gargling his own ichor as he stared off into a haze of inchoate shapes and striations of light. Nothing made sense, but he still drowned, drowned in his sloth, in his apathy, in his arrogance, the narrative he browbeat others with who didn’t share his ideological slant, his own misery he waded through as his mother ravished lover after lover, trapped in the endless nightmare of ubiquitous surveillance, only to culminate in the horror unleashed on his measly soul that drained from his now lifeless corpse.
The lavatory door swung open and slammed against the wall, and out came Hill furious at Sanchez finishing the game without his presence. Ready to give a piece of his mind, he stopped short of the flatscreen. On the floor, before the image of a reptilian figure in a pose of victory with a balled fist shoved up in the air, lied what remained of Sanchez. Blood scrawled across every corner of the room and pooled across the worn-out carpet as if doused by an unholy libation. His intestines spilled out of his mangled effigy and strewn all over the floor, the scene of a slaughterhouse right after culling.
Hall reared back and slumped against the wall, his body limp, and sickened with disbelief. Screams echoed through the rotting neighborhood.
Another day, another soul, the Beast from Beyond continued to feed. Its true location was never known, but its essence grazed on the influx of those suckered into its bottomless well of temptation. Sanchez was just another number, entrapped in the voracious maw that empowered the creature who would grow until the Earth was consumed by its ghastly appetite, soon to replace the dying remnants of the human race and all other creatures great and small. The parallels to ‘Reptilian Reflex’ were more than apparent. The game was a prophetic message, consuming a path into another world to be conquered, a place growing radically different with every tick of the clock, slowly modeling itself into the creature's hideous image.
Tacitly, the creature thanked the elitist fools who so ardently handed over their world, their own demise culminating through years of sin whose collective souls were the Cosmic Keys of Creation.