Drama Thriller Mystery


16:9 aspect ratio, 1920X1080 resolution.

That was his world.

Enclosed from the outside, it was nothing more than a suffocating cage. Even he himself was aware of that. But he chose not to care. Or rather, he chose what he perceived to be the wiser decision.

‘The outside world—’

His phone beeped with a notification. He glanced at it, the simple message from someone he cannot perceive. The person standing outside his door now, waiting anxiously, with a phone in her hand. He swept it off his table, landing with a soft thud on his mattress.

‘The outside world—can go to shit.’


He didn’t need anyone to tell him that he was being an idiot. But he despised it even more when people tried to convince him he was not. That was how it began with. Soft, encouraging words, echoing from the world beyond his door. As if his entire family was taking turns, doing a roll call at his door. He told them to go back to hell, he wouldn’t fall for it again, he knew they were all just damn idiots trying to preserve their pride as a ‘family’. Words so shallow it rose barely beyond his ankles.

When they started apologizing, he snapped and yelled again. Leave me the hell alone. That’s all he wanted, to submerge himself in that 24-inch screen and never come out again. Inside there was a whole other world. A world of anonymity where there are just as many pleasant acts as there were cruel ones. People rose money for charities, people leeched off other people’s money just as easily. Shameless self-promotion. Cursing. Trolling players on time-limited game events. Morals were no longer needed. At least the people in there don’t pretend.

He had yelled at them, so he supposed that was why he got a yelling back too. His family finally gave up. The threats started coming. He barricaded his door and yelled back. More thumping, more yelling. After a few days, he heard an unfamiliar voice downstairs. The neighbors had come to complain.

Afterwards, the world outside fell into silence. Which was what he had been waiting for all day. But he can’t help but feel it, something gnawing away at him, but he pushed it away just as easily.

He sat on his butt, scrolling through the net, and waiting.

Those who sit somewhere, unmoving, are always waiting for something. Someone. He thought, if someone came by and saved him, would he leave this hole he had dug for himself? He had been sitting inside for so long, he wondered if there was still any reason for him to leave.

A year passed. He saw his sister’s graduation photo on Facebook. He knew. His mother had messaged him the day before, asking if he would come. For a scary second, he contemplated saying yes.

Yes. And he was certain his father would beat him to death. He hadn’t exercised in a long while. He wasn’t sure if he could still run. Would they forgive him? He lay down on his mattress, and in a dream, he saw how it would play out.

His father, his mother, his sister, him, loaded into the same car, driving to her sister’s convocation ceremony. The silence bearing heavily in the air. Then his father would begin to lapse into a rant. ‘I spend all my time raising you, and this is what I get?!’

‘Stop it,’ his mom would protest.

‘What the hell do you know? All this time, you stay shut up inside that damn room, and now you come out and expect us to forgive you? Should I give you a reward, huh? You’re just so determined to screw up your life—and screw up ours as well, you know?!’

‘Dad, it’s alright--’ his sister began, but she was silenced with a glare.

‘You’re a disappointment,’ his father would continue. ‘When will you finally get your lazy ass out of your room, huh? I guess I’ll never get an answer to that, will I? Because you never, ever listen!’

‘Yeah, I know.’

Veins popped in his head. ‘What did you say?’

‘Yeah, I know all about that. All about your hard work and shit. At least if you came home more and tried to talk to us, maybe I wouldn’t have turned out like this. Just maybe.’

‘Son, your father’s just trying to support us all,’ his mother, her face kept at a steely calm. ‘You can’t blame him.’

‘I’m your damn son! Couldn’t you guys at least be there or me when I was covered in bruises from all the fighting?! When they sent a box of rotten fish to our home doorstep? I have a right to put the blame you all, you uncaring bastards.

‘Stop it! Stop it, okay! This is my convocation ceremony, okay?’

‘Why the hell do I care? You never cared about me anyway, you selfish bitch. I heard you talking on the phone that night!’ His sister’s face distorted in fear. ‘So fine. You’re ashamed of me too, aren’t you? They’ll pick on you too, if they know we’re related?!’

‘Shut up! You’re all making this so damn awkward!’ his sister yelled.

‘Awkward?’ his father retorted. ‘Then when will I finally have a chance to knock reason into your failure of a brother?! When we all grow old and gnarly?’

‘Screw off,’ the boy, the boy whose world was enclosed within his 24-inch screen, uttered his final words to the outside.

‘I hate all of you.’


A painfully realistic dream. A what-if scenario.

But in the morning, when his mom slipped him his breakfast underneath the door, he reached out to it with trembling hands, as if it had really happened.

That day, again, was spent in his stationary room. He was being left behind, he soon realized. His sister had graduated from university and was on her way to become a useful member of society, a good law-abiding citizen. And he was still here.


‘Screw off,’ he typed again, to another random user in the game that probably didn’t deserve it.

‘Why should I screw off, haha.’

‘You’re just pretending to be a girl, aren’t you?’ he wrote. But for some reason, he went on. ‘Can’t get a girl in real life with your sorry ass? And what’s with that username? Noobgamergurl69? Dumb. Stop playing the game then, self-proclaimed noob, and get back to your life. Oh, sorry, you don’t have a life, do you? Sitting in your mother’s basement playing games like a social recluse, too scared to go out because nobody wants to see your ugly face, not even your damn family. Even your family must hate you, lol. How many arguments have you gotten into with them so far? So you come here hoping to seduce people with that avatar skin you bought? Too bad, nobody wants you. Not in game, not in real life. Nobody’s gonna come and save you. LOSER.’

He didn’t feel regret as he hit send. Or he convinced himself he didn’t feel regret.

‘Bro, what happened to you, haha,’ came the reply. And then the player logged out.

He laughed. Hahaha. He made some sorry ass so pissed he just logged out. Hahaha. So funny.

Thump. He hit the table so hard everything perched upon it trembled. A flare of pain traveled through his fist. When he lifted it, his knuckles were all red.

He rubbed it as he headed to the window, pulling back the curtains to let in some light. Down in the porch, there was activity. The car doors was open, his sister and father were stuffing bags upon bags into the trunk. A trip. He checked his phone.

There was a message. We’re going on a trip.

It wasn’t an invitation. Just a statement. Nor was it a reminder, like the many reminders his mom used to send him in the earlier days. He smirked. Of course they don’t want him along. Of course.

He collapsed onto his bed, and for the first time in his short life, he contemplated if there was a reason for him to live.

He must’ve fallen asleep, because when he came to, an annoying sound was buzzing in his ears. Riiing, riiiing, riiiiing. Riiiiiiiiiiiiing.

Amidst a throbbing headache and a hazy version, he snatched his phone from the bedside, snarling a few curses as he saw the unknown number. ‘What the hell do you want?’ He answered the call.

‘What the hell do you want? If it isn’t anything good you better—’

‘Hello? Is this XXX? The family member of XXXXX XXX?’

‘Y—Yes. I’m their son.’

He listened to the unfamiliar voice, rambling along a bunch of formalities, before, as if the person sensed his annoyance, he finally got to the point.

‘…Excuse me?’

‘I’m sorry to inform you of this, but your family—your family is—’

He hung up the call. The phone slipped from his hand.


It was about a week after the funeral. He knew of the funeral, but he didn’t attend. His phone rang so much—the persistent calls of relatives demanding to know where their only surviving son was—so he barricaded his door again, and almost contemplated throwing his phone out the window, but the phone cost too much to destroy.

He knew his days won’t be long. He checked his parents’ bank accounts. There wasn’t much inside. Not enough to sustain him for long.


What am I waiting for?

He had a feeling that whatever he was waiting, it would no longer come.

He logged into his game, and standing motionless in front of him, was that player with the sexy avatar from a week ago. AFK-ing. He approached the player, requested to chat.

‘Oh, it’s you again. What do you want now?’

The player, male or female, seemed to have gotten over the grudge surprisingly quickly.

‘Let’s team up. I’m higher level than you, so I can carry.’


Carrying for someone else? He almost laughed at his sudden burst of kindness. He must’ve really given up a lot if he had sunk to that level. The duo marched into the nearby dungeon without much discussion.

By the end of the in-game day, they had more-or-less cleared out the dungeon.

‘What happened to that foul mouth of yours, haha,’ she asked afterwards. ‘You had a bad day?’

‘I don’t know. I might’ve just teamed out with you so I can ogle at your sexy outfit.’

Poof. The avatar reappeared, dressed more decently in an aviator jacket, helmet and goggles, the full set. ‘There. Ogle at me all you want.’


‘Pfft. Why did you want to help me today, though?’

‘I dunno. Maybe I had a suicide scheduled tomorrow and I wanted to turn myself around in my last few moments.’

The moment he said it, he thought, just for a brief moment, that it might not have been an exaggeration.

‘Haha. Very funny, attention seeker.’

Attention seeker. He didn’t exactly like being signed off like that. His fingers froze upon the keyboard. He was a terrible person. He couldn’t give two shits about dissing people on the Internet. And yet the moment he was called an attention seeker, he felt personally insulted.

‘You insulted? Pfft, you’re a softie. If you really want to commit suicide, please get help first, okay?’

She added a smiley face emoji at the end of it.

‘Nobody’s gonna help me. My entire family just effing died.’



‘Then save yourself.’

He felt even more insulted than he had been before. ‘Save myself. Yeah, sure, tell me how it’s all so easy and all that. Haha. LOL.’

‘I dunno. If nobody’s around to save you, then you’ve just gotta save yourself.’ Another smiley face. ‘You don’t wanna just sit around waiting to die, right? Or waiting for someone to miraculously come and make you feel better. If your entire family just died, I’m sorry, but you have to try and live independently, right?’


‘Oh, I have to go now, bye.’

The mysterious player, male or female, logged out.

So that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Locked inside a room, restrained to the 24-inch screen, the boy, for the first time in his life, recognized the nature of the chains that bound him.

The boy, who’s sat in his room for so long, waiting for someone to save him, looked out at the brilliant sky of the outside world.

And broke free of his chains.

July 09, 2020 13:44

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