A few minutes later, Tom was still blabbing. ”You can just tell us its a love letter, ” Lorena said, in the midst of mockery. ”Mom, will you tell her to keep quiet? ” Tom twitched in anger.

”Is the letter concerning the Penpal site? ” Mom asked, ignoring the quarrel that was about to start.

”Ummm, ” Tom peered at his mother, checking if she would buy that idea, which she had just raised as a question. ”Yeah… kinda… a bit, ” Tom carefully stammered, wondering if his mother would buy it.

”But you need our approval in order to join, ” Dad said, his brow creased in concern. ”You know how dangerous it is these days, communicating with someone you don really know, and we don approve. ”

”Sorry dad, I didn want to bother you guys about it. ” Tom apologized, scuttling his fork on the plate full of pancakes. They were already done with breakfast, except Tom, who had already lost every ounce of his appetite.

”So, do you know anyone in Alsace? I mean, thats where the letter was postmarked from, right? ” Mom asked.

Toms stomach growled a little, ”Yeah, mom. ”

”But you don know anyone in Alsace, ” Dad said, rubbing his chin. He tried to remember if there was any family connection with Alsace, but he didn find any. ”Theres no relative in Alsace. ”

Tom felt like the ground should open up and gubble him.

”What about Aunt Lisa? ”Lorena said, with a thin voice, that she was half in the convo. ”She used to live in Alsace. ” Mom had a long time friend, Lisa, who lived in Alsace during one of her travels. Mom wasn able to contact her again after such a long distance. They barely remember each other.

”Aunt Lisa, yeah!, she used to live in Alsace! ” Mom exclaimed as soon as she remembered.

”Its been a long time. I used to barely know her, ” Dad shrugged. ”Did she have someone to penpal to Tom? Perhaps he or she sent the letter. ”

”Weird, why would she do that when she barely knows Tom? ” Mom turned to Tom. ”Get our approval before tagging any penpal friends on your penpal site, okay? ”

”Ok, mom. ” Tom nodded cheerfully. He was happy that they were actually buying the penpal stuff, but really, Tom did have a penpal site. He wondered why he hadn thought of that earlier, Stupid me.

He forced the rest of the pancakes down, anxiously waiting for the conversation to end. For several moments, the only sounds were the soft clanks of silverware against plates and glasses of cups being arranged on the table.

Relief washed through Tom when he stood to take his dishes to the sink. His dad was busy blabbing about their new neighbor with his mum.

Tom was about to go to his room when his eyes met with Lorenas. ”Freak, ” she murmured silently, and returned back to her phone. Tom ignored her and scuttled up the stairs.

~

Late that night, after watching the Nickelodeon series—TMNT, where the ninja turtles were shot out to space in order to fight kraangs and move from one dimension to another. Tom lay on his bed, alone, reading the letter again. Night had fallen hours earlier, and the darkness seemed to creep through the window, devouring the faint light coming from his small bedside lampstand. Everything lay in shadow, and Toms mind ran wild imagining all the dreadful things that could creep up on a child at night.

He winced, hating the fact that he was already behaving like a kid, which his sister, Lorena, would always tease about.

His thoughts returned to the letter, grasping the terrifying words;

Be careful, extremely dangerous events are coming your way once you choose to partake.

Out of resentment, Tom vexed inwardly, ”The person is not even encouraging him to even join the wild goose chase with those words he or she used. Who would want to put him or herself in danger anyway? ”

”Whatever, ” Tom exhaled. The letter was already giving him the goosebumps. He grabbed his PS VITAR—a gaming system just like a mobile but with a stronger CPU core than a normal mobile.

It was gifted to him on his fourteenth birthday by his dad, though his mom never allowed it. They argued seriously about giving that to him. Mom has always set standards for her children, but she was missing the fun part of it, which dad was trying to create. At least, that was what Tom thought.

The light from the screen lit up in his face—DEX—was a sci-fi game which Tom loved to play since hes a sci-fi freak. Dex was an original action game set in a cyberpunk world and created by Dreadlocks, an independent Czech studio. Award-winning game in February 2017. Its a role-playing game (RPG), set in Harbor Prime, where luxurious districts stand in contrast to the filth the poor live in. The player has to face a mysterious AI that has broken loose and wishes to make irreversible changes.

He was a damn good gamer. There were four modules that needed to be destroyed, and he had already taken down three. He had to take on main missions and also side missions in order to gain health. ammo. which will help him last a long time in the game.

He was already on his select options, where he had to pick on some things, after which hed head out to complete the awaiting mission that he had long so much to complete.

After the selection, Tom clicked START as he waited for the game to load. He lay still staring at the screen and wishing himself good luck when hell embark on the game. Finally, it was about to start; the storyline had already begun.

An unsuspecting woman who reluctantly discovers she has the ability to astrally project herself into the AI rea—.

A noise from the other side of the room cut through the storyline that he was hearing. Tom leaned on his elbow to look, a quick shiver running down his spine. It sounded like the charring noise of a radio used by the military when they want to communicate—and it had only lasted a second or two before stopping.

What the hell is going on…

He stared at the dark shadow that arrowed across the floor between his dresser and the closet. He reached for his flashlight, turning on the light and pointing it at the spot, but froze when he heard the noise again—the charring noise of a radio, but this time followed by a series of squeaks trying to make out a voice. It was trying to say something.

Immediately, a screeching noise, sounding like a disturbed signal from a radio, came into his room.

Zchrrrr

Tom held his ears and drew back. The noise was almost deafening. He pulled his legs into his body with both arms, holding himself in a ball, squeezing. What was that weird sound?

He closed his eyes, knowing that he was acting like the biggest baby on the planet but not caring. He doesn even care what Lorena would say, seeing him in that state. Every kids nightmare had just come true for him.

Something… was in the corner of his room. Probably something hideous, ready to spring at him as soon as he got the nerve to open his eyes.

He waited, scared to open his eyes. Straining his ear, he heard nothing. A minute went by, then two. He hoped an ounce of courage would magically well up inside him from somewhere. And there was such luck that he opened his eyes, though he was completely creeped out.

A sudden image, a blue screen, popped up in front of him immediately. A breaking voice was trying to say something to him. It sounded like a mechanical sound, just like a robot. Writings began to appear on the blue screen, much like commands in a machine program.

Tom didn wait for the words or whatever it was to finish, jumping off the bed and sprinting for the door, ripping it open even as he heard the sound from the blue screen still glitching and floating in mid air across his room. He bolted out of his room and quickly closed the door.

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