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<<set $background to false>>
Tera is probably right, so I block the Twitter account. I go about my days in a poluted haze, unable to focus on anything but the messages that might have been from Tyler. I have managed to avoid Twitter, unable to bring myself to face the online world again. But one day, I feel an odd pull toward my computer, that compells me to log in, to which I willingly [[oblige.]]Despite having blocked the Twitter account from before, there are several notifications from it. I've been tagged in several posts while I've been offline. All of them saying <b>"PLAY ME"</b> with a link attached to it. I'm smart enough to know not to click on links from strange accounts, but for some reason, my hand hovers over my mouse, and I begin to move the cursor towards the link. Before I can tell my brain to stop, I click the [[link.]]Hello. It's you. We've been waiting for you.
Would you like to play a game?
[[no]]Are you sure?
[[no]] We are sorry. This is not an option. Please try again.
Would you like to play a game?
[[no]]What is your name? <em>(There is no need to capitalize the first letter.)</em>
<<set $answer to ''>>\
<<textbox '$answer' '' autofocus>>
<<set $answer to $answer.trim().toLowerCase().replace(/\s\s+/g, ' ')>>
/% trim() removes leading and trailing whitespace, toLowerCase() convert to lower case, replace turns multiple spaces between words into single spaces. you may want to omit some or all of these methods. %/
<<if $answer is 'bailey'>>
Your honesty has been noted.\
<<run $('#textbox-answer').attr('readonly', 'true');>>
/% prevent the textbox from being edited any further %/
This is incorrect. Please try again.\
In this game, we will tell a story. A story that I'm sure you're familiar with, Bailey. You've given us your name, and now you must [[play.]]I get the sudden urge to want to click out of this "game", but my hand remains on the mouse, and I am once again, compelled to continue playing. Giving my name was the only option. Was this a [[mistake?]]You've lost something important, but this thing that you've lost eludes you.
What would you like to do?
[[Try to remember.]]
[[Give up on remembering.]]As you attempt to remember what you've lost, you begin to recall memories from long ago. You are with a young boy, playing on the swingsets. Other kids surround you. He is new, and the others smell his newness. They do not like it, and want to beat it out of him.
What did you do?
[[Run]]<b>HE</b> tells us that this is not an option. We are sorry. You must play by his [[rules.]]
You are scrappy and wild. Flailing lanky limbs against kids who are bigger and stronger than you. It is one against many.
[[kick one of them in the shin]]
[[bite one of their hands]]<b>HE</b> says that this is not an option. You may not run, for it is not what happened. <b>HE</b> tells us that he knows the story. <b>HE</b> says you know the story too. Did you run? <b>HE</b> says you must tell the story correct. Tell it as if your life depends on it. As if <em>Tyler's</em> life depends on [[it.]]He? Who is He? I don't want to play this game anymore.
But as soon as that thought crosses my mind, a sharp pain sears into my head, creating pressure in the spot directly above my eye.
Well...looks like I have to [[keep playing.]]So, Bailey. What would you like to do?
[[Try to remember.]] Tyler? Who is this fucking "he", and what does this have to do with Tyler. Why does it know about when Tyler and I were kids. I guess I'll have to play this <em>game</em> how it wants me to. Hopefully it will be over soon. I remember this moment well, the moment I first met Tyler. Those bullies were going to beat the shit out of him.
So I move my mouse over, and click the correct answer.
[[Defend]] One of the bullies attempts to lumber towards you, but you swing your foot back, and bring it forward full force, meeting the shin of your attacker. He screams in agony, and it catches the attention of the others. As another reaches out at you, you [[bite one of their hands]] Your teeth meet the fleshy part of his thumb, and you bite down until you can feel the metallic taste of blood hit your tongue.
You are on your own, with kids who are bigger and stronger than you, until finally, your defendee joins in. You are smiling and laughing together. Knocked knees and pointy elbows meeting the flesh of your attackers.
The bullies give up, and the two of you are left bloody and panting, but still smiling.
"Thanks for your help," the boy says, wiping his nose on his sleeve. "What's your name?"
You tell him your name is [[Bailey]]High school marked a different moment in your friendship with [[Tyler]]
<<if $background is true>>Tyler grew jealous and angry over your ability to grab attention. You did it without even [[trying.]]
<<elseif $background is false>>It's hard to think about your past with Tyler. <</if>><<set $background to true>>
I'm immediately hit with a bout of guilt at the mention of high school. A lot of things changed for both of us at that point. I didn't really have any friends, other than Tyler, but people tended to be nice to me. I was asked out a couple of times by guys who were in my AP classes. It always made Tyler so mad.
"You're so full of yourself, aren't you [[Bailey]]?" He'd said that to me, when I'd told him about liking one of the guys that had asked me out. Tyler loved you. Loved you more than anything in the world, but you couldnt reciprocate that love, not the love he wanted from you.
He thought what the two of you had was special. He watched you reject guy after guy, and he assumed you did this, because you thought it was special [[too.]]I remember his confession. I remember how it all went down.
One day we were both walking home from school, when he just sort of sprung it on me.
"I love you Bailey," he said. Turning and looking at me expectantly.
"Yeah, I love you too Tyler," I'd said, not understanding what he meant.
"No...I mean...I love you. Like not just as friends."
I felt my stomach drop. I had never wanted this to happen with me and Tyler. Not only did I not feel the same, but I didn't want something like this to come between our friendship, so I tried to handle it as gently as I could.
"Oh, Tyler. That's so sweet. And you know that no matter what, I'll always care about you. But, I just don't feel the same. We'll always be friends, but I just don't feel that way." I saw his face fall, and the conversation took a turn for the [[worse.]]
"Why the hell are you always rejecting all the other guys then?" he spat. I could see a small hint of tears beginning to pool in the corners of his eyes.
"I'm really not interested in that sort of relationship at all to tell you the truth. Honestly Tyler, I didn't do this to hurt you. I didn't know."
Tyler didn't stick around to finish our conversation. He stormed off, and didn't turn back. I called out to him. Then I tried to message him later. But he never [[responded.]]After receiving your rejection, Tyler was distraught. He needed solace. Then he found us. <b>HE</b> senses others pain, and sends us to those who stink of it. We provide a way [[out.]]He found us one night online. In his mind, it was by chance. But it was never mere chance that led Tyler to us...or us to Tyler. We could smell him. His aloneness. We are hungry, and <b>HE</b> is <em>always</em> hungry. We let Tyler play a game. A guessing game about aloneness. A story game about aloneness. Sort of like [[this one.]]And then we took him. He did not know what he was playing, because we aren't allowed to tell. When he was pulled into our game, he wanted out. They always want out. We want out. But that man. The <b>HE</b> won't let us go, unless we make an exchange. We can pick anyone. But <b>HE</b> says it doesn't count unless we love them. Why love? We do not know. It must be an even exchange. The game must be played fairly.
And now, Bailey, you sit in your room alone now, because alone is all you'll ever be.
So here you are. Playing our game. A fair game. A game where there is only one winner, and the winner is never you.