I'm finally back with another CP in my hands. This is the longest one I've written so far, but I hope that's not a problem. Without further ado, here it is.
A Great Time
Lies, truth. Two words that couldn’t exist without each other. Without lies there would be no truth and vice versa. For plenty of centuries, people have tried to find a way to see if people are lying or not. Many have tried, but none have actually succeeded. Who knew it would have been as easy as just looking at the person.
My name is Jason. I might seem normal, but I’m not. I’m suffering from a special condition. Just by looking at a person, I can tell if that same man is lying or not. What is my secret, you ask. I don’t even know myself. Many doctors have researched me, but none of them were sure about what was wrong with me. Some explained it with autism, others were talking about other diseases of which I can’t even pronounce the name, but in the end, it’s a mystery to everyone.
In exchange for this though, I have no feeling of morality myself when it comes to lying. To clarify with an example, I could tell everyone that my grandfather had died yesterday, while he’s still alive, without even knowing if it’s true what I said or not. Because of this, I don’t speak very often, afraid that what I say might be a lie. When I hear other people lie, my hands reach to my ears to cover them. This to prevent me from spreading that falsehood as if it were the truth.
Understanding that I don’t have a lot of friends in my current state, isn’t a miracle either. The ones I do have though, often ignore my presence. Hobbies? How about participating in a sports team? Nah, that would require me to communicate with other people. Watching TV? That too won’t be an option. Let’s assume I’m watching an episode of some crime series. I would know who’s fooling everybody with well-constructed lies at the instant said person opened his mouth. It kills the experience for me. You might say there is not much reason for me to live anymore. To that I would respond: “Exactly!” with a big exclamation point. Luckily there is still one thing that keeps me going…
Video games. It might sound silly, but just picture how it would be when your “friends” ignore your existence, you have no hobbies in the slightest and even your own family takes a safe distance from you as if you have some kind of contagious disease. It’s understandable how I sometimes reach towards an imaginary world, where all my real life problems don’t exist.
To me, it’s gameplay that matters. I don’t really care for the story, because my so-called “gift” works just as well with text and voice acting as it does when I look at the person. A recent discovery of mine when I was reading a book for school. Turns out, fictional or not, I always seem to be able to separate lies from truth. But as I mentioned before: To me, the story could go die in a fire. As long as the game plays well, I will have a great time. A great time.
I was trying to beat the elite four on my copy of Pokémon White. The bench I was sitting on in the woods wasn’t very comfortable, but this spot had always had a special place in my heart. The place I would go to when feeling alone. I was doing pretty well, about to beat the 4th one, specialized in the element of fight, when I noticed a stranger in the corner of my eye. I decided to just ignore him and continue playing my game, but instead of walking away, he approached me. He was then standing in front of me and I knew I couldn’t keep pretending he wasn’t there, so I looked up and saw a boy around my age with short brown hair. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a yellow hoodie.
“Hello,” began the boy, “my name is Jamie.” My eyes turned to him and I readied myself to “judge” (“judging” is the name I gave to the use of my ability) the person in front of me, to then realize I couldn’t. I jumped up and took my distance. He was just standing there, smiling, while I desperately tried to get my ability to work again. He gave me a confused look, probably because I seemed to be so shocked. I quickly pulled myself together and answered him with a smile. I noticed that the boy was still weirded out because of my strange reaction, but all he did was shaking his head in the same fashion a dog would do when trying to become dry again.
My suspicion didn’t decrease though, not at all. In one way or another he was blocking my ability. Maybe it’s like the “Jedi mind trick” from Star Wars. Maybe my ability only worked on the weak-minded. This is how I had always explained the fact that I can’t “judge” myself. It was a strange assumption, but because of (I will now refer to him as Jamie, the name he introduced himself with) Jamie I was seriously considering it.
He looked at the Nintendo DS in my hands and asked: “Oh, what game are you playing?”
I wasn’t planning on showing him that, so I turned away, but he kept asking and at one point, the boy even started begging. He angered me to a level I had never reached before. I grew so mad that I yelled: “STOP!”
I do remember what I mentioned earlier, how I close to never speak, but he was genuinely driving me insane. Jamie took a step backwards. His eyes had an insulted look to them. I assumed that he was trying to be playful, but it sure as hell didn’t look like it. He turned around and left. So did I. A feeling of relief struck me, but at the same time I felt guilty. He wasn’t aware of my condition and the only reason I didn’t trust Jamie, was because my “judging”-ability wouldn’t work on him. I looked back, but he was already gone. With my mind somewhere else, I took my black bicycle and left for home.
Along the way, millions of thoughts were swarming through my head, half of which weren’t important. But then you had the thoughts considering Jamie, how he managed to block my “power”, why he had approached me, why he looked so familiar. When I saw Jamie, he instantly reminded me of someone else, but since it took me a while to actually realize that, it must have been a very distant memory. Oddly enough, he reminded me of myself as well, at least physically. It could have just been a coincidence, but I didn’t think so. All of this meant something and I was going to find out what, at all cost.
The sound of our doorbell echoed through the house. I didn’t bother, because I was in the middle of a heated boss fight with Meta Ridley from Metroid Prime.
I paused the game and went downstairs, when I realized my parents weren’t home to open the door apparently. I sighed deeply, opening the door against my will only to jump back and fall over a toy that was just lying around behind me, as I saw who was standing on my porch: Jamie. He quickly apologized for scaring me and offered me a hand. I shrugged his offer off with a quick hand gesture. He took his distance again, waiting for me to get back up my feet.
“No questions?” he asked.
I stared at him at the edge of opening my mouth again, but I kept it shut instead.
“You’re a man of few words, aren’t you?” he answered my silence.
I realized he was taunting me, but I assumed that, just like last time, he was being playful.
“Don’t you want to know how I know you live here or why I’m now standing on your porch?” he asked.
I nodded heavily.
“I’ll explain if you ask the question yourself.”
He was starting to piss me off again, but I remained calm. My reaction didn’t appear to be the one he was hoping for, because he looked disappointed and finally gave in.
“Fine, I’ll tell you,” he said with an unsatisfied tone in his voice. He wasn’t exactly trying to hide it.
“On my way home, I saw you entering this house and figured you lived here, so I came to this place”, he began, (So far his alibi seemed legit enough to be true, but because of the fact that I still wasn’t able to judge him, I still questioned the reliability of his story) “to ask for an apology.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Was he actually demanding an apology? I took a swing with my right arm and would’ve hit him if he hadn’t ducked. He crawled backwards on arms and legs.
“Woah, woah, calm down, I didn’t mean to anger you, but you have to admit, you were being a bit unreasonable earlier,” he said with a constant fear of taking my arm to his face.
I took a moment to reflect on my behavior and eventually came to the conclusion that in Jamie’s eyes, it might have been a bit uncalled for. I wish I could tell him about everything: my condition, the fact that I couldn’t judge him,… The problem was, I wasn’t even sure of half that had been going on lately.
“Look I even brought a peace offer,” and Jamie showed me a cartridge compatible with the Nintendo DS. It was blank, so I didn’t know what game it was.
“You’ll have a great time,” he said as sincere as possible. I would have almost believed him if he hadn’t smiled for that split-second. Not a happy kind, but an evil one. The smile someone would give you, right before being killed by said person. He regained himself quickly though. I took the cartridge, smiled at him and closed the door. I didn’t care if he wanted to come in, because I still didn’t trust him. Being able to block my ability, giving me that evil smile and a blank cartridge, there was something just not right about him.
I entered my living room and threw the cartridge somewhere. I wasn’t planning on putting that in my DS. It could be a virus or what not, but I couldn’t help myself. The cartridge was calling me. Not literally of course, but I was so curious. I picked it up, looked at it. Not much time later I inserted it into my DS and watched the screen glow white as I slid the power switch up.
I’m not sure what I was expecting to be on the cartridge, but out of all the horrible thoughts swarming through my head, none of them came true. In fact, the cartridge was just an R4 card filled with a bunch of classic games, some of which I already owned, others I had never heard about before. Just to give a few examples: Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, Darkness and Sky, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Sonic colors, … The list could go on forever. I played almost every single one of the games and I “had a great time” exactly like he told me earlier. This gift made me consider the fact that maybe Jamie wasn’t that bad of a person.
Two months passed and I had almost finished every game on the R4. Just one game remained, entitled: “Are you having a great time?”. I laughed, thinking this was some kind of joke put in by Jamie, for the words exactly matched his. I chose the game from the list and watched the transition. It all went downhill from there.
The first thing I noticed, after choosing the game, was the lack of splash animations of the companies that worked on the project, which only ensured me that this was Jamie’s work. We were instantly brought to an unsettling title screen. Dark background, the title written in blood, a creepy music, everything you’d expect from a horror game. I was nervous. I had never played a horror game before, because I couldn’t handle the scares and atmosphere. That’s why I never played Dead Space or Resident Evil before and stayed as far away from Silent Hill as I could, despite having heard that these were high quality games. But I eventually trumped my fear and pressed ‘start’. The title screen faded to black.
“How naïve can one be?” is what a textbox stated to then fade away again.
“Can one blindly trust a person?”
“What if that person has a secret?”
The last of textboxes disappeared, leaving nothing but a black screen behind. The game began. The graphics weren’t exactly what I expected them to be. The game had an overhead view and the style was somewhat similar to that of Pokémon, having a character with a big head and a small body in a pixelated environment. My character was lying in his bed, when suddenly someone came up the stairs. My character woke up and hugged the other figure.
“I’m home,” he said. My character nodded.
“I’m hungry, would you get a snack for me please?” the figure asked.
I was now in control and immediately went downstairs. When I arrived at the ground floor, I noticed that the entire room was pitch black. Only a small circle of light, that surrounded the sprite of my character, served as a light source. It didn’t take long though before I found the fridge and interacted with it.
“You got a tuna sandwich, your brothers favorite snack!” is what a textbox said.
I was about to go back to my room, when I noticed something, a red stain. I know I should’ve went upstairs instead of approaching the stain, but I wasn’t thinking straight. That’s when I noticed that the liquid didn’t just form a stain, but a footstep. I saw a whole trail of them that ended in a pair of shoes.
“You don’t know whose shoes these are,” I was told by the game as I interacted with the shoes.
My character’s brother ran downstairs towards the shoes. He pushed me aside, took the pair and ran away. The cutscene was over and I could move again. I tried to go upstairs, but the game wouldn’t let me. Following the character appeared to be the only solution and so I did.
As I followed him, I ended up outside. It was dark and there was no other sprite except for my character’s. I searched through the forest the house was in, behind trees, rocks, … As hard as I looked, I just couldn’t find him. I went back to the house I was in at the beginning of the game and entered. Next I went to my room and in the end I was lying in my bed again. The screen faded to black for a few seconds.
When the screen went back to the game, my character was still awake. I checked if I could come out of bed and I could. I noticed a DS on a table in the corner and interacted with it. The TV lit up and I heard a familiar melody from the ‘New Super Mario Bros.’ game. The brother suddenly came upstairs and stood behind me.
“Are you having a great time, …” he asked as the textbox kept its place at the bottom of the screen, when the camera moved downstairs into a closet I hadn’t seen before, to show many bodies stashed upon eachother. Some had huge cuts in their torsos others had lost their arms, legs, ...
“… Jason?” I stared in horror as those last letters appeared on the screen. My name. The game abruptly ended.
What followed was a questionnaire with a lay-out similar to that of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, only the background was red and no music could be heard.
“Do you care about your “friends?”
I was given two options: yes or no. These two options would be present during the entire questionnaire. I chose ‘no’. The question took place for another one.
“Do you care about your family?”
Yes. The screen flashed heavily and a screeching sound could be heard. In the middle of the screen, that had faded to black during the screech, the words ‘YOU LIED!’ appeared. The flashing stopped and the next question appeared. I noticed that the screen had gotten dimmer.
“Does anyone think you are useful?”
No. The next question was asked through another textbox.
“Do you think you are useful?”
Yes. I always believed my ability had some kind of use, that it could be used for the general good. The same series of events took place as the ones that happened when I gave the first wrong answer. Flashing, screeching noise, the words ‘YOU LIED!’ and the next question, but, as I expected, the background was even dimmer than before.
“Do you see a lot of good things happening in your future?”
Yes. Once again though, I had given the wrong answer. Flashing, screeching, ‘YOU LIED!’, next question, dimmer background.
“Have these questions opened your eyes?”
No. Wrong answer. The flashing was heavier than before, the screeching was louder, the words were bigger and the background got darker. In fact it was so dark that I almost thought it was black. One last question appeared.
“Do you want to live in your current state?”
I wanted to choose ‘yes’. I still believed there was hope for me, but the other questions bothered me. If I had to believe these, I would care about nobody, I couldn’t have a future and most of all I wouldn’t want to live anymore. The arrow was pointing at the option I believed to be right, but I started having doubts. What if I chose incorrectly, what if the background would turn to black completely. I thought about the flashing blinding me and the screeching making me deaf. No reason to live anymore. A tear rolled over my cheek as I chose ‘no’. The DS turned off.
I was just sitting there, mindlessly looking at the black screen. I should’ve cared … But I didn’t. I thought about my family, nothing. I thought about my “friends”, nothing. My mind was empty of emotions. I could think straight. The questionnaire wasn’t hinting towards suicide, but towards the abandonment of all emotions, the only thing that stood between me and ultimate control over my power. It always happened involuntarily, but from then on, I could control it. I was stronger. From then on I never spoke a word again. It wasn’t necessary. My parents kept on crying. They thought they had lost me forever, I didn’t care.
A few days later I received a letter from an anonymous person, containing only the words: “Did you have a great time?”
I never understood one certain thing though: Why was it that I still couldn’t “judge” myself? I have tried many times, but never had it worked. So of course one big question remains as I’m writing this story down …
… Am I lying?
Written by H. Phone