Hear me now, mortals of this world! In thirty years from now, a warmongering species shall surround your planet and lay waste to your civilization!
When every human on Earth heard this ominous message resonating inside their minds, it was met with various reactions. Some passed it off as a joke played by their overactive imagination, others as a nightmare, and very few took it seriously, but those who did would soon make it clear that it was quite real.
When I heard it, I was in the middle of a game called Dragon Hunt. That weird message made me lose focus for just one second. I didn’t dodge in time and thus ended up as a delicious snack for the final boss in the second hardest dungeon in the game. Just like that, nearly three hours of effort spent towards reaching that point went down the drain. It wouldn’t have been that bad if I was in a party, but I was playing solo at that moment.
The shock was so great that I was left gasping at the monitor for five minutes until the AFK (Away From Keyboard) warning popped up in the middle of my screen.
I sighed and closed it. After a few random clicks around my character, I let the system know that I was still there.
“Marius! Did you take out the trash like I asked you to?” shouted my mom from the kitchen.
Groaning, I got my lazy behind up from the chair. Immediately, my aching bones and muscles warned me that I sat down for too long. I stretched a bit, trying to get rid of the pain. Once I was in the clear, I walked out of my room and went into the kitchen. Looking at the trash bag under the sink, I realized I had forgotten to do as I was told. Then again, I couldn’t remember when mom asked me to take it out in the first place.
Rubbing the back of my head, I replied “I forgot…”
Mother was next to the stove, lowering the flame beneath the cooking pot. After a long sigh, she threw a short glare at me.
“Sorry. I got distracted.” I shrugged.
“Go and take it out now.” she told me with a calm voice, but deep down, I felt the overwhelming pressure and knew instinctively it wasn’t a request but an order.
I walked back to my room, I clicked the screen a few more times to reset the AFK timer and then took out the trash.
My family lived in a three-room apartment in a four-story building in the middle of Bucharest, the capital of Romania. I saw myself as lucky for having an elevator in the building because climbing up five stories wasn’t my idea of fun, not to mention if it would have been like that, I would have been late to reset the timer no matter how fast I climbed up and down the stairs.
The trash cans were behind the building. After getting rid of the garbage, I hurried back home, hoping the AFK timer didn’t decide to kick me out of the dungeon. If I was in a party, I may not have had the same problem. Usually, I went to a dungeon together with a couple of my online friends and guild mates, and it didn’t take more than half an hour or so to reach the end boss, but solo was a real anguishing nightmare.
“I’m back!” I said as I opened the door.
“Marius, did you hear a strange voice a while ago? The news cast reporter says many people did.” asked my mom as she looked towards me a bit worried.
I raised an eyebrow.
“Erm, what voice?” I asked and wondered if it was about the culprit who caused me to fail against the last boss.
“It said something like a warmongering species will attack the planet in thirty years.” she told me.
Now that I thought about it, I did hear something like that, but did it really say something as absurd as that?
I gave a small nod in reply, not caring too much about it, but it did make me wonder if it wasn’t just some kind of prank? With all the tech we had in our house, it wouldn’t have been surprising if someone simply hacked our network and sent the ominous message at the same time through all the speakers.
Mother showed me a troubled expression after I answered. The TV news cast wasn’t making things easier either as confirmation of the same message came from all over the world. TV news channels and Internet social media exploded.
“Maybe it’s just a mass prank, mother.” I told her with a wry smile, hoping she would calm down.
“I don’t think it’s a prank…” she said as she took a seat in front of the TV.
I sighed and shook my head.
Give it some time. When the culprit of this prank is going to be revealed, things will calm down and everyone will laugh when remembering these moments. or so I thought.
“Mother! The cooking pot’s boiling over!” I shouted as I rushed over and stirred the soup with the nearby wooden spoon.
“Thank you, Marius! I’ll take it from here.” she told me.
I sighed in relief and returned to my room.
“Oh, crap! The timer!” I realized and jumped at my keyboard to press enter. “Sigh… Saved at the last nanosecond…” I said as I sat down.
It was time for a second round against the final boss.