008: Return To A Friend
Tim found himself in a city. It was night and no one was around. He began to examine his surroundings more closely, then smiled.
"The corner." He looked down the street towards where a blue-gray house was. "I wonder what has happened to it."
He began to walk slowly down the street and toward the house. When he got to the door he turned the door, checking to see if it was locked. Finding that it was, he searched a small crevice between the pathway that led to the door and the grass next to it. After a few seconds he removed a key from the crevice and put it into the door's lock, unlocking the door and allowing himself entrance. With a second turn of the doorknob and a push of the door he entered the house, closing the door behind him.
Dust covered everything in the room, showing a long term of absence from the house's last usage. Tim walked into the room and sat down in a coach, picking up a remote control and turning on the TV. He flipped a few channels. When he hit a news channel he stopped and began to watch.
The news program was presently reporting something about lack of funding in schools when the reporter was handed a piece of paper. She looked down at it for a moment and began to speak. "This just in: A Gamemaster, presumed dead nearly two weeks ago, has been found in his home by Gamemaster Karen Kultz."
Tim stood up and put his hand on his Zapper, turned around quickly.
Karen nodded. "Hello, Tim." She walked over to him. "Don't worry, that broadcast was only sent to your TV and won't be picked up by anyone else, including other Gamemasters."
She sat down on the dusty coach and smiled slightly, patting the spot next to her in encouragement for Tim to sit back down. Slowly he obeyed her request and sat down next to her.
"How'd you find me?" Tim asked, intrigued by her sudden appearance.
"I've been coming here now and then since your disappearance in hopes that somehow I would find you here or, even more hopefully, learn more about your past." She frowned. "Tim, what happened to your parents?"
Tim turned his head away from her, a tear beginning to form in his right eye. "They left one day for a weekend trip when I was eight. I was very mature and then trusted me alone. They never came back."
Karen put a reassuring hand on Tim's shoulder and spoke again. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Tim nodded and turned his head so it was straight forward again. "That's okay. I withdrew money from my bank account for food and, upon finding several hundred thousand dollars there, although I to this day do not know why it is so, paid off all the bills for the house and other things. It was hard but I did it."
He sighed. "Video games became much of my life soon after. They were a way I could stay away from people when I wanted to and also, as I had a natural talent for them, impress people with."
Karen nodded. "That's an interesting way to begin gaming."
"I continued going to school, getting excellent grades and, at the age of 10, met Ralph. I never let him come over here and I rarely went over to his house, but he and I did often go to arcades. I was the one usually playing and he usually watched, trying to learn from my ability. He's been my best and only friend for the past six years. I haven't seen him for nearly three months. I wouldn't be at this house tonight if he weren't for his friendship."
"I'm glad you are here tonight," replied Karen. She thought for a moment then spoke again. "Come on, Tim. Much of the League has been wondering what happened to you after that fight with Darius. They need to know that you're alive."
Tim shook his head. "No."
"What?" asked Karen, not expecting his defiance.
"I'm not going back," said the Gamemaster.
"Why not?" Karen asked. "You know I can't let you not."
"Darius saved me."
Karen's eyes widened as she looked closely at Tim.
"We got into a duel and I was hit in the heart. It nearly killed me. When I came to again Darius had been reconstructing my heart. It's still weak."
"He nearly killed you and you say that he saved you!?"
"Yes." Tim sighed. "I'm sorry if you don't understand."
"I'm sorry, too, Tim."
"He talked to me about some things. Told me about some things." Tim stood up and walked slowly away from Karen and the couch.
"Tim, please stop where you are," said Karen as Tim walked away.
Tim turned around and frowned sadly as he saw Karen standing up, pointing a weapon at him. "I'm sorry, I can't." He pressed the random button on his teleporter again and soon found himself in a deep jungle.
He removed his Zapper and looked around at his new surroundings. He could see nothing through the thick jungle but could hear the sound of water nearby. He went over to a large tree and began to climb it, falling asleep on one of the large upper branches.
The next morning he woke up to the sound of gunshots. From his perch high in the trees he could see a man being chased by a half-dozen soldiers with machine guns. Deciding to take action, Tim began to fire at he soldiers, dropping slowly to the ground as he finished taking them out. When he made the final drop to the ground he spoke to the man the soldiers had been after. "Hey, name's Tim."
"Thanks, kid," said the man, who was clad in red. "Don't know if I'd have been able to escape them without you."
"No problem." Tim smiled. "Well, whatever your reason for being chased by them was, I suggest that you continue on. I'm sure they'll be sending more soon."
The man nodded. "And what of you?"
Tim shook his head. "I've got my own path to follow."
The man nodded again. "Understood. Thank you for your help, kid."
With that the man began to make his way again through the jungle. As he began to leave Tim's sight he began to work at his teleporter again, labeling the two spots that he had been brought to randomly. He then accessed the first one, The Corner, and teleported off to where he would hopefully be able to get Ralph to meet him.
The teleportation worked and Tim found himself at the street corner. He walked a few blocks to a pay phone and put in a quarter. He dialed seven digits and the phone began to ring. After a few rings a voice answered.
"Who is this?"
"You should know that."
"Tim? No, it can't be. He's dead."
"Oh come now, what makes you say that?"
"3,027,840 in twenty-five minutes."
"Tim! It is you!"
"Yes, Ralph, it is. I need you to meet me at the corner. You know where I mean, don't you?"
"Okay, then. Meet me there in ten minutes."
"Okay, but, Tim, I need to tell you something first."
"What is that?"
"There were these two people that came to my house earlier today. They asked questions about you. One man and one woman."
"Hmm." Tim thought for a moment. "Probably Karen and Jenkins. Ralph, please hurry."
"I'll be there."
Tim walked back to the street corner and waited. Soon Ralph arrived.
"It is you!" Ralph yelled happily. "But how?"
"They only found one marble. You should have known that I wouldn't go out like that."
Ralph nodded. "I guess."
Tim began to walk slowly. "Come on, Ralph. I don't think we should stay here."
Ralph nodded and began to walk with him. After a few minutes they reached the arcade that they had gone to nearly three months previous. The two entered and sat down at a table in the fast food section of the arcade.
Ralph soon asked Tim a question he really wanted to know the answer to. "Where were you?"
Tim smiled slightly. "A nice place to begin with, but not where I am now being."
"The Gamemaster League." He put his left arm on the table, showing Ralph the teleporter. "This device I got from Darius, a so-called dark Gamemaster. It's much like what I had at the league but doesn't need a room to control the location to which it teleports."
"Gamemaster League?" asked Ralph, not even ready to think about the teleporter.
"Yes, Ralph. The League is a group of people, much like myself, that are talented players of video games. They are selected for playing the games. Not like on a system, but for real. The games are real, my friend. The video games we have connect our universe to that that the game is of. The League protects us from them, but also hides the games' and their own existences from us."
"You're kidding, right?"
"I wish he were," replied a voice from behind him.
Tim drew his Zapper and stood up quickly, spinning around. "Jenkins!"
"Tim, please put that away. Karen and I are here to speak with you."
Tim eyed Jenkins suspiciously as he and Karen, who was behind him, sat down at the table with he and Ralph. Tim slowly sat back down.
"I already told you: I'm not going back."
Jenkins nodded with a frown. "I know."
"Then what is there to talk about?"
"Tim, I like you. You're a good Gamemaster and I don't want to have to kill you." He sighed. "And, although it is against regulations, I am willing to make an exception with you if you are willing to listen."
Tim shrugged. "Sure, why not?"
Karen smiled slightly.
Jenkins began to speak again, Ralph staying silent in worry. "Normally I would have to kill you for your leaving the League, but I will not if you help me."
"Helped you in what way?"
"I need to know where Darius is."
"I'm sorry: I can't do that."
Karen sighed. "Tim, you have to."
Tim shook his head. "I will not."
"I am sorry to hear that, Tim." Jenkins frowned. "Because then I cannot let you go."
Tim laughed. "Remember that first scenario you had me go through, Jenkins?"
Jenkins looked strangely at Tim, confused by his strange behavior. "What about it?"
"I still say it's too easy!" He leapt at Jenkins, knocking him to the ground. He jumped back up and grabbed Ralph, pressing a button on his teleporter.
Tim and Ralph disappeared from the commotion of the arcade, reappearing at the corner that they had met at before.
"Well, that was certainly fun," said Tim with a yawn.
"Tim, those were the people that came to my house earlier today."
Tim nodded. "Gamemasters Jenkins and Karen. They were the people at the League that I was closest to."
"They were about ready to kill you! What did you do to them?"
"I stopped playing by their rules and I refused to tell them where Darius, another person that left the League, was. Ralph, I'm sorry for causing you so much trouble. I am truly sorry."
"It's okay. I'm just glad you're alive."
Tim began walking. "Come on, we best hurry back to your house. I'd like to put it into my teleporter's memory."
Ralph nodded and followed Tim, the two quickly reaching his house.
The two went into Ralph's room, barely avoiding his parents. Tim pressed a few buttons on his teleporter and smiled.
"There, done." He looked at Ralph. "I'm sorry, but I best take my leave before they come back again."
Ralph nodded. "I understand. Just keep yourself safe and, if you every need anything - anything at all - from me just come and tell me and I'll get it for you. Good luck, Tim!"
Tim smiled and nodded. He pressed the random button on his teleporter and disappeared off once again into the possibilities of the infinite.
Ralph sat down in his chair and began to write an entry in his journal.
I don't know why it was I that met Tim, but it was me and for that I am grateful. He always pushed himself too hard but he helped me by pushing himself for I have, for reasons unknown to me (as I am truly terrified by some of the things his does), always followed him so that, if he is ever in trouble, I can at least try to help get him out of it. I'm not sure if I could really help, to tell you the truth, but I'd like to try.
Three months ago next week was, until today, the last time I saw Tim. He was thought to be dead and I was sad about it for the longest time. But, now, I have found out that he is alive and possibly in even greater peril for he is seemingly being chased by a group of people, which he called the Gamemaster League, that want him because his is refusing to obey them by not telling them where somewhere is. I wish he had had more time to tell me what had happened to him.
I just hope I get to see him again. He was my best friend.
Ralph put down his pencil and closed his journal, putting it away in a compartment of his desk. As he finished closing the drawer in which he had put the journal a knock was heard at his closed bedroom door. He turned his head. "Yeah?"
"Hey, Ralphie. Those people that were here earlier are back and want to ask you some questions."
Ralph's face turned pale.
The door opened and Gamemasters Jenkins and Karen walked into the room. They closed the door behind them.
"Hello, Ralph," said Jenkins. "I'm afraid we have a few more questions to ask."