Author : Elora Powell

Just an ordinary day. Woke up. Had breakfast. Went to work. Came home and made coffee. Sat down in front of the TV.

Some old movie was on. Black and white. About a mad scientist and his wife.

“Lance! You have to stop the experiment. He’s been in there too long!” She pleaded.

“I can’t stop it now, Sophia. He has to come out of it on his own.” Said the mad scientist.

They panned over to the experiment, but the screen dissolved into static, and I couldn’t get the signal back. I changed the channel. There was a hockey match on. They were replaying an old game. I saw it with my dad on my ninth birthday.

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my girlfriend, Macy.

“You’re picking me up at 5:30, right?”

“Oh…yeah! Of course.” I replied.

“Cougars vs. Cats! The big rivalry! You didn’t forget, right? I just put on my face paint.” She said.

“No. ‘Course I didn’t forget. I was about to get my war paint on.” I said.

“Alright.” She said. “See you at 5:30.”

Problem was, I had forgotten. How could I forget about the Cougs vs. Cats game? Macy seemed more excited about it than I was. That was part of the reason we started dating, I guess. Or was it? For a moment, I couldn’t remember how we met.

I was just tired from a long day of work. I chugged the rest of my coffee, and flipped through the channels looking for any pre-game speculation.

The black and white movie was back on. The scientist’s wife was messing with some dials, then typing a message in the keyboard.

“You were right.” It said.

I flicked off the TV and went into the bathroom to paint my face blue and gold.

Picked up Macy at 5:30. She looked great, even in face paint. I remembered that we met at a basketball game in college. She was a cheerleader.

The first half of the game the Cougars dominated. I should have been ecstatic.

But Every play, every penalty, every score felt familiar.

Nothing surprised me.

The second half, the Bobcats stepped up their game- just like I knew they would. In the end, the game went into overtime.

Either I was suffering from the world’s weirdest case of deja vu, or something was wrong.

This was a video game. I’d played this rivalry, Cougs vs. Cats on a basketball video game. The first half was too easy, so I bumped up the difficulty and the Cats caught. Then it went into overtime.

“This isn’t real.” I said.

“What’s wrong, Babe?” Asked Macy.

“This isn’t real. I played this game on a video game.”

The display screen that wrapped around the court went blank. Then, the scoreboard blinked out. The players disappeared, along with the audience. Macy and I were alone.

A small, black message crawled across the display screen.

“You were right.”

“Right about what?” I demanded. “That nothing is real?”

“Oh good, he’s coming around.” Said Macy.

But it wasn’t Macy. It was the mad scientist’s wife from the movie.

I wasn’t sitting in the stands of a basketball game, I was sitting in a dark room with my arms restrained, and electrodes taped to my head.

“Lance! He’s coming around! Get over here!” Said the scientist’s wife.

The scientist I worked for, Dr. Lance Hamilton, appeared by her side.

“Welcome back, Mr. Daily.” He said. “How was the game?”