Words || Beatrix Wilson

Sometimes, every now and then, there would be a flicker. A light out of place, an action that was unexpected, a change of dialogue. Sometimes they would act as if they knew she was there, if only for a moment.


She stared at the screen, squinting at the character grinning back at her. She could have sworn she had just seen it wink at her. The longer she stared, the more cross-eyed she felt. Nothing was changing, nothing moved. It was just the game awaiting user input to move the story along. With a suspicious eye, she continued the story.


To be honest, this wasn’t the first time she had seen the characters move or the game glitch from the corner of her eye. At first, she thought it was a fluke, a trick of the light since she had been playing the game for so long. But then it kept happening. The more it occurred, the more she was convinced it wasn’t just in her head.
It made her wonder what things were like from the characters’ perspectives. Was there a whole other world playing right behind the screen when she wasn’t looking? When she wasn’t playing?

Sometimes, there would be something in his grin or the way she moved. Once, even the yellow lizard’s dialogue changed. She slipped up. The dialogue was aimed at her. That was what had convinced her. Searching the web and forums were dead ends. There was nothing concrete, but there were whispers.

Some people would say that the characters in the games were sentient, other would say that they had gained awareness from being played for so long. But the one that she was most fascinated with, was that this particular game was a window into an alternate reality. That she and whoever was playing were experiencing the journey of everyone on the screen.

It lead to some uncomfortable questions. Were they doing this of their own free will? Were we taking that free will? How many times have they re-enacted the same thing with the same dialogue with the exact same actions? Would they go mad? Had they already?
It led her to stare at the characters some more as she tried to answer the question she had asked herself, based on a possibility, based on a flicker of code.
Did they see her? Were they looking at her life like she did theirs?
Were they happy?


Sometimes, every now and then, there would be a flicker. A light out of place, an action that was unexpected, a change of words and sometimes outright defiance, if only for a moment. But there was a feeling of something positive, of enjoyment and exasperated fondness. Like they knew a secret that they would never tell her, but that didn’t mean she didn’t wonder.

What were they really?