Jeremy's New Game
a short story
Erica knocked on the door. “You still in there?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” Jeremy answered softly.
“Is everything okay?”
“It’s good, I’m good. I could use some food and something to drink.”
“Let me unload the groceries and I’ll cook you something.” Erica turned back to the bags on the counter, pulling free a bottle of juice. “I’m going to roll this to you, is that okay?”
“Yeah, I think that’s alright,” he responded, his voice weak.
She pulled the keys off the hook outside the door, and unlocked it. The chain above ensured it wouldn’t open very far and she pushed the small plastic jug through the opening. “Are you there?”
“Yeah, yes! Just roll it in the direction of my voice,” he said, his voice growing louder as he saw the bottle in her hand.
“Jeremy, can’t I see?” She held the jug in her hand like an offering, not dropping and rolling it.
“No! Absolutely not! Just give me the freaking fluid, Erica!” he barked, his voice gravely.
She wiped her tears away with one hand, while the hand through the door dropped the bottle. She heard it hit the floor and she heard the chains inside jingle and then contract in a sharp metallic sound.
“Damn it!” Jeremy cried out.
“Let me help you,” Erica sobbed.
“No! You stay out there, I may be able to reach it with my foot.”
She heard the chains vibrate as she imagined he was reaching out his legs and trying to grab the bottle with his toes. “Jeremy! This is not fair. Let me see!”
“No! Absolutely not!”
She leaned against the door hoping that her weight would break the chain on the inside and that if she leaned hard enough she’d simply fall into the room and end the chaos.
“Push another one through,” he demanded, his voice growing rougher. “And aim better this time.”
“I only have two more,” she said, lifting her weight from the door and going back to the counter to grab another bottle.
“So you’re just going to leave me in here to die?” he demanded, his voice somewhere between a growl and the strange beeps of a computer program.
“I’m trying to help, idiot, but you won’t let me see.” She pushed the bottle in her hand through the door again.
“You wouldn’t understand,” his voice grew deeper and seemed to come from the walls.
“What do I not understand?” she screamed and tossed the bottle in the direction she knew he was chained.
She heard the plastic open as he broke the top, and then she heard the fluid pour on the floor. “Why are you wasting it?” she demanded.
“I’m not!” his voice fading away and suddenly appearing all around her from the walls. “I’m not!” he insisted again.
Erica pulled herself from the door, and looked around the room as the walls shifted and descended into 0s and 1s.
“I’m not!” Jeremy declared again, his voice everywhere in the small house. “Nothing went to waste,” he said as the walls turned blue and more numbers, dots and slashes appeared in the white paint.
Erica screamed. She used all her weight to push open the door, popping the chain, and falling into the room. The chains he had used to secure himself held nothing, and all she found in the place where her boyfriend had attached himself to the furnace were his clothes, an empty juice bottle, and a hand held video game he’d bought three days earlier.
“I’m here,” the walls echoed, suddenly blue. “I’m right here, Erica.”
She grabbed her head, squirreling up into the fetal position for a couple seconds before she felt the numbers reaching into her mind. Somehow she found the energy to stand, and she ran onto the street screaming, “He’s in the walls! He’s in the numbers!”