BECOME CABBAGE MAN
Ryan sighed, liked a tiddy post, widening his grin, and scrolled upwards to ogle a pair of asscheeks. He liked it. He snorted. And moved on.
Minutes passed by.
He sighed off the coldness creeping up on his feet and shifted his body to the side. He turned back to his phone and tapped into the next post.
His brows narrowed. His brain flared and burned all of its juices to conjure words, to summon a comment weaved by the masterful hands and fingers of the gods themselves. To cram it in and to dumb it down into a masterful argument about how one could be a furry for liking Zootopia so much that they asked for a sequel.
But he stopped.
The darkness that blanketed his dim room seemed closer, more defined. The door was still there, and it’s bright. He’s fine. He could still stretch his legs if he wanted, but he curled into a ball and focused on the challenge before him.
It’s ideal to demolish an unknown stranger through sound words with no grammatical errors and typos. The fan beside him stirred. He had to do it. The thought of seeing an array of strangers witness how he mauled this stranger compelled him.
Imagine all the likes he would get.
He grinned and scrolled back to check his last post. Nothing. He groaned. The air was getting thinner; his attention was becoming more and more defined. This was dumb. There would be no applause.
Laughing at a crying child after gloriously taking a swan dive into the ground was nice. There was no need to smite them villains. They would soon wallow into despair upon the realization that they couldn’t molest their pets. It was inevitable. There would be no waging of wars or snapping of fingers.
He could leave them be because of a sudden itch in need of scratching.
Ryan’s brows relaxed. He found himself licking his lips, snickering like a gremlin as he shrimped at his bed to move beyond Facebook and backpedal into incognito. He popped a hot silent breath as he typed in the magic words.
He’s a goddamn wizard for sure, and he felt his life energy tensing his legs and lower waist to make a small rock-hard hill under the blankets. He shivered with a full-toothed grin as the site continued to load.
He should never be denied anymore, but as soon as his hand slithered under the covers and into the cave lined by baconed garters, he was cucked.
He expected a reminder of hot moms in his area, which would then harden his desire. The ad would be closed, naturally, but the thought of no such buttons burned his stomach. This was some bullshit adwall that would redirect him to the Playstore.
He faced the night sky peeping through the window. Dark. Kinda like a concert, and the thought of a fat man just turning up his phone at the wrong angle to light up his face was something that never failed to get him on edge. Reality was, indeed, bleak.
Metallic whirs cogged his brain. The dogs weren’t barking. The chickens didn’t cluck either. His fan grew more silent by the second.
He turned back to his phone.
[What’s on your mind?]
He adjusted his head on the pillow. Nothing. It was just a black box in the middle of his now red screen. Clicking the box below the question would just prompt the keyboard. Sus. It had to be an ad.
He just had to get out of here and go about his business. He scoffed and agreed to the terms and conditions below the text box and chose to enter “Phat Tiddies.”
He scoffed. He entered the word “cabbages” instead to be polite.
[Please enter two command codes…]
This was pushing it.
He ran out of words. He wanted to put “bob” and “vegana,” but he resigned to “yeet” and “poggers” instead.
An “OK” button appeared.
He tapped it over and over again until a small red circle showed up. He waited. He scratched his thigh and groaned. It’s like even when he’s alone, he still couldn’t rub himself off. And their internet was acting up to make things better.
He would stand up, scream, and throw his phone to the wall. That’s appropriate. He jumped on his feet. He fixed his boxers to choke an awful bulge and poised to throw his phone on the wall.
He didn’t throw the phone.
He prepared himself to scream, but his phone vibrated with a high-pitched sting and turned everything to black.
He fell back to bed, and there he woke up, gasping, bathing in his cold sweat, and with the feeling of getting run over by a bus. The phone was still in his hand. The fan was still there.
His mouth felt like he tongue-kissed a handful of burning sand, and his heart felt like that of an obese man doing his cardio routine after filling his stomach with pizza.
What’s worse was that his phone retained that red screen and showed him a bunch of names instead of boobs and asses like he had expected.
“...Jane Montefalco, Jeffrey Kama… Ben Dober, Sasuke Muntinlupa… Drink Water Rivera, Mineral Waters… Leigh Salameda, Joshua Carillo, Tina Moran… Juan Montefalco… Arnold Enriquez, Mel Revillame, Angelica Villamayor...”
He knew some of these people.
No porn site would ever consider getting your name and the people in your area for everyone to see—at least not in this way. The outside world remained the same. The darkness in his room didn’t feel like it could chain him anymore. Something felt weird.
But what scared him the most was the thought of going down and telling his mom that his phone was broken. And there was utter silence.
He went down the stairs to get to the living room. His mother was supposed to be here, cooking dinner or some food that she would sell tomorrow morning, but she’s gone.
There was no reason for her to be gone.
He looked at his phone again, his chest eating itself as the list continued to pile up with names along with a blaring reminder to check the welcome note and the profile tab. He scoffed. A camera should be here somewhere.
Damn, his mom went out and left the door open. And it’s like she took all the dogs and the cats and the rats with her. Poisoning dogs and cats that do nothing but meow and bark all night long was his silent idea. But damn, someone had done it. That madlad.
Ryan steeled himself with a deep breath. He had to ask for a new phone, and he’d get it in one way or another. He had to be brave. He needed to be because there might be a party outside, or his mother suddenly learned about the internet and decided to prank him while also actually keeping all animals silent.
Carrying that courage in his heart, he ran upstairs in panic, almost screaming to wear his dark-blue pants and a deep-orange hoodie as his go-to swag uniform. He picked up the key from the dining table and headed out in his slippers before shivering and going back to get his blue bonnet.
The list on his phone continued to pile up. He realized there that he had been given a number, which was 69. He chuckled at the thought, but his peace had been crushed at the sheer emptiness of his surroundings.
There should be at least a few drunkards walking around or some kids playing pogs or bullying each other, such as the nightlife he had experienced. But no one was there except the overgrowth of houses that traced the road like bugs on a rotting vine.
Abandonment fenced the houses. A forest of tilted lamp posts illuminated his path. Nothing. Ryan had to give it to them. His fingers tensed. He felt a bit giddy. The light that he followed just seemed to make its surroundings darker. It’s not like his mother would conspire with the rest of the town to prank him, not to her good son.
It was not even his birthday.
So he heaved into the nearby 7/11 and welcomed himself into the cold that smelled of overcooked MSG-filled hotdogs. Just like the outside, it was dead, deserted. He shrugged. It’s not his responsibility to guard these tasty treats, but it was his duty as a kind citizen to display what would happen if their staff suddenly disappeared.
He got himself a hotdog sandwich. He kept his vigilance while he did, but no one came to stop him. No one was outside. And thank the gods that this store didn’t have CCTV cameras.
No one stopped him from overusing the ketchup and mustard packets. He was planning to pay after proving a point, but he didn’t have to.
Leaning into the counter to assert his dominance, he placed the phone beside him, thinking if someone else would’ve experienced the same thing. He took large bites, filling his mouth with the touch of wet bread that tasted like cardboard. It would come. The sour taste of tomato ketchup would fill his tongue and make him squirm, but his jaws locked when the list in his phone stopped piling.
“Welcome to the Game,” he read with a full mouth as he tapped the phone instinctively, causing the box to load for a moment and update. He raised his brow. “Kill all the other players to attain your wish. You can check your ability on your profile tab… What a load of cringe.”
He chuckled, taking another bite before closing himself off to the announcement. Someone would never believe and do what their phones asked them to do, so he checked the other remaining number of players on the screen, which were 99, and moved on.
Now, he wanted a drink. He faced the smoothie machine and his phone vibrated. He froze. He thinned his lips. He almost dropped his hotdog but he caught it.
Only 98 other players remain. And Tina Moran apparently choked a man named Aldrin Bagares using a frying pan.