Chapter 4:

LEVEL 4: Adam

CREO: Game of Creation

We stared at each other in disbelief for what felt like a hundred years. He was flesh and bone—sitting on my bed, looking terrified out of his mind. His big, wide eyes, stained with the tears of a boy who witnessed tragedy the moment he was born.

“G-god?” Adam said after some time, his hands tightly clenched on his soot-covered robes.

“How are you here? How is this possible?” I asked, raking my brain, trying to think through some way to make sense of it. Adam shook his head.

“I d-don’t know.” My door opened, and the lights flicked on. Adam fled under the covers. My mother stood in the doorway, looking from me to the trembling bump on my bed, before settling on me, prompting me for an answer I didn’t have.

What does one do when technology goes awry and you don’t know what to do about it? Call tech support, of course. I explained to Mom everything that happened in CREO and we decided to contact CREO directly. Kuu appeared in my room once again, smiling as if there wasn’t a worry or fear in the world. Mom sat next to Adam and stroked his hair, which seemed to calm him down, though the thought of calming down a computer program seemed silly to me.

“How may I help you?!” Kuu said, floating around the room. Adam shied closer to Mom every time it drew near. That was strange because he wasn’t wearing a watch, so he shouldn’t have been able to even see Kuu.

“What the hell is this?” I asked Kuu. “First, Update Alpha—or whatever you’re calling it—was a mess! I feel sick thinking about it. Second,” I pointed at Adam, quivering beside my mom. “How does he have a physical body, and why is he here?” Kuu floated in silence for a while, then its grin returned to its face.

“Update Alpha is restricted information, so I must decline to divulge sensitive information related to it, however we value your feedback and thank you for taking the time to reach out.”

“Oh, shut up! Answer my question, you stupid bear!” Kuu glanced at Adam.

“SYSTEM OVERRIDE. Update Alpha’s graphics and programming are built to rival and/or supersede that of the physical world. Just as CREO players and architects can move between worlds, so too will CREO game elements. I’m afraid I can’t provide much more information for you—but if you wish, we at CREO may delete and or confiscate NPC element 78335001-assigned name: Adam for you, if you wish.”

I was prepared to accept Kuu’s offer, but when it said that, Adam flinched and buried his face in Mom. She glared at me and held him tight.

“He’s alive now, don’t you dare.” She said. As I said before—Mom’s word was law in this world.

“That won’t be necessary.” I said to Kuu. “Just tell me… he’s really alive, isn’t he?” Kuu spun around and smiled.

“Update Alpha is restricted information, so I must decline to divulge sensitive information related to it.” Whoever had overridden Kuu evidently left the chat. “Additionally, according to the terms of services, which took effect when you logged into Update Alpha, we ask that you remain discreet regarding the Update, or face potential litigation.”

Translation, keep your mouth shut or we’ll sue your ass off.

“Got it.” I waved it away and Kuu disappeared in a puff of smoke, its annoying ‘huh huh’ laugh echoing as it vanished. A shuffling and stuttering sounded from my bed.

“G-god…” Adam said, kneeling on the floor and looking up at me with his big blue eyes. “I’m sorry for causing trouble. I don’t know what I am, but…”

“Stop calling me God.” I said, a little too harshly. Adam flinched at my words. “Sorry…” I lowered myself onto one knee and looked him in the eyes. “Look, I’m not a god or anything. I was lying back in CREO. I’m nobody, really. So, just call me Kai, ok?” Adam nodded. Mom grasped his hand and helped him up.

“Alright. I don’t understand most of what’s going on, and I’m not happy you jumped back into CREO so soon.” She pierced me with a look that would strike fear in any son. “But now that you’re here, let’s clean you up, Adam. It’ll be fun having another son for a while.” Adam looked at me, as if asking for permission, and I nodded. She took him to the bath and left me to lie on my bed once more.

Supersede physical reality, huh? I guess that’s what we’ve all been asking for… so why does it feel like such a bad thing? Why do I feel so disturbed when I look at him? I tried to get the thoughts out of my head, but I’d like to see you try to pretend you didn’t just create life and break the boundaries of natural law.

There wouldn’t be any sleeping that night—the images of the burning village still haunted me. I could only imagine how Adam felt, assuming he truly felt anything and was really alive, and not a lifeless imitation.

After his bath, Mom dressed him in an old t-shirt of mine and had me fix him something to eat—I went with cereal, since there wasn’t much else I knew how to make. I sat across the dining table from him, somewhat impressed he knew how to hold a spoon without being told. We sat in silence—save for the crunch crunch of cereal—illuminated by the white light over the kitchen sink, and the digital clock on our ancient oven that blinked 3:30 am. Was I supposed to say something? I’d never had siblings or been around kids. Certainly not ones I’d accidentally brought into existence. Adam noticed me staring at him and stared back as he ate. I leaned back in my chair with my arms behind my head, looking away, avoiding his gaze. To my surprise—and I admit amusement—he copied me, putting down his spoon and placing his hands at the back of his head, leaning back in his chair. I picked up a spoon from the nearby counter and balanced it on my nose (the skills of a master procrastinator). He attempted to do the same, but he couldn’t quite get it to stay. I grabbed a napkin and distracted him with it, as I snatched the spoon from my nose, making it look like I made it disappear. His eyes went wide and wider still when I made the spoon reappear behind his ear. It was the first time I saw him smile.

“How’d you do that?” He asked.

“Magic.” I said, taking a coin and making it spin on the table before I slapped my palm on it and replaced it with a piece of cereal. Adam laughed and clapped his hands.

“Is magic how you made me?” He asked. The smile that had crept on my face disappeared.

“I didn’t make you, Adam. The CREO system did. I just told it what to make you look like.” Yes, that was like saying ‘I didn’t commit the murder, the gun did,’ but I didn’t want him seeing me as a father. I’d be a pretty crappy dad.

“You named me.” He countered.

“That’s not a big deal.”

“It is to me.” He stared at me with those big, curious eyes, his head cocked to one side, like he was trying to figure something out about me. “Then you saved me from the dragon and brought me here.”

I didn’t save you.

“Do you know where ‘here’ is?” I asked him.

“Your mom said Fukui, Japan.”

“Okay, I’ll ask it a different way—where were you born?”

“In CREO. Hey, why do you look so different over there?”

“That’s a virtual world. My physical body stays here, and I’m represented there by a digital avatar.” Adam stared at me like I was speaking a foreign language. “It looks cooler, so I choose to look like that over there.” I said, technically telling the truth. Adam chuckled.

“Yeah, you look cooler when you’re not in your underwear.” Was that a joke? Was he really making fun of me?

“Dressing nice is a waste of time over here.” I said, a little peeved. “When you never leave the house, this is all you need.” I gestured to my gallant attire of a tank top and boxers (I scarcely owned anything else at this point).

“Even though there’s a hole in them?” I leaned back and noticed the sizeable hole, exposing some of my butt.

“Better than you, you’re naked under that shirt.”

“Oh, did I have a closet of my own?” This smart-ass… I was starting to like him—it’s not every day I come across someone who can keep up with my sarcasm.

“Why don’t you leave the house?” Adam asked.

“Because I don’t need to.”

“Is it dangerous outside?”


“Or is it just boring?”

“That too.”

“That’s why you play CREO, right?”

“I guess.”

“You’re not just afraid?” I glared at him, tired of the interrogation. Before I could get in a snappy remark, Adam yawned and his eyes drooped. “Can I sleep with you, Kai?”

“Mom made up a futon for you next to my bed.”

“Well, maybe I could get the bed… please?” I could’ve been mean and told him no, but I’m nothing if not generous. And I had a feeling he’d tell Mom on me.

As I laid in the futon, Adam sleeping in my bed, I made a decision, and a promise.

The decision: I’d return to Update Alpha. There was too much I didn’t understand about it. Like it or not, I made Adam come into the world and I needed to know how. My ego may have been shattered by Pluton in the championship, but CREO was still my whole world, and its stakes just got a lot higher.

The promise: I’d keep Adam safe. I didn’t trust the people at CREO—when Kuu mentioned ‘confiscating’ him, I wondered if they themselves understood what it was they’d created. It wasn’t hard to imagine them trying to use Adam to figure that out. Then again, maybe I read too many conspiracy theories and crime manga.