Reflexes made lightning fast, if a little jittery, by energy drinks. Eyes bloodshot from darting constantly to and fro for hours on end. Thumbs callused and aching from repeated jabbing at buttons. This was the world of the Gamer.
Though his eyes never dared to flick from his screen, he could hear the others as they were variously defeated or remained triumphant. Screams of agony and joy mixed to create a cacophonous melody that brought the only joy his heart could know. The sight of his friends, allies and enemies alike, removed from the tournament room thrilled him to his very core, propelling him onward in a rush of adrenalin with the thought: “It wasn’t me. I’m still here.”
In the world of the game, the Gamer stalked on elbows and knees through air vents to reach higher ground more suitable for a sniper to pick off his opponents. The air vents were clichéd, true, which is why he took extra caution moving, in case anyone had placed traps inside. He would have. Clipping a tripwire so that it did not trigger a grenade and, by extension, his demise, he crept forward.
His breath caught in his throat. There, at the end of the crawlspace, was an enemy combatant, using his very strategy, hanging her rifle muzzle out of the vent. Risking the bare minimum of noise, the Gamer removed his silenced pistol from its holster and pressed it to the back of her head. “I’m sorry,” he whispered into his microphone and pulled the trigger.
The explosion of her head in the game was echoed by one in reality. Blood splattered across the Gamer’s screen. It had been the girl in the tournament directly to his left. He only took a moment to look at her corpse, splayed and pouring blood onto a now ruined console, when he saw the edges of his own screen blinking a warm, golden glow to indicate that he had won.
He had won. He had survived.
Tournament officials came to collect the girl’s body. The Gamer wondered what her real name was, before she had become just one more username in this tournament, truly played to the death.