Kalen sliced the sword through the air. It obeyed the command, making a sharp cut on the villain’s arm. The villain escaped into the darkness.
“Arrr!” Anant screamed. “Next time no escape for you”, he declared. Taking off the contraptions with the devotion only an addict could manage, he switched off the monitor and went to bed with a satisfied smirk. His mother sighed as she saw him asleep already at 9 pm. If only he socialized more with his classmates or made friends in the neighborhood instead of making excuses of poor health to stay cooped up here. Of course, his deformity invited ridicule from morons, but he had to be strong, instead of taking shelter in the luxuries of the rich. He wouldn’t confide in her either… She turned out the lights and left quietly.
There was a flash of lightning and a crack of electricity. Anant jerked awake. It was cold and he had goose pimples. Where was his blanket….What the hell, he was naked. He sat up, alarmed, and found shorts and a long robe by his side, on a cold stone floor. He put them on quickly, looking around at an empty corridor, wondering if he was in some dream. He pinched himself. Ow! Where was he? He stood up in confusion, and looked around. Wait, did he actually stand up? He shuddered, and looked down at his feet. They were as they should be, normal! He walked around excitedly, even jumped. Tears welled up in his eyes as he saw for himself that he wasn’t “the differently-abled” anymore. If this was a dream, he would enjoy it!
He spent the next few minutes hopping, skipping, walking, and running around the corridor. He looked around at the bricked wall lit at intervals by torches. And then he realized he was inside his game – his favourite video game. This was Combat0.3, his game and he was Kalen, the hero! Hmm, this was weird, but what else could he do except live the moment? He pressed his ears to the brick wall. Nothing. And suddenly, he found an opening and blinked in strong, electric light. He was looking out INTO his room! And his classmate Nitin was IN Anant’s bedroom.
Anant realized that the jerk must’ve come over to borrow something from “my super-intelligent classmate Anant”, after flattering his mom with carefully practised manners. And the jerk had actually switched on the monitor to play Anant’s favourite game, not bothering to inform his mom that “Anant isn’t in bed”.
Anant was annoyed at this intrusion into his exciting dream, but just then something else happened. Nazduk, the evil villain, appeared in front of him with a nasty sword. He had no time to lose. He would deal with Nitin later. He grabbed a sword that suddenly appeared in a corner, and prepared to attack. His powerful hands moved flawlessly as he dodged every swish and inflicted cut after cut. With this new-found energy, the villain was no match. Within a few minutes, Nazduk lay beheaded on the floor.
Haiyyaah! Anant yelled a war cry. He wondered if he could get out and show his classmates how well he had played. A beep indicated – Game over.
The hum of the AC woke him. He found that he was back in his bed, back to the handicap. He grimaced. This had been a real good dream. “Just a dream”, he mumbled and drifted back to sleep.
In the morning, he wheeled himself into the living room as usual, only to find his mother talking in urgent whispers over the phone. She turned to him sadly. “Your classmate Nitin has been missing all night, Anant. He had come here to borrow your books yesterday while you were sleeping, such a polite boy, said he would not disturb you. He apparently told them he might be staying over at a friend’s place afterwards, but now they are worried. None of his other friends have heard from him. Do you have some idea of where else he might have gone? I hope he has not been kidnapped on the streets”, she sighed. The wheelchair jerked as Anant sat upright, horror-struck, the image of Nazduk’s body in his head. Suddenly, the face seemed quite familiar to him.
He sat motionless for a few minutes, and then shook his head. “No clue mom”.
Later in his room, he chuckled nastily. “Serves him right for bullying me”.