Phantasmagoria

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The Government Wants 'YOU!'

Getting registered for this game is taking forever. There's like a hundred people queuing up to 'enlist' in this game. The Game Emporium is flooded with human beings hungry for fame, riches and brilliance. No matter how much of those you have in this world, it won't prolong your life. I look at all the happy, smiling faces of all the men in the queue, and they have no clue what they are doing. Man, people are dumb. But then again, so am I. I'm entering for the sake of a false promise. The government wants me to play so I can have a nicer life with Hannah, my wife, and Jayden, my son.

But what could they possibly offer me that would constitute a 'nicer life'?

More money?

A new house?

A new job? Yeah, right. Like that would guarantee our happiness. But it would make Hannah feel better, I guess. We've been having a rough couple of months lately. She wants another baby, but I've been so caught up with this game training we haven't had time to discuss things. She thinks I'm avoiding it. I don't know, maybe I am. We had a miscarriage earlier, and we are just getting back to normal. I would love to have a daughter, but I want to focus on having a better relationship with Jayden. Most of his life was spent with me not being with him, so I want to make up for lost time. He sometimes ignores me by giving me the silent treatment, something he learned from his mother. He is so like her, and in many ways, just like me. Stubborn as a mule.

''Hello, sir. Could I have your name, date of birth, nationality and address please?'' says a blonde-haired Caucasian woman in front of me, sitting behind a desk. I hadn't realised I had arrived at the registration desk. Time flies when you're lost in your own thoughts.

''Uh, yeah, hi. My full name is Nathaniel Ashton Williams, born 16th October 1985, an American citizen and I currently live at 442 Lyre Apartment, Crawley Road, Manhattan, Van Buren State,'' I reply to the woman. All the states of America have been renamed after all the presidents and notable historical figures. New York, where I live, is now called Van Buren State, after the 8th President of the United States of America, Martin Van Buren. The government became very patriotic a while back, and wanted to celebrate what they called the 'New America' by preserving their heritage. They still keep the Native American names though, as they say it is a 'protection of an historical constitution'.

''Can you tell me what your current occupation is? If you do not have one, can you tell me your previous occupation up to the point of unemployment or retirement please?'' the lady asks me.

''My current occupation is brick laying, er, construction,'' I tell her.

''How long have you been at this job?'' she asks.

''8 years,'' I reply.

''What was your occupation before that one, if you had one?'' she inquires some more.

''Infantryman in the United States Army,'' I answer.

''And what was your field of position and rank?'' she queries further.

''My field division was reconnaissance and I had achieved the final rank of Corporal,'' I reply. She carries on scribbling on her notepad every time I answer.

''What is the reason for you no longer being in the army?'' she asks me another question.

''Honourable discharge; I completed my tour of duty,'' I respond.

''When was this?'' she continues.

''31st July, 2015,'' I answer. She's asking quite a few questions about my role in the army. I wonder if she was asked to interrogate me.

''When did you begin your phase training for Phantasmagoria?'' she asks a question that is no longer about my role in the army.

''Um, 2nd April, 2025; this year,'' I reply.

''And how many phases did you successfully complete?'' she inquires further.

''16,'' I answer. She is writing extremely quickly. Her background must be in administration.

''Do you have any underlying health problems, or injuries received whilst on your tours of duty that impede your way of life currently?'' she further questions.

''Nope, no history, and I've healed up from all of my injuries incurred whilst on duty,'' I tell her.

''Any mental health issues that you suffer from or that run in the family?'' she goes on.

''Nope,'' I reply. This is taking longer than usual. I look up from her to see if I am being scouted by any government officials, but I can't see any one in suits and shades.

''And finally, can you please tell me if you will be free on the 24th of August of this year?'' she asks. Better be the final question.

''Yeah, I'll be free,'' I respond. I have taken a leave of absence from work, so I haven't got anything better to do. She stamps a document in front of her and snaps her head up to look at me.

''Thank you very much for your cooperation, Mr Williams. We will be in touch with information about the game closer to the time of your induction. Have a nice day,'' she ends with a smile. She hands me the document she stamped, which happens to be a proof of registration letter. She had stamped the word 'APPROVED' in red at the bottom of it.

''You too,'' I answer back as I take the letter and go away from the desk. I look at the letter while I begin to walk away from the Game Emporium. As I read over the details of the letter, I come to a sentence which reads: 'Upon completion of the game, the winner(s) will be guaranteed a cash prize of $50,000,000.' I stop as I scrutinise this figure.

$50,000,000. That's a lot of money. Does the government even have that kind of money? And are they really going to pay the person who ever wins the game? I look back at the queue, which is getting longer down the street. Most of these people don't have a clue of what they are doing at all. They are a lost populace.


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