In the previous episode, Darrell’s computer suddenly crashed, and the words “DO YOU ACCEPT THE CORRUPTION?” appeared on the screen. Readers voted that he type Y-E-S.
His fingers strike the keys one by one. Each clicks loudly, seeming to echo in the silent room. There is no hesitance when he hits the enter key, putting him on the path of no return. A bright flash nearly blinds him as the screen blurs with an array of colors. Numbers swim before his eyes, zeroes and ones. Darrel’s eyes remain fixated on his computer, lost in a hypnotic trance. But then a high pitch squeal ruptures through the speakers, bringing him back to his senses. Shaking his head of the fogginess, he stares at his computer with a bizarre look.
“What the heck?” he groans, unable to comprehend what is happening to the device. “Oh man! No-no-no…”
He begins frantically hitting keys, hoping that something he presses will cancel whatever is happening to his computer. Instead, each keystroke only seems to enrage the device, as the squeals become angry growls. Realizing nothing he is doing seems to be working Darrel reaches for the power plug, deciding that forcing a shutdown would be the best chance of saving his computer from this strange virus. Leaning down, it lets out one last high-pitched scream, and then falls silent. The screen dims, all light leaves it, except for a minute dot at the center.
Darrel looks up to see that the strange light show has ended. He looks over his computer, making sure that nothing is damaged. Luckily it appears to be okay, nothing broken. But the real check happens once he turns the computer back on. His finger hits the button…
The single dot of light bursts through the computer screen, and hits Darrel square in the chest. It strikes him like a bolt of lightning, knocking him off his chair, sending him smashing into his bookshelf across the room. Books and notebooks tumble on him, a rain of papers scatter everywhere like fallen snow. He does not get up, only twitches every once in a while. After ten minutes, he manages to sit upright. A groan gurgles from his throat, his head pounding from the heavy textbooks smacking him in the skull. Dazed, he holds his head with his right hand, and winces when he feels something cold and sharp touch his scalp.
Pulling his hand in front of his face, he sees his entire arm encased in a metal gauntlet decorated with a plethora of black spikes. Fingers fitted with razor-sharp blades. Darrel’s eyes widen when he sees the armor his character wears in the game has latched onto his limb. The Gauntlet of the Under Realm has somehow leapt into the real world.
“Whoa,“ is all that he can manage to speak, eyes locked on the piece of armor. “I think I hit my head harder than I thought…”
Nothing of the sort, Atlas…
“Huh?” Darrel leaps to his feet, looking around for a voice. “Who said that?”
Have you forgotten me, young warrior?
Looking at the armored arm gives him his answer. In the game, Atlas Grey had traveled to the Under Realm, a land of undead and devious demons. Fighting against the fiends, he ventured to the throne room where he met Tartarus, King of the Under Realm. A fierce battle ensued, and Atlas emerged victor winning a piece of the cursed armor worn by the king. The bewitched gauntlet carried a fraction of Tartarus’ soul, so that he could one day claim Atlas’ body for his own. It would appear that the spirit of the dark king had traveled along with the gauntlet.
“This can’t be real,” Darrel shakes his head in disbelief, trying to pry the armor off of his arm.
You seem to be acting strange, Atlas. Both you and I removing the armor is impossible. Why do you try to fight it?
“Oh crap, this is real,” he gasps, eyes locked on the steel glove.
What do you mean real? Wait…heh-heh-heh hah…You’re not Atlas. That means…hah hah hah…
The wicked laughter is followed by an icy chill running through Darrel’s body. Every muscle feels like it has locked up, become as stiff as steel. The cold spreads over his flesh, like a living parasite eating away at him. But it is not an insect that crawls across his skin, it is metal. Black spews from the gauntlet like a plague, spreading to every inch of his body, coating him in armor.
“No, get off of me,” Darrel demands, barking at the Tartarus.
You are weak…weaker than Atlas…your body shall be mine!
Darrel struggles harder to remain in control, but the armor stays incredibly stiff. All he can do as the armor cocoons him, as the helmet of his character, Atlas Grey, drowns him in darkness. He lets out one final scream, hoping that it will get someone’s attention.
Except for the tattered cloak, the spitting image of Atlas Grey stands in Darrel’s bedroom. The horrid king that dwells in the suit has taken control of the boy. The armored soldier takes its first steps, out of the room and into the hallway. As the haunting armor rounds a corner, Tartarus is met by Darrel’s father. The forty-year-old man has just stepped through the door, still gowned in his police uniform. He came just in time to hear his son scream. And now he sees a man in full armor stepping out of his room.
“Who are you?” Mr. Flint demands to know, as he grabs his weapon.
Tartarus answers by charging like a bull. Officer Flint is forced to fire a few shots, not knowing it is his son that dwells inside the armor. Bullets ricochet off the metal. The armored knight reaches the police officer and grabs him by the collar of his uniform. Planting his steel foot, he tosses the man, sending him crashing through the door.
The officer falls onto the grass, covered in the brick debris. Despite being bruised, he shakes off the pain, and looks to the gaping hole in his house. Tartarus steps through the opening.
Darrel’s father grabs his radio, “This is Officer Flint, requesting backup…now!”
Across town, a young woman steps out of the shower, dressing in a bathrobe. Alyssa Cain wraps a towel around her head to dry her hair, and enters her bedroom. Sitting on her bed is her laptop, which she thought she had shut off. Instead, a strange question appeared on the screen.
DO YOU ACCEPT THE CORRUPTION? Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.