It’s Child’s Play

by Patrick O’Connor

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WHEN Frank awoke it was a beautiful day with a clear blue sky. The sun was exceptionally strong even at that early hour, stronger than it had been for many a year.

But as soon as he opened his eyes he knew that something was wrong.

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The trouble was he didn’t know his name was Frank. He knew sod all in fact.

That was evident as soon as he turned his head. There was a small, black coloured device by his side with a display area showing several glowing neon red figures. He had no clue what it was.

He was startled when it suddenly made a loud buzzing sound which went on and on.

Frank was lying in a big, warm, comfortable area and didn’t want to move. So he continued to stare at the device, praying that the noise would stop.

But despite the intrusive sound, the surroundings felt secure and safe. He pulled the covers over him so that it was entirely dark and the noise wasn’t so loud. He wasn’t frightened by the dark, he was soothed by being cocooned in something so warm and soft. I want to stay here forever, he thought.

Eventually he popped his head out and stared upwards for quite a while. He frowned as he tried to make sense of what was happening but his thoughts were devoid of, well, thoughts.

After a while he reasoned that he would have to move and find out what was happening. When he got up he realised that he was naked and the warmth quickly began to disappear.

Frank covered himself up with a multi-coloured gown which was lying on the floor. He went out through the door and moved cautiously down the thickly carpeted stairs.

As he reached the bottom, a young, blond haired boy came rushing towards him and said: “Dad! Dad! You’ve got to come and see this on YouTube, it’s magic.”

Frank stared at him with some bewilderment. Not only had he no idea who he (Frank) was, he had no idea who the boy was. And what on earth was YouTube?

The boy turned and went back into another room and Frank followed. The youngster, who was about half Frank’s size, sat down at a desk alongside another strange device.

This comprised two sections, one a flat apparatus with symbols on it, the other an upright area on which Frank could see moving pictures.

“It’s this bus – on the motorway – it just careered off and crashed down an embankment. Only about an hour ago. Look at it dad, wicked!” said the boy who was flush with excitement.

“And Ben’s texted to say there’s been a massive train crash. I hope that’s on YouTube soon.

All the best crashes end up here you know. You ought to watch it dad.”

Frank was getting very puzzled by now, his brain trying to come to terms with a speedy tide of words he just couldn’t comprehend.

He had a vague awareness of the meaning of some of them but what was ‘text’? He’d never heard of it.

He stared at the screen and realised that the boy was somehow playing the bus sequence over and over again and yelling excitedly.

As he stood there open-mouthed, a young girl joined them in the room.

She had long blonde hair and was very pretty. The girl was holding a pink coloured device close to her ear and seemed to be speaking to another person.

“Hi Becky, yeah I’ll be around in about an hour…… what’s Natasha been saying……gross, really gross. See ya soon babe.”

She pressed something on the device and it made a clicking sound.

“Dad, you okay? You haven’t got this bug have you?”

He looked at her perplexed. “Only Becky says her mum and dad are acting really weird this morning, they’re just staggering around the house talking gibberish. Natasha’s mum won’t get out of bed, just lies there crying.”

The girl didn’t wait for a reply but just turned away and strode purposely out of the room.

Frank returned his attention back to the screen on the desk but the moving picture had now gone and had been replaced by a montage of colourful images.

The noise emerging from the screen was certainly loud and violent. The boy looked totally engrossed in what was happening in front of him.

Frank left the room and didn’t really know where he was going but ended up in a large, area in which nearly everything appeared to be white.

He stumbled around and bumped his knee on something. Frank could feel tears appearing in his eyes. As he rubbed the sore spot, he felt his bottom lip starting to quiver.

What’s happening to me, he wondered.

He gazed at a noisy appliance which had a light on. Inside a container was moving around in a slow circular movement and he was becoming aware of a strange odour. Frank stood there for a moment watching the container spin round and round.

There were other strange implements in the room, none of which Frank could remember seeing before.

The boy came into the room. He had little devices stuck into each side of his head with long strings which ran down to a hole in his clothes. He was making a humming noise and shaking his head in a rhythmic fashion.

The boy walked past him to a tall white coloured unit, opened it, exposing Frank to dazzling light and took out a yellow cartoon and drank from it with swift, noisy gulps.

“Jason, come and see this. QUICKLY!” cried the girl from somewhere close. Frank did not know if she was talking to the boy or him so he followed the sound into an even bigger space with several big comfortable sitting areas.