“See, Alan? I told you this new game was being given away free. I know what I’m doing this weekend!” David cheered. He brandished his laptop to his roommate. They were watching TV just hours earlier when the gaming journalism site they were both subscribed to, alerted them of a brand-new, free game that could be downloaded immediately from home. It was a new concept. Online games were just coming to market, as far as David was concerned, physical media was dead. This new system would change the world. What a time to be alive. David giggled.
David was excited; Alan, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care. He would likely be on the couch the whole weekend. David had no complaints.
David got up from the couch, he held his laptop in a haphazard way. Open, with a tenuous grip always on the verge of being dropped. David crossed the room to the kitchen. He placed the laptop on the dining room table. Where was his favorite bowl? It was larger than the others and perfect for a bowl of cereal. The sink was filled with filthy dishes.
“Fuck me, someone should clean this up.” David knew that it was as much Alan’s mess as his own. However, he had no intention of cleaning it up. This fucking game is gonna be awesome! He dug through the dishes and found the holy grail of oversized bowls. He began scrubbing it with a sponge and soap. Cereal, milk, tablespoon.
“Well, see you in, like, two years from now.” David joked, slipping into his room with an absurdly large bowl of cereal, laptop dangling from his other hand. On his full-sized monitor he skimmed through the process of downloading the game, a gray textbox emerged into view – Terms of service.
David rolled his eyes. “Like anyone reads this? Since when do they do these on games? This is ridiculous.” He took a spoonful of cereal, he scrolled to the bottom.
He proceeded to the end of the text box, where a confirmation message waited for him.
‘I agree’ It said. David almost felt as if it was taunting him; he only wanted to play the damn game already! Why were all of these pesky popups and confirmation messages in the way of his precious game? David checked the box beside, I agree.
“Yeah, yeah, of course, I do.” David rolled his eyes, he was directed to the main menu of the game. Bright colors flashed in front of him. David stuck out his tongue and made the sign of the devil with his fingers.
“Sick!” He said. Music would be awesome right now.
The anticipated ‘welcome’ message appeared an intense sense of well-being washed over him. That’s what I’m talking about, David thought. He forgot about the music.
“Finally!” He leaned in close to the monitor smiling, eyes absorbing every bit of content.
David was about to take another bite of his applejacks when a deafening boom threw him out of his chair, his cereal spilling all over his desk, chair, and carpet.
“What the fuck is going on?” he stood up and looked around, his bedroom door was open, three men in riot gear barged into the room, They grabbed David and held him in place.
“Alan!!” David screamed.
David lurched forward to get free, however, it made no difference their grip on him was superior. David frantically searched for Alan in the corner of his eye, his roommate was nowhere to be found. There was someone standing in front of him, he hadn’t seen him come in. A short man, stocky, he was late twenties and wearing horn-rimmed glasses, donning a tediously plain white flannel and holding a clipboard.
“David Redhill… is that correct?” He read off the clipboard, then looked up at David. To David’s utter horror… it truly was his name.
“What the hell do you want from me? I did nothing wrong! Who the fuck are you guys?” David protested, still struggling against the agents. Alan was peeking through the doorway and he was recording the whole incident.
“Alan, call the police!” He called out.
“I called them David! They should be here in just a few minutes!” Alan yelled. From the doorway, Alan pointed at the diminutive man. “Since when did we become a police state?!”
“While you slept.” The diminutive man said.
“What the fuck did you just say?” Alan roared.
Seemingly unfazed, the diminutive man in the white flannel sighed, then continued to read off the clipboard, “according to article 237A in the terms of service of the program you’ve downloaded, and I quote directly, “I hereby volunteer as a human sacrifice to our glorious dark lord.'”
“What the fuck?! You’re unreal! There’s no way that this is true! This is illegal!” David continued to protest.
Alan grabbed the little asshole’s collar. A pair of cops were in the doorway.
“What’s happening here?” The leading cop asked. His hand on the butt of his gun.
“Thank God,” David said. Alan stepped back and let go of the diminutive man in flannel. Unfazed, the little dork showed the police the clipboard.
“Right here, Sir. David Redhill here has complied with the terms of service… yeah, right there, article 237A…”
The cop was reciting the article quietly, reading it multiple times. He then looked up at David, who was still struggling helplessly.
“I’m sorry, kid. We can’t do anything. You agreed with the terms of service. You are no longer under my jurisdiction.” He shrugged. The Cops began to walk out of the room.
“No, please help me! What the fuck?!!” David wailed.
The man in white flannel gingerly moved to the far corner of the room. David screamed he had no words. Alan tackled the Agent holding David’s left arm. As they fell to the floor David threw his elbow over his shoulder. It struck the guy behind him in the helmet. David got punched in the kidneys and then face. He fell to the floor, David tried to get up, raising his head but he was kicked in the face by an oversized black boot. An involuntary sleep was imposed on him.
One of the agents had David draped over his right shoulder. They crossed through the living room towards the broken front door. The diminutive man moved silently behind them following them out.
Alan woke up on the floor. “David!” He screamed, he was bleeding from his ears and his nose was broken. David was gone.