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If only I hadn’t been bored two days ago. I’m not one to play those stupid games on Facebook, but boredom drove me to it. I clicked on the very first game that came into my News Feed; it was called “The Choosing Game” and had a tag line that said, “So addicting that once you start, the game won’t let you stop!” How cheesy.
Anyways, I clicked on it, just hoping to relieve my boredom for a few minutes. The first page simply had the words “The Choosing Game” on top and two gray boxes I could click. One said “Friends” and one said “Enemies." Easy choice I thought; obviously one would pick friends over enemies, so I clicked it. The second page was similar but had two names instead, “Mike Pickman” and “Tyler Ratherburg." Clearly the program had simply accessed my Facebook friends. Arbitrarily, I clicked Mike’s name which caused the game to close itself.
"Well that game was stupid," I thought to myself. So stupid in fact, I didn’t even bother to try and play it again. With the internet failing me, I flopped onto the couch to watch some TV. About three hours later, I got a text from Mike that said “Thanks a lot."
"Weird," I thought, but maybe the program had sent him a message saying I had picked him as a better friend. I sent him a text back saying “no prob.” I decided to doze off until dinner time.
As I awoke from my slumber, my wife was in the room, clearly upset. I asked her what happened and she could barely get it out; Mike was found dead by his wife. He had hung himself, I was speechless. I sat there hugging my wife, not fully believing. It certainly had to be a coincidence. After barely eating, I spent the rest of the night wondering if I had really condemned my friend to death merely by clicking a button.
The next day I opened my laptop and immediately “The Choosing Game” opened itself without prompting. No way, this can’t be real. “Rachel King” and “Bethany Cortez” were the two options. I slammed my laptop shut and started pacing the room. All I have to do is avoid the internet and then I can’t choose, I thought to myself.
Just then my phone buzzed. I had a text message; not from any number, but simply from "The Choosing Game." It said I must make a choice, again giving me the two names. It was an agonizingly long day. I fiendishly checked my phone for any calls or texts, but nothing. Finally at 9:55 pm, when everyone else in the house was in bed, another text came. It said “You have 5 minutes to choose.” I stubbornly decided not to reply. Those five minutes seemed to take hours. Finally 10:01 rolled around and no new texts. I was slightly relieved.
There was no way I was sleeping, so I finally worked up the courage to check Facebook. I checked both of their pages for activity, but neither had posted all day. Then at 11:23, my heart skipped a beat. There was a new post from Rachel; it didn’t say anything except that she was with Bethany. My palms were sweating as I was refreshing the page. Three minutes later, one message in my inbox. “Why would you do this to us? – Rachel and Bethany.” I went to the bathroom and puked.
I didn’t sleep a wink that night. Early news reports told the story of two successful twenty something’s inexplicably jumping to their deaths together. My wife asked me what was wrong, but all I could mumble was that I was calling in sick for work again.
It’s now 9:50 pm. I’ve left my house without plans to return. I’m looking out over the lake, wondering how the water could possibly be so calm. Anger, sadness, and grief ripple across my body. This morning still seems like a dream, but I know it’s all too real. When I opened my laptop, two names were given to me. “James Reed” and “Jessica Reed”. I must now decide who gets to live; my son or my daughter.
My phone buzzed. “You have 5 minutes to choose.”