A game of F.A.R.T.S., Part 3.

There was a terrified silence in the room.

“Where are the men who spoke so harshly about me a few minutes ago? And why are there total cowards sitting in their place?”

More silence.

“Fine, don’t say a word. Now I must do something with you all, and it doesn’t involve sending you home alive.”

What did he mean by that?

“If there’s anyone I hate,” Starg snarled. “it’s someone with skills of observation and logic. A few more minutes in the break room and you would have arrived at the truth. You’re right, this is not even a legitimate business venture, and that would mean none of you are really employees. That also means none of you were ever hired in the first place.”

“All right,” Ian could take no more. “What’s going on? Why are we here?”

“To feed me, of course.” Starg replied. “I feed on your fear, your stress, your frustration and most of all, your blood.”

“So you have us cut our faces so you can drink our blood?” Steve finally had the courage to speak up. “What are you, a vampire?”

“No,” Starg replied with a slight chuckle. “Unfortunately, I’m something far worse than a vampire, only there’s no word to describe exactly what I am. As far as I know, I’m the only one of my kind.”

“No way are you human!” Dave retorted.

There was a long silence in the room. Dave began to regret his outburst.

“Another brilliant observation,” Starg finally said. “Another stunning display of your powers of deduction. What amazing senses of logic you all possess.”

The agents were unsure of whether to take that as a complement or as a deeply sarcastic remark.

“I thought my plan was perfect.” Starg interrupted their thoughts. “I thought this was the best way. For years I watched your people and learned about your ways and weaknesses. I formulated my plan to cater to those weaknesses and to lure you here to what you thought was a steady job. The things that guys want most. A job, a steady income, and getting to playing games on the Internet while getting paid for it. It’s what brought you here so I can have you cornered without you suspecting it.

“From there I only had to create the environment needed to generate the frustration and stress for me to feed on, and I had to devise a way to feed on your blood. And now I have you all terrified, which is just the nourishment I need to sustain my existence.

“You’re right. This isn’t even a real business. You were never playing against anyone, period. Hell, this office doesn’t even have Internet access. You were just running a program I wrote that makes sure you lose, every time. I made this whole thing up because I know what works. For you see, this whole thing was planned as a trap, an eight-hour cage to hold you captive while I feed on you. I considered it a far more elegant alternative to hiding in a dark alley somewhere and jumping out at anyone who passes.”

Another long silence.

“There, now you know the truth. I definitely cannot let you leave this room alive.”

Then chaos ensued. There was a series of violent noises in the dark, the sound of flesh being devoured, the crunching of bones and the slurping of intestines removed. There was much yelling and screaming as the agents met fates far more cruel than they could ever imagine. Within minutes, they were all destroyed, devoured and digested.

Then the lights came back on to illuminate an empty office with no trace or remains of the agents. It appeared as if nothing ever happened and no one had ever set foot in the office. The agents were all gone, and so was Starg. No one had ever seen him but they had definitely heard his voice during their last few minutes alive.

A few blocks away, a happy whoop of joy emanated from a bedroom on the second floor of the apartment complex. Jim had been filling out online applications all morning and had arrived at a web site that hired him on the spot. He ran for his phone to call his parents with the good news.

“That’s wonderful!” his mother said. “You got hired, just like that? No interview?”

“No interview,” Jim replied. “I just got a confirmation that I’m starting tomorrow.”

“Really? What kind of work would you be doing?”

“Playing some weird online game called F.A.R.T.S.”


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