Under 18 Non-Native English Speaker – Winner 2015

“Like a Game”

by Marine Sabourin

It is easy. You know it very well. You have done it a million times before. You know the way through and through. You can’t fail. It is like child’s play.

You peek down in. The prohibited area extends at your feet. Wide. Gloomy. Without hesitation, you advance toward the edge of the wall where you are. And, quickly, you jump in the vacuum, in haste.

Push on the button “B”.

A few seconds later, you find yourself in the prohibited area. Nobody in view. Silence. It is easy. You move along your way.

Press on the top of the joystick.

In the dark night, the area is illuminated by many streetlights, by flickering lights. So, if somebody comes out, you are going to notice him. You must be careful; the area is full of guards. But you are not afraid.

You start to run.

Double push on the top of the joystick.

The noise of your footsteps echoes in the grey walls of the secret buildings, and your shadow moves slowly, like in a grisly dance. You look behind your back, to be sure that nobody has followed you. Not a soul in sight. Indeed, it is very, very easy, tonight! You smile. It is almost annoying. But the party has just begun.

You enter like a shadow into the bigger building, by a little door. You know of its existence, because you have previewed it all ahead of time.

On the top of the joystick, push the button “X”.

Here, the game risks becoming more complicated. Interesting.

Instantly, you freeze. You hear some voices. The place is not empty. Be careful, you don’t want to be seen!

Double click on the joystick, and push the button “B”.

Guardedly, you walk, head bowed. You graze the grey walls. You know perfectly well the way to go. No need for a map.

You have to go on to the central room, which is the main control panel of all the cameras, to turn off all the surveillance systems. Simple precaution. You are an intruder here; the peril can be great …

Invisibly, you find your way into the building. You move with a strange grace, sure of yourself. Sure of your near success. But nonetheless, you are on your guard. Your heart starts to throb stronger. Sometimes, you hear voices, footsteps … You are not alone …

You turn left into a long corridor. You are nearing your goal. You just need to unplug the electrical system, and after, you have two minutes to run up to your next objective, the cargo room. Just two minutes, that is all the time you have before the alarm goes off.

This thought gives you wings. You have wanted to do this mission for so long! You can’t fail. Just at the thought of it, you feel an adrenaline rush.

Suddenly, as you walk quickly into the dark hall way, a door opens. You throw yourself onto your belly, by sheer reflex.

Press down on the joystick, and double push on the button “B”.

Your respiration accelerates. You see nothing, facing the ground, immersed in the dark. You concentrate your senses on your hearing. Voices. Footsteps.

Hopefully no one will discover you …

You know perfectly well what you have to do. Count, slowly. To ten, with care, inside your head. You hold your breath.

Ten. Good.

Now, the danger has passed. You can pursue your mission.

Push on the right of the joystick.

You stand up, and start off again. The long corridor is drenched in black. But now the voices and footsteps are far from here, you walk with a firm step. You are focused on your goal.

The risk has passed, no need to panic.

But, you scarcely progress a few meters when a swish rips through the silence. You stop yourself abruptly, agape.

Suddenly, a strange clatter reverberates and you feel a sharp pain, right in your left calf. You remain paralyzed.

You cry out, in spite of yourself. It is very painful! The noise is amplified around you.

You don’t understand. You hurt. A searing pain. It is not natural!

Yours tears begin to flow down yours cheeks.

You don’t understand. What is happening?

You cut and run, on the spur of the moment.

You hurt …

Double push on the top of the joystick.

You keep running, despite the throbbing pain.

You find yourself in a maze of corridors. It dawns on you that you are lost. You don’t know where to go. You have forgotten the way. Your mind is overrun by the pain in your calf. By the excruciating pain.

But, quickly, your chest sizzles inside you. You need a break, to catch your breath. In your memories, you were more resistant …

Overwrought, you lean against a wall.

Press on the button A.

Why is it so painful? You have never had pain like this before. It is not natural … Something’s not right … A lot of questions swirl around in your head. Without response.

You start to be scared. No. Now, you are scared. Doubt rises in your mind. However, you were so sure of yourself … But now, the wind has turned. You shiver. You try to reflect, to construe the situation, but you can’t.

You take a giant breath in, to give you courage. De-stress, everything will be okay. You are going to win. Inevitably.

It is simply a little … Unforeseen …? Oh, yes of course, just a little inconvenience, nothing at all!

Bang, lights turn on. You freeze.

Noise surrounds you, once again.

Your eyes have difficulty accommodating the strong, dazzling light.

You have been spotted. Damn …

Quickly, a bunch of guards encircle you.

It was not supposed to be this way …

What can you do? It is very unexpected!

Without thinking, you run.


Double push on the top of the joystick.

But, you are surrounded, you collide with someone, or something, you don’t care.

You hear yelling. You panic.

You feel a hand on your shoulder, and another grab your arm.

You want to escape, to run away. You try forcefully to extricate yourself.

Double push on the top of the joystick. .Again and again.

You ears are a myriad of voices.

You abandon yourself to the panic. Something has gone terribly wrong! You had everything planned!

You rush headlong, in vain …



Right in the middle of your chest.

You scream.

You fall.

You don’t understand … What is happening …?

Your mind is empty. The pain is too intense.

You find yourself on the floor.

You stop breathing.

Your head is spinning.

You are suffering.

It is the end, you think …

The end..? No, why? Are you not on your couch, peaceful and warm, calmly playing your favorite video game…?

And what if all this is … reality …?

And what if it is not a game …?

You are suddenly conscious of reality.

You realize your mistake. Your big mistake…

Oh … But what did you do…?

In real life, you have only one chance …

One life.