Trying to make money to keep their home ended up getting these boys stuck in a video-game!
The Infinite Bit Tournament
Knock Knock Knock
For most kids, it’s the best thing in the world to hear a knocking at your door. At this particular point in the year for the Walters, it was not.
Knock Knock Knock
“I’m coming!”, a woman yelled, standing up from the uncomfortable leather couch that she was sitting on. Five minutes later, the woman came back.
The second occupant of the couch was a tall, intelligent 15 year old named Lucas. “What’s the problem this time Gram?", this was the name that Lucas called his grandmother, even though he knew she hated it. “Another measly fee for flying a small drone into our neighbor’s garden?”
“No, much worse…", Joyce continued, “we received a foreclosure notice on the house.”
“Well that’s okay, we’ve dealt with this before. How much do we-”
“$10,000 by the end of the month.”
Just then, Lucas’ little brother James came tromping down the stairs. James was about five feet tall, had blonde hair, and always wore his trademark smirk on his face. Considering that he was only 14, he knew a lot about financial issues. He noticed how grim Joyce and Lucas were and asked what was wrong.
“We got a foreclosure notice on the house, again," Lucas answered.
James was confused, “I don’t understand why you’re so sad, it’s just a small-”
“$10,000 dollars?", Joyce ended. James fell down the last two steps. They all knew that Joyce was 70 and retired five years ago. James and Lucas had jobs, but not enough to pay for the loan. They all sat there in silence for quite a few minutes, pondering of ways to make enough money.
“The newspaper," Joyce thought out loud.
“What abut it?", James inquired.
“You two should look through it for jobs," Joyce replied.
Lucas sighed, “Gram, it’s not the 1990s anymore, there’s no more jobs to mow the lawn, or walk dogs. Even if there were jobs like that, we couldn’t make 10,000 out of them.”
Joyce sent the boys out to the corner store anyway to go buy a newspaper. Once they bought it, they started to look through it. They were a few pages in when they spotted an ad that wasn’t in black and white. It said:
JOIN THE INFINITE BIT TOURNAMENT!
4 TEAMS, 3 GAMES, A GRAND PRIZE OF $10,000!
JUST CALL: 123 555 7890
“Think we should call?", Lucas asked.
“What do we have to lose?", James replied.
So they called the number. When the call connected this is what they heard:
Hello. This is infinite bit hotline. How may I help you?
Lucas and James both looked at each other. The hotline continued.
Ha ha ha. That was a joke. This is a pre-recorded message. Now, here’s what to do. If you are a wimp, coward, or scaredy cat, press zero. Because that is what you are, a big fat zero. If you want to be a hero, press 1. Because that is what you will be, #1.
“Wow," James said, “That bot just roasted us.”
And they didn’t want to be wimps, so they pressed 1.
Lucas and James woke up in a room glowing blue. Lucas could make out tiny black lines running through the wall. It almost made it look like the blocks were pixels. Through their headache, they could hear a roaring crowd.
“Welcome to the Infinite Bit Tournament! I’m The Announcer, and that is how you will refer to me, or you will be disintegrated,” The Announcer shouted over the loudspeaker. The cheering got even louder. Lucas and James stood up. Once they were standing, all they could see around them were the glowing blue pixels. They looked at each other and immediately were shocked. Their bodies were no longer tall, and slim, they had turned into blocks. They both started to panic.
“Where are we?!” James exclaimed, running around franticly, his arms still down by his side, even tough he was trying to wave them around.
“Who are we?!", Lucas wondered, sitting down.
“Why are we here?!", James said, then, he fainted. Seeing this, Lucas also fainted.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Announcer once again shouted over the loudspeaker, “Welcome to the Infinite bit tournament!", The Announcer sighed, “Shocker bots, wake them up!", Little bots about two feet tall ran over and shocked Lucas and James. They shot up so quickly, that as James sat up, he threw one of the shocker bots on top of him towards a wall. When the shocker bot hit the wall, it glitched, and disappeared.
“Talk about an electrifying awakening," James said jokingly. Lucas just stared at him, unamused, but the invisible crowd erupted into laughter.
“Good," The Announcer said, also unsatisfied by James’s joke, “you’re awake. Now we can start.”
“Start what?", Lucas asked. Nobody had to answer. Immediately, all of the pixels started rotating and changing colors. Soon, they were in the middle of a big racetrack. Once all the cubes had finished rotating, other people started appearing. They all looked equally surprised and overwhelmed.
“Before I acknowledge how dumbfounded you all are, and explain things, I would like you to pick your teams of duos," The Announcer said. Nobody moved, or showed any emotion. “Ah. I see see you all, uh, already have your partners. Then I suppose we will move onto picking team names, and then you can introduce yourselves to each other,"
A hologram screen popped up in front of everybody. There were multiple names already picked for the teams and a section where each could write their own team name. At the top of the blue screen there was a timer ticking down.
30… 29… 28…
“Doesn’t seem like we’re getting out of this…", Lucas said.
“Should we just go with it then?", James asked.
“I think that’s our best option.”
“Quick! We’re running out of time!", Lucas yelled.
“Well, quick then! Pick a team name!", James yelled.
“What do I pick?”
“I don’t know, just tap something!”
3… 2… Lucas tapped on a pre-made team name. On the screen it said:
Congratulations Team AARDVARK! You have officially joined the Infinite Bit Tournament.
James looked like he was going to punch Lucas, “I know we don’t want to be here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be cooler than a hairy beast that eats bugs!”
“Well, I’m sorry Mr. Im-Going-To-Boss-You-Around-And-Then-Get-Mad! The timer stressed me out!”
“Well, now that we’ve all picked our team names, let's introduce each other," The Announcer said. Conveyer belts popped up from the floor under each of the teams and drove them forward to the middle of the stadium. “First up to introduce themselves is Team Megabyte!", the duo walked forward onto a stage that appeared out of nowhere. At first glance they looked short, but when you really focused, they were extremely tall.
“I’m Dexter!", he yelled.
“And I’m Katie!", she finished.
“We’re elite siblings!”
“Professionals at gaming!”
“Won multiple awards!”
“And we’re going to smash you into the floorboards!", they both exclaimed in unison, finishing the bad rap.
“Um… thank you! That was a very, er, interesting performance!", The Announcer said, nervously. “Next up is Team Blade!", two boys walked up. They both looked exactly the same and couldn’t be older than ten.
“Hi… I’m Zack," he said shyly
“And I’m Jack, the guy that’s not a coward like my tiny brother," Jack yelled bravely.
“Hey! At least I’m not the one that got us here!”
“Break it up kids, and get off the stage! I wouldn’t have brought any of you here if you weren’t good a video games!", The Announcer yelled at Zack and Jack.
“Yeah, I know!", Zack exclaimed, “I’ve done the math based off of what I’ve seen and we already have a 42.7 percent chance at winning the tournament!”
“Ugh, I always hated nerds,” The Announcer mumbled into the loudspeaker. “Next up are The Hot Pink Gals!", two tall girls walked up to the stage. They looked like they were the oldest of the bunch. Despite their name though, everything about them was purple.
“I’m Lila and this is Tulip!", Lila announced out to the audience of six people. She blew kisses like she was some sort of model celebrity.
“Hello!", Tulip yelled enthusiastically, also blowing kisses. Unlike the teams before, these kids actually seemed nice, until Lila said:
“Our names may make us sound petite and pretty, but under this mask of beauty, we hold demons, waiting to crush every one of you into a pile of 8-bit rubble!”
James whispered to Lucas, “How are all of them so evil?”
“Oh, don’t worry, we’re not," Tulip defended. “Or, at least, I’m not. My sister can get a little carried away in the competition," Tulip looked over to where Lila was screaming at one of the shocker bots about how many ways she could kill it in under ten seconds. “Poor little guy.”
“Okay, time to get off the stage! You misnomered little freaks," The Announcer yelled at Tulip and Lila. Lila snapped to attention and walked in some sort of military format before finally getting off stage. Meanwhile Tulip walked off stage with her eyes on Dexter and, once she was off stage, tried to start flirting with him. Katie eventually noticed what was happening and smacked them both. “Now, new up onto the stage is… am I reading this right? Team… Aardvark?”
James and Lucas walked up onto the stage. They were already discouraged, but when Jack yelled, “Ha! That name’s just as dumb as they look," they felt even worse.
“Ok! Hi! Ok! You guys are really skeptical… Ok!", Lucas looked as if he was having a stroke. Just like Zack was, Lucas was never really a people person. “So, my name’s Lucas… and I’m… good at… uh… games," a slow clap started to emerge by Dexter, but Katie elbowed him and he stopped, leaving no clapping at all.
“Wow, you guys aren’t very nice, are you? Well, whatever, I’m James, the guy that is very discouraged after your speeches, but still here to win!", this got a real clap from the small audience.
“Okay, we now know that the only people here that are actually smart, is the duo with the dumb team name," The Announcer chuckled to himself, “Now let me explain things to you. There will be three games. Each game, the duo who failed the hardest, will get eliminated… I can’t tell you the exact details, but I don’t think it’s anything good. Anyway, the duos that are out will be replaced by computers. Or, versions of you that are run by computers. We are already in the map of our first round: a race track.”
Everyone looked around. No one had actually looked at the arena yet. There was a big field with dirt roads going around in a large circle with a see-through wall around the edges of the track. Littering the track were random pieces of metal, big sticks, and a bunch of walls with holes in them. Suddenly, Lucas and James felt themselves get bigger, and rounder. Soon they were basically marbles, which turned out to be exactly what the game expected.
“Great! It worked! You’re all marbles. I’m glad you all didn’t explode. That’s what happened to the last man we tested it on. Anyway, here are the rules! Make it to the end, there is only one lap. That’s it. Oh, and you can’t talk to each other during the race. So, go!”
Most of the teams started out strong, but Lucas and James did not. They started rolling backwards as soon as the race started. Team Blade didn’t do so well either. They were rolling fine until Lila and Tulip swerved in front of them and knocked them off the track into a sand pit. “Oh, that’s not good for Team Blade," The Announcer said factually. “Getting yourself out that pit is almost as hard as getting yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning, after having a party with your friends the night before!”
After that encouraging speech, everyone was more cautious, except for Dexter and Katie, who were in first the whole time. Lucas and James had finally stopped rolling backwards and had made it about a quarter way through the track, when out of the blue, Team Blade jumped out of the ditch and landed right in front of The Aardvarks. There was nothing that Lucas or James could do. Team Blade kept moving in front of them.
Meanwhile, Dexter and Katie were almost at the finish line, when pretty little Lila and Tulip banged into them. This didn’t happen in the way that Lila and Tulip thought it would. Katie went flying through the sky and landed right on the finish line, and Dexter only a few feet behind. He rolled forward and got 1st place for Team Megabyte. They both deflated and became “Normal", blocks again.
Soon after, since no one was in front or behind them, Team Hot Pink Gals landed second. “Wow! All of you are really good at this. So for the last two teams, let’s spice it up!", The Announcer had traps in the ground, and right in front of the two duos, a lava pit opened up with only a few small planks running across it. Little walls also popped up after the lava. “Introducing the lava geyser! If you fall in the lava you might get burnt to a crisp and die, but you’ll get thrown back up into the air and possibly land ahead of the next team! However, you must remember, if you place last, YOU’RE OUT!”
Jack must have liked those odds, because he bumped into Zack and they both fell into the lava geyser. Lucas and James decided not to go through the lava, and used the bridges to get across. They had only made it half way, when out of the ground, Team Blade burst through the bridge, shooting all four of the kids up into the air.
They landed on a track in midair that had a separate finish line only about 100 meters away. There were ramps littered all over the track. Before Lucas and James regained full consciousness, Jack and Zack started rolling towards the finish line, no longer taking risks by using one of the ramps. Team Aardvark however, decided it would be fine to take a few risks.
Lucas and James started rolling backwards, and then launched themselves towards one of the ramps. They both flew through the air, landing in front of Team Blade. They bounced a few times and rolled into the finish line, with Team Blade only a few feet behind them. Both teams deflated, and turned into blocks again.
“How did we lose?", Zack exclaimed.
“You know how? Cause you were on our team, doofus!", Jack yelled.
“Quit it, you two! Looks like that 42.6 precent chance didn’t work out for you," The Announcer mocked.
“It was 42.7!", Zack yelled back.
“Either way, it’s bye-bye time. Say bye-bye!", a black hole opened up under Team Blade and sucked them down. “Well, that was a fun race to watch! I don’t know how fun it was for you, though, but I don’t care! Now where’s my cheese dip?”
The computer replacements, also known as non-player characters or NPCs that replaced Jack and Zack, introduced themselves as Hack and Ack. Katie and Lila decided that they didn’t like those names, so they bashed the bot’s faces in the wall. The Announcer said that this confused the game development team on where to go from there, so they had to make a new development in the game. Since the bots were needed for the next challenge, and bots take time to replace, a bonus level needed to be implemented.
“Okay. Here we are," The Announcer said with a yawn. “Basically, we didn’t take enough time to think up an original, so we get to throw you into Pak-men”
“Did he say Pac-man? SWEET!", James was extremely excited about this new development.
“No, it’s Pak-Men, Pac-Man was copyrighted by the government.”
“Anyway, now that we’ve settled that little debate, I will explain the rules. Just as it was in our last game, there aren’t many rules. Work with your duo, escape the goats.”
The Announcer continued, "Find as many pellets as you can in a minute. Team with the best score gets an advantage in the next game. Just, just go.”
Every team started running in different directions. Lucas and and James found that they had a pellet counter that hung right over their head. They were at 50 pellets when they found their first goat. It was about 20 feet tall with blue eyes and and orange fur. They started running, catching pellets as they went.
“How do we escape this guy?", James asked, panting.
Lucas looked around everywhere for an escape route, but he found none, and the goat was gaining on them. “See that wall up there? Hoist me up!”
“Are you crazy? I have a baaaahd feeling about this!”
“30 MORE SECONDS!", The Announcer roared over the loudspeaker.
Lucas got on James’ shoulders and jumped up onto the wall of the game. “Now, grab my arms!", James jumped and caught Lucas. Lucas hung on tight to James as he ran across the wall, with James swinging behind him, catching pellets as they ran from the goat. “Grab the Mega-Pellet!”
James grabbed it, and both of them started glowing. “Quick Lucas, bring me back to the goat, we only have ten seconds!", Lucas ran back to the goat and swung James into it. As James flew through the air, Lucas had enough time to grab one extra pellet, before the game ended, and the goat was destroyed.
The walls that separated everyone vibrated a little, then disappeared. “Okay, great job everyone! I’m fully rested, because I just got a 30 second nap! Now let’s see how you did!", The Announcer popped a screen out of the wall. It showed a bar graph with each team on it. Everyone got to the same point on the graph, then Team Megabyte’s bar burst up, signaling that they had won the bonus level.
“How?", everyone yelled in unison.
“Got a mega-pellet right at the start, and then ran into five goats," Dexter boasted.
“Yeah, yeah, great job, blah blah blah. Now, the new NPC’s are completed, so let’s get onto the next round! Girls, try not to kill them this time!”
The Announcer guided the teams and NPCs to a mall-like room that was all pink. Pink walls, pink floors, pink roof, everything was pink! “As most of you can tell, this is a pink mall," The Announcer said factually. “This challenge was actually designed this way, because my personal fortune teller told me that everyone who signed up would like pink," everyone looked around the room, “He was sorely mistaken. Even the girls that have the pink name don't like pink! I wonder if my fortune teller knows he’s getting fired”
“Here’s how it will work," The Announcer continued, “step on the button under the outfit you want, and it will automatically appear on you. You will walk on a makeshift runway at the end," Lila’s head looked like it might have been about to explode. “Work with your partner, don’t fail, and you only have five minutes.”
“This mini-game is a fashion contest, and the theme is Pretty in Pink,” The Announcer paused, watching Tulip jump around while Katie and Lila punched crying Dexter in excitement, “The judges will be Woman NPC #72081, Jack, and Zack," Everyone was shocked. “Yes, I agree it’s interesting. Apparently, when eliminated, Jack and Zack were just sent to a waiting room to wait for the game to be over. Don’t worry about them judging you falsely, I know they don’t fancy you two, Lucas and James, so we hooked them up to a lie detector”
“What about our advantage?", Dexter asked.
“I was lying to get a better performance. GO!”
Everyone bolted to different sections of the mall. Lila and Tulip dashed to the makeup section. Dexter and Katie ran off to the accessories. Lucas and James ran to the suits. There, Lucas and James found a room surrounded by suits of different colors. They ran over to the light pink suit. It was all that color except for a white tie that was tucked inside of a vest. Both hesitated, since neither of them wanted to try to press the button under it, so Lucas pushed James onto it.
Pink sparkles exploded all around James, and when they were gone, James had been perfectly fitted into the suit. “No way! I want one!", Lucas yelled as he hopped onto the button. Just like James, he was perfectly fitted within a matter of seconds.
They had more fun than they had had in years. They ran around trying on different outfits and seeing what would look best. Hats, shoes, pins, until they finally had picked out their whole outfit. They both decided to wear the same thing. The light pink suit with a pink fedora, along with a white flower pin and a white pair of dress shoes.
“And time!", The Announcer yelled through the loud speaker. “You will now be sent to the stage to be judged," the floor dropped out under Lucas and James, and they were sent down a twirly slide to a black room. Lights flickered on, and what they saw was… actually kind of lame. It was just a platform that extended out further into the black room with the three judges at the end.
The other teams must have been next to them behind the wall, since Lucas and James could hear Team Megabyte talking, but couldn’t see them. “First up to show their outfit we’ll have, um lets see here… Team Megabyte!”
Dexter and Katie walked out on the runway, in pink gowns that flowed behind them. Dexter obviously was not happy about this. Once he and Katie got to the end of the stage, he said, “She made me do this," and then walked back to the waiting area while Katie started posing for an invisible camera. The announcer had to have bots escort her off the stage, then the lights went down.
“Now that the judges have written down their scores, we’ll have Team Aardvark onto the stage please!", The Announcer had the lights turn back on, as Lucas and James went back up on stage.
“Model walk," James blurted.
“What?", Lucas asked.
“Just do it," James started strutting down the runway, and Lucas copied him. They somehow made it to the end without falling over, tipped their fedoras to the judges, and then walked back.
“That was wonderful! I truly admire your taste in suits," The Announcer paused. “Are you ready yet judges?", they nodded. “Great! Onto who I believe will have the best outfit, The Hot Pink Gals!", nobody moved onto the stage. “Hello? Hello? You will be automatically disqualified if you don’t come onto stage this minute!",
Lucas and James heard a shuffle, then saw Lila and Tulip solemnly walk onto stage with their heads down. They were still in their purple outfits, with no pink to be seen anywhere. No one could see what they had done in five minutes until they turned around. They had used makeup to make a big, pretty pink butterfly all across their faces.
“We thought we would have enough time to get into a gown," Lila said sadly. Then, they walked back to their slot in the wall.
“Yeesh, sorry for you two," The Announcer continued, “but at least now you’ll learn time management. Next up is the bots!”
Two bots that looked like teens walked onto stage in a hot pink shirt with pink tutu and leggings. At the end of the stage, they posed, well, posed as well as a bot can, and then walked back to their cubicle. “Pretty! Now it’s time for the judges to show scores! The scores for Team Megabyte are," Woman NPC held up a seven, and Jack and Zack held up an 8. “Not bad, not bad, now the scores for Team Aardvark," Woman NPC held up a 9, and Zack and Jack held up a six.
“Wait, does that mean we’re tied?", Lucas asked.
“Yes it does! Though it doesn’t matter, nobody gets an advantage in this min-game," The Announcer answered. “Now for the bots!", Woman NPC held up nine, and Jack and Zack held up a four.
“Not bad scores! Now finally, last but definitely least, let’s see Team Hot Pink Gals score!", Woman NPC held up a seven, and Zack and Jack made a sad face, and held up a one. “Oh, tough luck, but you don't serve purpose to me anymore," Another black hole opened up under Lila and Tulip. Tulip fell in, but Lila jumped out of the way, hit a wall, and fell down back into the hole. “Wow. I hope she’s not injured! Onto the next game!”
“Here we are!", The Announcer had guided Team Aardvark and Team Megabyte and four bots to a room glowing green.
“What is this supposed to be? A big green-screen?", Dexter asked sarcastically.
“That’s exactly what it’s supposed to be," the cubes flickered and then turned black.
“Is that it? It’s kind of bor-”
Just then, the lights came back on, making a scene of four different colored towers: red, green, blue, and yellow. There was a path that started at the edge of the towers and went straight to a white centerpiece. Underneath all of this was an endless void. Lucas tested how real it was by sticking his foot off the path a little, and there was nothing but air.
“This is the final mini-game called Tower Fighters. The rules are simple. Fight other duos with your sword in your left pocket, and the rocket launcher in your right. Don’t get eliminated, because if you do, then so does your partner. Last duo standing wins the Infinite Bit Tournament! Oh, and just to make it a cliche game ending, there will be a glitch that starts to seep in destroying everything in its path. Once you are at your towers, we can start.”
Everyone picked their color. Team Aardvark was red, Team Megabyte was green, NPC Team Hot Pink Gals was yellow, and NPC Team Blade was blue. “On your marks, get set, kill each other!", nobody moved. The Announcer sighed. “Go!”
“BATTLECRY!", James yelled as he ran forward.
Lucas grabbed his arm, “No, stay down," they both crouched on the floor of their base, watching as Team Megabyte and the NPCs threw themselves at each other, swords out. It was an epic clash… but it was going nowhere.
James decided that he wasn’t going to wait for something interesting to happen, so he pulled out his rocket launcher and shot it at one of the NPCs. The grenade hit, and didn’t kill the bot, but with the power from the explosion, it sent the poor NPC hurtling through the air towards something that nobody had noticed before. The glitch had started seeping in just like The Announcer had told them it would.
When the bot hit the glitch, it yelled, “AVENGE ME!", and then desinigrated. Since James and Lucas had been distractedly watching the bot die, they hadn’t noticed another bot running into their hiding place. Right before it touched them, it exploded.
“That must have been the partner of the bot that we killed," James thought aloud.
Just as Lucas and James looked back at the main playing field, the bots that must have been Team Blade evaporated. Team Megabyte looked so proud, until they remembered that they still had to eliminate Team Aardvark. “Uh, Lucas…", James said, scared.
“Look behind you!", Behind them, the glitch was quickly gaining on them. “Run! And, uh, BATTLECRY!", Lucas and James ran straight to the middle with their swords tilted at Team Megabyte. Just before they got to Team Megabyte, Dexter grabbed his sword, and sliced off James’s legs. “Ah! That… actually doesn’t hurt. That’s good for me, but at the same time not good, because you’re going to kill me.”
“Quite right," Dexter said.
“A sitting duck," Katie mocked.
“Time to die, little duckling!", Dexter pointed his rocket launcher straight at James. The glitch had surrounded the teams now.
“Not today, you dirty fox! James! Grab my rocket launcher!", Lucas grabbed what was left of James and sat him on his shoulders, then he tossed his rocket launcher up to James.
“See you later, filthy alligators!", Then, James shot the rocket straight towards Team Megabyte. and they exploded in a cloud of dust. Everything went black.
Lucas and James woke up on the sidewalk, with their newspaper laying beside them in pieces. The sidewalk around them was black and smoky, as if a bomb had been set off. “My legs really hurt!", James whined.
“I think I know why, look!", Lucas yelled, picking up a picture of Lucas holding up leg-less James who was shooting something. “Do you remember any of that?”
“Nope. What’s that under the newspaper?”, James asked as Lucas tossed the picture and tossed it to the side. James picked up the newspaper and under it, sitting on the blackened pavement, was a ten-thousand dollar check.