By Tristan Schartel

He was out of shape. Maybe he should have listened to his online community and followed the new trend: fitness. But there was no time to reflect on whey protein shakes and weight lifting. He needed to run. Fast. Although every part of his body told him not to because his stomach was shaking the Mexican fast-food he gobbled for lunch.

“Stop, you bastard!” he shouted, gasping for air. Detective Pac was chasing one of the lead cyber criminalists in town whom he just knew by his online identity: {PROteus}. “Running won’t help you. Our whole squad is after you. Better stop now!” Pac shouted. He wanted to utter more, but there was not more than a squeak. {PROteus} was about 200 metres away, but he seemed to be in a better physical condition than Pac.

Suddenly, everything around Pac seemed to fade away. The challenging sprint through the streets of this rather ugly neighbourhood was too much. He tumbled on the sidewalk, feeling a sudden ache in his knees. His head slammed the ground. The detective noticed the shadow of {PROteus}, vanishing in the late afternoon sun and blacked out when he sensed the warmth of blood kissing his cheek.



The bold red printed letters on the TV screen angered him every time he jumped too far into the online world of his video game console. He had failed the mission to catch this criminal. Again. It was a new game, a mixture of detective story, shooter and survival, on first rank of the video game charts since… he couldn’t even remember. It struck into the gaming charts just like lightning. The producers created a marvellous masterpiece with an open online world. A second life. THE opportunity to start anew. Virtual.

He restarted at his last saved slot and tried the mission of persecution again. In the world created by big minds behind big screens he wanted justice and success. Pressing buttons on his gamepad, his mind was focused on the game. He wasn’t in his one-room apartment in Hunts Point in the Big Apple anymore. The game sucked him in so much that the dirty dishes, his stinky shirt and leftovers of a burrito on his kitchen table were not in his field of interest. He was in another world. Another sphere.

But suddenly, he heard someone knocking excessively. “NYPD. OPEN THE DAMN DOOR. YOU’RE ARRESTED!” someone was shouting on the other side of the door. The knocking got louder. “WE KNOW YOU ARE IN THERE. THE BUILDING IS SURROUNDED. THERE IS NO WAY TO ESCAPE. NYPD. OPEN THE DOOR. NOW!”

He needed a moment to return to reality. “They are here,” he thought. Panicking he threw the gamepad on the ground and rushed towards his desktop PC. He heard someone trying to open the door. There wasn’t much time left. He unplugged the USB flash drive from his computer and darted into the bathroom. The moment he shut the bathroom door he heard his apartment door burst open. “WE KNOW YOU ARE HERE. NYPD. YOU ARE ARRESTED!” He locked the bathroom door and opened the window which led directly to the fire exit.

Climbing through the window, he wondered if it had been the best idea to include the rusty fire ladder in his escape plan. Yet it was the only way to escape. He checked his pockets for the flash drive. It was still there. “In certain fields this tiny miracle is priceless,” he thought. “Not to mention its possible consequences for society…” He went down the ladder, finally reaching the empty side alley consisting of rubbish and a few stray cats. He knew the house was not surrounded. The local police surely wouldn’t deploy the majority of their staff for a simple arrest, especially not in this area where crimes were committed every five minutes. He sprinted down the side alley away from his place. Away from police. Far away from responsibilities running as fast as he could. He was out of shape. Maybe he should have listened to his online community and followed the new trend: fitness.