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The Corrupted Memory Card

“Amina, Amina… C’mon kid, wake up…” a voice echoed through Amina’s head. 


She slowly opened her eyes, blinking rapidly. The familiar sights of her small purple room vanished, replaced by a surreal landscape of similar deep blue hues, reminiscent of a twilight sky. Transparent cubes levitated around her, while the sounds of a humming symphony filled the air. 


“Huh, w-where am I?” Amina rubbed her eyes in confusion, trying to make sense of the surreal scene that unfolded around her. 


Her eyes fluttered back open and jerked her head, gasping at the sight of familiar faces in front of her.  


“No way, this cannot be happening. Am I dreaming?” Amina pinched her arm, incredulous at this seemingly impossible reality. 


In front of her was a Lombax, a creature that shared features of a feline and a canine, with tiger-like stripes printed on his orange fur. His pointy, large ears stood upright, and his lion-like tail stood low. Like a human, he stood on two legs, crossing his arms together as he inspected Amina. 


“Nope, this is reality… Sorry, it doesn’t get better,” the Lombax snickered, with a sarcastic demeanour.

Amina blinked again, uncertainty washing over her. 


“This isn’t real… You’re from my PS2 game… Thrace doesn’t really exist… This isn’t real at all- Ah!” She gasped as her form flickered and distorted, like a digital stutter of an invisible cosmic code. At last, she remembered. 


Hours before this malfunction, her dreams of becoming a video game developer were expected to come true. Despite being just a preteen, Amina had all the knowledge she needed to begin the process.

 An empty disc and a marker, her simple mind had thought. 


It took one marker for Amina to transform her adventurous action-packed vision into reality. In the quiet solitude of her confined room, Amina carefully crafted “Amina’s Game” onto the once-nameless disc. Each stroke of the marker seemed to breathe life into the pixelated world and stories that danced in her imagination. 


By meticulously placing the disc into her slim PS2 model, she hoped for this newest invention to work. All of her imagination was displayed on the screen without any technical work necessary. Patience was never an option for Amina. It could never be an option. Time in her youthful world unfolded at the leisurely pace of autumn leaves drifting in a solemn state. At the same time, she felt as though there was too little time to grow and progress. 


Distraught by the time paradox, she briskly turned on the PS2, yearning for a distraction from the paradoxical chase of time - a heavy stampede, slow yet rapid, relentlessly encircling her. As the console screen powered up, she felt a pull from the cubes encircling the twilight sky display on her CRT TV screen. It felt like a gravitational force of the digital display, drawing her closer, its hypnosis irresistible.


Suddenly, the room around her warped as the deep blue aura of the screen expanded outside her room. The symphony from the console intensified, beginning to deafen her. This is worse than the THX opening! Finally, she was pulled into the unseen dimension. 


“Amina? I command you to escape from the state of daydreaming.” A little robot tugged at her red PJ pants, his silver, metal head stiffly tilted up to her. “Thrace and I must get you back to your homeworld, before the transition,” the robot grasped for Amina’s hand, attempting to pull her heavy weight to follow him. 


“Clunk? What the- Am I actually inside my PS2? My memory card?! You guys are actually real?! I don’t get it!” Amina exclaimed, her eyes wide with a mix of astonishment and confusion. Suddenly, she shook her head as she registered Clunk’s response again. “Wait… What transition?” 


BOOM!


Suddenly, the deep ocean hues lingering below Thrace, Clunk, and Amina began to morph into red, hellish hues. 


“Oh no… Oi, Clunk, genius,” Thrace rolled his eyes as he continued. “You said the transition would take about ten minutes… This feels like ONE WHOLE MINUTE!” Thrace shouted in a panic.


“What transition?!” Amina yelled as she felt the ground begin to diminish below her, opening up a hungry portal of darkness. 


Clunk sprung out his long metal arm and grasped for her hand, pulling her up back to the surface. 

“The red death is about to emerge in approximately fifty seconds,” Clunk calculated. 


Amina froze as she registered the similar name. The Red Screen of Death, she thought… The phrase took her back to a deathly void she had only witnessed on the screen whenever an incompatible or corrupted disc was placed in her console. Whatever ends up there, is forever deleted… She could not fathom witnessing the digital demise in person. 


“Is that the Red Screen of Death- ARGH!” Amina’s body stuttered and distorted again like static noise. “Why is this happening?!”


“You’re a corrupted file, kid! Whatever you put in, it had your name on it,” Thrace shouted over the dissonant emergence of the humming symphony. “We’ve got about forty seconds to get out of here. Come on!” Thrace ran afar.


With every hurried step, Amina and Clunk raced through the shifting hues of the twilight sky, desperately trying to keep pace with Thrace. The distorted symphony grew more dissonant, a chaotic cacophony echoing the urgency of their escape.


As they approached the edge of the pixelated abyss, Thrace pointed to a distant silhouette against the crimson backdrop—a sleek spaceship adorned with dark, metal colours. 


"We’re here, come on!" Thrace yelled, pushing Amina and Clunk to quicken their pace.


With seconds remaining, they reached the spaceship, its metallic surface reflecting the hellish hues of the incoming red void. Thrace hurriedly ushered them aboard, and the spacecraft sprung to life. The ship transcended the pixelated realms, seamlessly blending the twilight sky with the familiar hues of her purple room. The symphony's dissonance transformed back into its consonant state, signalling their safe escape. 


Amina, Clunk, and Thrace sat in their seats in the cockpit, gazing at the pixelated sky now fading into the digital cosmos. Stars encircled the whole ship, shimmering each of their unique glow, one by one. At last, Amina sunk into her seat, relieved from escaping the Red Screen of Death. 


“I… I don’t get it,” Amina mumbled. Thrace’s ears stood up while Clunk tilted his head back to Amina, his neon green eyes glaring at her to finish. “How did you guys know we had enough time to escape?”


“We didn’t. There was an 89 per cent probability that you would have perished and fell into the Red Death.” Clunk corrected Amina as she raised a brow.


“So I could have died then?” Amina asked, her tone soft and solemn. 


“Well, you didn’t. The timing made the outcome very likely that we wouldn’t have made it. It wasn’t certain though… If we thought like that, we wouldn’t have even gotten close to escaping!” Thrace chuckled, skillfully steering the spaceship toward a familiar setting. 


Amina widened her eyes as she looked beyond, realising that she was being piloted back home. 


“Based on my calculations, it seems that without the determination to act nothing could have changed,” explained Clunk, his robotic reverb resonating with wisdom. 


Amina nodded her head, smiling in sudden agreement with what she initially opposed. 


As the spaceship faded into the pixels of her room, Amina returned to reality. With a contented sigh, she leaned back to her bed, her eyes reflecting the glint of stars that still seemed to twinkle beyond the console screen. The symphony lingered in her ears, a reminder that even on the brink of a pixelated death, time, like the falling leaves of autumn, carries both the solemnity of reflection and the promise of growth. She took out the disc from her console and snapped it in half, reminiscent of the fear she once had from the paradoxical chase of time. 


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