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TITLE: Red63Tennis

AUTH: Armitage, Leto. 2023

PUB: Libertalia Press

TAGS: Libertalia Press, Free Reads, Mystery, Resilience Writers. Short Stories, Suspense, Horror, Weird Fiction, God Machine, Speculative Fiction


Paranoia or cosmic conspiracy? Follow Terrence as he navigates a Reddit game that morphs into a life-altering obsession. Red63Tennis is a read that will make you think twice about your next online click. After this one…

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The office had cream walls and watercolors of nature scenes, selected from catalogs to be neutral and calming. The comfortable furniture was made of wood and cloth in a mid-century, rustic style. The middle-aged doctor, a woman, wore black pants and a pink, silk top. She looked through her circular glasses at the disheveled man, in jeans and a t-shirt, who was wiping his sweaty palms on his thighs. The receptionist had shown him in and she gave him enough time to settle down before they started. “Mr. Floyd, may I call you Terrence?”

“Sure. Dr. Halloway?”

“Debrah, please.” She smiled as she wrote on a legal pad with efficient strokes.

“Debrah, okay.” He clasped his hands together and tried not to let his leg vibrate.

“You seem a bit nervous, can I get you something to drink?”

“Uh, tea? Something with chamomile?”

“Absolutely. Sugar? Milk?”

“A little sugar, please.” He forced himself to smile.

The doctor walked over to an electric kettle, opened a wooden box, took out a teabag, and fixed his tea in a white cup. Her flat shoes made no sounds thanks to the thick, brown rugs. She gave him the cup before resettling behind her desk with a fresh cup of coffee for herself.

“Now, Terrence, have you seen a psychiatrist before?”

He shook his head jerkily. “No, never.”

“It’s fine to be nervous. A lot of people think it means something is wrong, but I’m just here to make a preliminary evaluation and see what we can do to help you.“

“I hope you can. I’m crazy after all,” he said, barking a short laugh.

She smiled pleasantly. “You’re looking for help, which means a lot. You said on the phone you knew you were being irrational. The word crazy has a lot of negative biases that I don’t subscribe to, but even if I did, what you’re doing, the help you’re getting, aren’t signs of being crazy.”

“You haven’t heard this shit in my head yet, though.” He snorted.

“Well, try me. But let’s start with how you’re feeling. What is your mental state right now?”

“Um, I’m anxious, on the edge. I feel like I’m about to run screaming out of my skin.”

“Do you often feel like this?”

“A bit. I’ve always been a little twitchy, and worried a lot, but not with a fixation like this.”

She stopped writing. “Fixation?”

“Yeah, it’s stupid,” he said, and made a dismissive motion.

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, there is this combination of things. Three things, and… It’s a story, and it’ll sound crazy. I know it’s just a bunch of coincidences. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Tell me about it,” she said again.

“I used to be on Reddit a lot. Ever heard of it?”

She shook her head.

“It’s a place where anyone can make their own forums with their own rules. Some are big and actually serious, like World News. Others are just joke ones, like one where people take pictures of bread on trees. One day, I stumbled across the one called Red63Tennis. It was small, but kind of cool, because it was like playing a game where you had to find things in the world. Everyone posted things they found that combined the same three things in some way: the colour red, tennis and the number 63.”


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