“Joey! If I hear another zombie or another creeper blow up, you’re grounded! I told you to go to bed.”
The red-headed woman listened for her son’s sighed, “Sorry, Mom,” before turning back to finish up the dinner dishes. Her two younger kids were already in bed and her husband was busy finishing up some paperwork he’d brought home from the office.
Meredith finished washing the dishes and made her way into the family room, cleaning and straightening as she went. With three kids now all walking and talking, there was always some sort of mess to clean up. She sighed when she got to the game system attached to the wall-mounted television. Joey had turned off the system, but he’d left the controller and the game case on the floor.
Meredith picked them both up and placed them on the entertainment center, knowing her oldest would be playing again tomorrow. Friday night and Saturday afternoons were his time for video games.
She imagined she heard the “wok-wok” of an EnderMan behind her. She smiled to herself, thinking it might be a good Saturday to skip Minecraft. She nodded in agreement with the thought and turned off the lights in the large room.
Meredith trudged tiredly to her bedroom, already forming a speech to convince her game-loving husband that maybe it would be a good weekend for biking or hiking.
Her husband was just getting ready for bed when Meredith entered the dimly lit bedroom. She smiled at the contented look on his face. His paperwork must not have taken long, she thought.
“Hun, I know Saturday afternoons are your game-time-with-the-boy times, but what do you say we go on a hike tomorrow? I’m worried Joey’s playing too much.”
“Hmm? Oh, sure,” her husband agreed. “I was going to suggest almost the same thing to you. You know, I swear I’m beginning to hear zombies in my sleep.”
Meredith chuckled. “I know! I could swear I just heard an EnderMan in the family room! How crazy is that?”
Joe, Sr. looked thoughtfully at his wife. “You don’t think he’s getting up in the middle of the night, do you?”
“I…I hadn’t considered that,” Meredith said. “I don’t think he would, he’s a good kid, all in all.”
“Well,” Joe decided, “I think tonight I’ll stay up a little later and see if I can catch him if he does get up.”
The couple whispered and laughed while they waited, becoming quiet anytime either thought they heard noises. About two hours after sending Joey to bed, Meredith heard zombies moan from the family room. She raised her eyebrow at her husband, disbelief on her face.
“I didn’t think he would! The little stinker!”
Joe grinned. “He’s my boy. True gamer.”
Together, Meredith and Joe crept into the family room, intending to surprise their disobeying son.
But when they entered the darkened room, it wasn’t Joey, and he wasn’t playing Minecraft. The square green figure on the gaming chair wasn’t one of their children, and neither was the tall, slender black figure standing in front of the TV.