2 Friend's Lives

A blinding purple light bathed the cell, forcing Arell to shield his eyes. The air crackled with a strange energy, and when the light finally faded, the words on the screen sent a jolt through him.


[System Error]


[Unable To Locate Pack Contents]


Disbelief washed over Arell as he stared at the red error messages running across the screen. In his disappointment, he repeatedly tapped the screen, hoping for some kind of explanation, but it remained stubbornly blank. He tried visualizing the error message, willing it to explain itself, but nothing happened.


"System, are you there?" he asked, sinking onto the bed. The sting of disappointment radiated from his gut. As he waited for a response, the air hung heavy, thick with anticipation. Nearly a minute passed before he resigned himself to sighing, but not before a flash of light erupted from the screen.


A message materialized, its tone oddly apologetic.


[Attention Host. Unexpected System Overload. Error Caused by Integration of Unforeseen Elements within Prodigy Pack. Attempting System Reboot.]

[System Reboot… 5%… 12%… 47%…]


The percentage climbed slowly, each tick a tiny hammer blow against his already racing heart.


[System Reboot… 89%… 97%…]

[System Reboot Successful. Welcome Back, Host.] [Prodigy Gift Pack - Corrupted] [Attempting to Uncorrupt - Estimated Time: 8 hours]


Eight hours. He'd have to wait eight long hours before he could open the gift pack, an annoying prospect but far better than a complete loss, he mused. An insistent clanging shattered the focus. Coincidentally enough, the breakfast bell echoed through the long hallways of his sector, swallowing the background chatter of other inmates whole.


With a tired yawn, Arell rose from his bed and shuffled towards the cell door.


A heavy thud against the metal door almost startled him. "Rose, get your slippers on, breakfast time."


Arell backed up slightly from the door. "Yeah, yeah."


The metallic clang of keys echoed as the guard unlocked the door. A burly man with a shaved head stood there, a bored expression etched on his face.


"Get to the line," the guard grunted, gesturing down the hallway.


Arell hesitated for a moment. "Any word on my release?" The guard raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Three days, kid. Same as yesterday." Disappointment gnawed at Arell, but he forced a smile. "Alright, thanks."


He shuffled past the guard, and as he walked toward the line of his cellmates, he heard the burly man call out behind him, "Rose, don't go singing in the canteen now, wouldn't want them boys finding something else to mock you about." His voice carried a hint of both concern and mockery.


He turned back, flashing the guard a slight smile before heading toward the line.


(Scene Break)


The air grew thick with the cloying smell of cafeteria food as they neared the large metal doors. A cacophony of shouts, laughter, and clanging trays assaulted his ears. This was no five-star restaurant, but at least it wasn't a dump. Still, this was the harsh reality of prison life.


As he steadily walked through the canteen carrying his tray of food, composed of mashed potatoes and a variety of vegetables, he was met with stares from other inmates. 'Just a bunch of teens trying their hardest to appear tough,' he chuckled inwardly.


It wasn't long before he spotted three cellmates he happened to be familiar with a few tables down.


The three cellmates he recognized were huddled around a single, dented metal table. There was Malik, a wiry guy with a mischievous glint in his eyes, always hustling to fill his pockets. Beside him sat Devon, a quiet guy with a surprisingly calm spirit, the least you'd expect considering his tough demeanor. And lastly, closest to Arell, was Kenny, an athletic person who always seemed to have a grin plastered on his face.


These people weren't only close inside jail but on the outside as well. Unsurprisingly, as Arell grew up with each of these people, each lending support to one another throughout the difficulties they faced while growing up in Chicago. They used to be part of a larger friend group, but unfortunate circumstances set them apart. 'Fortunate for the others, unfortunate for us four,' he thought.


His thoughts were cut short by a familiar voice. "Well, if it ain't the breakfast club's newest member. You got the mystery mash, Rose?" Malik looked up, a sly grin spreading across his face.


Arell chuckled, "The usual, Malik. Just the usual." He gestured to his tray, the unappetizing slop littering his tray barely concealing his lack of appetite.


Devon nodded silently, scooting over on the rickety bench to make room. "I don't know why they feed us this trash, can't we get something semi-decent for once?" Kenny added in," The rest of the crew grumbled their thoughts clearly aligning with Kenny's.


"Heard you were free styling in your cell, Rose," Malik said with a sly grin creeping onto his face. Arell felt a flush creep up his neck. The memory of his rapping sent a wave of self-consciousness crashing over him. "Yeah, just messing around, you know."


Devon snorted. "Messing around, huh? Sounded more old dog whining." The rest of the group chuckled as Arell winced, "Come on guys it wasn't that bad, you're lucky our cells are right next you're cell Arell, the rest of inmates would of been flaming you." Kenny said with a chuckle.


"On God, they'd be roasting you," Malik added, his grin widening.


As the four cellmates engaged in their conversation, the cafeteria noise faded into the background. Devon finally brought up the underlying question on everyone's mind.


So Arell, why exactly were you free styling?" Devon's question hung in the air, each person staring at Arell, interested in what he'd have to say. "When I- no, we get out of here," Arell began, his voice low but resolute, "I've been thinking about rapping."


Silence reigned as the others around the table stared dumbfoundedly at Arell. His response was unexpected.


"A rapper, huh?" Malik finally broke the silence, a thoughtful frown etched on his face. "Never would've pegged you for it." Arell had braced himself for more teasing, but Malik's tone wasn't mocking. There was a hint of curiosity in his eyes.


"Yeah," Arell admitted, but before he could continue the screen appeared in front of him along with soft bell, almost startling him. 




"I'ma make it, so we all could make it." 

Convince your ONLY friends to leave Chicago, alongside you to begin anew


Reward: [ A Fully furnished three bedroom apartment with a studio alongside decent 

equipment located in Atlanta and a free bus ride]

Failure: [ Your old accomplices have both you and your friends murdered ]


A both mandatory yet realistic task Arell thought, as he was staring at the screen 'Isn't this way to big of a reward? and why Atlanta?'


"You good Arell?" Kenny asked, seeing that he was staring into nothingness.


'Convince your friends to leave Chicago alongside you and begin anew' the sentence repeated in Arell's mind.


With a nervous edge to his voice he spoke up again. "I, uh, been thinking, you know, about what would happen when we all get out." He felt a familiar heat creep up his neck, a darkness creeping up into the depths of his eyes, mirroring the bleakness they all knew too well.


"We know what's in store for us, especially after what happened," he continued, his voice low. "Chicago's already dangerous, and now? We'd be marked men if we stayed here after we got out. No money, no protection, no family to fall back on. Even if we did, they're probably already too dysfunctional to take us in."


Devon leaned forward. "Yeah, we got nothing but each other," he said, his voice echoing Arell's despair. "So what are you saying, Arell?"

Malik snorted. "Yeah what-are-you-saying-Arell," His words drawn out, "Use your prison rhymes to scare away trouble?" He jokingly mocked.


Arell bristled, but before he could retort, Kenny, usually the most jovial of the group, spoke up. "Hold on, Malik. Maybe there's something to what Arell's saying, lets hear him out." He looked at Arell, who stared back at them, his eyes reflecting his appreciation.


"Thanks, Kenny," Arell said, his voice gaining conviction. "Listen, guys, what if I can do something with this? I mean, what else is there for us out there?" The group fell silent, each face etched with a thoughtful frown. They all knew the truth of Arell's words.


"It's crazy enough that we got set up and landed here," he continued, his voice low. "And even if we get out they'll be waiting for us, for what we know." A heavy silence descended upon the table. The threat hung in the air, a stark reminder of the precarious situation they faced.


"We were lucky," Arell conceded, his voice tinged with a touch of grim humor. "Lucky they didn't have enough evidence to bury us deeper. Lucky we're all getting out at the same time. But then what?" He gestured around the table, his gaze meeting each of their eyes in turn. "Go back to the same streets and try to out gun a bunch of people, with no guns to our name mind you? Work at McDonald's and hope it doesn't all explode again?" He whispered.


The question hung heavy in the air. Arell didn't need an answer. They all knew the answer. It was a dead-end path leading back to the same darkness.


"I'm with you, Arell." Kenny's voice cut through the silence that hung heavily in the air.


He glanced around the table, taking in the expressions of his friends. Malik, usually the quickest to scoff, wore a thoughtful frown, his eyes narrowed in concentration. Devon, remained stoic, but a hint of curiosity flickered in his gaze. 


"Yeah, man," Kenny continued, leaning forward with an earnestness that surprised even Arell. "We ain't got nothin' to lose, right? We're already staring down the barrel of a bad situation when we get out. Why not take a shot at something different?" However Devon who seemed to have thoughts elsewhere spoke up "Kenny, Arell, this sounds good and all but... how? We don't have anywhere to go."


"Actually…" Arell drawn out, "We do, uh.." his thoughts running rampant to create a good explanation about the apartment as the others all turned switched their focus to him, "Uh- my uncle, yeah, my uncle who I didn't know about, and didn't know about me, until the news of my grandmother's death reached him…ironically enough he happened to have passed away a week ago and left his paid for, apartment, for me since he had no other family." A collective eyebrow raise rippled across the table, "An inheritance, huh?" Malik said, his voice dripping with skepticism.


"Yeah. My mom never mentioned him, but apparently, he was her estranged brother. Lawyer showed up a few days ago, paperwork and everything." Devon, remained unconvinced. "Even if it's real," he said, his voice low, "a apartment might be a roof over our heads, but it won't get us money, or out of Chicago."


Arell forced a smile. "Not exactly a mansion," he admitted. "But it's a place to start, right? I mean, we could set up a studio, it'll be a place to record, a place to strategize, and we can figure things out as we go." He looked at each of them in turn.


A flicker of hope seemed to ignite in Kenny's eyes. "He's right," he said, a grin spreading across his face. "We got nothing to lose, and potentially everything to gain. Besides, how bad could a free house be, right?" Malik, still unconvinced, rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Alright, Rose," he finally conceded. "You've got us intrigued. But before we start planning world tours, let's see this place first. If it's a dump, this whole rap dream goes up in smoke, understand?"


[Quest Completed!]


Arell let out a sigh of relief. "Deal," he said, a genuine smile breaking across his face for the first time in what felt like forever. "Deal. But trust me, this place might just be our ticket out."

The next few hours flew by, with Arell and his friends occupying themselves with a few games of basketball, lunch quickly followed before Arell found himself in a familiar scenery, staring at his bed, well, not exactly.


[Attention Host]

[The Prodigy Pack has been successfully been uncorrupted]

[To Compensate the host for this error, hidden quality has been upgraded from Uncommon >>> Rare >> Extremely Rare > Low Epic to, Uncommon >>> Rare >> Low Epic > Epic]

[Are you read to open the pack?]


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