Monica Felizardo

The dinosaur was still there. 

Blinking blearily at the white screen, the black and white pixelated dinosaur stares back at him, its tiny mouth frozen in a mocking grin. Rico refreshes the page and still, the dinosaur remains. He sighs and with a nearly inaudible click, the dinosaur runs through a desert wasteland of white, tiny legs hobbling and hurdling over the miniature cacti on its path. The counter at the right corner ticks upward, numbers flickering as the dinosaur leaps and dashes straight over the line, no end in sight. His fingers hover over his battered phone, cautiously clicking, ignoring the cracks spread out like spider web across his cheap screen.

“Oy, Rico!” Startled, he misses the next hurdle and a pixelated text announces “GAME OVER”. He looks up and sees Kuya Loloy, a tall, balding man in his late 40s, whose weathered face makes him seem older than he is. “Winston. Two sticks,” he says and Rico reaches to his left shelf, opening a new pack and fishing two cigarette sticks out of it. Handing it over to the man, who seemed to perpetually stink of old booze, his nose wrinkles slightly at the stench of gin. 

“Where’re your folks now? You in college right boy? Did you quit?” Kuya Loloy asks playfully, leaning by the rusty red grilles of the sari-sari store, ducking under a faded tarpaulin, and scoops the lighter dangling by a string.  The tiny cigarette’s lit and after a brief puff, a cloud of smoke wafts past and dissipates just as lazily.

“Oh no, we’ve shifted to online learning. We can’t really attend face-to-face classes now, can we, what with the pandemic and everything.” Rico shrugs.

“Oh yeah, that Module-module thing, a modus if you ask me!” Kuya Loloy scoffs and cackles at his own joke. 

Rico chuckles awkwardly, “Well, my folks are at the center, getting their shot of the vaccine.”

“What? Why’d they do that? Didn’t you warn your parents? There’s tons of videos on Facebook saying those vaccines are dangerous! They’ve killed people!” He pulls out his cheap android phone, clicking the familiar blue icon, animatedly scrolling past videos and countless posts.

He shoves the phone at Rico’s face, “Look here oh, this woman’s here a doctor. There’s proof that vaccines are dangerous. You’ll die from that before you die from covid. Even the dang doctors say so!”

“Just because she claims she’s a doctor doesn’t mean she really is one though. And there are plenty of studies…” 

“Bah! They wouldn’t post that if it ain’t true! And here, she says her Lolo who was hale and healthy died days after getting the vaccine, and here and here…” Kuya Loloy jabbers persistently confident in his trusted sources. Rico’s protests and rebuttals were drowned out like the stray kitten mewling pityingly by the side of the road. Rico shakes his head resignedly, staring at his cracked screen, and clicks the refresh button once more. 

The dinosaur was still there. 

(Image Source: Adarsh. “Dinosaur Game in Google Chrome.” How to Hack Dinosaur Game in Google Chrome, 5 Dec. 2021, Accessed 15 Mar. 2022.)