Today the scuffling of another mic “fuck you man,

Today started like every other day. Sun was shining, birds were singing, kids were playing in the sun and “what!” I shouted. “are you fucking kidding me?” Pulling my headphones down round my neck and ran my hands down through my short wavy dark hair as I looked at the big red letters on my screen, defeat. I’d been playing a ranked game in Clash Arena, a multiplayer online battle arena and finished the game top of the leader board with platinum on all ratings. Yet my team of Randoms I was stuck with still managed to throw the game. GG EZ one of the other team’s players wrote in the after-game chat “yeah good fucking game” I scoffed, followed by the scuffling of another mic “fuck you man, no need to be a sore” a knock at my door pulled my attention away and I closed the games window. “just a minute” I shouted. My flat wasn’t very big, not that I could afford anything better on the minimum wage job I had in a crappy restaurant, cooking crappy food for even more crappy people. I lived by myself, not particularly by choice but I liked the quiet. My mam died when I was young, car accident and my dad, he bounced, who knows where he is now, I don’t care. I spent most of my time in an orphanage. School, I was practically a ghost, never picked for sports and I didn’t really have friends. But hey no big deal, I got over the hand I was dealt and when I was old enough, got a job and my flat and because I didn’t have many friends, video games were my escape. Anyway, today was my first day of a much-needed week off and I had a feeling the knock at my door was the reason I took the time off. “just sign here” the delivery driver said with a tone that screams ‘I hate my job’ “thanks man” I said barely making eye contact while closing the door. I sat the box down on my table, turning it round to see the Chronical logo, Chronical were new to the video game scene but nobody doubted the capability of the company. Their software was always leagues ahead of any competition and don’t get me started-on hardware. I once read a post saying some Chronical engineers used to work for a private company building rockets and other spacey stuff, how crazy is that. My point is, you could put the Chronical logo on a bottle of water and charge twice the price and consumers would still buy it. Not a lot was known about the headset, other than it was preloaded the Sci-Fi VRMMO and that its world was larger than earth, with hints at even more planets and obviously the name of the game, Valkyrie Runner. Valkyrie Runner was the first of the its kind, a quote, dive game. The ‘first fully immersive, full world virtual MMO’ in which your consciousness is connected to the game and creates a life like simulation experience all the while your body just sleeps, it’s like a dream. One that you enter and leave at will.   I figured I’d take a shower while the headset installed its drivers and did whatever it wanted to do. Gone are the days of put the disc and play the game, now everything had dreaded install times, sometimes taking hours. “good thing the game is preloaded”  I was reading back of the box and having a look at the artbook. I’d bought the limited edition just for it. I’m not sure why but I’m fascinated with lore and every Image has so much info about the game and its history paired with some amazing concept and final artwork. “holy shit that thing looks terrifying” I said out loud “arachnomorph… looks like a bug from Starship Troopers had a kid with a Xenomorph from the Alien movies, nope” a shiver ran up my back.    Knock knock knock, I heard softly through my headphones, “pizza, that was fast” I thought, once I took them off I heard it again only louder and it wasn’t stopping. Only one person had a knock as persistent as that I thought “I’m coming, I’m coming” I shouted hopping to the door trying to put shorts on at the same time “fuck!” I shouted as I came crashing to the ground, in that same instance the door swung open and my assumption was correct. There she was laughing rather hysterically actually “get up loser” the still laughing soft voice said. With a grunt and thinking to myself “if I just lay here she might leave” I finally got up “and put a shirt on man” Mia said through choked down laughter. Mia, slim dark hair, amazing brown eyes and ever so slightly tanned, I swear she just gets in a tanning booth once a week but that’s probably racist. Anyway Mia’s my best friend, I’d known her for almost 4 years when she moved into my building a few floors down, it wasn’t an exceptionally long time but we got to know each other over time and we actually had a lot in common, some nights she’d come over and we’d play video games and watch movies, for whatever reason it was usually something from the 80’s I didn’t mind but I would pretend I did a little. “I was older so I get to pick the movie, deal with it, you can pick when you’re older” she always told me usually accompanied with a wink or blowing a kiss. I thought for a while that I was falling for her but eventually let them die after the painful realisation that she’s way and I mean way out of my league. Finally, I got up and began composing myself “Mia, hey” trying to act like nothing had happened “what’s up?” I asked still acting nonchalant putting a jacket on. “Don’t try that shit with me Leigh, I know Valkyrie Runner came out today and you’re trash so you definitely already have it, what’s it like?” Mia asked practically jumping onto my couch legs crossed without a care in the world “yes, come in make yourself at home” I mumbled “what?” She retorted “it’s nothing and it’s still updating or whatever” I said pointing to the headset on my coffee table “besides the server doesn’t go live till late afternoon PST, I’ve got hours yet” I added. “Damn, so what did you get with it?” She asked “not another pillow case” she quickly added giving a cheeky smirk “no nothing like that” I said almost sounding displeased “artbook, soundtrack, keyring and a pretty cool steelbook the only thing it’s missing is a statue” I said trying not to sound as excited as I actually was but with just a hint of disappointment “artbooks on the table there if you want to look” pointing to the table. Mia picked up the book looked at me and gave me a glare that was meant to tell me “you know what I’m thinking” I shrugged “so… boobs, boobs, boobs and oh… more boobs, you’d think this came from Japan” she said flicking through the pages “right up your alley” shooting me a cheeky smile. “now, that, was racist” I thought to myself. I let out a little laugh just as there was another knock at the door.  Taking the pizza from the usual guy with the usual minimal human interaction as possible “thank god you can prepay” I thought to myself. Just as to door closed Mia took the pizza from my hand “how did you know I wanted pizza?” opening the box with a smirk “you know you’re the only person I know who gets plain cheese, except me of course” stuffing a slice into her mouth “dude that’s my dinner” I exclaimed with just a hint of desperation “don’t worry I ordered one too, honestly, I thought this was it… oh well, you can have the next one, at least I got stuffed crust” she claimed, winking at me with a mouth full of pizza.       After we’d both ate and looking at my watch seeing there was at least another 4 hours left till 6PM PST, when the servers went live “ahhh curse time zones and not being American” I groaned. “shop?” Mia chimed in, “what?” I asked not actually hearing what she said the first time. “do you want to go to the shop” Mia said each word being said bluntly “where both off tomorrow and we’re likely going to be up all night playing, so” I chimed in “we, who said you get to play?” I said with a smirk “if you don’t agree to let me play, I can’t guarantee the safety of your body while you’re out sweetie” she said with her usual playful wink. I just sat there while my mind pondered possibilities.  she stood up “right, it’s settled then, I’m playing too” she placed one foot on my table right hand in the air left on her chest “I propose… snacks and energy drinks, possibly wine” she paused “no definitely wine” grinning her teeth. I don’t know what it was about Mia. She just brought something out in me, a side of me that just sat dormant for god knows how long. I mean, alcohol, until I met her I’d never touched the stuff but here I am, 10PM in a supermarket buying a medley of snacks and energy drinks and of course, wine.   I don’t remember what happened after that, I remember the first drink but then my memory just goes blank, not even fuzzy just blank.  Now I was sitting in the middle of a field, my head was fuzzy, but it didn’t feel like a hangover. Checked my pockets for my phone “fuck” I let out “get drunk and go on an adventure, I could have at least brought my fucking phone!” I shouted into the air.  I stood up, looking around. I didn’t recognise these surroundings. “where… am I?”   

x

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