"It smells real. It feels real..." I state.
The boy looks over at me at that moment, "It looks real too. You're almost as sexy as you were outside of the game."
"What? Am I being too forward?" he asks, "You got a boyfriend or something?"
There's this fucking sexy ass guy that I can't believe was gay. His skin is like smooth chocolate. His jaw bone is perfectly defined. He has these fucking dimples. His long dreadlocks flow to the smalls of his back. He looks over at me with that slick, muscular athletic build and takes a few steps towards me. I gulp spit hard.
By the way, I have spit...IN A GAME!
"How'd you know I was gay?" I ask him.
He shrugs, "I'm good at reading people. It makes me a good gamer. Plus you were checking me out while we were undressing. I don't mind, though..."
He approaches me again. I almost break a sweat.
Why was he so close? Why was he pressed up against me right now?
"I wasn't checking you out."
He's so close. His breath smells real. It smells like fresh winter air. The warmth of his body is real. It's almost as though we were completely taken to this new world. It's hard to believe that we are in some kind of virtual reality right now. How could this be real?
"Really?" he asks, "Then why are you hard right now?"
He laughs when he realizes that my dick is HARD! I can't fucking believe it. I take a step away from him at that moment to hide how excited he made me.
"It's nice to see something else in this game works..." he says, "Let's see if something else feels as good..."
This sexy boy with the dark skin, long dreadlocks and deep dimples starts kissing me! I can't fucking believe it. I'd been kissed before but it was usually during hookups with random strangers. Sure I guess this guy was a stranger, but it felt different. No one ever just up and kissed me while we weren't having sex. It felt the same. No. It felt better. This virtual kiss made my heart thump, my forehead sweat, and my dick precum.
Yes. This game felt real. It was just as real as real life.
I am speechless when he breaks the kiss, "What's your name Dimples?"
"Dimples?" he asks smirking for a minute until those sexy deep dimples appear again. He seems amused by me but he also seems not to want to share that kind of information.
"I'll call you that until you tell me your real name," I state, "You know I can just look it up anyway if I open the menu."
Just when I'm about to open the menu I hear footsteps. There is a door leading to the room that we are in. I turn at that moment and see two familiar faces walk into the room.
Georgina and Noah.
Noah is walking!
"Oh my god...you're walking."
I don't know why I hug Noah. I've never been happy for someone in my life before. I huge. I hug him so tight that he coughs struggling to breathe. He was walking! Noah was walking in this fucking game.
"It's a miracle," I say.
That is the thought that comes to my mind. This was a miracle. This was a fucking miracle. Noah pushes me off him shakes his head a little bit and turns away from me.
"You're going to make me cry...goddam it."
Noah is embarrassed. I can't keep my eyes off of him or the fact that his legs are moving. He looks strong. He finally turns back to me after a second of capturing his composure. He has a smile on his face. He has tears in his eyes but they are tears of happiness. He lifts his legs one at a time as though showing me what he can do now. I can't stop smiling. This game was a miracle maker.
"I'm sorry about that," I state, "This is real. I can't believe this is real."
"It's amazing," Noah states, "I couldn't wait to show you. It took forever but we finally found you..."
"Who the hell were you talking to?" Georgina asks me.
"I was just talking to..." I state.
I turn but Dimples is no where in sight...
He's gone out of the window!
I run to the window and I see him fucking SCALING down the fucking building. He jumps from the building to a fire escape on the next building. Within a matter of seconds, he is on the street. I attempt to open up my menu and get his name...but he's out of range I guess. Dimples waves at me and disappears into the crowd of dozens of other players on the street.
I have to admit it. If this game was starting off with amazing landscape, friends who can walk, otherworldly realism and sexy ass guys kissing me I was pretty sure this was going to be the best game I ever played in my life.
I"m happy. This is real happiness.
The city we were in was called Origins. It's a huge futuristic-looking city. Georgina, Noah and I spend hours walking around the place just exploring. All of the buildings in Origins are piled up on top of each other, floating buildings that lead to a main street that wraps around the entire city like a board game. All the players are new and there seem to be hundreds here competing for the prize. We logged into the game under specific buildings in alphabetical order. That is how Noah and Georgina were able to find me so quickly.
I get an email letting me know that no player is allowed to leave Origins until the opening ceremony. Noah doesn't seem to get the message. He sees some strange looking bird creature from the gates of the city and decides to attempt to run out of it. He gets an electric jolt that knocks him out for about two minutes. Georgina seems embarrassed by him but I can't help but laugh at Noah. He's a clown and I find it quite amusing.
"Noah...Noah are you ok?"
Noah looks up at me, "I think I just entered the Matrix."
"This isn't the Matrix..." I tell him looking around, "It's something completely more amazing..."
I help pick Noah up off the ground. Georgina is standing behind us. A couple of players have walked past and are laughing at Noah's stupidity.
"When the two of you stop fucking around...we should get some weapons."
I was hoping to go look for Dimples. The city is huge and full of hundreds of players. Still this would probably be my best opportunity to find him. God knows how big this game is. If I can at least get his name I may be able to send him a message through the menu and keep in touch with him. God knows why he just ran off like that. I want to suggest it but Georgina doesn't seem like the type to like wasting time.
She seems outright...bossy to say the least.
"Fine," I state, "Lead the way."
We start following Georgina and she sees completely used to it. We end up at one of the markets in Origins. The store looks like a normal store from the outside. It has "GENERAL" written at the front of it in Neon lights. When we walk into the store things change though. The wall is outlined with weapons of all types. They are separated into their class sections. Rogue, mage, and warrior.
"C`mon buddy. You're a rogue. Like me," Noah says.
He grabs me by my shirt. Noah's excitement is something that I am not really used to. I'm not used to having someone to hang out with. The fact that he wants to be around me kind of blows my mind.
Georgina is a warrior. She is on the other side of the room with swords and shields and shit like that.
Noah and I just look at the wall.
"There's so many options..." Noah says and then turns to the clerk who is standing behind the cash machine, "Excuse...can we get some help..."
"EXCUSE ME! Hello! Are you not hearing me?" Noah asks the clerk, "What do I have to do to get some help around here? G'dam it! I hate being ignored!"
"Fuck this guy. Giving me his ass to kiss. You want an ass to kiss fucker?"
Noah ignores me completely. He goes up to the clerk at that moment. He stands on the fucking desk! A few players who have walked in are laughing at him. Noah is causing a scene! More and more players are coming in and Noah has no idea. He's getting louder and more annoyed that the clerk isn't responding to him. For a minute I don't know whether to laugh or get embarrassed like Georgina would. Noah is talking to the clerk and the clerk doesn't even turn his head to look at Noah. Noah's face is getting redder and redder by the second. His curly hair is going every which way as he attempts to get attention from the clerk.
Noah's pants come down! All I see is ass on the counter! Noah has a cute ass. It's a little hairy but it's kind of cute. He's mooning the sales person!
Within a second, I see Noah get swept off the table. It's by Georgina. She uses the blunt end of a battle axe. Georgina has the axe in her hand at that moment and has it aimed at Noah's neck.
"Give me a fucking reason--" Georgina says, "I don't think it's possible to player kill in city limits but I'll definitely take the risk."
I have to almost pull Georgina off of Noah.
"What's this bitch's problem?" Noah says.
"Noah. You're embarrassing us. The clerk isn't real," I stated, "It's an NPC..."
Georgina and I look at one another. Jesus Christ, Noah was goddam clueless. There was no way in hell that he didn't know what an NPC was.
"Non-playable character," I state, "It's not a real person. He's a program. Look."
I wave my hand in front of the clerk's face. The clerk doesn't blink. The guy just stands there like a ghost in the shell.
"Have you never played a game before? How do you not know what an NPC is?" Georgina asks him.
"I've played a game. I was the top player in Dragon Bone Online."
Georgina breaks out into a hard laughter. My face blushes with embarrassment as other players who heard what Noah says breaks out into laughter too.
"Dragon Bone Online?" Georgina ask, "Wasn't that on like Super Nintendo?"
"Georgina lay off," I tell her, "I used to play Dragon Bone Online too, when I was like 6, but that's not the point."
I can tell Noah is embarrassed. The fact that he still played that blew my mind. No wonder he wasn't familiar with regular game terms. I had to admit Dragon Bone was a classic, but it was old as dust. It was older than I was. I help Noah off the floor again. I was sure this was becoming a little bit of a habit. Georgina crosses her arms enjoying the fact that she was being a little bit of a mean girl.
"Please don't tell me you were chosen because you were a top player in that game too?" Georgina asks me.
"I played a ton of games. I probably played every role-playing game out there. Dragon Bone, Age of Legends, Space Wars Trilogy..."
"Did you play Space Wars 3?"
Georgina brushes her shoulders off, "Then you must know who I am. Demona."
I look at Georgina and my eyes get wide. A couple of other players look over at Georgina as well.
"You...are Demona from Space Wars 3?" I ask.
"Is that supposed to mean something?" Noah asks.
"I'm only the most legendary character in the game," Georgina explains, "Level 115 warrior, Guild leader of the Valkyrie Guild, player of the year by Gamer's Online two years in a row."
Demona was a big fucking deal. I'm not surprised when a couple of the other players who heard what she is saying all of a sudden look star struck. If Georgina played as Demona in the game then she was a damn strong player. Space Wars was probably the most popular new game out there right now. Demona had leveled up faster than anyone I knew in the game. She was a legend.
"Well in this game you don't have an alias," Noah explains, "You're just Georgina. Georgina stuck-up-ass Duchannes..."
"Call me Demona."
"No. I'm gonna call you Georgina. Georgie for short."
"My name is Demona. Noob. Don't disrespect me because I happened to play a game from this century," Georgina, I mean Demona...argues.
"Guys," I state, "Chill. Georgina...I mean Demona is a legend, Noah. Respect that. Demona there would have been no Space Wars game without Dragon Bone. Noah's game started it all. He may not know a lot about newer games but that game had some really important basic strategies."
Separating the two of them and making sure they didn't end up killing each other seemed like it was going to be some sort of side quest in this game at this point. Demona shuts up, throws back her pretty hair and stands up tall. Noah slouches over, leans up against a weapons rack and rolls his eyes. This was going to be tough.
"You're friends are interesting..."
I turn at that moment.
I'm shocked when I see someone who someone who I recognize immediately.
My heart races.
He looks just as sexy in the game as he does in real life. No. He looks sexier as a matter of fact. Madden has on armor. It's leather armor. He has a sword at his waist and a shield at his back. His armor is skin tight. It clings to his muscles. I remember all the times I used to watch him play basketball with my brother. I remember all the times I used to get excited just thinking about it.
All of a sudden I want to KILL Noah for fucking embarrassing me in front of Madden. I can't believe that Madden was in this shop the whole time that Noah was going on his stupid little rant.
"My...my...my," Demona states looking over at Madden. I swear at that moment she adjusts her tits to sit up a little higher. There is actually a reason for it. Madden is...hot...
"You know this guy?" Noah asks me, "Hello? Killian? Earth to Killian."
"Killian snap out of it," Demona states.
Madden only spoke to me several times before. Madden was in my face now. He was speaking to me. I was losing it. I didn't know how to react. I had a crush on this guy since the beginning of time and he was now in a game fucking speaking to me. It literally takes Demona to elbow me hard in my side for me to finally snap out of it.
"You ok?" Madden asks me.
"I just am surprised to see you," I state, "I had no idea you were a gamer."
Madden nods and shrugs a little, "Yeah. It was my little secret. Me and your brother used to play games before...he died..."
My brother's body was burned in that car accident so bad that there was nothing but ash. I remember how sad Madden was at the funeral. He'd never get to see one of his best friend's again. I remember how upset he was. They were definitely really close. I honestly had no idea that my brother liked to play games too.
Demona elbows me, "Eh erm."
She wants an introduction. It's clear she does. That's exactly what I want to avoid, though. For years, I'd been trying to get Madden to look at me with those eyes of his. His chinky eyes glare at me. His man bun on top of his head makes him look like some sexy ancient Samurai warrior with dark skin, full lips, and an amazing body.
"I wish I knew we had this in common. I always thought you guys just liked to play basketball," I explain.
" I always thought you kind of didn't like me to be honest..."
"What are you serious?"
Madden looks at me with those pink lips of his. He licks them and for the moment, I almost faint. He was so fucking sexy.
"You were always a loner..." he says shaking his head.
"He's not a loner anymore," Demona butts in, "I'm Demona. I'm his friend."
Demona pushes me to the side almost immediately and shakes Madden's hand.
"I'm Madden," he says shaking her hand, "That's interesting. A warrior class...most pretty girls play mages. You're a champion specialization at that..."
Demona only hears one thing.
"You think I'm pretty?" Demona asks.
There it goes. Already someone has gotten Madden's attention away from me. Madden gives her a smile. It's a smile that he's given so many pretty girls back in the real world. I'd seen girls literally drop their panties when he did it. I watch as Demona's knees lock up a little bit. Madden was the sexiest Asian guy in the world. Who wouldn't be attracted to muscles, slanted eyes, big lips and brown skin? And a man bun!
"Of course Demona," Madden winks at her.
Demona almost loses it.
"Her name's Georgina actually. What's a champion anyway?" Noah asks.
"It's one of two warrior's specialization. You choose it at level 1, when choose your weapon. I chose Tank. That's how come I got a sword and shield. We have high defense. Georgina chose champion when she chose her axe. She has high offense."
"Can rogues be champions?" Noah asks him.
"In this game? No..." Madden says politely.
I never heard of a rogue champion in ANY game that has never been a champion. Noah was embarrassing me...again.
"Demona...why don't you take Madden around the store and help him choose a specialization?" I ask.
Demona looks over at me reluctantly, "Do I have to?"
"Please..." I tell her.
Demona seems annoyed but she smiles at Madden before leaving at that moment. Madden walks over to me. He is laughing when he stands next to me. He's so fucking handsome. As he walks over he brushes his shoulder up against me and my heart almost stops.
"Your friends are interesting," he says to me.
"They aren't really my friends. I met them right before the game started," I tell Madden.
"That doesn't mean they can't be your friends," Madden explains, "You are so closed off. I don't know how many times I asked Liam to invite you out. You never wanted to come."
"You asked Liam to invite me to places?" I ask.
Madden nods, "Yeah. I would have asked you myself but every time I walk towards you, you always seemed to walk away..."
He made me nervous. He still made me nervous. To say I had a crush on Madden was an understatement. I was damn near in love with the guy. I was obsessed. Madden seems to notice it. He has a smell. How the fuck was it possible that they were able to transfer Madden's smell to this virtual world.
"I guess I'm a little bit braver in Play Dead," I admit.
He shrugs, "Really. I'm pretty sure there's sweat there..."
He touches the top of my head and wipes a bit of sweat from my forehead. I laugh. It's awkward.
"I'm just tired," I state.
"Isn't it crazy that you feel tired in this game?" he asks me, "Strange isn't it? There isn't any need to eat or use the bathroom in this game, but you still have to sleep."
"You don't have to eat?"
"There's food but there's no need to eat," he explains, "Did you not read the guide?"
I shake my head, "I never read the guides to these things."
He laughs, "It's in your menu. No eating. It's weird that they left that out. You do have to shower. Hell, they even added sex into the game."
He laughs. I don't laugh with him.
I clear my throat. It was DEFINITELY interesting that they added sex in the game.
It's awkward as fuck.
"Sorry. Did I make you say something weird?" he asks.
He did. I'm very uncomfortable. Having the man of my dreams standing next to me at this moment joking about sex wasn't something that I was really OK with.
"No," I lie, "I'm just wondering what specialization I should use."
"You can always switch specializations in your class. I think the specializations for a rogue are a thief, assassin, and archer for this game."
"What do you think I should start as?"
"What do you usually play?"
I struggle. The games are different. Specializations in most other games usually don't come until later. I get a feel for the game. This game is different. I'm actually IN this game. I'm not looking at it from a Playstation. I'm not doing it from a computer. I'm actually in this fucking thing.
"I'm not sure," I answer, "Assassins have good critical attacks in games, but I've always wanted to be an archer."
"You should hurry up. The Opening ceremony is about to start," Madden explains, "Plus your friends look like they are about to kill each other..."
"Fuck...I should stop them."
"Yeah I met a few guys ... who are playing warriors like me," Madden explains, "I should go meet up with them."
I was almost hoping that we could play together. I should have known that I wasn't the kind of guy that Madden wanted to play a game with.
Madden nods, but all of a sudden opens his menu. He clicks a few buttons on the clear screen that appears out of nowhere.
"I just sent you a friend request..." Madden explains, "Send me a message sometime. We'll definitely go on a quest or something together once we can leave Origins."
"You'd want to do that----with me?"
My heart is racing.
Madden shrugs, "Yeah. Believe it or not...I'd like to break down those walls of yours. Who knows? Maybe we can get closer in this game than we were in real life."
I'm smiling at the thought of that. I'm biting my lip.
"I'd like that."
Madden is walking backwards. His eyes are still stuck on me, "Hey. Try something new..."
I'm not sure if Madden is referring to me being friends with him or my specialization. By the time he leaves out the store I look over at the weapon choice.
I pick up a bow and a quiver of arrows hoping that he meant a little of both.
"That bow is metal," Noah says, "That's dope."
He's right. The metal bow isn't some ancient looking bow. The bow is sexy. It's more futuristic. This game definitely isn't one of the old kinds of RPGs. Sure there were battle axes, swords, and shields. But there were also guns that were used by the Rogue's Assassin specialization. This was a futuristic world. This was a futuristic game.
"You can always switch," I explain to him, "Just be careful. You have to train your specialization from 1 if you start over."
Noah pulls out double daggers, "Nah. I think I'm going to focus on training my Thief skills."
"Thief suits you," Demona rolls her eyes.
"Bitch suits you."
"Guys. Can you stop arguing for two seconds?" I ask as we walk into the town square, "The ceremony is about to start."
We are in the town square. All of the other players are gathered. The place seems to look like a distorted version of Times Square. There is an empty stage in the center that looks like someone is about to walk out and perform. Everyone is excited as we are packed in the streets of Origins. People are looking around at the people they are going to be competing for this money. There seems to be a ton of mages and warriors. I guess people think they are easier classes to play then rogues.
Noah and I are the only rogues around. I'm happy that Noah decided to choose Thief. There weren't many of those at all. It was interesting that he went that route.
"There's your sexy ass Asian friend over there..." Demona explains, "We should go stand with him."
She's talking about Madden. He's not my friend, though. It's not hard to see that she's referring to him. There aren't a lot of sexy ass Asians just standing around doing nothing. Madden is standing a little away from us. He waves at me. I think he's actually inviting me to come stand over by him.
I don't move, though.
"What's wrong?" Noah asks me.
I shake my head. Madden is standing with the popular guys. It's just like growing up. The guys who Madden is standing with all are perfect looking players. I mean they are all warriors and they all look like they were real warriors, not just gamers. These guys looked athletic and beautiful. The girl players were already gathering around them. It's almost clear that the real world has followed me into the game.
Madden is at the popular table...all over again.
"Nothing. It's just kind of crowded over there."
Madden waves at me again. I think for a minute Demona is going to leave me and make her way over towards him but she doesn't. She just sighs and stays where she is. It's almost as though she respects me for some odd reason or, at least, is listening to my decision.
The crowd is growing more and more hype. It's almost like New Years or 4th of July when the ceremony starts. There's music. There's fireworks in the night sky of Origins. It all looks so real. The energy all feels so real.
Demona is much too cool to show she's excited but Noah is jumping up and down clapping his double daggers together and joining the chant of "PLAY DEAD! PLAY DEAD! PLAY DEAD!" that is going around.
Demona elbows me at that moment and points, "Look."
I see that she's pointing to the crowd separating. As they separate these men in white suits are walking up. They look just like the staff of play dead except almost cleaner. They are all white men and women. They are all this pasty white complexion. The crowd seems to go nuts for them. There is one man in particular. He's bald headed and almost the color of chalk. He leads the rest of these guys up to the podium and makes his way up to the stage.
The players are getting frantic with excitement.
"PLAY DEAD! PLAY DEAD! PLAY DEAD!"
The bald man waves to the crowd and I hear him speak without a microphone so loud that it seems like he has one, "Who wants to win 10 million dollars?"
The crowd erupts at the idea of money.
"PLAY DEAD! PLAY DEAD! PLAY DEAD!"
He waves his hand at the crowd and the crowd gets silent. Deafly silent.
I try to speak. Nothing.
It's almost as though I'm completely muted. Demona looks at me and tries to say something but she has no voice as well.
"Sorry I had to mute you all," he explains, "I am on a very short deadline. Welcome to Play Dead. My name is Phineas Manolo---creator of play dead."
I look over at Noah. I can tell he's laughing even though words aren't coming out. I can't help but \smirk at Noah. I know exactly what he's thinking even though we are somehow muted in this game. What kind of fucking name is Phineas? Was this guy serious?
There is no way to communicate without reading lips but I think I read Demona telling Noah, "You're so fucking childish."
Noah mouths the words, "You're so bitchy...Georgina."
"My name is Demona," Demona mouths back.
I give both of them a pinch to shut them up. We're missing Manolo's speech.
Manolo stands up there and talks loudly walking in circles so that he can talk to anyone, "I'd like to thank you all for participating in the Beta test for this new game. Behind me are my moderators. They will act as the law and order of Play Dead. With this game, we hope to redefine not only gaming but redefine reality all together. What does it mean to be real? What are the limits of a virtual world? What would people do to survive? What would people do for money? I am someone who wants to answer all those questions. In that way...I'm more than a creator...I am a scientist. I'd like to understand the constructs of the human mind and hope that you can help me with that. If you are lucky you can win 10 Million dollars as well."
People are clapping. There is no sound. Either he's literally taken away everyone's ability to produce sound or he's taken away everyone's ability to hear anyone else but him. I don't know how he's done that but then again I don't think it matters. This is his world.
He was God here.
It was clear.
And there is something unsettling about the idea that this man has so much power.
"I bet many of you are asking how do you win?" he asks, "It may take a few weeks to beat the game. It may take a few years...."
People are talking. I don't hear them but people are panicking all of a sudden. I am reading lips. People are wanting to know things. They are shocked that he just said that this game would take up to a few years to beat.
I look over at Madden. For some reason we are looking right at each other. Madden looks...worried. He doesn't say anything but he is concerned.
He has a good reason to. No one assumed it would last this long.
Manolo continues, "So how do you win the game? You beat all the dungeons in the game. There are 20 dungeons that increase in the level of difficulty. You can play the game alone and keep the prize money for yourself or create a guild consisting of other players to split the prize money. However, the first person...or guild to beat all the dungeons wins the game. At that point, everyone is released."
A few people sigh. I'm concerned still, though. What if it took someone a long time to beat this game?
"Many of you are asking how do you log out if you no longer want to continue. The answer is---you can't. You stay in the game until it's over."
We're can't log out?
"In the real world, you are hooked up a simulator. Pleasure and pain will transfer over to the real world. In the real world, you are being fed through an IV. You are being given calorie-rich liquid feed through a tube in your veins, inserted through your nose, down your esophagus and into your stomach. All normal body functions happen in the real world but your brain is stuck in a virtual state. In the real world, you are in a virtual coma..."
My heart stops. This isn't funny anymore. This isn't exciting.
I damn near see Noah drop to his knees at that moment. His feet completely give in. There are tears in his eyes as he's sitting there listening to this.
This man was crazy.
People seem to panic all of a sudden.
"I wouldn't do that..." he warns.
I'm not sure what he's talking about until I see a group of about a dozen or so players near the front end of the stage. Manolo's warning go on deaf ears and a group of players attempts to storm the stage. I watch in horror what happens next.
As soon as the players get to the stage they begin to crystallize. A barrier is around Manolo. The barrier doesn't just block the players. It hurts them. I hear them struggle as though trapped somehow.
They crystallize and they are destroyed as though they never existed into thin air!
I grab Noah's shoulder. He is having a hard time dealing with this.
This FUCKING MAN WAS CRAZY! He had us trapped in his game.
"A lot of you must be thinking the same thing," Manolo says, "Especially after what you just saw. What happens if you die in the game?"
People are crying. No sound. No noise. Just this haunting sadness and fear fills the entire square. I'd never seen anything like this.
Manolo answers his own question, "If you die in the game. You die in real life."
To read the next chapter in advance please go to www.crushedcrown.com