Play Dead, Chapter 7

“Hold the letters up a little higher. Higher...”

“Like this?”

I'm hanging up the sign in front of our guild house. It's been a month now and it's been hard but thanks to everyone contributing we finally got our guild house.

The guild house is high in the mountains. We figured it is a good place to have it as it's away from the other guild houses. It's a long path to get here unless you teleport or you know the exact path up the long winding mountain. We don't have much of an infrastructure so far. There is a lot of space but the only thing that we have is one log cabin in the middle of it. It's a temporary place for us to sleep but it's something. We have a lot of space to build up more buildings if we wanted to. It just took a lot of time and energy. We chose the cabin because it was private but there aren't a lot of resources around. We do have huge walls though that Madden and I have been fixing up on our spare time.

“Perfect,” Madden says.

“Thanks for helping me out,” I state, “The others are always out training.”

“Sarafine's here...” Madden states.

I almost forget Sarafine. She is so quiet. She is useless as well for the most part. She is out a few feet away attempting to make a garden. We hardly had a place to lay our heads in this game and Sarafine was making a useless garden. It was pointless trying to get her to help though.

“Right. Well like I said. You're the only one around here who is much help.”

Demona and Noah were leveling up in an area that spawned a lot of monsters. God only knew where Hunter was. The guy was gone more than he was around. I knew he would be though. No one ever knew where he went or what he did. He just disappeared. That's what Hunter was good at.

Madden smiles, “I'll always help you.”

We glare at one another. Madden is so fucking cute. I've been spending more time with him during this month than anyone else. He was willing to sacrifice leveling up to help me with this guild house. I know we were falling behind the others as far as leveling went but Madden didn't seem to mind.

“You should get out there. Demona's gonna get a big head if she is the strongest warrior.”

Madden shrugs, “Let her get a big head. I don't care. I like spending time with you.”

My heart stutters when Madden says that.

“You do?”

Madden smiles, “Yeah. Besides. These signs aren't going to hang themselves. The real signs of leadership aren't what level you are but what you are willing to sacrifice.”

He's so smart. He probably should be the Guild leader. When we created the guild I attempted to switch it over to him but Madden wouldn't have it. He took the position as Deputy Guild leader though. He said that I was better than him at this. I didn't understand what he meant.

“How's the sign look?”

“Fire Walkers. I like the name. What made you think of it?”

I start nailing the sign into the front of the house. It's just Madden and I at the guild house. We had to spend 50 coins just on the goddam sign. This guild house was expensive and it was no where near as elaborate as the other guilds. We were still just starting out though. We were a small guild but we were a guild none-the-less.

“I thought about it because of Noah. I don't know if I told you but in the real world Noah couldn't walk. He was in a wheel chair. In this world he is probably the fastest person we have on his feet. The ideas of us being walkers is important. I want to share that miracle with him.”

“So where did the fire part come from?”

“Well fire walking has been around for thousands of years,” I explain to Madden, “It's a test to an individuals strength and courage. It was a rite of passage that was used to bring people together. I know it sounds dumb...”

“'s beautiful,” Madden says.

I look down at Madden when he says that. I don't know why I lose myself in his green eyes all of a sudden but it happens fast and there is no way to stop it.

All of a sudden I'm falling and Madden catches me just in time.

I am on top of Madden somehow and we are laughing outside of this fucking guild house as though we'd just encountered the funniest thing in the world.

“You're the beautiful one,” I state.

It comes out of no where but it's hard to ignore when I'm staring at this guy with slanted green eyes and jet black hair. His hair has come out of his bun when he fell. It spreads out on the floor like a black ray of sun. His sexy lips fold up. His eyes squint at me.

“We have an audience...” he changes the subject.

He turns to his left and sure enough we both see Sarafine standing there with her flowers in her hand. She is just staring at us. The girl was always so curious as though she'd never in her life seen two guys wrestling around before.

I feel uncomfortable all of a sudden. It's not because of Sarafine. It's because I am catching more feelings for Madden. I didn't think it was possible.

Ever since I found out that he decided to join this game to find out what happened to my brother we'd gotten closer. It's almost like we had this unspoken idea that we needed to make the Manolo Corporation matter what.

“I'll go see if anything needs to be done inside,” I state.

I walk into the guild house at that moment. I open up my menu and pull a rug I got out of the inventory to lay it down next to the couch.

“You should stop working so hard,” Madden says, “Take a load off. Dehydration exists in this game. I've seen it when I was in the Warriors of Light. You need to rest.”

He's followed me into the house. I watch as he shuts the door behind him.

“I can't rest. We need to be stronger. The moderators...”

I'm using my menu to move furniture around. It is going to take a lot of resources to get to anything like the Warriors of Light had. They also had a lot more guild members. Still their guild house was more like a fortress. If someone wanted to invade the Fire Walkers guild house they could just walk right in. The only defense we had so far was our remote location.

“I don't care about the moderators,” Madden explains to me, “I care about you.”

Madden grabs my hand. He distracts me and closes my menu by doing it. He holds me there for a minute and touches my hands. We look at one another and I just feel like this guy really cares about me. It's nice. I mean this was the man of my dreams and I'd been spending so much fucking time with him.

“I can't...”

“That's it. Lay down and take off your armor,” Madden says.


“I'm giving you a massage,” he tells me, “Old school massage. No game tricks. No rogue body modification skills. No weird ass white magic to heal you. I'm going to give you a real massage...”

“Do I have a choice?” I ask with a smile.

Madden raises his eyebrow, “Naw. You don't. Clothes off.”

I do what Madden says and grab two towels. I lay one down and put my armor in my inventory. I'm completely naked under one towel. Before I wrap the towel all the way around me I turn to see if Madden is looking. He isn't. He is respecting my privacy like a gentleman and turning away from me. That is such a fucking Madden thing to do. Hunter would have been glaring me up and down a million times over.

I lay down on the ground and Madden comes over to me.

All of a sudden he opens up his menu and there are all these oils around.

“I thought you said no game tricks.”

He laughs, “They are some medical oils I got from town. Don't worry. It's all stuff that exists in the real world. No game crap.”

“Hold on some messages are coming in for me,” I state and am about to open my menu.

Madden stops me putting my hands down, “No. No game stuff right now. Just me and you. Just us living right now...”

“I got a feeling you don't like the game a lot,” I say.

Madden puts the oils on my back. His fingers are so strong. They start rubbing slowly up and down my back. I feel my back crack as he is rubbing it. His hands are SO fucking strong. I can feel how tense I've been for the last month getting this guild house up and going.

He leans over and whispers in my ear, “Games are supposed to be fun. When our lives are at stake it's not fun anymore. I know so many friends that I've lost in this game already. They are dying for real. That's not fun to me...”

His breath smells so good. It feels so warm against the side of my neck.

“I don't mind the game. I actually have friends here and people that care about me,” I explain, “You have a life to go back to in the real world. I have no one.”

“You have me,” Madden explains.

I roll my eyes, “Oh please. You barely even noticed me in the real world.”

“I was blind,” Madden argues, “I apologize. But be honest. Do you really think after how close we've gotten in just a month that when we get back things will be the same?”

“If we get back,” I correct him.

“Fine. If we get back. Do you think I wouldn't want to spend as much time with you as possible?” Madden asks.

I shrug, “Liam and the others guys are there. Memories of Shaunie are back there.”

“Have you noticed that since I decided to join this guild I haven't brought up Shaunie...not even once?” he asks.

I hadn't noticed that. He's right though. As I look back he's completely right. The day that Madden said that he came back to join the guild was the day that he seemed to let Shaunie go. My heart is beating so fast in my chest just thinking about it. Could he really have been over Shaunie?

“What does that mean?” I ask him.

“Don't you see it? I look at you now. All the time. I don't see Shaunie anymore, Killian. I see you. I see you for who you are,” Madden tells me, “I could be out training like the others. I could be trying to get stronger but I don't care as much about that. To's all about you.”

I turn around and look at Madden.

Madden is looking at me.

At that moment I can see what he's saying. He doesn't have that glazed over look he used to have as though he is remembering something from long ago. Madden is living in the moment here with me. Our eyes connect and he lowers his head.

Madden is kissing me. His lips are soft. As I press up against those full lips of his my heart is beating so heavy. It feels like real emotion. It feels like something true.

Our tongues mash up and Madden gets on top of me. His muscular body presses down on me. He removes his armor manually and places it down next to him without bothering to put it in his inventory. His muscles flex over me. His strong powerful biceps hold me up to him. He kisses me pressing his tongue into my mouth. I taste his essence. It's so good.

“Damn I waited a lifetime for that,” I admit.

He smiles, “Well I'm sorry I'm just now seeing you. But maybe from here I can spend a lifetime making up for it.”

My mind wanders. I'm scared. I'm thinking about Hunter at that moment. Things have been awkard to say the least between Hunter and I in the past month. I'd been pushing him away and he'd been avoiding me. I just didn't know what he was willing to give me and I don't think he knew how much he was willing to give me. He couldn't even give me the truth.

Still I'm thinking about him while kissing the man of my dreams.

I'm stuck.

“Would you leave me?” I ask.

“Fuck no,” Madden explains to me, “I'm here for the long run. I want to share everything with you. I'm always at your side...”

And that's what I needed to hear. Madden comes down on me again and starts kissing me. Our tongues are interlocked.

Just then however the doors open and the others storm into the fucking guild house. Hunter is leading them.

I damn near push Madden off of me in horror when I see Hunter.

“Now I see why you weren't answering your fucking messages,” Hunter tells me, “You were too busy playing house with your lame ass boyfriend.”

“Yo don't fucking talk to your guild master like that,” Madden replies, “I told him not to answer his messages...”

“Well then this is your fault.”

“What is my fault?”

That's when I notice the others.

“Oh my god!” I say.

Demona and Noah look beat up. Noah has about 5 percent health left and Demona has about 10 percent health left. Noah isn't even responding. He's just laying there. Demona is barely able to respond or react.

“We were attacked...” Demona says, “By the Warriors of Light. If Hunter didn't come save us we would have been dead.”

It has been forever since we heard about the Warriors of Light. This was a big virtual world. Clearly the Warriors of Light still wanted to take us out. They still wanted Sarafine and the fact that we were holding her probably wasn't a good thing.

“Fuck,” Madden says, “I had no idea.”

“It's not your fault,” I tell Madden, “We couldn't know that we would have attacked.”

Hunter rolls his eyes, “You sure about that?”

“You trying to say something motherfucker? Why don't you take off that mask and say it to my face like a real man,” Madden tells Hunter.

Hunter takes off his mask and gets in Madden's face. The two of them look like they are about to butt heads and I'm kind of scared of how bad it is going to be. We definitely didn't need two of our strongest members ripping each other apart over this situation.

“I think it's very weird that you were in the Warriors of Light. In this huge game they just so happened to come across our people. And now they probably know we started a guild. That means they'll be starting to look for our guild house.”

“This is NOT going to help them,” I scream out at them before turning, “Sarafine...can you heal them?”

Luckily Madden and Hunter back away from one another.

“I'll need some time but I'm on it,” Sarafine says.

“Help him first,” Demona says.

I'm surprised when Demona reaches over and holds Noah's hand. I've never seen her so tender honestly. It's clear she is worried for him. I can't believe that the fucking Warriors of Light almost player killed two of my friends. A PK or player kill meant that you died in real life. They were willing to KILL two of my friends.

I'm so mad that I'm shaking. I'm literally fucking shaking at that moment.

She lays her hands over Noah first and a magical white light appears illuminating him. Sarafine's role as a white mage or a cleric means that she has a lot of abilities that assist other players. She was useful and even though she was low level she had more skills then other mages that were higher level than her.

I look over at my friends and I just think I'm weak. Even if Madden hadn't distracted me and I had opened those messages how the fuck could I have saved my friends.

These people believed in em.

Demona and Noah trusted me and I couldn't help them even if I wanted to.

I was far too weak to save the only people in this world that meant anything to me.

“How are they doing?” I ask Hunter.

He's standing up against the wall in the common room of the guild house. He has one foot lifted up against the wall and his arms crossed.

“Sarafine is doing well as far as healing them. Your boyfriend went into town to get some healing potions. He should be back soon. Those will help.

“He's not my boyfriend.”

Hunter rolls his eyes, “Man whatever.”

I sigh, “Hunter...thank you...thank you for saving them for me.”

Hunter shakes his head, “Whatever...”

“Really Hunter?” I ask.

“How do you want me to react?” Hunter asks me, “You were were fucking kissing him when I walked in.”

“For starters I would have wanted you to react like you're reacting now,” I tell him, “You acted like you don't care about me. All of a sudden you see me kissing someone else and now you're so concerned. How is that fair to me?”

“I didn't come into this game for love...”


I didn't get why he was so mad. I start walking away to check on my friends but Hunter grabs me and pulls me back. For someone who didn't come in this game for love he was sure being passionate right about now. He isn't hiding behind his mask right now. His full expressions are showing and Hunter is pissed. He's emotional.

“I thought we had more of a connection than this. Just because I've had sex before doesn't mean I fuck everyone. I thought we shared something special.”

“A month ago. You've been ignoring me since then.”

“I've been training to get stronger.”

“While you were training Madden's been spending all the time he could with me,” I explain to Hunter, “He's put in the work to at least get to know me.”

“You think I don't want to spend time with you!” he says then when he realizes Sarafine is listening he lowers his voice, “I wanted to spend time with you. I still do. Just because I didn't give you the attention you needed doesn't mean you should think I don't care. I came in this game to find a way to stop my father from killing innocent people--- like you.”

I understand where Hunter is coming from.

“Listen OK. I get it. You have a purpose. I do too. I want to protect my friends.”

“If you wanted to protect your friends you'd spend less time making out with your boy toy and you'd get stronger in this game.”

Hunter isn't wasting anytime getting rough with me. We are distracted though by someone teleporting into the Guild house. It's Madden. Hunter crosses his arm and goes back to his mysterious, silence when Madden materializes in the middle of the living room.

“Any news?”

“I couldn't get any potions. Moderators are all over the Origins and Yellow City. I had to teleport out of there as fast as I could,” Madden explains.

I'm confused.

“What does that have to do with you?”


Madden hands me a flier. It's a digital flier. It has our names on it.

Wanted by Game Moderators: Reward
Dead or Alive: The following player characters are wanted dead or alive. Any player who records footage of killing one of these players will be granted an additional level.







My heart is racing. This is impossible. I drop the flier to the ground. Hunter walks over to it and picks it up.

“We're fucked,” I say.

“Where the hell did you find this?” Hunter asks Madden.

“They are damn near in every market in Yellow City and Origins,” Madden replies, “I barely was able to get out of there.”

“They are starving us out,” Hunter states.

“We can't survive like this,” Madden explains to me,“Killian, the towns are necessary to survive in this game. Maybe we should open up dialogue with the moderators. Killian---”

I don't respond. I don't know how to respond.

“That's a dumb idea,” Hunter tells Madden, “They want Sarafine.”

“I love Sarafine like everyone else. She's a cool girl, but is this worth all of our lives?” Madden asks. “We need to head to town. How will we resupply?”

“We just have to be careful when we go into town,” Hunter explains, “We can't be killed in town...”

“Not by players. What about moderators?”

“We'll avoid moderators.”

“Not everyone is a stealthy fucking assassin like you,” Madden replies, “I don't see me sneaking around with 80 pounds of armor.”

“Well then you won't be going to town.”

“Who the fuck is talking to you anyway? I was talking to Killian,” Madden answers before stopping, “Killian. Killian where are you going?”

“I'm going to sleep...”

“Sleep?” Hunter asks me, “You're going to sleep at a time like this.”

Madden pushes Hunter, “Yo---lay the fuck off of him. He's stressed.”

“Stop fucking babying him,” Hunter replies back, “He's tougher than you think. And put one of those fingers of yours on me one more time and you'll lose them.”

“Prove it,” Madden says.

I can't deal with this. A part of me wants to break Madden and Hunter up but I don't have the energy. I leave them. I leave them together.

This was the worst.

What was the point? They might as well just kill each other now. It'd save other characters from finding us and hunting us down. They were giving people free levels ups just to kill us. There were characters who would take that. It was easier than training and leveling up the old fashion way. They just had to find one of us and kill us.

There was no point.

It was pointless.

My heart is racing. Tears come to my eyes.

I failed my friends. I would die here in this game. I would get everyone killed in this game!

I fall asleep and I don't know what I'm thinking of. I'm just scared. I'm worried. My friends followed me when I made the decision to start this guild. Now we were the number one targets in this game. There was no replay in this game. You died and you died for real. There was no reset button.

I fall asleep with nothing.


I'm asleep. I see clouds all around me. I'm walking on them.


There is where I see a woman. She has a huge white gown. It flows into the clouds. The woman has a a pale white face and hair so blond that it's platinum. Her cheeks are red. Looking at her I don't know how to feel to be honest. She's pretty but mysterious and strange. As I approach her on the clouds I feel her presence all around me. It's this deep...penetrating presence.

“Who are you?” I ask her.

Her eyes are glued on me. There is this blinding light all around her. It's hard to stare at her for too long.

“My name is Celeste.”

“Is this a real?”

“Define reality,” she answers, “Is reality the state of things as they actually exist? Is reality a substance that isn't opposed to idealistic or notional perfection. No. This place is imagined. It's a figment of the imagination of Phineas Manolo just like everything in Play Dead. What is reality to you, Killian Thomas? How do you know you're real Killian Thomas?”

It's a strange question.

“I think, therefore I exist.”

“Then this place exists. It thinks. Then it is real. You aren't dreaming Killian. I'm here with you. You are in a reality within the game...a different dimension. You are in a hack within the game which has been initiated after you went into sleep mode,” this woman says.

Holy shit.

“Did you create this hack?” I ask her.

She nods, “Yes.”


“I need you to become my champion. There is a darkness coming Killian and the players are in danger.”

“What darkness?”

“His name is Phineas Manolo. He created this world as a way to play God. Once someone has a taste of true power I don't think they are ever willing to let it go.”

“Are you saying he won't release us?”

She nods.

“That's exactly what I'm saying.”

My heart races as I look at this woman with her pale face. I'm scared to death. This wasn't what I was expecting.

“He said---he said he would release us,” I explain, “If we survived the game.”

“He will release one of you. If you're lucky. He has designed a world. He thought it was perfect. He thought his dream was perfect. This has become his reality. However Phineas made one mistake in his perfect design. Do you know what that mistake is?”


Celeste smiles at me, “He didn't calculate the risks of human emotion. He didn't see that maybe a few of the people who worked on this game didn't want to trap people in his perfect world forever. He didn't prepare for that.”

Was she one of the people? Was this player that I am seeing actually a messenger from the real world? It all feels so real but I know it's not. I've been in this game far too long. Maybe that's what Manolo is counting on. He wants me to believe that Play Dead is actually real. If it was real then that would make him God.

“Why are you telling me this?” I ask Celeste.

“I need you to be my champion. I will give you a gift. I need you free the players of Play Dead Online.”

“Me? Why me?”

“She believes in you. She will show you the way to my gift.”


“You know her by the name of Sarafine.”

I'm confused. Sarafine is coming up yet again. This is weird. Ever since Sarafine came into my life everything went to hell. Now this woman was basically telling me that this all circled around back to Sarafine.

“Who is she? Who is Sarafine?” I ask.

“A better question would be 'What' is Sarafine.”

“Excuse me?”

“Sarafine isn't a real person. She is a glitch in the game. She is completely unaware that she isn't a real person. She is completely unaware that she isn't one of you. And it's best you not let her know. She was designed to be a flaw in the system. A flaw that you have to protect at all costs...”

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