I finally have the courage to approach her.
“Hey,” she says and smiles.
Finally I blurt, “I had a pickup line and all but your beauty is too breathtaking. I forgot everything.”
“Cute,” she says and smiles again, “Does that ever work?”
“I have no idea,” I say and grin, “But I am eager to find out.”
“I think it might. A little bit. Took you a long time to approach me. I have seen you looking at me, you know.”
I blush. “Nerves of steel here. But I did mean what I said. Your looks, I mean”
“Thank you. I’ll wait for you to recollect your line.”
I think for a bit. “How about ‘Do you have any raisins? No? How about a date?'”
“Jeez. You are a natural”
“You make me be like one.”
That smile again. “You do this for a living, don’t you?”
I am about to answer when … blackness.
Groan. Not now.
It takes a minute for me to acquaint myself to the present. I am helped out of my pod. My legs are still a little numb, my eyes are slowly coming back to focus, the humming in my ears is slowly dying but it’s my head that is hit the worst. As always. A massive headache.
The noises around me are frantic. I don’t have to be told. It’s a raid. We are ushered into a back room. We will be here till it is safe to come out. Till the cops have been convinced there is no illegal plugging happening here.
“Hey, you okay?” Someone’s talking to me.
“Damn the torpedoes,” I say and turn around in slow circles. Something I say and do when I have such a splitting headache.
“Stop that. Are we still plugged in?”
I look at him. In the small dark room its just the two of us. Funny, I thought a lot of us were shepherded in here.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Are we still in a sim?”
“What? No. We just got DCed because of the raid.”
“Could be part of a sim.”
I roll my eyes. “And I have this fucking headache.”
“Easy to code.”
“You got a safe phrase to exit?”
“No. That’s my point. They erased it. They have trapped us here.”
I stare at him, trying to size him up. Is he fucking with me? Is he plain crazy?
“Look at some of the guys out there. They are clearly NPCs,” he says.
Non playing characters. They sometimes repeat their actions if not programmed to respond to a situation.
“If you say so.”
“I have been trapped here for too long, man. I need to get out.”
“Only one way to find out,” he says. He pulls out a switchblade. “You ready to cut them up? We’ll see how the program responds then, huh?”
“What?” My head is exploding and I can’t follow what he is saying. I am turning around in slow circles. “Damn the torpedoes.”
It takes a moment for me to realize what he means. In that split second I realize what just happened. But it’s too late. When I turn toward him he is almost upon me, snarling, his switchblade raised.