Upgraded Service

“James!” Kelly rushed into the office. She shut and locked the door behind her, then turned to her boss whose first name she never used before that moment.

“Something wrong?” he asked. The question came as a reflex, he saw obvious panic on her face. Her dark brown eyes danced around the office as if expecting something or someone to pop out at her. He moved the computer mouse to bring up the security feed, but Kelly grabbed his hand. She pulled him away from the desk and the large scenic window behind him.

“Stay away from the windows! She yanked him down to the carpeted floor in the middle of his office. “Security said an armed group is trying to come up. They heard your name mentioned and told me to warn you,” she explained. Images of armed gunmen wearing balaclavas and speaking with foreign accents rushed through James’ mind.

“What.. what’d I do?” He asked her as if she knew the answer.

“I don’t know,” she hissed back. James realized she was far more terrified than he was. He realized he should probably be as scared as her. “What did you do on vacation?” Kelly asked. They both lay flat on the floor staring up at the drop-out panels.

“Nothing!” James felt a gnawing sensation in his gut. The burning sensation of a lie about to come to light.

“You had to have done something,” she replied. James shook his head, but she pressed him again. “People don’t just show up to an office building with weapons without a reason. THINK. Maybe you did something accidentally. Tell me everything you did over there.”

“I uh…” James wondered if he could bluff his way through this. He recalled what few facts he could about Saudi Arabia. “You know. Just visited the Red Sea and stuff. It was pretty boring.”

“That’s it? That’s all you did for a week?” James nodded, not that she could see.

“Yeah. It was pretty enough that I went almost every day, different spots you know.” Kelly sat up and stared into his eyes.

“You didn’t come back with a tan. In fact, I think you came back paler somehow. I remember because I was worried you weren’t eating enough.”

She was worried about me?” The realization made James feel worse about his lies. “If we get through this she is getting such a raise. If we don’t…,” James sighed.

“Look, I don’t know what’s going on, Kelly, but I need to be honest. I lied to you about my vacation. I didn’t go to Saudi Arabia,” he looked up into her eyes. “My favorite game got a new update and I spent the week playing.”

“WHAT?!” She immediately pelted his shoulder with blows. The floor supporting him ensured he took the full force of the hits. “You told me you had that vacation planned for a year! I missed my daughter’s graduation because of you!”

“From Kindergarten!” he tried to rationalize his lie.

“YOU LIED!” she hit him again several times. He knew he’d have a bruise or three in the morning, and he knew he deserved it too. “I’m sorry! If I survive this you’ll get a raise and two weeks vacation!” She only hit him once more after that.

“I’d better,” she said with stern eyes.

“Mr. Jelee?” A man’s voice came from the intercom on his desk. “The intruders are demanding to speak with, ‘The Final Boss’.”

“What?” James sat up.

“How do they know your nickname?” Kelly asked. James stood up then gave Kelly a hand up.

“I don’t know,” he said as he made his way to the desk. He opened the security feed on his monitor and saw a group of armed and armored adventurers. A paladin in heavy, black iron armor stood at the front of the group. A spellslinger and gunslinger duo, each with holstered guns on each hip stood on each side of a white-robed healer.

“No waaay,” James whispered under his breath.

“What the hell? Security said they were armed, but it’s just a group of cosplayers,” Kelly commented. James pressed the red intercom button.

“Send them up,” he said.

“Yes, sir.” The security guard on the monitor replied. He pointed the group toward the elevator.

“Well..,” James looked at Kelly. “We lived through it. Go ahead and take the rest of the day off and you can start your vacation tomorrow.”

“Really??!” Kelly asked. James nodded, but Kelly was already half-way out the door.

“See you in two weeks!” she shouted over her shoulder. James sat down in his high-back leather chair and waited. After several minutes, he heard heavy clanking approaching from the other side of the door. Then, a knock.

“Come in,” James said. The paladin walked in first followed by the spellslinger, the healer, then the gunslinger at the rear. The group approached his desk. “Really guys? I’m working right now.”

“That’s all you can say?!” The healer stepped forward and pulled her hood down. Her long silver hair cascaded over her shoulders. “Have you seen what we’re wearing?” James nodded.

“Yes, Mia. They’re really cool costumes but I’m working. Don’t you guys have jobs too?” The spellslinger drew her gun and pointed it at James.

“Duck,” she said. James ducked his head to the desk. He was used to taking orders from her. She pulled the trigger and a marble-sized blue ball flew out of the barrel. James felt a chill on his neck as the projectile shot by. He heard a crisp, cracking sound and turned around to face the window. It was now completely iced over.

“They’re not just costumes, idiot. Your Earth’s been upgraded to a server. How do you not know?” James shrugged, but the news made him smile.

“Been busy in real life. Haven’t logged in for a while,” he said. “But I can fix that today,” he stood from his seat with a smile, but then he grew worried.

“WAIT. This is a server now?” He asked. His static party nodded.

“Yeah, let’s go. Time to slay the dragon!” The paladin smiled. They did not slay dragons all that often, but he liked saying it.

“Guys.  You don’t get it,” James shook his head. “No one told us,” he said. The frozen window behind him shattered. He turned around and saw a group of gargoyles attacking the building across the street.

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