Star Game

“I’m scared,” David admitted with a whisper. He squeezed his girlfriend tighter in his arms. They sat on the roof of their apartment building watching the last sunset. Naturally, they weren’t the only ones that had the idea. Their roof, as well as all the neighboring buildings, was covered with people facing the sinking sun. It warmed his heart in an odd way, no one was alone. The few loners he spotted early on were welcomed by strangers into their circles. No one should have to face the end alone. 

The 24-hour deadline would come to an end in the next five minutes. Most thought it was a joke at first. After the announcement, a timer remained on every screen counting down. Every display including unplugged TVs and computer monitors not connected to a computer showed the time limit. Old pagers and even the small clock on VCRs and digital watches. Everything that could show time counted down. It was too much to reasonably explain, there was no doubt it was happening.

“Don’t be scared,” Andy said. She squeezed his hands in hers and leaned back into him. “Appreciate what it was: a fun time. I’m sure whatever happens next for you will be just as fun.” The phrasing struck David as odd.

Ever since their relationship became official, Andy always said: “we”. They were a team that she was happy to be on. He was tempted to ask, but there was no point now. He did not want to spend his last few minutes with the love of his life acting insecure and chalked it up to her nerves. David noticed other groups trying to pull themselves closer together and glanced at his watch.

“Two minutes left,” he kissed her neck. “I wonder if it’ll hurt.” Andy shrugged and used the motion to wiggle herself out of his arms. She turned and looked at him with a sad smile.

“I don’t know, but I really hope it doesn’t,” she reached out and caressed his cheek. “I know your pain tolerance is kind of low,” she giggled, then she stood up. David gave her a confused look and stood with her; he assumed she wanted to face the end “on her feet”.  He tried to hug her again, but she sidestepped the hug then leaned forward and kissed David’s cheek.

“I had fun with you,” she said. “But I don’t want to be here when the server shuts down,”  She raised her hand and wiggled her fingers at the air; a tall, pitch-black portal opened next to her.

“What’s going-,” David’s question was interrupted by Andy shouting a question at the gathered families.

“Any Uniques need a ride?” she asked.

“MEE! ME  ME!” Someone shouted from a nearby rooftop. A green-haired teenager leaped the 10-foot chasm between the buildings with ease. He landed next to Andy.

“Tad, #54, La Rana,” he said. Andy nodded and let him step into the black hole. He disappeared and the nearby crowd started to get to their feet. They looked at Andy with hope.

“You.. you can leave?” David asked? “Why didn’t you say anything sooner! Let’s go!” he said. He took a step forward but Andy put a hand on his chest to stop him.

“Sorry, Dave,” she said as she stepped backward into the portal. “No NPCs.” The black hole shrunk to a spec and disappeared.

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