Hotline. Cold Business.

Molly released a short sigh once the phone started ringing. She reached over and pressed the ‘Answer’ button on her keyboard; a profile immediately popped up on her screen.

“Welcome to the Zombie Survival Hotline, How may I help you?” she asked the male caller. He hadn’t said a word yet, but the picture showed a handsome, short-haired male elf with pale skin.

“Uh, I forgot to drop a marker and got kind of lost,” he said. Molly heard embarrassment in his tone. “Can you point me to the nearest safe house to log out?”

“Of course, I’ll be glad to help you,” Molly replied. She tried not to let her disappointment come through in her voice. “You’re on the Paradise server, is that correct?” she asked. Her screen listed what server the call came from, but she liked to double-check. Plus it helped fill the quiet time while she navigated through her control panel.

“Yeah,” the caller chuckled on the other end. “A friend suggested a camping trip here. And let me tell you; it wasn’t what I expected,” he said. He burst into laughter on the other end, but Molly just rolled her eyes. It wasn’t the first time she’d heard that comment about the Paradise server, and she was sure it wouldn’t be the last. Molly focused on her work to end the call faster. After a few silent seconds, she spoke up again.

“Alright, I’ve sent a waypoint to your node to help you to the closest safe house. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

“Can you turn off the zombies?” he asked. Despite her disenchantment with the job, Molly smiled at that joke. It was surprisingly the first time anyone asked.

“Unfortunately the server template is locked; there’s nothing I can do. But…,” Molly decided she liked this caller enough to give him more than the minimum. “…are you alone?” she asked.

“Yeah, why?” he asked.

“What are you wearing?”

“I’m sorry?” he asked. That was the moment Molly realized how her questions sounded. She blushed furiously, glad that he couldn’t see her. She decided the best thing to do was ignore the suggestive side of the questions.

“I’m sending you a temporary armor upgrade that’ll help you get there. But I need to know what you’re wearing, and if I needed to send more than one,” she explained. His character sheet listed leather armor, but the sheets only updated once a day. He could, and should, have changed out of that to visit the Paradise server.

“OH!” he responded. “I thought you were going somewhere… else… with that,” Molly wondered if he could hear her blushing the way she heard it in his voice. “I’ve got my leather gear on; I expected camping not zombies.”

“Okay,” Molly said as she finished up typing and clicking checkboxes. “When we hang up, you’ll be given a powered-up suit of armor. You’ll be able to walk through or over anything between you and the safe house. It’ll disappear once you’re safe, okay?” she asked.

“Whoa, yeah! Thank you, that’s super generous,” the caller replied. “I hope I get you again next time I call.”

“I hope you don’t need to call again, Mr. Neil,” she made a point of addressing him formally despite having access to his full name. “Please try to stay out of dangerous zombie situations.” Molly knew that he’d probably find an excuse to call again.

“I’ll try,” he said. “But with friends like these…,” he chuckled.  “Anyway, thanks again for the help! Bye!”

“Good bye,” Molly replied and the phone disconnected. She did not hesitate to mark his file as one of her ‘favorite’ callers. She found him pleasant to talk to, easy to work with, and patient. The next time he called it would be routed to her, if she was working.

The moment she finished her post-call work, her phone rang again.

“Welcome to the Zombie Survival Hotline, how may I help you?” she asked. The screen changed to show a orc male on non-zombie server.

“Skeletons!” the orc said frantically. “They’re raining from the skies! Ballisea’s here!! Help!!” he yelled. Molly sighed.

“Sorry, zombie help only,” she said, then pushed the button to disconnect the call. Then, she sat patiently and waited for her next call.

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