Beady Buyer (2-28-18)

Flash Fiction Prompt- Location: This Illustration By Deviantart user Bejzar! | Object: Some glass beads. [Link to post.]

“This is one of the smaller markets,” Jake said. He guided Ms. Carlson, a prospective business partner, through the crowd of digital people. 

“It feels so real,” Ms. Carlson said as strangers bumped her shoulders left and right. She inhaled deeply. “I smell meat cooking.” Jake stopped walking to turn and smile at her. 

“You can eat it too. Like most games you’ll get a food buff,” he said. “But in the AlterNet you can also savor the flavor and texture.” Jake turned forward and kept leading Ms. Carlson through dense forest of people, pushing NPCs out of his way. Like trees, they only moved when you forced them to. He led her to a clearing. The booths were still manned, but the meandering crowd seemed to avoid the small area. Ms. Carlson found Jake stopped in front of a young purple headed girl’s booth.

The young girl seemed in charge of the booth. She sat on a high wooden stool overlooking a short wooden table. Barrels on the table held mounds of glass beads in different shapes and colors. 

“Hi,” Jake said to the girl. 

“Oh an adventurer! If you’re interested in some beads how about a trade? The goblin prince stole my lucky glass bead, if you bring it back to me, I’ll reward you handsomely.” Jake nodded, then turned to face Ms. Carlson. 

“Now I’ll show you how combat and quests work,” Jake said. He waded through the crowd towards the exit.  

Character Creation (2-21-18)

[WP] “Welcome, we are so glad you are here. We’ve been expecting you.” “What, where am I?” [Link to post.]

“Welcome, we are so glad you are here. We’ve been expecting you.” The young pale boy greeted the blonde woman in a red dress. They stood outside in a field of swaying wheat. 

“What, where am I?” The woman asked. She turned around to survey the field. It looked wrong somehow. The sky was a dark shade of purple, but bright sunlight illuminated the grains. She looked up and saw a golden sun high in the sky. 

“This is the AlterNet.” A deeper male voice said behind the woman. She turned around and found Jake Wilson standing behind her, next to the pale boy. She met Jake only minutes before, but he looked different. Instead of the navy blue business suit he wore to their meeting, he was now dressed in an elegant black silk shirt with golden detailing. He also wore black silk slacks, and a black cloak. She could not see his shoes due to the wheat, but she imagined they were black as well. The boy’s outfit matched Jake’s, they almost looked like father and son. 

“Mr. Wilson!” She stepped over to him, happy to see someone she recognized. She ran her fingers across the tops of the wheat spikes as she walked. “Is this the demonstration? It feels so real.” Jake nodded at her.

“It is real, Ms. Carlson. That’s real wheat you’re touching.” Ms. Carlson’s forehead crinkled as she thought through the situation. 

“If I understood your invention correctly,” she paused to order her thoughts. “You’re saying my body is still back at InnerTech on an alternate Earth, but my consciousness is here?” 

“Really, Jake? This was your first choice?” The pale boy said. “We could’ve looked for a smarter version of her at least.” The boy left Jake’s side and walked around Ms. Carlson eyeing her up and down. 

“Yes, Oren, it was. Shut it.” Jake glared at the boy.

[We have company. Behave. -Jake] He Whispered the reprimand to Oren in secret, so that Ms. Carlson could not hear. 

[Fine. -Oren] Jake felt the words in his ear. Ms. Carlson looked down at her own body, then back to Jake. 

“Why are you wearing different clothes, but I’m still in the same ones?” 

“Because you haven’t made a character yet,” Oren said. He extended his hand and offered her a small glowing red ball. 

“Character? What do you mean?” Ms. Carlson did not accept the ball, and eyed Jake instead. 

[Told you she’s dumb. -Oren] Jake felt the message in his ear. He ignored it.

“This whole world is like a game,” Jake said. He lifted his hand up in the air and it glowed with bright green light. He snapped his fingers and a green fireball shot upward from his hand. “So you’ve gotta make a character to play. I’m a wizard.” Ms. Carlson looked back to Oren.

“Are you a wizard too? You’re dressed like one.” She talked down to him in her friendliest voice.

[I’ll find you a smarter one. -Oren] The message tickled his inner ear. 

[Please let me kill her. – Oren] Jake could not ignore that.

[Behave. -Jake]

“I’m Oren,” Oren said. His hand still presenting the glowing red ball to the woman. She nodded at him.

“I heard your name, but what kind of character are you?” She asked. Oren stared at the woman, and his translucent grey eyes began to turn red. A red crown began to glow on his forehead. “I’m Oren,” he repeated. Jake intervened. He grabbed the red ball from Oren’s hand and stepped between them. 

“Unlike you and me, Oren is actually here. He doesn’t need to make a character.” Jake held his hand out toward her, with the red ball of light resting on his palm. She reached her hand out to take it. The second she touched the ball, red energy enveloped her entire body like a cocoon. She could not be seen from outside. 

“Told you she’s dumb. You didn’t give her any instructions, and now she won’t be able to figure out how to work it,” Oren said. He kicked at the wheat. 

“Yes she will. If she can’t, then we need a redesign anyway. It’s supposed to be intuitive, remember? Let’s play something while we wait,” Jake said. 

The AlterNet (2-18-18)


[Sunday Free Write]

Jake Wilson opened the heavy glass door and strode into the imposing building, leading Eva along by the hand. Eva carried a black briefcase. The couple dressed up for their presentation; Jake in smart navy blue business suit and Eva wore her favorite gold and black blouse and black skirt. After spending months researching the technology sector of that Earth, they decided on an indie company trying to break into the hardware market. 
InnerTech successfully crowdfunded their first gaming console the previous year. Despite the polish of the hardware, the company struggled to attract developers for their platform thanks to the deeper pockets of their competitors. Jake was a game programmer on his Earth, and sympathized with their struggles. He decided to help them corner the market. 
“Are you sure about this?” Eva asked when they stepped into the empty elevator.  “I mean, I know we’re not time travelers, but it’s pretty much the same concept.” Eva hefted the briefcase toward Jake. “This is way more advanced than anything they have here.” Jake squeezed Eva’s hand, and smiled at her. 
“Yeah. Remember, we’re doing this for Oren. The more playmates he has, the less time he has to slaughter entire Earths.” Eva’s crystal blue eyes narrowed. 
 “You still don’t trust him?” Eva released his hand and crossed her arms in front of herself. “We’ve spent almost a century with him, he’s a great kid.” 
“I do trust him, but he’s still just a kid. A very impulsive kid. That in itself isn’t bad, but he’s so powerful and he’s still trying to learn right from wrong. I just want to give him a safe environment where he can practice his social skills.” Jake stepped closer to Eva and wrapped his arms around her. “Does that make sense?” Eva nodded. 
“Your heart’s in the right place, but I’m not sure an online game is the best place to learn social skills,” she chuckled. The elevator chimed, and the doors began to open.
“It’s a start, and we’ll be there to help him.” Jake stepped out of the elevator and walked to the receptionist with Eva next to him. 
“Hi, we have a meeting with your R&D team.” Jake indicated himself, then pointed at Eva. “Jake and Eva Wilson.” The receptionist smiled at them. 
“Of course. Just down the hall, room 3703.” The auburn haired woman pointed toward the hall to their right. “Second meeting room on the right.” Jake thanked the young woman and walked to his right.  They walked into an empty board room with a large oval shaped wooden table in the middle, surrounded by leather chairs. Eva placed the briefcase on the table and popped it open. 
A small boy’s head popped out of the briefcase. He was a pale boy with a widow’s peak in the center of his forehead. He startled Eva and she jumped backward with a yelp. 
“Is it time?” The boy asked. “I heard the case open.” 
“OREN!” Eva yelled with a harsh tone, then took a deep breath when she saw the hurt in his translucent grey eyes. “Sorry, you scared the crap out of me.” She walked forward and kissed the boy’s head. 
“Sorry! This is going to be so awesome though!” Oren smiled. The sound of a doorknob turning caught Jake’s attention.
“Hide!” he said. Oren’s head ducked back into the briefcase, leaving an empty blackness. Jake turned to see several well dressed men and women filing into the room. One woman wearing a red dress walked straight up to him. 
“Mr. Wilson, I hope you won’t be wasting my team’s time.” The woman extended a hand and Jake shook it. 
“Trust me, Ms. Carlson. You won’t regret this,” Jake said. Ms. Carlson appeared unconvinced. She turned away and took the last empty seat at the table. The rest of her team had filed in while she chatted with Jake. 
“Go ahead, Mr. Wilson. Let’s see this revolutionary product,” Ms. Carlson said. Jake nodded then walked over to the open briefcase. He reached his hand into the darkness and pulled out a black and gold helmet. The helmet appeared to be made out of a black metal with thin golden lines tracing over the surface like a circuit board. In the front of the helmet was a solid black visor that was impossible to see through. He handed the helmet to Ms. Carlson, then reached into the briefcase to pull out another one. The lid of the briefcase prevented any of them from seeing how deep Jake stuck his arm into the briefcase to grab the helmet from Oren on the other side of the portal. 
“This helmet is just a prototype for proof of concept, but we’re exploring several other designs.” Ms. Carlson’s face remained unimpressed as she passed her helmet to the employee on her left. 
“What does it do, Mr. Wilson?” 
“This is how your customers will log into the AlterNet. Imagine a network built around telepresence. Two people from different sides of the world could project themselves to meet in a virtual location to spend time together, or even play games together. Anything from simple pub games to complicated role playing games where you and your friends can fight dragons.” Jake found himself wishing he’d rehearsed the presentation. He counted on the tech to speak for itself, but he felt beads of sweat forming on his brow. He heard Ms. Carlson sigh. 
“So, you’re telling us you’ve invented virtual reality, only a few years after everyone has it already?”
“And the internet,” one of the employees added with a smirk. 
“And online gaming,” another said. 
“Thank you for wasting our time, Mr. Wilson.” Ms. Carlson moved to stand up, but Eva stepped forward and began speaking. 
“It’s true that all those things already exist, but he only used those examples to get the concept clear in your mind. Instead of imagining two people from different sides of the world imagine two people from *alternate* worlds.”  
“I’m sorry, what?” Ms. Carlson’s face finally showed emotion. Puzzlement. 
“The AlterNet is network built on a parallel Earth. Using this you can project yourself there. You’ll have a physical body that allows you to feel, smell, and react in real time, but it is not your real body. The gaming implications alone will make you all very rich,” Eva said.

Beta Reality (2-9-18)

[WP] Reality is my playground… [Link to post.]

Eva opened her eyes and smiled at the golden sunlight. She sat up in her small bed and stared at the field of golden wheat illuminated by the morning sun. Her bed rested in the middle of the field; she loved sleeping under the open sky. 

“You’re awake!” Oren appeared at the side of Eva’s bed, waist deep in wheat. The pale boy with the widow’s peak smiled at Eva. “Let’s play!” Eva brought her wrist up to check the time. A stream of red dots ran from her shoulder, down her arm and up her wrist. The time glowed in red on her wrist by the time she completed the motion. 

“Sorry shortstuff, gotta start getting ready for work. Jake should be back soon.” Eva stretched her arms up to the bright blue sky, then slid herself out of bed. Oren kicked at the wheat.

“You guys don’t even need jobs… ” Oren whined. 

“We don’t, but it’s nice. It helps us feel normal. Besides, you should be happy Jake’s working. He gets loads of ideas for this place.” Eva spread her arms wide to indicate the field. “And unlike you, Jake and I have to eat food. So we need money to do shopping.”

“You guys don’t need money either!” Oren stomped his foot. He trampled the wheat, leaving golden stems broken and bent in the imprint of his shoe. Eva walked to Oren and flicked his forehead with her finger. 

“Like I said, we like to feel normal.” Eva grabbed her duffle bag and mussed Oren’s hair. “Alright, I’m gonna go home to get ready. See you after work.” 

“Yeah, yeah.” Oren kept wrapped his arms at his chest and looked annoyed. Eva held her hand in mid-air, she opened a shimmering dark purple portal. She began to step through and looked back at Oren.

“Oh yeah, clean up a bit will you? Jake said he was gonna bring some beta testers today.” Oren’s face lit up, his eyes sparkled red. 

“Really?!” Eva winked at him and stepped through the portal. It disappeared behind her. Hours later a dark black portal opened. Oren ran to the portal ready to greet Jake. Four men and two women stepped out of the dark hole in reality. Oren stepped toward the man in front wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt. 

“Hey Jake! Who’re your friends?” Jake smiled at Oren and looked behind him. His guests looked around the wheat field in bewilderment. 

“Guys. Hey guys!” Jake snapped his fingers to get their attention. “Welcome to Jake’s World.”

“Oren’s World!” Oren shouted next to him. 

“We’re still working on a name, but either way…” Jake extended his arm and bowed at the waist to present the world. “Welcome.” One of the women, a coworker in her mid20s wearing glasses, raised her hand.

“You said you were gonna show us a video game you were working on, where are we?” Oren stepped forward and began talking before Jake could respond. Red light glowed in his hand, and he pointed it at the crowd of strangers.

“Welcome to a parallel world. Here, reality is my playground.” The light formed a shiny copper sword in Oren’s hand. The tip of the blade pointed toward the woman that asked the question.

“This whole world is like a real life MMO,” Jake added. 

Whispers (2-2-18)

Write a story about anything, using every single character on your keyboard. [Link to post.]

A dark purple hole appeared in the air above an overgrown wheat field. The portal floated vertically a couple of feet off the ground. A pale young child wearing all black clothes stepped out of it and fell on his face. When he looked up he revealed a widow’s peak on his forehead.

“OW!” The boy yelped and sat up on his knees to rub his face. He turned around and yelled into the purple abyss. “You’re still doing it super wrong, Eva.” His voice dripped with annoyance.  A blue jean clad leg stepped out of the portal followed by another. They belonged to a slender man wearing a black t-shirt and a rugged brown beard. His forearm showed a tattoo of a scythe with a golden number 14 on it. He reached a hand down to help the boy stand.

“Settle down, Oren, she’s still learning.” The man turned around to face the portal, and reached his hand out. “C’mon through,” he said. A young woman jumped out of the portal all at once and landed in the man’s arms. She kissed his cheek while they hugged.

“Thanks handsome,” she said. Oren stuck his finger in his mouth and made retching noises. Eva turned to face Oren and apologized.

“Sorry I made it so high. I’ll do better next time.” She nudged the man in the ribs with her elbow. “Tell ‘im, Jake.” Jake looked at Oren while he held Eva in his arms.

“She’ll do better next time,” he said with a smile.

“Whatever,” Oren said. He looked around at the empty field they stood in. His eyes widened and a smile grew on his face. “WOW! I forgot about this place!” The boy jumped up and down excitedly while clapping his hands. “This is great!” Oren ran to Eva and hugged her around the waist. “You’re forgiven.” Jake and Eva stared out across the plain, looking in all directions. A gentle breeze stirred the wheat, but they saw no sign of anyone else nearby.

“You know where we are?” Jake asked. Oren nodded.

“Yeah! I came here a long time ago when I was still super young, see?” Oren held up his index finger and a small red ball of light formed above the tip of his finger. “My nanos are still here.”

“How long ago were you here?” Eva asked. She knelt down in front of Oren and tried to touch the red light. It was solid and she pushed it forward. Oren shrugged.

“I dunno. Maybe 700 years?” His clear grey eyes showed a spark of realization. “Wow, that’s a long time, huh? The world is definitely covered by now.” Oren shut his eyes and red dots began to appear in the air throughout the field. They floated around like red fireflies.

“Yep, I can feel it. Neat! I own this world now.” Oren rubbed his hands together with excitement. “Let’s play something!” Jake put a hand up.

“Wait. You can’t own a world. What about the people that live here?”

[There’s no one here. – Oren] Jake jumped straight up in the air. He felt a sensation, like a feather touch on his arm. Somehow he knew Oren’s response, though the boy had not said anything.

“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT???!!” Jake tried several times to brush his arm off, it felt like a spider crawling up his arm. Oren giggled.

“That was a Whisper.” He stopped talking, but Jake continued to receive responses. It tickled his arm.

[It’s something I can do. – Oren] Jake checked his arm and saw red text disappear. Then another message appeared on his arm in red letters. Somehow he knew the answer before he took the time to read his arm.

[When I have enough nanos. – Oren]

“Whoa. That’s kind of awesome. Can we do it?” Jake asked. He grabbed Eva’s hand and pulled her closer. Oren eyed them both, then he sighed.

“You guys are so lucky I have fun with you.” Oren held his palm out and formed two small red balls of light. “Take one each.” Jake touched a red ball of light, and it sank into his finger. Red lines  streamed up his arm to his shoulder, then up his neck to the back of his head. He turned and nodded to Eva who touched the other ball. It went into her brain also.

“This’ll give you the ability to do it, but I’m not going to teach you how. You guys figure it out. Oh! It’ll be like a game! I’ll give a bonus to the first one to figure it out,” Oren said.

{In the meantime. – Oren} Eva shuddered, and checked her arm. Jake looked at his own.

{I’ll use this. – Oren} The text appeared on both of their arms.

{It’s like a broadcast message. – Oren}

“What did you mean there’s no one here?” Jake asked.

“What?” A look of concerned flashed across Eva’s face. She did not receive that message.

{There’s no humans here. – Oren}
{They’re all dead. -Oren}
{I killed them.|/ -Oren}

“STOP!” Eva shouted. She grabbed Oren by the shoulder and knelt down in front of him. “What do you mean you killed them?” Jake placed a hand on Eva’s shoulder. Eva looked up and and Jake shook his head. Oren shrugged.

“I was basically a toddler, I hadn’t even turned 200 yet.” Oren said with a trace of sadness. He looked Eva in the eye, and a flash of red appeared behind his grey eyes. “I’m sorry I didn’t have anyone to teach me right from wrong.” Oren shoved Eva’s hands off his shoulders, then he turned and stormed away through the golden wheat.

“You’ve been traveling with us for a while. I should have made time to explain more about his history to you. I’m sorry.” Eva stood up with a puzzled look on her face. “You’ve heard Oren mention his mom from time to time, but she only meets up with him once a century. He loves her; what kid doesn’t love their mom, right? But she tossed him as soon as he was born. He’s a powerful Unique, so he survived. Even as an infant. He learned how to traverse universes before he even understood what he was doing. He didn’t know what he was doing to the people.”

“You knew about this?”  Eva asked. Her voice took a sharp tone. Jake shook his head.

“No, but you’ve seen how powerful he is. I’m not surprised, he’s probably done the same to other Earths. You heard him, he forgot about this one.” Jake grabbed Eva’s hand and looked into her eyes. “But we can guide him now. Make sure he doesn’t kill any other worlds.”

“Okay.” Eva said. She leaned forward and hugged Jake. She turned to look for Oren and saw him on one end of the field hunched over. “I’m going to go talk to him,” Eva said. Jake nodded.

“I’m gonna go to the other end and try to send you Whispers,” he said. He walked way in the other direction.

“Hey, sorry I freaked. You gotta understand how staggering it is to hear you killed a whole planet.”

[Just the humans. – Oren] Eva felt the now familiar tingle on her arm.

“Oh, so now you’re not talking to me?” Eva said. She added a playful shove on Oren’s shoulder to let him know she was kidding. He smiled slightly.

[It’s just easier. – Oren] [Plus I can do things. – Oren] [Like this: (@). – Oren] [And this: 10. – Oren] [9. – O] [8. – O] [7. – O] [654321. – O]

“Well, I guess that could be useful?” Eva said. She sat down next to Oren. She stared at the darkening blue sky.

[tsting. ~ JAKE] Eva felt a different sensation on her upper thigh.
[testing*. ~ Jake] She giggled.

“It looks like Jake got it figured out already,” Eva said to Oren.

“No way!” Oren smiled. “I guess it’s time to give him the bonus I promised.” Oren stood up and clapped the dust off of his black jeans.

[Can you do it? – Oren] On the other side of the field Jake received the Whisper on his arm.

{Easy as pie. – Jake} Jake broadcasted the reply to include Eva.

{Easy? Another game then. – Oren}

{No problem. – Jake}

{Keep up. – Oren}

[= – O] Jake felt the whisper on his left arm. He returned it to Orens Left arm. [= – J] [(+) – O] on the back of jake’s neck. He returned it. [(+) – J] [<^_^> – O] tickled Jake’s elbow. The breezed had died down by that point, and the stillness of the air allowed Eva and Oren to hear Jake laugh from across the field. Then Oren burst into laughter in front of Eva when Jake returned it.

“What are you guys doing?” Eva asked. Oren’s laugh made her smile.

“One second,” Oren said. He held a hand up to Eva.

[`#`$`%`& – Oren the Great and Powerful] Jake felt a hard slap on his back. The force was enough to move him forward a step.

“Oh, we can do that too?” Jake said to himself and smiled. He focused as much as he could and tried a forceful whisper on Oren’s chest. He knew Oren would be waiting for it on his back.

[ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ – J] Oren fell on his butt, then burst into laughter.

[You win. – Oren] [Come get your prize. – Oren]

Eva helped Oren off the ground while he kept giggling. Jake left a trail of trampled wheat behind him as he ran towards them. He reached them and saw Oren holding a glowing red ball of light, the size of a bowling ball.

“Whoa, what’s that?”

“This is the controller for all the nanos on this Earth. You own this Earth now.”