Stepping into the street without looking both ways, as your mother had always taught you not to do as a child, you failed to hear the shout of warning from the sidewalk until it was too late, the truck was already barreling down on you, the grill of the pickup painted as an Confederate flag; what a patriotic way to die, ground into dust by the Rouge Redneck of Connecticut, said that sardonic part of you that laughed at those videos on YouTube, where someone hurts themselves and their friend holding the camera stands without checking on them, sort of the way you are when a person in the same grocery isle as you drops a purchase and you walk past them, ignoring the situation because social contact with a stranger in a public place is just a little too awkward for you to handle, especially considering you barely leave your apartment except to buy food and the energy drinks that you guzzle constantly to fuel the work you do online as a E-bay shifter, buying various, lesser valued knick knacks that something in your gut tells you will be valuable in the near future, and you listen to that something in your gut, even if that something might just be the three Slim Jims and two Mountain Dew- Code Reds that you had for dinner last night, maybe not the best meal, but enough to keep you going as you troll the deeper, less seen parts of the web into the night and level your characters on various MMORPG's that you play for a rough average of 12 hours a day, which, of course, you need to do, your guild would be furious if their leader left them without guidance for longer than that, and besides, they're your friends, you can't let them down like that, they need your support, you're the best mage tank on the server, how are they supposed to succeed on any raids or dungeon crawls if you aren't there to take on the higher demons and undead dragons, the loot intake of your guild is going to fall drastically now that you're about to be flattened into road jerky in front of the poor bastard who tried to warn you, crushed by this redneck with a need for speed and an addiction to flags, you can see now that he has Confederate flags on his rear view mirror and sunglasses as well as the grill of his truck, maybe so he can always see the South when he drives, although right now he just looks sort of angry that you happen to be right where his truck is about to be, and not all that concerned with your impending makeover at the hands of his F-250, but maybe that his rims might get a little messy, that would be bad to have to clean, probably as bad as the time you spilled the Mountain Dew on your keyboard and had to take all the keys out to wipe it down with a wet towel, and by the time you got it back up and running, your guild was in a panic, screaming over the forums and chats, trying to find out where you were, then relaxing and scolding with the attitude of a worried parent when you finally managed to let them know you were alright, just having some technical trouble, oh Jesus, you cannot even imagine how furious they're going to be when you don't show up for the night's raid, you and the whole team had been planning for weeks how to best go about taking on that dungeon, and the last dozen floors were completely riding on your shoulders, what the Hell are they going to do, they might even have to put a lower level healer in your place, that would just be God awful; why isn't the real world more like a video game, for Christ's sake, if you were anything like your character this truck and its roided up driver would be dust before they could blink, or even if you didn't do anything, your armor level was enough that the engine block would bend around your torso and the bed would fly upwards with all that momentum and nowhere to go, you snap back to the grill, it's almost touching your shoulder now, when did it get so close, who's going to attend your funeral anyway, even if you die alone your life should still be remembered right? but your parents are out of the country, besides, you haven't heard anything from them aside from the notes they stuck in the envelope with the checks they've been sending since you moved out, more forced out, and you wonder if they ever really loved you at one point, or if they just knew you were a disappointment from the get-go, oh shit, you think, you're sorry for your mom and dad, it wasn't meant to end this way, you were supposed to get successful somehow and reunite with them to prove to them that you weren't just a lousy kid who was a little heavier than you should have been, who didn't really have any friends, just a couple kids in your class who were as weird as you were, but they were nice guys anyway, man, Sam is gonna be crushed, that guy was honestly brought to tears if one of us got a paper cut for Christ's sake, they were the only people who stuck around you, all the way through high school, shit, that was a mess if there ever was one, a thousand, maybe a million times worse than soda in your keyboard, everyone all cliquey, all the guys who ignored you in middle school now openly mocked you, but it did get a little better as time went on, you guessed, at least you stretched out, going from a chubby 5' 6'' to a much leaner 6' 3'', in almost six months, your skin got a little better, but your habits didn't much, still playing those games, but not getting teased for it cause you were almost a head taller than the tallest jocks in the school, Catholic too, Christ, those uniforms were terrible, like a train wreck in plaid and khaki; speaking of wrecks, the front of the truck is hitting your shoulder now, you can tell that bone is going to break, no doubt about it, but hey, at least it doesn't hurt, yet at least, man not as bad as getting dumped, part of your brain jokes, you laugh along with it, then tell it to shut up as you remember that, getting cheated on and the girl who did it, she was awesome while you were going out though, a complete accident; you had been ready to leave to go home in the rain and she ran up to your car and leaned in your window to ask for a ride looking drenched and beautiful and pleading and you couldn't have said no if it was the only word you knew and suddenly you had someone who had the same tastes as you, loved the same alternative music, watched the anime you kept up with religiously, she even used to play some of the games you did, didn't she, damn, she was beautiful too, and it hurt a lot when she ended it to go out with that dick instead, the asshole who was in charge of fucking with you, doing that was just tearing your heart right out of your chest and showing it to you, right? but you played it cool, went along with it, said it was alright, even though it wasn't, said you could still be friends, and just went back to the internet, and found that it had grown since you were a kid, and there wasn't really anything that wasn't online at this point, and you found yourself in a community that had, for the most part had the same experience as you, complete with the teasing, the partially growing out of it, the hurt, the loss, the lack of understanding from family and loved ones, all of it, and they welcomed you into their hearts, they loved you, they listened to you, they played these games with you, and your talent, a brilliant, unrecognized mind, was turned towards strategy, reaching a potential that high school and college never even got close to touching, your brain always racing away at a blistering pace, finding the best ways to engage in this fantasy combat, leading your people across the wires and screens and hard drives and servers that made up your world where you were king, does it even matter if I die here, I'm not even a part of the “real” world anyway, the only people who seem real to you are the others like you, putting themselves through their own screens, because they were your people, they were the ones who elevated you in this digital realm to a level higher than you could ever reach in society outside of this place and you loved them right back, you were generous, helpful, understanding, and kind to all the people in this community of yours, your loyal subjects, they were yours and you were theirs, you protected them and they protected you, well, not from this damn truck, wow, you think somewhere in the back of your mind, that bone is about to pop right out of my skin, why the hell are you so calm about this, that is pretty fucking gross, somebody is gonna have to clean that up, and then you realize it's pretty much over, that's what you get for trying to get a little exercise, huh dumb ass? but that's ok, even if you don't go to heaven or hell, or whatever's up there or down there, you're a little excited to know, is God white or black or the color of water, and honestly you just really wish you had written a living will so that you could have requested they set up a web cam and livestream your funeral, because there's no way the members of your guild could sum up the nerve to leave their houses and attend and you don't want them to miss it.
© Copyright 2017 Liam Morris. All rights reserved.
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