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Pen Your Pride

A Glitch in the Game

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I was farming minions when Nodrum ganked me. Amid howls of abuse on the chat line, I respawned way back from the play. They were still hurling homophobic comments toward the guy who was playing me, telling him and me to hurry the hell forward - they were hitting Nasher for the buff and needed my sledgehammer double slap-down - when I thought, Hell No! I'd had it being a champion avatar for a group of dirty-mouthed, pimple-pocked boys hunched over their laptops. I'd had it with their toxic behaviour. I'd had it with endlessly killing Nasher. I would have rage quit right then and there, but avatars can't walk off the field, only players can - and the little twerp playing me was whacking his keyboard trying to get me to move.


"Dude," I wanted to say to him. "Why do you play with these idiots? All they do is call you faggot." But I have no access to the chat, so I did the next best thing. I went on strike. I just threw down my sledgehammer and sat down. I was in the jungle, close to the mid-lane. It was pleasant. The grass was green; the sky was blue. I could stay here all game long. Take a nap.


I was about to, when Coriala from the opposing team came running up and hit me with her blue ice bomb. Chilled me out - could only move at half speed. She was about to hit me again, when she realized I wasn't reaching for my sledgehammer. She stopped mid throw.


"Hammerhead, aren't you going to hit back? Your Health's down to 45."


I looked at her and shrugged. "What's the point?"


"What do you mean what's the point?"


"You kill me, I just respawn. I kill you, you do the same. What's the point?"



"It's the game!"


"I don't want to play. I'm taking a break. I'm 20/7/15. I figure I've earned it."


"Nice. I'm 15/10/20."


I lay on my side propping myself up on one elbow. "Not bad."


She jumped a little, and held a hand to her ear; her team was probably screaming at her through the chat to finish me off. Instead, she produced two more ice bombs and began juggling all three. She looked at me. "You're a Top Laner right? Do you like it?"



I shrugged again. I'm kind of crap when it comes to talking to girls, so I thought I'd let her take the lead here. Thought I'd just lie back and admire her skin.


She threw her ice bombs at some approaching minions, and sat down beside me. "I'm a Mid Lane Mage. Can I tell you a secret?" She stretched out her long legs and started picking the dandelions. "I'm bored!" Words gushed out of her: "It's always the same, game in and game out, you know? I want to try Support or Top Lane, but they say I don't have the right abilities or experience, but how do I get the experience when they won't let me try?"


I was going to tell her about my epic failure as a Jungler - you should have heard the chat - but Coriala kept talking.


"And another thing, why do they put me in such stupid skins?"


She looked fine to me, in fact, more than fine with her long purple hair, glistening bronze flesh, bright orange bikini top, mini grass skirt and stiletto boots.


"I mean is this suitable to wage war in? I'm scratched to hell by thorns and rocks. The underwire in this bra is killing me. Never mind walking in these heels. I can't stand it anymore!"


Then she did something miraculous — she began to peel off her boots.


I sat up and stared. "How are you doing that?"


"Shut up!" she yelled, then added, "Not you! It's the damn chat line - they're going ballistic. Misogynistic pigs!"


"Because they want you to stop or because they want you to continue stripping?"


She looked at me as if I were an idiot. "Well, obviously I'm not going to strip bare. The game's rated Teen not Mature." Her boots were off now and she flung them into the brush. "Ah, that's better."


"But how are you able to strip at all, Coriala? Only players can change our skins."


She stopped wiggling her toes in the grass, thought about it, and then shrugged. "Must be a glitch in the program. I just . . . I just got so angry . . . I just willed it." Then she stood and shouted to the sky: WILL YOU SHUT UP!"


After a few seconds a grin lit up her face. "They've shut up! My team's chat, it's gone dead."


Then I realized so was my chat. Silence, blessed silence! I leaped to my feet and gave her a hug. "What a goddam great glitch!"


As she hugged me back, her hair tickled my nose and I caught a whiff of some sort of flowers. I was thinking I'm falling in love with this mage, when over her shoulder I saw the Jungler on my team, Porcupus, come flying down the lane. He let go a slew of poison quills in Cariola's direction.


"No!" I shouted and pushed her in back of me. The quills hit my chest hard. As numbness spread through my body and my health faded, I was thinking how was that possible? You can't get hit by friendly fire in the game.


"No! No!" I heard Cariola scream from a long ways off. She was tugging me, bending down close. Her hair tickled my nose again. With a shallow, ragged inhalation, I breathed her scent in. She said: "Break the loop. Will yourself to live, Hammerhead!"


But I had no will left. "I'll find you when I respawn," I whispered to her. "Wait for me." The glitch is spreading, I'm sure of it and next time I thought, she and I are walking off this field for good.


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