Loading... Chapter Thirty Three
Daniel heard his name being shouted over the roar of the falls. No, he heard Owen's name being called.
Owen flinched as he woke, staring at the edge of the water that made him wonder where he was. The picture shook as he realized his headset was being pulled at, a small gasp escaping his lips as he sat up on the couch. He reached up to pull off the headgear, but it seemed too light and lifted off without much effort. Owen blinked up at a startled Charlie standing over him, with their hands frozen in the air.
"Christ, man. Are you okay?" Charlie asked, quickly setting the headgear down to turn back.
"Lucas," Owen said sounding lost. "Are they—"
"They're dead." Charlie kneeled down to be more on Owen's level.
The change of heights allowed Owen to spot Neal standing by the door. Spare keys in hand, expression shifting to concern as Owen made eye contact. "I need to get to Paris," Owen mumbled like he was half asleep.
This time, Charlie touched his arm. "Owen, I've been worried about you all day. You know you aren't meant to fall asleep with that shit on. Do you know where you are?"
Owen shook his head, not as an answer, but to separate himself from the fog he felt. "Yeah, sorry. I didn't mean to scare you." He glanced up as Neal moved closer. "Either of you."
"You hadn't until I got here," Neal said, as a wrinkle ran between his brow.
Despite not drinking last night, a hangover-like headache had settled in. Owen got up, glancing at them both before walking to the kitchen. He felt their eyes follow him before looking at one another. Whatever the fuck happened last night, Owen didn't want to talk about it. He picked up an empty glass, and filled it with water as someone stepped into the kitchen with him.
"What happened last night? I texted you."
Owen shifted, taking a drink as he pulled out his phone. He found a few from Charlie, most notably an open-ended 'WTF', and a text from Andreah he had never gotten around to. "Huh." Owen looked back to Charlie who skeptically stared. "It was nice of you to check on me, but I'm fine."
"That doesn't exactly answer my question."
He evaded it for a moment longer, watching as Neal picked up the headset like a broken toy. "I'm not even sure," Owen said. "We found something, but I don't think we were ever meant too. The quest was just soo long. I must've fallen asleep."
Charlie nodded, but they didn't look completely convinced. "I was dropped into the End Game screen. Is Daniel okay?"
"He's alive." Owen could remember the drumming sound of the falls. The sound numbed his senses more than easing him asleep like he suggested to Charlie and Neal. He didn't recall leaving the cave, just Daniel soaked at the water's edge.
"Well, that's not nothing."
"Shit, Lucas," Owen nearly repeated from before. It suddenly clicked that he was standing across someone he got killed the night before. Charlie had put in so much time in that character. "I'm so sorry. The whole mission was my idea. I can't even—"
Owen instantly did, swallowed roughly, and waited to be reprimanded.
"It's fine. I mean, I was thinking about playing a girl next anyways. The game's whole forced gender binary thing throws me off."
Did Charlie really not blame him for anything? Owen studied their expression, wondering if they were lying just because they were worried. "Well, I'll miss my favorite Rivera descendant all the same."
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...