Loading... Chapter Thirty Nine
After two weeks of endless arguing over the recap episodes, Daniel's story was about to hit the internet. It also marked Owen's first night of live streaming. An unnerving task, as if his past life would be on display. Everything would be out in public, every personal moment, every stupid thing that was said. He was a bone digger, for fuck's sake. He needed privacy to expose secrets, but now his own game experiences were out there for everyone else to judge.
Tonight fnVR was hosting a party, mostly for press, to introduce Owen and Andreah as their newest sponsored players. So much hype and money was put into this warm welcome. A far warmer welcome than begrudgingly signing contracts.
Owen felt like making a run for it until he spotted Neal and Charlie. Their presence anchored him, and at times gave the appearance that he was socializing.
"I got completely rekted this morning while playing," Neal said, "by a dude I don't even remember starting problems with. He sure was pissed at me, though."
"That is why we stick to the tenets," Charlie chuckled, trying not to be too amused with another Neal death story. "Killing rashly is practically asking for it to come back around."
Their conversations were short lived, since Owen couldn't go long without being interrupted by other party goers. Then there was the press.
Oh god, the press. He had evaded them for so long when first getting two NPCs. And if he stayed close enough to the office he could duck in and continue avoiding them. That is, until they started camping outside.
The only person he hadn't caught sight of was Andreah. Curiosity mixed with an acceptance of his fate resulted in him touring around the room. Thankfully, a popular player in the area, SniperV, showed up and shifted everyone's attention. Owen had been curious of the man behind the avatar, who drew attention towards himself like a neon light in a crowd of moths. His volume, style, and attitude all suggested a star. Or more that he was going to ride his privilege up to the top, and everyone else seemed vaguely okay with as long as he was entertaining. Within fifteen minutes, Owen heard the origin story about the username three times. It wasn't even a good story. He'd been a sniper and the fifth member on a professional FPS clan back in the day. Yet everyone seemed to love it.
Owen separated himself from the crowd as much as he could. Even if it meant walking over to the dreaded gaming area. Here only Carmen buzzed around as she finished setting everything up. This spot wasn't much better. He could see both the party goers and a media line with other sponsored celebrities whose interviews were being streamed.
He was still wandering around the room, hoping to get lost more than anything else, when he noticed someone that looked like Andreah. If anyone had been fighting for his attention, he would have missed the woman in a long shimmery black and gold dress with a low cut back. It was by far the fanciest thing he'd seen Andreah in. Even her hair was styled to a new extreme, emphasized by the fact she had shaved one side of her head.
Every day he was looking at a different version of her. His heart ached for the bike messenger in reflector yellow.
Andreah was tucked away with a beer in hand, talking to a girl he recognized as Abigail. Her name was easy to remember since his secrets had been meant for her. Owen approached slowly, like he was a crasher to his own party.
Andreah turned to look at him with a huge, bright smile. "Hey! How's it going?"
It was a change from their new usual of 'exes who were both too stubborn to quit their jobs.' But to be expected in this setting, really. They couldn't appear dysfunctional on day one. "It's uh, pretty okay. How about you?" Owen looked over at Abigail, who offered a softer smile, and gave her a nod hello. "It's nice to see you again."
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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...