Loading... Chapter Forty
In the days after the launch party, everything boiled down to waiting. The 'leave' Owen was given from NY Today had come and gone, and now he was left to juggle both. Days were spent at the newspaper and afterward he headed to fnVR. Thanks to them, he didn't need the extra money, from either the paper or bone digging gigs, but he refused to drop the ball on either. Nor was he was the only one holding on to their old job. By the look of Andreah's riding outfit, she had gone back to her day job, too.
Their office phone rarely rang. If it did, it was usually Jorge. Andreah always answered like it was a mini-game to persistently to annoy the man. When it rang today, Owen continued to ignore it.
"Insert Credits? Yeah, I've heard of your place," Andreah said, as she twirled the coiled phone cord in her hand. "Tonight? Uh, I'm not sure. Let me check." Owen had already looked up at her when she moved the receiver away from her face. "There's a happy hour going on at an arcade bar on West 24th. They're wondering if we'd like to attend as honored guests."
Owen held out his hand for the phone, which meant Andreah had to pick up the base and carry it over to him. Once he was on the line, he cleared his throat. "Hello, this is Owen."
"Hey, Owen! Nice to talk to you. We were wondering if you'd like to come by tonight to our arcade. We've been playing the live streams of Daniel's story and would love to have both you and Andreah attend as a surprise. Your night will be on us."
Owen was pretty sure he'd heard of the place before, but hadn't ever had the chance to stop by. "Sure, why not. What time should we be there?"
"Nine should be good. We're so excited to have you."
"No problem, see you then." Owen handed the phone back to Andreah, who returned the entire assembly back to the desk it belonged on. She mumbled something that sounded like a curse as she walked over to her bag.
"What's that?" he asked, his eyes following her.
"Nothing. I was just hoping I could depend on you to keep this a boring night, as usual."
Owen ignored the backhanded insult for the sake of not ruining the entire conversation. "You could just not go if you don't want to."
"And let it look like I'm the boring one? Nah son." She pulled a skirt and crop top out of her bag. The wrinkles hinted it had been in there all week in case of situations like this. "I wonder if anyone has an iron." When they shared a cab to the arcade, splitting the fare so evenly it was almost suspicious. Owen even held the door for her as they walked in. The atmosphere wasn't anything like a surprise party, which was a relief to them both. That didn't mean they were anonymous however. A girl, who looked just old enough to serve the drinks, bounced over to them so fast that she must have been waiting. "Hey! Owen and Andreah, right?" Andreah nodded with an awkward smile as she clutched her purse. "Awesome, well, I'm Jamie. We reserved a table for you. Carl is over at the bar. . You're welcome to help yourself to all our games." She walked them over to their booth. The seats had high enough backs someone could stand on the seat and still not match their height.
"Thanks," Owen said, and glanced at the table that had a large screen with game systems hooked up somewhere. The only way he could tell was the controllers sitting there. He made a hum of approval towards Andreah before leading them to the bar.
"Hi! I'm the guy who called you," said who Owen guessed was Carl. "Where's Andreah?"
Owen thought she was following. He glanced away from the white countertop that was currently glowing blue. She had somehow disappeared into thin air. "She's here, just...not here."
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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...