It's April and I promised Bone Diggers in new places so get ready for the next DLC chapter where Owen meets The Powerpuff Girls!
Jk~ here's the real chapter.
— Chapter 25 in Andreah's POV
Andreah had nearly spilled her beer as she watched everything unfold in front of her on the TV. She sat up, and thankfully didn't alert Owen of her shock. There he was. Daniel. The character she had been tracking across his adventures, pulling strings here and there with Amilia. She felt like a fool inadvertently bone digging her boyfriend's game. Worse, compiling video to sell him out without even realizing it. She felt sick. And scared. She grabbed her phone, as if it offered her something. She started three separate texts to Abby, ready to scream to her through messages about this. But she froze up, still not understanding what exact reality she had landed in.
Her eyes moved to stare at Owen. He didn't have any idea she was a bone digger, much less have any interest in Age of Shadows. What if he thought bone diggers were the scum of gaming?
Her eyes closed tightly, her thoughts deafening to whatever noise existed in the room. She knew this all along, at heart. That they didn't really know each other, that Owen didn't know her. They were dating but she held him at a distance, keeping his knowledge of her just above the level of a hookup. She decided to be everyone's flavor of the week, easily changing for anyone that would have her. Until whoever got bored first ended it. And just because she found a legit nice guy, she hadn't stopped being that.
Turns out they were both blind, to so much. Now she knew her latest project involved digitally stalking her boyfriend every day, and none of this would be easy to explain.
While gathering her things, she steeled herself to walk out quickly without hinting at anything Owen would catch. She nearly reached the door before he caught the movement. Her eyes danced around before she could figure out a way to dig herself out of the situation.
"Uh. I gotta go." She lied, eyes glued to her phone screen as if something was there to explain. "Sorry."
"I thought, uh, you were going to stay the night?" Owen asked, while taking a small glance down at her phone. Andreah tilted it casually away so that he wouldn't see. She didn't want to confront him about it right now. She just couldn't.
"Well, there's this emergency," she said, hastily tucking her phone away as if it was the only evidence of her lie. "One of the newbies ended up getting in a bad accident. I need to cover for 'em." As if there were more than just the couple random orders left at this time of day.
"Oh, okay. Stay safe." He swallowed her lie harshly, and she could tell he didn't want to.
At his touch, the small moment he held her hand before she could leave, she questioned if she should just blurt it all out then and there. She was a terrible liar, now an even more terrible girlfriend. She felt the world shrinking in on her, threatening to crumble everything she had here; Not just her work, but their relationship.
Once out on the street, Andreah's thoughts blurred together. She leaned over as if she had just gone on a long run. She didn't know where to go. She always thought, maybe if they got to that point, Owen would be the person she could go to when she was upset or stressed. But obviously that wasn't on the table this time.
She called Abby while walking fast away from his apartment toward the subway. The first time, she didn't pick up, but Andreah was relentless in the search for her best friend.
"Abby. Daniel's Owen. Or, well, Owen is Daniel," she stammered, cutting to the chase.
"Woah, what?" Abby whispered, making Andreah wonder where she caught her.
"Ye-up. I don't know how I've been so close; It's been in my face. I'm a fucking fool. I don't—I don't know what to do. I can't breathe."
Abby took a moment to respond. "Are you still going to sell the story?" She was speaking more normally now, probably not around people anymore.
Andreah had already reached the subway, but couldn't go down without losing signal. She collapsed on the first few stairs. No more than a handful of people walked around this time of night, so no one could complain she was in the way. "Fuck. I actually like him, Abby. I just want to crawl into a hole and stay there forever."
"Then just, I don't know man. Tell him the truth? Pull yourself out of his game and tell him sorry."
"I've messed with his game too much to just abandon Amilia...and from what I know of his kind, the type of player he is, he probably thinks bone diggers are assholes. He'll probably like, write an exposé piece about me. Who knows, maybe I deserve it." Her mind was in a million pieces. "Do they have, like, video game themed revenge porn websites? I don't think he'd do that type of stuff, but who knows. I'm a shithead. Maybe not as bad as those girls who smash Xboxes but—"
"Andreah! Shut up. You're rambling," Abby and Andreah both took a moment to breathe. "It's going to be okay. I promise." The vow broke the protective wall of sarcasm and bitterness Andreah usually held and tears started blurring her vision. "Can you ease your way out? What did you change?"
"I don't know. I—I made Amilia into a glitch, she's trouble for Daniel and bad for the thieves. She's going to end up causing a war if they choose each other over duty, family, and all that shit. Maybe if I just..."
"Are you still there?"
Andreah stood up and started walking down the stairs. "Yeah, yeah. I'll call you back later."
She hung up and jogged to the train as it pulled in. Admittedly, she was involved with a lot of Daniel and Amilia's story so far. She'd been planning to really blow things up when it would bank the most for exposing who he was. This needed a new plan. This needed a firm commitment from herself to end the nonsense that had come between them. Maybe any pieces remaining could be salvaged.
"Fuck. Why did it have to be you, Owen?" she whispered, as she rested her head against the train's wall, softly knocking into it each time the track jiggled the cabin.
YOU ARE READING
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...