When Erika passed through the school's gate, she was welcomed by an unusual atmosphere. Many students exclaimed and argued in passion.
"You heard the news?"
"You mean about Vireco? Yeah, that shit is screwed up I'm telling you!"
"VR is, like, super scary. They say it can even injure people."
The morning news achieved their goal of seeding fear and paranoia. Wherever she turned - Erika always heard the words "VR" and "Vireco". The social networks were also flooded with posts about the topic.
In that chatty crowd, Erika spotted one gloomy face. Sophia walked with a lowered head, frowning and deep in thought.
"My, is something amiss, Sophy?"
Erika approached her dispirited friend with a smile.
"Ah... good morning, boss..."
"Did something happen?"
"... not really."
Sophia averted her eyes. There was a hint of melancholy in her expression.
"Did you watch the news this morning?"
Erika made a meaningful smile and spoke softly.
"Worried about your dear brother?"
Sophia barked in a sudden burst.
"W-why would I care about that good-for-nothing? He can get his brain fried by that Vireco for all I care!"
"I see~ You're such a caring little sister~"
Erika smiled playfully and reassured her friend.
"You don't need to worry. What they said about Vireco on TV is greatly exaggerated. It's a very rare condition and in 99% of the cases - it only lasts for a couple of minutes. You beloved dear brother will be fine."
"As. I. Said. I'm definitely not worried about that VR shut-in in the first place."
Sophia spoke through gritted teeth. She was saying all that, but Sophia's tense expression loosened somewhat by the time they parted ways.
Sophy can be surprisingly cute sometimes~
Erika chuckled and entered her classroom, A-2. The state in class was no different from outside. Vireco remained a hot topic.
"Ya think I can really get screwed from playing VR games?"
"I... I don't know. Scary shit, man..."
"You gamers are idiots if you gonna keep using VR after hearing about Vireco!"
"Vireco is coming for youuuu~"
Erika pretended to ignore the conversations, but she secretly paid careful attention. Following the bell's ring, all the students sat down and call roll began as usual.
Countless stares drilled through an empty chair.
The teacher mumbled with a deep sight. Gossip spread even faster than yesterday.
"Wasn't Mina playing some VR recently?"
"Think she caught Vireco?"
"Haha. If it's that girl, then I'd believe anything!"
Hearing the contents of the whispers, the teacher started sweating.
"Playing VR... but her parents are abroad right now... dear lord..."
The teacher mumbled to himself, but everybody perfectly heard him. The students whispered among themselves:
"They said to use VR only when there's someone home, right?"
"Yep, because you'll need help when Vireco screws yo brain."
"Wait wait wait! What if Mina is absent because she's crippled and can't move...?!"
"She's probably a corpse by now. Shall we call it VR Death? Haha!"
"S-stop it! It's not funny!"
Instead of enforcing silence, the teacher anxietly listened to the students. He was unsure of his options. Within seconds, the speculations about Mina being paralyzed by Vireco escalated from "wild theories" to "likely facts".
"Oh, I know!"
The teacher exclaimed and wiped sweat from his forehand.
"Would you mind paying Mina a home visit? You're the class president, after all..."
Erika let out a small sigh, which was invisible to others.
Seriously, even the teacher fell for that anti-VR propaganda... isn't he supposed to reassure the students that everything is alright?
She gathered her willpower and curved her lips into a smile.
"I understand. I'll pay her a visit today after school."
The teacher made a worn out smile of relief. With this, the Vireco discussion died out and homeroom proceeded as usual.
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God Vessel OnlineTeen Fiction
Erika is a tall, elegant honor student and a closet gamer who is secretly obsessed with cute little critters. Mina is a short, brash girl who flaunts herself as a gamer and pays no heed to others. Normally, the two would have nothing to do with each...