Fiction Fragment Friday
I recently installed a note app on my phone and use it to record random writing thoughts I have. So far these have all been the first sentences of stories. That is how this week’s story came about. I woke up in the middle of the night with the line in my head and recorded it. Then the next morning I wrote the story from the line. This is working fairly well for me as a process for flash fiction.
I hate fantasy, and I especially hate magic. Science and crafting make sense. You follow a process, and it just works. With magic though everything has to be just right. You need the right phase of the moon, quality reagents, and the mystical all-powerful beings that fuel it have to be the mood to do so. There is a base 10% failure rate on all ritual spells, but I’m convinced I have some sort of debuff that raises that failure rate. I could have been flying a spaceship through the galaxy for my first deep dive immersion virtual reality game, but no I had to play with my friends, and they all wanted a fantasy game. I really need friends with better taste.
The world feels so real with every sense being fed directly into my brain. For example, my eyes are watering from the smoke filling them. I’m having a massive coughing fit from the horrid taste and smell of burnt spider eyes that were supposed to be my potion of remote seeing. I can hear the panicked sound of my NPC assistant trying to put out the fire I started. Finally, I can feel the disgusting sludge that boiled over as it rolls across my feet.
A message pops up on my heads-up display informing me that my spell has failed. “Thanks how would I ever have known if not for your endless stream of annoying pop-ups. Dismiss,” I say with as much distain as I can infuse into my voice.
“Yes master, thank you.” My assistant says as he quits trying to help and runs out the door.
“Not you, the system. Get back here and clean this up.” He is already gone though. With the word dismiss he popped out of existence waiting for me to recall him. My cooldown timer though needs another hour before I can do that. Once again, I am alone in my alchemy lab. How in a game that I picked up to play with my friends do I end up solo so often? That’s right I picked a stupid crafting class and can’t manage to stay alive if I go adventuring with them. This wouldn’t be an issue if we were all crew on the same spaceship together.
The system censors my words as I try to release a string of profanities at my situation. What does “ducking shirt” mean anyway? Nothing that’s what it means because it is not what I’m trying to say. In fact not once since logging onto this game have, I ever meant to say duck, shirt, fork, carp, or dandelion pedals. I do have to admit that last one was a pretty creative word replacement. I would punch a wall to get my frustration out, but the walls of my hut are stone, and the game feeds pain back to your brain. Sure, it is muted, but it is still there. What kind of sadistic brick would program something like that?
Wait did I just think the word brick? Oh no this is gone too far. Censoring my words is bad enough but I will not have a dog dome overzealous developer censoring my thoughts. Dog dome? Fork, it did it again. I am so angry I grab my staff; it is totally not just a giant stirring stick, and storm out of my hut. I need to kill something, and it doesn’t take long for an NPC to run up to me offering a quest.
“Brave adventurer I am in dire need of your assistance. We have a rat infestation in our supplies. I need you to kill 35 rats and bring me their tails as proof.”
“Seriously another freaking rat hunting quest? When will I advance up to fighting absolutely anything else? Also why do you need the tails?” The NPC starts to reply, but I cut him off. “No, don’t answer that. If you answer it, I have a feeling I will never touch another food item you sell me.” I storm off to the supply hut to hunt even more rats. I never want to see another rat again.
It takes me a full hour to hunt 35 rats. The dome little things are so fast that they dodge most of my hits. Then to make it worse only one in every three seems to drop a tail. How does that even make sense? They all have the same appearance complete with tails, but no only some of them drop those tails. I swear if I ever meet one of these developers, I’m going to punch them right in their smug face. How do I know they are smug? Trust me no one could code this kind of bold shirt without being smug.
I shove my hand out with a brown sack in it. “Here, here are your 35 ducking rat tails.”
“I am in your debt adventurer. Here is your reward. Five XP and ten mystery meat on a stick.”
“Oh no, keep your meat. I’m pretty sure I know what’s in it.”
“Brave adventurer I am in dire need of your assistance. We have a rat infestation in our supplies. I need you to kill 40 rats and bring me their tails as proof.”
“No, quest declined.” I stomp off back to my hut where I am reminded that there is a very large mess to clean up. Thankfully I also can resummon my assistant, so I do so immediately.
“Hello Master. How may I assist you today?”
“Clean this mess up.” With the order given I open the menu and choose logoff. Have I mentioned that I really hate fantasy?