• Today was not going well for Charlie. He was late getting up for school, skipped eating breakfast, and nearly missed the bus. And that’s just what happened in the morning. Only after getting to school did he realize he forgot his Algebra and Physics homework lying on his nightstand, he didn’t have any lunch money left in his account, and some random freshman kicked him in the knee while trying to act tough in front of his friends. To top it all off, though, on the bus ride home, he slipped on the bus stairs and smashed his already aching knee into the door. I’ll repeat: not a good day.

    As the bus pulled away, his brothers, Jim and Alex, took off running for the house; why, the world may never know. He hobbled down the road to the driveway and checked the mail. There were bills for Dad, bills for Mom, something about a free Bahamas vacation for only $250, and various other pieces of junk mail. Walking up to the deck, he almost tripped over a wide, flat cardboard box. It was one of those reinforced boxes, designed to carry fragile or expensive items. He immediately remembered what it was, and he quick pulled it into his house, going directly into his room.

    Grabbing a knife from off the top of his dresser, Charlie sliced through the tape and opened the box, peering inside. “Hot damn!” he yelled. He had finally gotten his laptop back from the repair center, after an incident during a late night Unreal tournament where a rather large energy drink was spilled over the keyboard, frying it out. He quickly plugged it into the charger and logged it on. He wasted no time in double-clicking an icon labeled OverDrive.

    * * *

    In a matter of speaking, OverDrive was (and most likely will remain) the all-time most successful video game ever created. Let’s just put it this way: over 73% of teenagers with computer access play, ranging from nerd to jock. Think of some sort of hybrid between The Sims and World of Warcraft, where you custom make your own character, right down to the last facial hair, and set him out in a world where monsters run rampant, weapons grow on trees, and all sorts of fun things like that.

    * * *

    With a small pop and a burst of light, Grimm697 materialized into the world of OverDrive. His appearance was just like Charlie’s was in real life, but he wore bright red and gold armor over a cartoon skull t-shirt, old blue jeans, and a ragged red cape. Strapped to his back was a rather intimidating-looking broad sword. It had a skeleton style blade, meaning the center of the blade was gone, leaving only an edged rim in its place. This was known as Aero, and it was one in a set of thirty-one weapons hand selected by Charlie for his character (one for every day of the month). His friends thought that his collection was a waste of time, however, because if one of his swords broke or went missing, he would have to scour the land for a new sword to match the set, one with a black and red chromed blade, a gold hilt and pommel, and a brown leather wrapped handle.

    Charlie casually raised his hands to his mouth, cupping them like a megaphone. Screaming at the top of his lungs, he yelled, “Hey, guys! Where are you?” He waited for a reply, but instead was greeted only by his own echo. “Huh…” He wondered for a moment, then, surprised at his own genius, reached into his inventory compartment, conveniently located on the inside of his cape, and pulled out a messenger pigeon. Whe quickly scribbled a note out onto a candy bar wrapped and tied it to the bird’s leg. “Go find Nick!” he said, as he threw the bird into the air. It broke into a majestic flight, only to be shot down moments later by and arrow. Appalled, Charlie turned towards the source of the arrow, a nearby cluster of bushes.

    From out of the bushes stepped a rogue clad in purple leather armor, clutching a cheap longbow. He was only level five, meaning he had been in the game for about a week. It was pitiful in comparison to Charlie’s forty-seven, earned through hours upon hours of slaying, raiding, and collecting. Crossing his arms in front of him, the rogue laughed. “Grimm697?” he sneered, “What kind of noob name is that? And you’re even a Blademaster, too? This just takes the cake!”

    Charlie didn’t quite understand what was so funny about that, but the fact that he was being mocked by such a worthless character quick turned his otherwise relaxed and placid expression dark. “Do you honestly have a death wish, kid? Because I’m in a very generous mood today.”

    “Ha! Just hollow threats,” he retorted, arrogantly. “I’m one step away from being safely out of the PvP environment, so you can’t do a thing!” He held out a clear pane of glass etched with a map of the world. It zoomed in on their location, showing two blinking red dots. “See?”

    “Wow…” Charlie sighed. “You’re stupider than I thought. Notice the top says PAM instead of MAP? You’re holding the map wrong.” The rogue, panicking, quickly flipped over the map to the right side. “The guy by the border? That’s me.” He cracked his knuckles and pulled Aero from his back.

    “Listen,” said the rogue, nervously, “I didn’t really mean that stuff, I was just joking, because I’m a joker!” He choked out a laugh. “PLEASE DON’T KILL ME!!!”

    “…Too late, punk.” Grimm697 whirled the sword in front of him, shooting out a thin blade of wind from the blade’s glowing red edge. It whipped through the air and decapitated the “joker” and let out a spray of animated-but-still-real-enough-to-be-creepy blood. As the body slumped to the ground, there was a loud crack and a vortex of black fire burst open next to the corpse. “Well,” said Charlie, “That was quick.” He nodded towards the flame. “Hey, Matt.”

    A dark figure stepped out of the burning portal. He was dressed somewhat like the grim reaper, for the robe to the scythe, with the exception of the cheap plastic skull mask he wore over his face. “I saw that. That was cold.” He paused. “I like it.” He picked up the head and swung the body over his shoulder. As he stepped back into the portal, Charlie could barely hear him mutter, “I hate people, especially these ones.”

    Patiently, he waited next to the bushes for about fifteen more minutes, just wandering around, waiting for Nick and Walker. Finally, he gave up. “Ya know, screw it,” he muttered, strapping the sword back on. “I don’t feel like waiting around anymore. I’m gonna go kill something.”