Chapter - 5 Home Sweet Home
Not being a telepathic, Zenny sends Doc an in-game message: You wanna go to the pub?
Doc answers back with: Sure, I’ll meet you at the town square.
Meanwhile, Majesty rests neatly tucked in his bed. Zack logs out. He sets the neuro gear on the designated rack and walks out of the café that him, Jeff, and Zenny play at. Leo has his own place and his own neuro gear. Normally, most on Earth cannot afford neuro; but when Leo was on the world server for the All-World Championships all the cash bets made him enough to buy his own neuro gear and a condo with a little to spare.
With the café’s doors just behind him, Zack takes a moment to take in a big breath. He looks around while his lungs take in the only air he has ever known, and he sees that same old scenery he has been staring at for twenty-one years. He does the only thing he can do, start walking down the same old streets, passing the same old building to the same old hood. His hand grabs a door knob, and he opens the door. He walks into his parent’s apartment. He goes to his room and stares at the same four walls.
There is a knock at his door. “Yeah—come in.” His mom walks in. “How was your day?”
“Good mom.” He hugs his mom.
She hugs her son back. “Did you go up lots of levels.”
He gives a slight chuckle as a smile forms on his face, “Actually me and the guys went up a few levels. Zenny went up hundreds of levels.” He always cheers up when his mom tries to talk about the things important to him. Even though she doesn’t know anything about All-World.
“That’s good. You were gone a little longer than normal. I started to get worried about you.”
“Thanks mom but I’m okay. We have been doing this really difficult quest and it has been taking a longer.”
She gives her baby a kiss on the cheek. “I’m making meatloaf for tonight with my famous mac and cheese.”
She walks out of his room, and Zack lays in his bed waiting for dinner. Zack isn’t the only one of the four that logged out of All-World. Leo has logged out too.
In the comfort of this middle-class condo, Leo watches a show he is steaming from the internet. A ring comes at the door. He pauses his show and gets the door. There is a package on the ground—something he ordered a while back. He picks up the package and goes back inside. Leo goes to his room and puts the box away. While Leo stashes a birthday gift for his best friend, a girl who is worlds apart from Leo talks about him with her bestie.
“He has to be from here.”
Janet shows her skepticism. “Why”
“Because he says so. And because he’s going to be a councilor, and because he has birth coins.”
Janet interrogates some more, “How do you know he really does?”
“I know because of how I first met him. It was at the All-World Championships. We did a fight-wager and anteed up a birth coin. He won. But now that I think about it--it was weird.”
“What do you mean weird?”
“It was like he never pvped before and was learning as he went along.” She looks at her desk and notices the time. “Oh dang, I forgot the time! I have to go to meet up with him.”
“Well at least tell me his name?!”
The two girls end their chat, and Malissa takes to Morin’s internet and from there she goes to the world-net.
In a moment, Malissa and Leo will reacquaint; and while these lovers interact, two childhood friends, Zenny and Jeff, prepare to cut loose.
“What took you so long?” Zenny asks as Doc approaches.
“I’m not as fast as a walker as you.”
The two make their way out of the town square and head to their favorite bar. As they walk down the sidewalks of the city, others look at the two in awe. On the Earth-server it is not every day one sees a player so advance. Beside Zenny, Leo, Jeff, and Zack people on Earth don’t make it passed eleven years of age before they end up dying. That all changed when Majesty and his squad hit the scene. A budding scientist comes stumbling up to Doc. “You’re my hero. I want to be just like you,” the young scientist shows his codex and his voice becomes a little timid, “I was wondering . . . if . . .”
Doc smiles as he speaks to the fellow scientist, benevolence: in his voice, “I’ll do even better than sign your book.” Doc pull out his very first old codex from his pack. He sings the book; and as he does so, he looks at the fellow scientist, “What’s your name?”
His voice trembles, “I—I’m KillerKn0wl3dge.”
With the singing done, Doc offers his very first codex to KillerKn0wl3dge, “And it has all knowledge that this codex can hold. Would you like it?”
The scientist trembles with excitement as he accepts the gift, “Thank you so much!”
Doc is refreshed by the fellow scientist’s reaction. “I’ll add you on my friends list and if you ever need help just pm me.” Doc voice is cheery, “Alright I added you.”
KillerKn0wl3dge opens the book he just got from Doc, and as soon as, he opens the book it becomes almost too heavy for KillerK0wnl3dge. With more know written in a codex the heavier it becomes and more intelligence one needs to wield the codex. And a simple codex can only hold simpler knowledge and can hold very little knowledge.
Doc and Zenny keep on walking and in the distance, they can hear KillerKn0wl3dge’s yells of happiness. Zenny is just looking at Doc with a smile on his face.
Doc becomes defensive, “What?!”
“Nothing man. I just know how much that codex meant to you.”
“Yeah but he’s the future. And it is our responsibility to make sure that the young blood can thrive to ensure the future becomes brighter than us.”
Zenny shrugs, “Whatever you say dude.”
They get to their favorite bar. While Doc and Zenny blow off some steam at the local bar, Zack and Leo are dealing with their real-world issues.
Leo and his mom and dad are sitting at the dinner table. They eat in silence, and minutes pass without a word said. Leo shoves a big fork-full of his mac-n-cheese into his mouth. With him done with his dinner, he stands up from the table and gives his mom a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks mon. Dinner was great!”
Loe’s dad speaks up, “You too good to pick up after yourself.”
“I was going to pick my plate up, after I thanked mom for the great dinner.”
His father says, sarcastically, “Nah it’s okay your Majesty—I’ll get it for.”
Without saying a word Leo picks up his plate, eat utensils, and dirty napkin. He throws his trash away and puts his dirty dishes in the skin.”
His dad starts clapping slow and very loudly with each clap very pronounced as he ridicules his son, “Good job, proud of you—very proud of you.”
Leo walks back the table and sits back down at table. He then shines his dad on; calm as fuck he looks his dad in the eyes and says, “Oh yeah.”
Those simple words are the trigger that set the antagonizer off. Leo’s dad immediately stands up from his seat aggressively. . .
When father and son get into it, Leo is trying to get into it—in a different way.
From the kitchen, Leo hears a beeping noise coming from the living room. That tells him he has a pm: Oh dang is it already six o’ clock!? Leo quickly finishes the slice of apple he is eating. He then throws away the apple core away. He cleans his hands and then rushes to the living room. He sits down on the couch and pulls up an intangible screen. He is looking at his mail inbox. He reads the message, it’s from her—the girl he sees every night: I’m waiting (:
After reading his unread mail, he leaves his inbox and opens up another pane. As soon as the new screen pops up in the air, Leo can see her beautiful face looking back at him. At least to him, it is the most beautiful face he has ever seen.
He waves at her, and she waves back. He is the first to speak, “It is so good to see you. All day I couldn’t wait to see you.”
His words make her beam with joy as she speaks, “I missed you too. How did your day go?”
“We’re still on that same quest. We got to meet King Solomon. And he gave Doc a side quest—I guess it will help us with our main quest . . .” While Leo talks about his day and about the other guys in the squad; Jeff and Zenny are stumbling out of the bar, laughing and carrying on loudly; and their leader is fighting a battle . . .
Zack slightly shakes his head to the words coming at him. His dad leaning over the table as he points and while he talks loudly, “You need to get a real job! Everyone around you is busting their back in the real world while you play fairytale.”
“It’s a real job.”
Mom quietly cleans up the table.
The older man slams his hand on the table, “It isn’t a real job! We have to support you while you’re chasing this pipedream.”
Zack defense himself, “It’s not a pipedream. It’s a real job and we’re going to make it and become council members.”
“If it’s a real job then you can get your own place and pay your own way!”
Zack shrugs. “Fine,” he turns his back on his dad, “that’s what I’ll do.” He walks to his room and starts gathering up his stuff.
His dad’s voice calls back to him, “Good!”
Jeff, Zenny, and even, Leo are unaware of the turmoil their leader is going through. Doc crashes at Zenny’s in-game house because it is closer, and he is in no condition to make it to his place. Both Jeff and Zenny log out of All-World for the night.
They walk out of the café at the same time. They walk to Zenny’s car that is waiting for them in the café’s parking lot. Zenny drives Jeff to his house. The scenery changes from the urban low-income area to the green grass and flourishing trees of an upper class neighborhood. Popular songs of the time are playing on the radio. Zenny and Jeff are from very wealthy parents. They went to the same schools and they’ve known each other for most of their lives. Zenny’s parents bought him a new car for his eighteenth birthday.
Both Zenny and Jeff have part time jobs. It is a long drive from the café they play at to where they live. They drive all that way to play in the ghetto because Zack wanted them to be together when they play. And Leo and Zack’s parents didn’t have the means to drive them every day after school to the private gated community that Jeff and Zenny lived in. So all throughout elementary and middle school Zenny’s mom would drive him and Jeff to the not-so good part of town so they could play with their friends. In high school, Zenny and Jeff took the bus to the café. They went through a lot of effort just to play a game. But kids are very impressionable at those young ages, and Zack drew these two impressionable rich kids in with his stylistic confidence.