Bitter 35

Within a few seconds, Britta was standing alone and unthreatened. The zombies had ignored her completely in favour of the other players, who they were now closing in on. She clambered on top of a marble block sitting in the middle of the street to get a better view. 

The players had ended up on the steps of a large building that looked like it could have been a museum or a library. It had lots of columns and large double doors that were closed. The zombies threw themselves at the players who fought them off, but nowhere as easily as when the zombies had been barely able to move.

It was quite exciting to watch. Zombies ganged up on individuals, attacking from all sides, making it very hard to avoid taking damage. These zombies preferred to get in close and grab hold of their opponents, like they were in an MMA fight. They tried to wrap themselves around the players, who wildly swung at them and tried to shake them off. 

You could tell the difference between the people who knew how to fight, keeping the zombies at bay with moves strung together in combos, and those who just flailed around hoping to get in a lucky hit.

Players went down, and once they were on the ground, it was over. Britta couldn’t see very well—she certainly wasn’t going to get closer—but it looked like there was biting involved. Possibly chewing. Certainly screaming. And then dying. 

When a player died, there was an audible chime and they disappeared, leaving behind a small pile of items. It was an odd thing to see someone disappear in front of your eyes.

Despite the difference in numbers, the players were slowly getting the upper hand. When zombies died, they just lay on the ground with their head turned into mush. There were seven players left and a handful of zombies.

Britta hopped off the block and by the time she made it over the last zombie was in the process of being beaten to a pulp by four players. Diana was one of them. 

“Anyone in Darak’s guild?” A skinny man with too many belts and buckles to be practical was standing over a pile of items from one of the dead players and was holding up a mace with spikes. “I’m going to take this shit if someone doesn’t claim it for him.”

If you had friends, they could look after your gear if you died. Otherwise people would steal it. Having people you trusted would be useful, but trusting people in here would be no different than the real world. Risky. Still, it would be useful to have friends, even if it was just for mutual benefits.

Britta headed over towards Diana, but before she could say anything, the large barbarian character, Ramdam, who had spoken to her about kill stealing, pointed his hammer at her and scowled.

“This was your fault. People died because of you.” He sounded very upset.

“They’re not really dead, though, are they?” said Britta nervously . She couldn’t understand why he was so worked up.

“They can’t log back in for twenty-four hours,” he said like he was speaking to a five year old. “On a weekend. Get it? The only time they can stay in the game for more than a couple of hours, and you kick them out.”

“How is that my fault? I didn’t kick them out.” Britta could see how it would be annoying to have a whole weekend to play the game and then have to wait a day to get back in, but she still felt it was unfair to blame her.

“You pulled every mob on the battlefield, you noob!” he shouted. “And then set them on us.”

“I didn’t mean to,” said Britta, her own voice rising in response. “I didn’t tell them to attack you.”

“You don’t have to,” he screamed back. “Our DPS meant our aggro was higher than yours, so obviously they switched to targeting us.”

Britta had no idea what he was talking about. “So what? You killed them, didn’t you? Isn’t that the point of the game? I’m sorry if I ruined your wonderful fun beating up creatures ten times weaker than you, but I’ve only just started and everything is stronger than me. I don’t have any cool weapons or skills. I was running for my life, you were just running away.”

As she was telling him off, the barbarian brought up his status screen. Britta couldn’t actually see the screen but she recognised the gestures as he tapped on thin air. Then he turned and said something to one of the other players, but Britta couldn’t hear what he said. She could see his lips move, but no sound came out. The others all brought up their screens and when they spoke she couldn’t hear them either.

They had blocked her. She couldn’t hear them and they couldn’t hear her. They didn’t want to be her friends. Nobody did.

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