Bitter 126

Britta knew she wasn’t really falling. Her head was on a pillow and her body was lying on a bed. She knew this was a fact. It didn’t stop her screaming her lungs out.

The sensation of falling overwhelmed her. It wasn’t like a funfair ride where your stomach lurched a bit, this was freefalling without a parachute. It didn’t matter what she knew, the only thing that mattered was what she felt. And she felt she was about to die.

Which she was. She knew that too. Game death—no pain and no permanent damage. The fear was so tremendous, she was sure she was going to wet herself. Even though she lacked the body parts to produce the necessary fluids.

In a moment of sudden clarity, it became obvious how the VR rig worked. It didn’t project an image or produce a digital environment you moved around in. Everything the body experienced happened in one place; the brain.

When you pricked your finger on a pin, it might feel like the pain happened at the end of your arm, but that was only because your brain told you. That was why amputees could feel pain in limbs that were no longer there. You didn’t need a body to feel what a body feels. Or sees. Or smells, or hears, or anything else. You just needed a brain.

The real question was how they were able to link people together so they all experienced the same thing at the same time.

It would have been nice if these questions had distracted her from the fear of falling to her death, but it was just a fleeting thought that came and went, barely interrupting her sheer terror. There was probably one part of the brain for pondering life’s mysteries, and another for losing all control and screaming your guts out.

The fall was a long one. It gave her time to remember the point of all this. She wanted to die. It was the only way to stop the dancing. Even as she fell, her feet were still moving to some inaudible syncopated beat. Salsa, if she had to guess.

She also wanted to see what was down here. The darkness below her wasn’t penetrated by the light from the torches above. It felt like she was in a black cloud with no sign of what was on the other side.

She had to remember to cast the spell kobold priest had given her. Eternal Health would, she hoped, save her from staying dead. She would die and instantly resurrect with 1 HP. At least, that’s what she thought would happen. If not, she’d just die the old fashioned way and then have to wait the requisite twenty-fours hours to re-enter the game.

With some difficulty, Britta brought up her status screen. It opened in front of her face and she was able to jab at the buttons with her fingers. To cast Eternal Healing she had to say Obrigado, which appeared to be a made up word. The problem was, with all the air rushing into her face, it was hard to speak clearly. Screaming, no problem. She hadn’t had time to create a hand gesture for the spell, so she’d have to hope her voice would carry.

“How long does Eternal Healing last?” Britta shouted. It came out as a garble of unintelligible sounds.

Three seconds, said the disembodied voice, unaffected by the rushing air.

At least that meant she could be heard by the computer or whatever it was that made magic happen. Three seconds wasn’t very long. She’d have to time it.

It was a shame she couldn’t save the spell for some other misfortune in the future. It would definitely come in useful. There would definitely be more misfortunes. But as Dr Reedy had said, the chances of her randomly being given a spell that cured her of the curse she was under was too unlikely. This spell was meant to be used here.

Britta peered down, hoping to see something. It was too dark. She pointed with her finger and a ball of light formed on the end of her hand, and then fell ahead of her. It dropped a lot quicker than her, which her physics teacher had told her shouldn’t happen.  Of course, Miss Leamen’s lessons on terminal velocity and air resistance hadn’t accounted for magic.

The ball only lit up the area around it and that area was empty, but if it hit the bottom of the chasm she was in, that should give her enough time to cast the spell before she went splat. It was a plan. Not necessarily a good one, but the only one she had.

The ball stopped. It didn’t bounce or roll away, it just froze, held in mid-air. The glow illuminated the holder.

The dwarf had caught it in one hand, which he kept raised. His round, hairy face was looking up at her.

If she cast the spell and survived with a single point of health, the dwarf would just kill her. She would die twice and the spell would be wasted. Better to take the hit and come back tomorrow.

Although, she didn’t have to go alone.

The dwarf was directly beneath her, waiting. What if she aimed her body like a missile and landed on the dwarf? The impact would have to do a fair amount of damage.

The idea appealed to her. The fear of slamming into the ground was displaced by an eagerness to give the dwarf a surprise greeting. She brought her arms together in front of her, hands clasped to form a big fist.

The dwarf, eyes glowing, strained with eagerness. The stupid banshee-possessed psycho thought he was about to receive a gift. He was going to get a special delivery, that was for sure.

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