Bitter 94

“There’s a lot of weirdos who play this game,” said Britta. She was browsing the New World forum and reading up on different classes and quests. So far she hadn’t found a single thread on gnomes or illusionists, but she had found numerous threads that contained long, threatening challenges for fights in the arena.

“They’re just having fun.”

“Think you got what it takes to beat me?” read out Britta. “I’m a Level Fifteen Dwarven spear master who will gut you and use your intestines to beat your horse to death. That a weird way of having fun.”

“He’s roleplaying. Some people like to get into the spirit of things.”

“And some people are weird.”

“Weird is just a matter of perspective,” said Dad. “People used to think grown men who read comics and play video games were weird.”

“They still think that, Dad.”

Dad started setting the table. “You know, when I was your age, the idea of walking around with a communication device in your pocket was weird. Like something out of Star Trek. That’s a TV show we used to have.”

“I know what Star Trek is,” said Britta drily. “I’ve seen the posters in your office.”

“There was a time when people had fresh, original ideas. Crazy stuff like The Six Million Dollar Man and Knight Rider. A talking car, Britta. It was the stuff of science fiction, juvenile nonsense. But it all came true. That’s where weird gets you.”

Britta was pretty sure none of it had come true. She eyed the exit. Could she sneak out without him noticing? The way he was rambling, she could have walked out at the head of a marching band and he’d still be waxing lyrical about how Charlie’s Angels had achieved equality for women in law enforcement.

“People don’t want the same old stories anymore. All they’ve been getting is rehashed versions of stuff they’ve already seen and they’re sick of it. That’s why something like New World is going to be such a game changer. You get to make your own story, with you in the lead role, with a bunch of special powers. The technology’s just so amazing. Amazing. I can’t wait until they create a world for superheroes.” Dad’s eyes were positively glowing.

“Sounds great,” said Britta. “Fifty thousand middle aged men all pretending to be Spider-man.”

“I know! It’ll be awesome.”

Britta rolled her eyes and went back to browsing the website. The people on there weren’t looking so weird now.

There was the sound of a key in the front door. Bags dropped in the hall, and Mum walked in. “Oh, I wasn’t expecting you both to be in here. And dinner ready. How lovely.”

She kissed Britta, then Dad, and then walked back out to take off her coat.

“Good timing,” said Dad as he put the food on the table. “We’ve been discussing the future of entertainment.”

“Oh?” said Mum as she came back in. “So it wasn’t just you ranting while poor Britta had to listen?”

“Of course not,” lied Dad. “It was a mutual exchange of ideas.”

“Interesting?” Mum asked Britta.

“I’m under an NDA,” said Britta. “I can’t talk about it.”

Mum smiled and mouthed, ‘Thank you.’

They sat down and started eating.

“I suppose both of you will be off in your fantasy world this weekend, leaving me on my lonesome.”

“No,” said Dad. “You can count on me to be here, live and in person. We can’t let the virtual world stop us enjoying the real one. You know, with Britta plugged in, she might as well be a million miles away. It’ll be like we have the place to ourselves. No kids around to stop us expressing our deepest urges.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Britta put her fork down. “Do you mind? I’m trying to eat.”

“So you’re going to dedicate the whole weekend to satisfying my urges?” asked Mum.

“That’s right, my love. Whatever you desire, I will make it so.”

Britta suspected there was a Star Trek reference in there somewhere. She suddenly had the image of them dressed up as a Klingon and a Vulcan in the bedroom and had to shake her head to get rid of it.

“Whatever I desire? That sounds wonderful,” said Mum. “You can start by mowing the lawn.”

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