Flight: Chapter 4

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Scout didn’t even have time to process what type of creature was attacking her before claws sheared through her chest. Trying to get some distance from her attacker, she stumbled backwards, only to slip on a sheet of ice underneath the snow. She landed on top of the attacking creature, which in turn collapsed, smashing her face into the ground.

The creature underneath her started writhing, trying to get out from the girl’s weight. Something else, though, started tearing at her back and legs, claws carving through her once more. This is where being a ranger had its issues. You lose melee fights, unless you had a team to protect you. She didn’t have any melee weapons on a quick draw, so she had to dig through her inventory to find one.

Scout slashed at what she was guessing were wolves, based off their size and the fact that they were fighting in a pack. She managed to catch one of them, which made a loud whine-like sound as it backed off. Changing tactics, she stabbed the wolf that hadn’t quite escaped from underneath her, and now the other wolves’ weight.

Blood poured from the wound she’d given to the wolf underneath her, so she didn’t care to attack it further. It wouldn’t survive much longer, and even if it did it wasn’t in a position to fight. Her own blood started to leak onto the wolf’s fur, mixing in with its own.

She pushed herself to the side, rolling away from the wolf that was still tearing up her back. Her knife, however, stuck in the body of the now-dormant wolf and pulled out of her grasp. There was no way she could face up to one wolf without a weapon, let alone however many more there were in that pack.

When she got herself sitting up straight again, two of the three attackers were lying dormant in the snow, the third already moving towards her. She pulled a snow ball together, compressing it as fast as she could. As soon as the wolf moved to lunge at her again, she the compressed ball into the side of its head with enough force that it fell over.

Scout was on her feet in seconds, running away from the wolf. There was no was she could hide, especially with the trail of blood that she was leaving for the wolf to follow. All she was trying for was time to line up a shot. She pulled her bow out, and arrow docked almost immediately.

She didn’t bother to check to see if it was far enough away. If it was too close, she’d already lost the battle anyways. It was only maybe ten feet away, closing in quickly. She took her aim, loosing the arrow less than a second later. The wolf tumbled to a stop less than a foot away from her. An arrow had pierced directly through its eye.

Scout took a deep breath, examining the plains. She didn’t see any other wolves around, which probably meant that this was just a hunting party. She decided to leave before the rest of the pack came looking.

The pain was different now; usually being attacked like that wouldn’t hurt this much. Maybe she was already tired and weak, or maybe the glitch took of some sort of pain filter as well, but Scout could barely walk as she pushed her way closer to the forest and the village.

She only had one health potion on her. Since she rarely got hurt, she didn’t usually take too many with her. She usually had a swordsman with her in battles, and she’d give help from a distance. Her health potion didn’t even slow the bleeding, which was bad on its own. Bleeding in the game had similar effects as real like, only toned down. Hopefully that still had its filter.

The town had just come into her view when Scout fell over. Her body felt empty, and she felt like she could barely move. She noticed that she had tunnel vision, and realized that it’d been slowly growing for a while. The snow around her started to warm up, to melt. The ranger couldn’t tell if her blood just stained the water red or if there was more blood than water around her.

The tunnel vision sealed off, leaving her in darkness. She could hear something moving beside her, but she didn’t have the energy to move. There was a loud roar, and then there was nothing.

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Flight: Chapter 3

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Snow fell lightly all around her, the breeze blowing too much of it onto her face. She gave a loud huff, the breath, visible, pushing a section of the snow away from her. She brought up her menu, only to take a quick glance at the time. 3:42. He said he would be on in just a few minutes. It’d been almost twenty now, and he hadn’t even sent a message.

She gave another huff while she collapsed her menu. If he wasn’t gonna show up, she’d at least get some practice in. She was still a low-level, even after eight months of playing the game. Starting to trudge through the snow, she nearly jumped out of her digitized skin when a loud sound rang through the frozen plains around her.

It was an alert sound, the kind that played when an AMBER Alert was sent out. She turned her attention to the surrounding area, trying to see if someone, Sebastian especially, was playing a trick on her. The girl startled again when a voice echoed around her.

“Greetings, players of Zerailn. I know you can’t see me, but this is Violet Patel. For those of you who don’t know me, I was the producer and one of the main developers for the game you’re currently playing.

My team here at DD Games seem to have spotted some sort of glitch in the system. A lot of you have probably noticed already, but if you open your menu, you’ll notice that there is no longer an exit button. We have almost finished the patch to fix this problem, however a much larger problem arose in the fact that in order to apply the patch the servers have to be reset.

My team is working with multiple leaders in the field to test what would happen and try to find a way around the situation. We’re doing our best to fix the problem, but we haven’t found anything promising just quite yet.

We have not been able to contact people whose avatar died shortly after the glitch started, but right now we have no reason to believe that your avatar’s death will affect your real body. However, there is a slight chance that your avatar’s death may lead you to a limbo of sorts.

For now, we urge everyone to stay calm, and to resist fighting other players. We will bring updates as soon as we get them ourselves.

Good luck.”

Scout hadn’t realized it, but she started holding her breath sometime during that speech. She almost didn’t want to let the breath out. The feeling of something drip through her fingers caused a sudden shake of both her hands, sending small drops of the crimson liquid into the slate of white below her.

The girl brought her hand up, halfway to opening the menu again. Was getting a bandage worth confirming what the voice, Violet, had said? The wound wouldn’t scar, very few wounds actually scarred in this world. And she was alone, so bleeding out some health shouldn’t be a problem.

Another sound made Scout jump for a third time, sending the small pool of blood that had collected in her hand out into the snow. She recognized the sound, this time; it was the sound that was produced when someone sent her a message.

After a deep breath, she opened the menu. The exit option was truly gone. She took another deep breath, moving to her messages section. Sebastian had sent a message.

“They sent out a warning to all VRs that weren’t in a game. Are you okay?”

Tears started rolling down Scout’s face as she read and re-read the message five times.

“Yea, yea. I’m okay. No one is around me right now, and I’m still i-”

She stopped typing the message out as a sound caught her attention. A set of multiple low grumbling was coming from behind her.

Scout turned around just in time to see a set of fangs and claws lunging at her.

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Character: Prologue 2

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The clock never seemed to move fast enough. It was as if someone stuck their finger into its gears, stopping them from turning. Minutes moved by like hours, seconds like minutes. Scout stared at the clock, hung over the teacher’s desk. She was hoping that she could will it to move faster. Convince whatever being that had stopped it to make it move once more. It didn’t work.

She turned her attention to her open textbook, some page talking about some math thing. Something about linear somethings. Mrs. Perkins had assigned some math homework and gave everyone the last fifteen minutes of class to start on it. Scout hadn’t even opened her notebook.

Not that anyone was really even working. Most of the others were talking, caring more about small talk than homework. The dull sound of multiple conversations made it hard for her to hear much, not that she needed to. She just wanted the clock to move so she could leave, get home before something bad happened, again.

The bell pulled Scout out of her thoughts, stirring her into action. She was the first one out the door, already heading towards her locker. She barely got three yards from the door when her movement was interrupted, a shove sending her into the lockers on her left. Her hand hit first, pressing palm first at an awkward angle, followed by the heavy impact of the rest of her body. She didn’t make a noise, even with the sharp pain now radiating from her wrist. She just kept moving forward. She knew that the boy wouldn’t stop to see if she was okay.

She turned a corner, only a few feet away from her locker, stopping in her tracks. The populars were hanging by her locker. Kristen was leaning against it, waiting for the girl to show up. She gave a wicked smile as Scout came into her view.

“Oh hey! I got a surprise for you! I left it in your locker.”

The girl’s voice had a sweet charm to it, but most of the kids at the school knew that she was really a curse. Scout didn’t even stop to wonder what they’d done to her locker, or all the stuff in it. She just turned, moving away from the group.

“Hey! I’m talking to you, bitch!”

She could hear a snickering coming from behind her, but as she was turning to see what they were doing, she got smacked in the face. Whatever it was that hit her, it bursted, splashing her with something. The impact made her fall over, and whatever the liquid was, it stung her eyes. Her head smacked the ground, though she manage to absorb most of the fall with the rest of her body first. She heard more snickers, and felt feet move past her. No one offered her any help to get up.

“Don’t turn your back on me, slut.”

The smell of citrus moved through the air. Orange soda. Scout gave a grunt, trying to push herself up, but as soon as she put pressure on her wrist, pain shot from it and through her arm, making her collapse again. She tried again, only using the one hand this time.

When she finally got to her feet, she started moving again, away from her locker. She didn’t even look to see if they were still there. Even if they weren’t, she didn’t want to deal with whatever ‘surprise’ had been left in her locker. The only thing she had in there was a few school books. Nothing too important.

The rest of the way home was slow, but quiet. She walked the mile and a half there was in between her house and her school. Her face still stung from the impact of the soda balloon. A large welt would be there soon, if there wasn’t one already. She touched the spot gently, with her good hand. The spot was warm and sticky. Probably orange, but she couldn’t really see it. Her shirt had an orange stain running down the side, and her arm had splotches of orange on it.

As soon as Scout had gotten to her house, she went to her room. The door slammed shut, and she let out a scream. She used her one good hand to hurl her backpack, though it didn’t go far. It toppled into her desk, making it wobble slightly.

She grabbed a pillow from her bed, beating the wall with it. It didn’t help much, but it did let her release some of her anger, before she released it on a person. The pillow tore where she held it, the rest of it spinning off a few feet away. She threw the ruined edge to the ground and collapsed on her bed.

She kept telling herself that one day she’d get her revenge, by being better than them, being successful. But every time she told that to herself it seemed to lose more meaning. She wasn’t going to be successful even if those girls were tormenting her everyday. Even without them, she’d only gotten Cs or lower.

Scout couldn’t tell how much time had passed that she’d been sitting there, but she finally got up. She moved to her desk, ignoring her worn-down backpack, and turned on her computer. It booted quickly, bringing up her home screen in seconds.

As soon as she got on, she opened a chat.


It took a couple of minutes before she got a reply, but that was normal.

You wanna get on Zerailn?”

They had planned to play today, since it was the end of the school week. It was one of the only things she’d looked forward to.

“Yea, I’ll get on right now.”

She moved to pick up the VR Machine, making sure to use her hurt hand carefully. She checked the chat before she put on the helmet.

“I’ll be there in a sec.
I’m gonna get a snack real quick before I play.”

She gave a shrug, fitting the helmet over her head as she moved to the specialized chair that came with the device. She leaned back carefully, and switched the console on. A sigh escaped her lips as it whirred to life. She was headed to her escape, and in a few minutes, it would be perfect.

“Choose your character.”

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