The Unidentified
stress.”
    I looked at Mikey’s stress meter. It looked pink and happy.
    “You don’t seem too stressed-out.”
    “Nah, I don’t give a shit.” Mikey laughed and made his avatar try to climb out of the Pit.
    I looked back to Jeremy’s screen. His stress meter was ballooning.
    “Ah! Look out! Your stress levels are going from like red to purple? It looks…bad.”
    “Yeah,” Jeremy said, flicking his eyes to me for a millisecond. “But it’s OK, my shift is almost done. After work, I’ll get drunk and boink an intern. It’s the fastest way to reduce stress.”
    “That’s effed up,” I said. The girls behind Jeremy giggled nervously.
    “Mikey!” Jeremy yelled. “Learn to play or log out of the game! Your renegade trading is making investors lose confidence in the system.”
    “I know how to play,” Mikey said, clicking absentmindedly on a button.
    “What did you do?” Jeremy snapped.
    “What? Nothing.”
    “Mikey! What did you do ?”
    “I just sold all my stocks.”
    “Well, stop it. You’re causing a panic. Now everyone’s dropping their stocks. This is the cracked interactive version, and you’re effing up my game! Do you know how long it took me to inflate the value on those stocks?”
    “This is boring,” Mikey complained.
    I watched Jeremy, his attention still focused on the game. He bit his lip and squinted his eyes. I felt a little thrill to be this close to him.
    I daydreamed for a moment, imagining him being as interested in me as he was in the game. Then I noticed Mikey staring at me, and felt like I just got caught looking at puppy porn.
    I attempted to cover up my embarrassment by searching through my bag, wishing I could crawl inside it.
    “Mikey, shit,” I said, remembering something he’d find more interesting than my awkward infatuation. “There’s something I wanted to show you.” I took my notebook(r) out of my bag and opened it. “Did you see this?”
    I pulled up the Unidentified film from my page and played it for him.
    The people who had been watching the legendary Swift play video games gathered behind me to peek at the film too. I wondered how Jeremy could stand people hovering around him like that.
    I glanced back at Jeremy. I caught him looking at me.
    His rain-cloudy eyes seemed to see me for the first time. It made me hyper-self-conscious.
    I turned back to the film.
    Mikey frowned, still watching the screen. He watched the splatter. The crowd shot. Me on-screen.
    “That was kind of intense,” Mikey said at last. “Are you OK? How was it…you know, being there?”
    Mikey really surprised me sometimes. He could be totally, completely, stupidly insensitive, but then he could be the most sensitive. He was the only one who ever asked me how I felt and actually seemed to care about the answer.
    “I’m OK. It wasn’t real.”
    He looked back at the screen. “Yeah, but I bet it felt real.”

6 LOOK AND LISTEN
     
    Mikey and me logged out of the Arcade and squinted at the light streaming in from the skylight. The sky felt so close when you were up here on the fifth floor. We leaned against the railing where the dummy had been pushed.
    “I can’t believe someone would be vred enough to drop a body in the middle of the Game,” Mikey said, looking down into the Pit, leaning over the railing a little. He stood on one foot, stretched his arms out, ready for a Superman whoosh into the air below. “You think they’ll get caught?”
    “I saw who did it,” I blurted out.
    “Wow, you’re terrible at this. You’re supposed to build up suspense before the reveal. I know your Media Literacy scores are low, but I thought you’d at least—”
    “I’m not playing. I saw them.”
    “What?”
    “Well, I didn’t see who it was, but I saw them do it.
    There were two of them, or maybe more, now I don’t remember what I saw.”
    Mikey was quiet for a moment, then he said, “I can’t believe you actually saw it happen. I’m so jealous.”
    “What do you

Similar Books

Gone Bad

J. B. Turner

The O'Malley Brides

Stevie MacFarlane

Thin Love

Eden Butler

Isis

Douglas Clegg

Charlie's Key

Rob Mills

True Detectives

Jonathan Kellerman

Checked

Jennifer Jamelli

Pursuit

Karen Robards