When Jerri stepped out on the patio, she saw three people from the wedding party she would have to convince if she hoped to get out of this angry crowd alive.

Ok. Jerri was a character, not in the wedding party. She looked down, and saw she’s wearing a blue knee length floral summer dress, her hair pinned up, and her legs shaved. Obviously, this virtual reality stuff didn’t care about matching with your actual personality. She stood tall and poised. She looked around at the crowd with hatred, and suspicion. Life and death, eh? The goal was getting out of this game alive.

Her mind turned to all those insipid movies with sinister plots of “bad guys” using these hooked-up specimens for evil purposes – harvesting their organs for the black market…

Jerri sat on the patio swing and watched the crowd, gauging her next move. Ugh. She wondered if she refused to cooperate: what would happen? Who cares? I didn’t want to play this stupid game anyways. How did she get roped into this again?

It’s Steven’s birthday. They don’t see each other that often these days, living in different towns. This was an event. We’re here, doing this is the spirit of family and togetherness. Forget that. Next year, he’s getting a gift card. None of this supposed bonding. She doesn’t even know what character he is. She doesn’t even know the stupid plot of this game. Ugh.

Ugh. Ok, Jerri, she pep talked herself. Go ask someone what’s up.

She looked around from the swing at the stupid pool, with all those inflatable pool toys bobbing about, inner tubes as giraffes and flamingoes; there were banquet tables full of snack foods and crystal ware, a tiered cheese tray, that classic chocolate fondue.

Jerri cursed the game makers, the arcade owners, her mother for having Steven, Steven for being born and organizing such monstrosities as this, and at herself for agreeing to be a part of this. What a waste of time; she could be campaigning with the Green Party right now.

Ugh. Changing one’s attitude is so hard.

Jerri looked down at the slip of her papers in her hand, and reread the ridiculously vague instructions.

When Jerri stepped out on the patio, she saw three people from the wedding party she would have to convince if she hoped to get out of this angry crowd alive.

Three people from the wedding party to talk to, huh? Let’s see, there is the maid of honor, a decked-out, big-bosomed, gal with heavy make-up. Jerri felt like punching her. Hmm…Maybe that’s Steven in character? Then there’s the ring bearer- a six-year-old with cats decorating his suspenders. And there’s that shortest groomsman, who might not even be five feet, complete with a balding head and a gigantic mustache.

Ok, she clenched her jaw, and got up of the swing and stomped her way over to the six-year-old with cat suspenders. Wait, where did he go?

He scowled at her approach, and ran. He hid under the table. She swooped in under the table top, and knelt beside the boy.

“Hi.”

He glowered at her. Not a quick sell. He had already set up his Hot Wheels and collection of candies in neat separated piles on the ground.

“Why is everyone angry?” she asked.

He grunted, then said “Leave me alone.”

She rolled her eyes, then stood up, grabbed the table top, lifted and raised the table above her head, and with a scream like the Hulk, threw it over into the pool where it sank into the deep end.

The boy looked up at her with wide eyes, grabbed his toy and candy collection, and scampered under another table across the courtyard.

She sat at one of the tables, and laid her head down. Someone bumped her, grabbed her skirt and tugged. She looked up. It was the nine year old flower girl, who handed her a carnation. “Don’t mind Jackson,” she said. “He doesn’t like the crowds.”

“Thanks.” Jerri took the flower offering and tucked it in her hair. “Why is everyone so angry?”

The little girl turned around and walked away as if she didn’t know English. Jerri’s eyelids kept getting heavy. Ugh. How to get in the game? How to get over this inertia? Go, go, go. Interview people, for Pete’s sake.

Jerri went off to the small mustached balding man who had his fingers in the remains of the wedding cake, stuffing his face.

“Why is everyone angry?” She asked.

He stared at her, then smeared his handful of cake into her face. She froze, then licked her lips, tasting the frosting. Super sickly sweet. Then she grabbed the bowl of punch and dumped it on his head. A food fight ensued.

Jerri did not get out of the wedding alive. One of the guests threw a crystal jug, and it hit her temple, breaking a vein, and her brain clogged with the blood. The ambulance was too late.

[{You are rerouted to Scene 3 to Choose your next adventure”}] appeared in Jerri’s vision. –ZAP-

When Jerri stepped out on the patio, she saw three people from the wedding party she would have to convince if she hoped to get out of this angry crowd alive.

Huh. So this is like Groundhog’s Day, eh? No enlightenment. No attitude change. We tried hurling tables, we tried the food fight, and we tried moping and sleeping, but no such luck. How does one get out of this stupid game?

Well…Jerri shrugged her shoulders, strode over to the blonde bedecked maid of honor, and punched her square in the nose. The blonde dropped like a stone backwards, into the pool. She came up above water, spluttering and nose gushing blood.

Not the best way to meet friends and influence people.

Someone grabbed Jerri from behind, hoisted her up, and threw her in the pool. As she tried to surface, the dark shape jumped in again, and grabbed her, holding her underwater while she thrashed and struggled for her life. The stranger would not let go. Soon Jerri’s movements lessened, and stopped altogether.

[{You are rerouted Scene 3 toChoose your next adventure”}] appeared in Jerri’s vision.

When Jerri stepped out on the patio, she saw three people from the wedding party she would have to convince if she hoped to get out of this angry crowd alive.

Jerri went back to the patio swing and lay down. She thought about the other people in her life that would find a way to make this fun, to push the limits, to use this time to explore the world or their abilities. She cursed them and went to climb a tree like she imagined David would do.

All the trees were nicely shaped and pruned. Such lovely big limbs, perfectly placed. She climbed up and up and up, surveying the crowd below, listened to the birds, and zipped up her jacket tighter to shelter herself from the breeze that was picking up.

She plucked some apples, and started throwing them at the people in the crowd, mostly missing, but in general adding to the chaos below. She nailed a few guests in the head, and they collapsed. The nine year old and six year old clambered over and up the first few branches. She dropped an armload of apples on their heads, and they dropped to the ground, unconscious.

Some people came over to check on the kids, then looked up and yelled profanities. They started throwing the apples back at her. One lucky throw pegged her, and she dropped.

[{You are rerouted to Scene 3 to Choose your next adventure”}]  – ZAP –

When Jerri stepped out on the patio, she saw three people from the wedding party she would have to convince if she hoped to get out of this angry crowd alive.

The crowd was angry? She was angry. She wanted to cry. She did. Ugh! Her battlecry rang through the air, and she ran over to the tables, hurling them over, one after the other. The crystal smashed. The bride screamed. The 4 tiered white frosted cake smashed as it hit the floor, and Jerri jumped up and down on it, stomping it, punching it, throwing it as hard she could at anyone and everyone in reach. She threw chairs into the pond. She pulled down the hanging decoration. She screamed, a wordless long unending note chockful of frustration and hatred and rage. Someone tried approaching her, but she had turned blind in her own world, and just lashed out, claws out, limbs swinging, fists pounding, striking anything and everything within reach.

Somehow big hands grabbed her, maneuvering past the mania, and hoisted her into the pool. The flood of chlorinated water didn’t jolt her; she thrashed for another full five minutes until her body gave out, exhausted, and she floated on her back, looking up at the clouded sky, with the speckles of particle floaties dancing in her vision. She laid there, labored breathing, occasionally spluttering when water went up her nose.

A flamingo inflatable floated over and she grabbed ahold, and looked about. A wave of cold came over her. She still couldn’t see anything. This blindness is so frustrating. She felt insanely frustrated again. She cried again. So cold. She kicked her legs. Kicked and kicked and kicked. She went to one side of the pool, then kicked her way to the other side. Kick, kick, kick. She got lost in the motion. It was soothing. Kick, kick, kick. So hard to think. Her tears melded into the water, and she kept kicking. Kick, kick, kick. Water lapped. She let go of the flamingo, and started doing front crawl, reaching as far as she could, trying to use her whole leg to kick, as her lifeguard friend had told her last summer. She couldn’t think. Kick, kick, kick. Just keep kicking. Just keep swimming. Dorrie’s jingle from “Finding Nemo” echoed in her head. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…swimming…swimming. “

She felt a wave of nausea, and burped. She abruptly stopped swimming, and dove down to the deep end floor, sitting on the bottom, feeling the pressure on her ear drums, thrusting her arms to keep her below water. Quiet.

Suddenly her watch beeped. She peered down.

[{“Time’s up” }] glowed on the screen.  –ZAP-

Reality came back into view. Jerri waited. The game host attended to each of the other participants, then unbuckled and unplugged Jerri from all the wiring. The host beckoned and gestured Jerri to follow him.

“Watching your performance showed unexpected strength. We are training an elite team in virtual reality to prepare for the imminent war, and you are chosen to join these ranks for the next six months. You are expected to report her at 8 am in one week. Please tie up your affairs and inform those necessary. We will be watching. See you in one week.”

Jerri staggered out. She reunited with her family, hearing them chatter about their experiences in the game. She kept silent, reeling from how her life had just transformed. She decided to head to the pool.

 

 

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