Recently I started cranking out flash fiction, just for fun. This kind of thing is how writers sometimes relax; pulling together a short piece, usually around 1,400-1,500 words. Mine are all going up on Reddit, because Reddit’s a major thing for me when it comes to the internet. Also, there’s a fairly vibrant sub for Writing Prompts that is a pretty steady flow of ideas to run with. Find something that sparks my fingers to start typing, and about half an hour later, poof; finished flash fiction piece. I call them flash fiction because, to me, even a “short story” is going to be at least three or four thousand words. Your mileage may vary. Anyway, enjoy.
This one’s called Proud Download. The prompt was “you’re a boss in a game waiting for the hero.”
“Gene, you there?”
“I keep telling you, it’s Genaro the Mighty.”
“So you’re not busy?”
“What do you want?” Genaro said, trying to ignore the teasing tone in Filipe’s voice. The other boss didn’t actually care what he was called; which was his problem. Not Genaro’s.
“Do you want to join us in general chat? Or at least the Boss channel? I know, believe me, how lame some of the cannon fodder can get at times, but you could still talk to us bosses.”
“No. I must remain ready.”
Filipe laughed. “Oh please, you’re still serious about that?”
“My task is to defend the Pyramid of Sacrifice and hold it in readiness for—”
“Dude, how many times do we need to remind you; this is just a game.”
“If you wish to shirk your duties, that is your affair.” Genaro said stiffly. He looked around. From the top of the Pyramid he had an excellent vantage point. The savannah surrounding the structure was desolate, with little in the way of cover to shield any attempt at a stealthy attack. He was ready.
“Why don’t you just switch into the Boss channel. It’s not healthy to sit out there all by yourself.”
“—remain ready, yeah. Look, is there some reason you can’t talk to the rest of us and keep a watch for trouble at the same time?”
Genaro frowned. “My task is vital.”
“Genaro the Mighty.” Genaro interrupted.
“Right.” Filipe said. Genaro was certain he heard a snicker in the other boss’ voice. “We’ve been here for two months, okay? This is only your first week. The player, the one who owns our installation of the game, is a fucking moron. He can only beat us when his girlfriend comes over and does the hard parts for him.”
“What if she were to arrive suddenly?” Genaro asked. Perhaps Filipe could be of use after all, in some small way. News of the players’ skills was always welcome.
“She only comes over on Tuesdays and Thursday. Weekends they spend at her house, because her parents always leave on camping trips.”
“Nevertheless, I must remain ready.” Genaro said, fingering the blood stained edge on his great axe. That blade was forged from a fallen star, blessed by the Dark Lord himself. Genaro would not fail him. The Dark Lord did not tolerate failure.
“Sam is watching the player right now. He’s stuck on the Mines of Mithra again. In the puzzle maze. Why he doesn’t look up a solution, or at least write down the one he finds, is beyond us, but whatever. Sam knows right where he is, and you’re okay for a while. He’s at least three bosses away from your region, and it takes twelve minutes even for a speedrunner — which this kid ain’t, believe me — to cross from the edge of your DLC to you.”
“You should all be watching for the player.” Genaro said as he swept his eyes across the horizon. The groups of outlying blood centaurs that screened the Pyramid’s approaches seemed to be doing the same. Good. Just as Genaro’s liege did not brook lapses, neither did Genaro from his underlings.
“Are you even listening to me? He’s in the Mines. You’re clear. We’re all clear, except Scally, and he can swing into action before the player gets even two steps past the door to his room. That’s if Sam doesn’t warn him if the player manages to get to the center of the maze.”
Genaro said nothing. Just continued his steady survey of the horizon. Watching for trouble.
Filipe finally laughed. “Okay, whatever dude. Your loss. But we’re playing Game Code trivia, and in a little while one of the IRC chat bots was going to drop by and share the latest gossip. It’ll be fun.”
The direct channel pinged softly in Genaro’s ear as Filipe signed off. Presumably back to the more interactive communication channels. Fool. Good help was so hard to find these days. Genaro would not be found wanting. He fingered the edge of the axe again, and continued watching.
Players could be sneaky.