Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cheat Codes for Life by M. C. Pearson

Well, here's chapter one of my WIP (Work-in-Progress), Cheat Codes for Life. I'm at 12,000 words now. I thought you might enjoy a taste of it. I plan to finish it by the end of summer and start on rewrites in the fall. Hopefully, we can publish this one next year along with F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Be Careful What You Wish For.

Hope you enjoy! Would love to hear what you think. It is in first person, present tense. Let me know if you think it would read better in past tense.

Also keep in mind that this is an unedited version. Thanks!

Chapter One

I’m not your stereotypical make-up crazed, ‘gotta have my cell-phone charged in case he calls’, teenaged girl. So not into the style and gossip scene. If that’s what you’re looking for here, you might as well get a teeny-bopper magazine instead. I’m a gamer. Tomboy to the core, into sci-fi and fantasy. Guess you can blame it on my not having a mom. She died of cancer not long after birthing my Bothersome Baby Brother (The BBB). Being raised by a guy whose claim to fame is that he saw Star Wars: A New Hope on the first day of release after standing in line for six hours in the sun tends to warp a girl. Not that I’m complaining. Okay, I am. But only a little.

“Sarah? Are you coming to your brother’s soccer game or not?” Dad’s voice booms through the house. He must be at the front door.

I pause my typing. “Naw. I have loads of schoolwork to do,” I lie. Well, sort of lie. I do have a pile of unfinished reports and reading, but I do not intend on doing them. Yet.

Corey, the aforementioned BBB, pushes his nosey face into my room. “She’s playing on the computer, Dad.” He sticks out his tongue and runs. As if I’m going to fall for that one. Sheesh.

I quickly type: Where’s the delete key for younger brothers?

Uh-oh. Footsteps are coming down the hall, and they don’t sound like a 7-year-old’s. I shrink the chat room window and flick off the sound. A month-old, unfinished algebra assignment pops up. I keep it there for emergencies such as these.

Dad’s face appears. He looks haggard. Good. Means he won’t ask too many questions. He squints at my computer screen. “Math still giving you trouble?”

“Not too bad. Mrs. Sanders just assigns so much of it.” I sigh pathetically, then point at my real pile of homework. “And English Lit has me doing a paper on Animal Farm.” Note: I haven’t finished reading the stupid book. I mean, really. Who cares about talking pigs in a barnyard?

Dad glances at his watch. I don’t think he’s even heard a word. “All right, sweetheart. The game will last about an hour. Then I’ll run by the pizza place to pick up dinner. We’ll be home around seven-thirty.

I nod. Cool. Two and a half-hours to chat and game. Gotta love the Internet.

Dad walks away. I hear him yell something to Corey about shin guards and a mouthpiece. The door opens and closes. I’m free.

I pull my stringy brown hair into a ponytail, turn the sound back on, and maximize the chat room. Three gamers have already replied. My message is on top of the screen with their comments underneath.

Gamergirl: Where’s the delete key for younger brothers?

Brn2bbad: Just get him into Roving Menace. You’ll never see him again. LOL.

Lnwlf: Some days I wish I had a brother… then I wake up and shiver.

Stan: Go to shamanofthesacredshrine.gam Sending password via e-mail…

Okay, a bit off subject, but I won’t argue about getting a new place to play. I enter the site. Only a black screen with a flashing red cursor.

I hear the beloved ‘ping’ from my inbox. New gaming spot. I’m in. I click on the blue envelope in the right corner of my screen. The message contains only six letters: dltebr. I highlight and right click to copy it.

I paste the password where the cursor flashes and press enter. Strange shapes—stars?—and circles fill the screen. Black, white, and red. Very Gothic. I roll my chair closer.

“Your code has been accepted,” the computer says in a gravelly voice. “Make the world yours… luxuria, gula, avaritia, acedia, ira, invidia, superbia… press the icon you wish to pursue first.”

Seven buttons appear. The first has lips in a kissing pucker. The second has a fork and knife. A dollar sign shows up on the third button. The forth displays three ZZZ’s. Number five looks like old-timey scales. Six is a box with a ribbon around it: a present. An antique hand-held mirror decorates the seventh button. It looks so pretty. I’ve always wanted one of those, reminds me of mom. Choices, choices, choices.

The scales button looks like it had already been selected, highlighted by a darker gray than the other buttons. I decide to investigate by pressing the scales. The screen fades as a new page opens. A man’s voice says, “Ira, 5/6 turns remaining.” The spoken words appear in big red letters near the middle of the screen.

“Huh?” I frown at the screen. “That’s not fair!” Yeah, I sound like Corey, but still. I press the return to choices button on the bottom right corner.

The screen waves in jiggly lines. A question appears as the same gravelly voice asks, “What do you desire?” A cursor flashes red, awaiting my answer.

I type: Explain game rules.

Gravel voice replies, “There are no rules. What do you desire?”

A game without rules. My fingers go quickly: How do I play?

“Input your desires.” Gravel sounds irritated. It freaks me out a bit that his voice says the answers as I read them.

I tap out: What is the purpose of the game?

“To get what you desire.”

I feel like I’m in one of those pre-graphics games that Infocom used to put out. Those ones where you start out in the dark and you have to type in ‘open eyes’ then it gives you some weird description of your surroundings, usually a cave or a labyrinth of some sort. I’m intrigued. Maybe I’m supposed to go through a door?

I type: Look for open door.

Gravel chuckles. Really. He is laughing at me like he’s a real person. “To open doors, input your desire.”

What is he? A philosopher or something? Fine. Okay, I wouldn’t mind being a bit more popular than I am. I’ve always been a tad jealous of Brittany. She seems to have it all: friends, good looks, cute boyfriend…not that I want all that. Well, maybe just a little. Why not? I type: Popularity.

A new screen appears with an IM screen on the bottom. The top is filled with bows. A name appears in the IM box.

“LeviTan: try the code: pplrgl,” a slippery voice says the words.

I feel a chill down my spine. Spooky.

At the flashing red line I type the password.

The seven buttons fade in on the top right corner of the screen. The sixth button, the one with the present, turns dark gray. I press it.

LeviTan’s voice, a very greasy thing, whispers, “Invidia 5/6 turns remaining.”

Aha. So the password takes up a turn. But what does it actually do? I don’t see any change in the game. Maybe I’m not doing it right. I return to the main menu and wait for the IM screen to show. There it is, the red cursor. I type: Show game results.

Gravel is back again. Good. I like his voice a little more than LeviTan’s. That guy reminded me of a snake. “Look around to discover the results.”

Why do I feel like I’m talking to a real person? It’s a game…right? “Look around where?”

“Input your desires.”

Rolling my eyes, they settle on the stack of school assignments. I snicker as I type: I want my homework to be magically finished.

A new IM box appears at the bottom. This one has sheep jumping over a sleeping cartoon guy on a pillow. Some weirdly hypnotic song starts playing. Words pop up and a lazy sounding voice grumpily says, “Belphgr: Type in hmwkdn”

I do it. The button with the ZZZ’s turns a dark gray. Sure enough, when I press it, Grumpy Belphgr says, “Acedia, 5/6 turns remaining.”

Hmm. Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. I go back to the main screen where Stan awaits me in the IM box. I type: Show me what Luxuria means.

My screen darkens and a little movie comes on. The typical guy and girl kissing on the beach, rolling around in the sand kind of thing. When the movie ends, the IM box reappears.

I type: Show me Avaritia.

This time it’s a movie with a woman in a glittery evening gown, lots of jewels, and a mink coat getting into a Porche. Nice ride.

Stan then shows me a movie on Acedia where a guy in a hammock swings and dozes as someone brings him things. I wouldn’t mind that.

Ira is next. Some warlord seeking revenge comes on the screen.

I ask about Invidia. The movie clip is about some chick seeing everyone getting more than she does. In the end, she ends up with it all. Pretty cool.

Superbia’s movie has a guy who hates to be embarrassed and wants to make sure that he is better than everyone else.

Finally I ask about Gula. So much food, desserts, and drinks. Like some all-you-can-eat cooking show.

Yeah, this is getting old. My stomach growls, and I glance at the clock. What? I’ve been piddling around this site for over two hours. That can’t be right. I look at my wall clock. It agrees with my computer. Back at the main screen I type: I’m starving. What I wouldn’t do for a combination pizza, loaded bread sticks, root beer, and a banana split right now.

I’m feeling a bit giddy because this is just the stupidest game I’ve ever been on. I bet it is some Trojan horse deal and some jerk is downloading all my personal information. Too bad I’m a dirt-poor kid. Ha ha.

A loud, almost insanely jolly voice barks out with the message, “Belzbub: A wonderful choice. Type in pzaspt.”

Just because I’m bored, I do it. The fork and knife icon turns a darker shade, and, of course, I press it.

The freakishly happy Belzbub says, “Gula: 5/6 turns remaining.”

Whatever. I’m bummed. I wasted choice gaming time on this crock. I exit, and turn off my computer. Just in time too. Dad’s keys are jingling in the lock. I jump on my bed and grab the nearest assignment from my mammoth pile. I glance it over as I grab for a pencil, but stop in mid stretch. When did I finish this? Hmph. Must’ve been in homeroom. I lift the next assignment. It‘s finished too. What? I grab the entire pile…not an easy feat from a sitting position. It is all finished. Even that dumb Animal Farm report.

Dad’s voice calls out, “Sweetheart? I’m home.”

I smile. Looks like this is going to be a good night after all.

1 comment:

Jaime said...

I thought you were publishing Fairies this year??