Chapter One Part One

"So, what time's this meeting?"

Mandy looks up, surprised that Kai has not chosen a different time to ask this rather important question.

Mrs Pumpkin answers before Mandy has a chance to. "Five fifteen, and thirty two seconds. The Council does love to be ridiculously precise."

Kai rolls his eyes, tips his head back to stare at the ceiling and swears under his breath. He wonders whether agreeing to this in the first place was a good idea at all. But agreed he has, and he doubts the option to fall mysteriously ill will be available with a girl like Pumpkin in the room.

It is unclear why Pumpkin is a Mrs; she's certainly not married, being only thirteen. But for as long as Kai can remember, which to be honest isn't as long as he'd like, she's never been anything else. Perhaps it's because Miss Pumpkin or Ms Pumpkin don't sound right. He'll never know, as he's too afraid to ask her. He doesn't like her mismatched unnaturally coloured eyes, one of which is a deep vivid orange colour, and the other a velvety black. He isn't too keen on how she speaks, either, though he's less concerned as to how a teenager has the vocabulary of several above-average adults than he is about his own wishes, which mostly consist of food and trying to beat the final levels of Portal 13 and a remastered version of Highly Responsive To Prayers.

They are interrupted by the large digital display clock bleeping loudly, flashing out the time to remind them that tomorrow is the dawn of a new ma, and they are required to attend the parade in the Virtual Town's central area.

Mandy blinks from behind the frames of her SmartLenses and tells the clock, "Display time and location."

The screen flickers while it brings up both the time - displaying every unit from year right down to nanoseconds - and a realtime map showing their position in relation to the rest of the generated world.

Pumpkin's phone begins to buzz at her, and she looks at the screen to decide whether she wants to answer it or not. The caller is unknown, so she presses the button which will send a message to the caller telling them to come see her in person.

"I'm going to go take a nap.Don'tdisturb me," she says, glaring at Kai. He pretends not to notice and continues to wait for the computer to load the X and Z keys, which are currently missing. Last time he had attempted to disturb Pumpkin when she was sleeping, he had found her hanging from the ceiling by her neck, apparently dead. Although it's impossible to actually die in the VR, he still yelled like all hell had broken loose, waking most of the neighbours but surprisingly not Pumpkin. He had found out later that her generated self reacts to whatever she is dreaming about, and that if she doesn't want to be woken up it is virtually impossible to do so.

Mandy continues to stare at the screen, flicking things around with her eye movements, and waves slightly, not really concentrating.

Mrs Pumpkin disappears off to her slightly creepy bedroom and Kai, seeing that the keyboard has finally finished loading, starts up Highly Responsive To Prayers and begins shooting.

The End

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