Laura liked her friends, very much, and it would be a pity if any of them were to die.
They were a clique, like any other. It was typical, teenage behaviour. Form close-minded, closed-doored social groups with narrow focuses of interest. And let everyone 'thrive' among their respective group. It worked, in principal.
Laura had friends, but was not a cheerleader. She liked sports, though never enough to dance around one in a skimpy outfit. Nor was she an athlete, as competitive as she could be. She simply did not want sweaty, grueling chunks of her day absorbed by a muddy field.
Laura was bright. She had academic brainpower, however, it was joined at the hip with a tendency towards procrastination. Surviving by a 'me time is free time' motto, she did not study much. She did not need to. It might help her marks, but pulling them up from high seventies and low eighties into the nineties was not her concern.
She had adequate assets, and she liked attention as much as the next girl. However, Laura was not a tramp. She simply found it all chauvinistically degrading, to plaster her face with make-up and fill a push-up bra with cups.
Nor was she a computer geek, a Japanese-animation fangirl, a science-fiction-and-fantasy-devoted zombie or a bookworm. However, she dabbled in what she could. And she did have a label.
Laura Hamilton was a gamer, of all things. A video-game player. No, not the anti-social introvert who sits in front of their respective console without ever communicating with the outside world. And no, not the tench-coat wearing pessimist toting a Dungeons & Dragons set folded up in their backpack, and that happened to sign their student card 'High-Elf Prandor', 'Sir Halek the Paladin' or some such thing in a forgetful identity crisis.
Laura's friends were gamers too. Some of them, perhaps, more introverted than others. And others, who couldn't get through a single-player game if their life depended on it. And, yes, perhaps some of them, on some occasion, used their preferred aliases for their real names.
The school was large enough that she liked being able to fit into a little niche like this. And she even had a decent boyfriend - perhaps because Phillip was so thrilled to have an emotional and physical connection with someone that was coupled with their shared interests.
Yesterday, Andrew had given her four cartridges for the Nintendo Dual-Screen, or DS for short. They were blank. Not the kind she'd ever bought in the store. Where there should have been stickers labeling the title, there was a black X in permanent marker. The DS game cartridges were tiny, rectangular chunks of gray plastic, with metal teeth that slid into the portable, multi-player device. She'd questioned the oddity, then and there.
He had told her it was an excellent party-game. The kind you play with friends, to pass the time before exams when nobody wants to study. Or the kind you all play together at a sleep-over, late into the evening, when you should be sleeping. And when she had asked why they were untitled, he told her they were blank cartridges he'd downloaded. Not even licensed by Nintendo. To her, it seemed like a far-fetched, sketchy tale. However, she took the gift under his firm recommendation anyways.
Little did she know, Andrew had died three days earlier, that weekend. She did not know this. And thus, when Laura invited some friends over to play the mysterious game the next weekend, they assumed her passing reference of receiving the game from him 'on Thursday' was referring to the previous week. And they all missed Andrew. After all, it's no fun to lose your most devious, witty and cunning friend.
And, it would be a terrible, terrible pity if any more of her friends died.