Episode Twelve

August 1, 2010

Poking Around

Pokemondius “Poke” Flack was a fairly oblivious sort of guy. Most of his life, things had just sort of fallen in his lap, and he considered himself pretty lucky. Luck, however was not actually on his side. Truth be told, Luck wasn’t the biggest fan of guys whose futures were handed to them on a silver platter. Despite Lady Luck’s constant attempts to thwart him by infusing him with copious amounts of apathy and laziness, he continued to get by just fine.

When it came to Poke’s gaming, the laziness just sort of fell away. It was so natural to be a leader among the elves, witches, gnomes, and fizzlewarts of the gaming realm. There was just something about logging into a character and becoming someone powerful that really made Poke enjoy taking on an alpha role. He quickly rose to the top position in his guild, and for two years captained a league of misfits to the top of the PvP leader-boards.

Poke’s preferred character in the game was an orange-coated Fizzlewart named “Goldfingers.” Goldfingers was well known throughout the realm, Blustingburg Heights server, which was a city-scape realm filled with mystical creatures. He had garnered a reputation for being as ruthless as he was cunning. Not only could he tear apart an opponent in record time, but he had a knack for shredding their self-esteem with well-played quips and insults as beat them to a bloody pulp.

Poke didn’t particularly enjoy being mean to folks, but in the game, it was sort of funny to be this cute little fuzzy critter who no one would expect of such vile behavior. He may have been seen as a bit of a loser in the real world, but in the game, he felt like he was finally somebody. It was all he could do to go to work every day, and trudge through, pretending to give an iota of a crap. Nothing felt quite as good as arriving home and logging in to be surrounded by his guild mates, who all seemed to worship him as they applauded him on his latest conquest, and showered him with gifts and praise.

In the real world, Poke kept to himself a lot. His parents rarely saw much of him, other than the blur on his way in the front door and down to his basement domicile. So when Poke arrived home from work one day to find his mother waiting for him, he was a little confounded and annoyed.

“Son, we need to have a chat,” his mother informed him, and gestured to the sofa across from her seat in the big comfy chair in the parlor.

He sat down hard with a sigh, expecting her to finally have cornered him for the talk that would inevitably lead to his moving out of the basement and out on his own.

However, that was not on her agenda.

“We’re going to have a house guest,” she informed him, “and as most of the house will be under renovation for the next few months, upgrading and everything,” she trailed off as she noticed his deep frown and confusion.

“What upgrades?” He asked, assuming they were cementing in his basement or something so he couldn’t return once he was out on his own.

“I told you about that,” she sighed, as he never listened to anything she said. “Your father and I are re-doing the upstairs. But that’s besides the point, there’s an intern coming around in the next few days, and I’m sorry, but you’ll have to share your space downstairs just for a little while.”

He wanted to protest, but this might not be so bad. It might be nice to have another dude to talk to about the game and such, and if he didn’t play, he would once he got there. There wasn’t much else to do to pass the time in Scurvytown, after all.

“For how long?” Poke asked, shoving a cookie in his mouth from heaping plate on the coffee table.

“It’s one of those 3-month internships through the company,” she said, matter-of-factly.

Poke nodded, and that was the end of that conversation. He wandered back downstairs, not thinking much of it. A few days later, his mother sullenly called downstairs for him. She sounded kind of angry, and a little drunk.

He ran upstairs to see what she wanted. He had barely cleared the top step when she spoke.

“Son, I need you to go to the Boneyard and collect my intern. There was some kind of mix-up at the Welcome Center, and they’ve sent a girl, who immediately fell into the clutches of ne’er-do-wells. I’m afraid they’ll have her interning over at the brothel before we can get her over here.”

“Jeez,” Poke said, shaking his head. “I guess I can go down there and get her,” he said, grabbing his jacket from the hook on the wall.

His mother took a drink of her Long Island Lemonade, and sighed happily. She loved it when her plotting and scheming came to fruition.

Poke jumped onto the back of his little orange scooter, and put his helmet on. Finally, a real life quest! As he rode down the gravelly path, he realized he should have asked his mother what the intern looked like, other than the nondescript “not-a-dude.” But then again, new folks were a rarity in Scurvytown, so it wouldn’t be hard to find her at the bar.

He could have simply walked to the bar from the house, but saving the girl via scooter as his mount seemed much more heroic. Speed was everything in heroics, and anyway, walking was for lower level n00bs without mounts, not elites at a maxed out level with every cool creature and feature in the game unlocked and awesomed out.

Poke wasn’t the most frequent patron of the bar, but he liked to tag along with Smoke on a quest once a month, and the bar always capped off that little adventure, which was fine. It sort of reminded him of every game of Questioneers he and his old high school chums had played back in the day. He missed those guys, but they had all gone to the mainland for college and the so-called adventure that was real life.

He parked his scooter along the long row of much less geeky modes of transport: a row of more sophisticated scooters and a few giant motorcycles, any one of which could have taken a bite out of his little orange scooter like it was cotton candy. Amidst the snickering and sidelong glances, which Poke was impervious to after years of building up resistance, he marched into the Boneyard with his head held high.

He sat down at the end of the bar and waited for the regular girl Friday to come over and take his order. Janet would be the perfect place to start, since she worked at the Welcome Center, and was most likely the source of the error that had his mother’s intern somehow captive at the bar. As he waited, he daydreamed about sneaking into some back room, to find the girl chained to the wall, the grateful look on her face as he picked the locks (dexterity +15!) and saved her.

He was broken out of his reverie by a female voice asking him, “What’s your poison, sailor?”

He snapped to attention, but it wasn’t Janet asking the question, it was a young, somewhat familiar looking cute girl with a bright smile and big green eyes. He almost fell off his bar stool, but as that wouldn’t have been very heroic, he steadied himself, and managed to squeak out, “Bourbon, on the rocks.”

“Ah, a pussy’s quaff,” she said, winking.

He stammered a confused “W-w-w-w-what?”

She pointed to the blackboard and explained, “We’ve been tweaking the drinks menu, what do you think?”

He looked at the board and noticed that most of the harder drinks had been re-named degrading things like “Pussy’s Quaff, The Queefer, and Bone Killa.” All the girlier drinks like the wines and fruity pink drinks had been dubbed names like, “The Chesty, Pussy Magnet, and Bone Zilla.”

“Ah, inventory control again?” Poke said.

“Yeah, we get backlogged on wines and margarita mix, and plus there’s an extra tax on cases of bourbon this week, so we’re watering all that stuff down. You wanna get your buzz on? Fruity girly drinks is the way to go.”

“Actually not here for a drink,” he said, boldly. “Here for a girl.”

She threw her head back and laughed. Poke’s heart sunk a bit and he reminded himself he was on a quest, this was just like the game, no need to get all pansified.

The girl leaned in and whispered to him, “There’s a table of ladies right over there.”

She was gesturing to a table of aging hipsters (for what was the Boneyard but a hipster bar through and though?) who were holding a meeting for the Peri-Menopause Society (calling themselves PMS for short). Poke didn’t notice where she was pointing because he couldn’t stop looking down her top as she leaned over. It wasn’t just because she was a hot girl, she was also fairly freckly, and he had gotten caught up in counting freckles as he peered down her blouse.

“Eyes on the prize, eh?” She said, slumping back behind the bar.

“So about that drink?” he changed the subject, blushing.

“Gotta order it from the sign,” she said, smiling.

“Oh, then I’ll go for the Bone Zilla I guess?”

“Man after my own heart,” she said with a wink, then turned to make him a Cosmopolitan.

“So, you’re new here, right?” He asked.

“Yup, just moved here from the mainland this week. It’s been kind of a nightmare, to be honest, mix-ups with my citizenship paperwork and all, so I am working here for room and board until it gets sorted out. Apparently the council is a bit backlogged, so they said it could be as long as a month before I can get started on the internship I came here for.”

“I might be able to help you out with that,” Poke said, taking a sip of his Cosmo with his pinky finger extended.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah, I sort of know the person in charge of internships, so I could talk to them and see if they could expedite things.”

“That’d would be, like, stellar and stuff,” she grinned.

This was proving easier than he thought.

“If you want to come with me after your shift is over, I can take you straight there,” he offered.

“Why wait?” she asked, tossing a bar rag down on the counter. “I didn’t spend four years at university to end up pulling pints and inventing vulgar names for cocktails. Which, ‘tail of the cock that bit you’ is a good one, come to think of it.”

Poke polished off his Cosmo and they walked to the front door nonchalantly. He pulled the door open and was met with a frosty blast of air in the face.

“Oh right,” the girl shouted to him above the roar of the icy roaring wind. “The ghosts have me on lockdown!”

“I’ll find another way!” Poke shouted to her, bracing himself against the wind and stepping outside. As he turned back to tell her to wait for him, the doors slammed shut in his face.

He ran to his scooter, jammed the helmet on, and whizzed off in the direction of his parents’ house. His mind was racing with ways to save the girl, and he wasn’t proud to admit it, but he was pretty sure he was going to need his mother’s help on this particular quest.

This episode went live on Sunday, August 1, 2010.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, to see if Poke can save the girl, or if he truly needs his mommy’s help.

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