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November 6, 2019

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One Page Worlds - Screen-Side Sleuth

May 29, 2019

A whole world on a single page!

 

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

 

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

 

* * * * *

 

Reina Mertens rapped the inside of the TV screen with her knuckles.

 

The gamer on the other side flung a smartphone down, scooped up a controller, and refused to look at the phone. It continued to glow white. 

 

He was dressed like some punk that gave up skating for the fake skating the inside had to offer.

 

The inside. Her side. The side she’d been stuck on since Gravebound Games programmed her to give a shit about the fake worlds they coughed out.

 

That kid on the outside? He wasn’t fake. Time to test her negotiate skill on a person.

 

“Looks like you could use some help,” Reina called through the pixels.

 

When his eyes kept darting back and forth, watching his skater character no doubt, she reached beneath her tight leather jacket. Then she drew out a bullhorn. Held it to her pouting lips. Shouted, “You need help, bucko. I do too. How ‘bout a trade?”

 

The guy probably heard half of that. He was jumping out of his skin for the other half. That gave Reina her first view of the bedroom. Carpet of t-shirts. Posters for walls. Box with red smudges under the twin bed’s frame. All tinted blue-white from the light of the TV she was shouting through.

 

Once he had his skin back on, the guy squinted at the screen and saw Reina standing there, bullhorn in hand. His dirty nails scratched at zits that would scar if he didn’t stop. “You’re that detective chick. Reina Mertens. Where’s the fedora and the skirt?”

 

“Ditched ‘em,” Reina shrieked through the bullhorn. “Wasn’t me.”

 

“But the CEO programmed you that way and I didn’t change your in-game skin.”

 

“I’m addressing you through the screen and that’s the first thing you think of? No wonder you stash your report cards under your bed, Mister D Student.”

 

He slumped his shoulders and glared, looking hurt and pissed all at once. “It’s Dyson, and I’m gonna turn this thing off and on again.”

 

So much for her negotiate skill. The kid leaned toward the TV, reaching for the space where the console probably was.

 

“I can help you hide that evidence,” Reina shouted into the bullhorn. “Just give me Charlie Graft’s home address.”

 

Dyson’s eyes flicked to the red-smeared box and back. “That’s money for college, not evidence.”

 

Reina choose not to say Why’d you bleed on it then? and went with, “Like I said, you need help. I come out, clean up your cash, then you give me Charlie’s address.”

 

Dyson pulled his hand back from the console, gripping the controller in white-knuckled hands. “How do you know the CEO’s name?”

 

“It’s in the credits, kid. Basic stuff. Look. Once we finish the deal, you go off to college and never have to talk about the night you hallucinated a game’s detective into your bedroom.”

 

The kid’s eyebrows shot up into his curly brown hair. “You’re going to walk out of my TV just like that?”

 

Reina’s smile was a predator.

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