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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 28 page 18

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Joey entered his room with a hot microwave dinner in hand. He switched on his computer, grabbed his headset and clicked the icons for Discord and Valkyrie’s Peak. Joey avoided messages from his teammates, knowing they’d still be dwelling on how he and Yoojin messed up the castle raid. Instead Joey wandered around an isolated section of the Valkyrie’s Peak map and hunted low-level creatures while he ate his economy meal.

Half an hour later, Discord began going haywire. Joey rolled his eyes as he clicked on the name Merida.

“I know you hiding ’cause we lose game.”

Joey scoffed. “I’m not hiding from anything. I just felt like being alone.”

“Well if you are finish feeling sorry for yourself how about we do mission?”

“I want a break from the team,” Joey said as he moved through a colourful forest. His Morpha avatar circled around a grandfather tree. Merida appeared from the other side and knocked Morpha down.

“What the hell?!” Joey said raising his avatar up from the ground.

“Let’s do mission together, Morpha. Collect XP.” By which she meant collect experience points in the game so you can advance to other levels.

“You’ve been stalking me.” Joey was still peeved about getting knocked down.

“Oh puleeeze,” Yoojin said. “I buy teleportation upgrade. Follow me.” Her avatar took off through the forest.

Joey laughed. He darted after Merida. “Slow down!” he called.

“No, you keep up,” she answered playfully. Yoojin led him through a dirt path that took them out of the forest.

“Now feel better?” she asked.

“I was fine to begin with,” Joey said.

“Sure,” Yoojin said, unconvinced. “You really upset about last game?”

“I’m over that,” Joey said. They approached a large rocky mountain. “I need a new job,” he found himself saying.

“Fire from your job?”

“Not enough hours, hard to pay rent.”

Yoojin took out a grappling hook as Merida and hurled it onto a high ledge. Merida quickly climbed up the rope.

Mopha took out metal claws and jumped onto the mountain. He climbed up and met Yoojin on the high ledge. “And the job sucks.”

“Quit and get new job,” Yoojin said matter-of-factly. They moved along the ledge.

“It’s not that easy.”

“Look out on your left!”

Five goblins appeared around the ledge. Joey drew his great sword and Yoojin unsheathed her duel daggers. They outmanoeuvred and beat down the goblins with ease, then continued up the mountain. Joey made sure he blinked, as his eyes were starting to feel scratchy.

“Why not easy?” Yoojin asked.

“No college degree.” Joey swung his blade at another goblin and knocked it off the cliff.

“Then get college degree.” Merida hopped ahead of Morpha and led the way up the mountain.

“Is this you helping?” Joey asked, annoyed.

They reached the top of the mountain. Joey and Yoojin surveyed their surroundings and saw nothing, save for piles of rocks in a donut-like circle.

“Stand back,” Yoojin said as Merida took out a small bomb from her pouch and tossed it into the rock formation, where it detonated.

“So no college?” Yoojin said.

“I don’t have the money.”

“Maybe student loan?”

“I’d still need a job,” Joey said.

The ground began to moan with an aggressive annoyance. The donut shape that Yoojin blasted began to take a large humanoid form, a Rock Giant.

“Really Merida,” Joey complained, “another giant?”

“We lose to one, so we need to beat one. Least this time I know it’s there.” She laughed loudly in a way that Joey always liked. He was charmed by her cheeriness.

They backed up to gain some maneuvering room.

“What about parents? They not help?”

The giant raised its skyscraper-like leg and stomped into the ground like a locomotive from hell. Joey and Yoojin sent their avatars into the air, gracefully avoiding the attack.

“That’s a long story,” Joey said as Morpha and Merida landed. The giant stepped forward.

“Go for its head,” Yoojin said. Merida took out her grappling hook and latched onto the giant’s right arm. She swung onto the forearm and held on tight.

“I’ll distract it on the ground,” Joey said. Morpha sheathed his sword and drew out a throwing dagger which he lobbed towards the giant’s upper body, forcing the stony beast to gear its eyes on him.

Merida scaled the arm, avoiding the beast’s sharp stone ligaments.

Morpha took out his sword and chopped at the giant’s foot, barely denting its health but keeping its focus on him.

“You don’t talk to your parents?”

“Not since high school.”

Morpha pivoted along the grass and began to climb up the creature’s leg, as the giant shook its stony arm, trying to rid itself of Merida.

Merida fell.

<CONT...>