Author: Kate Runnels

Ara studied the Avatar for a moment, liking what she saw. It wasn’t enough like her to raise suspicions if anyone she knew played the game, but she would be comfortable playing in this body she had tweaked from the stock body given by the game developers.

Especially when she hooked into the game in the fully immersive world with the new sensory impressions. Not death, obviously, but so many other aspects from taste to the feel of wind and water and other sensations.

A clone you control in a world vastly different from the megacities of Earth. An escape from the pollution, continual terror attacks, food shortages, water shortages, and rampant crime on the street in every megacity.

Ara and countless other gamers had been waiting for years for this MMO RPG; the launch of Avalon. This resonated with her coming from London and seeing Stonehenge through protective glass. And many other English historical sights. She could touch grass, feel stone, pet a horse. And then she caught a glimpse of her real body in the reflection of an opaqued window. This wasn’t her true body, this weak flabby body, but that of her Avatar.

At first, after the release date, it was easy to leave the world of Avalon, but she did leave it, to go to her crap job. But for many, it became an addition. Even Ara succumbed, losing weight. Not even leaving the game to eat or shower or change. The world of the megacity was so grey and blah. Ara soon lost her job.

But she couldn’t stop. Like any addict, she needed that great and greater bit to feel anything- needing more to experience that rush from her first high.

Erik, a first responder, shook his head at his partner. “Another one, huh?”

“Do you play Avalon,” asked Michelle.

“No. What about her?”

“The brain gives a response similar to dreaming. She just won’t wake up.”

Erik scowled. “So what?”

“The game has become her reality now. This-” Michelle pointed to the rundown cramped apartment – “is her nightmare. We’ll process her like the rest and see if we can revive her. It’s a shame she has to hide in a game.”

Erik smiled. “She your type?”

Michelle shrugged without answering.