By Cory Doctorow
Public Domain Books
“Jesus, Anda, where the hell have you been?”
“Sorry, Sarge,” she said. “My PC’s been broken –” Well, out of service, anyway. Under lock-and-key in her dad’s study. Almost a month now of medications and no telly and no gaming and double PE periods at school with the other whales. She was miserable all day, every day now, with nothing to look forward to except the trips after school to the newsagents at the 501-meter mark and the fistsful of sweeties and bottles of fizzy drink she ate in the park while she watched the chavs play footy.
“Well, you should have found a way to let me know. I was getting worried about you, girl.”
“Sorry, Sarge,” she said again. The PC Baang was filled with stinky spotty boys – literally stinky, it smelt like goats, like a train-station toilet – being loud and obnoxious. The dinky headphones provided were greasy as a slice of pizza, and the mouthpiece was sticky with excited boy-saliva from games gone past.
But it didn’t matter. Anda was back in the game, and just in time, too: her money was running short.
“Well, I’ve got a backlog of missions here. I tried going out with a couple other of the girls –” A pang of regret shot through Anda at the thought that her position might have been usurped while she was locked off the game “– but you’re too good to replace, OK? I’ve got four missions we can do today if you’re game.”
“Four missions! How on earth will we do four missions? That’ll take days!”
“We’ll take the BFG10K.” Anda could hear the savage grin in her voice.