By Monica Marier
Hannah looked at the screen and moaned.
The jolly icon of “Harry Plotter” had popped up in a Halloween-themed window on her computer.
“You’re doing great! For your last task, there’s safety in numbers! Add three neighbors!”
“Add three neighbors? What the HELL!” she screamed.
Hannah immediately closed the “Wizard University” game application and went to vent her frustration on her home feed. Fortunately her game-buddy, Louisa was on.
“We need 3 neighbor-adds to complete the Halloween task? WTF? XO” she typed into the chat bar.
“I know right? *eye roll*” answered Louisa.
“Well what the crap do I do now??” Hannah asked.
“Go to the ap community and add the people on the page. They got to finish the task too.”
“What the ‘add me and I’ll add you back?’ guys?”
“But they’re all GOOOOOBERS!!!! >_<” whined Hannah.
“You can unfriend ‘em later if they creep you out.”
Hannah typed ellipses into the chat bar and hit enter.
“Or you could just not give a crap. It’s only a game after all,” said Louisa.
“Oh fine. I was hoping you’d side with me on this. Y’ know. Tell me to storm the castle, etc.”
“Have fun storming the castle! :D” responded Lousia.
Hannah closed the chat log and with a heavy sigh opened the community page for “Wizard University.” Louisa hadn’t been wrong. A LOT of people were trying to finish this “add 3 neighbors” task, especially since the mission expired in 18 hours never to be seen again. Hannah perused the wall, her skin crawling like she was investigating a cockroach nest. The comments on the wall were pitiful at best.
PLZ HALP! NEED 3 NABORS FOR HALOWEEN TASK!!!!!!!!!!
Add me! PLZ!!!
NEED 3 PEALPE KTHNXBY!!!!
<3 <3 <3 <3 Pleez ad me and Il ad u to!!! <3 <3 <3
Hannah’s face twisted up in disgust. Who the crap were these people? How come none of them knew how to spell or type? How come they all felt that by using emoticons, bad grammar, capslock and a million exclamation points they would make a good impression on anyone? Who in hell would look at this feed and say, “Oh yes! This person looks like a kindred spirit! This is someone I want to give access to every thought, link, and photograph I’ve ever posted online,”?
“It’s just a bunch of freaking goobers,” she sniffed. But an hour later, the uncompleted task began to needle at her. The prize for completing the task was a magical wardrobe that fit inside her wizard’s dorm room. It would grant her +8 to all offensive spells and her little wizard (whom she named “Nigel Tautbottom”)could jump into it and retrieve an exclusive wardrobe item! This was a once in a lifetime offer and she didn’t even need to plop down any real money for it!
She knew deep down it was all bullshit. Everything she was placing so much value on was nothing more than a collection of pixels and coding. If she didn’t complete the task the world wouldn’t end, and she’d probably go through this same nonsense during Thanksgiving and Christmas too. She’d clog her news feed with boxes begging people for intangible items in the game. It was all just a big waste of time and productivity.
So why couldn’t she let it go?
She thought hard about how to get around her dilemma. “If I make Pete play, and Louisa can get her husband to do the same, that’s two… I just need to friend one goober and my problems are over… still.”
She booted up her laptop and read the Wizard University wall again.
“Okay,” Hannah said to herself. “The first post I see that uses real words will be my game-whore of choice.”
It took a while to find one. Hannah grimaced at what was obviously the collapse of the English language in progress and wondered if these losers knew how dumb they sounded. But, there, the twenthieth or twenty-first post from the top was a photo of a golden lab and the name ‘Darryl Beamer’. His post simply said, “I’m looking for people who aren’t weird to friend me for this arbitrary Halloween quest.”
Hannah managed a small smile and hesitatingly hovered the mouse over the “add +” button. Gulping she clicked it and exhaled. She then hacked into her husband’s account to set him up on the game. She just had to make sure that she uninstalled the application before Pete got home.
She changed back to her account to check on her wizard’s progress again. A window popped up on the chat bar from her new friend Darryl.
Hannah’s stomach flipped a little and she debated clicking her online status to “hidden,” but she remembered how well-written Darryl was and decided to give him a chance.
“Hi back atcha! :) ” she said politely.
“At you,” said Darryl.
“Come again?” typed Hannah, wondering what he meant.
“You wrote ‘atcha.’ Atcha is not a word. If you meant ‘at you,’ you should have written it properly.”
Hannah blinked. She knew some grammar-Nazis in her day but this guy took the cake.
“Your disregard for the English language saddens me. I see by your profile that you reside near me in the city of Ashburn. I will be over shortly to kill you. Please wear something appropriate.”
Hannah stared at the screen feeling numb. Was this guy serious? Was he just one of those socially impaired people who confused sarcasm with humor? What was going on?
“What?” she typed.
The chat bar’s text turned to grey as it informed her “Darryl Beamer is no longer online. You may leave him a private message.”
Hannah closed her laptop and unplugged it out of panic
Her eyes darted to the door. Her husband would be home soon. Would Darryl beat him there? Was he really coming after all or was he just pulling her leg? She locked and dead-bolted the door and ran around the house closing the windows. When she returned to the living room there was a heavy knock on the door that made the wood buckle. Was it Pete? Was he having trouble with the deabolt lock?
“Whozat?” she asked in a trembling voice, causing her words to jumble.
“I think you mean ‘who is that?’ Hannah. Clearly you talk as poorly as you type,” said Darryl.
Hannah fell to the floor, sobbing as the lock broke.