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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Cultural · #2291912
Wait. Wait a minute, just let me beat this boss and finish the level...
Miles Strickland had a secret passion. It was eating into his home life and his work. He was obsessed. The focus of his obsession was an online game called Byzantium Blade. He was, by dint of his continual playing, rather good at the game.

There had been a cost of course. Currently his wife was stopping with her mother, and making noises about possible divorce. He had also taken a lot of time off work of late, so much so that he was on a final warning.

His boss Terry had been nice about it. Told him that head office had been looking at his absence record and had basically said one more day off, and you're gone. Clapped his arm and said that he should do himself a favour, keep his head down for a while, (a good while), and come to work, okay?

Miles had told him that he would. He liked Terry, a straight up guy, no bullshit about him. You got the feeling he actually cared about the people who worked for him, which was rare these days. Miles suspected Terry had bought him his last chance. It wouldn't be fair to let the guy down.

But then there was the email. Sorry, make that THE email. His invitation to play in the prestigious annual Byzantium Blade contest. You had to be in the top twenty players in the world to be invited. It was something he could not miss. There was one problem, one huge problem. The competition was hosted from South Korea. He didn't have to be physically there, online gaming had that advantage over traditional sports, but the timing of his first match was terrible. It started at 3:00pm on Monday. He was supposed to be at work till 5:00pm.

Miles was a man of his word. He had faithfully promised Terry that he would be at work on Monday, and he would be.

And he was. In fact he was at his desk early, and had put in an hour before the official start to the day. All morning he toiled, working hard and getting a huge amount of work done. He skipped lunch, grabbed a snack bar from the vending machine and carried on. Terry didn't bother him, spent all day in his own office, presumably busy.

At five to three, Miles got up and headed to the restroom. Slipping into an available stall he locked the door. This was risky. He hoped that no one would notice that he wasn't at his desk for a while.

Plugging headphones into his notebook, he powered up Byzantium Blade.

The match was against a player who styled himself 'The Lumburger', which Miles thought was a pretty cool Office Space reference. Miles called himself 'Propane-Propane', anyone who had ever watched 'King of the Hill' would have got that one.

Soon Miles was lost in the cut and thrust. Lumburger was good, well it stood to reason he would be to be taking part in this contest. On and on they fought, for nearly an hour. Then Lumburger found an opening and Miles was done for. He wasn't out of the competition, but it was an inauspicious start. As the quirky victory music started, Miles turned the game off, stood up, and flushed, just in case anyone was in the restroom.

As the sound of the flush died away, Miles heard something very familiar coming from the cubicle next to him. Quirky. Quirky victory music.

It shut off and there was a flush.

Miles opened his cubical and crossed quickly to the wash basins, running his hands automatically under the tap. He was very puzzled as to what he had just heard. Then in the mirror he saw Terry coming out of the cubical next to the one he had till recently occupied.

“Good Match Propane-Propane” said Terry, and winked at him and left.
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