What is real? three people, from different walks of life, will find out...
R u goin for beer?
No, Angela. I'm leaving. I can't believe you brought me to this stupid party! I thought you needed my help!
Why r u such a bicth? fine go back to studieng! I didnt wanna be ur friend nyway, stupid bicht!
You know what? I hope you fucking die Angela you stupid cu
As the upset and distracted teenage girl hurriedly thumbed her screen, absently steering her mother's van like a neglected pet, she looked away from the road just as a semi barrelled down the intersection and crushing the front driver's seat. She didn't know it when the truck hit as her head was violently whipped left, severing her spinal cord, a few nerves and crushing several vertebrae in the process. As her limbs were sandwiched together with her body, Jade knew nothing of her death. But she would.
The next thing she saw was the moon, rising overhead. Her mind now full of things, things living people think about. Things like how her mother's van was totaled and the driver of the semi lying hunched over the steering wheel. She marched over there and hammered on the door. As the driver looked up from his drunken stupor, he took notice of the scrawny black girl calling for his attention. He went pale when he realized what had happened.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! I'm so sorry! I'll get my insurance stuff, are you alright?" the mildly chubby trucker cried, his voice weak and tired.
"Yeah... I'm fine," she began.
As she took a thorough look at the van she noticed something. Blood was dripping in the seat and on the dash, yet she had emerged unscathed. She patted down her body and stretched her limbs out. All seemed well, in fact, she could swear she had twice the energy she did before.
The man gave her a page torn from a ruled notebook, his insurance information scrawled on it. Jade rubbed her head, unsure of what had just happened was a dream. Suddenly, a deafening explosion rattled the two, leaving Jade with a whining ring in her ears. She could hardly breathe as she leaned against the battered hood of the truck for support. The shock clearly took it's toll on the poor truck driver as he went deathly pale and flopped to the ground.
Jade wanted to call her mom, but all her contacts went along with her now destroyed mode of transportation. As she went through scenarios in her head, a glance in at the large touchscreen phone on the dashboard of the truck jogged her decision-making brain.
She snatched it out and prayed that the man didn't have a lock screen. As she woke the phone with a few taps she breathed a sigh of relief as the screen swiped up and opened its secrets to her. She scrolled through his contacts quickly, finding a person named Mom and tapped it.
"Hey Gabe, it's three in the morn-" A middle-aged sounding woman yawned as the dial tone yielded to a click.
"Umm, excuse me I-" Jade began.
"Who is this? How'd you get my son's phone?" The man, Gabe's mother shouted.
"I'm Jade Eamon, your son is here, passed out on the ground. He crashed into me in his semi. Could you please come pick him up,"
Jade explained, looking back sympathetically at the beer-bellied gentleman.
"Oh my god! Where are you?" the mother cried, the jingling of keys sounding off in the background.
Jade found the street signs and gave her directions out to where she stood while she took inventory of what she still had. When the woman hung up, Jade called her own mother.
"Hello??" Her mother, who sounded almost like a teenager herself, asked calmly, settling Jade's nerves.
"Mom, it's Jade. I-I-I totaled the van. It exploded and I don't know what's going on and-" She rambled, her nerves getting the better of her.
"Calm down... Are you alright, Jade?" She sighed, her voice smooth as silk.
"Y-yeah. I don't know how I survived, I-I... The front driver side's smashed in!" She cried, looking herself over feverishly as the truck driver sat up, finally awakening as a single headlight glowed from down the street.
"Where are you? I'll come pick you up," her mother asked.
"K Street and Baldwin. I gotta go, the guy needs his phone back."
"Kay, see you in a few minutes, Jade."
As the heavyset young man and his mother apologized and he got into her beat up truck, they left. Jade held the crumpled up paper with the insurance information on it in her left hand as she scratched her head with her right. A glint in the blasted van caught her attention.
As she came close to investigate she felt a force urging her to check inside for her phone. She knew it couldn't have survived and yet she dipped her hand into the car, it was still burning but the heat had died down considerably. With a touch, she immediately recognized the oddly undamaged case of her phone.
Holding it carefully she touched the screen, tapping it twice before the device lit up and began flashing letters and numbers faster than she could read them. As the phone began to display a logo of a globe with an analog stick protruding from the top, Jade heard the distinct call of her mother's voice, echoing across the street from her and the wreckage. Jade came to her mother to see a distressed, yet worried look on her face as though she was deciding whether to punish or hug her daughter. Jade rode home in mostly silence, giving her mother the insurance info before leaning against the car door and falling asleep on the long ride. When she got home she passed everything else, tossed herself into her air mattress and passed out for the night.
In the morning, she sat up, the phone vibrating in her pocket. She woke it to find that she had a message. The messenger had no name, just numbers. She checked for contacts but there was none to be had. She swiped back to the central screen and checked the message.
You've been chosen, Jade.
Jade gasped. As she read and reread the message she remembered the blood and the fact that her "new" phone was undamaged despite being caught in the blast.
Who are you? Chosen? For what?
Call me, Tut. You've been chosen to see what lies beyond the lies.
Okay, Tut. Explain to me how we know each other?
You don't know me, but I've learned so much about you. Like your favorite video games. Code 7... Nano Viral Extinction... You probably think this is all very creepy, yes?
What makes you say that?
A cynical wit. This is one of the reasons we picked you, Jade. Now. You'll be wanting to get acquainted with the new apps on your phone. You'll need them.
Need them? for what?
The messages stopped coming. She repeated herself but to no avail. As she swiped to the center her heart began to race. The apps were arranged on a single screen, none on the left or right screens. the first one, the Messenger app, was the one she'd just shut off. The next app, HUD, she launched with a tap. As the app loaded, Jade's mother called her from the kitchen. She held the phone tightly as the little meter filled. When she sat at the table, the screen went white, several black bars and text appeared in the space. The labels seemed odd to here. Strength? Speed? Vitality? As she studied the screen her mother called her name again, this time with a snapping inflection.
"I talked to the insurance people and got everything sorted out, thank god. Can you please tell me how you got so distracted that you ended up in a head-on collision with a semi?" Her mother crossly began, sipping her coffee slowly.
"I-I was texting..." Jade admitted, sliding her phone under her wrist.
Her mother sigh-groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. Jade knew that face. It was the "I should beat you with a bag of bricks"
look, though she doubted her mother was that psychotic.
"Jade, what did I tell you about texting while you drive?" Her mother said.
"To pull over beforehand. I just got really upset, that's all, I won't do it again!" Jade replied, doing her best impression of a begging puppy.
"I'm sure without a car you won't. And I'm not giving you Yuki's car either so you can forget that."
"At least I didn't die, right mom?"
"I'm glad you aren't but... you know how expensive mistakes are... What am I going to do with you?" Her mother withdrew, tired and unwilling to go on the aggressive.
"I'll make it up to you, I swear," Jade replied, looking down at her phone as it vibrated as if to call for her attention.
The bar labeled "charisma" had turned yellow.
Deep in the brightly lit tunnels under Tokyo, a scrappy young man in a tattered black suit sprinted along, his heart throbbing violently. The calloused swearing shouts of his pursuers echoed throughout the tunnels. His phone began to vibrate, catching his attention. He answered hurriedly.
"What is i- Hai, sobo!" He shouted, catching his mouth in time to speak his native tongue.
"Naze anata wa sakebigoe o haite imasu ka? Anata wa dareka kara hashitte imasu ka? Oshietekudasai!" His grandmother screamed at him as he winced and held the phone at arm's length.
"O bāchan. O bāchan, watashi wa chōdo... Jogingu! Un, watashi wa kenkō o iji shinakereba naranaishi-" He lied, stealing glances behind him as a shadow loomed in the distance.
As sooner had he turned to keep running, a giant of a man ripped him off the ground with hands that could palm a watermelon. He squirmed and struggled as his friends joined them. He focused on the man's fingers, trying to find his way as the thugs yelled at him in Japanese. Something about stolen money, he didn't care. Finally seeing a way out he dug his longest, sharpest, untrimmed nail into the guy's finger causing him to loosen his grip. He twisted loose and turned to run. a click made him freeze in place. Suddenly he felt a stinging pop in his lower back.
As a deafening bang rung out, he watched a silver streak rip through his chest and exit beyond his open dress jacket. The blood hit the ground before he did and he screamed in agony as the pain suddenly kicked in. He tried to get up but nothing responded, his arms twitched but otherwise did nothing. His legs didn't move no matter how much he begged them to. His thighs were unresponsive. His knees were nonexistent and his feet gave no resistance as the giant crushed it under foot. Tears puddled up around his face. As his head was lifted from the dirt floor by his long black hair, a stream of tears and drool dribbled down his face. He tried to talk but pained groans came out instead. He felt a cold bare of steel pressed against his head. The last thing he heard was the thugs issuing one last insult as his consciousness faded.
The gory explosion left chunks of his head lying on the ground covering with wayward dust and debris. A sudden breeze began to whistle through the cavern. Thugs pat down the young man's corpse down, searching for something.
"Daisuke? Daisuke!" A sobering youthful voice echoed in his mind.
"Daisuke! You're going to miss your train!" The voice shouted again, as he felt a tugging force, pulling him from a dreamy state.
Flicking forward, the athletic looking young man stroked his black hair, pulling his hand back to see that it was there with wide-eyed confusion.
"Yumi! Kamigami ni kansha! You're alive!" He smiled, familiar, yet strange tears coming to his eyes.
"Brother, did you get into a fight and hit your head? Of course, I'm alive. Anyway, I know you're going to Tokyo to find the person who took Grandpa's picture. I'm going too!" She replied, putting on the sternest look a cutesy, thirteen-year-old girl could.
Daisuke brushed through his hair again and when a thought hit him, he blinked slowly as he looked up. He fished his phone out of his back pocket, feeling the sheets of his bed with a homesick gasp. He called a bank in America, Eagle Soar Banking, asking about his account. When a hard sounding British woman took his request he heard her cough and sputter.
"I-Is there something wrong, Miss?" Daisuke cried.
"Y-your account balance is t-two hundred billion, nine hundred thousand and seventy dollars and eighty cents, Mr. Suba!" She read, clearly shocked.
Daisuke held his phone, limply and whispered a thank you as he hung it up and dropped it with an eclectic grin.
"You're right, Yumi. We're all going. To America!" Daisuke shouted.
His young sister looked at him sideways. He couldn't be more excited.
I died, didn't I? I could swear I remember being in the back tunnels. But how?
Looking up, he stared at a poster on his wall. The poster was of his favorite cartoon, California Rush. The protagonist, a blonde haired man dressed like a modern day cowboy stared back as though speaking to him.
Rush... If America is half the trigger happy, machismo-obsessed place it was in California Rush, then I'm sure to find help there.
"Why go back now? You haven't been back there since you were six and grandpa set you up and me up with bank accounts there."
"Because. The big macho heroes are in America. I'm gonna show the Triad that they fucked with the wrong family!"
He met his sister's eyes, a similar determination in her eyes.
"Let's go, Brother!"
Just as he went to the door his phone went off again. The device wasn't much, a cheap flip phone for calling and not much else but when it flickered and showered the room in colors before shutting off of a moment before rebooting, he dropped it again. There was a ring. Daisuke cautiously picked it up and pressed the call button.
"Hello Daisuke Suba," The voice on the other end was clearly and blatantly modified, lacking a consistent tone.
"Who is this?" Daisuke replied.
"I have many names, for now, call me Tut. Your escape from this game was most unexpected but then, so were the escapes of your comrades in America."
"Game? Do you know about what happened to me?"
"You glitched out, plain and simple. I am getting ahead of myself though. Make your trip and find a young black girl named Jade Eamon. She too has talked to me. Your phone, by the way, has been connected to my network, enjoy the new applications, you'll need them."
The call ended abruptly with Daisuke snapping the phone shut and putting it in his pocket.
"Brother?" Yumi looked up at him.
"We-we should hurry. Come on, I'll help you pack."
She stood in line for the longest she could stand.
If this fucking line doesn't fucking move I. Am going. To have the mother of all bitch fits.
The drama queen tapped the toe of her seven thousand dollar shoes quickly looking over the line.
All these fucking ugly people make me sick.
As she glared at burly, heavyset woman, she narrowed her mascara buried eyes and curled her thin glossed lips in disgust. The line moved eventually as she began to message various people on her gold trimmed touchscreen phone with heavily manicured nails. When she scrolled down her recent contacts, one name caused her to glare at her phone.
"Stupid bitch. Never talking to her agai-" the dressed up diva felt her body seize up, going stiff in seconds as people around her looked on with confusion and dismay clear on their faces.
What the hell!
I got control of her, sweet! What weapon do I want to cause absolute chaos with?
Who? Who's talking in my head!
Shit, Loden thought of everything, even programming some meta-ass dialogue for controlling NPCs. This calls for the chain cannon!
Before she could realize what was happening, her hand flicked back around behind her and came back with a heavy machine gun. The massive gun looked too heavy for her scrawny arms but she wielded it despite this, or rather her body wielded it as her mind screamed bloody murder.
Her body moved under the will of a faceless force as she swung the minigun around, slicing a bloody path through the entirety of the people in the bank. As the chaos swelled she could hear cops cars swerving into place. She struggled against the force controlling her but to no avail.
That... That's blood! Like, real blood! They're dead! I thought they were ugly but I... I didn't wanna kill anyone. Somebody! Anybody!
As she moved emotionlessly towards the front door, tears streamed down her cheek. Her mind was collapsing, the onlything keeping her tethered to reality was her hold on the icy grip of the minigun. She watched from her seat behind the control over her as the cop cars exploded. It was only when a red light appeared on her forehead that she noticed what was going on. A crack rang out as she collapsed, her head split in two by the hollowpoint round. After the faded blood-tinged sight of carnage, another sight met her, the sight of her bedroom ceiling.
"W-wha? What happened? I'm home..." She breathed.
What just happened, seriously? Maybe she knows...
She hesitantly looked for her purse, which had rolled across her bed just out of reach. When she found her phone, her hands shaking. Scrolling down to the contacts starting with J, she found Jade Eamon's number and called it.
"Oh, Hi, Angela," Jade said mildly.
"H-hey. Look, about yesterday. I may have gotten... a little..." Angela stammered.
"It's fine. I get it."
"Thanks. Umm, So listen, something freaky as fuck happened to me earlier. I was like, going to the bank to get more money, right? And all of a sudden I like had a big gun and was shooting people but like. Like I wasn't in control, you know?"
"Uh huh. Sounds fun." Jade said dismissively.
"Then I got killed by some kind of like, sniper and then here I am, at home like, what the fuck?"
"Wait, you died and just woke up at home?"
"Yeah. I knew you wouldn't believe me."
"Wait, wait. I do! Umm, meet me at Philly Fresh on Marigold and Timber. We need to talk about this in person."
With that, the call ended. Still visibly shaken by what happened, Angela decided to take a shower and think things over.
The small restaurant of about six tables and nearly four times that in chairs were truly brick and mortar, the red brick walls contrasting with the hen fence wire and ridged metal panels on the order counter. In the back by the largest window, Jade sat, holding her book bag, tapping her foot quickly and drumming the table with her fingers. several people came in to order sandwiches. When Jade looked up for the eighth time, expecting to see Angela, a tall leanly built boy came walking in, looking around with wide-eyed amusement. She felt her phone vibrate. fishing it out, she set it down and opened the HUD app. A new tab opened labeled "People of Interest". On this tab a picture of the man, along with a short bio.
"Excuse me, miss. Are you Jade Eamon?" a deep, smooth voice called her eyes up from her phone.
The massive purple eyes seemed to draw her gaze inward. She suddenly realized that she wasn't dating anyone and that she really wanted to.
"Miss?" He repeated himself politely.
"Ye-yes, that'd be me. I'm Eamon Jade. I mean Jade Eamon." Jade over corrected and wanted to slap herself.
"I was told to look for you."
"Lemme guess, you died in some awful event but mysteriously came back to life in your bedroom with a phone that now has new apps, right?"
"Just a hunch. I'm actually waiting for a friend of mine to get here, would you like to sit down?"
The young man introduced himself as he sat to the only slightly smitten Jade as she gave him the visual equivalent of a pat down, checking him up and down.
When she heard the door swing open once again, Angela was there, dressed in loose-fitting clothes and covered from head to toe.
"Ma'am, no hoods on in here!" called one of the staff, to which she simply flicked a roll of green bills in reply.
"Shush, I'm hiding!" Angela yelled.
As the workers fought over what looked to be thousands of dollars in one hundred dollar bills, Angela came to the table and sat down, shifting her eyes left and right.
"Who's he?" Angela hissed.
"Daisuke Suda, I'm pleased to meet you both," the athletic looking boy replied, smiling dopily.
"He has had the same experience as you and me, sorta. I don't remember waking up in my bed from death. woke up in nearly the same place," Jade added.
The three began to catch each other up on their individual experiences. Something pieced together as the Daisuke and Angela's stories seemed to mesh together.
"This is like some kind of video game, no, like the Matrix but also like an RPG!"
"Uh, Jade, I'm not following those geeky references your spreading. English please." Angela groaned, rubbing her left temple.
"If I may, I believe she is referring to the predicament we share. We may have been awakened to the existence of a reality that we are not a part of, therefore stripping the one we've been a part of its illusion. In other words, were in some kind of computer program and we've broken it in connection to us, giving us superpowers of sorts." Daisuke seemed to recite his words from a fantasy movie, Jade thought. Just as the three felt some kind of peace in knowing, Jade's phone lit up and vibrated.