It is time for Queen Sheila of Genesis City to make a return! Sorry, Earthbound; your place in our hearts is solid even if your place in the cartridge slot is temporary. Here we go, Genesis Crush.
Lamar is back, and Kobi and I have cleaned up the place a little bit to celebrate his return to consciousness. He is now wearing a toboggan over his head to hide the metal protruding from his head, and has on a pair of glasses too at the recommendation of R8PR. Am I the ONLY person who doesn’t wear glasses among the people I know? (I choose not to believe that I “know” Marge Eisenhower.)
He isn’t fixed, but he’s better, and that’s putting a smile on Lamar’s face, even if it’s not the same shining grin he once had. It makes me happy.
“Have a seat,” I tell Lamar. He eyes the copy of Earthbound in my hand and I hide it behind my arm. “We are about to play the best video game you ever missed; the action-RPG beat ‘em up dating sim strategy simulation game Genesis Crush.”
“Morgan says it’s a modern classic and better than any game before or since,” Kobi adds.
“The kid is right.”
“Hey, I want to tell you something, Morgan,” Lamar says.
He suddenly grabs me and squeezes me into a tight hug. I’m completely unprepared for it and my muscles all tense up at once. “Thank you,” he says.
He lets go and I have to catch my breath. “Guess what,” he says. “I talked to my grandparents yesterday. They’re going to let me stay with them for a while. Didn’t shut the door on my face or anything.”
“That’s really good.” What Lamar left unsaid was that two days ago, his parents did exactly that. But I’m glad for him.
“And, there’s more. I remembered something about my past. I filled in a gap in my memory.”
“Wait, really? That’s amazing. What was it?”
Lamar begins, saying, “It isn’t much, and it’s very fuzzy. But I can place it in my ‘timeline,’ if you know what I mean. It was about six months ago, maybe a little more. But I saw a grassy field, surrounded by trees on all sides. There was a big, open sky, and gravestones dotting the ground around me. I felt… free.”
“And then what?”
“And then the next thing I remember was being on the train to Atlanta, looking for you, but that was just a few days ago.” Lamar shrugs. “That’s it.”
“Well, that’s something. And we can work on that. When did the memory trigger?”
“When I punched you in the chest,” he says. “I have no idea why. I wasn’t even in control of my own body at that point. But I finally realized what it was.”
“Maybe if we keep getting you drunk you’ll keep remembering more things,” I say, laughing. He smiles and shakes his head fiercely.
It’s almost time for our evening video game session, but there is one key element of the party missing, and without it our game of Genesis Crush will remain tragically incomplete. For while Sheila is a formidable warrior and currently the President-for-life of Genesis Town, she would not be an effective ruler who consistently gets 85% of the popular vote each election if she did not have a proper antagonist. And that antagonist–
–is right here.
I open the door halfway and greet Karina. She’s staring at me with narrowed eyes, still wearing her Packard’s Pizzas uniform, visor and all.
“Pizza for the Harding household,” she says, flashing her eyebrows up and down.
“Oh, I didn’t order any pizza,” I say. “There must be some kind of mistake…”
“Don’t worry,” she says. “This one’s on the house. With extra sausage.” Karina winks.
I open the door wider and let her take a few steps in. “Just set the pizzas on the table. But.. I don’t have any money, sir. How will I ever pay you?”
“We’ll figure out a way,” Karina says, taking one step closer to me.
Kobi tilts his head to the side. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”
Karina and I laugh away and then I shut the door. Now that the party’s truly complete, we can actually start playing Genesis Crush!
“You wouldn’t believe work today,” Karina says. “I actually only got off a couple minutes ago because there was a delivery on the second floor here.”
“Lots of tips though, I’m sure.”
“Yep. All these customers out there who are all about the tip,” Karina says with a smirk. “The tip’s nice, but I’m sure hoping you’ll be a bit more… thorough with your bill. You owe a lot of money. The tip’s not–” Then she notices Lamar and blushes. “I mean– Hi. My name is Karina. I’m Morgan’s friend. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Lamar. Nice to meet you too,” he says. Lamar looks my way and then slowly shakes his head. Oh, don’t you make any snarky comments now, buster.
Karina leans into my ear and whispers, “Morgan. Your friend is really hot! What the heck!”
“I know, what is up with that?” I whisper back.
Finally, Karina sets the pizza boxes down and opens the first one up. It actually IS a sausage pizza with extra sausage, further proving that Karina is the best person ever. I legitimately have no money to pay her, though. I hope she forgives me.
I kick Kobi off of the sofa and Karina and I sit down together. Kobi takes a box from his stack of belongings and sits on top of that instead. I should buy some barstools for the kitchen counter, maybe? This place is so packed with junk at the moment though that I could hardly fit them.
“By the way,” Karina says. “I need to stay the night. I have work again in the morning, right after working a ten-hour shift today. Isn’t that amazing?”
“Who orders pizza that early in the morning?”
“You would be surprised…”
This place is starting to get extremely crowded, what with four people here at once. Kobi’s leaving soon and Lamar will hopefully be getting his new room soon, but for the time being, this kind of cramped living is making me claustrophobic.
Even so, it’s fun having everyone together to play Genesis Crush. I turn the game on, start the file, and we immediately rush into battle against a parallel dimension demon. It’s a fun night indeed.
Next: Crossword Conundrum ==>
Or, Side Story: The Art of the Retrofuture ==>
6 thoughts on “Embed – Chapter 10: Return of the Queen”
Embed is already over?! That’s crazy?! What’s going on here?!
That’s the power of three updates a week. And now you’re playing with power. Retrofuture power.
While The Social Media Killer and Trials of the Cybermancer! were quite long stories (and were also released at only two updates per week), the next few stories are all going to be a lot shorter, more self-contained, each running about a month. This will last throughout the summer, so be prepared for a whole new wave of Atlanta-y goodness. Maybe read the story on the beach?
As always, vote for ATL on Top Web Fiction, read every update the moment it comes out, leave comments to ingratiate me, and share the story with every single human being you come in contact with. I promise your small actions will reverberate across the globe, creating a worldwide revolution of happiness and web fiction readership spikes.
Probably the most meta arc in the story so far.
Points for most references to Earthbound!
It might be one of the most self-indulgent things I’ve ever made, which is saying something when my other web novel actually features me as a character, but I hope it was enjoyable nonetheless. Onto Crossword Conundrum this Friday!