Mindtrap - For the Virtual Reality Contest

The mind trap craze is sweeping the nation, the virtual reality game on sale at every store. But when Pim tries it out, she realises something more sinister behind the addiction...

Republished for the virtual reality contest.

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4. Chapter Three

In the year above Pim there was no one more despised than Maria Marden, a short, slim girl, something of a loner. One reason for this was her sullen scowl, and the gloomy, sunken look in her dark, brown eyes - the other being her cousin Giles, a domineering (and decidedly handsome) sixth former, who wouldn't allow any child to say a cruel word to the girl, which of course just made them hate her more.

It was therefore with a thudding heart and leaden legs that Pim Dakota trudged towards her the next cold, November day. 

Because if anyone was rich enough to play Mindtrap, it was Maria.

The older student had been orphaned two years previously, and inherited a large amount of money from her well-off parents. This had only made others her age take even greater lengths to avoid her, but amongst adults she was given a certain amount of lea way, even now. 

But for Pim, Maria was her greatest hope.

So to Maria, out of dry, cracked lips, she spoke, however timidly, however hard she was to hear.

It was this word which changed her fate forever.

"Maria."

The lean year ten spun round on her heel, stopping her brisk walking to peer down at the smaller girl who followed her. Folding her arms across her chest, her eyebrows raised at the sheer novelty of anyone speaking to her she replied gruffly, "What?"

"Maria..." Pim stuttered again, the words she needed escaping her in her moment of need. Maria began to turn away once more, quickly losing interest in the shaking fourteen year old before her.

"Maria wait!" Pim squeaked desperately, swiftly realising her need to sustain Maria's attention. She swallowed, attempting to wetter her dry throat. "Maria. Have you heard of Mindtrap?"

Maria's faced appeared blank, showing no trace of recognition. Pim's soul began to sag, nearly sinking as low as her beating heart. Then, as suddenly as lightning flashes across the sky, her cheeks flushed pink and her eyes lit up with understanding.

"The.... You mean the video game?"

"You've played it?" cried Pim hopefully.

"Played it? Not just played it, I loved it!" The elder girl's apprehension fell away, her eyes no longer sizing Pim up as if figuring out her weaknesses in a fight. "Say. What's your name, shrimp?"

"Shrimp?"

"You're small," Maria answered, as if this explained everything. "Name?"

"Uh... Pim. Pim Dakota." She stopped thought, wondering if adding a Ma'am would seem too suck up.

Maria's scowl cracked into a smile, something which illuminated her face, the same way she'd look if someone shone a light onto her head. "So. You've played it before Pim?"

Pim shook her head in earnest.

Maria blinked as if in shock. "Well why're you asking me about it as if you know what you're talking about Shrimp? Here, you're going to come round my house tonight," she scribbled her address on a scrap of paper from her pocket in loopy pink handwriting. "And now I", she glared at Pim pointedly,"am going to be late for class. We can talk about video games later. After you've played it. See ya Shrimp!"

With that, she spun around for the last time, striding up the stairs with a sense of purpose as she swung her hips in time to non existent music.

Pim watched her go, her mouth turned upwards in a tentative smile, her face flushed with the excitement of the moment.

Not only had she secured a go on Mindtrap.

She'd also found the makings of a friend.

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