The story takes place in a virtual world. The main character is a game character who has developed an individual identity.


1. First meeting

Sitting on the remains of an old statue lying with the face half beneath the surface of the water, she stared quietly at the seemingly endless sky. "I wonder if the sky outside is just as beautiful as this..." Then she sighed dreamily. The gulls were screaming and the salt smell of the sea was calming.

"It's around here! Peter. Come on. I know I'm right." She was startled by the outburst. "I'm coming. I'm coming. Slow down a bit, would you?" Players? This far into the Wild Zone? She stole one last look at the sky. "Guess I should be going now. It'd be a shame not to go." Smiling she followed the sound of agitated voices.  

"God! What a racket. What are you doing in the Ruin City? It's very far from anywhere civilized." Startled both players turned around. It was a girl around eleven and a boy around her own age. Sixteen or seventeen then. She lifted her hand cheerfully in a silent greeting. The boy seemed friendly. "We could say the same to you." He was smiling broadly at her. In the mean time the young girl had shyly hid behind the boy's back. "I'm Simon and this," Simon looked back at the girl and ruffled up her hair, "is Lara." He looked expectantly at her. My turn I guess. "I'm Mia" She walked towards them. "Any reason as to why you're here? It really is far into the Wild Zone. Even if you're online for three hours straight, you wouldn't be able to reach here from a city. "Second life" might be a man-made game but it still takes the same amount of time as in the real world" Simon spread his arms out in a broad gesture. "Adventure-spirit and summer vacation brought us here." "summer vacation? From what?" He looked confused at her. "school of course. What else?" I should have known this. "ah, I'm sorry. I just live a bit secluded from... Normal civilization." He gave her a weird look. "Oh." Damn. Mia thought. And just when it was going so well.

There was an awkward silence between them. The one who ended the silence was Lara. "Then what are you doing here?" She asked curiously still half hidden behind Simons back. "I'm... Out exploring." It wasn't a lie but it wasn't entirely true either. If Mia had been in a city, it would be clear to anyone that she wasn't a player. And the only thing that was not a player and still looked human was game characters. Not humans but programs. These had a limited amount of intelligence. No thoughts of their own. At least not until her. Now Simon said something. "We're a bit lost right now. Could you help us in the right direction? We're on our way back to Coral City." Coral City... Would that be the big and noisy city to the east or the smaller city to the west were many merchants gather?  "Does the city have a seaport?" He nodded. "Then it's the city west of here. I could take you a bit of the way if you want." "That would really save us." He said happily.

Soon after Mia led them to a more traveled road.  "You know your way quite well around here." Simon said curiously. "I have been out here for a pretty long time now. I keep orientated as to where the cities are but I almost never enter them." She smiled at him. "why?" Lara asked.  Mia hadn't prepared for a childish but still personal question like that. "um that's..." She hesitated slightly. "because I don't really like the cities. The Wild Zone is much more comfortable. At least that's my personal view." She smiled halfheartedly. "You're a really nice person Mia. Right Simon?" "I think so too." He smiled at Mia. She was blushing furiously. That was the first time anyone had ever complimented her.

Suddenly they heard a young girl screaming. A terrified scream. Without thought of her own safety Mia dashed towards the sound. Simon and Lara was quick to follow. They reached the etch of a cliff. Mia looked down and saw the girl clinging to the cliff. "We'll help! Stay put and we'll get you now!" Mia yelled down at the girl. A death here wasn't final but it was as scary as reality could be. She turned to Simon. "do you have any rope?" He was already holding one in his hand but he didn't give it to her. "Come on Simon. Now's not the time to be slow. "I'll go." She looked angrily at him. "Simon. You can't. There isn't anywhere to bind the rope and even together with Lara, I'm not strong enough to lift both you and the girl. Lara isn't strong enough to carry her. I'm the only one able to do it." She silenced again. He hesitated. "Fine."

Simon slowly brought Mia down towards the little girl. "Hello" Mia said to the girl. The girl looked at Mia with teary eyes. "Please help me." She whispered. "I will. Come here." Mia held out her hands. Slowly Simon raised them up again. They moved a bit further into the main land and made camp. All of them logged out after agreeing on a time to log in again. Their bodies remained breathing silently. Empty shells. Mia looked at them. Her eyes were clouded.

The arranged time everybody had logged in but Mia was gone. No Matter how hard they searched they couldn't find her.

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