Game Over

A story about epic pwnage

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Chapter One

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Nobody had asked Bianca to go to the prom. This was, apparently, one of the worst things that could ever happen to a girl. It was as bad as getting murdered or pregnant or both.

"It's not that bad," Eliot said without looking up from her phone.

Bianca fitted on her XBOX LIVE headset with a scowl. Eliot was her only female friend—only friend, at that—and despite her relatively vast experience of dating, she wasn't being helpful at all. "I've never even been kissed," Bianca said. "I want to have a boyfriend. I want to go to the prom. I want to get laid."

Eliot didn't even bother to stop texting. "You've never wanted to go to school dances before. What's gotten into you?"

"It's about what hasn't gotten into me," Bianca muttered.

Eliot just gave her a flat stare.

"Namely, a dick," Bianca said.

"I got that, thanks."

Eliot was beginning to look peeved. Deciding to give it a rest for the moment, Bianca picked up the controller and settled down into the couch, starting up the game. The familiar bloodshot logo of Extermination Overdrive: Ultra Apocalypse Nightmare signalled the load to multiplayer.

"Your problem is that you're a huge geek," Eliot said suddenly. "You look like one, too. You don't have a haircut and you don't pluck your eyebrows and you wear ugly baggy hoodies and jeans that don't fit right and obviously no guy will want you then and it drives me insane because you could look so much better if only you would let me help you, because I have so much makeup and so much clothes and no life, so help me God, and I will help you, I will make you feel like a woman."

"You only think makeovers fix everything because you watch too much What Not to Wear," Bianca said loftily.

Eliot glared at her and flipped shut her little pink phone. "It's for your own good."

Eliot was one of those annoyingly beautiful people who assumed everyone else could be annoyingly beautiful if they only took the time. Today, for hanging out with Bianca while Bianca played video games, she was wearing an electric blue strapless top, expensive sunglasses, and a tiny pair of black demin shorts covered in rhinestones with black suspenders hanging off the back.

Bianca was wearing sweatpants and a shirt.

Extermination Overdrive paired Bianca on a team with a couple of her online friends. She accepted the arrangement and went back to waiting for the game to load. Beside her, Eliot sighed and flipped open her cell phone again. "I don't know why I even try," she said. "You're hopeless."

Bianca shrugged. "It's 'cause you don't have a girlfriend to share clothes with. You have to make do with me."

"It's true," Eliot agreed sadly. "You're a lame girlfriend. You ignore me for video games. You might as well just be a boy."

Bianca didn't respond to that, so after a moment Eliot sighed again and went back to texting.

The game loaded, and Bianca found herself in the ruined landscape of post-apocalyptic New York, where zombie-beasts roamed freely, devouring all they could find. Her avatar spawned at their base camp, surrounded by equally grim and macho avatars with huge guns.

"B! Where the fuck have you been?" someone demanded over their own headset.

Bianca grinned. "Owning noobs, bitch."

Eliot made a strangled noise and thumped her head against the back of the bed. "Such. A. Loser."

Bianca covered her mouthpiece and said, "Go read your fashion magazine and stop whining to me."

"You're so patronizing," Eliot said huffily, but after a minute she picked up her copy of the Italian Vogue and stopped complaining.

Halfway through the game, when Bianca had managed to find herself a good position on the rooftop and was happily sniping the other team, relishing their cries of despair, she remembered why she had gone online in the first place. "Hey guys," she announced. "I'm going to lose my virginity on prom night. What do you think?"

Her online friends all went silent for a moment.

"Wait, are you guys all still virgins?" Bianca asked, wondering if she had offended anyone.

In the distance, a zombie-beast roared. After that there was only silence.

"What the hell?" someone eventually said.

Bianca locked a victim's head in her sniper sights said, "It's prom night. It's perfect, nobody can even judge me for it, you know?" She pulled the right trigger and watched as his head exploded. Glorious.

"Do you even have a boyfriend?"

"Maybe I can get one." Bianca selected her next target and fired. His gun went skittering across the ground as he died, alone and unwelcome in the harsh post-apocalyptic landscape, surrounded by the other team who was beginning to panic. She cackled. "Fucking owned. This game rocks."

"Trust me, if you're this good at XBOX, that means you're a nerd and nerds don't get laid," one of her friends warned. "And even if you do, people will think you're a slut."

"But that's the point," Bianca pointed out.

"Your reputation follows you wherever you go," the other gamer muttered.

Bianca squinted at the screen, ducking behind one of the walls and picking up an AK-47, which meant there would be even more carnage once she started choosing people to kill. Time to stop being a camping fag and get into the gory guts of the game. "Who the hell are you, anyways?"

"L0G4NFREEK," the guy said promptly, which was a mistake on his part.

Bianca ran over to him and opened fire. "You're a n00b," she said scathingly as he dropped to the ground, and then shot the rest of her ammo clip into his unresponsive avatar, which flopped across the screen.

The other guys were silent for a while, before one said, "Uh, he was on our team."

"He'll respawn when the game's over," Bianca said. "Maybe he'll learn respect."

"You're so mental," Eliot said, but she was grinning.

Bianca smirked at her and went back to the game.

Bianca had only truly ever loved something, and that was video games. It was her hobby, her future job, and her true love, all wrapped into one. After high school she was going on to a game design school in Vancouver. Her life was saturated with video games and that was how she liked it.

Except maybe she had never had a boyfriend. And the only time she was kissed was on a dare in the seventh grade, which didn't even count. She secretly wished her life had a two-player option, but none of the guys in her school ever showed interest in her. It didn't matter, anyways, she was going to Vancouver soon, where there would surely be other people as weird as her who would want to date her.

First, though—Operation Prom Night.

"Don't shoot me, man," the other guy said. "But this is the sort of thing people start to regret, you know?"

"You know what you're going to regret?" Bianca said. "Getting PK'ed by the other team if we hang around here all day. Come on, let's get to higher ground and waste them."

After that, nobody said a word about her plan. Bianca led her team to an epic victory in the match, which just made her gamerscore even higher. At least some things, like pwning noobs, didn't need all that much planning. Not like real life.

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"So you're serious," Eliot said later, when they were cruising down Victoria Street on the way to the fish n' chips shop. "You actually want to lose your virginity at prom."

"Well, yeah," Bianca said. "I'm lonely. I want someone to like me."

"Maybe if you looked better," Eliot muttered.

Bianca glanced over at her, but Eliot was wearing wrap-around Ray Bans that gave none of her emotions away. "Look, maybe I want a guy to like me for who I am instead of how I look, all right?"

Eliot actually laughed out loud. "You're expecting maturity? From guys our age?"

"...Maybe not," Bianca admitted after a moment.

Eliot was relentless in the decimation of Bianca's plan. "No guys even know you in our school. It's a big step to go from not even having a date to finding someone unattached and then having like, a five-minute humpfest in the back of their mom's minivan, is all I'm saying."

Biting the inside of her cheek, Bianca picked at a hole in her sweatpants. "You don't have to be so brutally honest about it."

"It's because I care," Eliot said. "What if you get herpes? You wouldn't even have an orgasm first. You'd just have an STD."

"You know, the guys on XBOX Live are a lot nicer than you are."

"That's because the only sexual partner they've had is with their left hand, and believe me, that experience does not translate into real life." Eliot signalled and parallel-parked in a matter of seconds, mere inches away from the curb, her crappy Toyota perfectly straight. Bianca always wondered if being a lesbian gave her the powers of men and women, somehow, but never dared to ask.

Bianca sighed and got out of the car, saying, "I don't need your help, Eliot. I can do this alone."

"Yeah, right," Eliot scoffed, locking up and swinging her knock-off designer bag over her shoulder. "You need me. Admit it. You have no idea how to seduce boys."

"Like you do," Bianca shot back. "You're a lesbian."

"A lipstick lesbian. The femme incognito. Stealth homo." Eliot tossed her dark, glossy hair and smirked. "There was a while there where I tried to screw myself straight. I have mad moves. I could totally use them on you, but then you'd fall in love with me and I'd be forced to turn you down. And it would break my heart because I really value our friendship."

Bianca held the door open for her. "Totally."

"I can't believe you actually just want to bang some dude," Eliot announced to the whole fish n' chip shop. "It's so unlike you. Usually you like, respect yourself."

"I don't care what you think," Bianca pointed out. "Can you buy me some French fries?"

"No. Buy your own food. All the good guys will have dates to the prom, you know."

"Well, I'll just have to seduce them."

"You need my help. Admit it. You need a makeover."

Bianca glared at her, but Eliot just looked back solemnly and all Bianca could see was her own greasy, unattractive reflection in Eliot's shiny sunglasses. It was depressing.

"Fine," Bianca said, sighing. "I need a makeover."

"Fuck yes!"

"Nothing too drastic," Bianca added hastily, but it was already too late.

Eliot had taken off her sunglasses and was staring dreamily at the back wall of the shop. It was the same expression she got when she saw Jimmy Choo shoes or Versace dresses in magazines. "I've been waiting for this moment for years," she said breathily.

"That's creepy, Eliot."

"You will be the skankiest skank ever when I'm through with you," Eliot continued.

Bianca realized things were rapidly spiralling out of control. "No."

"Fuck that. I see many push-up bras in your future. Extreme push-up bras, even. There will be cleavage that will bring men to their knees." Eliot smiled brightly at the cashier, who was staring slack-jawed at the two of them. "Hello, sweetie. Can I get two orders of fish and chips?"

"Uh...sure," the cashier girl said, still staring.

"Lucy. That's a pretty name," Eliot said, leaning against the counter and staring rather intently at Lucy's nametag, which was clipped to a low-cut shirt. Bianca rolled her eyes. Eliot always hit on every single girl they encountered just out of principle.

Lucy still looked slightly horrified. "I'm in your English class."

"Are you really?" Eliot said, taken aback, but recovering quickly. "Hey, you know what kind of words on a page you'd be?"

"...What?"

"The fine print," Eliot said triumphantly, and held up her card. "I'll be paying on debit, thanks."

-

After eating their fish and chips, they went back to Eliot's house. Both of them lived out in the Halford Highlands far away from the downtown, but Eliot lived on the rich side in a house that was its own gated community, and Bianca lived in a two bedroom rancher that was slowly but surely falling apart.

Eliot's room was lime green, the floor covered in designer clothes, magazines, and there were posters of retro pin-up girls all over the walls. It was about the size of Bianca's entire house.

"Right," Eliot said, picking up a pair of scissors. "Haircut."

Bianca shrunk away from the gleaming blades. "Can't we go to somewhere where they actually know how to cut hair?"

"No," Eliot said cheerfully. "I did my own hair, and it's awesome."

Eliot was rocking an extremely trendy 80's throwback mowhawk mullet, and it would have looked terrible on anybody else. Bianca wasn't exactly flooded with confidence. "I like my hair," she tried.

"Bullshit. You just put it in a fucking bun all day. Take it out of that fucking thing and let me see what I'm working with."

Cowed, Bianca unwound her bun and let her hair down. It almost reached her waist, full of a straggling split ends and frizz. Eliot snapped her scissors shut and frowned.

"I'm thinking just past your shoulderblades. I'm thinking wavy, sort of tousled. I'm thinking some caramel highlights around your face, just to lighten things up a bit, maybe some reddish lowlights too. I'm thinking..."

"Why are you talking like that?"

Eliot scowled . "It's what hairdressers do, okay? Sit down. I will make you beautiful."

"I don't want to do this," Bianca said, holding onto a limp lock of her hair. Eliot shooed her in front of the vanity mirror and made her sit down.

"You agreed! You can't crush my dreams now. Now sit back, and let me work my magic."

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"My head feels really light," Bianca said, wincing as little bits of hair fell onto her face. "I think you cut off more than you should've."

Eliot brushed Bianca's new bangs away from her eyes and smiled. "Shut up, Bianca. Damn, but I'm good."

"Are you?" Bianca asked, chewing on her tongue. "Can I see yet?"

"Yeah, I think I'm done. Check it out." Eliot stepped away from the vanity mirror so Bianca could get a good look.

At first Bianca didn't even recognize herself. Her hair was highlighted, bouncy with slightly wavy layers, and reached a few inches past her collarbones. Bianca reached up to touch it, shocked to her very core. "Wow."

"I win! I win again. I win at everything," Eliot sang, doing a weird sort of dance in the corner.

Bianca couldn't take her eyes off her own reflection. "I really like it. Wow. I look less like a basset hound."

That stopped Eliot in her tracks and she levelled a truly impressive glare on Bianca, scissors clenched her hand like a weapon. "Oh my Gawd, Bianca, how many times do we have to go over this, you do not look like a basset hound."

"It's the eyes," Bianca said.

"You have nice eyes!"

"Whatever," Bianca said, getting captivated again by her own bouncy, pretty hair, and twirling it around her finger. She felt like Lara Croft.

"I'll do your makeup now. Then we can do wardrobe. My sister Reese is away, you can raid her closet, you're both really curvy." From the drawers of the vanity, she pulled out bottle after bottle, makeup brushes, and a wide assortment of cosmetics. "Now. I will begin by prepping your skin with a light detoxification cream infused with Vitamin C."

Eliot went through the complex and mystical beauty ritual she herself used, and then fixed Bianca's hair up some more and painted her fingernails.

"Reese has a lot of skanky dresses you can steal," Eliot offered, winging Bianca's eyeliner, then frowning and smudging it off with a wet sponge. "What size feet do you have?"

"Eight."

"All right, same as her, she's got the craziest shoes ever, you're not going to believe it. You'll want flats, right?"

Bianca had never walked in high heels, and doubted that she could. However, Bianca was never one to back down from a challenge, and if Fox Lady from Mutant Wars XII could roundhouse kick villains in the face in stilettos, well, so could Bianca.

"No," she said. "I want heels."

Eliot grinned. "This is going to be fun."

In the end, they decided on smoky eyes, rumpled hair, and chose a really slutty outfit just because they could. Bianca borrowed a skin-tight red strapless dress from Eliot—"I just don't have the cleavage or curves to pull it off," Eliot said, helping her wriggle into a pair of Spanx underwear—and a pair of sparkly gold platforms.

They both stepped back to admire her in the 180-degree mirror Reese had in her walk-in closet. Bianca was amazed.

She never thought she could look so good, not perfect or anything but just confident and decent and hot, and she had never tried because she had always kind of worried that even if she put in the effort she still wouldn't look good. And sure, her skin wasn't porcelain or anything and her legs were still kind of weirdly big and her eyes were still basset-like, but damn, Bianca felt good about herself in that moment.

"I am so proud," Eliot said. "I would almost want to hit that myself, if I didn't know you were such a nerd."

"Thanks, Eliot." Bianca hesitated, and then added: "Just...this is..."

Eliot started flapping her hands, eyes going wide. "Oh, God, don't get emotional or anything. You can thank me by choosing a hot guy to have your way with? Okay? Okay. Good. Don't cry or anything."

"I wasn't going to cry," Bianca said.

They both admired her again in the mirror. Bianca checked herself out one last time, and then she shook her hair out of her eyes and said, "Well, I'm going to go play Cyborbio now."

"Of course you are," Eliot said, sighing.

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