"You are no longer the highest bidder," came a voice from Mako's laptop. With a single motion she put down her spatula and swerved around the counter to see the screen. "Oh no you don't!" She tapped the 3 key and her bid increased by $30. She was back on top for no more than ten seconds before "You are no longer the highest bidder" played again. Scowling, she tapped the 5 key, adding 50$ dollars more. "You are now the highest bid-"
"You are no longer the highest bidder"
"Dammit," she cursed, tapping progressively higher numbers. "You are now the highest bidder."
"You are no longer-"
"You are now the highest bidder."
She waited. There were only 30 seconds left on the auction. Her bid was now much higher than what she planned, but it's was a game of chicken now. She held the highest bid, and her opponent was hesitating.
10 seconds left. Hopefully, he was past his budget, but Mako knew better than to hope for the best.
5 seconds left.
BEEP BEEP BEEP Mako's gaze shot up to the stove she had abandoned, which was now spewing smoke and irritating the fire alarm.
"You are no longer the highest bidder." She looked back at her screen too late. She hit her auto-bid key, but the page responded with a red notification. "Bidding has closed. User ClairvoyanceCE2 has won the auction." Mako frowned mournfully at the photo of the item: a novelty frog-shaped lamp that was now out of her grasp. Grumbling, she lit from her chair and attended to the charred remains of her dinner.
"Damn you, Clairvoyance..." she mumbled. "Enjoy your lamp. It's definitely not worth $350..." She chuckled to herself and shrugged. Another day, another bidding war. She didn't really care all that much about the items on sale, but preferred to participate in the timed auctions for the sport of it. She even had a sum of money set aside for such a pass time, and reselling most of the items she bought meant that the pool of bidding money sustained itself. She neither made nor lost any money playing this game, which was pretty essential since she should probably have been spending more money on food.
"Well this is inedible," She grumbled, sending the contents of the pan flying into the trash. Sighing, she cracked open a cup of instant noodles and checked her watch. 10:30 PM. "Guess I'll make some coffee too."
Mako, responsible college student as she was, sat down with her hot ramen and coffee to do some last minute studying. Her chosen university was small, but it didn't pay for itself. In order to retain her scholarship is was imperative that she maintain exceptional scores in every class she took. It was only her first year as student there and she was determined to keep her grades in tip top shape.
Mako jumped a the sudden message. "Auto-narrator I WILL shut you off..." She paused. The message was from the user ClairvoyanceCE2. Mako scoffed, "What, wanna gloat?" She quickly shut her computer, trying to ignore the panic fluttering in her chest. She cursed herself inwardly; even the thought of talking to someone online unsettled her. Opening her books, she tried not to think about attending lecture tomorrow, surrounded on all sides by living, breathing classmates stuffed into the seats, pretending to take notes. "I think I'll sit in the far back tomorrow..." she mumbled.
Sitting in the back of the lecture hall turned out to be a mistake. As it happens, the back is where all the chit-chatters sit, and it was hard enough for Mako to hear the professor from that distance without their murmurs in her hear. Ok, she thought. Front row from now on...
There was suddenly a tap on her shoulder, and she stopped breathing. "Hey," came a hushed voice. "Mako, right?" She turned her head slightly to see who it was, and regretted it.
"Uh yeah...Hi Yuri..." she murmured, turning her gaze back to the front of the classroom. She could almost hear him smiling behind her.
"You look good today," came his oily voice again.
Mako could feel her face turning pink, probably from lack of oxygen. A barely audible "U-Uh..." was all she could choke out in response. Panic was beating the inside her chest. At this point, all hope of learning anything from the lecture was out the window.
When class finally ended, Mako blindly gathered her things and entered the hallway, bound for the library. She'd have to find a secluded corner to catch up on whatever it was she missed in the lecture minutes ago.
"Heyyy, Mako!" Yuri appeared at her side. Matching her stride, he went on, "We don't really talk much."
"Oh, um...No I guess not." She desperately searched her mind for a reason to bolt but came up short. Yuri continued.
"Want to go grab a coffee? Or maybe dinner tonight?"
Mako's body turned into a chunk of ice. "Oh!" She said again. He's asking me to dinner, she thought. "Well..." C'mon, what would be the harm? It's not like he's a serial killer. "I-I don't think I can..." Well I supposed there's always a small chance... "I need to do some catch-up with my homework...behind on a paper...y'know-See ya." She took the first exit she saw and didn't dare look back to see his reaction.
Wow. You really are a piece of work, Mako. She sighed heavily. "I know..." Feeling down, she headed for the sanctuary of her apartment.
"I'm home!" she called softly upon entering. Locking the door behind her, she shed her shoes and placed her bag on the floor. Striding in the kitchen, she spotted her laptop charging on the dining table. "So what did you do today?" She asked. It lay there, unresponsive. The sun had set, and the whole apartment was sunken into a deep gloom. The light from the entryway cast deep shadow on everything. It was a little cold.
"Yeah..." she mumbled to herself. She sank into a chair and donned a sweatshirt. Gazing again around the empty room, she finally acknowledged the loneliness creeping into her chest. "Maybe I need roommates," she murmured. Would have to make friends first, she thought.
Not willing to think about it anymore, Mako threw open her laptop and was greeted by the auction page for the lamp, now pasted over with a large red, SOLD image. The unread message still blinked in the notification bar. "Oh yeah," she opened it.
"Hello BuyerGal1290! GG! You almost had me in that auction!" Mako chuckled. At least he was a good sport about it. The message continued: "You seem like a real pro at this. When did you get into online bidding?"
She hesitated for a moment, then began typing a response. She thought at the very least, she could make an online friend that day.