More Than We Can Tell

By: Brigid Kemmerer

ONE

Emma

OtherLANDS Player Dashboard

USER NAME: Emma Blue (PRIVATE)

USER LEVEL: Admin/Developer

PLAYER NAME: Azure M

NEW MESSAGE

Thursday, March 15 5:26 p.m.

From: N1ghtmare

To: Azure M

You suck.

And that’s what I’m going to say when I find you and shove it in your mouth hole.

Gross. At least this guy didn’t include a dick pic.

My finger hovers over the Ban Player button.

I should do it. I know I should.

Nightmare is pissed because I booted him from a team for harassing another player. It was right at the end of the mission, and me booting him meant he lost any XP he’d earned. Two hours of gaming, down the drain.

But OtherLANDS doesn’t have the biggest fan base. Maybe two hundred players on a good day. I only created the game as part of a school project. I uploaded a link on the county school’s 5Core forum because I needed a few players to test it. I never thought anyone would actually play.

But they did. And now … I do have players. I’ve created a community. And one idiot trolling me on 5Core could be enough to chase the rest of them away.

I can see his post now.

Azure M got mad about a little trash talk and she banned me. This is why girls are ruining gaming.

Because trust me, it’s a him. Find me a female who’d say “shove it in your mouth hole.”

I sigh and delete his message.

Then I click over to iMessage and send a text to Cait Cameron.

Emma: Some guy just sent me a message that he’s going to “shove it in my mouth hole.”

Cait: Mouth hole? Isn’t that kind of redundant?

Emma: Right?

Cait: Some days I’m so glad that the worst I get are people telling me I’m ugly.

Cait does makeup tutorials on YouTube.

She’s not ugly. Not even close.

But her makeup gets a little out there. She’s into cosplay and character re-creations, and my geekery doesn’t extend quite that far. Her real talent lies in the designs she creates herself. The other day she showed up at school with tiny glittered mermaid scales across her cheeks. Once she made her face look like she was unzipping her skin, but a teacher made her wash it off.

I’m not big on makeup, but I let her do mine last month after she begged and pleaded and told me she’d thought of something perfect. She put this translucent circuitry along my temples and down my jaw, very faint, then lined my eyes with dark liner and silver shadow. I thought it looked pretty cool—until the douchebags at school started asking me if I was programmed for pleasure.

I washed it off in the bathroom midway through first period.

Cait hasn’t mentioned it. I haven’t either.

I send another message.

Emma: I’m about to get online. Want to play?

Cait: I can’t. I just set up to try a new winged eyeliner look on my mom.

Ugh. Of course she is.

The instant I have the thought I feel like a real bitch. Cait and I used to be connected at the hip, but somewhere around the beginning of the school year, we began to drift apart. I don’t know if it’s the gaming or the makeup or what, but more and more, it seems like one of us is always doing something else.

I wish I knew how to fix it. But if the solution is fish scales and translucent circuitry, it’s not happening.

I sigh and switch back to OtherLANDS and log in as a player instead of an admin.

Immediately, I get a team request from Ethan_717.

I smile and slide my gaming headset over my ears. Maybe the afternoon isn’t going to be total crap.

I have no idea who Ethan is in real life. He’s in high school, because his 5Core profile says he goes to Old Mill, but that doesn’t exactly thin the crowd. Ethan could be a fake name, but Ethan_717 isn’t really a “character” name, so it might be real. In-game, he’s built like a warrior, clad in black armor and a red cape. A mask covers the lower half of his face, and he carries two electrified swords. Blue electricity sizzles along the steel when he draws them in battle—some of my best design work.

He barely knows anything about me, though he’s one of the few people I’ve told that I created OtherLANDS. To everyone else in-game and on 5Core, I’m just Azure M, another random gamer. And no one on here can connect Azure M to Emma Blue.

Once we’re teamed together, we can speak through the headsets.