This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons,
places, or events is coincidental.
© Copyright 2017 by Daniel Schinhofen
All rights reserved.
Francis shook hands with the man who was introducing himself. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Brouch. I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to inform the other testers of the guild I’m part of. Also, for allowing me to hand out the shirts we had made.”
With a smile Alvin Brouch replied, “It’s wonderful to see our testers wanting to band together. I’m sure that you’ll all shoot right past our expectations of the leveling curve. My secretary did mention there was also another topic you wanted to discuss today?”
“Yes. I was curious if you had any plans to extend your test period past a single month. If you do, is there any way to sign up for it now? Miss Dorn and I are extremely interested in participating in a longer test period. That would mean there are arrangements we’d need to make tonight, before the medical exams tomorrow.”
Pushing his glasses a little further up his nose, Alvin looked over the man seated across from him. “Interesting that you should ask that. We have just finalized plans to offer a three-month and a sixth month test immersion to our testers. We were planning to announce it tomorrow during the exams. Giving those people who’re interested a chance to arrange to participate in the longer immersion. I was surprised by the legal packet indicating that you are Miss Dorn’s legal aid and our primary contact point with her.”
“Yes. As has been stated, she wishes to remain incognito as much as she can. We would both like to sign up for your six-month immersion test now, if it’s at all possible. If not, we’ll wait for the announcement.”
“It would do something for our PR department to note that a member of the well-known Dorn family is playing our game. Do you think she would agree to doing an endorsement?” Alvin sat back with a poker face, waiting for Francis’s reply.
“Send an agreement to this email,” Francis said, handing over a card. “One of our lawyers will look it over tonight. If it is acceptable we’ll have a signed copy for you in the morning.”
“I’ll have it sent out within the hour,” Alvin said with a smile, taking the card. “There is something I’m curious about, if you don’t mind me asking. How did you get onto the immersion test list so quickly? Miss Dorn has been on the list since beta ended, but you were only added when the immersion trial was announced.”
“It’s all in who you know, Mr. Brouch.” Francis stood up to his full six-and-a-half-foot height. Brushing his golden bangs out of his eyes, he put on his sunglasses, “It has been a pleasure, Mr. Brouch. Thank you for your time.”
“The pleasure has been all mine, Mr. Bennet. I’ll see you in the morning. Have a good night,” Brouch shook hands with Francis and they parted ways.
The next morning at six, Marysue Dorn and Francis Bennet entered the lobby of Mindblown’s testing building. Behind them came a man with a dolly that had four boxes stacked on it. The receptionist looked up with a frown as they entered. Francis walked over to her as Marysue directed the man with the cart. “Good morning, miss. I have paperwork with me for Mr. Brouch. He should be expecting me, I am Francis Bennet.”
The woman looked down at the notes on her desk, her professional smile becoming fixed in place. “Of course, Mr. Bennet. I will inform Mr. Brouch that you are here. Are those the gifts for the other testers?”
“Indeed,” Francis smiled, “I see the tables are set up already. I’ll go get things arranged while we wait.”
“Of course, sir,” The receptionist pushed her black hair back behind her ear, with a bright smile that was more than just professional. “Would either of you like coffee or anything?”
“No, we’re fine, thank you,” Francis gave her a polite smile before he went to join Marysue. The man who’d pushed the dolly in was opening the boxes. “We’re good, Joe. You can take off.”
Joe looked up, “Okay, Francis. I think you’re nuts, you know, telling your dad you’re taking six months off. I heard that argument through the damn wall last night.”
“Dad will settle him down,” Marysue put in as she dug shirts out of a box and began to set them on the table.
Joe shook his head, his eyes going from her to Francis. The sheer pity in Joe’s eyes for Francis slid right off Francis, who had been getting that same look for years. “Well, you two have fun then. See you in six.”
Francis watched his friend and assistant go then turned back to the business at hand. He helped Marysue arrange all the shirts, stacked by size. They each already wore an identical shirt, along with a name tag. Francis’s tag read ‘Gerald’. A number of sharpies and name tags were on the table next to the shirts.
“That didn’t take long,” Alvin called out as he approached them. “I take it everything is in order?”
Francis handed the contract to Alvin, “Signed and delivered. Once you sign off on it send a copy back to the law firm noted on the document, please.”
“Of course,” Alvin said, turning his attention to Marysue. “Miss Dorn, it is a pleasure to have you with us for the long test. I received a call just this morning from your father. He was quite eager to learn more about our technology, it seems some of his charities might be able to benefit from what we can offer. So on behalf of MindBlown Entertainment, you have our thanks.” He extended his hand, his best smile on his face.
Francis blocked the hand, “Sorry, Mr. Brouch, but Miss Dorn doesn’t shake hands with people.”
Alvin faltered slightly before he withdrew his hand, “Oh, right. I forgot about her condition. I’m sorry, I was just so happy to have you both here. I’ll just go get these documents taken care of. I’ll see you again for the presentation.” Alvin went away with the contract in hand.
“It’s not a condition,” Marysue sighed, her voice pitched low. She brushed her blonde hair back from her face. “I just don’t like people, especially fake people. It’s just like in school, everyone wanting to know what I can do for them.”
Francis nodded, “I know, Mary. I’m here for you and soon we’ll be there for six months, just like you wanted.”
“I wanted the rest of my life,” she replied, but she gently touched his arm and gave him a blinding smile. “I’ll take what you could get me. Thank you, Francis. You have always looked after me, even when I’ve been a bitch.”
“Call me Gerald,” Francis said. “Time to get used to our new life for the next six months, right?”
“Glad mine is easy. Still Mary, same as always,” Marysue replied with a smile.
They were chatting about what they were looking forward to when the next person for the testing showed up a few minutes later. Tall, thin, with thick glasses perched on a sharp nose. The man had an odd, jerky way of moving, as though he weren’t used to his own legs. Gerald went to meet him as the man spoke to the receptionist.
“I’ll just wait over there then,” the man was saying, when he turned to find Gerald beside him. “Can I help you?”
“I take it you’re a fellow tester?” Gerald asked with his business smile in place.
“Uh yeah, I’m Kyle Smith.” The man was looking over the shirt Gerald wore. “You one, too?”
“Indeed.” Gerald gestured over at Marysue, who was by the tables with the t-shirts. “My fellow guild member and I brought gifts for everyone in the immersion test. Why not come on over?”
The man followed Gerald over to the table. Marysue wasted no time discovering the man’s shirt size. Soon, he had a shirt and name tag. “The shirt is yours to do with as you will, but no more of them will ever be made. It was an idea of mine to drum up recruitment for our guild in Alpha World. Feel free to slap your character name on the tag, we all might as well get used to calling each other by our ‘names’.”
The man chuckled, “Sure. Call me DrBone, then.” The man proudly wrote his character name on the tag and stuck it on his chest. “I’m gonna drop the shirt in my car. They told us not to bring anything extra with us for the immersion.”
“Mr. Brouch, the man in charge of this test, has approved everyone having the shirts. I’m sure they’re expe ...