She’s beautiful! How do I know her? Who cares, she’s beautiful and standing outside my office door.
“Hello. Can I help you, ma’am?”
“Hey, handsome! I’m going to let you take me out to dinner!”
“Well, uh, I was actually fixing to head home. I have papers to grade. But, okay. I do need to eat dinner. Let me get my coat!”
How do I know this woman? Is she one of my students? No, my students don’t look like that. I’ve seen her somewhere before. Do I have amnesia? Was I in an accident? Am I dreaming?
“I like your office, Professor!”
I like your…uh…(glances at breasts)…your red hat!”
“haha! Let’s go!
She has the face of a model! No, an actress. I knew I’ve seen her before! That’s it!! She’s Mad…
“So, Professor. You know I don’t expect you remember my name.”
“Huh? Of course, I do! You’re …”
“…Mae. All the way Mae, they call me.” She winks.
The two of them smile at each other. Meanwhile, somewhere across town, poor Helen is still looking for her red hat.
Red hat, Blue rat, One rat, Many rats,
"A loud knock at the door startles you. You open it to find a woman in a red hat staring back. You've seen her before but can't place her." The video game text said. Under the short sentence, it listed the few action options available. There were only three, the first one was to say hello while the second option was to close the door without saying a word. The third option was to leave the door open, but say nothing. Adam looked through the options one last time before picking the first one, the other two options were just awkward. There was a slight pause as the game site calibrated his option, Adam's internet was a bit slow, so he got up from the couch and got a orange soda from the fridge. It popped open with a slight hiss as he sat back down on the couch and moved the laptop back onto his lap. The site had loaded and he could see the lady's reaction to his short greeting.
"Oh, why thank you Mr. Greatestever." Mr. Greatestever, was the name Adam had decided on for his character, "I am Rojala, your new neighbor, I live in that small hut," she said as she point to Mr. Greatestever's left. "I have a bit of a rat problem, and I was wondering if you would be able resolve it for me."
The reply options, only two this time, was to tell her to get lost, or say he would gladly help in getting rid of her rat problem. It was a basic beginning quest. Adam, or Mr. Greatestever, chose to help.
"Oh, why thank you Mr. Greatestever. Here take this, it should be of help," Rojala said has she gave Adam's short blond character a knife, described as an old, rusty, and bent knife, with low value. "I saw a rat in my backyard, and it ran into the cellar when I screamed. There are probably more down there. I will pay you three coppers when you are done." Finished, she headed back into her house. Mr. Greatestest started walking around the village as Adam finished his soda, his third one of that Saturday morning. The graphics were pretty good for a free online game, but Adam did not see any ads, yet. He had found the game while surfing the internet, he was bored, so he downloaded it and started playing. He chose a mage character. He went and tossed the soda can in the kitchen trash and went back to his couch and laptop. It was time to shoot rats with some fireballs. Technically the beginning spell was called minor firesphere, but it was a fire ball anyhow, just a little weaker.
Mr. Greatestever equipped the fireball spell and went to the back of the neighbors house. There was a single blue rat in the backyard. Mr Greatestever shot it with a small, minor, fireball. It died with a single hit. "That was too easy,"Adam said as Mr Greatestever went in down into the cellar. There was a loading screen and then the cellar appeared on screen. There were rats everywhere. There were at least twenty rats in the main room alone, and Adam saw that there were two doors. There probably were more rats behind each of them.
Mr. Greatestever started shooting fire balls everyway, however, he had only shot and killed 4 rats when a message flashed on the screen. "Need more energy," it said, flasing red with a black background. Mr. Greatestever then got bitten by a rat. "Low health," the message said, with the same background. The single bite from the rat had taken more than half his healthbar down. Mr. Greatestever turned to exist the cellar. The game blocked him.
"That is odd," Adam said. Another message popped up onto the screen, again the same background.
"Unable to leave during combat." The rat bite one more time. Mr. greatestever dropped dead. The message"You died" flashed on the screen with some sad background music as the screen turned black.
"Shot,' Adam said as he went to get another soda. When he got back to the couch, there was another image with a caption.
"Pay $1.00 to come back to life." It said, with info underneath to add card details.
"Oh, so that's how they make money," Adam said. He pulled out his wallet.
The Red Bonnet
The floorboards creaked annoyingly as I paced back and forth across the display room of my hat shop, the sunlight streaming in through the open slats of the windows and bouncing catty-wompusly off every surface. I sniffed loudly as a proper English gentleman, my mustache bristling, and simultaneously and silently berated each of the young women that worked dutifully at their stations for not working more efficiently, and the clock for not reaching closing hour soon enough. Both the workers and the clock paid me no mind as they always seemed to do.
Finally, right as the minute hand found its way to the twelve, I reacquainted everyone diligently at work with my voice, as a trumpet reacquaints those asleep with consciousness so early in the morning. Rather used to the daily routine, each young lady finished tidying up their station, gracefully hoped off their stool, and bid their kind 'good evening' to me as they headed out the door, homeward bound.
Gleefully, I pranced about, closing the shutters, drawing the drapes, and set about to locking the door with the ridiculously large brass key my father had left me all those years ago. Happy to retreat to my own living quarters above the shop and enjoy reading over my dinner, I was greatly peeved when a resounding knock rasped at the door behind me. I spun on my heels to address the matter swiftly, albeit in the most gentlemanly fashion I could obtain on such an empty stomach.
I turned the key and swept the door open to find the largest red bonnet I had ever seen staring back at me. To be frank, the bonnet was simply worn by the wrinkly faced inquirer, rather than doing the inquirer, but it was the first thing I saw as I stood several heads taller than the woman at the door. She had two beady blue eyes under a tuft of white hair, and a nose the size of a bulb, reminding me of a sweet potato that I had for dinner the night before. Other than the red hat, she wore a light blue dress patterned ridiculously with white flowers and birds and two red shoes no larger than a scone each. She carried an enormous yellow handbag, speckled with little pink lady bugs and a great wooden handle. While I knew that I had never met such an absurd character in all my life, something at the back of my mind was telling me otherwise.
"I'm sorry madam, but we are quite closed. You may return tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock. Good evening." I said in proper English fashion, delivering the appropriate nod of my head and quite proud of myself for my politeness on an empty stomach. Thinking that was that, dismissing the faint recognition in the instinctual part of my brain, I shut the door with a click and turned the key back in the key hole.
Now if that were the end of the story you would wonder why I wasted your time with such triviality, but indeed it was not.
Once again I turned on my heels, approaching the stairs to my living quarters when who should appear sitting on the top step but the red bonnet herself once more. I blinked, mustache bristling with anger and fear, and stormed up the steps toward her. "Dear madam, I don't quite know how you arrived at this step without my seeing you, but I can assure you that we are indeed quite closed and this area of the shop is quite restricted to the public. I bid you a quiet good evening." I said, perhaps a bit less gentlemanly than appropriate, and pressed myself against the wooden railing of the stairs, pointing the way down as if the woman did not know her way to the exit.
The red bonnet smiled up at me, further wrinkling her face like an old prune. "Now is that any way to address the woman who is responsible for all your success, my dear sir." Her voice was creaky and muffled, as if it were being transmitted through a payphone into another payphone somewhere expansive and dank, and her sweet potato nose bobbed up and down as she spoke.
"Responsible for- I do say I know nothing of this nonsense you peddle. And I want no more of it!" My pointing finger grew more insistent in its direction toward the door.
The red bonnet stood up, a bit more spry than expected for her age and tossed her lady bug speckled bag at me, muttering "carry that for an old woman won't you?" and retreated to my living quarters down the hall.
The weight of the handbag nearly knocked me down the stairs had my red-faced adrenaline not been presently coursing through my veins. I stamped up the steps after her, shouting incredulous turns of phrase at her, hoping any one of them might so greatly offend her as to make her leave; but none did.
When I arrived at my quarters she had already found her way to the kettle on the stove and begun to brew herself a some tea.
"Madam! Whatever gives you the right to go prancing about in my quarters, above my shop, brewing yourself my tea, in one of my tea cups given to me by my father as you fancy?" I dropped her bag with a heavy 'thunk' on the floor.
"My, my, my. What your father neglected to mention..." The woman whipped around pointing a crooked, wrinkled finger at me. I fell, and began bouncing across the floor, rolling like a red buffoon to land at her feet in a crumpled heap. There she stooped to pick me up and run her fingers over my new body; a red pearl necklace strewn together with blue wire.
"...is that the price of his hat shop was his first born son." She placed me around her neck, and we disappeared into the quiet evening.