“It looks like the lights are off,” I say, staring at the ominous black square that is Thrill-Kill’s SMN window. The worry center of my brain entertains the very real possibility that she lives inside a supermassive black hole. Which would explain a lot.
“You’ll need a scout,” Ernie suggests, and leans to one side, props his arms on the floor, and shifts onto all fours, raising one leg, then the other until eventually he’s in a standing position. He holds out his hand. “Give me your phone.”
I flinch away from him. “It’s stuck on Thrill-Kill’s server, thankfully. And besides, I’ve revoked your borrowing privileges.”
“What? How come?”
“You broke my phone—and my laptop.”
“Broke them in, you mean.”
“They were already broken in, thank you very much.”
Ernie rolls his eyes. “Oh, please. They were both total virgins.”
“Dude, everyone knows the only way to take a phone or laptop’s cherry is by downloading porn. Hentai at the very least.” Ernie nods at Beta. “Back me up.”
Beta nods back. “It’s true, little dude.”
“All you had on your sweet, virgin little devices,” Ernie continues, facing me again, “was some progressive rock and ordinary, vanilla manga. That’s like kissing a girl on the wrist. Your shit’s factory fresh, Tommy boy. If it hadn’t been for me, your various cherries would be shriveling into raisins.”
I glance down at the flickering, moaning remains of my laptop. “You’re thinking of grapes, gas giant. And you didn’t just take my laptop’s cherry, you…you raped it.”
“That’s a little violent, don’t you think?” Beta asks, and waves his sword offhandedly, picks a piece of dust from the blade.
“You can rape someone’s laptop without becoming violent,” I explain. “It’s the simple act of forcing a laptop to do what you want it to that’s wrong.”
Ernie blinks at me. “Then…didn’t you violate your laptop by forcing Ubuntu onto it?”
“I installed Ubuntu, if that’s what you mean.”
“And it was consensual? Your laptop accepted it willingly?”
“Well, I had to turn off Secure Boot in the BIOS, and I recompiled the kernel to get basic sound support, but—”
“Rape,” Ernie interrupts, shaking his head.
“I didn’t rape my laptop!” (I can’t believe I just said that out loud.)
“You vicious monster.”
“Go home, Ernie.”
He flicks me off, turns to Jan. “Are you going to be a douche, too, or can I borrow your phone?”
Without looking up, Jan, still seated on the floor, pulls out his phone and tosses it to Ernie. “Here, Leviatan.”
Ernie starts tapping away.
“Who are you texting?” I ask, suspicious.
“Patience, pedo’s delight.”
Momentarily, Eva—in undies and a T-shirt, and wielding a baseball bat—downloads into my room. She’s got an alarmed look on her face. “What? What’s the matter? Is everything okay?”
At that moment, two things happen: one, Ernie rips one. Like, he really rips one. It sounds like a ham and cheese sandwich clapping, smells like days-old pinto beans smeared over a rotting cadaver that’s been fermenting inside a giant block of Limburger cheese. Two, Dad, looking bleary-eyed and disheveled from overtime at Nakayoshi’s office, happens to crack the bedroom door, stick his head inside.
On witnessing the proceedings, he mutters, “Oh.”
Which pretty much sums up the key bullet points of the present scene:
- Asian warrior dude with sword and shield.
- Deer-in-headlights underwear girl holding baseball bat.
- Fat Pikachu caricature giggling proudly and wafting eerie tendrils of inexplicably visible flatum toward random Euro-ghetto kid.
- Living ghost of Tommy Carlton face-palming himself.
A single spark escapes one of Dad’s ears, and he closes the door without another word.