We led the gamers to the pier and watched as the king’s landing craft inched its way to the mooring. Several sailors jumped out and lashed the ropes. Another sailor, in uniform, walked down the ramp and over to where we were waiting. The gamers grumbled as we instructed them to look up from their phones, then grew quiet as the sailor began to speak. When he announced that all of them were being invited to a lavish buffet aboard the king’s ship, they burst into cheers. When Lmao said he never gets any party favors, Deadpan told him he has to toot his own horn.
We’re bringing cookies, crackers, and candy to the beach as fast as we can–Earth teenagers can really eat. Meanwhile the king informed us that he has stationed a contingent of ships off our shore. He stated further that the ships are intercepting gamers and taking them aboard. The strategy appears to be working as the onslaught of arrivals has slowed to a trickle. The teenagers are reporting sea monsters; Deadpan says there must be something in the water.
We always knew that Deadpan didn’t arrive at Alien Resort by spaceship like the rest of us. Instead, his story reads like something out of science fiction: Deadpan once lived in an alternate universe. For some technological or political reason his situation became untenable and he escaped through a wormhole. Now for the first time we’re learning that he was a prince who presided over a large realm, and that his creation of the video game Alien Search is a manifestation of a natural desire to create and preside over a sphere of influence. When I told Deadpan that I once changed careers and began making airlocks, he said: “One door shuts and another one opens.”
Then we turned to Deadpan and asked him what he knows about the computer game Alien Search. Deadpan never gushes but he seemed immensely proud as he explained how he conceived the idea of a reality game and then developed the software for Alien Search. Plucky was furious: “How could you hide this from us?” Deadpan looked surprised then replied that he thought he was the only one interested in this type of thing. Deadpan also has an idea for a toy but he doesn’t know if it’ll be successful. He says it’s a cat and mouse game.
Justin is telling Plucky and me that he learned about the Alien Search computer game from a popup ad on his smartphone. According to the ad, the first level would be reached when the user purchases a ticket to Hawaii from a sponsoring airline. Justin states that his mother lets him use her credit card for after-school events and has never told him that he isn’t allowed to purchase plane tickets to Hawaii. Lmao invented a fireproof suit but he says he’s not about to ride off into the sunset.
As Plucky and I scan the beach wondering what to do next, our attention is focused on two areas of interest. First, all of the gamers who arrived after Justin are treating him like a rock star, snapping pictures with their phones and recording his every move to share on their social media accounts. Of greater concern to us however is the fact that Deadpan is always at his side, whispering to him and helping to keep the crowd at bay. We summoned both of them to my spaceship. I don’t understand the appeal of impressionism; Deadpan says it’s just different strokes.
I’m beginning to lose count of the number of rubber rafts washing onto our shore. An occasional ka-ching sounds forth as one more gamer touches onto the beach and announces his or her ascension to a new level. As I help with their rafts and direct each of them to a shaded area, Plucky and the others hurry to and from our spaceships, bringing sunscreen and juice boxes. Lmao had a race with a whale once; he says it blew him out of the water.