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'Caleko:' A 'Ready Player One' Fan Fiction

Nov. 14, 2014
By: Caleb J. Crosby

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Caleb Crosby posing with a copy of Ready Player One
Caleb Crosby

It’s been almost three months; three months since the Battle of Castle Anorak, three months since the end of the hunt, and three months since Parzival became the leader of the OASIS and of GSS. So much has changed in that time, both inside and outside of the OASIS. For one, no one has to worry about IOI or the Sixers anymore. The company was effectively shut down after Sorrento was found guilty of several accounts of murders. He himself was banned from ever accessing the OASIS and stripped of his title. A bunch of other Sixers had their accounts erased by Parzival personally once IOI was uprooted. All the indents at IOI were relieved, and GSS bought out just about everything their rival had owned. Anything else was either bought privately or made a public asset. Things were getting much better, for everyone.

This Parzival guy was filling the role that Halliday had left perfectly. When Parzival started restoring OASIS to pre-Hunt glory, I felt left out. I had lost my avatar account, Caleko, when the Sixers activated the Catalyst at Castle Anorak. But my despair was short lived, because Parzival revived almost every OASIS avatar that died (except for the Sixers of course). I’m telling you, this guy rocked. He didn’t even spend that much time in the OASIS anymore, but what he did outside of it was totally worth it. Aside from buying out IOI, he and the other avatars of the High Five helped to restore and rebuild a bunch of cities, create large farms, and even protect what was left of national parks. And now that life on Earth was getting better, I felt much better whenever I was in the OASIS. I knew I didn’t have to worry about the power going out in my apartment, meals were a lot easier to come by, and my job was once again stable.

What exactly was my job? As I said before, my avatar’s name was Caleko (a twist on the feline color scheme calico, and a homage the biotech company of the same name). My real name is Caleb, but like any sane OASIS user I kept my anonymity. The OASIS may have been better, but it was still by no means a safe place. Anyway, as Caleko I ran a small courier business. I’d transport supplies, weapons, documents, and pretty much anything else someone needed to be delivered. I’d even delivered a few things for Parzival back when the Hunt was still on. It was a good job, paid well, and I enjoyed it. But I enjoyed being a gunter even more. I was by no means the best; I hadn’t even found the second gate when Parzival won. I had fun though. A lot of gunters I knew were so serious, especially once Parzival and the others started getting somewhere. It didn’t matter now anyway, ‘cause Parzival won of course. But I still hunted around for other, less important Easter Eggs. I was actually able to finish The Hunt even after Parzival finished it, because he left it open for other avatars to complete for fun.

My favorite world to go to was Phantasma, one of many worlds with a mish-mash of hundreds of fantasy worlds, from Narnia and Middle Earth to Tamriel and Azeroth. You could literally fight Smaug and Alduin at the same time, and then take a ship to King’s Landing. I’m telling you, this place rocked. I made Caleko’s HQ on an OASIS original world that was made specifically for avatar residence. It wasn’t far from Phantasma, and that’s why I chose it. I lived on an island in a recreation of Jorvaskr from Skyrim. It came free with the fantasy builder template pack, but I had put my own touches on it. Instead of the Underforge, I had put in the Nolanverse Batcave. Instead of Alfred or Tilma the Haggard as my assistant, I had Cortana from Halo. My armada of vehicles was made up of a Black Pearl I had modified to operate like the ships from Treasure Planet, the Millennium Falcon, a Boeing Chinook, and various other smaller vehicles (some fictional, some not). I also had one of those big shuttle things from Avatar for big transports. And finally, my armory was probably my proudest bit of property. It wasn’t big by any means, but it was enough for me. I had a few things I had bought on my own, but most of my gear was things I collected on my escapades. I rarely got rid of anything, because I could either sell it off later or use it myself. I called my place Isla de Nerda.


One of my most memorable jobs happened about two and a half weeks ago. I was coming back from a trip to one of the dozens of Earth recreations in the OASIS. This particular one was modelled to be a post-apocalypse world like in Mad Max, The Book of Eli, and Fallout. I was there for a short and easy quest, one which required me to find Vault 101 and acquire a Pip-Boy 3000. Easy stuff. On my way out, Cortana notified me of a new job opportunity in the same sector. Some guild master wanted me to transport a couple items to a world a few sectors over, and he was going to pay top dollar for it too. It must have been pretty important, because he needed it done right away. I told Cortana to set a course, and I was there in just a few minutes.

The guild master and I met in his big mobile space station. When I got out of my Falcon, I was greeted by the guild master and four guards.

“You must be Caleko,” the guild master said, “right on time.”

We shook hands while I replied, “At your service.”

“Good to have you,” he said, “I’m sorry this was so short notice.”

I shrugged it off and said, “It’s no big deal. What can I do for you?”

The guild master smiled, and motioned for me to follow. He led me down a few hallways into his office. Once he was sure the door was locked, he went to a safe by his desk, opened it, and pulled out a tubular canister about two feet long and two inches in diameter.

“This is the only thing I need delivered,” he said rather seriously, “it’s very important.”

“Well, where does it need to be taken?”

The guild master sighed and took a seat. He looked at the canister as if parting with it would be parting with a piece of himself. I could tell this was a big deal, and that this guy was serious about getting whatever was in there to whoever it needed to go.

“Here’s the thing,” he began, “the recipient doesn’t know I’m sending this to him, but once he gets it he’ll understand. I would much rather deliver it personally, but circumstances have made that difficult. Now, if you are the man for the job, and I’ve heard you are, then I’m going to need to have some conditions.”

I was used to customers having special requests, so I simply nodded and said, “Shoot.”

“First off, I’m going to ask that you do not open this canister at any time. If you do so, it will explode and the contents will be destroyed, along with anyone within a ten yard radius. The only person capable of opening it is the recipient and myself. Second, I know you typically work alone, but on this job especially I’d ask that you involve or inform as few people as possible about what you’re doing. I can’t risk word of this item’s whereabouts getting out. Now if everything goes well, that shouldn’t be a problem. Thirdly: you will make no stops and do nothing else during this delivery except this delivery. I want you to get to my recipient as fast as possible and as soon as possible. Do you think you can do that?”

I thought for a moment, running through his requests in my head. It seemed like quite a task, and didn’t sound like a cheap job either.

“Well, this does sound like quite a job. I’m sure you know jobs like this can get pretty pricey…so I’d say this is going to cost you at least—“

“I’ll pay three-thousand up front, and ten thousand when you’re done.”

I nearly fell out of my haptic chair. That was a lot of money.

The guild master continued, “I’ll also cover any fuel and ammunition expenses you may have.”

“Whoa, whoa…ammunition expenses?” This guy said nothing about me having to shoot anybody. I’d dealt with bandits and pirates before, so this didn’t necessarily surprise me. I could hold my own, but bandits had gotten a bit more hostile since the end of the Hunt. “Am I going to have to shoot anyone?”

The guild master was quick to answer. “Well, hopefully not. But I am not the only one who knows about this item, if you catch my drift. That’s why I need it gone. But if I delivered it myself, then the uh…others that might want it would know I still had it.”

I could tell he was trying to be as decent as he could, given the circumstances. He was definitely serious about this job, and something told me that I wasn’t the first guy he’d gone to.

“Well, exactly what kind of ‘others’ would I need to look out for?”

The guild master sighed. “Well there’s really only one guy you need to look out for. His name is H8-eez. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.”

Had I heard of him? H8-eez (pronounced Hades) was the leader of a marauder group. I’d ran into his kind before. I’d actually done one or two jobs for H8-eez in the past, so he knew what I was. You could say we were business acquaintances. But something told me not to let my current employer know all this.

“I’ve heard of him,” I finally said.

“Well then, you should know he’s not the kindest character. I actually ‘acquired’ this item from him.”

“You mean you stole it?”

“All you need to know is that we had a business deal that went awry. The item is rightfully mine, but I had an agreement with H8-eez regarding the thing. I told him it’s been destroyed, but he may still think that I have it. If he finds out that I’m transporting it to my recipient, then things could go very bad for all of us.”

This deal was sounding a lot less desirable. But he was still offering quite a lot of money, and I could always use the extra cash.

“Alright, well if I’m going to do this job, I have some conditions of my own. First, I want five thousand up front. Second, I need to know who and where this item is going to. Third, I need some time to prepare, so the earliest I can get started is in the morning.”

The guild master didn’t wait a second to reply.

“Done,” he said sharply. “I knew I could count on you, Caleko.”

He stood and shook my hand. We then both went back to my ship, and I was pleased to learn that it had been refueled and restocked with ammo in the time I had been gone. We were soon met by a guild member who had the five thousand for me, and I quickly put it in my inventory. I then had Cortana transfer it to my account, and walked the guild master into the ship with me. He had requested that I don’t know the location until I get there, so he would personally enter the coordinates and save them to the ship’s mapping system. All he told me that it was in Sector 7, and to ask for a guy named Absalom once I got there.

Once I left, I went straight back to Isla de Nerda and prepped for the job. I researched all I had about H8-eez and his guys, and then did the same about the guild master and his men. The guild leader’s name was 0D1N, and apparently the guild was a privateer group up for hire, basically honorable mercenaries. I had no problem with that kind of people, because they usually worked for respectable reasons.

After I was done with my research, I got my gear ready. I started with my usual load-out: a .38 “Mare’s Leg” and a 12 gauge T-2 style 1887 shotgun in dual leg holsters, and my lightning-infused Damascus katana. Along with that, I always included my twin LAPD 2019 pistols in shoulder holsters, fire-bolt gloves, and a small array selection of different grenades. I decided to keep my new Pip-boy, because it did all the actual functions. It would help keep track of my inventory and avatar status. Another gadget I had recently made a very good use of was a Saiyan Scout headset, which allowed me to get an instant stat readout of any avatar or NPC I came across. I put a few random items in my inventory just in case I would need them, and finished it all off with my custom set of armor. I had pieced it together from auctions, quests, and shops, but had only recently finished it to the point I had aimed for. What was so special about it was that it could work in any zone: Magic only, Tech only, Chaos Zones, or areas where neither was allowed. When one part of armor was disabled because of a zone I might be in, another piece cancelled it out. And of course, some parts were just plain armor.

Once I was sure everything was set for the morning, I logged out of the OASIS. I took of my haptic headset and took a look around the room to make sure I was back in the real world. I may have made a living inside a glorified video game, but the real world was my home. Everything I did inside the OASIS effected my real life, and vice versa. I quickly got out of my rig and went into the main part of my flat. It wasn’t anything special, but I had made sure to get as many windows as I could in the living room. My place was a corner room, so I got a nice panoramic view of the Seattle skyline. I liked my windows, and I liked the outside world. Even as a gunter, I made a point not to be like all those kids in Japan. Living in a holed-up blackness was no way to live. Sad thing was, after the hunt, a bunch of the “missing millions” never came out of their self-imposed cells. Their complete withdrawal from society lead to no one ever knowing they had died in their haptic chairs. It was tragic, and a tragedy I was not going to be a part of.

I got some dinner and sat out on my porch, taking in the real-world air. It was times like this that I always had this fantasy about never going back to the OASIS. I knew I could leave anytime, and no one inside would ever be able to find out where or why I left. But it remained a fantasy. The OASIS was too important of an asset to my life. It was both a palace and a prison. I finished my meal and my self-reflection, then headed to bed.

I didn’t go straight to sleep, but watched a few episodes of the anime Sword Art Online. It was one of my favorites, and actually had a lot of similarities to the OASIS. SAO was what made me value the real world, because in the show, the avatars can never log out until they beat the game. The only other way out is to die. The twist was that if you died in the game, you died in real life. It was like a darker version of the OASIS. I watched a few episodes until I eventually fell asleep.


As soon as I was back in the OASIS the next morning, I got started with the delivery job. The coordinates I was given were very vague, and only seemed to tell me which sector to go to. I speculated that the setting 0D1N had made would work a lot like Fyndoro’s Tablet of Finding, where I would know the world once I got to the sector, and the final location once I got to the right world. Fine by me; I was going to make a lot of money from this job, and so it didn’t matter. The sector I was headed to was still a ways away, so I took advantage of one of the Millennium Falcon’s perks.

“Chewie, get us out of here!”

It was a voice command I had put in to activate light speed, so as soon as the words were out, I was zooming across the OASIS. As I was approaching the sector border about half an hour later, I was disappointed to find out that my fire-bolt gloves were of no use, since this was a no-magic zone. Once I reached the border, the light speed automatically disabled. That was expected, so I thought nothing of it until Cortana gave me a warning.

“Chief,” she said. She automatically would call her master “Chief’ like she did to John-117 in Halo. “Chief. We got a problem. There seems to be a blockade on the border.”

“Well, can we go around it?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” She replied, “the scanners are picking up traces of a tractor beam generated from the center of the blockade. If we tried to sneak through, they’d pick us up.

“But how far does it stretch?”

“Pretty far…it looks like they even control the closest warp gate. I’d suggest— We have an incoming transmission.”

I sighed, knowing things could get pretty ugly pretty fast. I was probably dealing with some pirate band looking to make a bit of money by charging avatars to enter this sector. It wasn’t very common, but the practice had grown in popularity in this area of the OASIS. I was on a time constraint, so I wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.

“Alright, Cortana,” I said, “put ‘em through.”

My radio intercom turned on, and it was silent for a few seconds. I then heard the sound of a voice I knew quite well.

“Is that you, Caleko?”

It was H8-eez. I silently cursed, hoping he hadn’t by some impossible way found out about my current delivery job. We may have been on decent terms, but if he knew about what I was here for, he could very well get less-than-friendly. I decided to play it cool.

“H8-eez,” I said, “it’s been a while.”

“Sure has,” he replied in a slightly more friendly tone. “What brings you out here?”

“Oh, you know…the usual.”

“I see. What’s your cargo?”

I had to think quick. If I told him what I really had, chances were he’d kill me and take the canister. If I told him something too unbelievable, he could catch on and know I was hiding something. I had to think of something believable.

“Fuel cells,” I finally said. “There’s a guy with a Warbird out there that needs them.”

“Uh-huh,” said H8-eez, “pretty simple stuff, eh? Tell you what: why don’t you some aboard, and talk a while, and I’ll let you get by without a fee? I need a favor anyway, and you’re here at the perfect time.”

I knew H8-eez wasn’t asking, so I had no choice but to agree. I told Cortana to begin a docking process, and let her deal with it as I tried to figure out a good way to hide the canister. The Falcon’s smuggler spots were out of the question, since anyone who knew anything about Star Wars would know about them. I decided to put it inside a compartment I had personally made in the cockpit. When I left to meet H8-eez, I made sure to have Cortana charge the light speed generator and lock the cockpit off, just in case.

H8-eez had a small armada of space-craft, but his flagship was a modified version of the Nostromo from Alien. And that was where I was headed. When I finally landed, I had to dock on the outside and enter through a hatch. H8-eez was waiting for me when the doors opened. He gave me a forced hug and a fake chuckle, knowing he was in control.

“Well, my friend, it is good to see you,” he said.

“Yeah,” I lied, “sure is, H8-eez.”

He looked me over, taking note of my gear and weapons.

“Caleko,” he began, “you’re sure packing a lot of power there. Expecting conflict?”

“Well, no, but I wanted to be prepared in case I ran into pirates,” I said. I put extra emphasis on “pirates” because I wanted him to know I wasn’t going to take his crap. He seemed to get that message, because he was at a loss for words for a few seconds. Finally, he nodded and pursed his lips.

“That’s a smart move, to be sure.”

I really needed to get going, so I tried to move the conversation along without being too conspicuous. “What do you need, H8-eez?”

He smiled. “Straight to business,” he said, “I like that. Come with me.”

I was lead down a few corridors until I was brought to the ship’s lounge, where H8-eez and I were left alone to talk. He looked at me in silence for a bit, then sat down.

“Do you know of a guy named 0D1N?” he finally said.

I tried to play it off as best I could. I really didn’t want to blow my cover now, especially since H8-eez had mentioned 0D1N. I finally just said “I’ve heard the name”. Hopefully he bought it.

“Well, I have something he might want to trade, and I need you to relay the message for me.” H8-eez stood and began pacing the room. “Just the other day, I came across a friend of his,” he continued, “he was in a bit of a pickle, and we— Well, let’s just say that we gave this person involuntary sanctum with us, if you catch my drift.”

I crossed my arms, hoping he wouldn’t say what I was thinking he would.

“Go on,” I pried.

“Well,” said H8-eez, “here’s where you come in, Caleko. I need you to go find 0D1N and tell him that I’d be willing to return his compadre if he trades me with a specific item.”

That’s exactly what I was hoping he wouldn’t say. But I kept my cool, or at least tried to.

“And what item is that, H8-eez?” I asked.

H8-eez chucked. “0D1N will know,” said the pirate. “Just tell him that we have Absalom, and he’ll know what to do.”

I tried very hard to mask my shock. My job had just gotten a lot harder, because Absalom was the guy 0D1N wanted me to deliver to. And now he was being held hostage by the pirates. I had a few options now: risk my chances and fight my way to this Absalom guy I didn’t even know. That could get us both killed. I could also just do what H8-eez wanted and go back to 0D1N and deliver the ultimatum. And lastly, I could get out of here and run. However, the last option could result in me getting on both the guild’s and the pirates’ wanted list. I decided to try and combine the three as best I could.

“Alright, H8-eez,” I said, “I’ll help you out. But you better pay me well, and I want to see this Absalom guy first. Before I go look for 0D1N, I want to make sure you’re being legit.”

H8-eez nodded. “That’s fair,” he said. “Alright then, come with me.”

He led me out of the lounge and down a few hallways. We stopped at the door to a cargo hold I assumed was remodeled to be a prisoner cell. H8-eez opened the door, and I stepped inside. I went past a few makeshift cells until we stopped at a well-constructed one. It had solid walls and a large steel door. H8-eez opened it, and inside was a young, scrawny avatar. This was Absalom. Even as an avatar, he looked like the stereotypical nerd. I found that peculiar, so it was another indicator that this guy was special. It turned to H8-eez.

“Can I speak to him alone, please?” I asked.

H8-eez thought a moment. “I’ll give you five minutes. I’ll send for you when I’m ready.”

He turned and left, shutting and locking the door behind him. I looked at Absalom for a bit in silence. He was simply sitting at a small table, bound and looking at the ground. It looked like he’d been here a while.

“Are you Absalom?” I asked. The kid perked up and looked at me, obviously not knowing my voice. “My name is Caleko. I hear you’re pretty important.”

Absalom looked away.

“How long have you been here?”

“Almost three days,” he croaked. “I haven’t left this cell in three days. I can’t even log out.”

“How is that possible?” I asked.

“This is a special cell,” he said, “It’s got custom walls that make anyone inside it unable to log out.”

Sure enough, when I tried to log out myself, that option was blocked. This just kept getting more interesting. Even though he couldn’t log out, Absalom could’ve just taken his gear off and left his console on. But given his situation, it would be stupid move. When he was away, someone could come in and kill his avatar. This guy needed help.

“I’m here for 0D1N,” I finally said. “I was supposed to deliver something to you from him.”

Absalom suddenly became very active. “What?! How did you get here then? Does H8-eez know? Do you still have—“

“Relax,” I cut him off, “everything is under control. H8-eez has no idea.”

“You need to get me out of here, man,” pleaded Absalom. “If we can get to where you have the item, I can get us both out of here no problem.”

“Would you be good with a gun up to that point?” I asked.

Absalom nodded that he could, so I pulled out one of my LAPD-2019 pistols and gave it to him.

“I’ll need that back,” I told him.

“Don’t worry,” he replied, “once we get out of here, it won’t matter.”

The sound of his voice told me he wasn’t exaggerating, so I just nodded back. My five minutes were almost up, which meant someone would be coming for me. Almost as soon as I realized that, the door opened and a pirate who thankfully wasn’t H8-eez walked in. He began to say I had to go, but is stopped him with my Assassin’s Creed-style hidden blade before he finished. The avatar fell dead, and I found the keys to Absalom’s bonds were among his possessions. I freed him, and then he took a few items from the dead pirate to aid in our escape.

We made our way out of the prison cells without more conflict, but I knew that wouldn’t be true once we left. I knew exactly where to go; I had memorized the layout of the Nostromo from countless viewings of the movie, and from several play-throughs of the Alien: Survival game series. It would be a short ways to my Falcon, but we would certainly need to fight our way through. When we stepped into the corridor, it was empty. Absalom and I cautiously rounded the corner, and there were two pirates walking away from us. We left them alone and ducked down another hallway. Just as we were about to go upstairs, a door behind us opened and out stepped another pirate. Absalom was quick to drop him, but the sound of gunfire was louder than I would have hoped.

“Go,” I said. “We need to hurry, someone would have heard that.”

We hurried on, only having to dispatch a few more pirates until we reached the docking bay. When the doors opened, H8-eez and a few other pirates were just coming in from the other direction. Everyone froze for a few seconds. Finally, H8-eez chuckled.

“You have got to be kidding me!” he said. “You were already hired by 0D1N, weren’t you? And you thought you could trick me.”

Getting in a conversation at this point would postpone the inevitable, which would be H8-eez killing me and Absalom. We had to act first, so I tossed a flash-bang at the pirates and then shot at the lock button to the access hatch leading to the Falcon. The door shot open just as the grenade went off and stunned H8-eez and his men.

“Get in, Absalom,” I said. We both dashed inside the hatch while dodging blind fire from the disoriented pirates. I stayed at the door and fired back, buying time for Absalom to get to safety.

“Caleko,” said Absalom, “if we can get to the item, we won’t have to fight them off while we escape.”

“It’s in the cockpit,” I said as I continued shooting, “but the door’s locked.”

I tossed another grenade, this time a frag. It killed a few pirates and gave me time to switch weapons and recede farther into my ship.

“Cortana,” I screamed, “allow Absalom cockpit access! Quick.”

“I’m on it,” she said.

The cockpit opened, and I hit the button to close the door to the Nostromo. It would buy us time, but we couldn’t leave just yet. If we did, H8-eez would definitely give the order to shoot us down. We had to kill him first. When I went into the cockpit, Absalom had already found the canister. He began to twist it open, but I stopped him.

“0D1N said that it would explode,” I said.

Absalom was unnerved. “Not if I’m opening it,” he reminded me. He twisted the lid off and dumped out the item inside. And boy was I shocked by what it was. It was the Elder Wand from Harry Potter. Unlike a lot of licensed products, the Elder Wand was not something anyone could get. There were only around five hundred in the entire OASIS. And this one was our ticket out of here.

“Please tell me that’s the real one,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” replied Absalom, “it’s the real deal. Come on, let’s finish this.”

We both exited the cockpit and went back to the hatch. Before I opened it, Absalom and I looked at each other. He handed back my LAPD-2019, and then nodded at me. When the door opened, we saw four pirates about to lift a massive laser cutter to the door with H8-eez standing just behind them. Their brief moment of surprise gave me time to dispatch the four pirates, leaving their leader alone and frozen in fear of what was to come.

“Nothing personal, H8-eez” I said, “just business.”

“Avada Kedavra!” shouted Absalom as he pointed the Elder Wand at H8-eez. The pirate leader quickly dropped dead and then disappeared. We were running out of time, so we couldn’t stay to rejoice.

“Let’s go,” I said as I ushered Absalom on board the Falcon. As soon as the doors closed, Cortana cast us off, and I was even quicker at flying to clear space and activating light speed. We were back with 0D1N within the hour.

When we finally landed, Absalom hastily got off the ship and met his guild master on the ramp. They laughed and embraced each other, then both turned to me as I exited my ship. 0D1N looked very pleased.

“Thank you, Caleko,” said 0D1N, “you don’t know what this means. If you ever need our help, you let us know. Oh, and the ten thousand has been transferred for you already.”

I nodded my thanks, said my goodbyes, and then went my way.


I was sitting inside Jorvaskr a couple days later, enjoying the 200-in-1 arcade cabinet I had used some of 0D1N’s payment for; that is, until my comm link beeped.

“Chief, you have an incoming call,” said Cortana.

I told Cortana to answer the call and put it on speaker. It was silent for a while, so I talked first.

“Hello?” I said.

“Is this Caleko?” said a voice that sounded like someone about my age.

“Speaking,” I said, expecting just another delivery job. But the caller’s next words totally changed my mind.

“I’m not sure you remember me, but I’m sure you’ve heard of me. I actually think you’d delivered a few things for me a little bit back.”

“What can I do for you, sir?”

“Oh, come on man. You don’t need to call me sir, I’m your age. But you can do something for me. I’m pretty sure you’re not used to tasks like this, but I think you’re the guy for the job. I got some good words from 0D1N, and I figured I’d give you a shot.”

The caller’s voice started to sound very familiar now. “Who is this?” I finally said.

“Oh man!” said the caller. “I totally forgot! Sorry man. This is Parzival…”


The End




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