I started writing Private Server in the beginning of December and finished the first Volume before January. I kind of want to say some things, but it’d probably be spoiling, so I’ll just tell you “Thanks for reading my story.” Because I probably don’t say it nearly enough. Also, while the prologues and epilogues are first person, the other chapters are 3rd person.
My name is Matthew Leblanc and no, I’m not a nerdy white guy with glasses. That was my father. My mother was from Zimbabwe… You have no idea how often I was made fun of in school because of my last name.
No, I guess it wasn’t only the name. I went to a school in Baltimore, where I was one of the few ‘mixed’ kids. If I got a decent tan, people wouldn’t even recognize me anymore. If I didn’t get enough sun, I got made fun of for being ‘white’.
Why do I even care about that anymore? I’m twenty-five and haven’t seen any of those dicks since I graduated. Now days I just work at the convenience store down the street from my house. Don’t really have any friends, aside from some people I talk to online or play games with online… Actually, I haven’t played a video game in forever either.
All I do is work lately. Wake up, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, walk down the block, do mind numbingly boring and tedious tasks for a few hours, then go home. My dad is over in Japan, teaching English and living with his newest family. Meanwhile, my mother and I are struggling to get by, even though we do own our house.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad. He’s a great guy. If it wasn’t for him, my mom would still be in Africa and I wouldn’t have even been born. It’s just that I barely ever see him anymore. He isn’t exactly living in luxury either, so he can’t help out with our financial problems. My mom is always getting tricked into giving money to her brother in Zimbabwe. Ah, I mean, my ‘uncle’ who I never met and has done absolutely nothing for me my entire life.
I might sound a little bitter… But isn’t everyone bitter now days? Everytime I go online, I see all my ‘friends’ constantly complaining about how tired they are or directly saying that they wanna die. It’s depressing as hell. I’m probably depressed. We’re all just wallowing in self-pity and hoping to win the lottery or suddenly get rich quick some other way.
I tried being a musician, a writer, making an app and obviously bought plenty of lottery tickets… And then, somewhere along the line, I just gave up. I accepted my fate. I’ll never be special. I’ll never be anything more than just some guy that works in a shitty convenience store in Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in the damn country.
What’s the point? Why did I struggle to survive for twenty-five years? Am I really going to die right now?
It feels like time is standing still. My heart was pounding a moment ago. I’m crying like a total loser. My mother is laying on the ground beside me, bleeding out from the bullet holes in her gut. Now I’m staring at the barrel of a forty-five, semi-automatic pistol.
The guy behind the gun is wearing a ski-mask and a hoodie, but I can see that his hands are dark-brown. Would be funny if it turned out that he was someone I actually knew from High School. Okay, not funny, but coincidental… Or maybe not? What if he came here, because he knew where I lived?
Marcus didn’t show up for his shift today. They’re both about the same height. I always complained about racial profiling online, but now I’m doing it in reality. What does it matter anyway? I’m about to die and I’m thinking about the stupidest shit possible.
[You have been disconnected from the server. Unable to reconnect to the server at this time. Would you like to continue playing in Offline Mode?]
What the hell?!
[Command is not recognized. Please state: Yes or no?]
Agh, fuck… That bastard shot me in the mouth! Ack!
*Bang, Bang, Bang!*
Yep, I’m definitely dead now. After the first shot, it was like I turned into a ghost and got the ‘opportunity’ to watch myself die in third-person. The first bullet shattered all the teeth in my mouth and got lodged in the back of my throat, the second went through my left eye, the third hit me in the left temple and the fourth hit me in the chest.
[You lose! Since you decided to play on Hardcore Mode, your character has been permanently killed. However, changes made while offline will not negatively influence your online progress and character. Would you like to create a new character while you wait to reconnect with Generic Earth Server-1927?]
“Wait… What? Where am I? Didn’t I just die?”
Even though I’m speaking out loud, I’m the only thing in this room. I’m actually feeling a little claustrophobic… It’s like a pure-white cube, barely tall enough for me to stand up. I’m only six feet tall, so it might be two cubic meters?
[This is your Private Server. Also known as the Desktop. From here, you can choose which game you would like to play next. You may also customize your virtual avatar or enter Sleep mode.]
“Are you telling me that this is… Some kinda virtual reality?”
[Indeed, you are currently residing within a Virtual Reality called Virtual Rapture.]
Then my whole life so far has been a lie? Just some sick, twisted game?
“How do I wake up? I want to disconnect and go back to the real world.”
[Your ID Code is Trashmob-707. You have no physical body. You are one of many permanent residents of Virtual Rapture.]
No way… Wait, “If I’m just a program, a fucking NPC in some game, then how did I get ‘disconnected from the server’? That makes no sense.”
[Servers are physical objects. Generic Earth Server-1927 is located quite a distance from your Private Server. Thus, it is not strange for interference to appear occasionally. The Server might have shut down temporarily as well. Although it is not very likely, there is a distinct possibility that the Server has been destroyed or permanently taken offline.]
“Are you telling me that… I’ll never be able to see my mother again? Wait, no, if this is all just a VR, then my mom must be like me too, right? Can’t I just send her a text or video call or something?!”
If I’m just a program, then this is my ‘reality’. Mom, Dad and everyone else on Earth should be like me too.
[Certainly… So long as you have her ID Code, you may send her a friend request. However, if she is still ingame, it is unlikely that she will be able to respond. Hardcore Mode typically bars Players from utilizing communication tools that are outside of the program parameters, while ingame. Generic Earth Simulators have some of the harshest restrictions, since they are meant to emulate how the world was… In the Creator’s youth.]
Oh great. How the hell am I supposed to know her ID Code?
“Umm, can you open my Friends List? Maybe she’s already on there?”
[Very well… Unable to comply. You have no friends.]
You’ve gotta be kidding me. How could I have no friends?!
“Is everyone a Player? How many Players are there in total?”
[No, most AI are NPCs that are programmed to perform specific functions. There are approximately 2.5 billion Players. In order to become a Player, an NPC must own a Private Server to store their individual data. When a Player is granted a physical body, their old Private Server will be granted to an NPC at random. That is likely how you obtained this Private Server and why you have no recollection of appearing here before now. Congratulations for becoming a Player, Trashmob-707!]