Game Over
Author:James Patterson

Chapter 9

NUMBER 7 AND NUMBER 8, Colin and Ellie Gygax to the rest of the world, were having a romantic candlelit dinner in the penthouse apartment of the Game Consortium Tower. They were sitting at a priceless room-length table milled from the dense, richly veined wood of an extinct species of alien tree. And set in the middle of the table in front of them was a lacquered bowl made from the shell of an extinct tortoise-like alien.

“Ah,” said Number 7, slurping away at the soup it contained. “Endangered species jambalaya always takes my mind off my troubles.”

“Do you like it?”

“You’ve outdone yourself, my dear. Say, is that the Nicolarian I detect? The fruity, almost cherry-like overtones?”

“Very good, honey,” said Number 8. “It certainly is.”

One of several meats in the soup came from a Nicolarian, a species that resembled a gray-haired boa constrictor. Employees of Number 7 and Number 8 had just hunted the only one left last week, and now the two of them were eating it.

“Oh, Colin,” Number 8 went on, giggling. It was so very droll to call each other by their fake human names. “Ah,” said Number 7, chuckling along. “Perhaps there is some part of this unbearable charade I’ll miss.”

“I don’t think so; we won’t have time to miss anything.” Number 8 laughed.

“Once we launch the 5G editions and the gamers start tearing this world apart—”

“And once we have personally wiped out the last Alpar Nokian—”

“Ah, yes. Play the video feed. Let’s see him one more time!”

Suddenly, the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Tokyo went opaque and lit up with a high-resolution picture of a teenage boy climbing down off a bus with a homeless family.

“Will you just look at him?” Number 7 said. “So young, so firm, so vital, so—”

“Absolutely delectable,”

said Number 8, drooling into their shared bowl of soup.

“And soon to be the very last of his kind,” said Number 7.

“As these annoying humans would have to admit about their caviar and truffles: scarcity is the very best seasoning.”

“Well said, Colin,” Number 8 replied. “Let’s savor this one together, shall we?”

“Absolutely, Ellie,” said Number 7. And then, somehow, the two of them morphed into a shimmering cloud of gray specks that hovered over the bowl and consumed every last particle of soup.

And then they—or it—descended on the kitchen to eat the scraps.