Toekenz was far from the silent comfort of my apartment. Neon lights. A clink of glasses toasting. Singing and dancing. A live band playing in the distance next to the pool tables. I stood out as the one person in a hoodie. A bar was the last place you’d find me, but this place was an exception.

“Hey, professor!” I waved at the old man wiping a glass behind the counter.

“Keo, my boy. Please. Call me Marshall. I'm retired.” Setting the glass down before me, he continued. “It’s been a while. What’ll it be today?”
“The usual. Just a glass of water and your company.”

I did not have many friends from college, and those I had were miles away. I always come by Marshall’s bar whenever I’ve stayed too long in my room, though I’ve never ordered alcohol on any visit. It was my means of passing time before I got back to work. I flipped through the channels on the TV to my right while waiting for him to finish serving the other customers.

“This just in! A mysterious group of hackers have been kidnapping people for ransom using the Metaverse...

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1:53 AM·Jun 10, 2022 ·Translate