Finding Audrey

Author: P Hana

Page 24

   

MUM

There! Wasn’t that amazing? Wasn’t it just the most gripping story?

FRANK

It was all right.

MUM

“All right”? Darling, it was DICKENS.

FRANK

(patiently)

Yeah. It was Dickens and it was all right.

MUM

Well, it was better than one of your inane computer games, you have to admit that.

FRANK

No it wasn’t.

MUM

Of course it was.

FRANK

It wasn’t.

MUM

(erupts)

Are you telling me that your ridiculous games can compete with a classic Dickens story? I mean, take the characters! Take Magwitch! Magwitch is unique!

FRANK

(unimpressed)

Yeah, there’s a Magwitch character in LOC too. Only he has, like, a better backstory than the Dickens one. He’s a convict, the same, but he can help any competitor.

AUDREY (VOICE-OVER)

He transfers powers.

FRANK

Except the competitor has to take on one of his crimes and pay the penalty—

AUDREY (V.O.)

Exactly. So you have to choose which power structure to go in at. And—

FRANK

Shut up, Aud! I’m explaining. Except you don’t know which penalty you’ve got till they make the choice. So it’s like a gamble, only the more you play, the more you can work it out. It’s awesome.

Mum is looking from Frank to Audrey and back again, in total bafflement.

MUM

OK, this makes no sense to me. None. What power structures? What is that?

FRANK

If you played, you’d find out.

AUDREY (V.O.)

Magwitch is a pretty amazing character.

MUM

Exactly! Thank you.

A slight pause.

MUM

The Dickens Magwitch or the LOC Magwitch?

AUDREY (V.O.)

The LOC Magwitch, of course.

FRANK

The Dickens one is just a bit…

MUM

(sharply)

What? What’s wrong with the Dickens Magwitch? What could be wrong with one of the great literary characters of our time?

FRANK

He’s less interesting.

AUDREY (V.O.)

Exactly.

FRANK

Two-dimensional.

AUDREY (V.O.)

I mean, he doesn’t DO anything.

FRANK

(kindly)

No offense. I’m sure Dickens was a great guy.

MUM

(to DAD)

Are you hearing this?

Mum’s been pissed off with us ever since Dickensgate. She made us tidy our rooms today, which hardly ever happens, and she found a cheeseburger in Frank’s room and it all kicked off.

I don’t mean a cheeseburger carton, I mean an actual cheeseburger. He’d taken about two bites and put it back into the box and left it on the floor, like weeks ago. It was buried under a pile of rank sports kit. The weird thing is, the cheeseburger didn’t moulder. It kind of fossilized. It was pretty gross.

Mum started on the hugest lecture about rats and vermin and hygiene, but Frank waved her away and said, “I have to go, Mum, Linus is like a minute away. You always say we have to be polite to guests and greet them.” He stomped downstairs and I felt a bit swoopy in my stomach.

Linus again. I didn’t think we’d be seeing so much of Linus while Frank was banned from computers.

Mum obviously thought the same thing, because she looked a bit thrown and called down the stairs, “He does know about your computer ban, doesn’t he?” and Frank said impatiently, “Of course.” Then he added, as he swung round into the hall, “But Linus can play LOC on my computer while he’s here, can’t he?”

Mum looked a bit flummoxed. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out. A moment later she was heading off to her bedroom, saying, “Chris? Chris, what do you think of this?”

That was all about ten minutes ago. I know Linus is here because I heard him arrive, a few minutes ago. He went straight into the playroom with Frank and I guess they fired up LOC straightaway. Meanwhile, I could hear Mum and Dad in discussion in their bedroom.

“It’s the principle!” Mum kept saying. “He’s got to learn!”

I think Dad was on the “They’re only kids, it’s all fairly harmless” tack and Mum was on the “Screens are evil and corrupting my son” tack, and they couldn’t agree, so after a while I got bored listening. I headed down to the den and here I am now, waiting.

No, not waiting.

Well, kind of waiting.

I put on an old episode of How I Met Your Mother and try not to calculate how long a game of LOC is, and whether Linus might come and say hello when he’s done. Just the thought of him is giving me little twinges. Good twinges. I think.

I mean, not that he needs to say hello. It’s probably the last thing he wants to do. Why would he?

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