When Taken Too Far
Feng Lan absently chewed on the end of her mechanical pencil and stared at the worksheet on the table in front of her. She hummed for a moment, reading and re-reading the question. After a small sip of her iced fruit juice, she neatly wrote down an answer.
“Sis…” an elbow prodded her gently. She glanced to her left where Feng Yang Ming was staring at her in confusion. “What did you put for question three?”
“Why don’t you figure it out yourself?” she said, shifting her paper away from her twin brother’s prying eyes.
“Come on!” he whined. “Is it B or C? I’ve been stuck on it for ten minutes now!”
“It’s E,” muttered Zhuo Ling Bin from his seat across the table.
“Thanks!” Yang Ming cheerily circled the answer on his own paper.
“Zhuo-gēgē,” Lan shot Ling Bin a reprimanding look. “Quit giving him all the answers!”
“Sorry,” he said in a very unapologetic tone and playfully smiled at her.
“He’s only given me four, geez.”
Lan glanced at her brother’s sheet. “Yeah, and that’s all you’ve filled out so far.”
“Leave me alone, I’m trying to concentrate!”
She glared at him and turned back to her own paper. It didn’t take her long to finish the final question, and she flipped over her paper and set her pencil down on top of it.
“Ah, all done.”
“Don’t ask me.”
Ling Bin pushed his chemistry homework out of the way and closed his binder. “Xiao Lan, if you just give him the answers, he’ll shut up.”
“The professor said we could work together on that assignment,” Ling Bin sighed as he rested his chin on one hand.
“He’s right!” Yang Ming added needlessly.
Lan refused to give in to the pleading look in Ling Bin’s eyes. “There’s a difference between working together and mooching off one another! He’s already enough of a moron without me helping him,” Lan snapped and tucked her worksheet into her bag before Yang Ming could take it. “It’s only ten questions long, he can…” her words dropped off as she suddenly turned to look out the cafe window where she’d seen something large, brown and hairy-looking out of the corner of her eye. It wasn’t there anymore, whatever it had been, but several people on the sidewalk outside were looking over their shoulders with startled looks. “What was that?”
“What?” Yang Ming leaned forward to look out the window, too.
“I saw something weird.”
“That guy over there in the red car is picking his nose.”
Lan punched his shoulder. “You idiot, I didn’t mean that! Get back to work, our break is almost over!”
“Okay, okay, sheesh. You’re so violent.”
Ling Bin shakily tried to take a drink of his tea as he laughed. Lan glanced out the window again, but couldn’t see anything that resembled the whatever-it-was. She gave a mental shrug and pulled her glass of juice closer to take another drink.
A few minutes later, Ling Bin suddenly inhaled the majority of his tea. Coughing as hard as he could, he covered his mouth as his face turned bright red. His eyes quickly began to water as he fought to breathe again.
“Whoa!” Yang Ming exclaimed and pulled his paper away from the tea that had spilled on the table when Ling Bin lost his grip on his tea cup and dropped it.
“Z-Zhuo-gēgē!” Lan stood up in alarm and leaned over the table. “Are you okay?”
Rather than looking distressed at nearly drowning in tea, he looked more like he was laughing. He shook his head at her worried look and pointed out the window. Lan turned again and watched wide-eyed as two police officers chased a man down the sidewalk. Yang Ming stood up and looked over Lan’s head.
“What the heck?”
Ling Bin finally managed a wheezing laugh between his coughs.
Lan didn’t know whether she should laugh, too, or be scared of the person who was being pursued. He was dressed in gray clothes with a thick, studded leather belt around his waist. A giant battle axe that looked like it was made of plastic was hanging at his hip and bouncing to and fro as he ran. His extremely hairy legs were bare from mid-thigh where his clothing ended, to his shins where the tops of his boots started. Wrapped around his shoulders was a huge fur cape that flapped out behind him. His impressive-looking mustache and scraggly beard were poking out from under the helmet he was holding onto his head with one hand so it wouldn’t fall off. His cheeks were flushed red and he was running in a very wobbly manner as if he’d been drinking recently.
“I think that’s what I saw earlier,” Lan said as she involuntarily leaned closer to the glass.
The group disappeared momentarily behind a building as the strangely-dressed man ran into an alley across the road and then popped back out at the other end. He scrambled haphazardly over the hood of a car, slid off the other side, and once again flashed past the cafe window. A patrol car pulled up and two more policemen piled out and bodily tackled him to the ground as he made to escape into the cafe. With a great deal of struggling, the policemen managed to handcuff him and squash him into the back of the patrol car.
The three watched in silence as the policemen drove away, leaving a large number of stunned people in their wake.
“Second Life gone horribly wrong,” Yang Ming laughed and collapsed back into his chair.
Ling Bin nodded and breathed deeply, still chuckling. “I guess some people take the game too far…”
“Way too far,” Lan mumbled and pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. Her eyes widened as she looked at the time. “Crap! We’re late for class!”