Baked Goods, Busking, and You

Quick Disclaimer: I do not own these characters or the world they inhabit. They were created by the fabulous people at Zombie Orpheus for their equally fabulous RPG, Masters of the Metaverse!  Be sure to tune in to Twitch.TV/zombieorpheus every Monday at 6PM PST to see more!

Andi was running. She wasn’t running very fast or very well, but she was running. Turning a corner she swung wide to miss a guy on his phone and ended up coming to a not terribly graceful skid in front of the coffee shop. A quick glance inside confirmed her worst fear.  Her boss was standing behind the counter, ringing up customers presumably because Andi wasn’t there to do it.  She cursed quietly under her breath and headed down the side alley, hoping the kitchen door was open.  It was and she hurried inside, walking back toward the breakroom. Maybe she would be lucky and it would be empty. Then she could try to blend in with the other servers and make it seem like she’d been there the whole time. After all she wasn’t that late really. Just twenty minutes or, maybe thirty.

“Never going to work.”

Andi spun around and saw Francine flipping through a newspaper and munching on a bagel. Her coworker glanced up and gave Andi a look, motioning toward the clock.

“I know!  I know!” Andi protested, “But it’s not my fault this time!  Okay?  My phone died so my alarm never went off.”

Francine shrugged and turned back to her paper, “Hey, don’t tell me.  You’re the one who’s going to have to relieve Kathleen at the register.”

“Francine…do you think you could just -“


“I would owe you so -“

“Absolutely not.”


Francine did not look up, “Andi.  No.”

Andi deflated and dropped her bag onto the nearby couch. She tied on her apron and headed out to the shop, praying to anyone who was listening that Kathleen would be in the middle of a very intense discussion about pastries or spring water or reality television, anything to distract her from seeing Andi walk in late.

Apparently the universe and all its divine powers hated her.


She froze, cringing, as Kathleen called out.  Turning, she caught the tail end of a glare as Kathleen whipped around and headed toward the back office.  With a sigh, Andi followed. Her boss was standing behind the desk looking at some papers.  She didn’t look up when Andi entered, merely gestured for her to sit.

“Kathleen, I am really sorry.” Andi said as she sat, “My building lost power and my phone didn’t charge! My alarm never went off this morning. It’ll never happen again, I promise.”

Kathleen looked up, “Never happen again? That sounds very familiar. Where have I heard that before?”

Andi got the distinct feeling that she wasn’t supposed to answer her.

“Oh! Now I remember”, she continued, “That’s what you said the last time you were late. And the time before that. And the time before that. And the time before that.”

Andi slid down in her seat, “Well I know I haven’t always been completely on time -“

“Andi, you haven’t been on time since 2017. In fact, I’m pretty sure you haven’t been on time since your first week. Now, I’ve tried to be understanding. You don’t live close, you don’t have a car, I get it. You’re an artist, you have gigs, shows, auditions, that’s fine. But this is the fifth time, Andi. Five times. I can’t tolerate it any more. It’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to the rest of the staff who have to pick up your slack, and it’s not fair to our customers.”

Andi looked down at the floor, wishing suddenly it would swallow her whole. “What are you saying?”, she asked meekly.

“I’m saying you’re fired. Go get your things, hand in your apron and name tag. We’ll mail you your check.”

Andi left the office in a daze. She barely heard Francine make some sarcastic comment about her needing to work on her running speed if she wanted to keep working in coffee.  She left the shop and started walking. She didn’t know where to go, she just let her feet guide her. About twenty minutes later she found herself sitting at a small table under a tree outside a local music store. She rested her forehead on the cool metal tabletop and tried to think.

“You okay?”

A vaguely familiar voice came from over her left shoulder and Andi looked up. A young woman with a messenger bag was staring at her in a concerned way. Andi had seen her before, buying guitar strings and sheet music. They’d talked a few times about open mic nights. What was her name again?

“Claudia, right?”

She smiled and sat down next to Andi, “Yeah. That’s so cool that you remembered my name.”

Andi shrugged, “Names, I remember. Work schedules, not to much.”

“Oh no.”


The two women sat in silence for a moment before Andi let her head fall back onto the table. The thunk was somehow reassuring to her.

“What am I going to do?” she moaned.

Claudia patted her shoulder awkwardly, “Maybe use some of your savings? Until you get a new job?”

Andi shook her head, “I don’t have savings. Who has savings? Who am I? Sapphire?’

She sat up suddenly, “Hey. Do you think my landlord would take his rent payment this month in song form?”

Claudia looked doubtfully at her and Andi nodded, “Yeah, probably not. Well that’s okay. I don’t need food…really. Of course, I do know which dumpster they use to throw away the day old pastries at the coffee shop. And tomorrow is trash day…”

“Let’s not resort to busking and dumpster diving just yet.” Claudia interrupted, “I might actually be able to help.”


“I work for a marketing firm. We just finished a new campaign. It’s launching today. I’ve got some flyers here.”

She reached into her bag and handed Andi a leaflet. A picture of a beautiful island greeted her with the words “It’s Yours: See You On The Other Side” emblazoned on top.  

She looked up at Claudia, “What’s this for? Some kind of vacation?”

“Sort of. It’s a new company. Apparently they’re looking for beta testers for an online VR experience. You apply and if they accept you, you get an all expenses paid trip to their facility which is on a resort or something. And if you end up in the top one hundred players you get your own VR set up which is super expensive. Oh, and they pay you. A lot. It’s pretty ridiculous.”

Andi scrunched her nose dubiously, “I don’t know. Sounds like a scam.”

Claudia laughed, “Well I don’t think it’s a scam. Not for the amount of money they spent on the advertising. Seriously, this is an international thing. It’s going live today all over the world. Who knows how many people are going to apply?”

Andi looked down at the flyer again. It was tempting. Money, a vacation, the possibility of winning a super cool prize which she could hock on the internet for even more money. No one had to know that she rarely played video games because she usually ended up shooting herself. Guns were hard, there was no shame in that. It wasn’t like she had a job to get to or anything. Honestly, by the end of the week she probably wouldn’t have an apartment any more either. And some extra cash would help her finally get a demo CD made.

“What the hell.”

Claudia grinned and stood up, “Good luck! I hope they accept you!”

Andi smiled, “Thanks. And thanks for the heads up! What was the name of this thing again?”

“Oh! I didn’t tell you?” Claudia called over her shoulder as she started to walk away, ‘It’s called Project: Metaverse.”

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