Sophia sighed as she scrolled through her tablet. She went back and forth over the same list, as if hoping to wipe it out with her finger.
“What’s wrong, Sophy?”
Erika sat across the table, also occupied with tasks on her own tablet.
“Nothing. It’s just... today is Friday. Haa..”
“My, I knew you were obsessed with studying, but are you THAT depressed about having a weekend? Sure you shouldn’t see a doctor?”
“It’s not that... it’s just, I managed to perfectly pile all my VR Visits for today. Haa...”
Erika tilted her head with a dumb face.
“Remember how I started doing home visits for VR Shut-ins?.”
“Oh, yes. You call these ‘VR Visits’?”
Sophia nodded and sighed again. Erika wanted to encourage her friend, but words failed to come out.
It all began with the bizarre idea which Sophia brought up a month ago. As the class president of A-3, Sophia decided to deal with all the “VR Shut-ins” in her class.
Shut-in students were by no means a new phenomena. Video games were always known as a popular cult, which converted normal teenagers into despicable shut-ins. Nonetheless, students who became shut-ins due to VR somehow evolved into special creatures: “VR Shut-ins”.
It was a silly trend to attach “VR” to every problem that was directly, or indirectly, caused by virtual reality. Hence, the term “VR Visit” didn’t sit right with Erika.
“It’s fine and dandy that you try to convince students to attend school. But, make sure you remember: there’s a difference between a class prez and a mother.”
That was the best guidance Erika could grant her friend. Rather than encouraging the justice crusade, Sophia needed to stop bashing her head against a wall.
“Naturally, I know that much.”
Sophia put down her tablet and clenched passionate fists.
“However, I must absolutely convince them. They won’t fit into society if they don’t properly graduate from high school.”
“I understand your determination, but there’s no reason to push yourself so hard. You can at least skip a week when you’re tired.”
“Absolutely not. If I slack off even once - they’ll definitely never take me seriously.”
Erika realized that she wasn’t speaking with Sophia at all. The entity, which argued with Erika, was the unreasonable “VR complex” that assumed her friend’s form.
“I see. Then, good luck out there, Sophy.”
It was meaningless to go any further. Regrettably, Erika couldn’t think of a way to cure Sophia’s obsession with “VR problems”.
“How many VR shut-ins you need to visit anyway?”
“There are six in my class. Though, I’m afraid there’ll be seven starting next week... haa...”
“Why is that?”
“The guy went ballistic in class and had a fight with the teacher. He spewed utter nonsense, something about a ‘happy virtual family’ and his ‘respectful virtual job’.”
“He was suspended for the rest of the day, and he swore to definitely never come back again. Haa...”
Melancholy coated Sophia anew. No matter how strongly Sophia tried, VR corrupted everybody around her. There was no way to stop this virus from spreading around.
“How is your class, Eri? How many VR Shut-ins do you have?”
Erika brought up the class roster on her tablet and opened the filter. Conveniently, there was an option to filter students by the ludicrous “VR Shut-in” tag; Erika glared at the normal “Shut-in” tag, which hanged nearby and pretended to be a different creature.
“There are four in my class.”
Erika vaguely recalled that one of the tagged students only played Verdandi Blade Online, which wasn’t a VR game at all. Yet, he was still marked as “VR Shut-in”, probably because it made his situation sound worse.
“There are many in your class too. Seriously, why did they even invent VR for? Haa...”
Sophia stared at the ceiling with empty eyes. Of course, neither the ceiling nor Erika had a convincing answer for her.
“I’m done for today.”
Erika announced and grabbed grabbed her bag.
“Are you coming to school tomorrow?”
Sophia sighed again as she asked this odd question.
“Tomorrow? What for?”
“Don’t tell me you’re done with the preparations for the sport event.”
Erika was nearly done with her share of the work, but not so was the case for Sophia. Obviously, a strict student like Sophia couldn't possibly slack off. In other words: asking “Are you coming tomorrow?” was an indirect SOS from Sophia.
School on Saturday is such a pain...
Erika secretly sighed, then smiled toward her friend.
“Alright, I’ll finish my share tomorrow as well.”
Erika could make the deadline if she continued the task on Monday, but she willed to sacrifice her precious weekend day for Sophia.
“Besides, there’s a fair chance that our beloved A-5 class prez has been working very hard on his share. So hard, that we’ll need to do all the work for him.”
Aside from the two girls, the class president of A-5 was also put on the same task... supposedly. Attendance records for A-5 showed, that their dear class prez ditched school for the last week.
“No need to worry. I’ll definitely make sure he comes tomorrow as well.”
Sophia made a bold promise, which deeply impressed Erika. Dealing with the slippery vermin of class A-5 was a noble cause, which guaranteed a headache for weeks to come.
Erika collected her wares and clumsily wobbled toward the door. Her bones were shattered and her body screamed in pain at every twitch.
“... are you alright?”
“Oh, haha... did you know, Sophy? ‘Dodgeball’ is actually a synonym for ‘Hell’.”
Erika gazed into the abyss with a philosophical expression, then left the student council room.