Not-So-Secret Sauce

@eva

Download to Theo’s place on any given night, and it’s not unheard of to find him sitting at the edge of his bed with his hands on his knees, a worried expression on his face. Tonight, though, he looks downright constipated. And…scuffed?

“I saw your SuperMegaFeed update,” I say, pretending that my eyes didn’t just give his default chest an appreciative once-over. “What’s the matter—?”

“Jan’s mining Bloodcoin!” he blurts, and lets out a long, satisfied lungful of air, as if he’d been holding his breath waiting for me to get here.

“What?”

“I caught him down in Thrill-Kill’s dungeon crypto-cave. She’s turned it into a full-time carnival with rides and games and expired food and he told me not to tell anyone but I’m so bad with secrets I just had to get it off my chest and you’ll keep it between the two of us, right, right?

I narrow my eyes. “Jan’s mining Bloodcoin?”

Theo nods.

“In Thrill-Kill’s garden shed dungeon?”

He nods again.

“After her crappy ex-husbands tried to sacrifice me to their demogorgonzola?”

Theo hangs his head. He might actually be taking a dump at this point.

“Oh, hell no.” I grab his phone instinctively and swipe through his SMN buddy list.

“What’re you doing?” he asks, suspicious.

Still sixty-percent charged? Good. I stop at Jan’s name. “I’m going to have a little talk with our good friend Mr. Kounicova.”

“You can’t! I promised him I’d keep his secret!”

“Well, I didn’t, so…” I swipe out. The candlelit Zen of Theo’s bedroom is replaced with the cluttered stench of Mrs. Thrailkill’s garden shed. Those gross poop buckets alone should be enough to make me seriously doubt the authenticity of my conviction. But I’m also in full-on scolding mode, and between that, Ernie’s hysterical pregnancy, Theo baring rack, dosequisvirus, the Santanas, and the stupid Fundoshi Mandate in general, I’m not thinking too clearly. Straight to the back and down the stairwell I go; past the snoozing old dude and his enormous Tarzan boy wanted poster (he wakes at the sound of me throwing the gate lever, but by the time he realizes what’s happening I’ve already ducked through and sprinted away); into the dusky subterranean freak show that is Thrill-Kill’s crypto-carnival. I don’t need to describe it to you; I’m sure Theo’s already done so in great detail. Needless to say, it’s one-hundred-percent messed up that Jan would even consider considering spending time here.

I find him lifting bulky furniture in the Unpaid Mover Simulator. He spots me standing off to the side with my hands on my hips, my foot tapping impatiently on the ground.

“Theo told you, didn’t he?” Jan says once he’s set down the coffee table he’d been carrying and joined me outside the simulator.

“You really shouldn’t give the little bugger secrets to keep,” I reply.

“I realize that. Now.”

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Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.