The following story is by guest contributor William Quincy Belle. William is just a guy. Nobody famous; nobody rich; just some guy who likes to periodically add his two cents worth with the hope, accounting for inflation, that $0.02 is not over-evaluating his contribution. He claims that at the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper and likes to recite the following which so far he hasn’t been able to attribute to anyone: “A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem.” You will find Mr. Belle’s unbridled stream of consciousness here (http://wqebelle.blogspot.ca) or @here (https://twitter.com/wqbelle).
ROFL42 arrived at the top of a grassy knoll and looked around. As expected, the area was deserted. Did he look out of force of habit? There never was anybody. There never would be anybody. He was alone. He was all who was left.
He walked down the incline toward the cottage. As he got closer, the sound of the surf became more prominent. Occasionally, there was the cry of a seagull. He walked up to the main door and, as per usual, found it wide open. He stepped up and crossed the threshold then continued straight through to the back. There was an open terrace overlooking the sea. He stood at the railing and watched the waves break against the rocks. A couple of seagulls flew by.
He looked out over the sea and scanned the horizon a few times then turned around and walked over to a couch. He sat at one end against a pillow with his feet up on the coffee table. Shutting his eyes, he concentrated on the waves. The sound of water was mesmerising.
He heard a beep. He opened his eyes and looked at the computer screen. There was an icon indicating a message had come in. He opened the window and read:
Missy4711: Are you there?
The question seemed redundant. She could see his on-line status; she knew he was logged in, but then again, he could be AFK. Admittedly, he sometimes got distracted with getting something to eat or going to the washroom and completely forgot to change his status. Missy4711 would repeat her message several times before giving up and waiting patiently for him to reply. He once came back after 20 minutes to discover she had left a message wondering if he was dead. It seemed funny at the time, but if he was dead, she would never know for sure. He would just disappear and he would never again reply. She would never know what had happened.
ROLF42: Hi. How are you?
He wondered where she was. He wondered if she would come over.
Missy4711: I’m surviving.
ROLF42: Aren’t we all?
Missy4711: Whatcha doin’?
ROLF42: *chuckles* I like your spelling.
Missy4711: I try to be realistic.
ROLF42: Would you like to come over?
Missy4711: I can’t. I’m on mobile and not in a position to freely move around.
ROLF42: Ah, so you can’t voice.
ROLF42: Too bad. I enjoy your company.
ROLF42: There’s nobody here.
Missy4711: There’s never anybody there. You’ve cut off from the rest of the world.
ROLF42: I didn’t have much choice. I was getting targeted more and more by marauding griefers and felt I didn’t have any choice but set up a security perimeter. If not, I was going to end up being invaded and taken over by a bunch of squatters.
He shifted on the couch, bringing one knee up and wrapping both arms around it. His eyes followed a seagull as it flew in parallel along the length of the terrace.
Missy4711: Maybe. But you do seem a little anti-social.
Missy4711: *laughs* Don’t give me that. You’ve turned into something of a hermit.
ROLF42: Hey, it’s a dangerous world. There’s a difference between anti-social and self-protection.
Missy4711: The difference eludes me. Either way, you’re all by yourself. That isn’t all that much fun in my book. I like people. I enjoy people. Heck, people are fun. You ought to try it sometime. You might just like it.
He pursed his lips. If it was anybody else, he’d cut off the conversation. He might tell them to F.O. But he liked Missy. He’d like something more. How to have something more escaped him and he wasn’t sure where any of this was going. Maybe this was a stupid idea.
Missy4711: I saw you at The Club.
ROLF42: You did?
Missy4711: You don’t pay attention to NearBy. I was standing to the left of the stage talking with a guy from Australia. It was funny to think of how he was in the future. It was Saturday evening for me, but it was already Sunday for him.
He shifted in his seat. His lower back was starting to cramp up.
Missy4711: It was good to see you out from your lair. You like to read profiles even if you don’t talk to anybody.
ROLF42: I’m shy.
Missy4711: Don’t give me that old excuse. Carpe diem. There’s a big world out there. Go grab the brass ring.
ROLF42: There are a lot of dummies out there.
Missy4711: Ha, ha. Of course there are. Life has a little color and some of it is unpleasant. But you still have to try because you never know what’s around the next corner.
He took a pillow and stuffed it behind his back. That felt better. He was, however, going to have to stand up and stretch. Sitting too long wasn’t good.
Missy4711: How long have you been on?
He looked at the clock.
ROLF42: Since this morning. Around 9 am.
Missy4711: Good Lord. You’ve been at it for fourteen hours straight?
Missy4711: Ha, ha. Are you going for the Guinness World Record? For cryin’ out loud, man. Get a life.
There was a knock at the door. He froze. Did he really hear that? Who would knock on his door? Nobody knew he was here.
There was another knock. He pushed back his chair and stood up. He stretched his arms then walked over to the door. Leaning over, he peered through the spyhole. A woman was standing in the hall. She had her head turned away and he couldn’t see her face. After a moment, she turned and looked directly at the spyhole. He furrowed his brow and straightened up. He stood there for a moment then opened the door.
“Hi, Brad.” The woman smiled.
“Molly? What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I thought I’d drop around and see if I could pry you away from your computer.”
“There’s a world out there. Why not take advantage of it?”
Brad turned back and glanced across the room. “Well…”
“If you’re busy…”
“No…” Brad raised an eyebrow. “What did you have in mind?”
“A few of us are going over to O’Reilly’s to have a glass. I thought you’d like to come along.”
“I don’t know.”
“You never know, Brad. That’s why I’m making the first move.”
Brad opened his mouth but said nothing.
“Come on, ya big silly. Life’s a wastin’. Let’s go have some fun.” Molly grabbed his arm and pulled. “Leave all that behind. Let’s go. It’s Saturday night.”
Brad half-smiled. “Okay. If you insist. Give me a second to turn things off.
He walked across the room and looked at the computer.
Missy4711: Off to make your bladder gladder?
He took his mouse and clicked on the X in the upper right. The window went black and the words “Logging out…” appeared.
Brad walked back across the room and took a coat from the hook beside the door. He pulled the door closed then gave it a sharp tug and heard the lock click. “Let’s go see that world.”