by Clark Wilson
The things a man can get into alone with his computer. This was my very first short story.
Mark Tuttle arrives home from work, late on Friday afternoon, June 4. He comes in and puts his lunch bag away from his day, goes into his bedroom and strips off his clothes for a shower. Mark starts the shower, tests the water temp, and climbs in and lets the water sluice down his body. He stands feeling the spray of the shower pelting against his tired muscles from his day at the factory. Another day of putting steel beams on a conveyor belt to go down the line for welding, how did he wind up where he was? He thought he would be doing something far different with his life, than working in that damn factory, for $15 an hour. Oh well, at least it was Friday, and he had the weekend to look forward to. He finished his shower, dried off his achy body, and slipped into a pair of shorts and a Megadeth t-shirt, that looked as beaten as he felt.
He looks forward to a quiet evening, maybe watching a video or playing around on the computer. Mark makes himself a ham sandwich and grabs a cold beer from his refrigerator, and goes to sit in front of his computer screen. He moves the mouse to wake the computer from its sleep, and notices he has emails waiting to be read. He takes a bite of his sandwich and clicks the mouse over the flashing mail icon, to open up the incoming mail folder. Most of the email looks like the typical spam, other than a couple of emails. He notices one from his mother, and opens it up, reading the message inside.
I hope you will be able to make it next weekend for our family picnic. Your sister and her husband and children will be there, as well as your Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sarah. Don’t worry about bringing anything, just show up and bring a friend, if you like. Your Dad and I, look forward to seeing you.
Humph, Mark thinks. A friend huh? Boy don’t I wish, Mark says to no one, but himself. Damn, another boring family function, with dear sister and her pinhead husband James, and their bratty ass kids. Oh what fun for one and all? Mark laughs at himself, for the humor he finds in it. He makes a quick reply to his mother, stating he will be there, but uncertain if he will be bringing anyone else. Give his love to all, and see them next weekend. What a joke, Mark thinks.
Mark takes another bite of sandwich and washes it down with a swig of beer, and looks to the next email in line. It is a short note, with a hyperlink to a website.
You have got to check this out. It is really unbelievable.
Well, coming from Tommy, there is no telling what this could be. Mark clicks on the link and is redirected to a black screen with a message, You must be 18 years old to view the content of this site, emblazoned in bright yellow. Hmm, Mark thinks, this could be interesting. He moves his cursor over the message, and clicks the mouse to enter. Immediately he is taken to a screen with a video that can be downloaded for free. The caption on the video reads, Explicit: For adults only! Mark clicks on the video, and a message pops up asking if he wishes to save the file, or open it. Mark chooses to save the file and it begins the download process. In the time remaining section of the download screen, he notices it says that he will be waiting another five minutes for it to complete. Cool, Mark thinks. He finishes his sandwich, chugs the remainder of his beer, and goes to get another from the refrigerator.
When Mark returns the file is just finishing downloading. He drops down the screen of the internet page he is on, and goes to his download folder to find the file. The file is marked Ashley: Explicit Virtual Friend. He double clicks the file and it says installing virtual friend to desktop. After several minutes, the file finishes installing, and an icon appears on his screen, with a beautiful blonde haired woman’s picture on it. He moves the cursor over the icon, and clicks to open it. Another window opens and asks him to input his name. He types in Mark, and immediately, the screen goes to full view, and he sees a young woman, he assumes is Ashley, standing before him on the screen. She is dressed, if that is what you can call it, in a very revealing negligee. A sultry voice comes through the computer speakers, and says, Hello Mark. My but aren’t we going to have some fun together. A cat like smile creases the corners of Mark’s mouth and he sits back in his chair and sips his beer.
Saturday, June 5, 4:00 a.m., Mark wakes to find himself sitting in his computer chair. He is nude, and is covered in sweat. His shorts and t-shirt lay on the floor beside his chair. What the hell? Mark says aloud to the empty room. What happened? Why am I naked? He suddenly remembers the download of the Ashley file, and quickly moves his mouse to wake the computer again. On the screen, he sees what appears to be a bedroom. There is only a small amount of light, coming through a window shade, but he can see the outline of a woman lying on a bed, on the screen. Mark, scratches his head in puzzlement, and rises from his chair. He picks up his clothes from the floor, slips on his shorts and sloughs off to bed to sleep the rest of his night through.
Bright afternoon sun comes through Mark’s bedroom window and falls across his beard stubble face. Mark cracks an eye open, and seeing the sunlight, rolls over to his side to look at the alarm clock. 3:17. At first the time doesn’t register with Mark, but suddenly he sits bolt upright in bed, and stares at the clock in disbelief. No way is it that late. He swings his legs over the side of the bed, and stands up. His body feels like he has run a marathon. Every muscle seems to ache. He walks to the kitchen and looks at the wall clock. It reads only two minutes later than his bedroom clock, yet still Mark can’t seem to comprehend the lateness of the day. How could he have possibly slept that long? It wasn’t like him at all. Normally six hours of sleep a night was more than enough to satisfy him, and why did he ache so badly. Yeah, it had been a tough day at work, but nothing he wasn’t used to.
After a quick shower, Mark leaves to go get something to eat. He drives to the local burger joint, and orders a double stack and tots to go. He then goes to the nearest convenience store, and purchases a twelve pack of beer, and a pack of cigarettes. He has been trying to quit smoking, due to the rising cost of smokes, but so far, he hasn’t had much luck. Kind of like everything else in his life right now. He gets back into his car, and slaps the top of the cigarette pack against his palm, to pack the tobacco in the cigs. He then opens up the pack and knocks one out, and puts it into his mouth. He lights it, with his disposable lighter, and smiles contentedly as the nicotine is sucked into his waiting lungs. He puts the keys in the ignition, starts the car, and shifting from park, heads toward his small home.
Mark enters, puts the beer in the refrigerator, minus one, and sits at his small dining table to eat his lunch. He feels famished as though he hasn’t eaten in a week. He finishes his meal, lets out a satisfying belch, and scoops up the remains of the wrappers to throw them away. He then grabs his beer from the table, and heads to the awaiting computer to check his emails, and his new friend.
Mark once again wakes the computer, and sees Ashley sitting in a chair in a tight button-up blouse, no bra, and extremely short shorts. She smiles at him from the screen. Hello Mark. I’ve been waiting for you. What kept you? I was getting very lonely. Mark is marveled at the way she immediately responds to the computer waking, and thinks to himself about the technology required to make this program. He smiles at the screen and says aloud, Yeah, well I’m here now baby. As in response to his words, Ashley’s face grows larger on the screen and says, Oh yes, I can see you are. Now we can be alone again. Mark sits puzzled for a moment, as to how she could respond to his speech, but figures after a few seconds that technology sure is a wonderful thing. He takes a sip of beer, and sits back to enjoy the rest of the show.
Monday, June 7, 8:25 p.m. Mark once more wakes to find himself in the computer chair. Again, naked and confused Mark rises and looks outside. It is getting dark, and Mark feels the pangs of extreme hunger and the need to piss. He wanders to the bedroom and relieves himself. It seems he will never finish at the toilet. After he is done, he goes into the kitchen and takes out a t.v. dinner to eat. He puts it into his microwave, and goes back to the bedroom to get dressed. Mark dresses and goes to the kitchen to wait for his dinner to finish microwaving. The bell on the microwave rings, and Mark retrieves his meal, and gets a beer. At least I didn’t sleep too long. Mark muses. He feels tired still, as though he has run a marathon maybe. He finishes his dinner and his beer, and goes back to the computer desk. Ashley looks out at him from the screen.
Thursday, June 10, 4:36 p.m. Mark wakes leaned over the desk his computer rests on. He is groggy and disoriented, and at first unsure of where he is. He suddenly realizes he is sitting in his computer chair, and looks around the room. Man, what time is it? Mark gets slowly up, and walks to the kitchen and stares open mouthed at the clock on the wall. 4:38. What the fuck is going on here? He looks down and once again finds himself naked. Not remembering how he came to be sauntering around in the nude, he sinks into a chair at his dining table, and puts his head in his hands trying to piece together the last day. After about half an hour of thinking, he plods off to the shower to wake himself up fully. After showering, Mark wraps a towel around him and walks back into the kitchen. He gets a beer from the fridge, opens it, and sits at the table to think. He glances over at the computer, takes his beer and gets up and walks to his computer chair.
As soon as Mark sits in his chair in front of the computer screen, it wakes and he sees the smiling visage of Ashley staring back at him. Hello Mark, why have you waited so long to come back to me? You know I get very lonely when you aren’t around. Mark stares at the image of Ashley, and begins to think to himself. Ashley, what do you do when I’m away? Mark asks at the monitor. Ashley gives a visible sigh. I just sit here thinking of you until you return. I wish we could be together all of the time. This startles Mark. He gets up from his chair and walks back toward the bedroom. On the screen, Ashley cries, Wait Mark! Don’t leave me alone again. Don’t I make you happy?
Mark comes out of the bedroom, dressed, and goes to the kitchen for another beer. He sits back in front of the computer once again, and tries to shut the program off for Ashley. Ashley cries out on the screen. No Mark. You can’t leave me like this. Please don’t turn me off. Mark ignores the cries emitting from the speakers. Finding no way to uninstall the program for Ashley, Mark reaches down and turns the computer off. He stares at the now blank screen, and wonders what to do next. I guess I’ll have to take it in, and get them to remove the program. Damn, more money wasted. Mark finishes off his beer, goes for another, and sits on his couch to see what movies may be on cable.
Saturday, June 12, 2:57 a.m. Mark wakes with a strange metallic taste in his mouth. His eyes flutter open and dart around the room. He is lying in his bed. He tries to get up, but he can’t move not even an inch. He looks down, only able to move his eyes, and sees mounds of wiring and cables laying on him. Mark goes into a panic and tries to thrash lose from the wiring. The more he twists and turns, the tighter the cables wrap around his chest. He can feel something in both of his ears, and even though he can’t see them, he knows they are usb cables. Suddenly, his bedroom door opens, and Ashley stands before him, pushing his computer desk in front of her. Mark stares in disbelief. How can this be? As Ashley enters the room, Mark notices how she seems to blink in and out of existence. Ashley pushes the desk over beside the bed, and picks up one end of the usb cable that is attached to Mark’s left ear. She plugs it into the computer, and the monitor whirs to life. On the screen, Mark can see the bedroom he has always seen when the computer would wake. Mark’s eyes move up to meet Ashley’s, and she smiles keenly at him. It’s okay Mark. Now we can be together always. You will never need to work, or eat or sleep anymore. You can always be there, and I will always be there for you. Tears well up in Marks eyes, as the computer begins to shake and hum noisily. The machine makes soft clicking noises and smoke begins to rise from the monitor.
Tuesday, June 15, 11:33 a.m., two policemen burst in the front door of Marks house. After entering, the police notice wiring entering into what seems to be the bedroom from the living room area. What the hell is all of this? Officer Bradford asks Officer Williams. Beats the hell out of me! All I know is the call said this Tuttle guy hadn’t shown up for work all week or call in, and his parents said he didn’t show up for a family function on Sunday, so they called it in. Entering the bedroom, the officers find a massive pile of wires on the bed, some smears of blood, a computer desk, with a monitor and computer on it, and no Tuttle.
Better call it in, Bradford says to Williams. We’ve got blood, but no body. Williams steps out of the room, and makes the call to the precinct.
Friday, June 18, 5:42 p.m., Jake Lawson arrives at his home, after work. He sets his things down on his kitchen table, and washes his hands at the sink. He opens the refrigerator not seeing anything of any note inside to entice him. He goes over to his computer, which is sitting on a small desk by the window. He turns it on, and clicks on his email icon. Most of it is the usual stuff, advertisements, spam, and an interesting email from Mark. Jake opens it up and sees something that catches his eye.
You have got to check this out. It is really unbelievable.
Hmm, thinks Jake. I wonder what this is?