"Virtual Love"

 

emote wants to know what you look like

:HungLong wants to know what you look like

:Salvefire blushes and bats her eyes

emote shuffles his feet around bashfully

:HungLong shuffles his feet around bashfully

:Salvefire asks you 'Do I seem like I'm playing hard to get?'

Tell Salvefire 'I'd be the last person to try and interpret youóare you hard to get?'

:'I'd be the last person to try and interpret youóare you hard to get?'

:Sampson shouts 'Levelllllllll!!!!'

:ASCII shouts 'Stop shouting!'

Brock nervously rubbed his middle fingers across the nubs on the D and K of his keyboard. He tried to tune out the clattering of keys in the Piedmont Hall Computation Lab. He blinked his eyes repeatedly and wondered if daylight was visible outside. He watched the incessant and endless shouts of "Level!" scroll up his monitor and wondered if she'd left the MUD.

:Salvefire asks you 'Are you still here, my endowed companion?'

:I am, my beloved. I would never leave you.

:Salvefire asks you 'Why do you want to know what I look like?'

Brock tensed for a moment. This had to be handled well.

:In the weeks of our correspondence, I've formed a mental image of you. I'd like to know how close I came

:Salvefire asks you 'How close to what? Where exactly were you coming, and why wasn't I invited? Are you being unfaithful to your Queen?'

:Don't' tease

Seconds ticked by. Brock rubbed the sweat from his palms on his dirty Levi's. Nothing from her. He looked at her, for what must have been the hundredth time in several days.

look Salvefire

:Piercing ice-blue eyes look back at you, through you. You realize you are facing a God.

:Salvefire tells you 'I don't like it when you stare'

:I'm sorry my Queen, I was just waiting for an answer

:Salvefire tells you 'I can't give you that type of information here. My brethren are listening. Gods can be demoted, you know'

:Tell me where you want to go and I'm there

Brock's face was inches from the screen. He took a quick sip of Jolt and returned his hands to their perch.

:Salvefire thinks for a moment

:Salvefire tells you 'Jump to 128.263.44.0.9 port 2001'

:On my way

logoff

DO YOU WISH TO LEAVE THE HELLISH LAND OF ENDLESSMUD?

yes

GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK!

pooky.vax.mit.edu>

Brock typed quickly.

telnet 128.263.44.0.9 2001

YOU ARE AT THE GATES OF THE PORT OF ULTIMATE DARKNESS

GIVE YOUR NAME

HungLong

YOU ARE PERMITTED

list

YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WIELD THAT POWER

THE QUEEN HAS ARRIVED. ALL KNEEL.

Q: Sorry for the delay, I had to chat with another God. Seems some are a bit peeved at the attention I'm giving you.

H: They can't really do anything to you can they? I mean, doesn't there have to be an E-conference before action can be taken?

Q: No God has ever been taken down at EndlessMud. I told him to go blow himself.

H: <smiles> That's the spirit!

Q: <smiles>

H: Where are we now?

Q: At my castle.

H: Seriously.

Q: At my house.

H: You're on a dial-up?

Q: Does that surprise you?

H: Not at all, I just figured you had a direct link.

Q: I wouldn't be caught dead in a lab. All that pasty flesh and gum smacking sickens me.

Brock shoots a side glance at the mousy guy beside him breathing loudly through his mouth.

H: Yeah, me neither. Bunch of freaks.

Q: No lives whatsoever.

Brock shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. The mouth-breather next to him hocked up what seemed an amazing amount of phlegm, paused, and swallowed it, never looking away from his VGA.

H: So where is your house? If you don't mind me asking.

Q: Seattle. Land of rain and coffee. Where do you live?

Brock scratched his cheek, considered responding 'Piedmont Hall Lab,' and quickly reconsidered.

H: Dallas. Land of pomp and circumstance.

Q: HA! I like a man with a sense of humor.

H: I like a woman with an eye for sarcasm.

Q: Yeah, that's me. An eye for sarcasm and a body for sin.

H: Sin, eh?

Q: Did you think I was a prude? I ought to boot you right now for insolence.

H: But then you'll never solve the riddle.

Q: What riddle is that?

H: What has eyes, but never blinks. A mouth, but never feeds. And skin, but never touches?

Q: Got me, sexy.

H: So tell me about yourself already.

Q: Isn't that a bit forward?

H: I don't think so. After all, you invited me into your house.

Q: Good point. I just didn't want you to think I was easy.

H: So far, I just think you're wonderful.

Q: Cute. Sappy, but cute.

H: That's me.

Q: Cute's you? Hmmm...describe your own self.

Brock strained to remember what looked back at him when he last stood before a mirror. His mind was blank.

H: I'll give you the DMV run-down: 6' 2", 190lb, brown hair, brown eyes.

Q: I didn't ask for vital stats, I asked for a description. It's a bit late to play games.

What the hell did she mean by late? Brock flexed his atrophied calf muscles nervously.

H: I'm a reality based dreamer. I like pondering the impossible in confinement. I like grasping the abstract from the straight and narrow. I like daydreaming. I enjoy Haiku and open prose. I like very loud music, preferably three chords and drenched in distortion. I like writing top-down designs after programs are finished.

Q: And sex?

H: And I like sex.

Q: What kind of sex?

H: Aren't you forgetting to tell me about yourself? Tit for tat, right?

Q: Tit? You sure are presumptuous. Do you usually interrogate dates before telling them about yourself? I figured you had more experience with women than that.

Brock was uneasy. What kind of a game was this? John had already gotten three phone numbers off of the Net. He even scored once, or so he said. Dates, dates, dates. . . . His brother had had dates. What the hell did he use to say about them?

H: I'm sorry. I guess I'm not used to dealing with a woman of your caliber. Most of the girls around here don't really care what your name is.

Q: I thought you said you were attractive.

H: I am.

H: That is, I've been told that I am. What I meant was that the girls around here are sort of easy.

Q: Do you like that? Do you like it when girls are easy?

H: I guess it's nice sometimes.

Q: Sometimes I'm easy.

H: Me too.

Q: Are you feeling easy now?

H: I'm feeling somewhat simplistic.

Q: Then can I ask you a personal question?

H: Shoot.

Q: How well are you hung?

Brock tried in vain to imagine being asked this in a normal setting. He could lie, but John said honesty had gotten him laid.

H: About average.

Q: And what's average?

H: I never really measured. I'm not that concerned.

Q: Don't you think it's a good thing to be concerned with?

H: Well, it's not like I can make it bigger or anything.

Q: So it's small.

H: No, I don't think so. It's just been a long time since high school gym class.

Q: Good point. You've been pretty honest with me, despite the login name you gave. Are you alone?

Brock looked to his left at the person passed out at his terminal. The mouth-breather on his opposite side had his nose pressed to the monitor.

H: Pretty much. What's up?

Q: I'm going to tell you a little about myself and then give you my number. Then I'll have to go; classes start early here.

H: Yeah, mine too.

A student, thought Brock. He wondered when exactly his own classes were, or for that matter, what exactly they were.

Q: So here's the concise me: I'm about five foot eight, 130 pounds. I have dark red hair and light blue eyes. I'm majoring in English and write bad poetry. My friends know nothing about computers, and I don't make any attempt to explain. I lost my virginity at 14 to a liar and had my first orgasm five years later. I drive a blue late-80's BMW and rent a townhouse close to the university. My parents pay for my rent and my school, and I earn spending money as a part-time aerobics instructor. I'm not actively seeking companionship but usually end up in bed with someone when by girlfriends drag me away from my keyboard to a bar. I respect honesty, good looks, and good typing speeds. And that's who I am. And no, this is not a macro.

Brock wiped his palms on his jeans. He tried to calculate the cost of a plane ticket after selling his midi.

H: That's quite a life. You sound pretty wonderful, if you don't mind me sounding sappy.

Q: I never mind sappy. I'm an English major. And I'm sorry about the harshness before, I just like to know who I'm dealing with. You sound pretty wonderful yourself. Here's my number:

Brock wrote down her number on his forearm. His scalp itched like a thousand mosquito bites.

Q: Call me tomorrow, I can't always get this port. I'm home around 7, your time. Good-bye.

H: Good-bye.

Brock typed the logoff command just as another message came on-screen. He scrolled up to read it.

H: Oh, what was the riddle answer?

Me, thought Brock. He leaned back in his chair. What the hell time was it? What the hell day was it? Where can I sell blood for long distance bills?

Jason turned off his modem and powered down his computer. He smiled as he thought about HungLong calling Jenny McDougal in the middle of dinner. Her parents would be pissed. He headed into the bathroom to wash his face, quietly, so as not to wake up his baby sister. In the back of his mind, he knew he had a test coming up soon. Was it the PSAT or PACT? he wondered as the bathroom door shut with a soft click.

Copyright 1994, Jesse Weiss