Deadly Ever After

March Madness Flash Fiction: (A CONVERSATION) by @medicmsh

TODAY’S BREW: The Vanilla of France

By Julie

Mark is elusive as hell but find him https://twitter.com/medicmsh. He’s a phenomenal supporter of my lizard keeping habits.

 (A CONVERSATION)

by the Elusive Mark

Well, hello there!  This is a nice surprise.  Did you come here on purpose, or is this just a happy accident?

Mmm.  Well, that’s unexpected.  To be honest I may have to address that eventually.

Well, can I interest you in a cup of tea?

Ah.

Well, I’ll do my best to explain.

Simple question: what kind of rig do you use?

Full-immersion!  Nice!  I was an early-adopter for the direct neural set myself.  Those things itched after a couple of days of continuous play, though.

Yes.

Ah, NO.

Well, of course I’m dead!  Physically, anyway.  At least as far as I know.

How should I know?  You want me to check your pulse?

Take your time; I’m not going anywhere.

So, were you able to clear that up “am I dead” issue to your satisfaction?

Um, “I’m very happy for you?”

It’s just that from my perspective, it’s a fairly fine distinction.  Technically, you’re alive, and I’m dead, but to all practical purposes, by which I mean “in here,” who can tell the difference?

Well, I can’t create new program elements – no new scenery, if you want to look at it that way.  But I can meander here and there pretty comfortably, and there’s a certain amount of behind-the-scenes freedom too.  You know, all the little Easter eggs and accidental spaces.

Be my guest!  Take a seat, pull up a chair, whatever.

Oh, for the love of…  I don’t know!  This isn’t the Land of Faerie; it’s just a very well written program.   You…

Look, sit down, or not; have a cup of tea and a wheel of cheese, or not.  I honestly don’t know if it’ll have any effect on you out-of-game.  I don’t exactly have the ability to do field research on this stuff.  I am, as far as I know, a statistical sample of exactly one.  With a corresponding predictive utility of precisely zero.

Well, I suspect that whatever happened was almost instantaneous, but I simply don’t know.  There’s a bit of a blank space.  I was doing my dailies, some farming, a little bit of exploring, chatting with other players, and then, there was – well, just way too much of everything.  Color, sound, pressure, everything you get through the rig, but all at once. Maybe I got electrocuted?

Yes, I really am pretty confident that I am very much dead.  You see, I can’t log off.  I can’t exit.  I’m not uncomfortable, I’m not inconvenienced, I just can’t get out of the game.

It’s surprisingly comfortable.  Lots to see; plenty of people to visit with.  I didn’t used to do battlegrounds, but I’ve gotten reasonably proficient at those, even though there’s still always some idiot who thinks the key to victory is controlling all of the roads…

Well, if you prefer to stand, then by all means, stand.  As for me, I’m sitting down, and having tea.

Do I worry about death?  News flash: to the best of my knowledge, I’m already dead.  I think re-killing me would take a surprising amount of effort in real life.

Well of course I “could” get unplugged, or deleted, or disconnected, or whatever.  Then again, before, I could get hit by a bus, catch some rapidly progressive form of encephalitis, or be eaten by an escaped zebra.  Or hippo.  Whatever.  The point is, existence is inherently risky.  There’s not much point in fretting about it.

Yes, but all my bills are set up on auto-pay, and I’ve not only got money in the bank, but I’ve got a surprisingly high credit limit on my primary card.  I don’t think anyone’s going to go to the trouble of cancelling this service unless the charges get declined.  And at fifteen a month, it’ll take a good long time to get there.   Could be years before whatever-it-was gets sorted out.

Yes, I suppose I will get shut down eventually.  Nobody lives forever.

Why would you want to do that?

Well, that’s, friendly, I suppose.   Somewhat bizarre.  I mean, how do you know this isn’t the world’s most complicated reverse-Nigerian-prince scam, designed to play on your sympathies precisely so that you’ll offer to pay my monthly account fees?

Oh.  Well in that case, fire away!  I’ll look on it as having acquired a patron.  Frankly I’ve always wanted one of those.  Never did sign up for that online thing though.  But if you find all this interesting enough to fund me at the low low rate of fifteen a month, who am I to…

Wait a bit.

Now here’s what’s got me wondering.  You certainly don’t know who I am – but by the same token, I don’t know who you are.  “Can’t hurt a dead man,” as the saying goes – but passing over my account name and password pretty much puts you in a position to kill a dead man, if you were so inclined.  At least, I think it does.  Because as friendly as your autopay offer is, I suspect that if you were to actually log on, I’d be…  Well, I don’t really know where I’d be.

That’s a reasonable guess, but neither one of us is sure, and I’m the one taking the bigger risk, wouldn’t you say?

Well, death by annihilation, if you log in, whether by accident or intent, or if you delete my account.

So, perpetual slavery, if you decide you want me to start fetching things for you in-game?  Make me an undead gold farmer?  That’s your plan!  You chat me up, gain my trust, I give up my account information, and you own me, don’t you?  “Go farm this mount.”  “Go fetch those raw materials.”  “Go sell all your gear, mail me the gold, and go out and start ALL OVER AGAIN.”  You know what, I’m on to you!

Oh, you think being dead puts me at a disadvantage?

{…Color. Sound. Pressure.  Everything.  All at once…}

Hm.  Odd.  I feel like I was talking to somebody, but there’s nobody here but me.

Well, teatime…

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5 thoughts on “March Madness Flash Fiction: (A CONVERSATION) by @medicmsh

  1. Sparkle heart *love* this one!!

  2. christi.frey on said:

    Ha. I love this one.

  3. Kris Silva on said:

    You ARE a neuromancer!
    Awesome story, and very sharply told. Can’t see a thing I’d change!

  4. In love with the format/perspective on this.

  5. Pingback: Short Story Roundup • Christi FreyChristi Frey

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