Night Mare

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Night Mare

Post by waytanblee »

This is one that is for adults, not for kids or teens like I usually try and write. It's not in a series, and it's not all prissy and perfect. It's about a dream-state MMORPG that goes awry and starts to take over society. Here's what I've got so far...

Sam Bentley sat at the coffee table, tapping his coffee agitated foot against the table pole. There was a thrumming through the metal. Pigeons were walking about the place, and people were traversing the streets of Freemantle much like the pigeons in many ways. Coffee beans were roasting and marshmallows were melting. The day was setting into mid-afternoon and the autumn air was comfortably chilly.
It was the Café Superior where Sam dined. He’d eaten a toasted egg and bacon sandwidge with a knife and fork instead of with his hands. That had consumed his attention for a while. He always ate café food with a knife and fork, no matter how difficult it turned out to be, or how impolite. He felt that if you were spending a great deal on the food, as cafés often demanded, you may as well look good whilst eating it. Otherwise, you were an idiot.
Henry and Monty weren’t here yet. Sam was about to leave in actual fact. He’d had two coffees and his agoraphobia was setting in like a hell storm of tapping extremities and snappings of his head and neck as he involuntarily searched out the surrounding area for signs of danger.
Sam, Henry and Monty were studying at the University of Computer Science in Freemantle. It was a newer establishment, commissioned in the late 30’s. The year was 2176 now and Sam was 23. He’d been studying for five years, and he wanted to study for another four at least. He was studying everything he could about computer science in actual fact. He didn’t know what he wanted to become when he finished studying, he’d just picked the subject because he saw it as philosophical and magical, but no one knew what he meant by that when he told them.
Sam wore a green bubble bobble top with a patch in the back of it and a lot of seasoned grime that could not be washed off anymore, and he wore a pair of tight jeans. He was as skinny as a rake from his diet of mostly potatoes and packet noodles, and his face bore a large red dot, a birth mark just below his left eye, but besides that he didn’t usually get pimples. He hadn’t showered in three days, and hadn’t left the apartment in five. It was the holidays when he lived on such bare essentials that he didn’t need to go out looking for work—he just survived off the juices of the public student funding system, and he had to scrimp to afford the internet so he never had much spare. Other than that he had a scarf on and a slick back pack that was now dumped on the floor, and his skateboard. He looked a total mess, and truth be told he was probably getting a bit eccentric from all his time alone in front of the computer and couldn’t tell the difference anymore.
He did have friends. There were Monty and Henry. There hadn’t been a girlfriend for an unhealthy period of time. What Sam had been doing for the past year was taking all sorts of illicit drugs and reading Phillip K Dick and Heinlein books. It had been for about six months totally freaking him out, but he wanted to continue for the scientific aspect of the endeavour. His favourite out of the lot so far was Time Enough for Love, but there had been a short story by Dick that had been totally chilling called The Third Kind.
Science fiction books were some kind of drug for Sam. They gave him ideas about computer science and he kept a note book of sketches and code that was always in his black and red striped backpack. Sam was also at the top of his classes, that was why Henry and Monty were friends with him. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be. Sam was a pretty confusing person. He wouldn’t have even been able to get the drugs if it weren’t for Monty. He was officious in the extreme, and cruel, and very emotional—prone to try to share deep spiritual truths at times with people, but that only made them awkward. He was also paranoid schizophrenic. Once upon a time they would have given him dopamine inhibitors for his malady, but these days they just gave the sufferers anti-anxieties or anti-depressants, and a note book for writing away the symptoms. There was, it turned out, something about writing that had control over the symptoms of the illness schizophrenia. Writing had the power to take away voices and stop the TV from talking to a person, so Sam’s diary had evolved, his symptoms had been dampened, and the diary had eventually turned into his code book. The science had also led him to take up interest in computer science. There were all sorts of aspects to it. The idea that computer code was also subject to this law of the written word had all sorts of implications.
Sam had been at home two days before, reading in a daze, when his phone had buzzed twice. He had a message. Sam, we have an idea for making money, we need your help - Monty.
Sam had written back a message that was testament to his state. Okay, but you can’t come around, not yet.
Monty was used to Sam’s irregularities by now. Okay, Saturday 2:00 at the Superior. And I’m cutting off your drug supply, we’ll need your senses back.
Okay, I hate you for giving them to me anyway, was Sam’s belated reply.
And now Sam was there, ready to leave. It was 2:20.
Monty arrived first. He wore a grey turtle neck with diagonal stripes of alternating shades of grey, and tracksuit pants that looked like they could double for pyjamas. They actually would when they wore down. Monty liked the style but they only kept for so long. He sat down and smiled a fresh smile at Sam, who looked at him with an incredulous frown.
‘Sam, the man. I’m late aren’t I.’
‘I’ve already had two coffees. A Vienna and a cappuccino.’
Monty nodded, then: ‘Oh look, there’s Harry.’ He jumped up and went to greet Harry. Harry was wearing his usual fur jacket. Harry had a striking resemblance to a hair model that Sam had once seen plastered to a hairdressers window. Sam had never asked if it were in actual fact Harry, but he was pretty sure it wasn’t. The thing about Monty and Harry is that they hung around different crowds. Harry was into IT and LAN parties, and Monty was into the music scene and often went to Perth for it. They however had one thing in common, and that was Sam. He was some kind of project for them, they thought that one day they might be able to make money out of him, for he really was some kind of genius.
Sam wasn’t aloof to this fact either, Sam was of course much smarter than the other two and would often point it out to them just for pity’s sake. He didn’t mind the notion though, he liked it when he saw Monty and Harry. They used to take him out on the town too, where he would periodically moan about the evils of life to some poor and hapless girl. He was on a sabbatical from that life though, he had been for about a year. Perhaps it was time to get back into the swing of things, he thought. Maybe they were offering him a window in.
‘So how are you, Sam,’ asked Harry when he sat down at the table after ordering some wedges and a banana smoothie from the counter.
‘I’m alright.’
‘Have you left the house since holidays started?’
‘Only for food shopping, and once for the Melbourne comedy festival.’
‘Oh, you should have asked me. How was it?’
‘It was good. But I found myself laughing at the most inopportune moments—when no one else was laughing, you see. Once the crowd found themselves laughing just because I did. They don’t have the third eye though. They’d have found the moment a lot funnier if they did.’
‘This third eye thing,’ laughed Monty, waving his hand. ‘It’s not real, Sam. We’ve been through this. You think it’s some massive government covered up secret, but it’s not.’
‘That’s not what I meant if I ever seemed to talk of it that way to you.’ Sam leaned back into his chair and began twirling his scarf. ‘It’s just rare.’ He nodded at this. ‘It can be learned, but few are ever interested.’ He pointed at Harry. ‘Secret societies of old formed because of it.’ Sam curled his fingers and rubbed his fingers and thumb together. ‘The third eye itself isn’t dangerous, even though the implications of it may have been in certain places. The societies arose around it because no one wanted to know besides a select few. Then they began teaching it to only a select number of people, and tradition formed as knowledge of it did. It became a light at the end of the tunnel for the learned.’ He slammed his hand into the table for effect. ‘It’s all evolution. Just like any planet that has evolved flowers will eventually evolve bees, and thus candles. Secret societies are a programmed novelty, programmed into the ilk of our universe. The secret societies then allude to the idea of a cabal or a sentient race. The third eye proliferates these ideas, or conspiracies, and eventually you have this delightful cake at the end of it. A rich history. Food for thought, or art may it be. The honey of life.’ Sam nodded and folded his arms.
Monty and Harry looked at each other with hyena grins then back to Sam. ‘This idea of a programmed universe,’ said Harry. ‘That’s about as philosophical as it gets. But is it Moral?’ He was leading up to something.
‘Think of it this way,’ said Sam. ‘You’ve just created a perfect universe. Nothing bad ever happens, there’s enough to do. Maybe the next obvious step is to make a universe with something that goes wrong in it. Maybe these programmers became so advanced that they needed something to go wrong, just for a challenge.’
‘Well, do you think you could do it?’ Harry asked.
‘What, program?’
‘We’d be there with you all the way.’ Monty took a sip of his coffee.
‘We’d be helping you as well, we’d be your personal programming monkeys.’
Sam’s arms curled up defensively into his body. ‘You want me to make a universe?’
‘Here,’ said Harry. ‘This bit of code was hacked off a high security Japanese military facility a few days ago by a despot hacker called Joker. He posted it on his blog.
Sam took the plastic monitor off Harry and looked at it. His eyes swivelled over the lines of text. His eyes began to gleam covetously.

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Re: Night Mare

Post by Tony »

Hi, this is a great start. Sam is a complex character - you have made him come to life - keep at it.

Typical of me I have some questions / observations:

>toasted egg and bacon sandwidge - maybe sandwich?

I'm not sure about the following: "What Sam had been doing for the past year was taking all sorts of illicit drugs and reading Phillip K Dick and Heinlein books. It had been for about six months totally freaking him out, but he wanted to continue for the scientific aspect of the endeavour. His favourite out of the lot so far was Time Enough for Love, but there had been a short story by Dick that had been totally chilling called The Third Kind."

Sam has been reading and doing drugs for the last year. OK, but what is it that is that has been freaking him out over the last 6 months? The drugs? The SF?

Later on there is another year thing as well: "He was on a sabbatical from that life though, he had been for about a year." What is he on a sabbatical from. Poor and hapless girls? (Are they are only that way when in his company? I can understand that. I mean that in a nice way as Sam is quite a unique character but probably not in a relationship way.)

Did you want a capital "M" when Harry said: "But is it Moral?" - maybe it could be "But is it Moral, Moral with a capital M?"

Great story so far.

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Re: Night Mare

Post by Bmat »

I enjoyed it, especially the character, Sam. He makes me twitchy.

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Re: Night Mare

Post by berry »

I really liked this and it made me want to read more. I like the characters and it feels like theres a lot more more too them which will be revealed later. I hope you continue with this.
There was a point where Sam makes a point 'for pity's sake'. I'm not sure if that takes on a slightly different meaning elsewhere but in England when someone says 'for pity's sake' its more of an exasperated expletive like saying 'for *beep* sake' or 'for god's sake'. Its a small thing but it didn't read quite right for me.
Outside of a dog, a book is mans best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

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