Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Apparently, summer has grumpily decided to play ball once again. Temperatures were back in the 80’s on Tuesday.

I had a tough time concentrating at work on Tuesday. I had a good day; more productive than almost any other day in months. But Monday was better, and I’m probably a bit worried that my initial enthusiasm is already waning. I was tired and generally a bit bored with documentation work. Hard to blame myself for that, really, and I shouldn’t expect a good system to completely and permanently revitalize my work attitude. It’s a work in progress.

I left work mercifully early to meet with my art teacher, who has returned from a summer of rest to her teaching. We worked on charcoal sketches of a skull, which was great, messy fun. There’s something satisfying about messy art; perhaps it reminds me of very early days of finger-painting and pastel chalks, when art was messy and joyful and nobody minded.

I came home to my list of personal improvements, which I now realize I haven’t explained here. I’ve chosen five areas of my life that I want to focus on improving: my body, my spiritual life, my job, my writing, and my animation company. I wrote goals describing how I want to be in those five areas a year from now, and what I need to do in the next three months to move towards those goals. Most of that ended up being daily activities, such as writing two hundred words of fiction a day.

I achieved all of them, including a twenty-minute run, a fifteen minute Bible reading, and a writing session that got out of hand and I didn’t stop until I’d written six hundred words. There’s an auspicious start to my personal improvements, I must say.

Unfortunately, I got almost nothing else done; for some reason I cracked my copy of Watchmen and couldn’t put it down until I’d read half of it (to the point where Rorschach had just finished describing his genesis). What a depressing, frustrating, discouraging, bleak, brilliant book.

Now, more VR story:

He frowned. “What would happen in a player’s death on this game that would keep them totally offline?” he asked. “Have you died recently? Have the deaths changed?”

She looked away, seeming a tad embarrassed. “Nothing’s changed. I…well, I have to be honest with you Deathie, I haven’t died since then. I mean, I haven’t gone on any real dangerous missions. I just…haven’t really wanted to for the past couple of weeks.”

He felt himself gape again, and allowed himself to, partly to show her he realized the importance of her admission. Surge’s full name was “Surgeon,” and she’d earned it after so many players had described her nearly miraculous aim as “surgical.” She was one of the best pilots in the game, she’d been on hundreds of missions, and she was always one of the first to volunteer for another one. And now she was so frightened she was avoiding combat?

She looked back at him. “I just had to tell someone. Sorry to dump on you.” She forced a pathetic laugh. “Didn’t mean to freak you out. It’s probably just all my imagination anyway. I’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff outside of here. You know.”

He nodded, slowly, his head spinning. He pulled himself together and looked her square in the face. “Listen. I’m in trouble. Somebody’s after me…outside. I don’t know why. Has anyone here been sniffing around?”

She shook her head. “No, nobody. Though it might’ve slipped by me, frankly. Are you in trouble, Deathie?”

His avatar gave her a sardonic grin. “Apparently. I don’t know why they have a problem with me, though. But listen, Surgeon, you have to keep quiet about this. I know I can trust you. Don’t tell anyone that anything out of the ordinary is going on. If anyone asks about why I logged in, tell ’em I just wanted to check in with you. And tell me. Okay?”

She nodded and said, “I promise.” He breathed a relieved sigh. He knew several hundred people seriously in VR. He trusted perhaps five of them. Surgeon was one of those five.

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