Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Today was a day in which I had many plans, all of which were thwarted by good works.

I forgot that I promised a co-worker that I’d help her move a desk this evening. That was no problem; we hauled the desk into my truck, then chatted pleasantly in the truck as we moved it, and I ended up only spending less than an hour or so moving it.

I got home and microwaved some more of my homemade potato soup, then finished updating Matrix Experiments Lain, at which point I checked my messages and got a message from my Dad which…wow.

Suffice to say that my grandmother is being extremely difficult and has put my Mom in a bad position. So I called my Mom and spent about an hour getting the full story from her. Which was a good thing.

But at that point, I didn’t want to do much of anything, so I ended up doing nothing and just went to bed. So the laundry list of Stuff To Do was pushed back yet another night.

:sigh: But I can’t complain, because Matrix Experiments Lain is almost done and it felt incredibly good to realize that this thing that came out of my head is being birthed and it’s even cooler than I imagined it. Pursuing your dreams? WORTH IT.

Now, here’s more VR story. Doodlehopper’s speaking:

“You know, when I got into this racket, somebody gave me some advice. He said, ‘Honey, sometimes you’ll work with jerks. And when you do, remember this: Just like they can fire you, you can fire them.'”

She let this sink in, and his eyes widened slightly.

“Now that you’re so satisfied with yourself that you can pull a trick,” she continued, “it looks like you won’t be needing me anymore, now will you? ‘Cause that’s sure how you’re acting.”

And with that, she stalked over to the door, yanked it open, walked through, and slammed it shut behind her. He heard her receding voice yell, “You’re not worth it!”


Well, thought Thomas, that certainly changed things.

He cast his eyes to the dull ceiling and began thinking about his options. Things seemed increasingly bleak as he ticked off possibilities. He couldn’t go back to his apartment. He couldn’t go back to Safe House. The cops were surely combing through the shattered convenience store by now, and he and Doodlehopper had certainly spent enough time standing in the aisles for the clerk to remember them. Thomas felt a flash of guilt at the cold shoulder he’d literally turned towards the girl, but that was quickly subsumed with a stronger flush of anger at her treatment of him, sneaking into VR and following him around VR like a spy.

He suddenly wondered just how she’d done that. It was difficult to track somebody on VR, especially when they’re hopping from world to world like he’d been. A small corner of his mind murmured admiration, but his indignance drowned it out.

He deduced that the teen guiding Thomas in had probably helped her, attaching some sort of tracer to his session when setting it up then handing the output to her. Thomas mused that, for all he knew, she had charmed the boy into doing her a favor.

That same corner of his mind that was impressed with Doodlehopper now began to gnaw at him. Was it really right of him to dismiss her like this, so casually? Hadn’t she saved his life? She’d been paid to do that, he countered. Even so, she’d been a genuine help to him, and a good friend. Had he ever had a better friend?

He pushed that thought away. He’d never had any close friends in the physical world. He’d never made friends easily growing up, and once he’d begun VR diving for hours every day in junior high, he’d spent too much time in VR to be able to make friends. He’d chosen his life, and he was comfortable with it, he told himself.

But was he? Hadn’t he always been a bit disappointed with his lack of deep physical connection? If he was so comfortable, where was this disappointment coming from?

He opened his eyes, and stared up at the bland beige ceiling, and missed Doodlehopper. Sadness swept over him in a wave far larger than he had suspected possible, and he curled over in the bed as if to avoid it. He was alone, but worse, he was isolated, like a thick invisible wall surrounded him and blocked out the rest of the world.

And, suddenly, he was so very sick of being alone.


Doodlehopper strode down the street like a battleship at full speed. She had her hands jammed into her jacket pockets and barely noticed the streets as she carved a path through the fog and grime of the city. She was frustrated, she was angry, and though she didn’t want to admit it to herself, she was exhausted nearly to the point of physical breakdown.

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