Author : Q. B. Fox

With her middle finger she idly traced the ragged designer scar that ran across his tanned bicep, but she appeared unimpressed by it and her mind was obviously elsewhere.

He stared at her pale, flawless skin where it stretched over her perfectly proportion pelvis and was equally apathetic; she was, physically, no better than all the outstanding beauties he’d taken to bed.

Perhaps it only mattered now because, this time, he really liked her. She was, he thought, an angel; and literally too at the moment, her wings curled provocatively round her so that the soft, white feathers revealed more than they hid.

“I have an idea,” her voice velvety in the broken silence. “Why don’t we meet…?”

“….outside the system,” he finished her sentence.

Did he imagine that both their avatars were breathing a little quicker?

He looked at himself critically in the fluorescent-lighted mirror, a slight paunch round the middle, ginger hair thinning badly at the crown, and tried to remember the last time he’d stood in front of anyone looking like this; the doctor, two years ago, perhaps.

He travelled to her apartment by the most direct route, and saw only a maintenance crew in the street, poking around behind the covers of an unidentifiable plastic block.

She opened the door, only her head appearing at first, her hair a wild explosion of tan-coloured, tight corkscrew curls. Her eyes were open wide and close-together and her nose small, upturned and piggy above a weak chin. She stepped back to let him in and smiled, horsey, uneven teeth surrounded by thin lips. And he realised that he was beaming back at her.

He was unconscious of the involuntary movement that brought them together, placed his hands on her bony hips and pulled her, flat chested, towards him.

“Oh!” she gasped, her voice high and nasal, and he could restrain himself no longer.

There was a protracted, fumbling fight with real and reluctant garments, but eventually their love making was hurried and sweaty, gulping desperately at lung-fulls of air between slavering, uncontrolled kisses. And, ultimately, it was inadequate and agreeably unsatisfying. They laughed like drains and, as the non-virtual sweat soured on their skin, adding to the queasiness in his stomach, he sighed. This was amazing.

Later, as they lay wrapped in scratchy sheets, her eyes flashing a very ordinary hazel and she cackled, “I have an idea.”

He knew immediately what it was; just as connected to her here as they had been before.

“New avatars,” he whispered, as if fearful of being overheard uttering a great heresy.

They giggled like children when they found a checkbox, hidden deep within the options screen, labelled “turn off limits”. They squealed like pigs at every asymmetry warning and hooted like monkeys as they dragged the sliders hard one way or the other.

It took the rest of the evening, but eventually they added costume to the skinny, mad-haired woman and sagging, balding man on the computer, outfits like the uncoloured, shapeless clothing discarded on the floor.

And then they plugged in and holding hands, both real and virtual, they set off to shock the world.

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