Author : Steven Saus

She is within two hexes before my character notices her perfume. She is approaching from behind. I left-toggle the camera angle back to third person, floating above his head. Minicams hover and spin, filling in the the peripheral things a 120 degree first person field of view misses. She has surprised me, and the transition is faster than I like. A brief wave of nausea flows through my stomach. My character puts a hand on his stomach as well.

Her business suit, usually stiffened into two dimensional polygons of fabric, is wrinkled from her day at work. It is still stiff enough to offer a pleasing contrast to the soft inverted arches of her hair. Click left, right, mouse gesture, and my character moves smoothly towards her. She kisses my character’s cheek all moist warm lips until she notices the eyes.

“Chaz, damn it!” She shoves, and the perspective wobbles. It makes it hard to read the word balloon over her head, but my text-to-speech rig is good enough that I still understand her.

She glares up and back, towards the print of the Warhol Campbell Soup cans behind my character. She draws an imaginary line between its head and the technicolor cans.

“Get back in there, Chaz.”

My fingers fly, and I hear my character’s voice: “Wrong side.” A quick gesture, and he smirks, too.

She slaps my character – bioforce feedback loops simulate it well – then looks dead-on at my viewpoint. Her wedding ring slips easily off her finger, smooth and elegant as a practiced rocketjump. I up the resolution and see her eyes are misted over.

“Remember this, Chaz? Remember the promises we made? I made them to you, not… not this shell.”

Clickety-clack. Enter. “This is me. This is my character.”

Her ring hits my… the character’s chest.

“I wish you had never gotten that damn implant, Chaz.”

She stalks out of the room. She does not need to pack – the bag is waiting – and she leaves our …the… apartment. Several option icons flash softly at me. Follow. Stay. Sleep. Watch TV.

I do not select them. My face is still warm from the force of her hand slapping my character.

I want to restart. I want to start the level over, to try again.

That icon never appears.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows