“No. Really. What is the fucking point of this?” Ecker rolled up his sleeves. Sleeves that weren’t even real. Digital sleeves on a digital body. He screamed with a digital voice that was muted by the smart-volume feature Social-Lyfe had just introduced.
This whole place was a fucking joke. Fountains and sapphire blue skies. Trees so green they looked like Bob Ross’s happy mistakes. Fake dogs and cats, videos of dogs and cats that had probably been dead for years. City skylines in the distance that you could never actually reach. Fake smiles, fake friends, fake life.
“Half of you don’t even look like that. You’re all just avatars. Digital representations of what you fucking wish you looked like. Meanwhile you sit in your chairs or lie on your beds, wasting your body away. When is the last time any of you even woke up in the real world?”
One Lyfer noticed, rolled her eyes and moved on. Another shook his head. “Yeah, you go do that buddy. Go see what the real world is like. Find out how smart you are when instead of a blocker feature, you have to actually listen to what people say.”
“And the problem with that is?”
“You’ll have to listen to jerk-offs like you.”
“Fuck you,” Ecker said.
“Yep. Blocked.” The guy’s form blurred.
Ecker laughed. “What’s the point though? None of you want to answer. What are we all doing here. Lives, real lives just going on without us while we walk around with all our bullshit opinions about how we think the world should be. How are you gonna sit there bitching about how shitty the world is when you don’t even know what it’s like?”
“I was there about a month ago,” Dina said. She was one of Ecker’s few remaining friends–Social-Lyfe friends that is. He’d never even seen her in person.
He applauded with flamboyant exaggeration. “Good for you, bitch. And how was it?”
She shrugged, unfazed by his abrasive manner. “It was alright. Had coffee, ate a donut, fed a cat.”
“But you didn’t interact with anyone did you?”
Dina shook her head. “Didn’t care too. Most people are assholes.”
“But how do you fucking know?” He started to laugh.
“Maybe because they act like dicks on here just like you, Ecker. You’re not fucking special, so sit down and shut up.”
Block up. She blurred. Ecker sighed. “Fine. I’m outta here. You fucking losers enjoy this fake shit. I’m gonna go live a real life.”
No one looked up.
Ecker stared into his real mirror and wondered why the lines on his face looked so deep. He’d been on a proper Social-Lyfe diet, but that wasn’t exactly healthy. Protein and carbohydrates pumped into his stomach. The thought of it made his stomach lurch. His muscles were weak, useless. His eyes sunk into dark circles. “What’s the fucking point?” he whispered to his reflection. He grabbed his old razor and yanked the blade out.
He paused. Hesitated. Held the blade just short of his wrist. “All or nothing, fucker.”
The blade bit deep into his wrist, blood oozing freely into the drain. Ecker dropped the blade and probed the cut. His face contorted with the agonizing pain shooting up his arm. If he didn’t hurry, he’d lose consciousness.
At last he felt it and yanked the microchip from his wrist. Before he tossed it down the drain he studied it. “So long, assholes.”
Day ten–Ecker stood in the empty streets of a city once known for never sleeping. The storefronts drooped, doors smashed, glass scattered. He hadn’t seen anyone in days. The last person he saw took off as soon as he called out to him. It was as if the entire world had decided to just live plugged in. That was the smell coming from every building. Dead or half-dead bodies in the process of rot.
“What’s the fucking–”
A sound caught his attention. Something scraping on asphalt. Glass grinding against metal. He swung around to find the source.
It whimpered and ducked its head.
“Hey buddy,” Ecker said as low as he could. “C’mere. I’m not gonna hurt you.”
The dog was almost all bones. Probably couldn’t have run very far if it tried. It wagged its drooping tail hopefully and approached with slow, measured steps.
Ecker knelt down and reached out. “Looks like is just us, buddy.” The brittle fur tickled his fingers. He stroked the stinking heap of bones and sighed. “There is no fucking point. Come on. Let’s get something to eat.”
Day fifty six — Turned out that with no one to run the power, the entire system had to shut down. For the dumbasses that stayed, that was a death sentence. From what Ecker could tell, that was over 90% of the population. He packed up some things from the stores. “Ain’t looting if there’s no one here to use it.” He looked down at the dog–now called Bones–and grinned. “Don’t worry. I’ll get you the fucking snacks you like.” The dog panted back looking as if he was smiling.
Day seventy nine — The forest chirped with distant crickets. It smelled of fresh rain and rotted wood. Ecker bit off a piece of jerky and tossed the rest to Bones. He grabbed a skunky beer from his backpack and leaned back in his chair. “This is the fucking point.”