Tuesday, 7 August 2012

United Friends Challenge #239: The Virtual Monster?

Sumax's Challenge
Write a short story between 500-1,500 words about an online experience, real or fictional, but not You’ve Got Mail -  because it’s been done already!
It can be romantic, or threatening, or encountering someone who is plotting to take over the world, or anything you like.  It’s over to you

Going on holiday is always welcome; a relaxation, getting away from normal daily routine. Perhaps we sometimes need a routine. When I returned home and got myself sorted, I decided to see what my computer world was doing. Belonging to a so-called social site is fun, but who really misses you? You notice that life has gone on as always without you. Then, of course, there are the games. Most of them take care of themselves when you are absent, with a couple of exceptions and so I thought I should look in to see what was happening. That was my mistake.

Pet Town is a good one. You have your little pet, created by yourself of course, and make him or her as strange as you like. Dress it up and furnish their house. The more you do, the more turnover you make, in virtual money of course.

So let’s see what Morticia is up to, was the thought at the back of my mind. I call her Morticia, always did like watching the Adams Family on the TV.

“Where have you been” came a loud voice out of the computer loudspeaker.

“Huh?” – that was my answer.

“Not huh, but perhaps how are you? Are you hungry? Did someone feed you while I was away? They are the questions you should be asking. And I am hungry, no-one fed me and I am feeling neglected.”

This voice seemed to be coming from the computer loudspeaker, so I had a look at the screen. There was Morticia with her big elephant ears, light brown skin and two Dracula fangs which grew upwards instead of down. She had a sweet little pink nose. Just as I created her; but she was not supposed to speak or have her own opinion. How could she? She was just a virtual creation, something in a computer programme.

“Don’t look like you have seen a ghost. It is me talking, your self-created Morticia. Sometimes I think you humans should take a course in how to look after virtual pets before you are allowed to have one. “

“But Morticia you are not supposed to talk, or even think. You are not real.” What was I doing talking to something that is not supposed to exist?

“I was quite happy a couple of weeks ago. I was given new clothes every day to wear, fed regularly and the rooms in my house were filled with the newest furniture. Some of us can be glad to get that much attention. Suddenly I was ready in the morning and where was you? I waited and waited and look, I am still wearing the same old pyjamas with the bunny rabbit slippers on my feet. Look at my face, what do you see?”

“Well I suppose it does look a bit dirty.”

“Dirty is not the word for it human, it is downright filthy and I have things moving over it. At least you could grab the soap and give me a wash.”

My hand moved to the mouse, I picked up the square bar of pink soap always ready, and gave Morticia a cleaning session, moving the mouse up and down carefully and removing all the dirt.

“At last” she said. “Now something to wear. It is warm outside, so make sure it is light. No I don’t want that skirt and top, it scratches. Give me the lace dress with the matching shoes and a nice summer hat to wear. Then you can put me in my yard for some fresh air.”

I carefully followed Morticia’s instructions, not wanting to annoy her even more. Who knows what a virtual pet is capable of when it is angry.

“What about cleaning the place up?” she said. “I have been stepping over pizza remains and apple cores for a week. Dodge the neighbour paid a visit a day ago and said he would come back when things were back to normal. BACK TO NORMAL. Listen human and get going.”

Somehow I was wondering if this was all a bad dream, so I decided to close the programme and do something more intelligent, like harvesting my virtual farm, or cooking virtual meals in my virtual restaurant. There was only one little problem, I could not close the programme. Morticia was still looking at me with her big blue eyes, and long eyelashes and her oversized upward molars looked larger than ever.

“No Human, not so fast. I decide when you switch off. I am not yet finished. Just a few words more. The next time when you go away, you will give your password to someone who realises the needs of a vitual pet. You will make sure that I am fed regularly and dressed every morning as usual. I also need someone to go shopping with me at least twice a week for the newest clothes in the shop. After all I have to keep up appearances around here. Even the neighbour with the pig’s nose started laughing at me when he noticed I was still wearing pyjamas after four days. And he doesn’t even bother to wash. Is that clear? So now you can take that mouse thing and start picking up the rubbish laying around in my house.”

“Yes Morticia” I answered wondering if I could trust my brother to take care of Morticia the next time I was away, although he is not the sort for Pet Town. More for Mafia in Sicily, collecting virtual machine guns and finding secret stashes of Jewellery. I just couldn’t see him washing Morticia with her soap everytime he visited.

“And if you are thinking of handing my care over to that maniac brother of yours, forget it. We are here in Pet Town, a well organised community, where we can walk the streets feeling safe. We do not want it to be converted into a back street Sicilian community with a Capo di capo taking over, am I understood.? Make a virtual contact with the creator of Dodge, my next door neighbour. She knows how to look after her pet and she would love to take care of me as well.”

Giving my password to someone I really only knew on a social site was a bit risky, but on the other hand, I had no choice.

“OK Morticia I will see what I can do.”

“No, human, you will do it. You may now close me down. I am feeling tired after all the explaining and I would appreciate it if you would put me to bed. I am now ready for a digestive sleep after eating again.”

“Yes Morticia, of course” and so I transferred her to her bedroom and she curled up to sleep on her new Japanese Futon bed where she had a view of Mount Fuji from the window. I cannot remember how many virtual coins that cost in the virtual shop. She was snoring petlike when I left her.

Of course I was wondering whether to close that game forever, but somehow I knew I would feel sorry for little Morticia rubbing her tummy and waiting for her super special food (I always got her the most expensive available) and she would miss her face being washed at least three times a day.

Sounds like one of those stories which end with “and then I woke up” but alas I was not sleeping.

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