An Empty Room Full of People

The snow danced merrily outside Kelly’s window as the wind blew it this way and that, sometimes making little twisters out of it, at others merely sweeping it across the flat roof. The window overlooked a part of the apartment complex that was inaccessible to the tenants, which was a shame, since it seemed to invite a picnic table and chairs during the summer months, and a beautiful place to stargaze and shiver during the winter.

Kelly, however, was insensible to all of this. Her eyes zoomed continually between the keyboard and the screen. Twenty-two years old, her fingers were round and pudgy and still unable to type easily. Kelly had often tried different methods of touch-typing, but she never got the hang of it. It wasn’t so bad, though, since her eyes had learned to move with almost supernatural speed between her typing fingers and the words forming in the blank white boxes on her screen.

Her world was not one of cold and heat, flesh and blood. She would claim differently, of course, for she could absolutely feel emotion, thought and true friendship flowing from the words on her screen. The people she interacted with lived all around the world, some as close as a few apartments away, and others as far as England or Japan. Kelly could see each of them in her mind’s eye, as well as the characters they portrayed online. She spoke to them daily, almost hourly, via the little white boxes that she filled with frantically typed words, chosen carefully so as to display her wit, her inner beauty, her true personality.

When a knock came at the door, Kelly called “It’s open!” without looking up. Two of her friends came in, friends who weren’t a part of her online world. She glanced at them and looked back down to refresh the page and see if there were responses to what she’d written yet. Yes! She grinned and began to read.

Her friends took her smile as directed at them and swooped towards her for an awkward hug. They had to struggle across the floor, strewn with dirty laundry, empty cereal boxes and soda bottles, to get to her, sitting cross-legged on her bed with her laptop perched securely on her knees. She put one large arm out to pat each hugger absent-mindedly on the back, but hardly listened as they began to describe the party they’d been at, how they’d missed her and why she should now come with them.

“Hm?” she asked, looking up with unfocused eyes.

Her friends repeated their questions, exchanging glances of exasperation. Kelly was always like this, they seemed to say to each other silently, and, as they’d expected on arrival, they left her in her small room without managing to draw her away from her computer. As they left, each of them saw her as being incredibly alone, a small mound of  a person sitting lonely on a single bed.

Kelly didn’t hear them close the door behind them. She felt surrounded by people, and she chuckled as she read a joke, almost hearing the laughter of people all around the world chiming along with her own.

His and Hers

She knew everything there was to know about him. She knew every scrap of information he’d ever posted on the Web, she knew every secret he’d ever written in one of his various anonymous blogs that she’d tracked down, and she knew every one of his many pastimes because he was so good as to post them incessantly on his Twitter account.

She knew that he’d spent a month in Japan eating nothing but rice because he was allergic to all types of fish. She knew that he was going to apply to Harvard Law School only because his father wanted him to, and that he ended up going because he wanted to as well. She knew that on his twenty-fourth birthday he ran out of clean underwear and had decided, to celebrate his nuptials, to walk around nude beneath his Dockers.

She knew when he started going out with the blonde, when he dumped her for the brunette and when he decided he needed time off from any hair-colors at all. She knew when he fell in love, when he proposed and when he was turned down. She knew when he was depressed and went to seek medical and professional help. She knew when he graduated with distinction and decided to get a teaching certificate instead of become a lawyer like he’d planned at first.

She knew him better than she knew herself. She became joyful when he was happy and blue when he was sad and excited when he was planning his next move in life. She celebrated his birthdays and the holidays he observed. She shared New Year’s Eve with him in Times Square where she knew he went every single year without fail.

She lived her life through him, through his experiences, through his loves and disappointments, his successes and his defeats, his whims and his dedications.

His life was hers, and he didn’t know it.

 

The Evil, Most Feared and Loathsome Count William

The Evil, Most Feared and Loathsome Count William sat in his room and looked up how to make poisons on the Internet. He’d found several promising websites, but he wasn’t sure where he was supposed to get some of the ingredients. He had no idea what nettle-juice was, for instance. He also wasn’t sure that the forums he was looking at were particularly serious. Wasn’t Lithium just the name of a Nirvana song?

William got up from his computer in disgust. How was he going to become a proper member of the Evil Squad if he couldn’t even figure out how to poison anyone?! The ad he’d gotten in the mail had specified that he needed to have certain skills and be able to prove his aptitude at them before he’d be accepted as a member. He’d e-mailed them and asked what he needed to learn, and they’d answered with a terse reply, telling him that if he didn’t know what things he needed to know in order to be evil, then he probably wasn’t suitable.

He’d already got himself a name, though, and he was determined to manage to get into that group. He was evil, he knew it. Nobody liked him at school – they called him Will the Weird, not as good a title as The Evil, Most Feared and Loathsome Count. His parents didn’t particularly like him – they’d yelled at him for over an hour when he’d painted his room black and they’d almost disconnected the Internet as punishment. Then he’d told them that if they did that, he’d need to find where his dad hid his porn magazines and since nobody wanted that, they should probably keep the connection.

He also knew that he was capable of being cruel, which was part of being evil, of course. He’d been horribly mean to his little sister ever since she was born, and even now that she was thirteen and was coming into her own, he still managed to make her cry a couple times a week by taunting her. He saw this as being proper behavior for a Loathsome Count.

William strode up and down his room, looking at the posters he’d hung on his walls. Some were of heavy metal bands, but he didn’t actually like the music – he just liked the pictures of mouths dripping blood or skeletons on battlefields and the like. The other posters were hand-drawn, featuring violent vampires and women lying dead across tombstones. These had been made for him by Hannah, his next-door neighbor, and the girl he loved more than the entire world put together.

She didn’t think much of him anymore. When they were both freshmen in high-school, she’d gone in for his whole black, death, plague and misery sort of outlook on life. She had, in her own words, “grown out of it” and even though she still wore black, dyed her hair purple and had rings going all the way up both ears, she considered his “being evil thing” to be stupid, childish and beneath her. When he’d pointed at her necklace, which had featured a fang the day they had this argument, she’d said “it’s just a necklace, William. It’s just what I like to wear. It’s fashion, get over it.”

But William hadn’t gotten over it. He hadn’t gotten over her, either. But he had to, and in order to do that, he had to join this Evil Squad so he’d have somewhere to siphon his frustration to. He had a feeling that they gave assignments and stuff once you joined. That could keep him busy. Being busy would be good.

Finally, William sat back down at the computer, and instead of looking up poisons, he logged onto his instant messenger program. He had two screen-names that he used. One was EvilWilliam, which he’d been using for years, even before he decided to join the Evil Squad. The other, the one he used now, was GoodGothKid. He’d created this one only a few months ago.

He saw, with a leap of his heart, that Hannah was online. She messaged him almost at once.

BlackRoses: Hey!

GoodGothKid: Hey :).

BlackRoses: I’m so glad you’re online. I really need someone to talk to.

GoodGothKid: I’m here for you, you know I’m always here for you.

And as Hannah told him about her day, William pretended to be a guy called Tom who lived a couple states over, who was goth but not evil, and who Hannah actually liked.

Whoops, Techonology Strikes

Well, I am now a proud owner of Windows 7. My desktop computer has finished installing and it seems to be working perfectly.

There’s only one problem. One MAJOR problem. The Internet connection doesn’t work. Which sucks big time.

I’m currently writing this quick note from my little EEEpc Netbook, in order to explain why I’m not going to be around on blogs tonight or tomorrow [my time, which is probably anywhere between seven to ten hours ahead of most people reading this] because I’m going to be dealing with computer/Internet love-affair-gone-wrong issues. Hopefully by Saturday night, US time, I’ll be able to catch up with y’all.

I feel like some sort of failed superhero – managed to install Win7, only to fail utterly at being able to use the computer for very much for the time being. Yes, I’m pouting, how could you tell?