|Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice|
Timothy O. Goyette
|The Dreaming Fire|
Why did I let Andy talk me into these things? She'd asked me to beta test her new VR RPG, which I was down low cool with. I'd ask her to tell me the game's scenario so I could get my rad on, but she said it was a surprise, then she winked and said it was rated mature audiences only, I'd like it. Ptobably why I was fool enough to agree to her suggestion that I do a doubledose of Ativan, after we'd already split a bottle of wine. She wanted it to be a special night. But now I couldn't remember a damn thing after that, not a shred of her game remained in my brain. What the hell was I gonna say; would she ever forgive me?
What I groggily remembered was the late breaking newscast, the one that had interrupted us with the announcement that had changed the world, and I felt shock like a line of pain shooting through my veins. Suddenly I lived in a world poised at the brink of war. I was living at the bottom of a steep slope where a landslide was about to fall; I could look up and see the widening cracks, and I wanted to yell STOP, but that would only hasten the fall. I realized sex and alcohol were the only refuges left, and I intended to fully indulge in them all.
I looked at the woman waking up beside me. Her face was the same, as oval as the girl with the pearl earring, hair fit for a D.G. Rossetti model and so was her body. That was just about all I knew of art, the pictures we’d copped from the past for our ad campaigns---the kinder, gentler ad campaigns that were our m.o. Somehow I’d thought that kinder, gentler was what humans really wanted, somehow that was going to change the world.
Now she had opened her eyes, was staring past me at the opposite wall; was it only a change of mood I saw? Her eyes looked smaller and shadowed; was the change in them profound, or was it only my imagination?
I couldn’t bear thinking about it any longer and shoved myself out of bed. Should I turn on the news? More news wouldn’t make the news any better. Should we pack up and head for the hills? How outdated that instinct was: this would not be a war that anyone could escape from. Poisons spreading across the world would make the plague look like a mere foretaste of death’s final banquet on the flesh of earth’s creatures.
I decided the wisest course would be to tunnel back under the quilt; but just as I put my plan into action the woman of the house sat up and put her feet on the floor. “You’re going to be late for work,” she said to me.
“Miranda, what did we do yesterday?”
“Jon, I know you know as well as I do; we went to the Peace Memorial and prayed for peace, for any hope, and I doubt it has arrived overnight. I always wished the CIA could be stopped, but this is not the way I wanted it to happen! We'll all go down with them.”
No, I thought, no. Surely, we had gone to Trafalgar Square to celebrate peace; at last a true and possibly lasting peace was spreading around the globe. We’d watched the broadcast from the U.N., the history of how it all started with the breaking open of the Berlin Wall and became a mighty wave after the election of Obama. Nation after nation had elected only governments committed to peace. Dictators and despots had been defeated by the solidarity of civil resistance coupled with army desertions as men returned to their families absolutely refusing to take any orders that would endanger their loved ones safety. Food First had been one of the rallying slogans. And that was the title of the song that we had sung along with Bono and U2, back on the stage for this night only. We’d cheered, and wept at the signing of the U.N. sponsored Universal Armistice: every nation against any nation that initiated an act of war. Our economies, our power systems, the web, the environment, the atmosphere, we were all too vulnerable now to let anyone ruin it for all of us. And we had the satellite surveillance systems to ensure that every nation was watched over.
But that memory was like a lost book of promises. I no longer was sure I even knew what year it was, and I certainly wasn’t going to make a fool of myself asking Mirandy. We really should get rid of that desktop computer gathering dust in the corner. It reminded me of my childhood, which was the last thing I needed as I lay shivering under the covers. Andy returned from the loo, walked back to the bed, looked at me, and with smile that could have been borrowed from a horseman of the apocalypse in a holiday mood, announced, “I’m afraid the threat of eternal damnation has not been allowed as an excuse for not showing up.”
Then she sat down beside me, and I could see the tears in her eyes. “Jon, I want to go sleep beside you and never wake up in this world again. So please get up and stop looking like you’re losing your mind. You’re making it impossible for me to go on.”
I knew my duty, like a new soldier I got out of bed and smiled bravely. I was glad I couldn’t see myself. “While we still can, let’s carry on as normal.” I slapped my PDA onto my wrist, and saw I was running late; it would have to be a quick one, but at least it would be breakfast together.
We sat at our battered but beautiful oak table, and Andy offered me a bowl of granola. “Granola?” I looked at her and raised my eyebrows. “Didn’t we go shopping this weekend?”
“I guess we had other things on our minds, y’know.”
“I’ll stick to coffee then.” I didn’t mean to be petty, but she knew I had an aversion to horse food, as I called it; I wanted my usual turkey bacon and curried potato butty.
“We shouldn’t put it off any longer.” I couldn’t quite resist giving her the rueful smile. “I don’t want to alarm you, but we had better stock up.”
At least I was thinking now, taking charge of the situation. Perhaps that was putting it a bit strongly. “The thing is to think of what we can do, for now, not what we can’t, the things we can’t do anything about.”
“I see what you mean,” she said softly, and stopped eating.
I hadn’t meant to put her off her food. I remembered Y2K when I was a kid, my Dad trying to buy an electric generator and the prices had shot up because they were in such short supply. We’d best load up before the shelves were cleared out by a buying frenzy---it had probably already started. In a move that gave me a twinge of nostalgia, she reached over and turned on the vintage radio for the eight o’clock news as we sipped our coffee for the final five minutes before we rushed out the door.
I wished she hadn’t. The B.B.C. announcer started to speak, stopped, coughed, and began again: Here is the update on the worldwide crisis situation : Shah Kebaranovi, leader of the Supreme Sino-Soviet Jihad has declared a state of emergency, in addition to the martial laws already in effect since September first. In a speech last night, the Shah made a new demand directed to the U.N. Assembly of Allied Nations. He is insisting on the right to make a new yen standard for the world’s markets. He claims to be accelerating preparations for Black Friday, which he has previously slated for Christmas Eve. Leaders of the G38, meeting in an undisclosed location, are expected to make an announcement this evening via the European Assembly headquarters in Brussels.
That was enough and it was all we had time to hear as we headed out the door.
I wasn’t even cheered by the sight of my shining black Morris sedan, the one I’d always wanted but thought I’d never be able to afford; anything faster than an electric Beetle was a blatant indulgence. However, I didn’t regret it now. Why should I?
Driving to work I was on automatic pilot as I picked up my quota of riders. No-one said hello, how are you, lovely weather for ducks or such, just there’s no hope now, or, from those who didn’t know me better, damn the peace activists, this is their fault, they had better be the first volunteers. I stared out the windscreen as if my life depended on the soothing sweep of the wipers. I continued on as numb and unthinking as possible for the rest of the morning, writing reports and cancelling meetings by e-mail with a detachment firmly rooted in my knowledge of the absolute uselessness of my actions.
I stayed in my office by myself at noon, too upset to eat lunch. I went on-line for the old comfort of flicking through my favourite comics, wondering if there was anything that could still make me laugh. It was the first time I didn’t go to the new “get your war on.”
How could I face my colleagues when with every word they would hammer in the shattering news? There was a chasm inside me dividing yesterday and today. The only rational explanation I could think of was that I had cracked under the threat of impending doom and substituted wishful thinking for reality. The most painful part of it was that the peaceful world still seemed so close at hand. My feelings said that it had been real, but it was as if it was suddenly sealed behind impenetrable glass. I wanted so badly to step backwards into it. I even felt guilty, as if I had created doomsday myself, as if even knowing that the other possibility existed I had chosen this one. Was this a paranoid delusion of god-like powers? Whatever, I had every right to feel like I was going crazy, or the world was.
I was starting to tremble; I had to get myself back together before the lunch break was over. I headed out into the hall for a glass of water. My attention focused on the Christmas decorations hanging up on the walls, red and green garlands with sparkly balls. Somehow, they made me smile. I remembered the afternoon last week that we had hung them. Brian had smuggled in a bottle of vodka that we added to some orange juice from the vending machine. The jokes had started when Robert had talked Surya and Gayle into standing on the chairs to hang the garlands. We had gotten into such a jovial mood that we had joked and improvised twisted carols via office e-mail for the rest of the afternoon.
I met Gayle at the water cooler and tried to look calm. She smiled at me as if she too had been thinking of last Friday. “What are you smiling about?” I asked her mockingly.
“Could be I’m thinking about a good excuse for another party,” she said with a wink. I wondered then, worriedly, if I had been a bit too friendly last week. I seemed to remember that she had acquiesced to my offer of a shoulder massage when the garland hanging was done. I took a step back to increase the distance between us. She bent over to fill her glass, lifted it up and looked at me, “But then, I smile a lot these days; I never realized before how much I worried about the state of the world. It’s a good time to be alive, isn’t it?” I found I was beaming back at her in agreement.
While I was walking back down the hall, I was thinking, of course there are still some problems; serious minded people like me had every right to feel concerned. But why did I feel like I was living in a nightmare? Surely that was overdoing it.
Less stress, more fun. That was the key---it would make a good slogan for the new life. When people feel threatened they naturally want to buy things up, store them up. With peace in the world, we would naturally share more. I felt like I could even sell people on the idea of getting closer to the basics of life---plus electronics mind you---the rewards of the decluttered life, I would call it. There was a pleasant creative hum going on inside my head. As I passed by Brian’s office, he waved me in. He was our cold sales manager, and after we tossed around our latest game scores, I told him about my brainwave. He offered to look into who might be in the market for the campaign.
It wasn’t until I was getting ready for bed that night that I turned to my Mirandy and said, “I had such a horrible nightmare last night, I feel like a kid, half afraid to go to sleep.”
“You were out of sorts this morning; I hardly got a sweet word from you; the nicest thing you said was something about having breakfast together as if it was the last day in the world. Still, it was better than when you used to wake up with a migraine, less moaning overall. Why don’t you come to bed and not go to sleep? Maybe you can make up for being such a grouch this morning.” She switched on the little null-grav generator under the bed. It wasn’t the latest model but still one of the best purchases we’d ever made. Anti-grav fields for beds was a better use than for tanks any day. Making love now was as exciting as it had been back when we first met. I slipped out of my pyjamas to take her up on the offer.
In the morning, I awoke her with a kiss on her breasts, peeling back the covers to sneak an eyeful of each one. She was so good at sleeping through the alarm that there was no doubt that she needed me in her life. I got out of bed and went into a delicious full stretch. I have to admit I suspected that by now, Andy had her eyes wide open.
By the afternoon, I was back to thinking about how bored I was with my job, which I did as regularly as pissing, when the bomb dropped.
It was almost break time. A shriek cut through the walls. We all must have heard it, but just in case, whoever it was screamed again. OMG, it sounded like it was coming from reception. I had never moved faster, even in the most heated frisbee football match. So I was one of the first to arrive on the scene, and Surya was still standing stuttering in front of the fax machine.
My first thought was to look for the power cord in case the machine had shorted out---which I didn’t think happened in this day and age, but she looked like my Mom on the day, when I was only six, that she’d gotten a shock from her old electric mixer. When I got closer, she thrust the paper from the fax at me, shaking it as if she couldn’t let go until I relieved her of it. So I took it out of her hands and started to guide her into her seat. She wouldn’t budge, just kept pointing at the paper. The whole office gang of six had gathered round her now, and Gayle took her off my hands uttering little soothing imprecations. I turned my attention to the seemingly offensive piece of paper, then turned aghast to my office mates.
“Get the news up; if this is true…then the war has started.” I tried to say it calmly. I was telling myself that it could be a hoax; some dementor was sending it round to frighten secretaries. Robert headed back to his office as if disgusted that his work had been disturbed, but the rest of us crowded round Surya’s desk. Gayle had gotten her sitting down now. We didn’t have to look far, even the home page was running a newsflash.
The gist was that a small nuclear warhead had detonated on impact in Washington. A stealth glider, radio controlled, flying from within American airspace, had delivered the bomb. The Sino-Soviet Jihad, how could I have deluded myself that it wasn’t for real? Why had Andy slipped too---was it possible that we just couldn’t deal, we were losing it?
Shah Kebaranovi did not look the least bit remorseful as he announced in his televised transmission that he had ordered the action as a warning to the world that his threats would be carried out. The U.S., of course, had declared itself at war with the Sino-Soviets and all of their allies. Speculation was rife over how the U.S. would retaliate---no one knew if the Shah was in China, North Korea, the Russian Union or somewhere else. Bombing an equal number of innocent civilians would make no sense, but the fear was that they would do it anyway.
When the broadcast from CNN started showing satellite shots of the black hole in Washington, I thought I was going to be sick; cold spasms cut through my body. I stood up to go to the washroom, but before I had taken two steps away, Robert re-appeared from his office. He was holding a large gun pointed straight at all of us, conveniently bunched together as we were. Semi-automatic, I thought as I froze, surprised that my knowledge of guns from watching the telly worked in real life.
“Don’t move unless I give you permission,” were Robert’s first words. Akbar, beside me, collapsed to the ground, probably thinking he was about to be executed. The smell of fear in the room was as pungent as smoke from a fire. Robert continued giving orders, “Brian, put these on Akbar.” He tossed over a set of plastic handcuffs.
I could barely find my voice, “Robert, don’t shoot him.”
“Don’t worry. I will not harm any of you if you cooperate fully. Akbar, because he is of Islamic origin, will be allowed to join the jihad. I will deliver him to our local commander. The rest of you are going to be locked in here when I leave. What you do after that is up to you. But if anyone you know happens to be an American citizen, you better tell them to leave the country---if they can.” He almost seemed to smile at that.
“Why are you doing this?” asked Gayle, suddenly, in a voice that was barely above a whisper. Still, I admired her guts.
“I volunteered for the militia three weeks ago,” he said and his smile returned as if he was happy that he had surprised us all. He must be high on something, I thought, but his hands on the gun were holding steady; maybe he was just on too much pozer or beta-blockers. I knew he got off on the macho trip, always acted as if his seniority made him our boss, and I remembered with shame, how I had laughed at his jokes about the women when they were hanging those stupid Christmas decorations. The garlands dangled above Robert’s head; suddenly I hated them. They seemed a taunting reminder of the Jihads approaching deadline. Deadline: I had never liked that word, and now the irony was not even faintly amusing.
Robert had us hold hands and walk into his office. I kept trying to catch someone’s eye; we needed to jostle him all at once, throw him off-balance and tackle him. It wasn’t much of a plan, and he was careful to keep his distance, so it wouldn’t have come off anyhow. But I hated to be herded into that little room like sheep to the slaughter. Of course none of us had locks on our doors—-that would be far too much fun—but he had secretly equipped himself with his own locking device—not hard to smuggle in a hammer and nails. I couldn’t help wondering if he was going to blow us all up or set the place on fire when he left. As soon as he started whacking in the first nail, I was checking all the cords I could find, but the bully-boy had ripped them all apart before he came out to get us. I futilely waved his office scissors in the air, wishing I could stab him through the door. When there were no noises on the other side for about five minutes, we finally agreed that he had left. We checked his desk for any further evidence of his traitorhood and after we’d dumped its contents on the floor, I was finally able to vent my feelings by bashing his desk drawer into the door. Oddly enough the women objected to that, but not to Brian and I taking runs at the door until it started to cave in and we could use our feet.
There was a generally urgent feeling of needing to get out, so, like the others, I went back to my office to grab my stuff. As I surveyed my normal surroundings, I despaired that anything would ever be the same again. The line about how easy it is to give orders with a gun kept coming back to annoy me. Tyranny giving the boot to optimistic dreams seemed to have overtaken us in next to no time at all. I heard people leaving; I suppose they could hardly wait to get home to their illusion of safety.
I wasn’t sure if I was leaving for the day or for good; I picked up things and put them back down, starting to feel as if I was moving in slow motion. My limbs were weak now that the adrenalin was wearing off; where could I turn, what could I do? The world had become an unbearably dark place; and I was in no rush to get to the underground. I wondered if I was alone in the office. I imagined Robert walking calmly out of the office with his gun aimed at Akbar’s back. The image was surreal. Right then the world I was living in seemed unsubstantial and unreal as if the rest of the universe and my inner sense of it had withdrawn their support. I picked up my briefcase, unable to face bigger decisions about the future. I was heading out through reception when I stumbled, fell over a waste bin and before I could recover, hit my head on the corner of a desk. As I went down, everything went black. For a few minutes, I lost track of my bearings. When my vision cleared, I pulled myself up, leaning against the desk I had fallen into. There was a sharp pain in my head emanating from my right temple; when I raised my hand to it, I realized I was bleeding. I decided I’d best put a cold compress on it before I went into the street, so, dizzily, I headed for the water cooler.
Gayle was there; she announced that she had been out of the office since early afternoon, running errands and had just got back. Just got back, why was she lying? I was sure I had seen her there earlier. What had happened? Why would she do that when there was a war on? I looked at her suspiciously, was this some elaborate contrivance she was pulling because she had her eye on me? She looked back at me with some concern, “Jon, are you all right?”
I tried to smile nonchalantly. “I’ll be fine in a minute,” I said. “I tripped and hit the corner of a desk. Guess I shouldn’t be in such a hurry to head home.”
She immediately rummaged in her purse, brought out two napkins, wet them, and put them on my head. I held them there while she looked on. “You’re going to have a nasty bump there; too bad there isn’t any ice,” she said, “we’ll have to tell Brian he’s got to improve on his office party standards.
“Next time I hear there’s going to be a party, I’ll bring the ice,” I replied.
“You’re not so badly off,” she stated confidently, “you should have seen Akbar. Robert offered to drive him home, and it took both him and Brian to get him to the car. His headache tomorrow will likely be even worse than yours.”
I was in worse shape than she thought because that wasn’t what I remembered. “And I thought he didn’t drink because of his religion.”
She laughed. “I’ve known Akbar for years and I think he decided long ago that any religion on the side of war can go the way of the dinosaurs.”
“Yes, speaking of war, haven’t you changed your tune rather drastically? No offence, I hope,” I added hastily, wondering if that would stop her from hovering over me.
“Do you mean the old C. of E., on the side of God, the Queen and country marching off to war? That was years ago---doesn’t apply anymore. You know as well as I do. Are you feeling better?” She patted my hair.
I straightened up quickly, “Don't worry, I never was that bad, just didn’t want to look like I was the sort to run into posts on the way home, right?”
She laughed again; she honestly was a cheerful sort, perhaps I’d better trust her.
“All right, I’m off then, got to do a little Christmas shopping on the way home. Say hi to Andy for me.”
And she was off. Thank the karma gods; she must've finally remembered she was supposed to be one of Andy's best friends. I made a detour to the loo to check out the damages then headed out. I hit street level, and was taken by surprise; big wet snowflakes were slowly whirling towards the ground. The cold felt good on my head, so refusing to get caught up in the mad rush to the tube, I hummed a bit of a carol as I walked. What was I going to get Mirandy for Christmas this year? I surveyed the shop windows, caught a glimpse of my head and checked to see that no blood had leaked into my blonde stubble. Then I lingered in front of a corset display. She might like that. But lingerie didn’t quite say Christmas the way woolies did, maybe I’d best think snuggly. That's what I thought, but mysteriously, my feet led me right in the door. Fortunately, the shop assistant helpfully offered to keep the cherry red, sweetheart cut corset until I could pick it up, wrapped, on a night when I could beat Andy home.
“I would never have guessed your office had such a bunch of partiers. Of course you had an excuse; you must have heard the good news.” Andy remarked while we propped ourselves up with a glass of wine and tore into the fin in a tin with chips and dip that I had picked up on the way home. The place was so close, and if we dropped off our tiffin the next day, they’d wash it and have it waiting, ready to go---made it a constant temptation.
“At least I had an excuse this time, but most of that mob they’re just as glad for any reason to start happy hour early,” I replied, not knowing what good news she was referring to that I ought to be up on---certainly not the news I’d clearly hallucinated earlier today.
“Of course, we were watching the news at work, but you can’t really have a cocktail there, with the children running about, can you? I hope you’re still up to celebrating with me.”
“Always, every chance I get,” I told her, not forgetting that we weren’t married yet. I'd asked her, of course. She'd said she needed time to see; see what, I didn't know. There are two kinds of librarians in my experience---the law and order types and the free-spirits, who simply happen to love stories and books. Miranda hadn’t agreed to settle down yet, so I didn't dare slack off on the sex appeal. Perhaps, when I’m an old man, she’ll slow down herself. Until then even the thought of going to lie low and recoup, couldn't tempt me away.
“A few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed we’d see peace in Israel and Palestine with a U.N. peacekeeping force. They wouldn’t have allowed them in.”
Oh, so that was the news, was it? Certainly worthy of a celebration. “It’s worth it to them. I guess nobody’s saying so, but it’d be the price of keeping their U.N. memberships. If you ask me, it would have happened sooner if the U.S. hadn’t been propping up right wing fanatics on both sides.”
“I know, of course, sugarloaf. Why don’t we get comfortable? One more run at the news, we can see who else is celebrating and then I’ll call it off for the night. After that, I’ll beat you to the buried treasure of the Vatican even if your sword is bigger than mine.”
It was our latest 3D game, “You’re a wily opponent, wench, plying me with more drinks to slow me down.”
Her answer was an amusing cross between rolling her eyeballs and fluttering her eyelashes. Lucky for her, I’d never tease her about it in case it put a stop to it.
We were side by side on our controllers, when, next thing I knew, I found myself in the strangest dream yet. A dream where I was the newly elected President of the Russian Republic. My aide told me he’d be back to take me in when the members of the Politburo were seated, but first I was having a quick session with my advisors. Beside me, a man I couldn’t see was speaking quietly and urgently to me. “You must be a realist, the U.S.A. will never give in to the world by choice. Act boldly, force them to their knees while we can. The rest of the world will thank you, and history will admire you. Our agents are ready; you know we have the means to hold them at our mercy. You’ve seen the intelligence reports; the Pentagon has never given up its dream of world dominion, and their President is helpless to stop them. They wait only until the rest of the world has disarmed, then they establish a global tyranny. They will establish a corporatocracy with economic blackmail to oppress us.”
All the while that he spoke to me, I could see how this could be true: I couldn’t refute it. On my left, however, there was another man who honestly looked like Santa Claus in a three-piece suit. He had white hair and a trim white beard; his eyes twinkled and he smiled serenely at me. The man to my right had my ear, but the man to the left held my eyes. I wanted to ask his opinion; I hoped he had another option; I somehow expected that with a few words he could collapse the hidden man’s logic to mere straws. Something to save me from having to say yes---threaten to blow the world to hell. The hidden man was more insistent by the minute, talking about secret American stockpiles of armaments, their network of hideouts, the plans with the multi-billionaires to carve the world up into economic empires, the triumph of American imperialism. I was staring at the white-haired man now, willing him to speak.
Then images of children happily playing, alternated with images of children running, screaming, hiding in smoking ruins or crying while they lay disfigured in rows of stretcher beds passed through my head. They were like re-runs of television news stories cut with Christmas toy ads in rapid alternation. I became aware that I was searching through the children’s faces, the images had speeded up. I was searching for the face of a child that I would recognize as if in a déjà vu, perhaps one that would look like Miranda or me, as if we already had a child, and now I was trying to look ahead and see what his future would be.
“The hidden man was still speaking to me, “I know we all want to be sentimental and idealistic, but peace does not come from weak men’s daydreams. It must be built on strength, on power. We must not let ourselves become prey for these tyrants. You must make a choice.” What could I say, what could I think of that would prevent from happening what he said was going to happen? Deadly confrontation or bootheel tyranny?
I wanted my son with me, now, right beside me. I wanted to look into his eyes. If I said no, would he grow up to be a man who despised me as a weakling who threw away my power when I could have stopped the greatest, greediest, oligarchy the world would ever know from becoming established? An oligarchy that would rule his life. Or would he despise me as the man who started World War three in the face of the greatest opportunity for peace that the planet had ever known since humanity spread over its surface? Finally, we had the technology and the unanimity to keep nations honest.
Both of my advisors had faded into the background now. I continued to weigh the reactions of my imagined son. When I spoke I felt my words were also his. “The men in the Pentagon are old now; they make plots and play at their deadly games because that is all they know how to do. But they will die frustrated. No plan can be carried out against the will of the people; there are enough brave men and women now and not enough lackeys to carry out their plans. Already they are having a hard time finding scientists and factory workers willing do their bidding. The arms factories are shutting down; haven’t you heard? The people know where their true security lies. We must unmask the plotters and their plans; let their people deal with them. We will support the will of the people; the will of the people is for peace."
I awoke hot and sweating, but I could feel all around me a cool and peaceful night. I must have falIen asleep on the couch. Where was Andy, had she given up on me and gone to bed? i struggled to sit up.
Then I blinked rapidly as the helmet and goggles were lifted from my head. The gloves slid off my hands. I ran my fingers through my brown shaggy hair, glad that it was back. Why hadn’t I tweaked to the fact that I’ve never worn a blonde brushcut?
There was Andy smiling at me, and as my eyes adjusted to the light, I could see that the empty VR chamber had been transformed with champagne cooling beside a table laid for dinner for two. A real one that smelled deliciously inviting. I peeled my lanky body off the sweaty naugahyde armchair; I was almost certain as I stood up, that this is what she'd been waiting to see...but I didn’t want to leap to assumptions.
Andy solved my dilemma by launching herself at me. She threw her arms around my neck, whispered “my hero” into my ear, and then we dissolved into a long sweet kiss. I felt the last of the adrenalin tension ebb out of my muscles. You never know what will happen when you propose to a librarian and soon to be launched VR programmer with very hot skilz. That was one of the things I loved about Andy, the fascinating surprises that she brought into my life.
“That was so retro; you are awesome, darling. Thanks for giving me the Morris, even if it was only for a day.” I told her when we were seated and hoisting our glasses of champagne. I realized she must have been working on this for a long time before I proposed to her, but then, women, in my experience, have a way of knowing things long before I catch up. I’d passed her test: that was what mattered.
“To the two of us,” I toasted.
“To our wedding day,” she added. We chimed the crystal and held each others' eyes as we drank.
Read more stories by this author
tisiphone - Hey Mark thanks for letting me know-- I do have more stories I'm itching to finish, so will try to get them to you soon.
mark211 - I enjoyed this quite a lot - hope to see more fiction from your keyboard.
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