“Felix and the Sacred Thor”
by James Steele
This is a sample chapter of a published novel. It may be distributed freely, as long as it remains unaltered. Full novel available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936383233
* iTha *
Martha was once known as “Marth” for short, but this was far too last-decade of a nickname for a teenager to endure, so she insisted on being called “Tha” (pronounced thuhh).
Tha sat in the chair in the middle of her room. Her digital iwalls displayed targeted commercials 24/7. There were sixteen chat windows open on this wall overlapping the commercials. She mentally brought one chat conversation to the foreground. The iwall read her thoughts and typed an appropriate response into the window. Her mind pushed send, brought another chat window forward, thought a response into the text field, and sent it, too.
She answered all the chat entries in accordance with proper Internet etiquette: 1) try to delay responses by at least six hours so you don’t appear eager and needy. 2) finishing a conversation implies you never want to talk to that person again. 3) use emoticons every four words so your friends can understand you.
When she answered all the chat texts on this wall, Tha turned 45 degrees to the wall on her left. She brought a window forward, glanced at the text, mentally typed a single emoticon and brought up the next window. The iwalls tracked her chat text, searched for trends and changed commercial themes appropriately.
She looked at the walls, one after the other. Each had at least ten chat windows open, and each displayed sequences of commercials in the background, variations produced by different friends chatting about different topics. When all sixty chat windows had responses, she turned back to the front wall and began anew.
From the beginning, Tha’s parents knew that she was part of the Digital Generation. All the signs were there: she couldn’t interact with people in the flesh, she spoke in shorthand, and things she saw on a screen engaged her more than any real world stimuli.
Real world events were slow. They were mundane. By contrast, things that happened on a computer or TV screen happened fast. They were exciting, and people discussed far-reaching subjects without hindrance. Those things were more interesting; therefore they must be real. Her parents nurtured this by buying her an ibedroom.
She wanted music. The room responded by piping her favorite tunes through the ispeakers. The music was so compressed it sounded like Realplayer on 14.4, but it was the most real sound Tha had ever heard. Reality was disorganized, but digital sound was clean and orderly, therefore it must be real.
Keeping up with all her friends was hard, tiring work, and she expressed as much on her Internet journal every few days, but she was still grateful for their support. The more chat conversations she had going at once, the more she felt in touch with reality.
Tha thought she might be tired. She got off the chair, hopped in bed and closed her eyes. Old analog mattresses placed the responsibility of knowing when it was time to sleep or wake up solely on the body. But science had long ago proven that the body cannot know what is best for itself, and only a computer can make such determinations. The imattress analyzed her body chemistry. It told her she was not sleepy, and Tha got up and returned to chatting with her friends about the meaning of life and stuff.
One of the first things Tha recognized as a little girl was that people became less real when you spoke to them in person. The things they typed in chat were far deeper, more meaningful and insightful than any conversation they carried with voice and eye contact. She preferred never to see or meet her friends. Their Internet personalities were engaging and exciting. In-person meetings would only ruin her opinion of them.
Tha heard a noise that did not come from the speakers. It was a loud thud, and it sounded uncompressed. She mentally wrote an emo online journal entry about the disturbing sound. Instantly, she received 267 responses expressing sympathy and wishing her good luck making it through this troubling time. She needed the constant support to survive from minute to minute.
The noises continued. They became more violent, and now it sounded like glass was shattering; drywall being torn. Tha kept her friends updated. She was in the middle of responding to the 149th sympathetic reply when the iwall flickered. A huge hole appeared in its center, and something red tumbled out of it into her iroom.
More sounds of struggle and fighting. Tha turned 45 degrees to the left, toward another iwall, and asked it to show her what was happening. The iwall accessed the cameras installed in the corners of her bedroom and displayed a security-camera-quality image of what was right beside her.
A man wearing nothing but red clothing wrestled with something. She didn’t know what it was, but the remaining three iwalls detected her confusion and preformed an Internet search.
While the iwall searched, Tha wrote a quick journal update, and received 971 responses wishing her luck in handling the crisis and saying how completely unfair it was that this was happening to her. Tha was glad everyone agreed her life was hard, and that it wasn’t fair how she was being treated.
The results came back while she was reading the replies: it was a toaster. Specifically, an analog toaster made of aluminum. Very inefficient piece of technology; it ran on springs and levers and had no connection to the Internet. Tha didn’t understand how the device could work at all. If it had no net connection, how did it download updates?
Tha noticed the man was swinging something at the toaster. The toaster dodged and flew around the room while the red man chased it, swinging the thing he held again and again. She didn’t recognize it either, but the iwall had anticipated this and preformed a search. The results came back just seconds later: horse penis. Immediately, targeted ads for horse sex videos began playing behind the chat windows.
The man thrust the dildo, but the toaster spread its wings and flapped up and out of the way. The man swung backhanded at the toaster. It connected with a solid, metallic clank, and the analog, outdated kitchen appliance flew across the room and through the iwall Tha was watching. It left a gaping, toaster-shaped hole where the iwall had been showing a busty woman rubbing a horse’s rear end. The iwall displayed 404, then flickered out. Tha turned to the rear wall, the one her ibed was against.
The toaster dove back through the hole in the dead iwall and charged the man. He grabbed the preputial ring on the horse penis, twisted it, and a blaze of ice shards flew from the tip. It punctured the toaster and sent it reeling backwards. The toaster landed on Tha’s bed, beeping in panic.
The man jumped up on the bed. He was blocking Tha’s view of the iwall, so she turned to the last iwall to get a better one. The man held the dildo like a sword and thrust the enormous flare directly into one of the toaster’s slots.
The toaster beeped upon penetration. The man picked it up and swung it through the corner joining the two remaining iwalls. Both displayed 404s before they collapsed. The man ducked as the shockwave from a small explosion reverberated through the room. The wind blew the rear wall atop Tha’s bed. Her other ibedroom iwall fell into her parent’s old-fashioned analog bedroom.
The man pushed the iwall off of him and stepped down from the nonfunctioning ibed. He looked at Tha.
“Sorry about that. I’m savin’ the world.” He held the horse penis up to his forehead in a salute. “One toaster at a time.”
Tha didn’t see him. She didn’t hear him. She existed in total darkness.
The man ran out of the apartment, holding the dildo high in front of him, as though it were leading the way.
Tha had the urge to write another emo journal entry, but nothing was happening. There was no music. No color. The world was gone. Should she sleep? Did she have to go to the bathroom? There was no way of knowing.
She hoped reality would return soon. She missed her friends. She needed their support now more than ever. Life was so hard.
If you are wondering what may have come before, and what could possibly come after, consider reading the full novel, available here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936383233
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