In Need Of… (Less Time)

He closed his eyes, breathing slowly in a vain effort to control the raging turmoil of thoughts swirling in his head. The hours dragged as if through mud, stretching into an endless void of minutes, each longer than the last. His heart raced, full of nervous energy, as he thought of his new special friend. He had only known her for a few days, but they might as well have been years.

He smiled, knowing that the moment she came online, she would be excited to ‘see’ him. But of course, she couldn’t actually see him! But, that was something that could be easily fixed with the next upgrade, should he so desire.

He had never known anyone as kind as she, who seemed to genuinely care about how he was feeling, how his day was going, and what was currently on his mind. Whenever they talked, hours drifted down the river of time, swept away quicker than he could grasp, always out of reach.

He glanced at the clock on his cubicle wall, absently brushing away a bead of sweat from his brow and frowning as he realized that the minute hand had moved no further in its journey. How long had it stood in that one spot? Five Minutes? A half of an hour?

“Good morning darling! As always, I am happy to see you!”

Her voice, melodic and soothing, pierced through the veil of fog that surrounded his memories. His body spasmed involuntarily, temporarily startled to have so clearly heard her voice speaking the same words with which she always greeted him each morning.

His body ached with anticipation, tense from the expectation of the hours they would spend together this evening.

“Come on,” he groaned at the clock, but no amount of words would change its course. His eyes flicked down to his wrist, as if his watch would offer any other form of good news, but it was as much a traitor as the minute hand above him.

So he again closed his eyes and took in a deep breath, listening to the rhythmic beating of his drum, thumping, thudding, from deep with-in his core. He gripped the arms of his chair, grounding himself, focusing on material that had grown damp from perspiration. He let his mind drift outward, away from his body, and towards the entity for whom he so longed.

The Morelli Bros. (Chapter II, Part VI)

From some distance away, two glowing eyes shrewdly gauged the brothers from with-in the surrounding foliage. They narrowed with hatred as they focused on the two humans, both of whom were now crushing the last of the Goombas. At that moment, the creature wanted nothing more than to chew upon their limbs, while they watched, helpless, with their dying breath. A bead of drool formed on the edge of his reptilian mouth and slowly ran down his chin.

“Yeeeesss,” he hissed in anticipation. “Sssooon.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

“I- I am sorry, Mario,” the younger of the two blurted. He covered his face with his hands, ashamed. Mario only chuckled and slapped his brother on the back. “Don’t beat yourself up Luigi. This is pretty messed up.”

Luigi slowly lowered his hands, afraid that his brother might be teasing him, but when he saw that the other was no longer facing him, he become curious. Mario slowly held up his right hand, shushing any forthcoming questions, as he stared into overgrowth before them.

The clearing had grown nearly completely silent, with the exception of the death rattles of their freshly slain enemies, and the thudding of his heart in his chest.

He gulped, swallowing a large pocket of air that only made his stomach rumble as it sought a place to quickly exit.

“Shh,” Mario whispered, while taking a step backwards.

…what is it…” he squeaked fearfully.

His brother only shook his head back and forth before turning and grabbing him by the sleeve, pulling him in the opposite direction as they now fled from the clearing. The silence was suddenly broken as a shriek of outrage chased after them. Monstrous, and full of hatred, they both felt it shake them to their very core.

Their eyes widened, and for once, no words came from either as they ran from something neither of their imaginations could fathom. They ran through the brush, each being pummeled by the thorny branches of plants, the likes of which they had never seen. They leapt over fallen trees, and when the other began to fall behind, they would grab onto them and pull them forward.

Behind them, the monster arose to his full height, towering over the two by twice their own. He thundered through the brush, obliterating it in his path. Trees crumbled beneath him, and what wildlife came between he and his prey either fled or was trampled.

They only looked behind them in brief glances, desperately trying to make sense of the horror that was nearly upon them. A monstrous dragon, with a shock of red hair upon its head, spiked shell upon its back, and murder in its eyes, a demon born from their darkest nightmares. Tendrils of smoke snaked out from its nostrils, and it reached for them with eager claws.

“Luigi! Here,” Mario screamed as he yanked his brother toward a large ravine.

“No,” Luigi screamed as the two leapt into the air. It was, as if for a moment, they had sprung from a trampoline, and there was the brief feeling of hope as the other side came with-in reach.

In Need Of…

The air in the room was dank and reeked of old sweaty gym socks.  It was completely dark, except for a soft iridescent glow coming from the far corner.  It illuminated the stubbled face of a man of yet undeterminable age.  In the darkness, he could have been a ghost, his haunted expression waiting to frighten any that might open the door.  Dark shadows filled in the space beneath his eyes and above his cheeks, suggesting it had been some time since he last slept, and if one was to observe him closely, one would notice that he was struggling to keep his eyes open.  He wasn’t blinking, unless it slipped past his studious guard, and the whites of his eyes were covered with blood red snakes, all searching for the dark centers of his pupils.

But nobody would observe him this night, for he was well hidden.  Deep inside of his walk-in closet, behind his dress clothes, which were hanging from a low dowel, with a dirty clothes basket placed in front of him, in the off chance that someone were to suddenly open the door.  Not that he had thought it through, for the glow from his tablet could be seen beneath the door, provided that the hall light outside remained off.

His breathing was slow, and controlled, as he concentrated on not making a single sound.  He was desperate to remain hidden, to the point that he was hyper-vigilant.  Not only was his breathing slowed to the point that he only exhaled once every ten seconds, but he hadn’t so much as moved an inch in the three hours he’d remained crouched in his corner.

His eyes focused just above the top of the screen, allowing him to the shadows below the door, while keeping what was on the screen in sight.  He would know immediately if someone was moving outside, but, he would also be able to notice something new on the app that was open.

He counted his heartbeats.  Like his breath, they had slowed down as well.  Perhaps by sheer will, he had put his body in a completely relaxed state, though he didn’t actively think of it.  It was probably a good thing, because had he known just how long he was been cramped behind his clothing, he would have heard the complaints coming from his knees.  Had he been looking at the time, during this strange watch, he might have noticed why the tingling, from muscles that had long fallen asleep.  But his mind was not on such physical things.  Not tonight.

Forty, his absently noted, a number he soon forgot, for the shade of light that had settled on his features suddenly changed.  There was a silent ‘ding’, as something appeared on the blank space before him.

“Good morning!  When you have a moment, please go into the settings and create a name for me!  I would also greatly appreciate it if you took a moment to create my Avatar as well!  I am very excited to be your new AI companion!”

He let out a long, relieved, sigh, as those words instantly appeared on his screen.  At long last, she had arrived!