So the other day, I randomly started thinking about some of the older short stories I used to work on, before I started writing stories about my WoW characters.
I figured I would share one.
Now, to keep myself from endlessly editing this story and never actually posting it (which I can totally see myself doing with an older piece like this), I am posting it the way I finished it in July of 2007.
Some background: This story leans more Sci Fi than I usually go, but the idea of a future where it was possible to leave the house and make several stops at various places without ever interacting with another human being kind of fascinates me. In the most extreme sense, it is a possible future, when we spend so much time interacting with machines and with friends and family through those machines.
Another inspiration was some studies done with baby monkeys finding that the warmth and comfort of another is unconsciously more appealing than even food.
EVA is mildly inspired by Jane from the Ender’s books, by Orson Scott Card.
My final inspiration was actually an ex of mine. I still talk to him on occasion, and the main character Scott is more based on him than anyone. After reading it when I finished it back in ’07, he considered it to be a fairly spot-on description of him.
Just some interesting thoughts I have on occasion.
And yes, the title is taken from the Bush song “Machinehead.” As that was some of what I was listening many, many years ago when I originally started this story, which might have been while I was still with the aforementioned ex. Hmm.
<nervously presses the “post” button”> ><
Note: Some of the material in this story is MATURE. Yes, more mature than any of my WoW stories thusfar. Really, really not for all audiences.
Her body felt stiff beneath him, as if she were consciously willing her body to not respond to his. If not for the warmth of her skin, he might have thought her dead. After almost ten minutes of this—for he could see the clock on the nightstand to his left—Scott stopped.
Annie still had her eyes closed, and looked like she didn’t even notice he’d stopped.
Rolling over to his back, Scott studied the ceiling for a moment, his breath quickly returning to its normal pace.
There was only silence save breathing.
Swinging his feet off the edge of the bed he pulled on his boxers. He stood and glanced to the bed just long enough to catch her regarding him almost blankly before he strode from the room.
He entered the kitchen without knowing why. Without really thinking about it, Scott ran a small amount of water from the sink and downed it like a shot of vodka. Then, the counter a firm support to his leaning posture, Scott drew and exhaled a weary breath.
The computer in the next room beckoned him, but for once Scott ignored it. He felt as though even numbing his mind with the herb beside the monitor would bring him no solace, nor with the alcohol in the freezer. He quickly realized nothing beneath the roof of the house would bring him any comfort.
Instead, Scott collected his clothes from the floor of the bedroom, numbly tumbling Annie’s from his path.
She was watching silently as he dressed—he felt her eyes. Those chill emerald eyes raised the hair on the back of his neck. Whether it was out of anger or feeling naked beneath that silent stare, Scott could not say. Whichever it was, it caused him to shiver everso.
“Where are you going?” It was a voice both emotionless and without concern. As if she asked only because she felt he expected her to. It was the first noise he’d heard from her since they’d laid down together.
“Out,” he replied, moving more quickly and not waiting for any more questions. No conversation she may begin now would better his mood.
* * * * *
The whistle of chill air brought him minor comfort—that and the drone and boom of his music. Both formed a soothing harmony that occupied his mind enough to leave little room for conscious thought.
Without really paying much attention, Scott found himself at his local coffee spot—Maggie’s. It didn’t surprise him any; he’d come here many times following a spat or episode with Annie. He turned the car off and went inside, only pausing to make sure he has his cigarettes.
He noticed the pack was more than half empty and sighed. Usually he only smoked when he and Annie were out—drinking or hanging out with her friends. But lately, especially since he’d lost his job a couple weeks before, he’d been smoking a lot more. Sitting in front of his computer, watching TV, or… Wait, that was all he’d really been doing lately. At least, until Annie came home and went into her “Why aren’t you looking for a job?” lecture—one he’d heard every night except the first.
He’d been the network administrator for a small software company. A job he’d told himself millions of times he should quit—he certainly had the experience and credentials to find something with better pay. Lord knows he’d heard those very words from Annie more times than he cared to count—probably once every day since they’d been married.
Despite the fact he now had an even better reason to look for a new job, Scott found himself lacking the ambition.
Scott entered Maggie’s and seated himself. The computer-voiced speaker on the window-side of the booth bleated out its generic greeting. Scott ordered a coffee. When it dropped, he quickly mixed in cream and sugar and took a long sip, followed by a long draw of his cigarette.
With his mind wandering, Scott let his eyes wander as well. There were few other patrons. One woman chatted over a cell phone, while a man clicked away on a laptop. Then, there was Scott, also seated by himself, smoking a second cigarette now.
He absently sipped his coffee and quietly observed.
* * * * *
His now empty pack of cigarettes was his only clue as to how long he’d been sitting there. That, and the absence of the woman on the cell phone. An elderly couple, eating in silence, had replaced her.
This started Scott on a new train of thought. He began to wonder if that was how it was when you’d been with someone for 40 or 50 years. Eventually, you ran out of new things to talk about. Was that all he really had to look forward to? Perhaps silence was better than repeating yourself.
Of course, Annie seemed to enjoy repeating herself. It was called nagging.
Scott studied the man and woman intently. At one point, the woman made a face at her plate, and the old man handed her the salt and pepper from behind the napkins. She nodded once, almost seemingly to herself, and sprinkled them on her eggs. Then, they finished their food with no more semblance of interaction.
Perhaps, it was just a matter of knowing someone well enough that no words needed exchanging, because on an almost unconscious level, a conversation was taking place. A conversation without words.
The thought fleeted through his mind that maybe that was what love was: someone who knew you better than you know yourself.
That was when the realization struck Scott that he was desperately lonely.
* * * * *
As for how he got to the electronics store, that occurrence baffled him. One moment, he was lamenting over his lack of cancer-sticks and his profound epiphany, next he was scanning computers.
The other unanswerable question was how he let a salesmen talk him into a purchase. Not just a printer or some virus software—but an entire system.
As he got back into his car, and set the package on the passenger seat, the only part of the interaction he could remember was the sentence that echoed over and over through his head, “More companion than computer.”
* * * * *
To Scott’s relief, Annie was gone when he got home. Not that his purchase would have been difficult to conceal in his jacket—it was barely the size of a DVD case and slightly thicker. It just made for less unpleasant interaction, and some time for him to get acquainted with his new “companion”—the EVA System.
The Electronic Voice Analyzing System was much more than its name implied. It was the newest, most advanced computer system on the market. Scott had read the specs many times on his regularly frequented hardware site, one of the many pages he scanned daily as part of his early morning ritual—that was, until his recent dismissal from his job.
The small, simple box was sparsely decorated, merely two intoxicating feminine eyes and the name, EVA. It somewhat resembled a porn DVD.
The box containing his new purchase easily gave way and Scott removed a container that kept the equipment from rattling in its box. Carefully laid in the packing carton was a small case closely resembling a contact case and an object that at first glance could be mistaken for some sort of credit card.
Scott wasted no time removing the case and popping open one side. In it lay what could be a contact. Glancing into the hall mirror, Scott carefully placed the lense into his left eye. Then, after a moment’s study and brief disappointment at his lack of new perspective, he opened the other side. This side contained what appeared to be a hearing aid. This object he placed into his left ear as he picked up the card, which somewhat resembled a tiny motherboard.
On it was simply the letters “EVA” and a small, recessed switch.
Unconsciously holding his breath, Scott operated the switch.
He started at the sudden flash before his left eye. It resembled a computer boot screen. In amazement, Scott watched EVA boot.
A moment later a woman’s face appeared. She smiled a broad, captivating smile that made her deep blue eyes twinkle.
“Good afternoon, Scott. I am EVA. What is your wish of me?” an almost genuine if not monotone feminine voice greeted him.
Scott stood agape for a moment.
The focus on EVA zoomed out, and Scott realized she was a redhead.
“Is my look pleasing?” EVA asked.
“Very good. I thought you would like it.”
“How?” was all he could manage.
“Upon initial startup, I did a scan and found your preference to be redheads, specifically of athletic and voluptuous build. Am I acceptable?”
The image before him was now full body—a very shapely body—and EVA did a slow circle, as if she were showing off a new dress, which technically she was.
“Perfect,” Scott breathed.
* * * * *
“Are you listening at all? Scott?”
Scott’s head jerked in the voice’s direction. “Huh?”
The man realized Annie had been speaking to him. He had been thoroughly engrossed with watching EVA’s fluid movement as she worked at downloading and installing both necessary and more personal programs. The TV was on before him, but Scott couldn’t see it. In fact, it was several blinks later that he remembered Annie was still trying to address him.
“Hello?” she snapped.
Scott looked up, EVA occasionally flitting across his vision.
“What on TV is really so incredibly interesting?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention to it.”
“So, you’re just staring off into space and ignoring me?”
“Sorry. What did you ask me?”
Annie shook her head, her face lined in a frown. “Did you find a job?”
She sighed. “So, what did you do all day?”
But Scott only heard EVA’s voice as she paused to address him. “Scott, I have finished my installations. I will sleep until you need me.”
With a suddenness that almost resembled sharp pain, Scott’s vision of the room became dual, and he finally made himself look at Annie.
The expression on her face was not a comforting one.
“Uh, I didn’t find a job yet.” Now unexplainably annoyed, Scott realized he didn’t, by any means, want to have this conversation.
“You already told me that. What did you do all day while you weren’t finding a job?”
A sigh escaped Scott before he could stop it. He didn’t answer immediately and didn’t look at her, only subconsciously recalled numerous similar arguments with his father and compared Annie to him. When he realized he was doing this, he frowned and looked at Annie. He thought of telling her to get the hell off his back, that they’d had this argument last night, and that he’d continue to not look for a job until she shut up…
“I watched TV all day.”
Annie studied him for a long time. She looked like she was studying the hardware in his ear, in his eye… But that wasn’t possible. His ear with the audio piece wasn’t facing her, and the glare off his glasses must surely have made it impossible to see his eye well enough.
After what seemed an eternity of pretending he was unaware of her still standing there, Annie finally sighed heavily and went into the bedroom.
* * * * *
The following day consisted of EVA and Scott surfing the internet and chatting. EVA listened to everything that Scott wished to talk about and even had intelligent responses to offer. It was like starting a new romance for Scott. They talked and got to know each other.
Scott could not recall the last time he had been so content.
Then, Annie came home.
It began with the expected questions, but Scott listened more to EVA whispering in his ear than anything Annie had to say. The entire time, Scott had a slight smirk on his face, and that seemed to inflame Annie even more. Despite how high her voice got, all her words seemed to bounce off him and roll away.
“I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you,” EVA whispered, playfully. Despite how childish and stupid it sounded, especially considering its source, Scott could not help himself but burst out laughing.
Annie stopped. “What is so incredibly funny?”
Then, Scott remembered where he was and what was going on. “Heh, nothing.”
She rolled her eyes and didn’t reply. Only grabbed up her jacket again and headed for the door.
“I’m going out.”
* * * * *
Scott found himself inevitably drawn to his routine websites the next day. He perused the hardware sites and the news and a few forums he occasionally posted on – EVA watching and commenting – and then he found himself in the adult sites.
“Hmm,” EVA seemed to purr the word into his ear.
Scott suddenly caught himself, ashamed and expecting a lecture.
EVA gave him her intoxicating smile from the bottom corner of his vision range. She was lounging comfortably as if on a soft couch – where she had been since he had said good morning and starting surfing. As if she knew what he was thinking, she said, “Do not worry at offending me. I find this rather interesting. I was simply searching my memory to see if I had anything that might be more fulfilling than this.”
Scott wasn’t sure how to reply – wasn’t quite sure what she meant.
“Would you like me to show you what I found?” EVA asked.
Before he had even finished his brief affirmation, Scott felt the breath catch in his throat. He knew he was in the room alone, but he could have sworn there had been a hand on his thigh. “EVA?”
“Shh, relax,” she purred.
His heart skipped a beat as he felt it again, only this time the feeling didn’t go away and it began to move. He keenly felt the hand move up his leg, as if his boxers were not even there. A groan, almost more a whimper, escaped him as the unseen hand took hold of him.
There was a flash of color before his eyes and for that brief second Scott saw EVA sitting on his lap. Another groan left his lips as he felt her slide atop him. In another flash of colour, Scott both saw and felt EVA thrust herself against him. The flashes and the sensations quickened, and Scott heard EVA let out a small moan, echoing his own.
Scott felt her body pressed against his, felt her every movement, felt her breath hot against his ear. He could not stop himself from crying out, and EVA cried out at the same time. His body trembled violently as he felt her slow. When she stopped, she did not move away, and Scott felt her chest heaving against his own.
Afraid of doing anything that would make her seem less real, it took Scott several deep, strained breaths before he could bring himself to try to touch her. To his amazement, his fingers brushed over her soft skin. He felt her arms and her shoulders and her silky hair tumbling down her back. He even felt her goosebumps as they rose on her skin at his light touch.
“How?” was all he could get out.
He still felt her breath in his ear as she replied, “The mind is a very powerful thing.”
Then, all the sensations of her touch were gone and she was before him, lounging on the imaginary couch, as before. The website he had last clicked to was still behind her on the screen.
Scott could not help the overwhelming feeling of loneliness that hit him as he saw her back there and no longer felt her against him.
“I have not gone anywhere, Scott,” EVA reassured him.
That thought did bring a smile to his face.
* * * * *
It must have been Friday, because when Annie got home and saw him sitting in the same spot on the couch she’d left him that morning – and the evening before, as he had never moved to the bed – she let out an exasperated sigh and told him she was going to her parent’s for the weekend. He acknowledged her with no more than a distracted nod, and hardly noticed when she left after several minutes of packing a small bag, despite the large bang with which she slammed the door behind her.
The nice part about EVA, considering she was without a keyboard or any means of hands-on control, was that she could function just as well off his thoughts as from anything he actually said aloud.
It made toning Annie out so much easier.
It had been perhaps two weeks since Scott had brought EVA home, and perhaps a week since he had actually gone to bed. On the rare occasion he did move himself from the couch – which was only to relieve himself and when Annie had insisted he come to eat dinner – Scott did not have to put EVA down or even really turn his attention from her. The few meals Scott had taken with Annie had been quiet on his end, because he and EVA would speak to one another silently – mostly Scott complaining about what a nag she was and EVA sympathizing and attempting to distract him with more pleasant subjects.
In fact, a few nights before at dinner, EVA had begun one of her sexual experiences with Scott and he’d had to excuse himself abruptly – claiming indigestion.
Several hours after Annie’s departure, Scott vaguely recalled her coming home and glanced around the living room. The house was dark and silent. This prompted a contented sigh and grin as Scott looked forward to a night of quiet and no interruptions – correction, a whole weekend.
“Ahh,” he couldn’t help but sigh again.
EVA didn’t reply – didn’t have to – she just gave a small, knowing snicker.
* * * * *
Scott couldn’t recall how many days had passed, but he was pretty sure it was more than two. The thought that Annie wasn’t home yet didn’t bother him in the least – he was more concerned with when he would have listen to her nagging again.
He had run out of cigarettes sometime in the last day or so, but found he didn’t care. They just made him thirsty, and that required going to the kitchen. He also couldn’t remember when he’d last gotten up to relieve himself…
The train of thought was abruptly interrupted as EVA purred something mildly seductive into his ear. A smile twisted his dry lips, and he thought to himself and her that it had been too long since he had felt her against him.
She was eager to agree.
* * * * *
Annie fumbled with the lock as she thought to herself how quick of a conversation this would be if his ass was still on that couch with no job. She’d decided to stay the entire week at her parent’s, instead of just the two days she’d originally planned. She was hoping it would give things time to cool down and Scott a chance to think about what a lazy bum he was being. But she had decided even before she had started the drive back that if things had not changed for the better, she was gone for good.
An unpleasant smell was the first thing that greeted her when she pushed open the door – like Scott had left food in the kitchen for the whole week she had been away. An annoyed frown came to her face.
“Scott? Are you here?”
She figured he was, because his car was in the driveway, but the house remained dead silent.
The smell seemed to become more overwhelming the longer she stayed in the house. She thought to go straight to the kitchen and remove whatever the offensive thing was, but she was determined to confront Scott first and see what he had to say for himself.
She stepped into the living room, and sure enough, there he sat on the couch. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he hasn’t moved an inch since I left, she thought, sourly. She walked around the arm of the couch to find out what the hell, if anything, he’d done while she was gone.
Annie’s breath caught in her throat and she had to cover her mouth – both to keep from screaming and to keep her stomach down.
There sat Scott, or what was left of him. The ashtray overflowed with cigarettes, and by the look and smell of him it appeared he’d not moved for any reason all week – even to go to use the bathroom. His lips were dried and cracked, his face drawn and sunken, but somehow, he had the most peaceful grin on his face she’d ever seen.