Plugs

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Things You See, People You See

by Luc Reid

“You should take those off,” Ophelia told me for the hundredth time as we walked to the cafe. She liked to ride me about my vidglasses every week or so.

A simulated herd of some kind of bird-like dinosaurs leaped over our heads and charged across the street, threading their way through the backed-up traffic. Ornithomimus? I eye-moused one of them to get a pop-up. Sinornithomimus dongi, it turned out. Never heard of them.

“They’re educational,” I said. “They make things more interesting.”

“You know what’s interesting?” she said. “Real life, that’s what’s interesting!”

I nodded and thumbed the advanced features control in my pocket until I got to the simulated mods menu. I eye-selected Ophelia and eye-clicked her clothes off. After a second, her eyes narrowed.

“What are you looking at?” she said, snatching at the glasses. I jerked my head away.

“None of your business!”

A passing businessman frowned at me.

“If you’re tarting me up again, that’s just it, you hear me?” Ophelia said.

I popped up the menu again and switched the option to “naughty schoolgirl,” one of the presets. Ophelia was a little on the scrawny side, but she still had the stuff to fill out a naughty schoolgirl costume.

“OK, I put you back to normal,” I said, mostly not staring.

“You better,” she said. We got to the café and walked in, got swallowed up by the stuffy dark coffee-stained air, and waited for a table behind a huge, tall guy. All of a sudden, I saw her: that girl Magdalena Birch, leaning over a tiny table and laughing with her mousy friend Lisa or Lisolette or whatever her name was.
“Gotcha!” Ophelia shouted, taking advantage of my stop-and-gape moment to grab at my vidglasses. I flinched away, accidentally knocking the glasses off and into a potted plant.

“Now look what you made me do,” I muttered, not looking, feeling in the plant for my glasses.

“Who’re you talking to?” the huge, tall guy said. I didn’t answer. The huge, tall guy stepped closer, right through where my glasses had been projecting Ophelia. “There’s nobody there, dorkwad. Don’t come in here if you’re going to talk to your imaginary friends the whole time.”

I found the glasses, pulled them out, wiped the dirt away. One lens was cracked. The error light was blinking.

Great, Ophelia, I thought. Now are you happy?

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