SLEPHNER'S STORY

I remember my first girlfriend. She said I'd never have to worry about pain again. Then prodded my bare chest with toothpicks. "It's alright Slephner, I know you don't like me personally." I never saw her again. She then hung herself in her room.

With nowhere else to turn to my sorrow, I turned to the arcades.

You can grow up with someone and never really get to know them. While I knew there was something different about Ellen, I didn't know it was that. Backing up, let's go back to the beginning. There were some things that Ellen did not know about me, one of the few regrets I've had in my life. Now that I am on the edge of death, I find myself wishing for a rewind. I was the best of gamers, the best of thieves. I could get the highest score with no questions asked. If I was put to the task for a gaming session, I took it in stride as an off day. I could always get better, and you had to if you wanted to get better of what you did. This was my life, and in some ways I would not want to live it in any other way.

In one of our first gaming sessions, I felt like tutoring Ellen in the ways of the world. As one of the few actual girls I liked, I found myself having conflicting feelings between the desire to be her father figure and her movie buddy. Except I was just a kid too as was she, and all we wanted to be was free. I had last broken up with my previous girlfriend. Despite being three years younger than the minimum to drink, we found our solace in the drop. Like flavor of mild peaches under the false Summer heat of the tanning bed, of which I used to take her. But Ellen was different. I wanted something more, and I thought that Ellen could provide it. After all she was one of the few girls that I found I could have man to man discussions with. To others, I may come across as someone who experiences mood swings. But I knew unlike anyone else that I was always thinking about things. I thought about my previous relationships, my current relationship, my last hope for desiring women at all. And yet, despite no other interest in Ellen I found there was something in her that made me want to hold on unlike others who failed.

When I found that my life was beyond the pale when my old girlfriend took my dog to the next state over, Ellen was there to comfort me unlike anyone else. And yet part of my affections was that I found something in her that made me proud to be her friend. I never liked baseball, at least not very much. But I wanted to be her batter and have her catch my balls. Or rather, I could toss at her various ideas in her direction. But I found that I could not write poetry worth a damn. However I did write one devoted to one of the previous girls I had broken up with. But Ellen was always there beside me, always there to hold me. And hold me into the night when I was down. I wanted to sleep with her, even though I had invited another guy to sleep in the same bed as me. In general I preferred guys. But for her there was something more than lust, and something more than love that made me want to be held in her arms at night. And yet I had father like feelings for her during the day, and would always instruct her about how to pull the right triggers and and push the right buttons the rogue-likes of the arcades. Some might view it as narcissistic but I gave myself accolades. I also gave Ellen accolades, and when she was shy would clap her hands for her on her behalf to herself. This would always make it stick her tongue out at me, but I wanted her to be mine.

When you get so lonely, you want to be with anyone.

For me I would call up Ellen to see if she could come over, even before we ran away together. I had romantic feelings, possessive feelings.

Feelings I had for nobody else.

On some level I knew I was going to die. It was only a matter of time. When the new gaming systems malfunctions, I was left in a degenerating state. I was hoping to die, and be left to fate.

The doctors in the laboratory did not expect me to live for more more than a year. I was unsure as to whether this was because of cancer, or some other condition. I found that my natural vision was beginning to decline. I would eventually need prosthetic eyes to restore my vision. I did not understand why I could not have died in what they referred to as dream-space. I like the aspect that I could create my own world, but soon found that the world I created became out of my control. There were desires I had that I left dormant for so long. I joined flesh with fairies, and fought amongst noble armies. I wished about a falling star, and dined with the Tzar's. As my desire had always been to visit Russia, before the revolution. As there was only so much in the history we were taught that I actually believed myself.

There was a certain unspoken contract, I was not suppose to share what I knew with anyone. I was not suppose to share with the few family I had left, and yet for me it was simply source code. I found that all world deserved to be free, especially if I could free them and get many a prize man. I wanted to share the dreams with my sweetheart Ellen, and she would love to here a new story. And yet the dream-scanners told me no I may not. After all ... this was my story. My own downfall if I disobeyed. But you know how it is when you just under your Freshman year in high school. If you get told one thing you always wanted to do the opposite. I didn't like being told what to do, I wanted the power.

This was my mistake, my greed.

It was my youthful creed.

"Are you read to order." I heard someone say, it was the voice of Ellen. She had gotten a job without my permission. You know how it is when lovers work, you always worry about them and wonder if they were going to be OK.

The others in the establishment exchanged few words, but I perceived to be decidedly mocking words. I couldn't have anyone mocking my degeneration condition, as I had seen things no other boy had seen before. I had dined with Tzar's, joined flesh with fairies, beheading evil queens, and had the time of my life doing so. Of course there wasn't a high score, but when you actually are able to be exchanged in a world of your own nothing else matters. Then I remembered the words spoken by one dream-scanner. "Every choice you make will effect you the rest of your life. Every time you kill someone in this world you kill a part of you. You kill an aspect of your imagination. Everything in your life fades to nothingness."

My body began to ache, my mind was sore. My imagination, I would if they meant that it would die. But my imagination was already dead to begin with, and I never felt more alive after trying out the game. It was the first time I felt truly alive. He also said, slowly you will lose your ability to mentally function, then basic physical functions will begin to decline. Your body will cling on to one last bit of life. And then the last remaining hours will be a mixture of total joy and the worst physical pain in your life. "Malcolm! I want a rematch, you and me." Me and Malcolm had been boyfriends very briefly, but it quickly spiraled downhill.

There was nothing else to live for.

If you want to know where we live, we call ourselves the Barbershops, me and Ellen. I had recently tried playing with her robotic dog. But I accidentally broke it. So I kicked it apart, and caused Ellen to cry. "I'm sorry Ellen, I can guy you a knew one." We hugged each other, but I wasn't sure if she believed me.

It was a cold night, the coldest night it had ever been. I wore a longer coat, as long as down to my shins. It was a dark furred polar bear coat. I thought me styling, when I wore a pair of cool shades. It's not likely it was the nineties, I just wanted to crank up the heat in the room a few notches. "Hello boys, you ready for a match!" All the genetically engineered pooches and robotic dogs pretended to clap. Nadine felt like taking the place of Malcolm in the match. We were horse back riders in a dangerous match. Except we sat on the back of angry pit wolves. "You are over confident Slephner, this will kill you. I can see it in your face. Give up now. I can find a way to finance your recovery. We can be friends, like you and Malcolm. We can be lovers too if you want."

"Do you the small minded think I will give into a bluff! Men, laugh at this woman. For she is a fool!" said Slephner.

There were few words spoken in the last remaining seconds. Then I took the first strike before the match began, catching Nadine off guard. However she was able to quickly recover. After a point it became increasingly difficult to figure out who won the match. But this didn't matter when the dream-scanners came.

It must have been someone's father sending his men into the room. Nadine was looking more terrified than she did earlier. I almost felt sorry for her. Oh fuck it I kind of did somewhat. I never saw this kind of fear sense my first girlfriend hung herself on the doorstep of my hotel room. While I was prepared to call a truce, one of the dream-scanners was cocky. He shot a currency bullet, one of the bullets I had been saving to finance the recovery of both our pets. But the scanners wanted to make a bet amongst themselves, how long till we drop.

One scanner shot at us, causing the dogs to growl.

The others mocked at us, causing both Nadine's group and my group to united in one large scowl. At first I wanted to negotiate with them, but it seemed like there was nothing to dissuade them. But the dogs got there first, to all of our detriment. The angry dogs, who cry out with hunger, drew the first strike.

Childhood is a long lasting dream, and she was an estranged mistress her and I. I have done many things I regret. I should have been nicer to Ellen, I should have gave in and took Nadine's offer. I wonder if the scanners would have still came if we were not making such a loud ruckus.

But as I die a lonely death, nobody sees my tears.

And at first I don't believe my own sorrow.

I had the chance to make friends with my first girlfriend. The words were few between us, but at least she did not throw my under the bus. All her wounds seemed to have healed, and I can be forgiven for rejecting her love. We ride bikes together into the edge of cyberspace and dream, holding hands till the end of the night. We sing country songs together, twirl in cult like rhythms. I met some of her friends that died in her youth, something I had always wanted to do. I know Ellen, my true love, had her own friends who died of cancer when they were young. I only wish she could be here, and joined with us into eternity.

And in this world where children dance, where dream-scanners are far away, come to the good old United States, where hope has never died. Come to the world, with jump ropes and candied lemon pie. My imagination was beginning to be renewed in a new dream for all of mankind. I had few dreams when I was young, mostly memories of my uncle beating me when I was a kid. I think part of what I loved about Ellen was we were broken people. That we shared some form of common hurt. That we could cry on each others shoulders. I was simply to proud to realize this, to greedy for her affections, yet to manly to realize my own lack of tears. Even after all these few years, I am finally free of the madness of my life.

Come to the world of cyberspace, where dreams come alive. Come to the world where the old lady smiles while she sings children's rhymes. My hearts great joy in life. Our world is dying, and so are we. But together we could enjoy a new world, in the world of eternal games.

Me and one of my first girlfriends played the eternal arcade, where we could finally embrace each other and live forever in the world of cyberspace. We played various new text adventures that had new rogue like capabilities. We went to various parks, exploring a different side of the united states. But it feels somewhat artificial, a strange kind of after life for the damned. A new kind of torture, of eternal joy in the land of eternal sunlight. All these fake joys in this new life grow tiring, I'm honestly unsure of how long they will last for me before I gradually go insane.

I have changed my mind, I'm actually happier that Ellen doesn't get to see me like this. I want her to smile with someone else, who is less possessive than I. She deserves someone better than me. She deserves someone who can trust her as the female that she is, someone who can love her unconditionally. Someone who doesn't see something in her that they can obtain for their own betterment. I don't like this about myself, but it isn't something I can help.

Come to the night, where the shadows dance and play. Come to the night, where the dream-scanners rule the night. For Ellen deserves a new kind of angel, someone who can treat her right. Someone who can join hands with her through the gates of the twilight horizon. To be with her always. Forever and ever.

Come to the night.

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