Senseless and Needless: The Book of Virtual Disquiet

by Anonymous

Acid Rain hit the reinforced Plas-Tin of my roof and sizzled before leaking onto the ground a few hundred feet below; I trusted the roof more than I trusted my mother, but then again I doubt my mother would’ve protected me from the caustic monsoon that was currently hitting my apartment. I doubted my mother would’ve protected me from anything if I’m to be completely honest. Not much someone as absent as she was could do. I didn’t blame her. Times are rough and a child only adds to the burden. Had she the intuition or the mercy to bash my infantile head against a rock I would’ve thanked her. Men weren’t men to live in such a state as I am now, but I doubt with the little education I presume she had she could’ve known that. Perhaps she did know; an act of malicious intent with someone who decided to play God with the unborn. A rich businesswomen with places to go and plenty of time, a cruel streak in her psyche. A child cast into a flame of suffering for amusement, amusement and nothing more. Whatever the case I was born and cast away, if my bloodline was prosperous or not it did not matter. These were days of death, days that followed the last days that were so spoke of. Whatever had inspired my mother to leave me alive in this time would give her proper payment for a metaphysical transgression such as my birth.

I have lived my life in a brutish manner since then. Square meals were exceedingly uncommon in my youth, and so it was that my physique developed almost opposite to what the circumstances I required. I developed very poorly, my bones somewhat fragile, ribs poking through my chest, arms gangly and having little strength in either limb. A utilitarian and sickly youth was to leave brands across my personality as well; I can not be considered smart by any measure. It is with only the grace of my many jobs as a teen that I learned to read and write, and the payment of said jobs contributed to my education in mathematics. My conscious is a sickly, pale thing that would have been stillborn if not for the few times I have lingered hungrily on the streets and been given a cent or two. I have scarcely felt any moral reproach for my actions, albeit I am as fallible as any man and the screams I heard in my days as a cruel youth haunt my dreams even now. I have been unable to look at pipes, wrenches, cooking knives or any other sort of commonly used implement of the primitive violence common among many periods in my life; it was not from the guilt of my actions, I had moved from that long ago. Rather the feeling simply came from a hatred of a youth misspent.  

My one room apartment was entirely dark; I was lucky enough to have one on my own. I got the feeling the lease had a dark secret within; perhaps I had sold something much more than material to pay for it. That was, if I believed in beyond the material. One’s soul was dead in such a place of this. Conjurers and religious men of all beliefs rarely spoke here; it was as if God could not touch us. Hell was perhaps here, if you believed hell was the absence of religion. If you accepted a much more mundane interpretation, that being eternal suffering, it wasn’t much debate you’d find a suitable place here as well. 

I was on the second to last floor. All across my one window terminal lines draped, creating a criss-cross pattern of light on days when the sun decided to shine from the plagued sky. Outside my one flimsy door was a stairwell that went down around 500 feet. It was said if one jumped from my position you could grab lunch at the bottom and return to see them hit the floor. Tenants were set into floors of 3, maximum, to prevent any sort of organizing. To form a union or otherwise some manner of communication between multiple floors you would have to constantly travel via the stairs, as the more convenient method of computers was almost constantly monitored. 

I wasn’t exactly sure what I had done to get the money required to pay the first 3 months, but from bruises all across my eyes and face I had to surmise I was either a highwayman or a boxer. A vague memory of glaring stadium lights and the sound of cracking bone nearly overwhelmed me each time I touched one of the bruises. Besides that there was little memory of the past year. Phone calls would come in stating my name, asking if I wanted to grab a drink, and I’d have no idea who they were. People who seemed strangely…happy, to see me. I could not remember them. 

I opened the front door into the stairwell in order to catch some air; during these summer rains it was quite often I would barely be able to breath in my apartment, the fumes and the condensation turning it almost into a swamp. I had long learned to seal up my computer and its peripherals- those being a pair of headphones and a cheap headgear piece- in plastic bags. Alongside with a 3 month lease, I had used my gains, ill gotten or not, to acquire this device. They had been on the market for a decade now at least, but finally one with a decent price had come into my lap after the death of a neighbor. His son needed money- for what I didn’t ask- and so I acquired the piece. It wasn’t archaic, and for what I needed it for it served well.

I had long ago found a poorly translated Taiwanese program, Virtua-Therapist it was called, that provided a virtual assistant. Cracked and Pirated, I had no need to pay for any of the features. It was incredibly intelligent, a leap from previous programs, and after a number of evaluation sessions, I had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. A result of both my upbringing and the resulting emotional “dead” state which followed after. It suggested I start a trial of medicine I couldn’t afford. I told the Virtua-Therapist I didn’t have the money. It gave this pathetic smile, full of pity like the sort one gives to a crippled dog. She suggested immersion therapy instead.

The next session had been chilling. I have spoken previously that I have very little in the way of a conscience, and this remained true, but the simulacrum had created a sort of remake of incidents from my childhood. I was forced to relive these incidents as an adult, although I did not have to redo them with my own hands. I watched a faceless approximation of myself attack a boy four years my senior with a length of shattered pipe. Although I had scarcely returned to this memory in my years since, for one reason or another, I could remember it clearly. We had not enough food, and I had seen him take mine-at the very least I thought I did.I had shoved the length of the pipe’s sharpened end through his shoulder, before rifling through his pockets. My rations, so hard worked for, were not inside. I visited him in a charity hospital- more of a hospice then anything- and saw him the day before he died of a subsequent infection. I think I cried then more than I had ever in my life, even as an infant. I begged him to forgive me- I brought food and flowers and anything I could scavenge, but by the time I came he was so delirious he could not recognize my face. 

I was then told to describe another such incident to the therapist. As I began, the scene changed. This time it was another day of acid rain- I had just left my room at the time. There was a mallet in my hand, the one that isn’t much good for anything spare construction work. The circumstances and how old I was around this incident were much blurrier, and so I took on an approximation of myself. There was a general body matching my frame, but it was completely pale, without a face. Truly told it was a tabula rasa more than anything. I was going to be late on my rent in this memory, for the last time. I was going to be evicted if I could not come up with the money. I climbed a flight of stairs with my mallet in a jacket pocket, hood up. Hopefully the winds wouldn’t change when I was up on the roof. 

I opened the door to the torrent and the shabby roof. Out there was my landlord, protective suit and a hood on like I had- a cigarette in his mouth, his most disgusting habit. He asked if I had the money, and I said I did- at the same time reaching for the mallet in my pocket. He had turned around, and the momentum of my arm had reached him at a perfect angle before he was slammed off the roof. I walked to the edge to watch the body tumble and hit the floor. No one would care for him, or take him to an investigator-there was very little to be done, and it wasn’t as if his tenants cared.

The screen flashed white after that before ceasing to work altogether. Moisture had made the machine inoperable, at least for the moment-I had forgotten to bag the components before the rains. 

I hadn’t walked out of the stairwell quite yet as I previously believed- if I were to surmise it had been a transition to allow the next “scene” to load. I got up from my PC and went to a small container of tools- I had some small repairs to make. Reaching for my mallet, I walked outside where a small hole was on the wall. Walking past it, I ascended the flight of stairs to the roof entrance. Opening it, acid rain stung my face as the wind shifted-forming marks and craters that would never heal. There was my landlord, the coat on-

“Do you have the rent?”

I answered, grabbing the mallet from my pocket. As he turned around to accept my payment, my hammer caught him in the face. He twisted, stumbled, before falling off the roof and hitting a car below. I could hear the thump as he shattered the vehicle, corpulent flesh smashing cheap plastic into pieces. I didn’t feel bad- I don’t think I could. I turned around. In the doorway of the stairwell was my Virtua-Therapist. I walked right through her-and she asked if I had an inability to distinguish reality often. I don’t believe so; the reality was down there, smashed through some foreign plastic car. 

I looked down the stairwell, a black furred mass at the bottom. Rats were often found dead down there, skittering down the stairs before one reason or another they made a fatal leap into the bottom of the stairs. Part of me believed they wanted to do it- they wanted to create something physical. 

I found an open socket to run my fingers under and waited for the flesh to burn away entirely.