A short story by Erika Hayes
Charles Nibbly sat in his blue-grey cubicle drumming his fingers on his tidy desk annoyed with his mundane life. In the reflection of his computer screen, he saw the wily cowlick had successfully fought off his attempts to tame it with gel and hairspray. Expelling a long sigh, he switched to Facebook to break the monotony of his day.
His intentional trolling on political posts didn’t take long to lite a fire and he sat back watching the angry responses flood into his jabs. Shaking his head at the people that took the bait. Simpletons he muttered under his breath. He grew bored of the illogical, emotionally driven replies from bestmum27. Leaving a final GIF jab he stifled a laugh at her attempts to woo the public opinion with a plea for compassion. Time for something worth his time and energy. He clicked off the social media, the sense of satisfaction waning, tilted his screen, and rubbed his shoulder. He tried to focus his attention on the work that filled his inbox. An overview of the emails and actual unfinished work may occupy twenty minutes of his time.
Occasionally he looked up, feigned frustration and tapped furiously on his calculator giving the appearance of diligent work. He lifted his long lanky limbs in the space above him to stretch his tense muscles. He longed for a life with some adventure. His postgraduate degree in predictive analytics proved useless and the economy kept him locked to his desk.
His thoughts wandered to his epic battle earlier this morning. Charles the mighty warrior defended his scantily clad bosomy computer-generated dream girl from an evil magician and his fleet of fire-breathing dragons. It passed the hours and helped to keep his overqualified mind busy waiting for the next routine assignment thrown at him by his underqualified supervisor. He felt no guilt for using the company time for his internet indulgence. His job was dull and simple. Charles cringed every time his boss stopped at his cubicle to yak about nothing.
Inspired by his morning achievement, a decision was made that today would be different. He would do something that was truly brave. He didn’t know what, but he knew something had to change. He pushed his thick black rimmed glasses back to the proper resting place on the bridge of his nose. The familiar chime of a Facebook notification drew his attention. Or maybe nothing will ever change he thought. He loosened his favorite blue Dr. Who bowtie and threw it in his desk drawer. He clicked back to the opening screen of his Second World game where a beautiful companion stood in the same spot waiting for him. Her legs and breast severely exposed. He liked that feeling. A woman waiting for him.
Workdays were drudgery for Charles he longed to return to the weekend activity of questing the lands of Second World with his cyber friends uninterrupted for hours. It struck him odd on several occasions that he had a stronger bond with strangers than his own parents.
Some days Charles felt he should be embarrassed to be twenty-six years old and still living with his parents, but he had no reason to find a place of his own. He had a job and no bills. No girlfriend or life either he whispered deep in a quiet place of his core. Running an earbud under the untucked blue collared shirt and securing it in his ear, hiding the black cord in his shaggy hair he entered Second World.