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Darrius Gothly

And then ... A User-Participation Story

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Your day is well underway. Your thoughts focused only on the chores that fill but never fulfill your time. A sudden tingle at the base of your neck triggers your attention. You glance around quickly but see nothing out of place, so you turn back to your tasks. Suddenly a warm breath, barely perceptible, glances across your shoulder. You freeze in place. And then ...

(your turn. but please keep it within the guidelines)

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a voice, neither male or female whispers softly in your ear to close your eyes, which despite wanting to rebel against you close your eyes. The hairs on your arms suddenly stand up as if hit with electricity and you realise it's a hand, a finger, so soft yet leaving a trail of fire in its wake. The fingers trace up to your neck and still you can feel the softest of breath on your skin. The hand, confusing your senses as its both soft and hard, trailing up to your neck, the voice again in a whisper tells you to keep your eyes shut. You suddenly let out a big breath realising that you had stopped breathing, causing a dark laugh in your ear. The hand keeps moving up your neck, running its thumb across your lips and despite all the things you want to say you just part your lips, just a touch, feeling the thumb teasing it. The whole world around you has gone, it is just you and who is behind you, standing on a rock in the middle of space, nowhere to run and yet the cruel softness of whoever it is lights fireworks in your head, every nerve ending tingling, burning and then.............

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It is gone. They are gone. In a heartbeat, in the middle of a heartbeat, the presence behind you .. the feeling of being close to someone .. vanishes.

You are thrown into a panic. Aware only of being alone in the empty void. Struggle as you might, you want to open your eyes. To look around. To find whoever had been touching you. But the dread that you will find yourself fully alone in a vacuum of darkness keeps your eyes tightly closed. Your breath stops again. You reach out with every sense you possess. Aching, searching, wanting to scream but fearing the sound might wash away the last traces of the delicious presence you had just felt.

And then ...

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In the silence that screams so loudly around you, your hand flinches ever so slightly, one finger at a time, unable to do anything but clench, terrified in that one moment that if you move your whole body will fall off the space you inhabit and everything you feel, smell, will be wrenched from you by the blackness beneath. You hold your breath, willing it to not sound like the crescendo of a concert performance in case you are heard by someone, by something and slowly your pulse drops, causing the tingling nerves in every inch of your body to scream for air, washing over you in painful pleasure. Steadying yourself you slowly open your eyes, greeted only with blackness at first. Crunching them up tight as though trying to erase the darkness you open them again, slowly. Your breath short almost urgent. Finding yourself standing block still and wearing only an old fashioned nightshirt, its movement soft, leaving you wondering if that's what you felt instead of feeling someone but your brain screams your naivety into your eye sockets and slowly your head moves - first to the left, then to the right but unable to look down and in what can only be a corner or a wall you see a ***** of light as though under a door. Slowly, trembling with nervous anticipation and fear, for a second wondering if anticipation and fear can be the same animal, you move one foot, bare to the ground that doesn't feel like ground, and you take a step. Afraid to give in to the noises that now fill the room tricking you into thinking they are the howlings of wolves, the sounds of a 1000 bees, the cracking of long dead bones as though being walked over.

Turning fully to the light, wondering for a brief second why your body, your mind is trying to turn the fear you feel into something exotic, something unknown in your real world your real life, only thought of at nights, alone......

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It's been years since I've been pulled into something so quickly and so deeply that I literally had held my breath reading.  You two prove there is still hope and life out there...sighs happily and awaits the next installment with eager anticipation...and a bowl of popcorn..grins

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Suddenly realizing he was shaking, he slowly pushes himself back from his computer desk. His hands trembling, beads of sweat on his brow. Carefully removing the HMD and letting his eyes readjust to the darkness of his office, he feels the pressure on his fingers ease as the touch simulators in his gloves go offline. He had played lots of online virtual games before. He'd even toyed around with VR sex. Some of his experiences were so nearly real that they even became obsessions for a time. But inevitably the small glitches of a faked experience gave way to boredom.

But this game, this experience was so real. He realized he was literally panting from ... what was it? Fear? Excitement? Prurient desire? All of those?

The woman in his HMD was so real. As he watched her clench and stiffen, he could remember no glitches. He could replay every second of her experience, not as though he was she. But because he had been playing that silent unseen presence. It was as if she was a real human being somewhere on this planet. It was as if he had invaded her home, her private inner sanctum. He had never seen a non-real behave in such lifelike ways before. Surely the inventors of this AI had worked long and hard to make her reactions so lifelike, so intensely realistic.

The way she shuddered as he touched her neck. Her sudden stiffness as he leaned forward into the VR display and whispered into the microphone. It was almost as if her simulated character had really felt all the things he was doing to her. This game, this whatever it was, was more powerful than any previous simulator he had ever experienced. So realistic that he suddenly became terrified. So realistic that he had to bail out with no warning.

But then, as the adrenaline subsided and his tremors began to lessen, the powerful crispness of the memories pushed their way to the forefront of his mind. All he could think about was how absolutely perfect, how intensely powerful he felt, being able to reach into cyberspace and touch that amazing AI. But .. but .. was she really an AI? The thought suddenly took off around his mind like a cheetah pursuing a fleeing springbok. Was she REAL?!?

Not being able to stand it any longer, he grabbed his HMD and pulled it back onto his still sweaty brow. Trying to type the URL to the game portal, he had to hit backspace almost as much as the other keys. Finally, the portal rezzed into view before his eyes.

And then ...

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In her head she felt something strange, like a tangle of nerve endings but her eyes continued to look for the light. It seemed further away than she thought it had been. Stepping one bare foot in front of her, afraid that if she moved she would fall into the hole in the ground but the floor was cold to touch and solid. Wishing she could stop her body from shaking, the thin material still a clothing she'd never possessed, it felt old, Victorian, but like a thousand million soft kisses against her skin, the smile on her face the only giveaway of how she felt. Slowly she pulled her other foot to match the first and was relieved that she wasn't falling. Yet still the light wasn't getting nearer and then she stopped. Fast, heavy and let out a low almost growling exotic noise. Throwing her head round one way, then the other expecting to see someone - this time she knew it was a someone and not a thing, nothing could make her feel like that except a person, maybe a man. It was in her head it had to be a man but shaking it she couldn't bring one into her vision, admitting to herself she'd never been in close quarters with one. Standing there, suddenly feeling a cool breeze wrapping round her body, putting her arms out straight to the sides, a small gap between her legs, lifting her face upward. What is she waiting for, and then again, there it was, only this time the breeze whipped at her body, her hair wrapping round her face, the material wrapping round her legs, her breathing suddenly harsh, fast, her lips parting and her tongue stroking them to keep them moist and in one small moment, in that one piece of time she knew what it was to be touched, to be adored, to be wanted and yet how could she know all this, she'd never experienced it before.

When that one glorious, dangerous moment passed she felt as though every bone in her body had turned to jelly and this time her shaking was because she was scared of everything, except the darkness, it wrapped round her and quietened her mind, her body, the ache that just wouldn't leave and she stepped one more step closer to the light, a noise erupting from her throat and before she knew it she was on the ground on all fours, breathing hard, ragged, unable to move. Is this what everyone felt? her brain questioning what was happening, was she being punished for something? She couldn't think of anything she'd done wrong, in truth she couldn't of much except the here and now, her past was like a shadow, not tangible, only the here and now so she lifted her head, faced the light and mewled like a tortured kitten as she slowly, so very slowly, afraid but excited crawled across the floor, not caring how long it might take, her back dipped and her bottom lip between her teeth she crawled one step closer......

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but then stopped...suddenly her thoughts going round and round, where had she come from? how did she get here? She had always thought she lived in a home with others like her, but try as she might she couldn't bring anyone to mind. Did she have friends? Do they know she's here? She knelt down on her haunches, grabbing her hair in her hands, eyes screwed shut. Maybe she'd been in an accident and this was her recovery process, releasing her hair, her hands back on the cold floor she opened her mouth slightly and in the shadows, the absolute darkness she heard herself whisper 'hello, anyone, please'. She stayed stock still on the floor, closed her eyes tightly and wished for an answer .......

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As the login portal materialized in his HMD, he suddenly realized he might not be able to return to ... her? It? Even though the logon screen was your normal-looking gateway embedded in a rock wall with swirling sci-fi water-ooze for effect, it also presented a much bigger problem. The buttons, if you could call them that, were constantly shifting. Each one emblazoned with a name, but none of them bearing any striking emblems or colors that one could easily remember. He stood there feeling quite the idiot for some time. When he first logged on there was just the one button. It did have a name, but he scarcely bothered to read it let alone remember it. And now, all these choices, all these names!

Suddenly one caught his eye. It said "Carina". That looked close, but as he was about to select it, another popped into view. It said "Caralor". Well damn! That seemed like it might be it too. Then more and more choice buttons began to appear. One after the other, flying around faster and faster, each one bearing a name that almost sounded right, but .. but ..

"Charema"! The instant he saw it, he knew that was the one. He bolted head down toward the rapidly retreating button, dove at it and selected the option with one last leap into the VR Portal.

..(blackness)..

His Avatar executed a perfect ninja-style tuck and roll, then rose to its feet. To his feet. The action was so acrobatic and perfect that he mused to himself with a low voiced "yeahhhh". Even though he was still firmly planted in his chair, the visuals in his HMD and the inertial stims alongside his ears made him feel as though he had actually just done the whole maneuver himself. Feeling quite proud of himself, he stopped to wonder just what he looked like in this virtual world. He looked up into the options menu, selected "Self View" and gritted his teeth as the sudden shift in perspective almost made him topple off his seat. But there he was, dressed all in black from head to toe.

It was a form-fitting spandex type suit, almost invisible in the darkness. But yet, it wasn't invisible. It has a soft eery outline glow that delineated it from the absolute pitch blackness of his surroundings. He guessed since it was the Self View feature, the computer was giving him visual acuity enhancements to see what he really looked like. More than likely his costume was totally invisible to anyone else that might be inside this VE with him.

Suddenly his eyes flicked to a small movement just over his left shoulder. Standing just behind him but slightly off to the side was .. her. Was the AI. The person he'd seen last time. She seemed lost, almost dazed. For a moment he feared he'd toppled her over as he crashed into the virtual room. But no, she was not acting hurt or harmed. Instead she seemed almost scared. He could see her, again in that light-enhancing glow of his Self-View perspective. Her arms were outstretched and she seemed to stumble one step forward. Then just as suddenly dropped to all fours.

He quickly clicked off the Self-View and spun to face her. She began crawling away from him, slowly edging further into the inky dark. But then she stopped. He started to walk toward her when she suddenly raised up on her knees and grasped at her hair. It was a movement that seemed almost at the edge of panic. She rapidly scanned her head around, this way and that, as if searching out something .. seeking him maybe?

And then she spoke: "hello, anyone, please". Her voice was so quiet, so childlike, so terrified in its pitch .. and yet so alluring. So needful. He reached up to his HMD and tapped the microphone button. "Yes, I'm here."

AUDIO SERVICE IS OFFLINE - PLEASE TRY AGAIN LATER

Well damn and double-damn. But he could hear her. He could see her. He was very sure the sensation of a floor at his feet was from the stims in his socks. But the sound of her voice hadn't had that tinny automaton quality that so many simulated speech systems had. He was rapidly coming to the conclusion that he wasn't really in a virtual simulation, but had somehow been teleported into a real world. Just to be sure, he reached up to his HMD and tried to tip it slightly so he could look down his nose. But no matter how he moved it, all he could see when he looked down was more darkness.

He pulled the HMD back down solid on his head and started walking toward the girl on the floor. Perhaps he could touch her. Perhaps if he could just make contact, she would realize she was not alone .. and then they could both figure out what was going on. He reached out his hand.

And then ...

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Suddenly something seemed different and still on all fours scrabbled forward quickly, the tiny hairs on her body standing up in fear she thought, but there was something else, a feeling she found confusing, excitement. Taking in a deep breath she quickly stood up and like a whirling dervish she turned around in circles trying to see if there was someone, something there. 'Hello, who's there, please talk to me, help me, I don't know where I am'. She knew her voice had reverted to that of a child. Wrapping her arms tightly round herself she tried to remember her childhood but it was like steam, there but not visible, her teenage years were the same and she knew she was a grown up, she'd been told that before putting into this room. She turned around again 'please, don't scare me, if you can talk, talk to me' but the room was silent and seemed even blacker than it had and she noticed, unexpectedly that the light she had seen was dimmer, as though something was blocking it.

She shivered and this she knew, she'd felt this when she first realised she was in black nothingness, the breath of something but this time she stood still, dropping her head slightly and letting out a soft low purr. Her hands unwrapping her but her hands stopped in shame, they slid down her body and found that her nipples had become hard, so very hard and she felt her face go bright red. Why did they do that, she'd never felt it before and as her face continued to redden her hands lingered before clenching into a fist and pushing them down her side. She tried to see through the blackness and thought for a moment she did see something, maybe someone but again was like looking at a whispy shadow, there but not there. Putting her hands out in front of her, her fear retreating a touch as she turned in a circle but touching nothing. Then she moved one step to the side and did the same until she had completed a number of circles but still her confusion continued, she felt she wasn't alone but couldn't find who it could be. She managed to scare herself imagining it was a creature but her mind couldn't find any memories of any kind of animals.

Clutching the material at her breasts she asked once again, trying to make her voice stronger 'why wont you talk to me, reach out for me but please don't scare me - if you can understand me, please' she wrapped the cloth dress tightly around her, unaware that the material was so thin it showed off every inch of her body, the curve of her waist, her tight firm buttocks and her legs, shapely - yet to her she couldn't understand how she looked. She felt sometimes, whilst she'd been in this place that she didn't understand who she was, partly as though until she'd found herself here she hadn't been anywhere before it but a little voice in her head said that couldn't be possible.

For a moment she bent her head, closed her eyes, calmed her breathing and then lifted it again her soft mouth letting out a long breath she asked again 'is there anyone there, please, anyone, anything, I wont hurt you' she caught herself on that - why would she say she wouldn't hurt them, of course she wouldn't...or maybe

And then .....

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Technology, being one of those things that only works when it wants to, suddenly began playing hob with him. He knew his motor sensors were detecting his intended leg movements, he should have been moving toward the girl. But every time he took a step, his view stayed exactly as it had been. Then suddenly, in a quick SNAP of movement, he would find himself several feet on the other side of her. Turning, facing her again, he once again began walking toward her, slowing his pace so as not to overload the sensors. But once again his crawling pace moved him not in the least .. and then suddenly snapped him many tens of feet beyond her.

He was almost absolutely sure that he was suffering some sort of lag, some network spike that was garbling his commands into the Sim. But then he noticed something rather odd. Her movements, her actions, were crystal clear and completely seamless. He could see her in such intimate detail that even the shivering of her slender body could be observed. It was to him like studying someone from mere inches away, while being trapped miles or even another continent apart.

Suddenly an idea popped into his head. Gritting his teeth again, he selected Self View. Turning 180 around, he began to observe her over his shoulder. Yes, that worked! His turn was smooth and without snapping or jerking. He had to pilot himself like driving a car in reverse using only the mirrors to steer, but it was working.

It wasn't an easy task mind you. She was clearly ill at ease. She began moving further and faster than before. He made a few false starts, trying to compensate for her change in direction, but forgetting he was watching her in reverse, he wound up going the wrong way. Eventually, with a bit of practice, he found he could match her movements .. and began closing the distance between them.

As he drew nearer, he could hear her plaintive voice again. He realized that as he turned his head, he could almost feel where she was by the direction of her voice in his ears. But there was something incredibly alluring about her too. Young, quite slender, quite beautiful in fact. Scarcely clad in a thin fabric .. what was it? Dress? Nightshirt? He couldn't tell. Whatever it was, as he drew closer, he could begin to make out the details of her supple form. He was not aware of any chill in the room, but he could clearly see the pert outlines of her erect nipples through the thin fabric. Maybe she was cold, or maybe she was just frightened. Whatever the cause, he allowed his eyes to linger a bit longer on her breasts. She was, in many ways, both a delight to his senses and a beauty he wished to touch.

That is when the new source of light caught his eye. Running from a spot just below his neckline, perhaps 5-7 inches long, was a small seam that had appeared in his suit. He had been so focused on watching the girl over his shoulder, he could not say when the seam had appeared or how long it had been there. But there it was all the same. Involuntarily he reached one hand up to touch it. As his fingers grazed the edges, he was very aware of his own hand touching his real chest. But wait a minute! He was not wearing touch stims on his chest! How could he feel his own hand. Was he really touching himself too?

He began pulling harder on the seam, pulling it further apart, wanting to see what was beneath the opening in his virtual ninja suit. At first, all he could see was light, Bright and shimmering. But when he touched the light, he could also feel warm fingers on his flesh. On his naked skin even. But he was wearing a shirt in real life. How could warm fingers be touching his bare flesh?

Catching a sudden movement over his shoulder again, he saw the girl take a firm almost defiant stance. She had receded far enough away from him that he didn't catch everything she said, but two words stood out very clearly. "Hurt Him"! He froze in place, forgetting the seam, forgetting the desire to touch her. He suddenly thought "what if this is a trap and I can never get out?" Snapping quickly out of Self View, he took two affirmative steps away from her then turned to face her.

And then ...

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She stepped one, two, three steps closer to the light that was new, there were 2 lights, one in the room with her and the other in the distance, low to the ground, a light under a door perhaps but what had her attention was the light near to her. She thought back to a moment ago when she had heard a voice. Unable to discern if it was male or female but it was deep, dangerous and the words 'HURT HIM' had been loud enough to have been in her head. Did she say it? Why would she say it? And who was him? She didn't know a him, did she? Letting a shake run from her neck to her feet she stepped towards the new light. A soft smile crossing her face and her lips moving as though speaking to herself but no words came. 'Is there someone there? please, answer me, I'm lost and don't know how to get out'. She tried to steady her voice, give out a confidence she really didn't feel and again, pleading 'please'. The material of her nightshirt felt like it was being pulled tightly round her neck, her nails ripping at it, trying to release her neck, but it just got tighter, her breath short, ragged, her voice small, scared' please please' and all at once her neck was released, her nails scratching at her neck too late to react, dropping hard to the floor pulling at the material, ripping it down her front and then her blood ran cold, her bones made of rock as the voice again told her 'HURT HIM GIRL HURT HIM.....OR HE'LL HURT YOU' she cried out as the words finished with a bone chilling laugh. Her head moving side to side, fast, painful looking for the owner of the voice. She didn't know any him, she was having trouble remembering who she was - but the voice, could it have been hers, is there really someone in this place that wanted to hurt her....slowing her breathing as quickly as she could she stood up, the neck of her nightdress slipping down her shoulders and this time the cool chill blowing across her skin was welcomed...she stayed on the spot listening, trying to tell if there was someone there...where had the other light come from? it had moved, she'd seen it move out of the corner of her eye. Turning slowly she focused on what she thought was the new light and felt her hand go to her hip where a lump had appeared. Unafraid of being seen she lifted the edge of her nightdress up to her waist and froze in horror as the object became clear.

She'd never seen one before but she knew what it was - it was a gun, then a baton, then a gun again. She screwed her face up, holding the hem of her nightdress still and she cried. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and without realising it she used the hem of her dress to wipe her face but when she put her hand back to her hip the weapon had gone? She let out a high pitched scream and again without realising it she ripped at the bottom of her nightdress, pulling at it with all her might. Fear and anger mingling together that new light etched in her eyes.

Her wet angry eyes sought out and found the new light....

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