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The Old Recluse

Ragged, cold and alone, the old man peered suspiciously around the tightly-shut curtains. "Go away!" he shouted through the padlocked door at the hapless postman outside, and shuffled back to a deeper room where he felt safer against the external light, for his life was closed too, a private land with fierce 'Keep out' signs at its borders.

Looking in a mirror as he went past it, he momentarily cringed. There were mirrors everywhere in the house. He had a strange, love-hate relationship with the images they contained, both admiring and loathing the being within.

Sitting in front of the old computer he relaxed again as he fired up WOW22 and trudged back to the waiting party, shining sword in hand. Forgetting the cold oppression outside, the healthy and firm young warrior led the way bravely into the lands of the misbegotten.

Beyond the barred walls of his limited life there were still a few who remembered him, a distant and troubled memory. His childhood had been one of early promise but ultimate doom. An aspiring Peter Pan who would vanquish all before him, he was really a lost boy who misplaced reality in his failed struggle to maturity.

Truth became a convenience as other people became inconveniences. Initially surprised at his failures he eventually gave up trying. As he frustrated others so they frustrated him. "Leave me alone!" he would cry and eventually they did, though not through lack of love.

And so he drifted, a lost boat on the sea of existence, eking a meagre living from occasional jobs (which he hated) and small commissions from a disparate community of similar dissolutes (which he loved). The virtual community online was about as real as he could get and it gave him some succour to fill the empty hours. And hours turned to days and years as he hid away his dim life. Too afraid even to ask why he was this way, he turned in and away even from himself, a virtual shell in a virtual world.

One day, an unknown day, he just stopped. It would seem to be an exaggeration to say he died, for death of the outer world had happened long ago, if ever it had existed. And, locked within, he quietly decomposed. Ashes to sad ashes.




~by David Straker~


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