written and edited by Simone Rodonalwitz
illustrated by ohellino
PART 1 — 4chan dot com
Rodonalwitz pondered his situation. He was tired of being alone all the time. Naturally charismatic, he had no problem meeting people and making new friends. The problem was that every time he made some new friend, they would do some little thing that annoyed him a little bit, he would blow things way out of proportion and get carried away about whatever the perceived slight was. Then he would stab them 50 times, drain the body, quarter it, and distribute the pieces to various dumpsters and rivers throughout the city.
Rodonalwitz moved from town to town, city to city, state to state, leaving behind piles of missing people and unsolved murders. Like a litany, he recited the names of each one of his friends who he had murdered, picturing their faces during their last moments. Jan.. Jaeger.. Michelle O’Brien.. Nist-Andar Jahan.. August Winters… Crystal Bigcrow.. Larissa… the list went on and on. He remembered each one. It took him about an hour to recite the entire litany. He cried. He must find a way to form relationships that did not end in murder or the loneliness would drive him completely mad.
Or must he? Perhaps there was another way. He needed something intellectually stimulating, some new hobby. But he couldn’t think of anything. So he decided to experiment with using drugs for inspiration. He mixed up a concoction of crystallized methamphatamines and heroin.
Unfortunately, the hour was late and the pharmacies were all closed. He climbed through dumpster after dumpster, finally finding a syringe behind the Tim Horton’s on 17th ave. It appeared to have been used several times already and was very dull. He had to torture himself for about an hour, stabbing himself 50 times with the dull syringe before he finally hit a vein, flagged some blood, and pushed in the mixture.
The dull, numbing effects of the heroin instantly removed the pain in his arms. At the same time, the methamphetamines flooded him with confidence and new ideas. He remembered reading about the notorious cesspit of Internet trolls known as 4chan dot org. 4chan rules the Internet! 4chan rules the media!
He had found his answer! He would scroll through 4chan’s notorious “Random” forum, and see if he could predict, or even possibly influence the next ((mainstream media hoax)) orchestrated by the heartless trolls of 4chan. Maybe there he would finally meet his intellectual peers. And everything was anonymous, so even if people did annoy him a little bit, he would not be able to find and kill them! It seemed the perfect solution.
Or so it seemed at first. His mind warped by the drugs, he suddenly realized that he was on the wrong web page. Instead of going to 4chan dot org, he had gone to 4chan dot com, which appeared to be an array of people on web cams, exchanging various sexual teases for “tickets” which could be purchased from the server. Normally he avoided that sort of thing but the methamphetamines made him want to impulsively masturbate and lowered his inhibitions. So he decided to try it out.
He met many people, and found himself in many strange situations. The methamphetamines boosted his natural confidence and charisma, and he often found himself chatting privately, sometimes for hours in a row, with different models until the delirium brought on by the drugs would clue them in that he was mentally unstable and in fact quite insane. They would dump him and then he would find another. He never paid for anything either, they seemed to enjoy his company enough to keep them interested in spending time with him. He was astounded by how much money many of the web cam models pulled in, often upwards of $300 an hour! Had these men no pride? Rodonalwitz could never pay someone $5, $10, even $100 for some little sexual tease over a web cam. These people were addicted to the visual aspects of sex. Strange. He decided to study this odd new economy of sexuality. Before too long, he was regularly injecting methamphetamines and sometimes masturbating impulsively to various web cam models, sometimes forming strange relationships with them for a while before alienating himself from them with his bizarre behaviour, mood swings, and delusions brought on by sleep deprivation and increasing drug abuse.
PART 2 — CherryBomb
Rodonalwitz had developed a habit he called “random random”. He would set his browser to go into rooms randomly, without looking at who, or what, he would find on the other side. Although strictly heterosexual, he would study the rooms of transsexuals and homosexual men with a morbid detachment, although they were never interested in talking to him the way that many of the women were.
It was while doing one of these random excursions that he came across the user called CherryBomb. His first instinct was one of disinterest. She looked too young, little more than a girl. 36 years old, Rodonalwitz normally preferred the company of fully matured women. Was she old enough to be in here? She must be, they had age checks that were strictly enforced. He was not sexually interested, but there was something about this girl. She had an intensity about her as she practiced her workout routine. She was in phenomenally good shape. She seemed to detect his admiration and he started a conversation with her. She lacked the traits that tended to trigger his delusions and subsequent alienation. She didn’t use the radio controlled, phallic implants that many models used to encourage men to tip them. Rodonalwitz was at one point convinced that those things were some kind of insidious mind control technology, and they scared the shit out of him. She didn’t communicate almost exclusively using overtly sexual body language the way that most web cam models did, which led him to believe that they were under the influence of the mind control devices and triggered horrifying delusions and insane rants. She had a vibrant personality; seemed like a real person. This was definitely someone he wanted to know. He made a note of her user name.
The next day, or however long it was, he had lost all sense of time, he visited her room again. She looked different. Older, more mature. She had altered her appearance drastically somehow. Was she a shape-shifter?
He felt somehow less alone when he spoke with her, and did so as often as possible. The madness that normally destroyed all of his relationships quickly was held at bay. She had a modesty about her that was refreshing. He was intrigued.
But their communications kept hitting walls. She guarded herself closely. She was a web cam model, and he was her audience. She maintained those barriers strictly, and would not know him in any other capacity. He could not get a straight answer out of her about anything. He was frustrated by these limitations and wanted to know her outside of this twisted environment, that was becoming increasingly hellish to him in conjunction with the increasing mental deterioration from the sleep deprivation and now constant drug abuse.
“CherryBomb, I would like to know you outside of this place, where we can have normal conversations that are not always about silly games and sex and stuff. Can I add you on Skype or something?”
CherryBomb did not answer him. Her eyes were distant, like she was looking at something else. She probably had him muted and was talking to someone else. How long had he been talking to himself, believing that she was listening, while reading into the cues she was giving to someone else as though they were meant for him? CherryBomb had thoroughly snubbed Rodonalwitz! Nobody snubbed Rodonalwitz! NOBODY! He was not having this!
The security at 4chan dot com was sloppy at best. They didn’t even use SSL certificates, probably to free up server resources. Anyone with a bit of knowledge could spy on any room, or any patron. Did the fools even realize this? He hacked into the server and found CherryBomb’s name and location. She was one Camilla Rodriguez, who lived in a small, mostly Spanish speaking town in New Mexico. She had a brief stint as a child actress, playing a new born infant on some sit com in the late 90’s, and ever since had dreams of becoming an actress. But first she had to get out of the lame little town she was stuck in and move to Hollywood to be discovered. That was why she was doing this web cam modeling stuff. Not to meet some loser like him, to make money. He was nothing more than an amusing diversion to her! He was not having this!
He vowed revenge! But unfortunately he had no friends and was broke, having spent all his money on drugs. He hacked into United Airlines and added himself to the roster for the next flight to New Mexico. Drat! The flight was full! He added himself anyway, in first class, sure that it would work itself out somehow, and prepared for the long flight to New Mexico.
PART 3 — DIGITAL DIMENSIONS
The airplane arrived in the evening, twilight quickly approaching. Rodonalwitz got his luggage, which contained only his weapons and tool belt, and a change of clothing. He found some bushes to hide in and slept until the darkness of night had overtaken the town. The moon was absent, it was complete darkness. Perfect!
He nonchalantly walked over to where CherryBomb lived and climbed over the locked fence, then crept up the stairs to the front door of her home. The door was guarded by a basic residential quality dead bolt. With a finesse born of hours spent practicing, he slid his lock pick set into the dead bolt and felt for the tumblers, sliding each one into place until he heard the satisfying ‘click’ of the door unlocking. He opened the door and snuck into the apartment. It was dark except for a room off to the right where a light was on. We went over to it. The door was open a crack, but not enough to see inside.
Rodonalwitz wanted this to be a quick, clean kill. He applied some grease to the door hinges to avoid any squeaking, and pushed it open far enough to peek inside. He recognized CherryBomb right away. She was sitting at her laptop typing. He pushed the door open wide enough to slither in, and snuck up behind her, unsheathing his foil.
Then he thrusted, aiming straight for the heart, for a quick kill. At the last instant, CherryBomb rolled out of the way. There was something odd about the way she moved and looked in her physical form, but he couldn’t quite place it. He had only an instant to make this observation as his foil poked through the monitor of her laptop, giving him a jolt. He almost dropped his foil.
While he was recovering from the jolt, CherryBomb rolled under her bed and then came out with two small wooden dowels. She began to spin them with incredible speed, the dowels making a whizzing sound as they blurred through the air. Suddenly he was on the defensive.
CherryBomb moved with surprising speed and agility, and it was the most he could do to keep her at bay using defensive forms, almost getting his foil knocked out of his hand several times. Then somehow, a dowel came out of seemingly nowhere and clocked him in the temple, hard. He reeled back in pain, seeing stars. It was only years of experience, and a quick sword arm, that prevented him from receiving a flurry of blows. This chick would not go down easily.
Then he remembered what had seemed off about her, and realized what it was. Moving with inhuman speed, she appeared to be composed of thousands of tiny pixels. It was as though she existed in digital form. He then noticed the stream of red and blue dots flowing between the base of her spine and her network router.
Rodonalwitz pulled a throwing knife out from his belt and threw it at the router with practiced precision. The router sparked an unnatural greenish colour for a moment then died.
FLICK FLICK FLICK
CherryBomb seemed to flicker for a moment, then disappeared. Then, her entire room flickered out of existence too, and he was in some empty space that reminded him of the holodeck on Star Trek when there was no simulation running. He saw only darkness.
The next thing he knew, he was back in his apartment in Calgary, lying on the floor. Bloody sores covered his arms and he was surrounded by used syringes.
He sat up and scanned his computer screen. He was logged into 4chan dot org random forum, and everyone was talking about experiments with alternate dimensions in digital space. What the hell?
Was the whole thing a drug induced nightmare? He felt at his temple. There was a huge welt and it hurt like hell. That much was real. Did 4chan dot com, and CherryBomb, even exist? He logged into 4chan dot com and tried to go to CherryBomb’s page, but found that he was blocked from her room. Now he was really confused.
Were 4chan dot org and 4chan dot com in cahoots, happened to find him in a mentally compromised state due to insomnia and drug abuse, and used him for some twisted experiment?
Had CherryBomb, a part of a growing trend among millenials to only talk to people on-line and not have real relationships, somehow mastered the ability to traverse the dimensions between digital reality and physical form, and had trapped him in one of these spaces?
He only knew one thing for certain. He needed to get drunk. Very, very drunk