A Haven Halloween offering…
It was just an average day in Second Life. A spot of shopping, chilling with friends and now some free time to explore new places: It was a speck on the world map that Arthur hadn’t come across before – the name intrigued him –‘BioCore’, but so far it had turned out to be both deserted and rather a let-down. An agglomeration of nondescript buildings that were frankly uninspiring; no apparent doors or entrances and nothing of note to see when he cammed inside. Even so, he had a feeling about the place – surely there was something more here? It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d stumbled upon a hidden gem, artfully tucked away behind a plain facade, buried below the ground or high up in the sky, but so far he was drawing a complete blank.
In fact, he was coming to the conclusion that there really was nothing to see here, and he already had the map open to look for pastures new, when a lone green dot in the corner of the sim caught his eye. Well, a single avatar was better than none, and it would do no harm to to try and strike up a conversation before moving on. Arthur headed off towards the stranger.
BloodStorm Resident turned out to be almost as nondescripst as the sim – little effort made with his experience and a rather bland expression on his face. Arthur, as usual, made the first move:
“Hi, how are you?”
Bloodstorm seemed a little irritated by his presence, but was gracious enough to respond in like fashion and, with some effort and perseverance, Arthur managed to strike up some sort of conversation.
It turned out that Bloodstorm owned the sim, but was somewhat reluctant to discuss much beyond that simple fact. Arthur was starting to think that there were better things that he could be doing with his time, when – unexpectedly – Bloodstorm sent a private IM: “Want to see something really cool?”
Arthur was intrigued, although he half expected it to turn out to be an offer of ‘fun’ at an adult sim; still, he was old enough and ugly enough to be able to take most of the excesses of SL in his stride. “Why not?”, he replied, and a moment later an LM popped up in his messages. Bloodstorm disapeared and Arthur clicked the link.
He was not expecting what he saw on arrival – if this was SL, it was not the virtual world he was used to by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly wasn’t an SL that his graphics card was capable of rendering, yet somehow it was! He’d arrived in a forest clearing with lush green grash underfoot, and surrounded by trees murmuring in a light breeze, but the level of detail was incredible: Everything seemed so real and tangible in a way that he’d never experienced before. The foliage appeared so lifelike that he found himself resisting the temptation to reach out to the screen to touch it – if anything, it seemed to be reaching out to him from the other side of the monitor, beckoning him inwards. He gasped audibly in RL, before typing a single enquiring question, (of sorts)… “????”
“Good, isn’t it?”, responded Bloodstorm. “I call it Biomesh – my own invention. It’s a combination of code, real biological information and, well… Let’s just say a little bit of arcane wizardry on my part!”
Fighting the urge to type another stream of meaningless punctuation, Arthur stammered out – if that’s the right expression for text – his admiration, and a string of questions in a meaningless jumble, that in essence could be boiled down to a single word: “How?”
“I’ll explain all that in due course. In fact, I may have a proposition for you to help me with the next stage of my work”, came the reply, “but first, there’s something else I’d like to show you, or rather, someone I’d like you to meet.”
An orange cloud appeared in the clearing and slowly resolved itself into the most beautiful, mind-achingly realistic avatar he’d ever seen.
“Moonstone, meet Jigglebum63”, continued Bloodstorm.
“Erm, you can call me Arthur”, typed Jigglebum, now blushing deeply in RL.
“Hello Arthur”, said Moonstone, and her voice was like a tinkling stream of silver bells cascading over a marshmallow riverbed. Arthur rarely used voice himself, and having heard those dulcet tones he’d likely never want to again; after Moonstone, anything else – especially his own voice, would sound like a discordant clashing of saucepan lids. He didn’t believe in love at first sight, or sound for that matter, but the feeling that was washing through his body right now was far beyond that base instinct anyway.
Bloodstone interrupted his reverie.
“Moonstone is my greatest triumph – a biomesh avatar formed from the DNA of the real person who controls her. And, in answer to your question, yes she is single!”
The next few hours passed in a blur and were over far too quickly for Arthur’s addled senses. Over the course of the evening, Bloodstone explained the process of creating biomesh – a painstaking, time-consuming exercise that harnessed the power of technology in new and remarkable ways. In essence, Bloodstone had discovered a means of modifying the behaviour of sensors – fingerprint readers, retinal scanners, facial recognition and breath analysers – built into modern technology so that the fundamental building blocks of life could be embedded within traditional 3D mesh. Arthur didn’t understand the half of it, but the bottom line was that Bloodstone, over time, could sample DNA and organic, living snippets of information to give virtual meshes the appearance, behaviour and characteristics of the real thing.
“Of course, when one gets to play god, you do also get to tweak things a bit”, offered Bloodstone at one point in the conversation. “So, with the advantages that mesh offers, I’ve been able to take the biological information and pair it with aesthetic perfection, with the result…” He tailed off, and nodded towards Moonstone.
“So, the big question is: Do you want in?”
He looked at Arthur, who at this point could barely discern up from down.
“You see, before I unleash biomesh on an unsuspecting virtual world, I really want to prove my concept works completely. Moonstone is just half the story, and what I really need is an Adam to go alongside my virtual Eve! What do you say?”
I think you can guess what Arthur tried to say, but most of it came out as a barely discernable typo. After several attempts, Arthur gave up and offered a single, concise, “Ys *Yes!”
“Excellent!” replied Bloodstone and went on to explain the process by which Arthur would donate his own DNA and biological makeup in order that an inworld, biomesh avatar, based upon his own personal identity, but perfect as only mesh could make it, could be created.
It was very long-winded and boring, and I’m sure you don’t want to read about it, almost as much as I don’t want to write it, (this is why I’ll never write a novel – too many words of too little substance), besides which I forgot that today was Halloween for which I usually churn out a mega serial, so I’m having to write this as an alternative after getting home from work on the day itself! Hence, you shall have the extremely edited version:
Buy the tech. Download the app. Hook yourself up. Stay logged in. Bloodstone will do the rest and Moonstone will chat to you and do twirly things to keep you focussed.
And that’s basically what transpired.
It was Halloween and Arthur’s family were becoming increasingly more concerned about him. No-one had heard from him for weeks; he wasn’t answering his ‘phone, replying to texts, or answering his front door. After well over a month it was clear something was badly wrong. The final straw came when he didn’t turn up for the annual family Halloween get-together – something that he never missed, mainly because it was the only time he had an excuse to wear heels, suspenders and a basque in public, relying on the excuse that he’d come as someone out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, although everyone knew better than that!
Finally, his mother caved in and called the police.
Once they’d managed to force open the door, which was blocked by a month’s worth of junk mail, they found him by following the glow of his monitor to the bedroom. Shortly afterwards, another police car turned up, followed by an ambulance with blue lights flashing.
Afterwards, the medics when interviewed stated that they’d never seen anything quite like it before.
Arthur was found, barely alive, emaciated, filthy and sitting in a mess of his own body fluids, slumped over his keyboard in front of the computer. Much of the ordure he’d also appeared to have smeared over a variety of sensors and touch devices that surrounded him. The crew stabilised him with saline, lifted him on to a gurney, and prepared to take him away, whilst the police worked around them, taking photos and gathering evidence – it was hard to say this was a crime scene, but they weren’t taking any chances, and they carefully started bagging the various devices that littered Arthur’s desk.
It was weird how the video game he appeared to have been playing hadn’t long ago ground to a halt, but as they worked, the tinkling sound of a female character’s voice accompanied them, whilst the little image of her on the screen occasionally twirled and danced around a forest clearing.
But the computer was evidence too.
The weirdest thing of all was when the officer yanked the plug from the socket, at which precise moment, the half-dead body of Arthur sat bolt upright and screamed a terrified “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”, before falling back onto the gurney, only this time, wholly dead.
Such a shame. Such a waste.
But Jigglebum63, or should I say Arthur, is happy now.
And one of these days, Moonstone’s family are going to grow concerned about her whereabouts too.
And Moonstone will be happy too…
Or should I say, ‘Seren’?
‘to conquer thee and thy blood for glore
art thou my afeard and reluctant whore;
irksomely coy, save wiliéd by alarum,
bear this torture and maim with decorum
The Cranberries And Rammstein – Under To The Night