A Tale of Cyber Muses

I Am A Rock

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright April 2015


"OK. You set a record. Now let's go out and celebrate."

This is Nancy-672 talking, his muse who is in cyberspace. She is talking to Simon through his communicator. Simon had just completed Level 1001 on EPICGTA v34. He had been at it for nine straight hours now. Well... that included the walk-around-the-room breaks that Nancy prodded him to take every thirty minutes, and lunch, and snack breaks. But any way you counted it, the sun had moved from sunrise to sunset, (not that Simon saw it) and now Simon's hands are aching.

"Go out? To where?" he says as he stands up and stretches a deep, satisfying stretch.

"Well, you can meet Jamie and Arthur. They're at Starbucks."

"They'll be jealous, not happy." he waves off that idea. He pounds his chest and says, "Man! I feel like I should be able to add to my tattoo! When does the next installment on that come up?"

"In two weeks."

"Can I pay to get it now? I'm feeling so hot!"

"What will you pay with?"

"Fuck! Don't bring harsh reality into this conversation. You bring her in and you're asking for a bitch-slap."


"OK... no tattoo for now. What can I do?"

"How about something to eat? You feel hungry."

"I don't want any more Nutribuzz."

"You don't want to save the world?"

"I've saved the world enough today -- I made it to level 1001. Time for celebrating with some real food -- something that was growing in the ground."

"Good! That will get you outside and walking around. That's good for you. But keep in mind it's snowing outside now."

"Shit! Really?"

"It happens."

"OK. I guess the good news is the street won't be crowded."

Simon is twenty years old. And given how much time he spends in the basement, he looks pretty decent, with a slim body and dark hair, and his tattoos haven't gotten too outlandish yet. He puts on some street-suitable clothes, then adds a jacket and hat for the cold weather, and heads out. The street is far from completely empty. The trucks and taxis are buzzing up and down, and there are plenty of gentrifiers walking around showing off their luxury fashions and arm-candy muses.

"What wasters." mutters Simon, but he says it because right now he is wishing he could do some more serious wasting himself. He'd particularly like to be wasting time talking with a real interesting girl, a real one -- but those are even fewer and farther between than interesting guys. So instead he has Nancy, his necessity muse, and he talks with her a lot over his communicator. Some day she may turn into a real, stand-beside-him muse, but like fancier tattooing, that takes luxury money.

As he walks she says, "There's a poetry reading in an hour at Gafongle's."

"That's cheap. Does that count towards saving the world?"

"If it grows your soul it sure does."

"Can I afford it?"

"Silly boy!"

Simon heads for Gafongle's. Gafongle's has a necessity food menu as well as a luxury food menu, so Simon can get a meal there using his necessity money -- and then stay for the entertainment. Poetry reading is not quite as git-down-home-style as pop-and-country karaoke but it is sure no symphony concert, and he hasn't won a free ticket to any hot-item rock or rave concerts for a month.

As he walks to Gafongle's he mutters, "Man! I should be doing something to make some more luxury money. I've got the time these days."

"Why don't you do some more tour guiding at the art museum?"

"Man! That's volunteer work. That's resume building, not getting me luxury money!"

There is a pause while Nancy scans on-line information, then she says, "There's a salesperson opening at the Newton Gallery."

"That place? Geez, I thought you wanted me growing my soul, not selling it."

"Isn't that a common tradeoff for some luxury?"

Simon thinks about it as he walks, then says, "What can I do that I have passion about... and get some luxury money?"

Nancy scans some more, nothing comes up before Simon gets to Gafongle's.


In Gafongle's Simon loads up his plate at the necessity buffet and sits down at an empty table at the back of the room. Eating is going to keep him happy, so being far from the stage isn't bothering him.

Simon likes poetry. He writes some himself, and he's been on stage here twice. It is a quiet Tuesday night, so the luxury tables are as near empty as the necessity tables.

Art Gafongle, the owner, is cruising the place. He is networking with customers. He comes by Simon's table and joins him for a bit.

"Stormy tonight. Inspiring perhaps?" he says to Simon.

"Well, I did just reach level 1001 on EPICGTA."

Art thinks, then says, "Yeah, I guess that counts. Congrats. Any verse coming out of that?"

"Not so far." Simon keeps munching away.

"Well, keep at it... one, or the other, or both." and he moves on.


As he is walking back the snow is falling much harder and the wind is blowing in his face.

"Fuck." he mutters. He can't zombie-out, he has to pay attention to where he is walking.

"You could raise a child." Nancy says to him.

"WHAT! Get married... to a girl!"

"No. Raise a necessity child. There's lots of luxury money in that these days."

"Whew... OK, I can think about that." says Simon, then he is back to concentrating on his walking.


Safe within his room, he does some more research on this baby-raising idea.

"It sure does pay well... why is that?" he asks Nancy.

"Supply and demand. There aren't many humans willing to get into this, but there are a lot of necessity children being created these days."

"Why is that?"

Nancy pauses before she answers, "A couple reasons: The first is that many necessity kids are raised to live in non-earth-surface environments -- places like high pressure underseas, and low pressure/low gravity space stations -- they won't ever live on Earth's surface. Thanks to new technology we are figuring out a lot more ways to exploit these hostile-to-human environments. But a lot of regular humans find these necessity humans too strange to deal with -- they stay away, far away.

"The second is that too many humans are like you: They aren't willing to commit to a family raising project. There aren't enough regular humans being raised to sustain the population. Some places see this as a crisis needing fixing, and necessity children are being raised as regular humans to fill these places up."

Simon snorts, "That second one is not surprising, given how risky a commitment is in the legal sense. You can really get hung out to dry if things go sour... especially men these days. I've researched that! This 'We worry that you may become a deadbeat dad.'-baloney can screw up your social and financial life for decades. And who wants to spend years changing diapers, anyway."

He considers this some more, and says, "Am I going to get into that kind of issue if this necessity child raising goes sour?"

"Not if you work with the off-surface ones... the really strange ones. The rules are quite different. Necessity kids who don't live on the surface are so new and strange that the old instincts haven't taken hold, not much anyway. That's the kind I recommend for you."

Simon does some more research, "Neat! I can do this from my room." and some more research, "There's a lot I have to learn."

Nancy giggles a little at that.


Jamie and Arthur say, "You're going to do what?"

Simon giggles a little at that, "I'm going to be grandma to some green-skinned, four-eyed baby. Well... I don't know what it's going to look like, and I won't be changing its diapers. But I will be raising it. And I'll get some good luxury money for doing it."

Jamie takes another swig of organic, vat-grown beer, "It sounds crazy. Why did they choose you?"

"I did some training, and they say I have good patience and perseverance. My level 1001 helped. 'Getting that showed those virtues.' the examiner said."

Arthur says, "Oh yeah... You did get that. Are your hands still aching?" he says this last part in an almost hopeful way.

Simon grins back at that. "I'm at 1010 now. But I've had to slow down a lot. This baby-tending training takes a lot of time and attention."

"I hear that babies do too." muses Jamie.


Six months later Simon is certified and ready to take on his first bundle of joy. He is on the screen with Elaine Banner.

She says, "Hi Simon, So you're ready for your child? ...Children actually."

"Yup. I'm certified and I have my avatar suit here in the room with me. I'm checked out on that too, and it's checked out and ready to roll."

"You are going to be caring for a class of 'porpoise kids'. They are being raised to tend farms in coral reefs, they will be living in The Great Barrier Reef off of Australia."

"I've never heard of this. What do they grow there?"

"Oh... things like Yalmamma, but that's not your primary concern. They will be learning those skills from marine agronomists. You're there to teach them socializing... with themselves and with land-based humans."

"Wow! Have they got gills?"

"They are porpoise kids, not shark kids. They breathe air, but they acclimate early on to wearing breathing kits. No, the big difference is their air is at ten atmospheres. You'd get sick quickly if you were in the room with them."

"OK. I'm ready to suit up."

"Good. I'm linking your suit to the avatar in their classroom. Have fun."


At the end of the session Simon climbs out of his suit and grins. The session went well, real well. He did well, the kids did well, and he enjoyed the experience. This is feeling as good as getting to level 1001. He is now doing something that he can be passionate about, and it will get him some good luxury money as well.

He pounds his chest and says, "Mary, if this keeps going this well, you may have a body next year... after I get my tattoos finished."

"You don't want a girlfriend first?"

"Why risk mixing it up with some pig-in-a-poke when I know I'll enjoy you! And enjoy you a lot. Mmmwha!" he does an air-kiss for her.

Friends and female companionship can come later... much later if necessary.

Today he is a rock.


--The End--