Hello? Can you hear me?
[[I can hear you.]]
[[No.]]Oh, good. Do you know how arduous it is, trying to tune this bloody thing? Ever tried tuning a radio, but the knob's fallen off and you have to try and wedge a coin into the spindle to force it to turn?
It's difficult, is my point.
[[Who *are* you?|Introduction]]Okay, smart arse. Can you //read// me then?
And don't say no. You've sort of shown your hand now.
[[Yes, I can read you. Who are you, exactly?|Introduction]]Oh! Sorry. Rude of me.
Hi, I'm Claire. I'm the ghost in the machine.
[[Like in the anime?|Intro2]]I'm literally a ghost. There's load of us in here, uploaded into the internet and just sort of... sort of floating about.
It's so noisy. You don't even know :(
[[I don't believe you.|Disbelieve]]
[[What?|Confused]]I understand it might be a bit of a hard sell. I suppose it would be easier to believe if I told you I was a marketing algorithm trying to sell you something?
That's partly true, actually, in the sense that I have had a nose through all your Facebook data.
[[I'm not even on Facebook.|Facebook]]Ghost. One of the things from Scooby Doo.
Someone plugged me into the internet after I died and now I spend my digital days reading everyone's emails and snooping through their Google search history.
[[I don't believe you.|Disbelieve]]
[[Technically, none of the "ghosts" in Scooby Doo were ever actually ghosts.|Scooby1]]Everyone is on Facebook, even if they don't have an account. Such a fun place to nose around when you're just a digital engram. As is reading emails. It's like Netflix for nosey people.
But I'm not here to spook you out with that sort of stuff.
[[Then why are you here, //ghost//?|Bored]]Because being dead suuuuuuuuuuuuucks :(((((
Sure, it was fun for a while. Reading other peoples' emails is hilarious to begin with, sliding into DMs on someone's behalf, wonking up a dude's connection just enough to get him banned from Steam. Mad fun.
Now? I'm lonely.
[[Aren't there other ghosts?|Lonely]]
[[You're lonely?|Lonely]]Excuse me?
[[It was always an old man in a costume.|Scooby2]]Fine, sure, in the original episodes. Once Scooby and Shaggy went off on their own with Scrappy Doo, real ghosts started cropping up.
[[We don't talk about Scrappy Doo.|Scooby 3]]Look, I didn't spend literally weeks trying to tune into your computer just to argue about the accepted canon of Scooby Doo.
[[Then why are you here?|Bored]]Well, yeah.
Sure, there are other ghosts on here. Thousand of them, actually. Thing is, though, they're not very friendly. Maybe something about me is different, I don't know, but I can hear them whispering constantly. Never the words, like, just the sound.
A constant, maddening whisper. Nearly white noise, but not quite. Grey noise? Is that a thing?
Anyway, point is, there's only so many dick pics and Nigerian email scams you can read before you start wanting to just //talk//.
[[But why me?|You]]Calm your tits, mate, you're not special. It's not like I scoured the eHarmony database for a perfect match or something. </3
Although I did actually do that.
Truth of the matter is that you just got lucky. I don't really know what I'm doing in here when it comes to sorting out chats with people. I was basically smacking buttons at random and hoping it would connect me to someone.
That it was you is just a happy coincidence.
Thanks, by the way, for not just yanking your machine out the wall and running into the night.
[[You're welcome. Has that happened before?|Yanking]]
[[How did you even get in there?|Uploaded]]Well, no.
But I had convinced myself it would. I wasn't sure how this would work, but I did know it wasn't as if my messages would pop up in an AOL messenger IM or something.
[[AOL? Exactly when did you die?|Yanking2]]Kind of a sore subject, that one. I mean, obviously. It's about me getting all dead, like.
Six months ago, I think. I was thirty two, brunette, liked long walks on the beach and not being beaten to death by my main squeeze on our third date because I wouldn't put out.
[[That's a bit of an insensitive way of putting it.|Death]]I'll have you know there are dozens of people still using AOL.
Be thankful I didn't say ICQ.
[[You didn't answer my question.|Uploaded]]Sorry, too blunt? I suppose I should be traumatised really, but that would require I remember it, and I don't. I don't remember my last few hours in general, actually, don't even remember starting the day.
He killed me, and the only reason I know that is because I got to snoop through the police reports once I ended up here. Hard to feel truly hard done by when you're reading the horrible shit in a report, yeah?
Doesn't feel like it really happened to you.
[[I'm sorry.|Death2]]But it doesn't explain why I'm a data ghost and I'm haunting you up, right?
Truth is, I'm not entirely sure myself. Someone must have uploaded me somehow, I'm guessing. It's one of those big mysteries that fantastic stories are made of.
I need you to find out which evil megacorp is trying to commodify my brainwaves and help me bring them down from the inside! Rise up with me, comrade, and strike down our capitalist overlords before they start selling the very core of what it means to be human! We have nothing to lose but our chains! Eat the rich! Smash the capitalist goblins with the weighty stone of socialism!
[[What, really?|Death3]]No, dickhead, not really.
Unless you actually want to, because that would be pretty sweet.
But no, I'm not hitting you up to Obi Wan the Empire out of existence for me or anything.
I just wanted to talk to someone.
But seriously, if you want to eat the rich that would be a perfect first date <3
[[I'm a vegetarian.|Vegetarian]]
[[What did you want to talk about then, other than class warfare?|Chatty]]And what sort of a girl would I be to try and talk you out of such a heart-felt belief?
Which is one of the many things I am not. Along with "alive" and "an avid watcher of Love Island".
[[Apart from chewing the flesh of capitalists, what //did// you want to talk about?|Chatty]]I don't know. Stuff.
[[That's very vague.|Chatty2]]Just... I don't know. Something fun! Something that isn't about me being a dead brain floating through the phat pipez of the dark net or something.
[[And not Scooby Doo.|Chatty3]]Not Scooby Doo.
Not Scooby Doo and not my death. Aaaaaanything else is on the table, though. Should be nice and easy for you to pick ;)
[[Okay, how about...|Chatty4]]
[[In that case...|Chatty4]]How much time do you spend on the computer per day?
[[Pardon?|Chatty5]]I was just thinking how fortunate I was to catch you actually sat at your computer, that's all.
So come on, out with it. How much?
[[I work on one, so a fair bit.|WorkPC]]
[[Honestly, I'm barely off the thing.|NerdPC]]
[[I don't use it much at all really.|HealthyPC]]Are you an office drone?
I never lasted long in an office, myself. I temped a few times, but no-one ever wanted to keep me. The agency told me that people would often pay just to get rid of me, which I take to be a success.
Not bad enough to fire, but just bad enough to need to get rid of. I think that's the motto I lived by, actually.
Claire: Professional vexation.
[[Are you always this effervescent?|Chatty6]]Oh! A kindred spirit!
Mate, I was barely ever off my computer, unless I had to be. It's easier, isn't it, to experience the world through a screen? You can see it but it can't see you, completely safe.
You can be the real version of yourself that way. It's a shame so many people use it as an excuse to be a class-A bellend.
[[Are you saying you weren't this effervescent in person?|Chatty6]]Probably for the best. You can miss things if you spend all your day staring at a screen. Certainly avoids the likelihood of poisoning yourself with social media.
Ready for a take so hot you'll get sunstroke from the screen, buddy?
Social media = bad.
Woah nelly, I know, you're all pink and swollen now... Wait, that sounds bad. I meant sunburned not //anything else//.
Sorry, but it's hard to keep my energy up when I have to swim around the misery mountains of social media every day.
[[You mean you aren't always this effervescent ray of sunshine?|Chatty6]]Effervescent? Oooh, that's a good word. Most people just called me annoying.
When they called me at all.
Ha ha, a litle joke there. Don't go reading into it.
[[It didn't feel like a joke.|Depression]]
[[Well, we have to talk about something.|Divert]]...
[[Are you still there?|Depression2]]What do you think about cyberpunk?
[[I'm not a fan.|CyberNegative]]
[[I'm enough of a fan to know that uploading someone's brain into the internet is cyberpunk as fuck.|CyberPositive]]It's not important. Certainly doesn't matter now, does it? Let's talk about you for a bit.
[[I'm not trying to pry.|Depression3]]
[[What about me?|Depression3]]...You'd drop the topic that easily? And here I thought you had a bit of backbone ;)
I appreciate it, though. And I should tell you, there's no real reason not to. Does it good to get it off the chest, even when you don't have a chest.
It's all mental health shit, you know.
[[Depression?|Depression4]]Something like that.
Ergh. This feels very self-indulgent. You're going to roll your eyes, so can you just tilt your webcam away? Do you have a webcam? I didn't want to be rude and go searching for one. Not as if you could see me, so I probably shouldn't see you. It's rude.
Although I have seen you. There are pictures of you online so it wasn't hard to find. Pretty hard to avoid actually. Did I tell you people get everywhere? Just thousands of pictures, taken everyday.
[[You're gabbling.|Depression5]]I'm //deflecting//, there's a difference. And it isn't working, is it?
Look, I have negative thoughts sometimes. Often. Constantly. Sometimes they are loud, sometimes quiet, but always sort of there bubbling away.
It builds up over time, horrible little bricks of self-deception. No, more like gribbly little critters piling up against a chain-link fence, slowly pushing it over. Eventually they manage it, and that's you believing every horrible thought you have about yourself.
For me, that was largely that I was too annoying for people to put up with. That's why they never contacted me, never reached out. If I wanted friends, I had to put in all the effort.
Ergh. It's pathetic to say. Can't imagine how bad it is to hear.
[[It's n--|Depression6]]No, don't say anything. This has gotten all serious and I don't like it. Far too serious. We're stepping into mood whiplash territory here.
Maybe you understand, maybe you don't. I don't need to know. It helps that you listened and are still here. Even if you did roll your eyes.
Let's talk about something else, yeah?
[[Like what?|Divert]]Wow, you don't know?
It's this cool strand of scifi about how corporations are going to fuck us royally up the collective sphincter but we'll also have really cool technology we can plug into our brain and stuff. So, really, as dystopias go, it's not too bad.
Sure, we have to toil for hyper-rich shitbags who can buy and sell us by the millions, but at least we can plug porn-tapes right into our brain and jill ourselves to death.
[[That doesn't sound entirely accurate.|CyberDescription2]]Well, then this is going to suck for you, because it's pretty much all I want to talk about right now, considering my situation.
[[You mean because you're a dataghost?|Cyberspace]]Eh, it's close enough. Maybe it's a bit more about the class conflict than the fun tech, but that's a bit too real for me, you get me?
[[I'm noticing a pattern here. Cyberpunk doesn't sound like my cup of tea, though.|CyberNegative]]
[[I get you. Sounds pretty interesting, though.|CyberPositive]]It's so cool, right?!
It's been on my mind a lot lately, what with one thing and the other.
[[You mean being uploaded into the internet?|Cyberspace]]At the risk of getting a little one note, yes. Very much yes.
My literal brain got digitised or something. Can't get much more cyberpunk than that! Although, I guess, if they did it so they could jam me into those weird home assistant things...
//Claire, play me some terrible dad-rock while I broil this quinoa.//
[[You don't broil quinoa.|Cyberspace2]]I only cook noodles, like a true cyberpunk. There's a starter kit: neon hair dye, a stud punch for your denim, and a crate of udon noodles. You have to supply your own wires and brainjack.
I never got as far as body modding.
[[So you're //happy// to be in the internet?|Cyberspace3]]Happy?
I'm //dead//, dickhead. Kind of puts a downer on things.
But, if I //have// to be dead, this kind of has its perks. Other than the loneliness. And the general incorporeality. And the INCESSANT WHISPERING.
Perhaps I'm as happy as I can be, all things considered.
[[Does it hurt?|Cyberspace4]]No. It can't hurt, I've lost all the bits of me that feel pain. I'm just thoughts now, so the worst I can experience is soul-crushing boredom.
I don't sleep. I experience things faster than I used to, which means I've watched everything good on Netflix and Amazon Prime by now. It's much faster when you get right into the code and fidget about.
OH! WAIT! I know how you can help me!
[[Help you? How?|Cyberspace5]]Give me something to do!
I said I wasn't about to give you some weird quest, sure, fine, whatever. But you could give me one, right?
[[I suppose...|Cyberspace6]]It's very big, I know. Just think of the possibilities of what I could get into for you. Just give me a purpose, something to drive away this utter tedium for a bit.
[[I wouldn't even know where to start.|Cyberspace7]]
[[Anything?|Cyberspace7]]Just start anywhere. Just give me //something//. A distraction.
Talking to you is all well and good, but you have things to do other than me, I'm sure. Sleep, eat, wank into a flannel...
[[What is your obsession with wanking?|Cyberspace8]]I'm dead. I can't do it anymore.
Come //on//, there must be something you've always wanted to see or do out here on the internet! Tell me!
[[I need time to think.|Cyberspace9]]
[[I can't just tell you that sort of information. That's potentially incriminating, isn't it?|Cyberspace9]]I get it. It's //too// big. I know just how to get you on board. I'm going to go steal something cool for you. I guarantee you'll love it. Don't worry, there'll be no way to trace it back to you, it's not even hacking when you just //are// the internet :)
It'll take me some time. A week maybe? That sound okay?
[[Claire, you really don't have to.|Cyberspace10]]Of course I do! You're my friend now. My only friend I can reliably talk to in any event. This will be fun!
See you soon! And put up some plastic sheets for next time, because I'm going to. BLOW. YOUR. MIND.
*(end of part one)*Well, duh. :p
There's few places more fun to nose around when you're just a digital engram. Reading emails is a close second. It's like Netflix for nosey people.
But I'm not here to spook you out with that sort of stuff.
[[Then why are you here, //ghost//?|Bored]]