No Future Ch. 04bybradley_stoke©
An Englishman's Home
Agnieszka made sure that her final exit through the front door was at least as dramatic as any other during the term of her relationship with Alex. This time, however, she didn't pause to shout up to him from the hallway before she stomped off to her car to drive off to one or other of her many friends and relatives who would soon once again be reminded just what kind of bastard, shithead or cunt Alex was. This omission was a novelty to Alex and probably also a relief to his neighbours who already knew far more about the couple's tempestuous love-life than they might have wished.
Well shit, thought Alex, as Agnieszka's environmentally unfriendly petrol car drove noisily away, if she thought he was a cunt then he might as well act like one. Or better still, he might even get hold of the genuine article.
Life with Aggie hadn't been that great an experience although having sex with her had been and continued to be right to the end. From the very start, Aggie had ideas about how to run the connubial home that conflicted with Alex's. And, as a habitually single man, Alex wasn't used to having to compromise.
"The way we first met each other is shit. Absolute shit," Aggie said. "On-line sex is shit."
"But it is how we met," Alex countered.
"That's because it's almost the only way anyone gets to meet anyone these days," Agnieszka admitted. "No one lives where they were born or went to school any more. Somehow you have to make new friends without the benefit of a social network that you'd built up through school or university. And since everyone uses the internet, that's become the only way."
"So, it's not all shit."
"But it is at the same time," Agnieszka responded. "The person you meet on the internet isn't a real person. It's a kind of made-up thing that's fashioned for whichever dating or friendship site you've logged into. If we'd met on a BDSM site, then I'd probably have been Agnes Leather or something..."
"Rather than Alfalfa2020."
It wasn't just sex that both kept and drove Alex and Agnieszka apart. The two of them worked in two different towns and for both of them the daily commute was almost more tiring than their actual jobs. Nowadays, Alex was working longer and longer hours which often continued until late into the evening. That might entail an expensive taxi ride home. If he drove home after even the smallest drop of drink, he risked being caught by one of the countless automatic traffic surveillance patrols that lined the roads and having to submit to a breathalyser test that he'd almost certainly fail.
In material terms, Alex's job at DRNI was going well. He'd been promoted from a job where he put collated news about VR Entertainment to one with the broader remit of covering VR Current Affairs. That was mostly because the distinction between Current Affairs in the virtual world and real life was becoming increasingly blurred. It was increasingly necessary to monitor the politics, economics and personalities of cyberspace as so many people spent a steadily greater proportion of their lives in that domain. Real money was being exchanged in cyberspace and ever more effort was expended on its administration.
Nevertheless, Alex didn't need to spend much time immersed in Virtual Reality to find out what was going on there. In fact, he spent rather less time in cyberspace than the average visitor. If he had, it would have been impossible for him to find the time to actually do his job. His task was more to sift through the huge volume of blogs, notice boards, flash messages and the like generated in and around the virtual realm and then summarise all this in either short text articles or video messages presented by his website avatars (who looked a lot better than him anyway). And what he couldn't find out about the Virtual World for himself, he could easily retrieve from other news sites which fed off each other in a kind of mutual cannibalistic frenzy.
Alex strode over to the window and looked out across the street at the houses opposite and the slowly rotating blades of the wind farm just beyond. There was no sign of Aggie. On previous occasions she'd sometimes driven off and come back after less than an hour: tearful and open for reconciliation. In the early days of their relationship, this was exactly what Alex hoped for as a resolution to their frequent quarrels, but it had now become almost what he most dreaded. It was better when Aggie stayed away for a day or maybe two. Her sister in Gloucester or her best friend in Banbury or even her aunt and uncle in Rugby could be relied on to take care of her until Aggie was ready to return home.
Alex put on the television and flicked through the hundreds of available channels whose content was rarely of interest. It was all shopping, gambling, religion, chat, quizzes, soap operas and reality shows that were all cheap to produce and, for many, addictive to consume
As always, Alex's attention gravitated towards the news channels. Fox News UK had its usual op-ed programmes. It was the Nick Griffin Show with the host ranting on for an hour or so on a news item that made him apoplectic with a furious rage that was consistently aligned with the views of right-wing pressure groups and the interests of big business. This kind of television was somehow hypnotic. Griffin had borrowed techniques from the American masters of right-wing television punditry to present an evidently English blend of outrage, patriotism and banal repetition.
Nick Griffin managed to lambast the liberal media for well over an hour. This was odd, because as most of the media was now lambasting each other for the same pretext it was difficult to tell which corner of the media actually was liberal. There was then a short section in which were presented a parade of news headlines in rapid and confusing succession. Famine and floods in Pakistan. War in Syria. More on Climate Change (not a day went by without at least one story on that). Presidential Elections in the Ukraine. Terrorist strikes in Beijing. Postponement of the Moon Mission. Then there was the Weather Forecast with the usual warnings about flooding in East Anglia and strong winds in Scotland.
Alex had more than enough of watching television when the credits for the Bob Spink Show appeared. There was only so much reactionary ranting he could take in a single evening. He still wasn't really convinced that disengagement from Europe was the answer to all England's woes.
Alex wandered over to the window to check if Aggie had driven her car back.
Reassured, Alex locked the front door, turned off the television and settled down for a session in cyberspace. This was a cumbersome process in which he enclosed his head in a helmet, pulled on gloves, and attached peripherals to his genitals; but if you wanted the full immersive experience of cyberspace, there was no alternative.
He then navigated through virtual space to his usual haunts to see who might be there. He was in luck. Chickabiddy4 was waiting around with not much to do.
Alex had no idea what the real Chickabiddy4 was like and he was unlikely to ever find out. In any case, she wasn't the sort of on-line friend you'd really want to meet in real life. The on-line fantasies he shared with her would probably have both of them arrested. She could even be a man for all Alex knew (this wasn't at all unusual), but it was a fantasy worth maintaining for the time he and she spent together. This was generally a session of cyber-sex accompanied by a not at all virtual arousal and eventually a very real release of semen (which very clever software was able to postpone for as long as he wished).
Was this infidelity?
Alex wasn't sure.
It wasn't sex in a real physical sense. And would Aggie (or for that matter the real person behind Chickabiddy4) really enjoy sex that included urination, fisting and bondage?
Aggie, naturally, had a different opinion.
"Just because you do it through broadband mediated by computers doesn't make it right," she argued. "You ejaculate on and with another woman. That sounds very much like fucking as far as I'm concerned. It's being unfaithful. It's worse than prostitution because it's not done for money, it's done for fun."
It wouldn't do for Alex to argue that it was surely more ethical that he indulged in it for mutual pleasure rather than one-sided exploitation. This wasn't an opinion that Aggie shared.
However, as Alex reflected, how many men in the real world could Agnieszka meet through on-line dating who didn't also practise on-line sex?
And if Aggie could never accept the sort of man she would meet through on-line dating, where else would she find the man she was looking for?