Contributor: David Elliott

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‘One year.’ He’d clicked on the link, entering the website for the first time in his life. ‘One year, and it’s come to this.’

Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days ago, Brian had come up with a plan. He’d decided to spend the rest of his life online; no more human interaction, no more disastrous relationships, no more work, no more physical activities. Brian was going to become a fully-fledged virtual person, a cyber-hermit, and how wonderful it might have been, if anything about his plan, his scheme, his anxiety-avoiding blueprint for a better way of life, had actually worked.
And maybe it could have worked, if circumstances had been different; if he hadn’t accidentally stumbled upon
Brian wasn’t a lonely soul, of course. The idea was completely absurd. How could people assume such a thing? Just because Brian happened to have a less stimulating sex life than Pope Benedict the Sixteenth, did that automatically classify him as being a lonely soul? No, it did not. He was insulted by the Google adverts inference that he would be even mildly interested in that kind of service.   
His index finger was still trembling with suppressed rage, as he clicked the link.
Why did I ever click that link? Why, God? Why?
He’d met a girl on Hot-lips 22. At first, they simply chatted. After a few days, their chatting had developed into laughing-out-loud. Before long, they were rolling-on-the-floor-laughing. Eventually, they were laughing-their-fucking-asses-off, and occasionally, to Brian’s delight, even pissing themselves laughing.
It was a match made in cyber-heaven.
Despite only knowing each other for a short while, they decided to dispense with the cyber-courting, throw caution to the wind, and become E-man and  E-wife. Hot-lips 22 accepted Brian’s proposal, and after a brief virtual engagement, they were cyber-married. A beautiful old virtual chapel,, was booked for the big day, and everything went off without a hitch. The cyber-caterers were the very height of professionalism, the virtual band had all of their cyber-friends boogying until the early hours, and the cyber-minister, Reverend Meat Rocket 37, brought a much-needed touch of gravity to the event.
For Brian, it was a perfect but unexpected start to his new life. He was thrown out of the library for spilling champagne over their only internet computer, but otherwise, everything went swimmingly.
But, as with many modern marriages, after the initial excitement had faded away, things started to unravel.
Hot-lips 22 gradually lost interest in cyber-sex, and began filling up her time with various Brian-excluding activities; cyber-shopping, cyber-tupperware parties, cyber-Zumba, anything to avoid online contact with her new virtual spouse. Without the love of his life, Brian went into a downwards spiral. He withdrew from cyber society, sometimes hardly going online at all, and once, during a particularly low month, even started to interact with the real world again; engaging in small talk with other human beings, walking to the local shops, making phone calls, sending letters, a collection of bizarre activities usually only associated with the diseased mind.
Rumours of his eccentric behaviour finally made their way to Hot-lips 22, who, after much online soul searching, decided to file for cyber-divorce. It was this that, inevitably, led to Brian’s cyber-depression, cyber-self-loathing, and cyber-eating-disorder. Hotlips 22’s virtual lawyer, Scumbag 52, bled him dry. She gained possession of the cyber-cottage, the cyber-car, and was awarded full custody of the cyber kids.
Brian was alone. Within a year, his online life had been completed then destroyed, like the creation of a temperamental artist.
And then, one night, this very night, on the anniversary of their first meeting, Brian, in a fit of despair, had logged on to, with the intention of committing cyber-suicide.
‘One year,’ he said. ‘One stupid year.’
Brian browsed through the catalogue of virtual destruction, chose an appropriate method for his cyber-execution, clicked the ‘Yes’ tab under the legend: ‘Are you sure?’, and erased himself from the cyber-world.
Brian no longer exists …

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David Elliott is a writer and musician, living in Cheshire UK. His short fiction has appeared in Linguistic Erosion, MicroHorror, Flashes in the Dark, Twisted Tongue, Whispers of Wickedness and Delivered.
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