Playa

By Daryn Guarino

A pack of joggers rushed by as Hank stepped out of the brownstone and onto the damp sidewalk. A fine mist of rain had saturated the air and drips began to form on his face almost immediately. He flipped up the collar of his coat as a glowing white vehicle landed in the puddles at the edge of the sidewalk. A silver circle on the side irised open, exposing a well-appointed interior that smelled faintly of flowers.

He entered and a flickering blue line of laser light swept over his body as he did, identifying him. He grunted and sat, “Let's keep it quiet today.”

The vehicle silently levitated and glided down the street. The interior of the vehicle whirred as it adjusted to suit his comfort preferences. The lights dimmed. The seat bottom tilted until it leaned him back and the back of the seat heated and pressed gently rotating and vibrating nubs into it. The sides of the headrest extended and clamped around the entire back and sides of his head and began giving his temples a massage as well. He liked the autocar.

A smiling animated female face appeared on the screen, “Good morning, Mister Warren. You are nineteen minutes late today, are you feeling unwell?”

“I get tired sometimes,” he replied through closed eyes.

The animated smile went flat, “Tired is not one of the approved excuses for tardiness and this is your fourth infraction. I have scheduled a disciplinary hearing for you at 1pm today.”

“Whatever. Give me an outside view and shut up.”

A projection of the entire outside world appeared inside the autocar and covered every surface giving a true theater-in-the-round experience. Hank felt like he was flying down the street...while seated, of course. And he remained completely dry. He passed so many joggers, swarms of them, a virtual sea of them.

“A perfect world beneath your feet and you run? What's wrong with you idiots!?” he shouted as he passed. They were unable to hear him, but it still made him feel good.

Most of the world was consumed with fitness. Pretty much everyone except Hank. The entire world was filled with perfect shirtless torsos over skintight silver running shorts, all glistening in the rain like living Greek gods. Plus lumpy old Hank.

Hank had a job, but absolutely no duties or responsibilities. Anything that needed to be done was quickly handled by one of the super ambitious fitness freaks, so Hank could just hang out day after day. The freaks felt sorry for him, but made fun of him behind his back. The word “lazy” was logged by his ears a few times almost every day, but he didn't care. He ate two dozen jelly donuts for lunch, washed it down with a strawberry shake, and fell asleep at the table as the rabbits munched their tiny salads in shock and horror.

At 1pm, a hovering monitor with an animated man's face appeared at Hank's side as he snored in the lunchroom, face down on a bed of crumbs and powdered sugar.

“You have a hearing right now,” said the man on the monitor. “I will connect you, please stand by.” The animated man head turned to the left, “Judge Printz, Mister Warren is here for his disciplinary hearing.” The glowing face turned back to Hank, “Judge Printz will be here shortly.”

Hank sat bolt upright and frantically brushed his face and shirt clean. “Wait. Did you say HEARING? And Judge PRINTZ? Oh crap, she's a witch! I thought this was just some kind of meeting.”

“No, Mister Warren, this is a disciplinary hearing and is very serious. The Judge has decided to make an example of you.”

Hank swallowed hard.

An emotionless animated woman's face appeared on the floating screen, “I assume you know why we are here?”

“Uh, well, no, your Honor,” he stammered.

“It is not about work, although you have some nerve labeling anything you do as work. We live in a perfect world, everyone can be perfectly productive with a click, every person has the chance to become a perfect person with a click. Isn't there anything you WANT to accomplish?”

“Not really. I get tired sometimes.”

“Your fate has been decided and I am here to render verdict. Your lethargy and inactivity are a blight upon the community. You set a very poor example for those around you.”

Hank gulped and licked his lips nervously. Beads of sweat appeared on his upper lip.

“You have received an achievement...Laziest Player In The Game!”

A fat thirty-year old sat up in his reclining chair and pulled a computer plug from the slot on the side of his head. “I did it!” he shouted at the exposed joists in the ceiling above as he cleaned his glasses on his shirt. “Mom? I did it!”

“Did what, sweetie? Got a job?” said a female voice up above.

“No, stupid! I got 'Laziest Player in the Game'! I told you I was going for it! I log on every day and do nothing. I just stand around. I don't run. I don't do any work. I don't try to earn Linden Dollars, Simoleons, Credits, or even Buckazoids. Nothing! Took me six weeks, but I got it!” He waved his arms in the air like he just didn't care. “I got it, I got it, I just went and GOT IT!”

“Way to go, honey. You're also the Laziest Person in this House. How about looking for a job?”

“No! I have things to do! Important things! 'Longest Time Spent Sleeping in the Game' here I come!” He sat down, slapped the jack back into his head, and reclined his chair until he was horizontal. His eyes rolled back into his head as he logged on, “Time for this hero to get his sleep on!”

If you enjoyed Playa you can buy the e-book of Flash Fiction Fest 2013 "Deadly Sins" for Kindle, iBooks or Google Play, or you might enjoy Daryn Guarino's novel Hitter.

Other Stories from Friday 22nd November

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