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Pixel Courage 31

I twitched when the microwave beeped.

“Just a game.” Ran my fingers through my soggy hair. “Just a stupid fucking game.”

I opened the microwave door and took out the calamari. Began shoveling it into my mouth.

It was three in the morning — not exactly my favorite time to be awake. But I was in that weird in-between place: too tired to really stay awake, but also too unnerved to go to sleep.

Sat down in the seat and tried to think about anything other than Throne Quest.

Terrible fucking game. Why would a game be so damn horrifying? What was the point of driving away players like that?

What was Alex trying to do?


I remembered the two of us sitting in her room. It was the second semester of our Freshmen Year. I’d been coming over more and more, because she’d been letting me come over.

Carly had moved out, so Alex didn’t have a roommate for awhile. She let me crash in her dorm a lot, because of that.

I was laying on the extra bed, staring up at the white ceiling, revelling in the quiet of the room. Those were some of my favorite moments. Hanging out with Alex, the two of us not even talking. Our existing in the same space was enough.

You never knew what she was going to say next. So when I could just be around her, soaking up her presence without having to be on my toes to keep up with her?

Nothing better.

She worked at her computer, developing some program. Her fingers tapped the keys on her keyboard.

I lay there, listening. Existing.

“Curiosity’s irrelevant.” Alex’s comment came out of nowhere.


“It doesn’t matter how hard people try to make AI act like human beings, it just won’t happen.”

“Oh, you’re talking about… Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“We always think of our brains as being like computers, but they’re really not,” she said. “That’s the thing with metaphors: they can be deceptive. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve thought of our brains as machines. But they can’t be machines, because our brains are organic.”

She stopped typing at the keyboard, spun her chair around and turned to look at me. That’s how I knew she was really into the conversation.

She continued, “Our thoughts wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the organic functions. A robot can never have the experiences that truly ever make it alive. It can abstractly understand the concepts of hunger, love, depression, and so on. But it can never truly feel those emotions.”

“You’re right.” The words escaped my lips before I really knew what I was saying. It felt wrong — I wanted to argue more — but I knew that’s what she wanted to hear.

A grin slipped onto her face and she walked towards me. Sat down next to me on the bed.

My heart beat faster. My pulse quickened.

She scooched onto the bed so that she was sitting against the headrest. Raised my head up a bit. I pulled myself forward, so that I was laying in her lap, looking up at her.

“Aren’t I always right?” she asked, smelling like sugar and oranges.

Her lap was so comforting. My parents hadn’t really been good to me — divorce, on top of just not being able to accept me for who I was.

I could go to Alex, though. She was my home.

“You’re always right.” The words tumbled out of my lips. Too easily.

Before I could say anything else, she leaned in and kissed me. We spent a lot of time together that night. Had fun til the morning.

Often, late at night, I think that was the best night of my life.

Other times, given everything that happened afterwards, I think it was the worst.

— — —

I snapped out of my reverie, did the dishes, then lay down in bed.

Didn’t fall asleep, but I didn’t really try to. Lay there eyes open, staring up at the ceiling, feeling empty.

My leg felt dull. It wasn’t in pain, it just felt like it didn’t exist. After all too much time laying down like that — didn’t check a clock, so no idea how much time exactly — I decided to log back onto Throne Quest Online.

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