Hello! You’re back again! You want more? I’m impressed you’ve stuck with it this long; really, I am. Well, I couldn’t possibly disappoint you after all this time you’ve put in: we’re in it together now until the bitter end. I hope you brought your boots, though. The going is about to get considerably messier.
Here’s the next part of The man who had an affair with his wife.
Within a second of the appearance across the bottom of the screen of that single line of text that “Len Gothe is online,” Swellen was fully dressed and sitting in a chair in front of her dressing table. Within a second of that, Carbon was ejected from the parcel and sent to a public infohub half a continent away. Naked. There is a very short gap in Second Life – only a few seconds or so – between your online presence being announced to your friends and you actually materialising inworld. All of this action happened, therefore, whilst the progress bar on Len’s window was still filling up. So when it finally cleared and the world began to colour in around him, there was absolutely nothing for him to see.
Swellen Carlton: Hi honey.
Swellen Carlton: Couldn’t sleep?
Swellen Carlton: You thought of a fifteenth rule of email and wanted to tell me about it?
Len Gothe: You’re alone?
Swellen Carlton: Of course.
Swellen Carlton: Why do you ask?
Len Gothe: No reason.
Len Gothe: I thought you might invite friends over sometimes once I’ve logged.
Swellen Carlton: I do sometimes.
Swellen Carlton: Not tonight, though.
Swellen Carlton: Why are you back on?
Len Gothe: I forgot something.
Swellen Carlton: What did you forget?
Len Gothe: Oh it was just a texture I wanted to save.
Len Gothe: A snapshot, I mean.
Len Gothe: From inventory to my PC.
Meanwhile, Carbon was not impressed at being thrown naked into a public place for the second time that week.
Carbon Holloway: Hey!
Swellen Carlton: Sorry.
Carbon Holloway: I‘m starting to feel like a character in a American teen sex comedy.
Swellen Carlton: Len came back online.
Carbon Holloway: I gathered.
Carbon Holloway: That was some swiftness there.
Carbon Holloway: I never knew anyone who could navigate menus that fast in SL.
Carbon Holloway: That’s like a bona fide Second Life superpower.
Swellen Carlton: lol
Swellen Carlton: Actually, I have a HUD.
Carbon Holloway: A HUD?
Swellen Carlton: You don’t know what a HUD is?
Carbon Holloway: Of course I know what a HUD is.
Carbon Holloway: What I don’t know is how a HUD can get you from naked and underneath me to fully clothed and brushing your hair in one second.
Carbon Holloway: I still don’t have my pants on yet even now.
Swellen Carlton: It’s a bespoke HUD.
Swellen Carlton: One of my exes built it for me a few months back.
Swellen Carlton: He’s a scripter.
Swellen Carlton: I can combine stuff in it – actions, poses, outfits.
Swellen Carlton: And then, once I’ve got everything how i want it, one click activates everything.
Carbon Holloway: A HUD.
Swellen Carlton: Yup.
Carbon Holloway: Like Batman and his utility belt.
Swellen Carlton: Exactly like that, yes.
Carbon Holloway: Always prepared.
Swellen Carlton: *Always* prepared.
Carbon Holloway: Interesting.
This was a major setback. So long as that HUD existed, Chris was never going to be able to get the evidence Len needed of Swellen and Carbon’s affair with the plan as it was. He could try what he’d tried that night again – perhaps wait until things were a little more developed than he had done this time in the hope that Swellen might perhaps be a little more distracted – but if that failed then a third attempt would be way too suspicious. No. A new approach was needed.
For example, what if he created another avatar who then ‘witnessed’ and reported to Len the affair?
He thought it through. It didn’t need to be complicated. Someone would see Carbon and Swellen having sex in a public place, notice that Swellen had a partner in her profile (not Carbon) and take pictures of them in the act, and then send those pictures to Len. SL is full of busybodies like that sticking their noses into other people’s business, he reasoned, looking for confirmation of their view that the moral world is slowly breaking into pieces. That would do it. So he got to work on the new avatar. It had to be every bit as convincing as Carbon so far as the profile was concerned: Swellen would undoubtedly check it out from the creator tag on the photos (which, obviously, Len would pass on to her).
But it had to be distinct from the profiles of Len and Carbon. He decided to go for the block capitals and no punctuation look:
HERE TO HAVE FUN NO ITS NOT MY FIRST TIME IN HERE YOUR NOT WRONG BUT I GOT FED UP WITH ALL THE DRAMA AND I WONT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE THIS TIME ROUND
The picture he took this time he did in low quality graphics. He snapped his default avatar bare-chested in an arms folded, unamused stand. At a beach.
In his picks he entered a couple of one Linden stores and in his first life tab he put a picture of the cat he had – Mittens – when he was four years old. Below this he wrote the text ‘ILL TELL YOU WHEN I KNOW YOU BETTER’. His eyes watered at the apostrophe errors. So much the better: Swellen knew that Len would rather poke sharpened pencils in his eyes than abuse that heroic little punctuation mark.
This new avatar he called ‘Kyle2121’. We shall call him Kyle. He dressed Kyle in one dollar clothes and one dollar hair and a freebie skin. He didn’t bother with an animation overrider. Kyle was the sort of guy, he decided, who would consider such detail superfluous. Kyle was the sort of guy who thought you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and who thought that deep down he was a poet unappreciated by the world, just waiting to be discovered by the right sort of girl – who probably wouldn’t ever come along, however, because according to him her sort no longer existed. Kyle was the sort of guy, he decided, who probably weighed close on three hundred pounds in real life and had at least one confederate flag lying around the house someplace.
He logged Len, Carbon and Kyle on the next day, all at the same time. His PC groaned with the strain and a fan from somewhere inside it doubled its speed as it tried to shift the heat from all those polygons. Len spent a usual evening at home with Swellen, though unresponsive for lengthy periods at a time which he said were due to a backlog of work emails he just had to work through (Chris was pleased with himself that this previous topic of grievance now provided an alibi of sorts for the time he needed to spend in different windows). He took Carbon to a popular adult venue, a classy nightclub of pink and purple and indigo lighting, where there were certain to be plenty of people for Kyle and his camera to hide within. In fact, there were so many people there that his PC fan started whirring even faster as more and more load was placed on the poor graphics processor. All those people with all their complex clothing and their varied internet connections also slowed down to a crawl the speed at which their avatars progressed on his screen from orange clouds to grey figures to fully coloured-in human beings. Carbon set graphics quality to Low and reduced his draw distance – the distance from him that the computer calculated detail – down to the absolute minimum. This seemed to help his wheezing PC, a little, but it was a worry to him how his hardware would cope when Kyle also teleported over to the club. The fear of that simultaneous crash hung heavy in his mind. As a precaution – he had no idea if this would actually help or not, but it helped him feel like he was somehow in control of things – Chris dug out his desk fan from the box on top of his wardrobe and set it off, pointed at his PC.
Ordinarily, it was Carbon who started messaging Swellen. Tonight, however, she was the first to contact him. “I hope you’re finding us a nice place to fuck in.” Her sexual appetite, for someone who had once come across as something of a prude, was nothing short of inspiring and he felt a momentary twinge of resentment that he would have his attention split when it came to the business of sex by having to be in a different place with a job to do. He sent her an appropriately worded reassurance and set about the task of transporting Kyle over to a discreet spot at the bar so that his view was all sorted out by the time the main event took place.
That all got going about thirty minutes later, when Len made his glad departure (his PC was really starting to struggle by this point). They waited the requisite fifteen minutes and then Swellen teleported over to the club. Ah yes, she said. Harlequin’s. Yet another of those SL sex-themed nightclubs in which people stand around all night looking all attractive and not actually having any sex. Carbon pulled her over to a lapdance chair and ordered her to take off everything she was wearing except her thigh-length boots. But Swellen prefered her naked dance for him to be in high heels. When finally she lowered herself fully onto him she had taken even those off. Over at the bar, Kyle got to work with his camera, photographing the act from every possible angle. Then he sent the pictures to Len’s account and, as a final flourish, opened up a message box to him and typed, “thought you should see these mate looks like your womans a slut.”
Job done, thought Chris. No HUD could possibly rescue Swellen from this predicament.
But Swellen, it turned out, wasn’t out of options just yet.