The video gamer in quarantine is not any different from the video gamer in “average” day-to-day life. Like the misanthrope, he thrives in conditions wherein it is socially acceptable to lock oneself indoors and avoid interaction with the so-called “real” as much as possible. Vince was no exception to the rule. In fact, it took his 32-year-old working stiff of a roommate, Jeremy, to inform him of the impending lockdown the government was mandating. All Vince could say in response as he shot at an ancient Roman sentry was, “Cool.”
After that, he couldn’t even be bothered to turn his head in Jeremy’s direction as he detected signs of him leaving the apartment for what felt like the foreseeable future, if not forever. For even the most devout city dwellers were absconding, fleeing to more remote, less populated parts of land they had previously balked at and looked down on. Even the home of one’s parents appeared too palatial to pass up these days. Plus, many a millennial was secretly hoping the virus would simply topple the boomers and they could take up easy residence in a house they didn’t have to work for.
Vince didn’t have parents. He coded for a living. His entire life was cemented inside the confines of this apartment. He had only rented the other room out to Jeremy as a means for some extra income that would cushion his savings. For just such an “apocalypse” as this. But Vince knew it was no apocalypse so much as a solidification of the way things already were. It wasn’t as though the masses truly cared all that much about being outside. It was only because the government had stripped away the freedom officially that it suddenly looked all shiny and new again. Well it never looked like either of those things to Vince, who thrived in darkness only mildly brightened by the blue light of his screen. If he wanted to talk to someone, he could do it over his headphones. And at least it would be to people who “got it.” Even though he was convinced he would never find a worthy a.k.a. challenging adversary to go up against him in a game.
There was just one thing that plagued him about being confined. A lack of any real orgasm. Sure, masturbation had its merit, especially when he had so many virtual women to wank to, but every now and again, his craving for the inimitable feel of the inside of a vag became so overwhelming, he would experience a sharp pang in his scrotum. He would pull and pull at himself, but the release was becoming increasingly less satisfying. He started to realize an entire two months had gone by. Even in his inherent state of perpetual quarantining, he had, in the past, been allowed to go out to the corner bar and pick up some willing soul, whether passable or trollish, for a one-night stand. Now, there were not even these crumbs to cling to. Least of all strip clubs or prostitutes. Everyone was afraid. Afraid to fuck. George Orwell knew everyone would be sexless in the future, he just didn’t ever explain that this would be how it happened.
Granted, constant video game playing was the first step toward stamping out one’s libido. But not so entirely as to not think about it every now and again (after all, there were a vast array of sluts in the video game realm). It got to be so that even the game wasn’t working for him anymore as a distraction.
He peeled his pale, flabby body off the couch and decided to use up his weekly grocery store run today, even though he usually preferred to wait until the end of the week. He could not sit in the darkened living room for another moment. On the street, it was as though the rapture had occurred. Vince wished there was at least a fresh corpse lying around somewhere that he could fuck. But there was nothing, no one. Even the pathetic exercisers had ceased their routine as the virus’ wrath became more vicious. Vince sighed. The one time in his life he had ever wanted to make a vague connection.
And then, there among the ruins called broken pieces of discarded furniture and errant trash, was her. Layla. Or so she claimed her name was. In all honesty, she was so strung out and her speech so slurred that she might have been saying Lola or Lila. But Vince quite liked the sound of Layla. He was going to make her his quarantine queen. Whether that was what she wanted or not. It became clear very quickly, of course, that all she cared about was getting some kind of fix. Even if it was just methadone. He couldn’t gauge what her actual drug of choice was, but stumbling upon the only remaining lifeforms on the streets, said beings turned out to be queued around the block waiting to get into the methadone clinic.
Vince, taking a tip from his video game existence, shot everyone waiting with the Glock he pulled out of his inside coat pocket so that Layla could get in and out expediently so that he might take her back to his apartment. The dispenser of the supplies didn’t even need to be threatened with a gun in order to give up what was left behind the counter. His will was too worn down already to bother with putting up a fight. In any case, Vince couldn’t be burdened to bring Layla back here–he needed her stocked up on her essentials so that they could remain appropriately quarantined. She was amenable enough to being dragged back once she had gobbled her dose.
Once inside the bunker, Vince took the liberty of undressing Layla and showering her. In many ways, she reminded him of one of the zombies he might have been tasked to kill in a game. But he could not do such a thing. She was going to be his companion. Dredged up when needed to be used for his sexual release. So long as he furnished her with drugs (ersatz or not), he knew she would be a willing vessel.
As the weeks went on, the two fell into a comfortable routine, like some sort of post-apocalyptic (and much less fit) Adam and Eve. Layla spoke little, and Vince preferred it that way. He didn’t need to know the details–her background, how she came to be homeless–all he cared about was that she was there. A presence that could be called upon to do what he needed in exchange for her lodging and nourishment. She even took to cleaning up a bit now and again when she wasn’t sequestered in Jeremy’s old room doing God knows what. Vince liked to imagine that she was doing something like reading or masturbating. But the truth was much more sinister. Instead, she would peep through a hole in the wall she had carved out to stare at him. Watching and waiting. Hoping for any instant when he might actually remove his ass from the couch and leave the room long enough for her to escape. For she knew he would never let her do so if she simply asked. She had been in enough master-slave relationships in her life to know what was going on. And if she had to let him enter her orifice one more time she couldn’t be held accountable for what she might do.
Finally, one day, her opportunity came. Vince was at last taking a shit. Considering what he ate, she was surprised it didn’t happen more often, but constipation was a common affliction among gamers who subconsciously forced themselves to hold it so that they could keep playing. She emerged slowly, then scuttled rapidly like some sort of vermin avoiding a trap. She made it to the door, exiting with the utmost care and quietness. Back out on the street, Layla (whose real name was actually Laura) felt at home once more. She would say one thing for Vince. He had forced her to quit drugs cold turkey so that she could keep her wits about her long enough to ditch his den of loserdom.
And when Vince flushed the toilet after plunging it multiple times, he could feel that he had lost something more than just the giant shit he had released. He sensed another essence was missing. Going out into the living room to call Layla’s name, he panicked at the resounding silence that was his response. He released a heavy breath and clutched at his heart. It would not be enough to go back to his video games now. But they were all he had. He couldn’t even manage to keep a degenerate homeless woman interested in him as a result of his pathetic addiction. An addiction that would never abandon him. At least, not until the electricity was cut.