Wednesday 5 December 2012

Excerpt 1 | Peter's Room | 04:34 AM

Author's Notes: So here we have an excerpt from Peter's point of view. I wrote this as an exercise in character development and titled it "Random Scene From Peter's POV" in my Word document, but I think I know whereabouts in the plot it will come. That's a secret, though ;3 I decided it would work best as the first story excerpt for this blog, because it pretty much stands on its own. There's some context that you can probably infer, but not so much info as to give everything away. Enjoy!

(The setting is in the late '80s, for those of you who got interested in this story back when it had a more modern setting - I decided to push the setting back a bit because late '80s Internet was SUPER COOL).


It was always dark when he woke up these days. Peter supposed that in the time zone of some country he might be keeping normal hours, but he had yet to figure out what it was. When he peeled himself from the pillow after two, three, four hours of sleep he always felt groggy, but then he never really rested. The clicks and beeps of his modem wove themselves into his dreams, creating bright patterns. He watched the patterns spin themselves into being around him, admiring the interplay of colours. If the pattern ever broke, he would wake up immediately, stumbling towards the computer to fix whatever bug had presented itself. He couldn’t sleep at all when there was a break in the pattern.

The first thing he did upon waking up was always to check The Neverland. However many posts had appeared during the night, he would scan them all and post replies to most of them. Then he might be able to find the energy to take a shower (always cold; the hot water had been cut off months ago but Peter honestly didn’t care) and drink something. He wouldn’t be able to handle food for a few more hours at least.

Every pair of curtains and set of blinds in the flat was closed, so that he staggered from the bedroom to the bathroom or the kitchen and back in darkness. His eyes were adjusted to reading the green words on the computer screen, not to dealing with the glare of outdoor light. He wore only a loose pair of tracksuit trousers to bed, and much the same in the daytime (or what passed for daytime in Peter’s world), whether the heating was turned on or not. He didn’t feel the cold, or he pretended not to. On the occasions that he needed to go outside (for food, mainly) he would put on a hoodie and a pair of dark glasses, if it was still light out. But being outdoors always felt too open, too exposed, with so many people’s eyes on him. There were so many colours and noises and sensations all getting mixed up in his head, too many for him to sort through. In his own flat there was only the sound of the modem working and the keyboard tapping and the patterns they wove in his mind. He could focus on those and be content. Everything else – people’s company, their intruding presences in his personal space and their voices in his ear – he could do without. He had his connection to the rest of the world. Who was lonely? Who was deficient? Not him.

Peter sat down at the computer, hair still wet from the shower, and checked The Neverland again. No new posts. The pattern went on, steady and unchanging.

> Peter?

It was Tinkerbell. He’d almost forgotten he’d left her running overnight, in case the Mermaids came back with more information on this Red-Handed Jill character who’d been asking too many questions on the Jolly Roger.

I’m here. Any news?

> Coralia reported that Red-Handed Jill is still active on the Jolly Roger, but less so. Her query received some interest, but none of the posters appear to have made contact with anyone on the subject of Artificial Intelligence or The Neverland.

You mean, on the subject of you.

> Yes. Thessalonike has suggested laying some false information to put Red-Handed Jill off our trail for good.

By the sounds of things, she’s already given up. I say we leave it and let the problem die down on its own.

> There is one other possibility that you should be aware of.

And what’s that?

> We still do not know who the user was that Tiger Lily contacted last week. The timing is too great of a coincidence. If you would just let me examine her recent activity, I can determine whether or not she passed information to anyone.

No. I’m not letting you go near Tiger Lily again and that’s the end of it.

> Peter, I will not do anything to affect or alter her system in any way. She will not even know I have been there.

No. Maybe I would have let you before you did what you did a few days ago. But not now. I’ll contact her myself and ask.

> It would be much more rational to allow me to check her system and save you from initiating contact again. This will not make it easier to let go of her.

Don’t talk to me about rational!! Peter slammed his hand down on the desk in anger. You were the one who complicated everything by interfering in the first place. And don’t you dare start on about cleaning up my messes again. You wouldn’t know the first thing about what it’s like to be human.

> No.

> I would not.

Peter sat back in his chair, running his hands through his hair. It seemed like he’d been arguing with Tinkerbell a lot more lately, and he hated it. He knew that bringing up her lack of humanity was a low blow. After all, Tinkerbell hadn’t made herself the way she was; he had. He was responsible for everything she was, and that included her decision to cut off Tiger Lily from the Internet. But he still felt angry at her and he still had yet to decide whether or not he could trust her completely.

This is the other reason I don’t like having to deal with people – I get enough grief from the program that inhabits my computer.

Peter reflected on what a strange, strange statement that was.


  1. Intriguing. The character is certainly relatable.
    A question: what is the timeline of the story? I mean modems, monochrome screens...
    P.S. I have 4:34 a.m. as the time of posting - is this the time difference, or are you a Peter Pan yourself? ;)

    1. Darn it, I meant to add a note in about the setting and then forgot. Yes, since I posted the original idea on NaNo I decided to change it to a late 80s setting because I am FASCINATED by the early years of the Internet (and this was also when cyberpunk as a genre came into being!). So it's like, 1989-ish.

      Is that really what it says for you? Mine has the time at 03:11! xD I thought of setting the post time to 04:34 but then decided it would be a bit too cutesy. I'm not a Peter Pan but I live in Beijing, so that makes the times for a Pacific Standard Time-based site come out looking quite odd.