An unhappy young man impulsively agrees to meet with an online friend. An age regression story. 3 min read.
The sky was already scarlet red and streaked with broad bands of purple when Will stumbled back home, exhausted. Tossing his backpack onto the sofa, he pulled open the refrigerator and began building a sandwich.
That last job of the day had been weird. The woman who hired him was even younger than he was, and had insisted on sitting around staring at him like a mournful cat as he cleaned up her apartment, making him extremely uncomfortable. At least she had given him a big tip and a 5 star rating, boosting his ranking on the odd jobs website which he had been using to find work.
By now, he had done pretty much every type of job offered on that website, from removing cat urine stains, assembling IKEA furniture, to waiting in line for others at restaurants. He felt humiliated and sick in the stomach – a straight A student, he had earned a sociology degree from a private college, but after graduating had found himself with limited job prospects and saddled with a mountain of debt. After several months of fruitless job searching, compounded by his stubborn refusal to relocate from the Midwest, he found his savings depleted, and in desperation had turned to odd jobs to meet his monthly interest payments. He kept this from Mum of course. How could he possibly explain to her that he had gone to college only to end up washing dishes for others?
A melodic chirp pierced the air, and he glanced sidelong at his glowing phone. It was his little sister texting him that she’ll be back late tonight. Becky was his polar opposite, constantly clashing with Mum and not showing much interest in her studies. Rebellious, streetwise and whip-smart, she had dropped out of high school and escaped to San Francisco to chase her entrepreneurial dreams, but returned after Mum got sick. Then, with a friend, she had started a successful business selling luxury children’s clothing online, and now had more than 20 people working for her.
So now it was Becky paying for all the household expenses, as well as for Mum’s nursing home. She had even offered to help him with his student loans so he could focus on his job search, but he couldn’t bring himself to take his sister’s money. When she found out he was using that odd jobs website to find work, she had pulled him aside for a little talk.
“You know, you’re being very silly and stubborn, but if that’s what you want to do, I’m not going to stop you. But at the very least, you must install a Personal Safety App on your phone so you can alert me if anything goes wrong. You never know what kind of people you might run into, and I’ve heard about muggings and assaults.”
“Then why don’t you just give me a job at your company?”
“How would it look to the rest of my staff if I hired my own brother? Besides, you can’t write code, and you know nothing about selling things online. Plus…” she paused for a moment and gave him a wry smile. “…you have lousy judgment.”
He had protested and scowled, but grudgingly installed the app anyway.
Wolfing down his sandwich, Will shuffled back to the living room, collapsed onto the sofa and fired up his gaming console. This was the last vestige of his college life, a brief respite he allowed himself between backbreaking days spent working odd jobs and dreary nights spraying his resume across the far corners of the internet. He didn’t even play much anymore, it was mostly about logging into the chat rooms and shooting the breeze with his online friends. He reckoned it was just about the only thing keeping him from being swallowed whole by the shadowy vortex of depression.
dimitrian >> hello ironlung!! what’s up?
Will smiled as he switched over to private messaging. He knew dimitrian very well, the guy was an exceptional player, and they had spent countless hours slaying monsters, raiding virtual fortresses and exchanging expletives.
ironlung >> really exhausted from work. you?
dimitrian >> i am coming to your city. visiting family. u wanna meet up ^-^
Will swallowed hard. He liked dimitrian and was curious to know what he was like in person, but…
dimitrian >> i know u get all freaked out about revealing who u really are. i do too. but I have an idea!
ironlung >> ??
dimitrian >> we could meet as kids! and have a wild time at that roller coaster park near your place
ironlung >> yeah right lol : )
dimitrian >> im serious! we can use that age regression drug that wears off after awhile
ironlung >> but its illegal!
dimitrian >> i know where u can buy it online. send u the link later. u in? cmon it will be lotsa fun ^v^
Will sat back and took a deep breath. The last few months had been very rocky. He felt lost, adrift, like he no longer understood how the world worked. Secretly, he yearned to go back to those simpler times when all he needed to do was study hard, get ‘A’s at school, and Mum solved all his problems for him. Maybe he really did deserve a break from scrubbing toilets, walking dogs, and endlessly refreshing his resume? Surely a short vacation from reality… won’t hurt?