illiam was resting
comfortably in the deluxe private hospital room I had arranged for him.
About the only positive aspect of this whole Unknown fiasco was that becoming
internationally famous hypertext novelists meant we had more money than
we could ever hope to spend . . . why did I keep thinking in terms of
we? Dirk was dead; Frank had disappeared after the Halloween
disaster; William was on his deathbed, if the doctorsperpetually furrowed
brows were any indication; and me? well, I was alive, I guess: my constant
craving for heroin (even after innumerable attempts at detox) indicated
that much, at least. It had all started out so innocently, four unknown
writers aspiring to be published . . .
I was getting maudlin. Had to keep such thoughts at bay. As the only viable
member of the Unknown left, the entire warped legacy was on my shoulders. Must be strong. I looked
at William. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully, even though he had tubes
inserted in every orifice and monitoring devices attached up and down
his pale, emaciated body.
William, I said softly, William, can you
No reply, but then again, I hadnt expected one. I picked up the TV remote
and turned toward the huge screen hanging on the wall, conveniently located
for Williams viewing should he ever regain consciousness. The TV was
one of the new generation of High Definition Flat Screen models, about
as thick as brick. I turned it on. There was a quick flash, but then nothing
but blank screen. Maybe these newfangled things take time to warm up.
Eventually, a test pattern appeared containing the words: Please Stand
By for an Important Message. Huh? I tried to change the channel but every
channel had the same test pattern. Then the test pattern faded to black
and a small, intense dot of light appeared in the center of the screen.
Slowly it got larger and larger until filled the whole screen and, in
fact, the whole room with a blinding white light. Just when I thought
my eyes would melt from the brightness, the light softened and I heard the voice:
Hello, Scott, it said.
It was Dirk.