A Generation Of Men
Published by Jonathan Frost at Smashwords
Copyright 2013 Jonathan Frost
Nick was a brave and talented soldier, having fought and won battles all over the world. In the two years he had been fighting, his rank had advanced many times, he had accumulated an impressive personal collection of weaponry, and he had developed close bonds with his brothers in arms.To the casual observer though, Nick’s military prowess would come as a great surprise, as his appearance was not immediately soldierly.
It was roughly five o'clock on a Tuesday morning. Nick sat slumped back in a 45 degree angle in his desk chair, sipping from a two-litre bottle of Dr. Pepper and repeatedly hitting a combination of keys that caused his World of Warcraft character to mine virtual gold in the pixilated universe within which he spent most of his waking life. His sweatpants were ripe, not having been washed in a month. A pale, sickly roll of fat spilled over their elastic-band waist. His chest collected several hours worth of Dorito crumbs. His hair was a light brown, turned shiny and dark by the grease that had accumulated in the weeks since he had last washed it. His face was not ugly, but it was freckled by acne scars, bespectacled, and sported a prominent double chin. He was not obese, and probably wasn’t even above the healthy weight range for a male of his height, but an examination of his body – atrophied musculature, surrounded by a layer of soft fat that hung loosely from his deteriorating frame – suggested that he had subjected his body to a degree of neglect rarely seen outside of prisoner-of-war camps.
Nick was more widely known by his online pseudonym, Havoc_wreaker. Under this identity, he had been playing World of Warcraft for 18 consecutive hours, stopping only to use the bathroom, and travel to the convenience store a block away from his house to replenish his supplies of soda, nachos and chocolate-covered almonds, the three foods that had made up at least ninety percent of his caloric intake for the past six months. According to his player profile, he had amassed 9041 hours and 32 minutes of time online, pushing his level sixty Orc through countless dungeons, missions and battles with other players. This day marked the third anniversary of the day he first bought and played the video game. Simple arithmetic implied that Nick spent an average of nine hours per day immersed in the game, but this understated the true nature of his addiction; he had only really hit his stride eight months ago, when he had been politely informed by the University of Brixton's registrar that he was not eligible to complete his final year of studies, after failing half of his courses in his Junior year. Since then, he had averaged fourteen hours a day, pausing to sleep a fitful four hours at no particular time. Nick occasionally worked a shift at Future Shop, an electronics store that employed him in their video games section. His salary was sufficient to pay for his two hundred and sixty dollar monthly rent, internet connection, Warcraft account, and food. Other than that he had no expenses – no clothes to buy, since Future Shop supplied him with uniforms and he rarely left the house otherwise; no friends with whom to eat out, see movies, play sports, or do anything else that he saw friends do on TV. Nick certainly had no girlfriend. Nick had never had more than accidental physical contact with any woman in his twenty-two years of life.