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 doctors’perpetually 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 hear me?”
No reply, but then again, I hadn’t expected one. I picked up the TV remote and turned toward the huge screen hanging on the wall, conveniently located for William’s 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.
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