She carried out her first murder about four years ago. Her eyes showed no sign of reluctance. On the contrary! She used her big club with such determination until her unsuspecting victim was unable to flee and too weak to defend itself. I heard bones crack and saw blood spray in all directions. The death blow came from above, accompanied by an insane sounding »Eat dirt, bastard!« I did not recognize my Little Rib. As a bystander I felt guilty, of course. Even the plundering of the dead body shocked me, considering the lousy loot of three copper coins.
My Little Rib is Beatrix Suchime, magician of the 80th level in the World of Everquest. The makers of this online game advertise with one single slogan: »You're on our world now!« With great success, I might add. Certain marriage counselors have specialized on this game and its consequences, for no other game has destroyed more marriages than Everquest.
Nowadays Beatrix Sunchime doesn't need the club to slaughter anymore. She can summon pets out of thin air. Those creatures – who have nothing in common with regular pets – take care of the dirty work. Mrs. Sunchime just stands there and watches and robs those who have passed on. She must be filthy rich by now, I'm sure. She wears expensive garments and lives in a pompous mansion in South Qeynos. Strangers bow to her in utmost respect while Beatrix strolls through the virtual creation.
Until I come home from work. That's when I want my dinner! Unfortunately this has not been working out very well lately. Countless times I have walked into the apartment, unable to detect any kind of smell that would remind me of food. »Crap!«, is usually my reaction, and exactly this word has been used by me more and more. My Little Rib would greet me from behind the computer screen: »Almost done, Schatz. We just have to kill this dragon real quick.« In Everquest terms ‘real quick' means four to six hours. I've fallen asleep on the couch with an empty stomach many times.
It was a sunny day in March when our PC made the executive decision to stop working. It bid us a final farewell with some discouraging smoke signals. This was a disaster. A life without Beatrix Sunchime was unthinkable for my Little Rib. She informed me of exactly that even before the last of the smoke had vanished through the open window: »My existence has lost its meaning...«
»Don't say that, Schnuckie. I will get us a new computer tonight.«
Her voice sounded desperate, but also hopeful. »Really? Do you think we can afford it?«
My mechanical brain started squeaking. This happens every time I have an idea.
»Well, we can't, but I'm sure I will find something cheap.«
And something cheap I found! A super bargain, almost as inexpensive as a visit to the zoo and – most important – absolutely incapable of running Everquest. I witnessed in awe how it took my latest purchase 17 minutes just to boot. Touchdown! Never again I would have to wait for my dinner.
My Little Rib ruthlessly pushed me aside to install her game. »I'm coming, Beatrix!«, she shouted, and she reminded me of a crazy scientist who was about to open the gate to a different dimension. »Just a few more minutes!« I decided that it would be wise to keep the greatest possible distance between me and my Little Rib, so I hid in the southwest corner of the shower. I didn't have to wait long for her terrifying screams. »Don't be weak now, Micha«, I whispered to myself. There was more at stake than the happiness of a cyber killer.
After she had demolished two to three rooms in an outburst of sheer rage, my Little Rib went on the hunt for her husband. She found him behind the shower curtain, grabbed him by his neck and pulled him close to her wildly twitching face.
»That piece of crap isn't working!«
»That's impossible«, the husband countered. »It's brand-new.«
»I'm telling you ...« She was talking very slowly now and I had the feeling that she was longing for her big club. » ... that piece of crap isn't working.«
»Hm, that is too bad. Is dinner ready?«
My witty response caused a gap in memory of about one week. The first thing I remembered was the slamming of the front door and a note on the coffee table: »Went to play Everquest at Mike's. Food's at the grocery store.«
My good friend Mike, also a big fan of Everquest, had offered my Little Rib to play at his house. That was very generous of him, and from that day on I did not see her very often. One moment, please, I have to be more precise. From that day on I did not see her at all. Our marriage only existed in sporadic phone calls, that mostly went like this:
»When will you buy a new computer?«
»I'm working on it. Just 200 more hours of overtime to get the money.«
That was a little white lie. In reality I relished the time at my slow PC. I ordered pizza ever night and wrote two erotic novels, plus a drama about a visually impaired bus driver.
»I miss you, Schnuckie!«
»Well, you know what to do ...«
Meanwhile, Mike showed up for work with dark circles under his eyes.
»Does your wife always cuss this loudly when she plays?«
»Yes. The whole night through.«
»Exactly! This came very unexpected.«
»Yeah, sometimes reality bites you in the ass.«
»You know, I can lend you some money to buy a new computer.«
»That's not necessary. But thanks anyway.«
»Can I sleep at your place tonight?«
I didn't feel sorry for Mike. He was the one who had talked my Little Rib into playing Everquest years ago. Now he had to suffer the consequences. I didn't want to hear about his problems. I was doing great!
First doubts surfaced one morning after I stepped out of the shower and searched for clean underwear. Never before had I been confronted with this problem. Clean underwear had always been there. Shorts and t-shirts followed shortly after that. Since I didn't want to go to work naked I called in sick and tried to think of alternatives. A commercial for laundry detergent made me think of something. Somewhere in our apartment had to be a washer.
»We don't have a washer«, my Little Rib informed me on the phone. »You have to go to the laundry room. There are four of them in the complex. Pick the nicest one.«
I thanked her politely. This just sounded like too much work. I picked out a dress that looked the least girlish and drove to the closest mall, where I bought a couple of new outfits. After that I couldn't afford pizza anymore. Ramen noodles was all I could find. I went to bed, starving and unsatisfied.
»This place stinks!«, Wulfgäng, our cat, scolded me the next morning, hinting at the filthy litter box and placed a steaming pile of poop on the bed.
I yelled: »Are you out of your mind? I've been refraining from going to the bathroom for over a week now because we're out of toilet paper and you take a dump on my bed?«
»This is only the beginning«, predicted the cat coldly. Then she hopped on my pillow which she marked with her special glands. »The next load will go down right here!«
Someone knocked at the front door. I pointed at Wulfgäng and sounded a warning: »Do not force me to put you to sleep!« Then I went to open the door. Penny, our neighbor, didn't waste any time with needless greetings.
»Is your wife home?«
»She doesn't live here anymore«, I answered irritated.
»What did you do to her?« Penny dug her fists deep in her mighty hips.
»Nothing«, I started stammering. »She's staying with my coworker.«
Before I had finished the sentence, Penny turned around and stomped away. From a distance I could hear a bell in the neighborhood and Penny's excited voice: »Folks, you're not gonna believe this!«
It was time to get my Little Rib home.