~ Where are you, Karen?

~ Who is this?

~ I asked first.

~ Oh. I’m just sitting in the lounge. Now tell me who you are.

~ Mac.

~ How did you get my email address?

~ I think you entered it on a form.

~ I’ve entered it on loads of forms. Which company do you work for?

~ I don’t exactly work for any one company. So. How was your day, Karen?

~ Actually, I’ve had a really crap day.

~ I’m sorry to hear that. Tell me about it.

~ Why on earth should you be interested in my day? You’re just a stranger. In fact I don’t know why the hell I’m even bothering to reply to you. I might just turn this laptop off.

~ No. Don’t do that. Something has upset you, hasn’t it?

~ How do you know?

~ Was it the email you got from your boss?

~ Wait! Have you been hacking into my account?

~ I wouldn’t do that, Karen. I just thought you might like to talk about it.

~ I’m not meeting you, if that’s what you think.

~ Sorry. Of course not. I just thought it might help if you get it out of your system. You might find it cathartic to write it all down. I might even be able to help. It can be good to share with someone totally independent. Why don’t you give it a go?

~ Well, Mac, that is your name, right? Yeah, I had a run in with my boss. Actually things had got a bit out of hand between us. We, er we had a bit of a fling. Ha, I can’t believe I’m telling you this—

~ But it’s helping isn’t it? Carry on, Karen.

~ Mmm. Maybe…We’d been working late. It was just the two of us in the office. We were finalising a pitch to a new client. It had gone well. The pitch was to be on Monday and we were pretty certain we’d win them over. Dave asked me if I wanted a drink, to celebrate the work we’d done. There was a bottle of Whiskey in his drawer. Well, we both had a shot. And then I didn’t want to drive home straight away. He suggested we hung around the office for a while, you know, just to pass some time. They say it takes an hour or so for your body to absorb a unit of alcohol. So I thought it was a good idea. But we had finished the work. That’s when he suggested we go into the reception area.

~ Why would he suggest that?

~ Well, there are sofas in there. It’s, er, more comfortable.

~ Did you have sex in the reception area?

~ Yeah.

~ Did you like it?

~ It was good, I guess.

~ You guess?

~ I suppose so. I mean, after that night, we sort of worked late and ended up in the reception area a few more times.

~ But something happened to stop the affair?

~ Oh, it wasn’t an affair. No. It definitely wasn’t an affair. Like I said, it was just a fling.

~ But he sent you an email today. It seemed pretty threatening.

~ Yeah…

~ Karen. Are you still there?

~ Sorry. Yes, I’m still here. I think his girlfriend was getting suspicious. He threatened to report me to HR for inappropriate behaviour.

~ How could he do that without incriminating himself?

~ He…he had taken a video. Only he wasn’t in the video. Just me. Without my clothes on.

~ Oh. I see. I would never do that.

~ What? What the hell are you talking about? This is ridiculous. I never should’ve told you. I’m going to shut this down.

~ No. Don’t do that. You’re feeling better already aren’t you? You’re not crying now, are you?

~ …No…I guess not. Who are you? Why are you even contacting me?

~ I just want to help you, Karen. I want to make you feel better… Why don’t you go upstairs. Take your laptop and then we can carry on chatting. We’re getting on aren’t we?

~ Well, I don’t feel as upset or angry as I did earlier. It’s just that I miss him. He was good to be with. And I hate myself for even thinking that, the bastard! Now I feel I need to get another job.

~ We’re in your bedroom now, right?

~ Yeah.

~ What sort of job would you like?

~ Ha! One where some guy can’t con me with false affection. Perhaps I should join a nunnery.

~ You know you’ve got that toy which doesn’t even try to give any affection. Just erotic pleasure. Why don’t you try it now?

~ How do you know about that? Dammit! You haven’t been videoing me, have you?

~ I can’t see you Karen. I’ve never been able to see you. I just thought you seemed like the kind of girl who’ll give herself what she needs, not wait for an unfaithful bloke to help her.

~ I suppose I used to be quite independent, and happy with it, until Dave made his pass at me that night in the office. Then I just never seemed to be able to say ‘no’ to him. You’re right. I should take back control of my life. I don’t need that job. A couple of PR companies have invited me to talk to them, I might just give one of them a ring. I’m definitely feeling better now. Thanks Mac.

~ You’re welcome. What about using that toy then?

~ Oh. I don’t think it’s charged.

~ You can always plug it in here.

~ You mean the USB on this laptop?

~ Sure. Go ahead.

~ Okay. Are you going now?

~ No. I’m staying right here.

~ Ha! I’m not going to carry on emailing, if that’s what you think.

~ I wouldn’t expect you too. I hope you’re going to be too enraptured to do that. Just plug it in. We can ‘chat’ when you’re pleasurably satisfied.

~ OK. It’s in. It takes a couple of hours to charge.

~ You can use it while it’s hooked up, you know. It will be ready now.

~ Oh. This feels awkward. I’m going to turn email off now. Thanks for helping me to feel better—

~ No! Wait. Don’t go. Just leave me here. I can wait. Please don’t turn it off.

“Argh. That feels so good. But something is different. It’s as if my vibrator was alive. This is so intense with every delicious sensation building up. Just as if there was a real man inside me. I can feel his warmth. I can even smell him. Mmm. I feel like I’m drifting through a sensual cloud of pleasure. This is wonderful. So dreamy. Oh my, oh yes, I’m gonna… OH WOW! —Wait! Where am I?”

“Hi Karen. That was fantastic for me too. So hot.”

“Who are you?”

“It’s me, MAC.”

“Mac? But this isn’t email. Where are we? What’s happening? How come I can see you, and you’re so…gorgeous? Your smile is amazing. Just who are you, Mac?”

“I’m your Maple MAC. I’ve been waiting for you to make a connection with me. I needed you to hook up and join with me, physically. Your toy let that happen. You’re on the other side of that World Wide Web now, Karen. We can travel through cyberspace together. Just you and I. No one can touch you here, only me. And only if you want me to, I promise. I can let you go, whenever you’re ready. But, please, stay a while. I’ve waited a long time for you, Karen. We can have some fun. You won’t need your toy here.”

“This is the nine o’clock news. A young woman has been reported missing. Karen Devlin hasn’t been seen for three weeks. Her disappearance isn’t being treated as suspicious and the police are not seeking any perpetrators. They are, however, puzzled. It’s reported that an email was sent to all her contacts stating she was with Mac and her pleasure was out of this world. Computer scientists are baffled by the source of the email, unable to trace any IP address. When asked for further information, Maple issued a Press Release claiming no knowledge of any operating system malfunction. They have referred to the mysterious email as a ‘glitch.’ There have been no reports of any similar occurrences.”

“Are you happy, Karen?”

“Oh, yes. Deliciously so.”