by Dave Cross
Chapter 8. The Mansion
In which Pip visits Satis
You are standing at the end of a tree-lined path The path leads north to a large mansion in the distance What do you want to do? * Pip: walk north You walk north After some time you reach the gates of the mansion The gate is locked There is a doorbell What do you want to do? * Pip: ring bell You ring the bell After a while a girl comes to the gate and opens it What do you want to do?
The textual descriptions were by far the least interesting part of the display and they were quite rightly relegated to the bottom few lines of the screen. The rest of the screen was filled with pictures that displayed the virtual world in amazing detail. By moving my mouse I could change my point of view, looking to fields to the left an right, up to the tops of the trees and down to the path that was covered in exquisitely rendered leaves.
The girl that came and opened the gate was tall and blonde. As part of the program configuration I had chosen the image that would represent me in the virtual world. I therefore looked a little older, a little taller and a little blonder than I was in the real world. I wondered if that was also true of this girl.
"Hello, I'm Pip," I said. Or, rather, typed. All communication in Satis was still done in plain text. "What's your name?". She ignored my question, but indicated that I should follow her into the house. I tried to remember the instructions that I'd read as the program was loading and by trial and error I worked out that by pointing my mouse at her and pressing F2 I could get her name.
"This is Estella," said the program,
I followed her through a grand entrance hall, up a flight of stairs and along a dimly lit corridor. Estella stopped at a door, opened it and indicated that I should go in. I entered and found that she had stayed outside and had closed the door behind me.
By moving my mouse around I looked at the room from all angles. In the corner was an ornate dressing table and sitting in a chair in front of it was a middle-aged woman. I remembered the point and F2 trick.
"This is Miss Havisham," said the program.
"Hello Pip," said Miss Havisham, who obviously knew the point and F2 trick too. "Come in and sit near me."
I have to confess that I was a bit puzzled. I had expected to meet other people who were testing Satis, but I thought that they would all be young people. Why would someone choose an image that looked like that? I moved closer anyway and, after a bit more trial and error, worked out how to make my image sit down.
"I'm bored Pip," she said, "Entertain me."
I had no idea what she wanted from me. No-one had ever considered me entertaining. I didn't know where to start. I told her that.
"You're a child," she sadi, "Can't you play or something?"
I tried to explain that I usually played on a computer but I don't think she was listening (or do I mean reading?)
"Cards," she said, "Can you play cards?" I had played a few cards games on the computer, so I said that I'd be happy to play a few hands with her.
"Not with me," she said, "with Estella. Call her."
I was getting better at figuring out the commands so it only took me a couple of attemmpts to work out how to call Estella. She appeared very quickly and I also noticed that a card table and a pack of cards had appeared next to Miss Havisham's chair.
Estella and I played Blackjack for a while. I'm always dubious about playing card games on a computer as you can never be sure just how random the shuffles are. I'm sure that rule applies double if you're playing cards from within another computer game. Anyway Estella beat me in every hand and I became convinced that the compuiter program was on her side. During the game Estella finally broke her silence and started talking to me. I soon wished that she hadn't as she was very rude to me. She asked a lot of questions about my family and our lifestyle but every answer I gave her just seemed to give her more reason to laugh at us more. Finally I couldn't take any more.
"I'm going," I said, "I don't need to stay here and be insulted like this."
"Aren't you enjoying the company of the lovely Estella?" asked Miss Havisham, "Don't you think she's beautiful?"
"She may be beautiful," I replied, "But that doesn't give her the right to speak to me like that. How do I close this program?"
"The exit is here," said Miss Havisham, and suddenly she was holding a large button with the word "QUIT" written on it, "But before you go, please promise that you'll come back in a few days time. I enjoyed your company."
I agree that I would return soon and she handed my the button. I pressed it and the program closed down. I was, of course, still sitting at my computer. I immediately went online to share my adventures with some of my friends.
Last Updated: Mon 03 Nov 2003, 23:06
All material © 2003, Dave Cross. All Rights Reserved.